The lives that came between us.

This place has seen little more than silence over the past four months. In a lot of ways, my heart is still trying to find it's bearings after October all but emptied me out. Grief, I'm learning, is no respecter of anyone's schedule. I wish I could say that coming back here felt like coming home, but that wouldn't really be true. Honestly, staring at this blank page feels like bumping into a lover from a past life. It feels like trying to rehabilitate a broken bone. Nothing is where it is supposed to be, and every move feels painful and awkward and requires more trust than I think I can muster. It isn't that I don't believe that healing can happen in an instant -- I do. But that has never been the case with me. So this is where I am now. Busted up, but trying to conjure up the courage to take the next step and the next until the scars fade and this chapter is a memory.

January 1 has come and gone, and I am still learning to lean into the ugly beautiful of a fresh start that I did not choose. This is me, sweaty palms and gritted teeth, finally hitting send on the text message that simply says "I miss you." Finally starting the work of demolishing the walls held up by my pride.

These are the stories of all the lives that came between us.

"Close your eyes and point," he told me. "We can go anywhere." All I wanted in that moment was to pack a suitcase and be gone before the world woke up. Walking away looked so damn easy. I wondered if anyone would notice we were gone. Will anyone fight for us? I am asking God.

This place is full of ghosts.

My bones are dry. I'm searching for any sign of life. A whisper that all is not lost, that beauty will rise up from these ashes. A permission slip to cry on the floor of my closet until I can't breathe, someone to tell me that it is okay to hold out hope, even on the days when it feels like the odds are stacked against me. Especially on those days. Hope isn't some fragile thing, you know. It isn't for the faint of heart.

"Forgiveness," my friend tells me, "is one of the most supernatural things a human being can take part in."

These are words my soul needs to hear, but I resist. This feels like writing the eulogy for a dream. I stand over the grave with my fistfuls of soil, not wanting to let go. Not wanting to pick up this cross.

I learned something about panic today, sitting stunned and silent in a pew. The word was born from the name of a false god. I've made idols from these dreams, from this semblance of control. I've seen the faithfulness of God, but now I'm in the wilderness and everything seems dark and empty and I need something to fix my eyes on. I slice my soul wide open and bleed, desperate to change the course of the story.

Will anyone fight for us? And it is not lost on me that he has never stopped fighting. Just perhaps that we've been fighting different battles -- me for my own dignity and him for his image come to life in me. He'd stitch me up, if I would just be still long enough.

Perseverance is the cessation of striving. Hadn't I learned that? Hadn't I always known that the invitation was to come and die? Hadn't I answered that invitation with a confident yes? Hadn't I always said I believed that wherever God had me really was the safest place?

Death will never feel safe. It will never be the choice option. But it is the only option that leads to life and freedom.

I should probably tell you, in case you're wondering: my idols never answered me. They never loved me back. They never held onto me the way that I held onto them in the middle of the night.

Maybe this is what coming home feels like, after all.

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. 

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



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.


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.


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.


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.

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

2016-05-05 11

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. 

The atrophy and the harvest.

If I could only make use of one word to describe my feelings and thoughts over the past few months, it would be hungry. Like the kind of hungry you get when you've skipped lunch and now can't decide what you want for dinner because each idea sounds more enticing than the last.

It started back in April, when my husband announced that he wanted to begin looking for a new place to live. In the beginning, I tried to shake the nagging thought that if I just had enough faith, a door would open for us to return to the town where we lived in college -- where we still have close friends and faithfully attend church. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was an unlikely scenario, but I hoped for it anyway, in spite of the overwhelming odds. Eventually, I even became frustrated with God, who seemed to hide away in silent ignorance of my longing.


At the same time as we were searching for a new place to live, I was reading Shauna Niequist's book Bittersweet. Its the kind of book that you could easily devour in a single lazy afternoon, but it is so good that you would never want to. I made her words last for three whole weeks, carefully counting each one and considering the lesson it wanted to teach me. I turned the words over like stones, feeling their weight in my palms.

I've never been good at living in the bittersweet tension of right here and right now. I live in haste -- craving God's plan for tomorrow, and ignoring the plan that he has for today.


The summer of 2011, I fell and broke my leg while working at a camp at college. I knew the instant it happened that it was bad, and I remember the doctor telling me, with shockingly poor bedside manner, just how bad it was. The bone was broken clean through just above my ankle, which had been dislocated, and I had fractured a bone in my foot.

The group of fellow leaders prayed for healing, softly laying hands on my pitifully casted limb. But there was no instantaneous healing. Instead, there was surgery and physical therapy. As painful as the physical injury was, some instances of vulnerability were even more so. And I remember the day when a friend nervously told me that he questioned whether or not the lack of healing was due to his own lack of faith.


When I was preparing to graduate from college, I had this fear that the school would find a reason to withhold my diploma. I imagined them combing my academic file with a fine toothed comb, in search of even the smallest setback. I'm sorry, we cannot let you graduate, they would say. You have a seven cent fine in the library. Or worse, we recalculated the points for your statistics final, and you did not pass the course. I was considering all the scenarios, even as my class practiced entering the chapel, rising and being seated on cue. My gut lurched at the thought of the past four years of blood, sweat, and tears being for naught.

And now, looking back, I wonder. Is this really how I view God? Like some distant registrar, combing through a file in search of failure? Waiting until the last possible moment, when all my hopes are up, to let me know I still owe him?


When I finally took the moon boot off of my newly healed leg, half of my calf muscle had all but disappeared. I think it was Danielle LaPorte who talked about how the desire muscle can atrophy. It was one of those concepts that left me short of breath, realizing that my dreams are chilling out on the back burner, their consistency being morphed into that of day old oatmeal.

I've talked a lot about my dreams lately, but I haven't been terribly specific. I'm also not very explicit about my goals -- mostly because accountability makes me squeamish, and the last thing I want to do is disappoint. I'm afraid of what will happen if the engine stalls. So for the most part, I settle for simply wishing things were different.

I do this with God, too. I want him, but at the same time, I'm afraid to want him. I echo Flannery O'Connor's prayer, dear God, I cannot love thee the way I want. 

Recently, I threw my prayer journal across my bedroom in a fit of frustration. I wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible after coming to the incredibly painful realization that I have been holding back. There were so many things I was unable to scribble out onto the pages that night. But how on earth do I even begin to explain to God just how hungry I am --  and how I'm ashamed to admit that I've asked him just to throw me a bone instead of going hard after the whole harvest?

I want to know his wild thoughts, to walk in ways that are higher than my own. I want the green pastures.


I've always been mesmerized by other people's pastures. The days and weeks have quickly turned into months and years as I have fought to contort myself, make myself look more like them so maybe I could snatch a piece of their harvest. I'm always forgetting the truth: my failed attempts to be other people are of no use; he just wants me: my dreams, my wrecks, my fears of being small, my willfulness, my heart. 

All this time, I've feared specificity. I've always thought that if I'm too specific, I probably won't find exactly what I want. But James says that we do not have because we do not ask. The simplicity of grace always leaves me breathless, wanting more.

So I prepare to break up the hardened ground, in hopes that the seeds find good soil.

In lieu of flowers.

The words landed in her inbox, subject line reading "all the desires and questions." Naturally, it was quite jumbled, as most of my life is these days. In the midst of work and travel and marriage and housekeeping and to do lists, the pot of desires and questions is chilling out on the back burner next to the pan of passion and mystery, and I'm beginning to realize that all these roadblocks are just souped up excuses.

So needless to say, I've been reading a lot. I've picked up books about happiness and desire and prayer and devoured page after page of how they did it. You know, the people who are so confident about putting themselves out there that they land speaking gigs and international standard book numbers, so radical that they quit jobs that never fulfilled them to start nonprofits or move overseas. You're probably thinking of a name right now. I know I'm thinking of several.

Three of my favorite stories have this thread in common: they had to fall apart in order to come together. One woman built a company from the ground up, only to be told by her colleagues that she was being let go. A movement of love grew from the depths of someone else's depression and loneliness.

I have never relished the thought of falling apart. Try as I might, I will probably never be one of those people who wakes up on a Thursday morning saying "I should really be messier." But sometimes, we have to be willing to get out of ourselves, out of our own way.

In order to grow, something has to die.


Back in November, my heart nearly beat right out of my chest. I had gone to the doctor with a sore throat and left feeling like a walking episode of House, MD. After they measured my height and weight, they took down numbers for my heart rate and blood pressure.

They weren't good. Not the worst, but not as good as they could have been. I could tell they were worrisome at best, because of the way the charming doctor furrowed his forehead. There was no apparent cause, no easily explained reason as to why the numbers were so poor.

Eventually,  with antibiotics, everything cleared up. They chalked it up to a virus that had made me much sicker than what I actually felt.

That's always been me -- teetering on the edge of not the worst, but not as good as it could be. 

I know that I am blessed beyond what I deserve, but I feel as though I've been walking around my life in a fog, much sicker than I think I am. I've talked a big talk about building something meaningful, but the only thing I've built is a wall around myself.

Talk about a Fred-baby kind of revelation.

I don't just want my heart to beat hard and fast, I want it to beat hard and fast for something. And that means getting into the nitty gritty mess of discovering what exactly I want. How do I want to feel, what do I want to accomplish, who do I want to touch?

It all boils down to what kind of story I want my life to tell.


I can feel a change coming. I feel a death coming. And as with any death, there is grieving. I must grieve what I am losing, which is control.  But she who tries to save her life will lose it in the long run anyway.

And whoever loses her control, her best laid plans,  her idea of what the picture should look like, her insistence on her own way, will find her life. 

So yeah, there's going to be a death. But I don't need anybody to leave flowers at my grave. I just need someone who is willing to hold me to it.

And more than anything else, I need to be that person for myself.