verses, and verses

Eleven years ago this week, I went to camp for the first time. Eleven years ago right now, I would have been asleep after my first day at camp. Determined to ignore the bible aspect of bible camp, I hung out with a group of girls who were maybe or maybe not any more interested in God than my own interest level of zero. A handful of these individuals, I still have on Facebook—all very different people than they were eleven years ago. Like I was, like I am. I left there still hardened. I didn’t believe God existed, but I think I left camp with a bible of my own. That bible, I am pretty sure, came camping with me the next week, whether or not I opened it I can’t recall. It still sits on my bookshelf, now amidst a handful of other bibles.

Over the coming weeks my heart began—or continued—to question and the frozenness began to melt away. Exactly a month later, I felt my world turning upside-down, and then Jesus reached in and righted it.

Now. This past week, this past weekend, my heart has been stirring again. Questioning. Opening. Eleven years later, here I am: alive, with as many questions and okay with it, and for the first time in awhile, actually ready to explore, actually ready to attempt to try this again. Excited about it, smiling about it.

it’s okay to breathe as deep as you pray
your future with Me is safe
you sing with My heart when you pray

here you are down at My feet again
handing it over to Me again
right where i want you to be again
I love you, please see and believe again

I love that you’re never satisfied
with face value, wisdom, and happy lies
you take what they say and go back and cry
you’re so close to Me that you nearly died

they don’t have to understand you,
be still.
wait and know I understand you,
be still.
be still.

here you are down at My feet again
handing it over to Me again
right where I want you to be again
I love you, I love you, I love you
here you are down at My feet
handing it over to Me
right where I want you to be again
I love you, please see and believe again 

right where I want you to be again
see and believe. 

again, flyleaf (austin city limits version)

Again. Again again again. As many times as I wander, I will surely come back one more time.

my hands are burning again tonight
my heart’s awake but i don’t feel right
oh, i can feel the heat rise.
if i could stand up and face this light
tearing apart my old disguise
but i can’t open my eyes

still i see You

my mouth is cold, my body whole
i may explode, but You feel like forever
and i am temporal, You’re a temple
i may explode,  but You feel like forever
i’m falling over and into You
i am consumed, but You feel like forever

i can’t stop shaking as You come close
i wanna run, but i want You most
is this what it means to die?
i hold my breath as i wait on You
longing to follow Your every move
i’ve never been so alive

still i see You

my mouth is cold, my body whole
i may explode, but You feel like forever
and i am temporal, You’re a temple
i may explode,  but You feel like forever
i’m falling over and into You
i am consumed, and i know You’re forever
yeah, i know You’re forever,
oh God, it feels like forever

i am consumed and You feel like forever
but You feel like forever
i’m falling over and into You
i am consumed
and You feel like forever.

feels like forever, lacey sturm.

We know this, that our old self was crucified with Him, so that the body of sin would be rendered powerless, so that we would no longer be enslaved by sin; for the One who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.

Romans 6:6-8 (MOUNCE)

Teach me and I will be silent; Make me understand how I have gone astray.

Job 6:24 (ESV)

contemplating You is like a dream
i never wanna wake up when i finally see
a perfect circle turn in orbit
following a perfect path,
from Your perfect hands
when i look into Your eyes,
it’s a world i can’t believe
i can see my destiny to be like You.
whispering fingertips, lay Your fingerprints all over everything. 

whispering fingertips, flyleaf 

ten years.

Ten years ago tonight I didn’t think I’d be spending much of this day with music in my ears and tears in my eyes at the goodness of God. Because if you asked me ten years and a month ago today, and I was being honest, I probably would have said I wouldn’t be here. A little over ten years ago, at fourteen, I had too many mornings where I didn’t want to wake up.   

i spent my days giving my heart away
to anything new
only to ache from the poison of my
temporary muse
and there were times i’d cry myself to sleep at night
only to wake up wishing that i didn’t.
 

And now, I can’t imagine not being here. 

September 7th, 2005, at about 10:30 pm and without the faintest understanding of what I was doing, I surrendered my inner screwed-up-ness for something greater.
Which doesn’t mean I’m no longer screwed up inside, just that I know everything is for a reason. Nothing is for nothing. I am still alive because of this. The last few weeks, I’ve had more God-moments than I’ve had in a long time. Moments where I haven’t turned away from His voice, speaking through music, and often bringing me to tears. It’s been beautiful.

thank You for never giving up on me
when i looked to everything else,
and lived so selfishly
and You bled
and You died
to be with me
why would You do something like that 
for someone like me? 

[…] You formed my heart with Your own hands
and now i finally understand
and i give You my life, and i’m healed by Your grace
i was made for Your love that no one can replace
this is it, i won’t miss, everything i am made for
to be Yours—all Yours.

the reason, lacey sturm

I don’t understand it, at all. I know I am here for a reason. I try to embrace that every single day—even if I don’t embrace God every day like I should. But somehow, I keep finding my way back. I’m not perfect—but that’s kind of the point. I have too many questions and I can’t follow blindly—but in my world, that’s kind of the point, too. God can handle my questions, and I know that He is bigger than my questions. Still. My questions have only evolved over the last ten years, and they’ll keep doing that. I’m okay with that. I’m okay if I can’t fit into boxes now—Jesus didn’t fit into boxes, and Jesus still doesn’t fit into boxes.

This September, I’m working on self-care. On healing. And then today happens. It’s Suicide Prevention Week. If you need help, please find it. 
I am not here by accident. And I have not been distant for nothing, either.

so how does this work? how much will it hurt to open my heart again?
and will there be scars, reminding me of the way that You healed me?
i wanna be well—i wanna be well…

i’m splintered, i’m many
there’s light and dark within me
but i’m bringing all these pieces
only You can heal me, Jesus
i’m here now, i’m ready
giving everything that’s in me
only You can mend these pieces
be my Healer, be my Jesus.

‘cause i wanna be whole.

be my healer, jenny simmons

Each moment I stretch my arms up or out while my heart sings to Jesus today, I am getting closer and closer to being whole. And, while for now I’ll try to keep up that vibe for as long as I can, I know I’ll wander again—but those who wander are not lost, and I know I’ll learn more about God’s love, and myself, in my wandering, too. Even in the wandering, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Because I am still here.

Ten years ago tonight I was writing about taking the leap into faith, into trusting God to heal so that I didn’t end this journey mid-sentence. He did that. So I celebrate: by smiling and laughing, being free of anxiety—being the opposite of who I was on that night.

And, I like this version of me a lot better.

music, “jesus music” and not checking out

On Tuesday I wrote this bullet point:

I focused harder on the words in the music I was listening to […]

I have since not really relented on that point. Which I really, really enjoy.

It’s hard to do consistently: on a bus, in a store, walking and trying to be semi-alert so as to not be hit by cars while crossing streets. But, more often than not, I am trying to make this a more intentional thing. Let the music that’s in my ears so much of each day actually be a thing to check in to, not check out through.

Related, because of my friend Drew tweeting about Jon Foreman’s Shadows, I bought three CDs on Amazon tonight.

albums

I’m always excited about music. But It’s been awhile since I felt like this about it. I like that. I like the feeling of wanting to respond to music—be present with it instead of it just being a thing. And, while I got pissed off at the Casting Crowns acoustic album I have (to the point that I Facebooked a friend asking if she wanted it, and then someone else said they’d take it—really), I’m even listening to what I used to refer to as Jesus music again [and even the legit type, like worship music. Like JESUS CULTURE. One Thing Remains—after Jenny and Annie sang it on the livestream the other night]. Proper Jesus music.). The closest I’d gotten to that the last little while was maybe Flyleaf. And not even always Flyleaf. Last weekend on the way to the cabin, though, I was pretty sunk into the backseat when Great Love came on in my earphones. And, no matter how I’m feeling, that’s a song I find really hard to skip, because it always makes me want to open my arms and jump and twirl and just… appreciate God. (Even if maybe He is the only one keeping up with our conversations and I am mostly ignoring Him and yes I am trying to get better at that and also no I am not really interested in church at the time being unless that is ALL MUSIC. Is that a thing?) Even caught of guard, in the backseat as dusk just began to fade in, a honest-to-goodness shiver rose up my back and I was quickly almost in tears—this song does that to me repeatedly. Even putting it here, I had to listen to it once so I could type it, and two more times so I could feel it.

great Love setting the world on fire,
i am in awe of who You are,
and it’s Your love i’m living for

can’t you feel, i’m drawing near,
the place that broke your heart,
cut up and scarred.
the dawn is breaking,
my body’s shaking.
oh, the secret memories you keep
ignoring so that you can sleep.
i’m facing what you won’t tonight
the dawn is breaking,
my body’s shaking.

great Love, setting the world on fire
i am in awe of who You are,
and it’s Your love i’m living for
great Love that woke me up inside
You are the One i’m looking for,
and i am Yours forevermore

there i was, awaiting death for You,
when all i did was love You too
I’m facing what you won’t tonight,
the dawn is breaking,
my body’s shaking. 

This year, September 7th marks 10 years since Jesus wove His way into my calloused-and-messed-up-but-still-beating heart and showed me that His Love was greater. His Love is still greater. And, I think maybe I am closer to appreciating that this year than I have been the last three years. My story is born of shadows—and yet, I remember the powerful moment I read the Switchfoot song title The Shadow Proves the Sunshine and understood it’s meaning.

There are no shadows without light. There is no darkness without the contrast of brightness to make it exist.

suppose I wanted to hide from You and said “Surely the darkness will hide me, the day will change to night and cover me”. Even the darkness is not dark to You. The night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same [to You]. 

Psalm 139:11-12 [ERV]

Similarly, the other night I was listening to Evanescence before I went to bed. (Maybe there’s hope for Casting Crowns, actually, because I used to hate Evanescence until one day where Evanescence happened in church. Which is an interesting switch because given my current level of interest in church it’s interesting how that triggered a switch—but whatever.) And, listening to Tourniquet for the zillionth time it just hit me so damn hard laying in bed.

This is what I’ll leave off with tonight. This was a hard thing for me to swallow:

[…] [our drummer, Rocky] told me that [the song] is coming from a Christian standpoint, but it’s about suicide. It’s from the perspective of someone who has just committed suicide and it’s about the controversy in Christianity that if you commit suicide, will you go to heaven or hell? If all sins are forgiven after accepting Christ, why would there be an exception? [Wikipedia]

[my stance on this, as I’ve said before, is really more aligned with the Buddhist principle of the all paths leading to truth/the middle ground—and that there is no one answer that’s right. Also I don’t actually believe in hell for many reasons]

…and this, the song (this is actually a song I love to dance to, as I interpret it personally as rather analogous to my own testimony—it made me cry for both reasons. Every time I hear “Am I too lost to be saved? Am I too lost?” my brain screams no.)

i tried to kill my pain
but only brought more (so much more)
i lay dying and i’m pouring crimson regret and betrayal
i’m dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
am i too lost to be saved? am i too lost? 

my God, my tourniquet
return to me salvation
my God, my tourniquet
return to me salvation

do You remember me?
lost for so long
will You be on the other side
or will You forget me?
i’m dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
am i too lost to be saved? am i too lost?

i long to die

my wounds cry for the grave
my soul cries for deliverance
will i be denied Christ
tourniquet
my suicide 

tourniquet, evanescence

And that’s how music has been affecting me lately.
How about you? 

self-care september.

From Wikipedia:

self care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.
A theme I intersect with time and time again is that of intention -> action. For nearly four years now, I’ve struggled with actually achieving the things I’ve wanted to, and been cognizant of that, of the concept above.
Because “good intentions fill my life, but they’re not good enough.” (Life’s Passing Me By, Addison Road)
Repeatedly, intentional self-care is a thing that I neglect. I wrote about it again semi-recently: nutrition, exercise, writing, mindfulness, slowing down and appreciating even the slow moments.
Last year, I tried out (unsuccessfully) Self Tracking October. And back in early August, I began to percolate on Self Care September. (Big difference!)
Except, there will be low stress in blogging it. Because that wouldn’t really be at all conducive to my overall wellbeing, no?

Untitled

I’m not blogging everyday, most likely. But, there’s a framework for if/when I do blog if I lack ideas. Because that’s been common as of late. I’m thinking on a pseudo-schedule for theming days (but I’m not sure. You know, something along the lines of Thankful Thursday and Music Monday and #SelfCareSunday and Writing Wednesday and that sort of jazz). The Wikipedia article also notes self-care as an important part of managing chronic disease—don’t I know it, even if I don’t think about it this way. It’ll be something, among the many things, that I work at reframing my perspective of this month. September will, I hope, be a kickstarter to doing the things I want to accomplish—because I may have ADHD to contend with too, but that’s not stopping me. Look, the dude who invented IKEA did that with ADHD, okay?
How did I start out September?
  • I started writing this at 12:56 AM, laying in bed, while characteristically not following through on my plans to “go to bed at a reasonable time”
  • I slept 8 hours and 46 minutes (98% efficiency per SleepCycle)
  • I cleaned my AeroChamber for the first time in maybe a year? [Ick…]
  • I walked to the store and bought things for organizing my room (a work in progress)
  • I talked to a friend going through a pretty stressful time on the phone the walk; I ran into my former boss at the dollar store and we’re doing breakfast in a few weeks.
  • I focused harder on the words in the music I was listening to—and shared it with a friend who I thought it might resonate with.
  • I hit my 7500 step goal on Fitbit (I decreased it from 10K awhile back because what’s the point of a goal that you never hit?)
  • I actually ate vegetables at lunch today (in the form of minestrone soup, but hey, it was homemade)
  • I learned how to empty the lint trap of the dryer. (Lint is weird, y’all)
  • I listened to a livestream concert and book reading by Jenny Simmons as she released her new [non-kickstarter!] book today. Re-reading The Road to Becoming is again on my list for September.
  • I prayed for the first time in probably months alongside Jenny and those attending the livestream concert tonight. And it felt like something.
  • I signed a contract for a new blogging gig (that I’ll tell you guys about soon!)
  • I wrote this, I did some writing for the IDentityDoctor blog, and intend to do another half hour of some sort of writing project before I go to bed today.
  • I’m not sure I checked anything off of my to-do list, but, I got one-eigteenth of an item done. Progress is progress.
Writing this down is just one more step towards getting where I want to be. Because all of these things fit into some category of the concept we call wellness–these things can, should, and now, because I am reflecting on them, do mean something to me today. They mean I’m not letting today pass me by.
I feel like I started today off fairly strong. I’m interested in seeing where the rest of the month goes. Especially as I try to pay more attention to what’s around me–and how that affects what’s going on inside me, and how I respond to it.
In September: I want to use more moments fully–embrace them. I want to write more words and take more pictures and meditate and exercise and sing and dance. I want to hug and laugh and cry with people and share in and appreciate their stories. I want to know myself better by feeling better and feeling more and sharing more and doing more, but finding balance in that. I want to appreciate the world around me more fully; have a few more coffee dates with Jesus like I used to, and be more connected.
Through being intentional, through self-care, I want to find the pieces of myself I’ve misplaced in the chaos. I am to start something this September that lasts far beyond these 30 days…

a season to be well.

A season.

Lower portion of tree with lake behind it

Another, to be well. To become well. To realize anew that this is not a passive act–I can exist, or I can live well and be fulfilled. And these fulfilled seasons are the ones I remember. The ones where I know myself and where I am headed and maybe even feel connected to the One who is coauthoring this story with me–the same God that Jenny Simmons refers to, in her book The Road to Becoming, as the Storyteller.  I am here to live a story, not a passivity.

I wasn’t looking
I wasn’t ready
kicking and screaming
tired of believing by myself
I never would have done it on my own.
oh but You,
You were never gonna let me go
You took me

straight to the Healer
You were my believer
when I couldn’t even see it for myself
and now I’m whole, I can feel it
now I can see it when I couldn’t even say it for myself
You said “it’s time to be well”

no man’s an island
we need each other
no use in hiding
no pain in lying to myself
cause I don’t have to do this on my own
with You, I don’t have to walk this road alone

You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
just to make me well, just to make me well
You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
…and He made me well, and He made me well.

–time to be well, jenny simmons 

Yes, I’ve lost time by circumstances out of my control. Yes, I’ve (even worse) neglected time. But these are chapters in my story, too. Just, the next one(s), I’d like to write more intentionally; explore plot lines deeper, know characters more thoroughly–connect with myself, my circumstances, and the people around me, playing important parts in this story as well as their own stories. In this next chapter I want to embrace the chaos through interacting with it. To work on embracing the moments as they come and appreciating the little things. To be grateful. To own my mistakes and say sorry. To practice more self-care and define what that looks like for me, and begin yet again to work at feeling things and feeling better in all ways: I know from experience I am happiest and feel best when I connect with myself in ways that don’t let my mind and body and spirit exist separately, but together. Things like exercise and meditation and how physical activity especially helps to make my ADHD a strength rather than another source of struggle, how both of the above allow me to use my brain and body in tandem rather than simply as vehicles for one another. And, as for the Storyteller, yes, it’s challenging myself to dig in to this act of spirituality as well. After years of struggle with this, I had a realization today, after I’d been toying with a little more interest in the Bible the last few days. I’ve always been candid that I do not believe in infallibility of the bible, yet attending church in previous seasons caused me to be frustrated by this fact–because I was supposed to believe everything in there and I didn’t. Today, I realized while reading The Road to Becoming: “What if I stop looking at the bible as a thing I have to believe every word of, and instead as another thing to explore?”

shoreline of rocks with lake behind, and row of forest/trees in distance with cloudy evening sky above. I am opening my eyes to exploring.  Really, everything above: from exercise and nutrition and writing and meditation and creating things and being connected–owning my life, in other words–is all about exploring. Discovering where the map for this season, this chapter leads me. Where I am going and how I am going to interact with what surrounds me. It is all about choice.

So why am I not choosing these things? Because it’s work. It means changing myself within my circumstance in tandem with accepting where I’m at. Yet, I know this is important, and that I should make these smallish huge acts of self-care a priority. I can create excuses but I can also create change. And I know my body, and my spiritual and mental wellbeing will thank me for one far more than the other.

I need, though, to stop trying to do this on my own. Because my excuses to remain stuck sound a lot less dumb in my head and I should be forced to admit them more often.

You took me / straight to the Healer / You were my believer / when I couldn’t even see it for myself / and now I’m whole, I can feel it / now I can see it / when I couldn’t even say it for myself / You said “it’s time to be well”

The people I’ve coached to make positive life changes… I have always told them to do it with someone. I have frequently volunteered to be that person. Time to take my own advice ;). Sometimes, an app is not enough–positive peer pressure can be.

the young want to change the world
the wise want to change themselves
the young want to change the world
but i just want to change myself.

spent, let it happen (spotify link)

For now, this season, I need to change myself.
Again. Continually.

Cabin to left side, flowers focused in foreground with lake and trees behind in distance, unfocused.
it is time to be well.
it is time to grow.