I Resolve

It’s January One. Time to use the snowy landscape as a blank canvas for this year’s intentions.

1. To stay healthy. No more hospitals! The remedy is fresh air and sunshine and maybe the occasional chocolate. Plenty of dancing and leafy greens.

2. To be one person. Less emotional intertwining and more simplicity to reveal the self. A discovery that happens only when your house is your own.

3. Adventures with amigos. We live too far apart. Let’s make new memories anyway.

4. More writing, less zoning. (Except when zoning is necessary.) Some kind of poetry, always statements, maybe a song.

5. Finish the house. It’s that old time charm with round archways and a chandelier.

A top five for 15 seems good to me. It’s all feeling right and settled and calm. It shall be a year of steady peace with a dash of whimsy. Right where I need to be.

Salud.

Gifts They Gave Me

In the last five years, I’ve met a lot of people, had a lot of coffee and conversations, and learned more about what a gift really is. As Christmas nears, I think the greatest gifts are the people in our lives, whether they’ve become permanent fixtures or transient interactions. They all gave me something. After all, “God doesn’t pass us notes; He passes us each other.”
with me
Al – Thank you for teaching me a thin cord of steel resides in myself and that laughter is important in any relationship.

Caitlin – Very, very few words describe the way my heart loves you. Dearly – very dearly. You are the definition of beautiful. You are lovely. You show me how to love. You are family and I’m pretty sure you are my soul sister.

Dawn – Thank you for giving me a shot, getting me started in a career. For the education and a growing appreciation for dreams and art. I learned more than I realized.

Elle – I’ve watched you grow, seen you blossom and become confident in your decisions, in your life, in your love. You are a butterfly. May your wings be always fluttering. Thank you for the adventures. There’s no one I’d rather helplessly watch a dishwasher suds over a foreign floor with. Let’ go again. Because you’ve made me braver.

Charles – Thank you for giving me the gift of time, for helping me realize we don’t live on a timeline and have to do certain things at a certain age. You showed me freedom and made me love motorcycles.

Jill – For being my mentor and coach and cheerleader. You taught me how to be vulnerable and strong and kind.

Mary – Thank you for being my training partner and revealing how everyone lives life on their own terms.

Amy – You’ve been my backup mom on more than one occasion. No one knows the hell I’ve been through better than you do. I find you incredible. That kind of support is one of kind. I could probably write a whole book on all the times you showed up.

Linda – You’re tough. I love that, the don’t take any nonsense from the world and just get out there and get it done. I owe you my whole life.

Dave – For always holding down the fort and for the twinkle in your eye. I’ve always had a place to land thanks to you.

Marlene – You’ve taught me generosity and the importance of building friendships. A cheerful attitude can pull you through just about anything.

Duane – To conquer the world and shrug off what they say. To take advice from rabbits on the corner and not the credit card companies.

Liza – Heavens you shine. You’ve always been so genuine. May I have that same transparency in my own life.

Nick – For teaching me about love and kindness. You are the definition of thoughtful. Hopefully I can make everyone in my life feel as important as you made me feel.

Blake – Ah, the captain of motivation. You are never far from my mind. You taught me how to chase a dream and to wake up early. That spirit of strength has pulled me through some tough moments.

Nicole – You are the beginning and the end. You are brilliant and smart and funny. I mostly want to be you.

All of these people and so many, many more have shaped the way I face experiences and decide who I want to be in life. I could write you each a letter. When a general in Napolean’s army was asked what he would do if he could do it over, he said he’d give more praise. That’s what this is about.

Make it permanent

I want the words to sear across the page, to see the smoke rise from my pen from the way it blurs across the page.

I want to put those fiery words on paper, watch them smolder and smoke and burn for you, so that you may know you are loved and we are all cheering for you.

For every time I see your face, my heart comes just a little more alive, becomes just a little more human.

I want to tell you you will be stronger than you ever dared to be, even when you run across ghosts that you once knew right there in the ballroom. You’ll move around each other like two shadows running from the sun, running from the love that scarred a heart or two and made your momma cry. Made you cry. You’ll be more upset than you know, thinking the past stayed there, forgetting you carry its little footprints somewhere on the ceiling of broken dreams.

Those dreams, you’ll think you left them there on the floor, to shine occasionally when the rain runs out and there’s nothing left to see but a trail of torn up sheets, stitched together with every good intention and bad decision you hated to make.

You’ll look out into the future and new wind tears across the plains, tears across the skin. Suddenly, the breeze cools and you find yourself amidst the muddy water. Water made clean, water the color of blood. You forgot you were made new when you held your breath, breathed in water like holiness.

And some days you look into the future and all you see is the fuzzy outline of indistinct colors, colors you thought were vivid and made new each morning. And some days you look into the future and it just about spraypaints gold onto the neurons desperately seeking substance.

You forget how to breathe because you can’t run. You’re an idiot and they still love you. There’s something of your soul in your eyes, waiting for you to stop being an idiot, to stop thinking about breathing and to just do whatever the hell it is that comes natural to you. Like blinking.

Leaves spin into coffee cups, spin into mossy bricks, spin into fall, winter, spring, summer.

There never was a “you” in all those moments of medals and false smiles and craggy rocks; none of those things were “you”. You always dwelled in the heart of the Lord. Nothing else ever can, never will make you “you”.

So instead, wash your hair in holy water. Take in beautiful humility like oxygen. Swallow it clear down into the clear pools of your lungs. Be still, my heart, my beating heart. Rock to the rhythm of bass beats, from a God who likes to laugh. Prepare for rain. Walk through wooden fences and crash into the Comforter.

And when you write, use pen, not lead. Make it permanent.

resting elm trees

They breathed for endless interim, an elm trunk

No oxygen in a panting soul, only paralysis of the tongue.

      Bottomless depths plunged by nails cut to the quick

Beneath those elm roots, that elm tree.

 

Only flashes of an endless summer rendered fall

No carbon under their footprints, only kings without a crown.

     Relentless pursuer crashing through the darkened night

Shimmering dust wrested from the road

And sent on ahead to tell someone else

 

     Who has never heard of resting, of elm trees.

a word, we would

If love were a song to you

we’d sing it back before crickets

won the evening twice

if peace were a stone they threw

we’d catch it with rough hewn hands

cradling the oceans of the world

if joy were a heavenly praise

we’d memorize the shape of its shadow

dwelling in the heart of the believer

if hate were a battle undone

we’d cast our nets wide

for the black minnows called home

if pain were a mantle heavy hanging

we’d hoist the weight ourselves

and sail it into your seared light

if laughter were a stolen leaf

we’d shake the aspen trees with dancing

pouring out iced grief

if prayer were a life written

we’d never put the pen down

for fear of forgetting white

if heaven were a starry cross

we’d reside in stoic silence

next to everywhere.

italia. amore. elle.

 

moving to florence for four weeks.

terrified.

thrilled.

loved.

how often do you get to move to italy for a month? now is the time, i told myself. i had left my summer open, taking a class from may to june, maybe combining a little wheat in the july heat, and then some vague notion of travel.

so when elle asked me over coffee to come to italy with her, i about choked on my chai. as the idea took root, all i wanted to do was say yes to this whisper of whimsy.

but the responsible little person in my head voiced concerns over money, paperwork, and who will watch the dog? of course, none of these were a real reason not to go.

the real reason not to go? scared of the wild blue yonder. i’m infamous for promoting adventure, but only in other people’s lives. i keep telling the engineer to take a job in a new state, to go experience something new, because now is the time to go. there are no permanent ties here, no stakes anchoring you to this place. you are free to pack and bag and roam far and wide.

easier said than done.

so somewhere inside, i had to hush the uncertainty, and embrace what awaits on the other side of the atlantic.

i couldn’t be more excited.

elle asked me on a friday, and sunday night i sent her this:

“i’m coming with you. xo”

i’m so excited to travel back to our roots with this beautiful girl. we first met in a writing class: her blog was infused with jesus, and i knew i had to ask her to coffee. so i took a deep breath and made a date. now, we’re filling out paperwork and sending texts when classes get approved.

this is absolutely the most spontaneous thing i’ve ever done. i never dreamed i’d be moving halfway around the world with someone who radiates jesus the way this girl does. even writing that sentence feels surreal.

here’s to an extraordinary adventure with an extraordinary girl with an extraordinary god.

may there be love and laughter and planes and rome and wine and jesus under a starry italian sky.

gone away

a swelling of the chords carried

on the turtle’s

back /

home

where the ivory was true

and clean and strong /

without dismay at the colors

of

the morning sun

hidden

behind

a gray curtain hung on a shelf with

promises

for hooks and a window

covered in /

ash

burnt

from the tongues of oppressive

passion

scarred

without a warning there

arose /

a wash of healing

light

without glass, fragile

pure of intention wearing

attention

and authority

patient

on the chalkboard with ink-stained

fingers /

changing the typewriter paper once

more for a single

word /

reigned.