Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An Invitation Like You've Never Known

I am so incredibly honored and excited to share space here today with Erika Morrison. Erika is one of the most vulnerable writers I know. It is evident that she keeps intimate company with the Holy Spirit and thus I implicitly trust what spills out on the page as a result of her deep and genuine soul searching. Her words have always--always--reached down into my hidden spaces to reveal the scared, yet shimmering truth of who I am.  

Today, her book Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul releases. Please hear me when I tell you this: you must read this book. 

In Bandersnatch, it feels as if Erika has taken the intimacy of all her previously written whispered truths and plumbed even deeper.
And yet she does it all with a gentle yet persistent voice. She writes just like she talks in real life--drawing you in close, welcoming you in. 

Bandersnatch illumines the truth that we are weird and wonderful and beautiful and completely unique artist souls and that our fully living into and out of those creations is the very essence of our life's work here on Earth. The world needs us to be avant-garde, to practice alchemy and to be anthropologists who "gaze at humanity with a love that is an eternity long and wide and high."

Erika declares for us (because most of us don't believe it) that we are artists. We are made to create and the Kingdom of God is depending on our doing just that.

"So take your molecules and your moments and your unprecedented mess and the intoxicated music of your life and make a masterpiece that reflects the truth. Because on the other side of Jesus, art is a revelation of the kingdom, a kingdom revealing God through billions of different kaleidoscopic expressions. Art, your art, is absolutely vital because your art is how Jesus is made known to the world."

Erika and I want to know: Do you believe it? 

Please join me in welcoming Erika here today and please get a copy of this book.

The cardinals make it look so easy. The honeybees make it look so easy. The catfish and the black crow, the dairy cow and the cactus plant, all make being created appear effortless. They arise from the earth, do their beautiful, exclusive thing and die having fulfilled their fate.
None of nature seems to struggle to know who they are or what to do with themselves.
But humanity is the exception to nature’s rule because we’re individualized within our breed. We’re told by our mamas and mentors that--like snowflakes--no two of us are the same and that we each have a special purpose and part to play within the great Body of God.
(If your mama never told you this, consider yourself informed: YOU--your original cells and skin-print, guts and ingenuity--will never ever incarnate again. Do you believe it?)
So we struggle and seek and bald our knees asking variations of discovery-type questions (Who am I? Why am I here?) and if we’re semi-smart and moderately equipped we pay attention just enough to wake up piecemeal over years to the knowledge of our vital, indigenous selves.
And yet . . . even for all our wrestling and wondering, there are certain, abundant factors stacked against our waking up. We feel and fight the low ceiling of man made definitions, systems and institutions; we fight status quo, culture conformity, herd mentalities and more often than not, “The original shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out of all our other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” ~Frederick Buechner
So, let me ask you. Do you know something--anything--of your true, original, shimmering self?
I don’t mean: Coffee Drinker, Jesus Lover, Crossfitter, Writer, Wife, Mama.
Those are your interests and investments.
I do mean: Who are you undressed and naked of the things that tell you who you are?
Who are you before you became a Jesus lover or mother or husband?
Who are you without your church, your hobbies, your performances and projects?
I’m not talking about your confidence in saying, “I am a child of God”, either. What I am asking a quarter-dozen different ways is this: within the framework of being a child of God, what part of God do you represent? Do you know where you begin and where you end? Do you know the here-to-here of your uniqueness? Do you know, as John Duns Scotus puts it, your unusual, individual “thisness”?
I can’t resolve this question for you, I can only ask you if you’re interested. (Are you interested?)
I can only tell you that it is a good and right investment to spend the energy and time to learn who you are with nothing barnacled to your body, to learn what it is you bleed. Because you were enough on the day of your birth when you came to us stripped and slippery and squeezing absolutely nothing but your God-given glow.
And who you were on that born-day is also who you are now, but since you’ve been living on this planet long enough to learn how to read this article, then it follows that you’ve also lived here long enough to collect a few layers of horsefeathers and hogwash.
So, yet again, I’m inquiring: What is it that you see before the full-length bathroom mirror after you’ve divested of clothes and masks and hats and accessories and roles and beliefs and missions and persuaders and pressures--until you’re down to just your peeled nature, minus all the addons mixed in with your molecules?
Do you see somebody who was made with passion, on purpose, in earnest; fearfully and wonderfully, by a Maker with a brow bent in the center, two careful hands, a stitching kit and divine kiss?
Can you catch between your fingers even the tiniest fragment of self-knowledge, roll it around and put a word to it?
Your identity is a living organism and literally wishes to unfurl and spread from your center and who will care and who will lecture if you wander around a little bit every day to look for the unique shine of your own soul?
One of the central endeavors of the human experience is to consciously discover the intimacies of who we already are. As in: life is not about building an alternate name for ourselves; it’s about discovering the name we already have.
Will you, _______, rise from your own sacred ash?
Because the rest of us cannot afford to lose the length of your limbs or the cadence of your light or the rhythm of your ideas or the harmony of your creative force. The way you sway and smile, the awkward this and that and the other thing you do.
These are the days for opening our two clumsy hands before the wideness of life and the allure of a God who stops and starts our hearts. These are the days for rubbing our two imperfect sticks together so we can kindle another feeble, holy light from the deep within--each of us alone and also for each other.
There is no resolution to this quest; the only destination is the process. But I hope there’s a small spark here that will leave you wanting, that will leave you with a blue-fire lined in your spine, that will inspire a cellular, metamorphic process in you; an odyssey of the soul unique to you and your individual history, organisms, and experiences.
There is maybe a fine line between being lethargic about learning ourselves and not being self-obsessive and with that tension in mind, how do we begin (or continue) the process of unearthing and remembering the truth of our intrinsic selves?
Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul was written because sometimes we all need a little hand-holding and butt-nudging in our process; someone or something to come alongside us while we pick up our threads of soul discovery and travel from one dot and tittle to the next.
We are the Kingdom people and learning your own fingerprint is something of what it means for the Kingdom to come in response to an earth which groans forth it’s rolling desire for the great interlocking circle of contribution to reveal the luminous and loving Body of Christ and slowly, seriously--like it’s our destiny--set the world to rights.
Kingdom come. Which is to say: YOU, [be]come and carve your glorious, powerful, heaven-appointed meaning into the sides of rocks and communities and cities and skies.
Without being formulaic and without offering one-size-fits-all “how-to” steps, Bandersnatch is support material for your soul odyssey; a kind of field guide designed to come alongside the moment of your unfurling.

Come with me? And I will go with you and if you’re interested, you can order  wherever books or ebooks are sold.

Or, if you’d like to read the first three chapters and just see if Bandersnatch is something for such a time as the hour you’re in, click HERE.
All my love,
Erika Morrison

If Erika's words above struck something deep in you and you feel yourself longing for more, you must check out her book trailer, here.
It is hauntingly beautiful.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Thoughts on Wild in the Hollow AND a Giveaway

I haven't written much about my journey towards faith in this space.

It infuses everything I write, yes, because I am stained by its touch and born again into its glory. But sharing the journey before and during and after? I've been pretty quiet.

Perhaps it is because that part of my story is, at once, innocent and convoluted and fiery and fickle and it just feels too messy to wrap words around. There is definitely fear of judgement present. And not just from those who might read it.

Perhaps it is because I struggle to see where I am on the spectrum and I don't know how to trust the spaces where colors bleed, one into the other.

Perhaps I am just tired of trying to hold it all together and I don't trust that anyone else really wants to help me carry the burden.

But maybe that will change now that I have read Amber Haines' book Wild in the Hollow.

This, here, is why:

"There will always be ways I'm learning to let God love me, but maybe I inherited more than desire for the knowledge of good and evil from our Eve. Maybe I inherited her memory, the echoes of the garden. There was the faint memory of the cadence of his walk in the cool of the evening. There was the settled stride I remembered. Oh yes, I remembered that he had seen my freshest skin. He had seen my naked heart. There was a memory in my spirit that he had called me beloved. His smiling on me what always his original intention...
I saw this potential for others also. I knew God was everywhere and knew there were glimpses of him in all people, because he showed me his kindness and his mercy in all creation. Even in the great sin and shame of other, I saw him, or at least I saw the groaning for him. In this, I learned to recognize the hollow, the search for God, and the deep longing for him (for fulfillment) in the needles, the skin, and the bottle. I recognized his wooings in every metaphor. I saw the desire for skin on skin as the soul looking for home, for intimacy. I saw the body, made for God, as an original intention, as a belonging.
Our lives are made of metaphor, and we can recognize Jesus throughout creation and in those who have never heard his name. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1 that no one has an excuse. God is everywhere. Yoga poses and Gregorian chant, buttermilk cornbread, the Grand Canyon, and the picture of a rainbow drawn by the hand of my two-year-old all speak of him if we're looking. Don't make a mistake and hear that I worship those things; no, instead I worship the God of the universe who is. 'For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.' His scent wafts through tent cities, jail cells, granite kitchens, and marble palaces. He beckons us in all places. Where can I go from him? The echo of him in metaphor throughout the earth is undeniable when one wakes to him.
When I first believed, I walked around in a clumsy prayer, so awake, listening for God in the falling acorn, in everything. I was free to lapse into long spiritual metaphor simply by hearing my alarm clock. Some might accuse me of being led purely by emotion. Let it be so. It was the feeling of love, of very first love. Let it also be understood that I studied Scripture like a brain on steroids. I studied homiletics. It was a mind transformation, a decision as best as one knows how to make in the midst of being overcome. I was ridiculous really, and I didn't need cigarettes or anything else--not a cute tush, no nightlong blitzes, and certainly not a fella to keep me company.
I didn't have the language for it then, but I saw the Imago Dei everywhere and in everyone. I saw myself as a child of God, Abba letting me come to him, boldly and with ease, in the gentleness of relationship. I was confident, and I saw God as one who loved me completely as a good Father. And Jesus--he, my love, my brother--became my friend. He was becoming the only place that made any sense to me, the only way to see the world."
You see, Amber Haines' story feels like my story, in so many ways. The idyllic childhood wrapped in church culture, the rebellious adolescence, the rabid desire for significance and being known, the running to and falling away again and again and again.

But Amber's story never feels all cleaned up. And that, my friends, is the beauty of this book.

This book isn't just for those who know and love Jesus and have made mistakes along the way--although it will touch those folks deeply.

No. It's more than that.

I believe that this book can sing over those who are hell bent on living but are killing themselves in the striving. 

It whispers in the ears of those who desire connection and have reached for flesh on bone but come back empty handed, every time.

It cradles those whose arms are riddled with tracks that lead to dark spaces and smooths the hair of folks sick on bitterroot.

It shakes out the quilts of those who have wrapped themselves up so tightly with the hope that nothing will ever touch them. There.

This book invites.

"Come, everyone who thirst,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live."
Isaiah 55: 1-3 ESV

Wild in the Hollow is a book for those who long to be known in the way that we were created to be known--beloved, gorgeous, quirky, ripe, alive. I think that is why I couldn't put it down. I drank these words like a woman parched. I sat with the all of it and let the truths of God's infinite and lavish grace and love pool around me.

At times, I went under.

But I was not afraid.

This book speaks to places deep and important and it opens the door to much needed conversation about brokenness and redemption.

I would love to talk about those things with you in the comments:

How have you found beauty in the brokenness?

How has your brokenness actually led to your healing?

What have been your experiences with the church and how has that contributed to your brokenness and/or your healing?

Everyone who leaves a comment by Friday, August 7 will be entered into a drawing to receive a copy of 
Wild in the Hollow. 
Free copy of Wild in the Hollow has been gifted.
Thank you for your comments.

If you don't win a copy of the book, I hope that you will buy a copy for yourself anyway. Wild in the Hollow can be purchased here. To read more of Amber's beautiful words, subscribe to her blog.

In closing, I'll let Amber tell you about her book in her own words.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Take Your Poet To Work Day

Well, seeing as my home is the center for the majority of my work AND getting out to a coffee shop, much less a decent one, in my town is nearly impossible, I chose to just invite Rumi to my very own kitchen table. 

It seemed more than fitting, actually. This is where my boys and I gather for our Poetry and Tea Time ritual and this is where all the big, juicy conversations take place. 

So, I poured Rumi some strong coffee and offered him some Piroutte wafers. Clearly, he enjoyed them. 

And, just like that, Rumi is part of the family.


Linking up with Tweetspeak Poetry for 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thorns, Joy & Holy Braids

It's so natural, intuitive even, to settle one's vision on the rough parts of anything. It's the way we protect ourselves.

Whenever we know exactly what we are dealing with, we feel we are better prepared to fight against it or rise above it or bring it under our control. When there is an enemy, it is always better to have the upper hand. And the way to gain that advantage is to know every side of the evil.

So, we study it. We caress it's edges. We keep it close at hand so, in the moments between other moments, we can pull it out and remember how it wants us.

And oh, how it wants us.

Its pursuant tendrils silently wrap and curl into our shadowed folds and feed on the darkness. And the rough and the dark? They become silent, parasitic partners.

We believe we are armed for battle when, really, we are wasting away in our deepest places.


In nature, thorns are fortifications that protect a plant from being eaten by predators. A great many fruits and edible flowers are kept alive by the trails and rings of thorns surrounding them.

My life this past year? It has been rife with trails and rings of thorns. Walking alongside my mom through her illness and chemotherapy and eventual death was the most difficult thing I have ever done. And my default? More often than I care to admit, it has been to succumb to the vacuum of scarcity that Life's defense manufactures. Because when all I see and feel and experience is prickly and nettlesome, I can't help but feel shut out from the beauty.

But that's exactly the arc of the great ache--that our experiences that are often strewn with thorns are but stations on a path ringed with beauty and joy. If a thorn's design is to protect, then it follows that their presence is purposeful and necessary. They remind us that all the things that are true and noble and reputable and authentic and compelling and gracious are prized and sought after. They remind us that joy and pain are profoundly intertwined. 

For me, this is where my faith in a God of grace and mercy becomes manifest. For when I am willing to take the joy and the pain in both hands, God's immense love and care for me provide yet a third cord. Taken together, they become a holy braid that is not easily broken. 


Where are you, today, friend? Are you knee-deep in the pain and struggle? Do you feel wrapped in thorns, as if Life wanted to "protect" you from the good you see and that others seem to have in spades? Perhaps, your go-to response is bitterness, anger or, worse, indifference. What if there was another way?

I wrote today's post as a way of partnering with Margaret Feinberg and to help spread the word about her latest book Fight Back With Joy

This book began as an intense study of the over 400 references to joy in Scripture. Margaret was in the final stages of writing her book when she received a cancer diagnosis. Suddenly, all the sources of joy that she had discovered were turned on their head in the shadow of her illness. In an instant, her understanding of true joy was called into question. In writing Fight Back With Joy  Margaret "discovered facets of joy that no one ever taught me—more than whimsy, joy is a weapon we can use to fight life’s battles."

You can purchase the book at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Margaret has also created a 6-session DVD Bible Study kit that is available for purchase. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Of Things That Have Been

I finger them mindlessly most days,
These tokens of thanksgiving.
In some familiar corner of my brain I am
aware of their weight and
the anorexic string that
keeps them connected to a well
But something has shifted
inside of me and
I can’t remember
how to see.... 

To keep reading this poem, please follow this link


I am writing today over at my beautiful friend Elizabeth Marshall's home, 
She extended a gracious invitation to several of her friends that write poetry and I am honored to be included in that circle.

Elizabeth and I have a history of mingling words and images and stirrings of the heart.
Together, we created Adagio, a writing "pas de deux" of sorts where we wove our words together to pen poems. 
Quite a bit of life has happened between that last project and now, as well it should have. But we are both very excited to join together again in the new year. It is our hope that you will journey with us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How To Make a Life

Her absence rings most empty at the breakfast table.
Every morning, my dad starts the coffee maker, drops his raisin bread in the toaster and slowly opens the blinds covering the window over the sink. Squinting through the glass, he takes note of the temperature outside, the amount of bird seed left in each feeder, the slant of sun on the deck.
At various points along his morning choreography, when an observation worth sharing arises, he feels it—the slight hesitation of breath, the parting of lips, the turn of his head to catch her eye. And then, in a suspended moment of remembrance, his heart and mind swirl confusedly, and then settle.
She’s not there.
It’s difficult to abandon sixty years of morning rhythms that are redolent with unforced grace.
When one half of a whole goes missing, every day becomes a step towards restoration. And when wrestling through such holy work, it’s difficult to emerge without a limp.
I'm writing over at SheLoves Magazine today and would love for you to follow this link so that you can read the rest of this story.

SheLoves Magazine: a global community of women who love

Photo credit: Nicole on flickr

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Murmuration of the Body

I remember the first time I witnessed the beautiful choreography of a flock of starlings in flight.
It was a sharply cool autumn afternoon and I had just finished spinning in circles, arms spread, hair flying. As I came out of my twirl I crumpled onto a clump of thick grass and felt the earth sway wildly beneath my splayed body. When I opened my eyes I gazed dreamily at the polished sky.
They entered my field of vision from the left. Like a swarm of gnats hanging angrily in the summer heat, they presented thick and dark. I saw them before I heard them. But as they drew closer, their cackling caught up to their riotous numbers and they soon overtook the entire sky.
Their form was, at once, epic and ephemeral. They ballooned into one grandiose bell shape and then, like chimney smoke caught up in a gust, they turned direction and bellowed wide and constringed.
Again and again, they swelled and contracted, bulged and narrowed. I was awe struck.
I behold this phenomenon twice a year now, when the birds arrive out of nowhere and alight on the branches and fields surrounding my house. Still, but tittering, they pulse with an energy and then, at the striking of some ethereal cue, arise as one. Most times, I drop whatever I am doing and race outside to catch their appearance.
I am often struck silent as I stare, even when accompanied by my children. Some experiences need no words. Sometimes, lessons are garnered in the quiet spaces broken open by the miracle.
I'm writing over at SheLoves Magazine today and I would love for you to join me in the comments. Just click here.
SheLoves Magazine: a global community of women who love

Photo credit: Richard Smith