Wanting More

Once upon a time, I chaperoned a youth conference in which the main speaker delivered a message which I will never forget. After all, it’s hard to block the image of a grown man singing Disney music.

Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete? Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl—the girl who has everything? Look at this trove. Treasures untold. How many wonders can one cavern hold? Looking around here you’d think, “Sure. She’s got everything.” I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty. I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty! But who cares? No big deal. I want more…

“SELFISH BRAT!”

The whole room burst into laughter at his outburst. It was the perfect opening to a message about entitlement and the self-centered culture teens are living in today.

But you know what? I think the guy missed the mark when it came down to what was really taking place in Ariel’s heart.

Because it wasn’t more stuff she wanted.

What the entire song boils down to is that the trinkets weren’t enough to satisfy the true desires of her heart. The entirety of the ocean couldn’t fulfill the hungry depths of her soul. She wanted something more than what the sea had to offer.

Throughout my life, I’ve heard a lot of people use the story of the little mermaid as an example of what not to do.  I’ll admit it’s pretty easy to take Ariel’s story and preach contentment.  After all, the seaweed is not always greener in someone else’s lake. And, honestly, it’s a bad idea to sacrifice everything in hopes of winning a guy’s affection.

And yet, in order to use the story for that sort of sermon, you have to take the side of the antagonist. Which means you’ve missed the heart of the story entirely.

Hans Christian Andersen, author of the original fairytale, was known for writing stories of great spiritual meaning. So what if Ariel’s longing for the human world represents something deeper than childish discontent? What if the kingdom beyond the ocean waves was really worth sacrificing everything for?

Consider this quote by C.S. Lewis: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Ariel was made for another world. Deep in her heart, she knew that. It’s why she was so obsessed with gathering remnants of the human world. But eventually her broken trinkets weren’t enough.

I find myself identifying with her in this. The world doesn’t satisfy me in the ways I most long to be satisfied. When I look around at the things I’ve collected, I think, “Who cares? No big deal. I want more.”

I long for a world that lies beyond the surface of this place I call home. A world that holds all the magical things of which I can only dream.

Up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun… wandering free. Wish I could be part of that world.

A Prayer
by Steven James

This world, stunning though it is,
doesn’t satisfy the part of me
that’s the most hungry…
I have a nagging thirst for more
than this world can provide.

Deepen it.

The Sound of Diamonds

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I believe in dreams. The big kind. The ones that push you past the realms of what might be considered practical and launch you into worlds beyond imagining. I’m always at the ready to champion dreams such as these.

Which is why when a friend asked a favor of me back in November, confessing she is aware I “don’t really do this on my blog,” I knew it would fit perfectly within this corner of the internet.

Because when it comes to launching Rachelle Rea’s first book, this is so much more than a cover reveal; it’s a Beyond Waiting success story.

I first met Rachelle during the summer of 2012, when she read my book and deemed the words within “life-changing.” We connected then, weaving our hearts together on the threads of the internet.

Rachelle is a single young woman, living her once upon a time journey, fighting her own dragons. She believes in whimsical. She believes in daring. She believes in living beyond reason and pursuing the things deep within her heart.

And I am so proud to stand beside her on the day one of her wildest dreams finally becomes a reality. Her first novel, The Sound of Diamonds, doesn’t actually release until June, but today is the day the world gets the first glimpse of the book cover.

So with no further ado…

sound of diamonds

In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.
An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.
But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome? When Dirk’s plan fails, could all be lost?rachelle rea

But the celebration doesn’t stop there. The Sound of Diamonds is available for pre-order on Amazon. Go check it out, snatch it up, support a dream.

Oh, and while you’re waiting for the official release, you can get to know Rachelle’s daring heart a little better at rachellerea.com.

 

Giving Yourself Permission

“How about mango?” I ask.

And even though the question is delivered entirely without context, she knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So we skip off to my room and pore over paint chips (she prefers spiced pumpkin, by the way, and I think she may be right), and somewhere in the midst of all the scheming, a simple statement slips off my tongue.

“I feel better.”

And again, my mother is awesome enough to know I’m not just talking about paint chips.

“I’m glad,” she says. And then… “Do you think it’s because you gave yourself permission?”

I’m ashamed to say her summary was absolutely right. Ashamed to say it took me eight long months to finally give myself permission to be happy in this time and place. Eight long months before I learned to tell myself, “Rebekah, stop fighting. Stop striving, stop trying, stop hoping for something different when different is so very far away.”

I’m the kind of person who thrives on productivity. I have to produce something. I have to feel like something has been accomplished during my day. I have to have tangible evidence that I’m doing something worthwhile.

But evidence isn’t always tangible. We can’t always see what we have accomplished, and that’s where things start to get complicated. That’s where I start to doubt myself and my purpose and a hundred other stupid things.

I’m reading a book called A Million Little Ways. And in this book, the author said something that has completely revolutionized my way of thinking. When talking about her life, her gifts and passions, she comes to this realization:

My goal is a finished book—I call that my art. Yet there is a deeper work happening. I chase what I think is the art, but really that’s just the evidence… The real art is the invisible work happening in the depths of my soul as I uncover, sink, see, listen, and wait.

The book is just the souvenir.

Thank you, Emily Freeman, for turning my world on its head. For reminding me that I am more than this project that has me so completely frustrated. For reminding me that it’s not about the book. It has never been about the book.

I’m realizing that now. And little by little, I’m learning to give myself permission to live right where I’m at. One day, one minute, one ever-faithful brushstroke at a time.

 

Five Steps Behind

All my life, I’ve been the girl with a plan. By the age of eight, I already knew everything I wanted out of life. I used to feel sorry for people who didn’t feel that certainty early on—people who stand at their high school graduations with no answer to the question of what they plan to do with their lives.

Now I feel sorry for the people who do have an answer—the people who set out to do everything they’ve planned to do since they were eight years old only to find out it wasn’t what they wanted after all. The people who spend all their lives focused on the goal and miss the everyday miracles that take place around them.

I was that girl.

I am that girl.

And now, I’m finally learning not to be.

This year has been one of transition for me, and I had hoped it wouldn’t take the entirety of a year for me to find my purpose for this season of my life. But alas, December has come and I’m still hoping, still searching for direction.

Last night, I finally gave voice to my fear that this may be exactly where God wants me right now. Like, what if He actually took me seriously when I told Him I want to be a candle that shines alone in the dark? What if the whole time I’m tugging at my hair in frustration, God is sitting up there in heaven saying, “Sorry, sweetheart, but you asked for this”?

I feel like the rug has been ripped out from under my feet and I’m looking at the world from a whole new vantage point (on my back, on the floor). And while, it’s a painful thing, it’s also a surprisingly beautiful thing. Because in all the years I’ve been staring straight ahead, I’ve never noticed the intricacies of the ceiling pattern before.

Maybe God just wanted me to stop and marvel at the ceiling for a change.

I can hear Him now, whispering in my ear, “Little one, little one, why are you always five steps ahead when I’m lingering five steps behind?”

Over the past few years, I’ve talked a lot about embracing the moments and living the journey, but it’s not because I’m particularly good at that; it’s because it’s something I constantly struggle to do.

Last year was extremely hard for me. God stretched and challenged and broke me in ways I’d never been broken before. I guess you could say I was hoping this year would be easier. It was, but it wasn’t. Because, honestly, I don’t remember a thing.

I was too busy staring ahead, plodding forward, just trying to get on to the next big thing.

And I missed it.

I missed this year.

And I’m sorry it took me until December to finally notice the ceiling tiles.

So, while I’m not one for New Year resolutions, my goal for 2015 is simply to live it. To take this girl who walks too fast for automatic doors, and make her slow down and admire the simple things.

Because I’ve spent too much of my life trying to stay five steps ahead, and I’ve missed out on so many things.

From now on, I hope to be found five steps behind, lingering over the simple masterpieces of life.

Absence and Other Tangible Things

“Absence has a presence, sometimes, and that was what she felt. Absence like crushed-dead grass where something has been and is no longer. Absence where a thread has been ripped, ragged, from a tapestry, leaving a gap that can never be mended.

“That was all she felt.”

When I first read those words in the midst of Laini Taylor’s Dreams of Gods and Monsters, they jolted me from the story as I realized, yes, this is a thing. A thing I have never heard described so aptly or beautifully.

Absence has a presence, sometimes. I’ve experienced it throughout the course of my life. Dying dreams, crushed hopes, and insufferable loss steal everything and yet leave something with you.

Absence. A great, gaping absence.

Words like these sing to me, making their way into my journals quite often. Maybe I just like the poetry of them, or maybe I have deeper issues that would require years of extensive counseling to unravel, but these are the things that come to mind when the world rocks crazy and I am at a loss. These are the words that resonate when my knees hit the carpet and the floodgates release the tears from my eyes.

But this morning, as the absence started creeping into my soul, something else crept there, too.

“All she felt,” the quote said.

But wait. That doesn’t have to be all.

But wait. There is more than absence like crushed-dead grass and tapestries ripped ragged.

As I found myself on my knees, in the beginning stages of grieving a gap that can never be mended, I remembered something…

God is, and always has been, the God who gives and takes away. He is, and always will be, good. And if He is good, then every single detail He has orchestrated in our lives is designed to bring good. Every joy. Every sorrow. Every tragedy that rips the very breath from our lungs.

The absence is intimidating. Its presence is strong. But is it all I feel?

Sometimes it is. Sometimes I find myself wanting only to sink down into the depths of it and never resurface. Sometimes it tries to swallow me up forever.

But it is not all there is.

When I turn my face toward the heavens, I find there is peace. There is grace, and joy, and hope.

And the absence? It’s a lie.

Crushed-dead grass can be renewed by the breath of the Creator. Tapestries can be remade by the hand of the Master Weaver.

Absence is not the only thing that has a presence. Not the only thing that can be felt.

Hope has a presence just as strong. Joy is a tangible thing. And grace is always there for the grasping.

Even in this. Yes, even in this.

like crushed-dead grass

 

The Best You Ever Played

It was my first piano recital. I had played the piece a hundred times, so I was familiar with it’s dark, slow rhythm. But I wasn’t familiar with the roomful of people who all had their eyes upon me.

I placed my little fingers on the keys and let the music fill the air.

When it was all over, my grandma wrapped me up in her arms and told me it was the best she had ever heard me play. She sounded sincere, but I knew she was lying. I had played the piece for her before and executed it flawlessly.

I missed two notes during my actual recital. And the perfectionist in me beat myself up for it so severely that I still remember it fifteen years later.

I’m not exactly sure why I’m remembering it now. Not sure why I’m thinking about fumbling over notes and how that relates to my life today.

I’m working my first secular job now, and it has made me think about how to live like Jesus in the world around me. Made me start wondering what to say and what to do and how to make my life add up to something that points toward heaven.

I can do a lot of thinking. And I can practice the words until they flow through my mind with all the practiced rhythm of that old recital piece.

But then I get out in the world. And everyone’s eyes are on me. And I get nervous. And my palms start to sweat. And I fumble over some of the notes.

So I’m standing there last night with my co-worker, realizing this girl needs Truth in her life, but fumbling over a way to deliver it.  Because all The Answers my mind is conjuring in that moment might sound a lot like judgement to someone who doesn’t know how much I love her wounded heart.

So I listen. And I nod. And I’m honest in those moments when I say I wouldn’t make the same decisions and, yes, her brother has legitimate concerns and she shouldn’t be upset with him for caring that deeply.

But the perfectionist in me lies in bed at night and scolds myself for doing it wrong. And as my mind rehearses all the things I could have said better, God shows up.

God walks right into my bedroom and curls up beside me and brushes the worries from my brow. God whispers in my ear and sounds a lot like my grandma when he says, “You did so well out there. That’s the best I’ve ever heard you play.”

And I say, “You must be lying. Didn’t you hear me fumbling over the notes?”

And God whispers, sure and strong, “You’ve been practicing that song forever, but it’s pretty worthless when there are no ears to hear it. But I saw you, just when you were poised above the keys. I recognized the very moment you realized a different song was needed. So, no, I’m not upset that you improvised. I’m not disappointed that you chose a different melody. And I don’t care that you fumbled over some of the notes. Because your heart was in that song, and I’m not the only one who noticed.

“You did well. You did well. Yes, I do believe that’s the best you ever played.”

Bring Me That Horizon

Four years ago, I was a bright-eyed, nineteen-year-old girl walking out of a writers conference with the word platform pounding in her brain. I still hate that word just as I hated it then, but at the time it sent me to the internet searching for a place to plant my feet and find my audience. And this is what came of it—beyondwaiting.com.

I don’t like to leave things unfinished, and at times that was the only thing pulling me back to this corner of the internet. I started something, so I couldn’t just leave it there with weeks stretching between the words. I had succeeded in finding an audience, and I owed it to them to keep writing.

So I wrote. I wrote and my skill grew, and now I cringe to look back on those earlier posts because I don’t know who wrote them, but I hope it wasn’t really me. Because the girl who wrote those posts had room for a lot of growth.

And I have grown. I’ve changed. My words have taken on a new voice, though my heart has thus far stayed mostly true to her original course.

The winds are shifting now. There are new horizons to pursue.

And maybe the path I am choosing to take seems a detour from the one I have so faithfully paved over these last four years, but, honestly, Beyond Waiting was the detour from everything I really wanted for myself.

Because I’ve known since I was fourteen years old and writing snippets of stories as school assignments that crafting worlds was what made me come alive. I’ve known since my mother first held up that notebook containing pieces of Elena’s story and told me, “Rebekah, this is really, really good,” that I was going to be a novelist.

If this blog has been silent of late, it’s because I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into the first installment of a Young Adult Fantasy series. I’m in the editing phase, trying to make the words sing before I attempt to ship them off to an agent who expressed interest in the idea.

I’ve never been so excited. I’ve never been so horrified. I’ve never had butterflies dance through my tummy as hard as they do when I think about releasing this story into the hands of someone who may or may not love it as much as I do.

I’m focusing all my time and effort on writing novels now because this is the one thing I really want for myself—to be able to tell the stories beating in my heart and share them with the world. I don’t know what that means for beyondwaiting.com. I hope I’ll still find something to share with at least a little bit of consistency, but I’m through guilting myself into penning words for this space when my heart longs to spend those hours stitching stories.

I hope you understand. And I hope you know how very grateful I am for the support I have found here these last four years. I will carry the imprint of this season in my heart forever.

But for now…

Bring me that horizon.

horizon