Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It’s hard to write this. I don’t really want to, but I think I need to. The words have been given and are pushing out. I fear being honest and open, and I don’t want to be brave. I don’t want to bare my heart and soul. What will you people think of me? 

Will you think me silly and shallow? I don't know...but I’m going to push all that aside and tell the story regardless.

I wouldn't change a single line of my story...not a single line.

I would not erase a single strand of heartache or pain, because I wouldn't be who I am today. 

It was a Wednesday in May last year and it was perfect outside. I had gone on a run on the winding roads behind my house and I could feel heaven bending down low. The sky was deep blue, it was a gorgeous spring day and I felt amazing. I was praying, thanking God for everything in my life...and that’s when I made the mistake of praying and asking for one of the dumbest things in the world. I stopped in the middle of the road, threw my hands up in the air, did a half spin, and said with an easy smile and a laugh, “God, do whatever you need to do to me so I grow, I want to be close to you.” 

“I don’t love you anymore.” It was the following Friday and those words fell like a hammer on my heart and I reeled. My boyfriend of over four years stood looking at me and I sat down hard in the chair and something like, “Why?” fell from my lips. He gave a very final if unsatisfactory answer, “I don’t know, I don’t love you anymore. And I know love is a choice but I simply don’t want to make it anymore. I want to be free.” I sat stunned for a moment as I felt the beginning of cracks in my heart. He dropped me off at home and I couldn't see past the pain that was in front of my face like a suffocating blanket and it hurt to breathe. It felt like my heart was being torn and cut into pieces, how could this possibly be alright? How can be God be good when it hurts so much?

What do you do when you pour out all the love you have and invest so much time into a person, then they look at all you are, what you have given, and still decide to walk away regardless...What do you do?

Can I give thanks for the pain as well as the joy? Can I drink deeply from the cup of life even when it holds bitterness? 

Normally I am pretty positive person that tries to see the bright side of things, but this stretched me to a breaking point and for 1.6 days I drowned in despair…

Is God still good even when life hurts? When people walk away? When babies die, suicides happen and when death closes it's gaping jaws and life seeps away? Sometimes pain in one area has a tendency to release the demons in all the areas of your life. 

And the only answer I had to these questions was this, we see through a glass darkly and the curtain is so thick sometimes and all I know is we aren't home yet.

I am here sitting on a red couch typing these words and I know with every fiber of my being that He is good, I believe that He is good. I am grateful for it all and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't change a single line of my story...not a single line.

I would not erase a single strand of heartache or pain because I wouldn't be who I am today. 

The moment that he walked away, was by far and away one of the best things that could have happened to me and even if though it hurt like the dickens at the time, I am so incredibly thankful that God loved me enough to not give me what I thought I wanted.

I stand before you all today and can say with conviction that, I am grateful for every person I have encountered, every moment I have tasted and passed by; for they have all led me to this place where I am right now. The sadness and the joy, the pain and pleasure, the mistakes and hurt and heartache.

There is nothing I would change, nothing I would forget, for if I altered His plan I would only ruin it.

I don't know if there is something that is suffocating you right now, I don't know if the pain hurts so much that it's hard to breathe sometimes, I don't know if you fight to smile when you want to cry. 

But I know the Author of this story is weaving this all together for good and even though right now we can only see the one sentence we are trapped in, one day we shall read the whole epic and I believe laughter will escape our lips as we see how all the pieces fit perfectly together.

So give thanks for it all, be grateful for every glorious moment we have been given.

"As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God." 
-Henri Nouwen

And this may/probably will be deleted in a couple hours, cause I am a fraidy cat.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I sat, perched on the cool, green, tile counter top in the bathroom, with one foot planted in the sink and a knee tucked under my chin as I studied my face in the mirror.

I was thirteen, and to say I was awkward would have been the understatement of the year. Looking back at me from the mirror a decade ago, was a girl with a smile that looked like she'd gotten beaten up, legs too long and lanky, brown eyes behind wire rimmed glasses, and hair that was stick straight and terribly unruly. I was quiet, analytical, and nearly text book introvert. I wondered what it would be like to be graceful instead of gangly, cool instead of nerdy.

I grimaced, furrowed my brow and wondered. I realized that beauty was subjective and was only skin deep but still...like Anne Shirley I realized that I was shallow but thought nonetheless it would be nice for once to simply be beautiful.


Peel me back a little bit and you'll still find remnants of that little thirteen year old's insecurity hiding in places, I have come along way, but perfection is a while off. Maybe I am alone in this, maybe it is just me. But I have a sneaking suspicion that those insecurities are hiding somewhere in all of us.

Some of us bury them deep, hoping that if we pretend they aren't there it will fix everything, like a child hoping that if we just dive beneath the blankets we will escape the monster. Some of us run, looking for things to distract us from all the insecurities that plague us, hoping to evade their grasp, and others embrace them wholeheartedly, allowing their insecurities to be the tenor of this life chipping away at all they hold dear.

I don't want to bury, run, and I certainly don't want to embrace...so the only other option seems to be to turn and face forward. To stand looking at my faults, failures, insecurities and short comings full in the face and simply say, "I am loved and because I am loved, I am more. I will fall and I will get back up, over and over and over again. And you will never win, because love never fails."

So stop burying, stop running, stop embracing and just give up and know that the price has been paid and you're enough. Fight lies and cling to this truth, you're enough, because He was enough and you can never add or take away from that and you are loved right now, just as you are, and not as you should be, for here we will never be what we should be.

Alright my people, that's all I've got, love you all. I'm shutting up now, because it's way to late and I'm becoming delusional. 
I watched that video and my heart ached, it ached for all the girls that believe the lie that their appearance is what defines them and garner their worth from how much attention those of the opposite gender give to them.

They build their self-esteem on the the shifty sands of outward "beauty" and the decimation comes all too quickly.

I ache because I have believed this lie before, and I still struggle to believe that I am more than what I don't see that I am in the mirror.

I fight the perfect and fake pictures that surround me trying to tell me that I am not enough. I wrestle with a culture that tells me that if I were just two sizes smaller, had a nicer figure, whiter teeth, a flatter stomach, smaller pores and better hair that then, then I would be truly happy.

I ache, because it's such a hard fight, because although I know beauty is much more than my world's definition, it is so hard to remember sometimes.

There but for the grace of God go I...there but for grace I would go.

Because ladies and gentleman, I am more than what I look like on the outside. I'd rather have a solid character and be ignored, than have a perfect figure and have attention.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

“Do you mean to say," asked Caspian, "that you three come from a round world (round like a ball) and you've never told me! It's really too bad for you. Because we have fairy-tales in which there are round worlds and I have always loved them … Have you ever been to the parts where people walk about upside-down?"
Edmund shook his head. "And it isn't like that," he added. "There's nothing particularly exciting about a round world when you're there.”
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

There's nothing particularly exciting about any world when you're born there, but crack open your soul, rip through the scales and peak through the veil, see with new eyes, and know that this world is what composes the very best fairy tales.

This is why I love children, children see the world with new eyes. Eyes that aren't jaded and hard. Eyes that see the world for the gift that it is and stare wide-eyed in wonder. Watch a child marvel over a dandelion, stare at snow, taste ice-cream for the first time, or squeal with delight as a puppy licks their hand, I promise it will be good for your soul.

As adults its harder to remember that we live in a world that contains animals with stretched out necks and others with noses so long they look like tails. Platypus lay eggs, llamas spit, fish breath underwater, caterpillars really turn into butterflies, and bats hang upside down. The Yeti Crab exists, as to zebras, narwhals, and panda ants. Whattttttttt.!

We stand, sit, and sleep on a ball that spins through space around another burning sphere at thousands of miles an hour and we yawn.

The dusty moon encircles us, pulling at the salty water and then yields as the earth pulls it back. Go to the beach and watch their tug-of-war.

Go outside, look up into the sky, bend down to watch an ant march, become friends with trees and get to know all the different moods of the wind. God is good and there is grace.

“Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.”
― G.K. Chesterton

(That's right I just used a quote at the top and the bottom, forgive me, I couldn't pick one.)

I hope you all have a perfectly, lovely Saturday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

She drove home under a moon that was a single slice away from full and listened to notes from a violin that sung like a prophet, calling her to remember, to remember that she was loved much.


I had a conversation with a friend this afternoon about how I've always feared failure and not being able to live up to people's expectations of me. I cringe at the thought of letting anyone down.

I want to be brave, however, bravery for me isn't tossing my head and saying, "To hell with what people think about me! I don't care." Instead it's cracking open the heart of who I am and offering it on trembling hands, even it means that I will be rejected. Bravery isn't the absence of fear but pushing through despite the fear, so I cast out these words hoping and praying they catch hold somewhere.

For my dear people know this, I am a textbook and introverted first born and I've always been told since I was a child that I have old soul. I'm overly analytical and self criticizing. I strive to please people, I like to fix things, I hold myself to an impossible standard, and I don't feel as though grace can reach far enough down to touch me when I fall.

I just want to be perfect, gosh darn it.

Instead I have holes in my character, gaps in my life, and scars on my heart.

However, those faults, holes, gaps, and scars are what make me who I am and I'm slowly learning that if I will only be brave enough to shed the mask and drop the facade, then...and only then will I be able to run and dive into the deep oceans of grace to swim as the beautifully complex character I was created to be; instead of wading around in the shallow end as the one dimensional, glossy, fake and superficial smiling character that I'm told I should be.

I want to immerge from that ocean so soaked and drenched in grace that I drip it all over everyone I come in contact with and that means I have to go diving in it, not wading. And diving means going deep.

For I am one badly broken, but redeemed, soiled but made clean. I have stood on mountains and I have walked through dark valleys.

And I wouldn't have it any. other. way. For I have never walked alone.

"But the grace of art is that it thrives in broken soil. " -Jennifer Trafton Peterson

Goodnight world, love to all you brave ones. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Truth: No person or circumstance is responsible for my lack of satisfaction or misery. I am responsible for my choice to choose misery or joy. I can either sit in the rubble of life, cry and give up, or I can bend down and search for the beauty in the mess; seek roses in the densest thicket.

Even in the deepest valleys there are lilies hiding.

No, I don't do this perfectly. I probably post more often than a healthy person should, but it's all part of a grasping for me. A reaching for the beauty that I know is there but I have to bend down to see.

When life throw its curve balls and monkey wrenches stop the smooth turning of cogs-reach for it. Grace is there waiting to fall into open and empty hands. Joy comes running behind gratitude. So look up at the sky, peer down at the ground, and see the countless gifts we have been given.

This is what I think about while I sit in a booth at Chic-fil-a waiting for friends caught in traffic. These are the times that make me think I am not quite normal. Thankful my friends like me anyways. 
I feel like a poser most times, if I am being honest. I am a wannabe writer, for I am the child who wants to be an artist, drawing with his brow furrowed and his tongue out, in an attempt to perfect his stick figure. I write with haste and am a horrible proof reader when I am in a hurry. Words tumble out of my head, through my fingers and I piece them like a crooked strand of garland. I am sorry.

This is my public apology and disclaimer for all my grammatical and spelling errors. Thanks for being friends with me in-spite of this.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This is one of those times where maybe I am being too honest. Maybe I should only portray my best angles, hide my flaws, and apply makeup to my life and personality so no one can really see who I am. Maybe, maybe I should shuffle and sweep my fears and weaknesses under the rug and pray a wind doesn't come and blow them out all across the room.

But...we all have problems, we all have fears, we all have feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, and at the end of the day if you think that I am too real and hot to handle then we probably wouldn't get along very well in the long run anyways 

For know this my dear people, I have lied in an effort to save my skin and I have hurt the people closest to me because I am selfish and I think I know best. I am easily intimidated and am just now learning how to fail and fall well.

I have been the prodigal son who runs from the all that is good to something that is broken and I am also the older son who stands out in the field with his arms crossed and tears of hot indignance running down his cheeks leaving salty trails of bitterness down his face, refusing to join in the party inside the house, because he started to believe that grace should have limits.

I am a hypocrite sometimes, my words telling a bigger tale than my life can live up to. I let words fall from my lips like daggers wounding instead of healing people. I am impatient and I doubt a God who is nothing but good.

For my friends, I am Moses, saying that God picked the wrong person.
David, wishing for things that are not mine.
Lot's wife, looking behind instead of looking ahead.
Thomas, doubting everything I should know to be true.
Peter, making grand statements of faith only to fall flat on my face when a cock crows for the third time.
I am Job, demanding answers because I think I am owed something by the very Author who breathed me to life.
And I like the fallen angel believe that I could write this story better than God.

I do wrong things and I do right things for wrong reasons.

Lest you have an inflated opinion of me, know this I will fall off any pedestal I am placed on, because I am human and I will fail.

Love me or think I'm crazy. It is what it is, I'm Ming and I am not perfect. But I am loved and I'm learning.

Monday, August 19, 2013

While grapping lunch with people, cleaning, and running errands...after reading the story in John 9 this morning this is what has been rolling around in my head:

Could it be that Jesus uses the mud in our lives to heal our blindness? Could the dirt in our lives be the very thing that in the end will make us see?

Because...maybe God loves us enough to let our hearts break if that is what it will take to heal us, maybe pain and suffering have a purpose, and maybe He will lean down squish mud and spit in our blind eyes in order that we will be able to finally see.

Maybe there is a redemption that is coming and I just can't see it because I only see this page and the ones that I have already flipped through. I cannot see the future and how the rest of this epic tale will play out.

Maybe it's actually true, this mad impossibility that no matter what is happening right now in this chapter life at the end it will be swept up into a good that is coming and when we all arrive home, maybe just maybe, there will be shrieks of joyful laughter as we see how the whole time He was working it all together for good.

So keep your ideas of a mindless universe where this whole grand world is simply here by chance and there is no reason for us to be here. Believe in a world born of gloop and I will believe in a world sung, woven, and spun. You have permission to call me a mindless baby because I believe in what you think to be only wistful fairy tale of a story, but just know my story in the end will beat your painting of chaos every time and for a mindless baby...that's kind of sad if you think about it. 
I was driving home last night from a friends house thinking about life, the good and the bad, the situations that driven me to my knees and at times infuriated me to the point that I would rise shaking my fists at the heavens with the empty question of, "Why," stinging on my lips, for I see only a sliver of the story and when I stare at the sliver it makes no sense.

This faith that doesn't make sense, this deep furious love, and this wild, raging God who refuses to climb into my safe little box that I long to squish Him into...it all scares me at times.

This idea that God is working everything together for the good of those who love Him seems so maddeningly impossible when I absorb the shadowy horrors that run rampant in me and all around me. When I look at the world through my foggy mortal eyes, despair finds cracks in my heart to cling to. Scales at times have climbed and threatened to cover my eyes and my soul entirely and in those times the curtain seems so thick that sometimes it threatens to smother me.

What can I do? I am not a person with a wide influence, for I am small and the world is large. What chance do I have of making any kind of difference--why try?

So I run, sprinting back to Truth. I run, tripping over my own two feet out of the shadowy darkness, back to the stories that begin to send light filtering through the cracks between the scales that have crept over my eyes.

For my Jesus doesn't care about how wide my influence is, how much money I make or don't make. He loves me just as I and not as I should be. And if it means that I get to see Him smile I will I toss my last two mites of life into the treasury over and over and over again.

And as Andrew Peterson put it, I will run back to the old roads. When storm clouds sweep in, I will lash my heart to strong ancient mast that has weathered the worst storms. And I will walk that ancient path that has been worn smooth by many pilgrims, for I know it leads the way home.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I have to fight to believe truth.
I know the truth with my head.

In theory I know that I am loved and for the most part people like me. I can make a difference and life is worth living well. In theory I know that it's alright to make mistakes because I am human and that there is grace that surrounds me for such times.

But most of the time my heart doesn't buy it.

Sometimes I believe this truth with every fiber of my being, I can feel the life humming within me but without fail I will come tumbling down and landing in a heap right on top of the pile of my fears.

I feel as though I am forgotten and cast aside, I read rejection and disdain in the eyes of all the characters on the scene, and feel as though no matter how small the offence: if I deviate from perfection I will be hung out to dry. Despair makes me I feel as small as I am and as though my life will never even make the smallest of ripples in this ocean of time.

This is why I write, this is why I read, and bathe my soul in beautiful music. Words are the flaming sword that I use to battle these demons of insecurity and perfectionism that have plagued me for as long as I can remember. Because somehow when I name these nightmares and fears they weaken a little bit, their grip loosens for a moment and I am able to slip free and finally go skipping out into the sunshine with laughter slipping from my lips and for a moment I don't care what you people think about me at all because I am myself and I am Ming and if you don't like me it's okay because I am loved.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The more years I keep tacking on to this race, the more I am discovering that that life is less about having everything figured out and holding every answer to all of life's questions... and is more about always being kind and showing love while being humble about how much you really don't know.

It is as easy to cast judgments as it is to pick up a rock, it costs nothing and you can toss it while you gripe pride tightly in the other hand.

It's harder to love, for love can't be tossed, it must be given. Love stoops, reaches, bends down, and binds up. And it will cost you something.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I sat outside Starbucks yesterday while waiting for a friend and I saw a man walk by who blew smoke out of his nostrils like a pouting dragon, a man with a tattoo on his bicep and kind eyes pounding away at his laptop as if he needed to be vindicated, and a sparrow landed on the ground to my right to pick up a crumb.

Today I drove to a friends house and watched thunderheads roil and heave, felt rain in the air as a wind came dancing through my car, and laughed because it felt good to be alive.
We all turn to things when life swirls. When the act of living kicks up dust it can be hard to see and remember truth, and during those times sometimes simply breathing is incredibly difficult. We all run to something to prevent insanity. Some people turn to music, they ask their questions and pour their pain out though notes by letting their fingers run up and down a keyboard or plucking the strings of a guitar. Others use art, painting, sketching - placing a pencil on paper and letting the questions find their way out though lines that twist, curl, and at times run straight. Still others actually run, letting their feet hit the asphalt like a steady metronome, beating their demons by pounding them into the pavement.

As for myself, I run to words. I turn to beautiful lyrics, books, and the words that fall out of my heart and soul leaking their way out through my finger tips into the world; for although I am not a musician, artist, and most of my running turns into long meandering walks - I can play with words. I can string them together in a weak attempt to capture the things that I think, feel and see. How do I fight my demons that haunt me? I find ways to name them.

Friday a chaplain laid her hand on my shoulder and asked how I was going to take care of myself and how I deal with stress...at that moment I wanted to name a completely dysfunctional coping strategy, however, instead I looked up at her and with sheepish smile I answered, "I'll probably go home to read and write."

Friday, August 9, 2013

I am loved enough to be allowed to hurt. I am loved enough that pain, suffering, and trials are allowed to enter into my story so I can be shaped into something better. I have tasted joy and I have tasted salty sorrow.

This is a world full of sunrises and sunsets, bright days and long dark nights. Babies are buried here, fathers never make it home, tragedy enters the scene, hearts are shattered, and we scream as pain carves scars into our souls.

I am alive, my heart pounds, my lungs take in breath and this means that while I see life, I will also see death. I will see the curse played out again and again and again. And when I see the curse: I will run. I will run hard and fast back to Truth, and I will lash my heart to the ancient mast and I will not give up.

I will live and pour out as much of my little life as I can. I will love to the best of my ability, I will hold onto hope, and I will grip with hands full of grief to the knowledge that this not the end of the story. I will run this race with vigor because I know that there is an end.

Pain, tragedy, and death will not have the final say. One day I will wake up across the shores of that river that we all must cross, my tears will be wiped away never to be seen again and everything that is ugly will have been burned away like the dross that it is.

Good is coming.

I don't care what any of you tell me. I am not home yet.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I want to fight the darkness in the world but sometimes to fight the darkness is to fight myself. I feel as though I am Eustace wrapped in a dragon's skin fearing the pain it will take to shed it.

There are times I wish for a safer God, one that isn't so unruly and unpredictable. A God that was less dangerous and more tame. A God less wild, less...box breaking. For I would tell a different story, I would weave a different tale. But then for a moment I catch a glimpse of Him in the blazing sunrise that burns away the morning mist and I remember, I remember that although I am a forgetful lover I am still loved. I remember Jesus. Jesus who wrapped himself into mortal flesh to save his Eve, who walked with dust covered feet, sawdust clinging to his beard, children caught up in his arms, and loving in a way the world had never seen before. And I remember that I am loved and that is enough for me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

People ask why I love words and the books that contain them so much. And this is why.... I love books because of the magic that are contained in and between the black marks within them. There is power in story. Stories have shaped and molded me into the person I am today. The countless books I bury my little nose into stay with me far longer than when I close the back cover.

Characters have taught me to value love, friendship, faith, courage and kindness. They've shown me there is more to life than obtaining wealth, power and selfish, greedy, cowardly, small souled individuals were not to be admired or emulated.

And while I've learned all this while flipping through pages, I have also had the time of my life...

I've buried my hands in Aslan's mane and heard the roar that broke winters back, I've passed through the emerald Shire, had my breath stolen away when I glimpsed Rivendell and Lothlorien, I've stood on the edge of a windowsill while Peter beckoned me to follow him to the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning, I have curled up in a little cabin listening to Pa tell stories in those big woods, I've stood on the edge of cliffs and stared across the Dark Sea of Darkness, I've frolicked in the meadows that surrounded Green Gables and fallen in love with Avonlea, I've laughingly given Christmas breakfast away with the March girls, I have sat on the back of a wild midnight colored stallion with my hands buried deep in his ebony mane racing the wind, I've passed through the dark misty land of Shiloh with pain in my heart, I have squeezed through a hundred cupboards fighting an ancient evil with Henry York, I've practiced my archery skills with the Merry Men and knew that I would follow Robin anywhere, I've sailed the high seas and seen the wild red hair of Fin button, climbed over mountains into the Heart of the Rockies, and been on a thousand other adventures.

Read. Books.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hands that made the blind see and the lame walk also reached down to wash feet and wipe tears from a broken and used woman.

Arms overthrew tables and used a whip to drive out the ones who would have us believe that God's favor and love can be bought and earned. He flipped everything upside down while loving in a way that made the world stand still and watch.

The Creator stooped low and all of heaven leaned in closer.

He wrapped himself into our frail mortal flesh to save us from the battle we could never win and walked across this worn broken earth with dust on his sandaled feet, all the way to a violent death with arms open wide to rescue us and pay the price we never could.

Death will come but it will not have the final say, for my dear friends Redemption and Grace are the orders of the day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's all grace.
Every messy minute, every brushstroke, every crawling ant and every towering mountain, every glimmering firefly, every creaking elderly person and every giggling baby, every streaking tear and every glowing smile, every twinkling star, every song that is woven and every story that is spun, and maybe every breath that is inhaled and exhaled is all scandalous grace.