Friday, May 31, 2013

like home

A haven.
With gentle hands and strong arms.
The way he closes doors, quiet. The way he embarks on his days, like a whisper. Soft reserve in lifestyle.Uses his hands when he is describing a concept. Puns are his favorite mode of humor. Yerba Mate drinks are his must-have for each day. Relentless caffeine-addict. Loves his mind to be clear, able to think freely for as long as he wishes, with no obligations taking up his thought-space. Accumulates tools, wires, and random "fix-it", "techie" objects. Spontaneous craft and hobby master. Michael Caine and Mark Whalberg impressions that make me squeal with laughter. Amuses me with his nostalgic affection for the 90's decade. A mind so firm, analytical, and strategic. Revolutionary at heart. Requires freedom and patience to be. Against the grain. The one to always choose the path less-traveled. Closet-poet. Pursuer of fresh avenues of experience. Laissez-faire. Strength of individualism, rooted in Scripture, watered by grace.

 Nolan Thomas. My home and haven during my earthly-journey to glory. The nearest I will get to heaven this side of eternity. A vessel so unlike my own, differences so striking in their contrast. Yet, the resonance of our soul-cry sings in a harmony that we were meant to be. Two wander-lust pilgrims with unrestrained hearts, caught up in a vision for that which lies beyond the blue.

I adore studying my husband when he is caught up in thought, unaware. ;)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

from the heart to the pen

I have been getting in touch with my inner "creative muse" as of late.
The "artist" in me has been mostly dormant the past years of my life, aside from a few sporadic splatterings of songs that came from moments of inspiration. This has the pattern of my life for longer than I would like to admit. Inconsistent, undisciplined, lacking focus, and lacking goals. Certainly, I manage to store up many dreams and visions for my life, but they are rarely something I pursue. Why? I don't know. It's easier and sweeter to live in my imagination. In reality, I have invested more of my time into relationships. It has been worth it, every moment. However, as my life has taken a transition into marriage and being a stay-at-home wife, my days have simplified and slow down significantly. As I began to look at all my free time, I imagined all the fruits of my effort that would spring up from this season! And, yet, I have nothing to show for it (well, aside from investing in my husband, which is, naturally, my first and most rewarding passion!). Yes, I prepare meals for the week, keep up on cleaning, stay in touch with friends and family, and I have even done more reading since I have been married. As much as I enjoy being a homemaker, there is still the part of me that is restless and wandering. I need to explore and pursue and travel. It is a very central part of who I am. This is an aspect inherent to my husband and myself. I don't think we could be one of those couples that "settle down" in a nice place for the rest of our lives. We both have this insatiable need to continue exploring and learning. I want to bet that age won't snuff out our fire! Nevertheless, I believe I have digressed from my original topic...
 All this to say, I am beginning to take the first steps towards, not merely achieving dreams and goals in a sort of self-empowering way, but pursuing ambitions that will bring my soul to blossom because they are the very thing that my Abba designed for me to be and to do.

 I have started picking up my guitar this past week, strumming through my originals, and feeling the discouragement of being out of shape. Something I once spent hours and hours, days upon days, year after year with has become more of a chore than a natural skill. I sense my failure before I start, but that is why I can only take one step at a time. And, so, I am strumming again. Shout it from the roof-tops!

 As if one goal wasn't enough, I have had something churning around in my heart for the past two months.A writing project of a personal narrative. I have a story that I need to share and I think this season in my life was crafted for me to get it out on paper. And when I say I have a story, I mean that it is a deeply personal account of events that have transpired in my life. I cannot say anything more about it except that it will not be merely a personal narrative. I want to take it beyond a re-telling of events. I want it to transcend beyond the facts into a pilgrim's travel from glory to glory.
 I'll be honest. I really do not know anything about the writing world. I don't claim to be a writer, although it is something I thoroughly enjoy and find very therapeutic. The thought of possible publishing it is a tad overwhelming at this early stage. I feel intimated by the responsibilities of sharing it with the public. But, I want to share it. I need to share this.
I didn't even know what my writing idea could be classified as until I took it to Google and did some research. Perhaps, it will best be defined in the genre of Creative Nonfiction, as described below:

The defining characteristic of CN (creative nonfiction) is the use of literary techniques to create a sense of artfulness in the language, character development, and story, all of which tends to drive the narrative “inward.” CN work also tends to focus on transformational events in the narrator’s or central character’s life. CN generally seems closer to the truth of the narrator’s experience than other forms of nonfiction, as revealing the narrator’s experience / emotional consequence of the experience often seems the implicit “goal” of the work.
CN sometimes ends up sounding “crafted” or “poetic” however (example: “In an instant, the city was back to its normal self, yawning in the dawn haze,”) to the point where it can be difficult not to question whether a work really reflects what the writer actually felt / experienced or if he/she is more just attempting to showcase a certain brand of writing skills. (source

This is the best description I have found to communicate what I find myself writing.

So, page by page, I am letting it out in the only way that I know how. It's not going to be something intelligently crafted. It is a real-life tale of a long, ever-winding journey from glory to glory. And, it feels like I am learning how to pray for the very first time because this "project" is bringing many of my vulnerabilities to light. In many ways, I am learning anew to trust the Spirit, the wind that blows where it wishes and I know its sounds, but I know not where it will go. But, my Maker cannot and will not lead me astray.
 To end my daily musings, a quotation that beckons further pondering....

To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.
You must write every single day of your life.
You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.
You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.
I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.
I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.
May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories—science fiction or otherwise.
Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


 I found this gem of a quote yesterday. It reminded me of the post I wrote this past Sunday. :)

There is no such thing as a good day, or a bad day. 
There is only a day of grace
And some days the grace of God allows you to enjoy what is happening and some days the grace of God allows you to endure what is happening. 
But don't think about good and bad anymore, just enjoy the grace that is present. 

~ Graham Cooke

Sunday, May 19, 2013

day of grace

Does the heart know anything sweeter than to be wrapped up in tears and the arms of its dearest companion?
I whisper a thank you to Abba for this one grace I can see, feel, touch, smell, and kiss today. My husband.
The 3 months of our young marriage has challenged us with the bold sacrifices of Love. And he, my love, becomes, more and more, dear to me. He becomes a closer friend to me. When he holds me near, as more than a lover, and speaks words of heaven over my frame, I am reminded of my origin, who I am in Christ. And when we cry together because this earth is not enough, our soul-hunger begins to ache in unison for heaven. Whoever would of thought that crying was a grace? I do. A gift that we are given to produce when raw emotions rise up from within. That salty taste from the droplets penetrates our lips....a reminder that we are living, breathing creations that feel. A gift that leads us, with anguish, to the throne-room.
 This is our day of grace.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

from protest to praise

I am trying my hand at blogging again.
It seems a bit fruitless, this blogging-business. But why is it so darn therapeutic?

3 months newlywed to my dearest friend, my husband. Full of ambitions and vision! Ready to take on a new direction of life. Everyone runs into their own expectations when they are beginning a new season in life.
But, I cannot run. No, I cannot run from who I am.
I am fairly certain that this what I need to re-learn.
This is what I need to know, the way that one knows simple mathematics and rules of grammar. It's when the facts pass beyond our memory and become seared into the foundations of our being. We don't need to "jog" our memory to bring it back into view. It is the view - the one we see when we lift ourselves from bed every new dawn. Unshakeable. When our identity is questioned by outside forces, we can laugh, because it is so well-sealed, such a full reality, that we would stake everything on it.
Right now, could you say that you would bet your life on the undeniable reality of your identity?
I feel like I can on some days. Other days, not so much.
I cannot control the things that shake it up. Trials of life have shaken it up quite violently. Even joys re-situate it for a time, sometimes giving you a feigned sense of control and stability over it.
Being married shakes it up. Relationships, period, shake it up. Life, in itself, the grand and the grief, is one big earthquake to the core of ourselves. Sometimes, we let the collective mass of all these things shake us up so badly, that we live in a perpetual state of confusion and numb ourselves with every little distraction.
So, I am re-learning my roots. Going back to my place of birth.

My faith. It is not my faith.
It's His.
You know that verse we have read and heard time and time again?
The one from Galatians 2:20.
Say it again...

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

There is something about that verse that really needs to be pointed out. Many versions read, "...I live by faith in the Son of God..." 
No. That's just not a good translation. It's not "I live by faith." Don't you see what that does to you, to me? It becomes our faith, something that originated from us, something we can sustain.
Well, I have to deliver this dour announcement to myself a lot. You are done. You've reached your limit. You don't have anymore faith. 
Then, something happens. Something takes up residence in those empty places. Or, I should say, someone.
Oh, yes. The One whom my soul loves. 

I forget that I love Him until that moment when He comes in to love me. 

And I want to beat myself up. Of course, I love Him. I love my Lord! 
But my heart. My utterly deceitful and wicked heart told me there was something better. And I believed it that Joy could be obtained and created in the way I sought, because I am a creator, too. I am a dreamer. I am visionary. I can sustain something, too. 
Naturally, this sort of pep-talk is laughable. Based in a partial truth, but straying so far from its origin. It's like a replay from the scene of the Garden, when the Enemy of our souls took a truth and stripped its root and redressed it in finery.
I could beat myself up for buying into that ancient lie. 
Yet, my Lord never appears disappointed. It's as if He expected I would reach my end and remember the Garden scene and feel a great a whirlpool of frustration and grief. And, before I use that whirlpool to drown myself away in, He takes my hand and says,

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain...

There it is. My identity. I misplace it a lot. He chose me. Ordained me. He will make fruit in me abide. Whether it be the fruit of love, endurance, or any of those sweet virtues of the soul that His love letters speak to us.
And when I cannot believe that He will, He will believe for me.
He will believe in me. 
His faith in me.

Nearly every one who has passed through my life with me has told me, at some point along the way, that I write well. It makes a nice compliment. I like to soak it up for the moment. But, I don't really believe it. 
People have said the same about my music, the way I sing and play, the songs I write. But, I don't really believe it. Or, perhaps, I struggle with wanting to believe it because I remember how quickly my passions and pursuits can center all on me and my expectations for them. It is easier to not pursue them so that I don't have to deal with my silly expectations and dreams for them, which I can never compete with in reality. I like to think that the way things look in my mind are so much lovelier. Therefore, I will keep them in my mind and admire them there. 
And so, I need to face them. Those expectations. Those "lovelier" realities in my mind.
I think that there is something divine happening when someone in our life, whether one close to us or merely a passing acquaintance, points out to us, "Oh, you ____ wonderfully." Fill in the blank with what others have intentionally and genuinely spoken to you. 
They are noticing something inherently and uniquely attributed to you by your Creator.
 Something that originates in the DNA your Maker wove just for you. 
But you cannot ever truly know it unless you know Him. 

I need to stop protesting against the One who ordained me to be His dreamer who writes, who sings, and plays guitar. I need to praise Him with these unique buds of life He put in me because it's what He has lovingly given me to praise Him. To not use them would be to deny who I am, to deny my Maker. That would be misery. That would be the un-lived life. 

I am just going to start walking this.
I guess that is why I am blogging again. It's my own way of writing out those steps of my journey.
One of my favorite "time-wasters" is to read through the blogs of others, searching high and low through people of all walks of life - or, the ones who choose to place an internet-window for others to view their life through. I think that is why I like blogs. I like reading their thoughts, their experiences, and viewing their photography. I love getting a peak into the very special unique lives of people I don't even know. To me, it's fascinating because people are fascinating. Call me nosey, I don't care. It's not weird at all.

We are all travelers on earth. Our earthly origins may all be varied, but not our soul-origin. All of us have been stitched and formed by the same Hand. Not all of us like to think so, I know. Many are still searching for home, many believe they have found home, and then there are those of us who know that Home has come, is come, and will come.  
Emmanuel. God with us.

So, like many others, I am a traveler documenting my own journey. I am learning my origins and destination afresh every day. It begins on a forsaken tree.....

Broken wing, forgotten dream, shattered thing
That a man's hands can't ever mend
Shadowland, the desert sand, a man searches
For a love that'll never die
Truth be known, you're not alone
Your aching bones will find a home
In a place where God He sets us free
Wake me up before you go
I will listen for the sound of Your voice
Hear the wind in the trees
It goes where it please
Like the breath in me
And all who have breath can sing,

When we laid Your body down
In earth and in the ground
Oh child, rest Your soul.
Will a hope be made good
If a Word is understood
In the day, will we see it again?

Gather round, hear the sound
Of a story that's so old that it's been told
Before time
He was born in the flesh and the blood
In a world that was dark as hell, and dead in sin
Born of the spirit, and the virgin child
He's the Son of God, Son of Man
I didn't recognize that look in His eyes
When they cried
With a sorrow that no man has ever known
Hang Him high, watch Him die, hear the cry
Crucified up on that God forsaken tree
And all who have breath can sing

When we laid your body down
In the earth and in the ground
Oh Lord, rest your bones
Will a hope be made good
If Your words are understood
In the day, will we see You again?

Oh Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?
Oh my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Oh Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?
Oh my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

Forever my family forms the ring.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Love Story: Our February Wedding, Part 3

The reception was filled with a restful hush and quiet conversation as Irish ballads streamed through the lush surroundings. We had the pleasure of enjoying music by a local band called The Strand. We drew the inspiration for our wedding from the Hobbits and the Elves of the Lord of the Rings to make our reception old-fashioned, simple, rustic, and serene. Our desire was to create an inviting atmosphere for our guests, as I believe guests are an incredibly significant part to a wedding. So, we gifted them with the lovely music by the Strand.
 Many prayers went into the creation of all these simple and lovely details. All the credit goes to family and friends who invested time, money, effort, and many long prayers into our February day. I remember being overwhelmed by how dream-like everything was as the photographer was leading me around to get my pictures done. I could hear the soft falling notes of the harp and a flute filling the air. It seemed so otherworldly.
 I also remember seeing the children running around the green lawn, playing tag, giggling, and completely enjoying themselves. It brought immense joy to my heart to watch them play and be happy!

My cousin and her husband amongst the peach blossoms.
My friend, Elizabeth, exploring the orchard.

 Nolan and I prepared several months in advance for our first dance to be a waltz. In fact, I chose the song by Gungor called Every Breath {I Will Love You} that just so happened to be in the waltz time. The song can be listened to here and the lyrics read here. I found that this song dearly expressed our devotion to the Lord and to each other.
 What I didn't prepare for was the train of my gown getting in the way and causing lots of silly mess-ups. My gown was designed to be pinned up in the back, but, I was too impatient to do it beforehand. ha! Nevertheless, our funny mess-ups amused our guests and made them laugh. Once Nolan and I got the hang of it, our steps began to flow more smoothly and, by the end of the song, we were gliding. The sun's golden rays created the perfect lighting for our first dance.

My father and I danced to a violin/piano rendition of the hymn, How Deep the Father's Love for Us. For many personal reasons, I chose that song. It is piece that has resonated with my dad and myself since 2010 and through many trials that we have journeyed through together. Being a daddy's girl, I found it particularly significant as my father and I have both been learning the love of our true Father through pain and through hardships. My favorite shot that Elena captured (the last one, bottom left) is the one of the sunset's rays piercing through the camera's lens. It makes me think of us being swallowed up into God's marvelous light, knowing that one day we will be transformed in the blink of an eye, home at last.

The last "event" of the evening were the speeches. 
My sister's speech brought me to tears. My cousin's speech brought me joy. My brother-in-law's speech touched me and made me smile because I had only just met him a couple months before the wedding. My husband's speech made me proud as he honored his wonderful parents who, I am blessed to announce, we share the same wedding anniversary date with! They were celebrating their 40th anniversary on the day we declared our "I do's." To be honest, we hadn't purposefully planned it that way!

  Lastly, I gave a speech to the 5 people who have shaped and blessed me the most - my father, my mother, sister, brother, and my cousin (who is basically my second sister, ha!). I hardly began the words to my father and mother before I broke down, tears erupting from my eyes. I hadn't cried during the wedding up until that moment. Naturally, I was too happy to really cry. Yet, as I began, one by one, honoring my family, the realization hit that I was leaving them and that a very significant chapter in my life was closing to allow for this new chapter.

Rustic initials cake-topper from Etsy!

My cousin Alexis' speech for us that she printed out.

Thus, the evening incredibly chilly night filled with the Lord's shalom. I could have dreamed it to go on even longer through the night, but it was so cold that many had to leave early. Ah, but it was all so glorious!