Tag Archives: community

love behind the wheel

And then comes the moment when you realize that you’ve been fighting tooth and nail for something you already have. That for all the moments you’re desperate to be seen and known, somehow you already are.

…who you are is someone with more love than you know how to handle, and I will always be welcome in your heart. And I will always be your people.

Oh, man.

I have so much more love than I know how to handle.

There’s this thing that we’ve always said, me and my best girls, at the end of lingering phone conversation and wandering words woven together into long letters.

I love you more than I know how to.

The thing rooted deepest into my fibers, engraved on my soul, is wild and untamed. It is lovely, but terrifying. I think in some ways, it’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Because when love is behind the wheel, all bets are off. For so many years, I worked hard to build a fairly predictable life, to be a fairly predictable person. I wasn’t always very good at it, probably because I was always going against the grain of my own spirit. But God, I tried hard.

But to say it out loud, to acknowledge and give power to all the ways that I am ever expanding with the swelling of an uncontrollable love for the world, for the people who surround me, for the Creation of my Creator.

To say out loud that love is what gives me my life and my breath and my motivation.

That changes everything. There is no more predictable. There is no more safe.

There’s just me, and the God who made me, and the wild love He wrote into my DNA.

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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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breaking and making

I have a love-hate relationship with moving.

In the first twenty years of my life, I lived in one city and one home. In the past ten years of my life, I have lived in six cities and eleven homes. This time next week, it will be six cities and twelve homes.

Sometimes I feel as though, with every move, I become a little less sure where home is. I feel a little more disoriented and a lot more ready for the day when I wake up and feel the roots planted beneath me. See, I grew up in this tiny town with roots. Deep roots, the kind that keep people around for an entire lifetime. My daddy lives in a town where everyone knows his name, and everyone knew his dad’s name, and his dad’s dad.

Some days I long for that, in a way that feels like my chest cracking open. See, I have a wild and free spirit, and I’ve known since I was young that I had a gypsy heart. But even those of us with limitless wanderlust…we feel home in our chest. And when we don’t feel home in our chest, we feel the empty space, full of question marks and doubt.

Sometimes I hate moving.

But in the same breath, moving has taught me how to decide what’s important and shed the rest. It’s taught me how to surrender what is neither beautiful nor useful.

It’s such slow learning.

Because it’s not just the tangible things. With each move, my possessions, my “needs” dwindle and dwindle. I’ve learned how to travel lightly, how to live lightly, where material things are concerned. My tastes are simple and my needs few, most days.

But oh, to leave behind a season. To hold people loosely, knowing that sometimes, our people are part of one season and not as much a part of the next. To not look back at the roads that got closed off when I chose another. To let myself open the door and walk out of the places where I no longer fit. To evaluate my life, to look at the things and people I’ve chosen to fill my life with, and to actively choose not to close my hand on what is no longer either bringing me joy or growing me. To leave behind what doesn’t have the weight of something that feels like eternity.

Those parts are hard.

Those parts are growing up in slow motion.

Those parts are breaking me and making me in the same moments.

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open

Living open is hard. It’s stunning and beautiful and exactly like cold water to the face. And sometimes it feels like that’s all this year has been. One foot after another toward living wide-eyed, living open.

I don’t want to be a person who holds on to my life with a white-knuckled grip. I know there are better pieces inside me, pieces that are pure and wild and fearless. Those are the places I want to live from.

But open hands are such a tricky thing. Because as quickly as they receive, they surrender.

And surrender. It’s that thing that’s beautiful and freeing, but it can feel so hard in the moment, when you’re surrendering things you thought you needed.

This year has been that. Opening my hands and receiving beauty that I never dreamed about, while simultaneously letting go of pieces I thought I needed. Pieces I have allowed to define me.

But the truth. The truth is you never receive until you’re willing to surrender.

So tonight, with my back flat on the floor, eyes staring at a candlelit ceiling, she asked what our intention was. Asked us to phrase it in the present tense, rather than as something to be hoped for in the future.

I am open.

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in which themes really aren’t my thing

Every October, they pop up. The lovely 31-dayers, with their beautiful words and their respectable consistency, and I think of joining them. Every year, I want to put a few small words out there, give them wings to take up residence beside the words of the ones I would consider great writers.

But every year, I get stuck on the same thing. The whole idea of a theme. I’ve never been very good with themes. Too many things are too terribly interesting and important to me. Which sometimes feels like a lack of focus, mostly because sometimes it is.

This year is more of the same. I’ve tossed around at least ten different themes in the past couple of weeks, and they all hit the walls of my soul and slide off. Nothing sticks, nothing clings to my insides, my ribcage.

But oh, how I want to write these days. I feel all of the things inside of me, scratching and clawing to get out. And if the only thing stopping me from challenging myself to write every day for a month straight is the lack of a theme…well, that’s just silly.

So I, personally, am considering my theme “31 Days of who-the-hell-knows-what.”

It’s slightly less poetic than “31 Days to Listen” or “31 Days to Dream” or “31 Coffee Dates in 31 Days.”

Slightly less poetic, but far more true to where and who I am in this moment.

Because too many things are rattling around these days to pick just one. Maybe that’s why I need to write so much these days. Maybe that’s why I spent half my drive to work yesterday teary-eyed because I just wanted the space to crawl into a quiet part of my soul and put the rest, the part that’s not at all quiet, on paper.

Too many things are too important and too heavy and too possible and too never-gonna-happen and too unknown.

Too much of life is who-the-hell-knows-what.

And so I will write from there, from that place.

It may not be pretty, but it will be honest. And I’m sure it will look a little like healing, in that way that only the ugly, honest things can be.

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grace alive

Grace alive is an unpredictable thing that can never quite be pinned down.

I so often watch for grace to arrive in an expected package, something beautiful and aesthetic and wildly appealing to my personal tendency to over-romanticize pretty much everything.

I saw it coming from months away, the grace of a long weekend away with my love. I saw grace coming in the form of early morning coffee and long, quiet moments to write the sunrise. I thought it would be found in climbing mountains that hold thousands of years worth of secrets in their jagged edges. Surely grace is standing at the top and breathing deep and experiencing the perspective you can only get from above, from watching large things become very, very small. I thought the best grace would come from exploring new territory, trying new things. I saw grace coming in moments that would undoubtedly be fresh and breathtaking and special and unusual.

And I stood at the bottom of the mountain for five days, and at the end of those five days, I felt a little disappointed. I felt the itch of the temptation to be jaded. Because all the graces I thought I would have turned out to be not at all the graces I got.

I got the grace of sleeping in, and then waking up and walking out the door to see a truly stunning mountain skyline literally in my backyard. Of watching Law and Order SVU in the same room with people I love dearly, people I rarely share air with. Of giant bear hugs from my biggest-littlest brother. Of making mischief with my sister, who loves to tease my husband and does so like a boss. Of a tiny blonde niece who simply could not get close enough to my skin, could not contain within herself all the six-year-old stories she needed to tell me while she had me close enough to be whispered to. Of Jimmy Fallon and Cards Against Humanity, alternating on repeat until midnight, punctuated by wild and irreverent laughter. Of watching the shortest, fattest dog I’ve ever seen just trying to waddle from place to place, and laughing until I ugly-cry. Of snuggling up to my love on an air mattress that kept rolling us both toward the center, always closer, always laughing.

Those sound like really good graces, right? Maybe even the best graces. The ones I found myself briefly tempted to be disappointed by. I am quite literally rolling my eyes at my own expectations and my ability to kill off a beautiful series of moments with them.

Because what about the unexpected grace of the everyday? The grace of recognizing, even in the grimy mess of your own humanity, that sometimes you don’t need the an escape into new and different and better. Sometimes you just need to see grace alive in the ordinary, wherever you are. Since that’s what makes a life anyway. That’s what makes all the moments worth having. Grace alive is why I can be just as glad to fall asleep at home in Texas as I was to fall asleep in Colorado last night.

Yesterday’s grace, today’s grace, expected, unanticipated, wild, alive. If there were five words to be prayed for myself and for the ones whose hearts I hold, these are the ones.

May we see grace alive.

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to be your girl

Dear my love,

It’s in my chest on all of the days, but I am so beautifully aware of it on this one. And on the days when it’s so close to the surface that it threatens to break my heart wide open, I realize that I don’t tell you enough. That in some inconceivable way, my heart knew yours from the beginning, knew that you were the one I wanted to belong to, that you were the person I would always want to follow anywhere.

I knew it small in the beginning, and today I know it in a way that has depth and breadth, but not as much depth and breadth as in another five years, and five after that.

I am so very proud to be your girl. And I am so very humbled to be your girl.

I spent the first twenty-three years of my life surrounded by an army of people praying that I would find a good man, a spiritual leader, a man who would lead me and our family toward God in all the seasons of life. And I thought for so many years that I had a solid grasp on what that would look like. It would look like initiating family devotions and holding my hand every night to pray together and making sure we were in church every Sunday. It would look like Christian music on road trips, like small group Bible studies in our home. It would look loud and public and like leadership.

And it’s not that. It’s not any of that.

But all those people who spent all that time praying? God knows they got far more than they bargained for.

Because you, my love, practice love in the most unexpected places.

You practice love that is quiet and genuine and selfless. You practice love in no particular spotlight. You practice love when it costs you your pride and all the things you’d silently hoped for. You practice love when it is beyond reason. You practice love when it is not in your best interest.

I can think of no better spiritual leadership than that of a man who quietly goes about the work of practicing love everywhere he goes.

I sit back and watch it every single day.

Watching you love recklessly and without regard to yourself–it opens up the wild place God put in my chest on purpose, the wild place from which I live fully alive. The wild place from which I love all the wrong people, or all the right people, depending on how you look at it. The wild place that feels the most like Jesus in me.

You give that wild place wings by being exactly who you are. You remind me who I am with your quiet ways of doing Love. You remind me of my Creator, my purpose, my place in the Kingdom-come-and-Kingdom-coming-ness of life.

It isn’t Chris Tomlin and Max Lucado, that’s for sure. Bless it. But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it with the last breath in my lungs.

I can think of no better spiritual leadership than that of a man who quietly goes about the work of practicing love everywhere he goes.

Thank you, today and all of the days, for being the kind of man I would fearlessly follow anywhere.

Always, Audie

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