This is Me – Jenni D.

The sky was on fire tonight and the warm breeze reminded me of the beach. There were clouds that were dark yet strikingly gorgeous as the setting sun cast a glow around them. There was a woman in the grocery store that was wearing a perfume that a former coworker wore. Why does that throw me into a swarm?

Why I am so keenly aware of every scent, every color, every sound, every feeling that I come in contact with? My mind whirls in a constant state of cognizance. It is never a simple task, my daily living. Each sense registers a deposit on my memory bank. It is hypervigilance in overdrive. There is never a still, quiet, unaromatic moment. At times, I feel like a prisoner at a county fair, unable to escape the persistent overbearing environment.

Even in loneliness I swim the waters of overdrive. My mind pushes itself unwillingly into an ocean of words, thoughts, what if’s, what should have, what may be…..Conversations I should have, but haven’t – things I need to do, should do, want to do – why am I like this? – why can’t I be normal? – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?

It never ends.

When peace surrounds my being, my soul rests – but not my thoughts. They tramp through the serenity like soldiers on a mission. The spears of fear and insecurity slice through the blank pristine space of peace, leaving open wounds that are too numerous for me to cover quickly. Words, words, words ….. memories, sights, sounds, odors……why didn’t I, who didn’t I, what didn’t I …… Tranquillity wanes and the tornado picks me up – once again.

Explain what you are feeling, they say. What is on your mind, they ask. How can we help you, they pry.

You can’t. I can’t. God will ….. eventually.

Or maybe he won’t.

“He made me this way!”, I scream to myself; convincing the dead to live takes power. Power my loud voice – my over dramatic voice – my commanding voice – has not the depths of. “He knit me together! My name is written on His palm! I am an heir to the throne!” Every scripture, every perfect Christian proclamation, every thing my momma and daddy ever spoke over me – can’t muscle through the swamp of timidity.

I cry out “God! Where are you?” Once again, I’m keenly aware of the silence and the way it sounds……

It’s not a voice I hear, it’s not a aroma, it’s not a sweetness on my tongue that pulls me out – or back in ….. it is simply a feeling. Warmth that is intrinsic to my soul. It starts in my feet, and soon my face is flushed. I know you, Holy Spirit. I know you.

I once said the Holy Spirit dances over me, around me, with me. Now, it simply sustains me. It is my constant. Unwavering, as I spin in my own self inflicted – in my own matrix. The Holy Spirit simply is.

There is no peace in my mind. There is no complete and total relaxation. Which means, there will not be stagnancy.

Yes, I talk a lot. Yes, I have a story about anything and everything you could throw at me. Yes, I see shadows, and shapes in the clouds, and the colors of the woods, and the insane way that river water makes even the ugliest pebbles beautiful…….. Yes. That is simply who I am. One day, I will be confident enough to say “love me or leave me. I am who I am because He is the great I AM”, and I will stand unwavering in that proclamation. Until then, this is me. Jenni D.

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Just Me and Him

I love music. Period. I can hear a song and it sets off memories of years long gone. There are songs that mark specific times in my life. I literally feel like I could make a soundtrack for my life as it has been so far.
My daddy was certainly instrumental in my love for music. My momma loved music too, however, it was daddy who played it loud. We had multiple genres at our house. Daddy liked them all. I remember dancing with daddy as we listened to Alabama and Bob Seger. As I got older, he and I would listen to the music on the radio. Some of it he liked. Some of it he didn’t. When I went through my phases of pop, rap, country and rock he listened with me. Shaking his head sometimes and other times just smiling. He introduced me to Bruce Springsteen and Prince. Along with Huey Lewis and Def Leopard. Thinking about it makes me laugh. So many different styles, yet it was something we both loved. Now a days, he is Internet savvy. It never fails that he has a song for me to hear when I come over. Lately, it has been older Christian artists. “Think you could sing this?” he asks. “Listen to this next part. Are you listening? . . . You should hear the story behind this song.”
I am grown, raising children of my own, but each day I ask myself if my daddy would be proud of me. When we listen to music and connect, I know that’s when he most certainly is. He and momma always encouraged us to sing. Though I’m not exclusively his little girl anymore, when we are enjoying a song together it just seems that way. That’s our time. Our moment. Our connection.
Recently I have been in a whirlwind of change. I started school for the first time ever. We moved. I have a new job. We started attending a new church. This last move was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. We new God was in it. We knew we were being called. So that sealed the deal.
After six months of simply being fed and filled, I reached out to be part of the worship team. This was not a new process for me, just a new place and new people. Sunday was the first time I participated on stage with the team. Oh, how God showed up!!! As we were singing “It’s just you and me here now. It’s only you and me here now . . .” I felt the arms of my Poppa wrap around me. It was our time. I was lost but found all at the same time. I was lost to reality but found in the glory if his presence. At that moment he whispered “Thank you for dancing with me.” My heart soared! Just like my earthly daddy yearns for that connection, my heavenly Poppa yearns for a connection. A connection where nothing else matters. Just me and him.
Life never slows down. Ever. Three kids, a husband, school, work, church, family . . . I’m not sure if I will be able to catch a break anytime soon. But, I know this to be certain: no matter how busy my life is, just like my daddy waits to share a song with me, my Poppa has time to dance with me. And he is waiting, smiling, ready to sweep me (and you!) off our feet!!

You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my Lord and my God. (Psalms 30:11, 12 CEV)

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Laid Out

Can’t I just lose myself here? In the music. Not the words, not the beat, or the rhythm, but the spirit. The spirit that moves with each chord. The spirit that is stirred as our hearts perk up and come into alignment. There is no place I’d rather be then in your presence. No place I’d rather be than moved into your midst by the rhythm, pushed into your arms by the words that automatically flow, falling on my knees as my heart softens before you. All I am is all I have. It’s not much. It’s not pretty. It’s scarred, ruined by words of others, and quite pitiful. But even still, you desire me. The King of Kings desires me. Nasty, disgusting, beaten up, undesirable me. But not in your eyes. You see straight through. You find me wrapped in your spirit. Because your spirit makes me clean. Makes me white. Makes me pure and gorgeous. Of all the things I want to think of myself, your spirit makes true. But here, in the music, none of that matters. Just your face. Your arms. Your love. Your peace. Your joy. Your grace. That matters. As it flows down from my head to my toes, all I can think of is returning the same love to you. On my knees I pour it out. In words, in rhythms, in beats. From my heart it pours out. Like incense. Oh! If only it was endless!! Endless incense poured on my King! Yet, my inadequacy becomes your abundance. How I love you! How I need you!! At your feet I bow my knee, in your presence I lay my life. All to you. Lord, I give it all to you.

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Dancing in the Woods

I find myself wondering again. When I was little, I loved wondering. Whether it was literal or mental, I loved it. However, being 30 something, wondering isn’t fun anymore. Maybe because my wondering are serious. I feel like I’m lost in the woods. Searching. So much to see and admire in the woods. The leaves, the smell of dirt, the wild flowers, the sounds . . . It’s peaceful. But I am torn. Staying in the woods would be perfect. Except I think I’m supposed to be in the clearing. But the clearing is no where to be seen. Thinking about the clearing at first brings happiness – the sun, the breeze, the grass . . . But it is a vulnerable place. Open for the world to see. To see me. Maybe I’m not lost in the woods. Maybe I’m just hiding. Hiding for ridicule, from prying eyes, from criticism. I’m safe in the woods. The shadows hide me; the trees shelter me. The choice is mine. Should I rest in the woods? Wait and relax, until those with pointing fingers and poisonous words have moved on? I can’t hide in the clear. I can’t be free in the clear. But the sun . . . how warm it will be. Is it worth the risk? I just don’t know anymore. I can dance in the woods, twirl and sing at the top of my lungs the same as in the clearing. But, it’s the privacy, the secrecy of the woods that make it so special. There it’s just me and The King. No onlookers, casting their opinions and demanding it be their way. He is my only critic, the only one to please. I can be childlike, silly, honest, hidden by the shadows and He is my only spotlight.

As wonderful as the sun would feel, as beautiful as the sky would be, it’s His favor I seek the most. It’s His warmth, His smile, His arms I crave.

I think I’ll hide in the forest a little longer.

All this time I thought it was wondering . . . when it was just Him drawing me in, sheltering me, healing me.

Psalms 30:11-12
You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.

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The Pianist

So it begins. The day has been long, this whole life journey has been long. I find it hard to speak positive words, hard to pray, hard to be joyful. I have read James today, I have whispered earnest prayers, I have read others encouraging words, searching for some kind of direction – some kind of peace.

As I sit with others, listening to requests, sickness, death and discouragement seem to be running rampant. Others who live life day by day, hour by hour, they are struggling as well. Our heads bow, each person different but each heart yearning for the same thing.

So it begins. Slowly, quietly, the fingers seem to barely tap the keys. It is not a familiar tune, no, it is from the heart. Prayer begins, words flowing with the melody. As the words begin to pierce through the darkness of our days, the chords pierce through my heart. As hard as I have found it to pray, to speak these truths, the music alleviates the pressure that holds them down. The pace picks up, the keys are played more fervently. The words seem to just spew out. The freedom begins to rain down.

Yes, it has begun. Often I find myself in these moments. These hard moments where my words seem meaningless, if I can even get them out. Then, the piano begins. I could stand and listen to the anointed melody, I could stand and just let the chords wash away the pain, the confusion, the doubt. Even though there are no words, it is the ebb and flow that draws me in. Her fingers seem to pray as they play, each measure a petition. There are measures of praise, measures of mourning, measures of worship, measures of adoration. Her voice never speaks, but her fingers do. In her playing, the release comes.

My son, Zeb, once suggested that worship was like learning to play football. He had struggled his first year, trying to learn what to do, trying to learn that being aggressive was okay. I asked him one day, quite randomly, what worship was. He said worship was different for everyone. Some people like it fast, some like it slow. Some people like newer stuff, and others like the older songs. But, his next comment was what stopped me in my tracks. “You know mom, it’s like when you’re learning to play football. You can know what you’re supposed to do, but you have to feel it and then you just do it.”

Such wise words. Sometimes it takes feeling it instead of talking it. It’s our actions that speak, that move, that minister. When I stand, surrendered, listening to the pianist pray with her hands, I find myself lost in Him.