Sunday, May 10, 2015


10The Lord said to Joshua, "Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?"

Joshua 7
In my middle school class, we're going through the Old Testament, and we've been talking about promises and identities. We're in Judges now, but a few weeks ago it was Joshua. Time and time again we read the words, Be strong and of good courage...I will not leave you nor forsake you...the victory is not dismayed...I am with you. God shoves at Joshua in ways that we don't expect. He tells him that he has won battles that are not even glimpsed on the horizon yet, and not only that, but he tells him to believe that those things are true.
In the darkest hour, the Maker assures His creations that He redeems and He is there.
In that classroom on the upper level of the children's ministry building, I've found that I've been preaching to myself these past few weeks. I came home today after teaching on Gideon and the lies that we tell ourselves and the truth of who we really are, and I was planting irises on my back patio and I thought,
Do I really believe what I told the girls this morning?
My answer was a resounding,
We took some time to write down the things that we feel about ourselves that aren't true and maybe limit us, and I put on the list "small" and "inadequate." Then we made a list of promises and truths about who the Lord says we are, and I wrote "called" and "chosen" and "designed with intention." I think I made them do that because I needed to do it. Because this morning I didn't feel like I was called or chosen or even designed intentionally, I felt small–very small, and inadequate.
I felt incapable.
And so I was honest, out there in my backyard surrounded by purple flowers. I told the Creator,
I don't. I don't think I believe everything I told them this morning. I feel unworthy and lost and less than and I don't know how to stop feeling those things. 
And He replied gently in that way that He always does with a pressing on my spirit and a hope-filled grasp at my heart,
Get up daughter. Rise up. Why are you on your face when I have lifted you from this mire?

And that was it. I repented then and there of my pettiness and doubts. Because He was right, He is right. I am meant to be a Joshua. I am to cross my Jordans. I am a repairer of the breach, a restorer of paths, a right-hand redeemer, and a bringer of grace. No matter what I feel about myself in my darkest hours and my long valleys, I am not tiny. I don't need to stop feeling like I am though, I only need to realize that it's untrue.
I only need to believe that I am His.

I am being redeemed and He is with me.

This is just a simple truth that I want you all to know.

You are His.
You are precious and cherished and cultivated daily. You are called and chosen. You are designed with meaning and purpose. It is for you that He split the seas. It is for you He gave all. You are mighty and victorious. You are peculiar and ever-loved.
You are one sheep out of one hundred, and He left the other ninety-nine to seek you out.
You matter.

So get up friends. Why lay in the dust from which you came? He has prepared a glorious position for each and all of us, and we can claim that identity with with power and certainty. We can tug at it and shake it and cry out,
I am new! I am new in Him and none can undo what He has done and promised! None can mar His intentions and perfect plan and beautiful design. I am new, I am new, I am new. 
The darkest hour always passes, and it is when we realize that we are claimed, then we can step out of the wake of our dead selves and into the calling He has for us.
We are children of the King. Royalty and a priesthood, daughters and sons, princes and princesses.

We are worth more than the irises.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The bend in the road.

“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.” 
– N. T. Wright

The things I've learned this year, some are like thunder and others are like tiny white buds. I've experienced the boisterous and vivacious and the gentle and small, small, small, all of which are true and genuine. It's April, and I understand things better. I get it now. 
All this matters. 
There is purpose in this seemingly heart-rending and insufferable existence. There is meaning behind your sorrows. There is redemption after your weeping. There is a plan for your drudgery. There is joy coming in the morning. 
Each day awakens, and each day brings dusk. 
And you? You are alive. Your life means something. You mean something. Do not doubt the necessity of your feet on this spinning planet. Even if it seems unbearable, I promise you, there is a reason for that. We are ecclesiastical in the sense of the third chapter of the book. We are not always fickle, we are simply human. We hurt and we heal. For as Anne says, "There is another bend in the road after this." Or rather, this too shall pass. And friends? It does. You wake one morning and the sun is spilling and you realize that you've moved on. Yes, things ache and throb, but you have stepped past the dark place and you are His still. 
Don't give up. 
Maybe you're tired, or you feel like you have no meaning or impact on those around you, let alone the world. Maybe you think everyone else is making a difference but you. Maybe you can't see a silver lining. Maybe you're just done. Maybe you don't see the point. Maybe you're rejected and you feel alone and abandoned and that no one cherishes you. Maybe it's not fair. Maybe you've failed. Maybe you're at the very bottom of it all and your weakest point. Maybe you've lost everything, or never had anything. Maybe the impossible, the unthinkable happened. Maybe the odds aren't in your favor. Maybe you're lost and have no sense of direction and this is just a void. Maybe you're empty.
Maybe you're in the dark, the dark, the dark.
But there is a bend in the road my friend. 
It's coming. 
Do not yield. Press in, lean in. Shoot straight, and continue on the course. Even still, in the blackest of nights, the North Star is there. Your purpose is a compass, His presence is a reassurance. You are building God's kingdom. And maybe right now you're in a trench, covered in mud and dust and dirt, and you don't understand why this is even happening, but it matters. That trench is for the foundation. You will build on it. There will come a day when you climb out, you reach the top of the pit, and you look back down and He will say, "See? See how I stayed your hand there? See how you trusted Me in that corner? See the sure, straight line which you dug in the deepest, darkest part? That was because you kept on. That was because you had faith." 
You will turn the bend, and all will be well. 

One day, when everything comes to fruition and redemption is finally accomplished, we will look at His work by our hands, and we will see the goodness and the glory and the reasons. We will have crossed our Jordans. We will have lived our Ecclesiastes. We will have fulfilled His grace. 
We will know.

Monday, March 16, 2015


1For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.
– Psalm 136

There's no place I could go where you won't find me.
– Bethel Music

17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us 
an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
– 2 Corinthians 4

There will be days of restlessness. They will plague you with their incessant interruption, their unwanted presence. There will be days when all you want is that slowness you used to partake of. There will be days of fatigue and constant sacrifice, days of doubt and suffering, days of giving up.
I promise you, there will be days when you will give up. 
And yet, His purpose for you remains unchanged. 
You still wake up. You still breathe. You are still there. You speak and move and change and grow and shift, even as you feel your feet sliding backwards. Even as you stumble. Even in your disbelief. Even if the mountain is too big. 
He has a use for you.
You need only extend your hand. 

That is one of the hardest parts of this. I won't lie to you, and I won't deny it. It is difficult and trying. Because more often than not, we want to wallow in our pain, we want to lay on the ground with our arms wrapped around our stomachs and be enveloped in our aches for just a while longer. We want to make it about us. We want to reject His redemption and His sovereignty. We want to rest in our suffering, because if we do not remain there, we must continue on into even more sorrow. So we allow our wounds to fester. We slap His hand away when He assures us that He can bind them. We tremble and quiver like the snapping willows in the winds of November. We march back and forth, across the same small space. We lie and say we're alright. 
We lie and say we're alright. 
We're not though, not really. And we won't be until we allow Him to begin to heal us. Until we accept again that He uses all for good, even if we don't understand it. Until we gain perspective, pull back onto our shoulders the weight of glory. Until we resolve to remember the hole in our ear which speaks of the servitude we promised when we nailed it to His door. Until we welcome His goodness, despite our doubts and grief. 

You can live your whole life holding hands with anguish. Or you can choose to take the Savior's instead. 

It is alright to not understand, to not be okay, to have restless days. We're only human, and He does not fault us for that. He does not expect perfection, but only that we would strive to be better and remember His promises. There's nothing harsh in that calling, not an inkling of condemnation towards us in His character. 
You're not in this alone.
His comfort and healing are consistently available to us. Our restlessness is our own. Remind yourself of your purpose, and all will be well. Live gently, but allow ferocity into your spirit. Claim your name as a warrior, even a wounded one, because you are in the legion of the Maker and the Hope-bringer and the Giver, and He has the power to make this all bigger than just you.
Do not allow your circumstances to cut you at the ankles, but gather courage and let Him aid you in your stance. 
The truth? Spring is coming, even in the midst of your heartache.
Sit in the warm, mellow sunlight. Listen to the cello. Run through parks and trails and forests and along streams. Devote time to Him. Speak of your afflictions. Cultivate community. Cherish what you do have. Don't be alright, and then be alright. Read stories of impossible accomplishments. Create and make. Serve. Thank Him. Embrace purpose. Live and live and then live even more. 

For tomorrow comes. She comes in spite of your disbelief. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015


The smallest mountain climber, or even, the smallest mountain.
Tiny warrior.
The turnip.
Little grumpy old man.
Wide-eyed, hustling every night.
My favorite nephew.

On January 8th at 11:47pm, I swear you made my heart skip a beat. 

Welcome to the world little one.
I can't wait to conquer the peaks with you.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How to live a remarkable life.

My mama always told me to live sideways. She never said those words exactly, but she showed me with the way she ambled through meadows and rambling, long, drawn-out conversations and fed the birds and walked strong, shoulders square. How she drank her coffee black and planted lavender and oak trees and wasn't afraid of the spiders or the dusk. She preached it with her brimming confidence and Chanel 5 and hair pulled back in a hot kitchen while canning plums. My mother embodied sideways living for my entire childhood. I owe her everything for that. 

Some of the best things I've learned are the things my mother never said to me but always meant. 

My mama always told me to live sideways. 
Not a lot of people get that. It's not something that's written like a map on your bones. It's a subtle, simple thing, and you have to learn it. If no one ever taught you to live horizontally, the thought of it probably even causes your heart to clench, at a least a little bit. 
Surprisingly, it's the people who you would most likely expect to live vertically who understand best how to live sideways. Maybe it's because they have everything and realize that they really don't. Or maybe it's because of a sunrise that they should have missed but didn't. Or maybe their mama never told them either but she showed them too. I don't know. All I really know is Johnny Cash had it right when he was asked what paradise was and he replied,
"This morning, with her, having coffee." 
Most of our lives we're told that success and victory will only come if you live vertically, but that's a lie, and that lie leads to an unremarkable life. History tells a different story. The people who dared to live in the dirt, the ones who slowed down, those who chose to stop climbing mountains and instead began to push them aside, the people who dared to wave banners or stand instead of sit, those are the most remarkable people. Those are the people whose stories that you read make your spirit swoon and poetry suddenly makes sense. 

G. K. Chesterton once wrote that "...we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure." Many of us–myself included at times–have been negligent of this pursuit. We become so wrapped up in the secure, that we dismiss the strange as completely and unequivocally unnecessary. We forget wonder, and we forget how to slow down. See, we have mistaken the rush and necessity of success in this life for the secure, but it isn't really. It's the small satisfaction you get from welcoming simple moments into your life. It's the pleasure of the raw. It's a life lived looking and noticing through rose-colored glasses. And we have written the strange off as too strange, as foreign or daring, but once you recognize the strange for what it really is, you understand that it is not meant to make you quake in your boots always but rather only to lead an adventurous existence daily and with a spirit of jubilee. The strange is the way things shift, the growth that spills out of the constancy of someone's life. It's not always brave and courageous and dangerous or snapping and biting. Yes, sometimes the strange is a sunset in Budapest instead of Alabama, and sometimes the strange is simply the arrival of the dusk.
Sideways living is a romantic insistence; it's the welcome embrace of the familiar and the dare of the unfamiliar.

This past year was maybe the hardest of my life. 
Things happened that I didn't want to happen, things that I never dreamed could or would happen to those that I love. The month of February almost killed me. I still remember quite clearly a week of coming home from classes and laying on the cold floors of my dark house and just sobbing, weeping the hardest I had ever wept in my life. 
There was this one day when I couldn't catch my breath.
I panicked. I gave up. It was a dark day, and I sat on my kitchen floor next to a cup full of tea that wasn't even warm anymore and I shouted up to Christ. I told Him that He had abandoned me, and I got so frustrated and sobbed so hard that I began to hyperventilate. I learned to be angry at God this year, in a way I didn't think I could. Truthfully, I felt like He ripped my heart out of my chest, and I thought He did it on purpose. And with that thought came months of grey and despair and restlessness, and finally a silver lining.
But then October arrived, and I felt as if everything constant and sure in my life had been snatched from me in a moment, a decision, and a choice. I found myself wavering and not knowing who to turn to because I was trying to be the shoulder again, but I was just as weak. And there I was again, in that bleariness and bleakness. I stood by the river one morning, and threw handfuls of stones and dirt into the water while I breathed loudly in desperation and hurt. I felt abandoned, and I wanted to blame the Maker. Philippians didn't say what I wanted it to, and I didn't even know how to say what I wanted it to. Honestly, I'm still standing in the wake of October and her harshness. I was sitting in a new pastor's front room with my family on Christmas Eve, and I looked around me and thought, How did I get here? From what I had, to here. How did this happen? How is the one thing I never thought I would lose gone?
And I still don't know the answer to that.

I learned what hopelessness is this year. 
I learned what it is like to be deserted. 

I'm going to tell you one of the hardest truths I've learned. 
Living a remarkable life hurts. 
There is safety and certainty in vertical living. If you're always going up or going forwards, direction is so evident. Most people don't even need a compass, where they're going is incredibly clear to them. Their path is marked, and it is marked well. Because people tell you what to do when you live vertically; they even tell you who to be. And dismissing those around you who may have been dealt a lesser hand in life is a little bit easier. It's less risky to ignore the less fortunate when you live vertically.
I chose to be like Christian, in "The Pilgrim's Progress," this year. Part of me knew when I decided that, that I would regret it, at least a little. And I do. And I don't. Christian turns away from and loses almost everything, but he also gains even more.
The things that have been taken from me and my loved ones this year are things I never for a second thought would be lost. Yet they were. It's December, and the impossible became possible this year. 
It's because I am choosing to live sideways. I understand that all of these tragedies and hardships are consequences of a horizontal life, because a vertical life is an apathetic life, and when you don't really bother to care, hardly anything hurts. But when you live sideways, when you actually stop, take a step back, look around, and breathe, then pain arrives. It's almost like you're inviting him in. You tell him, I decided! I decided to care! Come get me. And he does. 
And he almost kills you.
But still you wake up. Because with tragedy comes the promise of redemption. I know that's what 2015 will be for me, a redemption year. Because after Christian goes through the valley of the shadow of death, a new day comes when the sun rises and he meets Faithful. You have no idea how much I want that redemption, how hard I yearn for that faith, how many times I have repeated to myself, 
Come January, please come. 
I have been home for December. The other day, I went and sat outside, up against the shop wall, in the cold and with a steaming mug of black coffee beside me. I was writing in my journal. I had planned to write a lot actually, but the only words I put on the page were these: "Not everything lasts forever, and that is okay." And then I leaned my head back and looked up at the white sky and breathed. Because I was still alive. I had that day. I had purpose, and I still do. I chose to live sideways in that moment, not behind in the past and my loss and regrets, and not forward into the worries and cares of my future, but then. Right then. In the welcoming presence of my childhood home and the unknown that will come about in this next year, and in everything surrounding that.
I heard the late geese migrating.
I watched the steam float above my coffee cup.
I felt small wooden splinters digging into my hand.
I noticed the frost on the dead grass.
I recited Keats and Ecclesiastes under my breath.
I pulled my sweater tighter around me, and felt tininess and largeness.
I dwelt in the presence of my Maker, and the closeness of my family.
I lived, I lived, I lived.
I lived, I lived, I lived.
Yes, this last year has been a hard one. There has been many a time when I felt like Bilbo, and wanted only to crawl back into the safety of my hobbit hole, into the warm yellow light of vertical living, but I didn't. Instead, I kept on the path, journeying sideways with the magic and the beasts and the humans about me. Learning, discovering, bleeding, finding, losing, battling. Loving. Because sideways living requires loving, and as C. S. Lewis said, "To love at all is to be vulnerable." But it's worth it. I swear it's worth it. I would know.

So slow down. Breathe a little deeper. Dare harder. Drink more coffee, and very well make it black. Drive miles. Battle battles. Remain. Wake up. Show up for people, even startle them. Read Jude, and read it again, and again. Walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Go, and stay, be an hundred different places in heart, mind, and soul, but choose to be fully present more often than not. Laugh. Weep. Grow and shift, embrace the changes. Discover Christ and allow Him to discover you, intimately and in a real manner. Pursue people. Build a home. See the world. Think outside of yourself for once. Give, give, give.
Be "as kind as summer."
Live remarkably.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dear World-Shaker, otherwise known as, How To Be Fiercer.

Sometimes I feel invincible.

There have been nights, till three in the morning with sleepy words and messy hair and brave discussions on theology and how we're so certain we're going to fix the world. Evenings of a mellow, buttery sun–the golden hour–and guitars softly strummed, ukuleles in laps, songs everyone knows on everyones lips. Nights on the rooftop, eyes up at the sky, wool socks, and knitted blankets and quilts pulled tight around shoulders as we spin as fast as the world, because we're growing up and no one can stop us. Days full of chasing joy and dance parties in orchards and road trips with windows rolled all the way down and camping on the sand at the sea, the sea, the sea and big cups of coffee in a messy kitchen and shoulders touching and dashing through a forest of blackberry bushes and falling in love and out of it and ferry rides and piles of journals bursting with ideas. Those moments when everything is right even though it's not, because companionship and friendship and then.

Sometimes I feel inadequate.

Like I never did enough or I should have chosen something else and I'll never actually make what needs to happen happen. There are days when I'm frightened. My voice gets caught in my throat before the words can come out to someone who cares and then they never do. The fear that I haven't done enough, won't do enough, it's crippling. And maybe, in the middle of church, hands in mid-clap, eyes wide and sure, I forget and I miss a beat and I doubt. What am I doing here? Is this even right? I turned the wrong way somewhere, tried to move the wrong mountain, didn't I?
We often don't recognize that we can always, always change our minds.

You can begin again.

I think the reason we don't actually believe that is because we don't say it to each other. Face to face, one human to another, mistakes and regrets pushed aside, and with fleshy, rose colored lips forming the words, You can start over. No one ever actually says that to anyone. Because we don't want to be wrong. We don't want to have to look at someone later and think, I never should have told them that. They were right. They missed their shot. False encouragement is a betrayal no one wants to commit. Most of us like to keep our transgressions to a certain number, and so we avoid the subject, we don't take the risk. We only allude to the fact that it's never too late. We hesitate, and the pause we take swells larger and larger till we forget how we were actually going to reassure them, instead we mourn with them.
Regrets are real. Maybe you should have let your dad kiss you on the forehead that one time you were leaving the house in a hurry. Maybe you shouldn't have even gone. You should have said sorry. You should have stayed up later around the campfire that one night and sang with your friends and listened to the crickets and prayed those prayers. You should have taken that class you always wanted to. You should have learned to surf. You should have visited Big Sur. Maybe you should have fought harder for her. Maybe you should have let him go.
Maybe you should have done it all, or nothing at all.
Maybe you should have.

Marina Keegan once wrote that "The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical." And she was right. There are a lot of things I want to do. There are a lot of things you want to do too. Own your nows, and you can possibly do them all. It's going to sound lame and mother-ish, but all you have to do is believe.
Risks not taken usually translate into regrets. And disbelief in yourself breeds unflattering inconsistencies in other areas of your life.

As human beings, we don't really owe each other anything, but I think we should tell the truth and try a little harder for one another.
So be here, with me.

Climb Mt. Everest.
Swim with dolphins.
Become an editor.
Start a nonprofit.
Grow your own garden.
Stand on a bridge and shout.
Learn another language.
Greet your neighbor.
Leave your favorite book in a coffee shop.
Love with abandon.
Give the homeless guy your shoes and coffee and second chance.
Get back up.
Go see the state of Oklahoma.
Create your own company.
Quit your job, and build stuff instead.
Fly to Ethiopia for six months.
Get married, or don't.
Visit your grandfather.

Try and try and try.

Those times when you feel invincible should rule your life. They should consume all the grief you feel for the times you didn't. And this is me daring you, to live with abandon, to strike out in courage, to leap. This is me being human with other humans, and I want you to as well.
It's never too late.

6Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31

"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."

You can read Marina Keegan's full essay here. Also, go buy her book, published posthumously. It's worth every penny. 
The words at the bottom are from the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Watch it. Then go to Iceland. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Gardener.

"What I cannot now comprehend – be it mine to wait the disclosures of that blessed morning when, standing at the luminous portals of Heaven, I shall joyfully acknowledge that, 'You have done all things well!' I look forward to that time when all Your inscrutable dealings will be unfolded, when inner meanings and purposes now undiscerned by the eye of sense – will be brought to light, and all discovered to be full of infinite love! Other refuges may fail – but I am as secure in You, as everlasting love and wisdom and power can make me."

John MacDuff

"Some of the greatest discouragements will not come only from those who are against you, but those who are standing beside you."

Tim Chaddick

This year has had two major themes running throughout it, woven with golden and grey threads. 

Beginnings and grief. 

Many a wondrous wonder has happened in my surroundings these past few months. I have seen friendships blossom and deepen, hearts and hands and bones and flesh become tied together and one, new life be created, stories shared, arms extended, mountains crumble, and long, slow days seep into gentle evenings shared with kindred spirits. It was oftentimes easy to say, "There is no valley here."
But many a trial has come as well. The valley seemed to stretch for miles and miles and miles some days. And silver linings were scarce to nonexistent. I didn't understand a lot. I felt lost as that grey thread knitted itself into my chest cavity and brought me to my knees. I felt betrayed. Angered. Sorrowful. Hopeless.

I hate goodbyes.
I am terrified of them.
And I have had to say a lot goodbyes this year.

The Maker is good though. He is such a gardener in character. I have seen Him till the rocky soil of my soul, felt Him press the seeds of grace into my disillusioned being, listened to His gentle whispers as He fed and watered and cultivated my heart. The Maker knows all. And thus, I trust Him with His trowel. I allow myself to be planted. I am ready for His design.
I partake in the goodbyes.
This last month, on a lonely, grey summer day, I was sitting on my back patio repotting my houseplants. I was covered in dirt, the knees of my jeans stained with soil and the thighs with white gouache, my hair pulled up, and my hands cradling my lavender plant, and I had been busy arguing with Christ about whether or not I should be able to understand why everything happens the way it happens. I was near tears, and so frustrated, when I heard Him.
I know all, He told me.
That's not enough, I retorted. Why shouldn't I know it all too? Why can't I? 
And I felt His calm presence, His reassurance as He said again, I know all. 
I slapped my thighs. But I want to understand, I said.
You will, He encouraged me. But right now, that is not necessary. It's not part of my design, it's not part of my plan. 
I did cry then. I don't understand that either, I confessed.
You don't have to, He said. Because I do. I know all. And that is enough. 
And I lost, there in my backyard, having one of those conversations with the Gardener of life that you can never win. I'll confess I was still angry for a while after that, just sitting there in the dirt, tears trailing down my face. I wanted to know. I wanted to know why all of the bad things that had happened this year had happened. Loss. Tragedy. People leaving, choosing not to stay. Feeling isolated. Those goodbyes. I wanted to know what they all meant, what they were all for.
But I don't get to know.
And I don't have to.

Sorrow will be nonexistent in Heaven, but the point of sorrow I think will be fuller. It'll be a culmination of incandescence when we get there. We'll look at Him after it all and say, Oh. Oh that's why. And it'll be more than enough, that knowledge then and there. It won't hurt. It will just be. The goodbyes will finally have reasons behind them.

I feel like I'm not an easily discouraged person. But for some reason this year has just found me with a lesser helping of faith, a more trying demon on my shoulder, and I constantly seem to be knee-deep in mud. I know that it's preparation for what's to come. I understand that. But it's been a lot of goodbyes, and a lot of them were ones I never imagined I have to say. There is a part in Jude that talks about awaiting mercy and how love is on the way. After a lot of these goodbyes, I've found myself dwelling on that. There was even one grey day when I was so desperate I wrote the words above the crease of my elbow.
"Await mercy. Love is coming."
I didn't believe them at the time. I've found that I do that when I face a trial or suffering attempts to consume me. I press hard into the Gardener's promises, even though there is no solace there for me at that moment. But I know, I know that there will be. I know the truth even when I call Him liar.
These are good lessons He is giving me this year. These are difficult times He is pushing me through. These are worthwhile.

The other morning I sat in my kitchen on my counter, and I was okay with not knowing, so I told Him. And I confessed that at that moment, I was awaiting mercy. I did believe love is coming. And I closed my eyes and wrapped my hands around my warm, white mug full of tea and He whispered into my spirit.
He said, I know all. Yet still, child, you know some. 
So I went upstairs and put a label on a jar full of coins and dollar bills, because I do know some things. That is something new he is showing me. That I do get to know some things, and those are the ones I should be concerned about. My plans to be in the dirt – with Him, the Gardener – reaping and sowing and blooming and ripening are things that I do know. My focus and presence should be towards them, those little seeds of plans.

Because hellos are coming too.
Jude tells me that, and the Cultivator of my soul assures me of it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Note: People are probably tired of hearing my thoughts on singleness. Maybe you don't want to read this because I've already said too much. So don't. I won't blame you. But I always assume that what I feel and think might encourage at least one person, and so I take heart, and publish what oftentimes seems like redundancies. 
Jesus said a lot of things three times. 
I am most definitely not Jesus. But Eloise's Nanny also said a lot of things three times. And I'm kind of like her, so I figure it's okay to repeat myself. 
So. Here you go, here you go, here you go. 

I found myself apologizing the other day for being single. 
I’m sorry you're alone, I told myself. I’m sorry you’ve been passed by. I'm sorry you're missing out. I’m sorry no one wants you.
I wanted someone to say all of that to me so badly. To come up to me with open arms and press me against their chest so I could finally just cry out those tears that have been brimming. But no one was there, so I said it to myself. 
But I didn't cry. Not like I thought I would
Instead I felt sick.

We are constantly apologizing for or are being apologized to, because we are single. And I see now that that is wrong. We don't have to apologize for being alone. You don’t have to apologize to me because I am alone. It’s not bad. It’s not a mistake. It’s not a sin. I am not single because no one’s noticed me or I didn't notice the right person. I am not single because I’m selfish. I am not single because the men I know are selfish. I didn't walk by my husband in the coffee shop and miss him. I didn’t deny someone’s pursuit even though I shouldn't have. I am not unattainable nor perfect. I am not a "Paul," and destined to go at it by myself. I want a husband. I want a family. I want to be loved and cherished and have someone devoted wholly to me. I want a human, a man, to be gentle and honest and transparent with.
Yet I am alone.
But I refuse to apologize for that anymore. Like I messed up somewhere along the way or missed my chance. And I don't want you to tell me that you’re sorry for me anymore. As if being alone is bad, and I only get half of a life. 

A big part of why being single is hard, is because we act like it’s wrong. 

Yes, marriage is a beautiful design, fashioned by the hand of the Carpenter. He intends for us to love and be loved. But when we walk around in despair because we don’t have that in the way we think we should, and then other people around us attempt to comfort us and tell us that someday we’ll get there, as if we are destined to reach that, we will always be unhappy. 
We will always be apologizing for being alone. 
It’s not okay. And I am not okay with it anymore. I'm done with it. I'm done with being pitied and pitying myself. I wrote that in my journal, those words, and then I also wrote,

So here's to being dynamite. 

Because I want to make a difference. I want to be big and blossoming and a giver. I want to shoot off sparks and blaze up the pathways of life. I want to be a world shaker, and I'll be darned if you tell me I will only be half as good without a husband while I do that. And I'll be darned if you think I am a lost cause or a sad case or not as influential as I could be. And I'll be darned if you think the most important thing in life for a woman to have is a rock that sparkles on her finger, because the truth is, she's what sparkles and if you don't see that, look again. We are who we make ourselves out to be. I am lit, for the cause for Christ. And I refuse to be put down or to put myself down because I have yet to fulfill a divine construction that God gifted us with. There is no excuse, and no excuse is necessary. 
I once wrote the words,
Why is it that we make excuses for singleness?
It's not a disease. It's not a sin. It's not a personal failure. It's not a shortcoming. It's not the edge of a cliff. It's not something you should have to reassure yourself it is okay to be. It's not God's obvious will for your life forever since nothing else is on the horizon. It's not a problem. It's not a bad thing. It's not because you're not trying. It's not a season of your life to 'date' Jesus instead of a boyfriend. It's not your church's fault. It's not something to be ashamed of. It's not the definition of you.
If you are under the impression that any of those is correct, I regret to inform you that being single is simpler than all that. 
Being single is just you, alone. It means that you are alone, you are one person, you are yourself. It is just a fact. And you have no need of defending or refuting it. Your only task is to live it.
Don't get me wrong, it's alright to fail at embracing your current state of being and get mad that no one puts their arm around your shoulders, but at the end of the day, you have to recognize that this is what it is. You have to stop looking for something better, other than being better. 
You are singular. 
And the less time you spend dwelling on and despising that fact, the more time you will have to do beautiful things. 
Don't make yourself out to be half a person. I dare you not to. Because trust me, you can do wondrous things for Christ now. 
Doing lovely things alone is not an impossible feat. 

If there is one thing I would add to that, it is this.

Singleness is not something we have to apologize for. If anything, what we owe an apology for, is the fact that we are lazy, and we are not dynamite, because we are too busy saying sorry for something we shouldn't be saying sorry for. We are too afraid to be bright, as if it is an inconvenience, to be a solitary mess of atoms and shine the most radiantly. 
Just because you are alone, does not mean you cannot be incandescent. 

I am actually good at being alone. I realized that a few months ago, on a blustery morning. I was walking towards campus, just coming from Starbucks, iced coffee in hand and the wind whipping my hair about my face while thunder rolled up above but the rain had yet to arrive, and I took stock of myself. A smile had creased the sides of my mouth for the past half hour, and as I heard my sandals slap on the concrete and pressed my fingers against a hole in the thigh of my jeans and glanced at the black gouache staining the back of my hands and wrists I thought, I'm happy. And I stuttered a little, because it was only a few weeks before that that I penned the words in my journal, There is no silver lining. But that morning, there was. There was a silver lining, and I was living in it. I was happy.
I am happy.
Most of my days are spent alone. Yes, surrounded by people oftentimes, but more often in solitude. I've taken to cultivating the garden of my heart, curating the collections of my bones, attempting to speckle wisdom throughout me and around me.

I am getting over myself, and I am brilliant and beaming and alone and I refuse to apologize for that. And you shouldn't apologize to me for it either. I'm not saying I will leave the wishing and wanting for a husband in the wake of doing all these lovely things whilst I am alone. 
What I am saying, is that I am determined to run into him while I am doing all these lovely things alone.
I don't want my future lover to find me pining away in self-pity and the pity of others while he has been a mountain climber and dream-chaser all this time. I want him to find me in a collision of luminosity while I am pioneering changes and making things better for those who need it.

I got to talk with one of my good friends the other week, and I told her this. Not in so many words, but the meaning came across. And she expressed everything I've felt while trying to come to this realization and conclusion. It's not fair, when you really think about it. I'll be honest, it's not fair. Because yes, time goes on and seems like it runs out, and one morning you're nineteen and on fire and don't care that no one loves you yet because you're going to do great things, and the next moment you're twenty-five and no one still loves you yet and you're tired of doing great things and it seems like everyone else has everything you ever wanted. It's really not fair.
But I am a big believer that life isn't fair, and it never will be. And I don't want to live a life so wrapped up in the belief that I am insufficient or dull or less luminous because some guy never asked me to marry him, that I don't do the things I should. That is such a waste; that is what is pitiful; that is what we must needs apologize for.

I do want to mention that the Church is guilty in all of this as well. We have approached singleness as if it's something we need to fix, or it's a season, or a ministry, when really it's just a bunch of people who need to be told they're capable–because they are. We have been foolish. We have acted as if we can cure people, or as if someone might be missing out because they haven't achieved the status of wife or husband, or as if one person is insufficient compared with a team of two. That's sad. That makes me sad. I don't want the Church to look at me anymore and say, Are you married yet? Do you need a boyfriend? Don't worry, we'll find you someone, and then you can be so close to Christ you'll never believe it...You're missing out. You need your other half. You'll never fully understand Christ's love till you're in the arms of that guy. I'm so tired of hearing things like that. I just want her to say to me, What are you doing for Christ? Because all throughout the Bible, God makes it so clear that singularity is key. Singularity is important. It's like we missed it and messed it up. Somewhere along the way, we forget that the whole point of marriage is for two people to become one. One. Single. Person. That's it. That's what marriage is, making one person. So why do we continue to sell other people short? It is ridiculous, the manner in which we approach the Christian life and walk. A couple is one. Yes, they are two people, but that does not mean they have twice the impact or twice the power or twice the influence that someone else has for Jesus. They are simply working together to do awesome things, while another is working to do awesome things as well.
The moment we recognize marriage as a beautiful picture that God designed and everyone gets to desire, but no one is promised, is the moment that people will get over themselves.
Marriage is most definitely God's intention for men and women [Genesis 2:18], but it is not a requirement.
Honestly? The Church doesn't need to "minister" to single people in the way that she does. They aren't broken. Yes, they need exhortation and encouragement and strengthening of faith, but most importantly, they need to be reassured that God created humans as capable creatures, and they are one of those capable creatures.
The less time we spend hanging out together trying to find a partner for this battle of life, means that we have more time to build wondrous things for the Carpenter.

I don't just want to meet some guy anymore. I want us to be holding hammers, knee deep in mud, arms covered in a brother's blood and someone else's load on our backs, fierceness written on our bones, and I want to look him in the eye and him to realize that we didn't spend our time waiting for each other, but dared to meet one another in the field.
I want miles of white out there when I fall in love, because I want to be in the middle of the harvest.
I want a marriage that starts in the middle of John 4:35. 

So here's to meeting in the trenches of life, blazing like none other. 
Here's to shining so bright you blind the ones you're helping.
Here's to setting everything behind you afire.
Here's to doing lovely things alone.
Here's to owning all of this.
Here's to being dynamite.