29

“Look at yourself, child.”

That was what I heard as I looked at my reflection in the mirror. It was said with love and compassion, but also with finality.

My eyes were almost swollen shut from crying. My nose was running. I looked scared and overwhelmed and exhausted and sorrowful. I hardly recognized my own reflection.

And He, my loving Father, was calling it quits. “That’s enough, beloved,” He said. And then, as gentle and tender as anything I’ve ever heard, “It’s time for bed.”

He stood by, watching with vigilance and love while I sobbed, gasping for breath. He stood by and He felt my pain. And now He was calling me to be done. To rest. To let Him be God over the nighttime, and God over my heart when I awoke again in the morning.

And so I took a deep, hiccup-y breath and went to bed. And everything in me was so heavy and swirly and confused and grief-ridden that I couldn’t even give words to it.

But it was okay because He was taking control of the situation. He was reminding me, in words as loving as a kiss, that I am His child. Precious and beloved, but human. Small and young and needy. And He is God.

How quick we are to forget that we never stop being children. We never stop needing to be parented.

And this Father of mine, in His infinite wisdom and love, was calling it bedtime.

This has been the most painful birthday of my life. It has been excruciating. And even though it hasn’t been void of love, it has also been full of aloneness and sorrow and grieving all that was lost in my 28th year of life.

It has been full of tough love. Of learning and feeling misunderstood and having to humble myself and listen even when everything in me is screaming THIS IS NOT FAIR!

Tears and hugs and disagreements and embarrassment and vulnerability and words–both comforting and painful–spoken in love.

No rose-tinted glasses here. It’s been real and raw.

And important.

A stripping away of so many things.

A necessary acceptance.

Peace where there once was only screaming grief.

And gratitude–a breath-taking reason to say Thank You–for all this last year that wasn’t lost.

My life.

My faith.

The family God is grafting me into.

It’s been a hurricane- a wild swirling of emotions and hard truths and questions and longings. My eyes haven’t known where to focus.

But of course, the only way to survive, is to look up. To focus our eyes on Him.

Oh, God. There’s so much I don’t understand.

But at least I know where to focus my eyes.

And as I was talking to Him last night about my birthday, as I was telling Him how painful it was, I heard:

“I know, daughter. I know. But it has been important.”

I’m starting my 29th year of life off with some really, really hard things laid out before me.

But in all the pain and swirling, God is building a foundation. Stripping away lies and things I have been blind to. Planting my feet firmly on Truth. Forcing me to ask myself, “Do I trust Him?” even when I’m in intense pain. And, in exchange for my unconditional “yes”, giving me a peace that is greater than any of the sorrow.

And I wouldn’t trade this birthday for one that was more full of smiles and warm feelings. I don’t want to live a birthday like this ever again, but I trust the importance of it.

The pain of God undoing what never should’ve been.

The pain of responding to the call to grow.

The pain of a new beginning- a beginning that “just so happens” (I’m looking at you, God 😉 ) to coincide with the beginning of my 29th year of life.

And I believe, with my whole heart, that is it going to be good, this year.

Because I’m leaving it up to Him. And He loves me fiercely. Protectively. He looks at me and smiles. He sees potential. He whispers over me promises. He calls me dear and beloved.

And He looks at me, with my swollen, red eyes and nose chapped from blowing it so much, and breathes peace into all the wild within me.

And He says, “It’s time for bed, child.”

And I take a deep breath and nod my head. And I surrender.

It’s all going to be okay.

I Will Lift My Eyes To The Giver Of Life

Here I am. Wide awake at 5:30. An hour and a half before my alarm.

And I didn’t get to bed early last night. No, quite the contrary. By the time my head finally hit the pillow and I closed my eyes, I had that all-too-familiar thought: “I’m going to be SO tired tomorrow.” And then I had to force myself not to do the math- the “how many hours of sleep will I get if I fall asleep within the next ten minutes” math.

But I’m awake. Illogically and irrationally.

And so I think maybe it’s God. Maybe He wanted this time with me.

I wanted to write this blog last night. In fact, I wrote most of it in my phone as I lay draped over my bed, teary and snotty and praying wildly.

In the car yesterday as I drove, I was pouring out all my anxieties and the unrest in me to God. And I heard Him say, “Let yourself be loved.”

And at first I kind of laughed and said, “You do realize that’s my primary source of pain, right? Wanting to be loved? Ooookay. I’ll ‘let myself be loved’. Noooo problemo!”

(Sometimes I get kind of sassy with God. ;-))

But then I realized that wasn’t actually the full extent of what letting myself be loved looks like. Letting yourself be loved isn’t the same as wanting love, or even keeping your heart open to the people who love you.

When you let something happen, you relinquish control. You rest and trust. Come what may.

And so that is what God was instructing of me. He wasn’t saying I’m not doing a good job of pursuing love, He was saying I need to take a deep breath and stop thinking it’s my job to hold anything together. He wants me to let go. He wants me to rest. To be able to just be grateful for what He’s provided without worrying when it’s all going to fall apart.

Oh my soul, find rest in God alone.

And yet, even as I realized that yesterday while I drove, and even while my mind keeps straying from Him to things that make me feel all uneasy and fretful and desperate, and even while I have to keep pulling my thoughts away and re-centering them on Him, like a badly aligned car that wants to keep veering into the wrong lane, I hear Him say: “Child, REST. You have to let Me love you, too. You are love-starved. Your heart, why you feel and think the way you do, it isn’t a mystery to Me. And it isn’t a flaw. It’s sorrow. So be patient and compassionate with yourself. Let Me do the good work in you that I have planned. Trust, child. Trust that I love you. Trust that I know what I’m doing.”

And so, I pray:

Sweet Abba,

I know if I look anywhere else for the love I need I will be disappointed. Teach me how to not be disappointed with You.

Teach me how to make my home in You alone.

I don’t want to try to find comfort or rest for my soul in anyone else’s love above Yours.

Teach me how I’m not alone when I’m sobbing on my knees on my bedroom floor, hands raised to heaven. I’m. Not. Alone.

Help Your loving eyes and Your reassuring hug be what floods my mind when I’m grasping for something to hold on to- somewhere for my mind to rest and breathe.

And teach me how to desire Your invisible love more than the love of people.

I’m trying so hard to want You above all else, Lord. But I’m not there yet. I need You. I love You. But I feel like it doesn’t matter because You aren’t delivering.

I don’t understand how an invisible God can truly be all that I need.

And I feel frustrated because I feel like I’ve given You ample time to come to me like wind or fire or rain or breath. And I feel like You’re not here. You’re not here and still You’re saying all I need is You. And HOW. IS. THAT. POSSIBLE?!?!

Only I know that it is.

Teach my heart how to know that too.

And I also know, Lord, that it can’t be true that You aren’t delivering or coming to me. Because You are good and You are love and You change not.

So is the problem me?

But that can’t be true either- not because the problem is never me ;-), but because I’m on my knees before You, begging You to make right what is wrong in me and capture my heart and draw me to You. I am BEGGING. And I am trying so hard to keep seeking Your face and not anything else this world has to offer.

And You hear me. And You see me. And You know how hard I’m trying and how desperately I am asking for Your help.

Even when I feel alone and empty inside and I’m wracked with sorrow, You hear.

But Lord, I don’t want my relationship with You to be the equivalent of me wrapping my own arms around myself and saying it’s You. I don’t want to call my own voice resounding in my head and heart You and fight to believe that it is, that it isn’t just me being lonely and needing my God to show up.

And maybe it is You. All of it. But how is THAT enough??

How do I hug myself and comfort myself and speak Your truth over myself and have that matter as much to me as someone letting me rest my head on their shoulder or dry my tears or seeing love in someone’s eyes?

How do I make You be my heart’s desire?

Maybe I can’t. Maybe that has to be all You. And maybe I’m here, trying so hard and beating myself up, and maybe You’re just simply saying, “Child, let Me love you.”

And so I’ll just keep falling to my knees and sobbing, emptying myself out before You, begging You to take me and fill me up everywhere I’m empty and broken. I’ll just keep begging, hands raised to heaven, that You will help me know and love You more.

Abba? That’s all I want for my birthday. Just for You to be my soft pillow, my security blanket, the invisible hug that, even though it can’t be seen, can be felt just as real as anything this world has to offer.

In fact, Lord, more than all I can see and touch and taste and hear in this world, help Your love for me to be the realest, truest thing.

Oh, Lord. Please, please, please don’t take anything else precious from me. But I don’t need You to give me anything else either. Nothing else but You.

Teach me how You are enough and how I’m not alone.

And show me how You looked on me with delight and all-consuming love and fierce protectiveness the day I was born.

And how You look at me that way still.

My Heart Will Choose To Say, Blessed Be Your Name

As I was getting home from work the other day, I saw my neighbor outside in his front yard feeding birds. And I kind of watched for a minute while I gathered my stuff and I smiled because I get it. I get how animals can become your family. Even animals who don’t live under your roof.

And then I watched while he got into his truck and backed out of his driveway.

And knocked our other neighbor’s garbage can over.

And kept driving.

And so I went over to pick the garbage can up and move it off the road, and I thought about how isn’t that just the perfect example of the complexity of human beings!? We are such contradictions.

And I found myself wondering, “Did he not care that he knocked their garbage can over? Is he just mean?” But I don’t think so. I think he was embarrassed because he probably suspected I saw it happen. And I get that too.

*

When Will and Gabe stayed with me, they kept pointing out when I was talking to myself or my pets or the TV. And I would roll my eyes and laugh and tell them, “That’s because I’m alone so much!”

And I mostly found it funny, but I also found it curious because I hadn’t realized how much I talk aloud to things that can’t talk back!

Or maybe I did realize it, but I didn’t realize it was weird!

I still do it, though. I’m okay with being weird. 😉

I catch myself when I’m talking aloud to an essentially empty room now, though. And it makes me smile and think of the boys and how I’m not really that alone if someone knows me well enough to tease me about the frequency with which I talk to myself.

And so I’m talking to my cats or the toaster or my own self and there’s just fine print, this gentle whisper, that I’m held. By Him and by others who love me. I exist in their hearts even when I’m alone.

I am loved. I belong. I fit.

There is a place for me in this world. And it is a gift. A soft, comforting thought on which to lay my head as I fall asleep at night.

I matter.

To Him, yes.

But also to those I love.

*

I don’t know how to settle my brain and heart as scenes from my 28th year of life flood through my brain without my consent.

And so I ask Jesus to give me a new script. How does He see my upcoming birthday? How does He want me to feel about turning 29?

Shame?

Like I don’t deserve it?

Embarrassed because what right do I have to celebrate something I didn’t even want?

Afraid?

Of course not. And yet that’s mostly how I feel.

And I miss my mom.

Or maybe I don’t. Because I remember many painful birthdays from when she was still alive, when I went to bed crying and feeling unloved.

Maybe I just miss being delighted in. Being someone’s daughter.

But I still am Someone’s daughter.

And I know that. And it sustains me. But it doesn’t feel like enough. And what is wrong with me that my heart is so full of ache even though I’m trying my hardest to give it wholly to Him?!

…How does He want me to feel about how there are more people in this world who passionately dislike me than who passionately love me?

It is all SO painful. This messy, complicated world, in which I can’t grasp onto anything and call it mine and secure and trust it not to leave.

I can grasp onto Him, of course. But not tangibly.

And so that’s my prayer as of late. “How do I find a home in Your arms when You aren’t here?”

I know that He loves me, but how do I make that really matter to my heart? How do I make it matter enough that I can confidently say that I don’t need anyone else to love me because I have Him?

And what is wrong with me that so much of my insides are screaming for something I can’t exactly name?

And so I lay it all down as best as I can. I give all of it to Him- a sacrifice. Because what else can I do but run to Him over and over and over again with all the things I can’t control and don’t understand?

And I say, “I trust You.”

Because that alone stops the screaming.

I trust You.

And it’s beautiful. When I refuse to think about what was or what I don’t have or my fear about the future, I am able to breathe deeply. Because today? It’s good.

Thank you, Father. Thank You for all You’ve brought me through.

Thank You for how You love me so relentlessly.

Thank You for carrying me through this beautiful, brutal world.

Thank You for helping me to see it–in all its bruty–as a gift.

When Hunger Keeps You Alive

What do I feel and why do I feel it and is it her or her or him that I want to hear “I love you” from or is it Him?

And am I going to be able to satiate all that’s insecure and lonely within me by soaking up others’ words or hugs or presence? Can I crawl into another’s soul-comforting words and live there- pulling another’s affirmations and love up and over me like a blanket?

No. And I know that. We’re wired in such a way that we need Him. Nothing else will do.

But even that brings about its own questions. Even that comes with a desperate, panicked clinging.

Because how do I wrap myself in His arms? How do I fold myself within the pages of scripture and breathe in the peace and shut out everything that hurts or confuses me or scares me? How do I bury myself so deeply into Him that my thirst for love is met?

Can I spend an hour on my knees and trust that it’s not futile? Can I really, fully believe Him to be as near as my very breath?

Do I have any idea what it really means that He loves me? And if I did, if I had even the slightest sense of how He loves me, wouldn’t that be enough? Wouldn’t He, indeed, finally resonate within me as More Than Enough and Life Abundant and Living Water for my thirst?

I refuse to let myself numb my hunger by feeding myself things that aren’t Him.

But I also refuse to let myself stop looking for Him in all things.

Because the sin isn’t needing to be loved, the sin is putting a higher value on the things of this world than the One who created it.

He knew we’d long to be held by Him. That’s why we have each other.

But He also knew people would fall short, they’d let us down and love us imperfectly and, even when relationships were perfect, there’d still be a part of us hungry for something more.

He is my 3 a.m. confidant and the one who I’ve, on multiple occasions, met with as I cried in a bathroom stall, my head tilted toward heaven, uttering only these words: “Who do I have in all the world but You?”

He is the warmth of the cat curled up and purring against my neck.

He is the comfort I feel when I wrap my favorite blanket around my shoulders.

He is the creator of the ones I love. He is the creator of my heart. He is the one who is orchestrating all things.

Here I am. In this place. For a reason.

And I don’t understand everything that is unsettled within me, but I know that if I keep running to Him, seeking His face, I will come to know Him as More Than Enough. I will come to know Him as the one who can quench my thirst and satiate my hunger.

Because He is good. And He IS enough.

And He’s the giver of good gifts.

And so I’ll wait and trust and breathe in all the blessings around me that are marked with His holy fingerprints.

And I’ll over and over and over again remind my soul to worship Him alone. And to trust.

And I don’t know why it’s so hard for me- why I have to fight so hard against this depression that threatens to pull me down. I don’t know why I only get glimpses–days, moments–in which I see life the way I remember it being- good and worth it and full of light and hope and joy.

But I know the depression won’t win. I know it lies. I will not stop fighting.

And neither will He.

This battle–the battle within my heart and my mind and all that’s broken within me, this battle to know and love Him more and above all other things–it’s not just mine. Ultimately, it’s He alone who can set all things right. It’s He alone who can teach me how to dwell and abide in His love and to never thirst again.

And hunger doesn’t have to be painful maybe. It doesn’t have to be a scream that this world is not my home and that He cannot hold me. Hunger doesn’t have to become a taunting voice, leading me to despair, mocking me as I kneel before the Lord, asking me what that’s actually accomplishing.

I will shut out any voice that isn’t His. Because the voice of my Lord reminds me that hunger is a gift.

And actually, it can become a bubbling well of joy, can’t it? If it keeps driving me toward Him, if I’m living my life with eyes wide open because I believe He has given me this hunger for a reason and knows how to meet it, then hunger can be a source of life and excitement for what’s to come, yes?

But only when I trust Him to provide.

Not when I think I can x, y, z my way to a solution. Because then the process stops being an adventure, rather is becomes a reason to beat myself up and ask if I’m doing enough and think it’s all pointless because I cannot SEE the progress being made. After all, when have we ever been able to say we’ve “earned” our blessings? It’s all grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. It’s not my fault, and it’s not because I’ve earned it.

And so I’ll cling to Truth and hold tight to His hand and keep my eyes locked on His face, while I wait, and trust, and pray for deliverance and peace and love like a waterfall.

It’s All Him

I have been asking the Lord to reveal to me how near He is and how much He loves me.

Because what do we need more than that?

What else is more protective against idolatry or hopelessness or fear? What else can take credit for being the backbone to true, unshakable joy?

And what else, other than a deeper revelation of how He loves me, can help me love Him more?

I’ve been wondering how often what I perceive as self-compassion or self-love is actually not me at all. I wonder how much it’s His love for me resounding within me. And I grasp onto it, calling it my own, because I don’t know any differently. He’s in me and I’m in Him and sometimes it’s hard to know where He ends and I begin. And so I feel compassion or love for myself and it surprises me, sure, but it feels so innate and natural that I think I was the original producer of those feelings. But maybe I’m not. Maybe it’s Him.

I’ll be sitting silently, reading or watching TV or talking to a client, and suddenly I feel love for myself rising up within me like a wind. And I’ll pause and turn my ear toward the sound of the tree leaves rustling and the wind blow past. And then it’s silent again. And I’m back at baseline. And I’m there, unchanged, but smiling inwardly.

And so I think, if it’s not me, or not entirely me, then maybe it’s Him. And if it’s Him, then how breath-takingly near He starts to feel. And with that, I can hallelujah my way through the day, confident of His hand wrapped around mine and our hearts interlinked. And I am not alone or unseen or forgotten because it’s all Him- it’s HIM.

It’s Him in the roar of love (for myself or others) rattling within the confines of my rib cage, begging to break free.

It’s Him in easy smiles and effortless gratitude for a new day.

It’s Him in the wind and rain and sun alike.

It’s Him in the compassion for others that comes so easily to me.

It’s Him in the silence and Him in the noise and Him when I’m alone and Him when I’m surrounded by people who love me.

It’s Him in kind eyes and generous hearts and in anyone whose brave enough to live life open and vulnerable and authentic.

It’s Him in the tick of the clock and the stillness of night and the purr of a cat and even my own beating heart.

It’s Him in laughter and tears and a good meal and a warm blanket and an even warmer hug.

It’s Him in hope that exists against all odds, tentative and unsure, but refusing to be squashed.

It’s Him in delight over an infant’s gummy, lopsided smile; or bubbles in the bathtub; or tulip springing from the earth.

And if it’s all Him, if He’s woven through all that we see and feel, if He’s bigger and more present than we can even understand, then I can say to all that’s within me with boldness: “Take Heart.”

Take heart.
Oh, my soul. Be still.
The Lord is on your side.

The Lord is BY your side.

You are loved and held and not ever, not for a single second, alone.

Only The Best

Today I read about how Jesus says many will be turned away, thinking that heaven is their fate, but instead He will say, “Away from me. I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

That scares the crap out of me. Not as much for myself as for the people I love who I’ve lost touch with- those whose relationship with the Lord is kind of a question mark.

And I wish I could soften the edges of that truth and make it feel less jagged and painful as I hold it in my hand. But sure enough, that portion of scripture seems pretty clear.

And yet, I HAVE to believe in a God that will woo us relentlessly. I have to believe in the earth-shaking power of prayer and that my prayers, even the most poorly worded ones, terrify Satan. I have to believe it isn’t as bleak as that passage of scripture makes it sound.

I believe that because I have to. Otherwise I will be all panic and anxiety and desperately begging people to make changes that only God can really bring about in them. And so I believe that, but I don’t KNOW that.

And that scares me.

But what can I do?

And so I tuck myself under His arm and close my eyes and let Him be God.

*

The baby in the stroller in front of me craned her neck to stare at me as I walked through the parking lot. And I waved. She didn’t wave back or smile, and her mom remained unaware of the conversation taking place between her child and myself, but I smiled and waved anyway.

I smiled and waved almost reflexively. And I realized afterwards, while I continued to smile at the baby, that Jesus would’ve done that too. He would’ve smiled and waved. And that reflex in me is evidence that He is making me to be like Him.

And then I smiled again because how beautiful to see who I am becoming more like Him- sometimes in effortless ways, ways I could almost overlook, and sometimes through extreme, deliberate effort- knees to the ground, tears, prayers, pleading.

*

When someone compliments my ability to write or says I’m smart, there is no part of me that feels proud of that because I didn’t have anything to do with it. It’s how I was made.

Likewise, I have no control over the fact that my hair isn’t thick or that my feet are big or that I can’t sing like Lauren Daigle. As with not taking pride in the things I can do, there doesn’t have to be any shame in what I can’t do, or what I can’t be, because I had nothing to do with it; it’s just how I was made.

Similarly, when I see Him in myself, it doesn’t feel like a thing to be proud of- it feels like confirmation that He is here, working all things together, doing a good thing in me. It is comfort. Promise. Hope. It is all Him in me and growing me and sustaining me.

I can take no credit for the delight I find in the stars or foggy mornings. I can’t be blamed for my love for animals, even when it does border on the slightly ridiculous. I can’t take credit for the fact that I am generally a kind, friendly person. I can’t be blamed because I am unmarried. I cannot take credit for the fact that my hunger for the Lord is as real as fire within me.

Who am I aside from clay- His creation, being shaped and molded?

Additionally, in light of the above, how does it make sense to feel envious of someone else or judge myself as better than them?

So much of it has nothing to do with our own abilities, but His merciful gift-giving and all-knowing, perfect design. We are all His creations. Beautiful and astounding and flawed and fallible and worthy of love, but NOT worthy of a place on a throne or fame or worship, nor deserving of a critical eye or being the subject judgment.

Oh, how twisted this world has gotten it.

In the matter of who we are as people, the playing field is level.

I have control over my decisions. I have control over whether or not I choose to live a godly life. But who I am at my core? That’s all Him. A product of His all-knowing, miracle-orchestrating goodness. A product of my life experiences. A product of genetics. But all of it in His hands.

It’s not to my credit that I am good with children or that my eyes are hazel or that I can write. I don’t know any other way of being. It isn’t something I worked for, it’s just how I was made.

It’s not my fault I am not a brilliant singer.
But I can choose to sing anyway. That I have control over. To hide beneath my inabilities rather than make a joyful noise, that would be a shame. I can embrace who I am–flaws and all–and still choose to live life fully rather than hiding behind “I can’t” and “what will they think of me?”

And it’s not my fault I am terrified of doctors.
But I can choose to go anyway. …Even if I need someone there to hold my hand and drive me because Xanax is required. 😉

There are things we can choose, and there are things we can’t. And how often do we shoulder the weight of things we were never meant to carry- like inferiority or needing to prove ourselves or shame or having to be “better than” someone else?

*

He is all-knowing. The giver of good gifts. This is the life He chose for me. The body. The heart. The personality. There is no other life or personality or appearance that would be better.

And I was thinking about that on my drive to work today, how, essentially, jealously is saying, “God, You made a mistake. I don’t trust You.”

There’s a place for grief and sorrow and laying our dreams down at the foot of the cross, submitting them to Him with tear-filled eyes because we are going to trust Him even if it breaks our hearts. There’s a place for being sad about what we don’t have, but ultimately we have to be able to say that we surrender all to Him, come what may.

We have to live our lives with hearts and hands and minds open to receiving the fulfillment of our prayers, or pleasant and unexpected surprises, or even a “no” in response to our prayers. And when a “no” is the response, we have to be able to hear that and believe that God has better for us, whatever that “better” may be.

And we have to be okay with it not feeling like “better”, and we can grieve that, because what we feel is real and deserves compassion and acknowledgment. But, while our feelings are real, they aren’t reliable at determining what’s true. So we have to be able to cry and grieve and still stubbornly hold firm and unwavering to the belief that He is good and He can be trusted and He never gives us less than the best.

And at the end of the day, whether I’m alone or surrounded by loved ones, I can lay my head down on my pillow and tuck myself there under His arm. And I can close my eyes and breathe in peace and comfort because He is God and I am His. And I trust Him.

As Sure As The Sun

Dear God,

Thank You for the comfort of falling asleep on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, while people you love remain awake around you. Thank You for the gift of drifting off to sleep knowing You’re not alone.

Thank You when you wake up and realize you were drooling, but know you don’t have to be embarrassed because You’re safe with these people who love and accept you. And we’re all human. It’s not a competition.

Thank You for legs intertwined and shoulders to rest your head on and arms to interlink and backs to scratch.

Thank You for the quiet of night, and late night drives when you look out the window and watch the bright lights of buildings pass in a blur. And thank You when, in the car, people you love are asleep. And so precious to you. And you’re all there together. And the quiet and the being together and the lights lull you into a sense of All Is Well.

Thank You for laughter. And good stories. And deep conversations.

Thank You for good food and eating without guilt or shame or self-loathing. Thank You for cashews and grapes and dark chocolate.

Thank You for growth and hope and promise.Thank You for being wanted and belonging. And thank You that when something doesn’t make sense, I can entrust that thing to You and just let myself be held.

Thank You when the things I fear happening don’t happen.

Thank You for Dramamine and that I didn’t throw up in the car. And thank You that even the most uncomfortable things, like nausea, eventually pass. And thank You that even had I thrown up, it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world. Because I’m loved and it isn’t a performance. I’m safe and Yours and it’s all going to be okay.

Thank You for energy drinks and also please don’t let them kill me. 😉

Thank You for the beauty of winter- warm houses and long showers and hot beverages and clothes that feel like a hug. And thank You for the promise of spring.

Thank You for the way the rising sun looks on slightly foggy mornings.

Thank You for headaches that dissipate and don’t turn into migraines.

Thank You for the opportunity to create and read good books and continually open myself up to breathe in the holy beauty of what this world has to offer.

Thank You for the times when I feel out-of-place and judged and I can hold my head high and not feel sad because I know I am not doing life unloved. People carry me in their hearts even when we’re apart. And Thank You that You don’t make mistakes. And You made me.

Thank You for permission to be my authentic self. And thank You for giving me authentic, flawed, beautiful, Jesus-reflecting people to do life with.

Thank You for opportunities to nurture and provide and be someone’s safe place.

Thank You for animals and cuddles and purrs and how pets look at you like you’re everything they need.

Thank You for Indian food, and that the Indian food restaurant isn’t closer to my house than it is, which safeguards me from going very often!

Thank You that nothing unresolved or unhealed or fragmented within me will be that way forever. Thank You for the way hope and patience go hand-in-hand, and that waiting or not understanding aren’t evidence of anything. Thank You that You are reliably, unfailingly trustworthy and good.

Thank You for home–found in places and people and moments–and that even while we await our true home, our home with You, this world doesn’t have to feel lonely or wrong or like anything less than a gift.

Thank You for bathrooms with toilets that flush normally and don’t require any special tricks or maneuvers. And doors that lock in a way that isn’t confusing, making you simultaneously fear that it’s not actually locked, and also that it’s so locked that you won’t be able to get it unlocked and will have to pound on the door for help. …Which is totally a thing that has happened to me before.

Thank You for second chances and fiftieth chances and for always welcoming me back to You with arms wide open.

Thank You that it’s impossible to believe You to be more good or loving or present than You actually are. Thank You that You’re all those things more than we can even fathom.

Thank You for invitations.

Thank You that I can fall on my knees before You and just be Your child- desperate and needy and in love with You. Thank You that even in my deepest pain, when I turn to You, it makes you smile. And thank You that, even in my deepest pain, that thought brings me comfort.

Thank You that my begging You to know and love You more is not a prayer I have to fear going unanswered.

Thank You that I’m still here to celebrate my 29th birthday later this month. Thank You that even when I gave up, You didn’t. Thank You for all that has remained even amidst all the loss and brokenness and mistakes. Oh Abba, thank You.

Thank You for how You love me. Thank You for how You provide. Thank You that I have so much to be thankful for.