Wild Words: Dining Room

I keep thinking back to when I first saw the photos of my dining room on the real estate website. My husband and I had been wanting to buy our own home for years, but the timing was never right. But in the midst of searching through endless listings, I found this picture of a dining room, warm and bright with sunlight streaming in, falling all over the floor. It felt like home, just looking at it. This house wasn't the "ideal" of what we were looking for. We had been looking for something with more space - something where we could each have an office (I write, he composes music) and maybe a playroom/schoolroom for the children, as we wanted to homeschool them. This house was smaller by several hundred square feet. Still much more room than we'd ever had before. But I hesitated because it didn't fit into the box.

But when house after house fell through (we had put in several offers and even had a contract fall through), we came here on a rainy day in May of 2013 with our realtor to walk through the house. 

Our kids loved it immediately. Our daughter ran into the large living room, lay down on the new carpet, and started making "snow angels." Our son enjoyed how is voice echoed through the dining room and bedrooms with their hardwood floors. I remember standing in the dining room, looking out through the double glass doors at the rain pouring down onto the deck, closing my eyes, and imagining the sunlight streaming into the dining room, streaming over me where I stood. 

We made an offer on the house. The owners liked the offer. But then, during the inspection process, we found out that the roof had to be replaced and there were moisture issues in the crawl space. We sat on the floor in the living room with the home inspector, listening as he listed off the things that needed to be fixed before FHA would approve a loan. I looked at my daughter, making snow angels on the floor, and I cried silent tears. How do I tell her this isn't going to be her home?

In a miraculous turn of events, the roof inspector, who came to give us a second opinion, told us that the owners may be able to claim the roof under their insurance, as there was extensive hail damage. Our realtor talked to them, and the roof was replaced without us having to pay a dime toward it. The moisture issue in the crawl space was remedied, without us having to pay a dime for it. And in July, we moved in. 

It's been a little more than a year since we moved into our own home. The sunlight still fills the dining room, warming the walls and floor, brightening the atmosphere, although the dining room often has a cluttered table, books everywhere, backpacks and a purse on the floor, and a million random preschooler paintings floating about. It's not always as pretty, aesthetically, as it was in that picture that first captured my attention. But it holds its own beauty. And I want it to always be inviting - to me, my husband, our children, and whomever might walk through our door. I want to be able to offer a cup of tea and a chat to a friend as we sit in my dining room, enveloped in the warm light of the sun.

Wild Words: Ancient-Place-Experience

I have to travel the world. It's an insatiable need. I must stand on rocky promontories on the coast of Ireland and feel the sea spray kiss my face. I need to watch the sun set over a glassy lake in the Swiss Alps. My soul craves the lush foliage of the ancient forests of China. I have this deep need to visit the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, the Redwood Forest, and plant my feet where the native people of this land walked hundreds of years ago with a deep respect for the earth. I want to see Machu Picchu. I need to experience the wonder of Aurora Borealis.

I need to feel the earth and its wonders with an ancient knowing of place. And I feel this need growing all the time. It hits me randomly , unexpectedly. When I'm drinking coffee in the morning, or watching my children ride their trikes in the driveway, or when I'm writing.

I can't escape it. My soul swells, sighs, with anticipation of digging my toes into ancient soil, of breathing in the salt and air of the Irish coastline, of witnessing the amazing light show God made in the north. It makes my breath catch.

But how am I supposed to travel? How am I supposed to experience these beautiful, amazing things? I can't even afford some normal, everyday things. So, how does one travel? How does one fill that soul-requirement of ancient-place-experience?

I could dream. Imagination in and of itself is quite a wonder. And my imagination does take me to some wonderful places.

But it's not enough. It's not enough to just think about it. I need tofeel it. To experience it. I need to be there, to let the earth speak its secrets to my soul. I need to hear the whispers of those who have gone before me. I need my feet to walk to the same path, my soul to follow the same wind.

I need to absorb the spirit of the earth by experiencing these places, these wonders.

I need to breathe in and exhale their stories, their life. My own life feels incomplete without these experiences.

And I don’t seek them out of selfish gain. It would be lovely to visit places simply because the experiences would make my life more meaningful. But, I feel this connection to these places I’ve never been, like the stories are calling out to me. Stories of pasts that never were. Stories of futures that could be. Stories of beauty, devastation, life, death, ethereal wonder. The stories find my soul, and they tug at me, pulling me until I have no choice but to follow.

So follow I must. Somehow, some way. Someday.

I want someday to be now.

Wild Words: Wander With

For far too long, I've wandered. I've wandered away from God, and back again, grazing here or there at whim, whenever I felt like I wanted something particularly nice, a tasty morsel of God’s Word. But there was always the pull of greener pastures. And so I’d wander. Away.

There is a certain beauty in wild wandering. I like to imagine someone backpacking the emerald terrain of Ireland, standing above the coastal cliffs and looking out over the choppy seas and just owning the world for a moment. Or maybe someone trekking through the Redwoods, marveling at the immensity of those ancient forests. There’s just something wild and beautiful and free about the wilderness. Prairies, mountains, forests, rivers, seas. Exploration. Adventure.

But the type of wandering I've done for so long looked a lot more like…hiding. Running. Trying to escape. Because instead of walking next to God as we journeyed together through the beautiful places (and through the dark, difficult places – but always together), I would get scared. I would lose trust and hope, and so I’d run up to the crags, crouching among the boulders, skinning my knees and my hands as I fell on sharp rocks in an attempt to climb away, to hide.

But Monday night, everything changed.

Monday night, at a revival service, I wrestled with God. Because I've had this thorn in my side. And God was standing there with his giant spirit-tweezers, ready to pluck the thing out before it got even more infected, and I was running away and hiding like a child whose fear of the pain of splinter removal was greater than the fear of infection, hospitalization, even death (because who understands death anyway?).

So Monday night, I wrestled with God. And finally, I removed my hand from the thorn, from the wound. I exposed it. I let God see it, really see it, so that He could get in there with his spirit-tweezers and pull the thing out and cleanse the wound so that it would heal.
It didn't hurt nearly as badly as I’d thought it would. In fact, the most painful part was realizing that I’d been the one holding onto it. All this time I've been fighting and arguing with Him – whining, really – “Why, God, why? Why won’t you take this away?” And His simple, patient, loving response was, “You have to open your hands if you want me to take it from you. I can’t take something that you’re still holding onto.”

And last night, I realized that I was still holding onto the ashes of all the pain, the lies the enemy has been throwing at me for so long, the shame, the guilt…even the pleasure of all those things going on in my mind, all those things related to the thorn (which was now gone, but the remnants, the ashes, weren't). And so, I lifted the  ashes in my hands and blew them into the four winds, scattering the ashes to the farthest reaches, where they could no longer haunt me.

In the midst of all this change and giving up of self, I cried out to God, “I cannot wander away from you anymore! I want to wander with you!” And I heard God say (because I certainly would not have been able to make this up), “From now on, you shall be called Wander With.”

All Monday night and all day Tuesday, I wondered, “Wander With…what? Who? The name feels incomplete. I certainly don’t want it to be ‘Wander With…Evil.’ Can’t we put something definitive in there, God? Like, umm, ‘God’?” And again I heard God’s voice, that I would know the rest of the name Tuesday evening.

I was a little distracted throughout the revival service that night – not only because my son had refused to stay in the nursery and so I held him the entire time, but also because I kept seeking the rest of my new name. “Is it Spirit, Lord? Wander With Spirit? Or, what about Power? That kind of sounds nice.” I had to pray that God would keep me focused on Him instead of my search for my name, so that I wouldn't miss anything else important.

By the end of the service, after the minister had spoken about a whole list of things I could possibly tack on the end of “Wander With,” I realized something. God was right the first time. (Go figure.) It’s just “Wander With.” Because I am called to Wander With God, with the Spirit, with Jesus, with Passion, with Purity, with Fire, with Faith. Wander With a whole bunch of things.

But not Wander Away.

That is a thing of the past.

Wild Words: Wasteland

Above the earth, I look down. The streets run like veins, pulsing with life, the ebb and flow of strangers, people like me. There. There I am. I feel myself lowering until I hover at the rooftops. What am I doing? From here, it appears that I am just going about my daily routine. But then I am suddenly thrust into my head, beyond the external world, beyond the shapes and colors and fragrances and noises of daily life. I am here, inside my dark mind. And it is here where I tremble.

Thoughts attack my mind like drones. They are not peopled by caring, concerned human beings. They are remotely manned, sent in to do the dirty work. And they are dropping bombs all over my brain. The explosions are coming fast now. Before too long, my mind will just be a wasteland, a massive wreck of what it used to be. Broken. Destroyed. Good for nothing. Needing to be rebuilt. I have to stop the bombs somehow. But how do I do that, when I have no counterattack?

But it’s not just my mind that’s under attack. It’s my heart as well. Destroy one to get to the other. My mind is my fortress, guarding the inner secret passages of my heart. My treasure. The seat of my life-force that keeps me moving, living, breathing. Loving.

But what happens if my mind is destroyed? Then the enemy has instant access to my heart. And while my heart has defenses in place, they’re nowhere near as strong as my mind’s defenses. (Though even those are proving to be weak at the moment.)

What is the purpose in this relentless attack? Why must I suffer the devastation of this war? It leaves me homeless within myself. Surely this is not God-ordained. Do I take the story of Job literally, in that God said, “Yes, destroy my man Job. He loves me so much it doesn’t matter. Take away everything! Watch, you’ll see!”? This is not a God of compassion. That is like tempting fate.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between me with my issues and others with similar issues. Why is it that I keep coming back to God? Over and over again. I still feel that thread tugging on my heart, no matter how dark, no matter how deep I am. And others – I see them walk away. They take that leap that I’ve contemplated so many times but just can’t go through with. WHY? Why is that? What is it that saves me but not my friend? Is it really just my choices? Or is there something deeper? Does God really pre-ordain who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? Or is it all a choice? Sometimes, I feel like I have no choice. Because I always choose God. But I do have a choice. I just have steadfastly declared that I will not turn my back on Jesus. I cannot deny him, because I have experienced him. I may have doubts about other things, I may not have all the answers, but this much is true: I will not deny Jesus Christ. I cannot. He courses through my veins, sustaining, uplifting, upholding me.