Tamára Lunardo

Author & Editor



December 2011




Written by , Posted in faith, life, poetry

TOL’s 12 Gifts of Christmas!

Gifts 5 and 6 are up for grabs today! To throw your name in the hat, leave a comment on this post. (To leave a comment without playing, just add, “No gifts, please!”) I’ll announce the recipients tomorrow evening.

Regular Gift: I review/edit/advise on a post/document/manuscript sample of yours (800 words or fewer) or offer a general critique of your blog.

White Elephant Gift: I send you a tacky Florida postcard.

(What’s this all about?           Gifts 1 & 2            Gifts 3 & 4)


Head is clouded,
Heart heavy.
Choice is before me
And I can run
Away or toward.
Head screams, Hide!
Heart whispers, No.

So I flip on
The soundtrack
For a run toward sanity.
An organ starts
And I begin,
One foot after the other,
Running with new hymns.

Next hymn starts
And I offer thanks
For a beat that falls
In perfect time with stride.
Feet pound moving ground
And I know
That small, rare gifts
Are called treasures.
And the hymn sings,
Soul meets body.

Reflection in glass
Shows woman composed,
Head so still
Above swinging shoulders.
And I wish she looked the same
On the inside.
But I know the truth
Of the mess in her head,
And the hymn sings,
Different names
For the same thing.

I remember the direction
I am trying to run:
Toward and not away.
So I throw up a prayer,
And the hymn sings,
I will follow you
Into the dark.
And He does,
Even as I run.

So I push on,
Farther than I expect.
And the hymn sings,
I’m a war
Of head versus heart.
But I have covered
The miles with prayer.

And the hymn sings,
Love means
Watching someone die.
I catch sight of Father
Who saw Son slain
For me.
And head and heart
Look together toward Him,
And not away.


My gratitude to Jennifer Luitwieler for her book Run with Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo; to Alise Wright for her book Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression; and to Death Cab for Cutie for their album Plans. Though you couldn’t have known it, you all ran with me.

  • http://opentoadventure.wordpress.com Christian Emmett

    This is potentially win-win for me! I could use both a general critique of my blog AND a tacky Florida postcard!

    This is a great poem, I’m glad you followed your heart instead of your head. 🙂

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I’m glad you’re excited about both gifts today!

      Thanks for your kind words.

  • http://rasjacobson.com Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson

    Delicious! You run to hymns? For reals? That’s awesome.

    No gifts, please. I’m holding out. IYKWIM.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Not hymns as anyone else might call them. But the Death Cab album sang right to my soul and lifted me to God, and that’s a hymn to me.

      I hope you get lucky and get what you really want! IYKWIM

      • http://rasjacobson.com Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson

        I have a feeling I might get lucky! IYKWIM

  • http://scream911.wordpress.com youhavemyword

    Away from me sin
    that trips
    and taunts –
    I will only see the cross
    and hum this hymn
    that carries
    and encourages
    and forces me to crawl
    back to the start:
    I will continue to run.

    🙂 First poem of yours I’ve read – love it!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      That’s beautiful.

      If you want to see more of my poetry, just use the “Browse By Category” drop-down list on the right. 🙂

      • http://scream911.wordpress.com youhavemyword

        Oh snap! *blush* How to find poems 101 (what a noob…) Thanks!

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise

    I remember the direction
    I am trying to run:
    Toward and not away.

    Oh, this made me catch my breath. I’m pretty sure away is all down-hill running, which is why it’s so much more alluring. But it’s also a way more dangerous, secluded place.

    But I love (!) that no matter which way we run, He cuts the distance by running toward us too.

    (No gift, just lots of love from me to you.)

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Downhill running– wow. Such a great image. And so true.

      Thanks again for running with me on the journey. xo

  • http://thisgalsjourney.wordpress.com thisgalsjourney

    This is wonderful!! It spoke to me as a newbie runner, a woman living with depression, a mom, a follower of Christ, and a messed up human being in need of grace daily. Hourly. Thank you.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I’m glad it spoke to you, Jen.

  • http://aweirdthing.wordpress.com Neil Chappell

    Profound. This is what makes reading 12 gifts of Christmas so worthwhile. The beauty of the unexpected, the depth of feeling, the connection to the heart. Profound.
    Plus also the edge-of-the-seat feeling that you might win a tacky Florida postcard. Wow.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      So gracious of you to say, thank you.

      I’m glad you think the postcard is as great a gift as I do. 😀

  • http://meetthebuttrams.wordpress.com Meet the Buttrams

    “But I have covered the miles with prayer.”

    Yes. This. Love.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      It sounds so simple, but it really helped me go in the right direction.

  • http://www.joyinthisjourney.com Joy @ Joy In This Journey


    No gifts — waiting for The One. 🙂

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thank you.

      Too funny– who knew my Twitter stalking would be such a coveted prize!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o08IcEcXwAA creeperjack

    Nice use of Death Cab and references to hymns!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Glad you liked it. Their music really felt like hymns to me on that run.

  • http://holyghostbumps.wordpress.com Guy Wolfe

    Loved the poem (my grandfather was a poet in Brooklyn, NY, so I have an affinity :)). I’ll definitely follow your work. By the way, you’ve been nominated for a Liebster!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thank you. I’m glad to have you reading!

  • http://lifebeforethebucket.blogspot.com Adrian W.

    I’m not a huge poetry person, but I do love how you incorporated so many.. genres?… influences?… (not sure of the word I’m looking for)… as you wrote this.

    And I’m rallying for the postcard. Or the blog critique. Either way, really.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks. My poems tend to be pretty real-life, down-to-earth stuff. I know poetry is often ethereal, but I prefer to use it to distill thoughts and paint clear pictures.

      Good luck to you on the gifts!

  • http://gravatar.com/sharijstein Shari Danzig Stein

    That is why I run….You have so beautifully captured the essence of running for me. My last blog post (www.iwishmymom.com) is not poetic, but is about my passion for running-I’d love for you to read it.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I am impressed with anyone who has a passion for running! I have to drag my butt out to do it, but it feels worth it every time.

  • http://gravatar.com/jenniferlutiwieler Jen

    Small, rare gifts are treasures, and so are you. No gifts, my darling. Just a hello from time to time.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thank you. You’re quite the treasure yourself, lady.

  • http://leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    Death Cabs’ Plans sings to me in the same way. This is lovely, Tamara.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Such a good album, isn’t it? Funny how I heard it in such a different way just when I needed to.

  • http://laurenjeanstm.blogspot.com Lauren Jean

    This actually made me want to try running! Which is, in itself, a miracle. It was moving and motivating. And since this is probably the last time I’ll see grass, I’m going to go out for a run!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      That’s great, Lauren Jean– I hope it’s a good run.

  • http://theisleofman.blogspot.com Kevin Haggerty

    I hate running. Let me illustrate just how very much this is true:

    My wife and I recently bought a house and devoted a room to be a home gym. Via Craigslist, we purchased a treadmill, exercise bike and crunch power tower. In this “gym,” we have a flat screen tv with cable. It’s never been more convenient for me to run and workout. But I don’t.

    When I get home, I’m tired. I want to watch ESPN. I want to work on my blog. I want to eat food that makes it even more awful that I’m not, at that point in time, running.

    I suck.

    I respect people who regularly run. I wish I had the motivation. One day, I will suck less.

    Maybe I could hire a bear or a mountain lion to chase me on a regular basis. Then I’d run.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I really don’t like running either. Until I do it. 🙂

  • http://supermomsarefake.wordpress.com Donna Evaro

    I sort of run. But I don’t actually move. If you place your feet about 8 inches apart and move your knees as they would move while walking then just speed it up, it’s like running without the inconvenience of having to go back to where you started. It was a great exercise to do while smoking, but since I quit, I’m starting to get a little flabby. I’d love a critique.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      So you run in place? Whatever works, right? 🙂

      Good luck on winning the gift!

  • http://mattshedd.blogspot.com Matthew Shedd

    I absolutely love poetry! I stink at writing it, but I hope you don’t mine me consuming your wonderful words and (probably) warping them to fit my own situation!

    I always enjoy reading from here, thanks, and let me win that prize!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      You know I’d be honored.

      Good luck!

  • http://www.gatebeautiful.ca Bekka

    Hey, I love your writing, your wordsmithing. But I also love you! Thank you for this. My run is not all that different, though I feel like I’m running away more often than not. *hugs*

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Well maybe this can be a small reminder to run towards. Love back to you.

  • http://janheath1234.wordpress.com Off the Wall

    Tamara, love the poem. I’ve been doing a lot of Tebowing lately (hence my latest blog post) and although I can’t REALLY run, I am running in my heart!

    Giftwise, I have a lot of tacky Florida postcards already, but hoping and PRAYING to win your critique!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Nice– Tebow is my fellow Gator. 🙂

      I hope if you get one of these, it’s the one you can really use. Although I really don’t know that you can have too many tacky postcards. 😉

  • http://janheath1234.wordpress.com Off the Wall


  • http://asoulswalk.wordpress.com asoulwalker

    Reminds me of two things:

    1) My first marathon
    2) This mountain I attempted to climb which turned into an epic near-death experience.

    But those are just experiences that your poem evoked. I often wonder what place a reader has in a poem. People often tell me they like my poetry and think that it means x. While it is kind it is a fairly regular occurrence that I had not intended x but rather y. An acquaintance recently asked me, “who is the writing for?” This has made me think.

    I like your poem (take that for what it’s worth) but I wonder how you feel about other people’s interpretations of your own work…?

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Good question. I think that whenever you put your writing out there, you’re chancing that it will be misunderstood– that *you* will be misunderstood. I’m grateful that I don’t find it happening too often. But when it does, no, I don’t like it. Because if it were just for me, I’d keep it in a journal. But I publish it so that I can share the story, and when it’s not taken as I meant it, that’s not a great feeling.

  • http://reconcilingviewpoints.wordpress.com reconciling viewpoints

    I was never the most consistent runner, but when I did run, it was similar in the therapeutic/meditative aspect — I liked to pray/think through stuff as I ran. These over-50 knees can’t hack running anymore — think I tweaked a miniscus a few years ago and I’m hurting for a couple days everytime I try.

    I do need to “run” on a spiritual & “life event” level more often though. Recently, I think where I’m at can be summed up by the first few lines of the classic poem instead of the last, more famous lines:
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood….”
    Been standing at the fork in the road on a couple things for too long. Knees don’t like running, but I guess I should still get walking…..

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Hope you’ll find that He guides you on the path.

  • http://gravatar.com/blackisthenewwhatever blackisthenewwhateverpamela

    I ran a half marathon in Feb. to a soundtrack of Christian contemporary/rock music. I would have never thought of listening to hymns though…thats a new concept. I listen to Hillsong all the time and I’m not sure they’re considered hymns but they are definitely something I could run to..if I ran now 🙂

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I’ve never run to actual hymns, either. 🙂 But the Death Cab album I listened to sure did the trick.

  • http://www.lookthrough.net Sonny Lemmons

    I’m not a runner (for exercise) – most of the time, I’m running to catch my crazy kid as he tries to scale the side of the bookcase or something.

    But I run – emotionally, spiritually – normally straight into danger.

    And I wish [he] looked the same
    On the inside.
    But I know the truth
    Of the mess in [his] head

    Me. To a “T.”

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I know you hear me, friend. Here’s to running safer routes.

  • http://dirtwithbreath.wordpress.com ryan

    Lovely poem Tamara, and I’ve known the feeling too. I’haven’t read any of your poems before but I will be now.

    Excited about those gifts too. My blog could do with a good critique. A tacky postcard is never a bad thing either 🙂

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks, I hope you find a few more that you enjoy.

      Glad you like the gifts!

  • http://www.roydonkin.blogspot.com Roy

    hey it’s poetry right? running can be a metaphor

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara


  • http://www.seeprestonblog.com Preston

    Beauty, friend.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks, Preston.

  • http://homekettle.wordpress.com thescreamingkettle

    That’s one of my favorite albums ever. I read an interview with Ben Gibbard a few years ago in which he was shocked to find out he has a lot of Christian fans. Some people seem to have spiritual sensitivities they aren’t even aware of.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Was he really? That’s so funny. Reminds me of an interview with Greg Graffin where he mentioned that Bad Religion had a lot of Christian fans and he regretted BR’s potentially offensive choice of band symbol. Well, yeah, guys– if you write songs that echo the soul’s longing, you’re going to find Christians singing along. 🙂

  • http://SoHeresUs.com Christie

    Well that almost makes me want to take up running, almost. It sounds like a meditation.

    I prefer my kickboxing gym ’cause it’s fun to punch things. But I doubt I can write a poem fraught with spiritual meaning that.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Hey, you never know. There might be a spiritual battle metaphor in there somewhere. 🙂

  • http://www.quietanthem.com/ Renee Ronika Klug (@reneeronika)

    “Love means
    Watching someone die.”

    This contains multitudes.

    His death brings life, and our not looking away resurrects that life in us. Thank you for teaching, or maybe just reminding, us about this.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Resurrected life in us. Amen.

  • http://amuseorbemused.com JT Adamson

    I’ll admit I don’t get running. I have a car that can’t run a mile, so far be it for me to out do my car.
    However, I do get running toward, not away. Running away is easier, at least at first, but when I do that, I don’t really know where I’m going. Thanks for the encouragement. The Destination is worth the trip.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Hmm. Sounds like you “get running” after all, JT. 🙂

      • http://amuseorbemused.com JTAdamson

        Only metaphorically. While seated.

  • http://randomlychad.com RandomlyChad

    In the words of C.S.Lewis (speaking of Lord of the Rings), “Here beauties which pierce like swords, or burn like cold iron.” Yes, despite being tethered to the nitty gritty, concrete sound of pounding feet on pavement, your poem is that evocative.

    No gifts, please–I’ve been blessed, and wouldn’t dare ask for more.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      So gracious of you to say– thank you.

  • Sarah H.

    Thanks for this. I don’t often “get” poetry so it is always a joy to me when I find I understand something of what the author is conveying 🙂 It actually reminds me very much of a favorite poem of mine:


    It captures that contradiction between who we can appear to be and who we know ourselves to be. Ends by reminding us WHOSE we are instead.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Love it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carey.gregg Carey Schmitz Gregg

    This was just beautiful, Tamara. No gifts, please. Reading this was gift enough for today.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      So kind, thank you.

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