I Worry.

Therefore I tell you: do not worry about your life.

What you will eat, what you will drink.

Or about your body.

Or what you will wear.

Is not life more important than food?

Is not the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air;

They do not sow, or reap, or save  -

Yet your heavenly Father?

He feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes?

Go look – and see how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or toil.

Yet I tell you that not even Solomon, in all of his splendor and wealth, was dressed like a flower in the field.

Not even Solomon, the man who impressed the Queen of Sheba.

If that is how God clothes the grass, which is here today, gone tomorrow,

will he not much more clothe you?

Oh you, oh you of little faith.

So do not worry, saying,

What shall I eat?

What shall I drink?

What shall I wear?

For those who do not know their Father run after all these things, and

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom

his righteousness

and all these things will be given to you.

Do not worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Matthew 6:25-34

photos shared by instagram: laurennicolelove

You Can’t.

For whatever you are going through today, whatever makes you say, “I can’t _____.”

Know that you are right. You can’t.

You can’t stop thinking about your weight. You can’t just “know” that you are beautiful. You can’t stop sleeping with your boyfriend. You can’t stop watching pornography. You can’t make enough money to pay your bills. You can’t get out of bed and face that person today. You can’t make it through this breakup. You can’t make it through this divorce. You can’t overcome your depression. You can’t.
There is no solution, no formula, no magic number or word or “thing” that can move you from “I can’t” to “I can and I did…now look how far I’ve come!!”
And yet we all know someone who did. We do know someone who isn’t binging or purging anymore. We do know someone who is abundantly full of life without sex being part of the equation. We do know someone who is sober from pornography for 2 years. We do know someone who paid rent last month when it wasn’t possible. We do know someone who made it through a break-up worse than this one and is now in the best place of her life. We do know someone who is divorced and still fulfilled in their single life. We do know someone who has overcome severe depression and extreme grief, and now knows joy and contentment and peace.

So what happened? What happened when “they couldn’t _______.”

Christ moved.

These are not physical battles against our bodies, our beauty, our eyes, our skin, our genitals, our brain, our blood-pumping hearts. These are battles of the soul, where an enemy is daily waging war against our value, our peace, our worth, our contentment, our comfort, our belonging, our love, and our LIFE.

What you don’t need is world-acknowledgement that you are the most beautiful woman on the earth. You need the heart-belief that you are created to be beautiful and have inherent value despite what just-as-broken people may tell you.

What you don’t need is to white-knuckle it against sex and pornography. You need the heart-belief that you are not alone and that you are deeply truly loved, and that your Father is proud that you are his child, despite how it feels.

What you don’t need is one more person telling you to just be happy because you have a pretty good life and you should be ashamed of your unwarranted depression. You need the heart-belief that your spirit was covered in dirt and pain before Christ himself fought the greatest war of all time to present your spirit before God as pure, complete, and wholly loved, even if you can’t get out of bed. And that God will never see you as anything other and pure and valuable. He will wait for you.

What you don’t need is one more sermon on how pre-marital sex is sinful. You need the heart-belief that Jesus hasn’t left your side a single moment and is willing to do a supernatural work in you the very moment you begin to slip into behavior you feel you cannot control. You need the heart-belief that God never forgot about you, and that there is a man who will love who you are more than he will love sleeping with you.

This is not a physical war, and there is no physical solution. This is a war for your heart, because there is nothing in all of existence that is more valuable to God than the heart of a man or woman. This is a war that we cannot win unless we let Jesus fight it for us.

I was the girl who couldn’t stop sleeping with her boyfriend. I was the girl in the ER having a panic attack that she couldn’t control. I was the girl who thought the earth would swallow me up because the break-up was too painful. I was the girl who skipped meals and hated to see herself in the mirror every morning. I was the girl who watched pornography because I had no other way to cope. I was the girl who couldn’t get out of bed and was numb from the anti-depressants. I was the girl who lost her family and could not see a future for myself because the grief was too heavy.

I was the girl who couldn’t.

And I am the girl that learned that Jesus could.

An Apology For My Christianese, And Other Things.

Have you ever stood behind a couple in the check out line and been so disgusted with their indecipherable love-speak that you wanted to smack them back into the harsh reality you and everyone else is living in?

I have. Hundreds of times. And now I’m that girl on a daily basis with a man I’m crazy in love with.

He’s the person that knows all my secrets, and somehow still thinks I’m sexy even though the first thing I want to do upon waking up in bed is try to teach him the lyrics to “Zippity Doo Dah” and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers.” He’s the one that knows I’m raging inside when no one else can tell the difference, and genuinely thinks I’m beautiful when I’ve refused to get out of bed to shower because my cramps are so bad. He’s the one that’s promised to never leave me – so he gets to see all sides. My girls-just-wanna-have-fun side, my business woman, my sexy in bed, my quiet introvert, my little girl, my intelligence, my stupidity, my confidence and my insecurity. All of it.

This kind of intimacy breeds a language that baffles everyone else.

Sometimes, those of us who have experienced it think it’s adorable, but most of us can’t wait to get away from people who just can’t use their words normally.

And so, I want to apologize not for my embarrassing behavior in the Starbucks line, but for my Christianese.

I’m not going to apologize for my love babble, because you’re not really invited into my marriage, so it’s pretty great that you don’t understand me and him.

But I do want to apologize for my Christianese, because you ARE invited into a bigger Love. And I never meant to turn you off. I never meant to pick up that weird language that makes grace-filled kids a strange variety of humans. I always swore to be first a human, then a woman, then a-Christian-who-didn’t-act-like-a-perfect-one.

But you know what? Jesus knows all my secrets, all my sides, and I get more love from Him than from anyone else. And I’ve fallen into a language that I know seems way too church-ish. I can’t help it. It happened on accident, even though I promised myself to not be that girl.

A lot of days I hate it because I can just feel people staring at me through the Internet, reading what I write here and on Good Women Project and saying, “Dude. That’s not me. Life is rough and dirty and I can’t just transform a hymn into a paragraph and have all my problems solved by Waiting Upon The Lord For He Is Good.” I mean really, when was the last time we waited upon someone, besides our part time serving job last weekend?

So what I want to say is this: I am first a human, and my life is just as great and just as terrible as yours. I’ve tried to be better and I’ve tried to be worse. I’ve barricaded my heart with self-help books and New Year’s resolutions. I’ve dated shitty guys, I’ve had my heart broken, I have parent-problems, I cuss and offend people, I feel 1/10th as talented as everyone else I meet, and I need triple-strength Midol.

I’m not a better Christian than you. I don’t visually see God actually walking hand in hand with me every single day. I don’t treat everyone with love and grace and forgiveness as my new default personality in Christ. I have a handful of verses memorized, but that doesn’t make me more impressive than you being able to recite lines from Harry Potter because you’ve seen it 8 times. I don’t miraculously know what to say when I pray out loud in a group of people. I get uncomfortable and self-conscious when I visit a new church. I read the Bible and get confused. Starting a Beth Moore or Kay Arthur or Mary Kay – whatever – Bible study program with women I don’t know sounds terrifying, and I’m putting it off for as long as possible.

I get so angry at Christians and I get so angry at myself, and I hold the whole planet to standards that are outrageous.

But. I’ve fallen in love with Jesus because He loves me.

And I’m sorry for accidentally speaking in vague sentences about blood of lambs, power of crosses, and lights in the darkness. Particularly when I’m just trying to tell you how much I love him, and you want to squirm because of my Holier Art Thou vocabulary.

I’m sorry for telling you simply that “I trust in God” when really I should tell you I freak out every single day, but I read a verse in the Bible that tells me to “Trust In The Lord For He Is Good”, so I tell myself every day that God is good and if I keep believing that, I’ll see it soon.

My love affair with Jesus is simple. And I don’t want my embarrassing words and actions to get in the way of you having the same love affair.

Trying to get to know Jesus better doesn’t require you to add 18th century words to your sentences. I promise. The way I see it, I read the Bible when I can. I pray and ask for him to forgive me when I realize I’ve messed up. I read about other women’s lives and try to replicate the grace and love that I see them living out. To hear what my same Jesus is speaking to them, because we need to interact daily with other people who have found hope in Someone bigger than ourselves.

I choose to believe that His words written in the Bible, and whispered to me in my heart, can and do slowly transform me into a version of myself that is better. More like the Person I’m in love with.

But mostly, I’ve decided to love and chase after a man who died a very painful death to prove how much He loved me, and to make it possible for God to see me as a beautiful daughter. Permanently. No matter what.

I love Jesus. And I want you to love Jesus.

And I’m sorry for everything else that’s gotten in the way.

- – -

PS. My husband Max writes fiction, and he just published a book of short stories called “We Can’t Go Home Again.” It’s only 99 cents, and it would mean the world to me if you went and got it! You can download it to iTunes/iBooks (if you have an iPad or iPhone) or from Amazon/Kindle (if you have a Kindle, or want to download the free Kindle app onto your computer). It’s really, really, really good. Click HERE for iBooks and HERE for Amazon.

the art of change.

to fight the stagnant.

there is an art to change.

and the secret is not in the pursuit of it. or in it’s accomplishment.

but rather in the art of perceiving it.

* * *

you have moved. you have grown. you have changed.

you have improved. you have become strengthened. you have learned.

you have seen. you have been. you have said.

you have created. you have chosen life. you have ended death.

you have become more beautiful. you have grown into yourself. you are more.

there is an art to observing the change you have made.

there is an art to knowing your growth, and ending the lie in your bones that says you are right where you always have been.

it is worth your time to document your movement forward. it is worth the hour of your day to know what you have done with your time.

sometimes we must move into our past, in order to accurately see our present.

create a place on the page, in the journal, on the blog, in the portfolio, on the table, in your soul. create a place to document your change.

* * *

look at your first month of blog entries.

look at your journal from three years ago.

look at your first photos.

do you see the movement?

write down the lies you used to believe.

write down the truth you know now.

write down the part of your heart you hadn’t met 5 years ago.

do you see the growth?

find your first pieces of art.

find your first songs.

find your first designs.

do you see your progress?

think about the mistakes you’ve made that will not be made again.

think about the depth of character that was lacking 10 years ago.

think about the hidden places of the old depression.

do you see the new life?

sift through your albums, your archives, your chapters.

sift through your resumes, your childhood, your classes.

sift through your failures, your accomplishments, your proofs of action.

know the growth reflected in the dissonance between the past and present – know that your present will always be your past, and soon.

* * *

he says he is faithful. to move, to carry, to nurture, to redeem, to assign purpose. he is faithful to carry onto completion the good work he began in you.

you cannot help but grow. he has not forsaken us. like a tree beside still waters, you could not cease to grow even if you so desired.

because he is the great i am.

and in him we live, we move, we have our being.

* * *

refuse the lie of stagnancy. refuse the lie of stillness. refuse the lie of hopelessness.
document your change. be encouraged. and continue to move.

Supplemental Saviors, And My Disappointment In Myself.

I am disappointed with myself.

I am disappointed that I have tried to find supplemental saviors.
People ask how I did it. Did what? I want to ask.
How you overcame your past. What was done to you, and what you did to others; to yourself. The grief that you were dealt, and the grief you caused.
I listen to their perception, and begin to think I am an exception.
I listen to them search for an answer more tangible, more attainable, more controllable than Jesus.
And I begin to comb through my healing, dig through my heart, sift through the hard years…to find things easier than Jesus.
Some days I find nothing. Some days, empty things that bear partial witness to a whole truth.
The empty things, the whispers-of-truth things, the supplemental saviors…they taunt me with their checks in boxes and say, “See? We have made you whole. We have filled you. We helped you overcome.”
But still, their mercies begin and end with the front and back of their covers. Their mercies fill and are contained by the box for the checkmark.
And I am a living, dying creature. I need mercies every morning. New ones. For the new death, the new hurt, the new sin.
So I rally my books, my counselors, my friends, my pastors, my families, my communities, my epiphanies, my curriculum, my antidepressants, my better diets, my therapists, my mentors, my time that passes, my supplemental saviors, and I cry out: “APART FROM HIM WE CAN DO NOTHING.”
Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.
I have done nothing. I have overcome nothing. I have healed nothing. I have won nothing. Rather, I have come to the end of myself, and found a Savior who needs no supplement. A Savior who has done and is doing and will do it all.
For he has sworn it across the heavens, “It is FINISHED.”
We have not believed.
Death wrecked my heart, my family, my hope. Jesus killed it off before it killed me utterly, and gave me a new life.
There is no healing or comfort that can be attained by your adding. Only by emptying everything you are, and filling it with everything He is.
I am not the exception. You are not the exception. We have inside us the hope of all eternity, a seal upon our hearts, because He was the exception in our behalf.
Lord, help us with our unbelief.

A Letter To My 18 Year Old Self – And My Story.

Some of you know pieces of “my story,” others none at all. One day, I’ll have more of it written out – and it is a gift to me that this blog is the slow uncovering of my never-ending wrestling match with it. Thank you for listening, and for loving me through it. It has meant the world to me.

I’ll be honest, I try to not speak of it much here. I was born in the South, homeschooled, and raised in an ultra conservative home under a definition of sheltered that most people aren’t familiar with. The oldest child of 4, we were to be “set apart” – never coming into contact with the sinful world. I lived in a bubble, with restrictions like no television, no movies, no public schooled friends, and no books unless dad read them first. All letters I wrote and received had to be read by a parent before they entered or exited the home, and every church sermon was picked apart at the Sunday dinner table, truth re-stated and lies cast out, until my heart was bloody. I didn’t have friends at church; youth group wasn’t allowed, and I dressed funny, so the other girls in Sunday school class didn’t talk to me. I never went on a date or kissed a boy before I was 18, and I went through my teenage years with no make-up, no nail polish, and no girls nights allowed. My teenage years were instead full of politics, speech and debate, and discussing the perversion that is American society.

To this day, I haven’t seen The Little Mermaid, and if you joke about an actor, TV show, or musician between 1987 and 2003, I will look at you with same expression I give astrophysicists when joking about microquasars. This morning in bed, my husband asked me if I knew what Seinfeld was and I replied happily, “Yes, it’s a cartoon!”

Somewhere between age 16 and 18, I began questioning things. I was introverted, and miserable. There were too many secrets I couldn’t share, too many things I couldn’t do, and too many books I couldn’t read. And I was desperate to have fun, and to stop thinking. Weeks after turning 18, I walked out of my home. I went to the only safe place I knew, and stayed there. 6 months later I moved for the 10th time in my life to Phoenix, Arizona to go to college. Since then, I have moved 22 times, not including the last 7 months of living in a car while I travel the US.

My life has never been the same. I lost my family, my friends, and I have spent every day of the last 6 years learning who I am, who God is, and how the world functions.

Much of it was a clean break, and much of it was a slow, brutal tearing apart.

I sat down last night with a heavy heart to write a letter to my 18 year old self. So many women have asked me to share my story. One day, it will be a book, but for today, it is in the form of a letter I wish someone had written me 6 years ago.

- God is not who you think He is. He is bound by nothing and no one. Don’t be afraid to question what you know of Him. Don’t be afraid to question the rules as laid out for you. God is big enough to handle it, and crossing the lines of religion, denomination, subcultures & belief systems will not break your God, or revoke your salvation.

- God will fight in your defense. Even when you are suffocating and drowning in confusion, when the ground underneath you seems unsteady and faulty, He will always know your heart and will never condemn you for your lack of understanding. He is the God of wisdom and of truth. If you seek it from Him, He may re-write what you know, and that is okay.

- It will be harder than you think. This isn’t teenage rebellion, and it isn’t the miscommunication of the generation gap. You will not wake up one day and have parents again, and your decision to walk out on your own means God will reassign new family members to you. Permanently. It will be painful, especially on holidays and birthdays, but in the end, you will find out that biological family is given to us to represent spiritual family – and you are simply learning it the hard way.

- Your heart is not evil, nor is it deceitful. Do not be afraid of yourself; God created you and set those desires in your heart for good. Submit yourself to Him, and you have nothing to fear. Dig deep into what makes you happiest, what triggers emotional responses, and what you are drawn to. It isn’t you being worldly or sinful, and you will not be punished by God for them. Live life fully, and don’t be afraid to breathe. Your mistakes are already paid for, and fear does nothing to stop death – only to stop life.

- It will get better. Those girls you envy, that are confident and beautiful? Those girls that have friends to laugh with and cry with? Those girls who have good men in their lives and a future they look forward to? Those girls who aren’t plagued by confusion, depression, and loneliness? Those girls who can have fun? In six years that will be you. And those years will go by fast. Take it one day at a time, and don’t try to become someone else. Become what you love, and a miracle will happen: You will become that girl.

- Read, a lot. You have years and years of truth and love to re-write into your heart. You were born broken, just like the rest, but in your own unique way, too. It takes reading about others’ childhoods, brokenness, and fears to see what Jesus can do to a woman’s soul. Acknowledge that you’re just trying to figure things out – and read everything that gets put in front of you that has to do with healing. It will slowly permeate your mind and heart, and truth will soothe the ache.

- The numbness will go away, at the cost of your innocence. You’ll slowly learn how to be human, and you’ll slowly begin to feel normal. I know that in a desperate attempt to be ‘just like everyone else’ you’ll get drunk at the frat house, you’ll kiss boys whose names you don’t know, and you’ll watch pornography. I know you’ll sleep with a guy you don’t even like in a self-loathing attempt to destroy the Holier Than Thou reputation you’ve grown up with your entire life. It will wreck you, instead of heal you – but it will bring you to a new understanding of Grace that God needed you to experience. It will be part of your story.

- Read the four gospels. Every single day. Take a break from theology, and let go of what is right and what is wrong. At the end of the day, your salvation rests on Jesus alone, and he cares only for your heart, not for how much you know. Pay attention to what he talked about most: Compassion, healing, taking care of the widows and orphans, dealing out grace and mercy, overlooking tradition for the sake of love, and making people new. Our first command is to love one another, and you will not be able to do that with judgement and bitterness in the way.

- Be the little girl that you are. God knows you’re scared of growing up, and he knows that right now, you despise men. He sees you as pure and innocent, and when you can’t explain yourself, he already knows your heart. God desperately wants to be your Father, not your life coach, your teacher, your business consultant, or your boss. He just wants to be your Father, and sitting in His lap sobbing, “I don’t know, I don’t know” is okay – just as a little girl falls, gets hurt, and buries her face in her fathers lap to cry and beg him to fix it. God will always defend your innocence; Jesus loves the little children.

- Choose to always believe that God is good. You’ll always believe that God loves you, but you’ll stop believing that He is good. Like dark-chocolate-and-a-big-hug kind of good. Your life is in shambles, and He knows it. You’ll be a mess for awhile, but He has a plan. You’ll hate it, you’ll get sick of it, it won’t make sense, and you’ll cry yourself to sleep a lot – but He will always be good, and you must always believe it. The moment you stop believing it, your heart will break all over again, and you’ll start sabotaging yourself. Dig your heels in and believe that God is good.

- Being a girl is okay. All the things you weren’t allowed to do in high school, go do them! No matter how silly, how impractical, and how pink they are. Buy the colored eyeliner, get a brazilian wax, color your hair, paint your nails black, spend too much money on shampoo, go see outrageous chick flicks, buy that sequined little black dress, buy the scandalous lingerie and enjoy laughing at trash reality TV. Not everything has to be practical, and you don’t have to think in black and white. Find yourself somewhere in there, and learn to enjoy being a woman.

- Your parents’ definition of sin may not be God’s definition of sin. Sin is missing the mark, choosing to live a life apart from God’s way, and letting self-centeredness grip your heart. Just as one culture believes a woman without a headcovering is sin while another believes that voting Democrat is a sin, neither of these hold any weight over anyone’s salvation. Don’t give sin power where it doesn’t deserve to have any. Choose instead to see people how Jesus saw them: all in universal need of His love to fill their empty hearts.


- It isn’t your job to find a man to love you. One day, after you’ve made way too many mistakes and gotten your heart broken, you’ll decide to revert to what you believed when you were a little girl: You’ll get married, and it will be amazing. I don’t mean this in a naive, Cinderella sort of way – I mean that the man you’re going to marry is already born, and when he meets you, you won’t have to fight to get his love or attention. God made it that way, and it’s okay to believe it stubbornly like a little girl. And it is true what they say: When you know, you will know.

- It’s your life. I know you don’t believe me, but really, it is. You were created to live a life no one else can live. If you live a life dictated by someone else, then you were not necessary. And God does not create unnecessary things. There will be things only you feel, things only you experience, and at the end of the day, you need to be the one who loves what she is doing with her life. People will be unhappy with you, and family and friends will disagree with you. God has a story for everyone’s life, and you will not live that story if you’re letting others write it.

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.

Graceless Children.

Sifting through old things, I found this. I originally wrote it in 2007. I wanted to share.

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watch two young children at play. content with themselves, content with each other, content with their toys and the few simple requests of yours while they sit at your feet. but left to one another for even ten minutes, and one will find two small monsters, focusing all of their once-innocent energies on making sure the other follows the rules as his or her tiny, young ears heard and their naive hearts interpreted. any outsider can watch from behind the invisible glass and see for himself that their adamant demands do not stem from a concern founded in what the best action is for the wisps of souls that they are, or in what the principle behind a command is and was. no – it becomes a miniature world in which perspective, reasoning, and purpose -and most certainly grace- is lost. there is an obsession with proving the other little one that he heard wrong and it was only 30 minutes, not 35. watching darkened eyes and hearing words that should never fall from lips as untouched as theirs greatly frustrates the observer. a disbelief towards the ever-growing childish fury raises silent questions in the heart. ‘where did the child with simplicity in his calm eyes disappear to?’ ‘what wordless force turned her tiny palm into a pathetic fist?’ and, ‘how are their worlds so small and trite, yet have the capacity for a seemingly instant hatred on the shallowest grounds?’ the observer who is wiser still will probe further:’how do you teach a child perspective? purpose? a concern for the rule he was given, but not for forcing it upon the other?’

how do you give a child eyes for himself but only his heart for others?

there is another question has not yet been asked that could change the grip on the observer’s heart from one of frustration, anger, disbelief and near-disgust to one of quiet understanding and a compassion that washes over a fistful of sins.

‘what if they never grow out of this? what if none of us have?’


yes, observer, who is so wise beyond so many years – years that taught you nothing but better ways to disguise your obsession for ruling your playmate with the rules that “are right.” years that taught you to replace your adamant squeals and tiny punches with smooth, reasoned, biting and life-murdering remarks. yes, observer, who is so understanding and gifted enough to view the world through experienced eyes – eyes that still insist on seeing only your foggy list of standards you thought you heard the Man speak before he left the room. the ones that you’ve repeated to yourself over and over and written down constantly for fear that – god forbid – the others didn’t hear the gentle commands. your age has taught you to fight in your own way, one much more accepted. – no, not fight, for your rulebook cries out against such behavior. but perhaps justified by your motive. what motive? yes, i ask, what motive? but i remind you, there is yet another observer – one observing you. one who already embraces a compassion that has covered your fistfuls of sins daily. one who spoke out of love, and you, in your short-sighted self-righteousness, changed it to condemnation.

you see now, that was never the objective.

he only wanted you to play gently with the young heart sitting next to you – who has already heard his own quiet whisperings of how to please his father.

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“…and i will write it on their hearts. i will be their father, and they will be my children. no longer will one teach another, or a man his brother, saying ‘this is how to know the lord,’ because they will each know me, from the very least to the greatest.’ declares the lord. ‘for i will forgive every action whether it be against me or not, regardless of it’s motive, and i will forget every one of their sins.’ – jeremiah 31.33

‘oh chosen, chosen people, you who take the life that i offer to those i have sent you and throw rocks like children at my own, how often i have longed to gather all your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her motherly wings, but you have not been willing. look, and see how this has left your house as one that is desolate.’ – matthew 23.36

 

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.

 

+ there’s a mess inside my head +

I haven’t been writing much, lately. All that is about to change, starting with this.