Currently | November

loving | Dreaming up possibilities, The Bible, online shopping, rearranging our furniture, hearing this little girl say "thank you, mama," getting hugged by Ann Voskamp, turning 26, snail mail from friends who just get it, seeing Switchfoot in Atlanta, the kind words of strangers, getting to be wife to this one.

wanting |More of Jesus all the time, community, deep roots.

needing | All of the above + a week's worth of rain.

watching | The Crown. So beautiful. Law & Order SVU, of course. And all the trailers and interviews for Jackie.

listening | Jon Foreman, Colin & Caroline, and The Mowgli's.

reading | The Broken Way -- life changing. Also Hannah Brencher's 13 thoughts on mental health, Erin Boyle's peace and justice advent calendar.

learning | The importance of slowing down, being generous, honoring myself and others by being wholly present, the beauty of the upside down kingdom.

feeling | Rested, for the most part, after Thanksgiving. Grateful for family, excited and nervous for the future.

craving | A lifetime supply of chestnut praline lattes.

laughing at | Dad jokes in the car with my eight year old brother in law, hearing LG call pickles "tickles," new and old cartoons with C.

Tell me all the things about your November. 

When you're struggling to stay (#TheYearOfNoFear)

For the past several years, I've struggled to find my place in the world. IMG_0173-1024x683

I’ve battled long and hard with comparison. See, I am surrounded by the most beautiful people on a daily basis: people who are passionate about ending slavery and sex trafficking, people who minister to lost souls in the ghettos of Atlanta, who hold the hands of refugees and travel to distant corners of the earth, forsaking the privilege and comfort of North America in order to bring the most basic of those comforts to children with distended bellies and dusty bare feet. Some of my best friends are church planters and worship leaders and youth ministers. Even my husband is consistently praised for his amazing work on our church’s tech team.

And I have never felt called to any of that. In fact, the closest I’ve come to participating in foreign mission work is the pair of TOMS shoes I’m wearing today.

→ Join me over at The Year of No Fear

 

Dear You, (Hashtag Hope)

My friend Nick runs an amazing community called Hashtag Hope, and asked me to contribute a letter for their Dear You series. Hashtag Hope's mission is to find light in the midst of the dark and proclaim that there is freedom and victory in the telling of our stories.  This is a community that I am proud to be part of, and one that I have found such depth and encouragement in. Thank you, Nick, for always being so welcoming to this heart and the words that fall out.


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I wish we could be having this conversation over steaming coffee or hot tea, surrounded by dimmed lights and hushed voices. I wish I could reach across the table and take your hand and speak these words out loud to you. If you ask me, things like this are not said aloud nearly as often as they should be.

The older I get, the more clearly I recognize that we do not have long here on this tilted earth. Our lives are like vapor, none of us being promised tomorrow. Having that knowledge can lead you to one of two places: fear, or fervor.

→ Keep reading at Hashtag Hope.


Twenty-Four Things for my Twenty-Fourth

01: I have an addiction to books. I would buy them by the hundred if I could.

02: I am an adventurous eater, much to the dismay of my picky husband.

03: Going to bed early is a must for me. If I stay up too late, I get really grouchy.

04: In college, I almost changed my major to secondary English education, but after just one semester of education classes, I knew that's not what I was called to do.

05: When I was little, I wanted to be a meteorologist when I grew up. I kind of still want to be a meteorologist when I grow up.

06: Thanks to a Dad with great taste, I grew up listening to big band and swing, The Carpenters, Frank Sinatra, and James Taylor.

07: I'm bad about procrastinating. I should probably be doing something else right now.

08: Thanks to this book, I have a passionate love of last words.

09: I love watching documentaries, particularly on American history.

10: It really bothers me when things are not symmetrical.

11: My blogging days started on MySpace, circa 2005. Hello, teenage angst.

12: I have never dyed my hair, but when I was thirteen, I convinced my mom I wanted a perm. Probably the worst hair decision ever.

13: I think I might want a tattoo.

14: My boss convinced me to watch The Office and now I love it.

15: Never in my life have I ever had any athletic ability.

16: I walked down the aisle to a song I found on Ann Voskamp's blog.

17: My favorite actresses are Sally Field and Julia Roberts. Favorite actor is Tom Hanks.

18: I loathe Facebook, and try to only log on when I absolutely have to.

19: I didn't get my driver's license until I was 22, but since then, I've probably driven upwards of 10k miles visiting foster kids all over the state of Georgia.

20: I manage to know a lot about pop culture without even trying.

21: A guy I had a crush on in college tried to set me up with the guy I ended up marrying, but I said no. Enter a God whose ways are not our ways, and the rest is just crazy good history.

22: If I hadn't gone the counseling/social work route, I probably would have become a journalist.

23: You seriously want to be on my team if we ever play Catchphrase, Taboo, or Balderdash. I also have a near maniacal love for Jeopardy, and would watch it every day if we had cable.

24: Dog shaming will always, always make me laugh.

23: Who Jesus Says We Are: Redeemed

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAt least twenty of my twenty-three years have been spent going to church. I knew about Jesus from the time I was a toddler, and gave him my heart at the tender age of five. Unlike so many millennials, I never looked back or considered taking a different path. And I was good. I never got in trouble at school, was part of lots of extracurricular activities, sang solos at church, watched the babies in the nursery, didn't go to parties, didn't have sex, and didn't take part in anything that was illegal. In 2009, I graduated from high school and immediately went to a small liberal arts Bible college an hour away from my hometown. I was so good. I don't tell you those pieces of my story to puff myself up in any way, but just to let you know that on the outside, I'm a champion at looking like I've got it all together. I've even managed to convince myself a time or two by actively ignoring the upheaval and mess behind the scenes.

Yeah, I said it. I am a mess. If you need proof, see here, here, and here.

What I failed to mention in that tiny paragraph is that even though I might look good on the outside, I miss the mark of righteousness on a daily basis.

I have lied, cheated, stolen, abused, gossiped, taken for granted, and wasted.

I have chosen anxiety when offered peace, and I have chosen depression, self-loathing, and self-pity when offered joy.

In my haste to be loved by you, I have said thank you, but no thank you to the Lover of my soul.

If you've spent your life as a good girl, I know that you get this. But maybe you haven't spent your life as a good girl. Maybe you've spent your time living in what might be seen as rebellion. Maybe you've made some bad choices, and even though those things seemed to be fun at the time, you're wondering now if someone could ever love you or see you as a whole person. Maybe you bear the weight of those decisions, and you wonder how you can keep carrying it alone. Maybe it was back in high school and college, or maybe it was last week.

Regardless of what sort of circumstances you've come from or are facing today, we all bend under the heaviness of this life. We are, each of us, prone to wander.

We search for quick solutions, hasty cover-ups in lieu of turning towards the patiently wooing Savior. We've been doing it since the dawn of time.

What I find so amazing about the Garden narrative is God's response to Adam and Eve's sin. When the Almighty enters the Garden, He knows exactly what has taken place even before man and woman admit their wrongdoing. He knows exactly where they are, and instead of storming in to shout, He quietly asks a question: where are you? 

Where are you? I love you. I want to be with you. 

See, He knew when He created us that we would fall short. And yet, He infinitely loves and relentlessly pursues our hearts.

He knew when He created us that He would send Christ to hit the mark in our stead.

He lived a perfect life and died so I wouldn't have to. He made a way for me to return to the Father.

Redemption has always been at work.

[Tweet "He knew when He created us that He would send Christ to hit the mark in our stead."]

And when we ask, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.

That heaviness we carry? We are free to exchange it for His grace.

I got to help lead a girl to Christ in our church's youth group last night. Our pastor had given the salvation message and read about taking up our crosses daily to follow Christ. I told her that sometimes daily is an understatement. In fact, most days I have to take up my cross at least hourly.

I told her how much this good girl who has been reared inside the walls of a church needs Jesus every minute of every day, and how Jesus is so faithful to meet me -- even in my pain. Even in the middle of the messes I make when I make the wrong decisions. Even in the messes that other people make that may very well alter the course of my life.

I told her that He is the Redeemer, and that even though those painful parts of the story are always going to be there, they have been made new. They have been healed. And even though we don't know or understand it at the time, He is always preparing us for something beautiful.

 

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The Conversation Starts Here: 

How have you seen Jesus redeem the broken pieces of your testimony?

How can I pray for you today?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}

walk

 

Some Fine Print:

This is the twenty-third of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October. To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here. You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog). Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!

18: The Infinite Power of Our Light

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"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." -- Brené Brown