Focus: Fire

I recently found out about the “word for the year” movement (you can find more information on it 


), in which you choose a word that represents an overarching goal or theme for the year (or in some cases, like wands in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, the word chooses you).

Even though we are more than half-way through the year, my word (which clearly chose me) has been mysteriously popping up all over the place. I started noticing it as a theme about a month ago, and since then I have seen its mark everywhere.

What is my word, you ask?


Fire is probably not a word I would have chosen on my own. I love looking at fire. I think it’s beautiful. But I’m naturally hot-blooded, so heat and I don’t agree too well. I’d have to say that fire is the element I least identify 

with – water,

 wind, and earth are fine, but I’ve never really considered myself a fiery person. I don’t look at myself and see a conflagration of passion. I see calm, laid-back, easygoing, hesitant to make waves, content to stay in the background.

And yet, this theme of “fire” has been coming up all year. It started, I think, when I first heard Ellie Goulding’s song “Burn.” It really struck a chord with me. It’s kind of been my theme song this year – I’ve posted the video a million places, it seems. I even art journaled the lyrics.

And then I went to a revival service (or, well, services) last week, and the speaker talked about the fire of the Spirit burning us up. And those days were deeply meaningful to me, and I walked away changed, yet again.

And even this week – even today – the word “fire” has cropped up several times. And I keep seeing it. And I don’t think it’s going away. I think this is the message God is trying to tell me: that in order to be complete, fire has to be a part of me. Water (emotions), Air (intellect), and Earth (senses) are all great. But without Fire (passion), those other things are…not all they could be. They’re lifeless.

Fire is what keeps us on our toes. It warms us, makes us run, makes us dance. We celebrate with it. We fear it. It represents the pulse of life, but can also be the sting of death. Fire never stays the same, it is always changing, always moving. Sometimes it grows, blazing, shedding sparks and sending waves of heat shimmering through the air. Sometimes it dwindles, hushing itself into embers and ashes. But still, the light is there.

So for the rest of this year, I’m going to explore the concept of fire in my life, in my soul. I want to see what happens when I light it up, what happens when I set my passion ablaze. Where will my writing go? Where will my faith go? I believe that the flames will only make them wilder and freer.

So I’m going to strike my match and find out.

Focus: Death of a Dragonfly

Dragonflies hold a lot of symbolism, much of which resonates deeply with me. I also tend toward the mystical side of life, and I see symbolism everywhere. I feel connected with certain elements in nature, particularly water and air. The emotional depth and peace and the color blue and all that stuff that goes along with water resonate, as do the flight, transformation, changability, and reaching higher things that come with air. Dragonflies merge the two elements, and are symbolic of the intertwining of them, as dragonflies spend much of their lives flying and hovering above water. And so, anytime I see a dragonfly, I am mesmerized.

Earlier this week I was afforded such an opportunity. I was sitting at my dining table doing art with my littles, and I gazed out the glass door at one point and noticed a brilliant, shimmery blue dragonfly. I grabbed my phone and started the camera, knowing the whole time I wouldn't get a good shot at all. But I cautiously opened the door and stepped outside. The dragonfly was sitting on the leg of an upturned child's chair on the deck. Just sitting there, watching me approach. I got within three feet and it leapt into the air, darting this way and that, but staying within the boundaries of the deck. I watched it hover and dart for probably two or three minutes before it took off straight up above me, and then I lost sight of it completely.

Moments like that make my days magical. 

So two days after that incident, my kids wanted to go swimming in our small pool. It's so small, it doesn't have a filtration system, so I had to go out and skim for bugs and leaves. As I was cleaning out the water, I noticed this beautiful large shimmery green beetle floating on its back. This little guy was so incredibly beautiful, an amazing creature, a piece of God's handiwork. And again, I was mesmerized. So I scooped him up out of the water and righted him onto the ground. It took him a minute to get his footing and figure out that he wasn't going to drown. I crouched down on my knees, getting in really close to inspect the marvel that was his iridescent green wings. (I'm pretty sure he was a green rose chafer. I should have grabbed my camera but didn't.)

When I stood up to begin scooping out more bugs, I noticed a greyish-brown dragonfly struggling on its back on the surface of the water. Well, you know me and dragonflies by now. So I completely forgot about the other bugs and scooped up this little guy onto my hand. He immediately flopped onto his side, three of his four fragile wings stuck together from being in the water. I brought him up onto the deck and watched him for a moment. He curled and uncurled his long tail, waved his legs about, trying to flip himself over to stand. But the water holding his wings together was just too much. So I gently blew onto his wings, trying to see if I could help the drying process, waiting anxiously to see his wings unstick and open up so that he could fly again.

I placed him gently on the deck rail, hoping that the combination of the sunlight and air would help him recover. But still he struggled. At one point I picked him back up again to examine him more closely, and I noticed that two of his wings seemed to be missing several of the shimmery panels - in essence, his wings had holes in them. When I set him down again on the railing, he began to do what looked like some form of dragonfly yoga - standing on his legs but curling his tail underneath him dramatically. 

And then he flopped over on his side, wiggled his legs exhaustedly a few times, and gave up.

I saw the dragonfly give up.

He quit fighting for his life. 

I blew gently on him a few more times, trying to provoke movement, reaction, anything. I wanted this little creature to make it!

But he didn't respond. The effort of trying to live after nearly drowning was just too much. His wings were too heavy. He couldn't make his body work the way it was supposed to. And so, he gave up. 

I saw it. 

I can't even explain to you how I know that this dragonfly, this tiny, seemingly insignificant creature, gave up fighting. But he did. He just...gave up.

My heart was heavy. I mourned the death of a dragonfly.

Every one of us has something unique to offer the world. You may feel small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But you are not. Each person has a part to play, a job to do, something great to create or achieve. You may feel like you're too broken, you can't possibly do what you used to do. Maybe you've lost pieces of yourself as you've fought life's battles, pieces you might never recover. Maybe you feel stuck. 

There is hope for you.

God is waiting to help you in your brokenness. He's trying to help you get back on your feet so that you can do what you were created to do. It may feel like the only option you have left is to give up. To let your life atrophy. To let yourself be swallowed into the darkness, to become nothing. Because maybe that's what you feel like.

But you are not nothing.

Take some time to see and understand that broken wings can be mended. That sometimes the thing that scares you most is someone reaching out to help you. That maybe you're not shimmery and flamboyant and what people would consider pretty. But you have a purpose - an important one. A beautiful one. 

And that your life is worth fighting for.

Focus: Trust

I've been on an adventure of sorts lately. About 2.5 weeks ago, I started an art journaling collective - 40 days in which several of us are learning how to put our feelings and thoughts on the page through painting, drawing, and found poetry. And oh my word, this journey has already brought up some deeply buried issues. 

This last journaling prompt I did has made me delve deep into my own soul. I have issues. We all have issues, but dealing with your own issues is...tough sometimes. It's tough to talk about with anyone else, but especially with yourself. So, I have these issues. And the words I found for the poetry in my art journal just kept coming at me, like darts, piercing straight into my heart.

And once I had the paint on the page, dried and ready, and I glued on the words, and I sat back to figure out what kind of artwork I would add to the page, I realized something.

I have a trust issue.

And I don't mean I have problems trusting other people. I mean, yes, it can be difficult for me to open myself up to people fully. But it's not because I'm afraid they'll hurt me. I have been hurt, certainly. But it's not other people I fear most.

It's myself.

I don't trust myself.

I realized that I often hold myself back because I'm afraid I'm the one who will do the hurting. Even if that hurting isn't seen or felt. 

There are things in my own soul that I am still working through. I probably will always be working through these things. Always. And it completely sucks. It feels like an injured limb whose wound never stops bleeding and never scabs over. And I just wanted the limb amputated. But that's just the easy way out. What I really need to do is analyze the wound; poke around, even though it hurts, to find the thing that makes it fester. I need to work through a process of healing, despite all the pain that comes with that. Because healing a part of myself so that the whole of me can be fully functional is much better than just chopping out and throwing away a piece of my soul. (And I don't know if you can actually do that, anyway.)

So. Yeah. I have trust issues. With myself. 

It's amazing the things that art journaling can bring up. I highly recommend it.