Friday, December 31, 2010

End Well

It is the last day of the year. The very last few hours of 2010. There is a lot of pressure on this day.

I woke up with a strange sense of sadness. Reluctant to get out of bed, to start this day. I knew I would spend the day doing just this: reminiscing. I knew I would spend the day recollecting and cataloguing the past twelve months. Deep down, I also knew I'd like what I'd find. But if there's a lot of pressure on today, the pressure on tomorrow is even greater.

I am sitting here in my favorite spot. I could come here alone and sit for hours, never feeling out of place or lonely. Intentionally, I choose a seat facing the door. People walk in and out and every once in a while, someone will catch my eye. Usually a family who has come to share breakfast together. Children with gooey chocolate donuts and parents with Belmont bagels. Today two women have caught my eye. One woman was here clearly waiting on someone who never showed up. I just watched her get up and buy herself breakfast and sit down in quiet defeat, her eyes still watching the door. The other is a tall redhead whose eyelashes and eyebrows are painted on. Her hair is not her own, but most would never notice.

These are the people I come here to see. These people who have stories. Epic, intertwined stories which somehow led them to be in the same place as me this morning.

Outside the big, glass windows the wind is blowing and the air is warm. In defiance of winter I put on flip flops with my sweats this morning. It is warm enough. I believe this is a gift specifically for Rachel Frazier and myself.

This is my safe place. And I have come here today to unpack.

2010 was the year of stories.

Our life is our story. And no matter how mundane, how uneventful, how unfortunate, how lucky or blessed your life so far has been... your life so far has been your story. Your real life began the moment you were born - if not before.

There are moments, however, when everything seems to change. There may come a moment when you begin experiencing life in a brand new way. An instant when the story picks up pace. A pivotal moment, an unprecedented lesson. Circumstances change. The veil is lifted or the scales fall away. You meet him, or her. You will have more than just a few moments like this if you are pursuing a full life, a great story. And even if you're not, even if you have no idea what living a great story even means, you are going to stumble all over a moment before too long.

And then everything is going to change.

In 2010, my story picked up its pace.

Real life had been happening. Real change had occurred. Transformation had taken place within and around me; something had been growing. Something bloomed this year.

For the past few years my only New Year's resolution has been to do better. Steadily, progressively, ever since i made that resolution I really have done better.

2009 was a year of breaking and stretching and growing. There was a lot of pain and uncertainty and searching. This was the year the Father put His hands on my face and professed His love and spoke His identity over me. I stumbled on the Spirit and the beauty of loving Him fully. I walked around with sore muscles and open eyes. The proverbial stitches and bandages on all my wounds were the center of God's attention.

But 2010 came.

A page turned and what had been a story about brokenness and redemption was so suddenly an epic story about adventure and risk and passion. I got a front seat ticket to watch God fulfill promises and connect dots for me. I cannot explain to you the ways in which I've changed. My life has taken a sharp turn, facing me towards more mountains and a new horizon. Forty small children have transformed my heart and stretched my very capacity to love. I don't know how to tell you about the protection God's placed over my life, or about the day when He lifted that - in order to show me how much progress we'd made together. I asked Him to put me back together. And He made that the ultimate work of 2010.

I feel like I've lost a lot of my gifts this year. The creative aspect of myself has dwindled to almost nothingness, and even now I'm grasping for straws. Words are few. You can't explain this stuff. But the Father has introduced a few more, which I never dreamed would be part of my identity. He's taught me what it means to be a leader, and about what it means to use the gifts of His spirit.

Exactly a year ago, I wrote the words "of finishing school, of spiritual gifts, about where to serve, who to reach out to", regarding my thoughts about the upcoming year. I couldn't have known God would be just so good and choose to answer those very questions.

I want you to know what it means to walk down a dirt road in a skirt towards a mud hut, not wanting to be anywhere else in the world. Or watching the sky pour down rain to your right and to your left, while you stand under sunshine. Or to walk into a home and be handed a three week old baby, to have a small boy throw himself into your arms. Or what it means to be stopped in your tracks by what your heart understands to be the manifestation of God. To ask for His presence and have the wind blow.

This year was the year of children.

I went back to school this year. Secretly afraid I wasn't going to make it, I am here on the other side of the first semester, feeling triumphant. I am one of those lucky few who knows what work they've been made to do. With that comes a lot of responsibility and pressure. And a great joy when all else seems to crumble around me. I know my work.

My dad got married this year.

I learned how to listen. And found myself rising up against a glass ceiling.

He decided to teach me how to trust.

I chose singleness.

There were no kisses in 2010, unless little children kissed my cheeks.

There was no hand holding in 2010, unless I was walking down the street with small children in tow.

But God taught me about my worth. Gave me a glimpse of how the world see me. Led others to invest in me.

Actually, I can't believe it's over. I'm so afraid I'll forget.

This year's resolution is the same as the past two: this year I will do better.

Maybe this year will involve more leaving, more staying. More running.

I want to create and listen.

I want to love and be loved. I want to be gentle and gracious and bold.

When I walk through the door this year, I want you to see Jesus. I want His light to shine in my eyes.


I'm going to leave the bakery now. Too bad Bonnie isn't here so we can profess out loud that 2011 will be the best one yet.

Because when you say things aloud here... they happen. Just believe me. Who's surprised I have stories?

There's a lot of pressure on today. The high expectation to end well.

Go. Leave slowly. End well.


Here is a true test of love:

To want what is best for another. Even at your own expense, at the risk of your own heartbreak.

Who knew small children could cause such an ache. With their dirty faces and sticky hands, eyes deep and watery. They throw themselves in your arms or cower far away in the corner. In an instant your heart belongs to them.

I am threatening the next time I see a greasy, playful child, however, I am going to walk the other way. "No, thank you," I will say, holding up my hands and shaking my head. "No more. My heart doesn't have any more room. It's cracked and fragile and can't take any more breaking."

It's my own fault. I have yet to learn how to rationally detach. How to love and then walk away. How to wash my hands at the end of the day and go to bed with an unburdened mind. I have a lot to learn, and I'd better learn it quick. Because my heart's beginning to look like a patchwork quilt.

Tonight I am reminded how easy it is to love the lovable. As a Christ follower I am called to love those who require much more patience and grace. I am reminded how real love is sacrificial. Love is selfless. But despite those attributes, love does not always come without pain.

When the ones I love leave again... I fight the temptation to give up. I battle internally with the defeat and sorrow, which comes right along with empty arms.

I know He told me to take care of her and to love her. It breaks my heart to think I may have waited too long. Then, by His grace, I remember the first day I met her. Hiding in the corner of a sofa, sick and scared and neglected. I remember calling her over to me, feeling the swollen lymph nodes and noticing the deep uncertainty in her eyes.

My mind then races to the most recent time I saw her. She slipped her hand in mine. A mischievous, happy smile lit up her face. Somewhere along the way she had learned to trust me. Oh, how much easier it was for me to learn to love her.

I was told by our Father to take care of her. She was my burden, my gift. In an instant, however, she's gone again. My time with her was short and seemingly ineffective.

I am a transition person.

This is a lonely place to be. Most of the time I only get a little bit of time to love you.

Tonight my head knows the truth, but my heart can't grasp it yet. Tonight I'm tired and I wonder if I have what it takes.

What it takes to trust. To love unconditionally and without fear of loss. To want what is best for another, at the risk of my own heartbreak.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Snowy Day in December

It is Christmas Eve and I am watching out the window as the snow accumulates outside. Like someone pushed a button and whispered, "this year, we will have a white Christmas"...

I am here by myself. Sitting in the dark watching A Christmas Story. I am warm and sleepy and content to be spending this evening by myself.

But in this quietness, I keep searching for the feeling. The feeling, which means "Christmas". It was distinct when we were children. All I keep coming up with are dusty memories. Faint, vague recollections of twenty some-odd Christmases past. Accumulated somewhere in the recesses of my heart.

Memories of a Pentax K1000. And Christmas Eve parties that lasted too long. Kathy Mattea. Cinnamon rolls and flannel boxers. Carol of the Bells.

I cannot describe to you what Christmas is to me, the way Christmas should feel, because I don't know how to describe the music. What it sounds like when Larry sits down at the piano and, by heart, begins to play Carol of the Bells. When I think of Christmas - good Christmases - I think of this.

This year, Christmas has been significantly different than any other. Our baby, Abby, declared at dinner she would be sleeping in tomorrow morning. We all exchanged glances of, "well, she's not little anymore". And I was flooded with memories of waking up to her standing next to my bed. Climbing in and sleeping against the wall, taking up far too much room for a five year old.

This year, we've been expected to be in multiple places at the same time. Despite our frustration, the four of us recognize how lucky we are to have so many people we love and who love us. But when my sister and I sat down for church tonight, in the place I call home, I leaned over and asked her simply why this year had been so much harder than all the rest.

That's when I cried my first Christmas tears. Which, if you know me, is no real surprise. I always cry at Christmas.

This year, we've asked for things like familiarity. For rest. For peace of mind.

Something in us has begun to realize how much we need, which is not at all material. How much we need each other.

We don't need new laptops or new socks. We don't need gift cards or DVDs.


I spent Christmas Eve alone. And woke up alone on Christmas morning.

Like Thanksgiving, I am having to redefine what this holiday means to me.

What it means when you wake up and it feels like Saturday. Instead of Christmas.

But snow fell last night. And I am sitting on my Mama's couch. Not a present has been opened, no stockings are hanging on the mantel. No Christmas movies are playing on the television.

But it is a beautiful, snowy day in December. And perhaps, for the first time, today is about family. The ones my heart loves.

This holiday season has been more difficult than any I can remember before. I've never felt so torn, so confused, so lonely. There is a steady, subtle ache in my heart. Wanting a family of my own, wanting someone to spend this holiday with. But shrouding that ache is the gentle reminder of how lucky I am.

Every time a child wraps their arms around my neck. Or all my sisters are in the same place at the same time.

We asked for rest. For peace of mind. For familiarity.

Because those are the things we really need this year.


Merry Snowy Day in December.

Today is about the birth of a baby who was born to save our lives.

It doesn't have to feel like Christmas to be able to celebrate that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

High Expectations

Well. I never thought this day would come. The day I would have the option right in front of me, and I would still choose singleness. When I would be so assured of God's plan for my future, I would be content to continue waiting.

I've always said I'd rather be single than be in a relationship that wasn't right for me. But did I believe it? Maybe not until now. Maybe not until today.

I've also always said I would only date a man who loved Jesus. I keep hearing Braeden's words recurring in my head. "I can't wait to meet your husband. He's going to have to have so much Jesus in him...."

I took that for granted.

I have taken that for granted.

Until yesterday. When I went to explain myself to someone who does not share my love for Jesus. And my words got all stopped up in my throat. He didn't understand.

He told me he could see I wanted to change the world. He found this very attractive.

I didn't know what to say. How long had it been since I'd spent time with a man who wasn't running beside me, changing the world right along with me?

I don't want you to watch and admire. There's nothing to admire. This is my life. My love. My passion. My work. I need you to see a need in this world and run to meet it. And I will run into you on that path.

Realizing this, I walked away from yesterday feeling strangely free. Free to move to Colorado. Free to be single. Free to wait a little longer. Free to have high expectations and higher standards.

Free to wait for the big, strong man with light in his eyes and a booming laughter. A man who will push me out of my comfort zone and play with my hair. Who will love children and fall asleep with his head on my lap. Who will climb mountains and go dancing. Who will smell good and have callused hands. A man who will love Jesus more than he loves me, whose ears will be filled with the words of our Father, whose steps will be guided by His will. A man I will respect, a man I can trust.

High expectations.

Expectations God may completely thwart.


What I'm really waiting for is the whisper in my heart. "There he is."

I will hear it. Maybe not immediately. But I will hear it. I will know.

And I can only pray he will be looking for someone just like me.

A short, scarred, tattooed, argumentative, tempered radical.

Who loves coffee way too much. Whose eyes look really green sometimes.

Who will never ever give him a good gift, and may feel really awkward telling him how handsome he is.

But will see him for who he is. And love him as fully as possible.


Today, however, I am free.

Today, my house will be full of children decorating for Christmas.

If nothing ever changes.... if I never get this thing my heart so desires... I am still so very lucky.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Sometimes... I forget about people.
Sometimes... I lose hope in people.
Sometimes... I just get really tired of people.

But then I have nights like last night. Nights I am acutely aware of diversity, of the beauty in each face, in each pair of eyes I see. I get all wrapped up in thinking about their stories - these people who pass by me. And I wonder about just how easily I could step into their stories.

With a simple hello, I could interject.

A kind smile and suddenly, our stories would collide.

I could interrupt their life.

I thought about this as I sat waiting in a car with a little boy who is in fifth grade.
He prides himself in how easily he can change the topic of conversation.
Boasting about how he's not scared of the dark. Not at all.

I thought about this as I sat in Starbucks and watched couple after couple come in for coffee before going to the see the Trans-Siberian orchestra. I wondered about their dates, how they met, and just how awkward each one felt. And how long it would take for them to become best friends. If they ever would.

Each person has a story.

A life they are leading.

A path they are walking.

I found myself watching their body language.
Looking for the tell-tale light, the illumination in their eyes.
Searching for something familiar, something shared.

And I fell in love with people again. This is the pattern. The sequence.
I forget about my love for the creations of our Creator.
Then I see a scar. Gray hair on their head. Or I hear one of them laugh.

I am overcome.



My hope still does not rest in people.
Sometimes I still get really tired of them. Especially adults.
But in a moment, my love for the created is re-ignited. My love for the ones He loves.

The father and son who shared a slice of pound cake.
Big man in his business clothes, leaning in to talk to the small man whose legs dangled off the chair.
They were my love story.

To most of them, I am simply an observer.

I am not here to interrupt anything.

Just as a witness to your existence - to a brief moment in your story.

There are others however, maybe even you, who will be interrupted by me.
I will walk in on your life, open the door to your story, and let myself in.
And I am in awe of how quickly it may happen.

What amazes me more, is when someone walks into mine.
When he came running through the house and threw himself into my arms.
When you came from out of nowhere and made me take notice.

There are nights when hundreds of faces pass me by.

When I am not struck by any beauty.

When I don't feel any warmth.

But there are others when I just wonder...
What just happened?
What, because of two stories colliding, just changed forever?

Divine interruption.
Serendipitous cameo.
Holy collision.

Wake up. This is a part of the story you don't want to miss.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Thursday

As a child, you believe everything will always be the same. Holidays are days set apart. They feel different. You anticipate them. There is magic. Especially in Christmas. Yeah... you remember not being able to sleep, the excited feeling, the way the nighttime hours seemed the drag.

When did that stop?

I woke up yesterday morning. And while Thanksgiving never caused as much excitement as Christmas did, it had always been a day set apart. But yesterday. Yesterday was Thursday.

I got up and worked out and steamed broccoli and chopped onions and peeled apples and made coffee. I enjoyed my day off, as I haven't had a real one of those in a long, long time. It was a good day. But it was just Thursday.

And I wonder if that is a repercussion of blended families and divorce. Of sickness and working on holidays. If we lower our expectations in order to keep from being let down. Because things really aren't the way they used to be. Things changed, and no one really prepared you for that.

Or. Maybe it is just a part of getting older. Realizing that Thanksgiving is really just a Thursday. And Christmas is really just the 25th of December. It changes the way I think. The way I perceive, the way I go about my day. Holidays require some intentionality. But the pressure's also off. It's Thursday. Make it a good Thursday. Be thankful... not because it's Thanksgiving. But because it's Thursday.

I stopped to think about what I was thankful for yesterday. Chin-deep in text messages and emails and phone calls from people saying, I was who they were thankful for. This blew my mind.

I am thankful, above all else, for my sisters. We yell at each other, fight and carry on. We always have. Let's be honest... we probably always will. But when it comes down to it, and we're relieving all our holiday-induced stress by teaching Kat how to dougie in the living room.... they're the best in my life.

I am thankful for my parents. And their new spouses. Everyone has handled this transition with a lot of grace and understanding.

I am thankful for my uncle. And his wife, my aunt. For being my friends. I am thankful that I can look at him from across the room and, without saying a word, we can have a full conversation.

I am thankful for my other uncle... who I talked to on the phone yesterday. He doesn't know it, but I crave his approval and his love as much as my own father's.

I am thankful for the opportunity to go back to school. (I have to repeat that a few times, because today will be spent doing homework, and I'm just about worn out.)

I am thankful for my job. As much as I hate it, I know how lucky I am to have one and to have one that is so flexible.

I am thankful that I woke up in a warm house this morning.

And that I'll shower later with warm water and that if I needed a drink right now... I could go get clean water from the faucet.

I am thankful that I'm not sick. This time last year I was taking medication daily and feeling pretty miserable. I thought I'd never get better. Glad God sees farther than that.

I am thankful for my community. A patchwork of people, they're all so different. But they are why I survive. I hope I bless them as much as they bless me.

I am thankful for my car. Even though the stupid battery light is on and I think there's a leak in the driver's side door. It gets me where I need to go and every month I have enough money to make the payment. I am thankful for that.

I am thankful for Donald Miller.
And coffee.

I just had a strange thought.

I am thankful that I am single. That for the past couple of years, I have been alone. Learning who I am and... trying.... to avoid mistakes. Listening. Waiting. One day, I will be thankful for a husband. I'm thankful for him today - wherever, whoever, he is. But today I'm thankful that God has given me what I need to be patient. Bittersweet.

I am thankful for Tuesdays and two little boys named Alec and Justin.

I could keep going. A stereotypical I-Am-Thankful-For list. But it's true.

Things are hard right now.

But now it's Friday. And I'm still thankful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We use this word all the time. Not irreverently, not without understanding implications. Perhaps as a culture however, we use it without understanding fully what it means.


What does it mean to feel God calling?

Do we have specific callings on our life? Are we given an inherent desire, born within us, to do a certain work?

Maybe by saying calling you actually mean mission.

Maybe by mission you actually mean purpose.

Can (or "will") God call you in one direction and then change His mind? Can you hear His voice, follow Him down one hallway and through one door, only for Him to make a hard right turn?

Some of us have a pretty intuitive ear. God is vocal with us; He is visual. Maybe because those of us with the intuitive ear are also the most stubborn of us as well. He knows us well enough to know we need extra help.

Bless our hearts... sometimes He just has to be painfully obvious.

God changes us. I believe He created us with a holy desire for a purpose. The eternity He so graciously placed in all our hearts whispers our names, flicks our ears, and links arms with us as we walk down the street. The ache you feel when you're unsure of your purpose is there so we won't stay the way we are.

He loves us too much to let us stay that way.

So what is this... this thing we've named a calling.

I say I felt called to Africa. When I say this I mean I sat in my car and basically heard the Father say "would you please just go? I mean really, babe."

When I came home from Africa, my calling meant something different. It was associated with a heartache and a passion. An adventure had married up with divine confirmation. And the bond caused an explosion in my heart.

Today, I wonder if I hadn't been hitting up against a wall for years. A wall of unwillingness and selective hearing. Maybe God used Ethiopia as my wrecking ball.

I came home from Ethiopia (you all know this story so well you could tell it yourself!) and got dumped right into the lap of an inner city mission. There was no calling involved that I could see. Even though God had been connecting dots and foreshadowing this transition for years, it seemed like I just showed up one night. Of my own volition. Despite my own cynicism and lack of desire.

Wall number two came crumbling down.

So tell me: do you have to be aware of your calling? Do you have to know, hear, see, recognize the voice and hand and direction of the Father in order to fall smack dab into the middle of His plan for your life? Do you have to know what He's doing in order for Him to do it?

I just looked up the word "calling" in the NIV. The first thing, which came up was "The Calling of Matthew", where Jesus says "Follow Me".

I worry, almost chronically, about missing God's direction. Of not hearing Him when He calls. I so badly want to go where I'm supposed to, be where I'm supposed to, do what I'm supposed to. My mother always tries to comfort me by saying "anyone who wants so badly to do the will of God, will not miss the will of God."

I'm just wasting a whole heck of a lot of energy in the process.

So tell me, what's your calling? I think I know what it is.

You are called to follow Jesus.

I am called to follow Jesus.

The beautiful thing is, I believe He knows you. And I believe He really does care about your individual life. I think He has plans for you. I think He's created you to do a special work (whether you and the rest of the world thinks it's special or not).

But if you don't know... or if you're like me and He keeps leading you down different hallways...

lean back into Him. Rest in Him. If you love Him, and you are talking to Him and (even more importantly) listening to Him, you'll know when He says "whoa, wait a minute. Let's go this way." And then He takes that sharp right turn.

"If God is fathering us, He is helping us discover what is good, right, pure, and worthy to pursue. He teaches us morality and ethics, but also gave us a heart filled with desire and longing. It’s as though God sets before us a big sheet of butcher paper and hands us a box of crayons and tells us to dream. (Don Miller)"

Go ahead. Say it. Sometimes we're really... really... wrong.

Sometimes we heard Him right. Changing direction doesn't always mean you heard Him wrong in the first place. Because we are so short sighted, we don't understand the far-reaching implications of His work in us. We assume permanency; God reveals His plan to us in stepping stones.

Glory to glory.

Connecting highways.


What, then, is your calling?

Perhaps it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself? (Matthew 22:37)

What is He saying to you today? Because He will use His words today to lead you into tomorrow.

Monday, November 15, 2010


It happens every time.
I sit and dig deep inside my heart, trying to find the place where I hold all my feeling.
I come to Him lifting up the cold, slow muscle.
Feeling like I'm bringing a broken toy to my dad.

Fix it.

This may be His favorite prayer of mine.
Because He answers me every time.
Reaching into the depths of my heart
and waking me up.

When the resurrected Jesus overcomes me
I am reminded Who it is I worship
Who it is who loves me
Who it is I love.

Suddenly what was numb and lifeless
is warmed by His closeness.
Unbidden tears spill down my cheeks
as if with the words "rest in Me" I am awakened.

He restores.
And I watched His mighty hand at work beside me.
He redeems.
Humbling us and bringing us together.

It is His voice, as a trumpet, I have been straining to hear.
In the middle of this battle, this war
I need His direction, His guidance
To be reminded He has already won.

But this life is not just a battle.
There are sweet moments, meant just to bring a smile to our faces.

Wake us up.
Open our ears and our eyes.
Sing over us.
Lead us in the way we should go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hold on.
All the world's eyes are turned to you
Although it has taken tragedy

Keep on.
As the ground shake and your bodies fall ill
The wind will blow and the waters rise

But God, your Father, is not in those things.

Stay strong
We are interceding for you
You, who are experiencing the first birthing pains

By us you will not be forgotten again
Whatever is within our power
Whatever is within our reach

Blessed you will be
You whose spirits are poor, whose spirits are meek
You who are hungry and thirsty

As the storm rages towards the shore, Father, we ask with all the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus that you would intervene.

Your children are shaken and sick. They've stumbled all over the imperfection of the world, been drug into the darkness, pushed out of sight, and trod on. You love them. Even more than we do. Your babies. Our brothers and sisters.

We are in a place where we can see it coming. And we ask You'd stop this storm. Tomas, we declare, is weak against Your strength. Doubtful, even. Reroute his course. Change his direction. With Your mighty hand please get in the way.

Let repair and healing begin.

In these children of Yours, there is a determined, deep spirit. Kenbe fem.

May the darkness be so defeated it bleeds Your light...

"Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." (Psalm 107:28-30)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Awake My Soul

Sometimes we get into habit. We fall into routine, into sweet rhythm.

Sometimes we crave this.

Familiarity is our comfort. We know what to expect. We know what is expected of us. We know how to do what we do. We know who is with us. We know our role.

For some of us, this can quickly turn into monotony. Like an exercise routine that doesn't make you sore anymore, you're moving and working, but not changing or growing.

When this happens to me, the Father who is usually settled in between my shoulder blades, starts walking ahead of me. He waves His hands and looks over His own shoulder, "Come with Me! This way..."

And so I go seeking. Change my pace. Change my surroundings. Switch things up.

It never fails that I find Him there. Crouching over one His creations, pointing and smiling. "Come, look at this. It's so cool."

I've changed a lot over the past year and a half. Father has taught me more than I may ever realize and I no longer even resemble the person I once was. Often we fail to see ourselves in an honest light, however. We are capable of seeing our failures and our weaknesses, but cannot see our strengths. In the words of Needtobreathe, "it's hard to see how far we've come".

So as I pulled into the parking lot last night, I prayed a simple prayer. "Show me what You've taught me. And fill my arms."

I was a follower last night. I didn't know what I was doing. I was in a place I'd never been, mostly with people I didn't know. There were familiar aspects. But as I was submerged in newness, my heart was filled to bursting. I wanted to dance around.

Slowly, Father revealed to me the things I'd asked. Gently and clearly, He spoke over me like a proud parent last night. He also spoke of more change, of preparation, of missions and callings.

I stood around for a while, soaking in everything. I've been striving to be effective; trying to be so faithful. I just wanted to be told what to do. I wanted instruction. I wanted to follow.

Then I heard Him tell me to move. Suddenly I was surrounded by children on bicycles. Children stealing poptarts. Children pulling knives on one another. And the fuse was lit. The flame I'd let die down was, in an instant, ignited once more.

And then He filled my arms.

My empty arms. My empty heart.

Father hears me when I pray. Every single prayer. More often than not these days, He says "wait". Sometimes, "no". But there are some prayers He never even hesitates to answer. Some prayers He answers before the words ever leave my lips.

Awake my soul.

Wake my spirit up.

"There you are," I hear Him whisper as He leans in and puts His forehead on mine. "You're back..."

In a change of pace, I stumbled all over the Almighty.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I look around the room, knowing He had promised to interact with us through them.

The little children.

The room is full. Wall to wall there are occupied chairs and plates filled with pizza and children scrambling around and tripping over each other.

I laid down a slice of pepperoni pizza for one of my favorite boys. He's eleven. Already old enough to hide his emotions more than most. Already concerned about what we think about him. Another one of my favorites is still so excited about life his eyes light up. A third is insecure and is often picked on and bullied - especially by adults. But he is a musician and he absorbs everything I say to him. The fourth is quiet and attentive and helpful, and all boy. Each of them have a special place in my heart.

They didn't start eating right away. And in my chaotic mind, I didn't understand why. I leaned over and put my hand on one of their shoulders and told them to go ahead. They smiled and nodded.

And then they bowed their heads.


You know I don't really need you in order to do this work... right?

Days like today I feel ill equipped and unprepared. I am not strong enough. I am not wise enough. I am not friendly enough. I am not faithful enough to do this work.

Days like today my heart is so full of love for these children that I am brought to tears. All I want is to see them love the Father and live great stories with their lives. In each of their faces I see change and hope and light.

There were four who had stolen my heart. Four children whose faces are burned in my memory. When I am sixty years old and people ask why I do what I do, I will tell them their names. That is what they mean to me.

But they are gone now. Moved to a different neighborhood. And there are still some nights when I feel lost without them. My arms feel empty, because they loved me too, I think.

But their salvation... their well being... their protection was not in my hands.

And as quickly as those four stole every last bit of my heart, they were gone.

In their absence, I hear our Father whispering. Whispering about His love for us, His children. We who stole His heart. We whose faces are burned in His memory. When asked why He did what He did, He says our names.

And we move out of His neighborhood. Walk out from under His protection. Wander away from the places He dwells. And I wonder if His arms feel a little empty without us.

It is through this I am able to catch a glimpse of the finite reflecting the infinite. I am overwhelmed by how much He loves us. And how hard He is working.

When He speaks again, it is gently.

I can do this work without you.

This is both a truth that relieves and a truth that humbles.

I want to use you to do it. I have called you to this. I will use this place to change you. But you have to remember. I don't need you...

He doesn't need us the way we need Him. Our Father, whose strength is best displayed in our weaknesses and shortcomings, does not need us to be able to do anything.

Even better though, He wants us.

He desires us.

He misses us.

But when, in the chaos, I forget to teach my children about thankfulness, our Father is already moving. Stirring in their purity and captivating their innocence. Even if it is just a prayer over pizza. I didn't teach them that.

I am not...

Fill in the blank.

I love One who Is.

If I don't need you to do this, then I am big enough to do the rest as well. Ask Me. Ask Me to do what you cannot. Ask Me to come and be stronger than you. To overcome. I'll do it. Just ask.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Word

I was whispering earlier.

Did you need Me to be a little louder?

I love you.

Every time the wind blows, I want you to think of Me.

I am going to show up.

I am going to reveal Myself to you in unexpected ways.

Be looking.

You will know Me when you see Me.


I've been talking to you.

And I've been laughing at You a little bit, because you're getting so impatient.

There are things, new things, I am doing right under your nose.

You can't see them. But I think you trust Me a little more than you used to.

I've been whispering.

You've been asking Me to wake up your soul.

You've been asking Me to show you risks.

(Two of My very favorite things, by the way.)

Sometimes I like to get loud though.

That scares you, doesn't it?

Don't be scared this time. This time, I want you to get excited.

Remember that walk we took about seven years ago?

I gave you a dream.

Which turned into a passion.

Which has grown into a mission.

I'm doing a new thing.


I've been whispering.

Did you need Me to be a little louder?

I love you.

I am doing something.

Don't worry.

You've been waiting.

But I will finish this work I started in you.

Don't become complacent.

Don't forget about Me in the midst of the things about to happen.

Seek Me.

Do My work.

Love My kids.


When I get quiet again, don't lose heart.

I am fighting for you.

Get to know My face. The work of My hands. The sound of My voice. The stillness of My shadow.

I want you to be familiar with the places I am. And I want you to stand where I have just been.

Get ready.

I'm about to give you a new word.

Saturday, October 9, 2010



Infinite number of grains of sand. Infinite number of stars in the sky.

I walk to the edge and look out, searching. Strange how I can't see something so big.

I can hear it.

As it crashes onto the shore and washes over my feet I can feel it.

But as I look out, somewhere in the far distance, the line between sky and sea blurs.

Stars melt into the salty ocean. I am lost, looking for the end of it.

I find myself wanting to think only about You.

Wanting to talk to only You.

Just in case I haven't told You in a while, just in case I forgot to say so...

I love You.

I want You to be louder than everything else.

I want You to be bigger.



Than anything else.

But my words are lost. Swallowed up whole by a deep sky and a vast sea.

Moments like these I feel as though I am outside my own body.

Cityscape overwhelmed by the dark, simple depths of the ocean.

Cold sand in between my toes.

The closer I watch the stars, the more appear. Elusive, they reveal themselves only to those who seek.


Just in case I had forgotten to tell You.

I love You.

I caught a glimpse of You today, sitting on the back of a boat.

Today, You were old. Sunglasses hiding your eyes as usual, You were holding a baby against Your chest. With your strong hands You were guarding the baby's face from the cold sea spray. The baby pressed his face against Your broad chest, seeking rest. Comfort. Protection.

And You were content to just sit there and hold him.

Here I am. Standing at the edge.

I can feel You breathing. Inhale as the waves are drawn away from the coast. Exhale as the tide rolls in.

I find rhythm and peace in this.

Rest. Comfort. Protection.

So we breathe together.

In this transcendental moment... there in consonance. There is vision.

So surreal. This moment just became part of my story.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I lost my patience.

I lost my hope.

I lost my my vision.

Deep down, I know that more is going on than I can see. Of course, I am so shortsighted I cannot see what part I'm playing, what role I've assumed in this chapter. This, after all, is not my story.

But I feel attacked.

Like the "pause" button has been pressed on my life, while everyone else is out there living great stories. I'm sitting in the turning lane with a red arrow, while the rest of traffic whizzes by. I'm ready. But You say, "not yet". (Maybe literally, "you can go. But you're going to get hit. You should probably just wait. Like I told you to.")

I want to do something.

I want to go somewhere.

I have been asking, and I'm getting weird, ambiguous answers.

I don't like ambiguity, so I'm not doing anything.

I'm not going anywhere.

The enemy is attacking me in my life of habit.

Targeting me with the mundane.

In my routine, in my hectic routine, I can't even hear anymore.


At least I thought I couldn't.

This is not a season of "doing". As much as I want it to be. This is a season of equipping and growing and recharging and redirecting. Because it is a different season, God is speaking differently. It's taken me so long to recognize this. In my frustration, I am talking over Him.

But He's speaking to me.

In my dreams. In His word. In His lack of words.

Reminding me of a prayer my sister prayed over me a long time ago. That I would know the Father well enough to be able to follow Him... even when I couldn't hear. Even when I cannot see.

He's hiding His face from me.

"Come. Follow."

What I realize, as well, is that He may be whispering. And my life is just so freaking crazy that it drowns Him out.

Where can I find quiet? Where can I find stillness? Make my heart that place, Lord. When the world outside is in chaos, quiet me with Your love. Be Thou my vision...

In this waiting, make me strong. In this waiting, transform me. In this waiting, prepare me. In this waiting, teach me.

It's all so unclear. The next step... the purpose... the plan. I'm asking for wisdom and discernment and boldness.

And You're asking me to be here.

To sit still. To just wait.

Will You wait with me? Sit down next to me, here at this train station. Let's talk. Spend some time together - maybe over a cup of coffee. I just don't want to wait by myself. I'd really like to spend this time with You...

One day I know, You will open the door. And it may be slow. Or it may be quick.

I will be swept away. Back into a flow of things... back into a stream of "doing" and "going".

But not until I learn how to "be".

Here I am.


Thursday, September 9, 2010


That might be the problem. I just realized it. I've been grappling and thinking and worrying it to death. The problem is, I dont have a name for this.

Something is happening. Something big and bold and something of the Father. Something transforming. Something subtle and challenging.

But I dont know what to call it.

It's not brokenness. Goodness, I know what brokenness feels like. I've been shattered and pieced back together. And I expect to feel it again someday.

It's not humbling. I've been humbled before. And I expect to be humbled again someday (probably sooner, rather than later).

I am being trained.

Yes! That's it!

I am in a training season.

Even as I say this, I feel the cool September wind blow past me. Lately, I've been hearing the powerful, melancholy sound of a train rushing through the city not far from here.

The wind means God is present.

The train means He is taking me to a new place.

I am being trained.

I feel as though I have blinders on, however.

What am I training for? What is the goal?

If I am running a race, where is the finish line?

I was thinking about this today. Listening to one of the best in my life talk about healing. And identity.

I am a visual person. I am a listener and I hear God in ways, which might seem strange to some. I like to see things laid out - like on a timeline. I am not the least bit organized, but I like sequential things. I like patterns and rhythms and ... consistency.

But at the same time, I suppose I have asked the Father to give me a different life. I have asked Him for adventure and for boldness and for open doors. Why is it, when He gives us what we ask for, we don't know what to do with it?

How come I've asked for wisdom and discernment and grace and humility and gentleness and community and purpose and for a heart that looks like His ... but I am not so pleased with the methods He uses to get me there? This path I must walk, towards Him, towards righteousness, is not an easy one. I think I've always known that. I think I've always lived that.

But here I am.

You see, I am not healing. (Well. I might be. But that is not the primary plot of this part of the story. We're all healing, recovering, from something.) Right now... I am whole. Not broken. Not shattered.

I know who I am. Now, this might change soon. My identity is always in Christ. I am His. But even beyond that, I know who I am. Who I could become is a completely different story.

I need to know what to call this. This season of what feels like waiting. This season, which is stretching me, pushing me. A relatively quiet season, with the Father's whispers riding quietly on the wind.

I am being equipped!

Even as I write this... I hear it.

I feel like Daniel. (Wish I could say I mean Daniel from the Old Testament. But no. I mean Daniel. The Karate Kid.)

Like I am painting fences and waxing cars and sanding porches. And I have no idea why. I am sore and my knees are bruised and I am clueless to the fact this work I am doing is actually training.

This work I'm doing is actually preparing me for what comes next.

As I've worked, I've been getting stronger. You see, this nameless season has been going on since I stepped foot off of the plane in Lexington, home from Ethiopia. Straight from a season of risking into a season of preparedness. Part of my Ethiopian story was learning to trust in His strength. Understanding His power is made perfect in our weakness.

I remember telling Andy I was afraid. Because when God calls us to do things, which require strength, He is either going to step in and be Strong or He is going to make us strong. In Ethiopia, He intervened. I operated and lived within His strength.

He is making me strong now.

And even as I sit here... the last six months are playing like a reel through my head. I don't know how I got here, except my His grace. The struggles I've encountered would have, at one point in my life, taken me down. But not now. The person I am now... is stronger.

We only get stronger by training.

By letting our muscles get worked; by enduring small tears and fatigue and then filling up...

He has carried me through a season of hope.

A season of transformation.

A season of brokenness.

A season of humility.

And here I am. Knowing this journey, this story I'm living, is nowhere near being done. This is a season of trusting.

Climbing higher and farther and working longer and enduring much much more than I ever thought possible.

It is not over. By giving this season a name, I have not come out of it. No. Here I am, in the shadow of His wing, shrouded in His undeniable protection. He is training me in a place safer than most. Protecting me, shielding me.

Sometimes, you just need a name...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Living a Better Story

The September after I turned fifteen years old, my mother taught a creative thinking workshop. I thought I didn't remember much about the workshop when I first sat down here. But as my mind went back, I began to mine up details I should have forgotten long ago.

I remember my shape was a triangle. My color was pink. I described myself as one thousand years old. I stayed up all night long to write a piece of poetry my friend Sarah would dance to as I read aloud. I remember it rained the night before. I remember one assignment was to write about one of my ambitions.

What did I want to do with my life?

I wanted to open a youth center. Specifically, a safe place for inner city kids to come. Laundry facilities, cafeterias, basketball courts, music venues. We'd have church there on Sundays, I imagined. But even at fifteen, I was incredibly adamant about Jesus' love transcending through every day of the week. I knew "church" on Sundays is not what changes people's lives.

Over the next few years the dream would swirl around in the forefront of my mind, eventually settle in a corner, and begin to collect dust.

It was still there.

But I wasn't acknowledging it.

I started college when I was seventeen. I can't even remember what I thought I was going to school for back then. But I do know I went through a few different majors, but could never find a good fit. School was only a formality. I had no goal and no real passion for anything I was doing.

When I was nineteen, I met someone who taught me how to love people. A love that made lives intertwine, provided for needs, comforted the hurting, acknowledged the ignored.

This felt more like a move in the right direction than anything had before.

I remember holding my breath through Anatomy and Physiology class. Crying my way through consumer math. BSing my way through biology. I thought I wanted to be a nurse. Or an occupational therapist. As much as I loved people, I thought I didn't want to work with little kids. I thought I didn't want to live in the ghetto. I thought I would never live overseas.

In the spring of 2009, I took my first social work class.

The idea, which had been resting patiently in the corner of my conscious, began to stir. Stretching tight muscles and blinking sleep eyes, the idea awoke and began to demand my attention.

In the summer of 2009, I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I also did a Bible study on risking taking and discernment of the Holy Spirit. The combination of those three things, and my own restlessness, propelled me forward into a season of divine discomfort and yearning.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to be someone. My language changed and I began to talk and pray about living a better story.

Last summer was also the summer I got sick. We still don't know what was wrong... but the ominous word cancer kept floating around and bumping into my conversations. I was uninsured, miserably sick, and determined, whatever the outcome, to live well.

$3,000 worth of medical bills later, I dropped out of school. Classes would have to wait until I could get my debt paid off. This sudden hiccup in the plan only spurred the restlessness I had been feeling for months.

Restlessness is what motivates me. When I get uncomfortable in my own skin, when I don't know where home is, when I start to itch I know it's time for something to change. So I started praying.

I heard God tell me to get my passport.

I applied for a passport, got eight different shots, bought bug spray, and hopped on a plane to East Africa.


Then Restlessness threw deuces up and went home after I landed in Addis Ababa.

I was living a better story. I suddenly found myself in the very throes of character building and plot thickening and dramatic scenery (there were monkeys too... I've come to the conclusion that if your story includes exotic animals, it has great potential).

Africa changed everything.

Africa wrecked me.

I came home and cried myself to sleep under a homemade blanket, which smelled like the postal shops of Addis.

Transition is one of the trickiest parts of a story.

In March of 2010 I came home from Africa finding myself changed and the rest of my world strangely and frustratingly the same. But Frustration, like Restlessness, usually pushes (shoves?) me in the direction I need to go.

Which was how one cool night at the end of March I found myself standing in one particular front yard.

Some friends of mine started a ministry last fall - a real grassroots effort. They adopted the east end of Lexington, which backs up to the free clinic Southland runs. And by adopted I mean, they bring people groceries. Give people beds. Know their names and their stories and when their birthdays are.

I was skeptical for the first seven months of the ministry. Praying for them, but harboring cynicism. Diligently ignoring all the emails and all the requests for my participation.

But things change.

I changed.

And there I was. On East Second Street, in the dark front yard of a crooked shot gun house, watching my friends load a new dryer onto the front porch. It had not been, by definition, a special night. But God had spoken to me. Stirred something deep in my belly, reminding me of my dream. Reminding me of who He made me to be...

Or perhaps telling me for the first time.

As my mind played with the idea, turning it over and over and finding it strangely familiar, I began to hear the sound of children. Running and screaming, they burst through the front screen door (which was missing its screen). Before I really knew what was happening, I was holding a little boy in my arms.

He was laughing hysterically, after launching himself off the porch and bravely flying in my unprepared arms. He told me his name and said he was seventy-two years old. I told him seventy-two years old didn't get to be held like little kids. He shook his head, adamantly reassuring me he was in fact, only six.

While he talked to me, he played with my hair.

Just a few moments later I was ushered into the house. "Here," a teenage girl said to me.

She handed me a baby.

So there I was, standing in a stranger's house, with pit bulls scratching at the bedroom door behind me, holding a teenage girl's three week old baby; happier than a clam.

Five months later, I now help lead this ministry. I am in charge of new volunteers (as this grassroots effort now serves over 50 homes in the east end and has about sixty volunteers show up every Tuesday night). My job is to make sure none of them end up going in a house alone... I don't tell them that's how I got here.

On Friday nights, a small group of us meet down at the medical clinic. Inspired by an elementary-school-age girl who wanted help making a Mother's Day gift, about fifteen volunteers and twice as many children show up for what we have come to call "Kids Club". We feed the children and play games; we have taught Bible stories and taught the boys not to hit the girls. We have plans for tutoring this school year and we have our hopeful eye on an abandoned community center down the street, which has basketball courts and laundry facilities...

We are called to live a better story with our lives. That's the key word here, I think. Better. Continuous. Growing. Progressive.

You see, I'm restless again. I start college back next week; finally, after paying off all that medical debt I am going back to finish my BASW. Facing financial challenges and schedule conflicts and a quiet, but strong, desire to return to Africa... I'm looking ahead.

I want to break cycles of poverty and abuse. I want to have to go to so many highschool graduations I can't keep track; I want to watch these children (I've come to love them like they're my own) become athletes and artists and businesswomen and fathers. I want to watch them live excellent lives. I want to help them overcome conflict. I want to introduce them to Jesus. Living a better story with my life means helping others lives better stories with theirs.

I think, perhaps, the next step in living a better story with my own life is to understand potential. As intuitive and perceptive as I can be, I often fail to remember just because I can't do something now doesn't mean I never can. Especially because I thought I didn't want to work with little kids. I thought I didn't want to live in the ghetto. I thought I would never live overseas.

I changed.

And I need to be bold.

With my life, I want to tell you a story about risk and adventure and conflict and triumph.

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Heart of Flesh

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Was it just yesterday I realized how suppressed I had become? Just yesterday I realized... I'd taught myself not to feel?

I imagined easing myself back into a full spectrum of emotion. Maybe, if I went slowly, I could bypass the emotions I had set out to eradicate anyway.

I am not sure at what point Jon mentioned these words from Ezekiel. But I sat there and felt as though he spoke them over me. And God, who had situated Himself in between my shoulder blades, whispered "Let Me."

Let you ... what?

Wake you up.

Oh. But I am awake. It's fine. I've just learned how to cope.

I never intended for you just to cope, my love. Coping was not part of My plan.

I'd really rather not feel those old things again, though. Really. I feel pretty at peace.

Peace? You feel pretty numb, actually. What I have to offer you is not the absence of something. I'm quite a bit stronger than those old things you're afraid of. But if you don't let Me wake you up... you're going to miss out. You're going to forget who you are...

He was asking permission to shake me.

To splash my face with cold water. Raise me from a coma of self preservation.

Alright... go ahead. Take this heart...

Have you ever felt the pinch of severed nerves growing back together? Sharp, healing pain.

God had been hovering. Waiting for me. We had not gotten to the point of disconnect where He was going to act without permission. It was still my choice. He waited patiently, suspended over me, His breath like wind on my face. In the very moment I conceded... He reached for my sleeping heart.

My heart wasn't made of stone. Not yet. But it was callused and rough. Untrusting. Because people can disappoint me. People break my heart. I love them, but there's a wall - for my protection and for theirs. If that wall crumbles, I'm subject to great hurt. Vulnerable.

I might lose you. Or you might leave.

There, then, was a twinge in my heart. Maybe even, like a limb that's gone numb and slowly begins to wake up as you move it. The pain of feeling.

My heart had just fallen asleep.

And exactly as I'd feared, like a tidal wave or a swollen current, there came the tears. Tears for orphans in the DR. For my friends without beds. For the babies I didn't hold in Yaso. I cried for my own loneliness and my own sense of disorientation.

Compassion woke up inside of me.

After I'd let go of all those tears, and then some, I prayed expectantly. Confidently, once again.

Take this heart...

It's been Mine for a while now. Don't worry.

Well, then. If You're going to ask me feel to the sadness and fear and loneliness I was trying to avoid... would You release me to feel the joy and excitement and hope I buried along the way too?

He laughs at me when I talk to Him like this.

Let's go...

I have a lot of digging to do. Some sifting and some sorting.

He's stirring my soul.

He's shaken me awake.

Deep He is, calling to the deepest parts of me.

Like He calls to the depths of tombs. A beckoning more powerful than fear of vulnerability or the grip of death.

Sometimes... God works ridiculously fast.

Wake up, o sleeper...

Sunday, August 15, 2010


In Ventian history, you could hire a man to lead you down the dark streets with a lantern. His job was to protect you from whatever lurked in the shadows. To provide light and comfort. Such a man was called a codega.

My path is taking a turn in the next few weeks. Off a course I've been following for a few years now, I am stepping into very shadowy, very ominous territory. If only because it is unfamiliar, I am uneasy. I do not know the way.

Much like when I am given directions to a place I've never been before, it doesn't matter how thorough or accurate those directions are, I am nervous and doubtful until I see the very first landmark. Until directions or instructions are proven solid, I have a tendency to anticipate a mix up. When you said turn 'right', you didn't really mean 'left'... did you?

I don't do well with new things. Strange really, since at times I have an insatiable craving for change.

I've been told I'm fairly short-sighted. Being an intuitive, emotional, perceiver... I project my vision far beyond my sight. Life hasn't happened yet, though. So I can't seem to figure out how it will work. One step at a time is the hardest concept I have ever tried to grasp.

One step at a time takes more courage than I have.

So here I am: craving adventure, wanting to shake things up. Every once in a while, desiring thrill more than anything else in this world.

Sometimes, however, I suppress my emotions so much, I fail to have them. A few years ago, in an attempt to overcome social anxiety, I subconsciously pushed Nervousness all the way down into my belly. And without knowing it,
Nervousness tried to drag Fear, Excitement, Anger, Passion, Sadness, and Joy with it.

I've been on a rescue mission ever since. Saving the wide spectrum of emotions from a poison called Apathy.

But as the path takes a sharp turn to the left, I find myself standing on the curb. Shadows dance around me and the path ahead is so winding I can't see very far at all. I know it's a long path. I know it's a hard one.

What I don't know, is if I have what it takes.

As I wait to step into the crosswalk, which will take me onto my new path, I hear a simple reminder. "You have what it takes to take one step forward."

It's true.

I'm trying to read ahead. Skip to the end of the book, spoil the secret ending. I cannot get there from here.

Although there is light, I find I am trying to walk out of it.

What I need is a codega. Someone to come and walk in front of me. Casting light on the path ahead. Scaring away demons and thieves. Offering direction and comfort.

John 8:12: Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

One step at a time.

Walk in light. Walk in love. Never getting ahead of the One who leads.

Because I don't know where I'm going.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Sometimes... I just have bad days.

I don't yell a lot. And I certainly don't cry a lot.

I do think a lot. But not everyone gets to hear those thoughts.

Because I don't trust a lot either.

But sometimes... I just have bad days.

Days when I find myself walking through Kroger, pushing a cart, crying into the phone as I pick out blueberries.

Weaving in and out of stands of bananas and full grocery carts, crying and sniffling and verbally expressing my anger with God.

It didn't start out as anger. No. Anger buries itself deep, deep down. There are always a lot of layers to pull back before anger rears its head. Today, exhaustion set in first.

I worshipped this morning... and I felt the tug on my heart. "Loosen up those ties," I heard Him whisper. But I knew what untying meant. Untying means falling apart. I was tied together - neatly, tightly. I didn't want to unravel.

But as I was walking out of church, I ran into Marty. One of the very best men in my life, he gave me a sweaty hug, and the floodgates opened. He hugged me again and sat down with me for an hour. Listening. Watching me cry in a way only a man who had known me my entire life could do. He did for me what no other man in my family does these days. He listened.

But that was just the first layer. Complete emotional exhaustion. Check.

As we peeled back layers of insecurity and restlessness and loneliness... I began to feel shaken. Exposed. Depleted.

By the time I got to Kroger, I was so pissed I might have taken it out on the frozen food section.

True frustration, true anger, was surfacing because a lack of understanding. Because I know the truth. Because I know what I have been promised. Because I know what seasons and cycles mean.

But I cannot see.

In my blindness, I called something anger. Anger that was really just a longing. Anger that was really just hope deferred.

I got so mad I hung up the phone.

How was it that every single week, I trust God to hold back the rain at 7pm on Tuesday nights?

Even when it's pouring the rain, I'll stand in the empty gravel parking lot. Waiting. Expectantly.

Every Tuesday night, right before 7 pm, the rain stops.

So why is it... that with the rest of my life... I have a hard time believing the rain will stop?

That tuition will be covered. That this place God has me, with lots and lots of closed doors, will eventually start bearing fruit. That one day... I won't do all of it alone.

I stood in the aisle at Kroger, staring at jars of marinara and alfredo sauces.

And then my angry heart broke open.

Because, in all honesty, anger is never the final emotion. Never the last feeling.

My angry shell cracked then, as I picked up my alfredo sauce, and prayed.

"I don't even know what to ask You for. I'm just really hurt. And I'm really tired. Really, really tired of having a bad day."

Now... it doesn't always happen this way.

But my Father knows me.

And whether I recognized it or not, He knew I just needed to be restored.

I needed to surpass all this understanding I have... and my heart needed to be reminded.

I needed peace.


In a matter of moments, peace overcame me. Washed over me and filled my empty places and dried my tears and lifted up the broken pieces and swept the floor of my heart.

What hadn't made sense five minutes before had been cast away; where there had been no hope, my spirit was suddenly lifted.


I still don't know what to ask for.

And I still have a crazy desire for an adventure (my exact words, while picking out salad I think, were that I wanted to blow something up or leave for Africa again).

But in a a moment, standing over jars of alfredo sauce, I gave Jesus the authority.

And He quieted my storm.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


We all want peace.

We associate peace with calmness and tranquility.

Peace and easiness, we think, go hand in hand.

Peaceful is the man's face in the coffin.

Peaceful is a quiet meadow.

Peaceful means free of conflict, chaos, or fear.


But what if that's not right?

What if peace is much more about resolve.

About congruency. Rhythm. Assurance.


Peace does not mean stillness.

Peace means....

what does peace mean?


Because there are some who yearn for peace.

There are some who dwell in it.

And there are others who never feel it in their own hearts, but extend it to others.


Peace is not easy.

Peace does not mean you are not afraid.

Peace is that big breath you take before you barrel ahead.

Peace is standing in the middle of the storm, the war, the hurt and not losing ground.


There are a few different Greek words for "peace" in the Bible. In the New Testament, most of the time the word "eirēnē" is used (εἰρήνη).

According to Strong's concordance, this word can mean,

1) state of national tranquillity
a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war
2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
4) of the Messiah's peace
a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)
5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

(, 31 July 2010)

I wonder if peace is not what you feel.

It is what you are.

I do not feel peaceful.

I am at peace.

Peace is not an emotion, but it is a state of life.

Because our emotions are fleeting and unstable... but if we seek it, peace is a state of being, which bears fruit.


There is a form of the word peace, which is used when Jesus calms the storm in Mark 4.

"Peace be still," He commanded the raging winds and waves.

This is the authority I want Him to have over my life.

This word... siōpaō σιωπάω.. means an involuntary quiet.

As in someone who is dumb, someone who physically cannot speak.

In the middle of the storm, Jesus stood up, and struck the storm speechless.

Hold your peace.

Be quiet.


My prayer for you is you would find peace. Not as a feeling or an emotion. But peace would become who you are. May you continue to extend it to others who do not know it. May you accept it as a gift into your own heart. May you know what it means to stand in the boat with your Savior, and let His peace carry you through.

May you let Jesus come in and calm the storms of your heart. Striking your turbulent world into peacefulness - with just one word.

Men After God's Own Heart

There was a time when I questioned whether or not there were any men of God left.

I watched as men abused, neglected, and detached. They took advantage and objectified. There was not a leader to be found - not a pure heart to be seen. I was discouraged and all but lost hope.

I am not the only one who felt this way. Everyone saw it: an epidemic of apathy and weakness had ravaged the male population, and even those who called themselves Christians rarely stepped up to the plate.

But not too long ago, it seems, this world was shaken. Hearts were awakened. Maybe... my own eyes were simply opened.

I watched as boys became men. As they began to use their strength and their power to love the world.

I watched as the men around me began to look like Jesus.

As they bent low to pick up small children. As they pursued God with fierceness and intentionality. They were broken, humbled, and put back together.

I grew up loathing the concept of a "submissive woman". I had no desire to be a doormat - to let a man lead, just because he was a man. I was not a "feminist", but I wanted to be respected, to be listened to, and to have an opinion.

These desires were based on my experience with men from the past. Men who couldn't be trusted. Men who weren't providers. Weren't leaders. Weren't seeking after the Father.

But I've been sitting back and watching lately.

As these men pull children into their arms. As they load dryers and washers into houses. Putting together basketball goals. Playing kickball and passing out ice cream sandwiches. Teaching young boys how to be good men.

"You don't hit girls," I hear them say. "If a girl hits you, show her your muscles and walk away..."


I have watched you - before my very eyes - become men after God's own heart.

I have watched you rise up as leaders, as providers, as protectors. You are strong. You are being humbled. You are stepping up.

And for the first time ... my heart is at ease, when it comes to submitting to you.

I can trust you. Because you trust the Lord.

I pray for you daily. My heart is delighted in what I see. The hope I'd lost has returned. Because of you, a whole generation will have a chance to change. Because of you and your integrity, there is a neighborhood, which will never be the same.

Because of this change in you, women have been urged to become better as well. The plague of apathy did not just effect the male population - we have suffered from it as well. But God has called to us, and we are answering. We, too, are now striving to fulfill our roles (not gender roles, but roles as women after God's own heart). To do our own work, to complete our own race, to pursue our own calling. But also to support you, work alongside you, intercede for you.

I am encouraged by you - all who, in your own way, fulfill God's calling. Thank you for stepping up. For allowing the power of the Spirit to consume you. For being strong. For being loving. For being wild.

God is working through each one of you. Leading you in a race - rewarding you for your perseverance.

Thank you for who you have become. For who you are.

Lilies and Sparrows

I am being prepared.

In the very midst of training.

What I was, was not enough.

Who I am, would not survive.

But He sees - He knows.

And His love is too great to sit above and watch.


"Come to me," He whispers.

I draw close.

Reach high - take hold.

In the crook of His arm, He cradles me.

His face pressed close to mine, He whispers things to me about who I am.

"Hear me," He urges. "My voice, my words, my will... hear."

As I begin to understand, I begin to hear words in a new way.

A familiar Voice, speaking familiar instructions, with much more power.

Much more weight.

"Do not be anxious..."

"Do not worry about tomorrow..."

"The plans I have for you are meant for prosperity and hope..."

"Seek first My kingdom..."

With open ears, open eyes, I hear and see afresh.

Fear rises in my chest.

What this means is a new life.

A life I am not strong enough to live on my own.

He wraps His arms tighter around me.

"Not by your strength. Not by your might..."

"It is through Me, you can do all things."

The path stretches far ahead. Up mountains, through valleys, deep into ravines. But, clearly, I can only make out the next step. One step.

His tight hold on me begins to loosen and I feel Him lowering me to the ground.

I'm not ready to let go.

"I'm not letting go," He reassures me. "But it's time to go."

His large, callused hand engulfs mine. Together, we take one step forward. Side by side.

"Now, you must do. Do what I have asked. Do what I have called you to do - live out what I have taught you."


I am being prepared. Even now.

What I was, who I am, is not enough.

But I am not alone.

I, who am so much more loved than sparrows and lilies, will press ahead.

With expectancy.

Armed with a promise.

Of His perfect will, of His great provision.

Monday, July 12, 2010

When Dreams Come True

Seven years ago someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life. Seven years ago I had a vision.

I wanted to open up a youth center. A safe place where children could come. Where food was served and music was played and they were taught about Jesus. I wanted to meet needs - physical and spiritual. Redemption Block.

A few years ago, this vision arose in my heart again when I met five little black boys who were running up and down Maxwell Street at midnight. Some of them lived on the east end. Some of them were refugees from Africa. All of them were bored and up to no good.

Tell me something. When was the last time one of your dreams came true? The last time you asked for something and it was given to you? The desires of your heart were granted? Stop for a minute. Take a look at your life. My guess is you have what you've asked for.

My guess is we have what we've asked for. And we just fail to see it.

On Friday night I carried ten pizzas into a little, while building. Within a matter of minutes, the building and the parking lot were full of children. They had come to eat. To play games. To be loved on. In us, they'd found safety. Positive attention and affection. We laughed with them and mourned the pain of new braces. We played checkers and musical chairs and taught them how to follow rules. Our evening was blessed by a rainbow, which arched from one end of the neighborhood to the other.

I called it a promise.

Tonight, I walked into the same little, white building with more food. We held children tight in our arms and taught women about Jesus. We knew each other's names and brought what we could to the table. But what they taught me was far more valuable. For they taught me...

about how God keeps His promises.

Tonight, I gathered up my books and empty dishes and walked out of the building with my mother. The very first person I'd ever shared my dream with seven years ago. As I shut the door to my car and turned the key in the ignition, I realized my dream had come true.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine..."

He answers our prayers. He grants us the desires of our hearts. Giving us bread, not rocks. Fish, not snakes. Knocking, He answers.

It just may not look like we think it will.

It may just catch us by surprise.

"As you wish," I heard Him whisper tonight as child after child talked to me with cookie stuffed in their mouth.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I basically flew across town last night. I had to get to those I loved. I prayed as I drove up Second Street... please let them still be here. Please let them still be outside.

As I drove up the small hill just before their house, I saw them. Dark shadows racing up and down the sidewalk. I could hear their voices shrieking and yelling.

I was home.

I parked and brought my phone and keys with me for the first time. Having just come from a meeting, I wasn't dressed properly. And as kids began to pull on my skirt and try to climb in my lap, I wished I had a pair of shorts and tennis shoes.

I watched as he played baseball with an old wooden bat and a beaten up Solo cup. As she sat on the front porch at 9:30 at night and ate her dinner, spaghetti o's smeared all over face.

One of my children came racing down the sidewalk after me. He sprung forward and threw himself in my arms. But I was still holding my phone and keys and couldn't get a good hold around his little body and had to set him down.

Finally, at one point, I had to find a place to set everything down. A safe place where I could leave it until it was time to come back. And with empty hands I reached out.

It wasn't long until my arms were filled again. With crying little boys and laughing little boys and little girls with candy necklaces.

Today... God drew me a parallel, as He often does.

"Let go," He whispered.

"I have something for you and you've got all this stuff in your hands. What's that about? Put it down. Somewhere safe. You're going to need it again. But just put it down. I want your hands free and ready... your arms open for what I want to give you right now. I will fill them. Go ahead. Put it down."

He whispers this to me... and I know it's Truth.

It is, in fact, the very definition of surrender.

Fill my arms then, Lord. They're empty now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

O Resplendent Light

I am bloody. Clothes torn from my shoulders, grime smeared across my face, blisters on my feet, cracked knuckles, weary back. My heart is still racing in my chest and I can feel my own pulse under my jaw. I close my eyes, only for a second, breathing deeply.

I am empty. Everything I had, every ounce of strength, every gift... I have used it all. Empty handed, broken, and weary.

I am not the only one.

I look around me and realize I am surrounded by hundreds of thousands more. Fog rises from the ground around our feet, the sky above our heads has been torn apart - the veil between Heaven and Earth has been rent in two.

All I hear is breathing.

I search the faces of those around me, but my heart does not mourn their brokenness. No. Even through the haziness of my own sweat and blood I can see: on each of their foreheads is a seal. An imprint.

And while I would have once mourned such devastation... while I once would have sunk deep into my own emptiness... I know I too bear the seal. Even in my weariness, something within me rises.

One last time, the earth groans beneath our feet. A cry - a birthing pain.

It is over.

Deep, black clouds churn on the horizon. Pushed back. Pushed down by Heaven itself.

Reaching up, I try to wipe away the sweat and grime dripping into my eyes. But before my hand even reaches my brow, I feel my face being cupped by hands, callus and rough.

With His thumb, He wipes away the dirt.

I look up into the eyes of the One for whom I'd been fighting all along.

Into the gaze of the One who'd been fighting for me all along.

And as the blood red moon pours out into the dense clouds, I realize He is bleeding too.

Sweat and grime and blood drip from His forehead, and in the moment when the light in His eyes meets the weariness in mine, I reach up with rough and callused hands and wipe His brow.

"Well done, my love," He whispers.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Prayer

Use me.

We've been through this before. As I sit here, watching opportunities all around me, I wonder why they don't belong to me.

And I realize it is because I haven't fully exhausted the opportunities You have given me.

I recognize these moments, as well, as the moments of calm right before the chaos.

Chaos that drives me, propels me, into Your will. Into an adventurous existence with You and the world You created.

For some reason, I expect You to work in my life in the same way You are working in others. I expect You to use me in the same ways. Call me to the same work. Respond to me with the same answer.

And I end up pouting. Wishing You'd do something exciting with my life. In my complaining, I fail to see what it is You are actually doing.

I know You have deemed me worthy of use. That on the days I am empty of myself, I am a container You can use. I hear Your words and I see Your hand working and I know, deep inside, that You are using me.

Open my eyes to see what You've already laid before me.

Teach me not to compare myself to others. To wallow in self pity and discontentment because I work in a cubicle all day long. Because I'm currently walking in a life of financial obligation and restraint.

Keep my passion burning. Use it to propel me forward into the plans You have for my life.

I want a life of adventure. Teach me not to be complacent. To be passive and wait. Teach me to be proactive. And to take initiative. Give me courage.

Take the restlessness in my heart and DO something with it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Into the Wild

At some point, our worlds have to grow.


They should.

I'm thinking back, nine years ago now, when my world expanded for the first time. Pointed west, the RV drove straight through Indiana and Missouri and Illinois and up through Minnesota and across South Dakota and into the wild.

I thought I had seen mountains before. But while the Appalachian mountains are full of culture and emotion... the first time I saw the mountains of Wyoming and Montana and Colorado... my heart stopped.

And I was only thirteen.

At some point, you are given a decision to make. You are provided an opportunity to push back the walls of your world... to extend your grasp farther than you have ever reached before.

So often, we fail to seize these moments.

But in a few days, the best in my life will push back their horizons to encompass something wild. Something foreign.

They will suddenly understand what I mean when I talk about the big sky.

Or feeling small.

And breathing clean.

What it means to stand still and be overcome with dizziness.

To feel as though you've trespassed... as if we've tried to urbanize, and never quite succeeded.

The first time a bison crosses the road or their voices echo over the Badlands or the sun sets in Kansas; the first time they see Denver's sky scrapers in the shadow of the Rockies, or play in the snow in their flip flops...


As hard as you can.

Push against the edges of the world as you know it.

Physical, emotional, spiritual.

Test the boundaries and cross them, pioneering new territory.

Where you will find yourself.

Where your soul will meet your body.

They will watch fireworks in a new city next weekend.

And get to watch as two of their grandparents look at this created world through redeemed eyes.

I pray for quiet moments. And for thrilling ones. I pray for patience and flexibility. I pray for hot water in the showers of the campgrounds.

I want one of them to sit in the front seat of that RV and feel the sensation of flying above the road. Or fall asleep in the Walmart parking lot, to be waken up by loud pick up trucks and the hum of traffic.

They will expand their worlds and then turn around and come home.

And home will mean so much more, because they travelled so long to get back there.

I pray for revelations.

In three weeks, two young women's lives can change forever.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We made eye contact from across the street and before I knew it, his little legs were propelling him across the blacktop.

I know children well enough to know what was coming next. So I planted my feet and opened my arms.

Still a few feet away, he launched himself in the air and landed right in my embrace.

Without a moments hesitation he encircled me with his tiny arms and laid his head on my shoulder.

"What is your name" I whispered in his ear. He pulled his head back and looked me square in the eye.

Something that sounded like "Jeremiah" came out of his little mouth.

He held up four fingers, struggling to hold his thumb against the palm of his hand. "I'm four," he stuttered proudly.

Even as tiny as he was, my heart and arms were full to bursting. He laid his head back down on my shoulder and I had a brief thought - just for a moment entertained the idea of not going anywhere. Just standing there with Jeremiah in my arms.

I don't love easily. And I don't trust easily.

But I loved that child.

And if I love that child... who is not mine... how much more does our Father love us?

Enough that when we run after Him, He stands firm, opens His arms wide, swings us high, and gives us a place to rest on His shoulder.

Later, when my mind returned to Jeremiah, I heard the Father whisper:

"I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Call on Me, I am listening to you. Seek Me with all your heart and you will find Me."

I am running headlong in to His arms.

Because I love Him. And I trust Him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


He circled around me a few times before taking a seat on the park bench. Fairly nondescript, he didn't draw much attention to himself at first. But as I talked, as I listened, I kept catching him in my peripheral vision.

The bottle, wrapped up in a brown paper bag, sat on the bench next to him. He leaned forward and the silver cross dangling from his neck glinted in the street lights. Occasionally he would look up and connect with my eyes. But his were dark under the flat brim of his hat and I couldn't tell what he was thinking.

Doubt is subtle. He circles around you a few times, judging your weakest points. Doubt is patient and will lurk on the peripheral as long as it takes without calling too much attention, for fear we might recognize him for what he is.

But the Spirit knows Doubt. The Spirit within senses Doubt's approach, and if you have given the Spirit reign over yourself, the Spirit will defend your weak spots.

If Fear is the enemy's greatest tool, Doubt is not far behind. In this life, so little is tangible. So much of what we depend on is Faith - internal and invisible. We cannot see. We can only Hope. We can Trust. And there are ways we can guard our hearts. There is armor to protect us from the fiery arrows the enemy tries to destroy us with. We just have to remember to put them on. Run to the shadow of the Father's wings.

The last time I looked up, he was taking a swig from the bottle. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees. And silently, I began to fight my battle. Not the first time I've waged war against him, certainly. "I see you", my heart whispered. "I recognize you, I know who you are. Come out of the shadows. You have no place here."

He put the cap back on the bottle, stood up, and walked away as quietly as he'd come.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

He smells like patchouli and wears sandals. He doesn't really ever say much and rubs his lip with his forefinger when he's thinking. He is the one who taught me how to parallel park in an old muscle car with no side mirror, in between two green trash cans.

He is who baptized me and who stood for an entire hour in the living room with my first serious boyfriend. He is who showed up in the parking lot to apologize.

The one who told me secrets. Who asked me the hard questions over Italian food on my 19th birthday. He is methodical and secretive and far more emotionally driven than he'd ever let on.

He doesn't know it, but he taught me to love people. He won't admit it, but it is because of him I have a deep heart for the inner city.

I have his social anxiety and his screwed up digestive system. I have his nose and thick hair.

He is the one who sat with me in the hospital the day the doctors told me my life was about to change. And he was the one who stayed up late in the hospital room, a month later after the surgery, watching West Wing while he thought I was sleeping.

He's the one who used to sleep walk ... the one who would come and eat a whole meal in the kitchen at two in the morning without ever waking up. He's the one who took me to get my first tattoo. The one who acted like he never understood when I broke up with a boyfriend - but would later connect all the dots and give me a high five.

He was the first one on the scene of my car accident.

He's the one who detaches. Who told me to have fun and take lots of pictures in Africa and who unloaded my bed in my first house and left almost immediately.

He's the one who took me to Magees for the first time. He's the one whose attention I have sought for years and years. He's the one who makes friends with my friends. Who would listen to Prairie Home Companion on the radio in the mini van.

He drove me to work for a month when I didn't have a car. He gave me my first camera.

He's the one who has never given me answers. Who quickly loses patience with my emotional baggage.

He's the one whose words pierce the deepest. Whose opinion I grew up respecting the most. He wheezes when he laughs.

He's the one whose music rocked me to sleep for most of my childhood. He's the reason why I want to find a man who can play the piano.

He's the reason I know behavior can be understood in context. He's the one who told me I was miserable. Who bought a car and drove us around, blasting Mutemath through the new speakers.

He's the one who was sitting next to me when I realized why God had kept me in Lexington.

He's the one who took me to the gym and helped change my body... change my life. He's the only one I can run with.

He's the one who has called me with a broken heart. Who called me just minutes after he proposed. He's the one with four daughters. And then three more.

He's the one who grills in the snow and takes baseball bats into doctors' offices. He's the one who taught me to drive a 5 speed and kayak on the ocean.

He's the one who took me on that walk in the rain seven years ago.

I'm not sure I've seen him hold a baby in fifteen years. Or that I've spent more than an hour at a time with him in the past year. He's the one with a totally different life than mine. Who is sometimes hard to get a hold of... whose attention is hard to keep. Whose letters I keep folded up in my Bible.

He's the one who will walk me down the aisle one day.

He's the one who my children will call Poppy.

Today is his day.