Archive for August, 2010

When Words Fail.
August 30, 2010

I love words.

They are painted on my walls and inked in swirls on my skin.
I have letters and journals and scraps of paper etched with my terrible handwriting, and I’m sure if I took my time the loops of my quasi-cursive would swing together much prettier… but I’ve always been more concerned about the words than the writing.

Saturday night I sat in the ocean-hued living room of two dear friends as we chatted about life, love, our hope of love, our sometime broken hopes regarding love, and the conversation turned to where love’s been.

Five and a half years ago, my beautiful friend had an incredible fiance.  A man who loved the Lord well, loved others well, loved her well.  A man who worshipped and witnessed and kept the crowd laughing.  After they graduated from IU, he headed to Afghanistan to protect his country.  He would send home videos that ranged from tours of the bunk that had us crying with laughter to telling her how much he loved her, prayed for her, and dreamed about the day that was coming not-soon-enough where they’d be husband and wife.

And yet, the autumn wedding that was planned never happened, because he died serving his country.
And here was his wife to be, years later, with tears on her freckled face and through the tears over the husband she lost, she smiled just to speak of him.

I never knew him.  And it pained both of us.

She just kept staring at his face on the screen saying “He was really something… he was really something.”

Because words wouldn’t do him justice.
How do you smush letters together…26 options…to create the personhood of the love of your life?  How do you string together sentences to explain the hope of your future being taken away in an instant?  You just can’t.  All you can say is “He was really…something.”

Since April, God and I have barely spoken.  There was a Spring night so full of broken hope that it seems a steel door slammed between us… no, not quite “slammed”, more like slipped in between us silently.  I’ve always been one to beg of Him, love Him, cry out to Him with words.  And words, my constant companion, for months now…have failed me.

Worrying, fantasizing, wondering, daydreaming, crying… they aren’t the same.  They aren’t praying.  And I miss Him.
I would crack open the black leather of my Bible, or sit quietly cross-legged, willing myself to find the words to let Him know about my insides… and the words weren’t there.

The last few days of this August have seemed so sweet, and on a trip to see my bed-resting best friend at the hospital, I stopped in my tracks completely overwhelmed by His romance.

I must have looked crazy.  Stock still in the middle of the parking lot with my eyes closed, I breathed as deep as my lungs would allow, and let the sun heat up my face, listening to the far-off rush of a fountain and letting my pulse slow, and suddenly my insides found big words of powerful love to silently shout at Him, wanting Him desperately to open His ears to my thankfulness.  The jingle of someone’s keys broke the peace, and I opened my eyes and walked into the hospital.

And here I am sitting still, feet propped up on the bedside while my best friend answers congratulatory phone calls after receiving the news that her baby boy will be here tomorrow.  And every few minutes, she looks at me with her one green eye and her one brown eye huge with disbelief that tomorrow the babe in her belly will be in her arms.  And yet again, words seem to fail the moment.

I can’t let words get in the way of my conversations with God.
On a first date it could be difficult to communicate without them, while working on a new chapter it might leave the pages blank, but a willingness to find a new way to crack open with the God I need so desperately is just what’s needed.

My wordsmithing might rust, but it’s time to squeak the steel door open and let Him in, to open His always unlocked front door and let myself in…even if my lips never open … because sometimes the emotion exceeds anything I could say.

Come to think of it, maybe there’s a little something about that written somewhere…

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

What I’d Tell You…
August 10, 2010


I can’t believe that in a few days you are going to leave home.  You are going to cross the country and my heart is going to break from pride and from love.

It’s funny how I always say that you and I are the most similar of the “Martin kids”… but in at least a thousand ways you are so much stronger, so much more faithful, so much more dedicated than I’ve ever been.

Bob was always my buddy, but when Mom and Dad thought they were done with 2 of us… you were the baby we begged for.  Sitting in the hospital room awaiting your arrival, and proclaiming the good news of you on the very first day at a very new school… 3rd grade started off pretty darn amazingly.  You grew to be the hands-down cutest, most animated, most hilarious kid I’ve ever seen.

From teaching your 3rd grade Spanish class, screaming your name at as many baseball, basketball, & soccer games that I could possibly smush into my schedule, to watching you walk across the stage at Faith as class president, valedictorian, and a beloved student & friend… my skin could’ve cracked my heart was bursting so.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really explained the tattoo I have for you…why I’ve deemed you my “soldier”…
Because David, gifts and niceties aside, I consider a “best friend” someone who will fight for me.  And have no doubt that should anyone try to hurt me, you’d jump to be the first to stand in front of me and take on the battle.  You will carry your sister’s broken spirit before the God you love…the God you trust… You blaze with loyalty and courage.  I’ve seen the way you love your family and friends… you love like a fighter. Like a soldier.  You put others before yourself in a way that constantly convicts.

I’m not worried about you.  I’m worried for us… worried what the everyday will look like without you in it.

You will thrive in college…
I am so thankful you chose Torrey and chose to go deeper than anywhere else would’ve pushed you to go.

Just know, you can change your major as many times as you want, you can get pierced or tattooed, you can skip a class or two to go surfing, you’re allowed…

just promise me this though, ok?…

That you will take God seriously.  That you will take community seriously.  That you won’t let His word become homework.  That you will go deep in your friendships.  That you’ll work to pursue Dan as his best friend.  That you will treat women the way you’d want a man to treat me.  That you will find people that don’t love Jesus and dig into their hearts and lives.  That you won’t let the enemy get your focus off of his enemy with the BMW and your good-looks and your amazing mind and your humor and your creativity… that you will guard your talents because they’ve been given to you in order that you would flourish for Him.

Promise me that you’ll call.  That you’ll let me love you and invest in you from thousands of miles away.  Promise me that you’ll share the messy stuff your heart will encounter and the hardships your life will get tangled in so that my prayers will be real.

Promise me you’ll let me fight for you.

My tears are clouding the screen, and none of these words seem to flow, they don’t seem to match my insides.
David, what I’d want you to know as you leave is just this…

You are my beloved.  I  am so proud of you.  There are 5 people in the universe that love you more than themselves, and will never stop believing the best in and for you.
I am constantly amazed that God allows my best friends to share my last name.  Yeah, I think we’re a lot alike… but you’re better.
California is one lucky lady.

All my love always,

August 2, 2010

Today marks one year.

One year since I woke up in my own bed back in Indiana.
It has taken all this time…the half a million minutes of these last twelve months to try to wrap my heart around my time in Manhattan…
All that time to separate the good from the spiritbreaking, and to just be thankful for the good.
I miss the pulse of the city, I miss the surprise of every moment, I miss the Upper West Side, our block, our building, our landlord… but mostly I miss the fact that every minute I could wrap my arms around Emily and Zach and Christel and Steph and Caroline… that I could pray over, love on, giggle with the strangers that became friends, that became partners, that became faces I can’t wait to see in heaven… to each person, every team, my beloveds, and the city that never sleeps… I miss you.

As Foy Vance plays in the background, yet another treasured find of that time, here is a repost of my final entry from that New York State of Mind…


Well, it’s time to wrap up this summer’s Big Apple experience…

As I write sitting on a high green hill in grand ol’ Indiana, the smell of the subway and the blaring sounds of taxi horns are replaced with sweetness & silence.

As my cab sped from Greenwich Village to Queens on Saturday afternoon, I flipped around to stare out of the windows and pray over the city while it was still in sight.

The skyline of midtown Manhattan stretched on unending, and I quietly cried as my driver listened to Oldies and my heart swam through two months of memories…  The struggles that had heavied, the answers that had encouraged, the long days that were spent serving and the sometimes longer nights that were spent praying, crying, and turning restlessly in bed.

In our short time together we had patched quite a pleasant routine… I awoke earlier than Emily and showered while she french-pressed her eyes open, she chose the music while I blush brushed my cheekbones, and together we sang.  I gave a ten minute countdown, we took turns locking the door, we were warmly wished a Good Morning by the homeless man outside of Starbucks on our way to the subway, we rode in silence, we fought the crowds, we danced with our parking garage attendants, we prayed for the day, we met Zach and the team, we prayed again, we offered kindness to a broken city, we pleaded for darkened hearts,  we prayed for legal parking spots, we sang some more, we praised Him, we laughed and we knitted a sisterhood.

There was a great deal of excitement in our last week…excitement to see our families and get back to the world we knew, but there was also fear.  There was fear of what that that old world would look like now that we have changed, fear that the enemy would strike harder as we transitioned again, fear of all we have to process…

As my cab continued to speed towards LaGuardia, and my spirit flooded, I looked again at the city that had begun to feel like home and prayed fiercely for our omnibenevolent God to breeze in with intent and claim His kids, I prayed for the 450,000 people we had touched for Christ, I prayed for those we had ministered alongside of this summer, I prayed that God would be glorified.

My 137 pounds of luggage bounced in the back… it was time to go home.

That night my family surprised me at the airport with an armful of flowers, I came home to 12th street to find streamers and balloons and “Welcome Home” banners stretched across every wall.  The next morning I awoke before my alarm, buzzing with the anticipation of being back at my church with my beloveds.   Wrists spritzed with cotton candy and Bible slipped into my purse, I drove to Common Ground where a saved seat and my favorite soy iced chai were waiting for me.  My pastor shouted a “What’s up New York State of Mind?” in my direction, and my smile and hands tipped up to worship.

We lunched at LaPiedad, the laughter of my loves poured as we shared stories and snuggled their beautiful babies, we satisfied our sweet teeth at The Flying Cupcake, then hugged tight.

I packed my bags again, talked with an old friend, and jumped back in the Jeep to head north.  As I cruised along the highway, trying to acclamate my new New York driving skills to the Indiana interstate, the 72 degree breeze whipped through the windows and I turned the volume as high as it would go so as to catch every word Miss Brooke Fraser had to sing.  The warmth of the midwest got under my skin and encircled my soul, the sun dipped and painted the sky with broad strokes of lemon yellow and berry pink.  I breathed without exhaling for a full minute, almost willing the scent of fresh cut grass and dusk to lock itself inside of me.

Yesterday was spent listening to my brothers, cooking a meal that would make them smile, toasting marshmallows to top their dessert, and praying over them with hot tears and hands squeezed tightly together.

Bob and I decided to take the Thunderbird to go grocery shopping, we lowered the convertible top, my neck cradled against the headrest as my face freckled under the sun that raced above the trees as we raced beneath.  I smiled though no one saw, laid my left hand on the shoulder of my brother as he drove, and let the fingers of my right tap against the wind.  Dancing leaves dappled shadows on my skin and as this whole experience wrapped up, I realize that the gift isn’t coming home, it’s not feeling comfortable and content again, it’s not being known…

This whole heartbreaking summer was the gift.

Sure, this homecoming was sweet, but you know what is sweeter?

The atheist that listened to the truth of Christ, the granola bars placed in hungry hands, the prayers that only God heard and only God answered, the unbreakable bond tied between Emily and Zach and myself, the cards of thanks from the North Carolina team, the words of truth that have continued to wash over us from BridgePointe, the understanding and encouragement from our Journey girls, the love we felt from Riva, and every single high-five, hug, prayer, or facebook message from the teams, teens, church members and new friends we had the privelege of sharing New York City with.

As we unwrapped this summer, you were the beautiful present that was discovered.

Has anyone told you today what a gift you are?
Well then, please let me.