Not Invincible

The coolness of the air burns in the middle of my chest. A clarity of light moves over everything, moves through me. I see the leaves as they are—more frail than they appeared a few days ago, before the wind came and lashed the trees about and stole the heat away, before the light changed. And I see myself as I am. Part of this decaying world. I feel it every year, at this time. Summer is not invincible; I am not invincible. I ache for the words to capture the essence of something more beautiful than anything I’ve ever known, something the chill cannot wilt.

Rain is dripping from the sky. I can hear it past the window, like suds bursting. Grass that was crackling yesterday, whirring with grasshoppers, is now drinking deeply and flushing green, a final stand against the coming autumn. My chest burns. There’s nothing to be done but hold the pain there and let it move my heart closer to Home. And then turn my gaze from the silver sky, from the stillness of the trees, and write.

This Earth in Me

I once believed youth was something like a butterfly—a beautiful thing, scaling the skies. But fleeting. Ungrounded. Here one moment, gone the next. One’s gaze must eventually settle on the earth.

But now I believe youth is actually more like the earth itself.

All my memories from my earliest days of womanhood—they’re so sweet they’re painful. And I realize that to lose them would be to lose a part of me. Because they weren’t just adventures. They are my foundation. I am who I am because I walked the Camino, wandered the streets of Nahant, dreamed on the beaches of Prince Edward Island. It was in those places that I truly discovered suffering, healing, peace, joy, and ultimately love—the pieces of every human heart. I found my pieces in the sun, the sea, the sand, the wildflowers. I still wear a pendant of sea glass around my neck, reminding me that those days aren’t just memories—aren’t just fleeting. They are part of me.

This earth in me continues to grow, to bear fruit—though my marriage, my children, our home. And these, like the lupines of the island, draw butterflies to myself. They are only glimpses, nothing I can quite grasp, but as the butterflies rise to places unknown, I remember that there is more than what I’ve known and loved. I am more than who I am.

One day, when I am Home, the pieces of my heart will fuse and I will be whole.

My Children

I remember sitting on the deck at the farm. I was soon to fly away to the place where I truly became a woman. Not yet married, no home to call my own, except the one I was about to leave. My eyes were closed. I was listening to the rush of waves in the trees.

Soon after I found myself standing by the sea, eyes closed, listening to the whispering of leaves in the waves. Childhood far behind me, and yet so close.

Today, I am again sitting on the deck. Today, I am holding my baby boy, and in his breathing I hear both the leaves and the waves. The past and the future are fused in this small body—everything I dreamed he would be, and more. Yes, day by day he becomes greater than the child I hoped to hold. Like his sister.

I wrote about them, pictured myself wading through creeks with them, picking berries with them. And here they are. Blueberry eyes and honey hair. We live a different life than the one I dreamed about. Our home is not a rustic cabin. But we live by a farmer’s field. White owls ghost through our yard in the twilight and hoot by moonlight. Deer fold their legs and rest beneath our trees.

We spend hours outside together, browning in the prairie sun, dawdling in time with the small-town pace. Every now and then, we find treasure; we carry a bird nest home. There are sweet apples and tart cherries to pick. My girl skips through puddles and fills her boots with murky water. At the playground, my boy climbs up and down, up and down. He eats sand and grins. We wait for the train to come thundering by, a riot of graffiti. And when we pass through the cemetery on our way home, we always keep our eyes on the giant evergreens that brood over the gravestones—hoping to glimpse the Great Horned owl. Even if we whisper, there’s no hearing the silent beat of his wings. Better luck next time.

No, it isn’t what I dreamed. And I don’t mind at all.

The Tree and the Sequel

Dear readers,

I haven’t blogged in several months due to a few reasons, particularly one. God seemed to dry up the inspiration for shorter pieces so that I could focus hardcore on completing the sequel to The Tree. 

Even before The Tree was in print, ideas for The Blood were brewing. The story has evolved dramatically since I first began writing it. I never thought it would take this long, but I truly believe God’s timing is for the best. I can’t express how I excited I am to be so close to sharing The Blood with you. I believe the story is powerful, and I pray it will touch many lives.

While The Blood is being prepared for publication, we are taking this time to finally release an eBook for The Tree. Took us a while—but better late than never, as they say. Now is the perfect time to either read The Tree for the first time or brush up on the story before the release of The Blood.

Check it out!

The Tree and the Sequel

 

Garden Never Yet Known

This evening, the world is spellbound by fog. I can’t see the field where rose-gold light often pools in the morning and the farmer’s cattle nose mounds of hay. No colors of twilight to gild the decaying trees. Earlier, the sky spun out fat, airy snowflakes, bits of cotton floating down to soften Earth’s surface. Must have been an hour that I rocked and rocked in the wicker chair and held your sister to my chest, her eyes blinking slowly at the falling sky, even as I felt you swimming in my womb. 

Those are the moments that remind me how beautiful is this gift called motherhood. You, embraced by me as much as Rosé was, with me as much as Rosé was, even though I can’t yet see you. I think unborn life this second time is even more surreal than the first. We know the joy Rosé has brought us—immense joy—and it’s difficult to fathom how another child will gift us with yet more joy, but in a different form. What will set you apart from your sister, and how will you mirror her? What beauty will you unfold in our life through your life?

Somehow, I will again fall in love in a moment and come to know the secret pathways of a garden never yet known by anyone but God, an unrepeatable soul. I am moved to stunned silence at the responsibility your existence—and Rosé’s existence—demands of your father and me. You wouldn’t be if we hadn’t aided the Creator in His craft. We’ve set you into eternal motion. You’ll never not be. You will know God and His love—greater than any pain—because you now are. 

In a sense, I feel as if I am Mary, carrying miraculous life in my womb. How can this be?

You exist, sweet nameless one, because even before I, your mother, existed, He was. 

The Blood—And Your Help

I never thought it would take me this long to write the sequel to The Tree, but here we are.

The Blood is close to finished. I’ve done a ton of rewriting, a ton of editing, just as I did with The Tree. The time and effort I’ve put in have been so worth it. But I know the story can be still better. 

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking I need a professional editor I can rely on to help me polish up my work to be the best it can be. What’s stopped me from investigating this avenue before? Not knowing where to look—but also, quite frankly, the cost. 

Recently, however, I discovered a safe online business that’s provided me access to trustworthy editors. And then it hit me: if this is the next step God is calling me to take with my writing, I don’t need to let the cost stop me. He will open His wallet. And that’s where my readers come in.

If you think this is something you might feel called to help me with, please click on the link below, which will take you to my GoFundMe campaign. And please don’t hesitate to share this with your friends, as I greatly appreciate whatever help is given. 

God bless you!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/get-the-blood-edited-professionally

Only Inside Me

There are green places, deep places, that only I know. I’ve always wondered if I’d eventually find them and weep because I was home. I’d run barefoot through virgin grass and lay my head against trees that murmur uninterrupted by civilization’s cries. I’d share it all with my husband, with our children. We’d see and touch and smell this secret world—our world—together.

When I was eighteen, I boarded a plane for the first time and flew to Ontario. I immersed myself in the life of Madonna House for two weeks. They took me to their farm one day, a fruitful place among rugged hills. It reminded me of my dreams—as a smell will conjure memories—but it wasn’t of my heart. I was sitting among empty beehives, scraping the wax from them, sunlight warming me, when I realized I was free. Free to create my own farm. Free to meet God in a poustinia away. 

And yet the path I’m following is meandering in ways I never foresaw. Perhaps it is only the melancholy air of autumn, but like the leaves stirring in the gardens, my heart too is stirring. I wonder now if that farm, that poustinia, those green mountains and deep valleys, only exist inside me. Perhaps my heart is the only place where Christ and I will meet among sweet pines groaning upward from ancient earth, or in the meadow where time passes in the lengthening of shadows. That cabin, where my barefooted children and I sit on the porch in the dusk and watch the light swimming in the creek, is my poustinia of the heart. God alone resides there with me. 

But the desire for simplicity that birthed the mist-bound woods, the smoldering cookfire, the wild strawberries—I can live it out here and now, in this insignificant prairie town. I can walk among fallen apples with Rosé, crouch and touch the moss, look up at the sky and behold the flocks of geese leaving us. I can be still and hold her, hear her, and love the beauty and goodness before my eyes. 

And the silence I long for dwells in the deepest place I know, not high on a mountain of this earth, but in my heart. 

Rosé Posé

Small enough to be captured inside a pocket of sunlight. She’s searching for the perfect apple—or app, as she likes to call them—crouching down, chubby thighs bunching. The ground beneath our little tree is patterned with soft, rosy apples. They crush under my feet, but remain intact in Rosé’s hands. If you look closely, you’ll find many apples half-missing, half-remaining (whichever way you look at it). Tiny teeth marks in crescent moons. My baby is happiest when outside, in shoes or not, an apple in either hand, sunlight roasting the wisps on her head.

Her favorite color seems to be orange. Naturally, as she would eat all the clementines if I let her. We nestle in the hammock together and I point out all the colors of the fabric—blue, purple, green, yellow, red—but we return again and again to orange. Our hammock snuggles never last long, because as soon as Rosé hears the echo of a cow lowing, or the dogs barking in the neighbor’s yard, she’s sitting upright, eager to continue the adventure and discover more names, see more wonders. Like moss and sky and cat and flower. She helps me to see the world closer up. Right down to the smallest berry and pebble. Rosé misses nothing. 

Lately she’s begun patting the rug beside her, signing please until I come sit with her, even if it’s just to have me near and observe her play. My fledging extrovert (born of two introvert parents, ha). Not sure yet who her favorite is: me or her blankie. She takes us both everywhere. Nicholas is doing his best to break even—and you should see her head whip around when he returns from work. She’s begun singing his name throughout the day: da-dee, da-dee, da-dee. He’s winning her heart, even if she doesn’t yet know it.

Everyone says she’s the most expressive baby they’ve ever met. We once penciled in her eyebrows, which made it significantly easier to see just how much they move. No matter how early the morning may be, her grin (with all its spacious pearls) is sweeter than the first glimpse of the sun. Even in the dark, her eyes twinkle. And her sense of humor is such that even the subtlest look from me can burst her into laughter. When she howls like a wolf cub, it’s me who’s throwing my head back laughing. I have a feeling we’ll ever have dinner theatre in our home.

I gaze at my little one, so sweet and sensitive and smart, and I want another. No, not a duplicate of Rosé, but another of our own creations. Captivating blue eyes and flaxen hair and a distinct personality ever unfolding before our eyes. 

All this is to say, if you want to make the world a more beautiful place, have children. 

Letting Go

The night is close, like an embrace. Yes, my old friend, the island, rises up around me and welcomes me home. But it’s as if I never left. Nahant, roots woven deep into my heart. I walk down the sloping street, past the faces of beach houses familiar even in shadow, breathing sweet hydrangea and the salt of the sea, and I am nineteen again. I wonder if I have found The One, flutters in my stomach. I have not yet dreamed Rosé’s name. Prince Edward Island is a faraway dream obscured by the horizon’s cityscape. I glimpse black water glittering between the houses, and waves hush against sand, growing louder, fading, now rushing, drawing me closer—and then I am here. Before me, the pale shore gives way to the sea. I cry like I haven’t cried in a long time. 

Because the truth is I am not nineteen anymore. I moved on from this island to another. I did not find The One here, but there. And yet, for a few moments, here beneath the stars crowning this bewitching crescent in the Atlantic, I really am living it all again. I can smell and see and feel it. But I cannot hold on to it. Memory and reality tear my heart in two. I am bleeding. 

It is the following morning. Nahant is soaked in light, just as on that first morning when I wandered my way to the sea and inhaled the world and God flooded down into me as He never had before. I became a woman on this island. It was here that I finally, truly, came to believe that I am good and beautiful. All was extraordinary, because God showed Himself to me whenever, wherever, He could. I could not doubt His love. Today, I stand gazing at the wrinkled water with a baby perched on my hip. The future is not so unknown and thrilling as it was back then, but I resent its stillness no more than I do the sea’s. Who knows what may lie awaiting me in the deep. 

I carry Rosé into the streets I came to love five years ago. We explore together. My baby’s warmth and the sun’s fire slowly, gently, fuse the pieces of my heart back together. 

I have not often experienced pain like I did the night I returned to Nahant. I don’t cry often either. God must have broken my heart because He knew it was the only way I‘d be able to let go. Because the heart that heals is stronger than ever, and tears cleanse. 

Five years later, I am free to love this place without clinging. 

And free to more fully love my present home. I am married to a man whom I love, and mother to a daughter who has already blessed countless people with her remarkable eyes and smile, and I don’t live on an island of any sort anymore but in a little house beside a farmer’s field. And I may not feel God like I did when I was nineteen, but He is still inside me, blessing me. I am still living life abundantly. 

My heart will keep on singing. 

Pulsating Embers

An ache lives within me. It is like pulsating embers trying to catch fire. At times, my heart is searing with agony, but I am terrified to let the ache dissipate and fill my chest with nothing more than ash. 

But how could I? Once you have felt fire, you cannot forsake its heat.

I try to feed the ache, rather than douse it, despite the pain. Yes, it does grow ruddy and bright when beautiful images illumine my mind and my fingers burn to write. It flares when I pause to behold the grass that grows green with the rain and withers with the drought. Or when I look into the denim-blue eyes of my child and see only adoration. When I am lying in my husband’s arms and listening to his heartbeat. And sparks rain toward Heaven when I behold all I own and remember that one day it will be dust, as will my body.

I ache to live like the immortal that I am. 

Nothing will remain but love. I want only to breathe and write and snuggle and kiss and laugh for love. All to feed the ache, to build the fire that will one day rage and consume me. When I ignore the ache, when I dart through shadows and grasp after the cool, faltering light of fireflies, soon enough I feel the world shifting beneath my feet as if it is already dust. And then I weep, because though eternity stretches before me, I have lost time that can never be restored. 

But if I am careful, if I do not wallow and risk drowning in my misery, these tears do not dampen but rather strengthen the ache. 

Is this the very ache that enabled Joan of Arc to surrender herself to the flaming stake? Or the ache that inspired Francis to strip naked in Assisi? Or propelled Patrick to return to the island of his captivity and offer salvation to Druids?

If so, I tremble before the ache, knowing where it could take me even now, trapped within my mortality.