December 30, 2013

Ever On

Beneath my left hand is a worn scrap of paper taped to the cold silver of my laptop. It has been there for almost a whole year now. The days have taken their toll, most certainly.

Trust. (not crust. Have some imagination. . .)

God asked me to work on trusting Him more this past year. O for grace to, I always say.  I have needed much Grace this year.  I feel a bit like this reminder--a little worn around the edges, a little misunderstood, but still there. I am still here. In these lingering days of 2013, the gratitude falls and gathers like the snow that drifts across the grey today. This year has been a year of Grace falling, and before I knew it, the ground was covered. I learned to watch it. Learned to taste and see each moment.

I wish I could say I did taste each moment for the gift it was, is. I failed in many ways. I got lost in the shadows of my selfishness--oh what a place that is. At first it seems so, well, fun! But it is a lonely place.

He found me, as always, hiding in the shadows, and drew me out. I shiver now with the humble beauty of this: the hidden patch of blue in the sky above, the golden sun glowing through snowy trees, the light flick of the Q-tip arrow my sister shot at me from beneath her flowing red cape, the familiar creak of our aged floors, the gentle pianic songs, the noiseless snow collisions as flakes meet ground.

I have regrets--regret is a curse we cannot break, I think. But "ever on go we."

Another word will be chosen for this year. But for now, what comes is a perpetual sunrise of thought: {My soul waits for the Lord more than watchman for the morning, more than watchman for the morning.} Psalm 130:6  That echo, that drifting thought that lingers on the mind that the measure of my year is not what I have done, but how much I need who He has been--

the One who Comes. . .

the One who Sees. . .

the One who Holds. . .

Him, in whom I--we--can trust.

December 25, 2013


Slowly growing,
steadily glowing,
silhouetting hills, 
trees, mountains.


They cried so long ago,
"Come, O Come!"
Their hearts as beggars',


Not as a star,
not weak or dim,
but as Sun,
steady, certain 


"“But there comes a light...a light of love…No mere candles waiting in the dark, but a dawn.”
Ann Voskamp

"The dawn of Redeeming Grace." That statement, slipping in a carol sung so oft, is perhaps my favorite line of any song. He comes like the dawn, steady and sure, glowing over the horizon. What would He come for?

Redemption. Making that which was wrong, right. Making that which was dirty, clean. Making that which was empty full. Making all who are weary, strong. Making all who are lonely, loved. Those who come to Him, or really, simply turn to Him. He has already come.

Grace. Undeserved. As my pastor said tonight, just before a thousand candles were held high in laud to the Redeemer of our souls, we cannot come to the story of Christmas without coming to the dilemma of our own helplessness. We are broken people. We don't like to hear it, I don't always like to hear it--but we are. I am. In humility, this is the most freeing diagnosis. People find relief in finally figuring out what is wrong after months of tests and doctor's visits, even if the diagnosis is bad. Why? So they know what can be done.

We are a broken people. Let it sink in, just how broken we are--no sin is greater than another to the Creator. That lie? Makes me as dirty as a murderer in God's eyes. What can be done, then? He comes. He sends Himself--His Son who is Himself in the mystery of the Trinity. Plans His birth carefully--made sure there were no rooms, no places of comfort. He planted Himself right in the messiest of places, and isn't it grand? To know He'll plant Himself in my messiest of places without hesitation.  'Tis a glorious imposition, which wrecks my life, but makes me whole. Ahh, where I would be but for Him: lonely places, indeed. But in that still moment, as my pastor spoke of His hand reaching through eternity, I felt the weight of it, the heaviness, the closeness of Him, reaching into time to soften this hard heart once more.

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts"
Hebrews 3:15

December 14, 2013

days of Grace

Many days are messy days.

I freak out sometimes. When all the emotions have built up, they just burst like a water balloon, drenching the poor bystanders: my friends. Usually for the most pathetic and ridiculous reasons. Like spilled milk. Or Coca Cola, whatever the case may be.

Yet for some reason my friends stay. They give me some space, but they do not leave. They are potraits of, and vessels for His Grace. Undeserved love that stays.

I find it more true each day, with each eruption of ugliness, volcanically spewing from my corroded heart, hardening all around me. He breaks through my igneous and gives me innocence. He soothes my burnt lungs with the water of His love. He cools my heated temper with His patience. 

I am a dragon. Like Eustace in Narnia, I need my dragonish ways painfully removed. But oh, when the scales fall away--then I can really live! Even in the cold winters of my heart, He is the hearth I draw near to, yet the hearth that draws me near. He thaws my frozen fingers, so I can hold the cold hands of others.

“I do not admire the term ‘progressive sanctification’, for it is unwarranted by Scripture. But it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace. And though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace — and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress.“ Charles Spurgeon

"Christianity isn’t about growing good — it’s about growing grace-filled." Ann Voskamp

So I grow, filled with grace. letting Him clear my crowded inn, to make room for the One who couldn't stop loving me.

December 10, 2013

Winter Returns

Winter returns; its stark contrasts and faint etchings reside comfortably on the landscape. 

It is late, and though my eyelids fall and rise laboriously, my mind pecks bird-like at the windows of my soul. Dreams are not rehearsed enough; they need more practice before my eyes become their audience. So my fingertips patter away in the dim light that lies almost harshly on my face and hands. 

I've been pondering snow, reading about snow, musing about winter, wondering about leaflessness. 

The woods were my refuge last week, one warm afternoon. I had missed the comfort of long, grey-brown torsos and arching, spreading arms. I stood beneath a tree for a moment, lifting my arms as he did. His gnarled, aged limbs somehow had more grace than my smooth, young ones. In the shadowy grey of winter, he held up his arms, unwavering, resilient. He had nothing--he was missing limbs, had lost his leaves. Yet still he held up empty hands, praising, trusting for spring. 

Perhaps the trees are wiser than we. 

"In the bleak midwinter..." there come small flickers of clarity, if only we will open our eyes. 

{I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.}
Andrew Wyeth

Winter pares us down, strips our finery, and reveals us truly. Winter is clarity, and yet winter is mystery. Its purposes are not ours to know, but are secrets scripted in ice and snow--languages that cannot be known.

"God's purposes are not for me to understand His plans. His plan is for me to understand who He is."
Ann Voskamp

May He find and warm our wintry souls,
in the bleakest of winters and drifted snow.

November 15, 2013


The trees are dead. The leaves are gone. Their golden joy lies wrinkled and browning on the ground, and barren arms reach up to the colorless sky. The few leaves that cling are practically sneering, taunting us to remember what happiness was there, how good life had been. But all happiness falls like dying leaves and ebbs away until the only monument to the memory stands grey and brown, a stark reminder of what we no longer have.

What if we realized that those two leaves that cling desperately to the branch, that cleave to the vine, they are beautiful. In this stripped wood, their true beauty is more apparent. We appreciate more when we have less.

So maybe, just maybe, all this loss, all the leaves on the ground? Maybe that is the blessing. Maybe that is His plan. To be stripped of much and learn to be grateful, because it isn’t about how much you have, but how much you appreciate what you have. So let go of the leaves that have fallen, and see the beauty of the remaining two. 

Writing today for Five Minute Friday:

November 12, 2013

hard honesty


I hope this gives you a moment to slow down and have a cup of tea or a cookie with me. And not just the mask of me, but the real me. That is what this is all about, right?

Here we go...

Read the rest on Eyes of Faith, where I guest blogged this week.  Her challenge to herself and to all of us is to be real, honest, and courageous in those things, so I wrote at her request these thoughts.  

I encourage checking out the rest of Court's blog as well. She has blessed me in innumerable ways, and her blog is full of God's wisdom, comfort and challenge.

Have a blessed day!

November 1, 2013


Five minutes of Grace:

Grace. I think instantly of the quote I found " Grace is the biggest kind of Brave." Jessica Leigh Hoover

Why is Grace brave?

I don't know what kind of grace Jessica Hoover meant, but God's grace is brave.

Grace is for the undeserving, the ones who let down, who mess up, who need mercy, who cling to pride. Grace is given for no price to those who receive. Gift. Grace is gift.

Gifts are brave. The best gifts are, anyway. A brave gift--not what the person had on their birthday or Christmas list, not something they knew they wanted, but something the Giver knows they need.

We need Grace. Most of us didn't know we wanted it. Had we been asked before, we might have declined, hoping instead for a nice book or a new computer. But oh, once it is had, once we have tasted of Grace? there is no turning back from its delights.

True Grace experienced is Grace unequaled.

October 25, 2013


Five Minute Friday--a challenge to write for five minutes without editing and be a little brave.

This weeks word: TOGETHER

That is a hard word to write about. I walk alone in the cinematic representation of myself in my mind. It plays on an old projector in my mind's attic, like a movie from the '30s. I am so often alone when I think back on my life.

How selfish.

Why is it that I cannot zoom out? Would I, I might see what I am too proud to recall. Family. Friends. Pets. Zoom out farther, and they all point one place: to Him.

The picture of my life, when put in proper focus, is so intertwined with the people who have loved me, challenged me, inspired me, held me, listened to me, were patient to me, handed a kindness (even thoughtless kindnesses.) I am so hard to get to know because I am afraid, and I am afraid because I am angling my camera more like a telescope. The landscape panorama is quite lovely, if only I would see. So maybe I can count those blessings, the thousand blessings I have missed.

{Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.} Proverbs 18:1
I think I am so alone. I am really not. I am surrounded by broken, loved people who may have different tastes and opinions, but they all have something in common with me. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Every day. Together. Not so alone.

October 19, 2013

the love you deserve

“If you have to fight for anyone’s love, that’s not the one you deserve.”

These are blue typewriter-fonted words that are stamped sloppily onto faux-aged notebook paper background and pinned fiercely on Pinterest. All criticism on syntax aside, this statement perturbs me.

Maybe I am taking this wrongly. Perhaps they are imagining a scenario different from what comes to my mind. However, we come under this notion that Love, true, real, amazing love between humans should be easy. We should fall right into love simply, right? If we do not experience this, it is not right, we shouldn't have to work this hard for a love story or a friendship.

This is not my experience. In fact, some of my best friendships have been fought for. I fight to break through people’s walls because I care enough to take my awkward, unwieldy sledgehammer of love and bust through their invisible firmaments. I had to fight for their love. Fight to get to the real person inside. I sacrificed my comfort zone, sacrificed my pride, and sacrificed my time to what sometimes felt like a fruitless effort. Kind of like hitting the Great Wall of China with a little plastic hammer...

I am not saying I am great at loving people all the time. I am not saying that my example is one to follow in all respects. What I am saying is that true love is sacrifice.

True love is sacrifice. Let that sink in.

After all, what defined love better than the One who sacrificed Himself for us? Does He not fight for our love? If the above quote were true about anyone, it is God alone. He does not deserve such poor and flaky love as ours. Yet He fights for us. 

This day and age is one where sacrifice is almost universally unacceptable. “If it was fair, I would not have to give up anything. ever.” Few people are willing to sacrifice their time, their money, themselves. We have to have it all. 

What we don’t realize is that we are always sacrificing something. In this case, in our gluttony and laziness, we are sacrificing the opportunity to sacrifice. The opportunity to be gift for another person, and the opportunity to live better, to live selflessly, more joyfully. We are sacrificing joy. We are sacrificing the courage to live bravely. "Anything requiring hard work or a fight, is not worth my time," we think. 

Oh, but if we knew what fighting for someone or something did to our relationships. I am fighting for my faith every moment. If I was not fighting for it, I would not be growing. How much dearer my faith is in times such as these. 

Still, I am as, if not more, guilty of living in relational gluttony and sloth as anyone. I am a coward, and sacrificing my comfort zone is rarely an option.

Let me tell you, it only makes me miserable.

Ah, if only I could let myself be brave, I know not what I could do! If I relied on the courage of the One who has painted the brilliant autumn fires, what He could do in me! Ah, but I hide in grey, let fear draw a cloak of clouds about me, the mist obscuring any sight of the border of my comfort. He has much left to do in me. But ah, He has done so much in me.

I hope I can learn what I must sacrifice, and learn what freedom, what joy, and what beauty sacrifice brings to life. I am so loved. If I truly believed that every moment, I would love more. What is love? Sacrifice. Want to live a life of sacrifice? Remember how we have been loved, deeply, intimately, wholly. Understood and loved. So loved. 

O God, You have searched me and known me. 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up,
You understand my thoughts from afar,
You are acquainted with all my ways. {from Psalm 139}

October 9, 2013

speak your soul

Fear grips, squeezes,
paralyzes, freezes.
To be honest,
to let another into 

To let the walls down.
It does 
get easier,
Sometimes it gets harder.
but I get 

By His grace,
So fight the fear,
do not let it win.
Let your soul be set free.
Free to speak,
muffled by no masks
or hands covering faces
in desperate

Trust Him.
Speak your soul.

September 29, 2013

babbling blogging

This feels so strange, yet so beautiful. I haven't blogged for real in...well, it has not even been a month, but I haven't really done this, this strange vulnerability, this unexpected honesty, in a while.

I wish I could say that I was sitting in Caribou, but my favorite coffee shop fled Columbus, to my dismay and deep disappointment. I suppose a far, hidden corner of the library will do. There is a nice view of a little blue sky, though. Perhaps this change is for the better. It is certainly easier on my wallet. Perhaps there is purpose even in this.

Those of you who know me, will figure out that I am procrastinating a bit--procrastination is the busy bee who makes the honeycomb of my thoughts. Which has nothing to do with anything.

Now I am in my room.
There is something about Sunday afternoons.

The sky is grey, but the wind is sweet, full of autumn, dancing with the leaves that wither on the ground.

I keep describing things, and not really going anywhere with this. I am sorry to those of you who get bored with that. It is just my way I suppose of getting my thoughts straight.

I am so blessed that the grey isn't affecting today--I mean my mood. I suppose I am very moody--I can go far up and far down within a couple hours, even one hour. Sometimes I feel too sharply, sometimes I feel too dully. Yet no matter what, I trust.

Even when I am not even sure He is there, I choose trust. Even when the sorrow can't be explained I trust. Even when I am alone, I trust. Trusting is the hardest thing--why else would we have made a game of trust falls? If it was easy, there would be no game, no challenge, no victory. And that is with people we can see. God? I can't see Him. I see reflections of Him, tastes of His presence, the promise of His word, but I won't see Him "til He returns or calls me home." I remember dark nights, nights full of unanswered questions, choosing this God who seemed a stranger to me. I remember summer mornings, full of peace that surpasses all understanding, choosing this God who seemed my closest friend. How? Because of His work in me, because He is who He is, and I am not.

Because I write words in the midst of turmoil and darkness that are full of light, and they are my words but they are not my words.

They are His words, but they are my words because they were His words first,
and it is mystery,
and it is hard,
and it is trust.

Of all the struggles, the wrestlings of life, this one is the most important. On the dark days, I won't go down without a fight.

But "Hallelujah we are free to struggle."
Tenth Avenue North

September 20, 2013


Five Minute Friday: SHE

Sister, the first. The one who shared rooms, laughs,math textbooks in high school and thoughts. 3 hours between us, yet heart not so far.

Sister the second. The one who wanted to be just like me, who learned from my failures, and blossomed early, spreading herself thin with love for her friends, like a beautiful veil falling gently to the ground.

Friend, the one who loves me with great joy. Her laughs have comforted, her chatter been food for my listening ears. Since she randomly talked to me on the bus, I realized slowly it was not random.

Friend, the one who pushes me. She is honest, and the compete opposite of me, a blessing unexpected. We push and pull, and grow together, so quickly, it has only been a year. But it feels like a lifetime.

So many more SHEs in my life, so many beautiful hearts with faces warm and souls strong. Blessings counted often, gifts of the Father.

So much love,

September 9, 2013


Somewhere in the grey, the sun breaks through, like so many sunrises I have seen in weeks past.

Sometimes it is a flaming, perfect orb hanging in the mist. Other times, it is a sliver of pink among lavender fluff. Still others, it is a golden haze.

Sunrises are beautiful, but in general tend to be less dramatic than sunsets. Pastels frequent the early hours of life, and it is easy to overlook their gift-ness.

In some ways, the sunrises keep me going.

They remind me of His promises. New life. Hope. He is with me. Blessed assurance, sure as the earth turns to warm her sides in the sun.

When I avoid Him, I fall into grey. Life is dimmer, and I miss so much--joy, experience, and chances to love. I become distracted by my own flesh, my own selfishness, my own bitterness--and it pains my soul how stubborn I am.

Even here, there is Grace. To begin again, each day anew. To hike this road. To turn to the One who loves my soul. The One who rises over my sinful darkness and spreads the fog and clouds away. The One who gave all, from Whom all is gift.

August 30, 2013


They stood.

I sat.

They bellowed.

I whispered.

It was the first time, the very first, that I didn't feel uncomfortable doing my own thing. I felt His presence, I sang in quiet ways to Him. I love singing, but in all honesty, it is not my most authentic worship.

{Wonder is involuntary praise.} Edward Young

These words, penned far from my own eyes, have tattooed themselves to my mind. I gasp at the way the light falls, smile at the rolling mist, feel the brush of leaves against my palm; these are my moments of worship.

When gratitude, that blessed eucharisteo, rolls over my soul, and flattens complaints and worries.

When I choose Him over others.

When I am afraid, but I walk on.

To trust Him is to worship Him.

Five Minute Fridays!

August 22, 2013


I miss so much.

I come to school. I complain. I take for granted so many blessings.

"Sometimes, I still go through periods of ungratefulness. I get small-minded, short-sighted and sink to a degree of selfishness that makes everything in my soul seem dark."  Jennifer Rothschild

This comes from a woman who has more faith, more gratitude, and more insight than I do. Yet I find in it so much comfort. I am not the only one who fails. Not the only who falls into the selfishness and darkness.

If I ended there, this would still be a sad tale. But I find a deep desire to be grateful. It brings joy. It is a fulfillment of my purpose to praise. Difficult, it is. But joy will be found by those who are thanking. 

""Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” Annie Dillard

I want to be there. Here. Now. Grateful for the glory of this life. The glowing orange sun burning the morning mist. The smile of a friend. The unexpected presence of the One who moves the winds and paints the flowers.

August 16, 2013


Five Minute Fridays

the more I grow, the smaller I feel.

I have always been small--never quite able to reach the top cupboard, or the social status, or the furthest person away. I don't keep many close. I don't walk in the light of greatness. I often go unnoticed.

I used to feel invisible and lonely. My smallness makes me hard to find in crowds, hard to notice in large groups. My small voice barely reaches the quietest of shouts, my small hands always feel so empty.

Then I was taught, slowly and lovingly that smallness is greatness. I am concise with words, concise as a person, a condensed soul. My smallness, my quietness makes room for His loudness, His greatness. I am so small. He is so big. The more I know, the bigger He gets, and the smaller I feel.

I cannot do anything apart from Him. In small ways He pours great love into and through me, trickling out to the hands around me. My small arms give great hugs I am told, and my small words encourage big change, I am told. And it is in my smallness that He is greatest. And the view down here is alive with small gifts, small ways He loves.

I am so small.

He is so big.

I pray to grow smaller.

August 14, 2013

a fretting sparrow

Summer, that beautiful, cocoon: restful, quiet, peaceful, intimate. Summer is no more, not for me. I sit in my residence hall room, little glowing lanterns casting a warmth across my hands, and I worry. I am a fretting sparrow.

Worry is a natural reaction to a situation. Worry is fear. Will all these ten things that I have no control over turn out perfectly? Will I look bad? Will people be upset? Will I be able to pay? I try so hard not to worry.

Maybe that is the issue.

Fighting worry with nothing more than trying not to worry has never worked. Fear cannot be fought with effort to control. No, fear is fought with trust, and overcome with courage, healed by release.

Where can I get that? I wish they sold it at Meijer. Buy a can, drink it, and *poof* no worries!


If Meijer sells courageous trust with no fear added, I have never been able to find it.

Then the song plays this moment. "I need You, oh I need You. My one Defense, my Righteousness, o God how I need You." That answers my question. Where do I find courage? How can I build trust? Trying harder only wears me down.

Breaking, letting Him break me, letting light come through my cracks, just looking for Him, that is the healing. Reliance on Him, letting my weaknesses wear through me so He can enter in and pour through, that is how we build trust and find courage. Admitting need for Him changes things. Knowing Him changes us.

August 9, 2013


Five Minute FridayFMF--Lonely

Isolation. That is the deepest loneliness.

But there are other kinds.

There is the lonely that isn't always so bad. There is the lonely of knowing that no one else believes what you believe where you are. That you live in a world of confusion and darkness. That your little light is pressed and crushed by the blackness.

I wrote this poem a long time ago while thinking of this. And it seems to go well with these thoughts:

My little flickering candle, small and humble yet so clear,
Wavers meekly in the darkness as I hesitate in fear.
My flame-it weakens as the blackness presses in so near.
Oh, if only I knew that I was part of a giant chandelier!

August 2, 2013


So many stories. They walk by, drive through, fly overhead. To ponder them, the vast number, the immensity of them, is almost crushing.

My story is not the story. My story is a chapter in a grand book. Who is the hero? Jesus. The longest book is history, and though it hasn't all been written down, or remembered by our writers, He remembers every chapter.

What is my story today? What part of my chapter have we hit? Well, I don't know. I am in a place of terrifying trust. I don't know where the money will come from. I keep crying, wondering, because I am scared. Then I remember that fear results from believing lies. The lie that He won't take care of me, that His plan won't work out for my good. My good probably looks a lot different--a lot easier--to me than it does to Him. As terrifying as that is, I am so glad.

My story would be so much less interesting if I wrote it. I would remain a coward. And I would hide. But He makes me brave. And teaches me to trust. His strength in my weakness. True beauty.

July 30, 2013

writing it out

Goodness, I don't know what to write. Not for lack of content, but lack of clarity, organization. I haven't quite ironed it all out in my head. Maybe that is what this is--ironing out. I could do it in private, but I wonder if it might be useful for someone else, to know that life is messy, and thinking well is difficult, and sometimes we've just got to talk to someone to find some clarity.

I have learned so much this summer. I feel a different person, but much the same. I am me, but my dirty, rough, clay outer shell is being broken off to reveal the beautiful gold inside. Only He could do it. Could chisel away, sending cracks through my world, cracks that hurt, cracks that tear, split, and run through all of me. I feel as though I am falling apart, but it isn't that, really. The schmuck is falling off. It was comfortable, or I was comfortable in it. I feel bare, and cover up my gleaming gold skin, trying to hide the light. It is too noticeable, and I don't like drawing attention to myself. I shouldn't hide it, though. I won't be able to for long.

Gratitude. Who knew such a small thought could run a mighty crack through my entire clay skin? That being grateful--not just for the good, but for every moment, every in-the-way event, and inconvenience, every pain--could draw me so near to His heart? I have not enjoyed life, or felt this alive and purposed in a long time--since I was young I think. Slowly, I am becoming young again, dashing like my little sister to every flower, cupping their faces to mine and drinking their scents, studying the tiny details of their intricate petals and leaves. Every cloud, sunset, raindrop, sunny day, gloomy night, I soak in. I don't always necessarily feel their beauty wash over me like I used to, not all the time, but I choose to appreciate it. Every choice to give thanks is a step toward the One for whom my soul was made.

Slowly feeling returns to my numbed soul. But isn't that the difficulty? When we are not numbed, we feel the pain--it slashes deep, cuts hard, bruises and stings. "...there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen. Can we feel true, pure, heart-bursting joy if we numb ourselves to pain? Maybe the pain is the path to joy. Maybe the setbacks and inconveniences and disappointments are the miracles that bring us to a place to find Him, and find joy. Gratitude for every moment, being awake to every moment, has been my door to this.

Gratitude is less about feeling and more about choice, attitude. When I choose gratefulness, it acknowledges trust in Him, humbles me (which needs to happen as often as possible), and gives Him His due glory. Of all the words Ann Voskamp penned and that He breathed into my life, these have stuck to me like a bur:

"When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt, but I who am in His great debt, then doesn't all become gift?"

all becomes gift. ALL becomes GIFT. Not just Tuesdays, best friends, chocolate, and peaches, but every hard and good thing.

I am learning how much this life is not about me. His work in me is not for me alone. No, no. It is to help others. To share a little hope, build a little faith, and pour a great deal of love away. Because when I stop at the receiving of His love, I miss out on what love really is--giving, sacrificing, sharing.

"He doesn't give gifts for gain because a gift can never stop being a gift—it is always meant to be given. When we are grateful for His gifts, we give the gifts away because a gift never stops being a gift." Ann Voskamp

love never stops being gift. and joy is found in love. His love.

July 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday--Belonging to Today

July 19th 2012 is a day in history. Aren't they all? I walked, complained, rejoiced, stumbled, laughed and sipped frozen chocolate coffee (basically ice cream) today.

I belonged in this day. I long for tomorrow to be over--those tests that partly determine whether I get to entice the minds of students into books and poems. I just want it to be over.

So I thought about it all today--as I studied, reviewed, took study breaks. it will feel so good once it is just done.

But what about today? I belonged in today. Are we not made for a time such as this?

I saw small graces of His hand today. But not enough. Not enough to enjoy, to be grateful for the now. I complained about the sticky weather, my tests, and too many other things. But I remember the few moments of grace...

writing to a friend in need, the taste of the crisp herb bread and mozzarella, the cool slide of a frappe down my throat, the sunset that looked like waves of magma.

I wish I had enjoyed them more.

Even now as my heart pounds with nervous energy, I pray I can fill in bubbles and write answers without an urgent racing hand, desperate to be finished. Somehow, I want to savor that test, to thank Him for it. I don't know how, but He will show up somewhere along the way--He usually does. Tomorrow, I will belong in tomorrow--in that testing room, with those people. Maybe they need me, or I need them. When we let ourselves belong to our day--whether full of winding side roads, detours or easy paths--we find His grace and His work at hand.

Those tests don't sound so bad after all.

July 11, 2013

the shallow end

I long for the ocean today. And the mountains: Montana Rockies, Pennsylvania Alleghenys. An insatiable longing for something is gently roused with the rushing warmth of spring and summer finally come. Staring across the ocean affirms this desire. Tracing the heights and descents of mountains assures me that there is more.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C. S. Lewis

I find this true. We think that what pleasure we can seek here on this earth is enough. We look to celebrities who live immersed in the height of shallow pleasure and think that they have it all--sex, fame, power, money, the feeling of being the best or most of something. I find in myself this half-heartedness. In an attempt to quench my thirst I try to drink what I can to quench a thirst that will not be quenched until the day I am made whole. I walked in shadowy lands not too long past, craving to know. To understand. To try and reconcile the God the world wants and the God who is. 

“The yearning to know what cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its source." A. W. Tozer

We try to numb ourselves to the ache for Him by escaping--we turn to hours of television, hundreds of books, the shallowest of friends, take any laugh we can get, exercise more, scratch pain into our flesh, give away our greatest treasures in exchange for pleasure, put down as many people as possible--in an attempt to ignore our emptiness. We think the world's offer of fullness is the goal. We run. We always run. I always run. Towards them, away from Him.

Let your soul return to its source--put down your book. Turn off the television. Realize the sacred all around you. Find what joy brims from humble reverence, a simple thanks, a moment of deep communion with the God who reconciles, restores, redeems. It is not in the shallow water that we find the most joy, for the shallow water seems safe. Yet that is the ultimate danger of the shallow water--it is too safe. The deep water is where the real trust begins, the real reliance, the real joy. The hard gratefulness. The deep water isn't safe--but we belong to a God who works for the good of all the world, the good that will come when He brings all creation into unity. Maybe that means that I am eaten by a shark. Maybe that means I tread water and wait for a long time. Maybe I get a ship to carry others in. Maybe I get a small raft. Whatever my portion, I pray I can take it gratefully. Above all I crave Him, and the knowing Him that comes with trust.

June 29, 2013

shadows and shackles

My dear friends--for the few of you who take the time to read these words, I count as friends--I wish I knew what to write. For the past month I have been belaboring over seven posts, yet none of them are quite right, and some of them I am not ready to post.

I am afraid.

Fear, how I hate thee! Yet I cling to thy comfortable bars, familiar to my callused hands. I hide in the striped shadows, fading into the background. Though I now know fear for what it is, know more of my own fears, I yet feel powerless against it. My cowardly flesh cages my soul, and I long for freedom, yet I do not even reach through the bars anymore.

I love things of the earth too much. I love harmony, and would rather live with subtle discord than vexing confrontation. I love when people like me, when they are not offended by me. I love when people think well of me, and cower from anything that people might misinterpret or read into or make me look like the fool that I am.

Life is not all fear now. There is rest, too. And overwhelming gratitude. An attitude of thanksgiving was pricked earlier this year, and spurred by the words of Ann Voskamp. But the shadows of fear still haunt me, pointing over my shoulder, whispering lies.

I recall the words I read this morning: "When I am afraid, I put my trust in You." Psalm 56:3


Again, and again, He asks me to trust. So I will. I will and do trust that somehow, some way He will finish the work He has begun in me. Trust that He will show me how to choose Him over that which I am too fond of. Only He could do such work. For that work, which is oft painful, I am grateful. There is no greater love than this.

{But the greatest thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of these sins at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.} C.S. Lewis

May 29, 2013

thoughts like scattered clouds

The cool, rough shingles pulled at the skin on the bottom of my dusty feet. Sitting on the roof can feel like sitting in the clouds sometimes. Everything looks a wee bit different from a little farther away.

The light was glowy; the trees shone with newest green, but the shadows fell deeply, in a warm, comfortable way. It was the kind of dark you would want to fall asleep in, those nights when you remember that night is a shadow, the earth's shadow--the nights you remember the sun is still bright and burning on the other side of the globe, you just have to wait until you spin 'round again to see it, to feel its rays.

At that moment, the sun was a sunken light. It fell into the horizon with splashes and ripples of pink  splattering the blue and grey sky. Some drops even landed in the yard, falling almost transparently on the intensely green grass, and the white siding. I was splashed with a drop too, on my arm. Real beauty is like that--it leaves some of itself on you.

The wind gently laughed in my face--which felt a little like a cool version of the wave of air that rolls out of a hot oven when you open it. Momentarily intense, but the cool (or hot--if you are referring to the oven) lingers, your face and neck now used to it, wearing the different air almost like a mask--or did it take away the mask? Sometimes I cannot tell if the mask is on or gone.

He will look so familiar I think. I mean, if His beauty is reflected in sunsets, and mountains, and people's hearts, won't we recognize Him? In an intensely, unfamiliarly whole, unveiled sort of way. Maybe at first it won't seem so. But we'll recognize what we squinted at hazily in this world. That is what this life feels like--slowly coming into focus.

Now the shadow has fallen more heavily. A beautiful scent--it might be honeysuckle--hangs in my room like invisible curtains. They open and close on memories, like a strange old film in shaky black and white. There has been sorrow. There has been pain. There has been joy. There has been delight. Right now there is peace. Easier peace. Still I will say, blessed be the name of the Lord.

May 12, 2013

finals' rambles

Well, this is a familiar event. I am sitting in Caribou, writing a blog post at a time when I desperately need to be productive. When I say productive, I mean in terms of school. Writing is always productive. Just not always productive for school.

the following post is rambly

The toughest school year is about to end. 
Finals loom. 
I'm packing my room. 
I'm tired. Boom.  

And obviously mentally strained. But as I sit here, in my last Caribou "study" session of my junior year, I consider what the past year has brought. 

A lot of exhaustion. 
A lot of tears. 
A lot of fears. 
A lot of questions.
A lot of Grace.
A lot of growth.
A lot of Him. 

Perhaps I could put it more poetically. Perhaps I could take a nap. Perhaps. 

Why am I telling you this? I guess because part of me is selfish and wants people to notice me. I am a member of the human race, selfishness has corrupted me, too.  Another part of me is listening to my Savior--because I could not be this vulnerable without Him. Another part just needs to write something. The last part is to hopefully encourage you. This is as much for me as it is for you and for Him. Probably more for me. 

I guess that is what I have learned. My motives are mixed, my faith is tattered, and yet He still uses me. He still pours through my words. Because it really isn't about my words, it is what He does with my words. Really it is about what He does, whether through me or through that dude with the pink bendy straw at the table across the room. He is who He is. That idea becomes more incomprehensible every day. He is Him, always. Me? I am not me all the time. I do not act like a child of God. I screw up, I lie, I fail miserably, I pout, I wallow, I hide, I run away. He sees "beloved" regardless. And because of that love, I am lifted, freed, every single day. I don't always believe it, and I certainly don't always feel it or see it. Blindness is not just physical. And is not as rare as I once believed. 

Finding out that I am a coward was one of the most devastating moments of this year--of my life, until I realized that it is in my weakness He works most. Because that is when I let Him.  Life is a lot messier than I once believed. I anticipate that to be proven for years to come. Yet, He is immensely more beautiful and terrifying than I once believed. I anticipate that to be proven forever.

"We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us firmly in Christ." Charles Spurgeon

"When you talk to honest saints, who have been through real hardship, they will say things sincerely like 'I never wanted it, I would never have chosen it, I wouldn't want anyone else to go through it, but I wouldn't trade it. because I learned so much about Jesus and I became more like Jesus and so I cherish whatever it is I have gone through because of what I have learned and how I've changed.' Is that true for you? It beats bitterness. It beats wasting your suffering. I mean if you and I would keep these things in mind, God could actually use the hardest parts of our life to be the sweetest part of our life, to use the most painful parts of our story to be the most encouraging parts of our story for someone else." Mark Driscoll

"Redemption was born on a far darker day than this one, so bring the chaos. Bring the madness, Do whatever you've got to do to recreate my heart. After all, it's me that needs to change, not my circumstances." Mike Donehey

And so I am being changed. 

April 21, 2013

True Love

Ask someone, anyone what the love of God is like. Depending on the person asked, the answers are going to differ. Common ones may be: "God loves me for me." "God's love is unconditional." "God loves everyone."  "God's love is accepting." "God's love does not depend upon our performance." "God's love is beautiful. Unending. Wonderful. Compassionate. It does not condemn."

Most of these are true. The love of God is compassionate, unconditional, not based on our performance, and beautiful. He takes us we are. Yet, these definitions, I find, are incomplete. We love to picture this warm, gentle God who holds us. He does. Yet there is more to His love than rainbows and sunshine. We have diluted the love of God.

{When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some "disinterested", because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly  invoked, the "lord of terrible aspect", is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host
who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.}
The Problem of Pain
C.S. Lewis

He loves us so much, not only did He sacrifice His son, a widely accepted fact in Christianity, but He will do whatever it takes to heal us. He doesn't want us to simply live and be happy. He wants more for us than that. He wants us to live empowered by His love, and free from ourselves. Think about it. What is more freeing than forgetting about ourselves? We all think freedom-giving-love helps us to be who we think we are. No, it helps us to be who we can be, and to forget about that person more often than not in thinking of others and Him. He loves us too much to let us remain as we are or think we are. More often than not, we know ourselves less than anyone else. 

So when it looks like God is trying to ruin our fun, He is really trying to heal us and make us who we were meant to be--more than anything we could be on our own. This life is not about finding ourselves. It is about becoming our true selves--creatures made to be loved by God, love Him, and love others. Not with a diluted love, but with the determined, furious love that is true love, love in all its actuality. A love that sacrifices, does not give up and isn't afraid to "do whatever it takes to give me Your heart." (Tenth Ave. North, Don't Stop the Madness) Read the Old Testament. His love is not an easy love and yet it is. Hosea, Jeremiah, David. They can all tell you about His crazy, hard, beautiful love. 

As Lewis says of Aslan, "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion." His love is not tame. In some ways it is a bit scary. Yet gentle, too. This is the paradox of His love. I know it will change me, make me uncomfortable, oust my fears and insecurities that have become as comfortable as my favorite sweater or shoes. It is going to hurt. Yet I have never wanted something I fear so much. 

April 7, 2013

it's the little things

I often say "it's the little things." Sometimes even I wonder why I say this. I long for mighty moments of God. Those moments when shadows seem only a memory. The moments when His power is fully felt, His spirit fully discerned. These moments are wonderful, fulfilling and good. I have had these moments, when tears of joy and adoration fall and my body trembles at His majesty.

I am learning, however, it is the small moments that build my faith more. Small moments of clarity that come like an unexpected letter or smile. If only we saw these moments for their utter beauty! We long so much for the grand moments that we often overlook these small happenings. I have found that it is the steady, slower work of God in my life that is most beautiful, however. My wrestling matches with Him on the darkest, loneliest nights have built more faith than the best concert or retreat. 

       As I walk this shadowy path, I find small moments of realization like wildflowers amidst dead leaves and brambles:

      Thinking on my mountains I miss so much. It reminds me that my longing for something more, something deeper is my longing for Him.

     Tripping and not falling on the sidewalk. Stumbling is inevitable. Falling is too. In the stumbles and even falls, there is One who will lift me up and teach me to walk again. Sometimes we stumble so that we can learn to walk better.

     Sitting in my dark room as the glow-in-the-dark stars gently gleam on the walls. All about me are little glowing stars who comfort me with their faith, people who share the love of God. Though we are in the dark, their light gives me courage.

     Falling asleep listening to worship music. I felt as though I was falling asleep in the arms of the Creator, and in those moments, fear was dimmed and peace blanketed me.

     Walking in the budding woods and finding the first sign of trout lilies. New life I have been given, and though winter comes, cold and hardship come, spring will come once more, and He will deliver me from my valleys. He keeps His promises more faithfully than Spring herself.

     Innocent smiles from strangers. A gentle reminder that I cannot see all that He is doing, and there is more going on that I may ever know. if such a smile encourages me, what might it do for another?

     A kind deed seen or received. He is at work. That in itself is enough.

Small lessons culminate into larger ones. His whispers in the ordinary keep me going more than the big moments, in fact, they are what make the big moments monumental. Gentle reminders, like invisible post-it notes across my life, are finally put into perspective in those moments. At the same time, the small promises fulfilled fuel my trust in Him for the big ones. 

Want to be content in your discontentment? Want to be encouraged? Look for Him everywhere. You will not be disappointed. He is constantly at work, if only we would notice. Do not be so eager for massive moments of conviction and change when it is the everyday work of His that changes us most. 

"Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love." -Gandalf

April 2, 2013


{That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.} Anne Voscomp

Though I often present a face of serenity or at least disconcerted humor, there is a battle raging in me. My flesh--fears, doubts, lies, sins--viciously battles the Spirit of God over my soul. I feel thin and shredded. It might sound odd, but as I have related to some good friends, I feel as though I have been walking around in a dense cloud of my fears. Sometimes they form themselves from the cloud and I grapple with them. Other times they simply lie there, just out of reach, but dimming my sight.

God has brought them to my attention on purpose. He has put this dense cloud about me that I might face my fears. He has brought me to a place of weeding out the lies in my life, refuting them with truth so I can better wrestle my fear. He has had to hurt me to heal me, for this clouded grey is rather lonely and hard. He has had to take me apart, to remake me. 

As much as dismantling hurts, I have also found it to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Never before have I felt so undone, so attacked and yet so content. I am content to be discontent. Days are long, school is tough, but God is good. I am not what I will be, I am full of sin and holes, but He is still good. He has plans for me. Plans I never would have made, never would have had the courage to pursue without Him. 

Why am I sharing this? Sometimes I don't know, honestly. It is terrifying. I trust Him, though, and am simply following Him through this.

My hope, I guess, is to encourage you. If you are struggling, in the dark, feeling abandoned, alone, wondering, I want you to do something. Seek Him. It is hard, friends, but wrestle with the hard questions, face them, do not run away. Be willing to wait for Him. Sometimes He makes us wait, to build our faith. His distance and silence can teach us.

Whatever you do, cling to any shred of Him you can. He promises He will be found if sought wholeheartedly in Jeremiah 29:13 and the following verses from Hosea 6. (v 1 &3)

"Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up...Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as showers, as the spring rains that water the earth."

March 15, 2013


The pale golden sunrise falls gently on my face and hands as I type this.


I have been anxious to get home, in need of comfort and respite. That excited anticipation that arises before I go home is slowly building with each tick of the clock. I long for weather that reminisces of home: spring. I long for the people who love me best, and whom I love best.

and very soon

Buried inside this homesickness I find a deeper longing. I used to think I would never love God enough to long for this. Yet I have found myself captivated by the Creator--my soul pushing at the seams of this old, frustrating flesh.

my King is coming

I imagine that there will be light akin to this sunrise when He comes. Yet it will be more. More in a way we cannot imagine. Everything will be familiar, yet more than familiar, especially Him. What of Him we have experienced is simply an echo from the future of what He will reveal to us. It will be going home to a place we have only heard of. It will be truly, fully going home.

soon and very soon

Soon--Hillsong United (Brooke Fraser)

March 2, 2013


Crestfallen: adjective--sad and disappointed
Origin: late 16th century: originally with reference to a mammal or bird having a fallen or drooping crest

Some days are just full of the extremities--joyful crests and confusing fallens. Perhaps that is why Crestfallen is my favorite word.

I was disappointed to learn that the origin had nothing to do with waves. I had always associated the crest of waves crashing onto the shore, or simply falling back into the ocean.

Yet it brings a fuller image to the idea of Crestfallen. There is strength and weakness implied by the lifting of a crest. I see a wintry cardinal, sitting, lonely and cold, on branch, his little crest no longer held up. Is this not how we come to Him? Broken, fallen, too weak to even hold up our heads, and He lifts them with gentleness and love. 



So on my days full of fallen, I must trust Him to lift my head, just enough so I can see His love--and give it away. 

February 22, 2013


This afternoon I am grateful for doubt.

Coming from me, this is pretty big. Doubt has been my arch nemesis as long as I can remember. He stalks my every move, whispers in the shadows, and snags my cape when I want to fly. 

Yet I have learned so much from Doubt. God has used my doubt to strengthen my faith. Even though times in Doubt's company are dark and difficult, they have pushed me ever in the direction of my Creator. Doubt taught me what Edna taught us: "no capes!" 

But really. Doubt has taught me what hinders my faith, and sends me back to the Word for understanding. Doubt whets my appetite to know who God is, to learn all I can about Him. Knowing the way God works, this will not be for my faith alone, but for the faith of others, too. Doubt makes me realize that I am not enough, that my intellect cannot suffice, that I have to trust Him. It deflates my easily inflated pride.

This gratefulness is spreading like wildfire throughout my life. I sat miserably this morning through my two classes because my throat hurts and I had chills. Because I am not feeling well, I decided to spend the afternoon on the floor with blankets, my Bible, my journals, my quote book, my sketchbook, and my stuffed animals. (no shame). My being sick made me stop and rest in Him, so that He could tell me who He is. I am so glad my cold made me flop clumsily into His holy presence. See, He turns our logic on its head. The things that drive us crazy are the things we should be grateful for, because He uses them to strengthen us, build our patience and endurance. Complaining is a sign of ingratitude.

It isn't easy. Complaining is something I have used to empathize with other people. Though I had good intentions, this is not healthy, and it has taken its slow toll on my joy. This will be another growing adventure full of missteps and stumbles. But my stumbles keep me humble. And already, contentment is filling my soul. I have so much to do, but I am content to be overwhelmed, because I know that He is doing something. Something in me is changing and I am excited to know what He will do!

"Redemption was born on a far darker day than this one, so bring the chaos. Bring the madness. Do whatever You've got to do to recreate my heart. After all, it's me that needs to change, not my circumstances." Mike Donehey

February 9, 2013

wisdom from my friend Hugo

{Everything has a purpose, clocks tell you the time, trains takes you to places. I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine... I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.}

These are the wise words of a young boy named Hugo Cabret. (from the excellent film Hugo) He lives in a train station winding clocks and fixing a broken mechanical man that is the only connection to his deceased father. He is alone. But he finds a friend, Isabelle, and says these words when she worries she might never know her purpose. 

I sat watching the beautifully filmed scene as the two kindred spirits look out over Paris, imagining it to be a clock with gears and cogs, and tears filled my eyes. God's plan is that machine. There are just enough parts. None of us is an extra.

God always uses the unexpected to touch my heart and remind me who He is. He is sovereign. He also made me, not as an extra part, but as a purposed soul. Lately I have been confused about what I am confused about, and running to keep up with school and commitments has not helped. Purpose has seemed like a far off mountain shrouded in the mist of the present hectic-ness. The ability to fulfill my purpose has seemingly burned to ashes, charcoal streaks lingering on my hands. 

{Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do... Maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose... it's like you're broken.} Hugo.

We are all broken. Something just isn't right in us. Two gears don't fit quite right, and a spring is a bit out of place. All of our parts are a little rusty with sin. Yet the Creator of this giant mechanical world wants to come in and take us apart. He has to take everything out so He can fix it, find new parts, and give us strength to fulfill our purpose. That purpose is clear: love God, and because of His love, love people--bringing Him glory.

When we feel purposeless, we must remember the cross. It was perhaps the most deliberate and purposeful event of all time, the most scandalous act of love in history.

Remember the cross. Remember your purpose. 

January 31, 2013

o for grace to trust Him more

When I began my journey-ish resolution, (one word: "trust"--if you are confused, read this first)  I am not sure what I expected. I certainly expected to learn to trust Him more. "Oh for grace to," I sigh. I envisioned at times these revelatory moments where I would be struggling, then suddenly see the word "trust" on my computer, on my hand, on my mirror, on my notebook, and fall to my knees in prayer. Almost cinematically, God would move in mighty and thunderous ways.

However, God has His own way of teaching us, contrary to our expectations. Obviously, this journey to trust is not going my way. How often we get furious, frustrated, and flustered when life, events, friendships, and just things do not go our way. We get into this mindset that it is our way or nothing without even realizing it. We fall into the trap that He worked this way once, so He will do it the same way. We almost think we can control Him without even being aware of it. "Teach me this truth, Father. Use this music, it applies. Teach me this virtue, Father. Use a sermon in combination with my devotions. Show me now!" Give me, give me, give me.

It is wonderful to want to trust Him. It is wonderful to desire the gifts of the spirit and the beattitudes--basically all the characteristics of Christ. When we become three-year-olds crying "Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee," we lose sight of the beautiful mystery that is God's plan.   He is not Mr. Fix-it, as much as we desire Him to be. Learning to be content with our circumstances, the place God has placed us at this moment is so important. We can desire to learn and grow, but what about gratitude for what faith we have? The home we have? The friends we have? Contentment is something humans have always struggled with. Adam and Eve were not content; they decided to not trust God and rebel to get what they thought they wanted. Turns out they didn't want it so much after they got it.

This is sort of spiraling into all different directions, but I want this, if only this, to be clear. It is so much better to let God work His way in us rather than trying to push our plans onto Him. An old friend told me once that "just because our plans are pleasing to God, doesn't mean they are what He has for us." When we make inflexible plans we miss the fact that this life is not about us. It isn't. I am sorry if no one ever told you that, but you'll have to come to terms with the fact that life is about so much more than us. When we realize this, we let Him take control, and we find His beautiful plan. "O Control. It's time, time to let you go." -JJ Heller

Without realizing, I have come to the end of this post with a new revelation. I have to trust that God will teach me to trust better. I have to trust that His journey for me is better than the naive one I had envisioned. It is a bit mind-blowing to realize that he is teaching me trust in this. This struggle with my journey to trust Him, this lack of screen-worthy moments and abrupt change. Totally unexpected. But beautiful. And so much more effective than my idea. Well played, Jesus. I look forward to Your next move.

The quote that sprouted these growing thoughts was a question a pastor told a crowded room of college students to think about tonight. "Can you trust Me?"

I am working on my answer, or really, He is.

January 26, 2013


I have found a way for so long to pretend to love and live. 
But I am not okay.
I am not okay.

Wow. That was hard to say.
I don’t say it very often.

Usually I just lie.
Usually I just say,
“yeah, I am good.”

I don’t look into their eyes.
I don’t look into people’s eyes anymore.
I am afraid.
Afraid that they will see right through me.
Afraid that my eyes will betray my secrets.

Betray my shame.
Betray insincerity that tries so hard to be sincere.
I fear that should they peer into my eyes,
They will find

And I don’t want to be found.
But I do.
I desperately want someone to find me.
But I am afraid there is no one who can understand.
No one who can ever look at me with love when they know my shame.

So I remain alone.
Locked up by fear and shame.
“They say time is like a healer, it’s more like a concealer for scars.”*
I never get rid of the shame. I never let it go.
I hide it in the box in the corner.
I can go for years forgetting it is there.

Selective thinking.

But I never really heal. 
I just mop up my bleeding before I go out into the world.
Freshen up the paint,
Desperately hoping no one will see the scar.
It burrows in my eyes.

Even those closest never see my deepest shame.
I just can’t tell them.
How can I?
They will never love me the same way.
I cannot bear that kind of alone.

You come in.
You put Your mighty hands gently on my shoulders.

This might hurt, You say.
You look into my eyes, unflinching.
You flood my soul.
I fear I am drowning.
But I find that I can breathe.

You take my shame, wrenching it from the corner.
I had nailed it down, welded it shut.
You rip it open with love in Your eyes.
In all of its blackness, it falls like ash,
The water around turning black.

We stand in it together.

I look away. I look back at You.
You are still looking at me.
Love is still in your eyes.

Your scars begin to bleed, two in Your hands, two in Your feet.
I look at Your face and blood drips from small scratches on Your forehead.
A waterfall of it rushes from Your side.

Red fills the room.
I close my eyes and slip to my knees.
My tears of shame mingle with the blood.

They are swept away.
Where did they go?

Far away.
How far?

Do you know how far east is from west?

That far.
You smile. So do I. 
I even laugh a little. 

Sometimes shame finds its way back to me.
Shame has different faces, 
I keep it because I forget.
Silly me.

I know what to expect.
Yet it still it surprises me.
You always say the same thing.

I love you.
That is what changes me.

 *When I'm Alone by Nevertheless

January 25, 2013


Perhaps my previous post was too hasty.

Worry, fear, and a host of lies have been the army battling my soul. They crept in through my mind, huddling in the corner long enough for me to think them just another box of junk against the wall. How they fooled me.

My tendency to hermit did not serve as an ally. I hid from others for fear of what I might say, do, or hear. I haven't been loving others very well. I knew it was wrong to hide, to run. Fear was simply too strong. Or perhaps it was shame. Probably both. Fear whispered lies and cut deeply. Shame rubbed its poison in my wounds. Painful poison.Confusion ensued.

I literally lay in bed for three hours today. (I know it sounds weird, but lay is actually the proper past tense form of lie. sorry for the grammatical side-note.) I came back to my room from lunch feeling tired physically and mentally and emotionally. I reclined on my bed, listening to my "plank-eyed saint" playlist. It has a lot of Casting Crowns music.

"Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet, Oh to dwell and never leave..." I cried without a second thought, for that is all I wanted. No worry, no fear, just Jesus. I fell asleep soon after that song, then woke to another.

"Jesus hold me now, I need to feel You in this place. To know You're by my side, to hear Your voice tonight..." More Casting Crowns goodness. More tears, and more sleeping. Yet still, I felt uncertain of everything and everyone.

I went to the weekly gathering of Christians on my campus later, ready to be admonished for my fear, challenged to do more, urged to live better. I arrived and He shouted at me.

"I LOVE YOU! I really do, Karly. Shame has no power over you except the power you give it. Remember that I love you. You. I LOVE YOU."


I was ready for discipline--I deserved discipline. Still He said "I love you." When will I learn?

So my previous post was too hasty because the story wasn't, well, isn't over. I guess He will be telling me He loves me for a long time. Especially when I don't think I deserve it. His "I love you" is worth more than the fortunes of the world, more than galaxies. His love works miracles; overcomes all worries; destroys all fear. And it melts my heart of stone.

I cannot love other people when I do not believe that He loves me. For it is His love that strengthens my love for others. His love is the source of my love. "We love because HE FIRST loved us." 1 John 4:19. I haven't been loving others well because I haven't been believing He loves me. Even after all that He has done, fear and shame fooled me again.

Don't be fooled. Live loved, friends.

January 13, 2013

how measureless and strong

{Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.}
The Love Of God, a hymn

I am utterly amazed by the love of our God.

I sat struggling a while ago with letting Him satisfy and chasing worldly desires that hung before me, taunting me, begging me to want them. Satan whispered lies--my own heart whispered lies too.

I just wanted Him, so I turned to the Word, the living and active Word of God, ready for chastisement. I prepped my heart for a good scolding, looking to the Psalms. I went there thinking to find the psalms which proclaim the satisfaction God gives, describe boldly how He is all that we need.

I found those verses, but not before finding something else. See, I flipped through, reading parts of Psalms to see if I thought the declaration of God's fulfilling nature might be in there. Every psalm I read, however, spoke of one consistent idea: the steadfast love of God.

When I finally stopped flipping madly through Psalms, I simply cried in surprise and overwhelming confusion of emotion. I turned to Him for discipline, for a reprimand, for words to challenge and empower me.

All He said to me was "I love you."

In a way, His response was a challenge. In telling me this as I fought temptation, He was also saying: "Let me simply love you, child. Only then can you love Me."

A month or so later, I was facing tough doubts about who He is and I have talked about that here. The part of the story I did not tell yet was one that had not been put into perspective until recently with the help of a dear friend. Christmas Eve service was the night that my doubts fell away. Truly realizing the harsh reality of the mighty King coming to earth to be born in a filthy stable that smelled of dung, sweat, and hay, is a shocking reality. What kind of God would do this? Who would come down to this sinful, deteriorating place in such a lowly and incomprehensible way?

Him. "I am who I am" would.

 He could have easily brought me to my knees in fear of His greatness with thunder and armies of angels. Instead He came to me as a young child, born in a ramshackle room as a nobody. He reminded me of His love humbly and softly, in a way I did not deserve. I deserved to be slapped in the face, yet He whispered "my beloved" in the midst of a thousand people holding candles and singing of the dawn of redeeming grace.

Yet my humble experience does not begin to adequately describe the vast love of God. His love has been written about for years, yet still, would we take the sky and fill it with words written of ocean-ink, it would be an understatement of His love.

January 8, 2013

One Word

On most occasions, I am not one to fall into trends on purpose. My friends will tell you I am stubbornly unique. However, I read one of my favorite blogs today and they posted about this One Word 365 thing.  I have been praying that He would show me what to write about for this blog, and this was the answer. So I sacrificed my addiction to creativity to follow His calling, realizing that this is actually a beautiful thing to be a part of.

One Word 365 is a replacement for New Year's resolutions. I never really do resolutions. I am not the most disciplined person, and I fail almost as soon as I begin (just as true this year as any) usually because I don't rely on Him. Well, as I was reading about this movement, a word flashed in my mind, practically in neon lights, throwing illumination on the darkest corners of my dusty mind.


My life verse, which He picked out for me (another story for another day), is the end of Psalm 55:23. I call it Psalm 55:24 because of that stubbornness I mentioned earlier. "...but as for me, I trust in You," it says.

The Fall occurred because Adam and Eve did not trust that God had the best intentions by prohibiting the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They listened to lies and doubted His goodness. The minute we do not trust Him, Satan lies to us. Even more detrimental--we lie to ourselves.

So when I am worried about my future this year, I want to trust. When I am afraid of something--be it talking to someone new, the word "no," or doing what He asks--I want to trust Him. Not necessarily trust that it will be easy or filled with daisies and sunshine, but that it will be okay. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..." note that it does not say easy.

I trust that I am who He is making me to be. That through Him I can do anything. Philippians 4:13, of course.

Think about how hard it is to truly believe all of that in the depths of our souls? It is hard. I know me. I cannot do any of the things He wants me to do. Except through Him, who gives me strength. So I have confidence not in myself, but in Him. I trust Him.

Sometimes I am afraid of who He is making me. My insecurities and fears are familiar and I feel naked without them. But I trust Him. Because as much as I think I know myself, He knows me better. The person He is making me? She is more than I could possibly imagine. "Don't run from who you are," Aslan said.

So I will trust Him. What one word will you walk by this year?