2017, your name is Rhythm.

rhythm /ˈriT͟Həm/
noun. 

repeated pattern of movement.
systematic arrangement.
measured flow.
harmonious sequence.

2016 was a bittersweet year. I heard more of God’s voice this year than ever before. I found myself digging through scripture in search of God knows what. 26 years worth of hard questions that well meaning Bible belt Sunday school teachers never taught me how to ask, much less find the answers to.

When real life seemed to be tracking with my best laid plans, feeling light was nearly effortless. On the good days, faith didn’t seem to demand my blood, sweat, and tears. I took leaps and did things that I was afraid to do. I tried, and I tried again. And then, October hit. I say it hit because it came in like a wrecking ball, demolishing those best laid plans. A “dream job” in ministry was lost, we watched our hard won community wither up. There were days when I couldn’t go for more than 17 minutes without crying, days it was actually physically painful to hope — to think it anything other than a total loss. There were rogue feelings of humiliation and betrayal, the ever present temptation to scream at the next person who found me in the shower curtain aisle of Target and offered some pat explanation for our jagged circumstances.

On the not so good days, I chased a lot of the wrong things. Relationships, money, accolades, shiny possessions. I thought 2016 would be the year that I reinvented myself — the year I made my debut as the woman who finally, at long last, had it all together. Like a phoenix risen from the ashes.

What I didn’t realize, of course, is that even though the world loves a good comeback story, no one needs the woman who has it all together. Least of all, me.

What was it that Sabrina Ward Harrison said? Rhythm is in the missed beats.

 

It wasn’t a pretty three months. We argued, trying to memorize all of the ways we kept each other grounded (mostly him keeping me grounded) even though focusing on all the tiny, cutting faults seemed easier. But it was real. And Jesus did show up — in songs and skylines and tiny love letters written in Expo marker on our splotchy bathroom mirror. He was near in ways that I didn’t know how to ask for.

 

The year 2016 was named beloved. And there was evidence of my belovedness at every turn. I could feel myself being chosen, blessed, broken, and given. And the evidence hardly ever showed up in the way I thought it would. God and his kingdom are like that, though, always defying expectations. He has gently reminded me every step of the way that just because the story doesn’t read like I thought it would or think it should doesn’t mean that its all been for naught.

 

I learned this year that walking into the holy, naked intimacy of belovedness looks like laying a lot of things down. It looks a lot like stepping into the light, even though you’re terrified of leaving the safety (or, what feels like safety) of the dark.

2016 is part of the story now, for better or worse. And no matter what 2017 holds, beloved is here to stay. Beloved will be the soil from which everything else grows.

 

That being said, I’m ready to turn the page. It doesn’t feel like a fresh start so much as the next hard step into the light. No fireworks, no accolades, just the next small step towards the person I know I was created to be.

 

Rhythm requires intention and purpose to create something beautiful out of what’s there and what’s not. It demands creativity and perseverance to sift through what truly holds weight in a life, and courage and grace to grieve and let go of those things that never did.

How I treat my body, and how I don’t.

Where I spend my money, and where I don’t.

The thoughts that I choose to fill my mind with, and the ones I don’t.

How I use the time I’ve been given, and how I don’t.

How I make a home in a world that’s not my home.

It all adds up to how this one wild life is poured out. 

 

These days, I find myself craving a slower pace. More simplicity. More on earth as it is in heaven, please. I find the desire to claim my land, to plant seeds. This will be the year I walk out of the woods.

This will be the year that I say no, its okay — we have time for this. 

Time to laugh.

To hold on with open hands.

Time to grow.

For little by little, inch by inch. 

For champagne, even if we drink it out of juice glasses.

Time to fight (sometimes with each other, but always for each other).

Time to give.

Time to pay attention.

For 1,000 piece puzzles on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Time to realize that we are not missing pieces.

 

To shut the door to a life of scarcity and being scared. 

Because what we have right now, today, really is enough.

 

Because we know that being made well always requires that we take up our mats and walk — and that things almost always get messier before they get better. We know that easy and tidy were never the most worthwhile. The gold is found in the cracks, and all that will remain is what I love.

Our cups are spilling over, cracked though they may be.


I was graciously given an advanced copy of my friend Erin Loechner‘s new book, Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten PathI was not required to post a review, however, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was an honor to hold Erin’s heart in my hands and have the opportunity to share them with you. A creator and a curator, Erin’s words are so timely — a much needed balm for this battle weary soul. She offers this book as a love letter to you, from someone who knows both the highs and the lows and the struggle to maintain some semblance of balance and order in the midst of life’s unpredictable circumstances. Chasing Slow is nothing short of a gift, one that I hope you will mosey on over to Amazon and preorder for yourself and your friends and your neighbor and your sister and the lady at the coffee shop. Or, you can find it at a bookstore near you on January 10, 2017. Your heart and soul will thank you for it. 

The new normal.

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I haven’t really written in a couple months. I’ve told the story to a few close friends, but I haven’t really known how to tell it here. I wish I could say that coming back felt like meeting an old and dear friend — the kind that you can just pick back up where you last left off and feel like no time has passed at all. But really, this doesn’t feel much like that. I’m not the same person I was before October happened. Truthfully, I’m still trying to process the fact that October happened. 

“I feel like I’ve gone through some strange metamorphosis.” I say it out loud to someone, almost without meaning to.

 

Most days, I want life with God to be more like a sprint and less like a marathon. I want to be holy now, want this whole purification thing to take no more time than instant macaroni or a Poptart. But being made well doesn’t happen overnight — at least not in my experience thus far. Love moves slow, because love understands worth.

 

“I try to remember,” I say to a friend as we sip our holiday coffee, “that I have an enemy — and it isn’t the people who hurt me.” Sure, it may seem that way in the heat of the moment, when feelings are fresh and the sting of grief leaves me stunned — when I watch as the trauma brings any semblance of normalcy to a screeching, burning halt. Lashing out and spewing every last ugly thought is what feels good and right, and I am tempted. Except I cannot escape this thought: when Jesus died, I died. Now, every hurt or triumph I encounter in this life must be viewed through a new lens: the lens of the cross.

“Not that that makes this any less painful,” I continue. “I’m not naive enough to think that any of what happened is okay.”

The pain demands to be felt.

“I’m just learning to trust that he is making me okay.”

When our hard won community withered, when I reached the end of my rope and the bottom fell out like a hidden trap door underneath me — grace caught me. He allowed the air to remain in me.

 

I look at the new chapter that is 2017, and my heart is deeply ready. 

Not that we know where we’re going or how we’re going to get there, because we don’t. But we trust that he goes before us.

“I go knowing that I am cherished and cared for and deeply beloved.”

I believe that now in a way that I hadn’t dared to believe it before. And believing it has changed me — rescued and ransomed pieces of my soul that I had rather let lay in the grave.

 

Nouwen writes that as Christ’s living body on earth, we are taken, blessed, broken, and given to the world — just as he was taken, blessed, broken, and given for us.

The past two months have broken me.

What offers me the most comfort these days is how Jesus looked at brokenness as being such an integral part of living that he was willing to forsake glory to experience it with us. He chose it for my sake. I’m grateful for the grace upon grace of it all. In awe of the abundance. 

 

But he gives more. 

 

I find myself wanting to live out of that more, to live as though Christ in me, the hope of glory, can never run out. To live like he is close, that he wants to be close, and that his love for me goes on and on.

To shut the door to a life of scarcity and being scared.

Because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize that I was a grace and glory hoarder. When you catch a glimpse of the way of the beloved, you want everyone you know to come with you. Therein lies the secret of the givenness.

 

I’m not the same person I was a few months ago, I tell her. She is patient and kind and offers the kind of soul deep hospitality that my heart has been longing for.

I walk with a limp now, a soul war torn from these battles in the wilderness. But you don’t get to the abundance any other way. There are no shortcuts to holiness, no formula that makes sanctification more palatable or predictable.

But he makes the scars beautiful. He makes beautiful things from us.

The long way home.

I’ve started to write this post a dozen times in as many days. I’ve looked forward to writing it for a long time, without knowing what these days would look like. This time last year, I didn’t know where my feet would wind up. Bob Goff once said that sometimes, as followers of Jesus, we get to leap before we look. This time last year, I would have put on my best game face and told you I knew what that meant. I thought I knew a lot of things back then. But the reality is that life with Jesus is an endless process of unlearning all those things you thought you knew.  It is about finding your place in the tension filled days of being and becoming. Your place is in him. It has always been in him, and it will always be in him, forever and ever amen.


The Wednesday morning ladies are knee deep in the story of Gomer and Hosea. If you’ve ever doubted that scripture should be paired with fine wine, the book of Hosea will be all the convincing that you need. It is all about a man who sets out to marry an unfaithful woman just because he loves her. When she falls head over heels in love with the world and everything but her husband, he goes to find her, naked and ashamed on an auction block, and buys her back. Its a jealous scandal of a love story, and it has my name written all over its pages.

It seems so fitting that we’re studying these scriptures now. For the past 365 days, I’ve been in the woods. I used to romanticize the woods. Whenever a favorite writer of mine would talk about her own woods experience, I would nod along, totally believing that I was right there with her. I thought that just because I was in a hard season, I could name it whatever I liked, and woods was what was in vogue. I coveted the stories of those who seemed to have this whole lost and found thing all figured out, or at least more figured out than I did. But I was wrong. There is nothing romantic about being in the woods. But I’ve learned it is a place for falling in love. And I was only just receiving my own invitation.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. — Hosea 2:14, NIV

The woods is where he gets you alone so he can win you back. The winning back is beautiful and victorious and everything that you just know deep down in your heart it will be, but the same thing is true for the alone part. This is the part that when you pray for it, people tell you to be careful. I never really understood why church folk will tell you to be careful what you pray for, as if God could give anything other than good gifts.

I tell you that to tell you this: I thought that moving to South Carolina would fix me. I thought it would be a fresh start, and that I could effortlessly be whoever I wanted to be. I thought South Carolina was my chance to take the pen and write a better ending.

I didn’t expect that the past year would be one of the loneliest uphill battles. I didn’t know how many times I would raise my fists at heaven and tell him he got it wrong and that we didn’t actually belong here. If we belonged here, it wouldn’t be so hard. If this is where we were supposed to be, then I shouldn’t feel so alone. I would feel seen and wanted and appreciated here if this was my intended destination. But I didn’t actually feel any of those things. Some days, I still don’t.

Yeah, that Bible — I see so much of myself in its pages. I know my lines by heart, a truth that shakes me straight down to my core.

The wilderness is the place where all our idols and identities are wrecked. It is an operating room, and make no mistake, the blade hurts like hell. I had a professor tell me once that the problem with living sacrifices is that we’re always crawling back off the altar, and now I know why that’s true.

He asks do you want identity? Find it in me.

You want peace? Find it in me.

You want beauty? Find it in me.

You want purpose? Find it in me?

You want wholeness? Find it in me. 

This love, this wilderness, this healing — it isn’t the tidy kind. It is bloody and dirty and gritty like spending a fortune, a life to buy you back. Even on the days when you never asked to be saved.

Most of the days, it won’t feel like being saved. Most days, it will feel a lot like losing and being lost and there’s an enemy who would love nothing more than for you to believe that grace stops short of the end of your rope.

But it doesn’t.

I don’t know why this love. I surely didn’t earn it. It isn’t the story I would have written for myself, and I know it is far from over. Some days, I feel like the way out of the woods is so close, but then I get turned around again and he winds up saying hey, I’m not finished with you yet. 

He is still naming me, still asking me to come home, even if we have to go the long way.

On mile markers, giving up, and learning to love my neighbor.

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I.

So, it seems that I have somewhat accidentally started a book club, birthed from the sentiment that if you want something and can’t find it, you should make it for yourself. Tonight, I’m meeting with my friend Emily, who happens to be the groups coordinator at our little church, to discuss the particulars, but starting in mid-September, my Thursday evenings will consist of homemade food and dog eared pages with friends both old and new.

Honestly, I didn’t have much say in the matter. Within five minutes of my bringing it up to Emily, she took the liberty of inviting two people. Then, of course, there’s God, who, in his unrelenting pursuit of me and my busted up heart, has been kneading answers into my prayers and asking me to do hard things when it comes to growing community and blooming where I’m planted. I told another friend that I’m both excited and scared: this feels a bit like going off the deep end, but more like taking back ground from the devil. Where those two meet up is always the starting line for good ideas.

Besides, if you ask me, the best church services happen in living rooms over chips and salsa.

II.

The last thing I wrote here was about soul-hospitality, and the kind of revival that can only come through vulnerability and offering up the messiest and most fractured pieces of myself. I penned those words for a laundry list of reasons, the gist of which added up to the fact that we’ve lived here for a year now, and I don’t feel any closer to what my heart knows that church and community should be. The past twelve months have seen me weary and worn down from spinning my wheels and living a try hard life.

I had all sorts of plans to fix myself. I would lose the weight and buy all the cute clothes, find quirky wall art and construct a Pinterest worthy gallery wall, market my blog like a pro and gain lots of followers, toss more money in the offering bucket at church, volunteer more. The truth is, I’ve been picking up whatever fig leaves I can find in an attempt to look more whole than I actually am.

The paradox is that it is only when I lay down my masks and become more fully myself that there can be less of me and more of Jesus.

The most potent truth of all is that what I’m really missing is Jesus. There have been days, some more recent than I care to admit, when I have begged him through sobs to show up. It isn’t that I haven’t been looking for him all this time. I’ve just spent my entire life looking for him in all the wrong places. I believed I would find him within the realm of my own comfort and safety.

Suffice it to say, he has rarely, if ever, resided there. And slowly but surely, he is tearing down my walls, meeting my resistance with loving kindness.

III.

The other day, the man and I were talking about church, both our little body and the body collective. Hesitantly, I admitted that for all the things that keep me wrapped, there are also a handful of things that I desperately wish were different.

I wish there were easy answers for how to navigate community with broken people. Most of the time, I’d settle for somewhat difficult ones. But Jesus wasn’t known for showing up with blue prints. Instead, he turns everything we think we know on its head. Because he knows that the deepest need of our hearts isn’t a formula — the deepest need of our hearts is him.

And then, he put some skin in the game by offering himself.

He met people smack dab in the middle of their mess, unafraid of getting his hands dirty and not the least bit intimidated by the second mile.

He touched the sick, broke bread with whores, and called cheats and liars and back stabbers his best friends. And when I begin to catch glimpses of my own heart in the folks he chose to spend his time with, it changes everything.

IV.

I don’t mean to make a big production out of a simple ladies’ book club. I’m not parading around under the assumption that it will somehow change the world, I’m simply praying that it will change mine.

I’m tired of the rat race, exhausted from seemingly endless days spent pining for the approval that is already mine. And anyway, the last thing I need is gold stars and applause (though let’s be honest, I crave them like an addict).

No one needs my formula and ten point plan to better myself — least of all, me. So I’m giving it up, leaving it on the side of the road so I can better walk in step with Jesus, loving as he loves.

 The kind of love that doesn’t give up on broken things.


I was graciously given an advanced copy of my friend Shannan Martin‘s new book, Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted. I was not required to write a review, but upon finishing it, my heart couldn’t not share it with you. Reading her words felt like breaking bread with a trusted friend, the kind that dares you to leave your comfort zone and loves you enough to not let you get away with making any excuses. What’s more, she cheers you on, acknowledging that it isn’t always the biggest leaps that count the most, but the baby steps taken in faith. When you walk away from an encounter with someone who has been with Jesus, you’re never the same. Shannan is one of those people for me. You can preorder her book Falling Free today, or find it on a shelf near you on September 20. And if you’re curious, we will most definitely be reading it for the book club.

Thoughts on hospitality and the way of the beloved.

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I.

Nine months ago, I had just turned 25 and was desperately trying to navigate living in a new state with a new job in ministry with new people, and too much of my identity was wrapped up in trying to recreate myself into a person who was well liked — a person who fit seamlessly into the role of just enough, whatever that looked like. Just enough edge, just enough grit, giving just enough of a glimpse to keep people intrigued and on their toes. On the inside, I felt lost, deadened.

I treated God much the same way, only giving him the pieces of myself that felt ready. He offered to come in and eat a meal with me, but I wanted him to call ahead. I couldn’t have him walking in on me in my unfinished fig leaves, clawing at whatever mirage of control I thought I could grasp. What I didn’t realize was that he was working all along, breaking the walls down brick by brick, and sometimes that’s what miracles look like. Now, I know: I can look back and see him wooing me. And he is not a God who gives himself in pieces.

II.

I didn’t see the way of beloved coming on the horizon, let alone understand what it had in store for me. I couldn’t have, and perhaps that is the grace of it all. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and how love will choose to rush in. I used to fear that, and to be perfectly honest, I still do fear it on most days. But he knew, and he was already etching thanksgiving on my heart when I chose to etch it on my skin.

Lately, I’ve found myself praying hard for revival, for my own heart, for my marriage, for my friendships, for our church, and for the Body of Christ as a whole. I’ve wept in worship, asking for parted waters, a flood so uncontainable that it couldn’t possibly be mistaken for anything other than a wave of the Spirit. I’ve been begging for a straight path into a promised land.

When you catch a glimpse of the way of the beloved, you want everyone you know to come with you.

III.

I took a spiritual gifts inventory through our church last week, knowing that one of two things would come out on top. I’ve always been told that I am an encourager, and I have always felt called to make people feel at home. In the end, in this particular inventory, hospitality took the top spot, much to my lack of surprise.

Hospitality is, at least in my experience and what I would venture to guess is yours too, most widely viewed as being the hostess with the mostess: the one who opens up their Pinterest pretty home and turns a cartwheel in shiny pumps to hand someone a gluten free bit of slaved over deliciousness without breaking a sweat. And everyone at the party talks about how fine they are.

But really, that’s not the kind of hospitality my thirsty heart longs for. Dare I say that I’m betting that it’s not the kind of hospitality you’re looking for either?

I’m craving soul hospitality.

If there is a revival to be experienced, it won’t be ushered in through our contrived attempts to mimic glossy magazine covers. We won’t find it by closing the doors to our messy places.

Jesus didn’t come and die so that we could simply make ends meet or just do okay or experience the same old stuff on a different day. He didn’t give his life so that we could walk around with the prerecorded response of fine. 

Honestly, I’m not fine.

Neither is my best friend.

A boy in the apartment building next to mine took his own life last week.

The headlines scream war and hate and the world is not fine.

Our time here is so short and precious and we don’t need any more occasions to wear our grave clothes.

IV.

We are broken, and we are broken for each other. We are poured out, and we are poured out for each other. This is the way of the beloved, the way of being transformed to the image of Christ, whose body was broken and poured out for us.

I need you now, and perhaps you need me. I don’t have many answers, but I’m trying to learn how to become one.

Here I am, arms open, with all of my fear and trust issues and temptations and nervous quirks and baggage. And you are welcome here: welcome to cry, welcome to not hold anything back, welcome to start the brick by brick demolition of your own walls, welcome to walk in freedom just for freedom’s sake.

I think I’m finally ready to unpack and call this place home.

Tear down the banners.

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It is 2016. In November of this year, I will have been writing online, in some form or fashion, for eleven years. Honestly, that doesn’t even seem possible, but its true: I grew up here. I graduated from high school, moved off to college, had my heart broken, lost friends to cancer, found and married the love of my life, started taking medication for depression and paralyzing anxiety, and most recently moved to South Carolina to pursue a life in ministry with my husband. All of that happened here in this space. I’ve barely known anything different. This space was born out of my need for a place to come undone. It has always been a sanctuary.


A look in my prayer journal as of late would reveal my hot pursuit of wisdom in regard to community, and in a deeper sense, an overwhelming longing for home. I think that perhaps that’s just part of growing up — maybe at some point we all lose our idealistic views of what home is, and the truth is, we have to mourn that loss.

Judging by most standards, I had an idyllic upbringing, but at 14, the cosmos of my life shifted. Our family had recently moved, my mother had started a new job, and I was in the beginning of my freshman year of high school. We were always in church — every single time the doors were open. On the outside, we looked great. But behind closed doors, my parents were seeing our pastor for marriage counseling. I began to struggle with depression. I can’t say that I wanted to die, but I just had this overwhelming feeling that the world would be better off without me, and I didn’t know where to put that kind of pain. At the least, I didn’t think anyone would really notice I was gone. Now, I mentor a group of young girls through our church, and the idea of one of them secretly carrying that kind of pain is unimaginably difficult for me.

I remember the night I called the hotline because I couldn’t see any way out, I remember how the line rang and rang and eventually I hung up. I tried to talk to my mom, but she seemed to have other things on her mind. I remember telling her that something was very, very wrong, but no help came. Eventually, she walked away from our family. What’s more, when she left, she told me that I was the weak one.

At this point, I’ve struggled with depression for almost half of my life. And most people still don’t really talk about mama’s who leave.

I don’t talk about my mom much — and it has been a year since I have seen or spoken to her (I feel like I should note here that this has not been my choice). Our relationship has been sporadic at best, but mostly nonexistent. I avoided talking about her because I never wanted to be seen as someone who would leave. I treated slipping out the back door like it could be passed down through DNA, like eye-color or the dimple in my chin, or hereditary disease.

But our wounds stick with us. In the words of Donald Miller, we learn if we are lovable or unlovable from other people, and in that moment, I allowed my mother to hand me an identity of not strong enough, and the brokenness in my home to name me broken. 

I’ve borne the weight of those banners for more than a decade, and I’ve bled from the shame of them. Even though the scars have faded, they still feel fresh on most days, and I’m always only one lie away. Love has always been something that I’ve had to fight for, rather than something that has already been won on my behalf.

So I did everything I could: I served dinner to sick friends, did all the peer counseling I possibly could, wrote letters, volunteered with the elderly, and invited people over every chance I got, hoping that people would be impressed by how well I could show up and show love. My heart was in the right place, but my motivation was almost always twisted, at best. I hoped that if I did enough things right, you would always answer when I called, that you would bring donuts and say all the right things to set my fragile, tilted orbit right side up again.

I put my hope in broken people, who even on their best days, could never save me or offer me the kind of love I was truly after. I let people break me, and I’m sure that in my own brokenness, I have hurt other people.

The only place I wasn’t taking my cup to was the very place that I needed to go the most: the feet of Jesus.

I won’t tell you that I get it all right nowadays, because that would be a lie. I fall flat on my face all the time. But my life is starting to look a lot different. I’m starting to rethink the questions I’m asking — praying that I would be open to whatever it is God wants to teach me in these seasons marred by so much shame and loneliness. I’m making room for God, and I have found him trustworthy and more than loving enough to hand me a new identity: that of being beloved. 

A Love letter to the hurting

Dear friend, I won’t presume to know exactly what you face today. I won’t storm in like that. But I want you to know that you are far too beautiful to be standing under the banners of broken and not enough and unwanted and unqualified. 

I believe that there is a God who invited you first, a Jesus who made room for all of you: your dreams and your doubts and your quirks and your passions and your fears. I believe that you are fully known and deeply loved, but I know that those are easy words to say and hard words to live. But believe me, that first step is so, so sweet.

He answers when you call. He will fill you. He will lead you. You are already found.


I was graciously given a sneak peek at Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, Uninvited: Living Loved when You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. I was not required to write a review, however, I cannot recommend enough that you purchase this book. In fact, I cannot recommend highly enough that you purchase an entire case and hand one out to every woman you know. Not very many women have impacted my faith the way that Lysa has, and I am so grateful that the Lord led her to write this book for such a time as this. Click here to pre-order your copy of Uninvited., which will officially hit bookshelves near you on August 9th. 

The Beloved Manifesto.

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I have lived with the word beloved for seven months now, and as with the words that came before it, I can honestly say that this word chose me. And as I have prayed, God has been faithful to show up and show me what this word means. Beloved is everywhere I look: on my instagram feed, in the books I’m reading, the sermons and songs I’m listening to. I want to etch it on my skin, but more than that, I want it written on my bones. I want beloved to permeate my heart and every single breath that I take for as long as I am on this earth.


The Manifesto

I will share the grace of Jesus Christ who made a way for me to be adopted into the family of God and called me his beloved.

I will tell my truth with vulnerability and courage because I am beloved.

I will laugh, in Jesus’ name, because I am beloved.

I will treat my body with kindness because I am beloved.

I will not despise the holy ground where my feet reside today because I am beloved.

I will plant seeds of grace and truth and I will tend my garden faithfully because I am beloved.

I will pray continually, without ceasing, in every circumstance, because I am beloved.

I will dream big dreams and celebrate small moments because I am beloved.

I will believe in the power of the first step, and every step after that, because I am beloved.

I will find the place where the passion of my heart meets the need of this world because I am called, and because I am beloved.

I will be a confident minister of the gospel because I am beloved.

I will take time to rest and refresh the inner parts of myself because I am beloved.

I will hone my creativity, because I was made in the image of a creative God and I am his beloved.

I will seek wisdom in every situation, believing that God will provide, because I am beloved.

I will choose to see others as beautiful and blessed, and I will refuse to compete with them, because I am beloved.

I will speak to the injustice and pain in this world, in my own neighborhood, and let them know that their days are numbered, because I am beloved.

I will move toward, rather than away from, people who are of different ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, church denomination, gender or gender identity, economic status, or sexual orientation because I am beloved.

I will refuse to pick up any armor that is not of God. I will refuse to add to the noise of debate and discord and water cooler gossip. I will demolish walls of division brick by heavy brick because I am beloved.

I will refuse to feed my body, my energy, my relationships, my creativity, or my peace to shame because I am beloved.

I will humbly serve my spouse and raise my children to know and walk in the love of Christ because I am beloved.

I will be a faithful friend and speak light into the lives of others because I am beloved.

I will fling the doors wide open to make room for others, and I will make room for myself so that we can come undone together because I am beloved.

I will not despise my brokenness, and instead, celebrate its daily redemption, because I am beloved.

I will not allow my one wild life to be driven by anxiety because perfect love casts out fear and I am beloved.

I will sing my song on the mountain tops and in the valleys. I will walk through deserts and do hard and holy things. I will be led by still waters and it will be well with my soul because I am beloved.


Psst! Click HERE to download a free printable copy of The Beloved Manifesto.

The withering and the wild: a love letter to hunger.

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Honesty hour:

I have been trying to write this post for days. Probably even a couple of weeks at this point. But I’ve never felt fully satisfied with the words that showed up on the page. They felt awkward and forced and not necessarily true. The reality is that I am struggling, that I have struggled for years, with the performance trap. I want to write you a beautiful, flowing letter about a life lived wild and free, but the overwhelming majority of the time, I don’t feel wild and free. More often than not, I feel withered and trapped. What I can tell you for certain is this: I am hungry, and I am learning more than I ever anticipated I would when I started my journey with the word beloved


 

I wish I could tell you about the first time that I ever felt like too much or not enough, but the truth is, I can’t. Not because the memory is too painful, but because rather, it simply isn’t there to recall. Sometimes I wonder if I have just always been that way. I am the oldest child, a good girl through and through. My standards have always been high and I have held them with little regard to what other people might think. My entire life, I have tried to portray a stoic exterior. I wanted everyone around me to think that I was a finished product.

A year or so ago, I started to see a couple of my favorite bloggers writing posts to track their monthly goals. It was something that I had never thought to do in all of my years of writing in an online space. Really, I have never been much of a goal person, anyway. January 1st would come and go, and rarely would I give resolutions a second thought. The whole idea felt very optimistic and romantic, and while those things seem really attractive and positive, to me, they felt dangerous. Living a wild and free life, a life that was characterized by strength and dignity and laughter, well, that was for other people. I would rather stay safe and maintain my aura of finality rather than dare to share a bit of optimism with the world and then fall short.

Another writer shares about how she is finding her way through the woods. More than once, she calls it a process, and acknowledges that nothing worthwhile and beautiful happens overnight. She shares, post after post, month after month about how there is no map for this place. The woods don’t work that way. But I want them to, and I am often angry that they don’t abide by my own rules.

All this to say: I don’t know if I can actually say that I’ve hit rock bottom yet, because nothing has really changed. I’m hungry, but I have yet to actually begin to feed myself, because I’m too afraid to get messy. Wild and free still seems like something I’ll never be.

Except, of course, the truth is that I already am.

Wild is the nature that was given to me in the garden, my original state of being. There was no fear, no anxiety, no worrying about the numbers on the scale or the bank statement or the stats page. I knew my Father, and my Father knew me: the real me, the naked and messy and unashamed version. The one He said was good. 

Free is the identity given freely through the work of the cross. Freedom to return, freedom to run into the Father’s arms, even after all this time, even after I exchanged my wild nature for sin and decided to walk away. I am free to rest in His sufficiency, in spite of my own lack.

I feel like God is waving, pointing, jumping up and down to try to get my attention, and I’m the girl dressed in uncertainty who keeps looking around to make sure that it really is me that he’s looking at.

Who, me? 

Yes, you. 

What I’m learning in this space, slowly but surely, is that there’s really no magical equation. There’s not an elusive right answer, and the only wrong answer is to let fear be the boss and keep me from moving at all. What I’m learning is that when I am at my worst, my messiest and most vulnerable, God has things to say to me.

And perhaps for the first time, I am trying to listen.

 

A Prayer for the Hungry

Help us to admit our hunger and give us grace to not treat it with resentment. Help us to embrace our messy, especially when it is the very last thing we want to do. Help us to not dread small steps, small beginnings.

It is scary to ask that You would make a withered and trapped but seemingly safe life become uncomfortable, but it is what we’re here for. Inside, we desperately want to move. We know we need to move, even when we say we’re okay and everything is fine. We don’t want to settle for fine anymore.

Help us to make bold statements, to ask courageous questions, and not immediately want to take them back.

You never offered an easy way out. When we asked for bread, you gave us your body. When we asked for wine, you poured out your blood. Help us to take you at your word when you promise that you know exactly what we need before we ask for it. Give us the faith to ask for it anyway — to ask out loud in the car, in the grocery store check out aisle, in the shower, in our cubicles.

Help us to practice the discipline of no longer taking our cups to things and people that can never fill us up. And help us to have grace for ourselves when we slip up, because we will slip up.

Silence the voices that whisper the lie that we have to be a finished product in order to go out into the world. You made the world, and you made us, and you said everything was good. We want to believe that.

Help us to simply decide to walk wild and free, in this moment, and in the next, because sometimes we will have to choose it that frequently. We’re quick to forget.

We want to get well, but we’re afraid of what it might require of us. Remind us that your perfect love drives out all of our fear.

Take our hands, lead us in the way of the wild and free.


I was graciously given an advanced copy of Wild and Free as part of a launch team. I was not required to write a review, but I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan are two truly beautiful women who make me more hungry for Jesus every day, and this book is their love letter to you, an hope filled anthem for all the days when you feel like we are too much and not enough.