the one with the raleigh-versary.

i swear, every time i turn around, it’s another month- another season- another year. my raleigh-versary snuck up on me this year, and it took me til that afternoon to realize the significance of the day.

august 7.

my stuff lived here a week earlier than i did. we had loaded the 26 foot truck and my car with all our stuff, drove caravan-style from lynchvegas to raleigh, and unloaded everything into storage units at some place on capital near downtown. i went back to the ‘burg for another week to tie up loose ends and celebrate my mom’s birthday, so the date of my official ‘i live here now’ move was august 7, 2011. i drove down early that sunday morning to make it to the middle service at church, to meet the rest of my team and begin life in a new state as a church planter. i started work at starbucks two days later.

fast-forward 4 years.

i’m not part of that team anymore. i’m no longer part of that body. i don’t work at starbucks anymore. i don’t call myself a church planter anymore. i don’t live in the same place i did when i moved to this city. i don’t drive the same car, or have the same haircut.

three residences. five roommates. three jobs. four birthdays. three churches.  four christmases.

raleigh, you’ve changed me. in ways both good and bad- but all ways that were needed. i’ve lost much, in many ways. i’ve wept more tears here than any other city i’ve lived in. i thought no amount of time could make be home here, could make me love this city. but i do love it. i might have lost much, but i’ve gained even more. i might have wept rivers, but joy keeps coming in like a high tide. time has passed more quickly than i ever thought possible.

i started a new job on the last monday in april. the entire process, from first interview to first day at work, took less than two weeks. it wasn’t a job i went looking for- it was one that God brought right to me. i had been looking for another job for over two years at that point. i had searched and prayed and asked and applied and interviewed and been shut down more times than i care to remember- because it wasn’t time yet.

thinking about being in raleigh for 4 years has me thinking about time. more specifically, it has me thinking about the fullness of time, that little biblical phrase we see a few times in the new testament. we see it in galatians 4:4-5 —

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

and again in ephesians 1:7-10 —

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

did you catch that? the implication here (well, one of them, anyway) is that there was a time when it wasn’t the fullness of time. it was not yet. it was wait a little longer. but there was always a plan- there was always a time when time would be full. and do you see what was happening when time was full?! God was working redemption! God was working uniting us to Him! if there was always a plan, it means that he was always working, even in the not yet.

there has been a lot of not yet for me in raleigh. but time keeps marching on, keeps getting fuller and fuller, and he keeps working and working.

one day, time will be full- in all respects. one day, Jesus will cry, like Aslan- “Now it is Time!” in a voice that will shake the stars. the Door will open, the redemption will be in whole- not just in part!, and we will see Jesus. he will make all the sad things come untrue, he will wipe away tears from our eyes, and there will be no more pain or death. one day, revelation 21: 5-6 will be our reality. it already is, in small part- he is making all things new. he is the creator and master of time, and one day it will be done.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

happy anniversary, raleigh. i love you, and i’m glad to call you home. but you’re not my final home- our days are numbered.

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the one with all the food.

Things I don’t say often: ‘praise the Lord- it’s Monday!’

I mean, I don’t hate Mondays … my small group meets on Monday nights, and that is one of the highlights of life.  But they aren’t necessarily my favorite days, either.  Who likes a day that starts early, usually has you running late, and signals the return to a job you probably don’t like?

In this case, however, I’m loving Monday.  Partially because I got to have lunch with my sister and the cutest kiddos around; (plus it was at chick-fil-a … let’s be real, that’s always going to make a day a good one) partially because I do have small group tonight!; but mostly because it means that last week is over.  The weekend has been nearly perfect, which was balm on the open wound that was last week.  Last week was full of goodbyes, anniversaries of deaths, lots of waiting and unanswered questions, and events that dug up old hurts and broke them open all over again. There were many tears, plenty of angry rants that definitely don’t qualify as prayers, and to top it all off, it rained half of the week.

The weekend, however, was all grace. Friday night was cooking and dinner with dear friends- chicken picatta pasta and margaritas (yes, we know … margs don’t really go with this dish, but we do what we want) and laughs and stories and hugs and apron-wearing. Then the addition of another friend, with hot tea and standing in the kitchen hugging out some of the pain and talking through how we see God at work in the other’s life. Saturday morning was more hot tea and more musing, this time in the comfort of my cozy orange armchairs with a cuddly puppy. Saturday night was butternut squash and sweet potato soup (seriously one of my favorite things I’ve ever made) with grilled white cheddar, bacon & granny smith apple sandwiches and wine and laughing and soul talks. Sunday was one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard, and fritters made with sweet potato, kale, and quinoa, and then topped off with four hours of coffee and discipleship with a dear friend.

The things that hurt last week still hurt. I don’t anticipate some of those things ceasing to be painful in the foreseeable future, but the weekend acted like a breeze through the gloomy corridors in my heart- just strong enough to make the air move and bring fresh air, but not strong enough to knock me over or chill me through; just enough to make the sunrise today into a fresh start and for me to really believe that maybe He actually does make all things new.

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 med butternut squash
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Curry powder
  • 4 cups apple juice or cider

Wash and peel squash and sweet potatoes; cut into chunks (be sure to remove the seeds from the squash). Set to simmer in the apple juice for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Add cinnamon, honey and curry to taste. Use immersion blender to puree (or use blender pitcher in batches) until completely smooth. Mix vegetable stock and half & half and add slowly to soup, stirring constantly, until desired consistency is reached.

Eat it, and promptly die in bliss.  Revive yourself for seconds. Move yourself to the couch to recover. Give thanks to the Lord for such deliciousness. Make it for everyone you love, even the vegetarians. 

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the one where it’s out with the old.

<this is my obligatory 2014 year in review blog post. consider yourself warned.>

this decade has been the decade of ‘mixed bags’. 2010 was mostly great, 2011 saw some major changes (finishing seminary, moving to raleigh), 2012 was the year where it all fell apart, 2013 was the year it kept falling apart, and 2014 was a pretty even split. i don’t know whether to have high hopes for 2015 or to just stay in bed with the dog tomorrow.

i didn’t make any of my goals for last year. let’s be honest, i should just give up on trying to learn to make biscuits … i have other talents, like chicken pot pie and enchiladas.

there was much gained: sweet visits with dear friends, and my sister moved in at the beginning of february (!). i had the privilege of interning for the best woman i know (that would be you, cindy!) and work on both a conference and a retreat for the ladies of the summit church. i also got to attend an amazing conference in june (holler for a free trip … major bonus points for it being an incredible conference!). i got a new (to me) car, and darrell has been a faithful ride since february! i went from curly back to pixie. the lord was gracious and allowed me to co-lead a small group of some of the most incredible women i know, serve as a baptism counselor, and walk with dozens of people through the process of becoming a covenant member of the summit church. i’ve had the chance to cuddle the sweetest little rugrats on multiple occasions this year- i also got cat-called across a chick-fil-a parking lot by a three year old (shout out to sweet carter- boo loves you!). i got to spend several sweet days at the beach with my best friend in july. i re-read the chronicles of narnia for the 8th time. we got a dog- not just any dog, but the best dog in the world! penny is a cuddle queen and a source of immeasurable comfort. i celebrated 32 with friends and a really great beer. we observed thanksgiving and christmas as a family, and drank deeply of God’s grace as we observed traditions. i was invited to write some curriculum for a small group guide, and my inner nerd is still grinning like an idiot.

there was also loss: the year began with a sucker punch in the form of the unexpected death of my friend nate. i have applied and interviewed for several jobs, and nothing has come from it; or offers have been made, only to be yanked out from under me. work has been difficult to bear for most of the year. our small group has shrunk by a few, some due to moves and new jobs, but some due to sin and the hardness of hearts. i (finally) acknowledged that i wrestle with depression, and most of the year was characterized by the soul-darkness that is the calling card of spiritual depression.

i usually dislike (read:hate) NYE. oooooh look, the calendar is about to change! let’s all use it as an excuse to drink more than we should, obsess about how we didn’t accomplish any of last year’s resolutions, and go to a party with people we don’t particularly care for. but i’ve come to realize that i dislike it so much because it makes me feel like a failure. i’m still in the same job i was in last year. i still haven’t mastered biscuit-making. i still have the same stack of books on my desk that i’ve been intending to read since i graduated from seminary. but hey, here’s another chance to make all the same resolutions and not keep them again! bring it on.

that, my friends, is sadistic and sad. and stupid.

the idea of a clean slate is appealing- believe me, i get it! i would love to be able to embrace the ‘new year, new you!’ mentality. but i can’t get around the overwhelming evidence that i cannot change myself. i have this deep-seated suspicion that ‘this is all i get’, and i cannot bear the disappointment that comes with asking and knocking but not receiving or being received.

Lest you think, reader, I have never asked, let me correct you because I have. I have asked for the fatted calves a thousand times and a thousand times seen them paraded by me and given to other friends. It is difficult to resent when God gives to those you love, but it is not difficult to resent the God who gives it.

And it is even easier to resent the self who asked for it. (via lore ferguson)

i’m not one of those people who does a word for the year, but if i did, i’d want this year to be the year of ask and receive.

my one resolution for 2015 is that i’ll ask. i’ll ask for Jesus to show Himself deeper and brighter and more and better. and part of how i’ll do that is reading the scripture. i came across this the other day and something stirred in me: try this!

The fundamental idea is to pick one book of the Bible and read it over and over. And over. And, yes, over again.

Pick a book, pray for God’s guidance, and then start reading and re-reading it constantly. Give yourself a month if you have to, but focus on that one book. By about the fifth time you read it, you’ll probably be dreadfully bored. Stick with it. Somewhere around the eighth time you’ll go through a wall and find riches of meaning you had not glimpsed before. When you reach the point of saturation and mastery, you’ll know. There’s a kind of click in your consciousness, and you feel the whole mass of the book shift as it is transformed in your understanding from a set of verses and disconnected lines of argument into one whole.

so that’s what i’ll do. this is how i’ll reach for and take hold of hope in 2015.

Sometimes the skeletons in your closet end up being the dry bones that teach you how to dance. -Sammy Rhodes

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the one where i’m reading all the things.

here’s the december round-up (well, so far anyway):

bonhoeffer in advent: “God does not fill the emptiness, Bonhoeffer said. Rather, God keeps it empty, and in this way he preserves—even in pain—our authentic communion.” 

receive: an advent meditation:: (from micha boyett) “This past week has reminded me that God’s good gifts are not always easy. They are often complicated, prickly things that must be held carefully with tender hands. They are often painful and beautiful at the same time. They are unknown. The best gifts God offers us are often the very gifts that have the potential to completely upend our stories, change the direction our lives were going. It hurts to change direction.”

impatience:: (from paul maxwell) “Sometimes, all we get from Scripture for our circumstance is that God exists, and he acts, and he is not apathetic about our circumstances. These are not for listening in the major key. These are verses for “sitting among the ashes” (Job 2:8). God is working and listening very actively. “The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it can’t save, or his ear dull that it can’t hear” (Is 59:1). That’s what we have to work with. That is what hope looks like. That is also what grace looks like.

wronged by jesus:: (from fabs harford) “The minute the question comes up, I load up a weapon with theological ammunition and beat that thought into silence.  But I’m learning that silencing questions isn’t the same as faith.  I’m learning that there is a Gospel you will never know if you refuse to let the deep doubts find their way to the Light; there is a Jesus you will not touch if you walk away as if the fight is over before you ever begin to wrestle.”

and just for funsies, a cat video.

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the one where i prepare room. (or, advent is an open door)

i’m wearing a sweater today that features a spectacle-wearing fox, so you could say today is pretty good.

i’m drinking an iced coffee-egg nog concoction, so you could say today is just great.

i have polka dots on my skirt (polka dots AND a spectacle-wearing fox?! yes. YES.), so yeah, today is alright.

christmas is in 9 days, over 90% of the shopping is finished, and the house is all christmafied, so you could say today is perfectly peachy.

for some reason, the advent and christmas seasons are incredibly emotionally charged for me this year. yes, the last two years around this time was also difficult; but this year is different. last year was less raw than the one before, and much was overshadowed by sarah’s homecoming (in related news, she’s been home for a year now!). there was still an ache there- anniversaries of events that left their mark on me, but thankfully not the raw, bleeding heart that i was the year before. this year there is still an ache- a bone-deep, nearly constant, weariness- that i cannot seem to shake. but i’m beginning to wonder if the ache is the point.

advent is about acknowledging that something isn’t right at the deepest levels of us, about longing for the fulfillment of promises made to our father’s fathers long ago, about choosing to look ahead and believe that the light will come … and that it’s brightness will overcome all the darkness. advent is “how long, Lord?”, it is “can you see me? do you hear us?”, and it is all the pent-up tears that well up when we see the long years of hope deferred. bonhoeffer said “The celebration of advent is possible only to those troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” advent is “let every heart prepare Him room”.

christmas, though, is something different altogether. christmas is the birth of Hope, the dawning of the Light, it is “Now, my beloved- I am coming now.” christmas is “I hear you. I am the God who sees.” christmas is Christ becoming us in every way, so that He could save us in every way. christmas is the arrival of the One we have been waiting for- the fulfillment of promises made to Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David, the prophets and the people. christmas is that ‘something greater to come’. christmas is “joy to the world- the LORD is come!”

sister & i are doing weekly advent reading together, in the midst of all the hullabaloo that is december. we take turns reading and we invite each other to engage with hope and wrestle with longing. i’m also reading the #shereadstruth advent plan each day (side note: this is the first [and probably only] devotional written for women that i would endorse. i commend it to my small group ladies and repost content on a regular basis. LOVE it, and so thankful for this resource!), and the sermons at my church lately have had me neck-deep in luke 1 & 2. prepare Him room, indeed.

but preparing room is difficult and dirty work. preparing room is prying open the shutters on the darkest, most locked down places in me, and flooding them with Light. preparing room is confronting the fears that keep me hopeless, being willing to question my own doubts, and throwing open the door even though i don’t get to control who walks through it.

all the thoughts. all the fears. but … all the joy. there is room for all of it in Him.

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the one that God wants me to see

remember how we were talking about the way we start thinking about something, and suddenly that thing is EVERYWHERE?

well, it’s still happening.

God, in His unfathomable goodness (and impeccable sense of humor), keeps bringing little things before me … whether it’s a blog post, a magazine article, a text from a friend, a remark in passing, a weird dream … anything, really.  today its been text messages and this article from sara hagerty:

It would have been easier to shut myself off to these mothers or to shut myself off to hope. Either option would provide a reprieve (because how else do you grapple with unmet, God-given desire and a room where you’re kept waiting?).

Everything in me wanted to shove down hope.

……..

Hope cracks us open to that unseen—to the place where God dwells.

Hope—when it’s foolish and unlikely and you have more than a dozen physical reasons not to hope—is the entry point into a life of keeping your eyes locked on an unseen God while living in the everyday reality that doesn’t yet match that for which you’re praying.

To hope that He can do the impossible while also recognizing that He may sovereignly choose not to leaves us in the unique position of reaching for the emotions residing in His heart. Hope opens up new, broken-yet-faithful ways to approach the almighty God.

Hope moves us from intellectually relating to Him as a transactional God, to sitting on His lap and calling Him Daddy. This perspective shift, birthed from holding on to tenuous hope, may be the very reason He keeps us in that waiting room.

then there was also thisfrom sarah bessey (the sara(h)s apparently write allthegoodstuff): 

Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her book, Animal Dreams, “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

These days, that sounds a lot like Hebrews 11 to me. So right now I think faith is figuring out what I hope for – redemption, wholeness, shalom, justice, love, life, one small baby to live and not die, all of it – and then fearlessly living under that roof.

 

hopeful. fearless. words i don’t usually use to describe myself. but oh, how i want them to be true.

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the one where i want to want.

welp, i’m officially IN my 30’s. i turned 32 last week, and the creak in my bones this morning as i got out of bed to walk the dog proves it. (i’m pretty sure knees aren’t supposed to make that noise … )
that thing is happening again- the thing where i start thinking about something, and then the next seventybillion people i talk to want to talk about that one thing. and every blog i read is also about that one thing … that one thing this time is wanting. dreaming.
some of this i blame on my birthday. i get more introspective around my birthday than i do at new years’ … something about getting older makes me look back, and then look forward. some of this i blame on my counselor. [dang that woman for being awesome … she loves me so well, walks with me through hard and deep and scary places, lifts my face and hopes for me and invites me to begin to dream again. it is both the best and worst.] i have a couple of seasons i can point to as possibilities, but i couldn’t say for sure when i stopped wanting and stopped dreaming. as i cautiously began to take stock of last year, i realized that it had been a VERY long time since i wanted something and it was ok, even good, for me to want that thing.
*when i was 20, i decided that i wanted to open a cafe & bookstore. i made menus, researched kitchen equipment, explored the process of getting certified to retail a certain line of coffees, and started experimenting with recipes.
*when i was 26, i had a dream of writing a book with my best friend.
*when i was 27, i had a dream of backpacking around europe and learning to make ethnic cuisines from local housewives. i have a dear friend who owns a production company, and i was going to rope him into following me around so that we could make that trip into a documentary. and then i could use those recipes in my cafe!
*when i was 28, i had a dream of moving to raleigh with a team to plant a church that would help reach this city with the gospel.
did any of you know that i wanted those things and dreamed those dreams? maybe a few people knew one or two of the things on the list … but probably not many. because somewhere in the hubbub of life, the disappointments began to pile up and the bruises on my tender heart began to petrify it. it became easier to bury desire and silence wanting than to let them breathe and speak.
my brave, beautiful friend katie wrote this yesterday:

I have found over the past few months that somewhere along the way it became easier to stuff down desires and construct walls to protect my heart because that is safer than getting hurt, that is easier than trusting that His no is sweet, and that allows for me to smile and carry on without the danger of wounds. I fear that at some point “Ok, Lord I’ll go where you lead” really began to mean “I’m just going to stop hoping and believing and start halfheartedly and silently accepting.” … At the end of the day that’s where my heart gets lost – it’s in the balance of living with open hands and in honest submission while contrasting having desires and hopes and dreams for the life we’ve been given here. Because obviously there is call in scripture to petition for the desires of our hearts, implying that our hearts are crafted and built to hold desires and to chase them and yearn for them, but there is also a call to be willing to surrender even what we see to be the fulfillment of a promise if that is what has been asked of us.

So where do we sit? How do we function properly when our hearts are doing what they were built to do and are filled with hopes and desires but what we see and hear from Christ is to sit and be still and wait. What is the proper response? Because I fear that in a response of hurt and frustration I fall way too easily into the idea of simply no longer wanting it. I just respond with fine, I will content myself without it and somehow this has been the reasonable response to the call to wait. Would this not all be simpler if I never dreamed that dream in the first place?

We can’t prevent a no by convincing ourselves a desire isn’t there anymore.

We must dream, we must imagine, we must live, fully and unapologetically in our vulnerability before Him so that He may teach our hearts to hear and sing His songs. Because sometimes the melody is slow and meets you in your tears, and sometimes the melody finds a pace to join you in your rejoicing, but no matter the dream that melody is constant and it is revealed in the vulnerability of a heart laid bare before our King.

 

“Jesus is better than we imagine, but if we imagine nothing, then what is He better than? – Lore Ferguson

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the one where you meet penny.

guys, its fall. officially. i even wore boots today.

we’re down to three weeks between me and the bestdayoftheyearotherthanchristmas (aka my birthday).

my sister and i are now the proud co-parents to #pennythewarriorprincess- she came home with us from the wake county animal shelter three weeks ago, and its safe to say she has us wrapped around her sweet, spotted paws. she’s kinda the cutest dog EVER.

photo (1)

these are happy things! another thing that makes my heart happy is when i get to think all the thinks- so here’s some thinks i’ve been thinking.

this post from hannah anderson: college girls: education, imago dei, and the gospel

Her entire experience of Christianity was based in her relationship to a husband or father and NOT in relationship to Christ.

This is not simply an area of misunderstanding. This is a line of thinking that represents a much deeper, much more insidious problem. One that boarders on heresy because it distorts, and at times rejects, a key doctrine of the gospel: The doctrine of imago Dei.

The doctrine of imago Dei teaches that every human being, every man and woman, every boy and, yes, every girl is made in God’s image, destined to reflect His character and to represent Him on this earth. Our core identity comes from God’s identity. Pay attention: imago Dei is not simply a starting point for other doctrines, nor is it simply a means of ascribing equal worth to men and women (although it does). No, imago Dei is the most basic paradigm for how we understand our existence.

It is a truth that runs through the warp and weave of the entire Scripture. It informs everything about the gospel—what we were created to be, what sin is, how redemption happens, and what we will one day become. It is also the basis on which Jesus Christ, the God-Man, can redeem us. Simply put, the truth of imago Dei IS creation, justification, sanctification, and glorification all in one package.

And if you mess with it, you mess with the gospel.

another incredibly helpful piece from THE brad hambrick: differentiating mourning from wallowing in depression-anxiety

There are many things that unhealthy wallowing and healthy mourning have in common. It can be easier to confuse one from the other than many people think. The person who thinks he is “working through” his pain may be wallowing in self-pity. Those who try to rouse their friend out of self-pity may be rushing them through legitimate mourning.

this post from wendy alsup made me stand up and holler: the third way on gender

But what if all the verses on women actually work together in conjunction? And what if they work in conjunction with everything else in Scripture as well? There is a third way on gender, and I’d argue it’s actually the Biblical way – the way that keeps all the verses, reading them all in light of the redemption story. It starts with creation, men and women as image bearers of God. It understands the fall and the impact of sin on both genders. And it capitalizes on redemption, Jesus’ atonement for our sin that equips us to once again be image bearers of God. I envision a third way that centers around redemptive image bearing.

wrap your head around this: 

this whole album from phillip phillips: 

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the one where i’m being followed.

sometimes hope tastes like a pumpkin spice latte.

fall is my favorite season (duh). its tastes, textures, and scents delight me- a hot, pumpkiny drink warming my throat, digging out my favorite scarves, the crispness of the air as the leaves change … fall gives me much to look forward to. and looking forward has not been an easy thing lately; but the subtle signs that fall is coming are simultaneously subtle signs that maybe- just maybe- i won’t be this way forever. fall seems to be bringing me the potential for hope on its pumpkin-spice scented breeze.

recently i posted a list of things i’d been reading about depression, and this is the point where i make a ‘part 2’ of that list. there are SO MANY reasons i’m thankful for my church (seriously. so many.), but one of them is our counseling pastor, brad hambrick. he’s a gifted counselor and seeks to use that gift and training to build up the church. he has written much lately on the subject of depression-anxiety, and i’ve come away from his blog both enlightened and encouraged.

there are a couple of posts that have been exceptionally helpful and encouraging for me:

http://www.bradhambrick.com/7-factors-that-contribute-to-the-impact-of-depression-anxiety/

http://www.bradhambrick.com/6-changes-in-lifestyle-that-add-to-the-impact-of-depression-anxiety/

and a really great evaluation tool:
http://www.bradhambrick.com/online-depression-anxiety-evaluation/

i’m eager to attend several upcoming seminars that brad is leading on depression-anxiety- you can find the info and links to RSVP here: http://www.bradhambrick.com/events/ (holler if you’re coming, and i’ll save you a seat!)

i was reading psalm 23 today- must’ve been the thousandth time!- but something about verse 6 has stuck with me all day: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” 

surely. surely is an abverb that means firmly; unerringly; without missing, slipping; undoubtedly, assuredly, or certainly; inevitably or without fail. surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me. another version says that ‘your love chase[s] after me’ and i love this image of our father, in all his fatherly-ness pursuing us. this has been nearly impossible to believe, much less see. but today, for right now, the taste of pumpkin spice bears the taste of the truth.

surely goodness and unfailing love are following me. and now i want to follow them. 

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the one with lots of links

two days after my last post, robin williams took his life.  i was sitting on the loveseat at a friend’s house- a bunch of girls from my small group were just sitting around, talking and sharing interweb things we had come across lately when someone saw the news on twitter and told us.

it came out that he had been dealing with depression for quite some time.  people were asking ‘how could someone who brought that much joy to people and made people laugh so hard be depressed?”.  i didn’t need to ask that question, because i knew.

the blogosphere lit up like a christmas tree with everyone’s two cents about depression and suicide and medication and allthethings.  there were some awful things written, some of them by well-meaning, professing christians (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt).  but they were still awful.  there were also some great things written, and those are the ones i want to focus on. regardless of personal opinion about robin williams, hopefully his death has caused us to rethink how we look at people and the assumptions we make about the state of their hearts.  hopefully this has made us reexamine what we think about depression and seriously reframe that conversation.

i guarantee that you know someone who is depressed.  (if you’re reading this, you know me … so that’s at least one.)  hopefully the links below will give you a little insight and help you think about and converse with us in ways that don’t make us want to crawl back under our rocks and die.  so here jus go:

Depression: the Dark Night of Body and Soul (from halee gray scott)

“Depression is telling you something that is wrong,” my doctor said. “And when it goes untreated, it’s almost impossible to cure apart from community support and medication because it creates changes in our brain and body.” 

This Demon Only Comes Out By Prayer and Prozac

” … it is clear that we must jettison any simplistic understanding of the complex interaction between brain and body as a matter of individuals choosing to either sinfully wallow in mental illness or righteously embrace freedom in Christ. Similarly, we must also not succumb to a materialistic view that defines people stuck in mental illness solely as victims of circumstance.”

depression and common grace (from jared wilson, a pastor and author in vermont) [GO READ ALL HIS STUFF. LIKE RIGHT NOW. FOR REAL FOR REAL.]

The first thing we may say about the bigness of Jesus is that he is big enough to help us in many ordinary means. Many Christians have adopted the unfortunate posture of Job’s friends, adding more discouragement to those discouraged in depression by urging them not to seek help except via spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study. These are certainly the most important prescriptions for any of us!

The fuller truth, however, is that while Jesus is enough, his enough-ness may be manifested in our getting help from material means. These too are gifts from God, provided through the common graces of scientific research, academic study, pastoral giftedness, analytic method, and modern medicine.

What I mean is this: talk to a trained counselor and take the meds if they are needed. When it comes to medication, at the very least, don’t not take it out of fear of distrust of Jesus. Antidepressants may or may not help you, but discuss the options with your doctor, preferably after conferring with a clinical psychologist who is also a Christian, and if you decide they are not for you, don’t decide so because you think to take them is to deny Jesus’s ability to heal.

What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide & Mental Health (from ann voskamp)

… your mind can feel like it’s burning up at all the edges and there’s never going to be any way to stop the flame. Don’t bother telling us not to jump unless you’ve felt the heat, unless you bear the scars of the singe.

Don’t only turn up the praise songs but turn to Lamentations and Job and be a place of lament and tenderly unveil the God who does just that — who wears the scars of the singe.

Christians Can’t Ignore the Uncomfortable Reality of Mental Illness (from amy simpson, via christianity today)

When we respond in these ways, we make ourselves irrelevant to people who need our help. We send the message that our faith has no answer or explanation for this kind of suffering. We suggest there is an easy answer to their suffering, yet it remains elusive to them for some reason, probably because they don’t deserve it and we do. We imply that God himself is ready to walk away from people in pain. All this from people who mean well but just don’t know what to do.

when depression comes back (from addie zierman)

In the sterile, fluorescence of the exam room, I cried while the doctor asked me questions.

“Am I going to have to be on these damn pills for the rest of my life?” I asked.

“Maybe,” she said. “Maybe not. It’s different for everyone, but it’s okay if you do.”

deal gently with bruised reeds (from derek rishmawy) [another GOREADALLHISSTUFF.]

As Christians we are to deal gently with the broken and mournful. It is in this way we follow the Christ we have in the gospel. We follow a Messiah who was a man of sorrows, well acquainted with the painful way of the world we live in. Indeed, it’s precisely to bring comfort and relief to those who mourn that he took up his own cross; he came that he might end their suffering in his own.

the depressed christian (from megan tietz)

… the gift I will take forward from my struggles with depression is knowing on a heart-level what it is to feel that the God you love has abandoned you to the dark, I know what it is to feel staggering guilt that the family you love isn’t enough to pull you back from the dark, and I know what it is to both loathe the working of your brain and feel powerless to fix it.

It is a gift because never again will I suggest to someone that the solution is so easy. It is a gift because I can now speak to other Christians about the struggle, offering to them dignity instead of shame. It is a gift because when I read of suicide or other depression-driven acts, my first response is to sob rather than preach. And it is a gift because I can say with certainty that the LORD is close to the brokenhearted even if He feels far, far away.

when existence becomes seemingly impossible (from alan noble at christ & pop culture)

What I want to say is that life is harder than most of us will let on, and probably the deepest struggles we’ll face will be silent and petty — things like choosing to get out of bed and get dressed. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, but so too is Christ’s Grace. So, get up, when you can, and carry on. Rest your burdens on He who loves you, and turn to the pilgrims alongside you. Some days, rising out of bed is a great act of worship.

resources on depression (from fabs harford) the cartoons on this one are amazing. click through to the links she provides for more of them … i laughed pretty hard at this (after i picked up my jaw off the floor at how accurate this depiction is).

tangled up in blue: depression and the christian life (from sammy rhodes, another GOREADALLTHETHINGS)

The image of a bruise is the perfect image for depression. Because sometimes you know how a bruise got there, and sometimes you genuinely don’t. Sometimes it’s pretty clear why you are depressed, and other times depression shows up out of the blue (pun intended) and next thing you know, to quote Bob Dylan, you’re tangled up in blue to the point where it’s hard to breathe. 

 

i’ve also been listening to this song on repeat lately- audrey assad’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and these lyrics are the cry of my heart. 

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