On our last day up north, we packed the van tight and settled in for the nine hours south. And my man knew we would meet D.C. traffic right at rush hour. He also knows me well. So he pulled off the road anyway and handed me my lens. Told me to be careful, told me to hurry.
He said, "go do what makes you you."
Because the trek into new places feels safer among a crowd. Other voices cushion the quiet; other bodies temper the nerves.
And at the foot of the falls I found myself alone and silent. The waterfall was deafening and I was fine. I was afraid. I wanted to hurry away. I wanted to stay.
And I heard His roar but I saw His beauty. I felt my own heartbeat.
And when the call of God and the pulse of your own blood meet up in one place- well that's how you know.
I was made for this place.
Because it's how we all started ... the heartbeat of the Maker in our ears, us wrapped safe in a place all our own. So is it really any wonder that we would feel right at home ... and a little afraid too.
Following Him into that space when He calls.
That was last year and just a few weeks ago we made our annual trek again. This time my boy ran down into woods as fast as his feet would carry him. He navigated rocks and crags in his little gray Crocs and we were certain we would sew up a chin by day's end.
But his squeals echoed what we all know when we stumble into the Maker.
This is where I belong.
And when He is nearby, even unfamiliar land isn't so strange and so how do you deny someone running headlong into God. Me, I've been wrapped up in fear too long- not wanting to run. Saying sorry too often for "doing what makes me me."
But last weekend, I spent three days at Allume. I drove north again for the second time this month. This time I went alone. I was afraid.
When I cried, called myself an impostor, my husband looked right into my eyes, said it plain through the iPhone.
"You belong. You are loved. Go be who you are."
And walking into a crowd of women (or four hundred) can feel like running right into the woods. Finding a friendly face ... an empty seat at a table ... can be downright terrifying.
Following His invitation into the unknown can be both inspiring and just scary enough to hide out forever.
Believe me, I tried. (And really, it was this girl who saved the day. Fiercely courageous and for whatever reason, knocking on my door.)
Because my hotel room was just cozy and quiet enough to lounge unnoticed for seventy-two hours.
Only this: I had run off to follow an invitation. A call into an adventure that makes my heart beat loud. I had driven all that way to meet up with word women. Women who love words-
women who love the Word.
Women who have heard an invitation too, to be who they are by putting pens to paper and fingers to keys. Women who meet up with God in the writing down, where they whisper like me:
Ooh, I know this place.
I wanted to hide away. But they had come too. Hearts pounding, inspired, and perhaps a bit afraid like me.
And it's ironic really- how I ran away to learn how to do.
But I came home knowing who to be.
Because this writing life isn't really so much about the words, but about the girl jotting them down.
And it's not so much about who critiques them ... but why she bothers to write them at all.
At a conference, literally, filled with virtual connections- I found out about community and fear and courage. Reconciliation and understanding and how words can break down barriers and unify His people. For our sake. And for the sake of the church. And sure, the converse is true, but why wouldn't we, the Word lovers, use them for good.
I discovered that writing heals and authentic words matter; that the words make no difference if they haven't first been lived, wrestled; that words never take precedence over people- how Jesus was all about relationship and proximity. How we are called to live well in the here and now, with the people He's given us. Right in front of us. And how maybe, just maybe, we might gain a credible voice to share with the more.
And it was dearest Ann who said it soft and straight: the only way to write well is to go lower all the time, writing on lives in the quiet. And if we spend our days seeking word applause, people applause, well ... Heaven's applause may be silent.
I discovered that every time we put words out into the open, we invite others in. We add to our fold and how this tending is no small thing. We are changed in the reaching out ... they are changed as they enter in.
I discovered how to be content- how my small and nervous words may really be big and courageous enough. How we don't decide our venue or our audience. We merely run ahead through the fear. Answer a call.
And my, how we get to watch Him work.
Last month on our drive north, with the family altogether, we missed the leaves changing color. It wasn't quite time.
But today the leaves are changing. And so am I.
I'm home and I'm sure of it, this call to authentic words. I was there and afraid but now? I'm ready to find a space, right here in the quiet, with all of the words and all of the women who have been grounded by them.
Because of Him.
Grateful for the invitation. Grateful for women who heard the roar and followed the whisper. This time, the all-alone was worthwhile.
Sometimes it's in the all-alone that He calls loudest.
Sometimes it's in the all-alone that we discover our part matters. So can you hear Him ...
He's calling you too.
"Come on now, girl. Come do what makes you you. Come and be who you are."
For the glory of His name. And for the benefit of us all.