God knows what God is doing.

This blog has been receiving epic amounts of love from me lately – a poem or post nearly every night this week. It was a crazy week for me, so the writing helped. But now that the week is coming to a close, I didn’t want to end my writing streak! Tonight, though, I want to share the words of others. Something I’ve noticed lately is that I’ve been resisting what the Lord had to say to me through my friends and chapel speakers. I suppose I’ve just been really good (read: poor) at trying to figure everything out on my own. But life isn’t like that; it isn’t some battle we charge into alone. I am so prideful when it comes to doing things on my own. But I need to listen. I need to believe what the people around me tell me. Which brings me to this short post. Every semester, I collect quotes from chapel and church in the back of my Bible. I’ve filled up about 15 blank pages in the past two years. Since this semester is coming quickly to a close (something I’ll write on soon), and since I need to hear truth these days, I wanted to share what I’ve collected in the past few months. I hope you hear the Lord in these words too.

“None of us need on-the-job training to put us on the throne of our own lives.” -Rob Turner, Apex church, 1-27-13

“We can’t love the world’s system because the world’s system is tragically imploding.” -RT, Apex, 1-27-13

“If your life is not built around adoring Christ, then you are doing something demonic.” -RT, Apex, 1-27-13 (A very tough one for me to swallow and to wrap my head around.)

“The strategy of the devil is not to make himself look so scary and ugly – it is to make himself look beautiful.” -RT, Apex, 1-27-13 (It was a good day, what can I say?)

“These embers must turn into flame.” -RT, 1-27-13

“We have a tendency to complain about things that aren’t, but we fail to recognize how blessed we are.” -Dr. Brown, chapel, 1-28-13

“God is not fooled by our words.” -Pastor Rohm, chapel, 2-4-13 (another hard one for me – because sometimes, I am fooled by my words.)

“You always have a voice in heaven. When you think no one will listen, take it over their heads.” -Pastor Craig Miller, chapel, 2-6-13

“Truth is always best when it is accompanied by wisdom.” -Pastor Craig Miller, 2-6-13

“No matter how confused you are about what God is doing, God knows what God is doing.” -Dr. Kneeland Brown, chapel, 2-19-13

“If you read Scripture, you know that God does not always speak in thunderclaps.” -Dr. Kneeland Brown, 2-19-13

“An afterlife is not the same thing as an everlasting life.” -Russell Moore, chapel, 2-21-13

“The hotel maid who trusts in the power of the Gospel will one day be a Queen of the universe and should be treated as such.” -Russell Moore, 2-21-13

“My life right now is an internship for the life I will have in the Kingdom.” -Russell Moore, 2-21-13

“You have no accidental college roommates, or accidental relationships, or accidental part-time jobs. Everything is for a purpose.” -Russell Moore, 2-21-13

“Stop thinking in terms of the next 60 years and start thinking in terms of the next trillion years.” -RM, 2-21-13

“If you belong to the kingdom of God, you have nothing to prove.” -RM, 2-21-13

“Why is it that these people – the prostitutes, the sinners, the tax collectors – clamored to be with Jesus but don’t want to be near us?” -Dr. Brown, chapel, 2-25-13

“Give God a chance to prove how real He is.” -Pastor Bill Church, my home pastor at Winona UMC, 3-10-13

“The Creator of the universe will give you His full attention for as long as you want it.” -Dr. Brown, chapel, 3-11-13

“The person who has nothing plus Jesus actually has everything.” -Dr. Someone From a Baptist Seminary (which is actually what I have written down… forgive me.), chapel, 3-13-13

“We cannot condemn without offering Jesus.” -Eric Metaxas, chapel, 3-14-13

“The more you love and trust the Lord, the stranger the path He will take you on, because He knows you won’t run away.” -Eric Metaxas, 3-14-13

“When something becomes everything to us, we are then worshiping it.” -Jason Wing, Apex church, 3-17-13

“On your greatest day, Christ still had to die for you.” -Rob Turner, Apex, 4-17-13 (Painfully humbling for me.)

“The humble, mysterious power of the Kingdom protects us from depending on the dramatic.” -RT, Apex, 4-21-13

“He’s just as strong in the whisper as He is in the fire.” -RT, 4-21-13

“We’re so prone to worship the gifts of God rather than the God who gives them.” -RT, 4-21-13

“We are slaves to a perfect master.” -Christian Figueredo, chapel, 4-23-13

Father,
I know I am very bad at trusting You. I know I’m very bad at believing Your good will for my life, even though I know there is nothing You want more for me than goodness and faithfulness. Please help me hear what You say, through whomever You say it. Help me accept Your wisdom and Your blessings.
In the only Name that matters – Amen.

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Upending the Puzzle

Broken bones and failing eyes as I drift out to sea on some mangled old boat.
Trading, stealing, stolen.
It wasn’t supposed to get this messed up.
I was only away for a few minutes,
only meant to venture beyond the fence for the afternoon.
Back before nightfall.
But I am a wayfarer, and I am not good with direction.
I kept looking back and it didn’t seem far off
until it disappeared.
Cold, and alone.
Slipping into the vast frozen water,
praying for rescue but not believing it would happen.

I was a sheep who always felt like a donkey
and You dangled the carrot in front of me.
My tongue didn’t reach.
I was close but not close enough.
I could never be enough.
I know it’s not who You are but it didn’t feel like love then.
I know I’m not some game You’re playing.
I was so angry. Angry at You, and at the carrot,
and at the distance between the thing You offered and the thing I was.
Broken bones and failing eyes.
Eyes that didn’t care to see anymore.

But I’m an awful sheep. So I ran off.
And I got lost.
And I gave up.
I don’t know why You would take me back.
I would not take me back.
The thing You created had rolled in the mud
not to get dirty
but for the pleasure of becoming what it was inside.
That is control:
Accepting the distance between as the only place that exists.
Deciding to belong there.
Breaking my own bones so no one else would have the chance.

There isn’t a right way sometimes,
so I grope in the darkness,
hoping to find the back wall
or at least an exit.
I just don’t want to be stuck
in the cave anymore.
And I can’t clutch the splintering boat forever,
and God if the bottom falls through
You know I do not swim.
I don’t want to pretend I’m the captain anymore.
I don’t want to accept that I am the donkey.
Again and again and a million times more,
I need You to let me believe that I am more than the space between.
Drag me along,
I want that love.
That love that doesn’t stop.
I want so many things, God.
I see that carrot and I want my life to be that way.
I have waited a really long time
for this.
With a burst of pride, I insist on reminding You of my perceived patience.
For a lot.
But I need You.
You,
all Your wind-on-the-clouds grace;
I need that.
There are no more poetic ways to say it –
I need you, so desperately and passionately and still that isn’t enough.
As I stand before my inadequacies, my assumptions, my fears,
I will narrow my failing eyes and rip away the walls that shut me away.

So be that Shepherd, the one who comes looking.
Don’t let me walk. I don’t want to be in control anymore.
The last time I tried that,
I went too far.
Don’t let me drown.
Don’t let me roll in the dirt.
Don’t let me curse the distance that doesn’t exist.
The world is terrifying.
Life is not.

Are you still listening?

Time and time again, I promised myself that I would not apologize for what I wrote.  I never wanted to preface everything with disclaimers, and I swore to be honest.  I never wanted this blog to be structured or planned, and though I knew it would never be smart for it to become a journal, I wasn’t about to let it become an agenda, either.  That’s why I rarely read other blogs – so many are so artificial, as if I were walking into a virtual store dedicated to t-shirts and posters bearing the blogger’s face, emblazoned with some kitschy motto.  I didn’t want my words to become a product.  I just wanted them to make sense to someone else.

This blog has become exactly what I envisioned.  It’s real.  This is me, in all my dusty, twisty glory.  The onslaught of poetry in the past few days is the product of some weird sort of soul disease – all these words keep hitting me, at the most random times.  One of my friends told me once that he speaks his poems, then has to write them down as they come.  I thought it was such an odd concept at first.  My poems never came like that; they could only be born on the page.  I couldn’t just think up lines and then build around them.  Stuff just came as a package, you know; fully formed stanzas with a beginning, middle, and end.

But God set something off in me this week.  Last night, I couldn’t sleep because every time I began to drift off, a new line came to me and I had to get up to write it down.  This weekend, I wrote two or three poems every night, one right after the other, even though I have about seventeen million other things I should’ve been doing (like studying for that degree I’m attempting to attain, you know).  A few of them made it here, but many remain tucked away in my journal.  I am grateful for the insight the Lord has been granting me lately (and I’m calling it “insight” in spite of the fact that it feels like “sheer and utter confusion and chaos” …I’m trying to convince myself to change my perspective).  There have been seasons in my life where all I wanted to do was figure it out on paper, but nothing ever came to me, and I didn’t like that feeling.  It felt just as much like a disease as this sometimes feels.  But having too much to say is probably a better burden that not having anything but yearning for something desperately.

This all feels very meta, very disjointed.  I don’t actually think I have a point – the frustrating thing about the Overflowing Words Disease is that I can’t seem to find where I’m going with anything.  Everything ends with a question mark, and I’m having trouble talking through it as well.  Honestly, I think most people think I’m crazy.  I’m blessed to have very tolerant, loving friends who deal with the crazy… but Lord knows what they’re thinking as I ramble on and on.  My darling roommate has put up with so much this past month: me, practically falling into the room at midnight, talking at lightening speed about my confusing days and confusing thoughts.  On and on I go, my speech interrupted only by my own incomprehensible sighs of frustration.  And she sits there, smiling, laughing, letting me explode.  And then she talks, and I laugh at her, because at some point in the middle of the night, we always come to the conclusion that being a college student has got to be the weirdest state of being and there’s no use trying to make sense of it.  I will miss her so much in a couple weeks.  She is one of the few people who sees me at my worst and still finds something good.

I guess I just wanted you all to know that I am in a discovery sort of place in my head and heart right now.  As if you couldn’t already tell :)  There will certainly be more poetry, and I hope you don’t mind it.  This is my place, this silly little blog.  It’s how I’m trying to connect.  As a communications student, I realize what an odd mode of connection the internet really is: me, practically bearing my soul for a bunch of people I don’t even know (and, as I’ve learned recently, many that I do know as well), often without equal reciprocation of soul-bearing.  If we’re going strictly by the textbook, relationships shouldn’t work like this.  Blogs shouldn’t work, because one party is being all open with a bunch of people who aren’t.  But I’m glad theory is less applicable than life.

COMING UP (probably… hopefully…): Camp has been on my mind lately, so I’m in the middle of writing a piece about everything I learned at summer camp and why I credit a large portion of who I am to camp.  And also, why I think every kid should go to camp this summer.  Also, in keeping with the camp theme, I hope to write up another campfire story soon.  Maybe White Gorilla… It is my second-favorite :)

Thanks for listening.

Accomodating an Absurdity.

And I have rehearsed every possible avenue for this in my head.
I’ve gone down the ones with soundtracks
and the one with laugh tracks
and still I don’t know where the path is leading
or why I write scripts for things that don’t happen.
You have inspired in me more poetry than problems but
believe me,
you have inspired a lot of problems.
But I am willing to get in the trains
that lead into the deserts
because Lord knows there must be an oasis.
In my script you are a mirage
and in my mind you might be one too,
but I cling to this foolish expectation of deliverance
because I’m told that is all humans can do.
No one ever wrote about it like this,
no one ever told the truth when they taught the little ones how to see.
There is nothing fun about this,
no twirling in my bones.
Just that sickening removal, like
the feeling you get when the roller coaster starts
but your body takes a moment to catch up.
Only this track might be broken because it never
stops.
It would feel like a lifetime,
then it would feel like nothing.
Be ready for the tearing at the seams
and the fire-forged seal at the middle,
the heart that won’t rip even if you begged it to.
I don’t know why anyone would ever sign up for this.
I will pass out the tickets
for the trains in my head –
I will pay you to remove the rails.
Be warned,
there are no bullet trains here,
no Japanese technological wonders,
no see-Europe-in-a-week packages.
This is the industrial revolution,
slower than Moses
and just as confused as he was, too.
Pry the pen from my reluctant fingers,
pause my words with some sort of reality.
Don’t let me keep making conversations in my head,
ones that lead to nowhere
but keep going long after they reach it.
Tell me something that makes sense.

Tunneling.

She thought she would crumble under the weight of it all.
What is real
and what is not.
The mountains towered over her
so she closed her eyes and she tried to imagine
her earth,
shaking and sinking,
exploding and reforming,
giving birth to the treacherously beautiful landscape.
But she couldn’t feel it.
It was so long ago that the ground stretched itself out,
like a blanket spread across the fiery core.
There were no lingering tremors.
She heard a poet once;
he described people like mountains,
these big tall things that could stand in any
metaphorical storm.
She used to like to think like that too.
Sometimes she thought if you compared people to anything,
it could make sense.
If you were creative enough.
People are like window panes!
They’ll block out the storm, but the wind still seeps in the cracks,
whistling softly!

She supposed storms must also be part of the analogy.
Apparently life was a storm of some sort.
So far, it had only felt like a generally gale force wind, with occasional
baseball-sized hail.
The wind was all right sometimes, on the days when it was just a breeze.
And the hail was cool,
if you were inside and all.
But it all got cold and old
after a while.
Maybe that was a storm after all.
In any case,
she now thought the poet was a lunatic.
She thought he should be denied pen and paper.
(Sometimes, she got irrational).
Because people were not like mountains;
not at all.
Mountains are strong.
Mountains never say stupid stuff.
Mountains never throw bombs at other mountains.
Mountains stay out of other people’s business.
They never make friends,
but I suppose that makes existence real easy for them.
When she looked at mountains,
she didn’t see something that would crumble.
When she looked at herself,
she saw pieces chipping away.
It was normal wear and tear, really.
Nothing extreme.
Nothing more than anyone else.
But it was enough to make her not like a mountain.
No,
she was more like a city.
Planned and impressive and imposing to see.
Full of complication behind the gates.
People read books about traveling in cities,
and people read blogs thinking it’ll help them understand a person
without really putting in much effort.
That’s the city’s fault, you know.
The city shouldn’t look so hard.
I bet the city would tell it a different way.

But she knows,
now,
that cities don’t fall all at once.
They’re beaten down,
brick by crumbling
brick.
Torn and bashed.
It is the fate of all great empires.
So unlike the fate of great mountains,
those everlasting pockmarks on an otherwise
abandoned planet.
Things that can’t fall,
in love or otherwise.
Resilient reminders of the inconsistency of things.
Silent watchers of refugees and
the ones who just need a hiding place.
When they finally crumble,
it will be time to do so.
But until then they will not budge.
The cities we build on them,
and the miniature cities inhabiting the larger ones,
will continue to rise and collapse.
Outside-in and inside-out.
(Sometimes it is the city’s choice as to the manner of detriment).
And the mountains,
out of friends and out of love and out of risk,
will stand.