when life is just one long run-on.

Do you ever feel like life is just one big run-on sentence?

An email pops up from Cousin, and yes, we must get dinner on the books, but first I really need to send the break-in pictures to the insurance adjuster, and I must get the proof of ownership documents out to Progressive as well and seriously, when is the raucous of violation and slight paranoia going to end, because I just want to live freely, I just want to enjoy this rare San Francisco slice of October sunshine right when the leaves are starting to turn and pumpkin-everything is starting to rear its lovely, lovely Pinterest head and can’t I just spend my days trying out new recipes and playing on the floor with Cancan and reading books and visiting friends and going on walks – and oh! – I need to write and I need to network for speaking but mostly I just need to learn how to be, because being present and aware of the everyday, of the beauty of the now, of the Christ who holds my heart being in and near and with every living thing, that’s what truly matters, but ping! there’s that cell phone again, and I’m distracted, I’m distracted, I’m distracted – what was I just saying?

Suddenly I’m my own version of William Faulkner, utilizing run-ons that last for one, two, three – seriously, I’m dying a slow literary death – four pages and more.

So I stop.

I stop and I breathe, and I stop and I breathe again.

I close my eyes, and I inhale a deep breath, and I remember that life is not one long run-on sentence.  Life is made up of periods and commas and a hyphen here or there, and even the utterly delectable semi-colon – and Life is truly lived when we breathe and remember and reflect and absorb the Beauty of the present, of the now.  And truthfully, I don’t like who I am, to myself, to my son, to my husband, to my friends, to seemingly every human I encounter when I let the run-on take its course.

That’s why I left my job.

That’s why I try my hardest to keep the laptop closed when Baby wants to play.

That’s why my phone is in the other room, out of sight, out of reach, when a friend is over – so I can fully be present in the moment with them.

That’s why we get out of the house and we walk the hills of San Francisco and we say hello to strangers, because other people – they matter.  And sometimes I need to be reminded of that truth, even if they don’t say Hello back to me.

I still encounter these run-ons more often than I’d like – but like anything, I acknowledge my own selfishness and tendency to be absorbed in my own, isolated little world, and then I take the salt shaker of grace and I toss fistfuls over my shoulder, again and again and again.

I start all over, anew, renewed.

Period.

Do run-ons ever seem to absorb your life?  How do we just say no to a life of run-ons?  Join the conversation today!

Dear Bad Guys.

Booga booga burgler.
Booga booga burglar.

Dear Bad Guys,

I’ll be honest: I really don’t like you right now, and I’m generally a pretty Silver Linings kind of person.

I don’t like that your presence in our house, our home, is still constantly felt.  I don’t like that you rifled through every drawer and file and shelf you thought might contain something you needed.  I now understand the meaning of the word violation more than ever, yours the hands that rifled through my f*&$ing  underwear drawer.  (Cuss, cuss, exclamation point, exclamation point).

I do hope my Spanx were to your satisfaction.

I don’t like that we’re still discovering items you deemed more useful to you than to us, and I don’t like the headache of paperwork you’ve caused.  I hate that when I awake in the middle of the night to a strange sound, my brain is fraught with worry and my heart beats harder, harder, harder, and I wonder if it’s you again.  So I righteously shake my fists at the anger and I let myself feel the sadness and I acknowledge the fear that your actions have instilled within me.

Sure, much of what you took is replaceable, but my eyes glass over at the irreplaceable you stole: most of the pictures of our son’s first 14 months of life and my own writing and speaking and graduate coursework, all of which are likely lost and erased forever.  [One word to the wise, friends: DropBox.  External hard drives are apparently a wanted item in the thievery scheme of things.]

But Bad Guys, as I always, always seem to say and write and believe, even if I’m ever in need of a reminder or two, even though this whole situation is hard, it’s still good-hard.  Because Goodness and Beauty and Life still remain.  We’ve been upheld by the constant support of our community, by those who’ve held our arms when we can’t seem to raise them ourselves.  We’ve received texts and e-mails and phone calls from friends and family, their own actions an empowering and redemptive reminder of the peace and healing and calm Christ brings.  Your actions have banded our neighborhood together in a new way, even if it’s not the way we would have envisioned idyllic.  And most of all, Mr. Burglar, by breaking in to our house, you’ve reminded this whole little network of people around us of what is really important: that we’re safe, and that we have each other, for you’ve not won the war.

As I read this morning from a friend, and from the wise, wise words of Frederick Buechner: Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Do not be afraid.  So world, I embrace you in all your beauty and terror, in the good and in the bad, in the hard and in the easy.  And still I choose to lean into Life, and to shout, Bad Guys, you ain’t got nothing on me!

But seriously, could you get yourselves another day job?

Maybe someday I’ll hug you and sign this letter “xoxo,” but not today.

From, me.

What about you?  Have you experienced a break-in, a violation of sorts?  I know it’s not the end of the world, but it’s rocked us none the less, so I give myself permission to feel what I’m feeling.  Thank you, meanwhile, for holding us up.  

hope found in the orange.

Photo cred: Femme and Fortune.
Photo cred: Femme and Fortune.

True confessions: I have a thing for prison dramas.  Can’t get enough of the stuff.

It’s your fault, Netflix.

I’m having a pure love relationship with old episodes of Breakout Kingsbut especially the first two minutes and thirty one seconds of breaking-out-of-the-penintentiary bliss.  And the show doesn’t even get four full stars.

And Orange is the New Black?  Ugh.  Don’t get me started, don’t even get me started.  It pretty much consumed a good 52 minutes of every night of our road until we wept like little schoolgirls, realizing that we’d have to wait an entire 10 months to view season two.

Now I’ll admit part of the problem is this: I live in San Francisco.  I know, that’s like blaming Netflix for my own love of life in The Farm, when via live streaming, I’m willingly clicking “play.”  First-world problems.  But hear me out: when you choose to reside in the City by the Bay, you’re subconsciously choosing the Giants over any other form of so-called “baseball” in the state of California.  You’re choosing organic meats and free-range chicken eggs, and with giddy delight, you’re picking up your CSA box every Thursday from the Outer Sunset.  You’re biking and walking and taking public transportation as much as humanly possible, and you’ve always got a library book or your Kindle tucked into your bag for reading on the go.  Because you are an educated, literate individual, and a conversation about such literary pursuits is always on the portals of your mind.

You just don’t watch TV, and you certainly don’t admit it as such on the Internet.

But I just did.

Is there a support meeting I can go to for this?

A couple weeks’ ago, Rachel Held Evans wrote a featured piece for the CNN Belief Blog on Breaking Badand while I don’t know if these meth-savvy stars eventually land themselves in Sing Sing, I appreciated her admission of loving the show.  [Following RHE’s post, we too watched two episodes, but couldn’t continue with it: although, as she writes, the show puts us in touch with our own dark, sin-filled humanity, it was just a little too dark for our taste.]

So while Breaking Bad wasn’t my cup o’ tea, Orange is the New Black captured my heart,  boomeranging it back to me again.  And again and again.  Certainly, themes of darkness pervade this show as well: violence and death and prison bitches; sex, drugs and, well actually, but for the Hallejujah-filled Christmas show at the end of season one, there’s not a whole lot of rock-n-roll.

But there is HOPE – and as some of you know, Hope is one of my very favorites.  Hope is all that remains at the end of the day, after all the bad news has set in, and you’re not sure how you can make it another day.  Hope is the grace note that keeps one going.  Hope is that tiny little spark that lights the darkness, reminding all that light can invade the dreariest of situations.

So I suppose that’s why I made the very best of efforts to prioritize streaming Netflix over vacation: in a crazy sort of way, the show reminded me to hope and of hope, through the grimiest of landscapes.  It’s a theme that pervades the landscape of plot and characters, and our leading lady, “Piper Chapman,” realizes that she’s no better than the women around her.  Her experience transforms her, and our hearts are in her own soul’s greatest adventure of discovering true self.  At the end of her orange-uniformed day, hope is all that remains for her and the show’s other characters: hope that she’ll be her authentic, true self, hope that she’ll find love, hope that she’ll empower others to do the same.

I’m in need of hope, in a clingy, desperate sort of way – and I’m betting you are as well.

So Hope, I leave room for you.  I’ll look for you in the everyday, and I’ll lean into You, my Hope of Glory.  I’ll find you in the little things, and when the good-hard comes, I’ll cling to you, for at the end of the day, you’re all I have left.

And don’t you worry, I’ll continue to click “play” on my prison dramas.

 

What about you?  What gives you hope?  Where do you find HOPE in the most unlikely of places?  

 

you got this (One Good Phrase).

Ya’ll: I’m stoked to be writing for my friend, Micha, today; click HERE for the full post and kind, kind words, or get your scroll on below.  xo.  

Photo cred: Mary Costa Photography.
Photo cred: Mary Costa Photography.

I shouted it out the window this morning, seconds after the husband bounded out of the car, renewed bounce in his steps.  Amid the bustling of people and the honks and revving of engines, he turned around and winked, ushering forth that perfect, heart-wrenching smile.  Today, this first day of his new job, was his.

I yelled it in the face of my baby a couple weeks ago, at that moment when his little legs began waddling and toddling three, then four, then five steps from Mama to Dada.  My excitement was far from a gentle coo of a voice, soon crumpling his excited smile into a scared and worried frown, but still, the miracle of those eight seconds hung in the air, permeating and delighting and stilling our hearts.

I suppose all good phrases from somewhere, from some memory or instance or place.

I remember Claudia and I were sitting in her living room, its comfy, displaced southern charm a reminder of this Georgia Peach’s uprooting to the West Coast.  She was Eve, body an invitation to life, belly full and beautiful, hope radiating.

“I’m gonna do this without any drugs,” she drawled, eyes twinkling with possibility.  “And when my husband sees me in pain and wants to help, he knows that the best thing he can do is utter my mantra: You got this.  You got this.

“Because…” and she paused, “I got this.”  

Birthing analogies aside, that is where the stolen phrase began – and where it now squeezes its way into my life, its exhortation incited out car windows and onto round, toddling faces, over text and e-mail and in conversation to friends and family and my own heart alike.

But its truth is simple and far from the self-reliant connotations I initially assumed it to mean.

You see, for years, I lived my life in fear, scared to step out of the chalk-drawn boundaries of my driveway’s own hopscotch game.  At its deepest root, I feared failing, so I only pursued that which I knew would elicit success.

In high school, I secretly harbored a desire to be a cheerleader, peppy pompoms and short skirts and haunting rhymes included.  But, quite frankly, I hadn’t taken dance lessons since I was five, and whenever the flexibility test came around in P.E., I came dangerously close to flunking.  So, white girl rhythm and general lack of bendiness aside, I didn’t even try out.

You got this was far from my periphery

The process of storytelling – of writing and creating and breathing soul to paper – has always given me life, so in college, I decided to give the weekly paper a try. Granted, I’d never written an article in my life, and the piece was rejected for “lack of journalistic understanding.”  But for the academic research papers that followed, I stopped writing altogether.

I could have used a punch in the arm with accompanying reminder: you got this.  

Finally, as a young adult in the fields of education and then ministry, I spent so much head-time worrying about whether or not I was where I was supposed to be vocationally – if I was where God most wanted and desired me – that I neglected being present to the moment, to the now, and even to not knowing.

I neglected to rest in you got this for a good while there.

Because now whenever the phrase is uttered, there is a reminder of the elimination of fear, although not an elimination of God.  For if perfect love casts out all fear, then who am I to continue in such fright-filled paralysis?  If, in my heart of hearts I believe that this Hope of Glory in you and in me, has captured and conquered the greatest of all fears, then isn’t His present love and truth and beauty enough for me to live and lean into today?

I’m trusting it is.

So, go.  Go, knowing that you got this.  Breathe into that fear, knowing that Christ is beside you and behind you, beneath you and above you, invading every inch around you.  You are not alone.  You got this.  

As do I – but I’m still not going to try out for the cheerleading squad.

K.  Now seriously: have you said hello to Miss Micha yet?  It’s a must.  Otherwise, how can I say YOU GOT THIS to you?  Where do you need a little bit of encouragement?