Category Archives: Passion

Reclaiming Hope

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At first, it was faint – the echoes of rumbling far off in the distance, a pulsating whisper traveling through years.

All at once strange and familiar, the symphony swells.  Every note and every chord shatters a brick in the fortress around my woman-heart.

Rumors, lies, rejection, shame – the walls are quaking.

Fear, secrets, bad theology, failure – the walls are crumbling.

Through the cracks and crevices, the river of sounds rushes from memories awakening. Carried on the current are sounds of laughter ringing & singing unleashed, flutes playing & songs written, words crafted & messages spoken, dreams whispered & hope declaring.

I know those sounds – pure and undefiled by disillusion. I know that passion – the certainty of having a gift to offer the world.

The girl I once was believed there was nothing so broken it could not be mended.  She believed someone somewhere needed her words, her voice. She believed she loved what she loved for a reason, that all the intricacies of her heart were not without purpose.  She believed she could not be silenced.

And now as the river carries the dreams of her childhood into her present, rushing ever faster, straining the dam of disappointment the years have haughtily erected, she sees with new eyes.  Perhaps what she thought was dead has merely been sleeping, growing, waiting.

Sometimes Hope is everywhere, the signs of promise blooming all around and all you have to do is drink in the wonder.  But sometimes Hope comes because you give her no choice.  You reclaim her.  You take her and say, “You will stay.  You will be the rapids in my river of awakening. You will be the final surge needed to shatter the dam.  You will.”

I will be the best of the girl I once was and the girl I am now – warrior spirit, creative heart, prophetic voice.  Come, rushing River. Come, fierce Hope.  Today, let’s be free.

Today I am joining my voice with an army of women claiming their freedom through the Story Sessions link up. Join us?

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Filed under Hope, Music, Passion, Writing

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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Filed under Creativity, Hope, Music, Passion

Five Minute Friday: Hero

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*This post is part of the link up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday.  We write for five minutes, no stopping, no editing, on a given subject.

Is it bad to admit I want to be someone’s hero?  Because it’s true.  I do.

I almost whispered it to my husband yesterday: “I think I was meant to influence, to impact . . .”

But it’s also terrifying.  How many of my heroes have fallen?  How many have turned out to be less than heroic?  And often, how devastating was that to my heart?

I would never want to devastate anyone’s heart.  And yet, in spite of the devastation, how much did those heroes shape me?

The one who encouraged and unleashed my love of music.

The one who pushed and challenged me into my love of writing.

The one who dropped me into the deep end of leadership and then taught me how to swim.

The one who drew me into a deeper pursuit of God.

None of them perfect, all of them life-changing.

In the end I can only hope that when my failures and imperfections get the better of me, there will still be something beautiful and redemptive far more eternal than my humanity.

And so I confess again, maybe a little louder of a whisper, I do want to be someone’s hero.

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Filed under Hope, Passion, Writing

Tauriel

I was so excited to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with my husband today.  I can’t remember the last time I got to see a movie the day it came out, or even within the first few weeks (that’s life as a parent of littles)!  And while the literary purist in me really wanted to dislike a character that wasn’t in the original book, I was surprised how deeply my soul resonated with things I saw in her.

As part of my 40 Days of Poetry class with Story Sessions, we’ve been encouraged to really lean in and listen to our souls.  And this began to pour out of me as soon as we left the theater. (Don’t worry – no spoilers here!)

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tauriel

My soul –

she who walks among the starlight

of faraway lands –

has no fear of laying down her life.

It is a better fate

than the eternity of being unseen.

“See me,” she whispers,

warrioress armored with grace.

Can you behold beauty

without deeming it weak?

She who drinks in the starlight

of faraway lands –

her heart is on fire with the knowing

she is meant for more than the familiar –

the way things have always been.

Breathing deep the towering trees,

she is propelled higher, further –

passion on a quest for adventure,

something more immortal than herself.

Never fiercer than when she loves,

there is strength in this soul –

healing, beauty,

fight in this soul.

My soul.

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Filed under Passion, Poetry, 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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Filed under Creativity, Music, Passion

Rooftops

(Over the next 10 weeks, as I work my way through Story 101, a lot of my posts will come from prompts and subjects we’re discussing.)

Consider this :: what is it that keeps you up at night? What could you talk about every single day for the rest of your life? What do you want to shout from the rooftops so everyone will know?

What runs electric through your veins?

I have to admit – I stared at these words for a long time, slow panic rising in me.  Lots of things keep me up at night right now – and all the uncertainties and struggles began dancing around my head in broad daylight.

But out of the chaotic thoughts came countless moments from my memories – me, a heap on the floor and tears in my eyes and heart laid bare.  And I knew.

I shout from the rooftops that I love Him – shamelessly, fiercely, desperately – because He is all together perfect.

I don’t understand so much, but I love Him.

Some days it scares me because I live in a world that wants to make it seem foolish and pathetic and ignorant to love Him.  Sometimes the Church has earned those criticisms; often she hasn’t.  And it is hard to live in a world that seems hostile to what you love.  But still I love Him.

And I shout from the rooftops that He loves you, me, all of us, and if you do not love Him, perhaps you have not really seen Him?  And I suggest this with not a shred of condemnation or shame, but rather to stir up hope, to urge you to keep looking.

Electric through my veins is the desire for people to encounter His presence, to catch one glimpse of His eyes gazing into them – seeing all and loving all.  If we do not have Him, we have nothing.

And I shout from the rooftops that He is holy, and it is ok that we are not because He is committed to making us holy, even while we are broken.  When He corrects, it may be uncomfortable, but it still feels like grace.  And if it feels more like shame, then maybe just wait a little longer before making any changes?  Shame produces some nasty fruit, nothing like what He offers.

For the rest of my life, it comes back to Him, again and again.  And I know sometimes He seems far and sometimes He seems unreasonable and sometimes He simply makes no sense.  But don’t give up.  He is never truly far.  And I know some days this journey is just so, SO hard.  But don’t give up.

I shout from the rooftops that He is worth it.  I believe it with every fiber of my being.  I love Him.

And He loves us – this is my loudest shout of all.

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Filed under Faith, Passion, Presence, Worship