The Grove – Write

Today at The Grove, we have a very special someone writing for us.  If you’ve been around The Grove much, then you already know her.  From our very first week, Kristi Magi has continually gifted us with her words.  She’s a way with words quite unlike anyone I’ve ever known.  And I want you to know her, to know the person behind the poetry.

So I’ve invited her here today to share with us and to launch all of us into sharing our thoughts, words and art on the prompt “write.”  Because, I’m telling you, something happens when this woman writes…  –Danielle Wheeler

******

Write.  I’ve always written.  Write a blog post.  I’ve never written one.  Write for myself.  Familiar territory.  Write for others.  The unknown. Write about myself.  I’d rather eat stinky doufu and congealed duck blood. Yet I have been asked to share my story, to let you know “where this poetry is flowing from.”   Do you see my dilemma?  Yet, somehow, for some reason, I believe God wants me to share a very personal piece of my life with you. This story is not complete, so I don’t know where to begin or end.  But I do know this story is about the Father’s work of restoration and redemption, so I want all glory to go to Him.  I also know it’s bigger than me, so I want to draw you into it.  Thus I write.

November 2010

An almost tangible darkness closed in around me as I sat in the dim light of a desk lamp in a small city in northwest China. I was weeping uncontrollably wanting the pain, loneliness, and confusion to stop. Trying to make some sense of this spiritual darkness that enveloped me, I picked up my pen and put it to paper.  Since junior high writing, especially poetry had been a way to sort things out – to process what was going on inside me.  Not this time.  Words splattered onto the page like blood from an open wound.  Nothing was coherent or comforting.  Instead the words were a reflection of what was going on inside of my head.  Emotions, intellect, and Truth ran together.  The internal storm had made these three parts of me bleed and run together as if rain were falling on a water color painting.  Nothing made sense.  I couldn’t write my way through this darkness.  I didn’t write another poem for almost 15 months.

A Return to the Familiar

After only one semester, I returned to the States hoping that I would see the dawn.  Instead the darkness became even more oppressive.  Pennsylvania had been my home for my entire life, but it was not the place of refuge or the source of answers for which I had hoped.   It was there among the familiar that Mercy’s wrecking ball leveled my life.   My dreams were shattered.  My identity dismantled.  I was lost and at a loss.  I spent the next year painfully sifting through the rubble of what had been my life learning that I was never meant to build my life alone and that I was not expected to rebuild it alone either.  Instead I was to lean hard on my Maker and Re-maker, The Architect, The Builder, the Lover of my Soul.

February 2012, I again put pen to paper. The words came one drop at a time. It was just a trickle at first.  But over the next few days, weeks, and months words began to pour out. The trickle became a gushing stream.  God was speaking, and I began to understand. Finally, I could do more than groan in response.  The processing process had begun.  What God had poured into me over the past year began to pour out.

Beijing:   August 2012- June 2013

I never thought this would happen. I thought I had been disqualified, but I was back in China.  The only thing I was sure about was God wanted me here. Everything else was a series of question marks.  Where would He lead?  Would I be able (willing) to follow?  Would I feel as alone in a city of more than 20 million as I did in a small city in western China?  Would I be able to teach?  Could I open myself up again to people that I didn’t know?  Could I learn to negotiate a large Chinese city when I had so little experience negotiating any large cities anywhere?  Sadly, the biggest question I had was whether or not God in His goodness would be with me in the things to which His sovereignty brought me.

Over the course of the year God answered my questions through His Word, songs, things I read, conversations, small group studies, sermons, and prayer.  The Truth He gave became a part of me, and I offered it back to Him in poems that were born not only of sweat and tears, but also of contented sighs and smiles. God, in His goodness and by His sovereignty, was rebuilding my life on the sure foundation of Truth.   Through the gift of writing the Father continues His work of recovery, reconstruction, restoration, and redemption. As I write Truth is contrasted with lies and the past with the present as I reach for the hope of a future.

The following was written in late May of 2013 as I ended my first “successful” year in China.

Tower

The Tower of Me

I took the tools that You gave me

The gifts fashioned by Your hands

And I used them to build a tower

A tower for myself for my glory

Sixteen and a half years of teaching

Fifteen years of coaching

Life experiences and deep relationships

Used as bricks and mortar

As I built a tower to Heaven

Choices made to earn my way

Trying to buy my crown

With wood, hay, and stubble

Because of grace and by Your mercy

You tore down the Tower of Me

There were warning tremors

And subtle shakings

Ignored in my desire to achieve

But You would not allow pride

To blind Your beloved’s eyes

Because of love, not one stone

Was left upon another

That life came crumbling down

Only then did You become my Refuge

My Strong Tower and Sure Defense

My heart desired You above all else

I sat in the ruins

And You came to me, stooping low

You lifted me up to Your side

Higher than the Tower of Me

Could have ever reached

******

Have you had dreams shattered, identity dismantled?  How is the Father rebuilding in you?  

It’s your turn to share with us at The Grove on the prompt “Write.”

Here’s how:

  •  If you don’t have a blog, share with us in the comments.  We have the amazing ability to post images in our comments!  So post images of your art and/or share your words there.
  • If you have a blog, write or make art based on the prompt.
  • Be sure to add the Velvet Ashes link (https://velvetashes.com/the-grove-letter-to-self) to your blog post.  Feel free to use the button code from our side bar.
  • Please select the permalink from your post (so not your blog’s url,www.daniellenotyetthere.blogspot.com but your post url:http://www.daniellenotyetthere.blogspot.com/2013/11/todays-day.html)
  • Use the blue linky tool below to enter your link.
  • It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
  • Then your post will show up in The Grove’s linky.
  • Then be sure to go visit other’s sites and share some comment love!  It’s the rule.  We applaud brave hearts!

 

Word Art by Karen Huber
Photo Credit: etharooni via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

39 Comments

  1. Amy S February 6, 2014

    Hi Kristi,  Thank you for sharing the spiritual journey you have been on and for being brave to share your poetry. It is a wonderful gift that you have. I SO identify with your story of being broken down and remade, and by His grace.
     

    I want to follow your example and be brave to share this poem. It’s for all my sisters out there on airplanes, boats, trains – going and going, with hearts crammed full of wonder, doubt and faith all at the same time.
     
    We Go

     
    In turbulence and stormy seas,
    with babies clutched
    upon my knees,
    I find myself
    out of control.
     

    I’m small too
    and afraid of the height
    from which we could
    all fall tonight.

     
    It’s hard to explain
    why I got on this plane
    with little ones in tow.
    I should know
    why we go.
    and go.
     

    Then it dips and bumps
    and my coffee jumps,
    my heart stands still
    while prayers race
    and I keep a calm face,
    for them.
     

    We fly into nothing
    and the questions hum
    with engine thrum,
    “Why the sky
    and farther still?
    For whom?
    And for Who’s will?”
     

    Answers elusive
    as the clouds we skim
    visible, yet hard to catch.
    We go.
    But often, we don’t know
    why,
    or for how long,
    or what will change.
    or be lost on the way.
    Or found
    or born again.
     

    We bend and break
    on this strange highway.
    Through mountain mist
    and swirling sea,
    emerging into a reality
    where roads go deep
    into human souls,
    and we flounder
    in the man-made roles
    for which we
    first departed.
     

    Circling around
    back where we started.
     

    Marked now
    by seasons and tides,
    the countless rides
    on nowhere trains
    into unknown plains,
    where doubt was fed
    until faith revived-
    two fish and some bread
    finally multiplied.
     

    Oh the places we go
    and go
    to find that we
    are not alone
    when gas runs out
    and boats get tossed about.
    When computers crash
    and children bleed
    and the givers are
    the ones who need.

     
    So we receive, deep
    in the hull
    of this unsteady anxiety,
    the still, small voice
    as a remedy
    to break the fall
    or the faltering heart.
    This hard-won truth for
    the sleepless night:
     

    He’s making everything right.

    1. Cecily February 7, 2014

      Thanks, Amy S., for your poem.  There is one part that is especially meaningful to me:  “we flounder
      in the man-made roles for which we first departed.”  Thank you for putting into words what is my exact experience!

      Surely I have found myself floundering, caught between a rock and a hard place.  I came to the overseas field to do one thing, but after some unwise decisions, some unfair treatment, and many things beyond my understanding, I am on the overseas field six years later not doing at all what I originally came to do.  But daily I pursue the Lord with all of my heart to follow Him.  And does His Word not say that a man plans his way but the Lord directs His steps?

      I want to find rest in this, that He truly is directing my steps, even though the journey has not been at all what I imagined.  No wonder the floundering!  But I find hope here:

      “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a) NIV2011

       

       

      1. Amy S February 8, 2014

        Cecily, Thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me to get feedback since I rarely have a chance to share my poetry.  I’m glad that line resonated with you. As someone who helps with orientation, I often find myself warning people not to get too attached to the job they thought they came to do. The problem is that when we aren’t able to do what we thought we came to do, we feel like failures somehow, and worry that everyone will be disappointed in us, including God. For me, the last line of the poem is the reminder that there are many things wrong in the world, and wrong things have happened to us but that in God’s sovereignty, he is using all of it to make something right, something much bigger than what we can see or understand. And that includes my own bent and broken soul that has been exposed through all these trials. I’m so glad that you have kept going long enough that you can testify to the hope and the strength found in God’s promises!

    2. Kristi February 7, 2014

      Oh so achingly beautiful! Although not a mom, I have often looked at the complete confidence with which my sister’s children run to their parents in times of do it and fear. When I read the line “I’m small too and afraid of the height from which we could all fall tonight” the image of your Heavenly Farher holding you on His lap while you hold your child on yours comes to mind.  Thank you so much for such a comforting image!

      1. Amy S February 8, 2014

        Kristi, thanks for revealing that aspect of the poem. We are being held tenderly. Believing that makes a big difference!

    3. Carolyn February 7, 2014

      Thank you for sharing, Amy S!  What a beautiful poem… I loved living through it with you (we’ve lived much of it ourselves!) as I read down the page… You captured so well the challenges and wonders of this live we are called to live.  My favorite lines were “the countless rides / on nowhere trains / into unknown plains, / where doubt was fed / until faith revived- / two fish and some bread / finally multiplied. 

      And also “When computers crash / and children bleed / and the givers are / the ones who need.”

      So true!

       

      1. Amy S February 8, 2014

        It does seem that we need to get on those trains to the unknown, be taunted with doubt while we clutch our meager fare and wait for a miracle. And while waiting there, thinking we are the givers,  the ones bringing the “good news,” we find out just how needy we ourselves are.  This was a shock to me in my first term on the field.

  2. Joy B. February 6, 2014

    Your images are painfully beautiful, Kristi. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story. It is true, something happens when you share your words. God is GLORIFIED! Reading your story brings a surge of hope to my heart. Rejoicing with you at beauty from ashes.

    1. Kristi February 7, 2014

      Thankful for a God who can bring beauty out of ashes, life out of death, and glory from brokenness!

  3. Amy Young February 6, 2014

    This week writing has played an integral role for me, my family, and dear ones around the world — as many of you know, my father was taken to the hospital a bit over a week ago, checked into hospice three days ago, and died yesterday (I linked his picture above and the hospice notice above in the link-up). Writing almost daily updates to my friends and those who cared about him has helped to record this surreal journey, allowed me to keep many in the loop, and process what I experienced. It also was a way I could serve my family by using my gifts to free them up. I am also EXTREMELY grateful for the written words of love and encouragement, as they have reminded me I am not alone 🙂

    1. Carolyn February 7, 2014

      Ohhhhhh…. Amy.

       

      I.  am.  so.  sorry.

       

      Know that you are loved, and prayed for…

       

      Grieving with you…

    2. Cecily February 7, 2014

      Dear Amy Young,

      I have no idea what it is like to lose a father, but I can imagine the big hole that you feel in your heart.  I remember how it felt when I lost my little brother, how I felt that great big hole.  And so I offer you this poem which I wrote following his death in 2000.   May the Lord comfort you with His great care in these days.

      DEAR STUART

      Teardrops fall around me,

      That’s how you make me feel,

      I can’t understand what’s happening,

      There’s no way this can be real.

      The world keeps going on and on,

      No way to see inside,

      The pain I feel with thoughts of you,

      Because you’ve left my side.

      But one thing brings me comfort,

      One thing I know is true,

      You’re in a better place right now,

      Where all things are made brand new.

      You’ve joined the cloud of witnesses,

      The ones who cheer me on.

      I’ll see you soon, dear Stuart,

      When my life on earth is done.

       

      1. Kristi February 7, 2014

        Thank you, Cecily, for sharing this piece of your heart in order to encourage Amy.  I am sure it will encourage others also.

    3. Kristi February 7, 2014

      Amy, your words, what you say and what you write, have helped so many process their experiences and experience freedom.  I pray that God will use what you write and what others write to help you process and be encouraged as this journey continues.

    4. Amy S February 8, 2014

      Hi Amy, I’ve been following your blog and your beautiful writing for a while now. I appreciate your insight and encouragement for new workers as you share what you’ve learned. I also appreciate getting a little window into the love you have for your Dad and the way you and your family cared for him in these past few weeks. I hurt with you for losing him but as someone who wishes for that kind of father-daughter relationship, I also rejoice that you had a loving and close relationship with your Dad. Praying for you, my sister. May the peace of God dwell in your heart.

  4. Cecily February 7, 2014

    Kristy, thank you for sharing your story.  Many elements of it are my story, too.  We are all so much alike.  But how much of this “alikeness” we keep inside because we think that we are the only ones “like this” and we are so ashamed of who we are.  But then when someone dares to share, we find out that we are so much alike, and we are relieved!  Because, when I read your story (which is much like mine), I know that you are normal and okay and not strange or shamed.  Now if I could just offer myself that same knowledge, that I too am normal and okay, not strange or needing to be ashamed…

    1. Carolyn February 7, 2014

      Yes!!  We are all normal.  And our stories have so many similarities.  What a relief it is to hear that and to say it to one another!

    2. Kristi February 7, 2014

      The One who created you gives you the words to say/pray that will help you receive the truth and put down that lie that you are “strange.”

      Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 

      You are the daughter of the King.  Lift your eyes from what you think you lack and look into His face to see all that you have and are in Him!

      Thank you for bringing this to my mind.  You have been used by God to encourage my as well.

  5. Morielle February 7, 2014

    Your poem brought me to tears. I have been torn down in love as well, so many times, it seems. I too write poetry to sort things out, just for me. And I analyze poetry too, sometimes at the same time. I am so thankful for the poetic gifts of the writers of Scripture, and for yours by which I am encouraged week after week!

    1. Kristi February 7, 2014

      The tearing down, now matter how painful, is somehow worth the building up, isn’t?  Thank for your encouragement.  To God be the glory for what He is building in, through, and with both of our lives!

  6. Jennifer February 7, 2014

    Challenged in what I wrote earlier in the week about journaling having at times been where I could sometimes write most clearly, and hear God speak to me most clearly. A safe place to write, only occasionally shared more widely. I got out my last journal (from 18 months ago) and reread some of it. I recognize that some of it both speaks to me just as strongly today and represents what God has taught me in very many other ways in all the challenges of the last 18 months.  I did not realize just how clearly he had spoken to me before the most challenging part of the journey began. This is three of them from that time (June 2012). I am still learning their lesson, one step at a time.

     

    The Touch of the Master’s Hand.

    It is only the touch of the Master’s hand that brings the richest music out of the violin. In the same way it is only the touch of God’s hand that brings the richest music from our lives. We are unable to play ourselves. We do not truly know what our potential is. What he can do in and through us until we have known the touch of the Master’s hand. We must surrender, truly surrender, not halfhearted, but all of us, each and every cell, mind and body and Spirit into the Master’s hand and allow him to make us and mold us into the instruments he wants us to be, that he can play on us, work through us, the best that he has to give.

     

     One Thing at a Time.

    Deal with one thing at a time and be prepared to simply take your time. Do not rush it. Do not try to walk any faster than He is walking. Simply walk with Him step-by-step, moment-by-moment, in the direction he is leading you. Take your time, one thing at a time. Do it in Him – in His strength alone. Do not try to be “strong” enough to do it alone. Do not try to be “wise” enough to do it alone. You are neither strong enough nor wise enough – but you do not have to be. God is both strong enough and wise enough to work in and through you, all that needs to be done.

     

    Think on These Things.

    Choose what you let into your mind wisely. Choose what you think about wisely. Do not allow thoughts to grow and develop in your mind that are not of me. Let your thoughts instead be my thoughts. “Think on these things”. My thoughts, not your thoughts, not the world’s thoughts, not anyone else’s thoughts. Just my thoughts alone.

     

    1. Carolyn February 7, 2014

      Thank you so much for sharing with us these intimate glimpses into your relationship with the Holy Spirit, Jennifer… The one that spoke most strongly to me was the middle one “One Thing At A Time”… such a good reminder for me in this season of my life!

    2. Kristi February 7, 2014

      Jennifer, that you so much for sharing your heart and the work God is doing in it with us.  I, too, am learning the importance of walking “moment by moment” and not to “walk faster than He is walking.”  What you have written encourages my heart.

    3. Amy S February 8, 2014

      Jennifer, these are such beautiful examples of listening to God’s voice. I especially love “Think on these things.” I was just in a conversation with someone who wanted to know what keeps people from “crashing and burning.” My best answer was learn to distinguish God’s voice from all the others. Know Him by spending time with Him until you love His words and His truth more than anything else. Then you will do what’s right for yourself and your family even when other voices and opinions may tell you it’s not good or not enough or not what’s expected.  Keep journaling! That is some good stuff. =)

    4. Cecily February 8, 2014

      Hi, Jennifer–I like your comment, “We cannot play ourselves.”  For me, maybe that means that the outcome of my obedience is not up to me.  My aim is to please the Father in all things, and as I do that, He will choose the tune to play from my life.  There are many things that I can do to keep my instrument in good order, but He alone gets to make the music.  Oh, how I want Him to be able to play a sweet, beautiful song of joy!

  7. Morielle February 7, 2014

    Amy S. it is amazing how well you were able to convey such exhaustion and faith and doubt and hope into that beautiful poem.

    1. Amy S February 8, 2014

      Thank you for those kind words, Morielle. I tend to pack a lot into a poem as what I am communicating often compresses many years of spiritual searching and growth into a just a few stanzas.

  8. Carolyn February 7, 2014

    Thank you Kristi for being brave and sharing your heart in this safe place!  Your words and your honesty are freeing, healing and strengthening.

  9. Janis McArthur February 7, 2014

    Thank you Kristi for sharing your story and your poetry.  I do understand what it’s like to find yourself in a dark cave.  I felt like that when I came back from Laos last August.  My world was turning upside down with anxiety that I never felt before.  All the familiar people and places all seemed so strange like I’ve never even met them before and even lived there before.  God had to slowly unravel all the walls I had built up and all the areas of my life I was trying to protect.  I am still in the process of rebuilding my life, but in doing so I am becoming the woman God is making me to be.  Thank you for sharing!

    1. Kristi February 8, 2014

      When I asked the Father what candle I could shine into the darkness of your experience Ezekiel 36 and 37 came to mind.  The last part of verse 36 in chapter 36 in particular.  “I have rebuild the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate.  I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” Peace to you, Janis.

      1. Janis McArthur February 10, 2014

        Thanks Kristi for the passages in Ezekiel.  Yes,  I see that He is rebuilding the areas of my life that were in ruin and has been replanting  them.  I am starting to hear his spirit more and be sensitive to what he says.  Blessings.

  10. Cecily February 7, 2014

    This evening at church I had a flash of inspiration (i.e.  the Holy Spirit was encouraging me!).  The sermon was about the final hours before the crucifixion, and the events following the resurrection.  Part of the meditation was on Peter, and how Jesus met with him after the miraculous catch of fish.  I was thinking about how Peter was so bold to be so close to Jesus when He was on trial.  Peter was in the courtyard, but where were all the other disciples?  Peter denied Jesus, being in a very tight place at the moment, but were any of the other disciples anywhere near where they could have been in the same tight spot?

    The analogy is this:  We are all serving overseas.  We have followed Jesus out of the comfort zone into very foreign places.  And, well, those foreign places are very much enemy territory.  Did we think that there would be no fighting, no battles, no knock ’em out, drag ’em out fights?  Did we think that we would always make the right decisions, and all would always go as planned?

    Sometimes it seems like people looking on from afar have all these thoughts about people in our role.  They wonder:  Why so many problems?  Why so little evident fruit?  Why so many relationship struggles?  Why this?  Why that?  So reasonable for the armchair critic.  But when I hear this (and I have), I want to say, “Okay.  Would you like to come and take over?!  Come and walk in my shoes for a little while before you speak so boldly about how things should be.”

    Anyway.  I sound like I am shouting, because at times I have wanted to scream.  But look at how Jesus treated Peter.  When all the hardship had passed and Jesus was with the disciples again, as our pastor said, don’t you know that Peter still carried a deep hurt in his heart?  But Jesus wanted to take care of this wounded heart before He ascended into heaven.

    So, what matters for us in the midst of all the mistakes and hardships and stumblings and difficulties is what Jesus says and does.  Let us not focus too much on the opinion of others who speak from afar, but look to Jesus for His help, His guidance, His healing, and His comfort.  For He is not looking on from afar, but is right here with us, ministering to us when we are wounded and hurting, and rejoicing with us when we rise up and carry on.

    Oh, what a Savior!

    1. Amy S February 8, 2014

      I love this so much, Cecily. It is so true, so comforting. Recently God spoke to me very specifically through that scene on the beach where he tends to Peter’s wounded heart. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Carolyn February 8, 2014

    I just linked up my post on writing – click on the thumbnail of my sweet little girl to check it out 🙂

  12. Sarah Moulding February 9, 2014

    Write – I’m not a writer, words just don’t flow for me either from my mouth or on paper. For years this was a great frustration as I struggled to express how I really felt.  When I first moved to Bolivia it lead to a greater feeling of entrapment in those first horrid 6 months as I just was not able to say how I really felt inside. Following 3 miscarriages whilst in Bolivia once again I felt trapped by my emotions unable to say what was going on inside until I was inspired by a friend to begin a journal of pictures, using the images I saw in my head as a way to express what I was feeling. For a number of years now I have been doing this sporadically, specifically at those times when I am at a loss for words. The following was an expression of my feelings about our three children. I hope that this might inspire others who like me find it difficult to communicate through words alone.

    1. Amy S February 10, 2014

      Oh, Sarah, you have communicated something beyond words with your art. I am so touched seeing those little bodies, drawn and inscribed, loved and treasured.  Thank you so much for sharing this with us. May God’s peace carry you and your little ones together until you can see them one day face to face.

  13. Kristi February 9, 2014

    This is incredible!  I am so thankful that the Father has given you this way to express yourself.  Often words are not enough even for those who like writing.  Thank you so much for sharing this image, this feeling, this experience, this part of your story with us.

  14. Denise February 9, 2014

    Thanks Kristi for being so vulnerable. I appreciate you being able to share your heart through words. Mike and I too once thought we were damaged goods and would not be qualified to return overseas. God is faithful and restores when we are willing to let him do some surgery.

    1. Kristi February 11, 2014

      Praise God that He uses the foolish to confound the wise! Thanks for the comment, Denise.

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