Category Archives: Creativity

Finding My Writing Process

Today I’m the next stop on a “blog tour” from Vanessa Johnson’s God’s Beautiful Mess.  Next week the blog tour will head to Caris Adel.

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What am I working on?

Well, I do have a novel and a few smaller projects on the drawing board right now.  My overarching focus though is on Story 201, an e-course with Elora Nicole, that really focuses on developing a manuscript and fine-tuning your creative process.  As I’m learning and working through the course, it’s serving as a springboard for developing my ideas, getting them out of my head and into actual words.

The novel I’m working on deals with the themes of human trafficking and illegal immigration.  It follows the story of a young Mexican teenager who ends up the victim of traffickers when her father decides to sneak his family into the U.S. and her unlikely but life-saving friendship with an American runaway also in captivity.  It is all at once heart-wrenching and hopeful.

Why do I write what I do?

Human trafficking is in many ways the “trendy” human rights issue of our day, but for millions it is the bitter reality of their every day.  I have worked on several awareness initiatives, including one that involved in-depth research on the issue specifically between the US and Mexico.  The stories were real and heartbreaking and desperate to be heard.  There are also many heroes laying their lives down every single day, and their stories need to be heard too.  I am weaving as many real life accounts into the novel as I can in hopes of giving voice to as many of the voiceless as I can.

With my other projects, I am really passionate about helping people move from the concept of intimacy with God into the reality of it.  We can know Him deeply, but it doesn’t always happen through the religious formulas we’ve been taught.  There’s more, so much more.  He really is concerned with practical, seemingly mundane details of our lives because His sacred mystery is so often revealed in those unlikely places.

How does your writing process work?

I almost want to laugh at this question.  Developing a writing process is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do.  I have two small children, a part-time job that demands a lot emotionally and spiritually, and my husband has started a new job that is requiring a complete overhaul of our schedule.  Which before the new job was total insanity, but we had learned to cope.  So a lot of my “process” right now is making sure I am getting words out on a consistent basis, at least 4-5 times a week.  I am also learning the importance of daily fueling my creativity – reading new fiction, immersing myself in music (my first love), doing lots of artsy and creative things with my kids, etc.  If I weave these things into my regular daily routine, then when I do finally have time to sit down and write, I don’t have to fight as much writer’s block; my creativity is already brimming and it’s just a matter of channeling it in the right direction.

And however silly it may sound, when I do get to sit and write, pouring a cup of tea or a glass of wine and lighting a candle really help me clear away the chaos and focus.

I want to say specifically to other moms struggling to find space for creativity and feeling like they’re losing themselves in the process of raising kids sometimes – I absolutely do not have all the answers and I struggle with this too, but something has been happening over the last three months that has surprised and delighted me.  The more I focus on developing and feeding my children’s creativity, the more it fuels my own.  I am NOT suggesting neglecting yourself or not feeding your own creative soul; it’s the complete opposite.  Watching them embrace and run with creativity actually inspires me to do what I need to fuel myself.  It’s been the most breathtaking cycle – I invite them to be creative, they blossom, which makes me want to be more creative, which empowers them to be more creative  and on and on.  A lot of days we create together – they paint, I write.  We art journal.  Instead of seeing them as an inhibition to my process, I am making them partners in my process.  It’s amazing.

How’s my work different from others of its genre?

Truthfully, I’m not sure what genre my novel falls into yet.  But I do think one thing that could set it apart is that I am not merely going to tell a story or bring awareness to an issue through the story; I am also weaving into the story the tools ordinary people like you and me can use to make a difference.

And spiritually, my relationship with God has been anything but ordinary or stereotypical.  I think I’ve had some very unique experience both within the church and outside it that help me understand and speak to a wide range of perspectives.

I mentioned having several ideas on the drawing board.  These include a YA coming of age type novel, some children’s books (both picture books and chapter books), Christian non-fiction and a fantasy-type story.  So I really don’t know what genre I belong in!

Next week – the blog tour stops at Caris Adel‘s space.  Caris sees the image of God in people where others might miss it.  It’s a beautiful gift she has.  Definitely be on the look out for what she has to say!

 

 

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For the Love of Poetry (Pt. 3) – Exploring God

Image Source: CreationSwap

Image Source: CreationSwap

Today, can I share with you some words incredibly personal and dear to my heart?

When I first started writing poetry, it was a place to process emotion, to unload all that teenage angst, to play with words.

But then I read John Donne.  And he intrigued me.  I mean, first you have The Flea – this long, eloquent discussion of a flea biting a man and a woman which turns out to be quite the elaborate (and can we say it – slightly ridiculous) pick up line.  And you have No Man is an Island, a brilliant consideration of the connectedness of humanity that has resonated with countless hearts across many generations.  And then – his Holy Sonnets.

Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God led me through new doors and down new paths as a writer and a Christian.  As I read these words again and again, my heart stirred to write about God this way, to know Him this way.  All throughout Donne’s Holy Sonnets, he pulls on unique images and concepts that help you see God through fresh eyes.  Sometimes it’s uncomfortable; always it’s enlightening.

So I began exploring God through poetry.  I began, if you will, documenting my spiritual journey through poetry.  I learned what it meant to pour my heart out to Him – to hold nothing back, to be laid bare, to not be afraid to be brutally honest when it was hard or when I wanted to quit.  And to this day, when I am struggling to hear Him, when I feel like I am out of words to pray, I can find Him through the poetic voice in my spirit.

I do not share these poems often, but I would love to offer you three today.  And from the bottom of my heart, I would hope and pray they might draw you a step closer into His romance and mystery.

 

Greystone

I saw my heart

tossed upon the jagged rocks.

I saw my soul

tumbling down the emerald hills.

I felt my bottled tears

as the icy rain fell.

 

But then I knew how all that has been:

my hemorrhaging heart –

the endless solitude that would poison my soul –

the relentless fear that would paralyze my heart –

the merciless desert . . .

Brought me to this intoxicating moment,

 

Where the wind brought us close,

where Your arms held me close,

and after so long a silence –

You whispered my name.

 

The Sea

I am so small,

staring into the face

of a blue expanse

that could devour my existence.

And You, should You stand beside me,

would gather it all, beyond what I see,

into the palm of Your hand.

 

It is me You hold right now.

 

I see the reflection of Your eyes

in the shimmering surface.

My wavering, trembling soul

is stilled at last,

by the warmth of the flames in Your eyes,

by the breeze of Your lovely voice,

and the gentle fingers through my hair.

 

Hands

Invisible –

yet real as the air I breathe.

Blind to the things I can see,

I depend on the shadow

only my soul knows.

 

So soft – my velvet shadow –

caress my skin and fold

around my heart.

Hold it in Yours.

 

Rough – my stubborn shadow –

from holding this clay

in the blazing forge.

(Do not let go.)

 

Desperate devotion – I cling

to Your feathers and steel.

I follow this solid phantasm,

adore the silken touch,

real as the air I breathe.

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Filed under Creativity, Faith, Poetry, Writing

For the Love of Poetry (Pt. 1) – My Heart Loosed on the Wind

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

April is National Poetry Month.  How I did not know this before April 1 is a mystery, but never mind – I know now.  And while I won’t take up all my posts for this month with poetry, I absolutely must make some space for it because I LOVE poetry!

Oddly though, I didn’t always love it (I can’t even imagine myself that way, but it’s true).  I had some absurd notion that it was boring and too difficult to understand.  And possibly residual bitterness from being forced to recite poetry in some elementary speech meets but never winning.  But – it gets weirder – at one point I didn’t think I liked literature or English or anything of the sort.  Which makes no sense whatsoever because I have always loved to write and I have always loved to read.  Granted, elementary and junior high English largely consist of grammar rules and miserable things like diagramming sentences (gag!).  Somehow there was a disconnect that those wretched, boring parts were the essential building blocks and tools for crafting the words I did love (can I blame my teachers for this?).

Some well-intentioned person told me I would love English so much more come high school because there would be less grammar and more literature.  Can I just say – if there is to be any truth to that statement, maybe the freshman reading list shouldn’t include Great Expectations or The Red Badge of Courage?  I know there were other things we read that year, but I can’t even muster an idea of what other books were included because the misery of those other two overshadowed everything! Ok, and there was Romeo & Juliet, but – meh.

All this to say, I went into my sophomore English class with great trepidation.  Not only had the subject proved disappointing again and again, but the teacher at our school who taught sophomore and senior English was notorious for being the most difficult teacher ever.  Students referred to her as “Hitler”, and she thoroughly enjoyed giving them all a reason for perpetuating the nickname.  If you were in the hallways between classes, you could be guaranteed someone, if not several someones, would be out there bemoaning the cruelty and impossibility of Mrs. Spradling’s latest project or assignment.  In particular, there were rumors of a dreaded poetry project reserved most especially for sophomores, with bonus pains included for the honors class, which I was in.

Make no mistake – the poetry project was a mammoth beast.  We were given a list of 50 literary devices and were given the task of finding each device used at least twice in different poems.  You couldn’t count two uses of that device in one poem.  You couldn’t use one poem for more than – if I remember correctly – 5 devices.  We had to define each term and include a glossary.  We had to analyze 7 different poems – two with a very detailed method.  We had to write our own poems.  There was probably some other piece I’m forgetting.  Translation of all this?  I read hundreds of poems for this project.  Hundreds.  And do you know what happened?

I fell in love.  Head over heels, hopelessly devoted, stars in my eyes in love.

As a matter of fact I fell in love with all things literary that year.  No doubt about it – Mrs. Spradling was the hardest teacher I’ve ever had in all my born days (don’t even get me started on my senior AP English project where I had to analyze the writing style of C.S. Lewis and then write a paper as if I were him speaking and defending himself on something he was criticized for).  She kicked my tail!  But she unlocked a love of words I didn’t even realize existed in me.

(For the record, I still have my poetry project.  It’s a masterpiece.  Except the original poems I wrote.  I got a lot better.)

***

Poetry is like music.  Sometimes I want to sink my teeth into all the things the poet was trying to say.  Sometimes I could care less – it’s simply about enjoying the flowing sound of the words.  Sometimes it isn’t even about precise meaning – it’s just about playing with combination of words until they evoke the emotion you are trying to express.  You get to break all the rules in poetry.  You can be cryptic or you can be explicit.  You can be long-winded or to the point.  Sometimes form matters; sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s magical.

Throughout this month, I’d love to share some of my favorite poems with you and share some of the ones I’ve written.  And who knows?  Maybe it will ignite a spark in you or at least a new understanding.

So for now, I will leave you with the words of Pablo Neruda who says it best of all:

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

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Owning Our Strengths

Image Source: A Shared Lens

Image Source: A Shared Lens

I sat across the table from a friend today for 3 and a half hours that felt nowhere near that long.  I have not so fully understood someone’s heart or felt as fully understood by someone in a very long time.  And in the safety of that sacred place, I found myself speaking aloud things I have only acknowledged in the depths of my heart and the whispers of my prayers.

We spoke of crazy dreams and big ideas, faith and community; above all, we spoke of the beauty unleashed when women find their voice and their strength, when one person’s courage inspires another and then another and then another . . .

***

A lifetime in church and in faith circles has taught me that among the myriad of thing Christians fear most is pride.  This is not without reason.  We all know pride comes before the fall. Um, hello – we ALL know how Lucifer got himself thrown out of heaven.  For me personally as a worship leader, it is legitimately something we struggle with the most – not pointing people to ourselves and our talents instead of to God.  And if you’d rather throw everything spiritual out of the equation, let’s just go on and say it how it is – no one likes being around a cocky person.

But.

In an extreme effort to avoid this crippling, poisonous vice, we have often diminished the magnitude of our strengths, and as a result, the message of who God is.  The overall effect is a bunch of people walking around with a false humility the rest of the world can smell from a mile away, simply because we have misunderstood what genuine humility looks like.

If I am not willing to acknowledge my strengths, I will not use them as effectively as I could.  I will allow myself to get backed into other areas that are not the best use of my gifts.  I will not spend my time most efficiently and by default, I will not represent or advance the kingdom of God as well as I could.

This is not pride.

Pride says, “I have this strength because I’m just that good.”  Humility says, “I have this strength because God has gifted me with it.”

Pride says, “I will use these strengths to make myself known.” Humility says, “I will use my strengths to make Jesus known.”

Pride says, “I am threatened by people who are stronger than me in this area.”  Humility says, “I will learn from people who are stronger than me in this area.”

***

My fiery friend said it best today when she said, “We jump into the arena with other women, bloody and scarred from battle, not because we are fighting each other, but because we are knocking out the lies.  And when you are ready to knock out the lie holding you back, we will offer you the strength to thrust your arm forward and take it down.”

If I embrace my strength, it will be there in all its force to offer you when you need it.  We most fully illuminate the splendor and beauty of God when we own our strengths, run full force with the powers He has put in each of us.

Here are some strengths I am finding the courage to own:

I am a musician and I am a writer.

I am a good mother, and a creative one too.

I am a good worship leader, and with that, I am very good at building solid worship teams and developing effective worship leaders.

I have an e-book, a novel, a poetry anthology and an e-course brewing inside me – more likely several of all of the above.

I am a visionary and a strategist and a prophetic voice.

***

It is harder than it might seem to write that list, to own the things God has placed in me, especially when it feels a lot of them are overlooked right now.  But it’s a starting point and a step in the right direction.

And now it’s your turn.  What are the strengths you are wired with?  Own them.  Run with them.

 

*Looking for that community that will champion your strengths and cheer you on as you find your voice?  It’s right here.

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Filed under Beauty, Creativity, Faith

Uprooting Fear

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was 8 years old, a starry eyed 3rd grader, who loved music more than anything.  All my spare time was spent imagining shows and costumes and songs and stages.

The small school I attended had a music program unlike any other I’ve ever encountered.  Our music teacher was a creative force, ideas and dreams far grander than mundane things like budgets and time allowed for.  Every year, the entire school participated in a massive talent show.  And I do mean the entire school.  Every single class came up with an act.  Every Fine Arts group performed – handbells, recorders, choir, drama, bands (of which there were literally like 6 different ones).  Even all the faculty and staff managed to put together a number, much to the delight of all the students, who loved seeing their teachers look ridiculous. On top of this, there were open auditions for anyone else who wanted to showcase a talent.  There was a huge opening number and a massive finale in which I’m fairly certain there were more people packed onto the stage and every square inch of aisle space than were seated in the audience.  People waited to hear the theme for each year’s show and for the unveiling of the elaborate stage designs with the same anticipation and expectation you see in those silly teen flicks where they all gush over prom themes (only without the drama and ridiculousness).

So, the year I was in 3rd grade, the theme was Broadway – my favorite thing ever (still!).  The stage was going to be a massive city skyline reminiscent of New York City.  The opening number was going to be a classic chorus line featuring a medley of famous Broadway songs, particularly the grand “Hello, Dolly!” theme song.  And most exciting, our music director, Mr. G., asked me to be Dolly.  I was going to sing the solo, wear a fabulous glittering gold dress, have the huge feathers in my hair – the whole nine yards.

Only I had one enormous problem – I was absolutely petrified with a fear of looking foolish.  And if you’ve ever seen the musical, Dolly Levi is quite the over-the-top, flamboyant character.  And I wanted to do it SO badly (I can still feel the ache of how much I wanted to play this part), but I was paralyzed with the prospect of facing ridicule, with looking silly in front of hundreds and hundreds of people, with the fear of being tormented by classmates for years to come, especially if I made any error.  So I told Mr. G and my parents a lie, told them I didn’t want to do it.  And vividly remember crying in my bed that night, heartbroken over how afraid I was.

My best friend got the part instead, went on to become the darling of the school and the go to person for all solos needing sung, and it would be 5 years before anyone beyond a few close friends would find out I could sing.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson from this – the amazing opportunities fear causes us to miss.  But this fear – especially in regards to music and performing – has followed me and haunted me my entire life.  Auditions I didn’t go to, contests I didn’t enter, practice sessions ended early because someone showed up in the practice room next door and I didn’t want them to hear me – sometimes it was the fear of my own lack, fear of discovering I actually wasn’t any good at the one thing I love more than anything else.  There was the musical I didn’t audition for in college because I was afraid of the pastor and youth leaders I worked under – I would have had to stepped away from some ministry responsibilities because of the rehearsal schedule and they would have taken me to pieces for stepping away from “eternal” matters for something as “shallow” as a musical.  Even as much progress as I made and as much as I learned getting my music degree, I massively regret knowing I could have gotten so much more out of that season if I wouldn’t have been so afraid of . . . of everything. Of myself. Of other people’s opinions. Of the comparison of myself to others.

I can’t help but wonder how life would be different if I wasn’t afraid.  I wonder how much life could change right now if I chose not to be afraid.  Or more likely, chose to shove fear out of the way and take chances anyway.  And there grows in me the hope that maybe it’s not too late.  Maybe today is as good a day as any to kick fear in the teeth and tell it where it can go.

If the tables were turned and you were sharing your story with me, telling me the longing of your heart and how fear has held you back, I would champion your dream.  I would tell you not to give up.  I would tell you to reach deep for the place in your being where the intensity of your passion outweighs the intensity of your fear.  I would tell you to choose a step – any step – but to take one step towards what you were made for, towards doing what your heart will never feel complete without doing.

So perhaps I should begin to follow my own advice.

I think I will. One shaking step at a time.

 

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Your Necessary Voice

1521319_10153684799840004_215058137_nIn Story Sessions this week, we were asked what this quote evokes in us.  I’ve been  mulling it over and finding that, well, it makes me squirm a little.  Because I want it to be an elegant process – finding my voice and revealing my soul and reveling in my blessed weirdness.

Does anyone remember the 90s remake of Sabrina – the one with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond?  Do you remember how Sabrina goes off to Paris, all frumpy and awkward and unsure of herself?  And her mentor there tells her how she was the same when she arrived in Paris.  But then the mentor says: “I went for long walks, I drank coffee, I wrote in a journal and  I met myself in Paris.”

That’s how I picture the process of finding my voice. I just want to meet myself in Paris. (Insert dramatic sigh.)

If only. But back to reality.

It is ruthless – the process of writing and re-writing your words, peeling back the layers of trying to impress someone or sound like someone or not offend someone until nothing is left but your heart, laid bare.

It is relentless – the swirling of thoughts and ideas and stories in your bones, begging to be let out, while other voices are busy telling your mind no one is actually interested in what you have to say anyway.

It is inevitable – the fire shut up in your bones that has to come out one way or another, so you might as well write and write and write.

But where I am floored is in considering the process of finding my voice necessary for personal and collective survival.  I get it personally.  I mean, it’s fire shut up in my bones, so it’s a matter of letting it out or burning up slowly from the inside.

But to be necessary for collective survival?

Deep breath.

Accepting that someone, maybe several someones out there need, actually need my voice?  And perhaps a step further?  They need to see me engage the messy process of unleashing my blessed weirdness?

Exhale.

Yes.  It’s true.  It’s true for me and it’s true for you.  Your voice could sound like a million things besides writing, but whatever the sound, the world needs it.  Maybe not literally the entire world (maybe so).  But someone, most likely several someones out there, need what only we can uniquely say.  And when we engage the process, it infuses others with courage to shake off the dazed slumber and find what their hearts are saying too.

We are all that critical. Embrace it.

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Awakening

Image Source: Messy Canvas

Image Source: Messy Canvas 

My heart has been hibernating.

I’m not sure when exactly the long sleep started.  It was not an intentional choice; there was not a specific moment where I decided to knock it unconscious and hide it away in a dark cave.  Rather, it was a gradual numbing, a slowly drawn out decrescendo until its pulse faded from hearing.

But I am beginning to remember how it was done before I fell asleep.

I remember a little girl, 4 or 5 years old, captivated by musicals and passing the hours imagining herself swept up in song and dance.

I remember a 6 year old girl asking her parents for ballet lessons, in her mind thinking she’d better get started on learning to dance if she was ever going to be on Broadway.

I remember an 8 year old girl spending her spare time writing plays and trying to get all her classmates to act them out during recess.

I remember a 10 year old girl grinning from ear to ear as she gently touched the shiny flute in its velvety case, finally holding the instrument she had been waiting for years to play.

I remember the thrill of a 13 year old girl singing a solo for the first time – being all at once terrified and happier than ever.

I remember so wanting to sign up for a beginning art class as an elective in high school, but being too afraid because I had never been very good with visual art (plus everyone said the teacher was always mean to female students).

I remember my heart breaking as I sat through band and choir classes in a school that had no vision or funding or passion for a quality arts program.

There are countless snapshots in my memory.  I could fill pages and pages because there was never a time when art and creativity were not a part of my life.

***

Several weeks ago, in several different settings, I listened to myself being described by others.  Their words were positive.  They accurately reflected strengths I do have.  But there was not one mention of creativity, of music, of artistry – all the things that most intricately make up the fibers of who I am.  I wasn’t upset at them, but I was jolted by a realization.

I have long stopped thinking of myself as an artist.  And of course, no one else sees me this way; how could they when I have not seen me this way?

There are so many things contributing to this shift over the course of many years – disappointments, failures, closed doors, decisions I made, lies I believed – each one a powerful sleeping pill slowly sedating my heart.

But the composition of my heart has not changed, and the anesthesia is beginning to wear off.  I am stirring, stretching, seeking what it is to feel awake and alive again.

Admittedly, this is a daunting moment – daring to believe it is not too late and mustering the courage to re-weave my life’s story.  Is it even possible to change when you allowed your life to be steered down a far different trajectory?

I have to believe it.  I do not want to journey through life with a sleep-walking heart.  I want to be fully engaged, fully alive, fully on fire.  This is the year for unlocking creativity and artistry again.  This is the year for awakening.

 

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Filed under Creativity, Hope, Music, Writing

Blowing the Embers

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have spent most of my life apologizing for myself.

I don’t know who said it first or who said it loudest; the voices have melded over time into a monotonous chant of criticisms all beginning with the word “too”.

Too strong-willed.

Too emotional.

Too ambitious.

Too dramatic.

Too romantic.

Too serious.

Too driven.

Too deep.

Too much.

And I have apologized and tried to be less because I know I am fiery, and I know if you brush up against fire, you end up burned.  I tried to be less “all or nothing”.  Some times I tried to be less to appease others, and some times I tried to be less to give myself a break.  It is wearying to love with such intensity, to be a black and white person in a world tinged with gray.  And when you throw yourself into things with abandon, with all of your heart, there are no such thing as small mistakes; oh no – when I make a mistake, I go down in a not-so-glorious blaze of glory.

Only recently have I come to realize the high price I have paid for the pursuit of “less than”.  At every stage, I have laid down something of my creativity, one piece at a time – first drama, then dance, then instrumental music (I played the flute and saxophone quite well once upon a time), then songwriting, then poetry.  A few weeks ago, I found myself contemplating giving up singing, and the throbbing of what my life would be if I muted myself completely unlocked the realization of how hard I have worked to quench my own fire.  And how beyond the shadow of a doubt that is NOT who I want to be.

The One Who Sees wove my being together this way.  My DNA is threaded with thunder and lightning, flaming fire, roaring rivers, majestic symphonies.   My heart dances wildly – sometimes the fierce dance of a warrior, sometimes the seductive dance of a lover, sometimes the yearning dance of a ballerina, sometimes the carefree dance of a thousand fireflies.  And in His hands, I am not too much.  I daresay, I am an echo of His own passionate heartbeat resonating through the universe.

I declare this heart – my heart – to be holy ground because the Creator of the Universe walks here.  And His whispers have come to blow the embers, to wake the sleeping fire in me.

*This is in response to a prompt from Story Sessions.  Join us?

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The Depth You Never Knew

Motherhood took me by surprise in so many ways.

There’s the very literal aspect because neither of my children were really planned.

I was never the type that just loved kids or was really great with kids, so I spent most of my first pregnancy in silent anxiety, crying tears alone, ashamed because I should have been excited but instead I was terrified.  Not because I didn’t want her, but because I was certain I would fail her.

But there was that last push after 24 hours of working on her delivery, and I could not believe that miracle had just come out of me.  They laid her on my chest, and I fell in love.

Today I am sharing on a dear friend’s blog as part of a series on Creativity & Motherhood.  Join us?

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Filed under Creativity, Motherhood, Parenting

A Little Change of Pace

This week in Story101, we are being encouraged to write something that is outside of our comfort zone.  Being typically far more inclined towards nonfiction with spiritual undertones, I decided to dip my baby toe into the tempestuous waters of fiction.  I almost didn’t post it here, but then I thought, “Why not?”  And truth be told, I think a little bit of my personal nonfiction crept its way into this story.  Oh well!

 

A cold rain drizzled down, lightly rapping on her window pane.

She shrugged into her favorite red trench coat and rummaged in her closet for a hat, ignoring the voice inside her head trying to convince her to stay inside where it was warm and dry, like any normal person would.

She couldn’t help it.  She had to go.  Something beckoned.

Stepping out her door, she hoisted her umbrella and headed off in the familiar direction of the tube station.

In spite of the fact that everyone walks everywhere in London if they can possibly help it, the streets were emptier than usual.  Perhaps she had ventured out just late enough to miss the frantic morning rush.  Perhaps people of more sound minds had ducked into a pub or cafe to sip a warm drink.

No matter.  This was the London she liked best anyway –   one of those rare moments when the bustling city seemed to pause to catch its breath, as if some inaudible message whispered from soul to soul that at some designated hour, they should all inhale together and hold their breath a moment longer than usual before exhaling and reviving the whirlwind of activity.  In these pockets of silence and stillness, she always heard her heart most clearly.

Never mind that she had walked these streets countless times before.  Her heart fluttered with the anticipation of something new, something yet undiscovered.  She found herself picking up the pace, trying to hurry, as if by speeding up she would somehow catch up to this intangible thing and be able to grasp it.

Down the steps into the underground, slipping through the turnstile, she barely had a moment to wait before the train came roaring through.  Once seated, she finally allowed her mind to ask the question that had been lurking awkwardly in the room all morning, knowing it was uninvited but still begging to be acknowledged.

Just where exactly do you think you are going?

And where WAS she going?  Her soul had beckoned, and she had responded, simply wanting to let her heart feel alive.  Fortunately, there were countless places in the city which invoked this feeling in her, so it was only a matter of choosing one.  And settling on the need for beauty and art, she set her course for the National Gallery.

Mere minutes slipped by before that utterly poised voice came through the intercom, announcing the approach of Charing Cross station.  She stood as the doors opened and stepped out into the bustling station. The sudden emergence of activity threw her for a moment after the stillness of her morning, but the pleading of her heart was not drowned out.  Lifting her umbrella, she walked out into the falling rain, down the street and towards the museum.

The usual queues of tourists and school groups were assembled, but these she quickly passed, heading towards her favorite corner of the gallery.  Some condescending, self-appointed art expert had once told her it was cliché to love the Impressionists, but love them she did.  The softness of the paintings, the almost-blurring of the lines, the emphasis on the feelings evoked by the moment rather than the reality of the moment itself – how much of her life had been this way?  Indeed, she could rarely see a certain garden, feel a certain wind, walk under certain crisp autumn skies without recalling how she had felt in another time or place.

And even as these thoughts filled her head, there came the familiar pang of remembering.  Quickly, she scolded herself for at least the thousandth time, Why do you still let this bother you?  How ridiculous.  You are so far past this. How can this possibly still haunt you?

And just as quickly, there in the comforting presence of Monet, came the realization that some moments were precious gifts, purchased by the savings of her deepest hopes and longings.  Losing them did not doom her to a life without other such breathtaking moments, but the fact still remained that something precious had been lost, a truth she was terrified to acknowledge.

She drew in a sharp breath, finally allowing herself to feel the magnitude of what she had given, the pain slowly emerging from beneath the numbness.  Before she could muster the resistance to the onslaught of recollection, a tear broke through the hardened memories and slipped quietly down her cheek.

 

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Filed under Creativity, Fiction, Grieving, Pain, Writing