Used to Be

I am a worn shell,

Unable to scrape together what I used to be.

These days it’s very evident,

How much I miss Kentucky.

. . .

Even if I wanted to,

I couldn’t go back to who I used to be.

Too much has happened, too much has changed,

To be who I was in Kentucky.

. . .

Where does a shell go when it ceases to exist?

As I clearly miss her who I used to be:

Her heart to serve and her proximity to

All those she loves in Kentucky.

. . .

Here I sit on my favorite dock,

On the edge of who I used to be.

Glancing calmly across the lake,

Wondering why I left Kentucky?

. . .

God has a plan, this I know.

For He made me who I used to be.

He brought me there to love and heal,

And then He asked me to leave Kentucky.

. . .

Emotions overwhelm and tears embrace,

As my heart cries out for who I used to be.

This broken shell can’t seem to grasp,

Letting go of the Kentucky me.

. . .

I’ll never forget the people I love –

For they shaped me into who I used to be.

Though I left them behind, they’ll stay in my heart –

The people of Kentucky.

. . .

Today begins a new journey,

As I seek out who I’ll be used to be.

Surrendering all my heart and hopes to You,

I freely give this shell of Kentucky.

. . .

Moving forward I’ll trust that You’ll transform

Me into who You want me to be.

An empty shell can only be filled.

Create in this, the new me.

. . .

I cannot see the future.

I do not know how You’ll use me to be.

All I can do is follow You.

And give You all of me.

. . .

It’s not much I must admit,

This shell of who I used to be.

But from nothing You birthed everything.

I’ll trust You’ll do the same for me.

. . .

The waters heal, the waters clean.

Purify all that should not be.

A new day dawns, a new light shines.

Blue skies clear – gray clouds no longer shadow me.

. . .

Adventure awaits along the lonely seas.

Calm the waves inside of me.

Strengthen me against the wind,

And use me in Your Will to be.

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Summers of Unfiltered Love

Close your eyes and allow God to lead you to your ultimate place of peace. Look around, what are the sights, smells, sensations that engulf you? Breathe in deeply, and breathe out. Now open your eyes. Where were you taken? What details were you most drawn to that helped you feel God’s presence?

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Summer, for me, always includes my ultimate place of peace. McCarthy Beach State Park is nestled in the woods of Northern Minnesota. True to my native state’s knowhow, this campground was on the shores of Side Lake which was connected by small water passageways to several other lakes. When life takes me far away from peace, I still close my eyes and find myself there.

Closing my eyes, I feel refreshed. Crisp, cold water laps against my legs creating a spread of goosebumps from my feet to my fingertips. My skin is warmed by the sun shinning, its light brightened by a cloudless, blue sky. A cool, gentle wind breezes through my short, layered hair, chilling my bare neck. Unexpectedly, my foot jerks up as a fish suctions its lips to tickle my toes. Breathing in slowly and deeply, I sense my favorite aroma: campfires, nature, lake water, and slight essence of fish.

I hear birds singing in the trees as the leaves rustle along the breeze. In the distance, I hear a loon’s lonesome call. 

This humble campground is where I feel God’s presence most strongly. Amidst His creation’s natural praise, far away from man’s inventions, and distraction-free, I hear His whisper of love through the silences. No word-filled proclamations or grand gestures, but presence, peace and God’s loving touch as a breeze passes by or through the brisk waters that lap against my bare legs.

From day-trips to the long-weekends of my youth, my mind drifts off to the memories. This lake-side campground would abound in laughter, lunacy, and the most beautiful forms of unfiltered love. We little ones would listen to the life stories of our elders as we would dream of our futures. As we grew older, we’d share the trials we faced, and soul connections would strengthen in the light of a star-filled sky. My mouth waters as I remember the fragrance of fresh-caught crappies frying over a campfire. Quickly, we’d devour this palatable product of a patient day. My adrenaline begs to rush as I remember the exhilaration of tubing behind a boat pulled by one of the fathers of the trip. He always loved testing our limits. Taking a sharp turn, we’d fling into a toppling frenzy. Water and rubber-burned, we’d laugh away the pain and climb up on the tube for another challenge.

Summer crushes healed our wounds and kept us warm in the chill of the night. There was always someone to admire. More beautiful than His natural creations are those He made in His image. The conversations we shared late into the night only fed into the allure of a summer romance. As a marshmallow oozes its guts over the heat of the campfire, so would my insides melt with proximity to my seasonal crush. Unfortunately, these hopes never became anything s’more than a marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers “crushed” together into a sweet mental treat. Then we would slumber, huddled deep into the warmth of our sleeping bags. Eased into sleep by our memories of the day, fire-hot fantasies would simmer into dreams and fade away into the abyss of the night.

Waking up fresh and renewed, I’d find my way to my favorite T-shaped dock in the dim dawn light. Though my evenings were spent admiring boys, my mornings were spent admiring God. Finding the perfect spider-free spot, I’d simply sit and breathe in the presence of my Father who loves me. With a dew-damp quilt wrapped around my legs, my pen would dance praises along the lines of my journal.  The birds and trees worship their Creator in adoration harmony alongside the quiet, still lake. Clouds coat the sky as rays of light shine through the darkness. Another day begins, with the peace of His presence within.

Beautiful, Seen, and Cherished

 

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I’ve always loved dying flowers.

Especially more than those in full bloom. 

They are a tragically, beautiful reminder of how fragile life is.

Here one moment, and gone the next.

Losing my father and most of my grandparents at young ages, I’ve learned to treasure life – not just life, but the people that life presents.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the privilege of unexpectedly, reconnecting with old friends, making business acquaintances, and spending an honorable amount of time with family. In these moments, I’ve reminded myself to cherish each and every moment – because just as the flowers bloom and fade away – moments are here in the now and gone with the morning.

Nearly three weeks ago at my favorite place on earth, McCarthy Beach, I ran into an incredibly kind family that I knew growing up. The father of the clan asked my friend and I to take their family photo, on my favorite dock of all places, and in the next moment we made the connection of who we all were. His son graduated with my brother, and one of his daughters I remembered from our choir days. Both of them came to visit for a moment and I must say it was a breathe of incredibly fresh air. They both had grown up spectacularly and seemed to be in places or callings that set their hearts ablaze. I love that – meeting people that are in their element. Beautiful, beautiful family, and I am so thankful to have crossed their path a few times over that weekend.

The following weekend I spend at car dealerships. For me, this generally isn’t an exciting experience. But I thought about the previous weekend, and how God had perfectly blessed it with the presence of old friends… I had wondered why the reconnecting occurred for only moments, and not hours or days. Why grant me only a glimpse of such wonderful people? Why purchase a bouquet of flowers? I felt God nudge. In the moment, flowers can bring such joy and peace, and even when they have wilted, we can still remember the way they once added beauty to our lives.

The beauty of mankind – much grandeur than the most flourishing petals can evoke such radiance within the soul.

That was my goal, while car-shopping – to evoke some sort of beauty within the lives of the car salesmen. This mostly existed through kindness, patience, gratitude and complimenting their exceptional customer service skills (only to those that were exceptional, of course).

It’s important to fully grasp and experience the emotions that people kindle in our souls. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly wave, impeccable eye contact, kindness, or the simplest act of service to remind us that we too are beautiful, that we are seen, and that we too need to be cherished. Because none of us last forever.

This past week has be overflowing with an abundance of family time. Cousins that I haven’t seen in years… nearly all of them, I’ve reconnected with for a catch-up conversation or a coffee. Enjoying the musical stylings of the incredibly talented step-brother with such an open and creative soul. An aunt in from states away providing weeks of giddy giggles and goofiness, that I wouldn’t trade for the world. And though I’d much rather live in the beautiful home that I pay rent for, I will admit, I find this time with my parentals quite treasurable. Not to mention short, but sweet FaceTimes with my beloved nieces states away (though the gleeful visit of their whole family wasn’t too long passed either).

Moments are fleeting. People are fleeting. And in this ever changing, crazy fast-paced world, it is all the more important to make connections with the people we care about. God gave us each other, that’s all we’ve got. I say we cherish each other, and do our darn best to let each other know – that we are beautiful, we are seen, and we are cherished.

What flowers, or people, has God blessed you with recently? Did you feel their presence kindle joy, peace, energy, healing within your soul? Do they know that they are beautiful, seen, and cherished in your life?

Sometimes, all we need to be reminded of is the power of moments, because a smile, hug, or compliment – ever so fleeting – can make a lasting difference.