Honest

in the midst of it all

I will never forget the moment I became a Christian.

Isn’t that a weird statement? I’m sure though, that there are other moments that people will never forget. It could be the moment they fell in love, or the moment they felt at home or the situation that occurred where they physically felt themselves became an adult.

For me, it was July 3rd, 2000 at a youth conference at Purdue University in Indiana.

Since then my whole life has in some way, shape or form, revolved around the church.

Like, fun fact, did you know that I have a not-yet-completed masters in leadership with an emphasis in spirituality? Or that I was a children’s pastor or that I used to regularly write sermon recaps for my church in Orange County? Or that the world race isn’t the only mission trip I’ve done. OR that I went to a Christian leadership academy in the south of Spain.

I’ve gone through ups and downs in my faith, just like any relationship.

There was the season after my friend Joe died that I had no space to pray, talk to God or even be in a church. I was angry, hurt and alone.

Then there was the time after the world race where I for all purpose fell apart and had no clue what I wanted to believe.

And then, there is now.

Yesterday, I wandered around a bookstore, mainly in the religion section. I perused titles and read the first few pages and tried to find something that matched what I was feeling.

I’ve been unsure lately.

So, I’ve been thinking about all the places I have been solely because I’m a Christian.

There is a lot. I have had a lot of experiences and emotions and adventures because of it.

The timeline of the last 18 years of my life would have looked very different had I not walked up to the stage in the midst of hundreds of high schoolers.

And that’s weird.

My faith and my relationship with God is very different then when I was 14. Then, it was based more on feeling. I felt God. More than I think I realized back then. If I would have gone to a church that focused on spiritual gifts and prophecy, I have no doubt that it is something that would have filled my life. There would be moments when I was leading worship that I would feel what I know now as the spirit moving through what I was singing.

But, why I am saying all these things?

Well, I’m at a place with my faith where I feel as if Jesus and I are on a break. Like we are at that friend level where we sit in room and no one says anything and it feels uncomfortable.

Woof.

I ran out of church today because of it.

I ran out and looked at my calendar and contemplated what it would be to take a break from church.

Here’s the thing: I love my church. I love people and the atmosphere and all of it.

I’m just processing what it would be like to take a break for the self-care.

I’ve been a Christian over half my life now. I’ve had seasons of not going to church and seasons where I worked 6 days a week at one. I’ve held babies on five continents and preached in everywhere from a South African township to a maximum security prison in Peru.

I’ve heard dead on from God from people in bars and spoken words to people about themselves that I have no business knowing.

What I want to say is I’m not breaking up with God.

What I want to say is whatever deity you may believe in find no shame in taking a breath and looking at it all.

What I want to say is that you can believe and question all in the same breath.

So, this is just me, writing on a Sunday, on my second mimosa and just figuring out all the things.

Honest, ramblings

The season in which I don’t write

When I write I untangle things. I figure out thoughts and processes. I give myself space to delve into whatever is going on in my head and sometimes, not all the time mind you, but sometimes I do actually in fact figure it out.

I haven’t written for a month. Not on my blog, not in my journal, not anywhere.

I haven’t paused long enough to attempt to figure out all the things.

But, today, with the huge task of moving houses behind me, I’m attempting to pause.

I feel like I’ve been waiting for a long while. Waiting for a change in the wind, a change in my day to day, something, anything.

I’ve been waiting to feel something fresh.

I guess I should add that when I write to untangle something it also feels as if I am writing to talk to God.

Whatever it may be about, whatever I may be dissecting, I am writing so that you, the reader, can be brought into it, see if it hits something in you so that we, together, might figure something out.

But, I am also writing as if God was sitting next to me.

I shared during a worship night last week at my church.

It felt very out of place for me. I told people I was nervous but in reality I just felt sort of like a fraud. And as people came up to talk to me about what it meant to them it very much was impossible to take those words in.

I think part of the reason I haven’t been able to write this month/year is because it feels like God and I aren’t on speaking terms. We’re currently like those friends you have on Facebook that your “see friendship” function just holds a time capsule of “happy birthday!” back and forth with no tagged pictures or hilarious Mean Girl memes on October 3rd.

And when I go to write I am reminded of that.

Each time I’ve gone to write my brain fills with my failures and with to-do lists I haven’t accomplished and newsletters that have yet to be written and curriculum I haven’t planned and “do I have any clean underwear?”.

There is no space in my brain for words.

I’ve been in this place before. Wherein I am incapable of teaching myself. Hear for myself. Cheer for myself.

But, can I tell you something?

It’s ok.

Why?

Friendships, relationships, sense of self, identity, grow with us.

If I’ve learned anything about myself in the last five years is that I’m going to keep meeting myself. I’m going to keep meeting God however that may look. I’m going to circle back around to things not because I’m a failure but because they are the flip-sides of my strengths. Anxiety in certain situations will pop up- not because I’m weak, but because I have the capability to battle them.

So, long story short, I think I haven’t been writing because I have been scared to say I have nothing to say. That’s what this season feels like. And it feels weird that I essentially just wrote 500 words on why I am not writing, but I think I did this so that you would choose to do whatever thing you aren’t capable of right now.

There is something in you that you put out into the world that means something. Be it running a play group, preaching, writing, singing, leading

– any of it.

There is more to me then what seems like pure inability.

There is more to you as well.

Even if right now, in this moment, it doesn’t feel that way.

I swear, we got this.

Honest

Running from stillness

Other than the Y and random part time jobs that I have had here and there I have always worked at a church or for a Christian organization.

I’ve almost always been on a church property 40+ hrs a week.

From 2007-2012 I worked at a preschool and for some of the time also worked at the church.

(Basically, I lived there.)

But, in that I found myself among families and people that I could talk to and process with and be around.

Around 2010 the Wayman family came to the church.

And it was lovely.

Not only did I get to see their kiddos grow but I got to lean on and reach out and be mentored by Eric and Cathy.

They are two humans that I am so grateful for. I know that I was in the exact place I was supposed to be when they came to Lighthouse. They are two humans who walked me through some of the hardest, ugliest times of my life up to that date.

They’ve always welcomed me back with open arms, even when I wasn’t sure of up and down.

I mention them because I randomly decided to listen to one of Eric’s most recent sermons.

It was about solitude and noise in our lives and essentially how we are surrounded by it. Now, this isn’t new.

We all know this. We know that there is an immense amount of noise in our life. We are engulfed by it. (As I write this I am listening to music and texting two different people).

My mind is full of to do lists and assessments and assignments and 18 different tiny humans (probably more if I’m being honest). I’m thinking about what I can do to show my friends I care. I am trying to be present in people’s lives and present 40 hours a week in my classroom.

I’m trying to make space to be creative and to write and make good choices for my body.

So, today when I decided to sit and listen to Eric speak, I thought of sitting on the couches at Eric and Cathy’s house and I realized I would probably just sit down and burst into tears. It’s one of those few places that I would sit and stop.

Now, I have been stopping here and there. I’ve been learning more and more to saying no and staying in and eating apples.

But…sitting WITH God?

Not as much.

I’m slightly terrified of the quiet right now. Mainly, because quieting all the things would take a lot of work.

Opening my Bible stirs something in me. Praying is a little too close for comfort.

I wrote something for an online magazine a couple years ago. And I know I’ve quoted this exact section before but it resonates once again.

“Everything in me wanted to run.

I couldn’t handle Jesus any more.

He was being silent.

But it was a weird silence.

It was almost like Jesus was playing the part of the man in a horror movie, who just after the power goes out, calls your house phone, so you can hear him breathe and then when the police track the phone call you find that it is coming from inside the house.

Jesus was still in the house, I apparently just needed to go find him.”

Jesus is still in the house. He still lives here. My relationship has morphed and changed even since I wrote this piece. My life is ever evolving. My beliefs and truths are morphing and become more refined.

But, sitting in stillness still terrifies me. It isn’t something I’ve ever done super well.

So, I go back in my thoughts to sitting with Cathy on their couch or walking into Eric’s office on my lunch. My life wasn’t all roses and sunshine then. I was going through depression and sickness in my family. And whenever I stopped with them, I would almost always cry.

And that’s ok. But, I sat. And I stopped.

There are so many things I’m wanting to say right now.

I think what I want you to know that if the silence and the quiet scares you; you aren’t alone.

If sitting with whomever your deity is terrifies you because of the intimacy of it; that’s ok.

If stopping will make you burst into tears-let me pass you the Kleenex.

And if you have something in your mind that is changing, then explore.

Today, I disposed of the shame of feeling far from God. The shame of not being able to hear Him.

Today, I disposed of the shame of running. I didn’t stop running-I just stopped feeling shame.

Today, I disposed of the shame of a changed mind.

Deep breathes to the toes friends. We’ve got this.

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

people gathered

For the last few years, I’ve taken a moment to write some Christmas thoughts, to ponder, to wonder.Yesterday was full and lovely without a moment to sit and write.

And that was 100% ok with me.

Yesterday started before my alarm went off. I was cooking sausage and kneading dough before 9. I was sipping mimosas out of a coffee cup with people I am so grateful to have in my life before 10:30, I had sufficiently fed 8 people before noon and we had played a round of cards against humanity before 2.

By 5 I had spent an hour singing Christmas carols in preparation for Christmas Eve and baked and bagged 200 cookies. By 6:30 I was huddled in the snow with about thirty people singing Silent Night with candles lit. By 9 I was curled up on couches at my neighbors drinking and laughing and watching Star Wars for the first time.

And by midnight I was asleep.

Even now just writing it I have to smile.

Because if I am being honest, being a single adult, who lives away from her family, holidays feel tricky. You lack traditions you grew up with, you lack a person to share them with, you lack kids to buy presents for.

The holidays can very much give us a picture of what we lack. Money, spouses, gifts, love, kids. They can remind of us people who are no longer there. They can remind us of what we’ve lost.

They can do all of those things, unless we choose to not allow them too.

I could have been a recluse this weekend. I could have closed the kitchen, turned off the porch light, and not asked to join anyone, or anyone to join me. And that probably would have been ok.

But this morning, as I sat pondering my day yesterday, I thought of the manger.

Because the birth of a child brings people together. I remember when my niece Courtlyn was born. It caused something to change and shift. It brought people together. I’ve purchased two plane tickets this year to go see my sweet baby Choi.

The birth of Jesus did the same thing.

If Jesus would have come as a full grown man, it probably would have just been weird. Like, out of nowhere this 30 year old just appears. And people might not have noticed. He might have just blended in.

But he came as a baby.

So people gathered.

And they continue to do so. Even people who don’t believe a baby came, people who celebrate different holidays during this time, they all gather.

I think there were so many lovely things about Jesus coming as a baby. So many beautiful, unique stories that spun off of that singular moment. But, as I ponder yesterday and think forward to later today, I believe that I have found a new favorite angle to the story of baby Jesus in the manger.

It caused people to gather.

I pray you have someone to gather towards today, I send love and light if you’ve lost people that you’ve normally gathered too. I pray you find a piece of them today. If you have an abundance of people to gather with, pull up another chair and invite someone in.

Let us gather together.

Happy Christmas my friends.

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Photo by jessica drake
Honest, washington whimsy

a loss of lovely.

I had a breakdown today.Lies were piling on from left and right and all I could see was a barren, dry, dusty road.

I felt like all of a sudden I’d been tipped over and shaken up.

My friend Glenalyn chose today to text me about a book about my soul.

I ended up talking to her via text for an hour or two. It, of course, made me ever so thankful for this tribe I have found myself grafted into. It made me know that even when I feel the most alone, I am not that thing.

But in that conversation I realized that there are two things that I’ve lost the ability to do.

Somewhere, I believe in the last 8 months, I forgot how to tend to my soul.

As I’ve come back to the hustle and bustle of working, of doing a job that has substance as opposed to one that was monotonous, as I’ve come back into community and church and having a social life I’ve lost my ability to soul care.

I can tell someone else how to do so, I know what used to work for me. But now, everything falls flat. It’s like charging a phone that always has to be plugged in. It needs to be connected to the source at all times. 

So, tonight when I told Glenalyn that I was going to doing something lovely before I went to bed I sat on my couch and opened my hands up and had no freaking idea what to do.

I (feel as if) I’ve lost the loveliness in my life. I feel like it’s been trampled in and kicked while it was down. 

And in a brutally honest moment I’ve realized tonight that I don’t know how to sit with Jesus especially where it just feels like nothing wants to settle down.

I’ve been posting a lot of words that feel like that don’t have solutions, words that feel like fruit basket upset.

Words that don’t feel like peace.

And I know in my knower, in the depths of me, that I am ok. I know I am peace, I am lovely. I know the answer is tucked deep within me.

And I know Jesus is here. Right now. On this couch with me, even when it seems I can’t look him in the eye. Or when I want to stand tall and carry my own burdens.

That’s the best part of it–he knows me.

And I know I won’t run.

I’m not lost, I’m not on the wrong path.

Even when I don’t feel it, I am that thing.

And so are you, when you feel like you are grasping at straws, grasping for breath, grasping for wisps of peace, you are still who you are. Who you were created to be.

You are lovely, even when it seems you can’t find it.

Honest, Spain g42

it just comes to us

My journal is a scary place right now.

And I’m starting a new one tomorrow.

It’s mainly notes from 8 weeks or so of class here in Spain with bits and pieces of thoughts and revelation intertwined in the pages.

I’ve sorted a lot of it out through asking questions and conversations over coffee, tea and wine. But the pages of my journal are a mess of words, phrases and scribbles.

And if there is one theme that weaves it’s way through all of it, it’s the theme of identity.

We talk about identity so much in this world. And as someone who has spent most of her Christian life in bible studies with groups of women it’s a topic that causes me to roll my eyes.

I don’t think we need to SEARCH so hard for our identity.

I think it just comes to us.

That’s why my journal is peppered with talk of identity.

Because as I learn more and more about this new face of Jesus I’m seeing who I am.

We live this life where we strive to find identity in everything that we do. In everywhere we go.

But what if we didn’t need to strive? What if we didn’t need to search for things that give us clues to who we are but what if instead we searched to learn about who Jesus was and is presently.

I’ve been learning something beautiful the last 2 months: I’ve been learning about who God IS. And he definitely isn’t a lot of what I’ve heard all my life.

He’s joyous. He delights in us. He gives us keys to the plans he has and tells us to run with them. He does not want to check our every decision.

He just wants us to be who he created us to be. Because those creations are vibrant and lovely already.

So while I’ve been searching for this identity it’s honestly been right in my front of my face.

I am who God created me to be.

I don’t need bible studies or books or anything to figure that out.

I just need to walk arm and arm with God and hear what he tells me, through so many varities of ways and I need to pick up what’s meant for me.

Nothing more, nothing less

hope is a verb, Spain g42, To dream

Cake with Jam

Before coming to Spain I had the vague idea of what I wanted to do. But mainly I just had this large pile of things that I wanted to be involved in. Passions, gifts, talents, words. Just in this bag of tricks that I lugged with me over an ocean.

I had no idea what to do with it.

A few weeks into my time in Spain we held the inaugural g42 reunion. Alumni from the first five years came from all over the globe to remember and celebrate what God had done and was doing, to lift one another up, to visit this place so many people still call home and of course to establish more vision in the next years of life.

The house I live in is the bigger of the two so we hosted ten alumni and in that group was the Harder family. Steve and Jo Harder and their beautiful boys who are missionaries to Ukraine.

Jo is a kindred spirit.

She is a powerful, strong, vibrant woman who hears wonderful, beautiful truths from God.

At the reunion kickoff we had a time of prayer and prophecy and Jo shared a word she had. She wasn’t sure who it was for but she knew she had to share it.

She shared a picture of this person who was holding all of this JAM. It was dripping out of their hands and the person wasn’t sure what to do with it all. Jo reiterated that she didn’t know who it was for, but if it was for you then to come see her.

I didn’t give it a second thought. Mainly because I was in an incredibly emotionally, overwhelmed place and also because I didn’t WANT to hear it.

(you see where this is going don’t you)

So that evening after worship was over I had two people come up and say they thought of me when the “jam hands” picture was given. Why? The week prior I had made a wedding cake and the filling? Raspberry jam.

But, like I said I wasn’t in the place or the mindset. And also like I said in this last blog; I feel as if God has been “saving thoughts” for me and this thought; this picture was one he saved for me.

A couple weeks later during class we were doing the process of identity mapping and while Zach was getting his done I suddenly had this thought:

What if I opened a secondhand bookstore?

There it was. A random thought in the middle of class on a Thursday morning.

What if I opened a secondhand bookstore and taught creative writing classes?

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I wrote a little more and then stopped.

What if I taught story? Through everything in this little bookstore.

Through creative writing, through baking, through book clubs, through sharing and laughing over good food.

 Wow.

Since going on the world race I’ve known that for the rest of my life I want to sit across tables from people. I want to hear story and see what is going on the lives of those around me.

I am honored that I get the privilege of hearing what God is doing and being able to speak into what God is doing and where he is going in someone’s life.

I’ve also known that I want to tell my story and let other’s use it in their lives.

I want to teach things that are good for the heart. I want to use the things I have been given to speak into other’s lives.

I want to create a space out of which people can MOVE.

But my thought prior to this random moment of revelation was where in the WORLD can I do this? Is this just a lifestyle that I am going to live? Is this a ministry I will step into?

But there wasn’t enough for me in that.

And then sitting in the class in the middle of the morning I just knew.

I knew I had found something that was more.

I knew I had found something that terrified me.

I knew that I was standing there with jam on my hands

Later that same afternoon I did my identity mapping up front. And one the questions that was asked of me was this: Where do you see yourself in 30 years.

My answer: Standing on my porch.

So what does that mean?

That I own a house.

WHAT?

And suddenly everything that I had ever thought was gone and I was choosing to believe in myself more. Choosing to believe that I could do more then just sit across from someone at a coffee shop.

So that’s where I am going to leave this.

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That’s where I am going to leave you.

With the fact that there is more for me then I ever actually thought possible.

I’m dreaming big, creating a plan to get there. It’s not a next year plan, or even two years, but a long term plan.

Dreaming, thinking and invisoning the future.

I’m here in Spain for 3 more months and would be honored if you would consider partnering with me in further what I’ve learned and done here.

To see ways that you can journey with me check this out.

I’ll leave you with a verse from class today; the prayer of Jabez. It encourages me to dream, hope, and long for more.

1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

It gives me the courage to know that I CAN do more with all this jam on my hands.