Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm a Writer, Dottie.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.

I suppose I’ve had a lot of external reasons for that—good ones, too. I got engaged to a dreamy, dreamy man, I planned a wedding, I got married, I went on a big amazing honeymoon with said man, moved, painted my entire apartment (the living room, twice, because I need a couch and a nice therapist), Gilmore Girls came on Netflix (priorities), and don’t even get me started on the name changing process (seriously why is that so hard?).

But mostly, I’ve just felt kind of stuck. The kind of stuck where when you think about writing, nothing comes to mind. You wonder what Jesus has been doing in your life, or how things are taking shape, what life has taught you, and you know there are a million things you could say, but then you go write it down and you end up with N-O-T-H-I-N-G. It feels like I’m staring at a shoreline. There are a billion tiny grains of sand I could talk about, but it’s hard to pick one up and look at it for any length of time without deciding to move onto another. And the horizon is both in constant flux, and always the same.

Okay yes, I’ve gone through huge changes. The kind that took me from single to married, the kind that took me from living with my sweet, sweet roomie to living WITH A BOY, and even the little weird kinds of things like, I don’t drive myself to work anymore—I ride shotgun in my husband’s car. While this has made it much easier for me to apply makeup on the way to work (it was getting bad, you guys), it’s still weird for your daily habits to totally change, and that kind of stuff can throw a person off her game for a while.

I could say that all of this has presented good reasons for me to stop writing for a bit. But that would be a big fatty-fat lie.

Sorry. I know that was sort of a bait and switch. I’m tricky.

The real reason I haven’t written in months and months is very adult, and very mature. Because I’m an adult now. I’m married and everything.

The real reason is this: I’m scared. Also I think the Internet is stupid.

Yep. I have developed a new found fear of writing. Even the thought of publishing this feels crippling. I know. NEAT.

 Not too long ago, I went through the experience of having something I wrote become that week’s trash—the bloggers picked it up, twisted my words, and made me miserable. It lasted one week, and then it was (pretty much) over, but it really hit a nerve for me. The way blogs and websites and social media can be so used for hate and anger absolutely took my breath away, and suddenly, all I could imagine was more of the same. 

I began to see my own name in print as an embarrassment, and when I was asked if I was planning on changing my pen name with my marriage, I didn’t hesitate. YES. Yes, I would love to put that ignorant girl behind me. I would love to detach from that one blog post that made everyone mad. I wanted to be done with her...but then, I sort of wanted to be done in general. I stopped seeing how any good could come from writing something down and putting it out into the world. And then I started wondering what I was supposed to do with myself, if not write. Something anonymous, preferably.  

So I looked a careers, I hid behind editing, I complained to my lucky new husband, I watched a loooot of Netflix (why are there so many seasons of Grey’s Anatomy? I have to watch them ALL), I decorated my new apartment, and I sulked about my loss of purpose. Like I said, I’m mature.

This went on for several fruitless months, until the truth has finally settled back into my bones. I was made to write. I stare slack jaw into space, I monologue in my head, I’ve been writing in journals religiously since I was four-years-old, I read other writers and feel horribly jealous and anxious about how I will never be as good as they are…I’m a writer. I’m not saying I’m a good writer, I’m just saying, I’m ah writer. I just am. I can’t help it. And if I can’t do the thing God has called me to do, then I can’t fully be the woman God has made me to be. Apparently I can’t change everything about me and become someone else. I know. Lame.

When you hit publish, when you send it to your editor, when you see it “go live,” that’s it. You have to own it. It’s tough—especially when you’re a people-pleaser, a pride-seeker, a “be-my-friender,” and a bit of a bleeding heart. It’s tough to stand by something when you realize it might have offended someone—anyone.  But as my husband recently reminded me, the Gospel is incredibly offensive, so sometimes we end up being a little bit offensive, too.  I think maybe my husband forgets that I’m a pansy, but still, bless him.

So here I go.

I’m going to put one key in front of another. I’m going to write until it feels like it was what I was made to do again. I’m going to write until I start hearing myself on the page, until I can stand again on my wobbly legs—until I can believe again that writing is what God called me to. I’m going to do it for myself, because I love it. I’m going to do it for God, because He’s deeply, and I’m not done talking about Him yet.
a creative God, and this is how I process His love. And I’m going to do it for readers, because I want nothing more than for my words to give people even an ounce of hope, and a knowledge that there is a Jesus who loves them

Also I’ll probably write dumb stuff here too, like Bachelor recaps and odes to coffee. Just FYI.

I still can't believe I let one bad experience completely derail me. But maybe that happens to all of us at some point. Maybe this was just my turn, my time to take a break from myself for a little bit. Whatever it was, I'm glad it's over. I feel like I'm breaking a fast, and my hungry little fingers have SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT. That came out weird, but you know what I mean. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Twenty-five(ish) Things 7.5 Years In My Twenties Taught Me

I don't know if you know this about me, but I’m the kind of person who has spent most of her life expecting a piano to fall on her head every time she walks outside. Every time I fly, I make sure I say very intense goodbyes to the people I love. And then I have to take Dramamine so that I don't sit up and feel the nausea that comes with the impending mountain crash I'm positive will happen. 

At Christmas, I look around the room at my sisters and nieces and nephews and brother-in-laws and parents and think to myself, Welp, this will probably be the last year that we’re all in this room together. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, exactly, but it’s the way I’m wired. In college it used to plague me—the anxiety of loving people, the possibility that the people I loved might die someday. 

I remember when my sister had my first niece, I loved her so much that it almost hurt. She was so tiny and stupid, and she didn't know her butt from a hole in the ground, and I feared for her every day for a long time, simply because she was so very little. She just turned 11, my oldest niece, and she’s doing just fine. I’ve had to learn that I can’t worry about her—that worrying about her won’t make her any safer. I learned this in my twenties, because I had to. My sisters have (separately…wait, what?) made four more babies in the last 8 years. Five doe-eyed, sensitive little weeble wobbles I've fallen in love with. Five. I had to mellow out. It was that, or lose my mind.

I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about how to handle life, I suppose. And when I’m feeling sentimental, or when I’ve been home sick, and alone, for too long (Me. Today.) I take the time to look back on them and reflect a little bit. I am wiser than I was at 19. I’m in better shape than I was at 22. I have better hair than I did at 24 (can I hear an amen from anyone who knew me during my dark period? Yikes. Thank you, Jennie, for dying it back to blonde for me, for free, over the span of an entire weekend. You have saved my hair more times than I know. I hereby dedicate this blog post to you.)

Oh, by the way, it is very, very good to be friends with a beautician. Like, it’s the best.

So, I’ve decided to write some of this newly-discovered knowledge down. I hereby present what 7.5 years of twenty-something life has taught me. You are welcome. Or I am sorry.  

  • First of all, and most importantly, don’t spend your twenties waiting to find a man (or a woman). It won't make him show up any sooner, and when he does show up, it will only make you seem desperate. Just live your life. Even better, love your life, love your neighbor, and love God. That’s all.
  • You aren't tied down to doing whatever it was that you went to college for. I went to school to be an English teacher—turned out, I totally sucked at being an English teacher. I was made to be a writer, and at some point, I had to find the courage to believe that, trust God, and go for it.
  • Money will either serve you, or you will serve it. And you will not have any money in your twenties unless your life’s passion is to be a financial consultant or something or something. My friend Heidi’s husband is an actuary (I think), and he totally makes money and does things like, “flies out to New York,” and all sorts of things I can’t wrap my head around. But she is the least money-oriented person I know, so I think it’s kind of poetic. I like it.
  • Don't give up on the Church. Find a church that you can call home, with people you can trust. But know that they'll still, at some point, probably let you down in some way. The Church is the imperfect Bride of Christ. Keeping that in mind will make all the difference.
  • Call your mom, even if you’re fighting.
  • Love your friends' kids. They have them now, and they're new at this, and loving their kids lets them know that they're doing a good job as parents. And that their having kids and your maybe not being there yet is not something that separates you from each other. Your friendships will only deepen, I promise. Love your friends' kids.
  • Truly Jesus-loving, Bible-hugging, Scripture-studying, bleeding-heart individuals can look at issues and come up with different answers. I am not inherently right. Neither are you. That’s what grace is for.
  • Embrace the weirdness in your weirdest friends. You will have so much fun with them, and you will have the kinds of conversations that you’ll look back on with so much fondness when you enter into a period of your life when the most intense conversations you have are about money or jobs or where you’re going to live. In those times, you’ll be thankful that you had someone to reflect with. To talk about God’s glory, or to sit and stare at a fire with for hours and talk about how cool it is to watch stuff burn. Or how weird it is that society forces us to wear underwear when no one can see if we’re wearing them or not. Liz.
  • You might actually deserve the kind of person who respects you, your body, and your boundaries—namely because they respects themselves, their bodies, and their boundaries just as much.
  • Along with that, the past mistakes you've made in other relationships do not determine the caliber of your “right” person. Let me know if I ever need to repeat that.
  • Make a big deal out of your friends’ birthdays. We’re all so caught up in our own lives all the time—take the time to celebrate each other.
  • Don't be too afraid to miss out. If your couch is calling you, it's calling you. You're no spring chicken. Get some rest and promise yourself you'll go out with everyone next time. Your friends will not hate you for this. They get it.
  • For the love of Pete, start a savings account. Even if you have $50 in there to start, it will be something. And that's better than nothing.
  • At some point, you will get a phone call you never wanted to get—saying that your dad is in the hospital, or someone close to you is struggling with drug abuse, or your grandpa is gone. Those phone calls are imminent, and we waste our time trying to fool ourselves into believing that they won’t happen. God will never leave your side. In times of sorrow and trouble, he carries you through.
  • Keep being creative. Don't let adulthood suck that out of you. 
  • Thirty isn't as old as I used to think it was. I’m so close. Like, I’m the I-wear-night-cream-to-bed kind of close. I now find thirty to be the new twenty. It is very, very, very young. Do you understand? It’s young.
  • God is working to bring his children back to him—but nothing you or I say will ever force someone back to Christ. Trying to do so has the potential to border on abuse or manipulation. Jesus loved people where they were. He told them the truth, but he never clubbed them over the head and dragged them to repentance. And I suppose that means we can’t, either.
  • There is a fine line between dressing “maturely” and dressing “like an old lady.” Like, a super, duper fine line. Yeeesh.
  • A guy can buy you drinks and dinner and a ticket to your favorite museum/concert/play/whathaveyou, but at the end of the night, all you owe him is a thank you.
  • Thrift stores are magical places, full of fun. And also, full of furniture you can spray paint so that you have matching furniture. Same color = matching. Everybody wins.
  • Wine is for celebration. And it is delicious.
  • You will probably date a lot of different people before you find the right one. Or maybe you won't date anyone for a really long time, and suddenly you'll find the right one. I've seen both. Patience is the craps, but you have to have it.
  • 99% of the time, you can’t really have close, super-deep, platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex. Well, my friend Jenn can, but she’s Canadian. I've only experienced heartbreak or breaking hearts in those situations, and when you find the right person, you suddenly have awkward male friendships that you need to slowly ease out of. Except for my childhood forever friend, Caleb, but he doesn't count because he’s like a sibling. Or Cory. Because he's Cory. I'm getting distracted.
  • Anyway, use your single time to get closer to friends of the same sex. They’ll last longer, they’ll be richer friendships, and once you have that right person, you’ll feel awfully lucky when you get to have time with those girls who don’t mind when you need to talk about your newest hair color or your desperate need of chocolate or how much that last Bachelor season sucked or how cute Olivia Pope’s clothes are (I want every single piece in that flawless wardrobe, pride be damned) or commiserate over your deep understanding of the word “hangry.”
  • Or maybe, guys, y’all bond over that stuff, too.
  • But seriously. Hanger is real. I definitely learned that in my twenties. Keep snacks nearby.
  • You will always have stuff you're working on. Always. Ask my closest friends how I am at answering my phone, or returning phone calls, and they will give you an earful about the areas where I need some work. Ask my fiancĂ© how my culinary skills are (thank you Jesus for giving me a man who knows how to cook). Ask my sisters how I am at not spacing out during conversations. Haha...I dare you. The point is, I'm still figuring out many, many things. We all are--I mean, right?
What’d I miss? What’d you learn in your twenties?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That Time I Got Called an A**hole on Twitter

One Sunday morning, I logged onto Twitter to see what the haps was, and saw that I'd been mentioned by a humanist Twitter account--not just mentioned, but called out as the "a$$hole of the week," because of a blog post I'd written ( It was about sex and about Jesus and about my convictions, and an atheist blogger at Patheos had written a response to it entitled:

"Christian Writer Argues Against Disabled People Having Sexual Surrogates Because, You Know, Jesus"

(By the way, in France, where it's most recently been discussed, sexual surrogacy has been banned, because, according to them, ya know, ethics.)

Anyway, said humanist tweeter read the Patheos article (a lot of people read the Patheos article) and then chose me as her weekly @$$hole shout-out. Last week, she chose DragonCon cosplayers (I don't know what that means) who dressed up as Marriott carpeting and got a cease-and-desist from the carpet designer. 

What I'm saying is, I'm in good company. 

This whole shebang came as a bleary-eyed surprise to me. When I found the tweet, and the blog, I was halfway through my first cup of coffee and dear Lord I needed more, but I'd woken up anxious already and I was trying to keep myself from overcaffeinating for the 120000th day in a row. So to discover, one hour into awakesville, that the internet was feeling a bit stabby at me, was a bit of a shock. I'm not going to lie, I hid in my apartment. For the rest of the day.  

I'm not sure if I was waiting for villagers with pitchforks or what, exactly, but I sat quietly on my couch, checking my phone every couple of minutes to make sure no one else hated found me. I went to a hot yoga class that afternoon in hopes that it would get some of the anxious out of me, but as I spoke to a few of the women in the locker room beforehand, I thought to myself, If you knew where I stood on certain issues, you would hate me. JUST ASK THE INTERNET. 

I'm super sensible in my thoughts. 

It's been two days, and nothing else has happened. No one has shown up at my door to ream me out and no one has threatened me with a sharp object, and, as it would turn out, the internet actually hates a lot of people.

But as I've been processing everything, what's stuck out to me the most has been the title of the Patheos post. The writer, Hemant, is a smart guy. He's a math teacher, and he's actually nearby. He teaches in a suburb of Chicago. I currently live in a suburb of Chicago, and I've lived in about a million other suburbs of Chicago, and I could have driven past this guy a thousand times and never met him. If we had met, we might even be friends. Honestly, he seems like a nice guy, and I think he's kind of funny.

So I'm not going to talk about him. I'm not going to argue with him. 

What I will talk about, a little bit, is this phrase: 

"Because, You Know, Jesus"

Because that's where everything changes.

For Hemant, "Because, you know, Jesus," sounds like a cop out. It sounds like a magical loophole that allows me to boss everyone else around and pretend to be super holy and offer up a catch-all that makes everything I say okay. It sounds like a pretend reason for people to think I'm right. 

But because, you know, Jesus died for this world while they hated him, the truth about me is this. 

I'm wrong. A LOT.
I sin. A LOT.
I get anxious. Good heavens. A LOT. 
And then I sin some more. 

I'm imperfect. I'm undeserving.

But because Jesus loves my stupid self, I'm going to be okay. 

Because Jesus, I have hope. 

Because Jesus, I'm saved. 

Because Jesus, decades of destructive decisions from my heritage have been broken. 

And because Jesus, I've been protected from millions of decisions that could have easily destroyed me. Decisions that I would have made. I could have made. 

Y'all, on my own, I'm an absolute disaster. But because Jesus has claimed me as his daughter, I'm saved by grace--undeserved, gifted, and free. And I want that for everyone, because that is the sweetest gift we can ever give.

So, that's where I'm at now. I'm thankful for this experience, because it's made me think more and more about how vastly different my life is because Jesus took a hold of me. It's made me think more about the ways that I will be despised because of my faith, and about how that's okay. Because Jesus suffered on the Cross, because he came to this earth to save the lost and the sinners, because he continues to pull me out of sin and shame, because he loves each of us so deeply and truly--because of Jesus, all else fades. What this world thinks of me doesn't matter, because Jesus will continue to be my reason for everything. 

He came to earth as a radical. He didn't make any sense to this world, and the Pharisees hated him for it. He spoke in love, but he spoke in truth. He loved those twelve morons who followed him around, and when he was arrested and they abandoned him, he kept loving them.  

And I love Jesus because he's impossible to feel medium about. He's either the Savior of the world, or the biggest liar, the most horrible human, that's ever walked this earth.    

I am crazy in love with Jesus, and the more I write about him, the more I realize it. So yeah. Because Jesus, this world is going to look a little different to me sometimes. Sometimes, it's going to look a lot different. 

Because, you know. Jesus. 

Monday, July 15, 2013


I've been the worst blogger in history, but I'm planning on actually writing in this thing more regularly, so stay tuned. I've been super busy, like a really large bee.

Until then, here are a few guest posts I've written in the last couple months, for your happy perusal. 

Monday, December 17, 2012


It‘s been easy for me to separate myself from the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I’ve closed my eyes at the footage, clicked out of online articles, and blankly replied to my grieving friends, “Yeah, this world is an evil place. It just is.” 

In my heart of hearts, I could not even process the evil that was committed, and so I just didn’t.

But Saturday night I got a text from my sister that changed all that.

“Hi family—in light of Friday’s events, there will be a required sign-in for everyone before Rach’s Christmas concert, so it may take a few extra minutes.”

You know. In case there's a shooter.

You see, tomorrow night is Eastview Elementary’s second grade production of The Nutcracker. My niece, Rachel, has a speaking part. (She's pumped about it, by the way.)

This will be the fourth Christmas concert I attend at Eastview—I have three nieces and one nephew, so it’s a yearly tradition. They’ve dressed up as barnyard animals, candy canes, olden-timey children, and bees. For years I’ve sat in the rows of folding chairs and taken pictures of my littlest relatives, intermittently cheering and waving at my sweet babies from the audience. It’s such a regular occurrence that I’d thought about skipping this one—it’s an hour drive out, on a work night, and sometimes it just feels like too much.

But never once have I worried about my nieces’ and nephew’s safety at this school. In my mind, it’s been their safe haven, a place where they’ve learned about the world while gaining the skills they need to successfully interact with their peers.  It’s been easy to take it for granted.

 Getting that text from my sister gave me pause. It made me realize that my nieces and nephew, with all their bright innocence and trust in the goodness of the world—even they aren’t safe. They live in a small town in the Midwest during a time of heightened security, of lockdown drills and SWAT teams.  Safety, in its simplest form, is just an illusion. It’s a feeble attempt to create a feeling of control in a world that is completely out of control.

And what it all comes down to is this: even now, even in this day with smart phones and panic buttons and safe rooms and fire drills and backup plans—even now, we are still utterly and completely dependent on our heavenly father. We are still at his mercy. And in light of recent events, we are still called to treat each day with our loved ones like it could be our last.

So today I will return to the Word of God with the trembling and a sense of urgency that I should feel each day. I will beg for God’s protection over my loved ones, and pray for the grieving families in Connecticut who’ve experienced the worst loss imaginable.

And tomorrow night, I will sit amongst my family with my five-year-old nephew, Micah, on my lap. I will hug him tightly and tell him I love him, and together we’ll cheer for Rachel and her fellow second graders. And I will refuse to let this commonplace event lose its luster.

If I’ve learned anything this week, it’s that every day that I am able to celebrate the lives of my family members, I’m experiencing nothing less than a miracle.

Connecticut, my heart and my prayers go out to you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sabbath Prayer

I crack open one eye and look at the clock. 12:30 p.m. Welp, there goes church, I think to myself as I half-tumble out of bed. I'm groggy. I pour water into the coffeemaker, eyeball some coffee grounds into the filter, and spend ten minutes staring as the dark liquid drops into the coffee pot.

I wander around my apartment in a baggy Cubs t-shirt and black pajama pants that are two sizes too big, recounting the events of the evening prior, giving myself ratings on my performance. Dress: B+. Humor A-. Biting Sarcasm to Kindness Ratio: C. I feel a heaviness settle on my heart.

Someday the kindness will win out, I think. 

Eventually I sit down on my couch with coffee in hand. I've decided that since I didn't manage to get my lazy rear end to church this morning, I owe Jesus some quiet time. I read A.W. Tozer, rereading each paragraph a few times to digest what he's written, and then turn my thoughts over to my journal, flipping through the entries I wrote over the summer before I find a blank page to begin a new chronicle.

I get halfway through a narcissistic retelling of my last week, begging Jesus for peace and direction, when I get a text from my niece, Maya. This is a big deal--she's texting me on my sister's phone, and at nine-years-old, this is one of the first texts she's ever sent. Lots of smiley faces.

She and I text funny faces back and forth for a bit and eventually she calls me, her voice sounding way too grown up when she announces that she's just calling to say "hey" and asks me how me and my roommate are doing. Good Lord, I think. Wasn't she just learning to crawl? Whahaaat is happening?

We talk for a solid twenty minutes before she hands the phone over to my sister, we talk for a bit, and then I hang up. Alone again, I finish journaling, ending in some desperate sort of "God help my stupid self navigate this life less idiotically" plea, and snap my notebook shut, wishing the feelings of heaviness would dissipate, but grateful I got to speak to some family this morning.

I spend the next few hours alone, eyeing the boxes that still need to be filled and stuff that needs to be put in them. I pack nothing. We're moving in five days.

 I don't handle alone time well. I can do it for about...oh, two hours, and then it's all over and I start desperately texting people, asking them what they're up to.

My roommate is the same way. When one of us is out of town, upon return we compare notes about how pathetic we began to feel as the week waned on with one of us returning to an empty apartment. By day three there's usually crying. I know. Ridiculous.

Eventually I pull on some leggings, a sweater, and boots--it's only one step up from pajamas, but it's enough to get myself out of the house, and decide to work on freelance at one of the downtown coffee shops. I try Caribou first, but there are no empty tables.

I curse Wheaton College for being back in session and slowly shake a lowered fist at the college students who've moved into my tables. I walk to Starbucks with no success, and then wander into the only independent coffee shop in town, only to find out that it closes in thirty minutes. 

I don't want to work today. I have no desire--but I have too much to NOT work. I can't seem to shake this feeling of grief, either, which isn't helping fuel my productivity.

I get back in my car and drive to another Caribou, one a little farther out of town, which is, oddly enough, full of Italian men sitting in large groups at tables, all wearing their coats and playing various dice games. I'm pretty sure I'm surrounded by the mafioso, but I've always wanted to be a part of a good mob fight, so I find a table in the back (where I'm safe from being whacked with a canoli) and open my laptop, searching for a recent interview I need to transcribe tonight.

I open my email.

It's not there.

Nay, it's absolutely nowhere. It's not in my Yahoo account, it's not in my work account, it's not backlogged in my Yousendit account...nada. It's sitting on my work desktop computer, and there is no retrieving it tonight. 

I feel a tinge of relief and smile at the irony that I've just been forced to actually observe this Sabbath, a spiritual discipline I LOVE to ignore. I pull out Jen Hatmaker's book, Seven, which I was supposed to have finished yesterday, when my book club met to discuss it, but like the procrastinator that I am, I rolled into book club with thirty pages still unread.

The thirty pages left are, as a matter of fact, devoted to observing the Sabbath. OF COURSE THEY ARE. Because this is the nature of my life. God knows I'm dumb, and that if I'm going to be taught something, I need to be smacked over the face with it. It's all very brutal.

And so I open to this: 

"During the first week of October, I suffered an inexplicable sadness for our Ethiopian kids, yet unknown to us. I couldn't quit crying. I couldn't stop worrying. I felt heavy and dark without knowing why...I threw my emotions up into the Facebook ring for some backup. From adopting friends a common thread rose up: 

'God is prompting you to pray for your children for some reason. You don't know them yet, but he knows they are yours. Intercede for them this week; then write the dates down.'" 

Jen goes on to write about how during her week of sorrow, in which she got on her knees in prayer for the child she was going to adopt, her future daughter had just been delivered to an orphanage in Ethiopia.

The child's first week surrounded by people she didn't know, missing her family, getting her head shaved, wide-eyed and fearful in the night in an unfamiliar place, was the same week that Jen felt she needed to pray for kids, even though she still didn't know who they'd be. Her prayers went to her daughter in a time of need before she even knew her.

Now, I know this all may sound a little bit Chicken Soup for the Soul-y, and if it does, then, gross. But to me, it sounds beautiful. It sounds like God cared enough for this child to have her lifted up in prayer by her mother long before she even knew her.

I'm reading this chapter on slowing down and taking time to pray and intercede for others when God places them on your heart, and my eyes start watering like crazy. I look up and realize that both (I'm guessing based on their awkward facial hair) seminary students sitting in the leather chairs across from me are watching me cry like an idiot, but seminary guys sort of creep me out, so I don't care. 

I feel again the heaviness in my own soul, and the person who I have to pray for comes to mind. It comes on so strongly that I have to stop mid-chapter to lift him up, silently crying a prayer to the Father who loves His children so desperately.

I pray for reconciliation, I pray for the Holy Spirit to move, and I pray God would show me the role he wants me to play in this person's life. I pray until I finally feel the heaviness lift.  

And now I find myself wondering how often God grants me with this same heaviness for this same reason. I've often taken this as a mood swing or a good reason to feel sorry for myself (and Lord knows that sometimes it's P.M.S.), but maybe, just maybe, God places these burdens on my heart not as another way to focus on myself, but as a means of lifting up someone specific. Someone in desperate need of intercession.  

I've decided I'll be damned if I miss another opportunity.

I want so badly to turn my grieving into joy by partnering with the Lord to lift up this world. Every day I meet another broken person, and I wonder at the epidemic of lost and the lonely people. It threatens to overwhelm me, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't at times handled it by hiding.

But standing in someone's place and praying for them with my whole heart...that's something I want. In John 17, Jesus prays for the world like that. He prays that God would protect His people and unite them in love. He intercedes.

On its own, it's a wonderful prayer.

But in context, it's so much more. It's the prayer Jesus prayers the night before He's brutally murdered. He spends the night before his execution using His own heaviness to lift up the sinful, selfish people whom He's grown to love so much. The people He came down to save: me and you.

Thank God.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vacation Manifesto

I'm going on vacation. 

Let me say that one more time, in case you didn't catch what I said. 

I'm going on vacation. VAC-YAYYYYY-TION, if you will. (I'm sorry. I had to. I couldn't not.)

I'm not telling you this to make you jealous. That's just a benefit. I'm telling you this because this is a big deal for me. I haven't left the Midwest and taken a legitimate vacation in almost four years.  

So, in two days, I embark on a trip to a sandy island in North Carolina.

I will be on vacation for eight days.

For these eight days, I've made myself a few rules. These are rules that will hopefully untangle me from a bit of the ever-twisted Stockholm Syndrome I've developed over the past few years of constantly being plugged into everything, all the time, everywhere.

1. I can't check my phone. The world will be fine without me for a week and a half. In fact, it's probably ready for a break. 

2. I don't even have to glance in the general direction of a computer screen, unless I want to.

3. Wearing heels is not an option. Flip flops or gym shoes. That is all. 

4. I'm not allowed to twirl my hair. Hair twirling indicates anxiety which indicates that I'm worrying about things that are out of my control, and I'm taking a vacation from that particular brand of crazy for the next EIGHT DAYS.

5. I'm not allowed to talk about, think about, or even mention the word work. 

Instead, I'm going to lay on a beach and read this: 

I'm going to eat fruits and vegetables.

 I'm going to not set my alarm clock. 

And I'm going to re-learn how to interact with other humans--specifically my best friend, Steph, my sister, her husband, their friends, and their friends' five-month-old baby.

I'm going to drink tea.

And coffee.

And wine. 

I'm going to do yoga. I might even go running. (no. that last part is a lie.)

I'm going to get a real tan. (also probably a lie.)

I'm going to read entire books.

I'm going to eat ice cream.

I'm going to discover new BBQ dives.

I'm going to take walks.

And I'm not going to look at my phone. Ever.

I had a good summer--good, but rougher in some ways than I expected it to be. And sometimes, even though you've healed and moved on as much as you can, it takes going away for a little bit to find the space to fully recover.

What I'm saying is, this vacation could not have come at a better time.

Over the next eight days, I want to reconnect with God.

I want to read about Jesus again, get to know him again, study his face again. I want to spend a good amount of time reading the Gospels, not so I can come back with some sort of Holy Glow and tell everyone about how I spent a week reading the Bible while they slaved away at their desks.'s just that I desperately need to re-read the life-giving words of Jesus.

I need to remember what it's s all about. I need to read about dying to myself...I need to read about the kind of love that Jesus has for me. And I want to pour my heart out to God. I want to ask him questions, confess my most recent bouts with stupidity, give him my worries, and plead, face to the ground, for direction.


I also want to write.

I will write creatively.

I will write without an audience.

I will write because I have to write. Because writing is my own personal catnip. It's the thing that makes everything else quiet's where I can actually use that daydreaming dipstick inside me that I fight on a daily basis, and instead, put her to good use.


And lastly, I will spend the next eight days filling my words and my actions with gratitude. I have a good incredible life. I am more than blessed. But sometimes it's hard to see that, and instead of giving thanks, I complain and I criticize. It's exhausting.

What's especially stupid about it is that most of the time, I'm criticizing myself.

You see, when you're me (or maybe when you're you), you're never good enough.

Every misstep seems like a downfall. Every pound seems like a ton. Every new day becomes a new chance to self-deprecate.

And what I forget, over and over and over again, is that God didn't make a mistake when he made me. He chose to make me a neurotic dreamer. He looked and me and said that it was good. Not perfect, mind you, but good. Good for his purposes.

So for the next eight days, I'm going to unabashedly embrace who God made me to be: spacey, creative, sarcastic, direction-ally-challenged, zero sense of time...a little offbeat....I'm going to thank God for all of it. Even the stuff that annoys the crap out of my family and friends.


I'm going to thank him for my life, and for the people in it.


I'm going to thank him for the salt in the water, the wind on the waves, and the sun on my face.


Oh, and for the wine in my glass, too. I will thank him for all of it.

And I won't look at my phone.