Saturday, April 30, 2011



by the way.

did i mention how hard this is going to be for me?


this is going to be hard.

Friday, April 29, 2011

situationally aware

My last day of class was yesterday.  I feel like I've been doing this forever.  But that last day never gets old.  When you walk out of class for the last time, look around, and realize you survived.  You did what you thought you couldn't do.  You thought there wasn't going to be enough money.  You thought you weren't intelligent enough.  Just when you thought you were too tired.

Suddenly you're done.  And you did well.

What's interesting about the end of this semester for me is it also signifies the end of a season.  A very long, beautiful, hard, dirty, growing season.

God has been giving me lots of pictures lately.  Pictures of gardens and tall towers.  

Lots of words too.

Concrete.  Consistent.  Congruent.  Cultivate.  Reinforce.  Rest.  Thirst.  Sabbath.  Continuity.

I have renamed my blog just for the sake of this new season.

In Medias Res means "in the very middle of things".  For so long this has been my story.  I have been right in the very middle.  I've been on the front lines of battle, getting dirty, and pouring myself out.

Especially this year.  


A few months ago my car broke down on the side of the road -- blowing steam and overheating.  While I waited on the side of the road, with my hood up, a man wearing sunglasses walked up to me and asked if I needed any water.  He meant water to use as coolant.  You know, to put in the car.  

But my spirit registered his words as something much deeper.  When I went to church, just a few minutes later, my spirit's reaction was confirmed by Jon's words.  A sermon about being a spiritual zombie -- about being dry and thirsty.  

And about the living water Jesus has to offer.

I am so tired.  And so thirsty.

A tower, which has been built tall and wobbly.  Like a Jenga tower: in desperate need of reinforcement.

I am a garden in a cultivation season.  Needing rain and weed-pulling and lots of extra nutrients.

But I didn't make any changes.  In was in the full swing of things.  Too much momentum to quit.  

I can just imagine God waiting patiently as I tried to keep going about my business.  While I was coming up with things to do.  Hitting roadblock after roadblock.  Jumping hurdles and continuously losing energy.

I'd complain to Him about being exhausted.  And there He was, with His arms crossed over his chest, nodding slowly.  He knew.  "It's time to stop for a while..."



He gave some wise words to a friend the other day.  I was crying to her, telling her some of my recent struggles.

About how I wanted something to be proud of.  About the shame and embarrassment I'd been hiding about changing my mind about the World Race.  About wanting to be a part of the harvest.  About pride.  About loneliness.  About ministry.  About exhaustion.

She looked at me and said, 

"Anna, you are a builder.  Everything you have, you've created.  Some people are handed things, some people have their lives formed for them.  You've had to make something out of nothing.  This life you have, these passions of yours, have been cultivated by you and by God.  No wonder you're tired."

It felt good to hear these words.  To have someone recognize how hard I have worked to get here.  To have this explanation for why it has taken me so freaking long to get to this point.  I have had to work long and hard.  And will continue to have to work long and hard.  By the grace of God I am who I am... and by the grace of God I will not remain so.

There are some who have worked longer and harder than I have.  So many who have so much less.  So many who envy this life I lead.  Because, in all honesty, this is a good life.  This is a good, good life.  And despite everything, I wouldn't change a thing.

I am a builder.

She paused.  

"But your hands are full.  And if you want to pick anything else up at all, you're going to have to lay something down."

The Spirit, I think, had been hanging out under my arms for some time.  Waiting for a verbal word like that to reach my ears.  I felt Him punch my arm.  "I told you so..." He whispered, in the gentle, gracious way only the Spirit can.  "I've been trying to tell you exactly what Bonnie just told you.  Will you please listen now?  Come to me..."

It's been a few weeks since then.  The end is now imminent.  

He is calling me.  Standing just a little way off in the distance, beckoning me and calling my name.  On a new horizon.  Waiting on me.  

So it's just about time.  

One more Tuesday.  A 1 year anniversary.

Then I will fold up all this very neatly.  Smooth out the wrinkles.  Put it away in a safe place.

Because He's not calling me to quit, or to abandonment.

He's calling me to rest for a little while.

He's calling me to lay it down.

To reinforce my identity and abide in Him.  To be congruent in the way I love Him, to be consistent in the way I pursue Him.  To root and establish myself in Him (A concrete foundation).  To fill up with the living water He's offering.  To learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  He's cultivating a gentle, gracious, Christ-like spirit in me.  Writing a story of continuity on the tablet of my heart.  

A story of love and risk. 

So I will spend this next season doing just that.  Whatever it looks like.  Studying the Word.  Reading books.  Weeding gardens.  Running races.  Building community and accountability.  

Time to drop into a lower gear.  No more hyper-activity.  No more over-scheduling.  No more bitter exhaustion.  

Who knows what might happen?  With my hands free.  With my hours less accounted for.  With my mind more open.  I anticipate beauty and some restlessness.  I am allowing God room to move (because, in His sovereignty, He does not force Himself on us).  I am turning down the volume so I can hear Him speak; I am clearing out space.  Space and room to breathe.  Maybe we'll do a little dancing.  Maybe, at the end, He will lead me right back to the place I left my heart.  Maybe He'll give me something brand new.  

Here I am.  Pressing in.

Something beautiful is about to happen.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Someone Else's Shoes

April weather in Kentucky has been ridiculous.  In the last week alone I have seen worse storms and more funnel clouds than I have in my entire life combined.

As I've said before, they don't really scare me -- these storms.  Even this morning, I slept straight through three tornado warnings.

This makes me think of the apartment Liza and I had over off Centre Parkway a few years ago.  The fourplex backed up to the Tates Creek Country Club (so ironic)... and the neighborhood's storm warning system was located (what sounded like) right outside my window.  The first night I was awoken from a dead sleep by the sound of a loud man's voice echoing in my room... well, to say I was terrified is an understatement.

But I just got a phone call from my sweet Olivia.  Who is home by herself.  She just had to go to the basement... alone.  I also got text messages from a few teachers who are hunkered down in hallways and basements with dozens of scared children.  And even one from my mom, also a teacher: "That was wild, huh?"

What in the world?  I am sitting on the couch, listening to Ben Rector, drinking coffee, and working on my last assignment for the semester.  No sirens.  No thunder.  Just rain and gray skies.  The storms the others are experiencing are not a reality for me.  It is hard for me to understand their fear.

And I'm thinking this morning about how this is how most of us operate.  We are not being intentionally selfish.  Or maliciously self-interested.  I don't think most of us assume the world revolves around us.  As a matter of fact, some of us are painfully aware of the rest of the world.

But I wonder if sometimes this is how it works: I am here.  In my house.  In America.  And I just did a load of laundry and made a pot of coffee and ate an apple out of a refrigerator.  While my sister about forty miles away is crying in a basement by herself because a storm is quickly overtaking my hometown.

How easily I could forget that she's scared.  How easily I could look outside my window and see the skies clearing up and just curse all the puddles and mud.  And not let my mind wander to those who are being besieged by a dangerous flood.

Not because I don't care about them.  But because it's not my reality.  It takes a great deal of intentionality to be truly empathetic and aware of something -- of the someones, of the circumstances -- which are not directly in front of you.

Remember the saying -- something about walking in someone else's shoes?  It's the same concept.

If you aren't poor.

If you aren't sick.

If you have a home.

If you have clean drinking water.

If you have a family.

If you have a job.

If you have Jesus.

It is so easy to forget there are people who,

Cannot feed their children.

Who can't get out of bed.

Who have been laid off work.

Who are hiding in basements, seeking refuge from the storm.

Who have no idea what hope even is.

And so I'm wondering this morning... what this looks like for us.  Because I don't think the point is to assume the fear.  Returning to fear, returning to desperation, returning to hunger usually doesn't do anything to help the fearful, the despairing, or the hungry.

But I do think we are called to go find them.

I am not afraid.  But I see that you are.  And I love you enough to reach my hand down into the very mess that is your fear, your storm, and help you.  

I don't know what that looks like for you.  Maybe it's about sacrifice.  Maybe it's time you stepped foot outside of your own little world.    Maybe it's about sharing what you have.  Maybe it's about using your gifts and your talents and your excess to reach out.

Because it's tempting once you get to that safe place to stay there.

Don't stay there.


Now that you know where it is... this place of safety, of refuge... please go get others.  Now that you know the way, go show those who still don't.

You will be better for it.  Because those who are in the middle of the storm, whatever storm it is, know something about the grace and protection and provision of God that you might not know.  That you might have forgotten.

And on the way to go find them -- whoever they are -- you just might find yourself running next to the Savior.

Who knows fear, but is no longer afraid.  Who knows hunger, but is no longer hungry.  Who knows death, but is alive.

Who is carrying a flashlight and rope and calling the names of the children who are lost.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a daydream

Today I am day dreaming about sitting down and eating a full meal.  That I cooked.  At a table.  With people I love.

Or going to the movie theater.

I am daydreaming about sitting down and reading a book.  That has nothing to do with symbolic interaction or cognitive behavior therapy or advocacy.

In ten days I will be done.

Let's have dinner.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I remember the storms, which used to roll through my hometown when I was a little girl.  The storm siren in Kroger would go off and our basement would flood.  We kept tan, plastic lawn chairs on the front porch.  

And that's where Dad would sit.


Until the wind started blowing so hard the rain got the porch wet.

And then he'd watch for just a little bit longer.

I don't think I had ever watched a storm like that without him.

Until the other night.  

I was in a room filled with about thirty-some children.  And we started getting phone calls and texts from UK and the National Weather Service.  There was a storm capable of producing tornadoes.  Headed our way.

So we piled kids into cars.  Rushed them home.  As rain pelted down, it was more like hail than anything.  As the wind picked up, the lightening and thunder hit and boomed at the same time.  The sky swirled into an ominous green-gray color.

All kids were taken home.  But a few of the adults decided to wait the storm out at the clinic.  

In other words... we decided to wait out the storm in the parking lot of the clinic.

I opened the big, gray door to the medical clinic when I heard Ryan pull up.  

The rain had stopped.

Everything was eerily still.

I watched in awe and wonder as the very clouds began to spin over my head.

Like cotton candy.  Thin, wispy, white clouds got tangled up in each other and accumulated... growing, dropping closer to the ground.

It never really occurred to me to even go inside.

I watched as the clouds raced across the sky.  Thicker, deeper clouds getting caught in the rotation.

Until ...

There it was.

A funnel cloud.  

We were laughing nervously.  Taking a few pictures.

One of our older kids, who had stayed behind at the clinic with us, walked slowly back to the clinic mumbling something about how the only thing he was worried about was that we were almost out of pizza.

And all I could think about was my dad.  

About how I wanted to be watching this storm with him.  I knew he'd love it.  

I can't remember ever being scared of a storm when I was watching it with him.

I can't remember a time -- sitting on those tan, plastic lawn chairs as the painted wooden porch started to bead with rain water and the mournful siren wailed over the wind and thunder -- when I was afraid.

And it was yesterday I made the connection.  Drew the parallel.  

Between the storm I'm currently living in...

And my Heavenly Father.

Who, I can just imagine, has pulled two lawn chairs up to the edge of His shelter.  Our feet are getting wet and the ground beneath us is shaking from the thunder.

But we are watching this storm together.  Something that terrifies others, an event which sends most people into inner rooms and basements to hide.  He and I sitting here.  Together.

Riding out the storm together.  Seeking the beauty.

He's not enjoying this thunderous, torrential season in my life.  But He's allowing it.  

In the words of my sweet sister, our Father in Heaven is big enough to create the storm.  He is absolutely big enough to stop it.

If He needs to.

But He doesn't need to yet.  

So we're sitting together on the proverbial porch.  Watching the world around us turn strange colors and the clouds spin in sugary circles.  In His shelter.  In His shadow.  

And I am not scared.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Bless his heart.

This is a video taken by my friend John Black in Haiti...

In just a few short months I might have a chance to meet this child.

And my heart just explodes every time I see all that light in his little face.

Oh that we might all be so full of joy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I just spent the last few hours in something akin to sabbath.

Now I am sitting with the back door open, watching a storm roll in.  Literally, as if something dark and heavy was spilled.  And the puddle is spreading across the sky.

I feel a little guilty for just sitting here.  I have no motivation.  I should be doing school work.  I should be working on a policy paper, reading a few books, and trying to understand equilibrium, supply, and demand.

But I'm not.

I am painfully aware of how much I need rest.  My body is craving sleep.  But not just sleep.  Stillness.  Bigness.  Space.

I need room to breathe.

I feel like all my ideas and thoughts and feelings are crammed into one square foot in my brain.  And I don't have room to rearrange any of it.  Inside of myself ...

Well.  Here comes the rain.

And the wind.

Hello, spring.

Lord Jesus, speak to me.

I have been deeply discouraged lately.  In the midst of chaos and routine change, the enemy has tried to hijack my spirit.

Like a weed in my garden.

Choking the harvest that's growing.  Smothering my hope.

So I'm going to sit here for a few minutes.

My Sabbath hour.

Lord Jesus, come.

What do you want from me?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

harvest cycle

I'm not sure what just happened.
But I was sitting in Economics this morning and God told me I was a garden.
And now I'm sitting in the lounge for the social work college.
And He told me I was in the Harvest Cycle.
I've been prepared, planted.  I am being cultivated.

People, the next step is harvest.

The next step is harvest!

Do you understand what this means?

First of all it means I need to learn to praise God even when I feel like I'm in a desert.  Because, let's face it, I am the most discouragable person in the mid-Atlantic.  But I see small things.  Like dove earrings.  And hear small words.  Like continuity. 

And truth is being poured into me like water.

About His love and His consistency and His strength.  About how He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And the continuity of story I am craving... is there. 

I have my fifth "C" word.


Bless it.  My heart just exploded.


I was having a bad day.  These seemed to be fairly frequent lately, and I was resorting back to the truth I learned a few years ago, that God not only wants to change our lives He wants to change our day.

So before I went into work I stopped at Starbucks. I sat down with a cup of coffee and my journal and began to just pour out my frustrated heart to Papa God.  I was pissed.  And I wanted Him to know. 

I wanted Him to speak in a new way... because I had adapted to His touch.  I was taking the wind for granted. It was my fault.  But I wanted Him to do a new thing.

And as I was talking to Him, in the middle of the busyness of Starbucks, above the drone of dozens of voices I heard a word.


Out of nowhere.  Like someone had just reached into a conversation and extracted this one, hard word. 
And then handed it to me.

"Hey, did you drop this word?  I think it belongs to you."

I wrote the word down.

A few seconds later, incongruent fell to the floor.  With a loud smack.  I felt the Spirit pick up the old, familiar word, breaking it in two, and offering it to me as congruent. 

Alert and slightly bewildered, I wondered about what was happening.  I had been praying for open ears.  Asking God to speak in new ways.  Here He was then, in the middle of my chaos and pity, isolating syllables and "C" words.  Effectively stealing my attention.


My pen paused on my paper.  This was a joke, right?  I was making things up now.  But I knew the significance behind these words.  They were resonating with my Spirit and I knew they were mine.  "C" words with my name written all over them.

I got ready to go to work.  I closed my journal got ready to stand up and leave.  Then I heard it.

My fourth word.


I knew the basic meaning of the word.  But to say I was confused by the whole experience was an understatement.  And so I texted a friend and my sister and asked for the exact definition of the word.

Consistent whole.  Edurance.  Permanence. 

My heart was flooded.

Absolutely flooded. 

I put all four words in the pockets of my heart.

I knew God would do something with them.  I knew He was doing something with them.  Very rarely does He introduce me to His work as He's first starting.  Papa God gets a good head start, breaks some ground, finds a rhythm.

And then taps me on the shoulder. Come look at this.  I think you'll like it.

I still don't know what my words mean.  The definitions are clear, but their implications on my life are not.

I stopped today to look up the word continuity again.  I took a deeper look and found that it has to do with story.

According to a quick article I found on wikipedia (researchers, judge me):  "Most productions have a script supervisor on hand whose job is to pay attention to and attempt to maintain continuity across the chaotic and typically non-linear production shoot. This takes the form of a large amount of paperwork, photographs, and attention to and memory of large quantities of detail, some of which is sometimes assembled into the story bible for the production. It usually regards factors both within the scene and often even technical details including meticulous records ... All of this is done so that ideally all related shots can match, despite perhaps parts being shot thousands of miles and several months apart. It is a less conspicuous job, though, because if done perfectly, no one will ever notice."


Conrete.  Congruent.  Consistent.  Continuity.

Welcome to a new chapter.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I haven't written in a long, long time.  

At the risk of saying the same old thing, the same old way, I just put the proverbial pen away.  Waiting.  Waiting for an overflow of words and wisdom.  Something that would relieve me and encourage you.

But I've waited a long time and nothing's come.  

A few weeks ago I moved out of my house.  Packed up at Trout Court and moved to the other side of town.  My last day at the office was March 25th.  And after 6 years of diligent work for them, my boss didn't show up on my last day.  So much for goodbyes.  

I've started a new job.  I think God's mission was to humble me, to get me moving, to make me laugh.  At the end of the day now, I am exhausted and my feet hurt and I stink.  But the last time I had a job like this, some beautiful things happened.  And I can't help but think about a prophecy a friend spoke over me.  About how through my ministry I would provide something sweet for people.  

I have four weeks left of classes.  This has not been a great semester.  I feel like I've just barely been scraping by - holding my breath and ducking my head and just going for it.  There is only one class where I feel like I learned something new.  But it is through this set of classes that I have found myself spending time with a group of kids from elementary schools around Lexington.  

I did all the paper work a few months back to become a substitute teacher / para educator here in Lexington.  I started getting calls from the Subfinder and was terrified to even answer them.  My uncle warned me that if I didn't start accepting some jobs, that they'd quit calling me.  So the next morning when they didn't call me, I got nervous.  I was packing up the last of my things at Trout Court that evening, having just finished praying nonchalantly and telling Jesus that I was hurting for money.  I was broke and I told Jesus so.  I didn't ask Him to fix it.  I just told Him.  Like I might tell you.  Not necessarily expecting circumstances to change.

I got in the car and the phone rang.  I answered.  Subfinder.  I decided to see just how the process would work.  So I put in my ID, followed procedure.  They wanted a para for kindergarten on Friday.  A day I had off of work.  At an elementary school right beside my yogurt shop.

Funny.  I told Jesus what I needed.

He knew I needed something else entirely.

I really think God's sneaky plan, His favorite M.O. is to use one thing to achieve something else entirely.


So here I am.  

This seems to be my favorite phrase these days.  Here I am.  There doesn't seem to be much more to say than that.  There are days when I look around and have to remind myself, "things will not always be this way".  

I will not always be single.

I will not always be in school.

I will not always be so pressed for time.

I will always be poor.  But maybe not always this poor.

So here I am.

With what feels like a brand new life.

And with this brand new life, I need brand new words.  

I am craving the day when I have time to go to the gym.  And the first Farmers Market on a Saturday morning.  

But I am right in the middle of God's will.  I can feel it.  He's emptying me.  Stretching me.  Giving me opportunities to grow.  He's making me brand new.

This is not a breaking season.  This is a growing one.  He's doing some spring cleaning in my heart, making room for new things.  Letting me trying them on for size.

He washed some dirty windows in my heart when a group of small prophets came barreling through the door of the church last week and the little ones threw their arms around my waist.  

And on Friday, when I walked into an elementary school to step in as a para for a kindergarten class, the Lord broke the lock on an old door.

Something I thought I could never do.  Something I thought I wasn't good enough to do.  Something I was too scared to try.  

Papa God bent low and gave my a shoulder a loving shove.  The door opened, exposing rooms and light I had never seen before.  "See?  I told you, we can do this."

Who knows what's next.  Really, I have no clue.  

I know that Haiti is in my future.

I know that my poor heart is craving space.  Room to breathe.  I want to spread my arms out and not touch a wall with either hand.  

I'll come back and tell you more about this later.  I have some shame and pride and desire to process.  Words haven't come yet to help explain to you my sudden change of plans in the last few weeks.   

Growth is happening.

On the other side of a season of breaking and a season of healing and a season of abiding.

And now spring is here.