Come & See.

There is a tendency in our culture to wait & hear what happens before we’re willing to brave the situation ourselves. We want to know the “who, what, when, where” before we’re ready to give “me, this, now, here.” In a time like this, when the content of the waiting & hearing is unknown and intriguing, it’s comfortable and easy to wait & hear.

And sometimes after waiting we hear that things didn’t go so well. The church didn’t grow. The ministry didn’t last. The people didn’t stay. We are silently relieved that we didn’t waste our time and money on such a “fickle” cause, but say our niceties and act disappointed to the ones that did the hard, dirty work about which we waited to hear.

Because until you’re fully invested in the hard work of the new & risky, you will never feel the ache of brokenness or the thrill of success.

Other times after waiting we hear that things went better than planned. The church is booming. The ministry is thriving. The people are coming in droves. We silently get excited and start wondering how we can get involved. You know, now that most of the kinks are worked out.

More often than not, we still get to experience much of the beauty that happens after we graft ourselves in. We share the excitement and we journey the ups and downs of what is yet to come. It’s never always smooth sailing for anyone or anything. We’re just happy to have made it through the rocky start.

It can be nice to wait & hear. But I’m finding this funny thing about the way Jesus spoke and lived, and it was always in the right now.

He was fully living and deeply loving no matter who or what he countered. He wasn’t prone to give a tidy presentation of what the listener could participate in and then let them decide after they had the chance to think it over. Instead, it usually sounded more like:

“The Kingdom of God is close, and getting closer. I want you to be a part of it… Are you in?”

Instead of “wait & hear” it was “come & see.”

“Wait & hear” is tidy. “Wait & hear” wears a freshly ironed button-down and always tucks his shirt in. “Wait & hear” is polite and unassuming. He always opens the door for a lady and gives his seat up on the bus. “Wait & hear” goes to bed early and wakes up in time for a full breakfast. “Wait & hear” has never experienced heartbreak because he’s never gotten close enough to feel the weight of the fall. He’s never lost anything or anyone, but then again, he hasn’t really risked much either. “Wait & hear” remembers his mother’s birthday, and always goes home for the holidays. He prays for his friends, but sometimes forgets.

“Wait & hear” is predictable.

But things are different for “Come & see.” “Come & see” is messy. Her hair is usually tightly knotted in a bun that sits right on top of her head, because that’s all she had time for that morning. Her jeans are ripped and her make-up is three days old. “Come & see” doesn’t sleep much, but she doesn’t really mind. “Come & see” drinks coffee in the morning, but it’s always on the go. She looks people in the eyes. She holds their hand and asks how they really are. “Come & see” is a dreamer, mostly because she’s seen dreams come true. “Come & see” has felt the pain of a broken heart, both her own, and of the ones she loves. She has mastered the art of “mourning with those who mourn,” and she’s the first to bust out cake and “rejoice with those who rejoice.” “Come & see” doesn’t lock her door because she wants anyone to come at anytime. “Come & see” always has coffee in the cupboard and an extra bed. She’s safe, in a risky kind of way. She’s a fierce lover of life, addicted to grace and overflowing with mercy. She fights on her knees, knowing her sharpest weapon is a plea before the Throne.

“Come & see” is a warrior. And she glimpses glories only dreamed about by “Wait & hear.”

You could live a “Wait & hear” life and still see incredible things happen for the Kingdom of God. He doesn’t reserve glory merely for the risk-takers; it’s everywhere you look, if you really look. You could be safe. You could keep your white picket fence and your 401(k). You could live a “wait & hear” life.

Or, you could “come & see.” Come & see what will first seem like the greatest miracle you could fathom, and then watch Him exceed it over and over and over. Come & see students awaken to the needs of a nation. Come & see reconciliation heal relationships. Come & see dreams fall to pieces, only to be rebuilt with hope and attempted again. You could get dirty in the mess of “right here, right now” and shower that night, only to get dirty all over again the next morning.

I wanna be a “come & see” kinda gal. and now Beckoning you, inviting the most formative parts of your being to witness glory, the king whispers:

Darling soul, come & see.

Winter Won’t Let Go.

For so long I have longed for the seasons of the earth to reflect the seasons in my heart. For so long I imagined what it would be like to watch the ground surrender to Winter as the rotation of the earth forced our hemisphere to turn away from the sun and rest.

I wanted to watch the leaves fall as if it would give my heart permission to grieve. I wanted pieces of my brokenness fall to the ground with every leaf until my heart was as bare as every Oak and every Elm.

I wanted my hurt and longing and pain to be covered by the snow and frozen beneath the glistening blanket that covered the ground. I wanted it to melt away as the sun rose high, never to be seen again. I dreamt of expectantly watching the buds emerge on the trees and anticipated feeling hope leap in my heart with the unfolding of every Cherry Blossom. I wanted to feel my strength grow with the lengthening of the day as Spring slowly took control.

But Winter came for the earth in a time of Spring in my heart, and so I didn’t grieve. I built snowmen and went sledding. I opened the curtains and giggled as the sky turned gray and the earth turned white. It didn’t hurt. I didn’t mourn.

I didn’t even feel like I was losing.

Maybe missing Autumn isolated me from the full effect of Winter. I was thrown into this season abruptly and I welcomed it. But now? It’s the middle of March and it snowed all night, with no sign of stopping til late afternoon.

Winter won’t let go, and I think he’s trying to tell me something.

I think he’s reaching out with every last snowflake and below-freezing-temp saying, “Wait! You haven’t learned it all, yet. There’s more you need to know before Summer; I’m just not finished.”

I imagined he saw me frolicking in a dress on Saturday, sipping my iced coffee and relishing the sunshine, and simply refused to surrender. So he rallied his troops of Snowstorms and Cloudy Skies and said emphatically:

“This fight is NOT over! We’re not giving up this easily.” He barked instructions and sent them out with the decree, “Tonight! I don’t want the week to start until every last one of you has fallen from the sky.”

And so I woke up to white, white, white. With more falling from the gray, gray sky.

The only thing more chilling than one hundred days without the sun is coming out of it unchanged.

Summer ruled my days for nearly every month I’ve ever known, and as whimsical as the newness of Winter has been to my sunshine-addicted heart, I would be devastated to have lived in his company for all these weeks without getting to the bottom of his purpose.

So today? It’s me and Winter. I have a steaming cup of coffee, and I hope he accepts my apology for not asking sooner why he’s here, and what wisdom he would share with my Summer infused heart, that I might be a better gal in every season because of it.

There’s So Much More Than What You Know.

There’s so much more than what you know.

Through the ache of unanswered questions and the burden of unmet longings, can you promise me you’ll always remember that there’s so much more than what you know?

Undiscovered dreams, unimagined victories, and unchartered territories are waiting to be yours, but you can’t get there any faster than I can get to summer. You’ve just got to let it.

Foundations shake when the things we hold so tightly are ripped from our clenched fists. White knuckles gripped so tight they bleed as the dry winter winds steal the moisture and make them crack.

Just let go.

When you don’t get the job or you can’t get the girl. When your GPA isn’t high enough or you fail that exam or you have no idea what you want to be when you “grow up.” You’re not even sure you want to grow up. When you expect life to be one thing and it turns out to be another.

There’s so much more than what you know.

But all you know right now is that you wanted it to be one thing, and it’s not. You thought that it would go one way, and it went another. You hoped that you would be there, but you’re here. It’s enough to siphon the whimsy right out of your soul and leave you stranded on the highway to Look At Me Now. But can I tell you something?

There’s so much more than what you know.

Though you can’t always see how, it will eventually be better. ‘Cause Yahweh God doesn’t just make the best of what you’ve got right now, He looks into the caverns of your wildest dreams and paints it upon the canvas of your tomorrow.

There’s this teeny tiny little speck of eternity in which you live, and an even tinier speck in which you can currently see. We’ve got the past + we’ve got right now. And everything else is mystery. Next year? Next month? Next week? Tomorrow?

It’s unknown. And we have to let it be.

Because the bottom-line? It’s not ours to know. It’s just not. It never will be, and it never should be. Because us? Me and you? We’re tiny, tiny parts of a big, big story. A story with chapters that you will one day live + love. But if you knew them now? Oh, dear brother.

If you knew them now, you would never take another step.

You would read a paragraph of Chapter 27 and say, “Me? No way. No how. I can’t. I won’t.” It would make you want to quit. It would make you squirm. It would make you doubt. More than anything? It would make you stop thinking about right now.

And right now is just too important.

But if you just live it? Oh, darling. If you just take it one little day at a time? You’ll walk into Chapter 27 with a full heart + bright eyes. You’ll have confidence you never would have believed in Chapter 14. But after Chapter 18? You’ll feel like you can conquer the world. Chapter 25? You’ll be the kind of person you only dreamed you could be. Chapter 30 will be wild + free and you’ll love every.single.second, but you need the beginning to get there. You need what you don’t yet know.

I believe in a King who knows. I believe in a King that watches you from above and is your biggest fan. And He sees you start Chapter 12, after Chapter 11 nearly took it all out of you, and He says, “Hold on! There’s so much more than what you know.” I believe in a King who wants the dreams + victories + joys of Chapter 30 for you more than you could ever want it for yourself.

I believe that Hope is a promise and I’m gonna sing it loud.

This my anthem, all my days:

a song of hope, a heart of praise.

Get Up.

There are things that you were made to be and you aren’t being them. Places you were meant to go and things that you were meant to say. People you were meant to meet and days that you were meant to spend lying under a shady oak tree, in the bright summer sun, dreaming of how you could make the world better. And the thing keeping these “you-were-meants” from becoming “you-totally-ares” is fear. The kind that knocks you on your back and steals the breath right out of your lungs.

And baby, you’ve got to get up.

Fear of who you are, or who you want to be. Fear that you’re not good enough for the job, or pretty enough for the boy, or worthy enough to be fought for.

We have reduced our worth to employment and relationship statuses, and GPAs. We have warped our understanding of reality to succumb to believing that if we aren’t “chosen” then we must be broken.

Instead of knowing that no decision slips past the sovereignty of the Almighty, we wonder what we’ve done wrong. We forget that our worth is not measured by who chooses us here, but in the One who chose us at the cross. The One who promised to make our paths straight. The One who works good out of evil.

The One who is ever making all things new.

Stop asking the wrong questions. Recognize that you are not broken, and your value rests not in avoiding closed doors, but in where you look when you’re waiting in that hallway. You can believe that Jesus hasn’t forgotten or misplaced the glory He will exemplify through your life. But you have to let it look different than your plans. It will be better than good, believe it.

Oh weak-willed heart, would you only trust? Jesus is faithful in all things.

All things. Every thing. Any thing. The things, and trust me- there.are.things, are only as triumphant as you permit them to be. Life is too short + God is too good for you to spend your days spinning webs of anxiety and insecurity. You’re only going to catch yourself.

Darling soul, you have to believe there is more.

You have to know that there is a King who is fighting for your purpose. There is a Creator who created you to create and the longer you lay in bed with the covers pulled over you, the longer it takes for His glory to shine through your summer lovin’ smile and wide eyes.

And that’s the thing. This, the glitz + glam + glory of a life fully lived, was never about us. It’s about a King that came to rescue + redeem and we get to be a part of the story. We get to be rescuers + redeemers but we can’t do it in this prison of fear. We just can’t, baby.

So get up. Get out of that cell and run toward freedom. The locks on that iron door were broken ages ago, and you’re only one step away from the clear blue sky.

Get up.

‘Cause I need you to fight with me, and the world needs you to fight for it, and your beautiful life is so worth fighting for.

Unexpected Grace in a Missed Flight

I stood at the US Airways ticket counter and cried. I was coming off of the absolute hardest week of my academic career – little sleep, intimidating presentations, and being ill prepared for an incredibly difficult Greek exam. All I wanted was to be home: to go on adventures with Little Brother, to have coffee with Mom, and watch football with Dad. “Please, Sir,” I said with tears slowly trickling down my face, “Please let me on the plane.”

“Sorry, Honey,” he replied, “but you missed it.”

It was 6:34 am, and my flight was scheduled to take off at 6:42. When I rushed into the airport that morning, I was delayed by the “Self Check-in” machine’s inability to recognize me as a passenger. After being sent to two different airport personnel, I was starting to question if I would make it to the gate in time. The man finally printed my boarding pass and I (literally) ran to security. As I dashed away at 6:20 am, the man called after me that they would close the doors 10 minutes before take off.

With only one security line open, I realized as I waited in the unusually long line that I wasn’t going to make it if I continued waiting. I spent at least 3 minutes [which felt like an eternity], contemplating if I should cut to the front and ask for grace from my fellow travelers.

I felt like I was a middle schooler trying to muster the guts to pour a can of Coca-Cola on the school bully…

With just enough courage, I picked up my Vera Bradley duffle bag, with colors so bright my nerves were offended, and I walked forward. They showed me grace, and let me cut, sending well wishes as I ran through.

But when I finally made it to my gate, I was two minutes late.

I could see the plane through the window; it hadn’t yet moved to begin taxiing. If he had opened the doors, I could have taken my seat and been on that flight. I would have been the most obnoxious person on the plane, no doubt, but it was possible.

And I wanted it. Desperately. I wanted to get on US Airways Flight 2610. I wanted a layover in Charlotte and I wanted to land at Washington-Dulles at 11:35am.

I cried not out of belligerence, but out of desperation. Why wouldn’t the man open the door and let me on? Wasn’t it clear that I wanted it? What ever happened to the sentiment, “The customer is always right”?

The airline employee turned to his computer and said, “Let’s see what else we can find for you.”

“No.”

“Sir, I need to get on that plane! Please.” I was so upset. Mostly with myself for being late, but also with God for not working it out. I prayed silently, “Lord, please! I know you can get me on that plane. Please! I just want to be home.”

The man spoke up, “Well, this is against our policy, but we have a flight to Washington National leaving at 8am. There are a few spots left, would that work? I’m not really supposed to do this, but I want to help get you home.”

This alternative flight had no layover and an earlier arrival time into an airport an hour closer to my parent’s house than my original flight. Not only was not late, I would have time to get coffee (& breathe) before boarding.

And that’s when I encountered one of the most vivid + challenging lessons of my life:

It is only when we are able to release what we think we want that we are able to embrace what He has for us.

How many tears have I shed in desperation for that thing? How many nights have I laid awake begging Jesus to make sense of the confusion that flooded my heart?

How many new flights have I missed because I wanted so badly to be on the first one?

It was about more than getting home. It was about what I wanted and why I wanted it. It wasn’t just a reflection of my poor time management that morning, it was a reflection of how desperately I lack trust in the goodness of God to be more than.

More than what I think I want. More than what I think I need. More than what I’m capable of accomplishing. More than my feeble words can capture.

Oh, He is more than.

So much more than.

Snow Day.

I lived my first 23 years and 5 months in the state of Eternal Summer. Growing up on a beach recently named one of the Top 10 in the world by Yahoo! Travel and a favorite in my heart for the wildest of sunsets and the soft, white, powdery sand. But today, for the first time (not counting my daydreams), I watched a new soft, white, powdery substance fill the earth… and it was glorious.

When I say daydreams I literally mean that my heart would ponder on a regular basis what it would be like to live in a place that had seasons and how my life would look different if the physical season of winter ever came. I even went through a phase where I told my mother frequently that she deprived me of childhood by raising me in Florida. That’s ridiculous, I know. There’s just no other way to express my curiosity and desire for the earth to reflect what happens in my heart when I grieve the death of a loved one, or seek to make sense of change, or find my way in a new season of life. I was drawn by the idea that the earth needs a time of rest, too, and that snow gave it a chance.

I think it’s both brilliantly creative and unimaginably gentle for Yahweh to craft the earth with such wisdom, and I have yearned to know it in the experiential way and not just the textbook way.  Not just the way I know there’s no gravity on the moon, but the way I know that losing someone you love hurts in places you didn’t know you had.

So as I sat with a sleeping 3 month old snuggled up close to my chest and I saw a white speck float passed the window, something inside my heart swelled like a little girl. I walked to the window and simply watched as snow flurries became a snowstorm. And the children I nanny went home early, which means I, at 23, had my very first snow day.

And a snow day it was, snowing nonstop for the next twelve hours. I made my way home (not without fear and a tightly gripped steering wheel) and binge watched The Office with a warm cup of coffee, a plate of cookies, and a sweet little brother.

For all the dreams I’ve had of snow, and for the way my heart has been convinced for years that Yahweh made winter to teach our hearts to grieve, new things filled my soul today with every snowflake that fell from the sky. Our backyard is covered in a flawless blanket of white and it soothed my soul to watch the snow cover the ground so carefully.

And He whispered the promise,
“I will cover you like the snow covers the earth. With peace and precision I will pour my grace upon you and you will find rest in me.”

Watching the snow fall today reminded me that winter is a promise and it’s as real in our hearts as it is on this earth. But the bigger promise is in the One who designed it. The One who didn’t just promise winter, but promises to cover us in it. I’ve said it for a while, but now I’ve felt it.

I watched the snow the cover the earth and it made me feel whole. I know He’s good. I know that He only lets the snow fall because He knows it brings peace. I know He’s making all things new.  I’m singing praises tonight to a God who gives me dreams and then lets me live them.

He’s so, so good.

[Comm]Unity Breeds Life

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing:
life forevermore.
Psalm 133

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Dwelling in community holds the blessing of life.

I knew it was true. I knew it was sweet to dwell in unity [to be joined as a whole; a complete and pleasing whole]. But never had I so experienced the manifestation of community resulting in such life.

I think this is a promise: where brothers [and sisters!] dwell in oneness together, there we experience life. Life forevermore.

Oh, glory!

Community. Common Unity. Oneness. Togetherness.

It is good. It breeds life. And I thought I had known it. But no.

I had never so felt it, friends. Not until last week.

After five and half years of trying my hardest to fully live + deeply love in West Palm Beach, Jesus  opened new doors and filled my heart with incredible confirmation that it was time to go. On my last night, nothing seemed more appropriate than games, coffee + laughter with the people who made West Palm as enchanting as it was. I had no idea how life giving that time would be.

I sat in a circle of some of my favorites as tears slowly broke free + slipped from my eyes, despite my will to stop them. I surrendered to the gravity + listened to my people reminisce on memories of skipping class + playing in the fountains downtown, exploring new streets on a Mediterranean Island, learning the sound + stirring of the Spirit, and giggling for hours over warm cups of coffee.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Proverbs 18:21

They told me they were thankful for me, and that I made a difference in their lives. They told me they believed in me.

They made me feel like I could really, truly, actually change the world.

They told me that when they thought of me, the thought of Jesus closely followed. I’m crying again- I have never been more humbled. I have never felt so beautifully insignificant in the story of our souls, yet realizing that the way we live matters. It matters to people. With every word, they spoke love + life like I’ve never heard. It easily ranks as one of the Top Ten nights of all my 23 years.

During those last days, I received so much love like this. From my church, friends, professors + mentors. They called out my gifts and challenged my fears.

My professors spoke life: “God has anointed you to teach and lead – I am sure of it. You have a wonderful gift of seeing great things in the biblical text AND communicating them to others.” …and in the same paragraph called out weaknesses: “One of your greatest hindrances will be your inability to fully trust God to do truly great things through you.”

They spoke candidly + honestly and it made me wonder what stops us from doing this all the dang timeWhy does it take a cross-country move for us to speak life? For us to call out gifts and affirm dreams, to acknowledge fears + challenge struggles?

I always knew they believed in me, but these conversations took it to a whole new level. I know I lack trust in God, but to hear someone I admire and respect call it out – well, shoot. It just changes things. It makes me want to be better. It makes me want to fight it more + more.

I left West Palm with a heart fuller than I’ve ever known. Tear stained journal pages reflect on moments + remind me that fear has no place.

I left with a greater conviction to speak life on important days + on regular days. When people are moving + when they’re not. When we don’t think they need to hear it + when we think they do.

There is such blessing in community.

When you see beauty, would you speak it loud? When you see fear, would you call it out? When you have a reason + when you don’t. Life abounds in a community that dwells in oneness + grace, and it’s one of the sweetest gifts this side of heaven.

You Could Always Stay

It amazes me how a year of little lessons can culminate into one grand decision at the end of December. It came as unexpected as a rookie’s interception, yet welcomed and beautiful as one that’s run back for a touchdown to win the game. No one saw it coming, but they’re sure glad it did.

2013 was a year of growth like I’ve never known. I got to write about a lot of that growth, including articles on craving to follow Yahweh into the unknown, actually following when He beckons, living in fear of my calling, trusting Jesus to provide, and building a house of expectations. Each of these lessons brought me to my knees in humility and desperation to walk faithfully before my King. And as I neared the end of this growth packed year, I really thought I had it under control.

I successfully finished my first semester in an accelerated graduate program for a Master of Divinity, and after 4 months of non-stop reading & writing, I finally had a chance to process. Just as quickly as I allowed myself to consider, “Is this the best program for me?” I felt my heart releasing every aspect that I held dear about my school & community. It didn’t take long for me to recognize and acknowledge the leading of my Father to go, but still strongly considered the outcome & consequence of staying.

Staying is so, so easy.

And that’s the thing: I could stay. I could keep shoving those longings under the area rug of my wildest dreams and continue to challenge everyone else to Go. Go when He calls you, always go. I could keep writing, keep speaking, and keep urging the ones around me. I could pretend to not feel the stirring, surrender to the contentment my heart feels in this comfortable place, and trek through a program that I could finish in less time than any program in the country. I could stay.

I could stay and no one would know the difference. No one would feel the pinch in my heart to go. No one would hear the still, small voice. No one would question why I’m still here. Instead, professors would tell me I’m gifted in writing in the world of academia. My pastor would give me opportunities to lead the women in my church. Friends would indulge my love for Paris Café and the Green Market on breezy Saturday mornings. I could stay… but I would know the difference.

My struggle to obey echoes my heart nearly four years ago as I battled the pull I felt to serve in China. Concerning my fear and doubt, I wrote:

And so I questioned. Day after day I questioned whether or not I should stay on this team. The question I told myself was, “Is this really where God wants me?” but that was a mask for my true thoughts of, “This isn’t what I want. This isn’t what I planned.” Yet every time I would think those things, I would get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach. Almost as if God was challenging me: “I dare you to disobey me.” Not in a harsh and threatening way, but in a way that promised me that what He had in store was better.

I could literally speak the same words in regards to leaving West Palm Beach. It isn’t what I (thought I) wanted. And it sure isn’t what I planned. Several months ago, when I wrote about the expectations we set for ourselves, I said, “On the sweeter side of things, this allows me to trust in a God who knows my heart, my dreams, and my desires far better than I ever will. It makes me grateful for the intention of His heart to lead me where I ought to be instead of where I want to be… [especially when they are different destinations].”

(And does. He. ever.) I’m awakened to my childish thinking: I thought I was writing for others. I thought I was reflecting on hindsight. I thought that someone really needed that message and Jesus was using me to speak it.

I didn’t think it still meant me.

My only explanation for leaving is Jesus. Jesus and my wildest dreams have stirred together in a beautiful way and though it took me weeks to believe it, I’m here & I’m giddy with excitement because I’m learning:

1.    Jesus cares about what we want.

“What are you seeking?” (John 1:35) – Dear One, you must abandon the thought that in order to follow Jesus you must forsake everything you desire and succumb to a life of monotony. We are so quick to over spiritualize every aspect of every decision that we miss the beauty of choice. Do you love Him? Are you seeking Him? Are you living in surrender to His word? Then it doesn’t much matter where you go or what you do – you can’t mess it up. He isn’t going to stay in one place and make you cast lots to figure out if you made the right decision. He’s with you, wherever you go & whatever you do. Just keep your eyes locked on His.

2.    You will only have to answer to One.

In the midst of believing that Jesus is calling me on this grand adventure, I had unending thoughts of fear concerning how the news would be received. By professors, by pastors, by mentors, by friends… I legitimately thought, “No one will understand; I should just stay.” Oh, the nonsense. We must remember [Yeah, I have to remember] that we will only ever answer to One, and “I didn’t think they’d understand” is not the answer we will want to give. Obedience will always be worth it.

3.    You can trust His heart.

He loves you, Little One. He is the author of your desires and the fulfiller of your wildest dreams. Let Him woo you. Let Him take you on adventures. He isn’t going to lead you by fear, but rather by peace and joy. Are you walking in peace? Are you living in joy? You can trust His heart to lead you where you need to be.

And so, with shaking hands laced in His, I couldn’t be more excited to walk into this unknown. Oh, yes. The best is yet to come.