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You are covered & cared for.

Hey you,

Sleepy you. Not ready for Monday, wishing the rain clouds would go away, you.

When I first started blogging (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I kept up with a weekly series that I called One Word That Will Change Your Friday.

For a few months now, I’ve been thinking of resurrecting that dead one-word series. There’s something powerful about the simplicity of focusing on just one word and allowing it to be a kind of anthem, like a repetitious prayer muttered under the breath every early-morning rising.

So, here is the first word of more to come—here is your prayer, your addictive jolt of mocha energy, your surprise post-it on the desk, wishing away every trace of the Monday blues. . .

One Word That Will Change Your Monday
Covering—a layer of something that covers something else

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Like an umbrella, breaking the sprinkle of hard, cold rain against your face. That is what you need, that is what your tired soul really, really wants. A kind of refuge and rest, a shelter from the storm. A quiet from the loud sound of a smacking outpour—a torrential downpour. A force that chills and floods and drowns.

Do not be overwhelmed; be overcome. Be overthrown by the flooding mercy that is there to sweep you off your feet. The undercurrent of grace, lifting you to higher levels, hollowing you to deeper depths.

Jesus—He makes every raging element, within and around you, tremble. He is your covering; He is the something that covers something else. And that something else is you.

You are covered and you are cared for. Even on a Monday, my friend. Even on this slow and sleepy and wet Monday. Rinsed and washed, in and through, by soaking waters. All the while covered from them. Covered by Him. Covered underneath Him. Covered through Him, and through His blood. Believe that.

Happy Monday.

Holding Them Close & Letting Them Go

Hi Friends!

I wrote an article for a magazine!

The Daily Grace Co.

I just wanted to slip into your inbox and let you to know that you can [and you should!] get a copy of The Daily Grace Co.’s magazine

Be Still | Issue 9

where you can read my writing!

You can visit their shop to order—use the code BESTILL to get 20% off. Get it today—the code won’t last forever!

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Here are some thoughts that we can all consider as we strive to share the stories laid in our hearts:

You don’t write to climb ladders. You don’t write to “make it” or to be somebody big or known or even needed. You don’t fight to be heard by screaming graphics and loud words on social media.
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Instead, you sit in the quiet and in the wreckage. You greet the fear and the anger and the angst. You unclench your fists in the spiritually & financially broke places and you pray. And you sob. And you crawl to Christ and the truth of his word.
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And then, after long stretches of silence and solitude, when finally He whispers, and answers—He calls: My Daughter [or son], will you share this hope with your sister [or brother]?
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And your knees buckle like a new-born calf. And, you say “Yes.”
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You say yes, you say yes, you say yes.
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And you say yes to cleaning toilets, if it means a soul will be saved.
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You board white planes with strange faces and fly into villages of people with skin all shades of bronze, gold, and silver.
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You send the meal. You mail the card. You attend the funeral. You carry the burden. You press, you pour—you speak, you write.
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You say, “Yes, God. I will go anywhere, do anything. Speak anyway. Write anything.”
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“Yes, God. I will do it, whether eyes be on or off me.”
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In private, you pour out. In public, you pour out.
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And in all of it, you boast & brag & claim Christ.
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His good works, never ours.
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His good words, never ours.
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His good name, never, ever ours.

 

Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory, One More Light, Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda

Sang Like An Angel, Screamed Like A Demon

I remember back in high school when I wore oversized hoodies, dyed my hair black, and had Vans slip-ons with the teal cross stitching. I thought I was hardcore because I listened to Avril Lavigne and Relient K.

But I wasn’t really hardcore—just weepy and wimpy.

Until I graduated to the good stuff: Evanescence, Hoobastank, System of a Down, Staind, Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park. Then all that wimpy, weepiness evolved into a whole new kind of beast, spinning into a whirlwind of beneath-the-surface rage and sarcastic wit.

When I got my first Linkin Park CD (Hybrid Theory), I played it on repeat—played the emotions those twelve songs evoked on repeat. I’ll never forget the way those songs validated the whirlwind inside of me.

Linkin Park’s lyrics didn’t just inspire me.
They saved me.

Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory, One More Light, Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda

In May of 2017, my husband surprised me and bought tickets for us to see Linkin Park in Charlotte on August 17, 2017. It was their “One More Light World Tour” and it would be my first time seeing them.

It was a literal dream come true. And I couldn’t wait.

July 20, 2017

Chester Bennington took his life—robbed breath from the lungs with strands of suspended string.

The tour was cancelled.
And the world was devastated.

For some, it was his tattoos—the way they crept likes vines up the arms and across the chest. For others, it was his look—the way the glasses framed his face. The gauged ears. That spikey hair. Skinny bones swallowed up by pants too baggy for a belt. But, for most, it was his lyrics, his voice. It was the syncopation in the songs; the melody in the music. The way he belted and bellowed those words only to make them reverberate and ricochet against all the aching places and spaces that lay deep within a human heart.

There’s a saying that went around.

Sang like an angel, screamed like a demon.

All the pain and longing in his voice, sounding off in decibels louder than any demon’s scream, ripping through the darkest of synths and shredding guitars—it brought us all to a place of calm and quiet. Like swaying a baby to the steady hum of a lullaby, rocking it to rest.

He soothed our sorrow and insanity to sleep.

That’s why the world loved him. That’s why the fans followed.

But those songs weren’t just lyrics written to soothe a crying world to sleep. Those songs were his words, his thoughts, his pain.

And he wasn’t just singing to the world from a stage.
He was seeping his own sorrow from the seams.

And it kills, literally kills, that the light he brought to the world wasn’t bright enough to keep his own here. It wasn’t bright enough for him, and it wasn’t bright enough for my cousin.

The hardest question to ask right now is how. How and why. How and why and when. How and why and when and where? How and why and when and where and who? Because, with suicide, the answers never come and the questions never stop.

Why? Why did he do it? Why didn’t I see it coming? How is this happening? How come he didn’t reach out? How did I miss it? When? When did the idea to do it come? When did the idea to die creep back in? Where? Where was I? Where were the signs? Who? Who hurt you so much to make you want to do this? Who did you need? Was who I was to you good enough? And why? Just why?

Always why.
Forever why.

I wonder if Chester ever heard the echo of a million voices singing, screaming his songs back at him. In the quiet moments on stage, when the music died and only voices were left to bellow and whisper the endings of songs, did the lyrics ever lull him to sweet peace in the soul?

Why couldn’t his own songs save him?
Why couldn’t our singing save him?

The numb he felt. The place in his heart where he longed to belong. All the insecurity and disgust crawling under every layer of his own skin. That paranoia, the voices in the back of his head.

He wasn’t just singing to the world from a stage.
He was seeping his own sorrow from the seams.

And the signals couldn’t have been any closer than the earbuds in my own ears.

We humans, we save people from ditches on the sides of roads. We jump start electrical pulses in broken hearts and make them start beating again. We sit across the table with friends and speak words that save hundreds, and thousands.

We are always saving.
Always saving.

But, human hands can only stretch so far. And, sometimes, a heart we love so much can slip through the crack.

I think that is what hurts and haunts the most. The fact that, even when we knew, even when we tried, even when we had every song to soothe the sorrow. Sometimes we just can’t calm the cry inside.

No matter how hard we tried to keep the flame flickering on the candle, we lost its light.

Lost one more light.

And the world really does become a little less brilliant because of it.

All I can say about blood spilling from veins and lungs starved from oxygen and pills disintegrating into a million fatal fragments is that, we can’t resurrect the dead.

But we can rescue the dying.

In our living and our loving and our listening we can keep trying to speak over the screams that overshadow the sound of love.

It might not always stop everyone.
But it will save some.

I don’t know.

That hope is all I am left with.

That and, well…the empty space where the chair was once filled.

Chester, you are missed.

And, soldier, you are missed, too.