Finding Beauty in the Frost: a poem

Glittering threads,
frozen spider webs
The fine details of life 
are made evident on a snow-fallen day.

A once invisible breath
escaping from lips
becomes a cloud of warmth
puffing away. 

The moon herself
never shines so bright,
like a sunlit night,
than when she hangs full atop a winter’s land.

The glory of sun rays
may be hidden beneath blankets of gray,
whilst the heat lingers as memory
and the frost nips your hands.

And yet
if you are still enough to listen,
rising early enough to witness
morning rise upon the snow,
you will hear
with your ears
and see
with your eyes
a kitten’s gliding paws
leaving behind
life’s gentle trail.
If you are a watchman for detail, 
you will find
beauty in the frost 
amidst the coldest seasons of time.

Because only in the winter are branches truly seen;
and when all is shaken
what is hidden will remain.

Beauty in the Frost by L.S.



Finding Beauty in the Frost was written during this holiday season as I accompany several friends walking through deep valleys. My role as a prayer warrior has been taken completely serious because I know only God can deliver them, us, out of these troubles. My faith stands fast in Christ, in His love and His power; even amidst the apparent waiting for results after praying out the bold prayers. I know God is moving, even when we can not see the work with our physical eyes. But can we? If we look closely? I’m learning to believe that the work needing to be done is, in fact, already finished. It was finished on the cross when, “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” What Jesus accomplished is a finished work for us all. This knowledge, the knowledge of Christ, is a hidden treasure; one tucked beneath the folds of our hearts. A treasure brightly shining within us fragile jars. When the darkness of our circumstances threatens to crush us will we choose to pull open the lid and allow the light to pierce the veil? Somewhere, buried within the heart of a daughter or son of the Living God, is a cry of faith that can not be shaken.
Hear it rising.
Feel it rumble.
Let it roar.


Reference: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NKJV & Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV

The Redeemed Tragedy of the Cellist

From side to side she sweeps her bow across the strings. Eyes closed, lips pressed, shoulders hunched forward, and body pulled with the vibrant tug of the melody. She is gripped by the music. Lost, and yet utterly found. This is her place. Here in this creative space, pouring into her cello words that could never be spoken and emotions that language can’t express. The conductor silently swings his baton in precise angular movements, directing the orchestra to surround her song. Together the symphony builds and builds into a beautiful crescendo as the remaining strings take over. Leaning back in a moment of reprieve, she grips her bow and rests it against her right leg. She gulps down the air with steadied, deep breaths as she waits for the moment the entire concerto was written upon. Her moment. The climax, her solo, at the beginning of the final movement. So much history is here in this exact solo for her, so much pain, but there is no time to dwell. She pushes it all behind her and commands her entire being to focus on each individual breath while waiting, listening to the rest of the orchestra build a tower of notes meant for her to jump from. She waits. Suddenly with one sharp swing, the conductor waves his baton and she explodes into motions. Gently holding her bow like a feather as she violently brushes it across her cello, a sound so furious, yet captivating bursts into the atmosphere. Her fingers move fiercely up and down the fingerboard in a dance only she could perform. She has never been more free, never been more vulnerable than here in this place of pouring her whole heart into her cello. So beautiful, so lovely. She becomes the music. The orchestra jumps in and together they create a vigorous symphony movement that captures the entire room. Everyone is touched as she moves as one with her cello. And then so abruptly, you’d thought you had imagined it, her beautiful performance cuts off as strings rip off her bow. The conductor calmly silences the orchestra with a wave of his hands. She professionally addresses the audience with grace, explaining that she will quickly go change the broken strings on her bow and return to finish the movement. With a small bow she smiles and turns to head to the back stage.

Did that truly just happen?
The crowd instantly murmurs.

An announcer speaks over the intercom assuring the room that the orchestra will continue the final movement shortly. Whispers coat the air and the sound of instrumentalists resting their instruments pierce the silence. Everyone waits for her, the star of the show, the star that failed during her most crucial performance. And as if this wasn’t enough, the announcer informs everyone that this is the second time she has broken the strings during this exact same movement in this exact same concerto.

How could this be? Failing so drastically, t w i c e ?

Could she have watered down her performance more so that the strings on her bow stayed intact? Put less emotion in her music to save herself from making the same mistake twice? Was this even a mistake of her own doing, or was it merely a product of bad circumstances lining up like rocks for her to stumble over? So many questions flooded her brain as she swiftly walked behind the stage to her dressing room where she began to efficiently restore the strings on her bow. Eyes followed her exit like darts aimed at a target. Putting all of her internal questions aside, she moved, falling at ease into a routine she knew well. Replacing the strings was one of the first lessons she had learned.

It was part of the art.
A part of the process in continuing to move forward; a process of building and pausing, running and resting.

How challenging it is to reveal this process publicly. Failing for all to see. Especially amidst such a prestigious, black and white crowd with no room for grey areas.

The first time this happened to her she could hardly bear the humiliation. There in the heat of the symphony’s final movement, her passionate creative expression came to a halt as strings ripped from her bow. The failure sucked the breath from her lungs. She knocked over her music stand as she quickly arose to change the strings, clumsily tripping over the hem of her dress while running back stage. She refused the offers of help from back stage employees turning pitying glances her way. That time, she cried silently as she replaced the strings aggressively. Scraping tears away she returned to finish the concerto all mind and no heart. Pouring out of her heart simply wasn’t worth the risk anymore.

After the concert, she remained in her chair bewildered as her coworkers patted her on the back before exiting the room. She wept every night after that for weeks as she practiced the same movement over and over again until the callouses on her hands cracked. Even so she relentlessly pushed herself further still. One thought pounded through her veins.

She must redeem herself.

Make the wrong, right. This continued on an empty stage with just her and her cello every night at a local music hall for months. She practiced and practiced until one night, she pushed herself so hard that finally, she broke. Her fingers bled, and a cry ripped out of her heart. The failure of her performance weighed down on her more than ever before. Caught up in her self-torment the cello slid to the floor with a crash. Throughout her school years and her adult career, she spent the mass of her life striving to be the best cellist, the perfect performer. She sacrificed everything to be the perfect musician that she was today. And she succeeded. She became, one of the most talented, prestigious musicians of her time.

A rose among thorns.

But as she progressed fear of failure also grew along with her as a subtle thorn wrapping itself around her stem, slowly choking the life from her. In this practice session after her cello crashed down, she too allowed herself to slide from her chair and crumble like a cloth onto the ground. It was there in her desperation that another sound penetrated the rattle from all the arrows she threw at herself inside her mind.

A loving whisper, one of mercy and grace.

A voice from the One who gave it all so that she could have room to grow with Him again. He comforted her with His love, and clothed her with His grace. “My grace is sufficient for you.“, He said to her. It was enough, enough of a shock to revive her heart back into motion. Enough of truth to clear out the thorns and give her space to grow. Jesus can handle her failures, she need not fear them. If she allows herself to share in the sufferings of Christ, she will also attain the full resurrection with Him. She must press on. Not to attain perfection on earth, but to attain that which comes from a grace-filled life walking in the righteousness found only in Jesus. Becoming like Him. This awareness that, because of Jesus she was in right standing with God, stripped her from all forms of fear which had once gripped the wellspring of life within her. She wasn’t made to fail, but she had to give herself the freedom to do so if it meant she could grow.

And so, the show went on. This second time around she kept that revolutionary encounter on the center stage of her mind while she restored her bow and eloquently rushed back to the music hall’s center stage. The whispers were hushed but the stares continued. She could not care less. She was confident of one thing. Her right standing with God, and that was enough. Quickly tuning her cello, she nodded to the conductor and he motioned for the rest of the orchestra to begin a few measures prior to where they stopped before. Despite the large audience waiting with dismay before her and the eager orchestra surrounding her, she allowed herself to drift to that secret place once again. Suddenly she was back on that small dimly lit stage sitting upon a worn wooden chair with just her and her cello, only this time she knew Someone else knelt beside her as well. Awaiting the cue from the conductor, she gently hovered her bow near the strings of the cello and felt the pleasure from the One kneeling beside her brush away that nervous sweat that had been beading upon her brow. He wasn’t bothered by her mistakes. He loved to watch her passionately pour her all into this life with a heart abandoned, ever after Him alone. And so her moment came anew. Whether she failed a third time or a thousand, she would keep pressing on because she loved every bit of playing and wanted to let her music shine. To let her process shine the light of a gracious Savior. She closed her eyes and exhaled a breath she didn’t realize she was holding as music exploded once more from her hands. Release. A distant understanding lit like a match in her mind as she killed the vigorous final movement of the concerto so fearfully and wonderfully. She let go of everything in that moment, and yet so skillfully she played nonetheless. It was her many tries and fails that allowed her to do this very thing, to naturally overflow anointing from a place of letting go. Like an evergreen spruce tree she could remain bearing fruit and fragrance amidst the coldest of winters so long as her roots abided in Him. Living out of this secret space filled with grace to merely be and grow with her Beloved.

 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-14 NIV

Cling

The words escape my mind as steam from a hot shower evaporates on a cold winter’s day. Eloquent descriptions of what I view in my day to day appear in my thoughts like a blinking cursor waiting to be moved onward, a pen itching in my hand to be scratched upon paper, and yet the mere thought of acting upon the notion feels so weighty. One second I’m encouraging myself to journal the passing moment’s events, and the next I am resting nose deep within pages of a book. The presence of unwritten words hastily fleeting, yet the ghost of their absence lingering on my skin like a cold sweat. More. Do More.

Even merely describing this inner struggle feels so taxing. Maybe I’ve moved into a new season. Maybe writing has become a different extremity on my body; no longer legs holding me up, but fingers processing the touch and feel of what’s in front of me. Painting has become my release, my brain’s jigsaw puzzle of putting together the pieces of my life-my inhale with Jesus. I don’t know fine artistic technique. I can name historically famous painters on one hand. My artisan knowledge is minimal and maybe that is exactly why I can relax as beauty explodes from my finger tips. I can sit in silence and enjoy the hum of quiet whilst my own naivety births ingenuity.  There are no voices in my head criticizing my every brush stroke, because I know nothing except what I am doing in that moment. Pure innocence, purely child-like, pure faith if you think about it. Untainted by insecurity because there is no degree of comparison. There is no need to be the best, no pressure to get my viewers to love what they see, or even to relate- just pure product of self. Purity. It’s not always beautiful. I often hate what I see and, to my own dismay, I will paint over it or throw it out. But even that doesn’t discourage my creativity, because there is more paper, more canvas, and more paint. I can try again. Though many bumper stickers state it, that isn’t something we often believe. In contrast, we feel like we have this one chance to make it big or one moment to get it right. Failure or rejection in the face of that perfection ruins us. We have an exceeding amount of judgement for ourselves-and others- and yet very little grace. We’re drowning whilst delusional in thinking we are climbing our ladders to the American Dream. Stepping on the faces of those scrambling up with us, money clenched within our fists while elbowing anyone that gets in our way. Upward we climb for success. Success. Success. Success. Outwardly moving forward as a people, all the while inwardly shriveling up like a moth flying too close to a flame. It is a brutal, destructive way of living. If you can even call it life. What does Jesus call life?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6 NIV

Jesus is the ladder up to the success we’re after which is, relationship with the Father. Jesus is the abundant life we seek. He’s the beginning and the end. The answer to our questions. The answer to our problems. And He wants to do life with us. He wants more than a one hour prayer time slot with us. He wants us to walk with Him, to let Him walk with us. This is more than being a robot programmed to obey God, it’s more than a possession of spirit, this is relationship. The closer to God I get the more aware of my own humanity I become, the more evident it is that relationship is truly what it is all about. Jesus came to give us access to the Father. That is what the goal of salvation is. Relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ is the abundant life, the blessed life we’re after. From that river we can spring outward to reach a parched humanity.

Abba is our deep breath. Abba is our rest. In Deuteronomy 30, God tells us that He gives us a choice every day: life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is ours.

therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV

I always believed that naivety was a downfall. Now I’m not so sure. There are many scriptures to support that Godly wisdom is a good thing-something to be desired more than the finest gold. I’m not countering that. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Where can we obtain it?Not found in books or speeches, no, this wisdom is found in the purity of an embrace. There is purity in not knowing who, what, when, where, why, or how. There is purity in the mystery; purity in contentment. There is purity in clinging to God and allowing His gentle yoke to teach you His ways.

Do you have children? If so, then like me, you have seen a new facet to the word ‘cling’. Both my son and daughter cling to me many times a day. However, my favorite moments are when they come to me with arms opened wide, I sweep them up into my arms, and they go fully limp against my chest as they cling to me in a warm embrace. This is what the Father desires from us. To run to Him with outstretched arms, to release a sigh as we rest our head upon His chest, listening to His heart beat while He holds us in His arms. This is vulnerable. It takes courage to let it all go in a shuttering exhale and find something new in the rest.  Still it is here, this warm embrace with Him, where life resides. It is here that I find myself, in His arms; with no expectations, only love. That love is what moves my hand in carefree strokes across a canvas. It’s what drives me to type these words despite my desire to read the next chapter in my book. You see, I must tell you about the love of the Father. The love that brings life from death. The love that moves mountains, and heals diseases. This love is more; therefore, we do not have to be. Hear His whisper to you now..

Stop your striving, child, just be.

 Enjoy the milk and honey found in His arms as He walks you through life. His goodness will move you to be like Him. Cling to the Father and breathe.