september 12 . 2019

a letter to my future self

Danae, dearest Danae,

Please remember … please remember this season, unlike any other you’ve known to this point.

Please remember how anxious you were for months trying to – by yourself – find a place to live. You didn’t pray, you didn’t seek His wisdom…you worked and tarried and stressed for basically nothing.

Please remember the night you stood in response for a call for prayer, because of dizzy spells that were distracting you constantly. Remember how you sobbed and were surrounded by brothers and sisters praying one by one by one for your healing and rescue. Remember how people you barely knew offered to give you a place to live for free. Months of stress showed you nothing but that “worry cannot add a single hour to your life”.

Please remember how the dizzy spells progressed to panic. Attacks that came at work mostly, finally alerting you to the heaviness you’d been carrying for over a year – striving to perform, prove, and yes, provide for yourself. Remember that now – months later – you are learning that you are worth more than what you do, worth more than the money you make, worth more than the role you fulfill for others. Remember that you don’t think you are made for a nine-to-five job. Remember that you are resolved to wait until He leads you. He will show you where your great ache meets a great need in the world. You can trust Him. Because He is your Provider.

On that note…please remember the day you went toe-to-toe with Him.

Remember how He had been telling you for weeks to REST, and you looked Him in the face, tears streaming down and told Him you couldn’t because you had to make money. He asked you, “Who is your provider?” and you got closer and through clenched teeth aching with the pain of years of doing it alone, whispered, “I am.”

Remember how He heard that, and looking back at you with His own tears running down His beautiful weathered face, He responded just as fervently,

“No, My Love. I Am.”

Remember… you took the greatest risk of your life and decided to believe Him.

You left your job.

No plan. No back-up.

No other streams of income.


But remember all the support…all the conversations with your community. Casey…John and Amy…Amy…Jessica…the Springers…Jason and Steph…all emphatically saying: “Yes. Do this. You can trust Him.”

Remember the evening on the Kanyer’s back porch, feeling loved, covered, supported, and filled up with prophecies of a fresh, fun, beautiful season to come. Remember dinner with the Burglehaus’, stories and testimonies of God’s goodness, and their prayers for a new depth and power to your connection with Him.


Remember your last day of work. Remember the camping trip in southern Oregon, kayaking in the shadow of Mount McLoughlin and running your fingers through the water thinking about Hinds Feet…obstacles that make the falling water’s sacrifice and surrender more beautiful.

And remember the next day, crashing into exhaustion. And later meeting with a doctor…adrenal fatigue.

Remember the weeks of dizziness, weakness, really low blood pressure, painful vision. Remember only getting out of bed a couple hours a day. Remember feeling like walking ten minutes would cause you to faint. Remember the hour you spent crying and frustratingly telling Him, it’s supposed to be enough that You’re with me in this place. It’s supposed to be, but it’s not. It’s not enough. 

And as you listened for His response...“even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me.”

And you surrendered. It has to be enough. It is enough that You are with me.

Remember how after that moment, everything shifted. Because He was with you. Viscerally. Remember the dreams…spiritual dreams every night, dripping with meaning. And then visions of Jesus, every day and sometimes multiple times a day. Remember seeing Him singing songs of healing over you on your bed. Remember the physical manifestation of His presence around you constantly.

Remember hearing Him louder and clearer and more often than you ever have before. And remember how you began to improve, as He was healing you.

Remember how every. single. day. He broke through another box in your mind, kicking out another lie, tearing down another wall that separated you from the truth that makes you free. Remember your constant prayer, “I know You’ve set me free – teach me how to live it.”

Remember sobbing on Amy’s floor, snot running out of your face as He broke through yet another barrier: the doubt that you could hear Him and the need for other’s confirmation. You repented, pulled idols off their altars. Remember how you always always thought your Christian life was like walking on the edge of a cliff…one step – check and make sure it’s the right one – another step – check and make sure that’s the right one – don’t fall don’t fall don’t slip don’t mess up.

And remember what He said?

There is no cliff.

There is no freaking cliff.

Your Jesus-following life is actually a gorgeous, thriving, lush meadow. All the freedom to run and experience and laugh and delight with Him. Remember how you felt freer than you ever have in the moments after that revelation.


Please remember when you told Susan that, as you are experiencing Jesus as your husband, you really don’t care anymore if you ever marry or not.


Remember the songs that are carrying you through this season: Lean Back, Insatiable, Another in the Fire, I Won’t Let You Go, My Soul Sings, Tethered, Peace Be Still.

Remember the generosity and provision that came through homes and food offered to you…the Carters, the Antonys, the Springers, the Sprungers, the Emards, your grandparents, your mom, your sister, your brother, your dad, the Stubbs.


And remember tonight. Remember the long downhill walk through the woods, stopping at the prayer hut and saying to Him, “You only did what You saw the Father doing. So what is He doing? What should I be doing with Him?”

“Resting.”

And the uphill walk back, taking twice as long because you are still healing. Remember the sun setting over the hill…now the sky is tinged with lavender, a little rose, and gold near the tree tops. The cat licking itself after trying to walk across your laptop. The crickets’ overlapping choruses in the forest behind you. The faint creak of the porch swing you sit on.

Remember, Danae. Remember this season. Your life is changed forever because of it.

 

 

may 23 . 2019

In which I deviate from my usual prose to record how I’m doing in the season I find myself in. 

At the risk of appearing dramatic, it’s been the hardest two months I can remember in a very long time. I feel as unable to escape, or even move on from this season, as I did when my most significant (to date) relationship ended seven and a half years ago. As unable to make the anxst stop as I did when I was plagued by panic attacks. There’s nothing comforting enough to console the sobbing – inward or outward. Nothing to answer the endless and circular questions. Nothing to prove the existence of a plan of safety, of sanctuary, of rest beyond the foreseeable future which includes unsettledness and movement and change (foreseeable future being the next six months…but truly? it’s really anything after today. we are never promised anything beyond this moment, isn’t that right?).

I can’t stop crying. I cry every day, for some reason or another.

For reasons I’ll maybe unpack someday with these black and white letters, I’m moving out of my childhood home. The home on the Mountain that I love so dearly. Where for three decades, I’ve found rest and peace and the safest feeling of anywhere else I’ve been.

I’ve lived on my own before, during the Redding season, but with my current financial situation, I need to live with several different friends for the next one to two years, while I continue to pay off debt and save for the next step. The next six months are “planned”, but beyond that – who knows.

He knows.

And here is what I want to record, what I want to remember when I’m eighty-five and re-reading these little pieces as I prepare my memoir:

I’m grateful for my choice to feel the pain that just won’t go away.

I’m grateful that I can see marked change in myself and my belief about God. That He is not frustrated with my inability struggle to trust Him with this. That He is not angry with me for not declaring the truth and beating my aching heart black and blue with scripture about the good future He has planned.

He knows I’ll get there, to the spacious meadows, green pastures, still waters of abiding trust. He knows that in my deepest places, I absolutely and completely trust Him and know He will be faithful to His promises to me. He’s not afraid of my questions and my doubts and my deep sadness that no amount of dark chocolate or worship music or wise counsel can pull me out of.

He knows that when He shows me what is going on in this season by giving me a vision of Jesus – completely shrouded in darkness, and stretching out His hand towards me, inviting me to cling to Him as we head through the valley of the shadow of death – that though I literally cannot see Him for the darkness, I will feel His hand in mine, and I will hear His voice as He presses His face to my cheek and whispers right into my ear. He knows I will take His hand. He knows I love Him beyond anything or anyone else. He knows there truly is no place I’d rather be than right next to Him as He leads me through this dark and lonely place.

 


Written with a commitment to post within a few minutes of expression, very little spellchecking, and willingness to embrace the inevitable vulnerability hangover.

february 24 . 2019

Dear Danae,

You’re thirty now – 3 decades in which you’ve loved, and lost, and grown, struggled, toiled, thrived, and learned, and so much more. It’s been nothing like you’d ever thought, and it’s been better, too.

Darling, you’re going to be okay. Yes, you’re not where you thought you would be, but isn’t it lovely in it’s own way? Aren’t there ever so many things – experiences – people – songs – sunrises and sunsets – baby cheeks and giggles – God encounters – to be grateful for every hour of every day?

I’m imploring you at this tender but crucial juncture in your life: stay thankful. Stay here. Don’t run from your fear of this present not looking like the future you asked for. Don’t do something rash in order to minimize the angst and pain and confusion and uncontrollable sobbing. Keep your heart soft by continuing to attend tenderly to it. Choose to hold with one hand the disappointment, and in the other, steadfast hope. It’s possible, you know. You’ve often felt the weight of tension in opposing truths in the last two years, so you will see the familiar way again. Open your hands now, ready to grasp onto acknowledging the reality of your pain, and the belief that He will answer the prayers you’ve prayed for this long.

Darling, keep talking to Him. Keep telling Him everything. But don’t stop at the telling – let Him console you, and believe Him when He speaks the life-words that silence the lie-words. Don’t let yourself be pulled back into the arms of the wretched lover who always leaves you unsatisfied and lonely. Believe Him. Look into His faithful eyes and draw courage from them to really trust Him, that He would never lie to you, and that He is looking both at all of you, and past you, to tell you in whispers the goodness that is coming.

Did you know it’s good? It’s good, Danae. What’s coming is  g o o d. Because HE is. And since He can heal you of debilitating anxiety, and heal your relationship with your mom, and bind up your broken heart, and bring Autumn and Winter and Spring and Summer every single year, and a sunrise every morning after the long night, He has already proven that He is The Faithful One. The Only Faithful One.

Stay grateful. Stay soft. Stay open and hopeful and cling to Him more tightly.

 

 

january 26 . 2019

On Dreaming.

I want to add something to the processing I started in the last piece of writing – something I realized in the last several weeks.

It wasn’t just my pragmatism that’s kept me from dreaming all these years.

It’s also the fact that I never imagined that I would get to my age and be doing life alone.

I know I’m not  a l o n e … I obviously have a loving family and a rich community around me.

I mean, alone, as in navigating life without a husband to do it next to.

I’ll say it again.

I never, in my worst imaginations, thought I’d get to age almost-thirty and not have a person to do life…dreams…being…with.

I’ve been blocked from seeing my future because I never planned to be here in my future. 

The future *always* included two of us… two, that became one merged life…to process, to grieve, to celebrate, to encourage, to fight with and through and out the other side.

There was never supposed to be just me.

That’s why I couldn’t dream. That’s why I never had an answer for my therapist when for months she tirelessly encouraged me to look behind to get clues, and then ahead to see what they could be pointing towards. The answer only ever included marriage. And maybe grad school – after I was married and didn’t have to work to support myself through it.

This realization, or revelation, has actually brought me a lot of peace and comfort. No, there’s nothing wrong with me having an inability to dream up impossible things. I’m not behind.

I’ve just been stuck. For more than two decades.

It probably takes awhile to undo the brain chemistry that reaches the proverbial fork in the neuropathway of dreaming and always goes left – towards Hopeful-For-Marriage…

…and the path to the right is little more than over-grown, small footprints, barely discernible now.

But it’s clear to me: that if marriage is yet delayed, or potentially not in my future at all, that that trek to the right is still very much an option. And what meadows, and rich forests, and magical waterfalls could there be in that direction? What expanses of glory and wonder await the traveler, if she only has the courage to push through the brush and bring a lantern to light the way that may be a little dark, and certainly unknown?

I’m going to find out.

 

january 5 . 2019

Since I was about eight or nine years old, I have not been able to dream (imagine something huge and ‘impossible’ for my future) about anything in my life besides future relationships with boys and my wedding.

If there comes a thought that sounds like, “oohh, I wonder if…” my brain quickly shuts it down with, “nahh, that can’t work because _______.” (it’s too late to try that – you’re not cute enough for that – no one would invite you to do that – you can’t make money at that – etc.)

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