Tag: Love (page 1 of 2)

30 Day Creatives Challenge

One day in February, I decided I was using my busy life as an excuse to stop creating.  To avoid something that is always so wonderful yet somehow so hard to make myself sit down and produce.  So I thought… hey, what about just doing something creative every day?  Just a few sentences, a picture, a piece of my head and heart.  So I went for it.  The project morphed into 31 entries over the course of two months and ended up becoming a kind of personal journal for processing my life.  It’s a monster of a post, an unwieldy ball of thrumming, electric, dangerous emotion-thing, but I’m gonna let it out into the world anyway.  Here it is… a month’s worth of creative (and sometimes not so creative) ramblings.  I hope you enjoy them, even as nonsensical as them are 🙂



Little Things

The warm, blazing orange of a jacket on a gray, windy day.  The sweet smell of clean forest air.  A friend’s vulnerable sniffle.  The unexpected squish of mud beneath my boots.  A cup of coffee’s bitter-sweet warmth.  The dizzying darkness of an adventuresome tunnel.  Rough smoothness of tree bark rasping across my skin.  That gift-walk that took me by surprise.  The softness of deep red wool socks.  That lightness, the lifting-up-at-the-corners giggle.  Innocent sass. The words “accepted” and “known,” given to me.  Assurance from the King.  Messy chocolate chip bagels.  The plip-plopping splash of rain returning to a puddle.  Little things.  Just bright, happy little things.


Seeping Color

Rainy day snaps.  Sometimes it’s better to be late to class than miss the beauty.  These photos don’t do these drizzle discoveries justice, only offer a glimpse.

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beaded rain on a coral jacket canvas

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oscillating rings traveling across muddy reflection

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the wet sponginess of tree bark – green, brown, grey, and white

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the unstoppable sun flaring shine through proud window cross


Response to Momentum

White dresses, spin skirts.  Visible light shafts, hazy shadow border.  Why can I feel what I didn’t know I did, why can I feel what I cannot express.  Why can dance put my un-words to movement?  Clasp-unclasp, hold, tuck close.  Never separate, never apart.



A touch, a turn, a holding over, around.  Smoothing and rubbing, hold me close comforting.  Protect, protect, stay under my wing–I’ll die before release.  Guide, lean, move, tuck close.  You belong, you belong, I love you for who you are.  You are special, you are loved, don’t forget who you are, who I am, I am here, let me land.  Don’t forget, hold onto me, please, don’t let go.


Anger, hurt, tears, restless dreams–why, why does it have to be this way.  It’s not happening, it’s not.  Why give up what we have when we now know it would never be taken from us?  Years of memories–thrown away–a sacred space, a sacred place.

I don’t need a blank slate.

You Know Me Better Than That

The promise of a promise, a probable, possible thing.  Hold onto it, read it tight, clutch it close.  Not going anywhere, he’s not.  Green, moist warmth, fog, reflecting view blue.  Heights, holding hands, I can see right through you.  Hugs, holds, still there after let go.  Fluffy white, moving orange, your hand on my side.  He cares about me, he does.  Enough to plan an adventure in the land of the clouds.


Your Turn

Stepping out vulnerable with my words in the dark and feeling shaky all over inside and out, why feels so strange and naked?  I don’t know, just know that you’re here and you’re listening and your silence and minute responses, then conformation, is speaking words of life back into me where the dark empty spaces were that I didn’t even know were hurting, rotten and hollow bitter, until I let the air touch them and glow warm and expand until all is revealed and exposed and the flesh is sponge pink and healthy again and.  And I can feel my heart beating.

A trio trip to D.C. to hear a legend speak of heights unreached.

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I thought it was the White House, quite confused, but no–my homeschooled brain was simply deluded

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an unexpected white elephant gift… literally


Last Promise

I don’t want to let go of you.  I won’t.  This has to last forever.  Even if it means I’m the one holding on.  You don’t know what you’re doing.  You have feelings, you kind of know deep inside, but you don’t think about them.  You don’t want anyone to be unhappy, least of all yourself.  But sometimes love is a choice.  The love that lasts, anyway.  And ours will last.  Mine will last.  The last to let go–I won’t ever let go.

That’s a promise.


Sometimes it’s better to forget the destination than ditch the guide.

Sometimes it’s better to focus on the journey and less on the experience.

Sometimes it’s best to let go.

Come on, being lost isn’t all that bad, is it?

Not as long as I’m ‘lost’ with You.

Your good will come, whether I know it, or not.


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chocolate cake + strawberries = happiness on a plate


Dreamy river house one-day getaway with my Daddy-date resulting in orange kayaking floatings, shining water droplets winging and winking off paddles, and an odd yoga tan line, farmer’s tan turned inside out.

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the Mat River + the Ta River + the Po River + the Ni River = the Mattaponi River!

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he’s more of an explorer than he lets you think 😉


I can be who you want me to be.


When the pain immobilizes the mind, enveloping it with humid fog, my body roars to life, rending air and snapping tree limb.  Surging.  Unstoppable.  Insurgent.


“Open your hands.”

“I can’t.”


“Show me what’s in your hands.” More insistent.

“I can’t.” Clutches closed hands close.

“Why?” Exasperated. A bit angry.

Whimpers, head down, eyes full, hands open like an aching flower, slow, hollow–

“They’re empty.”


Something broke inside, today.  Something fundamental, something that was once beautiful.  Clumsy, and thumb(l)ing, my fingers are.  Kindness makes me cry.  My world has stopped, but everyone else’s keeps on moving.  Numb–what an odd feeling, not even a feeling at all.  It is not-feeling–describable just as the lack of something, even when you have it.  Something cracked, something made of concrete, something still.

I’m afraid it’s irreversible.

When did we forget how to love?  Someone tell me, no one can.  Love has become selfish, a tepid, shallow thing.  Not the all-encompassing, passionate, sacrificial kind.  No greater love than this–that a man would give his life for a friend.  Literal and metaphorical.  Vanished.  What’s the point of this love–true love–when no one will love you back like that?

I’m chasing you into the night.  Stumbling after your vanishing form in the trailing tendrilling mist darkness.  Cloaked.  Suddenly impersonal and cold– Did I ever know you?  Where did you go?  I ask, like a child.  I listen in the silence for an answer.  So far, you haven’t looked back.

Come back to me, if you can hear.  My heart is screaming for you in the dark.  When crushed, suddenly discovering it is hollow.


My heart is pale and cold and smooth.  The stone table without a sacrifice.  Waiting.  Waiting in infinite uncertainty.

I thought we were forever.

But forever doesn’t feel like this.

I hope–I hope this isn’t it–because a piece of me would have to die, infinitely dead in its forever, so that the rest of me could live.  Love?  I don’t know.  Crippled.  Dragging one dead weight foot–but unable to bear cutting it off.

No one on Earth can love me like that (except family.  And they are predisposed to love you, their pretending not pretending, made real).  Maybe I can’t either.  And if you can’t, then who will?  No one.  You.  I picked you.  I counted on you.  I loved every part of you.  Even when I didn’t always approve.  I gave you the key to my heart, and you opened it, for a while.  But now I’ve realized the door has shut without me noticing, distracted in the realm of warm and fuzzy rosy thrumming life-aura, not realizing it had stopped being real–when?! unsearchable–and you’ve locked the door.  It echoes, it hurts, that click.  I’ve woken up in the empty and the cold.  Dark, unswept inside.  And I hear you walk away, your footsteps echoing, hollow, the key clenched in your fist.

I feel every step.  Stretching, but not breaking.

Come home.  Will you.  I want you to come home.

i was naked before you, vulnerable, the only one, trusting in your life, our love, your soul.  Sisters.  But you walked away, and now I’m only half of one whole, because you made me believe I could be.

I curl in on myself, hugging, head tucked–but the warmth, it is not enough.

Can You make this whole?  Save me (her, us?), if you can.  My everything wants You to be enough.  Aching.

Fill us with Love again.

Sometimes, love is something you have to fight for.

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one, and a two,  and a three plus a right hook…

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century… the century of what?

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this side up… what about inside out?  is that upside down, or something else entirely?

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twist, all the power comes from your hips.  don’t forget

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I will fight for you even when you can’t.  I will fight for you even when you cannot see.

“We love who we love.  Sucks.” – Nick, Before We Go


Please just remember–that I know the way your heart beats.


Before and after.  Which do you like better?  Nevermind, it’s the words that matter.

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“For freedom Christ has set us free.  Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… You were running well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?… For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

– Galatians 5:1, 7, 13 –

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“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?  And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”

– Jeremiah 12:5 –

Wise words from the wisest Being that has existed, does exist, or will ever exist.  Take heed!


Before and After and Inbetween

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Only a few minutes in this place can clean and refresh my spirit, return my childlike excitement about life.  Smile, life is an adventure.  As soon as my feet leave the ground, it feels like home.


“You know love is all we really need to breathe.”

And sometimes it’s all it takes to make us stop breathing.

Lord, ah, I’m so broken inside, waiting for a miracle for someone else.

I found what my  ~~  looks like.  A word spoken, felt, but not understood.

It is different for different people.

Sometimes my body aches to be set free.


before and after, the subject and the text

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trust your heart

if the seas catch fire

(and live by love

though the stars walk backward)

– e. e. cummings, ‘dive for dreams’ excerpt –

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hello there, little dandelion bloom.  won’t you be my friend?  you will?  good.  I was hoping you’d say that.


Close and distant depending how big and many your steps.  Don’t be afraid, don’t forget to set your heart ablaze.

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Some days are pink and some days are blue, and sometimes I want it to be purple.


I’m a little bit broken.  (just a little bit broken)

You make me feel like I fit somewhere.


The patient record of the days stretch prostrate (sprawl desperate, clutch) across the strangled lines of waiting.

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Jubilee comes in the morning,

Adventures reigns in starlight

My heart aches with shed daydreams,

Make me one with the storm tonight.

I feel just a little bit broken.  Do you?


God to me, while singing “Good, Good Father” for an unexpected time around: “This time, sing it like you know I’m going to pick you up.”

I do.

How many mirror me’s can you see?

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shiny and stark or dusted with magical fairy story dust, which do you prefer?  neither answer is safe, either way you’re signing up for a game.  be careful… the world is wild, not tame.  but don’t worry, adventure only calls to the dauntless.  if you hear its siren song, it knows you by name.  you cannot long escape it, and neither should you want to.  the scars are your strength.  you will have your share of adrenaline shot-through, pure sunlight-injected glory days.  infused with the crazed, reckless wildness of primitive life.  and they will be worth every drop of blood you bleed.  but remember–only the dauntless flame can face the darkness.

 feel your wings sprout, prickly from beneath your skin, feathers shiver, rustle.  it’s not an unpleasant kind of pain.  you’re ready to fly.  your body aches it.  craves it.  don’t deny it, it will launch you off the precipice.  ready or not, here we come.  a new, dangerous, life awaits.  drink deep from its fire hose of color, flavor, savor.

are you ready?  I am.  let’s hold hands and jump.


Gardens full of dandelion down.


Animal, I Am

Sometimes I just feel like my body is going to explode.

I was standing in the shower.  Tiny, tan-brown, claustrophobic cubicle.  Feeling primitive and animal, shut in and constrained by forces invisible yet so magnetically repulsive, caging.  The white curtain is there.  I feel like that in the box around my heart, I’m always pawing at it, but can never seem to get the plastic sheet out of the way.  It swallows up my hands, containing them, trapping them.  Annoyingly sticky and sneeringly superior.  So sterile.  Back in reality, I open the curtain.  The bathroom is there, as always.  Brighter and more spacious than the wet shower cube, the humidity now slipping away and evaporating, the air cooling on my skin.  It looks more open.  It looks like the world I know, that I’ll step outside the bathroom and the world will be the way it should be.  But as look at it and don’t feel anything.  Definitely not hope.  I know that it will all just be the same as that shower.  That stepping out is only an illusion.

Clawing, violently curling up, sounds that won’t mix or come out together but feel like they should.  I can’t name them, the feelings.  Enraged, betrayed, confused, powerful, starving, aching, longing, wild.  Crazed mustang scream, hooves pawing at the door.  Wide, white eyes, snorting, flaring nostrils, nodding head.  Tearing at the squeezing force around his heart.  Biting at the dark.

My heart still cowers and rages in its box.

My Thumb Pot

I’m fine now.  Healing.  A normal, but a new one.  Almost like when you were young and turned a new age, you felt older when the minute ticked over.  But different than that… more like it did on my eighteenth birthday.  I didn’t want it.  I didn’t like it.  I didn’t want to be older, feel any different.  I still wanted to feel sixteen, carefree.  Seventeen didn’t make a difference, you know.

It feels like there’s actually something missing from my heart.  Or where my soul is, I guess, because my heart feels like it’s in the middle of my chest, not where it’s actually beating, over to the left.  So I guess it has to be my soul, or something.  Or my real heart, not my physical one.  It reminds me of a thumb pot, you know the ones we used to make when we were little.  A little piece of creek clay or playdough, round and a little smooshed at the top and bottom, and we just stuck our thumb into the middle of it and pulled it out.  That’s what it feels like… like someone took my round and plump heart, put it in the palm of their hand, smoothed it out a little bit, cocked their head to the side, considered it, stuck their thumb in it, and pulled it out.  Incredibly invasive.  Shockingly unexpectedly almost violated.  Like you can’t believe they just went and did that, touched and pushed and shoved and left a dent in something so completely personal.  It’s insulting and embarrassing and vulnerable and betraying.  They did it with no malice, almost curiosity or disinterest.  It’s confusing.

The person turns around and leaves nonchalantly, almost with condescension, but again, unmotivated by any kind of blackened (discolored, tainted, tinted) intent.  So you’re left kind of staring at them without any thoughts or emotions, and then you look down at your heart, which has been disinterestedly placed back in your chest (kind of like, ‘hum, that was interesting’) where you can just feel that hole there, aching, where it wasn’t before.  You feel it with your finger, tentatively, searching it out.  Maybe your hand is shaking.  There’s definitely this awful confusing aching, not necessarily located at or coming from the hole, but just kind of coming from everywhere.  But it definitely started there.  It had to. That’s the only thing that makes sense, right?

And so you sit down kind of dazedly and just look at it.  Spacing out.  Like, what just happened.  And then there’s days you forget it happened at all, and are just genuinely puzzled at where this ache is coming from, and other days you’re just enraged by it, whether you remember why it’s there or not.  No matter, anyway, it’s there, and you have to live with it.  It gets easier to forget that it’s there, but it’s not a linear thing, day by day, no, it’s not.  It’s an up and down, roller-coaster-like thing.  For every handful of even really great days, there’s one truly, down-in-the-pits-in-the-dark-brown-slimy-river-bottom-sludge awful day, and it feels like all your progress has reverted again, back to the beginning, almost just as fresh.  But then the next day, or maybe two or three after, things are back to normal again, and you smile and go have some childish fun and tell yourself that see, you’re going to be fine!  Bright, cheery smile, almost fake but not quite.  Just choosing the truth and where it comes from, and the joy is genuine.  But you know—it’s not the same ‘normal.’  It’s not going to be normal anymore.  Well, yes, there’s a chance… but you have to see if that person exists.  And if they don’t—well then, I think you’re out of luck until you get to heaven.  Sit tight, it’s going to be a long wait.  You’re not convinced.  Find a good distraction, will you?  But there’s never a distraction good enough, or good at distracting enough.

I’ll be here.  This bench in my world of white is kind of a permanent residence.  I’ll be here if you, or your thumb, ever changes your mind.

Food can be art, can’t it?

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I can be whatever He wants me to be.

(what a freeing thought! :D)

“My brain is stuck,” she says.

“I know.  I can help you get it out,” he says.

She smiles, wags her finger.  “Oh, and who will help you, Mister?”

“You will.”  And there it is, that smile.


Impact, Lockup, Trajectory.


I don’t know what we are, do you?


Big or small?

I would like to be small.  I’m tired of feeling big, in this human world.  Big and dirty and awfully important.  When I lay down I feel like a giant.  Big and ugly.  I would like to go outside, away from this concrete world, and feel small again.  Let the mountains tower over me in their power, shrink me.  I would like that.  To be infinitely tiny, yet so happy, in my right place, in it.  Beautiful.  I guess I feel important there too… but important because I fit.  I’m doing the things I love, in the places I love, with the people I love.  And that is how it should be.


Private User

We both had the same scars.  Yours went away, mine didn’t.

God is good, even when I look at the scars–even in them, I see good times passed I wouldn’t ever have traded for smooth skin.  Even if you don’t remember, or choose not to.

I’m a half-believer in you–I know you believe your own words, but would rather follow your desires in the moment. Those desires are never me, I learned that a few years ago.  Somehow I still have to relearn it, every day, because I don’t want to believe your actions.  I really don’t.  But there’s part of me that does now.  Part of me that coexists, a dark half, next to the part of me that believes your words, that believes you believe your words.  Please disbelieve your actions someday, will you?  I’ll be here, waiting, but not waiting.  I can’t wait forever, yet I will.  Both are true.  Just remember I told you it would be so.



Today, I felt my whole world was right again.

You, something about you, makes me feel complete.

I laughed more than I have in a long while, it seemed.  Felt that thrill in conversation I only get with you, of hearts connecting, uplifting, encouraging.  Carrying each other’s burdens and somehow diminishing them in the process.

I’ve decided–your soul and mine are the same.  Sisters, meant to belong together since the beginning of time.  No, beyond time.  Before it.

I am happiest when we’re side by side.

And today, you confirmed it again–you are too.  There’s something special about the thing that exists between the two of us.

You understand me, head to toe, inside to out.  I can tell you anything and you’d still love me.  More than that, you’d understand.  You’ll be there for me through everything, when life feels like walking through mountain-mist rainbows or slogging through mud.  I can say things to you, things that would sound silly or stupid to anyone else, and you understand and appreciate them.  Like how the sky is deeper upside-down, or how the farthest, palest-blue mountains issue a call that I can’t ignore.

Your soul is one of the most beautiful I know and will ever know.

I can be my complete self around you.  You understand all the sides of me, not just engage with one or simply appreciate them all.  You know me, see all of me.  You make my heart happy.

We can be our goofy, so-easily-entertained, child-like selves around each other.  Within weeks of first meeting each other, we were dancing in the rain… or should I say thunderstorm… and today, we hung our heads over the wall by the lake and stared deep into the pool of the sky and the ripples of the new water ceiling and talked and laughed and just soaked in the beauty of God’s creation.  For a good ten minutes.  Standing up was a new experience, and I was glad to share it with you.  Who needs to get drunk to be tipsy?  Not us.

There are days where my heart just aches for you, and yours for mine, but we know, just know, deep down, in the deepest part of us that knows and hopes and dreams and loves with a deep and abiding and fiery passion–

We will always love each other.

And best of all?  We get to spend eternity worshiping the One that saved us both.  Think there’ll be climbing in the new heavens and new earth?  I sure hope so.  Regardless, I’m sure we’ll have a blast.

Love ya, sis.

Ash 🙂

Wondrously Dangerous Thing

I don’t think anyone understands how fiercely I love.

I don’t think anyone understands how intense love grows inside of me, how quickly it blooms, how loudly it roars.

It bellows its presence and dares any challenger to remain standing.

I don’t think anyone can really, truly understand what love means to me.

Love means this: you protect your own at all costs.

Yes, I know the women are meant to be the “nurturers.”  The men are the ones with all that testosterone, the big muscles, the aggressive instincts.  They are the protectors… right?

Yes, I say.  Yes they are.  They are better suited to the task.  But…

Some of us are born just a bit different than the others.

Yeah, I do feel the urge to nurture once in a blue moon.  But to tell the truth… I enjoy a good tussle over a pedicure any day.  I enjoy things that get my blood pumping.  I enjoy things that challenge me physically and mentally.  I enjoy wildness and rough-and-tumble-ness and things that test my limits, push me ’til I break.  I like things that are rough and raw and real and challenging.  I think differently.

When I love someone, my first thought, my first instinct, is to protect them.

And I make that my mission.

This means that when we’re walking from the car to the dorm at night, and I get a funny feeling, my mind goes into overdrive.  I walk a little bigger, stand a little taller, throw my shoulders back a little more, walk with a slight swagger. Walk like I own the street.  The whole city, even.  A walk that says, don’t you dare mess with me.  I think of what kick or punch I would throw first, what I would say, what would we do.  I’m always aware of the people around us, the vibes I get off them, always scanning, always looking.  I’m analyzing places, situations, one step ahead, expecting.  Listening to my gut.

When I dream up stories and put the people in my world into them… the plot always turns out the same.

I fight for them.  I protect them.  I sacrifice for them.  I prove myself to be strong enough.

No matter what.

No matter what that means.

No matter what sacrifices need to be made.

I. Push. Through.

Yes, I care about feelings.  Yes, I love conversations that have depth and emotion and substance and are just plain real.  We all do.  Yes, I care about romantic relationships.  Yes, I care about the everyday ins and outs of caring for the emotional and spiritual well-being of those around me.  I am human.  And yes, I am a girl, after all.

But my first, primal, gut instinct that will not be denied–

My mission, my calling–

Is to protect you.

And this is why, oh this why, when something goes wrong and I find out and my gut just clenches and my breathing quickens until I find out it’s all okay and then I surprise myself and cry just a bit–

The first thought that goes through my head is why didn’t I protect you.  why was I not there to protect you.  why didn’t I see this coming.  

And every single time that has happened… it hasn’t been a physical thing that I can prevent.

It’s been a sickness.  A sad thing that’s affected you.  An injury.  Someone’s scared you.  Broken your heart.

And outside I’m normal but inside the anger sparks and flares and shoots into the dark dark sky and I’m all big and bursting and aggressive inside and ready to lash out at whoever hurt you, make him pay…

But sometimes there’s no one to blame.  And sometimes there’s nothing I can do.  And sometimes I have to take a deep breath and realize that I can’t protect everyone I love from the world.

But I can try.

And I can be there.

And if, heaven forbid, it actually happens some day, actually happens that I have to put my life on the line for you–

I won’t even blink.  Won’t even think.  All this purposeful, cyclical, pointless thought will turn into action.

I will become so ferocious you won’t even recognize me.

A she-panther fighting for her cubs.

I will fight tooth and nail.  I will take a bullet for you.

I’ll simply explode.

And you will know exactly how big and ferocious and burning and unquenchable my love is for you.

And so when I watch that movie, and hear the girl crying, and I start and my heart twists a little bit because for a second it sounds just like you…  I’ll smile ruefully to myself.

But the truth is… I wouldn’t change a thing.

And if it all crashes and burns someday…

You’ll know.

Love is a wondrously dangerous thing.

Strong Enough

When I realize I’m not strong enough.

When I feel like I’ve failed when I thought I just might be good enough.  Yeah, I was on the edge, but I thought I tried hard enough…

I tried my best.

But my best wasn’t strong enough.

I immediately think of all the things I’m doing wrong, all the things I could be doing that I’m not, comparing myself to all the other people–because, obviously, they were strong enough.

And I wasn’t.

They’ve got something I don’t–and I’m gonna run myself into the ground until I get it.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be strong enough.

Sometimes I don’t think they can know that the littlest word or phrase or touch or look can light up my day or rain on it.

I don’t think anyone understands how badly I want this.

I feel like I can almost guarantee that I want it at least just as badly as the most passionate person there–at least as much as the most determined, yearning, wanting to be included, to be strong, to win.

And yet–I still wasn’t strong enough.

I didn’t realize how bad I wanted this–didn’t realize until I didn’t get it.  It’s always this way for me–there’s nothing I can do to change that.  I always say I care, but I can handle the disappointment.  That I’ll be fine either way.  But no–and deep down I know I’m telling a lie to myself.

But at the end of the day, I know… that it’s not about being strong enough.

It’s about running ’til you can’t breathe, pushing ’til you can’t stand, fighting until you win or lose.  It’s about straining every last muscle and pulling every last breath and shouting, rooting each other on until you lose your voice.

It’s about learning.  And playing.  And loving those around you.  It’s about doing something fun and crazy and taking a deep breath through your nose and feeling sweaty and powerful and new.  It’s about embracing the game and being there for your team.  No matter what.  Winning is great–but that’s not what it’s about.  That’s just the icing on the cake, if you’re lucky.  But that’s not what it’s about.  Yeah, I know it sounds cliche–

But it’s not about being strong enough.

It’s about being you.

And when I think of it this way, think of it as the grass prickles my neck and two lone stars shine through the yellow light of the street lamp–

I remember.

Remember the way the whole team is so close, like a brotherhood.  Remember how I want that, yearn for that, long to be part of that, accepted.  How they didn’t act like I was new.  How they didn’t disdain me for my limitations but accepted me with them.  How I got passed to and messed with from day one.  How I respect my captain, as a coach and as a team player and as a person.  How I appreciate every high five, every look of respect, every team huddle, every “We are UR.”  How I feel wanted whenever someone takes the time to help me out.  How I felt on top of the world when he told me the strengths he sees in me–basically, that I belong on that team.  That they all want me on their team.  How I’m part of another family again.

And they’ll never know how much that means to me.

They see my commitment.  They see how much I push myself for the last everything I have in me.  They see how I smile when I play and how my face goes grim and intense when I’m determined, when I really get into it.  Hey, I even got a nickname today, because I don’t go down easy.  They hear me when I cheer them on, accepting them as I hope, I think, I know they’re accepting me.  I love even the pep talks, even when others just smile, I feel something.  I love this essence, this tangible thing, that we have with each other, on and off the field.  We are family.

I think it’s called a team.

So whenever I get frustrated with myself, think myself weak.  Inadequate.  Insufficient.  Not good enough.  Not strong enough…

I will remember–they think me strong enough.  More than that, they think my heart big enough.

And that’s enough for me.

-stone dragon


Tonight’s a big night.

The last night in my own bed for a while.  The last night of summer for a year.  The last night with my family in a long string of nights.

Tomorrow’s a big day.

The first night under a new roof.  The first reunion with my friends.  The first in a long string of celebrations of just living.

Tomorrow, I spread my wings.

I want them to be strong.  Big.  Powerful.  Gentle in their brown soft feathers speckled with sunlight.  Gentle in their strength–yet ready to whip the wind.  Shape it to my command.  Ride it, soar me high, anywhere I want to go.  To anyplace.  To anyone.  Following my heart, at my will.

But not only are my wings strong–they are wise.  Faithful.  Loyal.  Intelligent.  Not only at the beck and call of my heart but also in line with my head.  And on a perfect day, those two will never be at odds.  The center of their compass is love. Home.  Constancy.  Protection.  Sacrifice.  Ferocity.  Forever embrace.  Reliability.  Adventure.  Love is all of these things–love is my friends and my family.  Those dearest to my heart.  Those I would give anything for at a moment’s notice, although I may strive to see the small needs right in front of my nose.  Although my wings fly on the call of the wild and the whisper of the unknown on the wind, they train true to the strong beauty of love.

When I spread my wings, it will mean six things–

I am ready.

I am strong.

I am free.

I am brave.

I am an explorer.

I follow my love.

And when I get a little scared, and my wings wobble a little even as they hold me up–

I will remember to be confident, and trust the One that gave them to me.

Right Now

Do something stupid.

Jump off a cliff.  Lie in the road.  Roll down a hill.  Take a bike ride to nowhere in the middle of the night.

Go on, do it.

I’m serious.  Right now.

Now, you ask?  Yeah, now.  Right.  Now.

‘Cause if you don’t do it now, you never will.

If you play it safe, you’ll never be alive.

What if I told you your life is in danger.  Right now.  What are you gonna do about it?  Anything it takes, of course.

What if the only way to save your life is to risk losing it.

Throw caution to the winds.  Heck, throw yourself to the winds, literally.

Adrenaline is your friend.  So is the wind, and the waves and the earth and water and fire and dangerous, possibly not-so-legal acts and the runaway beating of your heart.

Live to the beat of the music only you can hear.

You don’t not drive even though it’s dangerous, right?   Even though, at any moment, you know that your soul could be blasted into the sky.  You don’t let yourself be dictated by those fears.  Don’t let yourself be controlled.

I hate to break it to you, man–the same principle applies to everything else.

The world isn’t safe.  So don’t pretend it is.

So do it, go do whatever makes your heart beat faster and your breathing quicken and your hands shake.  Jump out of planes.  Climb cliffs.  Paddle whitewater.  Soar with the birds.  Pick you adventure, it’s everywhere, you’ll find it inside.

Our number one priority should not be safety–it should be living.

Some things are more important than staying alive.

Routine and comfort zones and luxury and money and safety and even education are your worst enemies.  You can only trust your fears.  The wild.  The open spaces.  All the things you swore never to do.  Listen–they tell you what you should do, not what you shouldn’t.

Be rebels.  Be creators.  Daredevils.  Risk takers.

You are the only ones who can change the world.  Edge your toes over the literal no trespassing signs and the stark white lines and the metaphorical limits drawn in the sand.  Let that rebel spark ignite you, consume you whole.

Be you.  You’ll be hated for it.  You’ll be loved for it.  You’ll be feared for it.  You’ll be admired for it.  But you will never fail to challenge and inspire.  Never stop living big, living loud, no matter what anybody tells you.  Close your ears to the haters, and listen to your heart.

And one day, the world will wake up to find its shackles broken open on the ground.

So paint with your fingers, howl at the moon, dance with the stars, spin till you fall over in a laughing, breathless heap. Wear your hats backwards, rip holes in your jeans.  Get dirty, roll in the grass, pick flowers, pieces of multicolored velvet sky.  Grow your hair long, cut it short.  Breathe deep, or dive even deeper.  Kiss often, and hug even more.  Smile most.  Laugh always.  Wear bright colors.  Go barefoot.  Count clouds instead of sheep.  Confound it all, skip sleep altogether.  Watch a sunrise and sunset in the same day, and be just as awed by every one you see.  Never underestimate the power of letting go and riding every opportunity to shore.  Freedom and happiness can be found on every star, adorning every wildflower, tucked away in each seashell, and hiding in each clasped hand.  But most importantly, you’ll find them within yourself.

Be bold, be brave, be true.  And you’ll be more You than anyone else.

Be impulsive, not rational.  Feel, not think.  Believe, not doubt.  No matter the circumstance.  And you will get through, and shine all the brighter for it.  Love others, love God, love life, love adrenaline and adventures and spontaneity and unexpected good times–and you will be all the better for it.

It’s your new world.  It’s all yours.  A little scared, you say?  Good.  Now go live it.

Right now.

Recombobulation of Love

When I was at the airport a week ago, I was reminded how disorienting security checks can be. Take shoes off, pull jacket off, empty pockets, remove computer,  dump backpack, raise hands, lower hands, hold breath as the x-ray machine scans, answer police with yes ma’am and yes sir, pick up backpack, insert computer, refill pockets, don jacket, yank on shoes.  It’s enough to make a girl dizzy.  And by the end, I sometimes don’t know what to feel.

Figuring out crushes is kind of like that.

I didn’t have my first real crush until I was seventeen.  A little late, I know.  It didn’t truly last, but now my brain is catching up with the reality of the huge switch that’s been flipped.  My mind is still a bit shocked at this new fact…

that boys are cute.

Yeah, I’m a little behind schedule.  I’ve realized this over the past few months, and I decided to make a list to help reorient myself as I figure out what all this means for me.  Almost like the humorously entitled “Recombobulation Area” in the airport… a place to gather my wits, figure out how I feel, and get my feet back under me.  A place to begin directing my thoughts toward the future and embrace this new season.

Here goes nothing…

  1. I do want a relationship… and eventually marriage.  Dating will never be recreational, but instead always have a purpose, linked to marriage in distant possibility at least.
  2. There’s a difference between thinking someone is cute and having a crush.  The first is just a fact, but the latter is something more real.  A crush is also based on someone’s personality and character, not just looks.
  3. Kissing always sounds “bleh” (aka disgusting)… but that’s okay.  Kissing will come with actually falling in love.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  The day I hold hands with someone will be a huge step–and truthfully, I like it that way.
  4. Dates are not as confusing or scary as they sound.  Two people hang out on their own, and the guy usually pays for things, but that’s it.  Nothing to shy away from.
  5. Chivalry is okay.  Actually, better than okay.  I have emerged from my hard core tomboy stage realizing that if a man holds a door open for me, it’s not an insult… it’s a complement.  It’s not that I can’t do it on my own; he just wants to do it for me.
  6. Wanting to spend lots of time with someone and enjoying his company is a better sign of interest than how high he rates on the cuteness scale.
  7. I don’t feel the need to be as strong or as athletic or as tough as a guy I truly like; the ones I strive to impress in that way, I see as brothers.  Someone I can be my true, goofy, Ashley self around… that’s different.
  8. Marriage means life forever with your best friend with something else thrown in… I think it’s called romance.  A ring is freedom, not a restraint.
  9. The four criteria for dating material: a) He must be a true Christian. b) I feel completely safe around him. c) Attractive not only physically but in personality and character. d) I enjoy just spending time with him.
  10. He will talk about God with me and will not be afraid to be deep and real in conversation.  He will appreciate my passions and value them even if they’re not his thing.  He will enjoy my quirks.  He will love me for being me.
  11. I’m not a girly girl, but I do like flowers.  Stars and campfires seem much more romantic than a fancy restaurant and expensive clothes.  The smell of wood smoke is better than that of perfume.  Candles are good.  Jeans and flannel shirts are comfortable and attractive.  And I do love to dance.  He will be the only one I’ll willingly wear a dress for, and he’ll understand the significance of this as soon as he talks to my mother.
  12. He will see me as equal but special.  He will understand the power in a simple touch or a smile.  He will help me get over my phobia of phone calls, simply because I’ll love to hear his voice.  He’ll call me by my nickname, without being asked.  He will have a goofy, wild streak.  He will understand the power of adventure and spontaneity and the untouched, open places.  He will know when to rough around yet how to always be gentle.  He will know how to enjoy the comfortable silence between two open, happy souls.
  13. I’m going to get scared.  I’m going to be that blindsided, deer-in-the-headlights kind of girl when asked on my first date.  If I accept that now, it’ll be easier when it happens.  I must never shy away from an opportunity because I’m scared, yet I must never do something stupid because I’m scared to miss something good.  I’ll be a little slow, but that’s okay.  Scary and exciting often go hand in hand.
  14. How he interacts with those who can give him nothing in return will say more than how he interacts with those who already love him.  How he interacts with children and his elders will say more than how he acts around those his own age.
  15. I love you will be the most powerful words for us–never common, never trivial, never misused.  His love should not be unlike the love of 1 Corinthians 13.
  16. He will make me laugh, make me smile, make me be silly, make me sing louder, make me dance faster, make me try harder, make me see more beauty, make me live fuller.  Make me more than I am apart from him.  We will be better together than apart…

And it will be good.

I think… I think… I think that’s called love.


Playing Favorites

These are a few of my favorite things…

mowed grass between my toes

cold, thick custard on a hot day

new friends, new hugs, new laughs

singing songs loud and bold in the car with the windows down on a winding road

pastel fire sunsets over a rocky mirrored river

spires of a new city poking the sky with the trees

buttery noodles and a tall lemonade

a new world, a new story, pirate gold, unlikely friends, and unexpected humor–aye aye, ahoy matey, and land ho to you all

two AM talks with a sister in Christ

fun teacups and salsa to end the night

I guess playing favorites is okay, after all.

Not a Tame Lion

We do this–put him in a box.

A safe box.  An ordinary box.  A decidedly normal, smiley, unmessy, unradical box.

So when we hear about miracles, healings, spurts of uncontained joy and the roaring of the Spirit–somehow we manage to cover our ears and say, “It can’t be real.”

Not only is it too good to be true, it’s too scary to be true.

We don’t want action to be required of us.  We want to stay comfortable and safe in our sane if a bit dull little worlds. Sitting in nice houses with nice jobs and nice friends and nice hobbies.  And yes, these are all good things.

But not at the expense of ignoring the call.

You know, the call.  The call of the Lion.  That great roaring, that’s decidedly not safe, but also undeniably thrilling, wild, and good.  The rebel in each of us is drawn to that echoing, commanding, immediate call.  It’s the same drawing that we all feel when listening to tales of intrepid explorers facing imminent danger and insurmountable odds, ignoring the naysayers and the danger signs, fighting through the evil until they attain the unimaginable… the uncharted mountain summit.  We hear the tales of their struggles and follow their progress, trying to appear not too eager, but inwardly our heart sings when we hear their victory shouts at the peak, standing with arms spread among the wheeling of the eagles.

We feel this.  This defiance.  This urge to set off on adventure of the mind and body and soul and suffer a bit and push through and do great, never-done-before things.  This is what the call awakens in us… and once fully realized, it can never be unheard, never quieted.

No one can ignore a Lion roaring in his face for long.

Unless, of course, he is deaf–made deaf by his own luxuries and fears and expectations.  By the world’s acceptance and even endorsement of small hearts and little love.

So unstop your ears, sleeper.  Take up your belongings tied in a bandanna on a stick, dreamer.  Lace up your sturdy shoes, adventurer.  For this will be the greatest adventure of your life.

Follow the Lion.  For he his wild.  He is dangerous.  He is powerful.  He is defiant.  He is radical.  And he is free.

And so are you.

“‘Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Ooh!’ said Susan, ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’…’Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“‘He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Girl, without the Y

When I was younger, I hated the fact I wasn’t born a boy.

I hated having to smell nice, look nice, act nice.  I wanted the oft’ wryly said phrase “boys will be boys” to apply to me.  I wanted to live “free and in the wild,” as I told my parents.  To own a horse in my backyard.  For ages I firmly believed I didn’t want a husband, ’til one day I declared I had changed my mind–he would be useful for shoveling horse poo.

Although my opinions about being a girl have slightly changed (I do want to marry, and not just to acquire a stable boy), there are still many things about being a girl that bug me to no end.  Crossing my legs the feminine way.  Wearing skirts that force me to shorten my steps.  Shaving–completely unnecessary in my opinion.  The inability to wrestle with the guys.  The shortage of girls that don’t mind blood and sweat and dirt and good hard work and adventures and wild places experienced fully and up close.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized one thing…

My version of femininity is up to me and God.

I can be a girl without the “y”… being “girly” does not have to be part and parcel of being a female.

So this… this is what has risen up in the soul of me and trumpeted itself clear and I will not disobey its call.

I will go barefoot as much as possible.  Run in the rain.  Laugh loud and hearty.  Splash in puddles.  Play in the mud.  I will wrestle when I can.  Play stupid pain games with the boys.  Be more comfortable with proving myself physically than in petty social games.   Ooh and ahh over fuzzy green moss rather than flowers.  I can shout loud and try hard and grunt and strain with the best of them.  I can climb tall cliffs and swim in freezing lakes and splash up forest streams without a care.   I can get psyched at the growing callouses on my hands and feet.  Take pictures of flappers and blood blisters, battle wounds.  Be proud of every single one of my scars, and know the stories that I carry with them.  I can love big, and love hard, and love unreservedly.  I can prefer bear hugs over side hugs.  I can choose jeans and flip flops over dresses and jewelry.  I can love bright colors over pastels and lace.  I can feel most comfortable in a tank-top, flannel, and hiking boots.  I will prefer to eat my food simple and outside and end the days with campfires.  I can smell like wood smoke and good ol’ hard work.  I can howl at the moon when I feel like it, star spin when I feel like it, pick my crazy friends how I feel like it.  Love like my heart’s leading me, laugh as joy explodes with in me, be free and wild when the urges overtake me.  I can be impulsive.  I can be silly.  I can be adventurous.  I can be me.

Me, Ashley Elizabeth Wilda.  Or just Ash, what my closest friends call me.

A woman.  A girl.

Not girl-y… no, just a girl.

But still me.

And I like myself better for it.

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