Taking In Truth Like Vitamins

1. It isn’t wrong or weak to need a safe place.

“[My daughter needs a] safe place to know that she is in the middle of those who love her. She needs a safe place to hear her mother’s heart for her and that we in this home are FOR her. That we will fight for her. She needs to know that she matters more than the rest of it. More than the boys who bug her at school, more than the crazy feelings in her head, more than the difficulty of being nine. More than her frustration. She matters more than all of it. And we parents, when did we become grown up enough to be in charge of any of this? Sometimes we need a safe place too. Sometimes we all need a safe place. We need to be carried. I’ve found myself at a place in the last few months when I’ve needed to be carried, and when I’m finally there, I realize what a hard place that is. It’s humbling, it’s painful, and it’s true. Sometimes I need someone to say, ‘Stand up for yourself,’ and ‘You can do this; you have this.’ But sometimes I need someone to gently lift me and carry me because there is nothing left. Let us be a people who are carriers of one another. Let us look with intention around us to find those who need to be lifted and held rather than scolded, and then Lord give us the strength to carry. And when it is we who need to be carried, let us have those around us who can do it.”

 

2. We aren’t meant to do it alone.

“Because the way out [of a dark place] is a daily, moment to moment choice, and one I continue to struggle to make. But the hope is real and the God of it bigger and stronger than anything. Every lie that says we are alone is rooted in alienation from God that happened long ago with a tragic choice that shattered a perfect world. Loneliness has been a part of every life since, but God again and again speaks something greater. He speaks it in Deuteronomy 31 and Jeremiah 31 and Psalm 23. Ultimately, He speaks it through the perfect love displayed in His Son. Our trust in this love binds us forever to God in a way that enfolds us in His heartbeat as it becomes ours. The beauty, my friends, of every bit of loneliness, especially the most intense, is that it drives us to the Source of our hope. Our hope is anchored in God and His promises. As we believe this is our truest reality, we will overcome. As we trust the deeper love of God, we find the strength to step into community. True community feeds true community. Every step we take to be ourselves, to love others and let them love us brings us out of isolation and closer to our real Home. The lies of loneliness and isolation lose their power. We choose to trust God’s love is as real as He is. We choose to trust His love in others and read that post, listen to that story and open our hearts to the Truth. And, when we are ready, we share ours too. We embrace the God of hope who binds our wounds in the ties of communion and community.”

 

3. It’s okay to be a mess.

“You don’t need to have it all together. You don’t need to almost have it all together, either. In fact, it’s absolutely 100% OK if you’re a wreck some days. Because you weren’t created to have it all together this side of heaven. Read Psalm 139. Let each word pour over your worn and broken pieces until you believe that you were placed in this world at this time by the One who does have it all together … by the Almighty hand of God who cannot make mistakes.”

 

4. We are called to love, even when it’s scary.

“God doesn’t call us to fit in, be popular, or be accepted by the world around us. While it’s wonderful to feel that sense of connection and love when it’s offered in return, we are called to be set apart and even glaringly different. Even when we experience being mocked or gossiped about or hurt by community, He asks us to remember who we are and why we are here, to press through that fear to love people anyway. The vulnerability of putting ourselves out there to share life, connect, and be in relationship with others, in spite of our weakness or painful experiences, is a part of the risk we take as a Christ follower to care about and impact the world. In being a willing follower of Christ I’ve offered myself up to serve Him in the world in whatever He asks of me. He already knows me, He knows the risk. But He still asks me to get up and out the door to show His love. He reminds me every day to open that door, to invite others in to my home. He offers me that opportunity to be vulnerable and connect with the world. He nudges me to offer time to serve my church. He asks me to reach out to others in friendship or even for help. It is hard to press through insecurities and discouragement to head out in search of community. But we are called to do it anyway. To be a fully devoted follower of Christ, we have to be willing to surrender the preoccupation with our needs, our weakness, our agenda, and our own insecurities so we can remember our purpose to show love to the world and rest in our identity found in Christ.

 

5. Love is never wrong.

“[It doesn’t matter how we connect, but WHO is connecting us.] We serve a God who brings us together in deeper ways than what can be defined for geography or proximity. He forms bonds between our hearts and souls that transcend the factual details of our lives. So let’s chat on phones. And click on computers. And share our hearts over coffee. Whatever it takes to find and keep community. Jesus clearly showed us we’re to do whatever it takes to reach the people we care about–even if it means stepping outside our comfort zones. He didn’t say, ‘Connect with me on my terms.’ He said, ‘Wherever you are, I will come to you.’ We have been sought out by the God of love. And now it’s our turn. Who is God asking you to love today and where can you find them? Your answer to that question is your mission field. Do whatever it takes to be there.

Jesus, fill my heart and mind with TRUTH.

I was laying in bed last night, struggling to fall asleep, when I suddenly became acutely aware of my limbs. I became aware of my heartbeat. My skin.

My eyes and my smile and my hair, all chosen by God.

He knows me. He knows how I sleep and what makes me cry and He, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge gave me cheeks that redden and hair that curls and a tender heart.

He made me quick to love and quick to cry and gentle and quiet and goofy.

He gave me a love for singing and failed to give me a Grammy-award-winning voice to go with it. And that wasn’t a mistake.

There is nothing about me that is a mistake.

I look at my hands and I think, “God gave me these. God chose my hands. He chose the length of my fingers and placed each freckle just where He wanted it.” I am, from head to toe, chosen and designed by the God of the universe. And He knows me.

And I laid in bed last night, overwhelmed by the miracle of being a living being in a body. I exist.

I exist, and it’s a miracle, and yet that’s not where the miracles stop. I exist, I have this life and this body, and yet I am MORE than this life or this body.

I have limbs.

I have a voice that can sing and eyes that can cry and a heart that beats fast when I’m scared.

I have a brain that can contemplate deep thoughts and a heart that can hold dear memories and I can snap and skip and laugh and even whistle when I try really hard.

I have a body, but I am more. I know that I know that I know that I will exist beyond this life.

And I know that I’m not a mistake. I know that God didn’t design me from head to toe and then place me on this earth to suffer and struggle and wait for heaven. Heaven is our home, yes, but this life is a gift. It’s a gift and we’re meant to live it fully.

When I look in the mirror, when I look at my face, the face that God gave me, I see that I am not a mistake. I am not insignificant. I matter.

I see how much detail and love God put into creating me, and in the length of my eyelashes and the funny shape of my ears and the poignant hope that fills my heart when I reflect on how much God loves me, I hear Him saying that HE HAS A PLAN.

He planned my date of birth and my skin color and the size of my feet, and it would be completely insane to think He placed me here on this planet with a “good luck, don’t forget to call!” and started being involved in my life and existence in a more “supervisory” way.

He is still intimately involved. If He cared to place my freckles one my one, certainly He hasn’t stopped caring. HE HAS A PLAN.

He has a plan FOR ME.

Me. With my awkwardness and emotional baggage and tendency to despair. He has a plan for me. My story is ongoing for a reason. I am here for a reason.

I have skin and a heartbeat and eyes that see FOR A REASON.

I don’t feel that in my heart right now. Every day feels impossibly hard and just breathing moment to moment feels like more than I can handle, but last night my brain told my heart it didn’t get to have an opinion anymore. Or, rather, it could have an opinion, but its opinion would be met with a compassionate hug rather than serious consideration.

Last night the truth that God has a plan for me and my life, even in this messy and broken state, hit me like science. It was like someone dropped a highly researched, 100-page article on my chest. Facts and figures and statistics and proven hypotheses. Truth. Unarguable truth.

I am not a mistake.

I am not just a product of my parents.

I am God’s.

And He has a plan for me.

I don’t know what that plan is. I don’t know when I’ll feel okay again. But I will keep breathing.

And when I forget, when I start to think there is no hope, when panic threatens to overwhelm me, I’ll look down at my hands. The hands that God made.

And the hands He is still holding tight to.

I started to cry at a client’s house today. She lost her baby when she was 38 weeks pregnant.

She has baby stuff and no baby to use it.

She had planned on being a mom, having a baby to bathe and feed and wake up to in the middle of the night, and now her future is a question mark.

 

It is heartbreaking. Completely unfathomably heart-wrenching.

But her story is ongoing. And her baby existed for a reason. And I know that.

And I looked at my client with love and compassion and a heart full of prayers for her, prayers for her to be okay again in a way more complete than I am able to help her be. And I told her, “You’re still your baby’s mom, it just looks different than you expected. But you will see her again. I KNOW there is a heaven. And I KNOW your baby is happy. And I KNOW you will be reunited again someday.”

And I said those words, and I didn’t expect it, but my eyes filled with tears. And I think that’s what can happen when you speak truth to someone. Your heart recognizes it as truth, and the beauty of that truth, the truth that this life is just a blink and our suffering is temporary, it overwhelms our hearts with joy and gratitude. And hope.

I exist. And I will continue to exist.

Jesus, hold me. I cannot do a single day without You. I need you every single second.

With all that I have left within me, I will hope. I will inhale and exhale my way through today as best as I can, and I will try not to think too much about tomorrow. I will fill my brain instead with truth. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, I don’t know when or how or I’ll feel okay again, but I know who You are. You are God. And You love me. And I am planned.

And that’s the truth.

Protected: Expectations and Disappointment and Hope

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Thirsty

1

When I keep my eyes open, I know that there is no place God isn’t. When I look for Him, I realize He is all around. He is the air I breathe.

I am desperate for Him all of the time. Every single moment, I need Him. And no matter how much I pray or read my Bible or worship Him, no matter how near He is, IT’S NOT ENOUGH. I always, always, always feel thirsty and desperate for MORE.

More of Him.

More of something.

More love and comfort and peace and joy and acceptance and hope and family.

Less of this world with its confusions and routines and sorrows.

More of Him. More of heaven. More hugs and “I love you’s” and belonging.

2

Often I pray that the Lord will give me eyes to see.

I pray simultaneously for more and I pray for His perspective.

I’m sure thirst is good because its motivating, it pushes an individual to find water, but I don’t want to live my whole life thirsty.

I feel like a toddler who is in an unfamiliar place and is scared and tired, and she is looking up at her father (or Father) and raising her arms to him and begging him to lift her up. She’ll be okay as long as she’s in his arms. But right now? Right now she’s not okay.

And she can grab her father’s leg, maybe even trying to claw her way up it with futile effort, but it’s still not enough. She needs his embrace. She needs to be held. She needs to be fully wrapped up in his arms.

That is how I feel.

But God cannot lift me up. He cannot embrace me. And so I thirst.

3

But my thirst propels me to keep my eyes open. To look for signs of Father everywhere. To see His kindness in the eyes of someone I love, to feel His gentle smile when I tilt my face heavenward, to hear His voice in scripture and song and nature.

All of this that we get so bold as to call our own–this planet and our knowledge about how it works and our homes and cars and the people we love–they are all His. I couldn’t get away from Him if I tried. He is the air I breathe. He is everything. Everywhere I look, I see signs of Him. In every moment and every thing, He Is.

4

I see pink sunset clouds breathed across the sky, and I hear, “I am here.”

When Theodore looks at me with sleepy, love-filled eyes? “I am here.”

Conversations with loved ones that make my heart feel hugged? “I am here.”

5

Breathing in the foggy air of morning? Dew on the grass? “I am here.”

The feeling of stepping into a hot shower when you’re cold and in need of comfort? “I am here.”

That blissful moment before you fall asleep at night, when you feel safe and relaxed and small and whole in a way you don’t feel during your fully awake hours? “I am here.”

The warmth of a dog curled up at your side? A favorite blanket? A scent that reminds you of childhood? “I am here.”

6

I am thirsty. I am desperate. But I am not alone.

I am somehow both held and not held, hugged and not hugged, secure and fragile.

7

Lord, You know my heart. You know what I need when I cry for “more”. You know my desperation and my sorrows. You know how to make me be okay.

You know what makes me smile and laugh. You know what makes me feel relaxed and at peace and free to breathe in the goodness of You.

I will never stop crying for more, and You will never stop giving me reasons to love this awful, beautiful, painful, amazing life.

8

You have a plan. You have a plan. You have a plan.

This day and the next day, they are Yours. You tell the sun to rise and the stars to come out. Everything screams that You Are and that You have a plan. Don’t let me get so familiar with life that I stop hearing You in all of it.

This is the day that You have made.

And You are in control of every single aspect of it, from the rising sun to the state of my heart.

Hallelujah.

d59b5504b000521e5812daab0723d686

Beautiful Things

I think God’s idea of “beautiful” is a lot more varied than mine.

When I look at my life, when I look at what I’ve walked through and who I am today, I realize it will truly take nothing less than an act of God to make my life something beautiful. To redeem what has been lost, to write a happy ending. I cannot do it on my own.

And do I believe that God makes all things beautiful and good? Yes, I do. I just don’t know if His definition of beautiful and mine are the same.

It’s hard, humbling and scary, to tell God that whatever His will is for my life, that is what I want more than anything. But it’s true. That, more than anything, is what I want.

I say that with the same emotion arising within me that I’d feel if I had to swallow an excessively large pill: it’s what I need and what I ultimately want, but I’m scared I’ll choke. I’m scared.

It’s scary to accept that maybe His will for my life isn’t what I would’ve chosen for myself. But He knows what I need better than I do, right?

I just don’t know how you stop grieving the things that are past. The things that are lost and gone. The dreams that could just as easily vanish.

When everything feels like smoke and the only thing you have to hold on to is the Lord and you cannot physically hug Him, what do you do? I know what I do. I panic. But when I slow my breathing and get enough clarity of mind to realize panic isn’t a good coping mechanism, I hug my Bible. I sit in the shower and tilt my head up towards the shower head and close my eyes and pray.

But none of that is a substitute for Him in the flesh, Him with His kind eyes and tender smile and arms stretched wide for hugging. None of that is Him. And it hurts.

But maybe that’s okay. It has to be okay, I suppose. As my girl Glennon says, maybe it’s hard just because it’s hard, and not because I’m doing something wrong. Maybe the times where everything is smoke and nothing is tangible and I need more of God than what I can reasonably expect, maybe that’s not a bad place to be.

God doesn’t lead us to places that are bad for us after all, right? He doesn’t take us through things that are intended to permanently cripple and destroy and break us, because He is GOOD, ALL. THE. TIME., yes? And He says that He can make all things beautiful, doesn’t He? Although, there’s that word again. Beautiful.

And yet, I know nothing is wasted in His hands. He is the Great Redeemer. He can use this time and my tears and pain, my broken dreams and shattered hopes. I have to believe that. I have to believe that even when He catches my tears and shares in my grief with me, He is smiling a kind, tender, loving smile because He knows what is to come, and yes, right now hurts, but it won’t forever.

When I look at my life, when I consider the tears I’ve cried and prayers I’ve prayed of, “Lord, it’s too hard! I cannot do it! I need love and a life that is beautiful (and any other number of things)!” I wonder what myself at seventeen or twenty two or twenty five would’ve thought if she knew that this is what my life would look like today. I wonder if she would’ve been completely disheartened to know that there was no quick fix, no easy answer to my prayer on the way.

But then I also consider how many times God has given me moments of beauty, times when I’ve sensed Him near and smiled from a place deep down in my soul and felt like this life was a gift. I look at the things in my life today that are undeniably from Him because they are GOOD. And not everything is good, in fact most things feel pretty not good, but that doesn’t discount the fact that He’s giving me enough good to help me get by. Moments of good. The big picture? That’s hard. But cuddling my cats or drinking a green tea latte or getting an “I love you” text from someone who I love right back? Those are the moments when I know Jesus is saying, “I’ve heard your prayers. You are not alone. I have a plan, and I will sustain you.”

I also wonder what I’ve prayed more often over the years- for happiness, or to know and trust and love the Lord more. Something in me suspects it has been the latter. In which case, all of what I’m feeling and walking through today might just be the answer to that prayer. God takes my prayers seriously, after all, and when I ask Him to help me know and love Him more, there’s no quick fix. We don’t just go to bed one night with that prayer on our lips and then wake up the next morning with a new-found faith and love for Him burning in our hearts. It’s not that easy. And if it was that easy, it wouldn’t be real. Anything of depth and value tends to take time, and often tears. (See Romans 5:3-5, 1 Peter 5:10, James 1:2-4, Hebrews 12:11, 2 Corinthians 4:17…)

I don’t have a lot to offer right now. I don’t have a lot of optimism or hope or joy or laughter, but what I do have is the knowledge that my God is good. He is so, so good.

Lord, help me see beauty where You see beauty.