Despite our stubbornness and self-deception.

It wasn’t as much of a subtle nudge as it was a punch in the face. I’d been familiar with getting little nudges from the Lord, like, “Hey, be present,” or, “Hey, have a little more compassion.” But this one was like a wrecking ball to the face of, “Hey, wake the hell up because the best writing you’ll have ever done up to this point in your life is going to happen right now if you actually put pen to paper or fingers to keys.” Side note: I’d also like to think this is how God talks to me, not in a scolding way, but in a blunt way like a friend who knows your deepest deeps and your darkest of darks. I think He would say this when necessary, in case you were offended by the “wake the hell up” part. God knows sometimes we need it.

Further and further, my heart moves away from the shore. Whatever it looks like, whatever may come, I am Yours. And You crash over me, and I’ve lost control but I’m free. I’m going under, I’m in over my head.

I’m thoroughly convinced there’s no better feeling than refinding a song that used to light. you. up. and when you find it again, it lights you up even more than before. I’m looking at you, Bethel Music.

I needed every single word of this song tonight, and maybe you needed it too. Look at God. My dependence has not been on God. I want to scream that from the rooftop. I want to admit it. I want to sit in it. I want to fully realize the reality of what I’m in the center of right now. I tried so hard to grasp for control that I totally lost it, and isn’t it funny that that’s where God usually finds us, or rather that we find Him.

The other morning, I sat in prayer for the first time in a long time that wasn’t a few breaths of prayer or some desperate plea on a car ride or just closing my eyes while my coffee is brewing in the mornings. It was real and rich and filled with desperation and remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness.

The slow, transformative work of Jesus is happening literally right now, it’s just our job to wake up and notice it. And let Him continue to move in us, despite our stubbornness and self-deception.

I’ve been in survival mode, and I know that mode well. I’ve sunken deep into it before, where I compartmentalize everything to keep pushing. I work and work and work to distract. I take a lot of pride in staying busy. I watch a sad movie to get a lot of crying out and call it processing. This happens especially during seasons of transition, and I’m learning, even in seasons of really good and exciting transition. Stay busy. Breathe faster. Keep moving. Don’t dig too deep. My work becomes dry and tasteless because I let it, because I’m grasping for everything around me to provide some sort of comfort and stability when it was never their purposes in the first place.

You know your vices in seasons like these, you’re thinking of them right now.

But self-awareness changes the game for the most part. I can recognize my survival mode, and I can pray like hell to dig my way out, and I can try to make the right and healthy choices to get there.

So here it is. God’s doing a good work in you right now, even if you refuse to believe it. You are valuable. You are loved. Your value is not dependent on the work you are producing. You are worth it. You are fully known and fully loved in your darkest parts. He has hung a banner of Victory over us.

And these are not truths I have been speaking over myself every day, but these are truths God has spoken over me in the people God has placed in my life in this season. Jesus will always have the last word. And His words will always come out above our lies and self-deception. They do not hold a candle to the grace and transformative work of Jesus. God has already spoken over you ever word that you long to hear. Listen.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead. // PSALM 86:11-13 NIV

Train me, God, to walk straight;
    then I’ll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
    then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to. // PSALM 86:11-12 MSG

Monday (afternoon) pick-me-up: go harder than you’ve gone all year.

This past weekend, I went to one of those running stores where they can analyze your stride and the way your feet move while you run so you can find the type of shoe that is best for you. I did this back in high school, but it’s been about 6 years and I’d been feeling some pain while running, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go get it checked out again.

I was really excited at the thought of figuring out which shoes would be perfect, but I was surprised when I went and the first thing the woman told me was that I stood the wrong way and my running posture was not good at all. I’d been running the same way for years! I don’t run with my feet behind me, but I sort of hunch and keep my feet going in front of me, and when I swing my arms, I basically twist my entire torso. All bad things. I also lock my knees when I stand, arch my back, and put all of my weight on my heels instead of bending a little and evenly distributing my weight. All of these factors though, they contribute to the pain I feel when I’m running or in the days following.

Why am I telling you all of these things?

I got a cool picture of what happens when I’m not self-aware and when I just want to plow through. And it’s not one thing that throws us off, like it wasn’t one thing that contributed to my pain while running. It’s the perfect mess of things that push us where we’re going. It’s a good picture of how we stay busy and keep going even when we’re sinking into unhealthy patterns and don’t even realize it. We can do that during this holiday season, or we can choose grace and self-awareness. It’s better for you and for the people around you.

This morning my boss reminded us that these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas ought to be our most creative and productive, but often it’s easy to sink into laziness and coast until the next holiday. I do it in some ways. You do it too. Don’t lie to yourself.

So pick something, anything, that you’re going to make a habit for the next few weeks. Are you going to do a hundred pushups every day? Are you going to make the effort to cook yourself breakfast every morning? Are you going to put your phone down and read every night before you go to bed? Or maybe read while you’re making your coffee in the morning? Are you going to run to clear your head? Are you going to take up meditation? Pick something. For your sanity, I know it’ll be for mine too, and it’s good. Cultivate something good during this holiday season.

Because the holiday season can be really difficult. I know I slip into anxious tendencies, with money and time and memories. I haven’t lost any relatives close to me, and I don’t experience a lot of dysfunction in my family, which I am INCREDIBLY grateful for. But I say all this to make the point that holidays can still be difficult and heavy on some days. We can eat a little more which makes us more aware of our bodies or we can spend a little bit too much money and it can make us worry. Or we have issues with the church and a lot of people focus their Christmas season around the church, which can be painful. It’s still hard. And it can get cold and a little gloomy, which takes a toll on our emotions and mental health. I definitely feel that, even when I have every reason in the world to not experience that sadness and anxiety.

So it’s okay. There is grace for literally every single day, and maybe you needed to read that today because it’s Monday and when you woke up there was some rain on the ground. I want to encourage you to tell someone, not for the pity, but as a way of saying, “Here’s how you can walk with me in this season even when it might not make sense. I’m going to be sad and anxious sometimes, but I’m giving you permission to rip me out of that headspace.” We all need those people. I know my people, and I want to encourage you to find yours.

Whoever is reading this, I’m grateful for you, and I’m encouraged by you.

You deserve to be taking up the space you’re standing or sitting in, and you deserve to do good things today. Go serve someone. Go encourage someone. Tell someone you’re grateful for them, but go a step further and tell them specifically why, even though it may feel awkward. They probably need it, and you do too.

I haven’t taken the time to choose healthy habits. An example: I’m in the middle of a 100 pushups a day challenge for the month of November, but I do it to check it off, not to get stronger. So don’t be deceived when you’re on the outside looking in on someone else’s life. I haven’t been writing enough, which means I haven’t been communicating as well as I could be. I’ve been very stuck in my own head. I haven’t been as present as I could be. I haven’t been as gracious with myself, which means I’ve been even less gracious with the people around me.

So I’ll say it again: pick something. Swap Netflix at night for a chapter of a book. Don’t drink the extra cup of coffee; choose an extra hour of sleep. Put your phone down. As cliche as it sounds, take a minute to look around. While you’re in line for something today, keep your phone in your pocket and look around you. Make eye contact with people and speak genuinely. Choose to not let the thoughts and holiday anxiety weigh you down, but choose the light and truth. Take deeper breaths. Take moments for yourself. But go hard, harder than you’ve gone all year. Get the things done that you’ve dreamt about. Do things for other people, and do them with a grateful heart. There’s a balance, but I believe you were meant for better things than you’re currently doing. And you have it in you.

Happy Monday.

I miss my name tag.

I’ve got a lot of words for the last two months, but none that will do them justice. God is big and I am not and that is the most beautiful thing, so we can start there, like a first foot to the pavement on a long run where you want to pace yourself but also may want to run some sprints here and there but also walk a little bit to get your heart rate back to normal.

I miss the rhythms. I miss putting my name tag on every morning, the moments our teammates got to serve one another by getting the coffee or filling up water bottles, the small things. I miss setting up production, offloading pictures and videos, making each other laugh, singing a lot of old songs, getting excited for chicken lasagna, all of it. Do I also miss the moments where God was kind enough to clearly show us His presence and show us the impact the Gospel was having on these communities? Oh man, yes. I’d give everything to have it all back. I miss the simplicity and the deep, belly laughs.

And God’s been really cool to show me that’s not just a Costa Rica thing, and how naive of me it was to compartmentalize that part of God’s character to just camp or a foreign country. I actually get to make the choice to serve the people around me that same way literally every single day. Thanks, God.

These past few days have been a lot of, “Wake up, kid. You’ve got a lot of dreams that aren’t just going to happen unless you do something,” moments. Do I need some time to rest? Gosh, yes, and my biggest mistake is usually not letting myself do that, so I’m trying to be careful. But I’m also trying not to forget that hands-on-a-live-wire feeling. I felt alive every single day we were in Costa Rica, and I don’t know what made it happen, but I’m trying to not forget the rhythms and the abiding and the serving.

Culture shock has been weird, and it’s one of those things that feels stupid for experiencing, so I haven’t had a lot of grace for myself in experiencing it. It’ll just hit when I’m trying to explain a story to someone or I’m missing hearing Spanish all around me or I’m driving through Atlanta or I’m looking at a sushi menu with so. many. options. It’s a lot, and it’s weird to walk through.

So I started processing it piece by piece. That leads me to a little bit I wrote closer to the beginning of this summer.

“Why does Christ want to enter into every part of your life? To judge you? Condemn you? Take from you? No, Paul says the more you’re comfortable with Jesus meeting you in every quiet place, the more by faith he’ll begin to convince you how deeply loved you are.”

I had the chance to sit and listen to a beautiful sermon where Ben Stuart made the comparison of Christ dwelling in us to a friend knowing the comfort of coming into your house and feeling at home. We ought to be able to see Jesus be able to do the same, come in, take his shoes off, check the fridge even though he already knows what’s there. When we leave all of our rooms open for God, darkness doesn’t have the ability to take over parts of the house, of us.

That was a beautiful metaphor I think God knew I needed in this current phase of life. I think about the beauty of gathering and hospitality and the way that we ought to be able to let God dwell in us.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

FULLNESS. That’s what God’s inviting us into when we’re offered a seat at the table. And I know my whole life I’ve tried to muster up my own fullness in my own words and relationships and moments that made me stronger. I think that’s why I can confidently sit here and write to you that I truly only trust myself, and that was not something I was able to reckon with until, well, these past couple weeks. The Lord has made me come undone with these ideas of Truth and Trust. I think subconsciously I held a lot of pride in accepting this job in Costa Rica. I thought, “Of course I trust the Lord. I quit my job, hopped on a plane, and came to a country I’ve never been to in order to do ministry. Now that’s trusting the Lord.

But if I want to sit here and get really honest with myself, I don’t fully trust anyone but myself. It’s sort of liberating to write that and it’s been even more freeing to say out loud in conversation. I got on that plane because it was more of a, “Well, I don’t truly know what comes next so I’m willing to step out on this ledge because a lot of details came together and I think this is what God has for me so let’s go.” I trust me until I don’t have the information I need to provide answers for myself. And that’s really sobering to admit. That’s not trusting God at all. That’s leaving His will as my last resort. I know that all sounds harsh, so I think you can imagine the processing I’ve gotten to do for the past couple weeks. It’s been thrilling.

I have been trusting God with different parts, for sure, but definitely not the whole thing, which is not what He asks of us. Trusting Him means full surrender, and I’m not in a place where I can say I am truly doing that. I’m a big fan of control, a big supporter of championing your own story and your own healing in your own timing. But how fitting that God would take that to show me more of Himself in my humbling and submitting to Him as I begin to process shame and moments not soaked in grace I didn’t even know were there.

When I envisioned getting on that plane and coming here on my 22nd birthday, I imagined my days would be filled with sharing the gospel and watching beautiful sunsets and a lot of dancing and singing and drinking really dang good coffee. And yeah, God’s been really kind in presenting those kinds of moments. But if I had been in charge of writing the story, it wouldn’t have included days where I couldn’t show myself enough grace or days when anxiety seemed to flood every surface I walked upon or that I would be doing a 180 with my post-grad plans. But how grateful am I that I’m not the one writing my own story.

And that metaphor about Jesus coming into your home to dwell in a place you’ve set out for Him? That requires trust. You don’t just allow strangers to come on in and take their shoes off and open your fridge to check out what ya got going on in there.

So here we are, 6 weeks later, 7 if I think about the fact that we’ve been home for a week now, and it still sucks to wake up not in the same place as our team. I think one of the coolest things God keeps pushing to the front of my mind has been that the same God who walked me through every single day in Costa Rica is the same God who is still going to use me regardless of the location and He’s the same Holy Spirit dwelling in me that He was in all of this past season.

He is with me in the hard conversations and the messy confrontations and the mornings I don’t want to get myself out of bed. He is also with me at the end of really hard but good runs and on long drives and in really sweet dinner conversations and in sending texts and in making coffee every morning to establish routine and normal rhythms. He is with me in the people I’m getting to reconnect with and the excitement of dreams coming into fruition and getting to be on the same soil as my family. He is in it all.

And on the really difficult mornings where I feel a little heavier than normal and my heart hurts at the idea of not being in the same space as our team, I take extra time to make a good cup of coffee and read these words:

23 (1) El Señor es mi pastor;
nada me falta.
En verdes praderas me hace descansar,
a las aguas tranquilas me conduce,
me da nuevas fuerzas
y me lleva por caminos rectos,
haciendo honor a su nombre.

Aunque pase por el más oscuro de los valles,
no temeré peligro alguno,
porque tú, Señor, estás conmigo;
tu vara y tu bastón me inspiran confianza.

Me has preparado un banquete
ante los ojos de mis enemigos;
has vertido perfume en mi cabeza,
y has llenado mi copa a rebosar.
Tu bondad y tu amor me acompañan
a lo largo de mis días,
y en tu casa, oh Señor, por siempre viviré.

In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me.

In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I heard those words sung a couple nights ago during an all staff worship with WinShape Camps. In my mind, they’re also paired with the words: “I serve a King with good intentions. God, You will never turn Your back on me.” Also, yes. You read that right. I was sitting in worship with the summer staff for camps, and I’m currently writing this with rain beating down on the roof of the hotel we’re staying in because it’s rainy season in Costa Rica. God’s plans cannot be wrecked, but He does have a tendency to come in and wreck ours. I stand in complete awe and peace from these past few days.

I’ve learned more about honesty and beauty and trust and mercy and steadfastness in these past few days than I maybe ever have. My plans were turned upside down in so many different aspects of my life: relationships, living situation, and job. Everything, flipped. And I have never felt so at rest in the Lord.

A couple months ago, I wrote the words on here: So maybe I’m not going back to a place I had put all my hopes and dreams and plans inside of and maybe I’m learning what it looks like to stand up for what’s right and maybe I’m learning that doing what is right still has consequences because this world is so broken and maybe I’m about to pick up and move to a new city in three months and maybe that scares the absolute crap out of me, but there is nothing like it. And that was true. I was not going to be working for one of my favorite organizations because of scheduling conflicts and different plans the Lord had for me, though I couldn’t see it then. I was devastated and hurting and so confused that God would use a place to teach me so much about His goodness and then take it away. So I honored my family and stuck it out, and that new city I referenced? It was Nashville. And then that turned to Rome. And now I’m sitting in a bed in San José.

And the world is still broken, that hasn’t changed. I’ve experienced some hurt and confusion in these past few days, but the Lord has been so kind and merciful in answering literally every question that ran so deep and giving me clarity and peace of mind in leaving the country for an extended period of time. I truly understand that feeling of freedom we ought to understand when the author of Hebrews writes: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  I used to think that was a cheesy Bible verse that cross country runners got on those cool t-shirts we bought at the end of invitationals, so I was never able to take those words seriously in a way. But other translations use phrases like “let us strip off every weight” or “let us lay aside” or “we must get rid of everything that slows us down,” and those are all beautiful and rich and real, but there was something that beat into the darkened parts of my heart when I saw the word RUN. It cleared out the cobwebs, and I heard, “Talitha koum,” which comes from Mark 5 when Jesus says to the little girl, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” and she arises from her sleep and comes back to life. Everyone thought she was broken and out of reach from coming back to life, but this is what Jesus does: he comes and makes us come alive. And my favorite thing about that is that is a story he invites us to take part in, and on the really really really good days, we also get to watch dead things come alive.

I put away the things that held me down and have remembered the things that make me come more alive in Jesus. And you also deserve that: to dig deep into the things that make you come more alive and surround yourself with the people who push you to become more alive and more like Jesus. I didn’t always have that, and it varies in seasons, but I am so grateful that the Lord has me in a place now with the best support system I’ve ever known, and he’s allowing me to run headfirst into the unknown. The only thing I am sure of is that Jesus writes the best stories and he is with me, which is so fitting because our theme at camp for the summer comes from Psalm 23.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

I am grateful for the ability to say yes and the space to dive deep. In moments like these, I’m pushed back to the psalm that says, “He brought me out into a wide open place; he delivered me because he was pleased with me.” I feel like the Lord has intentionally created margin in my own life, picking me up and changing my plans to fit His better, and being in this space with essentially no strings attached to me, He’s allowed me to dream again.

I constantly feel desires He has placed in me welling up and forcing me to evaluate what it is I want to do; not to settle for a job because it’s smartest, not to stay in one place because of a relationship, and not jumping because I was too afraid to just move. I love this season because there is nothing I would look back on and regret. Each relationship, each move, each moment to slow down has been exactly what I’ve needed to calm an anxious heart. Sure, there have been many moments where I freeze in one place and feel overstimulated and so confused. But sifting through these past few weeks, I’ve had more questions answered, more doors opened, and more unexplainable peace than I have ever experienced.

Here’s to experiencing God in ways I never have before and understanding more about foretastes of the Kingdom of Heaven in answered questions, words I’m finally able to write, and love I cannot begin to explain. One thing that recently stuck out to me in a conversation is that God honors big prayers. He may not answer them in ways we want, like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum to its father, but we ought to be able to trust Him enough to ask Him for the big things. I see this in a lot of specific prayers. I didn’t have the courage to ask God to change His mind when the first door with camp shut, but here I am, still working for this organization I am constantly cheering on.

My views of God lately have been those of a Father who draws near, stands in the corner with birthday hats and confetti and balloons, and cheers for us: I am with you and I am for you!!! I want to challenge you to see God like that too. He’s a God who knows every single one of our weaknesses and never falters. He always cheers us on, walks alongside us, and paves the way ahead. And I’m very grateful for the people He has put around me who function as literally the hands and feet of Jesus, continually pursuing me and cheering me on no matter the season and no matter the wide spaces I run headfirst into.

P.S. If you keep a prayer list, I’d love to encourage you to pray for our teams as we begin camps this week!!

It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.

A grocery list of prayers in the midst of disorienting grief. I’m intentional not to use the word “debilitating” there. It feels like it’s not grief that I own, but grief that has sort of entered into the picture and slowly filled up the space, like a really foggy morning drive across campus. It’s not my grief to claim, but it’s mine to process, which is why I’ve chosen “disorienting.” I’ve spent a lot of time assessing the people in my corner, the ones who know the grief and know my mess and celebrate me and serve me well and love me better than any people I’ve ever known, especially in the midst of the fog. I’ve sat in passenger seats while my mind runs wild and I have to process, “How do I tell this person to love me better? Is that selfish? Am I allowed to ask that?” I think the answer is yes, by the way, you are allowed to ask that. These are my real words, the ones I want to say. I have an entire other post written that are not my real words, the ones that lay nicely over the grief like a blanket.

A lot of my writing lately has reminded me of when I was younger, and my mom would ask me to go clean my room. I would begin the process of dumping every drawer, every toy chest, everything from my closet, and everything from under my bed into the center of the room. I kid you not, I thought this was the best idea in the entire world. I could assess the mess and all the things that made up my life when I created the chaos and could see everything. Piece by piece, and with a bit of panic from my mom, I would start to reorganize and “clean.” This would almost always end with me getting frustrated and shoving literally everything back into every place it was never supposed to belong and shoving the closet door and the drawers tightly enough to make it seem like everything was clean on the outside. That’s what the writing has looked like, and that’s what my mind has been.

I get that convicting little whisper: I never promised you understanding. I wanted everything clean on the outside, to be able to say that I’ve pulled everything out, sorted through the mess, and now God’s given me the words to understand the mess in my life. He promised to be with us. That’s what I keep getting pulled back to.

I wrote a poem a few weeks ago that used the phrases, “emotional currency” and “mental real estate”, and I feel like God has ripped those words from my writing to pull me into something deeper with Him. What am I spending my emotional currency on? What am I allowing to take up my mental real estate? Something I’ve had a strong desire to understand is intimacy with God, and He is certainly using those things to show me what it looks like. There is intimacy in the here and now. There is intimacy in being present. There is intimacy in asking God what is pleasing to Him.

I’m also getting nostalgic for a place I haven’t even left yet, and I don’t want to get to the end of this year and wish I had more time so I could actually learn to spend it well. I don’t want my emotional currency and my mental real estate to be spent and taken up by all the wrong things, so I’m finding myself in a place of reorganizing my priorities and reorienting my thoughts, while still trying to navigate those foggy mornings of grief. Sometimes the coffee tastes like guilt and shame, and sometimes the prayers don’t come as fluidly, but for some reason there’s still so much hope soaked into these moments. Sometimes the words get stuck in my throat, and I force them back down. Sometimes I feel the reassurance of, These are the people you need with you right now. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming peace when I’ve walked out of a mess. Sometimes it feels good to wake up slowly and watch the run rise through imperfect vision. And it’s also okay to accept that I feel all of these things very very deeply, all of the guilt and all of the love and all of the sorrow that sinks into every day, it’s okay to feel it all this deeply.

There has been a lot of aching and sadness and pain and desperation, and for the first time with a strength I haven’t known before in not allowing it all to control or dictate my days. It’s been overwhelming in moments, of course, but it hasn’t been something I’ve allowed to seep into the deep parts of my identity. I’m learning how to fall back in love with pieces of myself I fell out of love with in order to satisfy another person. And that’s a statement I wish I never would have had to write, but there’s more freedom in admitting that than trying to hold a Jenga tower full of pieces of shame and guilt and self-deception together. There have been a lot of unspoken words and whispers to God where I admit that I cannot do this on my own, if at all. God and I have a lot more of an open dialogue now, not just moments of deep need when I’m on my knees, though those have still come quite often. I wouldn’t say it’s as many intentional prayers as it is moments of desperation walking to class or standing in the back of the chapel or sitting in the passenger seat.

The honest prayers are starting to rise to the surface, above the mess and the what-ifs and the noise of everyone else’s voices, but I might not like the answers so I muster up all the strength I can on my own to shove them down. I want to ask, “God, what do You have for me in this next year?” but I’m terrified He might say something I’m not entirely sure about. I want to ask, “God, is this relationship life-giving or should I do away with it?” but I’m afraid His answer will be, “No and yes.” I want to ask, “God is how I’m living every single part of my life in a way that is glorifying to You?” but I feel the deep conviction of, “No.”

And that honesty is what draws us deeper into a relationship with Him and begins to change our hearts. I don’t get to experience that freedom and intimacy when I hold Him at arms length and pretend to ask Him what He wants for my life as if I’m going to be obedient to it in moments where I want to have full control everything to create a false sense of comfort. This is the part where the blanket is torn off of us and we’re met with the freezing atmosphere of the morning. This is our moment of bargaining with God when it was never our place to bargain. This is the reckoning.

My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God. If you say to God, ‘I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,’ that might be the most honest thing you’ve ever said. If you told me you had said to God, ‘It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,’ it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.
So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light. It is us reaching out to be heard, hoping to be found by a light and warmth in the world, instead of darkness and cold. Even mushrooms respond to light – I suppose they blink their mushroomy eyes, like the rest of us.
Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.” // Anne Lamott

There is joy in the humility and submission where my only prayer can simply be, “Help,” which is a lot of what it’s been lately. Help is the submission and the freedom of misunderstanding and mess. My priorities have not been here, and how can we expect miraculous things to happen if we can’t keep our head where our feet are? The enemy is working, and some days I can proclaim that more confidently than I can proclaim the name of the Lord. The enemy is twisting promises and creating noise that I’m being overwhelmed by. God gives me these people who I trust and who I hand my stories over to and the enemy deceives and puts blinders on, gives us the pedestal to place our idols on. However, there is boldness in abiding and crying out for help when we need our Father who holds our days in the palms of His hands, who does not deceive, and who remembers that we are dust. Literally, every single morning I can wake up hearing that He speaks victory and goodness and kindness and gentleness and humility over my life. That is something to celebrate and walk boldly in, even in moments where we want to cave and sip the guilt slowly and push down the words where we stand up for ourselves and demand respect and love.

Surround yourself with people who love you well and celebrate the small things and encourage you well and who will never stop reminding you that they are in your corner. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to desire to weed out the ones who drain you more than they build you up, and sometimes it’s a process, one I still struggle with every day. There is healing to be found in learning when to say enough is enough and there is beauty in the brokenness of hard relationships. God is in the business of making all things new. I find myself walking this part of my journey, the one of boundaries and asking guilt to leave, especially close to God, continually asking Him what His will is in these days and the mess and the aching.

There is healing in these words. There is healing in recognizing the mess of it all. There is freedom in the healing. And it’s the most miraculous part of Jesus I’ve ever known.

In learning all of these little things, I keep going back to that image of God rejoicing over us.  For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. When I let myself sink into that, I tap into a part of my identity that is powerful and that reminds me of the banner of victory already strung over me. Reading these words shoves out the guilt, makes the shame pack up and leave, and it frees up some of that mental real estate. It pulls me back to my seat at the Table and invites others to do the same.

He is for you.

Man, this one has been a long time coming. The past few weeks have held a lot of transition, a little too much change, getting back into rhythms that seem foreign, some grieving, bits and pieces of processing, and a whole lot of desperately trying to rely on the Lord. Quick recap: I started my senior year of college yesterday (WHAT, I KNOW). Camp ended roughly 3 weeks ago, and there has been a lot of texting and FaceTime and phone calls trying to make it through that transition, but all sweet things. My family is in the process of moving out of a house we’ve lived in for a very long time, so there has been a ton of prayer and processing and packing up all that that held. There has had to be a lot of remembering that my actual family is home and the house is not. I’m still trying to navigate what grieving looks like and trying to take it one day at a time with the loss of a little friend who passed away at the beginning of the summer. There are a lot of road trips planned for the next few weekends, which I am beyond excited about. A couple weekends ago, we helped one of my best friends get settled into her new hometown and plan a wedding (ALSO WHAT!!). I’m in the process of getting back into regular rhythms with best friends and figuring out what the future is going to look like. I’m getting settled in with a sweet new roommate who God knew I needed in this season. It’s all been a lot but also something that has been so sweet, and I have felt God constantly caring for me in the details of every day.

Every day I’ve gotten to wake up and decide I want to do my days with God, and although it isn’t always the easiest, it’s always the most comforting because it means that I recognize that my grip on my days, memories, the people around me, everything really, has been so tight. I try to hold onto every single moment for dear life, and I miss the next one coming. In His kindness, He has shown me how to loosen my grip and trust what He’s got coming next, slowly but surely. I feel His kind and comforting reassurance every single morning.

This summer was wild. And I wish I had words that did the Lord’s work justice. Wild. Holy. Golden. Painful. Fruit-bearing. Faithful. Trustworthy. All of it. I could use all of those words. There’s a lot of peace in knowing that I serve a God so strong that my words will always be inadequate because that means I don’t need my words to be strong enough to stand on. I need His Word to be strong enough to stand on, and I have seen that in every single detail of this summer. He is matchless in the way He weaves our days together and cares for us in the details.

I never want to tire of singing praises to Him or doing good work in His name. It’s easy to get trapped in the idea of doing things to glorify ourselves or to just check off a to-do list, and I know we all do it from time to time, if not very often. This is the way we plan our days, what’s the most productive or what will make us feel the most accomplished. When I serve or do something good, I want it known, but God has been kind enough to humble me and show me that I am known, but I am known by Him which is such a gift that pales in comparison to being known by any human.

These weeks following camp have been very overwhelming. There are days when I want to find a specialist to turn my phone into and disconnect again or that I want to wake up and put my name tag on or that I miss having meals prepared for me so that was the last thing I had to think of. It’s a ton of little things I never knew I was taking for granted. I’ve had to acclimate to the real world again in ways I never imagined I would have to. I miss sweet little giggles every place I walked and the times we would stop wherever we were to pray with each other because it was such a natural thing to do. This life with school and an office job and to-do lists feels like it fits a little too tightly, and I’m having to settle back into it.

The hardest thing might have been realizing that the world kept moving when we were up on that mountain. There was still grieving to be done and bills being paid and moves being made that we got to be blissfully unaware of for 2 months. It was beautiful. It was probably the most comfort I’ve ever felt from God in the way He cared for me in the details of my days, the moments I was walking to breakfast and seeing sleepy little faces trying to get breakfast and wake up or moments when I got to listen to a ton of little girls scream about how Jesus called their names and they ran out of the grave. We walked on holy ground all summer. We watched girls say yes to Jesus for the first time in their lives. We watched girls say yes to him again and again. And it was the most beautiful thing I think I have ever been a part of. We watched their course of eternity be changed right before our eyes.

And then there were the people. I have never been so surrounded by so many women on the same mission, who wake up every single day craving nearness to the Lord and desiring to glorify Him in everything they did. They taught me how to serve earnestly, humble myself, and love so fiercely, most in ways they will never fully know.

These are people who walked back into the dark with me with a light through to Jesus, even in moments when they didn’t realize it. I sat in the back row of our last night together as a full staff during staff worship and heard, “You are for us, You are not against us,” and I had heard this song so many times before, but I sat there and all I could think was, I believe that You are good. I believe that You are for me. This is the first time I have believed that You are completely good.

I’d never really believed He was good, and I remember praying near the beginning of the summer that He would show me that He is good every single day, and He did. My stomach is flipping and my heart is pounding when I type that. He is so good, and I wish there were a bolder way to proclaim that. He is for us. He is enough. He is the strength in our weakness. He is kind enough to show us brokenness because it means that we know it falls from His design. His goodness was soaked in every detail of this summer, and something I’ve left camp realizing is that that same goodness soaked in the nights of worship and the early breakfasts and the walks around the lake is the same goodness woven into the details of every single day for us. The God I encountered for the first time on that little mountain is the same God I get to walk with every single day.

During that last night as a full staff in worship, one of my best friends pulled me in after the first song and said, “I want to encourage you at some point to stop singing and just listen, and you can’t tell me that’s not what Heaven is going to be like.” It was moments like that when it felt like their was no veil at all, and Jesus, in His kindness and sweetness and mercy, was showing us what the Kingdom looks like, that we would spend the rest of eternity praising Him and worshiping Him in all that we do and with all that we are. If I have walked out of this summer with more confidence in anything, it is this:

He is so good to us. He is so faithful. He is for us. 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” // 1 Corinthians 10:31

The thinnest veil.

It’s my off night.

I’m sitting here with a full journal, full heart, sort of empty tank in terms of energy, but also a body full of caffeine. I’m about to go devour some Chinese food, but I couldn’t pass this night by without laying out what the past few weeks have looked like and showing you a glimpse of what God is doing in the world around me. I always seem to crawl back to this corner of the internet when I’ve had a lot on my plate, eaten it all, come back for seconds, and here we are.

The Lord is so near. We can start there. I know I’ve written before about the veil and how there are moments when God is kind in showing me how thin that veil between Heaven and earth can be. The past few weeks, I have been. touching. Heaven.

This is the thinnest the veil has ever been.

Hear me when I say that.This place is so special, and I’m understanding why people say this camp really is holy ground. The Lord’s work is so evident, but it’s also a place where I see wars being waged on girls’ lives. We get to see them realize that a victory has already been won for them, and that has been such a gift.While I get to hold little hands during roller skating or watch girls realize they are called God’s accomplishment (you are too, just so you know – Ephesians 2:10) or watch young women live out of the freedom God invites them into or watch girls accept their seats at table for the first time, I also see a battle being waged in my own life.

I have learned more about my relationship with the Holy Spirit in the past 5 weeks than I may have ever learned in my life, in all honesty. For a long time, I said my prayers to Jesus, knew about the Trinity, sometimes talked to my Heavenly Father, but never fully grasped what it meant to have the Holy Spirit living inside of each of us. Our senior worship speaker read a quote in one of our morning services that said: “When all hell breaks loose, we have Heaven living inside of us.” This came at a time when I was starting to understand what it meant to trust the Lord with everything in me, including my relationships, my failures, all of it.

I find myself sitting down in the mornings and finally deeply desiring to spend time intentionally in God’s presence, where I recognize that’s what I’m doing. I sat down this morning and wrote a list of all the things I want to trust Him with. I want to trust Him with my position at camp, with the lives of campers, with my job, with each and every relationship I have, with every failure, with every lie I let take up residence in my brain, with every step I take in every single day. I sat in a big red truck we named Clifford and talked to a dear friend about how we both can trust God with our lives, like our plans a year from now, but we can’t manage to trust Him with the next day or the next hour or the next minute. We worry and stress and have anxiety built up in us, but we have a Creator who has already written every single one of our days before we were ever born. Maybe you need that reminder today, and maybe I do too, but we have to live out of that. When our circumstances say no way, we get to fix our eyes on a God who makes His way in everything.

I prayed a lot at the beginning of the summer that God would teach me about intimacy and what His design is for that piece of our relationships. I wanted help and endurance to not cling to the people around me but to realize the gift that intimacy is. When I start to understand intimacy with God, I can recognize the beauty of intimacy in our earthly relationships. About this time, I started to realize the importance of the Holy Spirit living within us, and God showed me that that is the ultimate intimacy we need to receive and understand.

Here’s the thing with intimacy. I can make it up. Why do you think people devour romance novels or dream of waking up next to someone? We have a desire in all of our hearts to be fully known and deeply loved, but that desire, every ounce of it, is satisfied in our Creator, Maker, Redeemer, Healer, Satisfier of our souls, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He is who we need Him to be because He is enough and He is everything.

For a long time I was forcing myself to say, “God, You are good,” even when I knew I didn’t believe it. I had one of the best conversations that, in His kindness, the Lord showed me was very much from Him, and He showed me that I kept asking Him over and over again, “God, are You good?” when I knew I had already made up my mind that the answer was no. However, He shifted my thoughts and instead moved the question to, “How are You good?” And that shift has made the biggest difference. He has been kind in showing me moments every day where I get to see His goodness. I can’t sit here and tell you that I believe He is completely good, but I can tell you the good is outweighing the bad today, in this moment. I have had to wake up every day, and say, “Jesus, I trust you. I don’t know if you’re good today, but I trust that you will show me.”

I have had to learn what grieving looks like in the past few weeks, which has been the most difficult part of camp. I was told that grieving is realizing that we have deviated from the original design that God had intended for the world, and that helped grieving click a little better. Grieving is weird. I would like to say that my plan is to make it to my bunk at 11 o’clock at night, in the dark, have a good cry, and go to bed, but it’s usually in the most inconvenient moments when I cry in the middle of our staff lodge or I find my heart in a not so gracious or compassionate spot or I feel like the entire weight of the world is on my shoulders or I hear a little girl laugh that reminds me of her laugh or I listen to “Let It Go” at one of our Nite Lifes and just start crying.

It looks different every day, but the most beautiful thing I’ve been in the process of doing is allowing myself to grieve. And maybe you’re in the same spot. And it sucks. But we have a hope that far outweighs the grief and the sorrow and the darkness in the world and the hard days. We get to cling to the One that says there will come a day when we will sit in His presence and there will be no more death and no more tears and no more pain and no more brokenness. We get to cling to the One who has planned that glorious day.

But for now, I get to wake up every single morning and love the people around me so fiercely and learn how to serve humbly and walk with Jesus in the hard and in the beautiful, and some moments that are both. He has gifted me with some of the most beautiful friendships I have ever seen because they have all been built on Him. I have learned what it looks like to pour my heart out to Him before anyone else. I have learned what it looks like to serve humbly like never before by the people the Lord has placed strategically around me. I get to wake up every day and say, “Holy Spirit, I trust You,” and this is the greatest place I have ever been standing.