something worth bleeding out

Last night, Brandi Carlile invited The Lone Bellow back up on stage in the middle of her set, backlit by a lazy summer sun at the Simon Estes Amphitheater in Des Moines. They were the opening act, these brilliant three, but they were the reason my sister and I paid the big bucks to sprawl out on a blanket by the river with expensive drinks (the kind they make you buy inside after making you dump your waters at the door).

Something clicked when they sang this song. It’ll get unhinged soon enough. I’ll forget and I’ll fret and I’ll fury. But something about those few minutes was bound to break my blog silence.

Vacation was too good to me. It swallowed up my bones in bliss and I was happy there, really happy. Every clockless morning and every unplanned afternoon, every impromptu tennis match and every adventurous trip down to the beach, every late night campfire-lit conversation, every slice through the water in the kayak, every forest run, every conversation – everything.

Vacation swallowed up my bones in bliss.

I didn’t really know how to shake myself out of it – how does bliss make sense with clocks and schedules and plans and expectations? How do you get un-swallowed? How do you not wish yourself back in those blissful moments when you’re in moments that feel so regular?

Then The Lone Bellow started to sing and I started to sway with all my hippy hair, belting out this brilliant tune.

Yes, I lost myself a little bit and I’m not worried about your judgment.

I was probably 1 of 10 concert-goers who had heard of The Lone Bellow, so I was definitely one of few singing along. But, I belted it anyway – like the ba-ba-da was something inside me fighting to find air.

There is a reason life isn’t endless vacation.

And that reason made sense as I swayed to this tune,

“Breathing in, breathing out, the salt in my mouth
gives me hope that I’ll bleed something worth bleeding out”

It might not shake vacation dust off your feet, but it did mine. This is an anthem that says our hands should get dirty and calloused and worn, an anthem that reminds us that respite gives fuel for our daily fight against the lies we can sometimes escape on vacation.

“All the buildings, they lean and they smile down on us
And they shout from their rooftops words we can’t trust
Like you’re dead, you are tired, you’re ruined, you’re dust
Oh, you won’t ‘mount to nothing, like thanks full of rust”

These are the lies of life, the weary and rugged and cumbersome kind that sneak into kitchens and coffeeshops and haunt our closet space. These are the lies that try to make our lives less redeemed. But, in Christ, there is no more or less saved. There is no scale to our redemption.

Our sin entangles with all kinds of cruel efficiency and the dull hum-drum of everyday life is its favorite booby trap. But a sliding scale salvation would strip God of the power to make it complete, and we are not capable of making Him any less glorious than He is.

Thank God. Thank God He did not leave us as exiles from the kingdom of God, banished from forever beauty and bliss.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ESV)

Thank God, in His grace, the blood coursing through our veins is more than mostly water. In Christ, this blood we carry around is something worth bleeding out. It is not nothing. It’s this blood, keeping us alive to proclaim that we’ve been redeemed and redemption is free by the grace of God and the cost of Christ. It is the blood by which we can sing the next lines,

But we scream back at them from below on the street
All in unison we sing, our time’s been redeemed
We are all of the beauty that has not been seen
We are full of the color that’s never been dreamed

Because nothing we need ever dies. Isn’t that so? Our needs – physical and otherwise are slippery things, but we get parched and desperate for them. We beg and plead for them, our needs. And those needs never die.

But there is one need that trumps all other needs and it’s what started beating like hope in my chest when I heard this song. There is a reason life isn’t endless vacation and it is because there is work to do. There is toil and sweat and there is work to do. My blood is worth something because Christ’s blood was shed on my behalf.

O, precious HOPE that redeems us in the bliss of vacation and in the dull hum-drum of Monday-afters. I’m still swaying to this precious hope that my life in the regulars and the weekday sways and sweats for a greater story.

Even if I was lonely, even if I was broke
Even if all the dogs in the pound left me notes
Sayin’ it’s never over, it never ends
Grab my heart and the fire, let us descend

To the darkest of prisons, break their defense
We will rattle the cages, rules will be bent
Oh, remind us our days are all numbered, not spent
And peace it comes easy like mist on a ridge

Chorus
Breathing in, breathing out, the salt in my mouth
Gives me hope that I’ll bleed something worth bleeding out

All the horoscopes tell us to break all our ties
To our families and loved ones we leave when we fly
To the cities we think we need in our lives
Oh, you Manhattan jungle, you tangle our pride

Chorus

All the buildings, they lean and they smile down on us
And they shout from their rooftops words we can’t trust
Like you’re dead, you are tired, you’re ruined, you’re dust
Oh, you won’t ‘mount to nothing, like thanks full of rust

But we scream back at them from below on the street
All in unison we sing, our time’s been redeemed
We are all of the beauty that has not been seen
We are full of the color that’s never been dreamed

Where nothing we need ever dies
Where nothing we need ever dies

keep your heart young

 

Just do it.
No, seriously, just keep your heart young.

Today, I’m celebrating so many things:
Dia de Independencia with my Honduran family and friends,
Iowa State football (expected) victory
my Dad’s birthday
tailgating with friends and family
the changing colors of falling leaves
coffee
pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
bike rides
mo-peds
cardinal red and gold

And, I’m remembering all the ways Jesus encouraged the disciples to be like children – to blurt things out and come to Him messy, injured, and out of breath. Children are precocious little bugars, but they don’t mess around with pretense. And I think this is why they can delight in the wonderful, little things and be so transparent about their tantrums. They’ve got nothing to hide – and they’ll tell it like it really is.

This is a young heart. And I’d like to keep mine that way.

 

hard way home in the passenger seat

Remember when you graduated from high school and the world stretched out like an open road in front of your new-to-you, college-bound car? Remember that?

Somehow my car circled around and I’m staring at the same highway and when Brandi Carlile sings the chorus of “hard way home,” I belt it louder than is probably appropriate for my post-college age.

Now, Brandi and I disagree on a few things – some of them pretty major. But, I find a very steady solidarity in our choosing the “hard way home.” I’m stubborn. And sometimes my stubbornness gets me into sin, a lot of times I guess. I can look back at my tracks and, with Brandi, point to times I should have redirected my steps but pressed on for pride or fear or foolishness.

I don’t know how Brandi feels when she sings this song, but what I feel is gratitude. Oh, man! I’m such an obstinate and fickle girl. I don’t know why anyone would have patience with my antics, but the Lord is steady as an oak and faithful like the sun. Though the lost in me thinks faking my death would be an exciting escape (see the bridge), the found in me delights in knowing that I can never be hidden.

With my car facing that same, great highway, the “hard way home” isn’t a lonely trek when you are sitting in the passenger seat.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

every promise, always kept

We suffer the sale of cheap words, but we buy them still.
Every day their consequence cuts afresh the wound of our failure and exposes all the ways we fall short.

“The hill I’m walking up is gettin’ good and steep
but I’m still looking for a promise even I can’t keep.”

Brandi Carlile can sing. She can sing and boy! can she write. Her song, “A Promise to Keep” has been rolling around in my soul since she released a free EP on Noisetrade. When I listen to this song, my shoulders slump with sadness – a kind of resignation that wraps me in and weighs me down. The words are heavy bundles with long, painful sighs because the notes sing the melody of hurt.

Carlile sings hurt… maybe because she has suffered the sale of cheap words, but she buys them still. Maybe because she feels the consequence of fresh cut failure-wounds and is exposed to all the ways she falls short. It’s a humanity kind of failure – a shortsightedness that presumes another promise spoken, believed, and broken.

My shoulders fold in and my lip shakes a little and I hurt with her for the insufferable exchange – the buying and selling of promises.

I still talk to you in my sleep
I don’t say much cause the hurt runs too deep
I gave you the moon and the stars to keep
but you gave them back to me

The hill I’m walkin up is gettin good and steep
but I’m still looking for a promise even I can’t keep

I still lay on my side of the bed
I dance alone when the last bottle’s spent
memories like a river runnin through my head
I’ll have me an ocean before I’m dead

The hill I’m walkin up is gettin good and steep
but I’m still looking for a promise even I can’t keep

I still whisper sweet words to you
and when I’m busy, or have nothing to do
I pray to god, that my words ring true
and that your words might reach me too

The hill I’m walkin up is gettin good and steep
but I’m still looking for a promise even I can’t keep
I can’t keep it…

My hearts in pieces so please understand
I’ve tried to jump, but I’ve nowhere to land
so give me your heart and I’ll give you my hand
and I’ll try as goddamn hard as I can

The hill I’m walkin up is gettin good and steep
but I’m still looking for a promise even I can’t keep

She is desperate for an impossible promise and her grief is filling up oceans, recklessly hoping there is someone better than she. I get woven in to her grief like I’m knit right into the melody’s sweater. I croon it out my car windows and sing it to the silent roof.

Why can’t I find someone who keeps a promise these days?
Why can’t I keep a promise?

And with my heart freshly beaten, my soul cast down at our dreadfulness, I hear sweet words proclaimed from the pen of Paul.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
(2 Corinthians 1:19-22 ESV)

For the promises of God find their Yes in him (Christ).

Through Christ I can utter my beaten, battered, folded-in AMEN to God for his glorious promises kept to a suffering and obstinate people. Not one of us can sing Carlile’s song and not know her hurt. But, oh! that we might claim the AMEN in Christ – who was the fulfillment of God’s promises and evidence of God’s faithfulness.

God establishes us in Christ, anoints us, puts his seal on us, and gives us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The hills we walk up will get good and steep and full of suffering. But, even as we sing of our despair in broken promises, let us glory in the God whose promises are all Yes! in Christ. Every promise, always yes. Every promise, always kept.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy