We all need to be seen.
We bring great healing to the world
When we choose to see others
We bring great healing to the world
When we choose to see others
We all need to be seen.
You were born into your mother’s arms, loved by her from the moment she knew of your existence. Your father was standing beside her, watching your first breaths. All the pain of their own lives behind them and with them and before them, learning from it all so you could stand on their shoulders and grasp something better than what was handed to them. They would teach you the Gospel. They would teach you of love and show you love. They would talk about grace and when you were too young to understand it, they would show grace to those you loved and those you did not. You would be tempted. So many times you would be tempted towards all that brings pain and darkness and rot, but the Lord would walk beside you, guiding you each time towards what is good and true and beautiful. It wasn’t perfect. You stumbled, you sinned, you scraped your knees, but you never knew what it was to walk as a dead man, distant from all hope, and aching with a selfish and devouring rage.
Before there was water in the oceans or birds in the air, the God that hung the stars knew your name. He wrote a story of redemption that would begin before you entered the world, so many hardened hearts made soft that would one day show you warmth and mercy. So many would give of themselves for you. God himself would give of himself for you. God himself died for you. He chose each hair on your head. Each inch of your skin. He chose the day of your birth and the day of your death and carried you through every love and loss in between. You did nothing to earn it. Nothing to deserve it. Screeching and squirming into the world naked and confused like the rest of us. And yet the one who crafted the land and sea and skies poured compassion over you from the very beginning. And in the end, you returned home to Him. You rested in a Love that was somehow even greater than that immeasurable love shown to you on the day of your birth. Your mother bled for you, cried for you, gave so many years, days, hours, fleeting minutes made up of so many slow daunting seconds all for you, and though you were never wise enough to understand the depth of it, it shaped you so that you could love and walk and give in a way that was so much bigger than yourself. And, even still, her love was weak and broken compared to the Love that would welcome you in the end.
All of it was cosmic, pain and beauty, fury and grace, woven and spoken by a supernatural force with a name and a heart and a joy to be shared and multiplied.
But you never got addicted to drugs or committed any crimes or cursed His name. How uninteresting. And your parents read you bedtime stories and told you about Jesus. How trite. And you prayed from the time you were young until the time you were old. How anticlimactic.
Yes, it was so filled with wonder and compassion. A story divinely orchestrated. But make sure to warn people that it’s rather boring, if they ever ask how you were saved.
I was so old a year ago. I am much younger now.
How do I describe it? How do I put into words this season that rolls so slowly it’s almost still, and yet, so rapidly I’m frightened I might miss it? How do I describe this peace? It comes with dinner in the evening and laughing with my husband over a game of cards until my abs hurt. And how my abs hurt. Stretched from growing life and running and lifting for as long as I still can, then bending over for hours at a time so my face can get that much closer to the page in front of me so as to savor every syllable. And then all of me is stretched again. What is the word for all that?
How do you tell a story about a honeymoon that takes place two whole years after a wedding, and 1500 miles away? Nowhere fancy. Just a two-bedroom apartment, with a dog who uses the living room as his playground. How do I explain being so excited to meet our child, but never wanting these days of just the two of us, and a dog, to end? Or wanting to hold him in my arms but never wanting to know a day when I no longer feel him within my center?
I was so old a year ago. I am much younger now.
There’s peace in the trees that I watch in the mornings. It looks like sunlight through the leaves. And joy. I don’t have to remind myself it’s there, deep beneath the surface. No, it pours out like rich wine. A heartbeat, so much faster than mine but still in rhythm with the same music. How do I describe that? Kicks and flutters. Knowing so thoroughly someone I’ve never seen?
And then that freedom. How do I describe that state of being when you no longer have to fight to simply be? When you’ve washed off every dirty scrape and aching bruise, first with a cold blast, and then with warm water silky like lavender. And then you love fuller and wider. You see clearer. You live. You grow.
What is the word for all of that?
You’re allowed to talk about it.
You’re allowed to say what happened.
You’re allowed to write it down.
Those who have harmed you in the past may try to harm you again,
But they cannot change the truth.
And though they may hate it,
Though they may hate you,
Truth is truth and you are allowed to speak it.
I began sharing my truth in whispers, behind closed doors, afraid that someway somehow he would hear me and call me a liar and make me pay. And then when I had told the truth about him, I would whisper with fear about the next poison, and then the next, until I grew tired of whispering and needed to shout.
The most valuable lesson I was taught is that I was allowed to just say it. I was even allowed to shout it. And thank God, I was allowed to write it down.
“I feel it,
in my being,
that if you use your art,
if you write, and I mean truly write
boldly and unapologetically,
you will greatly impact this world and those around you for the better.”
On the last day I saw her before moving far away
This week, while full of blessings, has been a difficult one. Very difficult in fact. And while I intend to take the time to write about it someday, I will not today. Not only do I lack the perspective to do it any sort of justice, I also know that my soul needs something different today. Today is not a day for continuing in the negativity and the hardship. Today is a day to breath, listen to the rain on my windowsill and meditate on days of peace.
For years, I have been one of God’s children, adopted as His own. While I can tell stories of turning points and epiphanies, seasons of doubt and seasons when my faith matured, I cannot tell you the day I was adopted. I don’t know exactly when it happened. I just know that it did. I know that, through no wit or righteousness of my own, God chose me wholly and completely by His grace. I know that His Spirit has been tucked away in the depths of my heart through even my darkest days: Days when I saw death and sickness and abuse. Days when memories of those things came in dark haunting flashes. Days that seemed hopeless, when I knew in my mind that I am young but felt in my soul that I was old and withered.
God never left me during these times. He comforted me by His Spirit and blessed me with loving friends and family to pick up the pieces when I could not. It is after years of His faithfulness in my heart that I can confidently say that there is never a day where some measure of hope cannot be found at the roots of my soul. But that does not mean that every day is cheerful. It does not mean that every day is peaceful. Anyone who knows me well knows that I put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of sorrow and allowing others (and myself) the freedom to grieve. And in knowing grief, in having the courage to look it in the eye and the softness to allow it to be felt, we can also recognize its absence with clarity and gratitude.
I call those days of grief’s absence, days of peace. Even amidst grief there can be peace, but there are some days when peace does not have that competition. Days when somehow, in a world where the air itself can feel heavy, peace manages to take over both inside and out. I was reminded of all this as I opened my laptop this morning and saw pictures that had been posted on February 20th in years past.
The first photo was from one year ago. It is a picture I took of my husband at the memorial service of our close friend. It is a beautiful picture and it was a beautiful day, but it was a difficult day. It was a day in which we were heavy-hearted and we had to look within to find the peace God had stored inside.
The next picture was from three years ago. It is of my mother and her dear friend smiling with their whole faces, squished as tightly as possible beside me and my own dear friend. We were in Seattle at a Sounders game. It was sunny, so beautifully sunny in Seattle of all places. Each person in our group had only two intentions, enjoy the day and love those around us. The peace between all of us was so strong, that any competition it may have had was stomped out before I even noticed it was there.
If you love beyond yourself, and make a point of seeking others who do the same, there will always be days of peace ahead. Days when you do not have to defend your heart against cruelty or work to remind yourself that there is still hope in sadness. There will be days when you do not have to struggle in your soul. And when you are tired, the memory of these days will warm you until you’ve conquered the valley and can rest once again.
Today, gazing at the fresh rain which ripples across the edges of our mostly frozen pond, I remember bright green and blue. I remember my dad’s characteristically subdued but unmistakably bright excitement as we bustled about in the morning to get ready for the game. I remember Rob’s curiosity towards Kendyl’s and my sparkly eyeshadow and the way we laughed when he asked to watch how we put it on. I remembered we laughed even more freely when his face flashed from annoyed to amused upon realizing that I was taking pictures of him, not selfies.
I remember warm scarves and marching and chanting and cheering.
I remember Dawn and my mom looking out over the sound, sharing thoughts I couldn’t hear and perhaps they don’t even recall.
I remember my mother somehow looked even prettier with the Sounders logo on her face and she was delighted, as she always is, by the sunshine.
And I remember Kendyl’s crows feet as she smiled, lovely little lines on a face that can never seem to help but be lit up with joy. Kendyl and I met on the first day of first grade, and to this day I’ve never met another child who smiles so often and so fully that they’ve earned their laugh lines by age seven.
And I remember being happy.
And I remember being peaceful.
And I remember my heart;
It was light.
I am no longer striving for my own passions and fulfillment. I am searching for ways I can give and ways I can love. I have learned that true fulfillment flows from there.
This has been my “Simply Kira” blog for years. It started as a place for art and photography and overtime shifted more into a place for my own written thoughts- still often coupled with my artwork.
I could carry on in the same fashion but here’s the thing: so much has changed.
I have a new name. A new husband. (the only one I’ve ever had, lest you be confused…) A new home state.
Perhaps the biggest difference if I’m no longer an “I.”
I really am a “we.”
The way I write, the way I take photos, the things I invest my time in, are all reflections of that. It’s not just that I got married, although that is part of it. Through constant refinement, my focus has shifted. My perspective has altered drastically on how to perceive my own life.
I am no longer striving for my own passions and fulfillment.
I am searching for ways I can give and ways I can love. I have learned that true fulfillment flows from there.
All of this was mostly to say: I felt I had outgrown my blog, and so I changed it.
Most of the old posts will remain. I am grateful for them. I’m grateful for who I was when I wrote them. The time I was able to spend on them. The joy and sadness and grief and imagination I was able to share through them. I’m grateful for all of it.
But the blog itself has shifted. The title is different. The format is different. And the content will be different. How could it not be? I have a whole new setting to write about!
So welcome to Where We Will Grow, a title I stole from my own post about leaving our hometown, and an idea prompted by my dear friend Abby, who was eager to read updates about our lives in Minnesota. I’m excited to share stories, however small, about the road ahead.
for my husband
1. (top left) Winter. Chase loves winter. He loves coats and scarves and gloves and snow. Mostly snow. This photo was taken over Christmas break. The students were gone so we had the streets and shops of downtown practically to ourselves. Most of our walks started like this, on our wrap around porch in the cold.
2. (top center)This is the chapel near the house I stayed at while volunteering at a prison over spring break. Chase is not in this photo. That’s part of why it’s perfect for this. He’s not in this photo because he stayed home working full-time while I went on an adventure. He’s always encouraging me to pursue my passions and calling even when that means sacrificing money or comfort or time together.
3. (top right) One of my favorite Seattle trips. This is us making out in a random parking garage downtown. Because we like to kiss anywhere anytime.
4. (center) Taken at a family wedding. We got the time mixed up and missed the ceremony. Then I got ridiculously ill that night when we got home. But the time in-between, exploring behind the barns and laughing by the fields, that part was excellent.
5. (bottom left) Our first home together! ❤ The leaves on the trees were lush and green. The sun was bright through the tall floor-to-ceiling windows. We were so so excited and so blissfully ignorant of how much trust and patience God would require of us in that tiny apartment.
6. (bottom center) A candid photo. July 4th, 2015. Our first holiday together. It was perhaps the most perfect holiday I’ve ever had. We wandered through the small trails behind the park then met up with a few close friends for fireworks. Life is rarely blissful, but that day truly was.
7. (bottom right) Driving home with our new puppy, Oliver. He is the strangest fluffiest cutest little dog. We stayed with Chase’s grandparents the night we picked him up in Boise, then he snuggled in my lap for the long ride home. It’s odd. Ollie symbolizes our future in a way. We got him as a sort of graduation present for Chase (the money he received from friends and relatives added up to exactly one labradoodle) and so he was the shift into our next step in the world. Now as we look at jobs for Chase and schools for me, he’s always playing at our feet reminding us he’ll be tagging along for every turn, marking the change of seasons with his ever-growing limbs and expanding fur.