Recent Updates Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • acleveland 11:02 pm on April 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply  


    I read an article the other day by a woman who had been through a lot during her life. She had a lot of pent up anger and confusion and lingering mourning. She wrote about her pain in a way that nobody could fake or embellish – it was raw and it was real. 
    If you leave those emotions unattended, it can be toxic. They fester, swell and corrode until all that remains is bitterness that is frail at the edges and could crumble apart between your fingers. It is like iron eaten away by rust.
    When a shiny piece of metal rusts, it does not happen overnight. It is gradual and it happens on an atomic level, beginning when iron greets oxygen with a hug. Oxygen is happy to have a place to stay as it moves in.  Add some time and some water, and oxygen and iron will combine. Finally the metal’s bonds loosen, forming rust. 
    It starts out small and nobody sees it. We water the plants, drive to the grocery, take classes at school, write essays, go to work, sleep a little, and waste some time. And as we are doing this, we don’t notice that the rust has bloomed and spread outwards. It’s visible now; it has been sitting unnoticed long enough. When you weren’t paying attention it crept out of its shell and consumed its surroundings. Now what do you do with it? Rust can’t be erased and the metal can’t be restored. It has been altered on its most basic level and that’s the end of the story.
    The woman who wrote the article had a cousin who died young. He was her best friend. His funeral landed on her birthday. Consequently, she didn’t celebrate her birthday for ten years. She ignored it, like it didn’t exist. She ignored all her questions and her sadness and they acted like rust in her body, combining and growing like oxygen with iron. As she was preoccupied, her emotions grew until they couldn’t be ignored anymore. They were visible and knocking on the big wooden doors of her mind with determination and resolve. 
    The difference here is that she had options. She could continue ignoring everything, hopeful that she could be restored. She could open the door and let her pain flood her, overtake her, and pin her to the ground. Or, she could open the door and use what comes flooding in for good.
    She chose to do the latter.
    She was almost empowered by her pain as she decided to let it be constructive. She quit ignoring her birthday, but instead accepted it for the bittersweet day that it had become. Dance became her means of expression and her own way of greeting the sadness that kept trying to settle down and rust.
    Just because she dealt with it in this way doesn’t mean that she wasn’t changed by her experiences. She was. But, in her case, she decided to let it change her for the better. 

  • acleveland 10:16 pm on April 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    this is what happens when i’m tired 

    The sound of goodbyes is like sandpaper. It’s course and gritty and it makes me clench my teeth and shut my eyes tight. Some things will never leave, they bring a constant stream of hellos. They are the miniscule details of life that deserve to be blown into full focus. The rainbow splitting and scattering in the soap bubbles floating from the sink and the feeling of blankets swallowing your legs and when a little kid reaches for your hand and music that stirs something you thought was dead and gone. It’s like all these little gifts are being thrown at us all day and we’re too busy to notice. These gifts are practically pelting us in the midst of our ingratitude and discontent. These gifts are begging to quench our thirst for a sign that this all matters. They are the small stitches that work together to form one miraculous whole. The foundations of our lives are built upon the seemingly trivial details. Build a strong foundation by embracing the stitches or watch everything crumble when you don’t let them strengthen you.
    I get so stuck on the rips and the tears and the inconveniences that I discount the small things, and that’s nothing less than being myopic. We permit ourselves to be discontent instead of dealing with the snags and wholeheartedly applauding the seams. I learned in Biology that the average person has anywhere from 50 to 100 genetic mutations. The mutations are snags in the original design, but it doesn’t detract from us as people. I am still Amanda, 75 mutations and all. Despite the mutations, I am grateful for health. Why can’t we do the same thing in daily life?
    We don’t think about atoms much. At least, I don’t.  But without the intricacies of the electrons and the orbitals and the protons, there would be no “bigger picture”. Without the smallest things, there would be nothing significant.
    Everything in this world can be turned into an analogy for something so much bigger than ourselves. The growth of trees, the roots, the water that falls from the sky.

    I’ve had days of gold and I’ve had days of grey but without them both I’d just be a blank page.
    Blank pages bring rage and uncertainty and a lack of experience, an unwillingness to begin. to conquer. to try. To perservere until the unstained white page has both its tears and its repairs, its luster and its shade. The shiny and the dull go hand in hand, and one is nothing without the other. How would we be able to appreciate the shiny if we didn’t have the contrast of dull?

    New favorite song: Daughter – Landfill

  • acleveland 10:42 pm on April 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    i just felt like writing. 

    I read The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway for a research paper. Hemingway was in World War I, an excessive drinker, and, well, a womanizer. How scandalous.
    After the war, he couldn’t help noticing his generation’s loss of direction. This time is now known as the “lost generation”, and it was the primary focus of the book. At first, I didn’t understand the book’s significance. All I saw was a group of people that partied, got drunk, went to bull fights, and fought over girls. The narrator made brief references to the war, but more often than not it was ignored.
    Eventually, I realized the book wasn’t some simple story about war, parties, and the joys of being inebriated. It was about pretending. All these people were branded and scarred by the war. It was this atrocity that tore apart their ideas of humanity’s capabilities. It shredded their hope and made them question their security. It shattered their perfectly crystallized identities. After something so traumatizing happens, you don’t just forget about it. It gets threaded into your DNA, it’s hardwired into your brain until neutral images spark painful emotions. Everything is rimmed with a stain of black, bleeding, melting, eroding at the edges. Yet onward they go, focusing on the trivial and the mundane, drowning their ghosts in a glass. Empty, broken, ringing laughter that everyone accepts as full and healthy.
    A book that was published in the 1920’s can be as pertinent as a book written today. Maybe even more so, if you’re including books about love triangles between an annoying girl, a sparkly vampire, and a freaky werewolf. Spoiler alert: Freaky Werewolf falls in love with Annoying Girl’s newborn. Can you say pedophile in the works?
    Anyway. We live in such a distracted society. How often are we ever fully engaged in anything? Conversations are interrupted by catchy ring tones and text message alerts. The majority opts to sleep in class instead of stretch their attention span to above the length of a Call of Duty session. It’s a symptom of a greater disease that none of us can escape, but that we can decide how to handle. The theme of The Sun Also Rises is both universal and timeless. No one escapes the grips of pain; everyone faces the temptation to evade pain’s influence. It’s a fact that will never change. People use drugs and alcohol and all these things as alternatives to their inner demons. It’s this outward manifestation of an internal issue.
    But it’s not just through substances that people disregard reality. There’s a war going on. People are starving while our pantries are stuffed. Innocent people are wasting away in jail because others are too self-absorbed to make it right. People are killing their fellow man due to issues of race and prejudice and hate. However, it’s more convenient and more comfortable to focus on celebrity gossip or a royal wedding. Theyprovoke more interest, attention, and conversation than painful topics such as the war or the plummeting economy. Although the war and the economy are more pertinent to common people’s daily lives, comfort outweighs relevance. It is easy to discount certain people in the public as apathetic, but really, their avoidance could signify pain.

    New favorite song: Carbon Ribs – John Mark McMillan

  • acleveland 9:40 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply  


    The other night I was driving through the sea of city lights. Their bright burns spread like tentacles and soaked into the sky, slathering the velvet backdrop with the 1000 watt bulbs and reflections off billboard advertisements. The stars hid under their shields in order to protect themselves from the light. The jeweled sky turns to a faded and blurred sheet, a canvas for commercialism and chaos, traffic and business. I strain my eyes, searching for the pinhole glimmer, eager to catch a glimpse of something molded by God and suspended in His breath for all to see and marvel at, but the stars are covered by the lights, the bustle, the constant ries for material satisfaction. The people are looking for some type of wonder to fill the void inside them; the void that misses being amazed, like children are, by the seemingly trivial.
    But don’t we have the same story as those invisible stars?
    Fashioned from dust and bound by love, we are the embodiment of an idea that sprang from God. His fingerprints are embedded in the fabric of our skin and in the tracks of our veins. this artwork, this temple, this body that God himself calls a masterpiece. This is our gift to house our truest and most fundamental selves: our souls. Yet, just like the greedy city lights, envious of the stars’ beauty, the world and its defenses attempt to take control. “Feed them lies and bathe them in temptation, brand them with scars and haunt them with regret.
    Disguise this as beauty, as fun, as life.
    Disguise these diseases as health, as normalcy.

    Paint a layer of the world and its colors on the people and pray that their original selves don’t shine through.”
    If our potential cracks through the shell of dried, stale, earthly paint – we win. We would slam the lies to the ground, strip off the chains that keep our hopes from soaring, and most of all – we would scare the world that thought he could hold us as blank captives, like the lights and the sky.

    Somewhere in a secluded area where the crickets are loud the stars shine bright and free, twinkling like a smile. Somehow we can do the same.

    New favorite song: Ships in the Night – Mat Kearney

  • acleveland 8:20 pm on October 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    if it’s been one time, it’s been a million 

    This year has been a tidal wave of emotions. It’s a whirlwind that picks me up and spins me in a thousand different directions and I’m left scrambling, searching to find the remains of a life I recognized. But not all the changes are bad. The other night, I was kept awake by a growing, infectious list of worries. They were parasitic and stemmed from eachother, turning into a massive case of insomnia. I counted the number of things I had to worry about until I ran out of fingers to keep track. And once I ran out, I started again.

    School. Missing my friends that are at college. Classes. Applications. Family. Scheduling. Questions. Jobs. Clubs. Wyldlife. Church. Keeping my sanity.
    The list never seemed to end. I wish I had been counting sheep instead of stresses, because the next day I was exhausted. However, the list seemed a lot more managable in the light of the day. I couldn’t handle anything at 1:00 am. I couldn’t reschedule conflicting appointments, find my church a new youth director, plan to finally see my friends, or write my scholarship essay. I couldn’t go visit my grandmother in her nursing home and make sure she was doing okay. I couldn’t go hug my dad and tell him that I miss him. All I could do was lie in my bed and send my wishes floating to the ceiling.
    But as the sun rose, so did my options. With that light, things seemed a lot less menacing and overwhelming.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness that comes with senior year, or your best friends moving away, or pressures, or high expectations. Eventually, all the colors of chaos blend together to form pitch black, like what surrounded me in my room that night. That’s why we have to be intentional in pursuing some type of light in our life. Whether that’s writing or playing a sport or whatever, we create it. We can choose to hide away in the dark, wallowing in our worries, or we can get up and do something about it.

    I’m glad that the sun rose or else I’d still be sitting in my bed dreaming of all that could go wrong.

    New favorite song: Busted Heart – For King and Country

  • acleveland 3:54 pm on May 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply  


    Today was the senior’s last day of high school. Ninety percent of my friends at school are seniors, and it feels unnatural and surreal to watch them graduate and leave, while I’m stuck at Farragut for another year.  I understand that the people in my life will cycle around. Some will come, some will go, and some will be the outline of my life..holding everything together.  I’m happy that my friends are going to college and opening a new, exciting chapter of their life. I’m happy that my old youth pastor is following the call to minister elsewhere. I’ve accepted that my granddad is no longer with us. But sometimes facts of life are hard to absorb, like they’re too heavy and thick to fit under my skin.
    Some relationships are like waves. They build and grow, gathering more force and care with each second, and then the wave peaks and gradually slopes downwards until it crashes on the shore, leaving me wondering “where did it go?”. Desperately, I claw at the sand, grasping at any remaining chance I have to keep them with me. The sand and my hopes slide through my fingers, leaving a trail of hurt. So I begin searching for new waves, waves that won’t leave – anything to replace the emptiness and the confusion that was left in the wake.
     As I drift away from the shore, all I find is cheap imitations, drawn on rough souvenir shirts and shiny photographed postcards. Gift shop doors slam and faceless people rush past me as I pay $15 for a tee-shirt I’ll never wear.
    Then I head back to the beach as the sun is setting, casting a light on the sand. I see the imprints of the waves that have crashed on the beach. They have left their mark, they are not forgotten, and they remain, even if it’s in a different form. There are endless opportunities to harness each incoming wave, learning it and knowing it before it crashes on the shore. I thank the sun for revealing things to me that I could not see before.

    New favorite song: Turning Tables – Adele

    • Douglas 4:44 pm on May 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Firstly, Adele Adele Adele. Secondly, I love you. Thirdly, your extended metaphor captured the feeling completely.

  • acleveland 10:06 pm on March 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    who is this 

    I never used to get angry. Anger seemed like an emotional taboo – keep it hidden or it will hurt people. Better yet, don’t feel it at all. I stuffed it down until it transformed into a nice manageable package, blood red and pulsating. Replace anger with silence turned into my life’s motto, and I continued to take the passive approach, because confronting the source of my anger seemed too risky and harsh. I would rather deal with little explosive sacks of anger burning inside of me then resolve something.
    Lately, though, anger has been toxic. Each irritation throws another weight on the pile until I can’t take it anymore. It’s not that I lash out at people, it’s that I let each incident sear into my mind until my outlook becomes cynical and bitter. Anger poisons from the inside out, like a cancer infecting gentleness and tenderness. It spreads and grows and worsens, fueled by itself. It corrodes the sweet words, and sarcasm leaks in as the kindness becomes hollow.
    I get angry at school over too many things: schoolwork, a test grade, things I hear people say, the way high schoolers treat each other. It grows like a disease. Then I get home and I’m angry about homework, lack of time, being tired. Then I lie in my bed and I’m angry about myself.

    I’ve been guilty about my anger. After reading some passages, I noticed that Jesus got angry, too. His passion for people, his LOVE for people, ignited anger when they were treated badly, or when they hurt themselves by turning away from God. He used his anger to bring about change – to call people out and to seek justice. He used anger to advance a more righteous life that God desired. Really, his anger was mixed with grief. My anger is just pure rage, and it’s almost never constructive.
    I have a lot to learn regarding anger and how to use it for good. Anger is not wrong, but it can lead to wrong actions. Let Christ teach you how to handle this tough emotion, and it can turn into righteous passion instead. Let injustice and ungodliness provoke anger instead of pointless worldly events.

    “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 129: 23-24

    New favorite song: You Mean The World To Me – David Gray

  • acleveland 8:29 pm on March 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    a manifest 

    Pull me out of this slumber, this confusion, this mass of work and sleepless nights. The strain hooks and tugs and I comply, striving to accomodate the clock. Blankets of obligations suffocate my schedule and all the while I’m craving for peace, for God, for feeling valued and loved. I beg for renewal, for sunshine and silver clouds. I want to thread melody back into songs, I want to emphasize the meaning in otherwise empty words. Push me to my knees and watch me arise from the ashes. Work me, push me, test my limits. As long as this heart is streaming life, running on one truth, I will look to the horizon and remember that there is land I cannot see. 
     I don’t trust the image I see in the mirror or mangled bodies in magazines. I don’t trust the words dripping in deceit that whisper phrases of inadequacy. I don’t trust the ads I see of boys and girls in perfect relationships, complete with ceaseless googly eyes and tender words. Relationships aren’t perfect, and they aren’t always easy.
    Some nights, guards are pierced by the acidic message “you don’t add up”. One too many criticisms stowed away in the too many days restraining any sign of blooming life. On those nights, it’s easy to feel immobilized. A few days ago, I sat in a chair and let the wave overtake me. AP US History was on my desk, the radio was blasting, my phone was buzzing, my backpack was spilled across the floor, grandparents on my mind, the dog was barking, the heating was smothering in my room, blankets were calling my name, hunger gnawed, and butterflies were creeping out of their cocoons in my stomach, bursting forth and exploring their familiar home.
    If I had taken a second, something could have hit me harder than anything else. Something could have struck me with more force than any family issue, deadline, or drumbeat.
    Peace was hiding, but I was too blinded to see it. I slaved away, fueled by my own anxiety and pressure and racing thoughts. What if instead I had run off peace and hope? Challenge for the week..wherever you are.

    New favorite song: Unwell – Matchbox Twenty

  • acleveland 8:41 pm on March 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  


    I like running because nothing can erase it. If I run four miles, that’s it, it’s done, there’s nothing that cancels it out. I invested, I worked, I gained. It’s protected by history and leaves its evidence in my sore legs. I am reminded with each step’s murderous strain. Even if I sleep for the rest of the day, it doesn’t matter because I ran and nothing can take that away.

    At school I fill in bubbles and get grades. The more good grades I get, the higher my grade goes. Then I bomb a test and my grade drops by several points and it’s like all that hard work was for nothing because I’m right back where I started. With just one mistake, all that time and energy is drained and thrown in the trash.

    So many times we use self – discipline instead of love to try and obey God. We get on a streak of doing the right thing, making the better choice – and then when we slip, it feels like we’re back at square one. Nothing to build on. Everything you were so proud of before…forget it, it’s gone.
    God’s been teaching me that messing up is met with grace.
    Trying is what matters, and little steps in the right direction count.
    Even if you feel like you’ve made a permanent stain on your good work, you haven’t. Keep trying, don’t give up just because you broke a good record.

    New favorite song: Hands – The Almost

  • acleveland 7:57 pm on March 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    yeah so 

    Hey, I’m Amanda, and I used to write on here. Then I disappeared for a couple months under massive amounts of schoolwork, stress, and obligations. That already makes too many excuses. I was convicted when I signed in and saw that I was still, somehow, receiving about 10 views per day. I’m so sorry to whoever it is that was still regularly checking this thing (Kelli and Liza – that’s probably you). Anyway, enough with that.

    We returned from Spring Break a couple hours ago. My family and I went to Hunting Island in South Carolina. I ran every morning and it got progressively easier throughout the week. Something about the beach makes it easy to run. The sand just expands into the horizon and you lose track of how far you’ve gone and how far is left to go, so you just continue running and wondering at the people and the little angel girl splashing at the water’s edge and the grandpa holding his wife’s hand under an umbrella. The sand was liquid gold and decorated with fragments of shells, broken and crushed yet still beautiful and delicate, kind of like people. I journaled every single day, rattling truths and shaky realizations, because I swear the ocean penetrates through the shields in front of my eyes. It reveals the world’s intricacies, undraping just enough mystery to make sense  – but to stay spiritually captive. It waters down situations, purifies them, makes them easier to take in and understand.
    I walked by the water a couple of nights. It was just me, gentle waves, and the moon. These memories are between me and the One who’s pumping life into my veins. The memories from that night are good secrets that give me some connection to God. Bad secrets are bombs that echo in your chest, collide with the lining of your heart, and send those jagged fragments into a freefall. Those good personal God memories are like rubies that he and I hold under the table. Every so often I peek under the tablecloth and see it glistening and then I remember why He’s next to me.
    Take time to be alone with God. Make those memories, preserve them, and reflect on them.

    New favorite song: Healing In Your Arms – Luminate

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc