Evidence of Grace

Evidence of Grace

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Simple Bare Tree

The stockings are no longer stuffed; where the gifts once lay, wrapped in hope and expectation for the New Year, there's nothing but a few leftover, dried-up pine needles scattered about. The Christmas bulbs are placed in their boxes and the star topper is wrapped, safely awaiting next year’s commotion and hype.

The Christmas candles are all burnt down; no more leftover sweets or pies and the infamous tree—once full of life, lights, and all sorts of shiny things—lays bare by the common dumpster outside my door, patiently waiting for the garbage man to come haul it away.

There are no more Christmas tunes whistling through Founders Hall, Hearst Tower, or Modern Salon and Spa. No more three-story trees or Christmas cheer at all! But this year as we come to the end of yet another chapter in this storybook called life, I've realized some things I never have before.

For the first time ever I have realized just how much I can relate to that tree that lavished my bare wall in the living room. You see, no matter how much you water it—how many ribbons, bows, lights, bulbs, or snowflakes you place upon it—under it all it’s still just a bare, plain, tree that cannot stand on it's own.

It's a lot like us.

You see, unless it stays rooted in the ground where it was planted and is in its natural environment, it will never survive.

It was never made to be cut down and "transplanted."

It will now forever be dependent on someone to water and care for it. Trees were never created to be dependant on someone or something else. They were created to stand on their own. Just like we were. No, it might not have the bright lights, bulbs, bows, ribbons, and sparkles, but it does have what it needs to survive. It has life, independent life away from having the burden of needing desperately to rely on someone else. 

This past year I have found myself sawing at my roots, trying to find a "stand" to place my trunk in and clothing myself with all sorts of ribbons, bulbs, lights, and sparkle when all I ever really needed was already given to me in advance.

I loved the moments I had, things I did, places I went, and the people I shared it all with. I traveled Europe this summer to "find myself" and it’s comical to me that six months later, in an almost empty apartment living room, because of those experiences, I have never felt closer to God or myself.

I guess finding myself was more about the journey than the actual destination. It's a journey that I will be on the rest of my life. 

As I reflect on the past year I can see God's hand, protections, and blessing in ever area of my life: my relationships, situations, job, private life, broken hearts, and shattered hopes. He has never been more real to me than is this moment of reminiscing.
This year I am thankful for new friends found in old loves, friendships that never need to be questioned, broken hearts, shattered hopes, and the beautiful picture He has promised to make out of it all.
I am grateful for second chances, and learning the hardest lesson I have yet to learn thus far in life: that above all else I need to guard my heart, because everything I do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)
So here is to a New Year, new heartbreaks, new lessons to be learned, a heart full of gratitude, and the confidence that God's hand is still over my life; that He is creating a beautiful picture that screams evidence of His grace, and that he never gives up on me.
2012 it's been a long, hard year, full of lessons learned and memories made. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Here's to you 2013: may we make more memories and then—remember what we’ve learned. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Empty House, Empty Heart

So, I realized lately that I haven't been writing at all, I mean, sure, I write in my journal about what's happening in life, I write notes to friends and relatives, I craft tweets, update status', and even shoot texts. But as far as writing from the heart, the way I used to be so passionate about, I haven't. Perhaps it's my hectic schedule, lack of down time, or just the place in life I am when everyone and everything around me seems to be screaming, "What now?" "What next?" "Where to go?" And somehow in the chaos of life, trying to figure this all out I am brought back here, to the the one place where I really, truly, and honestly can answer those questions and be reminded of who I am. Here, on this January night, I am slipping back into the old familiarity of what it feels like to see fresh ink dance across the empty pages of my once bland Journal and witness it come back to life for the first time in a really long time.   

I am a writer, I will always be a writer, it's what makes me thrive, it's what brings me back. Sometimes we just need a little help and a small taste to remind me of the freedom I am capable of experiencing. 

Tonight I lit a half burnt candle that scented my room with the sweet aroma of cinnamon from a very dear friend. I reached for my matches, threw on my pajamas, flicked off the light, and crawled into my comfy bed, pen in hand and Hot Coco an arm's length away. As the flame of the candle shine as the solo light amidst my dark room shadows danced across the walls and ceiling. The slightest bit of wind swayed the light but it stayed lit, it was still there, and it still shown into the darkness. 

I remember when I received that candle, the first time I light it the flame was high and bright, there was just the rim of the crystal clear jar to taint the glow. But over time the wax melted from the heat and the flame began to be consumed by the jar. As the candle burned the jar acquired a cloudy haze that eventually turned into a black as midnight soot that bared witness to the constant flame. The light became less vibrant, yet it still burned. 

Sometimes I feel like this candle. Lately I feel like it ever day. My flame was so bright when it began to burn, when I got that new job, that new car, that new relationship, or even that new ambition; But, over time, that flame leaves a residue on my once crystal clear life. The soot slowly blurs my vision and vibrancy. It's in these situations that I always want to give up. But we need to not forget that this only means our flame is indeed burning. Sure, we need to take time to stop and clean out our jar and make things clear again but this is a good sign, not a bad one. The soot in our lives bares witness to the fact that we are still burning, we are still giving off light, and even though we might think it isn't as bright, it is light. Just like that candle in the night, we might be the only light someone has in their life. 

In 2011 I tried to figure myself out, I tried so hard that I ended up losing myself in ever single way. I have forgotten who I am, who's I am, and why I am. I haven't been taking time to clean the sides of my jar in order to let more light through. I have been trying to settle into my new reality and figure out this crazy thing called life. I've always hated New Year's Resolutions, I think you should set goals and set them daily. But this year I have decided to set a New Year's Dedication, this year I have decided to dedicate to re-finding myself, reminding myself, rededicating myself, and reassuring myself that I am a strong, confident, independent, princess of the King and no one can change that. 

I am deciding that my song for this year is The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert, the chorus goes like this,

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Holding nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

 It is only appropriate that this is my song because this year, on Christmas Eve my parents took us all back to the house we grew up. We saw our hand prints in the driveway, ran through the empty house, sat in an empty living room, and, for myself, brought an empty heart. Yet somehow in all the emptiness there was love, forgiveness, grace, and hope overflowing. There was such a peace in that cold and empty house that I haven't found anywhere else, ever. Thank you mom and dad for taking us to Travor Street! St, I'm letting "this little light of mine shine," and am not letting anyone blow out my hope, my passion, my confidence, or my flame. 
This was always where we sat together...

..... and almost 21 years later we still loved sitting by the old heater, even though it was off.