my cup overfloweth.

or is it just my mouth?

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"But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips." 

- "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran 

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burrrday.

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anais Nin

Friends are an interesting thing. Usually they are created by a common circumstantial bond … school, church, sports, job, etc. Those friendships either deepen over the years and go far beyond the walls of 2nd grade, or they fizzle out with graduation and the busyness of moving forward.

What is interesting is when friendships form out of almost nothing at all. No common bond. No similar circumstance. Not even similar personalities. They just .. happen. And it leaves you blinking back tears and trying so hard to remember life before this bond formed.

This is what happened in October of 2009, when I - without hesitation, or really much thought at all - casually offered half my room to a girl I barely knew.

Raynor came to Nashville a little broken, a little weary and weathered from the mess this life can bring our way sometimes. But, I still saw a light in her that was trying to get out from under all that dust.. and I had such belief in her from the very beginning. I was on her team. And I really wasn’t sure why.

In the last 9 months, we have had a few long drives, tears, laughs, tough conversations, long silences, hugs, fights, lots of wine, porch time and squeals. But, mostly we have shared. And given. And received. Loved.

I don’t like to throw God’s name around a lot. Whether it be blaming Him for bad news or using Him as a trophy when life is good. But, I can’t deny that He brought Raynor to Nashville. Maybe it was to bring her light back. Maybe it was to bring my light back. Maybe both. Yes, probably both. And more.

On Wednesday we celebrated the beginning of her 24th year of life. What a life worth celebrating. Already full of so much redemption.

Ray, you have gracefully torn down so many of my bitter-made walls. And I’ll never stop (lovingly) pulling you to the mirror, so you can see clearly.

Here’s to you, the light you bring to all of our lives, and to cleaning up the debris of life together, instead of alone.

"…half as hard, and twice as good.."

I love you, Shannon. Happy Fourth.

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freedom

It smells like salty ocean waves and feels like bare feet running through fields of green. I feel weightless today. Something I haven’t said in a few months time. My most repetitive thought in the pages of winters’ cold, was how heavy I felt. Weighed down and burdened, mostly by own doing. Hurt I was so tirelessly burying, justice I was so steadfast in seeing, pride I was unwilling to let go of. Slowly but surely, I was beginning to hate myself. Hate what I was becoming. I was lost in a forest of pain, not even knowing how I got there.

 

I had a choice. I could coil up and weep and fall apart. Or I could get up, and search for the light (there HAD to be a light).

With the blooming of spring, I continued to fight, kicking and screaming, against openness. I didn’t want healing. I wanted to stop feeling anything at all.

 

“You are not what you feel.” – Megan
“You will wake up one day, and you will be ok.” – Raynor
“You are loved, you are strong, and you WILL survive this.” 
       – Meg, Ray, Josh

 

Gratefulness doesn’t describe what I feel for this season and the people I love and that love me in return. And for the grace that is in all of us to do so. Today, I sit and stare across Nashville’s skyline from the windows of Crema, and I am free. I am breathing deeper and seeing clearer and smiling so much more.

I know that although this freedom is a result of many tears and conversations and cigarettes and screaming and letting go and long drives and loving people and obviously a Creator that feels strongly for me, I am also deeply aware of the decision I made every day of that painful springtime. The choosing to get out of bed and be vulnerable and feel and cry and smile and let my friends look me in the eyes and remind me that I am fighting a good fight.

I pray that as you have read these revealing words (if you’re still reading, you’re a badass) you have felt a tug at your own heart to simply let go. We have so much life to live and people to love. I am not telling you to avoid pain and suffering. We can’t know joy and redemption without pain and suffering. I am telling you to embrace it, feel it, look in the mirror, and learn from it. Get out of bed.

 

Be brave. Be kind. 

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the heights and the depths

"All the splendour of life. But, if the best of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, purest emotions: and that meant joy. Joy was the highest. How did one find joy? In books it seemed to be found in love - a great love. So, if he wanted the heights of joy, he must have, if he could find it, a great love. But in the books again, great joy through love seemed to always go hand in hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought, looking out across the meadow, still, the joy would be worth the pain - if, indeed, they went together. If there were a choice - and he suspected there was - a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and the depths and, on the other hand,some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the heights and the depths." - Sheldon Vanauken (A Severe Mercy

I love that. I hate that. Those words spark a light in my cold heart, and make me wanna put more locks around the barriers of it. 

Love is frightening. It can be beautiful and horrible. The toughest part about it is that we can’t avoid it. We were created for it. 

We were born in love, to love .. having no clue how to do it, but needing it. 

I have experienced an incredible amount of pain this year. A weight that I was in denial about for a while .. but the reality is, I am hurting. Some of this hurt is typical “20 something’s life re-evaluation”. Some of it is truly painful. 

I am looking inward and facing the mirror of some ugly things that have taken root in my heart, without me even realizing that I was helping them grow. 

I am fighting the antsy adventurer inside of me, that wants to run from any responsibility or process and do whatever the fuck I want, no matter the cost to me or others.

I want to write. I don’t want to write. Right? 

I am broke. And I refuse to be a slave to a job I despise, to live more comfortably .. which means discipline is in order. 

I am grieving the loss of two incredible women in my life and trying to make sense of suffering. 

I know, I’m complaining. But, damn it, I’m being honest. 

The good news, is that because I am hurting, I am feeling. I feel SOMETHING. I’d rather the depths, than numbness. If I can’t have joy without the pain, then I’m going to hurt .. and therefore the joy will be that much sweeter.  Oh, the joy .. 

I guess what I needed today was just to remind myself - out loud - that I want the heights and the depths. Even if everything in me is going down, kicking and screaming and fighting it away .. I want the heights and the depths. 

Yes. I do. 

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open living.

sometimes i want to process things on paper. sometimes i want to process things through talking. sometimes i want to just feel sorry for myself. i’m wondering what it looks like to really live. i’m tired of complaining, but i have a lot to complain about. (great excuse) i wanna write and create and do what i love, whatever that is. but these days, i feel i have nothing to say. i want to write about pain and suffering, beauty and triumph, defeat and victory, failure and redemption .. but without all the bullshit. i don’t wanna tip toe around issues, but i don’t want to speak naively. 

i am having a really hard time separating the shit in my life from the good. i’m having a hard time setting aside my baggage in order to create. maybe i should be writing about that baggage or the journey of ridding myself of it, rather. probably. yes. that’s probably exactly what i’m supposed to be writing about. but, i can’t. i don’t know how. i feel like i talk about music, and my love for it, but i don’t really have the tenacity to sit down and create what it is i dream about: words dripping with honesty and truth, over melodies that grip the soul and rekindle a hope of something better. 

how? at times, i wanna pull the covers over my head and pretend another day isn’t passing. and other times, i feel joy in this journey. most days i just want someone to tell me what to do. a mentor? a life coach? but the truth is, i’m probably too stubborn to listen. i enjoy this torturous freedom of choosing my own path and figuring out my own way. even if i fuck it all up. 

all i know is that i’m tired. my shoulders are weak from carrying a load that i created, yet don’t have to carry alone. i try to give it up, but i worry that i’m comforted by the pain. i feel safe in my warm coat of bitterness and entitlement. but, the falsehood of this warmth is suffocating, and making me sick. i want to live. i want to breathe in and out, and savor all the beauty around me, every minute of every day. i want to take every opportunity to learn and grow and become better. i want to see the sunrise as a gift, not a reminder of wasted time. 

so what is true? the truth is that i DO have something to say. i have air in my lungs and blood pumping through my veins and love in my heart for so many people and things. that is what i write about. that is what i use as fuel for this journey. all of the hurt, and joy, and tears, and laughter, and hard lessons, and simple moments. that’s what i need to share. 

because if we are honest, we all want to live. we all want to breathe in and out, and notice the stars more than once a year. and love fully. and be loved unconditionally. some of us are just too stubborn to admit it. 

fuck that. i’m tired of the pride that keeps my arms crossed and my heart closed. i’m going to live openly, because there is no other way to really live. 

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mercy

"What’s actually true is when I come to the Lord after I’ve blown it, I’ve only one argument to make. It’s not the argument of the difficulty of the of the environment that I’m in, or the difficult people that I’m near, or the good intentions that were thwarted in some way. No, I have only one argument. I come to the Lord with only one appeal, His mercy. I’ve no other defense. No other standing. No other hope. I leave the courtroom of my own defense, I come out of hiding, and I admit who I am. Because of what Jesus did, God looks on me with mercy. It’s my only appeal; it’s the source of my hope; it’s my life." 

- Paul David Tripp (Whiter Than Snow; Meditations on Sin and Mercy)

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inspiring conviction

read a blog the other day that completely inspired me, while deeply convicting me. 

a word i NEVER use. 

i sat there, aching, as i read this girls words, dripping with vulnerability and life. i quickly realized how much i have let myself close off. not only with those around me, but even with myself and my own emotions. 

i used to write whatever i felt. i used to breathe in sunsets and drink from deep conversations with those i loved. simply rolling down the windows, and feeling the ocean breeze used to fill my heart with unimagined joy. 

i feel like, for whatever reason, i’ve let myself believe that those tiny freedoms were childish and i needed to mature … in order to grow. or maybe in order to please others. 

i’m also always fighting the ever-enticing pull of self-pity. yes, i know the Truth. i know there is hope. but, truth requires a leaning and a trust that this stubborn heart isn’t always willing to muster. i don’t want pity. but, i also don’t want to get out of bed and look in the mirror. so i choose indecision. i choose to do NOTHING. years of nothing has turned my insides cold. and i’m tired. 

i want to LIVE. i want to breathe the fresh air and let the sunset bring tears and attempt to freeze happy moments in time. i want to tell a better story .. regardless of how sad or unjust it has been before. 

"sad words are just another beauty. a sad story means, this storyteller is ALIVE. the next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.”   - Little Bee 

here’s to a better story. here’s to choosing to get out of bed and face it all. here’s to LIFE …  

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like a lake

so much hurt and preservation
like a tendril round my soul
so much painful information
no clear way on how to hold it

when everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

standing at this waters edge
looking in at God’s own heart
I’ve no idea where to begin
to swallow up the way things are

everything in me is drawing in
closing in around this pain
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it’s over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can’t fake
wide open like a lake

everything in me is tightening 
curling in around this ache
I am fighting to stay open
I am fighting to stay open
open open oh wide open 
open like a lake

………………………….
thank you, sara groves.