+ redemption, walks, nature and women +

I sabotage myself daily, but I am told I have one who fights in my behalf.

I flail desperately for something I can lean my weight against, but I am told I have a rock and foundation.

I suffer a debilitating identity crisis, but I am told my name is engraved on his palms for eternity.

I have run and found no escape, but I am told he hides me in the shadow of his wing.

I have set the world on my back and destroyed myself with its weight, but I am told there is one who carries it for me.

I have failed in everything, but I am told I have a redeemer.

I am blind, but I have been told to set my sights on the unseen.

I am covered in bruises like a woman stumbling alone in the dark, but I am told I have a healer whose name is a light to my path.

I am, but I am told He Is.

– – –

I took a walk. The world is beautiful, is it not?







[ full set is here. ]
– – –

what revives
like the natural green
or stills
like running water
what promises
like the oak
or silences
like wind
what glistens
like the flare
and renews
like distance
what commands
like a quiet woman
and what laughs
like her red dress

 .

+ lessons from my mini sabbatical +


[ credit : parker fitzgerald ]
This won’t flow. It is all blips and pieces of fragmented thoughts that came to me over the 72 hours I spent without a phone or computer. Some are more developed than others. The photos above were to prepare you for the words below. Enjoy.

.:. we have trained ourselves to look for beauty in other lives, not our own.

.:. we create relationships for ourselves. they are never forced upon us.

.:. the majority of conversations should take place in person, not via text.

.:. the moment technology stops being a resource and becomes a liability, it needs to be re-evaluated. immediately.

.:. social networking should be re-named theworldinyourbedroom.

.:. i have a new ability to see through an online presence and measure the true life content of a person.

.:. we are so dependant on our gps and maps because we live in a constant time crunch. i didn’t use my gps this weekend. result: i had to turn around multiple times, and took several ‘scenic routes.’ i also saw many parts of my city for the first time, and had a few ‘well let’s see where this road goes’ followed with ‘oh my gosh here i am!’ i put the puzzle pieces together. i feel rebuked for my desire to travel when i haven’t taken the time to see my own city.

.:. the majority of my stress is a result of mis-managed relationships and poorly chosen staples of my daily life.

.:. my brain has invented some type of obligation to “finish” everything. pursue things forever. never drop something i began. if i follow a blog, i feel obligated to read every post, eternally. i’ve placed my interests first, and myself second. how ridiculous.

.:. our thought processes become influenced by the words and images that float around us, even if we do not consciously accept them. saturating ourselves in high-speed communication and heavy content input environments will launch us into a collective lifestyle that no individual could or should live in or up to. hello, stress.

.:. we don’t write nearly enough.

.:. if you “don’t write”, then let me clarify: we don’t reflect nearly enough.

– – –

Thoughts on social networking: (you knew it was coming)
We value communication over content. Let me break this down a bit more. We value the relationship over the person. And a bit further…

Social networking is a tool; nothing more, nothing less. It betters a good purpose and exacerbates a poor one. And like any tool, it is only healthy in moderation, and when the master controls it to fulfill the purpose. There is an inherent flaw in humanity that twists everything to be self-seeking unless we acknowledge it and choose to live differently. This manifests itself primarily in our relationships. It is so easy to “have” relationships for the sake of having a relationship with that person. We become tempted to “own” relationships for self-seeking purposes, even if they are as innocent as to fill our universal need for acknowledgement, validation, and worth. Our value has come to sit not on the actual person, but on the connection we have with that person.
This is what I mean when I say that social networking either betters or exacerbates. If our value is misplaced, it magnifies our weighty mistake (and selfishness) to a point that we are beyond excuse, and it is recognizable to the naked human eye.

I will say it again: value first the person, not the relationship.

Social networking should exist to plant, nurture and grow our relationships with people (and content, too) that we value. Maybe it would help if we referred to other humans not as people but as lives. NOT to enable us to feed a self-focused desire to multiply all sorts of various fragile and thin “barely-there” relationships with people and content that we only want to care about. Our time is truly limited. Deal it out wisely. Brushing fingertips is not a handshake.

– – –

Hard questions:

.:. If you didn’t blog or tweet for a week, who would notice or care? This is not rhetorical. Go name them.

.:. When was the last time you stepped outside of the internet to interact with that person(s)?

.:. How few texts could you get by sending each day?

.:. If you use Google reader, and had a folder for “friends” – what would your ratio of friends to various blogs be?

.:. What do you obligate yourself to that is an illusion?

.:. What have you wanted to do or not do that has been sacrificed for the draw of spiderweb-thin relationships?

.:. Do you seek to document beauty in your own life, or are you guilty of simply coveting beauty in others? (There is a secret hidden here: It exists everywhere, and is found only when documented.)

– – –

the world is too big to be your own.

so find your corner.

water it and make it grow.

and occasionally, take extravagant field trips.

– – –

My final thought: I need more than 3 days of living like this.

– – –

P.S. I got glasses. Seeing is awesome..

+ a painting: this is captivity +

This is an old painting of mine that I realized I wrote a bit about (most of my larger pieces of art are inspired by writing) and felt like blogging about it. It is titled “This Is Captivity.” The text is blockquoted below, with more explanation and thoughts underneath. My perfectionist self disappeared when I got to the script – for some reason at the time I didn’t care much for the painting and didn’t bother taking my time to do the script well. Live and learn.



Held in captivity long enough and your reality changes. Your vocabulary that of an optimist without hope. Your sunrise a rainy afternoon – your freedom an extension of your chain by a few more guilt ridden links. Mourn for an illusion so that your heart is not allowed recognition of death. The color of life fades until you are unsure of even the outlines of the faces you once knew. You struggle only against your own strength instead of that which binds you. This is captivity.

Captivity is traditionally defined as imprisonment, confined to a space, a being that has been domesticated and is now kept so. A captive being one taken in a state of war.

I believe captivity is much broader than what we limit it to through our primarily historical concepts of military wars, battles, and physical force. Captivity is the enemy of freedom; it’s absence, the lack thereof. Most people are truly not free.

Imprisonment is not simply living within stone walls, it is the restraint and bondage of the true self. Confinement is not simply forced seclusion, it is the lack of the experience of joy and full life. Domestication is not only an acceptable method of bettering what we own, it is the adaptation of a should-be valued heart for another’s purposes or use.

I have watched many close to my heart be taken into captivity as a result of a numerous misbeliefs, untruths, pride, unlove, and ungrace. I have re-written “captivity” as I see it, and sought to portray the captivity of a woman I know. She is held by no physical force, but her heart has most certainly been taken into captivity. The script references that which is closest to her heart, and the doorways through which captivity has slowly and wholly crept in unnoticed; what she has lost and become numb or blind to, and how captivity re-writes our view of reality.

Symbolism in this painting includes the patterned hearts in the background, representing the fact that captivity often comes in the form of patterns, repetition, and dull same-ness; also by what is closest to you. The blindfold for the loss of ability to see that which is before you. The script placed over her chest representing the weight and heaviness captivity holds over the heart. The absence of all five features except for the lips; captivity seems to bring a subconscious, overwhelming hunger and need for anything to bring back the illusion of life. In this woman, I have watched her sexuality, beauty, and femininity numb the pain of everything else she has lost. This is what she still clings to; I believe something deeper still knows that her original self is More..

+ thought > process +



 

your world is
more
beautiful than mine
and
i don’t
know
why
but
i know that i know
what
i want
and
i know that i don’t know
how to get there
and
i know that
once
i get
there
i may not
want what
i don’t know
how to get.

.

+ sometimes, i write. +

I’m getting better at knowing what I need, and even better at seeing my flaws. It’s amazing how honest writing forces you to be.

Someone stop her
the girl
with all the beautiful things
slow
slow her down
she enjoys
only
the finding and
not
the having
someone stop her
teach
her to see what
she has
already found
teach her
to enjoy it a little
longer
show
her she has found
enough
she has enough
someone

stop her

p.s. new self-portraits here..

+ growing. +

i want to be the girl that makes everything beautiful simply by being present.

.

+ what i want this week +

quiet.
silence.
peace.
air.
thought.
stillness.

– – –

one of my favorite quotes on love. i used to post this everywhere, and haven’t thought of it in a very long time:

“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” [c.s. lewis]

– – –

You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

.

+ the third year. finally. +

one world at a time. [thoreau]

– – –

“this will be the sign for you, daughter:

this year you will eat what grows by itself,

the second year what springs from that.

but in the third year, sow and reap,

you will plant vineyards and you will eat their fruit.”

isaiah 37.30

– – –

he is so true to his promises.

– – –

.

+ have i found love? +

Preface: Over the last several years, I have suffered from panic attacks and periods of severe anxiety; this being the overflow of the fear that is rooted in the rock-bottom depths of myself: I must be perfect in order to secure a love that will never leave me, and I cannot be perfect.

When my dad and the anchor of my world stopped being a dad, and became simply my father, I realized that there was nothing I could say nor do to accurately express nor portray who I truly was, and how much I loved, needed, and wanted his love and presence. I realized that my security was entirely at the mercy of the perception [of me] of the person choosing to love or not love me. I had always thought that if they just knew what was inside…if they could just see my heart, they would never leave me, never be harsh with me, never speak against me, never hurt me, and most certainly never do the worst: abandon me.

Since I was 17, I have sought to find an accurate definition or picture of love. My definition thus far has been painfully skewed: Love is someone else doing what they think is best for you, and you earn this love from them by being perfect in their eyes. Read that again, and let it resonate.

The default definition of Love that I came to was Jesus’s death. But sacrifice didn’t seem to cut it – I can’t find someone to nail me to a tree, and even if I could, it would serve no purpose here. But today, I think I am finally seeing the beginning of the picture, and I want to share. The heart of it, I believe, is this: REAL Love is something that is always given in spite of you, never earned.

– – –

I am not loved because I am perfect.
I am loved because I am not perfect.

It is my imperfection that makes it possible for me to be loved.

The sole purpose of Righteousness is to be placed in a position where love unhindered can be both given and received.

Righteousness is the means, not simply the end goal.

My righteousness no longer comes from my being and doing that which is perfect (for it cannot guarantee love) – my righteousness comes to me in love, from Christ, because I am imperfect.

This is a new love(!); we love because he first loved us. This is a new love; one that is safe, and does not allow my imperfections to cause me to fall out of love, for it is these very imperfections that allow me to be made whole by a righteousness not my own, in order that I my be the recipient and also the giver of a true, pure, and honest love. Perfect love, that casts out all fear. This love is now out of my hands, forever. What peace!

Sin is missing the mark.
My sins are not my conscious slaps in the face of God with the intention of hurting him.
My sins are missing the mark of what is best – what makes me whole.
My sins are the actions I take that give evidence of how broken and hurt I am.
My sins are my desperate search to numb pain, fill emptiness, and feel whole – and fail.

My sins are my imperfections, not what makes righteousness impossible, or what keeps the aching hope of love at bay.

No, if I were perfect, I would not need a righteousness not my own. And if I did not need a righteousness not my own, I would never experience a Love that says “I want you for you, not what you can do for me.”

Again, my constant state of missing the mark is what triggers the outpour of compassion on me from a Father who loves me as a child –

Again, my imperfections ALLOW his righteousness to work itself out in me, which places me in the position we all hunger and hope for: to stand in the middle of a saturating love that does not rely on me.

At last, something I cannot ruin.

I cannot ruin this.

Love, forever..

+ forward +

 

when the morning sun breaks, it brings a forced rememberance. all is new.
colors, details, shapes and shadows disappear, making way for only the whites and yellows, blending everything together. yesterday’s eyes, pathetic. the piercing warmth casts forgiving rays that soften and blind the outlines of our harsh reality and the mistakes it contains. yesterday has ended. the consuming, all-captivating strength of our sun is our salvation. the source of light commands our gaze. in it’s wake, all else is insignificant and unworthy even of thought. we can and will see nothing else except that which is before us, for we are now blinded by light. praise, eternal. – lauren nicole.

.