Thursday, February 28, 2013


I don't pray unceasingly.
I don't read my Bible every day.
I don't typically raise my hands during worship, sometimes I don't even close my eyes when I pray (especially if I'm driving).
I don't respond joyfully in all circumstances.
I don't always think of ways to serve others well...and even when I do, I don't always do it (I'm usually more concerned with myself, if we're being honest).
I don't always use the purest language or refrain from crude jokes.
I don't always trust God.
I don't always believe fully.
I don't often love well.
I don't always make God my number one priority.

These are my confessions.
There are more. Lots more. Lots more personal and specific ones, too. But, I think you get the idea.

Oftentimes I think that every other Christian out there is doing all of these things a whole heck of a lot more than I am...or at least they're doing them better than me. I've kind of been wondering if we all feel the same way about each other, though. That on the outside, it looks like everyone else has it all together or has figured out this whole 'picking up their cross' thing and we're the only ones still floundering around trying to get it straightened out. But maybe that's just my attempt at making myself feel better as I recognize how far I am from getting anything right.

When I look at that list up there, at all the things I don't do, I begin to wonder what I do do (yes, it's perfectly appropriate to snicker here)...and I wonder how much of what I do actually matters.

There's this balance that seems necessary in recognizing God's grace and how without Christ we are hopeless to achieve any of these things...but then to counter that with recognizing that in Him we are made whole, we are new creations capable of much through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

I guess I just want to admit to you that I don't have it figured out yet. And, I'm not sure that I will. I don't have a 12 step solution to maintaining all the spiritual disciplines, or the secret to upholding any sort of consistent emotional connection with the Lord.

What I do know? It's hard. It's inconsistent...because I'm inconsistent.
And that too often I get caught up in the doing versus the being. I'm not ever going to get it all 'right'. I'm don't even think that's the point.

The point is that He loves us...that He made a way for us, when we couldn't do it ourselves.
So while we're struggling and wrestling with the guilt that so often accompanies our inability to do any of this Christian stuff perfectly (or as good as we think the person next to us is...), I hope we fall to our knees in humility that we don't have to.

Live your life in such a way that the Gospel penetrates every aspect of it, not just to follow some moral code and be a 'good' Christian.

There's more.
And in the fullness of striving and failing...and striving and failing again, may we be constantly reminded of how necessary Jesus is. May we praise Him all the more for being sufficient.

I am thankful.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Tonight is one of those nights where words won't do. 

I want you to feel the depth from which this flows, and no words seem able to convey all I'd like for them to. 

Because, somewhere in the midst of trying to figure out what the heck I'm even doing, there's a moment of clarity. A moment where I'm reminded that my dead heart has been revived...and that it was nothing I could do myself. The resuscitation required Someone else. 

And so much of the time I think I'm still gasping for air, as though I've forgotten that I've already been rescued from death. And sometimes I get caught up in comparing myself to the other bodies around me, wondering why they seem fully alive while I still feel half-dead. Do they understand something I'm incapable of understanding? How can they believe so fully and wholeheartedly when I feel paralyzed in thought and idolatry? 

Prayers flowed in different languages tonight, voices from North Korea, Nigeria and America filled the air and I was struck by the beauty of it. In our own tongues, we could pray, we could praise, we could petition on behalf for those all over the world...and we were heard. Their prayers were vibrant and heartfelt, there was no volume control or worry about what others thought. Mine were stifled, quiet and kept to myself. 

They bore no shame.
Only adoration and absolute humility in the presence of the King. 
But I was caught up in my own expectations, my own voice, my own fears and disappointments, my own feelings of own pride.  

What's wrong with me? 
Why do I do anything that I do? 

My heart raced all over the place, committing sabotage wherever it could. Deceitful above all else, it was. Far from the Lord, it felt. 

And then a moment. 
A moment, no matter how brief, to be reminded that Jesus is victorious...even over my sin and shame. That He has revived this heart of mine, when I was so deserving of death. 

I feel like I cling to these moments, because sometimes I feel like they're all I have. The moments where I undoubtedly know that in Him I am alive, I am redeemed, I am saved, I have been given a hope and future. In Him I am counted as worthy... no matter what I do, what I think, what I say, who I am. He paid the price. 

My darkened heart continues to be chipped away as the light penetrates it...for I'm still being worked on. But as imperfect as my flesh may be, I pray that He be glorified through all of me. 

Because, without Him...
I'm dead. 
Without hope of revival or second chances. 
Just dead. 

I pray that you have a moment to also be reminded that because of Him we have been revived. 
May we be humbled right where we are because of it. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Shame: It Is What It Is

Today I checked out nine books on singleness from the library. Nine

While checking out, I felt the pressing need to tell the librarian that I was, in fact, writing a paper on this topic...(because, I am...). He looked at me and said, 'I can't even remember the last time I was single. I think it was... '83?' I resisted the urge to tell him that that was longer than I'd been alive and simply muttered a, 'Yeah, it'll be interesting...' He asked if I was single, I gave him the affirmative, grabbed my nine books and ran out the door. I was embarrassed for anyone else to see my stack of books and make assumptions about why in the world I was needing/wanting these particular books. Without a verbal explanation I knew what the assumptions would probably be (and yes, I'm aware that it's ironic that I'm making assumptions about other people's assumptions...). 

It made me realize that in addition to the pain of singleness, there's the shame of singleness. The older I get, the more I feel like everyone is secretly wondering, 'There must be something wrong with her if she's this old and still not married.' 

That beyond my own internal struggle with it at times, there's also the weight of what people think about me (or at least what I think people are thinking about me) that often bears down on me. Because it's always the questions you get... the 'are you dating anyone?' or the 'have you met anyone there yet?' or the 'when are you gonna settle down and get married?'. People are always waiting for the next 'big' event in your life to occur. It happens when you're about to graduate ('what are you going to do with your life in May?') or when you finally do get married ('when are you going to have kids?') or when you finally do have a kid ('when are you going to have another kid?')... 

And I don't think that people typically have ill-intentions when they ask these questions. I think we're probably just curious and we think it's a way to show that we care... but, on the receiving end of such questions and statements, I think we can often feel shame. Shame that we don't know what we want to do with our life yet. Shame that we haven't met 'that' person yet. Shame that we've been trying to have kids and we can't. Shame that we might not even want to have kids at all. Shame that we only want one. Shame that we can't get that job that we've worked so hard for. 

It's like there's this unspoken expectation and when we aren't adhering to that, people start to ask questions. Or else they just start to feel sorry for us. I don't often feel like there's much room to operate outside of other's expectations always... at least not without feeling like I'm constantly grinding against it as my life looks drastically different than most other people who I know that are my age (and even my own expectations that I had had for myself previously). 

I'd like to be in a place where my singleness isn't something I'm embarrassed about, though. A place where 'it is what it is', and it's okay right now. Because, ultimately, it is. Sure there are the hard moments and pains of what that entails, but I'm not about to pretend that marriage is going to solve all of the problems of loneliness or wanting to truly connect with others. There's a deeper Something that I think we're all looking for that was never meant to be filled by other humans....and therefore it never will be. 

My singleness doesn't have to be accompanied by shame. 
Because, at the end of the day, I'm still grateful that my life has gone the way it's gone. I'm still thankful for the opportunities that I've gotten that I wouldn't necessarily have had with a husband and kids. And I think there's a point where I choose to keep believing that there's more for me to do as a single woman and pressing further into that is more important than wallowing in absence of what could be. That there's more for me in what I've done, what I'm doing and what I will do (and ultimately what the Lord has done, is doing and will do through/in me) that matters more than matching up to the world's expectations of where I 'should' be in life. 

It is what it is. 
And right now it's good. It's necessary. No matter what anyone else thinks. 
There's much to be done and time to do it without any other distractions. 
Right now I choose to be thankful for that. 
There's no shame to walk in today...for today I get to walk in the fullness of my dreams, my passions, my gifts without having to compromise, sacrifice, or worry about how that affects someone else. 

Today I get to be single. 
I'll take it. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 16, 2008

I wrote this five years ago: 

“He will never give up on you.”

I heard these words only a week ago.  They touched my soul, they brought tears to my eyes, they were exactly what I needed to hear.

I have forgotten them again. 

There seems to be this constant trend in my life—I have become a broken record.  I am selfish, I don’t know how to love, I want to be known, I can’t understand, etc. etc.  I grow weary thinking of the cyclical pattern my life has become.

If I want something, truly want something, why do I not go after it?  Why do I not trust that the passions of my heart might be exactly the passions God has given me to pursue?  Why am I so scared of failure? 

I question the things I think I want though.  Do I really want them, or does it ultimately come back to me and wanting something that is seemingly prestigious that might bring glory to my name? 

I realized today that I’m scared to really let people in because I have no control.  When someone seeks after me, wants to know me and love me, and I then reciprocate this…I lose control.  They become idols.  And then the Lord rips them away from me.  I am left with nothing. 

The truth?  I want more. I want human companionship. I want love.  I want someone physical that I can rely on and hold onto. I want someone to physically be there—to be intimate and deep with, to look into their eyes and know that no matter what I do, I will be loved.  I want to see Christ’s love reflected in a human.  I want to love someone that way and be the recipient of that love.  I want what it seems like so many others have.  I want to be needed, to be missed, to be known.

I want to be seen.

Why do we all long for our lives to be all about us? 

It seems justifiable.  It seems normal.

But how wretched. 

Lord. I have to live for something more than me.  

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I think we torture ourselves sometimes.

I remember curling up in the back of my parent's Expedition on our way home from a summer family vacation, listening to sappy country love songs and letting the tears roll down my cheeks. We were leaving behind the man I thought I was going to marry. Granted, he was actually a boy and I was a middle school girl whose emotions were fleeting (okay, okay...not a lot has changed)... but, at the time, I was sure that he was the one for me.

For months after that trip, for several years in a row, I found myself in mourning. I'd plaster up pictures of him from the trip, write him a letter or two (this was before email had really taken off), and cry alone in my room over my 'soulmate' who was always too far away. It was never meant to be. This is one of the first times I recall truly torturing myself over a boy.

As I got older, my torturing methods got a little more intense...especially as relationships actually happened. Post break-ups, my time was often spent analyzing old emails, looking at pictures of the two of us, listening to 'our' songs (no, not Taylor Swift...). Sometimes it included catching the gossip train from friends of friends, finding out what he was now doing or who he was now dating/interested in. Sometimes it meant sitting for hours on AOL Instant Messenger hoping to see his screenname pop up so I could then debate for many rigorous minutes if I should message him and what I could say, while desperately hoping that he would talk to me first. It was torture.

It didn't always pertain to guys I had been in relationships with, either. I found ways of torturing myself with any guy I was remotely interested in...whether that meant waiting for phone calls that would never come, attempting to plan 'unplanned' encounters, finding reasons to email them or chat online with them, trying to get any and all information I could about their current relationship status. It was absurd. And unfortunately, as technology has advanced, I think that our ability to self-inflict wounds has gotten increasingly easier.

Think about it...
You have access to a lot of information about people that you didn't used to have which makes stalking quite a lot easier....which, essentially, makes the torture (and the creepiness factor) much easier to inflict upon yourself.

While I can knock social networking sites and advanced technology all day long, it doesn't change the fact that we're the ones choosing to engage in behavior that is oftentimes harmful to ourselves. We're the ones checking his Facebook page multiple times a day, we're the ones finding reasons to casually text him, we're the ones reading through all the old emails, notes, journal entries and listening to all the songs that make us think of the 'one that got away'. We're the ones looking for any possible reason to be jealous or worried about him moving on before us (as if we could somehow prevent it...). We're the ones posting statuses and pictures and hoping that he'll be jealous or interested in our lives again based off our wit and all the happenings in our lives.

You've done it.
You may even be doing it right now. As soon as you finish reading this blog, you're going to check out his Facebook page one more time to stay current on who is posting on his wall (it better not be another girl...) and if his status will give you any indication of what he's up to (maybe you can 'accidentally' run into him at Starbucks....).

It's torture.
And while we've found ways to torture ourselves long before the Internet existed, it certainly hasn't helped our cause. Your mind is constantly racing, you're losing sleep, you're anxious and worried and it seems like all you can think about is this guy...whether he's a one from the past or future possibility. And the more you think about it, the less control you seem to have over your actions and the more you can justify doing ridiculous, crazy things.

It's never beneficial.
The more you dwell on these things, the more you decide to do things which only prolongs the pain... the more you suffer. Each time you revisit his page, you're inviting the wound to say open longer, to get more infected, to take longer to heal. You keep trying to fix things, to make them better, to make them 'right', to make him understand.

Ladies... stop.
We have to stop. The moment we become these obsessed girls in a frenzy is the moment that we lose a lot of our ability to think rationally about things. It's the moment that we start making decisions we regret. It's the moment we start to feel (and act) Out Of Control.

It's another one of those times where you have to take it to the Lord... and it's definitely one of those times where you need to implement self-control. Establish boundaries for yourself. Do other things with your life so you aren't just waiting around, going mad that he hasn't returned your phone call or texted you back yet (or, even better...don't give yourself any room to call him or text him so you aren't waiting for his response). You have to start making healthy decisions for yourself, decisions that allow you to be a real person not driven solely by fears and carnal desires....decisions that are also honoring of the other person (even if that means allowing them to move on and develop relationships with other people).

But you love them, you say?
Sometimes letting go is the best way you can love them. Sometimes letting them make their own decisions without you influencing their every step is the best way you can truly care about them. Sometimes relinquishing control is just necessary--for both people. And sometimes letting go is the best way you can give them a little space to figure out how they actually feel about you.

I think you'll find that the less time you invest in them, the less you'll be thinking about them. If you can set up boundaries to help dictate the number of times you get on Facebook each day, or maybe banish yourself completely from 'stalking' them via social networking sites, or make sure you're not the one initiating contact with them...I think you'll begin to recognize how in the blatant attempts to not torture yourself, the better you'll feel. Find a friend to help keep you accountable in these boundaries.

You don't need to make the pain worse by choosing to continually invite it back in again...and again... and again.

Do yourself a favor. Move on. Live your life.
Let it be out of your control and see what happens.
Remember that there's much more than this.
And stop torturing yourself.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The comment:
My problem is this; I feel the need to be very honest with [someone]. [This person's] belief (or lack thereof) and his status....are causing him to make a fool of himself. In a word, a hypocrite. I struggle with fear of saying such strong words to him, with saying something even more damaging than what he is doing to himself. I've never considered having to tell someone something so...raw. I don't know what his response to me would be, and I don't know what he would do if he agreed with me....I need some outside perspective.
There's obviously a whole lot more to this comment than the paragraph above, but I chose to leave a lot of it out for a few reasons. Essentially this person is asking how to handle a situation where another believer is doing something/living in a certain way that doesn't line up theologically with their beliefs. It begs the question: do you say something? And, if so, how?

It's a good question...but it's a hard question. Every situation is going to be really different and this one is particularly tricky given the circumstances. Honestly, I go back and forth on whether it's our place to ever call someone out on hypocrisy.

Because we're all hypocrites, to some degree. It immediately takes me to the verse of needing to take the log out of our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from someone else's eye. And if this person is a Bible scholar of sorts, I'm not sure that anything that you say to him is going to be enlightening in any sort of way. I fear it might only distance you from him, causing a chasm to form that doesn't need to be there. What would be the benefit of saying something? What results are you hoping to accomplish? Do you really think that confronting them in this manner is going to achieve those results?

So I know I haven't been in seminary for very long, but just in my three weeks of classes I've been overwhelmed by how much I don't know. I don't know enough about Scripture. I don't know anything about Greek and Hebrew and historical context and while, yes, you can read the Bible without a clear understanding of all of that and fully accept the Gospel, and glean a lot of truth... I'm way more hesitant to take firm stances on things that I think the Bible says without doing research on it first. I say all that because I think we need to be really cautious when we decide to 'call people out' on things we believe to be right or wrong--especially things that we don't necessarily have a clear understanding of.

Proceeding carefully when calling out 'sin' in others is vital (unless it's causing someone else harm- and even then, we should proceed carefully, but quickly). It isn't always our place. And, it isn't always up to us to determine what is sin and what isn't. There are things in my life that I feel like that I know are sin for me, but it doesn't mean that it's sin for everyone. I can't possibly expect everyone to adhere to my own guidelines, my own convictions, my own interpretations of what I believe scripture is saying about things. I think the moment we start living like is when we unknowingly invite self-righteousness and judgment to be our friends and suddenly we start thinking we're better than everyone else and that we have all the answers. I say this because this is what I've known a lot of my life...this is who I've been a lot of my life. As much as we desire absolutes, I fear that there will always be situations where things are trickier than how they appear, where our moral codes are challenged and what we think we've always known and accepted as right and wrong will be called into question.

Having a conversation with a friend about their life and things that they are processing through and wrestling with can be a really good thing...but to have a confrontation with a friend in a way that makes them feel like they are judged, that you think you have all the right answers, in a way that highlights their hypocrisy while you ignore your own....? I just think it's sketchy. I think there a better ways to handle it. I think that oftentimes we need to let God be the righteous judge, I think we need to pray that the Holy Spirit would be the One who convicts when we are unsure about things... and we need to trust Him to handle the areas of sin in each other's lives.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think confrontation is necessary at times, but not in a way where we say, 'Hey, you hypocrite... get your life together, don't you know that you're being a moron and making terrible decisions?' And not that you'd ever be that harsh, but there's a lot going on beyond the surface that we sometimes forget about when all we see are the actions of someone. Our limited view doesn't enable us to know their hearts (no matter how close to them we are), to know what the real issue is, to know what the wounds truly are. If it's not a situation where someone has personally sinned against you, I'd really encourage you to approach this person as your friend... as someone you really love and care about, in a way that makes them know that you care infinitely more about who they are and how they are than you do about their actions.

In the end, you'll probably do what you feel like you need to do...but I'd urge you to back up every choice you make with Scripture. Dig deep into what it says. And remember that you're only spotless because of the blood of Christ. Remember that each day you screw up...and sometimes you probably do it knowing full well what you are doing, but, for whatever reason you decide not to care in that moment.

My point is that when we think it's our responsibility and duty to tell someone how much they are screwing up...sometimes we need to be willing to remember how much we are screwing up, and how much we need Jesus (as much as the other hypocrites). It's not always our responsibility to speak up, it's not always our place. We are all sinners, saved by grace.

Pray for discernment and wisdom...but sometimes I think that it's better to be quick to listen and slow to speak, especially in the instances when we feel the anxious need to speak.

Be a friend.
Not another to cast condemnation and judgment in someone's life.
Not another to throw a stone...

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Kiss or to Duck...?

My house currently hosts 'The Bachelor' parties every Monday night.

Before you get all judgy on me, though, I want to assure you that these nights were established before I ever moved on. You can resume judging me now because you can also be assured that I was already hooked on the show prior to my transition up here. It was actually a perfect fit.

Regardless, it's been a hilarious show to watch among mixed genders. We have strict guidelines while we watch, of course. No talking during the show (unfortunately we aren't always the best at following this one). During commercial breaks we immediately mute the television and debrief everything we just saw, including predictions over who the bachelor is going to kick off that night.

It's a serious matter. Lots of depth, thought and energy goes into our psychoanalysis of each contestant. This particular season has been one of interesting speculations and hypotheses. Mostly I'm just disappointed that I didn't try to get on this season, as I'm quite sure Sean was the man I was meant to be with (just kidding, Mom).

I'll probably have more to say about this show, especially as it nears the end and has a million great examples of what not to do in relationships...but this particular post I want to focus in on kissing. Yep. Kissing (well, and other physical things). Every week we watch Sean kiss five hundred girls and most of us cringe every time it happens. It just always seems bad...which naturally produces at least one or two comments about kissing every night we watch The Bachelor.

Here's what I want to say to you about it:
Kissing can be a bigger deal than you might think it is, in the moment. While, sure, it can seem fairly harmless... I think there's a lot that goes on physiologically once we start making out. In fact, I'm not really sure our bodies are all that prepared to go into kissing mode and then stop at that. It's pretty natural for kissing to quickly progress into a whole other realm of possibilities.

No, this isn't a blog about how you shouldn't kiss. I'm not against kissing. But, I do think you need to be super careful with it...and that sometimes there are probably occasions and situations in which you should definitely not be kissing.

For example...
I've been a 'ducker' in my past.
You know... the girl who probably teases a guy to the point where he thinks that if he goes for it, he'll probably land a kiss...and then when he actually tries, I duck? I don't mean to...I honestly don't. But, sometimes it happens. There's a pretty vivid moment in my history where, during high school, I was all cuddling with a guy in a movie theatre and when we headed back to the car afterward he, of course, thought he was going to get a kiss. I had given him no reason to believe otherwise. But, I just wasn't feeling it. I didn't feel ready. I didn't even really want to. I wasn't sure I liked him. So, he tried. I ducked.

This is one way to really emasculate a guy, in case you're wondering. But, for some stupid reason, I felt bad about the situation and so I recanted my non-kissing stance with him and encouraged him to try again. I should have never changed my mind. Worst Kiss Ever. Seriously. I can't even begin to tell you how bad it was, and I definitely don't want to try to describe it. Just trust me.

I kissed him because I felt guilty for not kissing him. And I regretted it.
I wonder how often we are prone to do things like this. Not even just in regard to kissing...but other physical things with either our boyfriends or other guys that we somehow find ourselves in back seats with. Feeling guilty for not giving them what we think they want, and so we find ourselves compromising, giving in, and making decisions that we inevitably regret. I wonder how often we make these decisions because, on some level, it also just feels good to have someone want us physically. Maybe it makes us feel beautiful, or desirable, or sexy... or whatever it is.

And this is where I have to urge you to be careful. To not do things out of guilt. To not do things because it makes you feel good about yourself. To not compromise. There have to be things that you are set on, rigid in, ground in. Before you go on a date, set some boundaries for yourself. I promise that if he's a cool guy, you'll get another chance to kiss him... and if he's not, you'll be glad you didn't.

This is one of those times where living in the moment is usually a bad idea.

This matters.
Purity matters.
And the things that can easily lead to tearing that away from you are better to be avoided.
You are called to holiness...being set apart.

Please, by all means, watch The Bachelor and laugh about it (but not if it messes up your heart and your head and makes you think things about love that simply aren't true)... but don't go try to live it out yourself. Don't go around kissing randos and flirting with boundaries and rationalizing that 'just because you aren't having sex' that it's all okay. It's not. Plus, there's all that stuff in between kissing and sex that you might be trying to justify, while knowing that it's not okay at all for you to be doing.

If you're in the midst of it, stop (I know, I know... easier said than done. At least talk to someone about where you're at...openly and honestly).
If you know you're entering into a situation where temptation is likely, pull out. Ask someone to hold you accountable (someone who you trust...someone who has the same values as you).
If you feel too far gone, talk to someone about it. My inbox is always open, but I imagine you have someone else close to you that can be a good, wise ear for you. You're not too far gone. Of that, I am sure.

I realize this is a big topic and that there's a lot left to talk about. But, for right now I want you to know that you should never feel guilted into doing things, that you should be cautious when making sexual decisions quickly and spontaneously, and that there's always hope even if you feel like you're stuck in the midst of some bad stuff. There's redemption. There's second chances. There's freedom.

And when you duck? Trust your gut. Don't change your mind. Be thankful that your body was reacting before your head got a chance to over-think things too much.

Stand firm in these things.
You won't regret it.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


After a post like yesterday's, I always feel super vulnerable and pathetic.

I'll get the occasional pity text or email where people check in to make sure I'm 'doing okay'. It's nice and all... but not necessary. And when I run into people who I know might have read my blog, I always wonder if they're feeling sorry for me, or what conclusions that they've made about me. It's especially awkward with people who I don't actually know that well (which is almost everyone here at this point) and yet they know these deep wounds of mine. It's why blogging is ridiculous, on some level.

But, the purpose of the post wasn't for people to pity me, or know a ton about my life just for the sake of knowing it. I believe there's a lot more going on in the blogging than I'm even aware of... and I continue to pray that it would be a forum in which my being honest allows others to relate and feel hopeful, and ultimately be reminded of who Jesus is.

There's a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head lately... a lot of emotions...a lot of confusion. But, in all of that there's been a steady reminder that sometimes all I need to worry about is today. With deadlines and tests looming in the future, with getting anxious about what could be and what might be... I've been assured that today has enough going on that I need to focus on.

Matthew 6, right?
That passage we recite to ourselves about worry and anxiety and typically it doesn't do a whole lot of good. It's become one of those that I just roll my eyes at because I've heard it so many times and it doesn't seem to do a lot when I get caught up in the middle of an anxiety attack, freaking out about something that is actually minute but seems catastrophic at the time.

But, what if we really took it to heart?
What if...when you wake up today, you actually set aside all the things that happen outside of today and didn't let your mind worry about them? What if we set goals for ourselves that were just for today without getting too overwhelmed by the word 'forever'? What if we begged that the Lord would help us in these choices, these actions, these things that we need to do... for today? That we trusted Him to be our portion, to sustain us, to fulfill us...?

It can happen with a lot of things...
  • Maybe you're stressed out about feeling like you need to lose weight. Instead of feeling the daunting task of what it will look like to lose weight over weeks and months, focus on today. What can you do, today, to make healthy choices? How can you eat better? How can you exercise? Today... not for the rest of this week, not tomorrow, not for the next month... but today? 
  • Maybe you're anxious about a relationship. Maybe it's ended and you know you need to cut off ties. Instead of looking at the long term of life without this person and letting the overwhelming loss of that consume you, focus on today. Get through today. Don't call them, don't text them, don't email them, don't stalk their Facebook. Just for today. 
  • Maybe you're a student or in a job and you feel overwhelmed when you think about the deadlines and tests and all the things that have to get done in a certain amount of time. Do what you need to do today and be a good steward of your time. Don't get wrapped up in what you need to do in two weeks or the end of the semester, but plan accordingly and do whatever needs to get done today without worrying about how the rest of it is all going to happen. It'll happen. 
We could keep going with examples, but I think you get the idea. 
I think part of the problem is the way we get so wrapped up in a future that we're not even sure exists yet and those worries turn into irrational fears that very rarely play out the way we think that it might. It's a lot of unnecessary angst because we cannot predict the future. It's unknown (I'm brilliant, right?). We can also get caught up in the future in a way that makes us create ridiculously high expectations that then cause a lot of anxiety when things don't seem like they are going the way we want them to. 

Do what needs to get done today.
Think about what needs to happen today. 
The moment you start living in the future (or the past...) is when things began to take a turn for the worst. 

As much as I roll my eyes when I hear someone throwing Matthew 6 at me, it doesn't negate the fact that it's true and that it's true for a reason. 

Today has enough trouble of it's own.
Let tomorrow be a new day for you... a day that you will focus on as soon as you get to it. 
But first? 
What do you need to do today?
What do you need to not do today? 
What goals can you set for yourself for today? Not for all of eternity, not for the rest of the week, not for the rest of the month, not for the rest of the year, not for the rest of your life... but, today

Let your life be a little more manageable today. 
Let's not live so much in the future that we forget the present right in front of us. And let us not forget that each present begins to make up our futures...

Ask yourself each day what matters for the day.
And, hopefully, each day we have one thing at the top of the list that everything else flows from.

It's a good day.
A day that the Lord has made.
You've been given new mercy every morning.
Praise Him.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

The Tension

Honesty, you say?
You value it? You want it?
What I'm about to write is very near to my heart and hard for me to admit. But, I do believe that somewhere, somehow, in some way that the Lord can use it for good and so I feel inclined to share. It's probably nothing that will surprise you, especially if you're an avid reader of mine... but it doesn't make it any easier to confess.

I'm an idolater.

The gross reality of my current state has been alarming to me recently, yet not exactly surprising. I'm 28 and I'm single. While I spend a majority of my time convincing others (probably unsuccessfully) that I'm fine with it, I realized that I had only been trying to fool myself. This weekend the mask came crashing down and I was hit by the pain of my singleness. And, beyond that, I was hit with the stark realization that I have made an idol out of desperately trying (whether in thought or action) to not be single any longer. It was consuming.

I was heading to my brother's house to babysit for my nephew, chuckling at the irony of how I'd be the one crying instead of the four-month-old. It seemed a fitting evening to wallow in my own misery and despair. To allow myself to really feel the pain that I had been denying existed. My brother saw through my fake smile and immediately probed further to find out what was going on with me. The questions brought up more tears and I shamefully admitted to my brother and sister-in-law how pathetic I felt, how hopeless I felt, how desperate I felt...and how this pain felt truly insignificant in the grand scheme of life. Why did I even have to care about this? I was frustrated.

As I talked about just wanting to not desire a male companion or a family, my brother gently reminded me that these desires aren't bad. That when we don't get something we want, our natural tendencies are to go really hard after it, or to pretend that we never wanted it at all. We often live in the extremes because it helps us deal with the pain better. But, sometimes we need to sit in the tension of wanting something even if we aren't getting not deny ourselves our desires, but to not try to control them and make things happen that don't need to be happening. He was right. It is harder to sit in this tension of wanting but not having...

I don't necessarily know the fullness of what that even looks like, but I know that I have to exist in that right now. Wanting, but not having. Wanting, but not controlling. Wanting, but not pretending that I don't want. Wanting, but not idolizing...not letting it consume me.

I got a chance to talk to two older, single women recently and as I confessed this wound to them, they expressed their own, similar wounds. I'm not alone in this pain. I'm not alone in this tension. One talked about feeling as though she was always waiting for this missing key (a husband) before really selling out to the Lord. That she had heard a voice calling her toward missions, but she kept waiting for the last piece of the puzzle before she felt like she could go. Another discussed a decision to go abroad and how she had unknowingly made a deal with the Lord. A deal that essentially said, 'If you're not going to give me a husband to do mission work with, then you'll provide someone along the journey for me.' But there was no one, and it wasn't until there was no one that she realized the deal that she had conjured up, even though it was one the Lord had never agreed to.

These are the things we do.
And as we get older, the pain thickens and we choose to cope with it in different ways. We deny. We throw ourselves at men. We manipulate. We control. We pretend like men don't matter (even though we think they're all that matters). We make our careers our number one priority (to avoid the fact that we're alone). We strike up deals with the Lord. We're either masking the pain or we're overcompensating for it. We slowly become women we don't even recognize.

I've become an idolater, placing this idea of an earthly relationship above God. Wanting it more than Him. Caring about it more than Him. Thinking about it more than Him.

I'm slowly becoming a woman I don't recognize. A woman I don't want to be.
It's awful to admit.

And this is where I must surrender.
This is where I must hold loosely.
This is where I must trust Jesus and exist in the better plan that He has for me.
This is where I must beg that only He would be my savior and that I would learn, especially in my time of singleness, what it means to be content...what it means to believe that He is enough...what it means to let Him be my portion.
This is where I must sit in the tension. Where I must sit in the pain of wanting and not having...and continually take it to Him... again...and again...and again.

Ultimately, I would beg that my heart and mind would be so focused on the Lord that everything else would truly be considered rubbish next to knowing Him. That there would be no more room for idols in my heart.

May we become women we don't necessarily recognize, because we are becoming a fuller version of who we were always meant to be. As we exist in the tension, may we find God to be the fullness of who He truly is: good, sovereign, faithful, redeeming, gentle, love....willing to take our shattered hearts and tenderly mend them and mold them.

There's hope for change.
I don't have to be this woman caught in idolatry any longer.
The power of Christ reminds me of that.
And I hope it reminds you of that, too.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013


I went swing dancing last night.

Let's be clear... my dance history includes a few classes at the age of 5 and my high school show choir years. My swing dance history includes a couple random gatherings with some camp folk in my early days as a counselor when a some of the guys taught us how to do some fun moves. All that to say, I felt like a pro heading into the occasion...

We made it in time for a few lessons before the actual dancing kicked off. After a man who was dressed up as cupid (who also could have been Santa if he'd had a beard) showed me the basic triple-step, I was ready to dance. While our guy-to-girl ratio was off a bit, there were a few guys with us so the night wasn't as awkward as it could have been. Despite not really knowing any of them before entering into the evening, there was a still a certain comfort in dancing with guys where you at least have some idea of their background.

But then there were the songs where all of 'our' guys were dancing and so you hung out on the sideline and waited for someone to ask you to dance or for the next song to roll around. These were the moments of intense awkwardness. At least for me...

Because, even if I was asked by someone, I was more worried about what my feet were or were not doing than I was about carrying on a conversation with the strange man who I was holding hands with and swaying back and forth with. One guy encouraged me to not look at my feet, but to look into his eyes instead. It was complete with the hand motion.

I couldn't decide which was worse, honestly. Standing around waiting to be asked, or dancing with the random men. As I waited, I quickly reverted back to a middle school version of myself internally. I was immediately sabotaged with all the reasons why someone wouldn't ask me to dance.

Maybe they had seen me dancing and knew I was incompetent. Or maybe I just wasn't attractive enough. Or maybe I just looked unfriendly. Or maybe I wasn't making eye-contact enough. Or... or... or...

Ultimately I knew that the not being asked was worse, on some level. Because it fed a deeper insecurity: why won't anyone pick me?

It's a thought that can swallow you whole and take you down a spiral of more self-degradation, as you dwell on the negatives and subconsciously choose to forget about the times that you have been chosen, wanted, picked. In the moment of choosing to focus on the not being picked, I was suddenly in a place where rational thought escaped me.

And it's a battle I fear most of us women fight, no matter what our current circumstances are. That there's this question that's burrowed down that we still keep asking, even when we are in the midst of relationships. This desire to feel wanted, worth it, chosen....picked. It's a question that surfaces at random times and in random places, a question that's often void of the rational thought. A question that's form changes, but is intrinsically the same thing. Will you love me? Will you pick me? Will you choose me? Am I worth it? Am I desirable? Does anyone want me? 

It's rooted deep.
It's a question of identity.
A desperate searching to know that somewhere in the midst of this giant world that we have a place, that we are not forgotten, that we matter to someone. That someone picked us.
In that, we find value. We find purpose. We find comfort. So, naturally, when someone isn't picking us we are quick to believe that we aren't enough. Or that we're too much. Or we're doing something wrong. Or that we're too this... or that... or... or... or...

But, it's bogus.
I don't want to be the person who lectures you on what it means to find your identity in Christ because in the times when you feel the most lost and most undesirable, I haven't found that to be the most comforting. It's this thing that I know, but my heart hasn't fully absorbed that truth.

So as I thoroughly enjoyed my evening, despite this question that had poked at me occasionally throughout the night, I knew there was something else that had to be done. Instead of reminding myself of who I am in Jesus and how I'm chosen and wanted by the King...I took it to Him. As I drove home alone, I turned the radio off and began to talk to Jesus.

It was casual and non-sensical at times, but it was me telling Him where I was at. Audibly. It wasn't long before tears were streaming down my face as I admitted out loud the wounds of my heart and the question I longed to be answered. It was raw. It was ugly. But it was good... and necessary.

Identity isn't as easy as putting a stamp on our foreheads stating that we are, indeed, rooted in Christ. I wish it were. But it's a question that I imagine we'll continue to struggle with, especially as we wrestle with relationships (or lack of relationships) here on earth. It's easy for me to tell you that in HIM you are this list of things... and while those things are true, I think that we miss something when we forget to just take this question the Lord. When we forget to urge each other to take it to the Lord.

Maybe you're not asking this question right now....but maybe you are. Maybe you're struggling with not feeling loved, not feeling chosen, not feeling picked, not feeling like your spouse or your significant other is making you feel this way. Take it to the Lord.

Get alone.
Be in the quiet.
Be willing to be real, to be honest, to allow the truth of where your heart is to surface out loud. It's scary to admit. And the truth is often ugly. But, it's good. It's necessary. Because, in this revealing, I think this is where the Lord does healing. It's in this time that He reminds us of who we are to Him. For, I think, it's only He that can.

Open up to Him.
And maybe the truth will take root in our hearts more and more each time.

I've already been picked.
And when I feel like that's not enough, I'll turn off my radio and talk to Jesus about it. For He continues to be faithful when I am faithless, when I am an adulterer, when I am an idolater, when I am selfish, when I am searching for something or someone other than He.
Because it's only He who speaks life, and truth, and worth into me.

Take it to the Lord.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

V-Day = Doomsday?

'Santa' gave me pepper spray for Christmas.
While I initially thought it was because I was moving from the middle-of-nowhere to a big city and 'he' wanted me to be able to protect myself, I think it was actually aimed toward taking out any guy who has ever hurt me...and doing it on Valentine's Day.

Why, you ask?
Because it looks like this:
But, really... as much as I'm kidding (just about the purpose for the spray, of course...I absolutely own this now), I'm always surprised by the vehement anger that seems to surround this holiday. People hate it. They deck out in black, or make bold anti-love statements, or cheesy 'we should love all the time and not just once a year' declarations. Sometimes they hold ex-bashing parties, or flaunt their 'S-A-D' statuses (you know, Single Awareness Day...).

And as much as some people hate it, some people love it. It's actually quite fascinating. My own thoughts on the holiday obviously change, depending on my relationship status. For example, when my roommate asked me if I wanted to do dinner and Grey's Anatomy tomorrow night, I said, 'Sure!' wondering why it was such a 'formal' invite to a casual/normal evening at our house. It then dawned on me that tomorrow was actually Valentine's Day. Ohhhhh..... now I have plans. I see what she did there.  In my singleness, I'd completely forgotten that the day was approaching, which is a very different tune than ones I've sung the past few years.

Because when you're dating someone (or 'talking' to someone, or married to someone, or engaged to someone...or, whatever other terms you kids use these days), all of that changes. Suddenly there's expectation. Suddenly, no matter how much we claimed to hate Valentine's Day and other ridiculous romantic gestures, there's a small part of us that wants to be treated just a little better on this day...we want to feel a little more special... and little more loved. And, when we're in a relationship we sort of expect it to happen. (And, when we're not... we sort of still hope that some dream guy will appear out of nowhere and catch us off guard and sweep us off our feet. Crazier things have happened, right?)

After a few years of not being single on Valentine's Day, I'm honestly a bit relieved to be single again. There's no expectation this year. There's no room for someone to mess up, for someone to disappoint, for someone to try to achieve the impossible of doing something right. We get these ideas in our head of our version of the perfect Valentine's Day extravaganza and we expect our significant other to read our mind. If he takes me here, if he gives me this, if he says this, if he does this, if he surprises me in this way...then it will be perfect!

What if he doesn't, though?
Are you content? Are you happy? Are you thankful?
What if he does the exact opposite of what you were hoping he might do? What if things don't play out in reality the way that you had played them out in your mind (even if he does everything 'right'...)?

I said this last year, and I'll say it again: for all of the women in relationships--I hope you'll let your men do whatever they want to for you on Valentine's Day. I hope that you don't impose your own hopes/ideals upon him and strip him of his own creativity and individuality. I hope that you'll let him show you that he cares about you in the way that he wants to show you that he cares about you. And I hope that will be enough for you. I hope that you'll recognize the time, the effort, the thought, the energy he put into trying to make you feel special. I hope that if he didn't do anything crazy unusual, that you would be satisfied in knowing that it probably isn't a reflection of how he actually feels about you (after all....Valentine's Day is just another day, in the grand scheme of life....).

Single ladies: I hope you'll just let this day be another day as well. That you'll let it pass without much angst or depression or excuses to wallow in your singleness (or maliciously attack all your ex-boyfriends). Enjoy the fact that you don't have to worry about this holiday right now, enjoy the fact that you can hang out with friends and not have ridiculously impossible expectations for someone to meet that will inevitably leave you disappointed (I may just be talking to myself here...). Just enjoy life. Enjoy being single right now, for this season of your life. Don't get caught up in worrying or being sad or being jealous of all your friends who are in relationships.

Bottom line?
There's a heck of a lot more to life than Valentine's Day and everything going 'just right'. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of either loving or hating this day, or being in a relationship or not...I hope we do not lose track of the thing that matters most in life. I hope we would not be so consumed with ourselves and the things we think we deserve that we forget what we actually deserve and what we have been saved from through Jesus.

Because, in the grand scheme of life... Valentine's Day is just another day.
A day to live with no regret. A day to live as a servant, a follower, a teacher, a comforter, a counselor, a friend, a giver...a day to live life to the fullest, seizing every opportunity to place others above yourself.

Don't get so caught up in the grips of a consumeristic love that you forget what it means to truly love. Don't get so caught up in demanding that others love you that you forget to love others first.

Go forth.
Enjoy Valentine's Day... as any other day. Let go of the expectations, let go of the self-pity... and live a life that exudes the Gospel, as a servant of Jesus Christ and not yourself.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Un-Stuck & Blessed

Remember when I Just Did It?
Remember when I walked through the fears and the second-guessing and invited you to journey with me in that?
Remember when I left my job and I didn't know what the heck I was going to do?
Remember when I went to Africa?
Remember when I moved to New England and started graduate school after 6+ years of avoiding higher education?
Remember how it was terrifying every step of the way?

But guess what?
I don't think this transition could have been any easier for me.

The word I keep coming back to is: blessed.
I feel blessed. In all things surrounding the last several months of my life...since making the decision to leave something I knew well and step into the unknown, in settling into a new life full of new opportunities and new people.


It's been this incredible time of experiencing the Lord's provision in my all aspects. Things seem to be falling into my lap, and I can't help but be completely grateful that I am where I am for such a time as this. What's been especially beautiful to experience is the way that I now see how the Lord has prepared me for the various things and people that I'm encountering. There's much to learn still, and I eagerly anticipate what this season of preparation will entail and the new things I will grow in as I've already been enlightened by so much in just a few weeks.

I've been a little overwhelmed by the people who have told me how this is inspiring to them, or how they admire me for being willing to start all over and embrace change.... but, on some level, it feels ridiculous and laughable. I haven't done anything great or mind-blowing... and I certainly haven't done any of this on my own.

I guess I want to continue to encourage you to move toward better.
I want to encourage you to get 'un-stuck'.
I know, in some ways, that's what camp was for me. It was a place that I could have stayed forever, it was a place that was hard for me to imagine ever leaving. In some ways, I felt 'stuck' and I wanted to stay 'stuck'. I liked my life there and it was hard to imagine that anything else could be better.

But I didn't know.
And I think a lot of times we like to stay 'stuck'. That may mean 'stuck' in an actual place, like camp was for me....but it could also mean a job, a house, a city, a mindset, a life-style, a relationship. We all have things that we get 'stuck' in. Things that we, oftentimes, like to stay 'stuck' in...because it's what we know, it's what seems easier... we can't imagine anything else being better.

Things can always be better, though (especially when we know we are being called to somewhere/something different and we're just trying to avoid it...).
Being willing to get un-stuck and move toward that better is part of the key.
I've done no great thing.
But, I got un-stuck. I moved into the unknown and I've experienced the provision that's accompanied the journey... and I'm blessed. I can't imagine it going any better, honestly.

And I want that for you.
I want you to be willing to step away from the things/places you feel 'stuck' in and to experience an even greater joy as you trust God with your finances, your comforts, your relationships, your job, your life. I want you to be willing to step further into the things that you are called to do because you're trusting unswervingly in the God who saves, heals, protects, redeems, provides and continues to be faithful when we are, oftentimes, faithless.

Many of you have expressed a desire to just go and do something different, but feel crippled by not knowing where to even begin. Look at the things you feel 'stuck' in...and then consider what it would take to get 'un-stuck'. Look at the things you are passionate about, gifted in, skilled at....and see how you can use those things to bring God more glory.

I think you'll be surprised when you're willing to step out.
I think you'll experience a greater understanding of who Christ is as you learn to trust Him in new ways.
I think you'll be blessed beyond what you ever thought possible, in ways that you weren't even expecting or hoping for.

Get un-stuck.
It's the best.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Honest or Not?

As much as I pride myself on being honest, I'm actually quite terrible at it.

I get a lot of comments about how thankful people are for my honesty through this forum, but, if I'm being honest... I don't always feel so honest. I only tell you what I feel comfortable telling you, and the rest is left for me and a few close friends (and, the Lord, obviously...). I think that's probably good though.

Because, as much as I'd like to be straight up honest all the time, there are certain instances where it gets pretty tricky. Like...
  • Telling someone you like them.
  • Telling someone you don't like them. 
  • Telling someone how you've done something that hurts them/might ruin your relationship with them.
  • Telling someone how you've ruined something important of theirs.
  • Telling someone about your sin/junk in your life.
  • Telling someone about how they've hurt you/others.
There are probably more, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind. I have a friend who nannies and recently, in an attempt to jump start her boss's BMW, was faced with a situation where suddenly the cables were inexplicably melting onto both vehicles. Since the cables were too hot, she rushed to grab oven mitts from the kitchen, but by the time she got the cables removed there was a melted hole in the bumper of the BMW. Shoot. Who wants to make that phone call? Because, in that scenario you can't really do anything but tell the truth...but you obviously try to figure out how to tell the the boss in the best way possible (I think she opted to start with, 'Something bad happened...'). 

So there are situations where we are obligated to tell the truth. Sure, we can try to avoid it or get out of it or cover it up... but, it would seem that the truth is always revealed and it's much better to get it out there from the beginning. This is advisable in those instances like the one above...or perhaps in a situation where you've done something to hurt someone/a relationship. As hard and as uncomfortable as it is to be honest in these scenarios, it's always better to live in the freedom of full exposure instead of the fear and darkness of trying to hide, and the guilt that accompanies the secrets. 

Then there are the situations where there's no requirement for honesty, but sometimes it behooves both us and the other person. Sometimes this type of honesty is the most brutal because it typically requires vulnerability. This is probably what I have with you, my reader, on some level. It also comes forward in admitting you like well do you share those feelings when it could possibly mean rejection on the other line? We typically express ourselves in a way that keeps our pride in tact the most, in case the other person doesn't reciprocate. 

This type of honesty is also very prevalent in the way that we confess sin to others. We get really good at glossing over things, or telling only the bare minimum in such a way that people don't feel the need to probe any further. Or, we've mastered the art of telling partial truths. Or the, 'Yeah, we made out.', but we fail to mention that our operating definition of 'make-out' is extremely more inclusive than what our friend things we mean when we say 'make-out'. We walk further and further into sin while being 'honest' with people around us because our honesty is not actually honesty at all. You've know you've done this. I've done this--I'll admit it. 

And then there's the type of honesty that requires confrontation. Not many like this one and so they avoid it as much as possible. You think you'll get over it...but you don't. Even the little things begin to grate on your every nerve and it probably all stems from some giant misunderstanding that you weren't willing to be honest about from the beginning. Or maybe you're trying to tell someone you're just not interested in them romantically. Or maybe you've been hurt. Or maybe you're watching a friend do things that are damaging to them and those around them. Confronting them is hard...but it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. 

Okay, you get it.
Honesty is important. True honesty, that is (which, by definition, means free of deceit and untruthfulness). 
But it's not just honesty that I want to emphasize (too late?)... but also how to go about being honest. Being honest in a way that honors the other person. Being honest in a way that exudes love, selflessness, gentleness, patience....and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit. Being honest in a way that includes tact and boundaries. 

I don't always know how to do that. 
But I know that I want to remember, no matter the circumstance, that people matter. That they have feelings, that they have hearts (i.e. you don't have to tell someone all the reasons why you don't want to date them...but you do need to tell them that you don't want to). I want to remember that honesty is valuable, and I can only gain from being honest myself...about myself. To have discernment on safe people I can go to in order to be honest with them about my sin and my not exist in a world of half truths. 

I know that I want to live a life where light is brought to the darkness, where I'm not scared or ashamed to tell the truth...because I know that it sets me free. 

Honesty is best.
Even when it's hard, even when it hurts, even when it's risky. 

Go do what you know you have to do. 
Be honest. 

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