Christa Wells. Stay-home mother of 5 in North Carolina. Singer. Award-winning songwriter. Real. Raw. Edgy. Sweet. She makes art in the midst of chaos, uses chaos to make art. I read a guest post here, saw her name for the first time, clicked on the link and bought her just-released album, How Emptiness Sings. Even the title on its own tugged at my heart, spoke truth. I clicked on samples, snatched patchy split-seconds through my terribly slow connection-- enough to know I wanted her voice, her art, her life speaking in my kitchen and my heart. 7 songs, 7 days. Gifting to myself one song each day to savor: I want to live listening to truth shone through this fresh prism.
I saved it (bursting with anticipation) to listen to for the first time after my journaling this morning, in the dark and quiet of an early-morning house. I drank in deeply fresh sounds, fresh poetry bright-clash-ringing like gold on steel. Then I painstakingly created a little pocket of alone-time this morning (requiring at least 3 phone calls and some last-minute rearranging) and went for a walk with this song (my third completely-alone-outing in 2 months...I am getting better at this, I hope?)
On the street, staring at my feet while fixing my earbuds, I crash through low-hanging tree branches and glean a sharp memento of my carelessness.
Down in the riverbed, I crunch through snow, follow cow tracks, see…
thorn branches. Long, cruel, sharp.
There's Jesus, waiting for me in the riverbed. Meeting me here. Today. In person, on my Lenten journey toward His Cross.
I push pause on my iPod, stoop, pull off one slim sword, hold it in my hand, press the tip with the ball of my finger. Ouch. Imagining cruel hands mercilessly pressing a wreath of hundreds down onto my head, imagining this tiny scratch turned into a hundred bleeding slices gouged in flesh.
You wore these on your head… for me? I whisper.
Silence reigns, alive with a resounding Yes.
Today marks six years to the day since my first date with my husband. He picked me up in his truck at 5:00 on a Friday, led me on a walk around the lake in the center of our town, a little oasis town on the edge of a huge Central Asian desert. Here was this lake, shining blue, and here were this man’s eyes, shining bluer, sparking with earnestness as he told me the whole story of his life, him who up until that afternoon had offered no more than “How’re your classes?” or “How was your week?” These tossed out casually, shyly, in our small group of single friends, him being the tall quiet one who lived out of town and drove in for our get-togethers…
And then came the day, 6 days before, when he’d taken a group of us on an outing in his truck and at intervals asked me weighty questions like, “How did you get to Asia?” and “Are you planning to stay long-term?” These coupled with snowballs and a big grin, all directed at me. The offer of a jacket for the cold. Twinkling glances in the rearview mirror. That day I sensed a current from him, and it made me nervous. How much older than me was he? What would we say to each other? Two different countries, two different eras even-- how would we communicate? (Because back then, when I was so grown up and knew next to nothing, words were everything.)
So here, now, walking around the lake, words come. His New Zealand voice articulately, earnestly threads thoughtful words into his story: his coming to love Christ more than anything, his learning about the thousands of unreached peoples of the world, his growing passion to reach them regardless of cost, his coming to Asia single and remaining so for the past 6 years, trusting, waiting, working… His blue eyes flash purpose. I listen, spellbound. He’s taller than me, our strides match as we walk.
We get back in the truck and drive to dinner. Dinner turns into coffee, an eccentric rosy-lit shop tucked below street level. We sit in a cozy booth and look at each other across the tiny, glowing candle warming my clear pot of strawberry tea. It’s then that I really see him, those ocean-blue eyes windows into a heart of solid gold. And I think, this is what I want in my life. Those eyes. This gold. Coffee turns into a slow meander back towards my apartment, a time of prayer together, and I float up to my room at the end of this perfect, 7-hour first date, with that unmistakeable knowing buoyant in my heart.
Panning for gold. There have been thorns, there will be thorns. But I know the one who bore the crown of thorns for me. I know Him, that unmistakeable knowing buoyant in my heart. And I know my husband with the heart of gold, the man God chose out of all the world to be mine, perfect for me. For the rest of my life, despite the thorns, because of His thorns, I will be joyfully panning His world, the pages of His Word, and my sweet husband’s heart for oh-so-worth-it, priceless-beyond-measure glinting gleams of gold.
(Thank you, Christa Wells, for breathing new inspiration into this singer/songwriter mom of two in Central Asia!)
March Challenge Check-In, week 2 (posting half-way through week 3!):
Lights out by 9:30pm: um… none. A couple nights by 10pm, then I was sick, then we had guests… so I bet you can guess what’s next...
Up by 6am: only 3/7, plus 2 mornings at 6:45… (I was sick for 2 mornings too)
Exercised: (still using that 5 minute plan more than anything else...)
Worshiped: still finding a rhythm. First thing after the alarm? Still groggy. While I exercise? Less focused. Just one song before reading the word? Better.
Planned: every morning, even if it was just choosing a dinner recipe a breakfast, writing it down and thinking through whether I had all the ingredients… definitely a 5:00pm stress-saver!
So… not doing so great, but.. there is so. much. grace.