Coffee Date No. 15

Hi, friend. It's nice to meet you here! If you're new here or maybe you've been coming for awhile and are curious about these coffee date posts, let me fill you in. Once a month, on the second Monday, this corner of cyberspace turns into a table for us to have coffee over and share what's been going on in our lives. There aren't any rules, and nothing is off limits because there is more than enough grace here to cover our messes. If that sounds like something your soul needs, we would love nothing more than to add a virtual chair for you here. Bring your favorite yummy beverage, and we'll spill it all together. Linking up is easy, but if you don't have a blog, please feel free to share your conversation in the comments below.  

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask to meet up at one of my favorite spots downtown. Brews is a local coffee and craft beer bar that the man and I are regulars at, and the atmosphere there is just the best. I would order a huge mug of something hot because even though we're only halfway through August, I am fantasizing about autumn. The pretty colors and cooler temperatures cannot get here soon enough!

 

If we were on a coffee date, I would probably warn you ahead of time that I might cry. Because the world can be so ugly, but my Jesus, he is so beautiful. So just know that the tears might come. My soul feels so stirred up and my heart is so tender these days, and that has never felt more okay to me.

 

If we were on a coffee date, chances are, we'd talk about Charlottesville. It's all I see on television and social networking these past couple of days. I'm tempted to say that I can't believe what is happening in our country, but the truth is, I can absolutely believe it, and it makes me sick to death. It makes me feel so deeply ashamed of us. I have a feeling I'll write more about this later, but for now, this is all I've got.

 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd share this playlist I made about life in the wilderness. And I would tell you about how God is keeping me quiet lately. I come here to write, and he says not yet. So I'm trying to be obedient and follow where he leads, because I'm learning more and more about the beautiful plan he has for me in this space.

 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd talk about the addiction of being distracted. Because it is so real for me right now. I've been opening my Bible more lately, and the moment I do, I'm interrupted by the irresistible urge to check all the things online. I'm tempted to unplug again, or go to a coffee shop with my Bible and a journal and just leave my gadgets at home. I want to crave communion with the Holy Spirit more than cheap likes with a thousand people who aren't actually invested in the inner workings of my heart.

 

If we were on a coffee date, I would have to share an incredible podcast with you. Generally speaking, I don't listen to a lot of podcasts. It isn't that I don't like them, I just honestly don't think of them that often. That's starting to change, though. Recently, my friend Megan told me about Jonathan David and Melissa Helser's podcast. In case you don't know who they are, Jonathan wrote a little song awhile back called  "No Longer Slaves." Anyway, the episode that Megan shared with me was a sermon that Melissa gave on being hopeful in seasons of disappointment, but it turned out that wasn't the sermon I most needed to hear. Instead, I scrolled down and listened to the episode entitled "growing roots," and Jesus used it to blow my heart wide open. Even if you're not a podcast person, you seriously have to go subscribe to theirs. Life = changed.

 

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you to go preorder this bookIt comes out later this month, but I was fortunate enough to read it before it is being made available to the rest of the world. It has wrecked me in the most beautiful way, and I cannot say enough good about it. Suffice it to say, God knew I needed these exact words at this precise moment in my life. I can't wait to see them in the hands of everyone I know.

 

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask about your heart. I would ask about the ways it's broken and how God is putting it back together again. I would beg to know about the soil of your life, and whether you're feeling hard or soft these days. And I would ask how I could pray, because lately, that seems like the only thing I know to do.

 

What would you share on our coffee date? Join the conversation by linking up, or by sharing in the comments below.

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.