Tuesday, November 11, 2014

True Healing

I want to make a habit of doing what does not come easily. I've started running a couple times a week and I'm struck by how much it sucks. Every time. But somehow I always feel better afterwards. Like that hell I put my body through was actually worth it. Not only was I able to release any stress through the activity, but my body is becoming stronger and healthier because of it. 

It's funny how easy it is to fall into old habits when life gets rough. When I get tired, when I feel alone, when I'm sad, I run to the things that I know will numb the pain- at least for a little while. I run to the things that satisfy that longing immediately. Because eating a doughnut is easier than going for a run. Because the 'long run' doesn't cross my mind in the moment. Because real healing takes work and it takes time. Neither of which I enjoy giving. 

But this person that I am, the one I see in the mirror, the one that falls time and again to the same old trick, the one that chooses immediate gratification over true healing every time, that's not the person I want to be. That person makes me sick to my stomach. That person is not the one I want people seeing.  It's not how I want to live. 

True healing, though, requires authenticity. It means someone else has to see that version. It means the mask has to go in the trash and the walls have to come down. And that is terrifying. So I continue. I continue to cry in agony at the brokenness inside of me. I continue to long for a better existence. I continue wishing that just once I would not fall. I continue wishing that someone would break down the walls and simultaneously pushing away anyone who would try. 

It's a vicious cycle and I think it's one many of us live. Pride keeps our masks in place, believing that we are the only ones who struggle, the only ones who fall. Admitting weakness is admitting failure. And failure we cannot accept. We cannot let them see the brokenness we see in the mirror. No one would stick around if they saw that. Right? 

Well I'm sick of it. I'm sick of pretending to have it all together when I don't. I'm sick of acting as though life is great when it's not. I fall time and again into the same old easy fix. I'm a sucker for immediate gratification. I'm the weakest person I've ever met and I need Jesus. I do. I am weak and I am broken and I build walls like its my job. But maybe this will be the start of a new era. An era of honesty. An era of authenticity. An era of community that does not condemn but comes together to support one another. I want that. I want deep intentional relationships and I want life-giving community. 

There is no healing in my mask. There is no satisfaction in my little, perfectly protected and perfectly abandoned castle. Perfect love casts out fear. So today I'm laying down my mask and I invite you to do the same. Run hard into the arms of Jesus. Let someone in on your struggles. Let them help you. Share the burden. We were not meant to do this life on our own.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

{To You} When You Feel Like Giving Up

I get it. You feel alone. You feel lost. You feel like a burden. 
And you're searching for someone to show that you matter. That you're worth it. 
You can be sure that you matter because you're here today. 
Somebody cared enough to create you. Somebody cared enough to die for you. 
He's pursuing you every day if only you would stop to listen. 
He wakes the sun up for you every morning. 
He opens the mouths of the birds to sing you to your morning classes. 
He unveils the stars at night to guide you. 
He smiles at you through the flowers and waves with the falling of the leaves. 
He loves to see you happy and cries when you cry. 
There is nothing He does not see. 
He notices when you hurt and he longs to comfort you. 

So crawl back into his arms, child. 
Crawl back the direction you think He is. 
When it feels like there is a wall between you, know that it is nothing more than a feeling. 
That when you ask He will break it down. 
There is no distance too far, 
no sin too wrong, 
no fall too hard 
that he can not pick you up and put all the little pieces back together. 
He is not angry with you for running. 
He does not resent the distance. 
He simply follows, waiting for you to turn and see that he is right there, all the time, 
arms ready to embrace you, party already planned for the return of his precious child. 

Come home. 
Rest in His arms and know yourself to be loved. 
Believe it. 
Breathe it in. 
This is where you belong. 
No matter where you are on this Earth. 
Here, in your Father's arms, this is home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I'm learning about words these days. Turns out they're pretty powerful. You'd think it'd be something I was aware of. Sure I've said words are powerful. I've heard that we need to be careful of what comes out of our mouth. But life as of late has taught me lessons that hit home just how true this really is.

In Genesis, God spoke. It's the first thing he tells us he did. And because he speaks we know that we can believe, we know that what he says will happen because that's the precedent that he sets. I believe his promises because he spoke them. I wonder if the same could be said for me. How many times do I say things that I don't really mean, or mean things and then not follow through? How much weight do my promises actually carry for people who know me? I don't know if the answer is one I'd like to hear.

Photo by @lakeanncamp
At camp last summer every Friday we would have combined chapel which meant all the campers going into 6th grade through graduated seniors were all in the same room at the same time. And every Friday Ken Riley, the director would get up on stage and talk about the great tradition that is the Glory Bowl. At the Glory Bowl all the kids would gather around a giant fire and anyone who wanted to could share about what God had done in their life that week. As Ken introduced this event, he gave two reasons that he believed the glory bowl was important. The first was that it's encouraging to those around us to see how God is moving in us. The second is that our decisions are solidified in our hearts when we speak them out loud.

That second one has been a game changer for me lately. When I speak it solidifies what I think in my heart. Which means when people ask me how I am and I complain about all that's going wrong, that's solidified. It means that when I mention all the things this one person has done that irritates me, that's solidified. But it also means that saying "I forgive you" can be followed by the feeling. It means that talking about the things that go right, might actually shift my gaze from the things that don't.

If my words will translate into actions down the road, I want to be speaking truth. I want to speak joy. I want to speak peace. I want to speak the pure and the noble and the right, the excellent and praiseworthy.

I am no master of this skill. I'm not really even good at it. But God is teaching and I am learning and my hope is that you too will see the value of this lesson and apply it to your life. Be careful of the things you let come out of your mouth and have a blessed day.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


It's so easy, so comfortable to live in the box of things we know. We strive for exact and final answers to our questions. We look skeptically upon that which we cannot fully comprehend. 
The unknown is scary. So we run. We think, we wrestle, and we try to work ourselves to the answer. 

One of the most beautiful things about Jesus, to me, is that I cannot ever fully understand. At times it's frustrating, exhausting, even overwhelming. But then I'm reminded that if I could know everything that God knows, if I could understand how and why He does what He does, there would be no reason to depend on Him. I would not need him because I'd already know all things. 

Following Christ is all about the journey. There will never be a time while I'm alive when I will have reached the final destination in my walk with Christ. I will never achieve perfection, or total knowledge. But that's the beauty in it. Every day I can search and grow and learn and become closer to my Jesus. 

We try so hard to box God in. To strap him down and pull out black and white answers to life. We long for the black and white because it's safe. It's right or it's wrong. No gray. Gray is scary. I'm right and you're wrong and that's all there is to it. But what if that's not how it was supposed to be? What if it is gray? What if the black and white mindset is keeping me from loving someone who desperately needs it? What if the black or white or gray doesn't even matter?

I think we miss out on so much of the goodness that God intended for us when we let ourselves go to the black and white. We stop thinking once we have our answer. We stop listening. We stop growing. In my experience the closer I get to Jesus, the less I care about exact answers. The journey is joy because each step takes me closer to Him.

Donald Miller says it this way in his book, Blue Like Jazz: "At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is the feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don't think there is any better worship than wonder."

Take some time today to wonder. Wonder at the things He's done. Wonder at the things He's doing. Wonder at the world around you. Wonder at the little daily blessings.

It's good to be alive. It's good to be loved by Jesus. It's good to have another chance every day to serve and honor and worship Him. Remember that and smile.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


The gospel. 
What a word.
I wonder sometimes what sort of power it carried when first the word was spread about Jesus.
The "Good News". It wasn't a Christian word. Somehow, though, I imagine the kids running down the streets to their friends, "Hey! Did you hear the good news?”
It feels exciting. Good. A little weighty. But also light. It feels like hope.

I grew up wondering what all the gospel meant. When people talked about the gospel, what were they referring to specifically? I'm sure it varies to some extent from person to person- everything does. But this year, for possibly the first time, I'm learning what exactly it means. And more than that, I'm learning how to live it. 

It's amazing to see how God uses the events and the people in my life to teach me more what this means. It blows me away to watch as He puts together the groups of conversations and events and situations that all point me toward the thing that He's trying to get across to me. Lately it's been pride. For the past couple of weeks, I've been struggling with this pride that has told me I have it all together and that I have what it takes. But God has brought to my attention consistently just how untrue this is.

Every time I'm tempted to forget, something else happens that brings me back to a place where I realize just how much I need Him, how dependent I am upon His hands to mold me into the person I want to be- the one He made me to be. As I sit here unsure how to move, He molds my heart through His word and His love and His people.

It struck me the other day how quickly my dreams could be over. At any moment I could develop a disease or break my arm and in that moment I would lose my ability to play bass and guitar, possibly forever. And the level of fear that arises in me when I think about that tells me that yet again I've put my trust and my hope in something other than God. I've come to define myself by the abilities that God has given me while forgetting that it was God who gave them to me.
"The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The Skies proclaim his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world" - Psalm 19:1-4

It's so humbling to think how every piece of God's creation screams his praise. Without so much as a word the trees point to his majesty and the sunset to His beauty and and the stars to His immensity. And yet I, who was made in His image; I, who He died for; I,who was loved by Him even when I was weak (always) and fell down (more often than I care to admit); I try to achieve His glory for myself. How does that make sense?

What an awesome privilege it is to be able to point people to Christ, to inspire people to follow Him. What a great joy it is to use the gifts He has given me to help others worship Him who has given us more than we could ask or imagine. There should be no fear in me over losing those gifts, but instead gratitude and humility that He has allowed me to use those gifts and given me the opportunity to use them in a way that is honoring to Him.

Every moment that I have I want to worship. In my music, in my school work, in my friendships, in my quiet time I want every thought, every action to honor God. I want to live a life of worship. I want to praise him in every moment, the good and the bad. I want to live a life whole-heartedly devoted to Him so that when I die it is not my name they remember, but God's. 

I'm not there yet. I don't know if I ever will be. But there will be no more half-hearted devotion, no more take-it-or-leave-it faith. I'm handing over every dark and cobweb-filled crevice of my heart to be lit and cleaned and refined in the fire. I cannot lead others in worship through music when my life is not living worship. From this moment on I'm all in.