an odyssey: year 5, day 362.

the relentless furnace of reality has a way of igniting my wishful thinking, sending dreams and misplaced comfort up in smoke.

i know what I said because each moment is carved into my mind. I never tried to chisel them away because I needed the energy to survive, to exist.

i know what it’s like to be without Your presence. The cold and lonesome dark, the knife through my heart as the words “she’s gone” change my life forever.

yes I’m gone, far gone.

irretrievably lost unless You come and save me.

even though I cherished and loved all life long naturally, I was desperate to savour every interaction with anyone as if it were my last. I was desperate to see You, desperate to know there was something or someone who could help me.

always the child fearful of nothing but losing the loved ones she had, I lost my last breath when I heard you died. the thing that I feared most in life was an everyday and every night possibility that I tried desperately to see coming lest the surprise devastate me again. but for these matters, one could never be prepared.

so followed the six years of open heart surgery. so followed many surgical complications.

You had so much hope for me that I didn’t have for myself. I know Youre real, that You love me. I wouldn’t be coming back to life if it weren’t for Your skillful and loving hand.

“I’m not going anywhere,” they would tell me. And another shard of schrapnel would saw at my heart strings as I uncomfortably shifted, reminding me of the precise location it was lodged.

people to this day have always fallen into two categories. the ones that would inevitably leave over time and the ones that would leave despite our mutual passionate desire to stay with each other until the end.

death is so cruel. Jesus help me to not get swallowed by pain and fear of what has been known.

learning to live again post surgery is at times worse that the initial heart failure.

in my experience, as much as tragic things are tragic, what is intensely more difficult to swallow is the aftermath. I don’t know who that girl is in those photos from 6 years ago. she wears my face, but I dont know her. I’m dumbstruck. is it possible to be two totally different people in one lifetime?

ive struggled to remember much of anything accurately in the past six years. I remember her. I remember the summer following. almost everything apart from that is muddled together. almost. must be the anesthesia. time to rest.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/23/2017]

 

I’m There, LORD.

It doesn’t take much to wear me out and have me seeking Your face, but I’m there, LORD.

I have good days and not so good days, and I’m there, LORD.

I have days that I’m on top of the mountains and days where I’m under them, and I’m there, LORD.

I have days where I can’t think, move, talk, create fast enough, and days where I can’t do any of those things. And I’m there, LORD.

I have days where my mind is abuzz with the opportunities that are endless, and days where my head is aching with negative possibilities that seem endless. And I’m there, LORD.

I have days where I marvel and wonder with the hope and joy of a child, and there are days that I marvel and wonder at the joy and hope of a child. And I’m there, LORD.

I have days where I can’t praise Your name enough for making Your character known to me, and days where I’m crying out and wrestling to know it more. And I’m there, LORD.

There are days where Your presence couldn’t be more tangible, and there are days when it hurts despite knowing You’re just as tangible but this is necessary to go through.

Thanks for being there, LORD.

There are days when I can’t talk enough about Your grace, mercy, love, and hope, and there are days when I can’t get enough for myself, always wanting more.

Thanks for always showing up, LORD.

Despite the days I could live without or the days that aren’t long enough, thank You for making Yourself – Your very character and name – a promise that You’ll always be there, LORD.

Oh haste the day when Your children don’t just know Your character, but despite what comes their way, they can’t deny that You’ll always be true to Your name.

I want to be there, LORD.

Peace And Grace For A Mind That’s Been Through A Lot.

So I didn’t think I’d be coming down to my basement to write, but sometimes plans change and you have to prioritize. Especially when you’re getting that shoulder tap again.

Many individuals have been on my heart and mind lately, and I’ve been wondering how they’re doing and for some of them I know how they’re doing and the prospect doesn’t seem rosy. Before I start I pray that you’d be given a time of quiet and peace as you read this, because He’s good, He does respond to your prayer and petition, and He’s kind. And it’s in His kindness to show you some things and draw you out of dark places that you’ve fallen into or dug yourself into.

Before writing this post I was wondering if I would be limiting the material by going from a personal stand point, but after some thought and prayer, I’m feeling pretty confident that this won’t be the case.

In a time of things going wrong, what do you call a room that one is permitted to enter, but not permitted to leave?

 

a prison cell.

After years and years, many mistakes, many mishaps, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the grace I have for myself is NO WHERE NEAR sufficient to the grace I need. When things go wrong because I’ve made an error in judgement or things are crumbling through my hands despite much thought about all the outcomes, I cease up and lock down. It looks a lot like not caring for appearance, forgetting to eat, overindulging in eating, general apathy, overly emotional times, catastrophizing, shutting people out, or spilling my guts all over them. There’s just no sense of moderation anymore because my perception is that I’ve lost all control NOT that things are out of control around me.

So what do I do?

I lock myself in my head. Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks. I think about all the things that went wrong. Try to piece events and faces and facts and intuitions together and try to make sense of it all and see if it could’ve gone differently. And almost always, there’s some level of berating myself for either not seeing it coming or for not doing better. The overthinking was intense enough that it would keep me up for days. Or weeks.

Spoiler: I’d get no where with my thinking. The incident still had occurred and I still just felt like junk. Even if I did manage to “make sense” of things – which was rare, it was still beyond my control to do anything or to be back in control of my surroundings (and believe me, I’d thought it through from all angles).

In essence, like that riddle suggests, I’d made my mind a prison cell. It sometimes wasn’t even intentional. I love to ponder all sorts of things over and my mind’s a safe place to do that. Please, by all means thinking things through and reflecting is not a bad thing. But if life is spiralling and your first move is to charge into your think space thinking you can somehow snatch the controls back… if life is spiralling despite your best efforts, were you really in control in the first place?

Things were going wrong all around me, and I’d entered my head and over thought and rethought and marinated and – I felt like a failure. And I was ashamed it went wrong. And I was scared that if I couldn’t understand it or make sense of it, it’d happen again. And I’d have the floor fall out from under me. Again. Sometimes, I would get so sick of thinking that I’d try and throw myself into other things but would still find myself haunted by thoughts of inadequacy. It seems that the door of the “safe” place I’d slammed shut behind me was more willing to remain closed than open up again.

I’m just gonna throw it out there, but that’s not healthy or right. The fact that I’m feeling scared, ashamed, afraid of the future and reoccurrence, or sometimes straight up hopeless that I’ll get past this because I’ve seen so much “proof” in my past and current situation that “how could it be any other way”.

Just, please. Stop. The problem is not God being mean or failing us or having it out for us or not listening. It’s that we didn’t take Him with us when we charged into our think space-turned-control-room mind. And that someone else who likes to mess with you snuck in with you while you weren’t looking. Things like being fearful, ashamed, and hopeless are not things of the Father or even of you. Yes, you hold yourself to a standard and you try to do your best, but you’re called His child for a reason. Because sometimes, children make messes or they find themselves in them. Good grief, He has grace for both scenarios. So be at peace. He’s here for us.

Have you ever seen a child try to get themselves out of a mess? Exactly. It just really doesn’t work, or it gets worse.

There’s a reason that He says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It’s because we need it. Did you get blind sided? Did it not turn out the way you planned even though you were meticulous? The things you put your trust and hope in are the things you’ll fall by.

And if you put all that trust in youself and you took matters into your own hands without Him? Then you’ll fall. If you put your trust in Him, you’ll still fall but the difference is that He’ll catch you.

It’s the most basic logic that if the world is crumbling around you, then you can’t catch yourself on anything to pull yourself back up because there’s nothing to grab.

Except Him.

It’s okay to not want to talk for a time, or to not cope well for a time, but if your history feels like it’s repeating, then maybe it’s time to start calling for help through the bars. If you feel like you can’t get out of the cycle of overthink, if you can’t stop berating yourself, if you’re intimidated or afraid or evasive, those might be red flags that your trusty think space has now become your permanent residence. It’s time to start calling for help through the bars to people you trust.

The danger of staying in the cell and not calling out for help is potential rotting. What I mean by rotting is increasing despair, intesifying beratement and belittlement of yourself, perpetual and growing self doubt and fear. The right people help protect us. They say things that might at first make us uncomfortable or cut us but at the same time that thing they say should also soothe. We need people in our lives to be honestly loving and lovingly honest and say, “hey, what you did there or what happened to you is not all there is.” Even if it was wrong. Even if it was awful. In my own life and in the lives of many others I’ve been privileged to talk to I’ve found three things. They aren’t the Bible so please do use common sense and think them through. Even test them. Please. Actually, I challenge you to.

1) people who don’t talk or aren’t willing to be told they’re wrong “rot” and their stench sends away people.

2) people who dare to get vulnerable and ask for help, like a child (because that’s what we are), receive aid.

3) God has more than enough grace for both individuals and pursues them relentlessly with His wisdom, grace, and love.

Asking for help will probably be terrifying. Asking for help might be hard and be difficult to know where to start because it means prying the door to your prison open. Ironically and unfortunately, it’s hard to find a weak spot in our strongholds even though our strongholds are against us and ARE our weak spot. But if you ask Him to, He’ll give you the confidence and discernment on where to start working away, and He’ll give you the tools, instruction, and encouragement. He’s done this once or twice.

And also, please please know He loves you and that He was never your enemy and is an ever present help in times of trouble. Invite Him in and lay down your life history and circumstances at His feet. And ask Him to show up however He wants to. Just a forewarning, you may be made really uncomfortable but I promise you it is so so worth it. And really, what have you got to lose? A cell isn’t very compatible with a comfortable lifestyle anyways.

And I pray you find peace in knowing that your life will not always be the way it is today.

 

 

London, Oh London, My Heart Bleeds for You and with You.

To date, this is the most difficult blog post that I’ve ever written and felt the need to have to write. It grieves me deeply that a post like this is necessary. But it is, and so I will write.

For those who haven’t been to London, or have known London by just passing through, you’re probably familiar with all the awesome gourmet restaurants we have, Richmond strip, Western University and Fanshawe College, our infinite farmlands, and other cool things like that. But I’m here to let you know that like every other city, London has it’s issues and is in severe need of people who will actively care for those that call it home. If you go to wikipedia (yes, wikipedia, I know, I’m a university student and I’m talking about wikipedia because I know that’s where most of you will google anyways), you’ll find out that as of 2011, we have 366, 151 people here. You’ll know that London was the central hub for the military in the 20th century during the two World Wars. We’re the sixth largest city in Ontario, the eleventh largest urban area in Canada, and that were in the snow belt and get crap tons of snow (that last bit is personal experience, wikipedia: not necessary). But what wikipedia doesn’t have is stats like the fact that 16.7% of Londoners, or 61,147 are living below the low income measure. It doesn’t talk about all the store fronts that have been papered up and advertised “for lease” for the past three to four years with no bites. It doesn’t talk about how it has about 6-8 head shops on Richmond Strip alone. It doesn’t say don’t go past the bridge by the VIA and Greyhound stations that takes you to the broken side of town where you should never walk alone at night.

So how do those stats translate into real life and affect just one person who happens to be waiting outside of her best friend’s mom’s work?

It had been a tight squeeze because my best friend offered for me to come over to her place for a sleepover after our afternoon class so I could see and converse with some human beings who wanted to have me around for a change. I told her I’d meet her at her mom’s work so her dad wouldn’t have to drive all the way back to back track to pick me up. I lost track of time getting ready, made for the soonest bus, and still got there with plenty of time to spare. I was standing in the middle of the city’s biggest plaza which is always busy during the day… with people loitering and having no where to go and nothing to do because the majority of them are unemployed and homeless (do to an assortment and/or combination of things, some of which most likely have to do with the economy collapse and all the factories that have closed down and so on – see wikipedia). It’s been weighing on me the fact that I’m so useless, save to observe these people who mill about. Some are agitated, some are listless, some are paranoid and anxious, some are boisterous. Some dart this way and that after a bus, some kick the ground and check out the scuffs they left, some talk to themselves and tuck themselves away from prying eyes. And the classical music playing over the intercom doesn’t miss a beat, installed to discourage loitering, though for some it’s the only beautiful thing they’ll hear all day.

Almost every person I’m observing is wandering around with no where to go and all the time to get there. And as I’m standing there taking it all in I find myself faced with the question, Father, what can just one person like me do to help these people? I’m a student with no funds, short on time at this moment, not much at my disposal to offer up and they need more help than I can offer. London, you’re a small city, but I feel useless to you. And the man in the corner who’s tucked away by himself snaps his fingers as if to get someone’s attention and talks to himself and gives an arbitrary whistle. Just then I turned to see him, and he walked back out the front door he came in just minutes ago, leaving me to my thoughts and conundrum. I turned around to look through the glass doors behind me to see the McDonald’s customers enjoying their orders, and a little family of three (a dad and a boy and a girl) standing in the building’s entrance foyer. Just as I was glancing at the family, the little boy let out a cry as his dad took him and pulled/shoved him over to the opposite side of the entrance door to the room they were standing beside that had a “for lease” sign on it. The dad stood over him as the boy shrank against the glass with tears streaming down his face and with fear in his eyes protesting his dad, saying he hadn’t done something. His dad growled words I couldn’t make out back. The scene lasted maybe 30 seconds. Composing himself, he turned back around lifting his phone but saw me watching and realized I had seen the majority of what just happened. He quickly looked down and busied himself with something on the screen. But he knew I had seen him, and was still watching him.

Perhaps after reading that, you would like to hear what I suspected was going on. You’d like to hear what I think of that dad and the little boy who was afraid of him, or maybe you’ve already formed your own opinion. It’s tempting to say that there’s clearly more than meets the eye to this story, but in reality, all I have is what I saw. And what I saw I have said above.

So after about a minute, I composed myself and pushed open the glass door that separated me and that little family and walked up to the father. I could feel the tension rise as he felt me approach.

“Sir, what is your biggest worry in life right now? At this moment, what gives you the most stress? It doesn’t have to be specific – it can be general, but just tell me what it is if you don’t mind.”

He eyed me and then looked away. His mouth tightened as a thought popped into his mind, and his eyes darted back to mine and then away again as he said with an edge of uncertainty, “I just want to give my kids a good place to grow up.”

“Sir, do you mind if I pray for that right now?”

“Uh…. sure. Yea.”

And so I asked if I could put my hand on his shoulder, and I did. And as I prayed I broke down. After we finished praying, the tension was completely gone from his shoulder as I lifted my hand off. When I removed my hand, he went back to his phone.

“Sir, do you mind if I give you a hug?”

He said no, and so we hugged. Perceiving that I thought that a person wants to be let go after a certain amount of time, I loosened my hold, but he kept his.

“Thank you. I seriously needed that today.” And he let me go.

And I walked away because my best friend had just arrived to take me to her mom’s office.

I don’t know what that man’s story is. I don’t know if his boy did anything that needed disciplining, I don’t know if the father was abusive. I don’t know their financial circumstances, I don’t know if he was telling me the truth. I don’t know any of their history. I don’t even know their names.

I do know, that being a parent is super stressful and sacrificial from observing parents. If they’re economically troubled as I suspect they might be, I could not imagine the amount of stress that heaps on to an even more stressful task. One day, God willing and in the right context, I hope to be a parent myself. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs this side of heaven has to offer, so I’m told. I do know, that I had a little bit of time and not a whole lot of money. I do know that I, by myself, can’t build Rome in a day. I know that the places God puts me and with which people are not a coincidence. I know that every one is broken in their own way, that we need each other, and we need the love only a Father can give – everyone including fathers. I know that broken things require mending.

I know I can be opinionated. And that our society believes that if you feel strongly about something you’re opinionated about or feel offended by someone who disagrees with you, then dammit your opinion should be something that everyone else agrees with and dare not challenge… but, that’s not true or sound.

Regardless of if that was abuse or discipline – a piece of info that would have been a conclusion of my inferring things into what I saw – that man was still broken, which means he needed mending.

And not by me. Humans are infinitely complex (very much like their Creator who created them in His image.) By grace and love. Things that I can very imperfectly offer a portion of. And I can only offer it because I have known love and grace and It has known me and doesn’t shy away at the shameful things I’ve done when I myself have put others in line with my crosshairs in the past. I struggle with my own conundrums and vices, same as that man does, deferring only in specifics as to what with.

Trust me when I say that it’s worth it to ask,

Father, how can I serve London today?

Hold On to Hope. // The Thing About Time.

“Any fool can survive a crisis. It’s the day to day living that wears you out. ” – Anton Checkov

This quote has always stuck in my head, but I’m really starting to feel it this year. For the past half of a year, nothing really substantial has occurred that is apart from the daily.

But this is one of those few times that I’ve struggled so hard to not be resentful of my present circumstance. Constantly biting at the bit, this dreamer is ravenous for adventure and to be anywhere but locked up in a room alone with stacks of homework to do but instead staring blankly at a wall or computer screen. I’m craving forests, mountains, the outdoors. I’m longing for loved ones, quality conversation and time.

And I could feel tension slowly grating away on my sanity.

 

Time. I once used to think of myself as a patient person. When I was going through this desert of a time, I knew that the trial would end eventually. I knew that I should take heart, for each season ends and brings to life a new one.

“My God, why? Why can’t we skip all these extraordinarily dull days so I can actually be out accomplishing things? I think I understand where you’re trying to take me (very, very vaguely) but why take so much time?”

Time.

Finally, a break. And I come to hear, like a small whisper in the wind, a voice say to my heart, “Life will move along regardless of you.” And then peace. If you’re reading this and going through “a time”, I really need you to listen. There are two things.

This time you’re going through will end, and bring forth a new time.

There is nothing you can do to make this time end any faster or slower.

And here I pull in a verse that people use all the time. Seriously all the time. They could have a shop full of merchandise with this verse plastered all over their stuff because that’s how much it gets used. I digress.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Look carefully. Who knows the plans for your life? The LORD. So, now a question for you. Do you see your name in that verse beside the Lord? Does it say that you and the Lord know the Lord’s plans for you? Nope.

If God know the plans He has for you, and He is sovereign, does that mean that you have to be on the in for it to be a good plan or to bring about executing that plan by the best possible way necessary? No.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

God holds the reins. There arises issues and conflict when we get control-hungry and try to take those reins away. We start to veer everywhere but “on course” it seems. This is either really good news or really bad. Really bad if it makes you overthink, “Well Delynn, I’m trying to do my best and do what God wills in this moment so He can do the most with me, but I just feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be.” To which I have to say (and God please help me because I so desperately need to remind myself of this), “You are never in a place where God doesn’t need you to be in or can’t use you.” (Creds to my Love for this quote).

Time. It moves faster or slower for no man. There are no exceptions. We don’t have the full picture and sometimes are really prone to believe that God doesn’t know where the heck He’s driving. Please, He’s the best driver there is and He has the most comprehensive view than every man that has lived, is living, and will live combined. The only thing that makes for crazy driving is your rebellion of the action plan He’s trying to carry out.. And despite the maneuvers He’s doing or the actions you take that weren’t according to plan, He has the incredible knack for bringing the good out of any and every situation. How? Because He knows how all the roads and paths work out – He made them after all.

It would be like asking a total random stranger who has never been to a location before to workout an elaborate route through networks of roads and hi ways and byways they’ve never seen before in their lives. Are you going to ask the guy who made the roads and their systems to drive, or are you, the total stranger to such path ways going to try to make the best of it? Did I mention that your life is the cost if you don’t get to the end destination? But the guy who made the roads happens to love you more than you can fathom and has offered to drive for you. Don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to take up His offer.

If you feel like your life is one move away from a 5 car pile up or that you’re already in the scrap yard, He has the ability to make even the most unquestionable of lost causes newer and better than the original form they came in.

“There is a time for everything, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

This season will end. Hold on to the hope that is yours in Christ with unrelenting hands, because this world will try everything to try and steal it from you and make all your days insignificant. They aren’t, so don’t fall for the lie that they are.