Learning to Lose

Another thorn keeps poking my brain as I embark on this writing project. I believe wholeheartedly in the good practice of finding beauty in everything around me. The littlest things end up bringing me so much joy! One of my favorite places to go is this cozy coffee shop in Plano, TX called 1418 Coffeehouse. Their sugar free vanilla latte tastes like a warm, liquid marshmallow. It’s. Amazing. But if my sense of meaning feeds only on delicious lattes – or even if it arises from capturing all the wonders that arise in the light of the golden hour – I’ve missed the point. My joy wrestles with a current of guilt that keeps surging in to make its presence known: How can I spend $5 on myself – rather frequently – just to enjoy that smooth, sweet sensation while hungry children walk this planet? I think this guilt-current is a healthy one, born from the shift in my value system that started over the last year and a half. I’ve gone from a 5-bedroom house with my dream floor-plan to a one-bedroom apartment with a greenbelt view and an abundance of happy cardinals. I used to buy $100 jeans; at the moment, everything I’m wearing is second-hand, except for some sandals from Target. The possessions of my former life weren’t evil… just more than I really needed. I was spending too much money and time on what didn’t really matter. As Ann Voskamp writes, “Your days never fail to betray your priorities.” Then grace came in a whirlwind, picked me up, and placed me elsewhere. Maybe the wrestling will...

Looking to Name the Unnameable

“What fortune lies beyond the stars, Those dazzling heights too vast to climb?” – Hillsong United, “Touch the Sky” What hides behind the moments, the matter swirling around us every day? Am I the only one whose ache to encounter it is relentless? Sometimes, things are great, and I have everything I need. But something still whispers of more. And when I find myself with all the comforts of a daily norm stripped away, my need to know an Author of this story waxes acute. Rainer Maria Rilke refers to the Divine as “you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.” In another poem, he calls God darkness because, unlike the light that excludes everything outside its circle, the darkness embraces everything. What if what we have named God wasn’t at all attached to the myriad connotations that turn people away in frustration? What if the true One was everything our souls have needed, the Something we already love deeply but cannot name? This Divine Infinite One is in all the moments beautiful. I know because my heart has nearly broken with the weight of a glory greater than all this lonely planet. And I have also seen this One in the waters cold and dark, when hope seemed lost. I know because the water – though fast rushing over my head – was never too much. This Divine, Infinite One – Author, Artist, Mystery, Truth, Love – was more, and swelled inside me, and I was not...

Designed Departure

So, when tragedy and misadventure sweep in and you find yourself sitting on a patio in the middle of a shopping center in Suburbia evaluating all your hours, a surprise blessing sometimes comes creeping in on the heels of their destruction. In my particular case, this came in the form of a chance at a clean slate. How often can a 28-year-old woman change everything about her life – career, city of residence, hours and hobbies and pursuits? The only earthly thing that really mattered in my life was now out of my reach: the six sweet children I had the privilege of sharing my life with for three years. Out of love and a desire to be kind to their family, I feel it best to leave the details in the past. The truth of how blessed I was to know them burns still, however. I will never forget them, and I carry them with me in my heart. The reality on that patio last fall stands stark like a photograph: I was alone, and the ache was an abyss. Sometimes this is the only time in our lives when we are open to change. Sometimes it’s the only way we could ever be persuaded to consider the rhythmic harmonies of our lives and, if dissonant, make adjustments. Last week I mentioned reconnecting with Nate Croft through social media. It was January, and my parents were visiting from Tennessee and staying in my little apartment here in Allen. My mom and I were curled up on the futon looking at Nate’s artful photography. We quickly noticed that he was using...

Confession Time

I’m impressed to admit the angst I regularly feel about the dichotomy between my blog’s lofty endeavor and the fact that I live in Suburbia. I’ve only recently discovered the fun times of Instagram, where I’ve been inspired by the likes of the Boyink and Longnecker (#bareneckers) families who have sold everything and are #ditchingsuburbia for life on the road. Perhaps my biggest Insta-hero is the man whose gallery really made the app click for me: Nate Croft, a guy I actually knew about 9 years ago. When I ran across his feed, it was immediately clear to me that this scruffy guy road-tripping across the country and rocking #vanillatothegrave was an adventure-magnet version of the young man I’d met that summer of 2006. The confession gets down to this: All the varied, breathtaking shots on Instagram strike a chord with something that has been growing in me for some time. Tragedies and misadventures have a way of making you evaluate your hours, and the year I’ve just traversed has put me in such a place. One night last autumn, I sat on a patio in Fairview, TX, and made a list:   This page was folded up and shoved to the bottom of an unused pocket in my purse. I found it again in the new year, glossy and creased from the time spent in the chasm that I call my fathomless leather accessory. It might be hard to read, so I’ll rewrite #2 here: Nature! – Sunsets, Mountains, Blue Skies, Walking, Hiking, Stargazing, Tennessee in the Fall More than ever, my heart feels an ache for the wild mystery found...

A Narrow Escape and Hidden Treasure

What does modern-day treasure look like? Such a word as treasure was the farthest thing from my mind as we trekked away from the highway, following the path indicated by some vehicle’s tire marks. The golden hour was settling in, and The Bear and I, hungry for photographs and adventure,  had pulled the Runner over next to a field with an abandoned building. A fence lined the field where it met the highway and along our side of the perimeter, so we started exploring the surrounding woods, following a decently-worn path. The green quiet around us was lush, and I felt a need to reign in my exclamations. Cardinal chirps accompanied us as we reverently wound our way back and farther back. Then the clearing opened before us: an old shed, anciently vibrant with graffiti tags on its rusted face; a burn pile surrounded by blackened trees, twisted metal enigmatically thrusting up through its ashy heaps; and the skeleton of an old hen house. The hinge dangling from the hen house door frame looked like the end of a forgotten garden hoe at first. But I strode closer and discovered its true identity. The hinge didn’t seem to merit the camera’s attention at first. But something in its quirky character jutted into my mind and called me back. I snagged the shot, and we moved on to photograph and explore the clearing. That’s when we discovered the end of the fence. The large field – the one with the abandoned structure that looked like the storefront of an old west town – was now trespass-able. Now, to be clear, we were careful...