Stories from 2JJ5: He’s Calling Me

I walked in, asking for something.

I walked out, wanting something more.

I walked in, again.

He told me to go.

I was affronted. I had a want and he was there to fulfill it. No questions asked. My setting out into the unknown, into the deep end, wasn’t part of my side of the contract I thought we’d signed.

What contract? Go.

But…

I have already given you everything you need and I promise I will be with you always. Go.

But…

Aren’t you changed?

Yes, but…

Don’t you want to share this joy that bursts inside of you?

Yes, but…

Ah. Come here, child.

He waters me. He pulls a lot of really stubborn weeds. He replants some flowers. He prunes the branches. It hurts.

I feel something new. Or, perhaps, it is the absence of something old.

Go.

Yes, Lord.

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Receiving Joy

52 Weeks of Gratitude, Week OneWhy start this challenge?

something to be had
something to be desired

something else
something more

something not yet
key word: yet

with internal screams of desperation
and a charging tiger’s heart
nothing better get in her way

she must get her way

blindly clawing her way past
to snatch the coveted prize
ignoring the eternal cost

she doesn’t see the wounds

SNAP – she’s out of it.

The forgiving soil, black. Life’s blood, red. Colors.
The sun on her face. The wind in her hair. Sensations.
Laughter from a friend. Mother’s smile. Love.
Words on a page. A full heart. Contentment.

She puts back the coveted prize–
she didn’t need it;
she already had it.

Here Goes Nothing

From previous experiences with any sort of “blog challenge,” I know I drag my feet at least half way through. I lose interest. So when I created Quiet Evidence a year ago, I anticipated never participating in any daily or weekly commitment.

So much for that. I came across a “52 Weeks of Gratitude” challenge and I want to give it a shot. But because I don’t like the idea of writing substantial paragraphs every week, and I want to write more poetry in 2018, I’m challenging myself to write a poem every weekend reflecting on the specified topic.

I honestly have no idea how this is going to turn out. But hey, that’s part of the fun of it. And if perchance you’d like to join me, that would be great!

Here’s to a gratitude and poem infused 2018, no matter how cheesy that sounds!

52 Weeks of Gratitude*I’ll have to adjust a few of the topics so they’re more applicable to me, but otherwise I’ll do my best to follow them as shown.

Love Came Down

you’re hanging on with your last breath
but your strength is slowly draining
away into wastelands
long-forgotten

your woolly coat begins to fray
against your threadbare soul
away into the air
bitter and cold

you wonder why you
“can’t help it”

you fall
desperately clawing empty space
fearfully clambering against darkness
and all is lost

you collapse, breathless
across a rough, tangled net
awakening your senses
to the trap you knowingly walked into

you’re caught
and all you want to do
is sing

Not By Bread Alone: 2017

Here are some Bible verses and passages that God used to greatly impact me in 2017. I hope they serve to bless you as much as they blessed me! (All verses are taken from the ESV.)

~*~

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” (Proverbs 31:10)

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:6)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

~*~

What verses did God use to bless you this year? I’d love to read them!

Favorite Books: 2017

Christianity

Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense: a Response to Contemporary Challenges by C. Stephen Evans

I wrote a review of this book in the spring, and as I look back over the 40+ books I read this year, C. Stephen Evans’ exploration of the Christian faith really stands out to me. I’ve especially noticed its impact during the past several months, where I have been pushed to ask and wrestle through difficult questions about my faith. It’s critical to understand the theological and philosophical basis of one’s faith, otherwise one ends up throwing around “Christian-ese” -isms and calling it a day. Evans’ accessible, 140-page book is designed to help Christians start thinking about what exactly they believe and how to share that with others, while also addressing doubts even mature Christians may have encountered.

Foundations of the Christian Faith by James Montgomery Boice

This is a much, much, much bigger commitment than the aforementioned text. It actually took me over two years to work my way through it, and I only just finished it in August! This work is most memorable in how much it stretched my faith. Boice does an incredible job laying out the basic beliefs upon which Christianity is founded, looking at the grander picture and taking significant time to discuss issues that often, sadly, divide churches. The book, which is actually a collection of five, smaller works, is not an easy read, but I still highly recommend it and believe it is definitely worth the time and effort.

This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jaquelle Crowe

Crowe wrote this book when she was 18 as a comprehensive, practical, and gospel-centered guide for young adults to understand what it looks like to follow Jesus, day-in and day-out. From family to friends and social media to their role in the church, Crowe seeks to encourage teens and young Christians to take their faith seriously. Jesus works through youth in very unique and powerful ways, but He can’t if they’re not willing to wholly sacrifice every part of their life to following Him. This book places a huge emphasis on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and what that looks like for young adults in a world heavily-driven by media. The gospel is not just something we, young or old, can tack onto our lives and keep living the way we have been. Rather, it is something that swoops in and completely turns our lives around. Once our eyes are fixed on Jesus, everything else falls into place.

Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I must admit that I held off on reading this one until late in the year. Everyone (and I mean everyone, everywhere) was talking about it, and I was suspicious of a bandwagon effect. But just a few pages into the novel, which follows the lives of two young children during WWII, I realized how very misled I was. This is a beautiful piece of literature, and rather reminds of The Book Thief by Mark Zusak (which is one of my most favorite books – if you have not read it, you really should). The words are so very artfully pieced together, like a poem in prose. My only qualm was its organization. The author switches back and forth between multiple perspectives every chapter, which forced me to go back and re-read chapters long gone in order to remember where a specific character was in time (excepting the many times I was too lazy and just read onward without knowing what was going on). That being said, I realize this style has become quite popular among authors, and it wasn’t so distracting that I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the book (pardon the double negative).

Othello by Shakespeare

I sadly do not have the bandwidth nor the intelligence at this point in time to write any sort of review on Shakespeare. However, this tragedy incredibly altered my view of the famous playwright. The first two Shakespearean tragedies I ever read were King Lear and Hamlet, neither of which I particularly enjoyed. But Othello truly grasped my attention, though it took a while for me to grow re-accustomed to the language, and I found myself immensely appreciating Shakespeare’s wit and ability to weave such intricate word plays into the otherwise serious topics of honesty, identity, and loyalty. As a result, I can now say I look forward to reading more of Shakespeare’s work in the near future.

~*~

What have been some of your favorite books? I’m always on the lookout for recommendations!

Dawn

Are you okay?

No.

What’s wrong?

Nothing.

she turns away
disappearing into the mist
that envelops her in a shroud
that does nothing to keep out the storm
and it’s all so chaotic
there is no black-and-white
it’s all gray
detached
emotionless
and yet all too emotional

she breathes–

she cries–

staccato gasps
as she dons the Armor
and, suddenly,
all is well.