Missing Miah, Round Two

Pre-East Coast move I probably talked to him a couple times a month. Post move, every couple of months. Since his sudden passing, I wish I could talk to him on average several times a week.

We’re so like sheep. Just walking out our daily routine: food, water, sleep. Never thinking that the routine, all that is daily & hourly taken for granted would every change. Never thinking that the people in our lives, the people that make up our lives, would ever be gone.

I’ve come to believe that who we are as individuals is largely composed of the effect of the people whom we love and the people who love us. Like it or not, like them or not, the people in our lives mold us.

I was so broken at the idea of how the lack of him in my life could change me. I was afraid that the effect that he had made in me would slowly fade away, afraid that as the years passed I would forget him. But I haven’t. So much of KC reminds me of him.

And it’s not just Miah, it’s all of “those that have gone before”. I feel the pain of the missing, the ache of the longing for the ones I love that I can’t see, touch or talk to. In the stillness of remembering I find myself regularly composing letters to them in my mind.

As I fill the bird feeders around my house I think of my grandpa and unintentionally it starts,

Dear Grandpa, my bird feeder collection is starting to rival yours. Does it make you glad to see me feeding the birds….

A Friday night will roll around and I have no plans, and I remember when Jeremy left and I so needed a brother. On those sad Friday nights I’d call Miah and he’d take me to coffee or dinner. Once, after telling him a story of a weird encounter with a man in an airport he grabbed my phone, took a picture of himself flexing and said, “There, when you travel make that picture the background on your phone and tell all the creeps that you have a boyfriend!” That picture brought so much laughter every time I stumbled across it. Driving home from work I whisper,

Dear Miah, thank you for loving me so well…..

The lawn mower breaks down…. again… And with a deep sigh I look to the heavens and it begins,

Dear Bob, when you were alive I always had a working lawn mower…..

Changes are coming. My little weary squeezes at the changes that I know about that are around the corner, and fears the things I have yet to know. I take deep breaths and thank the Lord for the years, the time in KC where so many of the friends and people whom I love live less than 5 minutes away, and I grieve them as they leave. With each move, each friend that suddenly becomes distant the view of my life just as suddenly changes and I wonder how long the old normal that has become normal again, will stay.

I wonder how long I will stay. How long will I live on my parents property, in the house my Daddy fixed for me? How long will I live with my sister and BIL? I’ve been working and working the property to make it beautiful again and each day I wonder, am I doing this for myself or will someone else be one to enjoy it?

The questions, the pain in the missing, it would utterly overwhelm but for the anchor in my soul. The hope, of life that never dies, of love that never ends. The hope in know that each day brings me closer to the City, the New Jerusalem, the home that never changes, the life where there is no missing. Can you imagine? Just stop for a second! Take a deep breathe, push the crowding thoughts away, and for a moment just allow yourself to image. Life. Lived to the fullest. No goodbyes, no missing.

And those letters I write turn to Him. Wondering at the real life that is being lived with the Lord, the unimaginable joy from those I love who are WITH Him.

And that’s the only resolution. To live “from the end” as Bonhoeffer wrote, to live each day with the end as our hope and our prize and our goal. And to fight to love better those whom are still with us.

Do not take them for granted, those family members, those friends. I meant to call him the week before the run, but I didn’t. That conversation will come, but I will wait long for it.

Don’t wait long.

Express yourself, verbalize the things you think, the things that you love about them, the things that you’re grateful for. The things you would wish a thousand times that you’d said if they were suddenly gone from your life. Be transparent, be real, be grateful.

Lewis said that “the fact that our hearts yearn for something Earth can’t supply is proof enough that heaven must be our home.” My heart yearns more by the day. I want your kingdom Jesus.


The gladness of his heart

That’s what Josh tweeted this morning.

This is the day of the gladness of the gladness of my heart

It was crazy, it was crazy.

And it was beautiful. Having a hand to play in the creation of the decorations I was dang proud.

She was beautiful. Having a hand to play in the choosing of the wedding dress I was glad and satisfied.

The bridesmaids were beautiful, the groomsmen looked great, and I was so thankful for the love shown by so many who slaved and helped to make this day so magical.

Today my sister was a beautiful princess. She held my hand, frantically txted me over hair & makeup & missing car keys, I did my best to alleviate her stress & solve the numerous emergencies which would have been an impossibility without the Bohlenders, Annie, Joanna Eitel, my dad & aunt.

Today I gave my princess away, to a man who was stunned by her beauty and upon kissing her for the first time at the end of the ceremony declared ‘I think I’m going to faint.’

The day of the gladness of his heart.

I go to bed, as always, too late. Grateful, satisfied, joyful for them. Tomorrow I take my princess to the airport & send her & her new husband off for two weeks in Spain. Considering the last few vaca’s Kat & I have had together she’ll probably spend the whole first week sleeping.

Somehow we’d developed quite the reputation. The Styles girls. And I go to bed, mourning. Grieving the separation that comes with cleaving. Grieving my life forever changed along with her name.

But this morning I woke early enough to grab coffee with Bob Falkner before the madness began. He stared deep into my eyes and told me like he has hundreds of times, to work hard, accomplish much, cry freely and do hard things.

Getting in the car on Saturday morning to head back to VA will be a hard thing. The last two crazy weeks have been wonderful none the less due the presence of my tribe. Annie, The B’s, Jacob & Kyle, Kat. My constants, my faithful ones. But by the grace of God I go back to the un-known, unsettled, unfamiliar and press on for the grace of knowing Christ and loving Him as He loves.  All unto a day, the gladness of His heart.

There’s gonna be a wedding. It’s the sole reason why we live, to love like Him, to love Him like He loves. Fill us up Jesus, with the gladness of your heart.

Fuzzy Lines

The last week has been one lone wedding preparation blur. Between the chaos & constant changing of the schedule I’m trying to eat at least once a day & a week after my plane landed am still looking for a coffee pot.

Today was spent in a salon, stitching circles together for the alter piece while the stylist decided how to do Kat’s hair for her wedding. He finished, she asked for my opinion, I gave suggestions based off of previous conversations, he altered the style, I went back to stitching. Glancing up to answer a question I caught a look in her eye & time froze for just a moment. A wave of something washed over her face, expectancy, maybe trembling, an excitement I’ve never seen there before & one that I have never known. She is preparing herself for a bridegroom.

And for just a moment we were little girls in the basement of a tiny ranch style home in Omaha Nebraska, swimming in wedding dresses bought at different estate sales. White gloves pushed up nearly to our arm pits, heels the size only a giant could wear, twirling before a cracked mirror & dreaming of something we couldn’t possibly understand. Memories grow fuzzy through the trials of each day that pass, and I’ve so committed myself to living out each day that the lines have blurred, but just for a moment I could see us.

Today is Tuesday April 26 2011 & it is Kat’s 27th birthday. We have lived together for 22 of those years & shared a room for 20 of them. Some times I took it for granted, some times I fought to remember what a gift it was to be so near to my sister. Never did I imagine that it could change for more than the few months that we lived apart in different seasons. Never could I have seen this week.

Thursday is Kat’s wedding day & I just can’t fathom where the years have gone, or how she went from that tiny little girl in a giant antique wedding gown to the gorgeous woman that she is today, waiting to wear the dress that hangs in my closet. I’m so thankful to have lived these years as her little sister, her fighter, and her friend. Thursday everything changes, even her name. As of Thursday she will never be my roommate again, and my current adventure will become a little more stark, a little more real.

Dear Sister, it has been my honor to serve you these years. To bring you icepacks & medicine through your constant headaches, to hold your hair as you puked through countless migraines, to listen while you cried, to fight for your beauty, to fight for your heart, to make you laugh and hold your hand when you didn’t have words & neither did I. It has been my joy to be your friend, to listen to music far too loud, sing songs for years that bring you smiles, to order your food so you don’t have to talk to strangers, to pump your gas in the winter & shovel the sidewalk because you hate the cold, to mow the lawn & plant you flowers & come to visit you at work. I have been your champion as best I could until Thursday. And it will be my honor on that day to give your hand to the champion that your Father has prepared for you.

Oh these moments when the lines become clear, so painful and yet drastically beautiful.

Bridesmaids Dresses

Today looked a little something like this:

Actually let’s begin with yesterday. After dinner & a house church meeting at the Sawyers, Jeremy, Jenny & I had a long, sleepy drive back into F-burg. Somewhere mid drive Jen & I hit our second wind. Very hard. At the same time. It’s hard to describe the way my sister-in-law & I interact. Hard to describe & yet so enjoyable to experience. Anyway, last night’s  car ride exploded with mirth & though we should have parted ways to go to bed I found myself following them into the country drawn by the promised fire. Since the move I’ve had a couple of nights like this, staying up way too late in their kitchen gathered around the fireplace buried in laughter and bizarre conversation with the two of them & Chad Easter. Last night the boys tramped outside while I set out to start the fire. Unfortunately I didn’t know anything about their flue & thoroughly smoked out the kitchen before realizing my mistake. Blame my country roots, you don’t have to open the flue when the stars are your ceiling. Anyway it proved for much laughter & Jen & I had the kitchen windows open & a blazing inferno to greet the boys who eventually found their way inside. These have by far been my favorite nights and last night was no exception and left me pulling into my driveway somewhere around 4am.

Thus begins today, bed around 4.30 sleeping for 9 hours and then throwing myself into yet another Sunday of working on Kat’s wedding.

Wash the cloth that will be cut & sewn into circles & flowers & strips for garland.

Find out where Bridesmaids are in ordering their dresses.

Discover major issue with Bridesmaids dressed.

Spend the next 4 hours on the phone with David’s Bridal and Bridesmaids

Look for dress options for the Flower girls

Email Email Phone Call Email

Put cloth in the Dryer

Phone Call Email Dinner

Message the guy working on decorations

Email Phone Call

File Taxes

Update Sister

Call Kelsey. Done.

Half the Bridesmaids have dresses purchased and being shipped tomorrow. The other half…. well I’ll do my best. I keep reminding myself that in a month all of the work will pay off, Kat & Josh will be married, we will be ecstatic to stand with them on the day they enter into covenant with each other before God & hopefully that emotion will mean that no one even cares what dress they are wearing.

I have 3 phone calls & 4 emails needing to be done tomorrow, before my 9.30am meeting that leads into a full day of work, a 4pm set and 4 hours in the House of Prayer, and I’ll pull in the driveway around 9.30 pm and still need to fold the mountain of laundry that I did last week and still needing to unpack my suitcase from my trip from 2 weeks ago. These days are one long blur, B4L into Prayer furnace come home and work on wedding. Next day: JHOP into B4L come home and work on wedding. Alternate, repeat. Now that the end is in sight with the Bridesmaids dresses the wedding details will dramatically slow down and I’ll breathe a little in between. It’s hard to help your sister plan & walk out her wedding party from half way across the country. It’s still worth it, every single day, every single moment.

11.39 & I should have gone to bed 40 minutes ago. But the guitar in the corner is drawing me gently & I’ll not sleep if I don’t spend some time singing with the Lord. Working for Bound4Life for the last 3 months has been an incredible experience. I love this little team, love being so close to Jen & J again, love my days praying in the JHOP in DC, & love the little bit I’ve been able to experience of the community at the Prayer Furnace. Sleep ever alludes me, & almost a day does not go by without tears washing my homesick heart, still I am thankful for the leadership of the Lord. You’re such a good Shepherd Jesus.

And when or if I should ever marry, it will be done in a Forrest &  my bridesmaids will wear flannel & go barefoot. There will be no problem with money, venue, dresses or shoes. Amen.

the magic of words

Something happens to me after midnight. The hands on the clock line up & in that single magical moment, emotions & minutes just as suddenly become clear & words flood through my mind. My fingers itch for a  pen or more often these days, a key board.

Today was the March for Life, probably the 20th march I’ve been a participant in, but my first in the Capital. But I’ll not write about that now.

Right now I want to write about my planner. Yes yes, we live in the information/electronic age but I’ve not yet caught up to it, frankly I hope not to. Each year I purchase a paper planner within the first seven days of the new year. A few years back I settled into a rhythm of loving the Moleskin planner, (thank you Matt Lockett for the White People Love link, it’s true) but this year I couldn’t find one. Surprisingly in my search for a second best I struck gold.

Ok maybe you won’t care but I found the 2011 Songbird’s planner. Each week contains a picture of a different songbird. It’s beautiful, its prophetic, it’s animals….. I’m happy 🙂 Tucked away inside the front cover is about 15 pages of mostly useless, random information though, most of which has found itself torn out & happily residing in my recycling bin BUT…. some of it is strangely helpful such as the “Useful Foreign Phrases” page.

So to all of my Japanese readers “Watashi wa rikai shi te i nai” and to my french subscribers “Bonjour!”

Ok that was really just for Annie.

What’s really on my mind tonight is the idea that little changes are the hardest to reconcile & to move past. For example; tonight my sister was reading The Singer. I know because she kept tweeting quotes & I have most of the book written on my heart. This only bothered me because…. we read this book together. Correction, I read this book out loud to her, usually when she has a migraine or during our many Emergency Room Adventures.

The fact that she was reading the book is good, because it is a sure-fire way to stir up the heart of a Styles. But her reading it without me there? Well that hurts. And it stirs up a plethora of memories, because we don’t just read The Singer out loud, I read everything fantastic out loud to her. This list ranges from Miller’s books, the Chronicles of Narnia to excerpts from The Man who was Thursday. I read & get my dramatic out & she listens & gets the books in. So in a minute I was stepping though memories of hundreds of nights, different situations of us reading together.

It’s just what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. But this little life change, the moving half way across the country? Well it changes everything, instantly. I’m not there to read good books out loud to Kat at night & I’m not going to be. And even though everything changed the moment I stepped on the plane, it’s going to take a long time to fully adjust to those changes. I can even feel confident in saying that I won’t hardly have begun to adjust by the time she get’s married & we’ll start the process all over again.

While reading a tear-stained txt from her about missing me while reading that book today, my eyes flooded with tears & my soul whispered “remember”. And I gave that moment back to the Lord.

Everytime it costs to follow You, count it as my worship.

I will continue to set my heart to give every single costly minute, every single costly emotion back to the Lord & ask for Him to write it in His book as done out of a heart of love.

Someday that process might be easier, but maybe not. Since someday hasn’t come yet I really don’t know. But I’m determined to offer my body as a living sacrifice. It is my spiritual act of worship. It is my practical act of worship. The practical side now is calling my mind & heart to remember, & to do it for the glory of God. The spiritual side now is that He actually counts it when I don’t yet believe.

Rustling Leaves

  • “Rustling Leaves” is the title of my blog. And also the title of my random ranting posts which I believe do not always have to be on Fridays, unlike Randy Bohlender.
  • I gave Ole’ Blue, my faithful Blue Sunburst Johnson guitar to a beloved member of my KC family, not without great mourning. That guitar is soaked in tears…. and probably snot. Sorry Katie. Upon first inspection of my new guitar (A Pine Seagull) my thoughts went like this:
    • It is not blue (Down note).
    • There is a bird in flight on the top (Def a happy note)
    • There is no buzzing when I strum (a REAL happy note)
    • ‘Oh my gosh I ‘m not as bad of a guitar player as I thought…. a lot of it was due to the guitar….’
  • This leads me to missing Danika. Poor, poor Danika has suffered my guitar playing more than anyone, and convinced me that it moves the Lord.
  • This leads me to missing coffee. This city leaves me feeling besieged: there is ONE good coffee shop which is a good 20 minute drive away. Though my french press is with me the grinder is in Missouri & I don’t know how to make it in a drip – pot. Consider the habit forcibly kicked.
  • My father ordered me to sell my Geo as soon as possible “if it even makes it to Virginia.” Well that faithful little Choncho made it here great & now that I’m looking to sell it & make a more reliable purchase…. well yeah, I still want a Subaru. Little girls are allowed to dream
  • The 5 year old belonging to the family that I live with has declared me family. After a week and a half. Either I’m just that lovable or she needs some boundaries lessons.
  • My sister sends me messages that make me burst into tears at least once a day. Pray for grace for her & Joshua as they try to move forward with their wedding planning.
  • Leaving my mattress behind means I’m back in a normal sized bed & own no normal sized sheets. Therefore I am borrowing them from my brother. Yes, yes I am sleeping on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sheets from our childhood.
  • That might actually explains why I’ve had such bizarre dreams lately.

With me, where I am.

I value personal time.  And by value, I am NOT saying “in theory I like the general idea of having time to myself”. I am saying that in order to function it is nearly necissary to have that time, particularly first thing in the morning & then again at the end of the day. The best mornings begin with fluttering eyelids, weak attempts to grasp the wispy memory of dreams, then staring at the ceiling & having my first thought be “Good morning Jesus”. It’s even better when I am able to not actually speak, but just think to Him for the first hour of my day. Silence & Conversation as I go through the motions of preparation for the madness that too often follows.

The best days end nearly the same; the roommates one by one go to bed & I am left alone to straighten the house, put away dishes, feed the cat, pick up my guitar, maybe sing a little but mostly think thoughts directed at my friend, all in silence. If I can actually do this, give real time to being alone, silent & intentionally directing my thoughts & inner dialogue to the Lord first & then last in the day, I find my heart at peace in between.

But that is the only time I am typically & intentionally alone.  Before doing anything, it is natural to send a message  to see who is free & wants to ride along. I don’t mean sending out txt’s like buckshot, but thinking of who I’ve been wanting to catch a few minutes of conversation with, or what teen has been asking to spend time with me, or which good friend I’ve been wanting to tell something to without having the time or context. I’ve fought to learn intentionality in my relationships even in the midst of such a blasted busy community & my own blasted busy schedule & mostly that has expressed itself in simple multitasking, aka, bringing people into whatever I’m doing.

It’s that easy. Intentionality – it’s a big value in my life, something I fight for in random interactions & in my close friendships, & though I fail often I try to do it well. And the truth is that I’ve come to a place where I don’t know quite how not to.

It’s not that I am afraid of being alone, I love & need time to write, to think, to walk, to breathe, to sit in my backyard on my tree swing and stare at the leaves or the stars or the sunrise. It’s more that I love to have the people who are in my heart involved in the things that make my day’s move forward, with me & doing those things alongside me.

Kat & I go to Walmart late at night. Alyssa sits at my table late at night playing cards & discussing the prophetic, Further Seems Forever, & the dynamic of male/female interactions in our community. Danika & I burn sparklers on the porch and dance in the rain. Theresa runs errands with me so we can talk on the way & helps talking me into attending social functions & staying longer than 5 minutes. Jacob let’s me sit in the jeep when he goes on security rounds, or comes over late at night to sit on my porch & talk me through whatever is keeping me from sleeping. Seth txt’s me to ride with him to Backwoods when he needs socks. Trisha sits in Higher Grounds & listens to me rant about the latest thing burning in my mind. Annie stays up late to get $1 ice cream cups at Hyvee & cry in the car as we talk about dreams & Jesus.

There’s the list of friends who come over for breakfast, the Saturday morning pancake crew, the evening Nerts group, the “run to target and back” list, the “run to QT and back list”, different people for different activities, but all personal & intentional times of interaction & connecting. It’s a skill I’ve worked really hard at learning well while maintaining communion with the Lord and fighting for my time with Him. And here I am, 3 days away from moving & leaving all of those dear, beloved ones behind.

Last night, found me standing in my kitchen talking through my fears & insecurities about the future & the question marks before me with the friend who normally literally yells at me until I laugh & come to a right frame of mind. Right at the point of conversation when I anticipated him to jump in with a loud response I realized he was staring at me… expressionless. I continued until convinced he wasn’t even paying attention, then realized tears were pooling in his eyes. Insert me, erupting in sobs as he simply say’s “I’m going to miss you”.

Needless to say I had a hard time sleeping last night. Part of that may be because I’d sent everything to Virginia yesterday with my brother…. including all of my bedding…. & didn’t realize it until everyone in the house was asleep & all I could find was 1 random blanket… & it was cold. But I lay in that room flooded with memories, knowing this next season is good & this move is good, but knowing it’s taken 5 years to develop these relationships I am leaving behind, & then suddenly there He was. You know the feeling, when out of no where the presence of the Lord overwhelms your heart & mind. And I heard Him whisper, “Yeah I feel the same way, I want my friends with me too”.

It’s John 17 – Jesus longing for His friends to be WITH Him, right where He is, feeling His heartbeat & hearing the words on His lips. He longs for us. Wants us just with Him, doing whatever He is doing. The invitation is before us all throughout the day to enter into His heart & do that with Him, & I understood that a little more last night. Understood the invitation to walk into that communion with him, & the invitation to walk into that longing with Him. I want to be His friend, even in the places where it hurts, I mean you know you have a good friend when they can sit with you & hurt with you.

Jesus I want to sit with You, even to hurt with You. And I want to be with You where You are.