Tag Archives: Christian

from the dust

I love the last day of the year.

New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorite days. Because it feels like one last chance to breathe deep before the canvas is drenched in white again. One last chance to sit in the quiet with myself, contemplating all the remarkable possibilities that are held inside the walls of a new thing.

This year, the inhale of possibility and the exhale of a year feels more like relief than it has in many years. So much so that I’m starting my own quiet festivities early. Husband and puppy tucked into bed, I take to the kitchen to make some vegetable soup. Because chopping vegetables feels a little like liturgy, and God knows 2014 has needed more than its fair share of that. So I stand at the stove, and I chop, and I breathe in the smells of things that have risen from the ground, that have been brought up from the dust, and sometimes everything I need to know is in a pot of vegetable soup.

God’s best things are the things raised from the dust. The things that have been buried. The things that have been made into something new, the things brought low and destroyed in the process.

This year has been so very hard. Is it okay to say that? I hope so, because it has been.

Hear me when I tell you that I don’t say that for pity. I don’t say it to open up a public forum for me to air my personal grievances with life

I say it because I know, to the depths of my soul, that I’m not the only one.

I’m not the only one burying dreams.

I’m not the only one desperate for the clean oxygen of a fresh start.

I’m not the only one thinking, “Is it okay to say this year has been REALLY damn hard?”

I’m not the only one who needs a pot of vegetable soup and a reminder.

A reminder that God’s best things are the things raised from the dust.

You have not been left buried, dear one.

You’re being raised from the dust.

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under the sky

Sometimes, church is pipe tobacco and a shared bottle of wine.

In moments like that, the Texas sky seems exactly as big as all the old country songs claim, freckled with stars and nearly swallowing the moon with all its navy blue.

I didn’t know that first night, months ago, how immediately they would be our people. You know the ones. The people you sit around the dinner table with, laughing and talking, and a split second later, you look up to find that hours have passed and it’s tomorrow already and you instinctively know that this conversation has only just begun.

The night ends and months go by, because life is busy and there are jobs and kids and soccer practice and piano lessons and all of the things, but eventually you’re gathered around that same dinner table and it just feels like you never left.

So you take it outside, under the sky, because all the best things should always happen under the sky, and conversation like that is the best thing. Honesty like that is the best thing. Laughter like that is the best thing. Hope like that is the best thing.

In those moments, with the voices and and the stories and the sky and the same pipe tobacco Tolkien loved and the red wine, I feel it in my chest again. Church. I believe in it. I always have, but some days it comes easier than others. Some days it’s a picture I can see clearly, and some days the picture looks like nothing, clouded as it is by my own imperfect vision.

I sat out there, stars blinking and wind blowing my hair, and I wondered if this was what it felt like in the beginning. If this was why Jesus felt so strongly about gathering with people around a table. If maybe, when Jesus talked about the church, he was talking about this. This lack of pretense, this lack of politics, this lack of a business model, this lack of programs, this lack of agendas, this lack of cultural success. This presence. This presence of real, messy, disastrous, beautiful human beings who just want to know Jesus and do things the way he did, love people the way he did. Even when that feels impossible, wrapped as we are in humanity so frail it’s been known to shatter.

I want that. I want so much more of that. All of the fibers of my being strain toward it. Toward Jesus. Toward his people. Toward church, for the first time in so very, very long.

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on rest that recharges and restores

On Sunday, in a quiet elementary school cafetorium, Travis nudged us to think about this summer. To question what rest, actual rest, looks like for us. Not unwinding, but real rest, the kind that recharges and restores.

Since I’m a person who needs to unpack things one step at a time, a big part of figuring out what rest is for me is figuring out what rest is not. Surprisingly, in a way that’s not actually surprising at all, most of the things that I know are NOT rest for me are things I do constantly and try to pass them off as rest.

Rest is not marathoning TV shows or movies. I get into this habit all the time, because it is just so very easy and mindless. It always feels good while it’s happening, but afterward, I don’t feel recharged or better. I either feel exactly the same or worse, as though I’m wasting large chunks of my life on something that has literally no value to me, which I am. Let’s call it what it is.

Rest is not consistent screen-time. And I don’t ever really feel that until I feel it, and by the time I feel it, I feel it heavy. There is little to no transition time between “I’m fine” and “I am FREAKING OUT” on this one. I’m trying to learn my internal cues on this one, the small reactions that lead up to the big meltdown, because I know they exist. Sometimes it just feels as though over time, staring at a screen numbs me down until I’m not even aware of my own thoughts or feelings until they’re huge. Until the very sound of my text message tone makes me cringe and consider throwing my iPhone out the nearest two-story window.

Rest is not going and going and going. It is not constant doing, constant plans, constant activity. Rest is not chaos. I remember days when that worked, when that felt right, when it didn’t feel exhausting. But these days are not those, this much I know. I am a girl who used to seek the chaos, but has come to love the quiet, and to find herself there.

Rest also is not full days without people and interction. I need short stretches of alone time often, but too long and I get fidgety and weird. And not in a good way. I thrive on community and conversation and laughter and stories and shared memories.

Rest isn’t any of those extremes for me. The older I get, the more I understand that rest, for me, often doesn’t feel like “rest” in the moment. Especially at first. Most often, the things that recharge me actually feels like work in the beginning. I have to talk myself into them, to remind myself that life and breath are found in them.

Rest, for me, requires the space and quiet to think my thoughts without throwing any more of them into the mix. It hinges next on the output of information, spoken or written. I sometimes feel as though I’m always taking in information. Input, input, input. Although input isn’t a bad thing, my brain isn’t one that naturally releases information. It’s like it just hangs out in my brain until I consciously drag it out. I remember conversations, books, blogs, quotes, moments. It all sticks around, it all feels valuable. And sometimes my head is just so very full. Like lungs that only ever breathe in, only ever expand, only every fill up.

I am only just learning how to exhale, or even that I need to. I am only just learning that breathing out comes in seasons, like the rest of life. Seasons of solitude, seasons of community, seasons of quiet, seasons of letting the words fall out. I am only just learning how to let the seasons come and go as they may, without grasping at their coming and going.

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a warm drink and few good reads

I am a little bit in love with the world of blogging.

Because, in my experience, it is the one place where it’s basically impossible to feel lonely for too long.  There are so many voices out there, people.  Beautiful voices who are saying really important things, things worth hearing.  There are people who are saying two very, very important words with their stories and their lives:

Me too.

They say it to me all the time, and if you look long and hard enough, I am certain that there are people out there saying it to you as well.  No matter who you are, where you are, or how long you’ve been feeling like you’re probably the only person who and where you are…you’re not.  Search the voices, and find your “me too” tribe.

Today, and probably a lot in the days to come, I will share a few of my favorite “me too” moments.  These kinds of stories, these kinds of voices, are the reasons I sit down as often as possible with a warm drink and an open heart and some time on my hands.  Some of them will be new, some will be old, but all of them will speak, if you have a moment to listen.

Please understand from the onset that I don’t edit the blogs I read for language.  If you’re looking for a person who values the idea that this messy, dirty, unfathomably broken world can or should always be expressed in pristine language, you’ve unfortunately got the wrong girl. However, it’s never been my intention to offend or disrespect those whose convictions run parallel to my own, so I like to put a disclaimer out there.

 

“Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: ‘We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.'”

I just recently found Momastery, and every word out of this woman’s mouth is a heart-stopping brand of gold to me.  I have long harbored the suspicion that in order to love messy people well, we have to live our own messiness out loud.  I have yet to find anyone who does that with the grace and audacity that Glennon Melton does.  Her words and her story and her heart are shocking and brave and beautiful, and she gives me hope that my own loud messiness can help others heal.

“For me, the process of rebuilding and redefining has taken time, and it’s something I continue to struggle with and work through. And looking back, there’s a million other ways I could have done it.

 

But I didn’t.

 

And Grace found me anyway.”

I just discovered Addie’s blog this week, and I cannot even start to put words to all of the me-too moments I’ve had in reading her story.  She is a questioner and a cynic who grew up in a very similar evangelical culture to my own, and she is a lovely example of what it means to be a questioner and a cynic who is caught in the arms of grace and Jesus.

“Then Sabo I say it brave, my voice refusing to shake as it stands in the truth: God looks at you and he looks at me and he sees exactly the same thing – the righteousness of Jesus. 

Sabo laughs a little, shaking his head. Truth be told, it’s a little bit of a hard pill for me to swallow too. How can we be the same when I’ve done so many GOOD things and he has done so many BAD? But the gospel stares me in the face, with deep brown eyes and a stubborn set to his jaw. Because ALL sins nailed at Golgotha. Not just mine, not just his. All of them. And the ground stands surprisingly level here at the foot of the cross.” 

I have never met Becca, but it took me about two of her blogs to understand that our hearts beat the same rhythms of grace for the same brand of kiddos, and that she knows how quickly that grace-beat can tear up your whole heart and your whole view of life and faith and grace.  

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