Thursday, March 15, 2012


So this is a public confession. Two things before I confess publicly:
  1. In the past year or so, I have tried to cut back on sharing really personal things via social media. One day I decided that I needed to be sharing my heart exclusively with my close friends and family and that was that. However, I think that this might be edifying to someone (if anyone even reads this…) and wanted to write it in my blog (that is slowly gathering dust).
  2. I also decided (perhaps it was also about a year ago) that I don’t want my relationship with Christ (namely, my life) to consist of constantly measuring my sin. By measuring I mean constantly thinking about my sin and living a life more focused on that sin than on God’s grace. Don’t mistake me: we are called to be constantly in awe of grace. It’s not a natural right, but a gracious, lavish, undeserved gift. However, I am alive in Jesus and, well, just like living confidently in that reality, I suppose.

Those two things being said, I have really screwed up in the last month or so. It’s a new revelation. Here’s the tale:

Let’s start at the beginning.  I was the girl that ALWAYS got the “Most Improved” award for every sports team, which, as we all know, means that I worked really hard and they felt bad for me. I take it back. My eighth grade cheerleading squad awarded me the superlative for “Most Determined.”  Amidst the superlatives for “Best Smile,” “Best Back Handspring” and “Most Flexible,” I, naturally, was the best at something no one cared about. In retrospect, “Most Flexible” was undoubtedly the worst option, but at the time being the most determined seemed painfully underwhelming and mediocre. Essentially, I struggled profoundly with comparison. Growing up was never easy for me when it came to comparison. I always lost; or at least I never won. In fact, I think that I can safely say that my biggest struggle—that struggle that remains the root of all other struggles in my life—is my self-perceived lack of definity. Meaning: I have always felt like weak toast. Toast is good, but not awesome. It’s sustaining in a pinch and decent when you smother it in butter and jam, but, by itself, toast is just not that impressive. So: fear that I am a piece of toast. That’s me in a nutshell.

What’s interesting: my outer-toastiness has always covered something that I believed to be really untoasty. I never felt that I was only an ordinary baked good. I knew that something burned really hot underneath the plain surface: why did NO ONE ever see it, whatever ‘it’ was? Seriously. It hurt for many many many seasons. Many long seasons. It hurts to think of them. Well, God is gracious and sent his son to save me from a life of toast. He breathed life into the mediocre and I have never looked back. Not. I just realized tonight that the old fear, the old me, lingers. Aren’t all of our old, deadliest sins like that? Lingering stage left, waiting to take center when the new dance seems to be going so well? It’s so frustrating.

Back to the tale. In the last seven or so months, I, for the first time in my entire life, I have felt special. I’m not talking about understanding my real, ultimate worth; that happened about a year ago (what happened about a year ago—it seemed a very important time?!). I’m just talking special. People have told me that I am good at something. People have told me that I have a future in writing history. That I am talented. It has been an overwhelming experience, especially for a “most improved” toast girl from way back.

But I realized tonight that it’s no good. Bummer. It seems that overnight, I have made it all about me. I was profoundly convicted after a certain episode during class this evening and am being strongly urged to confess that I still—STILL—lust after praise from people like I did when I was 13, 16, 22. Like, it is serious. I crave it. It’s addicting. And it’s never enough. I realized that this venture went really quickly from being about Jesus to being about people loving me. People’s acceptance is everything to me right now, or at least it was everything to me about 3 hours ago. Honestly, my initial reaction to this conviction/realization was: “but GOD! PLEASE! I have always felt second-rate and mediocre! Please just let me have this one!” Really? What do I ever mean by that when talking to an infinite God that invites me into his eternal abundance? Anyway. That’s me. The old me. The new me. But, ultimately, the loved me. We’re all one person, living and moving with all of our experiences and scars into new territory. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I am more in need of grace than I previously believed. And I’m really thankful that He’s not finished.  “My lips will shout for joy…my soul also, which you have redeemed. My tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long.” Psalm 71

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm really into the concept of art today.

I have been redecorating my room over the past week and have spent all hours of the day puzzling, conceiving, plotting, and planning what every little detail is going to look like. It has been such a cool exercise of my creative mind muscles.

So it just has me thinking about art. What's the point of it? What does it do? I have come to the conclusion that attempting to discover and unwind God's heart is the highest artisitic endeavor we as humans can engage in (or at least the highest endeavor this human can engage in!). This attempt to discern and unearth God's heart for us--his people-- is creativity in its utmost form. I think it's ultimately what all other imagination, conception, insight, and ingenuity point to.  What is a beautiful painting, book, or piece of music but something that unveils an unseen reality that is waiting to be uncovered?

Reminds me of something Paul said in Acts:

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' (Acts 17:26-27)

I was taking advantage of God not being far from me this morning and this flowed out of my pen and onto a piece of paper. I guess it's sort of what uncovering God's heart looks like for me:

to the Artist Himself:

Plunging into the depths of life's substance, I can't grasp, but in a way understand, that you are beautiful:
though a rational realization, unattainable by mental faculties;
a truth be explored without eyes, but with the groping, yet sure, fingers of an awakened soul.
What a glorious store of blessing and experience you offer the desperate heart.
It is here, caught up in this highest form of slow, unveiling artistry, that you meet me.
and, though formerly impossible, I see; knowing nothing, but having everything, in perfect happiness with you.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Harry Potter Means Something to Me: An Essay

Ah, the end! I thought I would share my thoughts about Harry Potter on this last day that I will ever dress up like a house elf and ride a broomstick around a parking lot, awaiting a midnight release of a book or movie.

I am writing this both hyperbolically and seriously. Mostly I am, in classic form, drawing serious nostalgia from a movie premiere (and fully aware of it) but also expressing my love and thanks for a story that has shaped a huge part of me. What are we made of, really, except the great stories that we hear and swallow? They define us. They shape us. They ignite desire in us. They call us to something greater than the humdrum existence the world tries to impose on us.

I received my first Harry Potter book on May 26,1997. It was my 11th birthday and, quite frankly, I was extremely disappointed when I opened the package to find a book. Who wants a book for their 11th birthday? I didn't. The woman (a friend of my parents') told me that this book, about a boy-wizard named Harry Potter, was the new craze in England and that she thought I would enjoy it. (suuuuurrrreee thought my 11-year-old self).

Despite my disappointment I set to reading the next day. I remember being quite surprised to find I had made it through the first 250 pages or so in about two hours without even having gotten up to stretch. I remember the room I was in. The color of the carpet. The way the sunlight hit the walls. The way my mind buzzed and filled with organized creativity and curiosity for the first time.

I feel like few people have the pleasure of pinpointing the exact moment that their mind began creating. I'm not talking about the constant stream of aliens, monsters, and manatees (yeah, my imagination was fierce) that haunted my rooms every night, nor am I talking about games me and my brother would make up or even our attempts to imagine ourselves into stories or new worlds (though all those early attempts are beautifully cemented in my memory). On that May afternoon in 1997, my mind starting actively pursuing imagination, inspiration, desire, etc.

As I flipped the pages, I faintly remember the warm shock I felt as I established the colors and textures of all the characters' robes, the moss (that I carefully placed) on the ancient stones of Hogwarts, the layout of the settings in which Harry came into and discovered himself. I was dreamer, architect, and grand designer of the Wizarding World that day. Perhaps it was simply the similarity in our ages that I shared with Harry & Co.(maybe eleven is the year we all realize who we are), but I think that was the day I discovered myself as well. Really, this might be the moment that all my longing for a real-life extraordinary existence began. And it was, for lack of a better word, magical.

From that day on, I was constantly imagining, dreaming, desiring, writing and establishing world after world bursting with places/circumstances I wanted to be (and reading HP to spur me on in my quest, of course). Places in which, quite frankly, I wasn't a socially awkward middle schooler without many friends, a weird high schooler that never quite fit in, an even stanger college student that REALLY didn't fit in, or an early 20-something realizing she didn't have to fit in : ) I couldn't stop creating. Still can't. Hopefully never will.

Tonight at midnight, millions of Potter-clad people around the world will flock to movie theatres to watch good triumph over evil in the final battle. We will act stupidly, we will have fun, we will all be part of something bigger than ourselves. I now know that this points to something buried deep within all of us. Events like this uncover the fact that we all long for this epic, good vs.evil business to be REAL, tangible, solid...why else would we care about a book/movie series that has characters called things like Winky, Lupin, Tonks, Mundungus, and Voldemort? Bahaha. It touches something significant in all of us, just as it touched something in me 13 years ago that I couldn't quite put my finger on and couldn't quite get rid of. What is any good story but a smaller version of the Real story of good truly triumphing over evil and love winning the day forever? Now: let's see Molly Weasley do the damn thing.

Harry Potter for life, baby! Thanks for the serious fun and adventure.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Doubting Thomas

John 20:24-29:

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This is where God is meeting me today. He says engagement with doubt (rooted in Scripture) is part of the sanctifying process and to bring it on (in so many words)...and that's a good thing, because I have a lot of doubt. Always. So many times recently I have found myself praying "please let this Life be real. God, please be real" It's a strange thing to pray, but I am really plagued with confusion about how this life is supposed to look and whether anything matters at all. I'm not really in the mood to draw conclusions that make it look like I have dealt with this fully and now have it it together (I'm most likely flattering myself there because I doubt anyone has ever thought for even a second that I have it together). However, I am pretty confident when Christ says "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" in this passage, he was talking directly to me today. And he promises he's not finished (Philippians 1:6). And that he's coming to show me his scars. Very soon.

Really thankful someone else has felt the same way and wrote a song about it:

What will be left when I've drawn my last breath,
Besides the folks I've met and the folks who know me,
Will I discover a soul saving love,
Or just the dirt above and below me,

I'm a doubting thomas,
I took a promise,
But I do not feel safe,
Oh me of little faith,

Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face,
Then I beg to be spared 'cause I'm a coward,
If there's a master of death I'll bet he's holding his breath,
As I show the blind and tell the deaf about his power,
I'm a doubting thomas,
I can't keep my promises,
'Cause i don't know what's safe,
oh me of little faith

Can I be used to help others find truth,
When I'm scared I'll find proof that its a lie,
Can I be lead down a trail dropping bread crumbs,
That prove I'm not ready to die,

Please give me time to decipher the signs,
Please forgive me for time that I've wasted,

I'm a doubting thomas,
I'll take your promise,
Though I know nothin's safe,
Oh me of little faith

-Nickel Creek, Doubting Thomas

Friday, March 11, 2011

Serious Business

This was too long to tweet, so I slapped it in here.

In my opinion (and my opinion counts for a lot, since I have read almost every CS Lewis book, essay, speech, etc. in existence.) this is one of the most beautiful, hopeful, insightful passages from any of Lewis' works.

Take this in, as it a truth freely offered:

"I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous.

For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order–with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order?

How can you find any image of this in the ‘serious’ activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heart-broken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis?

No, Malcolm. It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were place here to live.
But in this world everything is upside down. That which , if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”

C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcom

I am so overwhelmed and humbled by the weight of the cross recently. How this end that Lewis speaks of (and I believe he speaks true) is made possible by the Stength and Determination of Christ's death and, subsequently, His grave-defying resurrection. What could such a compelling Love ever ask of me that I shouldn't freely give? His commitment defies all earthly notions. He's after our Joy. It can seem cruel sometimes to our finite minds when He tells us to give everything up for His Glory, but his delight in our sacrifice and the mutual delight between Creator and created that results from it is so heavy, beautiful, and REAL, that I can't deny all existence is wrapped up in what happened on Calvary. Oh God, thank you for Jesus, the One who beckons me come and die--with the only end being to breathe me into Life.

Monday, February 28, 2011


punctured lungs inexplicably heave deep sighs.
with his sharp knife sadness' slits crush
but enable earth shattering groans.
perhaps the groans are just weight put to words.
sadness' poem is simple, gutteral, beautiful, inescapable,
Until it is lost in numbness or victory.
I fear I will be lost to numbness if left to my own devices.
Victory seems so far away.
Who can cling to it?
oh, punctured lungs. you heave deep sighs...

Friday, January 28, 2011

This is how I think

Yesterday I wrote this on a paper towel at work. It's weird, but it's how I think and I am posting it as an interesting example of what my mind looks like.

I am sitting at a window on the second story looking out over the street below and it's dusty not the kind of dusty that you can mop off but the kind of dusty where you know it has become part of the glass muddling the whole view but also making it more realistic because isn't everything a little bit permanently dusty and I am leaning in in in in in and trying to make out the shapes that I know are clear on the other side but they just aren't coming into focus so maybe I need new glasses or something or maybe just some new perspective because I was told this would be clearer and it's just not. I strain my eyes leaning in in in in and without realizing it was coming I bump my head on the glass so hard because I was trying to make sense of the blurriness and I pull away feeling cold tears down my cheeks because I am so frustrated and I start to laugh too which is always what I do when I cry over something that isn't even that sad and also the knot on my head now smarts and I just cry and laugh because it works right here and sit back in my chair and want to forget the window because who likes a damn dusty window anyway but I know that window is the key to everything and the source of everything and so I lean in in in in as the tears stream and I start over knowing that I am never going to see through the dustiness but that the shapes on the other side are clear...