Another world – C.S. Lewis

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For my daughter: love well

Love well, little girl.
Life is hard
but it is also sweet.
Learn to turn the other cheek.
Patience makes you ocean-strong
so shake the earth
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
Be kind.
I daresay you’ll find that by taking the time,
you’ll stick in their minds.
Love well,
and put others before yourself.
But I know
it takes bravery and brings pain.
You never know quite what to say
and it takes you way beyond what’s safe.
All you want is a break,
an escape.
You’re tired of the chase
and you’re craving a haven.
Little sparrow, keep praying!
Love well,
for he won’t let you go.
He’ll see you through till the end.
Darling, there is no treasure so dear as a friend.
That love is a gift
So take time and enjoy each other
Laugh and cry with each other
Stand by each other
Beside each other
Like iron on iron you’ll set sparks alight
and as they rise in the sky
the night will turn bright
as together you fight the good fight
and fix your eyes on the light.
Little girl, love well.
And someday
when there comes a man who will blow you away,
who’s your anchor in the eye of a hurricane,
not afraid of a little rain–
a man who will stand by you,
laugh and cry with you,
live, love, and die for you
come dark times or bright, who will strive toward what’s right
who takes time and lightens your life,
faith-filled and faithful,
for richer or poorer,
better or worse,
will traverse the adverse, unswerving,
and take honor in serving–
who makes you better than yourself
and then makes you something more:
let no power in hell or on earth,
the hospital or the hearse,
the heights or the depths,
when you’ve got nothing left
when you’re blessed or you’re hurt–
none of these can separate
what God has put together
Remember
Two become one, and it cannot be undone
You have a soul like the sun
So love well
And together you’ll tell
the world
what the Lord has done
In your own little way
you’re a witness of faith
You know the Name
of the one who came:
the mountain-maker
heart-shaper
ground-shaker
stone-breaker
earth-creator.
So take heart,
be brave,
be wise and be kind.
Love well.

For my daughter: be wise

Be wise, little girl.
Life is hard,
but it is also sweet.
Stay curious,
and ask the hard questions.
I know you are restless,
so be relentless.
You are searching,
yearning;
I know you feel lost,
aloft,
exhausted by the endless riposte,
but I hope that you know
you’re not alone.
Little sparrow, I know,
but follow the sun,
and he’ll guide you home.
Do not despond,
for to Christ you belong
and that makes you strong.
so shake the earth,
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
The trees are a sign:
stay grounded,
fireproof
entwined with the vine
and rooted in truth.
Be wise.
Remind yourself of the light
and make it a habit to shine.
Take hold of your passion;
unfasten
the weights that you carry
and burn bright–
like a phoenix rising from ash and gray,
colors flashing, unafraid.
But I know,
some days you don’t feel that way.
You feel lost and ashamed
You question your name
You long for what’s safe
Too tired to be brave
Lost in a haze
And you’re slipping away
Caught in the chase
Trapped in the maze
But when you’re ready to break,
pray.
Clear the stage and seek out grace.
Call his name and know you’re safe.
He doesn’t let go–
so you can.
He won’t let you fall,
so follow the call of the wind
to the edge of the limb.
Have faith.
Build your house on the rock,
and answer his knock.
Smile in the face of challenge,
unfazed, unenslaved
unscathed by the blaze.
Embrace the flames that burn the chaff away.
Don’t hide or try to ride the fence
but rather ignite.
You may be a candle or you may be a star
but whatever you do and wherever you are,
Be wise.
Strive toward the light and delight in what’s right.
You have been baptized
in sunrise.
Don’t contrive to be like
what surrounds you.
Remember what grounds you.
You are strong
and brave
and beautiful.
Seek the truth relentlessly,
unpretentiously and honestly.
Stay real.
Don’t be afraid to feel.
Open your eyes
and breathe, just once in a while.
Smile often.
You’d be surprised by the difference it makes
to be kind.
Be wise.
Never lose your wonder.
Live unencumbered,
for this is not your home.
Don’t be so afraid to blunder
that you forget to live.
See the world
as an adventure and exploration
And see its people
as a starlit generation.
Tell their stories
and reflect his glory.
Recognize,
and be wise.
Never stop learning,
and be faithful in the little things.
May you send forth springs
of joy.
Be the everyday kind of brave.
That is what makes a path-maker
culture-shaper
world-shaker
wall-breaker
change-creator.
Be bright
See with different eyes
Be kind, and little sparrow,
you will fly.
Be wise.

The Anglerfish

The anglerfish, aka Lophiiformes, are an order of bony fish that dwell in the deep, empty reaches of the ocean. Both prey and others of their own kind are few and far between.

Female Lophiiformes are characterized by their unique method of predation, in which a fleshy growth from the anglerfish’s head, called an esca, acts as a lure. The luminescence of the esca, which draws its prey from the dark and turbulent depths, comes from a bacteria that dwells in and around the esca and exists in a symbiotic relationship with the anglerfish. In addition to luring prey, the glow of the esca also serves to attract the attention of males during mating season.

Some deep-sea anglerfish also employ a unique (and slightly disturbing) method of reproduction. It was discovered when scientists first began capturing anglerfish of the ceratioid variety, and they found that all the specimens they received were female. They also noticed that almost all of them had what appeared to be smaller parasites attached to them. These “parasites” turned out to be the male anglerfish.

Ceratioids rely on parabiotic reproduction, meaning that free-living males never fully mature until they parasitize a female. Some species even experience stunted growth of certain glands, which prevents feeding, meaning that if they are slow to find a mate, they are quick to die.

The depths of the ocean are a battleground for these species, a constant struggle for survival. In the turbulent waters, life is rare, sustenance is hard to find, and the darkness is overwhelming.

Sounds like someplace else I know.

Psalm 82:5 says, “They wander about in darkness, while the whole world is shaken to the core.” Proverbs 2:13 says, “These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths.” Finally, Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Our world is like the depths of the ocean–full of darkness with no way to see, a spiritual battleground, a struggle for survival, turbulent and chaotic.

But, that is not the end of the story. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; whoever knows me will never walk in darkness.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” John 1:5 says more simply, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

More than that, “because of God’s tender mercies, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:78-79).” He gives this light to us, so that we are “more than conquerors” through Christ. Like the anglerfish, the light we hold is not our own. It comes from God. And like the anglerfish, others are drawn to this light. But this light is not one that leads to destruction, but to life.

Like the anglerfish, we may feel alone, adrift in a massive, impenetrable sea. But like the anglerfish, we, indeed, are not alone. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).” Much as the male anglerfish depends upon its mate for survival, we depend on God. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” It is from God that we receive our light and our life; apart from him, we can do nothing.

One of my favorite moments of Jesus interacting with his disciples occurs shortly after Jesus feeds the five thousand. There were huge crowds following him after that event, hungry for more, but as time passes, they begin to disperse. They heard more of Jesus’ teaching, and realized that this teaching wasn’t a philosophy that just gave out free food, this was something much bigger. Much harder. And they begin to fall away. Even the disciples said, “This is a hard teaching; who can listen to it?” Eventually, the Twelve are the only ones left. And then Jesus says, “Do you want to go away as well?” And Peter–always the first to speak–asks the simple question: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” There is no one, nowhere else that provides what Christ provides: life.

If you get discouraged by the darkness around you, remember the anglerfish. She isn’t pretty (the image above is a cartoon representation, safe for children. This is the real deal) but she reminds us that we have a light that is not our own. Let it draw you in, deeper and deeper, into dependence on him.

Blessings!
Bre

 

For my daughter: be kind

Be kind, little girl.
Life is hard
but it is also sweet.
Learn to see
past categories.
I know how you feel–
you feel insignificant, small
and fearful to fall,
and like maybe it’s not making any difference at all,
but, little girl, stand tall,
for it takes many bricks to build up a wall.
Be resilient and fond
of quirkiness.
You don’t have to belong
and that makes you strong,
so shake the earth
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
Don’t be afraid to lay it all on the line,
for your mind outshines
the stars.
You were designed for the light;
don’t be defined by what is behind.
Let go, and fill your lungs with Everest air;
taste the dewdrops, play with bears.
Never let love fall into disrepair.
Don’t stop and wait for a trumpet fanfare
when all it takes is climbing stairs.
Always give thanks for simple fare,
and hold fast to the promises.
Be honest, astonished
at the mighty and the small.
Stand tall,
and be kind.
See the people,
listen well.
Each of them has a story to tell;
You’ll be surprised how you change yourself.
Look for needs
and introduce yourself to strangers.
But I know–
It’s not safe,
You have habits to break
And time it will take
And there’s things in the way
Your path’s never been straight
And besides, you’re not brave
You’ll just make mistakes
And all you want is escape
from the maze
and the chase and the haze,
and the days
only feel longer
and the darkness gets stronger
You feel outnumbered, surrounded
but stay grounded
cause girl, you are a songbird
so sing your song from the tops of trees
Embrace grace, and fly free.
He sees every sparrow,
so feel the air flow
underneath your eagles’ wings
as you’re raised on the wind
and the mountains ring.
Be kind.
Learn to see
and to be
faithful in the mundane, everyday.
Don’t complain, but be grateful and humble.
Though the earth rumbles,
if you stumble, he will catch you.
Delight in his Word
and make a habit of right.
Practice love and dwell in the light.
Keep his face in sight.
There is no mountain that’s too tall to climb.
Seek to find, use your mind,
and be kind.
For you’d be surprised
how the little things might make a difference
beyond just this instance.
So be persistent,
go the distance,
for you were born to be a path-maker
culture-shaper
world-shaker
wall-breaker
change-creator.
Be faithful and playful
Live life with a grateful mind
and always be brave, bold
and kind.

For my daughter: be brave

Be brave, little girl.
Life is hard
but it is also sweet.
You could rock this world.
Some days, I know, you feel weak,
but you, my girl, are a nevertheless.
These days are the ones
that prove you are strong
so shake the earth
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
Treasure the sunrise
and fear not the night,
for night
is the only time
we can see the stars shine.
A million miles away,
they burn with a fury
we can’t always see,
but they’re at their brightest when the sky is darkest so
I know
You will be afraid
You may feel ashamed
Your heart, it will break
You’ll lose what felt safe
And you’ll grow tired of the days
upon days
lived in a haze
You’ll keep trying to chase
what you wanted to say
But when you can’t find your way
be brave
because you’ll be surprised
by grace.
That’s the best thing about it–
it’s surprising.
Bare your colors to the world
fearless, unashamed,
exuberant in becoming.
Let loose your mind
and release your grasp
on all that holds you still behind
and fly.
Don’t be afraid of impossible falls or unscalable walls
You have the gall to withstand the squall
so stand tall!
Leap into the mountain air
Feel the feathers in your hair
Brush the treetops with your fingertips and
hold the dewdrops, golden-kissed
and live.
Feel the fullness of creation and
be whole,
realizing the beauty of it all.
Be a star amid the dark
and be brave,
for there will come a day
when all of this will fade
and I want you to be glad
that you made
a difference.
Be different, and unashamed.
Become the truest version of yourself
and learn to be a path-maker
culture-shaper
world-shaker
wall-breaker
change-creator.
It’s in the small things,
the little things in the quiet place.
For the silent people, you will speak,
And you will whisper in their ears:
Be brave.

On changing the world

flowers1

When I was a kid, I wanted to change the world. I wanted to stand out, do something great, make a difference, leave a legacy.  I wanted to be the next Jane Austen, Albert Einstein, George Washington, Corrie ten Boom. I wanted to go somewhere no one had ever been before and do something they all thought could never be done.

When I got older (and for perspective, when I say “older,” I’m seventeen now), I started to encounter what cynical adults would call “the real world.” Stress. Expectations. Responsibilities. Pressures. Anxiety. Broken relationships. Bitter people. The overwhelming magnitude of the world.

Because see, when you’re a kid, you are the center of your universe. Your sphere is confined to the few places and people you meet in your neighborhood and at school, in structured, organized environments. But as you mature, you start to realize that hey, there’s something bigger than me. The reality that there are billions of people in the world, each one as unique and faceted and complicated as you –it opens your mind to new wonders, but it can also start to wear on your dreams. Changing the world is a lot harder once the definition of “world” becomes something so overwhelming. Really, it’s not realistic to imagine that I’ll be an Elon Musk or a J.K. Rowling, not when there’s so many people who could do it so much better than me. Besides, there were other things to think about. There were things to be done and I was busy, busy, busy just trying to make it through puberty, for heavens’ sake.

But lately, I’ve been starting to think that maybe little-kid me had something right after all. Not that anyone a hundred years from now will know my name–maybe that isn’t really the goal. But maybe I can make a difference–and maybe that has less to do with the billions, and more to do with the twenty other students in my classroom right now.

Because when it comes to change–whether it’s through a powerful book or an incredible discovery or, heck, a viral video–it has nothing to do with any of those things in themselves; it’s about the effect they have on people. Real people. People with as complex and wonderful and mysterious and full a mind as you.

And maybe a better measure of success than the list of achievements on your resume or the trophies on your shelf or the number of people who know your name, is simply to focus on those right around you, and on what you can do to make their lives better, even the smallest of ways. I’m learning to love my family. My neighbors. My friends. Those are the things that really count. Maybe all it takes to change the world is just 10% more kindness. I never forgot that girl in front of me in line who paid for my coffee, even though I don’t know her name or her face.

To me, being young and twenty means you’re in the thick of things, the stresses and pressures and demands of life, but you still have the clear eyes to see what really matters. May you sow flowers wherever you step and learn to love unselfishly.

Blessings!
Bre

 

P.S. This post was also featured on Jennifer’s blog, BEING Young and Twenty! Thanks so much to Jennifer for this opportunity. You can also check out this post on her site by clicking here. Blessings!