A Confession: I’ve Changed.

Have you changed lately? Are you a different person than you were a year ago? Three? Five?

If you ran into a long lost friend, or fell out of touch with someone for a few months – would they notice that you are different?

I would hope so.

Some of us fear change simply because of the uncertain. Some of us fear change in others because it leaves our relationship undefined. And we all fear change because it reminds us that we are not in control.

I’ve been accused of changing a lot in my life. This past year included. Guilty as charged.

5 years ago, I would have called myself a sinner.*

2 years ago, my views on sex would not have let me be close friends with the woman I am today.

A year ago, I was scrambling to understand who I was, for the second time.**

And even in the last 6 months, I have become radically different.

Yes. I have changed.

Do you know what I love about Jesus? This. “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Peter.’ ” (John 1:42)

In one fell swoop, Jesus looks at a man, acknowledges his father, his family, his past – and says, “I know who you are. I KNOW. And I will call you otherwise.”

Not, “you have some problems, let’s talk about them.” Not, “follow me, and eventually you’ll be further away from your past.” Not, “tell me about yourself.” And not, “let’s get rid of the bad and keep what looks good.”

Jesus says, “I know you. I know everything. I know where you come from, and who you are. None of it matters to me. THIS is who you were created to be, and THIS is what you will be called in the new family that I am creating.”

Done, and done.

When you decide to follow Jesus, you are faced with a very inconvenient truth. That you are brand new, and that your reality will never again be the same.

That everything you thought you knew must now be re-filtered through God’s perception, not yours.

It is a loaded truth. It is a truth that implies your sins, your faults, your past are dead and gone. A truth that says this world matters no longer, and that our eyes are “to be focused not on the seen but on the unseen.” It is a truth that implies the old is DEAD and the new is NOW. It is a truth that forces you over and over again to decide which is more important to you: the kingdom you’ve lived in your entire life, or the kingdom of heaven.

It is an active truth. It requires fighting. It requires ripping open the scarred flesh so that the surgeon can remove the debris.

Becoming a new creation in Christ is not a fancy way of saying that the sins in your pretty little heart are now invisible to God because you said The Prayer. Becoming a new creation in Christ means that Jesus knew who you were, and has said No. This stops here. You are mine, this is your name, and this is how you fit perfectly into a family that you can’t even see yet.

Being given a new name in Christ does not mean that when you get to heaven you will be assigned a bedroom with Mildred Winnie Anne on the plaque above your vanity. (Although this could be true, God does have a sense of humor.) It means that every morning you wake up you must re-commit to accepting the name that Jesus has given you, and refuse the depression, the pain, the accusations, the never-enough, the selfishness, the materialism, the loneliness, the addiction, the sadness, and the failure that every other broken person has sold to you.

I have a hard time with this.

Just as Paul had a thorn in his flesh, I have mine, and you have yours. Or we have a few of them.

Many days, I want to be the Lauren who can’t quite hear God clearly. I want to be the Lauren that’s depressed because her biological family isn’t coming to her wedding on Saturday. I want to be the girl that’s really shy that grew up without any friends and struggles to relate to women. I want to be the girl that makes everyone around her happy and at peace. I want to be the Lauren who goes back to re-read Systematic Theology every 5 years so that I can have a tiny chance of winning over my dad with my flawless hermeneutics.

But that is not the name that Jesus has given me.

Jesus has told me that just as a sheep knows the voice of his shepherd, I DO know the voice of my Father. (John 10:2) I have been given family all across the world who actively loves & encourages me daily, because “whoever does My will is my mother, and brother, and sisters.” (Matt 12:50) I have been called Bold and Victorious One, because Jesus has promised to carry out to completion the good work that was begun in me. (Phil 1:6) In my mission to preach the scandalous life that Jesus offers, I bear the same sword that He does. (Matthew 10:34) Jesus has called me Simple, because “you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Matt 11:25)

Jesus was not a watered-down sort of man. Never did he come to make you better, he came to make you brand new. Never did he show up with painkillers, he came to heal.

You are not somewhere between dead and alive. You are alive.

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him, all are alive.” (Luke 20:38)

Change does not come easily. Life does not come easily.

The people in your life that identify only with your old self will be confused, unsettled, offended or no longer know how to relate to you. But the people who have a glimpse of the self Jesus created you to be will cheer you on, be excited with you, and encourage you in your race to change and be changed.

And that last group of people? THAT is family. The family that will be ever growing – as you continue to seek them out and as God continues to bring them to you exactly when you need them. And when they need you.

You will change.

It’s okay to change. It’s okay to become more like Jesus and less like you.

It’s okay to stand up for your change. Losing things is okay.

I will celebrate your change with you.

I will celebrate the new name Jesus has given you.

How have you changed? Tell me.

Our new names are glorious things.

_ _ _ _

* Recovering legalist, folks. Infinitely envious of what other women possessed but terrified to seek it out, and utterly convinced I would never emanate or live out freedom. Jesus gave it to me.

**Finally addressing a lifelong identity crisis & inferiority complex with being a woman. Coming to terms with Jesus creating me as a woman for a purpose & finally understanding that I have great value (not less) because of my gender.


A Letter To The Girl Without A Father & Etc.

I have a confession.

I cannot function without a father.

I have a second confession.

I used to love God because it was the right thing to do. Now I love Him because I am desperate for a Dad.

I have a third confession. A confession that mocks the Devil.

I believe that Daddy Issues are a gift.

I am not too proud to say that I am a woman who now knows she would not have sought God any other way.

I am not too proud to say that it took the world shattering pain of my father’s absence to bring me to an empty parking lot in the middle of the night at age 19, 14 years after I was saved, where I began to Love my God.

Love him like I loved my father. Needed him like I needed my father. Wanted him like I wanted my father.

– – –

My previous posts for Deeper Story: Love Was The Plan, The Most Important Thing, & Losing Everything.
I was also honored to write for POTSC (People Of The Second Chance) this week: I Was A Prostitute.
We are wrapping up the month on Body Image & Beauty at Good Women Project. Yesterday was Part One of An Eating Disorder, & today’s post is Part Two. July’s topic will be Let’s Talk About Sex. If you want to share your story, please email me at goodwomenproject [at] gmail.com. <3
Join me on Facebook: LaurenNicoleLove & Good Women Project
Follow me on Twitter: @laurenlankford & @goodwomenproj


When Christianity Says You Aren’t Enough + Update On The Trip

“I thought the world was diseased, and that I could save it by living, breathing, and dying in a vacuum called The Righteous & Holy Life. That the rebellious would see how good and clean and white I was, and would press their faces against the glass, crying out to God that they too wanted to be saved. So that they might live, breathe, and die in this sub-world, utterly void of sin.

They were destined for hell. Sons of liars, thieves, and all things wicked and perverse.

Not to be touched.”

Read the rest of my post on DeeperStory.com today >>>

Max & I are in Richmond, VA at the moment — we’ve spent the last couple of weeks in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, West Chester, DC & (I think?) we are headed to Raleigh, NC this evening!

Cities coming up: Greensboro, Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, & anywhere in between! We would love to meet you, or crash on your sofa! Or you know, both.

I’m still updating See The Cities with our photos! Also, you should read Max’s post, “If We Reach The Cities, We Will Reach The Nations.

– – –

Are you following me on Twitter? Do it here: @laurenlankford

Be a fan on Facebook. It’s the best way to keep up. Do that here.


Pictures from a Rainy Day & Stubbornly Holding To Blind Belief.

It rained today. I’m tired of the rain, so very tired. But all things are pretty, and I have decided to see them as such. So I took pictures on my front porch.

Also, I realized today, yet again, that I’m only a child. But that I have the best Dad. And that when I revert back to the heart he originally placed in me, stripped bare of all questioning, fears, guilt, concerns, and a forever of et ceteras, life is a thousand times more beautiful. More thoughts on that below.

You know when you were a kid, and your dad told you that the tooth fairy only comes on Tuesday nights, that watermelons grow in your tummy if you eat a seed, and that the birthmark on your mom’s leg was where she spilled her coffee, every morning?

You know all the things your dad told you about your family that you accepted without question?

You know when your dad said he was proud of you, and that took up 103% of your heart and brain space – so much so that you couldn’t even comprehend caring about anything else in that moment?

You know when your dad told you that you did something wrong, and the whole world broke and stopped until you put the pieces back together exactly the way he wanted them to be?

You know when you heard the car pull up and the garage door open and everything fell out of your hands as you screamed, “DADDY’S HOME!” and ran to hug his leg?

You know when you asked a question and he said “it doesn’t matter” and you didn’t give it another thought, just because he didn’t?

I want that with my Daddy. With my God. My Father.

I want to stubbornly cling to the most outrageous things with a blind belief simply because those words fell from His lips and there is no possible way that my Daddy is ever wrong.

I want to believe every single thing He tells me about my family – the one He’s given me – because His truth is my new truth.

I want 103% of my mind and heart to be flooded when He says is proud of me, and to not be able to even fathom caring about what anyone else thinks.

I want to have my priorities in order so that when my Daddy tells me something is off, I throw my heart and my soul into having them exactly the way He wants them to be.

I want to scream to my Daddy and everyone else that He’s home. MY HOME. Whenever I hear Him, see Him, feel Him.

And when I go to my Daddy with a painful question, and he says, “Don’t worry about it, because I’m not.” – I want to know with every cell of my body and every fiber of my heart that if He isn’t worried about it, I don’t need to be either.

– – –

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Matthew 11:25

You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. I Thessalonians 5:5

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4.

Hearts That Bleed, & Blind Faith : Today I Drowned In Love.

Today, I drowned in love. Five years ago, I drowned for lack of it.

Five years ago, in my desperation for Love, I anchored my mind with the determined decision that I would never, ever leave God, and never, ever forsake him. Because He promised me that. And if He was going to promise me that, dammit, I would promise it back. I didn’t love Him, not yet. But I was going to learn if it killed me.

How I came to this solution, out of all things, I have asked myself over and over. How I fell at God’s feet instead of at the devil’s? Well. Over the last five years I’ve found the answer:

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I knew, five years ago, that I didn’t understand his love. That I didn’t feel his love. That I didn’t see it, I didn’t understand it, I didn’t trust it.

But in the moment my heart snapped in the dark, when something prompted me to crawl out of bed and kneel, with my face in my pillow, hands gripping my sheets, sobbing and lungs struggling for breath, at 17 years old, I also knew that he would be Everything to me.

I knew that this God that I didn’t know would be my Everything. And I wanted to know Him.

When love steals our hearts, this is how it feels. This is what we know but cannot explain. We just know.

Paul says it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves – but that it is a gift from God.

Five years ago, I was given the gift of blind faith. I cannot and will not boast in it. It was given to me, and it is the greatest gift I have ever or will ever be given. I pray that I will be thankful for it until the day I see God face to face, and then for the rest of eternity.

Five years ago, my heart quite literally broke, as he removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh.

Do you know what is beautiful about hearts of flesh? They bleed.

Today, I drowned in a love that five years ago I did not know could exist. Because five years ago, I didn’t know how much God loved me. I didn’t know what God’s love looked like. I didn’t know that it was unconditional, and that I was treasured in the way that my heart burns and aches to be treasured. I was bitter. I was hurt. Scared. Withdrawn. I didn’t trust. I could count on one hand how many ‘friends’ I had. And even then, they never saw my heart.

I had no idea how to love. I wanted him to teach me. I wanted to bleed.

Excuse me while I go find a baby pool filled with humility to sit in while I tell you how I got here. How God brought me here.

When I was given a heart that bled, I knew that I was being asked to do one of the hardest things a human can ever do. And I swore on my life that I would do it no matter what the cost or how hard it was or how much work I had to put into it:

To believe of God what He says He is, above all else.

To throw all else out, and to go ONLY to God to find who He is. To listen to what He says, above all others. To seek God on his terms, not mine, and not others. To believe that I am who HE SAYS I AM, above what all others say, and above what I believe.

This is not a feeling, not an emotion, not something that is “something we should probably do.” This is a decision that we consciously make, and stand by and fight for and die for. Would you die to find this God? To understand his Love? To love Him?

Too often our understanding of God is defined by our father, by what we see in the Church, by what is reflected in our Christian friends. Oh children. Our fathers, our churches, and our friends are broken, broken people. They, and we, are what is saved, not what is Saving. And when you desperately need Saving, you go to the Savior first. First. FIRST. It is an insult to God – a slap in the face to the very Being who created you out of Grace – when you put their name tags on Him, and say, “This is who You are, because this is what I’ve seen.”

When we choose to live in blind faith, we must put blinders on to everything but faith.

Yes, that is extreme. And yes there is so much value in wise counsel, in the church, in books, in friends. But when these things tell you of a God who is anything other than what God has told you, you put your blinders on. To everything but Him.

And I will stand by that statement until the day I die. Because God has said: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

And. I. Believe. God.

If God has not yet told you who He is, you do not yet know.

If God has not yet told you how much he loves & adores you, you do not yet know.

When God is the one who tells you who He is, you will never forget it. And when He embraces you in a love that you cannot describe, you will be hard-pressed to doubt Him again.

This is what it means to be crazy in love with the God of the Universe. To live by faith, not by sight.

To drown in love.


Imperfect Parenting: You Hurt Me.

First, I want to preface this by saying how much I love my family. I love my parents, and my sister and two brothers have a place in my heart that will never be lost. I was blessed with a phenomenally unique childhood, full of both more love and more pain than most kids in America experience. Both have strengthened me, and I am blessed.

I have recently realized that there is no ‘normal’ or ‘to be desired’ childhood. Instead, God gives every child a wildly different life for a purpose, and we are the ones who choose to make it our downfall or our platform. It is what we choose to do with our childhood as an adult that makes it ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

My dad loves his wife more than anything else. I admire him for how well he takes care of my mom, and that he gave me more hours in the first 10 years of my life than most girls get from their father in their entire life. I hope that my husband adores his daughters as much as my father adored me.

In every family, though, there are a few things that drive deep rifts – some are flashing neon signs, and some are entirely invisible.

In our family, sarcasm is one of these things.

Sarcasm is defined by Princeton as “witty language used to convey insults or scorn.” Another definition is, “a form of irony that attacks a person or belief through harsh and bitter remarks that often mean the opposite of what they say.”

Note the difference between sarcasm, and humor: “a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter.”

I despise sarcasm. It bites, and it wears at a child’s spirit. The young men and women who have been on the receiving end of sarcasm have visible scars. I can see it. To me, sarcasm is like pulling a rug out from a toddlers feet and laughing as he falls.

Are you familiar with the term, ‘cognitive dissonance?’ It is a psychological term that describes the mental and emotional tension a person experiences when they simultaneously accept two contradictory truths or emotions. We don’t need scientists and psychologists to tell us that inconsistency is harmful to children, but they’ve proved it anyway.

Children by nature love to make their parents happy. They love to make them laugh. They love to be the focus of positive attention. Children thrive in their parents’ pleasure. But introduce physical or emotional pain at the same time, and it wrecks a child’s heart. Whether or not you as a parent think the pain is valid is entirely irrelevant. Pain is pain, and your child is hardwired a certain way by the God of the Universe, and it is your job to love that child through it.

I Corinthians 13:6 says, ‘love always protects.’ When you love someone, you will do your best to protect their heart. Always. The definition of protect does not include poking fun with the intention of manning up your son or daughter.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “do not let any unhealthy talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, so that it may benefit those who listen.” I am no counselor, pastor, or teacher – but in my opinion, the phrase ‘according to their needs’ is intensely overlooked. If your child is soft-hearted, sensitive, and acutely tuned to your words, know that is it a gift given to him by the same Being that made you. I don’t care if that doesn’t fit into your definition of masculinity. God designed him that way for a purpose you do not yet understand. And you have been directed to say nothing to that little one unless it laces his heart with love – according to his needs.

Dear men, it doesn’t matter how your father did or didn’t raise you. And dear women, you have special access to your son’s heart. Together, I beg you, build your son into a man by way of love, encouragement, confidence, pride, and validation.

Dear men, your daughter’s heart is softer than you know. Dear women, tell your daughters they are beautiful and valuable. We need to learn to accept approval from not just men. Together, I beg you, to build your daughter into a woman by way of love, encouragement, confidence, pride, and validation.

My heart breaks when my 19 year old brother winces in pain from my dad’s poorly chosen jokes, and I can feel an invisible coating of numbness slip over my heart when my dad laughs at my expense. There are terrible truths that my sister has accepted about herself, driven into her heart like knives and imprinted into her mind by sarcasm.

I tell you this to ask you to think twice about what you say – three times, if necessary. Separate sarcasm from humor in your mind, and go read my post, Your Jokes Suck: Why I Won’t Date You. Because I know that if you aren’t a parent yet, you’ll one day catch yourself treating your children the way you treat your friends and your significant other, right now.

Protect people with your words.

And when they are hurt by your words, track down some humble pie, and listen to their hearts. They will give you the clues that will enable you to build them up – not tear them down – according to their needs.

– – –

PS. Are you a parent who is guilty as charged? You now have the opportunity to teach your child an invaluable lesson – acknowledging that you aren’t perfect. Tell us that you are sorry, and you’ll try to do better. If you can say this to your child’s face, you just gave your child the tools to build healthy relationships with his or her future friends, co-workers, spouse, and children. We desperately need you to teach us how to apologize humbly. Please do.

PPS. Do you have scars from sarcasm? “This is what the LORD says: ‘Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast, for whom no one cares.’” Jeremiah 30. Also, “When she cries out to me, I will hear her, for I am compassionate.” Exodus 22:27

– – –

Like what you read? Please scroll back up, and share with your friends via Twitter or Facebook. You can subscribe via email to make sure you don’t miss the next post! It also would be pretty darn sweet if you put my button on your blog. It’s right over there. –>

+ Losing Everything. +

Nine years old. I handed my mom a couple of my dad’s dress socks I’d found and she tossed them into a laundry basket in the back of the big, yellow U-Haul. I stared at my big playhouse in the backyard with my quiet blue eyes and wondered what would be at the next house. Ohio. What would that state be like? My strawberry patch, my rose garden, my green bean plants, my greenhouse. Time to leave, again. Why, I didn’t know, but it was time.

Thirteen years old. Brushing pieces of fiberglass insulation out of my face, I tried to process what had just happened. The silence was surreal after the deafening sound of the entire house being ripped apart by a tornado. I didn’t know if my youngest brother was still alive, and my body was frozen with the shock of seeing the open sky where walls and a roof should have been. Nothing of mine was saved; all I had were the clothes I was wearing and a pair of my mom’s old shoes that I’d found in the dark.

Eighteen years old. I left my parents’ house, completely unplanned, and never came back. My sister smuggled a bit of clothing to me over the next week or two, but the majority of everything I owned was left behind. I realized much later that my parents found the notes from my boyfriend that I’d hidden at the bottom of my sock drawer. What I wouldn’t give to have those back.

Nineteen years old. I stared at the stack of red luggage in front of me in the parking lot and thought of the condo I’d just furnished the month before and boxes upon boxes of beloved memories left in a near-stranger’s garage. Moving across the country by myself for the second time, again unplanned until two days prior, and all I could take was what I could fit on the plane. Again. The numbing emptiness didn’t hit me until I was in Memphis on a layover and I thought of how much of my life I’d left scattered across the country. And wondered if I would ever get any of it back. My chest ached.

Twenty years old. Staring at the shattered glass all over the pavement and the seat of my car, I could barely breathe. I had left my car for five minutes, just long enough for my Macbook Pro to be stolen from under the backseat. Everything I’d ever written. Every picture I’d ever taken. Every project I’d ever done for any client. A year’s worth of letters I’d written to my sister while she was kept in a “boarding school” of sorts, with a strict no-correspondence rule. I wrote every day and planned to give them to her whenever my parents let her out, or when she turned 18. The two books I was in the middle of writing. That laptop contained the only remnants of previous lives I’d lived; all of it gone. I’d come to terms with losing all my physical things over and over again in the past years, and I had held onto pictures and written memories to keep me sane. Now these were gone too. I felt like my life had just been erased.

I could go on, but it’s hard. There are more stories, but I’ve made my point.

I am familiar with loss.

I know what it’s like to stand alone in an airport and wonder what happened to your life.

I have fought through the long minutes in the shower, feeling the hot water burn the back of your neck and not wanting to ever climb out and stare at the reflection of your empty hands in the mirror.

I have cried over the loss of a ragged pink blanket given to me the day I was born, that made it through more than 20 moves – but not the 21st.

Loss is something I fear possibly more than anything else. It induces panic. It reminds me that I am helpless. But there are few times I have ever felt more alive.

I can only assume that God made it a priority to teach me this lesson: I can take nothing with me.

It is true that we do not know what we have until it’s gone.

It is also true that we do not know how worthless those things were until we learn to live without them.

What would you still have if you woke up tomorrow morning with all your possessions gone? What would you do if you were given one suitcase to fill in 10 minutes before you moved 3000 miles away? How would you deal with the material faux-foundation being stripped out from under your feet?

I have learned to let go. To hold my hand open. We control nothing. Ultimately, God calls the shots. The shots that leave you sitting in the middle of a cul-de-sac in the middle of the night, in a city you don’t know, rain soaking you while you sob. The shots that show you the immeasurable gap between your soul and what you think you own.

I ask you to let go. To live with less. To open your hands. To be thankful for extreme loss. To leave things in order to find life.

This week, get rid of things that you’d rather keep. Create a void. Shake your security. Force yourself to miss something. Bleed it out. And then, seek God.

You’ll hear things you’ve never heard, and you’ll breathe in a way you never have.


+ rest +

I’m terrible at resting. I’m terrible at knowing why I’m terrible at resting.

Have you heard that most weaknesses are just strengths taken too far? My strength is diving headfirst into things that wrap their fingers around my heart, and working hard to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. I’m not passive. And I take it too far. I’m proud of the strength, and ashamed of the weakness. I’m ashamed of the cost.

I’m still learning the cost of the weakness. And let me tell you, there is a great cost.

What has it cost me? Health. Peace. Relationships. Friendships. Seeing truth. Hearing God. Seeing God. My memory. Quality of work. Love. Joy. Wisdom. Invaluable experiences. Emotional stability. And on, and on, and on.

I recently watched a documentary called, “Stress: Portrait of A Killer.” It’s on Netflix, and you should watch it.

I wish I could say seeing the science behind stress and the destruction of brain cells was my breaking point, but I’m a little more selfish than that.

On December 1st, I woke up at 3:30am and realized I didn’t have any interest in getting out of bed that day, which would arrive in a couple of hours. Everything on my plate were things I had chosen: A good job (not involving physical discomfort and more than paying my bills), school (which I love) and a major I’m interested in, editing photos that I took because I adore photography, writing the mission for Love Bomb, and a handful of trite activities. None of these were miserable tasks that I’d been forced to complete, none of them were long-hated obligations that I’d been silently swearing against for years.

So why was I dreading the morning?

For the past two weeks, I’ve been searching for this answer. And I found it. It is because I do not rest.

Skipping a class and sleeping in an extra 2 hours because your entire body aches is not rest. Taking a day off work to catch up on overdue commitments is not rest. Splurging on more coffee at 10pm is not rest. Fighting against the guilt of being a month behind on housework and triumphantly choosing not to do them just yet is not rest.

If you are working relentlessly out of guilt or self-inflicted obligation, stop immediately.

If you think maybe you’re working relentlessly because of guilt or self-inflicted obligation but aren’t quite sure, stop immediately.

The actions that fill your days should come out of health, joy, love, peace, and heart.

If you’ve lost your passion, drop everything, and for the love of God: Go find it.

If you are trying to play savior to others, or to yourself, you don’t know Jesus as well as you thought you did.

Rest is physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. The cost of not resting affects all three of those areas as well.

I am the poster child for anti-rest. I have taken it upon myself to destroy that quality in me. This past week, I have let go of the majority of my obligations, much to the dismay of the world I decided that I could save. Yesterday, the moment I was off work, I came home and crawled into bed. Yes, at 2:30pm. I slept for four hours. I woke up, read some, wrote a letter, talked to a friend, half-watched a documentary, and went to bed early. I overslept this morning. My entire past 2 weeks has looked like this. Lazy? No. I am resting. I am catching up on 8 years of rest that I never had. I am cooking real food and lounging on the sofa for an hour while I watch trash TV and eat my dinner. Lazy? No. I am resting.

Three days ago, a marvelous thing happened. I woke up from a nap, sat up, and said to myself, “I miss my friends!” I went downstairs, turned on a documentary, sat down at the table, and wrote a handful of letters. While I had my envelopes and stamps out, I wrote a letter to the girl I sponsor in Zimbabwe, and paid some bills. IT WAS FUN. I loved it. These were all things that normally are on my to-do list; things that drip with guilt. And in this moment, I realized why they drip with guilt: Not because I don’t want to, but because I am too tired.

My body, mind, and heart have been screaming at me for years, and I just now heard them.

I will throw a brick at the next person who says to me, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” and consider it a service to humanity. I realize this is extremely hypocritical of me, but we preach best what we need to hear most.

I understand that it’s hard. I understand that some of you are soldiers on multiple battlefields. I understand that for some of you, being “sister, mother, daughter, wife and friend” is not just some cute little description of you that hangs on a plaque in your bathroom. I understand that some of you are paying for others’ mistakes. I have a word for you from God, the one who created you: “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” (Exodus 34:21)

I beg of you to rest.

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest spiritually. Know that, “my Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest emotionally. Know that, “the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest mentally. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

And if you cannot rest physically, ask yourself the hard questions. Why have you committed to certain people? Why are you consumed with X, Y & Z? Why do you chase after the things you chase after? What are you doing that is your security blanket? What will you lose if you work less? Why will you miss what is gone?

The cost of not resting is great. If you don’t believe me, do a word search for “rest” in the Bible. Or go watch “Ink” on Netflix.

Give yourself grace. And rest.

– – –

“Very well then,
with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people,
to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen.
So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:
Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that;
a little here, a little there—
so that as they go they will fall backward;
they will be injured and snared and captured.
Isaiah 28.

+ baby. +

My sister recently posted these of us. Oh, little babies. I didn’t realize how much of the same girl I am. I miss the south, and I miss the simplicity of quietness and observing the world move. I wish I was still three years old, and could get away with speaking barely at all and listening to everything. I have little to say, and I feel consistently forced to say more than what I have in my mind and my mouth.

Love simply, speak softly, believe passionately, give sacrificially, move slowly, watch constantly.

Childhood, you were an invaluable gift to me..

+ direction, expectation, and vision +

I have had it. Being limited by others is one thing, but self-limitation is something that we must refuse to partake in. There has been much growing under the surface for awhile now, and it’s about to sprout. It’s going to cause a scene. In my personal life, in my professional life, and everywhere in-between. I’m getting my vision back, and I’ll explain this soon, as well as what it looks like. But first, some backstory.

Direction, Expectation and Vision.

As kids, we were most likely given one of these things, and maybe two. The problem with this recipe for life is that it’s just like baking: if one ingredient is missing, it won’t rise.

The first half of my childhood was marked with direction and expectation.

By expectation, I mean hope merged with well-meaning standards. Expectancy to do well, expectantancy that I was fully equipped to succeed. Let yourself escape from the “my parents pushed me too hard” for a moment and recognize the healthy benefit of expectation. Children should never doubt that they have what it takes to be and become an amazing, fully alive, valuable human being. Complete with glittering stars and confetti.

Direction. Direction is a gift. If we were blessed with ‘involved’ parents or teachers, they pointed us in healthy directions. They laid out our schooling in a wise and effective way, with our best interests in mind. They recognized our strengths and put corrolating opportunities in our paths, encouraging us along the way. They affirmed both our interests and our bents, and showed us how to manifest our talents in real, tangible ways. They introduced structure to our creative, questioning minds and taught us how the world worked.

But vision, I lacked.

Vision. The ability to see the purpose, the meaning, the big picture. Something that resonates in the depths of your heart that fights when all odds are against you. What makes good men great. There was no ultimate goal, and no driving force that had been anchored in my heart that held me faithful to a consistent path.

Vision can go one of two ways. Vision can be implanted deep into your heart, the core of the being that is You. Or, it can become a sometimes-mocking voice that taunts you with not being enough until you accomplish enough to reach something distant and unattainable. Healthy vision is drawn out of who you are and the purpose of your life. Unhealthy vision is simply expectation on steroids. Re-read that.

I’ll cut my parents a break on this. It’s nearly impossible to give a young child true vision within
the bounds of his or her education without it seeming like expectation taken too far. Debilitating, can’t-live-up-to, never-good-enough expectancy. In order to impart vision to a child, a clean line must be drawn between school (accomplishments) and his or her personal identity. Children define themselves by their schooling – and so they should! It’s the majority of their daily life. They aren’t old enough to compartmentalize and to separate who they are from what they do and how they do it. Still, if you are influencing the life of a child, make every effort to draw that line, and plant seeds deep into their soul – let go of pruning for a bit.

Let me transition to the second half of my “education years.”

My unhealthy vision culminated when I was 14 years old. My parents were ecstatic. Finally, I cared. I was motivated, I pushed myself, and it seemed to them that I had finally found something I loved. Any outsider watching my outrageous ‘success’ would have assumed years of direction, expectation and vision had finally collided and was resulting in the type of fireworks that are every parents’ dream for their child. What they saw was me latching onto success in the political and educational realm – something “clicking” for me internally.

What was really going on was the invisible birth of a new vision. A new love. Unfortunately, it manifested itself in a way that (I believe) caused my parents to withdraw their direction. Perhaps it seemed that it wasn’t needed – direction was complete. I became obsessed with politics, teaching, traveling, staffing, speaking, debate, week-long conferences – all at the age of 14. Not because I loved the content, but because I LOVED people. Networking. Connections. Traveling. Seeing new things, feeling new things, hearing new things. I loved the necessity of attention to detail, organization – all infused with Big Ideas. A new love and a new vision was growing rapidly, but the content was all wrong.

This continued throughout high-school, literally ’til the end of the first semester of senior year when I had 43 credits and only needed 21 to graduated. I was at the end of my rope with classes on politics, American history and economics. Yes, they interested me – but so did other things. I was burned out. Two isolated, off-color incidents had pulled me out of both major high-school social networks (within the political & debate realms) and I was left with a handful of things I just didn’t care about anymore, revealing the unhealthy vision in all of it’s nakedness.

Other things – other people – were pulling on my heart strings, and I was slowly processing through this unhealthy vs healthy vision that slowly been weaving itself through my heart and mind.

I still had the expectation, and I had conflicting visions. And no direction.

So I quit. I spent the second half of senior year working, trying to deal with family issues, found that I couldn’t – and left. I dropped everything. I moved out, moved to Phoenix, and started a new life. I made some mistakes, yes – but when we’re burned out, we burn bridges. And sometimes when we reach a level of inner turmoil, we have to give ourselves forgiveness in advance, with the understanding that death precedes life. And more often than not, that pain births vision.

The next five years was spent filtering, re-filtering, and identifying vision. Finding the direction that I lost. Turning down the expectation a few notches. Seeking wisdom and fighting to find the correct measurements of these three that will result in something that will rise.

I explain this all to you in hopes that you will somehow be able to pick out some structure points that connect with your story. In hopes that you will begin to draw the line between your expectation-on-steroids vision and your true, heart-and-soul vision. In hopes that you can grasp and appreciate the outrageous task that is parenting, and cut your parents some slack. In hopes that you will make a conscious effort to draw the line between actions and heart in your children, now or later. In hopes that you recognize the lack of direction given to you in your own life, come to terms with it, and now seek it out.

It’s never too late, and your life is still as pliable as it ever was. Truly.

Find the sources of your expectation, or lack thereof.

Find the sources of your direction, or lack thereof.

Find the sources of your vision, and your lack thereof.

Reflect, be released, choose love, and move forwards.

Vision is everything – fight for it.

I will post more on vision later; I know that not nearly enough was said about it, and I raised some internal questions that I haven’t answered yet. Until then, I will email a copy of Danielle LaPorte’s Authentic Dreaming Worksheet to anyone that would like it. Leave your email in the comments. She’s a vision addict, and an amazing asset in recovering it.

– – –

Like what you read? Please scroll back up, and share with your friends via Twitter or Facebook, or add the button to your blog. You can also subscribe via email to make sure you don’t miss the next post!.