My Unconquerable Soul (The National Gallery of Art)

I originally wrote this over a year ago on my other blog, but realized few have seen it as I did not publicize that blog very well.  I still think it to be one of my better posts and I hope you feel the same.  Please remember that I love comments of all kinds!  :)

“I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul” Invictus by William Ernest Henley I have always appreciated paintings, but I don’t believe I ever really was absorbed by t…

Source: My Unconquerable Soul (The National Gallery of Art)

Waiting for the Rain…

It’s been an excruciatingly long, very hot summer.  We have had an unusually dry season with almost no rain for more than 3 months. I have spent much of it driving around in a car with broken air conditioning in scorching 90 to 110+ degree temperatures.  I have sat in rush hour traffic with open windows begging mentally for a breeze that would cool me off, even feeling a little sick at times.  It has seemed almost unbearable.

Over the course of the last six weeks, I have watched the wild grasses dry up and turn yellow. The leaves on the trees look withered and parched and the dust from construction sites and fields would blow over everything.  Smoke from nearby wildfires would smother the sun and I began to imagine that this is what hell would feel like.  As clouds and winds would blow through, I would get my hopes up that it would rain, but Mother Nature seemed to mock us with a sprinkle that just turned the dust to splotchy drops and then blow away again.

As I have thought about it, I couldn’t help comparing it to those times that we endure, what seem to be, never-ending hardship.  We struggle through fiery, painful trials that seem to weary us to the core.  Like the dry storms that blow through, we get our hopes up only to find out they are empty promises.  It does seem, at times, as if the rain will never come to quench our parched lives.

But tonight…the rains came.  I cheered as I watched the black clouds roll in at sunset and thrilled to my toes as I watched the lightning flash in the distance. Now I’m sitting next to the open window, listening to the rain pour down washing away the dust and dirt. I can feel the cool breeze blow gently across me and the scent of fresh rain is enticing and delicious.  I am listening to my quiet music and feeling completely at peace.  A little smile hovers around my lips as I listen to the last of the drops fade away.

Just when we think we can’t bear it a moment longer, the relief finally comes.  An all-wise Father seems to know exactly how long we can bear something and then He steps in and mercifully tends to our scorched lives.  We just have to learn to trust that there will be an end to the Refiner’s fire. And like the rains that end a long drought, the gentle peace that comes at the end of a long trial is so much the sweeter, because we appreciate every drop.

dancing-in-the-rain

 

His Song

This was written long ago and originally meant to be a song, but it turned out to be more of a poem. I might turn it into lyrics someday, but for now, I felt it should be appreciated for just being what it is.  I think there’s a metaphor in that somewhere…we should all be appreciated just for what we are.  :)  Love to you all…

London couple in the snow

His Song

Turning, whirling, around and around
Painted masks dancing
To a chaos of sound
Dawn comes, your face fades away
The fantasy ends
In the cold light of day.

How is it possible
That you still invade my dreams?
You flash upon my life
Like an unwanted memory
An unfinished painting gathering dust
Still waiting on the edge of my reality…

Please let me go
Please let me mend
Tear your soul from mine
Please let this agony end

With you I first tasted passion
Embracing on the callous streets
Soulmates at our first caress
Strangers after lies confessed

But if I let go of my tight control
I will lose this mask of sanity
I have tried so hard to hold.
Even with the passing years,
You are still the
Broken part of my soul.

Please let me go
Please let me mend
Tear your soul from mine
Please let this torment end

When will your tender touch
No longer caress my skin?
When will your soft voice
No longer echo within?
When will your words fade from my mind?
When will I put your love behind?

Please let me go
Please let me mend
Take your bittersweet memories
And please, dear God, just let this love end…

For the Hopeless Romantics

5. Woman looks out on sea from cruise - 141670436 - Getty - 506x380_tcm3317-1018716I used to be embarrassed by the fact that I was a hopeless romantic. When I was a child, it was fine to believe in love at first sight, romance, soul mates, and happily ever afters.  I loved dressing up in old dresses pretending that I was Cinderella at the ball and my Prince Charming was about to sweep through the door.

In my early teenage years, I would sit quietly in the corner during class and lunch and devour romance novels.  My favorite author at the time (Emilie Loring) was a woman who had written more than 30 books from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.  I loved her characters: the heroines were always beautiful, graceful and elegant.  The heroes were always true gentlemen that would fall in love with the wholesome, positive and courageous women. The books were full of optimism and adventure and sprinkled with just enough romance that they thrilled my innocent heart. I firmly believed that my own hero would find me someday and I would have that relationship that I so yearned for.

Yet, as I grew older, I discovered from many of my peers that believing in these things were considered immature and childish.  It was fine to seek a relationship, but I had to do so with a sophisticated, cynical veneer.  I had spent so many years as a child being bullied that I was afraid of not fitting in, so I adopted the cynicism and mocked silly romantics with the best of them.  I found it was easy to do since so little romance came my way.  It was easy to make fun of it and pretend that it didn’t matter to me, when inside my heart was crying out for that tenderness, affection and passion that I had believed in as a child.

As the years passed and the gulf widened between my secret hopes and reality, I began to truly believe in the cynical viewpoint of relationships and love.  My own marriage had failed and I have never experienced the love I had dreamt of all those years before.  Did anyone have good relationships or was it all just a show?  My own graveyard of broken hearts had just about convinced me to give up altogether.  I found it ironic that the woman who had written a book about hope was feeling the complete opposite.

But then the universe stepped in yet again.  One night, as I watched a documentary regarding a motivational speaker, I felt a little tug at my heart.  He spoke of dreams and possibilities and the passion required to accomplish them. Facing my own stark reality, the floodgates in my soul opened and I sobbed.  Was there really a possibility that my dreams could still become reality?  I had buried those hopes so well after so many failures. But it was as if a little pixie dust from a passing star seemed to sprinkle itself on me reminding me of who I am.

I am a hopeless romantic.  I love flowers, nature, beautiful clothes and soft music. I love mystery, adventure, romantic movies and above all…happy endings.  I can honestly say that I still believe that my “one” is out there somewhere seeking for me and that one day I will have that relationship I long ago hoped for.  And best of all, I can say that I have found faith in my dreams again and in myself.

For all the hopeless romantics out there, embrace who you are.  We remind people to believe in magic and miracles and to hope again. Through music, art and words, we help others to find that indescribable “something” that lift souls above the ordinary.  And most of all, we believe in love and the power it has to change lives.

Keep staring at the stars, romantic one, and maybe…just maybe, one day you will finally be able to touch one.

 

 

 

 

Pushing Through The Pain

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A while ago, one of my lifelong friends and I were discussing how we go through many times in our lives that are incredibly challenging, to say the least.  There are days when getting out of bed is a struggle and when even a smile is painful. These are times where breathing is difficult and the tears will come no matter how you try to stem them.

We talked about what helps us through it: music, books, exercising, spending time with loved ones, movies and more.  Then I brought up the point that, at times, nothing seems to help.  That’s when she said something that has stayed with me. “Some days you just have to push through the pain.”

She was right.  There are times where hope is diminishing and you seem to see no end to the trial that you endure.  Logically, you know there probably will be an end either through others, a miraculous intervention or yourself making the necessary changes. But until that happens, it seems at times as if there is no way out.

But you are strong.  You were made strong.  Even when you think you can’t endure another day, there is a tenacious will buried somewhere inside of you that won’t let you give up completely.

Laughter and joy will enter your life again. It may not come for a while, but it WILL come.  I’ve said this before, but I’m saying it again. Healing comes, laughter and smiles come, joy comes again.  Until such time, hold onto the thought that by being strong enough to push through the pain, you come out a better person.

 

You

I have known you all my life hands
Though we have never met
From my first fears as a young girl
You were my fierce protector

When I faced another lonely weekend
While others kept each other warm
Your words caressed my dreams
And softened the cutting cold

When solitary sadness
Would seep into my soul
You were my comfort
My retreat and my sanctuary

And as the years passed
With broken hearts and empty hands
When tears wet my pillow
You were close by
Reminding me gently
That you are still out there…
Somewhere

My cherished one
I feel the fog of the years lifting
And I’m beginning to
See your face.
My hand is reaching out…
Take it
And let’s end this lonely journey
Together.

Trusting the Bigger Picture

young-women-in-the-window-of-the-bus-at-night-black-and-white-photoOver the course of the past few weeks, I have learned a very important lesson about trusting God and His knowledge of the bigger picture.

In April of this year, I left for England with cautious hopes.  Since it had been my dream to live and work there, I decided after several months of pros and cons lists (and what felt like a lot of prompting from the universe) that I would give it another try.  I had found a free room in exchange for some voluntary care and with few bills to pay for and freelance writing gigs popping up, I felt that I could survive quite nicely.  I also was investigating the possibility of acquiring a volunteer visa which would allow me to stay up to 2 years in England.

For approximately 3 weeks, all seemed to go along perfectly: my new flatmate and I were getting along well, my friends and I were reuniting with plans for a fun and exciting summer, and England seemed to be welcoming me with open arms.

Then everything changed dramatically. Due to having a tourist visa, I found out that I couldn’t legally live with the woman I was caring for and was told that I had 4 days to move out and find a new situation.  (I still don’t completely understand what happened there.) I sat there staring at the letter I’d received and felt the tears pouring down my face.  I laid my head on my arms and silently cried.  I had little money and I was about to become homeless.  I had a return plane ticket to Utah, but I hadn’t come to England to return so quickly!  What happened over the course of the next two weeks was a desperate journey to find a new situation with almost alarming results.

After spending almost a week with a kind church member, I found what I thought would be the ideal situation.  I would be managing a house that was rented out on a daily/weekly basis in exchange for a free room.  This house was attached to a business that was also owned by the landlord.  After he met me, this man (whom we shall call Ahmed), seemed impressed enough that he wanted to offer me some work with his company.  And that’s when the problems began.

Ahmed and I met to discuss what kind of duties my job would have.  All was going well until he asked me to join him in the conference room for a private discussion.  I figured he wanted to discuss salary, but after briefly discussing it, he launched into an hour long discussion of how his marriage was falling apart.  At first, I thought he was asking for relationship advice (which I thought was a little strange) and then he told me he was separating and would be staying in one of the rooms in the house.  It then began to dawn on me that he was making a pass.  I mentally rolled my eyes and told him I would think about the situation.

Obviously this wasn’t going to work for me, as I was not going to share living quarters with a man who was supposed to be my boss. I told him shortly thereafter that I would find my own place.  I was still without an income and little money, but thought I could afford a place for a week and then use what he paid me to find something better.  I made arrangements for a hostel that looked decent in the photos.  When I arrived with all my luggage in tow, I found something completely different.  After ascending 4 floors, I realized I was in nothing more than a drug/prostitute house.  I stood in the room with my two suitcases and knew I quickly had to find somewhere else to go.  I texted my boss and asked if I could lock my luggage in the office while I figured out what else to do.  He agreed.

After 3 bus rides, I finally dragged all my luggage into the office and collapsed on the nearest office chair.  Knowing that I was exhausted, Ahmed offered me the couch in his rental house for that night.  Grateful that I was in a “safe” place, I slept on the couch the next two nights.  By this point, I was so tired that I no longer cared about anything and told Ahmed I would take the situation of managing his house.

Ahmed then approached me and told me he didn’t feel I should stay on the couch as it was supposed to be for the use of the other guests.  So he offered me the room that he had been sleeping in and said he would go back to his other home for the time being until my new room would open up.  I agreed, but felt distinctly uncomfortable.  He said he would remove his things when he had a chance.

That night, as I lay in his bed surrounded by his things, the discomfort turned to fear.  A man who had already made a pass at me once, not only had keys to the house, but also to this bedroom.  I tried to reason with myself and shoo the feeling away, but it persisted. Then the thought popped into my head “How long before things turned worse?”

The next day at church, I suddenly felt tired and overwhelmed and couldn’t stop the tears. For the next three hours, they came off and on in a torrent.  After church, I spoke with the bishop of this new branch and told him my story.  He kindly listened, but I could see the expression on his face turn to one of concern.  He then said he felt that he needed to warn me to leave the house that day.  He spoke of another woman he had known in the same situation and she had not left when she had been warned.  It had gone badly wrong for her.

I knew he was right and sighed, knowing I would have to find another place to stay before nightfall.  As I returned home, Ahmed was waiting for me and seemed upset that I had not returned earlier (even though he wasn’t supposed to be there as it was Sunday).  He took a picture of my passport on his cell phone giving me a strange excuse for the reason and then quickly left. My mind began to jump around to different stories I’d heard and I knew the bishop was right in telling me to leave.

Unfortunately, most of my belongings were still locked in his office, but trusting my instincts and knowing I needed to leave that day, I left with little but a carry-on suitcase and a few clothes.  As I sat on the train taking me to my friend’s house, I thought about all those over the years who had to flee different situations for their safety.  I still didn’t see myself in that same category as I had nothing but a spiritual warning and gut instinct to go on, but for me that was enough.

I wrote a polite letter telling him that the living and working situation wouldn’t work for me and wished his company the best.  His response were several very angry and unreasonable texts which confirmed my suspicions that all wasn’t right with him.  I spent the next few nights with another friend and finally decided to go home.  I didn’t understand why everything had come crashing down the way it had, but I was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically.  I no longer cared why and just wanted to be safe and still.

I did question many things on the return plane flight, such as why did I feel I should go in the first place?  Was I over-reacting and being too dramatic?  But since my return home, I have come to discover that I was justified in my feelings. Through conversations with other people and answers to prayer, I believe I was spared from more than just one frightening  and dangerous situation.

Sometimes, even though it seems as if our dreams are falling to pieces, we just have to let go and trust that God knows better than we do. He sees the bigger picture and understands the end from the beginning.  Though it is still a struggle for me to trust Him sometimes, I am repeatedly shown that He does indeed know best.