on quitting and learning to leap before i look.

curahee2 All throughout the Bible, we find stories of people who get to leap before they look. We read the narratives of people who are called beyond the realm of their comfort zones -- people who are given new names that are entirely contradictory to the identities they have always known. The weak are commissioned to go to war, to defeat giants. The barren and the virgin are called forth to bear new life. The Lord tells people to move without maps.

My husband and I signed our names to resignation letters a couple weeks ago, and I have to be honest, it is one of the scariest things I have ever done. Not just the resigning part, which will officially take effect in eleven short days, but my waking thoughts on the morning after, and the morning after that. Our lives are about to take a drastic turn. And drastic turns are not for the faint of heart. They require strength, but even more than that, they require vulnerability -- something that I can only ever ask of myself in easily measured doses. So it wouldn't be too difficult to deduce that sometimes I take issue with an immeasurable God who asks us to do seemingly crazy and often even impossible things. There are days when it seems like nothing about this faith is easy -- days when I have to try even harder to remember Brene Brown's revelation that if you can measure it, it probably isn't all that important. And in all my years of studying the Bible, I've never come across anyone who was called to easy.

To be fair, our destination isn't totally unknown: we are moving to South Carolina, to a town all of forty minutes from where we live right now in Georgia. But we don't have a house there yet, and I will be without a job. A couple weeks ago, Craig got a phone call, and within a matter of days, had been offered a job. His dream job. The job that he would talk about when we lay awake at night and talked about where we wanted to be in ten years. Of course, I cried, because that is what I do. And I said that we would be crazy not to walk through this door that had so obviously been opened by the Lord. And so we wrote our letters of resignation and put in our notices, bound for a place that had not been entirely revealed. We were all geared up to take the leap of faith. And we still are.

There's something different about this leap, though (granted, at twenty-four, I don't have a very extensive history when it comes to leaping). Surely, there have been days when my heart has nearly beat out of my chest with the anxiety of it all. Where will we live, what kind of job will I be able to find, how long do we have to change our drivers licenses, what about health insurance?  I am learning to let go of my perceptions of security, learning to let the Lord go before me. 

In Deuteronomy 31, the Lord promises his people that he will go before them. It is a truth I have not heavily relied on. Rather, I charge ahead with my own plans and my own schedule and priorities because who in their right mind would actually trust their entire future to a God who delights in leaping without looking? Sure, I've claimed the yes, claimed the surrender, but all these years I've been living the no and the striving and the hustle. I say that it is because I want to be prepared -- I want to have the nice house, the steady and rewarding job, the fruitful marriage. But the truth is, the striving and the hustle are fueled by fear. Fear of letting people down, and people letting me down. Fear of letting God down, and God letting me down.

I inhale deep as I stare at the words. Afraid that God will let me down. Afraid that at some point, he'll fall asleep on the job and I'll leap head first into a black hole of pain and grief and loss. Afraid of the total insanity of it all. I think God is probably nodding along as I type, as if to say yeah, girl, you're kind of a work in progress. And I've never been comfortable with being undone.

But lately, that is what I find myself asking for. Lord, undo me. 

Because this undoing of self is how all of his stories begin. And I want my story to become his.

When you're stuck between living big and living small.

2014-04-14 06 So our feeds are firing a mile a minute with all this talk about dreaming big and reaching for the stars. And every now and then, my stomach flutters a bit with the idea that I could do something really grand and important, something that impacts the world and the Kingdom. I imagine seeing my books in Barnes & Noble, being interviewed, speaking in front of churches, going viral. And I have to admit, it sounds delicious and enticing.

I hear just as much from the opposite end of the spectrum: people who claim they just want to stay under the radar, who feel great about doing the small things, who never want to leave home, and say that anonymity helps them sleep better at night. Strange as it may be, this option sounds every bit as attractive to me as the idea of seeing my name in lights.

Most days I feel quite torn between being a candle and being a firework.

There's a phrase I hear over and over when I tell strangers what I do for a living, a phrase I wish for the love I could just wipe right off the face of the earth. 

It takes a special person, they say. It makes me shudder to even type.

As if my work is somehow inherently better than anyone else's.

What I don't tell them is that I come home exhausted and shaky more nights than not, and there are weeks that make me want to walk out the door and never look back, except for the fact that it has been ingrained in me that if I can't hack it at this job, I am not a special person.

Yeah, the struggle is real.

But there are words that I come back to -- words that speak life to me and lighten the burden that so often buries me.

Live the truest thing you know. 

It came from a Hemingway quote that I found when I was facing a bit of writer's block and (obviously) avoiding sitting down to push through it. And the truth is, I was also facing life block -- I would take a step, make a move, only to find myself wishing some cosmic backspace key would come swiftly to the rescue when I realized it was all just an epic farce.

When you don't know what to write, just write the truest thing you know.

My breath caught in my chest. Could it really be that simple?

Maybe we're asking the wrong question when we ponder living big or small. Maybe there's an entirely different third door that stands open and inviting. 

A third door that whispers come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. 

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A door where size doesn't matter because nothing is ever wasted, and authenticity counts for more than efficiency.

Because at the end of the day, the candle and the firework serve the same purpose: to give light.

When you're living the truest thing, you're living God's grace. The God who delights in multiplying the seemingly mundane and small, the God whose joy it is to accomplish the immeasurable.

When you're living the truest thing, you're living out a willingness to trust that God really is who he says he is, living in a constant posture of worship.

This, this, is how I want to make a life.

A reminder on the days when I don't feel ready.

At twenty-three years old, I had barely even been to an amusement park when the six year old brother spotted a carnival parked behind the mall. I am no adrenaline junkie, and besides, my parents always said those things were a waste of money anyway. But C's parents are slightly more spontaneous than mine, so we climbed the hill to the parking lot, paid what was admittedly a lot of money, and earned our wrist bands. I swallowed hard. The first ride was more or less a gigantic swing that lifted us side to side at dizzying speeds that made me think that my stomach was going to fall out of any number of orifices. I thought, surely our brother will be scared, surely it will be too fast and too high. But he loved every last minute of it. By the time the ride had slowed to a stop, he was ready, hungry for more. I still remember how my shoes seemed to be stuck to the ground, be it from the spilled cola or my anxiety, and how all the sudden I was falling on my face to worship the God who made the sturdy earth beneath me.

Then there was the time that I boldly announced to C that I wanted to go zip lining for our anniversary this year, and before I could grab the words and stuff them back in, he had already purchased a canopy tour. Even though we were never that high off the ground, the walk up to the first platform had me thinking that I had made a huge mistake.

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I ended up going on every single ride at the carnival. If you asked, I would tell you that I just didn't want to be shown up by a fearless six year old, but deep down, I think I was desperate to just let go. What amazing, life altering, kingdom expanding, chain breaking things could happen if I just learned to let go?

Because the truth is, we can never experience true freedom when our anxious feet are cemented to the platform, refusing to jump. We won't ever feel like we can do the impossible, if we're clinging for dear life to what feels easy and comfortable. If I were to get really honest, I think most days I'm not sure if I can trust God to be the harness. Most days, I don't think letting go will really accomplish anything.

But scripture is literally overflowing with the testimonies of what God can do when we get ready and let go: Ephesians says that He is able to do immeasurably more than what we can ask or imagine.

For this girl who likes things to be easily controlled and measured and managed, letting go seems crazy, even irresponsible. But somewhere deep inside, I'm ready. I'm ready to encounter life outside my often smothering boundaries with a God who is absolutely boundless, ready for my story to become His love letter, ready to be changed.

I'm ready to feel His wind in my hair and soar.

Linking up with Kate and the Five Minute Friday girls today. 

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When You Know its Time to Change Your Mantra

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Five of us women piled laughing into her great big sports utility vehicle. We had been in training together for four weeks, the latest of which brought us to the hustle and chaos of the city. We had taken turns driving each day to a different lunch destination, and as we pulled into the narrow space, I jokingly admitted that I would be afraid to drive such a massive car.

And then it happened.

The one in the front seat turned to me and said “you’ve got to stop saying you’re afraid.”

Ouch. Barely a month after meeting me, she speaks these words. And I wonder how many times a week — a day, even — I say that I am afraid. I know that I am an anxious person, but do I really let that anxiety overflow from my heart and through my lips often enough for her to pick up on it so quickly? I sit quiet though lunch, embarrassed and pondering.

Read more over at (in)courage

If You Don't Recognize Holy Tonight.

I never used to like the song “Oh Holy Night." When I was a kid, I never understood what the words meant, and it seemed to go on and on

...sort of like my sin. Like the sin of the world that was too great for my feeble understanding at the tender age of twelve.

Long lay the world in sin and error, pining.

I didn't know what it meant to pine for something; to search for and want and need salvation more than the next beat of my heart. My soul had never known weary.

I imagine the very core of the earth heaving a sigh. An overwhelming spirit of heaviness.  And I see the latest news, everything screaming the wild lack of all that is sacred and holy.

But there, in the depth of night, a glimmer. A thrill of hope. 

Salvation came, a bloody and gasping infant. Peace is a person, one who has walked this dusty earth. He traded the entirety of glory for my skin and bones. His name is Emmanuel.

He is still with us.

Did you know that there is a second verse? For the longest time, I didn't.

A lamb without blemish, spread naked across an altar, bore the pain of nails and splinters that should have been mine. A curtain torn from top to bottom, unleashing furious glory over the earth. A crescendo of love, pouring out from the heavens as love won the war.

But it probably didn't seem like that in the immediate, in the carrying of his broken body to the tomb. The twelve huddled, wondering what to do next, some daring to ask if they should part ways and return to their old lives. They knew questions in the deep darkness. They were bound to it for three days.

We know chains. Anxiety, depression, addiction, fear, hopelessness, temptation, judgement, selfishness, lies. They coil around our spirits, threatening to choke the very life from us.

Even after Christ had risen, some had their doubts. Perhaps you've visited those dark corners with me? Some shadows seem heavy enough to dim the truth. Even Mary, as she looked upon her risen Lord, her Savior, did not recognize him.

She probably believed that the final battle had been lost. All hope, all that held her together, had been desecrated.

Sometimes holy is right before our eyes, in the tiny moments when we least expect it. Sometimes holy looks like the gardener. But then comes the beautiful recognition. The life sustaining revelation that he now holds the keys.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name, all oppression shall cease.

Hallelujah, we are no longer bound. Not only are the chains unlocked, but they are broken.

That, dear friends, is revolutionary. 

Can your soul feel its worth? Oh, that the Creator of this universe, in all of His splendor, would love us so fully.

So if in the hustle and bustle of life, you're missing out on feeling loved, missing out on the joy and the hope and all that is sacred and holy...

just slow down and breathe him in.

Take a few moments, I promise, this is so worth your while.

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