Sunday, June 28, 2009


have a surprise for you."

I could hear a smile in His voice.

"What is it!?" I asked, excitement and curiosity filling my own.

"Close your eyes," He instructed.

I did.

"What is it?"

"Hold out your hands," He told me.

"But what is it!?" I held out my hands, obediently.

"I told you, it's a surprise." He laughed quietly.

"Give me a hint," I pleaded.

"But that would ruin the surprise."

"Just a small hint... or... can I guess?" I couldn't sit still. My fingers opened and closed and I opened my right eye, only a little bit.

He wouldn't be able to tell I was peeking.

"Dont peek!" He covered my eyes with His own hand. "It's not ready yet.... just wait. Hold still. Trust me, you'll love this."

I waited for what seemed like forever.

I listened to Him, somewhere beyond my closed eyelids, working faithfully.

Anticipation grew.

Grew into impatience.

I called out my guesses. Trying to solve the mystery, to end the waiting.

I threatened to open my eyes. To close my hands. To leave.

He listened to my words, increasing with aggravation. He didn't quit, however.

Whatever work He was doing, He continued.

I could feel Him standing over me, then.

The coolness of His shadow, cast over me.

I was quieted. My His presence, by the love I knew He had for me.

In my impatience, I had forgotten that what it was I waited for ...

was a gift.

I uncurled my defiant fingers.

The furrows in my brow relaxed.

He was near. Singing over me.

In my hands He put something that was both heavy and weightless.

Cool and warm.

Smooth and rough.

"You can open your eyes now," He whispered.

It had been so long since I'd seen His face.

I looked into His eyes, almost forgetting the gift in my hand.

"Surprise," He smiled.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I almost didn't sit down to write this.

But the thoughts are running too rampant in my head.

I logged onto Facebook last night and the majority of my friends' statuses clued me in on what had just happened.

Michael Jackson had a heart attack. He had passed away.

Overshadowed by the King of Pop's death, was the passing of Farrah Fawcett.

On the same day.


I was immediately disgusted.

Pop culture is something I am hit in the face with almost every day.

On the internet. In my office. On the radio.

But it is something I honestly try to avoid. Dodging it in the tabloids, turning the dial on the radio.

I am not exactly sure when our culture began to revolve around other people's lives.

But we are an obsessed society.

I'd go so far as to say our obsession is a sickness.

But last night, after I checked CNN for myself, the disgust slowly melted into sadness.


But not a normal sadness one might feel when they've lost a friend.

I didn't know Michael.

America is "mourning" today for the loss of one of its greatest pop icons.

But we didn't know Michael.


How can you mourn someone who you did not know?


I am sad today because a life ended yesterday that may or may not have had any real witnesses.

The person Michael Jackson really was, was a stranger to us.

He was one of the most talented artists in pop music history.


Insanely talented.


Terribly sad.


The young Michael's face is the one that is imprinted on my mind today.

And I wonder what happened?

Because no one knows.

No one knows why he so drastically changed his physical appearance.

No one knows why he did what he did in his later years.

Because we are not obsessed with who celebrities are.

We are obsessed with who we want them to be.

Who we expect them to be.


I am sad today, because a fifty year old man died in California yesterday.

He had brothers and sisters.

And children of his own.

A father who he may never have gained approval from.

But those who claimed to love him most... those who, today, are declaring that June 25th 2009 was the day music died...

had no idea who he was.


This is an epidemic in our culture.

Deriving from a single grain of gossip.

A desire to find fault in perfection,

and find perfection in the midst of normalcy.

To point the finger of blame and accusation and judgment away from ourselves, our lives.


America will mourn today.

The kind of empty mourning that happens when you truly have no idea what you just lost.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


God's still, small voice is sometimes not so still and small.

The earth is jam-packed with His presence.

But we become accustomed to Him.

Hours, days, weeks will go by and we will fail to see Him.

And then one day...

He is evident in every small blade of grass, every song lyric, every casual word, every passing stranger.


Last night, Jon reminded us that the hardest work of hope is the waiting.

Tonight, sitting on a bed with a dear friend, I was reminded that everything happens for a reason. We are all connected. Everything we do circles back around.

Driving to Togethership, I passed him on the sidewalk. My first english professor in college. The one who taught me about John Prine and called me a fundamentalist Christian and told me I was the best writer he'd ever had.

I sat in their living room floor, listening to Rob Bell. A Nooma video I'd watched years and years ago. Like a joke you already know the punch line to... somehow, I heard it with new ears.


Did you know God is good?

Not just righteous and almighty and omnipresent.


That He is not only interested in the smallest details of your life, He is invested.

He is creative.

He is funny.

He is to be feared.

One of the best writers once said He wasn't safe.

But He is good.


I sit here tonight, with more thoughts in my head than I could ever convey.

Thoughts about waiting.

And giving up.

Of trusting.

Of stability and loyalty.

Of peace.


Why is it that while I'm walking down Maxwell Street, my thoughts make sense and flow ...

but I sit here and they jumble up in front of me. Disintegrate in my hands.

Some thoughts, perhaps, just aren't meant to be verbalized.

Some lessons, are intended to be internalized.


Tonight, I want you to go to a place where you can be still.

Where you can come close to God.

Let Him hold your face in His hands.

Be reminded that He is good.

And because He is good...

What He has in store for you is better.


I am hit, square between the eyes, with the realization that I have no idea what is going on.

In the midst of it all, I am unable to see the plan that is unfolding.

It is not until later, it will not be until later, that I will see.

And I will know.


For now, I have hope.

I am full of hope.


I have never questioned Your love for me.

Through all the trials and pain and obstacles I have faced, I was always certain.

I have never doubted that Your plan was best, that Your will was divine.

But from the beginning, with the exception of a few moments of clarity along the way, I simply have not been able to see.

Sometimes I have been unable to know and see Your will for what happens next.

Sometimes I resent You. For leaving me here. For sending others out. For giving them adventures.

Sometimes I feel left out. Not good enough. Ignored. Bored.

And I realized last night that I have not sought any of that, which I desire so deeply.

I have sat here. Hands open. Waiting for life to be delivered to me. Laziness. Fear. Confusion. Uncertainty. All have kept me tied to my seat. Stagnant.

Which is exactly the opposite of what my sisters and brothers have done.

I am now compelled to move.

Inspired to seek.

I'm here praying that if I draw close to You, You'd draw near to me.

If I go out in search of my adventures - the path You've laid out for me - that You would help me find it.

... I would come forth as gold.

... my seeking heart would find You.


At the same time, I realize that Your will might be for me to be right here.

Right now. In this place.


One of Your children found me at work today.

She asked where I had put my happy face and I told her that I'd left it at home, where I wanted to be.

I told her some of what was going on in my life right now and she just shook her head.

"Sometimes you grow the most when God pins you down in one place. Just be still, Anna. Just be still..."

This is the lesson you want me to learn this season.

How to stop, in the midst of the chaos and demands and anxiety, and be still.

In Your presence. Because You... are most important.

You want to fight for me.

You have plans for me.

But I'm too busy, too hurried, too active to hear.


You are teaching me something.

Lots of things.

And You already know this, I don't have to tell You, but I'm still frustrated.

I still don't feel like I'm doing anything important.

Most days.

There are other days when I hear Your voice a little clearer...

And I know that I am sinful.

I am finite.

I am blind.


There's no telling what You're up to.

I know You are good.

I know You love me.

I know You have a great sense of humor.

So even when I'm frustrated...

I love you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the things we feel

Heart beats faster.



What you feel consumes you.

You are engulfed in what we have come to call emotions.


your thoughts swim in a sea of anger and fear and love and suspicion.


Your eyes are brimming with it.

Your ears are full of it.


You hand covers your mouth.

You cannot speak of it.

It remains a secret.

These things you feel most deeply.

Echoing in the caverns of your soul.

But they will remain there.

Where you can control them.

Where they are contained and tame.




From the depths.

You feel.

You give emotions names.










Your self is exploding with it.


You want me to know.

You want to share all this with me.

With the world.

Because there are days when it is too much.


You lower your hand.

Your lips part.

A song comes out...

materializing before you.

Into shape.





What you know,

what you feel,

the deepest, strongest parts of you

are suddenly real.



Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The way we change sometimes blows my mind.

The ways in which I am different today, than I was this time last year, is unfathomable.


I want to say that I have grown and matured and become more gracious and patient.

Not always.

I want to say I have a clearer purpose today, a more determined sense of direction.

Not usually.

I want to say I am more gentle and kind, that I sin less.



But I am trying.

And if nothing else, I am learning.

Striving to learn.


I have left my real identity in the dust, only to return and shake out the dirt, reminded that God made me the way I am for a reason.

I have stepped back and examined and pruned and intentionally stretched.

I am jumped in, headfirst.

There are days, my insecurity is wiped clean away by the Voice of Someone bigger than me.

Reminding me, as Jon said a few weeks ago, that humility is not about thinking too little of yourself. But seeking the opinion of the One whose opinion matters most.

Sometimes I really impress myself.

Only to turn around and really embarrass myself.

Is this life?

I believe so...


But the greatest lesson I may have learned, is to listen for His voice.

To decipher between His quiet whispers and my own selfish ambition.

To recognize Him, His gentle, persistent way, even when the world around me rebels in chaos.

And last night I listened.

And the Father showed up. In a familiar coffee shop across town.

Reminding me that He has a plan.

A purpose.

That He wants something from me.

Mainly... my attention.


I awoke this morning with a unprecedented grasp on peace.

Perhaps, even understanding...

What it means to be hopeful.

To trust.

To stare into the face of fear, of doubt, of cynicism, of panic...

And be unwavering.


By the grace of God alone will we get through all the obstacles thrown our way in this life.

But I believe, with all my heart, He has instilled eternity within us...

the deepest desire to know Him...

whether we know to call it that or not.

To return to the Father.

To confess, "I am a sinner"

And know He loves us still.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Open and close my fingers.



My hands are wet.

And empty.

My lips taste, but my mouth remains dry.


I am thirsty.

But I cannot take hold -

that, which I need most desperately,

slips right through my fingers.

My efforts are in vain.

My energies wasted.

All for a few drops on my tongue.


I've been doing this for too long.

I see.

I know exactly what it is I need.

In fact, what I need has already been provided.

Given to me.

Over and again.

Like rain, it pours over me.


But what can I do?

How do I accept this gift?

My frantic gestures, my greedy reach, just seem to fall short.


I find myself, now, on my knees.

I am soaked.

There is absolutely no denying that I have been provided for.


Taken care of.

I just don't know what to do with it.


I bow my head and feel grace splashing on my neck. Trickling down my cheeks. I am washed with it, covered in it.

I lift my hands. Empty hands.

I don't have the words to explain to my Provider to explain the peace I long for, the deep thirst I need to satisfy.

I am still.

No more grappling.

No more desperation.

No more panic.

I am quiet.


Suddenly, I have surrendered.

My inability to satisfy my own thirst has sent me back to Him.

He must have heard what my heart was crying.

In my stillness, my quiet, my surrender -

In the abandonment of myself -

He came close.

And in my uplifted hands,

I felt Him pour His blessings.

Pooling in my cupped hands,


I bring my brimming hands to my dry lips, my thirsty mouth.

And I drink.

And I am satisfied.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


We all pulled into the parking lot about the same time last night.

Piled out of the cars.

Some of my favorite people in the world. In from the mountains. Over from Winchester. Down from Stonegate Way.

We were going to learn something new.

It was a perfect night. And the Vaughan men patiently taught the Vaughan women how to play disc golf.


My initial reaction was to balk... to hold back, for fear of looking stupid. Of doing poorly. Of messing up.

The younger Vaughan men casually played, subtly displaying their excellent skill. The two older ones, very different in personality and teaching style, quietly coached the three women. The Vaughan way. The family way. Gentle encouragement, light hearted banter, silent competitiveness.

I don't know whether it was the first hole or the seventh, but at some point I gave up on looking "good" while I played this new game. And I just played. Laughing and chasing the black lab who kept stealing my disc. Joking and putting a little more effort into every throw...

I watched my sisters.

Missing the one who is in a different country.

Amazingly proud of the two that stood before me ... so different. And so grown up.

I watched as one of them displayed behavior very much like my own.

I walked over to her, wrapped her in my signature hug, which really means "hold still, so i know you're listening to me...."

"You know what we need to learn?" I asked her.

She looked at me like I was going to say something stupid.

"We both need to learn how to not be afraid of looking silly."

I pulled away from the hug.

The look in her eyes told me I had just read her thoughts.

"I want you to learn that lesson... right now." I told her. "I didn't learn it until I was nineteen years old. I'm still learning it... years later. But I missed out on a lot of fun when I was a teenager because I was afraid people would laugh at me. People would make fun of me. That I would look stupid."

She just nodded.

I replayed scenes in my head .... of me, watching from the balcony, as my friends played tackle football in knee-deep water in South Carolina when I was 15. Of dance parties where I sat at the sidelines. Of costume parties and hikes where I refused to be bold.... to branch out and have fun.

This is a lesson we learn continuously. A lesson that is never fully learned for people like me.

But I remember the day I learned it.

And it happened pretty late in life. Late enough, that I am now a firm believer that childhood should last a lifetime.

Last night, I wanted more for my littlest sister.

At 13, almost 14, I wanted desperately to see her free from the insecurity, self-consciousness, that cripples. That paralyzes.


There are a lot of other fears that paralyze me these days.

A lot more uncertainties that stop me in my tracks.

States of mind, in which I find myself lingering. When I should be moving on.


Life is drastically different today than it was yesterday.

Will be dramatically different tomorrow than it was this time last year.

I look at the woman I am, right now.

Sitting on my new balcony, just back from a night of community, I can't help but think about who I used to be.

And thinking about that... I am amazed at how far the Father has brought me.

That realization, gives me hope that the changes that are occurring in my life right now... are going to be for the better.

Romans 8.


I need someone to come and wrap me up in a hug. The kind of hug that says "hold still, so I know you're listening to me".

Tell me to not be afraid to be bold.

To risk looking silly.

To reach out.

To release my grip on fear.


Tonight, I feel fearless.

I have heard, felt, the call of the Father to come home.

To rest in the shadow of His wings.

To relinquish anxiety and allow myself to be quieted by His love.

His call to cast all my worries on Him has been heard tonight.


His perfect love will cast out fear.

And in every aspect of my life, I hope to be bold.

To think outside of the box society has built.

To exceed the expectations of those around me.

To rise above approach.

To build a home where none exists.

To cultivate love.


Here's to a new tomorrow.

When we are different people and the world is a different place and our God remains the same.

May we rest, be still and content, in His love.

And then love.

Actively. Passionately. Without fear.