How Big Is Your Love?

I grew up believing that God was the ultimate, most important thing about life.

Yet then it struck me, around eleven, that perhaps something else was more important, or at least just as great. The more I grew, the more I realized the wonderful and deep value of love. Yet if God was surely the most important and greatest of all, where did love fit in? Was it only a close second? I couldn’t comprehend how that could be, but love surely couldn’t exceed the importance of God. It was all very confusing.

I wrestled with this for weeks, and I still remember the very day the answer came. I was sweating and uncomfortable in warm clothes on a hot day, inside a little church building, for the funeral of an unknown mother of a family friend. But my ears perked up as my eyes were opened to the pastor’s words: God love and He is love; in loving others, we are serving God. 

It all made sense then and I grew very relieved that I could give to both equally, serving God through my love, and loving when I did God’s will.

I wondered, How big can my love become? I knew it was just tiny then, but I had hope for more in years to come.

After the message, we sang:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

~~~

Now I work at a Thrift store five days a week. Like anyone who works in customer service, I have a “survival smile,” and a painfully fake happy voice I can use on command. Half the time, I pretend to show interest in the little stories of woe and joy I am told.

Because the days are long and I’m tired at the beginning, middle, and end.

Because the questions are unending. “Can I see this?” “How much is that?” “Where are the other Thrift Stores?”

Because the demands won’t cease. “That’s horrible that you charge tax!” “Show me that!” “That’s mine!”

Because people swear and yell over their opinions on our organization and prices, sales and hours. Because others steal, concealing under clothes and switching their dirty shirts for ours. They make a mess of inside out tops and jeans in baskets on the floor.

As the days, questions, demands, and offenses pile, I grow in bitterness, slowly but surely resenting all those in and out of sight. Hating the very ones I vowed to love.

The more I live, the more I resent. The man who swears and yells; the woman who leaves her dirty shorts in the dressing room. The imperfect people, living in their grit and grime, unwilling to change, aware of their guilt, but seemingly unashamed.

How big is your love? I hear from a Voice within and above and around.

“This isn’t about love!”

HOW BIG IS YOUR LOVE? I hear it again, but it’s time to cash out and pack up and drive home.

How big is your love? The wind whispers hollowly, but I’m fast asleep, dreaming of a new day.

~~~

It’s several years since I was at that funeral where I learned that God equals love and that love is the best thing we can give. Sometimes, I forget for split seconds or minutes, hours, or even days how seriously God requires this. Perhaps I even forget how much He pours this love over me.

And it’s been weeks now since they’ve come and “terrorized” my little store front and made me work extra hard and apologize to paying customers. But still the anger and bitterness and utter resentment burn in my heart.

Now we set up tables and carry bags of food from the nearby trucks. My head is spinning a little, knowing I might see “some of them.” Some of the people I’ve grown to resent.

We work together, facing the crowd of hungry people. I smile in spite of myself.

Suddenly, I see her. She’s picking clothes out of the full bags we’ve brought, trying to find at least one suitable top. But she doesn’t make a mess this time.

Her frame’s as forlorn as ever. She weaves in and out of the garbage bags and other hopeful souls, searching for something to fit her tall but tiny body.

She is made vulnerable to my eyes and I gasp inside while handing out sandwiches. How big is your love, Elizabeth? How great and wide? How deep and strong and firm and vast? Apparently not very big, I realize, suddenly coming face to face with my own hidden shame.

“I am no more deserving of this love than anyone else.” The realization hits me like a dart.

How big is your love? 

“Not as big as it should be. Not big at all. Tiny. Pitiful. Sinful,” I answer, truthful at last.

And she, the long-resented woman scurries off into the deep blue summer night while I watch in shame. She’s reminded me of my unlove, my sin, my disgrace. 

How big is your love? 

From this day on, it shall be bigger. Much, much greater and deeper and stronger and firmer and ‘vast beyond all measure’.”

Why?

Because my Father is love and He first loved me. 

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

 

 

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Friday Favourites Link-Up: Round # 1

Hello Everyone!

This is the first post of a new feature I’m trying on my blog, Friday Favourites. To be honest, I’ve seen this on other blogs so in essence, I’m really just being a copy cat. But that’s okay as long as I give credit where credit’s due, right? After all, copying is simply a form of flattery!

Truly though, this comes out of a desire to share the wonderful insights and beautiful writing I have seen in the last little while. I usually share my favourites on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve realized that doesn’t reach everyone. Plus, it’s not as easy to see everything in one place there. So here is a collection of my favourite finds from the last little while:

‘Guard Your Heart’ Doesn’t Mean Christians Can’t Date – A refreshing and insightful read from Sharon Hodde Miller over at Hermeneutics on guarding your heart while keeping your vulnerability and openness, too. This article seriously gave me so much hope, and has inspired me to continue guarding my heart once more, but in a healthier fashion than before.

Brotherly Love: Christians and Male-Female Friendships – I read this a while back, but it still rings true for me and hopefully many others. How does one go about being friends with the opposite gender in our society and even our church culture? Is it even possible? This article, written by Anna Broadway and also at Hermeneutics, sheds light on that and gives me hope for friendship.

We Need Feminism – This is perhaps the most controversial of the articles I’m posting, at least to those in the Christian community. But I believe feminism is one of the most important ‘hot topics’ in Christian culture right now, and one that we, at very least, ought to learn more about. Women and men need to be seen as human and as Christians we must lead the way in this. Feminism, I believe is part of that. I encourage you to read this post on author and speaker Rachel Held Evans’ blog. You may even be surprised as feminism is often not what most people think it is!

Make Room For Imaginary Friends [The Most Important Thing Your Child Can Do] – This is a beautiful post by my blogging friend Brittany over at The Gentle Home. She writes about how she and her husband are raising their children with more creativity and imagination and less technology. I found it quite inspiring!

Please check some of these posts out! They are all well-written, insightful, and encouraging.

PS Although today’s post includes my favourites from the last little while, in the future, I will just be posting my weekly favourites.

God Is Always There: Of Fives & Redemption

“I’m going to give you this back because I want you to do something different,” the customer said, handing back the ten I’d just given her in change.

“Okay,” I replied with my usual outward smile yet grunting on the inside at the thought of her wanting my precious fives back. (Fives are sacred change makers for a cashier, okay? Tens are pretty great, too, but they don’t even compare to fives.)

“I want you to give me five back and keep the other five for someone who can’t afford their purchase.”

Her words caught me off guard. It’s not like people haven’t done that before–customers leave small bits of change all the time and sometimes even offer to chip in one someone else can’t afford it. But this was different because it was more than a few dimes, and for someone unknown; she wanted to give, but she did not know who it would go to and therefore expected nothing in return. It was inspiring to me.

“If not today, than another day,” she added, speaking my own thoughts. The day was nearly done and I wasn’t sure if anyone would need an extra five today.

I thanked her very much. And she thanked me for what I do as well. She left smiling, her purchases wrapped securely in a white bag under her arm. She was just a regular lady, an average customer. She didn’t look particularly extraordinary, spectacular, or different. I never took her for a world changer or even a Mother Theresa type. Yet what she did, small as some could say it was, stopped me in my tracks and gave a light to the rest of my steps.

She gave lovingly, cheerfully–just as Jesus said to give. Remember how it doesn’t matter how small our offers are?

She didn’t have to give. It was a sacrifice. And it was given in mature empathy and compassionate forethought.

While other people complain and try to cheapen the system, she let an extra five dollar bill drop gladly. I liked that.

~~~

I tucked her five dollar bill safely under the coin trey, marking it with a piece of tape: “Left by a customer for someone who can’t afford their purchase.”

I left it for two more days, waiting for the perfect moment. Almost hoping for a time when someone would be lacking in money. It was strange that I felt like that–after all, it wasn’t my gift though I got to be the bearer. Perhaps though it was the redemption that attracted me. This customer had offered grace and I longed to see another receive it.

I was impatient, almost. But I felt God nudging me, saying, “I’ll write you a story worth waiting for.”

~~~

They entered with their backpacks and I asked them to leave their packs up front, promising to take good care and “check” them with numbers for extra security. They both complied. The girl took the number I offered her and I pinned a matching one to mark her bag.

“I’ll take five,” the young man said.

“Sure,” I replied, pinning #5 to his bag and setting it down.

He was a tall man, about thirty, with dark brown eyes and hair. He wore a plain red shirt, bright and eye-catching. I could tell–or so I thought–that he was from a rougher crowd. Last year, he might have frightened me, but now I know better than to judge.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice the bedding overflowing from his backpack. Not many people carry bedding around–he must be homeless. 

He showed a pair of jeans he liked to his companion. She smiled and agreed they were nice and they were–dark denim and a good quality, they looked like they’d fit his long legs.

The two looked around for a bit and I carried on with other tasks. But the man came back, holding the pair of jeans.

The man told me he’d been wearing the same pants for six days–his black pants were scuffed and a bit tattered. “I’ve been living on the street, at The Caring Place,” he said. “Can I see if my friend has two dollars to pay today? I’ll pay the rest another time.”

Whenever people ask me for a discount, I get a little heated. Okay, it’s not THAT bad, but I don’t just do it without reason or all the time; after all, I want to keep my job. And of course, all the judgment crowds my mind, the annoyance of being asked again and again and again for a better deal.

“Grace, Elizabeth. Redemption.” These new words clouded over my mind and I responded in a cheery voice. “Sure, you can make a down payment on the jeans. I’ll put them in a bag. Go check with your friend.”

We are all humans. We deserve death, but we are offered grace, just the same. 

He comes back, a bit downtrodden. His friend can’t do it.

“It’s okay,” I say, remembering the five. “A customer left five dollars for someone who–who needed it a few days ago so this will be a gift.”

He smiled so openly then. I handed him the bag with the jeans and his backpack and he gave me back the number.

“It’s kind of funny how it’s a five, too,” he said, surprising me with his sudden insight. It was true. And I smiled, agreeing, because I love those hidden symbols that make me feel like I’m a character in a novel.

He sounded groggy as he spoke–like he wasn’t all there. He mumbled about how “God is always there for us and understands even though there is hardship and shame,” walking towards the door, but his head still facing mine.

Somehow I knew he wasn’t going to finish his sentence or even say good bye. He just sort of walked out, thankful, but strangely dazed.

~~~

Five. That was the number he chose, and the number left for him. I don’t know his name, yet I know him now.

The situation I’ve described may not seem very extraordinary to you and perhaps it isn’t–a customer donated money, stating her purpose for it, and another came in and used it. Simple as can be.

Yet from working in a Thrift store, I so often see people striving to get more and leave less. And I see people take and steal instead of asking.

And as the lover of analyzing the insights on situations that I am, I see this all as an illustration of sorts. So often, we try to do it on our own, not asking for grace because of shame or fear of rejection. Yet at the end of the day, our God has covered the entire cost of what it is to live. All we must do is trust. 

As the man in the red shirt said, “God is always there for us, even through hardship and shame.”

He is right, and I have learned from his request and the other’s offer of grace. I see the story God is writing in my own life and the lives of others everyday. It is a beautiful but broken path, yet I am honoured to walk it, under the sky of His redemption.

 

A Church Pew Friendship

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When my family began attending the local Christian Reformed church, Mr. de Zeeuw was one of the first people I remember, though I wouldn’t really get to know him for years to come. He was an older, white-haired man who spoke with a thick Dutch accent and used a walker. Most days, we sat in the pew behind him.

Back then I was a moody 10-year-old harboring a newfound hatred for church. It wasn’t because of a lack of faith or resentment toward singing the same type of songs every week. No, I believed in God and I loved to sing. But I also really loved my former church—a small, Evangelical Free church where everyone knew my name, and where I felt comfortable being myself. This very large, ethnic church where no oneat all knew me just wasn’t cutting it.

I especially disliked the beginning of the service. That’s when everyone was supposed to shake hands and greet each other. I constantly hoped we’d be super late and miss it. Sometimes I even went to the bathroom just to get out of this horrid meeting.

These deep feelings came out of an even bigger yearning. I longed for relationship, fulfillment, and community. But I thought those things were impossible among a church full of strangers, a church with few fellow 10-year-olds.

I’m sharing my story over at The Banner Magazine this week. Read the rest of the story here.

In Memory Of “New”

This May, I attended my sister’s high school graduation. It was very much like my own grad, two years ago. Most of the girls wore long, sparkling dresses, and struggled to fit dark blue caps and gowns over their beauteous hair and attire. The banquet spread was delicious, the speeches went on forever, and the dancing lively. It was all very familiar, though as different and new as the group of graduates were from me and my cohorts, two years ago.

As I listened to the 50 or so graduate speeches, amidst picture snapping of the familiar grads, I was reminded of my former self. The young girl who thought she was so very mature and grown up. The seventeen-year-old whose blue gown barely fit over the hoop skirt of her handmade, shiny purple dress. The young woman who gave a speech, which everyone praised, but that she herself did not even fully understand the meaning of then.

Oh, that girl. That dear little girl in the purple dress, clutching a red bible, and smiling haply. Where did she go?

Down the path of the hopeful to the little university she felt was so beloved. Through various first and second year university classes, where everything began so crisp and new that September and ended in bitter exhaustion come December. She began so gladly that first day, with hopes higher than the university bell-tower, for everything that had been, and mostly, all that was to come.

As grads recited speeches, I remembered her, in that eager anticipation, light of heart, and faithful spirit. Grads talked about their college, university, and job plans so solidly, as if knowing exactly what the road of post-secondary would bring. I remember talking like that, too. But really, everything was just a cloud of new, unknown, unrealized hopes and dreams back then.

I remember making my first schedule, utterly overwhelmed by course IDs, and fitting times and days together. I pronounced the professors names–Dr. Such-and-Such and Mr. So-And-So–imagining how good my first impression would be in their eyes. I bought books early, of course, planning to do pre-reading to make the course load lighter; all the while, I wondered what the classes would actually be like.

Eventually, it all set in. The schedule was up and down at first, but with a few weeks, I relaxed into it. Surprisingly, I found myself on a first name basis with most professors, though not all of my first impressions went as smoothly as I had dreamed. Not so surprisingly, I laboured over reading right till the bitter end of that first cold semester.

I shudder to think of some of the miserable days of my first semester. Cold nights traveling home, the staggering exhaustion, and the fear over getting things right. The deep and utter loneliness I felt. These were the not so good days I never bargained for, but surely received. 

Yet  now as I look ahead to my third year, I wonder where those first weeks and months went. Part of me believes I’m still that anxious freshman for the time has gone so quickly.

But the other part knows it can’t be true for the knowledge I have now. I look ahead dismally to the September leaves, knowing exactly what next year will be like. There’s nothing new or exciting about being an upperclassmen–you’ve already done the semester thing four times and the pattern gets old fast.

I’ve learned the rhythm of classes. In two years, I’ve mastered the beats, the rests, melodies, and crescendos of student hood.

Now, as I think on it all, I realize that I long for the new, in all it’s misery and brightness, once more. There are things I wish I could do over either for regret or just the pure joy they brought because there is something beautiful about the new. There is something lovely about having to get to know something, to learn about it, and come to cherish it. I guess that’s why we buy new clothes and trinkets, make new friends, and enjoy the passage of milestones like graduations, university, new jobs, marriage, and children. 

The new of university, I realize, is mostly gone now. Things may still change a bit as each year is a slightly altered song yet the newness I long for is that of freshman hood, when everything is kindly new for a few days of bliss. I know I won’t get that back.

Yet in my almost-upperclassmen-wisdom, I’m certain there will be other shades of new. Newness comes in seasons and I’m sure to experience a thousand more.

I appreciate the beginning of a journey, in all it’s excitement and uncertainty, much more now as I long again for that season of spring, knowing it was good to me. But I suppose there is beauty in the summer, the fall, and the winter as well. The middle and the end are just as important as the beginning for without them we could not see the results of our journey.

 

Write Something

Write something. 

I see the faithful instruction written in the chalkboard of my head throughout the day. On the to-do list of my brain when I wake up, the sharp music of my phone alarm decorating the air, piercing the assignment into me melodiously. As people pass me books, hardcovers and soft covers, written, finished, published, and bound, I punch in one dollar books & CDS and wonder when my name will ever be in print.

Write something. 

It plays in my head like a melody. Over morning bible readings and breakfast and as I check through Facebook and email before work. It’s the song only I can hear when the radio plays praise music at the till, while I make change from tens and twenties and stuff shirts and socks, books and blenders into plastic bags.

Write something. 

Says the Voice in My Head. He calls again and again,but I travel far away.

 

I watch a movie, stuffing butter dripping popcorn into my face. Log-in to Facebook 21 times a day, surf through the statuses and links, all full of words, and pictures, which they say can tell a thousand. A friend texts me and I text back, amassing countless paragraphs back and forth across the kilometres. I even open the red book with the gold letters, dearly treasured and desperately falling apart as it is, and read that word.

Anything to avoid, sometimes. Anything to get away from what I really love best.

 

Write something. 

The wall clock in the store clicks. The time on my phone has changed. The digital stove clock shows 5:17 PM, instead of 8:36 AM, when I arrive home, exhausted, drained from three hundred conversations, too many transactions, a multitude of messes to clean, and a few f-words thrown in my direction.

Write something? How could I? Can’t you see I don’t have any room right now?

 

I slide into the car once more, reminding myself to drive safely, as per my usual driving ritual. A few intersections and left turns and right turns later and I’m at my friend’s. We have a meeting and fondue and games, sprinkled with laughter, joy, and discussion.

Write something, I hear it again.

Well, I’m kind of busy right now, in case you didn’t notice. And I don’t have my laptop and it would be socially inappropriate, even if I did, I counter briskly in my head, while laying down a card for Apples to Apples.

Write something, the Voice persists, knowing fully that I know full well that He meant later when I’m at home.

But I’m even more exhausted when my hands hit the computer keys at 10:47 PM, and my warm bed is a better welcome to me than an empty computer screen.

 

Write something. I read the to-do list once more as my alarm sounds even on my day off, Friday.

Yeah, well, it is my day off so I probably should, I think as I lazily pull my hair up out of its curled mess and wander into the kitchen for my morning ritual of tea.

 

Write something. 

We sit across from each other, sipping drinks–he has an iced coffee and I’ve ordered a London Fog–and talking, laughing even, about this craft we call writing.

“I think you have to discipline yourself to do it,” he says eventually, after we’ve nearly exhausted the subject, just as I’ve felt exhausted by it in the past.

And he’s right, I know. Oh, I know.

Write something. I hear it again as we talk about other things and again on my ride home and then again when I think on my afternoon over another cup of tea at home.

 

So now I’m writing something. Finally stepping up and listening to the music. Letting it flow out from within me and become my own.

I hope to become the discipline we spoke of today, though I know it will be hard. I hope to write many more things in the coming weeks and months and years. I hope I can learn to always get back up even after I’ve given up.

Write something. 

I know the journey is not over.

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Jesus Wants The Best For You

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several uplifting and interesting conversations with friends, many of which have skittered around in the dust of faith and life, and have latched onto the topic of fear.

It eats us. It destroys us. Fear is not our friend.

Yet I cling to it with all my mite at times, I follow in its path, I let it seduce me into silent worship. I give it my joy, my life, my faith, and my love. When it comes down to it, my Friends, we sacrifice peace for fear. Life for death, love for bitterness, happiness for grief.

Why? I don’t know. It’s just a thing. Everybody’s afraid of something. The excuses haunt us from the day-to-day.

When I was a child I was afraid to go downstairs by myself. I thought someone might catch me. I was afraid of my room when the lights first went out. I feared the octopus under my bed and the salt and pepper shaker monsters that lived downstairs. Those fears, small and silly and ever so insignificant as they may seem, lost me sleep and confidence and joy and peace.

The years went by. They are going, flying by, at the moment. And yet I still fear.

There are the little, physical elements of life, built into our everyday. There’s the job interview or getting lost on your way to a new place, the first day of university or a really tough final. Those we fear and reasonably so. But they’re gone in span of an hour or day, and the fear flies away with them, too.

But then there are the deeper, longer fears. The ones that take hold deep down, from the core of our being, from our very toes and knees, growing and moving up into our hearts, and clogging our heads. The ones that stick to us like glue and spread like syrup on pancakes. Falling like the rain and growing like dandelions, this inner fear is deep-seated, wild, and ferocious.

It swallows me and I’m Jonah in the whale, tossing and turning about, trapped, consumed by something much larger than life.

It’s the reason I can only dance when the lights dim. The reason I can’t get where I need to in my acting  and singing classes and why I leave a dance call crying. It’s the force behind me when I run away, either physically or metaphorically, and why I had trouble wearing shorts on the bus for so long. It’s the reason I’m glad to be single for now because the thought of romance is somewhat petrifying. It’s frequently the why behind my “no” when a friend invites me somewhere. It’s the halting speech and change of thought, refusing to follow through on a sentence and the swallowing of physical impulses.

And I think it’s my sin, I often tell myself. I think I’ve done something wrong. I think that fear is a warning, that this is how it should be, how it’s meant to be since the fall. 

Yet in fear, there is nothing but misery and pain, discouragement and discomfort. My heart burns with bitterness and discontent. I’m utterly unhappy. Is this what God wanted for me? Is it what He wanted for us? I wonder in the wake of a thousand tears, trembling after something that should have been easy.

God, who said, do not be afraid for I am with you, the Lord who promised to strengthen us and uphold us with His righteous hand. 

Jesus, the one who calls us, all who are weary and burdened, to follow him who is gentle and humble in heart, and He will give us rest for our souls. 

The Holy Spirit, who fills us with power to do the things we need to do, who prays for us, who intercedes, and fills us up.

While on earth, Jesus wept, Jesus, loved, and Jesus bled. It was all for us.

I can only imagine, only know, only trust, only believe that Jesus wants the very best for me. For us. For you. 

1 John 4:18 says that perfect love drives out fear. God is that perfect love. He possesses it and carries it, provides us with it and gifts love freely. He is love, the perfection of it that we could never be and always crave.

We have a thousand reasons to fear, yes. But we have a God who created us for more than the shame of the flesh. Jesus never intended fear to drive us. Love, peace, joy, praise, yes. But not fear. Because Jesus wants so much for you.

He wants the very best. So take Him up on that today, tonight, this minute.

Come to Him, all you who are weary and burdened, come to Him who is gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.

When Words Run Slow

It was raining hard, outside on the suburban streets, and pattering down even louder in the nooks and crannies of my head. I sat slumped, legs crossed, arms folded, and eyes glowering, at the quickly-growing-too-small-home-school desk in the dining room. An empty Word document faced me head on.

I was supposed to be writing a short story for my English 8 online class. I don’t remember there being any requirements beyond that. But still, my mind was completely empty. I had filled a book of poetry last term and written essays galore and of course I’d always dreamed of writing my own novel, but somehow this short story was completely dauntless tonight, as the rain pounded down and down and down on our sturdy roof.

~~~

Sometimes I feel like that thirteen-year-old girl again. With the slouched shoulders and pouty face. Eyes hating the world she once loved all for the fact that she cannot make it pretty with her words. A lack of inspiration. A lack of words. And for her, a lack of the fullness of life she so desires.

You see, I’m a writer. I always have been—even as a child before I could print very well I’d think about stories during the day and wait till the pretty privacy of a darkened bedroom to publish them in whispers just loud enough to satisfy my soul. I honestly believe that I always will be a writer, too. But sometimes, writing is hard and the words don’t come for hours or days or even months. Perhaps even years.

That’s OK. You take break. You do other things for a spell and grow in a deeper love for life and people. You find the stories to tell.

But now I’m finding a need for the gentle flow of words to circle from my hands once more. I want my mind to move so quickly with thoughts and dreams and stories that I barely have enough time or hand strength to get them down. I want the impulses to run wild and the words to run fast, the pages going at 100 km/h.

I want it all more than I can say.

Last night, in conversation, some friends my parent’s age asked me what I wanted to write. “Lots of things,” I replied because that’s what’s true.

There are so many things. So many causes and beliefs and characters and stories waiting to be told. So many dreams and wishes and beauties and rainbows to share. So many sorrows and so much injustice and rivers of truth and mountains of ephinay which I can only share and must share, I think, through proclamations of the pen. So much life to unfold from my heart and hands, flowing directly, together, at the same time, in rhythm.

But it’s the rhythm that I lack, sometimes. Often.

I lack the consistency. I defy the rules of grammar. I don’t write every day. And I certainly don’t write perfectly or always on topics that others think I should write about. I’m looking for my own beat, I guess. I always have been.

And I realize suddenly that the desire never left. The fire that once burned with real sparks never does die down.
I’m on a journey to become what I’ve always been. I’m trying to write more and better and fuller. I want to challenge myself and create beauty and learn all at the same time. That is writing to me, at least right now.

~~~

I did finish that story, probably at a solemnly late hour no doubt, but finish it I did. I remember it quite well because I wrote about a girl who never knew what to say and in turn wrote a speech about not knowing what to say. How original. Well, that’s what my teacher said.

And she trampled through puddles and hated school, too. Yes, very original, I laughingly tell my thirteen-year-old self, almost seven years later.

But there’s nothing wrong with originality, I also tell myself. It’s good. Beautiful even. Valued.

The challenge to write and know what to say continues. The words will sometimes flow, as they are flowing now, like a waterfall, beautiful, loud, and fast. But sometimes there are rocks and twigs and all sorts of things that get in the way of the falls and slow the rhythm. And that’s OK, too.

I’ll write what I can, when I am able.

These are my words for tonight. These are the ones I could find around 8 PM on a Friday evening near the end of May, after almost a full week’s worth of work and a night full of celebration with friends and a semester made up mostly of hard work and only fractions of success. This is what I found tonight, today, this month, this year.

Yet join me, because the journey’s just not over yet.

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