Days of Peace… And of Sounders

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.

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I remember Dawn and my mom looking out over the sound,  sharing thoughts I couldn’t hear and perhaps they don’t even recall.

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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.

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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.

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And I remember being happy.

And I remember being peaceful.

And I remember my heart;

It was light.

 

 

 

 

october twenty-ninth: a saturday

We indulged in large sums of nothingness today. 

Chase made me tea and then drove to Starbucks and bought us both coffee. All with an attitude that it was very normal to spend Saturday morning bringing various hot beverages to your wife. 

We sat on the couch and laughed as the dog tried to speak to us. 

It was rainy outside, and once our coffee was finished we hibernated in separate rooms. He played video games and I watched youtube videos. Somehow dinnertime arrived. I cooked slowly, with as many ingredients I could find that would harmonize. When it was ready, we ate without much conversation; our mouths were too full of fried rice. 

Afterwards he rubbed my shoulders and we joked back and forth, one sentence hopping on top of the other, about all our minds had absorbed that day as we sat cuddled up in blankets.

Then he walked away, and I stayed where I was, and the day faded out as peacefully as it had begun. 

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this body

Our bodies are always, in some way, a representation of our stories and our experiences, and as summer dawned and the heat coaxed my winter clothes back into the closet, I could not hide from my own weary body anymore. Denying the hatred of self that tempted me at every turn, I chose to explore all my body could experience and find gratitude in each touch.

Gratitude: A Thought Project

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When I look at this photo, I can feel it.

I feel the warm sun on my skin. I feel my puppy, who often looks and acts like a small bear cub, pressed up against me. His fur fluffs between my fingers; his soft belly rises and falls with each breath as he playfully squirms and makes muffled grunts and growls in my ear. I feel my thighs, touching where they did not before. I feel my waist, expanding farther in my waistband than it did the previous summer.

I have heard many women express gratitude for their aging bodies because their changes represent their accomplishments. Stretch marks from the children they have borne. Extra rolls of skin and fat brought on by bearing and caring for their little ones. Wrinkles from all they have felt and expressed. Freckles from laughter in the sun. Sore joints from years of diligent work.

It is this same recognition of what shapes our external selves that brought on such distaste for my own changes.

Mine was a body that had recently been shaped by despair. Muscles weakened by the days I could not find a reason to get out of bed. Extra pounds gained from the weeks that I only had strength for one activity per day. If I remembered to eat, it was whatever could be obtained the quickest. My face, which I had become certain would show the cheerful squint of crow’s feet in the coming seasons of my life, was now fleshed out without a laugh line in sight. For long draughts my insides did not stir enough for happiness to reach my face.

A new set of people entered my life, and for reasons I may never understand their actions suggested they would have prefered to have never met me. They painted some horrid unfamiliar image and labeled it with my name. I stood bewildered. It seemed the harder I tried to connect with them, the tighter they clung to this image and the harsher they scolded me for it. I was met too often with cold glances. Repetitive rejection. Whispers of gossip that followed me in the streets and confronted me in places I did not expect from people I hardly knew. But heaviest of all was that daunting knowledge that each sin of those who had targeted me would be placed on my own head. I was the subject of blame for their every turmoil. Each hurt feeling or elaborated offense. Even when I paid no notice of them, and mustered the strength to go about cheerfully with my life, there was always that impending text or that next conversation, where our lives would again be interrupted so my husband could be informed of the depravity of the wife he had chosen. Things as simple as shopping, grabbing coffee with a friend, attending or not attending a party, were marked as bitterness I did not posses, vengeance I had no desire for or pettiness I did not wish to serve but was thrown on me nonetheless. There was nowhere I could go to be free.

On several occasions I found myself consoled to the point of tears when any random acquaintance would do something as simple as taking an extra moment to ask me about my day or invite me to an event. I remember hastily brushing away the joy. Since the cold bite of judgement is what had harmed me in the first place, I was afraid to be vulnerable enough to let anyone see how deeply their warmth affected me. My soul had been bullied for too long. It had slowly been beaten into one aching bruise.

I had never been warned that loving someone could provoke such persistent punishment. Maybe someday I will ask my children that, when they have chosen someone to pledge their devotion.

“Do you love them enough to stand by them even when they make decisions that are unpopular?”

“Do you love them enough to be blamed for choices that were not your own?”

“Do you love them enough to be hated?”

I hope they will be like their mother, in that, when their time is right, they will say yes and mean it.

And I hope, for their sake, that they will not be like their mother, in that the hatred cast on them will not cause them to wither.

Because for me, the hatred was too heavy. Whoever I had known myself to be before seemed to have disappeared. I could not find her. I was some tired husk of myself.

When I would mention my physical changes: clothes fitting differently, simple exercises no longer being achievable, etc. my family would insist I did not look that different at all. And in a sense they were right. A little extra fat here. A little less muscle there. That was all that could be identified externally. But to me, those small changes were unmistakable because they were the result of belittlement, discouragement and a newfound hopelessness.

Our bodies are always, in some way, a representation of our stories and our experiences, and as summer dawned and the heat coaxed my winter clothes back into the closet, I could not hide from my own weary body anymore. Denying the hatred of self that tempted me at every turn, I chose to explore all my body could experience and find gratitude in each touch.

Slowly, I gained courage.

I am grateful for this body. Its transformation, which to me was once a sign of my weakness, is now an indicator of my persistence.

It is a body that still feels the cold rush of water across its surface with each dive into the cold waters of my home state.

It is a body that rows canoes and balances on paddle boards and wrestles with the little bear cub in my arms when he has too much energy to play on his own.

It is the body that hugs my friends and hikes through forests. That walks with head held high down mainstreet even when I have been told all too many times that I ought to be ashamed.

It is the body that makes my husband feel at home. The body that holds in it the hope of every future touch and sensation this life will bring.

It is a body that is weaker than it was one year ago, but houses a soul that is so much stronger.

 

Eye to Eye

me1Even in the most joyous of times, the world can drain a soul. Confusion breeds confusion and I question my mind into tangles. With quiet intention, I scan my life, looking to each set of eyes, hoping for answers.

In the first I see only darkness. Faint circles hang beneath eyes that would be lovely were they not so hollow. They sit in a face of skin that has grown gray and gaunt wanting flesh to soften the harsh lines of cynicism. She is bitter. She is cold. I try to make sense of her words but she speaks only perversion so there is no sense to be made of it. Any comfort I try to offer is promptly rejected, so we sit in silence. I stare longer than I should as her brokenness brings me down. Finally she goes away. Still stung by her envy, I search for another pair of eyes.

With great determination, I move along.

The next eyes are blue, bright yet sad. They are hopeful but they are weary. Tiny pupils filled with fear wishing to be brave. Cheeks rosy, lashes long. A face much prettier than its owner knows. There are moments bright and beautiful
before her, smiles so shining and new, but to her they are
tainted by the clinging past and daunting future.
me1 - Version 2Loved ones gather around her table warmed by a meal she prepares, but she misses the joy in their laughter as she questions if she got the spices just right. I tell her the food is perfection; she tells me I am wrong. Her dearest calls her lovely but she does not hear him as she wonders what everyone in the room thinks of her. Another flicker of fear lights her eyes and I do not want to look anymore.

I welcome the next eyes for they are familiar and kind. Gray like the skies they were raised under and the sea they grew up beside. He talks while the rest of us listen, smoke in the air by a tree I used to climb. Wisdom walks boldly from a soul that has seen much more than mine. Still, he always speaks plainly, eyes growing humbler with the passing of time. For every betrayal, I see no bitterness. Both pupil and iris are steadfast and grateful, fully loving of life. For every hurt I’ve had, he’s hurt more and every sin I’ve forgiven, he’s forgiven double. When asked how he loves the hateful when they hurt without having the right, he says, “Hurt people hurt people, so be understanding and always be kind.”

My grace may wear thin to the hurtful, but I’ll heal in a matter of time, for as I watch him loving the hateful, he builds up the grace in my eyes.


To My Something Blue

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…

b2There is a girl with blue hair, blue eyes and a sometimes-blue soul who has always dreamed of living in a house with a blue door.

She loves her mother, her friends and songs for sopranos.

She hates harsh words, loneliness and April 24th.

Tomorrow is April 24th, and I couldn’t help but want to make it a little bit better for her.

So I will tell you why this girl is lovely. Why the world is better off with her in it. I’ll do that with a little story from not so long ago.

For a few years now, I’ve noticed strange things happen when a wedding is on the horizon. There is joy and happiness, squeals and winks and presents and hugs. There is also sometimes bitter-sweet talk, sadness and worst of all jealousy. Single friends sad to be losing another single friend to impending matrimony. Single ladies in particular feeling a prick of jealousy that their turn has not yet arrived. Sometimes even spite thrown from family members as one person or another clings bitterly to the past, disheartened to watch one of their own leave and cleave. There can be an ache brought on by the conflict of, “I’m happy for you but sad for me.”

The unfortunate truth is, when two people find true love (yes, twue wuv), some build that love up and others poke and prod at it for their own gain. This is the human condition.

In planning for my own wedding, it has been made clear to me that there is nothing new under the sun. Some rejoice in selflessness. Others, the opposite.

In light of all this, I must admit I was nervous to talk about my relationship to my lovely Something Blue. Her and I have been single together, not-so-single together, and burnt and bruised together. Things always seemed to line up so we could relate in real time, and we were always there to encourage one another in hope and strength.

Now picture February. I am newly engaged. My dear friend, the little Something Blue, is talking to me from across the state about the hurt in her heart over boys and loss and loneliness and all the things life tends to throw at us. As I comfort my friend, I fear that it will add to her sting that I now have what she someday wants.

bbBut then she says this, “I know this sounds weird since it’s your wedding, not mine, but it makes everything so much better that you’re getting married. I’m just so happy for you, that it makes me feel less sad.”

I don’t recall exactly how I thanked her then, but this is how I’m thanking her now:


Dear little Something Blue,

That. Is love.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” (1 Corinthians 13:4,5) Love is powerful to a degree that is humbling. 

I am humbled that there are souls who are so loving that merely the happiness of another would ease their pain.

You, little Blue, have a better grasp on love than so many of those who claim to know it so well.

b4It is sad that you are often treated with less than the kindness you show others, but do not let the darkness of the world overtake you.

For my wedding day, I am told I should have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. You are the best something blue I could ask for.

Please sing for us. Celebrate with us. Join in every bit of joy and thanksgiving because it is meant to be shared.

And remember every day that all of us are so blessed that you are here. Blessed that you still sing, and laugh, and love. Blessed that you can smile and hug your sweet mother and make breakfast with your family on April 24th.

There are those of us who see you for who you really are and love you immeasurably for it. I hope that someday, you see what we see.

Until then, I will never stop praying that you do.

See you in June.

Sincerely,

Kira

bandme2 bandme

 

P.S.
You can still be my something blue even when your hair goes back to brown.
😉


On Meeting my Future Husband

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On Sunday, October 26, I was mildly uncomfortable at the sight of the man who will soon be my husband. We were separated by a crowd of church-goers milling about in the Student Union Building. He had asked me out the week prior and our first date was in a couple of days. Although we had known of each other for years, I had only had a couple of brief conversations with him. From a ways off I could surmise a few things. He was hairy. So hairy. And tall. His face looked stern and his eyes were so large and dark it was, at least at that exact second, intimidating.

I insisted to myself that it was no big deal if he was interesting or boring, tall or short, hairy or bald. After all we were just grabbing coffee. I was confidant that I could spend an hour of my time with just about anyone on the planet. This boy would be no exception. But then I had the shocking realization that sometimes coffee dates lead to more coffee dates… which can lead to “dating” which can lead to having a boyfriend which can lead to having a husband?!

“Oh-no!…” I thought as I dared glance again at the sullen looking stranger.

A tightness grew in my chest that tends to grip me just before it becomes difficult to breath. I wanted to cry. What a dreadful realization to think you’ll have to marry someone who is nothing more to you than an acquaintance with very thick eyebrows!

Then I realized this was completely ridiculous. Obviously. So the feeling faded as quickly as it came.

“Perfect,” my mind nodded in response to its own voice of reason, “I will have a nice conversation with a nice boy and won’t even have to think about marrying anyone for a very long time. Just coffee…. I like that. Just coffee.”

Suddenly, I felt completely at ease.

I’m glad that who I was in that moment had no idea she would be engaged by February. I’m even more glad that who I am now knows that getting engaged to that big-eyed hairy man is the best earthly decision I’ve ever made.

However, if I had found out amid my pre-panic-attack that I would marry him, here’s what present me would have told October me:

20150318-115344.jpgFirst off, we both know those unreasonably large brown eyes are awesome. Don’t even pretend you don’t like them.

And yeah, he’s hairy, but you’ll learn to love that big mop on his head. Even after he finally cuts it off, you wouldn’t mind if he grew it back all over again.

It’s actually a good thing that he seems to be the size of a tree to you. That means you can climb him like a koala bear at any given moment. It’s pretty fun and he won’t even think you’re strange.

Don’t be tricked into thinking he’s all that serious. He’s actually a goof. He will laugh with you about anything from silly and sweet to blatantly crass. Which reminds me, he’s not a legalistic bore and thinks all the things you used to get scolded for are cute. You know… “naughty” words, tight skirts, passionate outbursts. They’re his favorite when it comes to you.

Don’t think he’s stern. He has the warmest heart of anyone you’ve ever met. When you are selfish and unreasonable, he will be patient and kind. When you are rigid towards him, he will be soft towards you. More often than not, he’ll be the one teaching you how to be more sensitive.

20150318-164316.jpgTurns out, you were right the first time you met him when you were sixteen. Remember? You thought he was cute. You noticed his kind heart. You liked that he was nerdy. You hoped, almost expected, that someday, a ways down the road, you’d marry him. Even when you dutifully brushed the thought aside, it didn’t frighten you. It felt like your own little secret, knowing that the two of you would be perfect together.

Right now, you’re too frightened by life to notice, but that’s okay. It’s his little secret now and he knows it better than you ever did. He’ll patiently adore you until you figure it out:

The two of you will be perfect together.