Living by a river this past month has been an experience to savor. At any part of the day we can hear it’s crashing. This has been true since we moved here but even more now that the rainy season has begun. It seems on the conservative side to say that the more stream-like river that we’ve been playing in rose by ten feet in a few days time. There is no more mistaking it for a stream, this is a full on river a few dozen yards down a hill from our back door.

We’re loving it. We’re also brushing up on everyone’s water safety lessons. The photo above is from the beginning of this week. By midweek it was several feet lower again. Those roots there at the bottom left of the top photo are now fully exposed as seen in this next photo. The changes are swifter than I imagined possible.

With all these changes in mind, mesmerizing us and inviting us to see the way it is transforming daily, and what treasures we’ll find washed up on our shore this time, we recently read the story of the leader Joshua. We read about how he would be leading the twelve tribes of Israel across a river. Wow, did we hear that in a whole new way.

Crossing a river? I think it’s safe to say that has resided somewhere between a fairytale and a nature field guide in my mind most of my life. Post Oregon Trail era child that I am, it’s never been a life and death need, so I guess there’s no reason to wonder why it remained somewhere between the pages of a book to me.

I’ve taken my excursions into the wilderness and enjoyed words like, “Danger! Excitement! Romance!”. But you can imagine how the sensitivity of my mama radar has peaked in this past week right? Attempting to know exactly where my children are since the rains started, mm-hmm. Danger? That’s no joke. Beauty? Oh yes, it’s staggering. Oh, there it is again. Pain and love mingling, all while we’re over here just trying to do some living.

Moving scares me. In the last eighteen years I’ve moved ten times, including six out-of-state moves.

Moving excites me. It’s daunting. It’s an opportunity, it’s an uprooting.

A lot of the memories of these moves have faded, yet some marks across my mind remain. Scars and signals alerting,”Caution! Danger! Approach slowly!”, sound when the idea of moving comes up again. There’s no easy way to explain to you why without needless details. Suffice to say—there are reasons.

Yet. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be writing tonight or maybe at all without those experiences. This is how pain and love mingle, this is how clay gets formed and made usable.

There’s oxymoronic slews of emotions we face at certain crossroads in life. One of my most favorite things in the world is to go on a road trip. So even though it literally involves packing everything but the kitchen sink, moving a few states away satisfies that desire. I feel alive.

We all have these seemingly contradictory desires though, don’t we? Whew, it’s hard to move with six kids in tow. Who am I kidding? It’s hard with Jay in tow. Ha, just kidding. OK, not really, but it’s hard with me in tow too. Smiling over here and hoping you are as well. But back to the point—moving is big. Whether it’s from the neighborhood over, 2200 miles, or simply making a change in the way we eat—moving is a huge deal. It’s huge and the fact is, we carry big deals in every cell of our bodies. I haven’t always known that though.

I used to think that stress was reserved for the tragic and terrible happenings of our lives. I’m slowly awakening to the reality that stress sheds it’s presence in details like staying up late at night, wide-eyed meaningful days lived by rushing rivers, learning something new, feeling rejected through the slight glance of an unkind eye, hearing the first cries or laughs of our newborns, epic road trips, as well as sometimes just being brave enough to step out our front door again.

Everyday, we collect experiences, negative and positive stress. They leave their marks, they change us. Sometimes those changes are good…but every time, every day, we need washed over by the River of life. A lot of those experiences need to be washed away, even if their scar remains—for now.

Here’s the truth, wherever our whole body goes, our whole body experiences. So what do we do? I’m still figuring it out, but a few things I’m learning:

B R E A T H E.

Hold our experiences lightly, never not expecting that this could be the day, they become something new, the day pain transforms into love and becomes more meaningful than we ever imagined it could.

Enjoy the now. There’s hope here.

Slow down.

And yeah, take cautions—but just keep living.

“Take it easy, take one step at a time, and you will reach the truth. Meanwhile, be yourself.”
—Richard Wurmbrand

Scars, come by pain—both the pain of love and the simple everyday.
They are evidence we’ve been somewhere, we’ve done something, we lived. We need those marks. None of us want to hear that when we’re in the middle of those scars being made, but it’s still true.

Scars can be sacred arrows. However, It’s definitely easier to let scars be used as excuses than to let them be memorials. Ask me how I know.

Memorials are powerful. Memorials, that mean something to us, call to us, cause us to remember, cause us to take forward action. They carry a gravity to them that will let us fly because they stand as symbol. Memorials mean something has been lost.

This is how pain and love mingle, this is how clay gets formed and made usable. It may seem lonely or lots of other words, being formed there in the ground. But it seems to me clay holds a secret—surrender.

It’s like a secret recipe and surrender gives some delicate part of the necessary ingredients back to our mixture, that loss and pain alone can’t hold. BUT, as long as we’re still alive we have the option of surrender, a free fall of faith, not a victim of circumstance. It will take intention, humility, flexibility, teachableness. Oi, the painful stuff. Oh, the worthwhile stuff.

If we will take to heart that the story of Jesus (Yeshua) was a painful one, that His path of conquering death was a path of suffering and joy…

“Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” -Jesus, in John 13:16

…maybe we can figure out how to conquer too?

And when it rains, we will pour our heart out to You, knowing this is how love and pain mingle, how clay gets formed.

What resonates or connects with you today out of my meandering thoughts? Do you find any connecting points here, wherever this finds you today? Where are you? What have you learned about navigating through not only negative stress but positive stress? I’m grateful we are traveling together.

Hi, I’m Raynna Myers. I’m a writer and photographer and I really just want to live well, so I process life through writing and shooting—both have simply become prayers.

Thanks for reading, I’m glad you are here. Subscribe to stay connected? I’ll send ya an unpublished poem, Bound by Light, to say welcome and thank you.

You can find my book Pray, Like a Woman in Labor on Amazon. It’s a book of prayers based on the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. It’s a book of becoming.