BE MOVED

I was listening to a song in the car today.

I was making my way to my favorite local coffee shop to do some work and was just trying to think and pray for a bit of inspiration to fall out of the sky. I have so much going on in my head, so many things to do, that my inspired self had kind of been taken over by to do lists and requirements. who else has totally been there?

but as I was listening to this song and allowing the beauty of the words and melody to sweep over me, I was moved. nearly to tears, but thoroughly to inspiration.

how often do we let the beauty of it all become the background noise?

how often are we okay with drifting because feeling is just too hard when there are so many aches in our souls?

how often do we allow ourselves to shut down and just make it through the day instead of bravely feeling all that the world has to offer… the good AND the bad?

how hard is it to be shaken from our rigidness and simply be moved?
be changed?
be loved?

be beloved.

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because that is what you are called, beauties.

you are beloved. 
so be. loved. 
and be. love.

but first… be moved.
let the movement show you just how loved you are. just how worthy you are made. just how full of the Divine you are.
just how capable you are of moving others to know these. same. truths.

don’t allow fear to box up your heart and hide it away from feeling. that’s where the apathy sets in. don’t allow the past wounds and hurts to callous over your heart and make you numb. that’s where the bitterness sets in.

keep feeling. keep being moved. keep soaking up the joy.

be moved today.

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SOFTENED LIKE SAND

goodness is doing its work in me, and it’s face looks a lot like trial.

every time I go to the beach I spend the first day clinging to the sand. terrified of the waves and the way they crash, white foam sputtering, into themselves. flinging bits of sand and seaweed into the salty air. thrashing upon the shore like violent fists coming down hard on a pillow of gritty sand.

perhaps it’s childish. perhaps I’m just not very brave.

but they scare me at first. every time. no matter how old I get.

I imagine getting thrashed and pummeled by those angry fists of water and foam. imagine getting dragged like a rake through turbulent under-currents. just thinking about it sends little spurts of anxiety, like lightning, through my chest.

ah, yes. goodness is doing its work in me, and it feels a lot like being drowned, sputtering and gurgling, to the bottom of a swirling ocean.

and if I’m honest… the shore feels so much safer, so much objectively smarter, so much kinder to a battered & waterlogged heart.

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but the sand is only smooth from being softened.

and I am only gentle from being rubbed the wrong way till all my sharp edges are gone.  Continue reading “SOFTENED LIKE SAND”

VALLEY. DESERT. WILDERNESS.

there are spaces in the human journey that are stinging & solemn & sacred.

they are full of angst and anger and ache.

they are overflowing with suffering. undoing. just surviving.

these spaces are valley. desert. wilderness.

in the valley we feel trapped.
in the desert we feel exhausted.
in the wilderness we feel lost.

sometimes… you’re in all three.

if you haven’t had the terrifying privilege of journeying through these strange and foreign wild places, you will soon enough. these places are sacred because they are the part of the human experience where a veil is cut open & we so often most deeply and profoundly experience Divine encounters with shalom.

and yet… they are the places of doubt, and of wandering, and of feeling lost, and of the deep, deep starless night of the soul.

this is the mystery.

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I have a lot of questions lately. the valley & desert & wilderness are full of them, after all. and I’m beginning more and more to realize that this is simply the way of things. that questions are part of the fabric of life, and that by ignoring them or running from them is the way that we run from and ignore life.

and we don’t run from life. we can’t.

we chase after it.

I’ll be holding space & treading deeper into the wild country that is this discussion in the next few blog posts… but for now, hear this:

your questions are valid.
they are good.
they matter.
they are worthwhile to ask.

sit with your questions. look at them, be calm, and hold conference with them. allow them to be, to exist, to stare quietly back at you… until you find your answer. then, and only then, release them.

I can’t wait to chat about the valley… how to know if you’re in one, and how to flourish until you reach the mountaintop ❤

DEAR CHURCH, YOUR PURITY CULTURE IS SHAMING & SEXIST

I think I’ve lost count of the analogies I learned by heart in the 2000’s purity culture.

the one I remember most clearly was one in which two pieces of construction paper were glued together.

these two papers, the pink and the blue, represent you and the person you choose to sleep with,” we were told, as we watched the the glue-dampened pages being pressed together and set aside, before we were launched into the same sexist “purity lesson” we’d heard a hundred times before. a few minutes later, the pages were picked back up and violently torn apart, shreds of the blue still left on the pink, and vice versa.

look how disgusting that is? do you want to be like that? of course not! no one does! and no one wants to be with someone like that, either. if you want to marry a man who loves Jesus, you have to make sure you never do something that would leave the pieces of another person’s heart in you, or else no good man would want to pursue you. a good man only wants a pure woman.

honestly, just thinking about that makes me angry now. just thinking about it makes me sick.

I sat and listened to these purity talks and every year it was the same. and every girls’ small group was so uncomfortable… it was assumed that for me as a woman, the waters of biblical purity that I must wade, went no deeper than what I wore and how often I ventured further than a side-hug and how well I controlled my unruly and over-dramatic girl feelings.

and I sat there, full of life and passion and love to give and thought “I have to stifle all of this.” Continue reading “DEAR CHURCH, YOUR PURITY CULTURE IS SHAMING & SEXIST”

Let the arrows fly- a lesson in healing & freedom

Let’s get something straight: sometimes in this ugly, broken world, our hearts are punctured by brutality and injustice inflicted upon us- either intentional or not. As often as not, we are punctured by the church. Though this is not the way it should be- not the way it was designed to be– it is the way it is.

In those moments of acute and stinging pain, it can feel like arrows aimed at our souls, at the soft and carefully hidden pin-points of our insecurities, and the wounds carved out by these arrows go immeasurably deep, are unspeakably painful. It can leave us breathless, pincushioned by shafts of carefully aimed lies, protruding from our chests.

I know this, sweet friend.

And sometimes, it’s the same arrow. Sometimes, it’s the same lie. Sometimes, it’s the same spot, scarred over from dozens of attacks, that gets split open once again. 

See, sometimes we think we’re safe- that after this vast array of identical scars in the same exact spot, we can’t possibly withstand another. But then it comes. And what then?

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I’ve been there, too. The enemy has one lie that he’s constantly shooting, wailing through the air, at my heart.one lie that he’s used God’s church to attempt to hammer into me my whole life: Continue reading “Let the arrows fly- a lesson in healing & freedom”

The Friday five / 5 characteristics of habitually authentic people

In our church, we’ve really been practicing that whole weeping with those who weep thing lately. Yeah guys. It’s been rough. We’ve been hit hard.

In the span of a year we’ve held two particularly shocking funerals… Two funerals that were held for those who made the heart-wrenching decision to end their lives prematurely.

Our church has survived two suicides this year.

We are broken people, like any other community. But here’s the thing… I can’t help but think we might be holding fewer funerals if we had simply done our job.

If we had loved as Christ loved. Cared as he cared. Walked in humility as he walked.

If we had spread our arms wide with Jesus-love, speaking authentically, baring even the ugly doubts and reeking losses… When will we bulldoze through the society of singularity we’ve caved to and create a safety net of untidy grace where people are free to struggle with those hard and holy things that make life so damn hard. 

How many more will die before we wake up and realize that authenticity is what will heal our churches?

In the wake of the grief and shock that suicide unleashed upon those left behind, I have found true and authentic community with some of those who have been starving as desperately as I for it. I have bared it all and bathed in the relief it washes over those who plunge themselves into the tidal wave of vulnerability and grace that always follows authenticity. Precious authenticity

I have never experienced true authenticity as clearly as I have as of late.

I’m never going back.

My sweet friend and dear fellow blogger, Simone of The Adventures of Everygirl, and I have been making this our theme lately.
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We’ve realized that this is what we’ve been craving, what’s been missing from our souls. After lots of thought, passionate discussion, and epiphanies numbering in the dozens (because, duh), we finally seemed to grasp what it was that made authenticity so enticing, so addicting.

I’ve taken a few moments to jot down what I believe are the five most important characteristics of habitually authentic people. If you want true community, take note, dear ones.  Continue reading “The Friday five / 5 characteristics of habitually authentic people”

is this thing on? // I lost my soapbox and found my voice

hi.

it’s been a while.

I’ve missed you.

you’re a great listener, you know. 🙂

thanks for that, friend.

I have something to say, today (surprise, surprise).

I sit here, a cup of nutella cocoa (yes, it is as good as they say!) cradled in one hand, remaining snowdrifts getting all drippy out the big window, waiting for munchkin to awake. I’m still wearing a scarf, on top of two sweaters, because this girl just can’t seem to get warm these past few ugly-frigid february days. yesterday I may or may not have tugged on a too-big sweatshirt and worn fleece-lined tights under my jeans and two pairs of heavy knit socks… yes, I almost couldn’t get my boots on when I left for work. so sexy. (stop laughing! jerk.)

as you may remember, I planned to venture up into the blizzard-y north (is it possible to get hypothermia from thinking about cold temperatures? also- am I allowed to build a fire indoors?) with my mother this past weekend, for my nana’s 80th. unfortunately, the blizzard-y-ness stood in our way. nevertheless, I did make the three-hour trek (thankfully, snuggled in my mama’s toasty-warm car) to my parents’ home. in the midst of a weekend full of scrapbooking and munching and WATCHING THE PATRIOTS WIN THE SUPERBOWL (ahem 😉 sorry. my I-told-you-so is showing.), I managed to catch snippets of this and that and the other from my number one kid brother about life and applicable theology  the struggle of hard-pressed faith.

my life is overflowing with grace. so much beauty.

can I say something else?
conversation is powerful.
I’ve had the glorious opportunity to take advantage of the raging northern storms and skype with my dear jen (which I practically never get to do since she is so darn busy always!) whilst she was snowed in.
the thing about her which most touches and speaks to my heart, is the fire in hers. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who so fiercely embraces their dreams and doubts and deep, uncomfortable thoughts as one equal experience of themselves and one huge breath of glory. I admire her even when she’s angry and even when she’s broken. and, to be honest, it’s likely her anger and her brokenness that often fuels my faith… and fills my head with heart-passion. she faces head-on the things which others dance gingerly around. she does battle with them. she’s a warrior.

jennay, love, you’re a brilliant speck of Jesus in a ceaselessly, flamboyantly ugly world. I love you for it.

conversing with her and her lovely-raw heart often awakens things in me, which otherwise would have perhaps sat dormant for a bit longer. in this case, our shared words only served to plague a sore spot that had been growing more tender by the day.
here’s the ugly word: conviction.
here’s another one: judgement.
and yet another: held accountable. (okay, that was two words.) Continue reading “is this thing on? // I lost my soapbox and found my voice”