Tag Archives: grace

fear and flying

Dearest one,

It’s a rare day when I genuinely feel like I have some thoughts worth offering, thoughts that might be worth adding to the noise of your already crowded mind. But today, the stars align and the words just keep falling out of my mouth, and I feel like maybe I do. 

You think me this brilliant, amazing creature. And I love that you see that in me. But here’s the truth, a truth that’s not far from your own.

I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day. 

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day isn’t because I don’t have things to say. I do. It isn’t because I don’t have a decent command over the English language. I do.

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day is because in my mind, I’m already thinking about writing a book. And none of my thoughts are connected enough for that. I have so many thoughts about a million different things, but I don’t have enough thoughts about ONE thing to justify writing a book.

And so I don’t write. Because I’m so busy thinking about the end product that I am paralyzed. I feel like none of it matters until I know exactly what it’s going to look like in the end. I feel like none of it matters until I have a plan. Until I can nail down what it’s going to look like. Until I feel safe and secure and like its all something I can control.

I am a walking, talking definition of missing the beauty of the forest because I can’t see past the trees.

And so it is with you. 

See, for all the credit you give me and all the shame you so effortlessly give yourself, you and I are not that different. Not at all. Steps without an endgame feel pointless to you. And I know that feeling. They feel pointless to me, too. But the thing I’ve been thinking about today is how there is no endgame until you take steps. If I don’t start taking some steps without knowing where I’m going, the endgame is RIGHT HERE. This is it. The endgame is me, sitting around and wanting to say something worth hearing, but not saying anything because I want a roadmap first. If I don’t start taking some steps, I will still be this person in forty years, only with a whole lot more regret and a lot more untold stories and a lot more unlived life.

And so it is with you.

I remember his words to you one day, months ago, about how the greatest enemy of the next step is the fear of what’s across the room.

You and I, dearest one. We are one and the same. We are both so focused on what may or may not be across the room that were frozen in place. Stuck. Afraid to take a step for fear that it might be the wrong one.

But grace, man. Of all the things I’m unsure of, and there are many, Grace doesn’t make the list. Not even close. Grace may, in fact, be the one thing I know like I know my own name. Mostly because of the frequency with which I’ve had nothing else to fall on.

I believe that our steps will be messy, and some of them will be the wrong ones, because we are nothing if not fully human and prone to being and creating disasters. But I also believe they’re all important, every last one of the steps. All necessary. All growth. All Grace.

Some of my biggest missteps have turned out to be my biggest graces.

And so it is with you.

And so it will be.

Breathe. Crawl. Step. Leap, even. Jump off a cliff knowing that your wings get built while you fly. Growth and movement and purpose doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Doesn’t happen at a standstill. It only happens in midair. In discomfort. In dirty soil. 

All you can do is this one moment. You can’t handle the overwhelm of a lifetime, all at once. All you can do is this one moment. One moment that looks like crawling, but is really more like flying, when you’ve spent all this time standing still, rooted to your fear. 

Fly, mine. Don’t stand rooted to your fear. There is nothing worth fearing more than that.

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yes to quiet

31 days of WTHKW

I have been writing a lot. Much of it hasn’t ended up here; in fact, most of my 31 days haven’t ended up here. Maybe because there are some thoughts that are just better held close to my chest for awhile. One of the lovely things about writing for me is that, the more I do it, the more layers of myself I uncover. Which is beautiful and terrifying simultaneously. Terrifying because it feels so exposing, and I always feel the need to hide in the quiet for while.

So I’ve been hiding in the quiet a lot. But today, my thoughts are clear and easy and not quite so inward turned.

Last week, I was talking to a dear friend and mentor, someone I love very much. We were talking about me being exhausted and sick, about my body just leveling me with one thing after another. And I was explaining to her a little bit about how I believe that’s stress related, that my body was responding to a lack of rest, a lack of good food and proper hydration, a lack of general nourishment. And she made the comment that it’s just how life goes. That busy is just the way it is.

The older I get, though, the more I don’t really believe that. I believe that we’re as busy as we choose to be. I think of “yes” and “no” as currency these days. And I believe that when we’re exhausted and overextended and tired and sick, it’s because we’ve lost track of our yes and our no. We’ve decided that someone else gets to spend the yes and the no for us, and we just have to go with it.

I don’t think that’s true. I do believe that there are certain seasons that are naturally busier than others. I know this to be true in my career. Last week, half the reason I was so worn down was because work was really busy and really stressful. Saturday was solo contest, and trying to prepare twelve middle schoolers for that is just stressful. It just is. And I do know that was half the reason I was so tired, and likely a large chunk of the reason I felt so sick.

I also know that the other half of the reason was because I haven’t fully learned that, when I’m in a season of spending a lot of yes at work, it is vital that I learn how to spend my no in other areas for that season. In the same way that, when work is slow, I know I have some more yes to give to other areas of life.

I know as well that when those busy seasons hit, and I only have a little bit of yes to spend outside work, I need to be choosy about where it goes. I didn’t do that last week. I spent my extra yes on a lot of junk food and a lot of time with TV and social media when what I really needed to be saying yes to was making sure my body was properly cared for, with good food and plenty of water and long baths and phone calls with my best people and writing sessions and yoga and meditation and maybe a few naps.

I’m not doing this perfectly, the spending of my yes and my no. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I am growing. I am learning how to re-chart my course a little bit more quickly than I used to.

For example, I know I should have spent my yes more wisely last week, and made more use of my no, but I didn’t. I am, however, mapping out this week to look a lot more like last week should have. I’m giving myself the margin and the downtime I need. I slept in a little today. I went to yoga. I watched one episode of Gilmore Girls and then turned the TV off, rather than spending the entire day marathoning my way through Netflix. I got groceries so my home is full of good food. I took the time to cook for myself. I’ve been drinking plenty of water, and nothing else. It’s 7:30 pm, and I am curled up in bed, snuggling my dog and listening to absolute silence while I take the thoughts in my head and put them on paper. I’m not planning to stay late at work this week, or to go out in the evenings. I plan to spend plenty of time snuggling with my puppy and my husband, or curled up with a book, or painting my nails, or coloring. Doing something that allows me to stop trying for awhile and just be.

It’s time to quiet down. It is always my choice to say yes to quiet.

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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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paint always grace

I long to always paint in shades of grace.

But God above, how easy it is not to. How easy it is to grab a brush dripping thick black ink and stroke wide. To color outside the lines of understanding, of compassion, of actually knowing a human. How easy it is to glance, to assume, to paint my assumptions and call them another’s truth. How easy it is to wander off, looking for inspiration, and to find my inspiration in the obvious. In the loud and the bold, in the wild and flailing. How easy it is to ignore that which is quiet, sitting in the corner of a coffee shop, hoping to escape notice while she thinks her thoughts, engages her common sense, filters through equal parts curiosity and compassion.

How easy. And how truly pleasurable to the masses when we paint that way, in a way that’s easy and clear and palatable, that draws clear boxes to be checked off with that same thick black ink. Us. Them. Me. Other. Right. Wrong. Wonderful. Terrible. Intelligent. Idiotic. Honorable. Detestable. Truth. Lie. All. Nothing.

How easy. How clear. How gratifying.

How not at all the way I want to live.

I long to paint people as souls rather than positions, with vulnerability one can only earn by investing time and life in another, from a place that bears no resemblance to personal pride or superiority, with only the slightest streaks of black paint and rarely on a white canvas. I long to paint small and private and humble and always, always asking questions. Always assuming there is more to the subject that I don’t know. Always more to learn.

I long to paint people as though my art is a mirror turned on myself, rather than a lens through which to view a person. Because it is.

The shades in which I paint are always far more indicative of the artist than the subject. Art is always autobiographical, if you look closely enough.

And so, let me paint always grace.

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