Tag Archives: all the feels

the one with the highlight reel: september edition

have we figured out yet that i’m not terribly consistent at blogging? it sure isn’t because i don’t have any thinks to share! i have a lot of thinks, i just don’t have a lot of time to write the thinks. so basically, my head could explode at any moment from all the thinks i’ve been thinking. (i’m tired just looking at that sentence.) but today is the last day of september, and it has been a pretty good month. so many reasons to smile and thank jesus for!

smallgroupgenerations copyfirst, (and this is technically from august 29, but it is my blog, so i do what i want) this. you guys, this photo represents God’s faithfulness to me on so many levels. when i started my undergrad degree at age 21, i asked God to bring me younger students to disciple. he has never stopped answering that prayer. when i moved to north carolina 4 years ago, i was single and childless (oh, yeah … i still am) and thinking often and deeply about the idea of progeny and legacy. a friend spoke wisely into my anxiety: “those we disciple are our spiritual progeny. our legacy isn’t necessarily the children we birth- discipleship makes us spiritual midwives in that we get to be part of new birth. discipleship makes us mothers as we shepherd other women deeper into the faith.” i’ve led small groups before, both adult and student groups, and been blessed to disciple a number of women in one-to-one relationships- but recent events have reminded me of my wise friend’s words. i attended my church’s small group leader conference with my apprentice leader (far left), and we sat with my apprentices from last year (2nd and 3rd from left) and a woman from their group who is starting a new small group (far right). this new leader looked across the table at me and told me “you’re my grandma!”. i won’t lie, it took me a hot minute to understand what she was saying … and in less than a hot second, i was ugly-crying (all the emotions). i am a mess. yes, i love leading … sometimes i’m even good at it. but i’m a mess. and these women have been under my leadership during some of the messiest and darkest seasons of my life- seasons that i didn’t think would bear any fruit. and yet … i’m a grandma. God’s good that way.

famapplepicking copywe went to visit the fam earlier this month and got to do one of my favorite things: APPLE PICKING! i love fall … my birthday, cooler weather, everything apple and all the pumpkin! our chinese sister had never been to an apple orchard before, so it was really special to be there for her introduction to fall in virginia. the girls all wore flannel, and we just loved being together. arent’t my parents the cutest?!

beth copywhile i was home, i got to celebrate my beautiful friend beth’s wedding. i’ve been friends with her for over 7 years, and i absolutely love the woman that she has become. beautiful inside and out! we have walked together through dark seasons, broken relationships, and distance, and i’m thankful to have been there to cry and rejoice as she pledged to follow Christ alongside a good man. plus, it was a good excuse to wear a pink dress and gaze open-mouthed at the show the blue ridge mountains were putting on that day 🙂

the j.lo and i celebrated a year of #pennythewarriorprincess being a linton! love that pup.

we also switched bedrooms- i don’t think we’ll be making ‘the great migration’ an annual thing, but it was good to look at our home through new eyes.

last friday was monthly ‘nest family dinner. we made homemade pizza, and laughed til we nearly peed ourselves.

i celebrated 5 months of working at my new job! it stretches me, terrifies me, and delights me all at once.

so long, september. you’ve been kind.

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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 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 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 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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the one about a marsh-wiggle (and fighting for hope).

last week i finished my eighth annual reading of c.s. lewis’ the chronicles of narnia. i had read them as a kid- my third grade teacher read us several of them (waaaaaaaay back in 1991), and some family friends gave me the box set for my birthday in the sixth grade. i remember liking them as child- the adventure, the magic, the talking animals.
of course, there was a major resurgence in popularity when disney started remaking the movies in 2005- i was in college then, and i’m so glad that i took the opportunity to snatch up one of those ‘all 7 books in 1 volume’ tomes.  re-reading them that first time was even better than i remembered them as an 11 year old.  i’ve since loaned out the book (of course it never got returned!), so i resorted to the never-let-me-down awesomeness that is the amazon kindle store. wonder of wonders, they were on sale for less than $2 each when i went looking (its like Jesus really wanted me to have them or something).
there are lines in each book that are like old friends- i see them coming and eagerly anticipate hearing them again- perhaps the familiar words will speak with new tone or depth! and they usually do.
i’ve learned the palpability of longing from these books- once a character has encountered aslan, they want nothing more than to be near him again. that nearness changes them! lucy’s strength and goodness come from aslan’s touch and breath; eustace allows aslan to score off the layers of selfishness and arrogance and fear; shasta’s transformation from abused boy to found, loved prince is accomplished by him listening to aslan tell him the truth about himself.
but what struck me most during this year’s read-through was from ‘the silver chair’. i’ve always liked that book, but its never been my favorite (that usually ends up being ‘voyage of the dawn treader’ or ‘the horse and his boy’). this time, though …
without going into the plot (since you should just go read it)- there’s an evil witch passing herself of as a queen (isn’t there always?!), and she is enchanting a prince, a marsh-wiggle, and two human children to convince them that they have never known anything other than the place they are in now. the witch nearly manages to make them forget that they have come from another place; that there is a sun; and that aslan is real and had spoken to them. hope is nearly lost.

Then came the Witch’s voice, cooing softly like the voice of a wood-pigeon from the high elms in an old garden at three o’clock in the middle of a sleepy, summer afternoon; and it said: “What is this sun that you all speak of? Do you mean anything by the word?” “Yes, we jolly well do,” said Scrubb. “Can you tell me what it’s like?” asked the Witch (thrum, thrum, thrum, went the strings). “Please it your Grace,” said the Prince, very coldly and politely. “You see that lamp. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth moreover from the roof. Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter. It giveth light to the whole Overworld and hangeth in the sky.” “Hangeth from what, my lord?” asked the Witch; and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs: “You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream; and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.” “Yes, I see now,” said Jill in a heavy, hopeless tone.

Slowly and gravely the Witch repeated, “There is no sun.” And they all said nothing. She repeated, in a softer and deeper voice. “There is no sun.” After a pause, and after a struggle in their minds, all four of them said together, “You are right. There is no sun.” It was such a relief to give in and say it.

“There never was a sun,” said the Witch.

“No, there never was a sun,” said the Prince, and the Marsh-wiggle, and the children.

For the last few moments Jill had been feeling that there was something she must remember at all costs. And now she did. But it was dreadfully hard to say it. She felt as if huge weights were laid on her lips. At last, with an effort that seemed to take all the good out of her, she said,

“There’s Aslan.”

there’s more than happens, of course- they manage to defeat the evil witch and make their way back into narnia. hope, and knowledge of the truth come back to them. remembering who aslan is changes them.

everything is different when you’re depressed. between the faithful work of christ and the unfailing patience of my counselor, i am learning to see through the fog of depression and to strain my ears to hear the voice that speaks life instead of listening to the voice that speaks death. i’ve realized that the most painful aspect of my own depression is the inability to hope. the inability to know that there is a sun, and the inability to believe what i know even when the other voice tries to tell me that there is no sun. being unable to hope means that i am often unable to act on what i know. without hope, there is no remembering; or if you do remember, the memories are disconnected from us- like they happened to someone else. hope is what allows us to remember with clarity, and apply what we know to what’s in front of us. hope is what allows us to acknowledge pain as something that hurts, but won’t be the end of us.  hope knows that feelings can’t always be trusted, and that God is always good. hope looks fear in the eye. hope makes us thirsty, and hope leads us back to the only stream whose water gives us life.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.”I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

hope is worth fighting for. sometimes fighting for hope looks like taking a nap. sometimes fighting for hope looks like going to small group after having the worst day ever. sometimes fighting for hope sounds like the only song that makes you feel anything turned up loud and put on repeat. sometimes fighting for hope is letting the doctor write you a prescription for prozac (and actually taking it). sometimes fighting for hope is weeping into the carpet of your bedroom; sometimes fighting for hope is screaming toward heaven.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (hebrews 10:23)

 

 

 

 

 

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the one with a quote.

“The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. . . You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope you in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and . . . what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do, then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.” –

Lore Ferguson posted this quote from John Piper’s book ‘When I Don’t Desire God’ (who quoted Martin Lloyd Jones about spiritual depression) on her blog yesterday and its been rolling around in my head. Here’s the link to her post http://sayable.net/2014/04/preaching-to-yourself/#sthash.CDyUbdWh.dpuf … and while you’re over there, take a few moments and read more. Lore is one of the few people whose posts I get delivered via email, and I always find myself encouraged by her writing.

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April 13, 2014 · 8:18 am

the one where i tell you why. (or tattoos, and how getting inked saved my identity)

several times a week, without fail, i get asked about my tattoos.

sometimes it is a seminarian wanting to translate the hebrew on my left wrist.  sometimes it is an artist wanting to inspect the freestyled filigree on my right hand.  sometimes it is just someone admiring the art.  but more often than not, it is just someone who doesn’t know that they need to be reminded of who they are.

i’ve written before about my tattoos and why i have them.  but the words i chose to have permanently emblazoned on my skin, and the stories behind those words, bear repeating as often as necessary (even if i am only talking to myself).

i have three tattoos- ‘beloved’ on my left wrist; ‘beautiful’ on my right forearm; and ‘blessed’ on my left foot.  the two arm tattoos were birthday gifts to myself, and the one on my foot i got with my sister, who i consider one of my best blessings.  i chose the words ‘beloved’ and ‘beautiful’ because i needed to be reminded that i AM those things.  parts of my story are shaped by the fact that i listened to voices that told me i was anything but beloved or beautiful for a long time.  those words inked into my skin are both an act of rebellion against those who would have me believe a lie, and a bold agreement with the voice of the only One who has the authority to name me.  and He proclaims that i am His- and thus dearly loved, so much so that my name is graven on His hands and that He died to make a way for me to be clean before Him.  He proclaims that because He made me, and because He loves me, and because He made me clean, that i am beautiful- because He makes no mistakes, and because He calls out “it is good!” over His handiwork.

my tattoos are for me- daily, sometimes hourly, reminders of who i am.  but i chose to get them in locations on my body where others would see them so that they would see, and also know, and maybe be reminded who they are.

you are beautiful, and you are beloved.

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the one that’s not quite so heavy. (link love)

lest we all panic and think that sam is falling apart (i promise, i’m not! i have just been thinking ALOT and feeling even more. that combination results in copious amounts of word vomit … and since i process by writing, and you clicked the link … here we are.), here are a few things i’ve been enjoying lately:

A Broken Hallelujah (jen hatmaker)

In Which We Leave a Little Room (sarah bessey)

This is the Part Where We Lose the Keys (emily joy allison)

the pioneer woman’s cauliflower soup– i’ve made this every week since lent started. never was a huge fan of cauliflower til now … and now i can’t stop.

justin timberlake’s 20/20 experience album.  (megg, you were so right.)

matt redman’s song Jesus, Only Jesus from the new passion album.

zechariah 9, specifically vs. 9-17 as we begin Holy Week.

attending services at The Summit Church and falling in love with the church all over again.

Pitch Perfect. just watch it … you can thank me later.

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the one where i tell you a secret

its funny how this is really about that.

a little over two months ago, i resigned from lifecity church.  the reasons are multiple, complex, and personal.  some of those reasons are directly related to the church, but some are external-ish.  if you’ve lived long enough, you’ve been hurt a few times- and you know that every hurt builds on the ones before it unless you have really honestly gotten down in there in the depths and faced it and let Jesus really heal you.  and one thing that has become crystal clear to me is that i’ve never really allowed him access to those places in my heart and let him cut out all that dead stuff.  what i’ve done is minimized pain and emotions, tried to dress my wounds in church and seminary and church planting and new jobs and new clothes and fun haircuts, and preaching to so many women that which i could not bring myself to believe.

it will be ten years this fall since i sat in the office of a man i worked for and listened to him tell me that i that i wouldn’t amount to anything, and probably would never get married unless i changed pretty much everything about who i was.  it will be ten years this fall since i believed every word of what he said and let it take root in my heart.  and i have spent the last nearly ten years trying to prove him wrong, yet watching myself sabotage my relationships with men and always at the end of the day coming back to the whisper inside of me- he was right, sam. no man is going to want a girl who is loud. you are not enough. you are not pretty; you are definitely not beautiful. you are not smart. you are too much. you definitely didn’t hear God right if you think you’re supposed to be in ministry. He would never call someone like you. you will never amount to anything. and on and on, and on, and on.

yes, i did go to college and major in youth ministry.  and i did go on to earn two master’s degrees from a seminary. yes, i have taught and led and been part of building a church from the ground up.  and i bet not many people had any idea that all of that was me trying to prove an old man wrong when he said i would never amount to anything.  i can think of at least 4 ‘relationships’ that i actively sabotaged.  i allowed these men to use me and my heart in ways that i never would have, had i believed that i could be loved or that i was even worth loving.   and when we eventually had the you’re just too much … or the you’re just not enough … conversation, it reopened and dug a little deeper in the old wound.

last year i fasted for three weeks in january.  i had just come through a season of moving to NC to start a church, home was a minefield, and i was desperate for God to speak something- anything, to make me believe that He heard me.  it didn’t go the way i planned, as is the way with most things we do out of desperation.  i ended up on my face one thursday night during that fast with the corner of a blanket stuffed into my mouth so that my roommates wouldn’t hear me crying and screaming at God.  “i don’t believe that you’re good.  i don’t believe that you love me.”  most of last year was spent trying to rebuild my belief that God is good, and that He does love me.  and like all stubborn people do, i tried to rebuild those beliefs in my own way, without digging up the bitter root, still denying its very existence.  but since i didn’t deal with the source, it didn’t go away.  and every stray word, every criticism, every time i was misunderstood or overlooked or shushed or told that i was too something fell like acid rain on the bitter root and it would blossom again.

i tried numbness next, and apathy. then self-medicating, then anger.  all of this ‘feeling stuff’ was taking a toll on me, and i didn’t recognize or like the girl in the mirror.

i told God that i was about ready to throw in the towel … but i knew that there would be no meaning to anything if He wasn’t who He said he was, if He couldn’t do what He said he could do.  so i asked Him one more time to please speak, to say anything.  and He did.  He had heard every word i had prayed in anger and desperation, He had seen every wrestling in my heart, He had caught every tear i cried.  psalm 56:8 says “you’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights; each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.”  you’ll just have to take my word for it when i tell you that He broke through that night.  some things are too precious, and too powerful to be put into words- some things are just for me.

i’m definitely still in progress.  i still have to decide every day which voice to listen to, and what to believe.  but every day that i choose to listen to Jesus’ voice and every day that i choose to believe Him, i recognize the girl in the mirror a little more.  i laugh more often.  i know that eventually i will see what He sees, and i’ll understand the way He works.  i don’t know why i came here, and i don’t know what’s next.  i do know that He won’t waste any of this, and that He works all things together for my good and His glory, that He is wise, that He sees me, and that He loves me.  and that is more than enough.

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