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 

copeland and airplanes

What? Two posts in a week? [And I won’t make this a goals update ‘cause that is boringpants. Although I haven’t ridden the bike this week—confession.] Since it’s becoming evident I will probably never actually complete VEDA or #hawmc or NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo [the last two, I cannot actually stand the names. NaNoWriMo has grown on me a teensy bit but not enough to say I actually don’t hate it] (and, though I will probably try them all again at some point) {bracket},

Untitled

I have to start somewhere, right? Here’s some stuff I wrote on the plane back from Ottawa, fleshed out a bit.
So, let’s talk about Copeland and airplanes.

Imbalance. Unbalance.
Imbalanced. Unbalanced.

Stillness… [while] moving.
Waves. 

I tend to feel most settled in a place where I am unsettled. The preparation for the next adventure is not enough: right now, I’m four weeks back from Montreal and Ottawa, and less than a week back from Toronto.
And despite that, the desire to be in flight again is strong. As much as I want to feel home, I feel unbalanced. Unpredictability, the non-routine of being away, being on the road, feels like home to me. Maybe I can thank ADHD for that, maybe it’s just how I’m wired, maybe it’s the bit of Romani Gypsy in my genes (seriously)–chances are it’s all three.

and it feels like we can’t get out
and it feels like hell

i think i’m safer in an airplane
i think i’m safer [with my lungs full of smoke / if i run through the streets]
i think i’m safer on the jetway
than a world without [hope / peace]

oh, and arms will stretch out when they’ve had enough
oh, when they are tired of holding up us…

–safer in an airplane, copeland 

This imbalance, this unsettled-ness, is a different type of unrest. The only cure is to travel with hundreds of kikometers between your starting porint and your end point, wherever those may be, without touching ground. The flight map that shows you’ve travelled thousands of miles hundreds of feet in the air, all without leaving your seat. The number ticks up. It is in the air that I am settled, a place where many find unrest.

“wandering flushes a glory that fades with arrival.”

–j. a. baker

I put my earphones in and stare out the window. My In the Air playlist and the sky—exactly where I want to be. Sorry to my friends who are my plane neighbours, I am not an in-fight talker. To the strangers who are my plane neighbours, I will engage until those wheels start rolling. After that point, my attention belongs in my head and to the sky.

UntitledThe seatbelt sign is on,
And I am most alive here.
Turbulence,
Matching the imbalance
I feel the other thousands of hours a year when I’m not in the air.
Colours streaking the sky that I can never dream to recreate on paper or even with a camera.
I am alive, free,
myself.

I am these things in a place that so many attribute to chaos. While I’ve engaged in a few discussions about becoming grounded, I think maybe I am most grounded when I am airborne. Embracing chaos. The sky is place that so many worry about the things that can go wrong. That is out of my control, so I might as well remain unfazed.

Cell phone with transmitting modes off. Nothing but me and the moment I’m in and the music (maybe some words flowing from my fingertips, and the cabin service cart). And I need more of these moments, replicated outside of a plane seat. Intentionally.

“cause my mind just can’t stop moving
i think i know why.”

–i’m a sucker for a kind word, copeland

soundtracking 2015 – august through december.

Happy New Year! I finished off 2015 sick (thus the delay in publishing) so here’s hoping to a better end to 2016 in 365 days!

This post is a continuation of Tuesday’s post summarizing the 2015 soundtrack from March through July. Here’s how my year concluded, in song form…

Time to Be Well – Jenny Simmons.

In August, I started on a journey towards better self-care. In September, I tried to spark myself a “Self-Care September” challenge. Self-care, actually, is hard shit. In part, I wrote that I wanted to “try to pay more attention to what’s around me—and how that affects what’s going inside me, and how I respond to it”, and I think I’ve done okay with that, even beyond September. It’s a challenge sometimes, but Imyself, am a work in progress—and I had to learn that.

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, You took me, 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 thing is, even though I’ve been ignoring Him so much, I do feel like God was pulling me in this direction: I may not feel like I’m ready, or be ready, but He knows if I am or if I need to learn. This song, when I first got Jenny’s EP, tugged at my heart right away with the truth packed inside this 4 minute and 8 second track. Now in December, I can put into words the realization I had in August: that I am a work in progress, and I always will be. But that does not mean I am on my own.

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

oh, with You, i don’t have to walk this world alone […]

Not only do I not have to do this on my own because I have Jesus, I also have other people in my world to help me. And, as I’m currently exploring a bit in writing a guest post for Smart Girls With ADHD, in this season I learned better how to ask for help. It’s a task I struggle with more often than I care to admit, but it’s so important to BEING well and feeling whole—feeling supported.
These things—songs, stories—they cross our paths for a reason: for me, I think Jenny’s words in Time To Be Well were a way that I heard a message I needed to hear: that I had to choose this for myself: I had to choose to not be an island in the midst of people, I had to choose to invest in self-care, I had to choose to make an effort to be more well. (“More well” is probably a grammatical nightmare. You get it, though.)

Repeatedly—back in September 2005, and today, this is true of my journey with God:

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

Transformation is conscious, and it is continual. And that is okay. More than okay.

Therapy – Relient K.

There’s a lot of this song that tugs at me, and other parts that don’t really fit my world (“I never thought I’d be driving through the country just to drive“, for example, doesn’t, but “with only music and the clothes that I woke up in” does…) but, there’s more truth than not here.

One night at the cabin, at 2 AM, in the Time to Be Well phase (with my spotty 3G-sometimes-LTE-data in the wilderness…), struggling with aspects of my life, I found a very sliding-scale payment counselling clinic—it works well with my lack of insurance. After my assessment, I was offered therapy, which I passed on since I’d have to go through the queue again—also, I wasn’t ready. Yet, as I kept going, kept reading, everything says therapy is one of those things that should be part of my ADHD treatment. It wasn’t, so I took initiative to make that happen—at 2 AM, like all worthwhile things. Legit—it’s that reflecting-in-the-darkness thing:

[…] I never thought I’d need
all this time alone, it goes to show
i had so much, yet i had need for nothing…
[…] this is just therapy,
let’s call it what it is
with a death-grip on this life, always transitioning.

I was assigned a therapist and started with him at the end of October. I spend an hour every week or two learning how to navigate my world better. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of therapy, except to control my reactions better, mostly—he was cool and worked with my vague-ness, though, for me, I continued the internal debate of whether I even wanted to be there.

letting it all sink in,
it’s good to feel a sting now and again 

Guess what? Therapy is fucking hard sometimes, but that’s why I’ve learned to like it. It makes me think and think about shit differently and criticize myself a bit—I’m cool with that. My therapist doesn’t have much experience with ADHD, and I’m okay with that, because he does seem to totally get the fact that I’m working with a “death grip on this life, always transitioning,” probably at a pace quicker than most people.

forgetting it all, begin
fresh paper and a nice expensive pen
the past cannot subtract a thing from
what i might do for you, unless that’s what i let it do 

This part is huge in that other stuff: the past is only what I let it be. End of story.

[…] loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused
‘cause i spend my solitude with You
gather all the questions of the things i just can’t get straight
and i answer them the way i guess You do
‘cause this my therapy…
‘cause You’re the only one that’s listening to me.

this is my therapy, let’s call it what it is
not what we were, with this death grip on
this life that’s in transition, this is my therapy

Yeah, therapy for me happens in a room now, not only in a notebook or on a keyboard. But what I’ve learned in that room repeatedly runs through my racing thoughts throughout the day: I reflect, extremely often, without really realizing it. And this is how I know that it’s, at least somewhat, worthwhile for me to go through that “sting now and again”…

I needed to have some solid thoughts on therapy before I threw them all out here. And maybe I’m starting to have those. I’m lucky that I found a clinic I can afford, and a therapist who’s working his ass off to get me and my world, and how to help me to make things work better—yeah, maybe there’s somebody with more experience in ADHD (who I could pay $150 an hour rather than a subsidized $10 an hour), but I’d rather work with someone who tries to get me instead of someone who tries to compare me to a textbook. I actually like coming in to see what he’s printed or pulled up from journals via/or the web, to see that not only am I learning from him, he’s learning because of me, too.

So, I’m learning to navigate this life that’s in transition. And I’ve bought some new black Moleskines and tracked down some Sharpie pens to help me on that journey into next year… With five-plus therapy sessions left and all.

Armistice – MUTEMATH.

It’s sometimes a challenge to find a song to end the year on, especially since I am ending this year hugely in transition: a few blogging gigs started, a couple to begin, being employed but very under employed, in the midst of the process that is therapy. Armistice is a song I identified with a certain line of after my ADHD diagnosis, and I feel the song is pretty fitting to my current world.

out of time, and out of inclinations that we’re in
how’s it feel to watch a man relenting?
let’s just say that i might be a sucker for progress
it’s all in how you cope in spite of knowing…

The actual lyric here may be “cope in spite of no end,” but the internet people and myself are conflicted. This is the lyric, as it is above, that was a key player in sorting through the whole assessment/ADHD/learning issues diagnosis thing,

you don’t have to say it, i know, it’s all my fault
you don’t have to worry, i know, it’s how we are
you don’t have to say it, i know, it’s all my fault
the give and take is taking its toll

it’s an honest work if i can stand up on it
maybe we’re not as far apart as it appears
swallowing the blame is second nature,
i’ve got to keep on handling my business my way

2015 marked a year that I got into more contract-type work as well—right now, I’m working on four blogs, not including my own, and two are yet to begin, and I’m really stoked about that. I began writing with Understood.org and for the first time am working with an editor (!!!), Andrew, who has been amaaaazing.
Fortunately, I’ve found great people to work with who allow me a huge amount of freedom, and understand I won’t compromise who I am and what I stand for to land a writing gig—not everybody does

[…] i will take the fall if it takes us somewhere
the give and take, the give and take
the give and take is taking its toll

you don’t have to say it, i know, it’s all my fault
you don’t have to worry, i won’t
it falls apart.
you don’t have to say it, i know
it’s all my fault
the give and take is taking its toll…
you don’t have to say it. 

I’ve felt that give-and-take first-hand, so I don’t need reminders of what may have not unfolded as I expected. What goals I have yet to achieve. 365 days never unfold as I’ll anticipate they will, 2015 included. And that’s okay, that’s how growth happens. I’m working on it.

My first soundtrack project, in 2013, ended with “avalanche, in the blink of a year”. While 2013 was more of an avalanche than most, it worked to prepare me to be here. Prepared me for the waiting, the working, the being a work in progress. 

And, here I am, in the first days of 2016—I’m working on things here, still. As I should be. ‘Cause I weren’t a work in progress, wasn’t constantly in transition, I probably wouldn’t be learning anything, and wouldn’t be where I am meant to be.

soundtracking 2015 – march through july.

Back in February, I summarized the 2015 soundtrack so far. In reality, I didn’t add another new song until May—probably because other than travel, March was much a void, and in April I found more work and felt more of a semblance of normalcy—even just saying you have proper work plays into that—and as I’ll get into later, the stories for me happen in transition. I headed to Toronto at the end of April for goalball nationals, my first competitive coaching gig, and then returned in May for Clearing the Air. Then, it was off to Denver

My Disease – A Skylit Drive.

awaken to the eyes of glazed humor
the haze in my somber eyes it burns so cold,
the things you wish you could know

What I thought on those return flights from Toronto and Denver was this: Chronic disease sucks—the community that can arise from it, though, makes it better. If I didn’t have asthma, didn’t candidly share that experience, I’d be a much different person today—for better or worse. And, there’s humour in it that only “sick people” get, and a world that only we understand.

as he enters into the world,
as a ghost
the terror inflicted scrapes your bones
let him hold you close.

[Look… where… over there… fear me]
oh i see what you mean, step too close
see what i see—construct desire
the fine line between disease and what i need

it’s exactly what it seems
the horror i love, the evil that beats inside me:
it’s called my disease.

All of the above: it’s a blessing and a curse. I may have friends and adventures gained from having messed up lungs and other sorts of shenanigans going on in my body, but I still face the reality that everybody with chronic disease does every day. I don’t know what that day will bring, I don’t know what the next hour will bring. Even when my health is stable, there’s still the lurking thought of when will the stability end? It’s not encompassing, but it’s still there. The community of people, the friends I’ve made, makes that tolerable—but even in the good, the amazing, there’s still a kind of evil inside my body that I have to make a commitment everyday to coexist with so that I can continue to own it. A choice so that “evil” does not crawl into my mind and make me more cynical than I already may be somedays, and more importantly, keeps me seeing my circumstance for what it is, rather than what it could be tomorrow. I somehow got a reputation for positivity, and damn it, I’ll keep trying. While everything I chronicle here is the truth, like I said in 2013, there are still “stories I will never tell”, or I will never tell in as much detail as maybe they deserve–there are some stories I’d rather forget—even though I can’t.

The possibility to do good, why the travel opportunities existed to an extent, counterbalances some of that. But it doesn’t make the other stuff suck any less. 
 

Progress – MUTEMATH.

Progress was added to the soundtrack in about July, but really encapsulated April through August well. Work stuff started happening: I got a job with Tennis Manitoba (thanks for the recommendation, Sam!), as well as a more formal respite care provider position

pulling your confidence through
some courage is well overdue
i believe solely in all your promise
why waste a second in doubt
you could be helping out
keeping your head in the clear

I finally felt unstuck for a bit—looking for work is kind of depressing until stuff falls into place. Which can take forever.

[…] every moment of time’s just an answer to find
what you’re here for, what you breathe for
what you wake for, what you bleed for.

Certain things stick with you, no matter what, so every time I hear this song, I think of the above lyric, specifically “[…] just an answer to find […] what you bleed for”, and gently (usually) flash back to the whole situation of most of 2013, and, while maybe I haven’t figured out that whole effing scene, at least I can see how far I’ve come.

everyone’s counting on you
say for yourself what to do
life is a card that you lay down sometimes
to search for the best way of all
is finding the best way to fall
keeping your head in the clear

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what direction I’m going. I wrote before that I was okay with this—now, I feel like I’m finding the best way to float, not necessarily to fall. Falling means taking risk, at least, means doing something—floating just seems passive. And I’ll admit it: some of the progress has been passive.

every moment of time’s just an answer to find
what you’re here for, what you breathe for
what you wake for, what you bleed for.
what you hope for, what you live for,
what you’re here for, what you breathe for
what you live for,
what you’re here for, what you bleed for
what you live for…

Every minute I’m given is another minute to figure it out; another moment to make a choice to be mindful of even the most passive of things… 

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?