I See God on the Road

17 Apr

In 1999, I traveled to Dallas, Texas to attend my Grandma’s birthday. I didn’t know it would be for my Grandfather’s funeral. I didn’t know that in my grief, my cousin would hand me a cassette tape of a band called Caedmon’s Call. This tape would contain a song by Derek Webb, entitled, “Faith My Eyes.” I didn’t know, as I played it on repeat from my black boombox in my room in a rural town in New Hampshire, that that song would become my life anthem, one I would play over and over….

And I don’t want to know

Cause life is better off a mystery

I didn’t know that three years later my best friend would convince me to leave our tiny town and go on an adventure for Jesus. That two week mission’s trip would take me not only to Jamaica, but back to Texas where the entire trajectory of my life would change.

I had no idea I would sit in a huge room in East Texas and know without a shadow of a doubt God was calling me to something deeper, something bigger. Something completely out of the ordinary. 

I had no clue that in 2005 I would find myself falling asleep on a bus, staring at the road’s white line glowing in the darkness, filled with a deeper joy and excitement that I had ever experienced. It was completely unexpected, but once it happened it made sense. I remembered as a child, daydreaming constantly about traveling to new places. I adored waking up to towering snow-capped mountains and delicious salty beaches. Experiencing new things, staying in new places. Watching Jesus free me from deep-rooted fear as I met people from all walks of life all over this diverse and beautiful country. 

I had no idea that this shy, insecure girl from nowhere New England would see America back and forth, up and down many times. That we would break down on the side of the road in the desert and I’d be secretly thrilled, because I’d never seen stars so magnificent. I wasn’t prepared with how deeply I would fall in love with the road. How I’d love sleeping in a new place every night. How I’d see Jesus in the people I met, all the conversations, the signs and connections. 

So keep on coming, these lines on the road. 

I could have never imagined that this life would lead me to places I’d only dreamed of, all over the world. That I would find myself in 2008 once again falling asleep on a bus but this time in Western China. That I would hear the Holy Spirit nearly audibly speak seven words that changed everything:

“I want to give you the world.”

For some reason, I would spend the next decade attempting to “settle down”… and failing miserably.

I didn’t know that a year after China I would meet the love of my life who, of course, grew up on a bus. That our love of the road would bring us together, and four years later on our wedding day we would pose kissing in front of a pile of suitcases and a sign post of all those places that were important to us in the past, and ones we thought would be significant in the future. 

Keep me responsible, 

Be it a light or heavy load

Then, life didn’t feel so free. Disappointments. Dreams died. Suddenly, we felt stuck. 

I tried to bury the ache in me. I tried to convince myself I was just antsy, never satisfied, that I needed to put down roots. We started over again in Minnesota and still the ache persisted. Three kids now, full blown adulting and all the bills, the anxiety, the plans out the window. 

I had no clue that in 2020, the world as we knew it would turn upside down and shaken like a snowglobe. 

I didn’t realize yet that was the best possible thing that could happen. 

Keep me guessing, these blessings in disguise. 

The questions came, slowly at first, then piling on top of each other like Minnesota snowflakes, changing the landscape of my heart. 

“What if I am not just ‘antsy’? What if this is how God created us to be? What if wandering, exploring, adventure, pioneering, is in our DNA? What if we are fighting against it by trying to have a ‘normal’ life? What if the reason God made us like this was so we could GO, spread the Gospel, see His Kingdom come? What if…. We could actually do it? With three kids? Without a solid plan? Are we insane…?”

The Voice grew louder and louder, as the world fell into more and more chaos. 

My plan hasn’t changed. I want to give you the world.”

I’ll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes. 

I look back on the past 20-something years of life, and I see His hand. I see how He put these desires in my heart, allowing me to be at a place where I surrender them, only to bring them back again. 

I see God on the road. Jesus, beckoning us forward, to move, to get up, to leave our comfort behind. To move like the wind. Follow the Spirit. Live an adventure. Live fully alive. 

“There is a road
always beckoning.

When you see
the two sides
of it
closing together
at that far horizon
and deep in
the foundations
of your own
heart
at exactly
the same
time,
that’s how
you know
it’s the road
you
have
to follow.

That’s how
you know
it’s where
you
have
to go.

That’s how
you know
you have
to go.

That’s
how you know.

Just beyond
yourself,
it’s
where you
need to be.”

-David Whyte- Just Beyond Yourself

The Other Side of Survival

1 Feb

One month into 2021 and everything already feels so different. It was like I was playing that childhood game where you try to hold your breath while driving through a tunnel. It is dark and you can see the light in the distance but your lungs start to burn and you don’t know if you will make it.

Then…exhale.

I’ve been on this meandering journey of seeing Jesus in the conversation and connections. Now things are speeding up. I am letting go of comfort all over again and embracing the way I was meant to live. For awhile I was drowning in anxiety, in motherhood, in distractions. Now I am finding truth and purpose in The Word. Now I can see again.

I still don’t know a lot of things, and that’s ok. I don’t know the quality of the world my children will grow up in, but I know they will be strong. I want to protect them and give them everything at once. I want them to be so much braver than I could ever be, to risk more for the Kingdom of God.

Risk it all for the Kingdom of God. On the other side of simply surviving, that is stirring, again. It started 12 years ago, maybe 18 if I am being honest, maybe even further back, 30 years ago when I was 5 and knew I was going to be a writer and change the world with my words. That was a heavy weight to bear, before I realized that The One who created me carried it for me. I shouldered other burdens too, ones that made me afraid of people and the darkness, that nearly silenced my voice figuratively and literally.

I feel that scared girl in me once in awhile still when I look at my 6-year-old daughter and I see all her boldness and beauty, that fierce spirit I wish I had when I was young. Despite all I have overcome, sometimes I still believe the lie that I don’t know how to be a good mom. I don’t know how to explain the world is so beautiful and so broken, with all of the morning bird songs and the cracks in our own voices from trauma and lies. I want so much more for her then I had. I want so much more for my boys too.

Motherhood feels like a great experiment most days. There are no how-to manuals, well, there are, but the manmade ones are mostly bullshit. No one can prepare you for all the heartache and longing and loathing and heart-outside-your chest love. The fierce fight that rises in you. The only thing you can do is walk in love and follow the Spirit.

I know maybe what Jesus is trying to teach me in this season is so simple. That parenting really, life, can be simple no matter how freaking complex this world may get.

We all just need to know we are loved. (John 3:16)

That we are capable of greatness. (John 14:12)

We all just need to know there is beauty in the world in spite of all the madness. (Ecc. 3:11)

We need to know that the hard days mean something, even if it is just one small step closer to knowing the heart of Jesus. (James 1:2-4)

We need to know that these momentary afflictions are creating an eternal weight of glory. (2 Cor. 4:17)

I have no idea what the world outside is going to look like tomorrow. It could be a utopia, or a desolate post-apocalyptical wasteland. It will probably be somewhere in the middle.

But no matter what, we know that this great adventure of life isn’t about never struggling. In fact, it is the opposite.

It is about finding joy in everything, because joy is real and it lives within us. (John 16:33)

Peace has a name. Jesus. (Eph. 2:14)

I don’t know what my government is doing or how corruption is going to keep running rampant, but I do know that I have nothing to fear and it is all because of Jesus. (1 John 4:18)

I know people need my words of faith and light right now in this dark time. (Hab. 2:2)

I know my children will shine like stars in the universe. (Phil. 2:15)

I am gonna teach them, as they teach me, the best thing you can possibly do with your life is love Jesus and risk it all for His Kingdom. (Matt. 6:33)

I see the light in the distance. It is beautiful and almost blinding. But I don’t even need to physically see. I am walking with Kingdom eyes now. I hold my children’s hands, grab my husband’s arm, and take a step forward. The adventure has just begun.

Before

27 Aug

Remember when
We’d get lost in a crowd
Bump shoulders with a stranger
Emmersed in the swelling music
A sound bigger than all of us

Remember when
We’d smile at the elderly woman
In the grocery store
Browsing the same aisle
And she would smile back
And lean her wrinkled face towards
Our sticky toddler
To say hello
And remind us how fast childhood goes

Remember when
We’d shake hands
Look each other in the eye
Speak our minds
With kindness
Believe in the good of our neighbors
Our country

Believe
We are well

When we’d
Sit in coffee shops
Inhaling the scent of being awake
Eavesdropping on conversations
From the tables next to ours
Reading faces
Watching life happen
Outside the window

Remember when
We’d dream of traveling
The world
Of every gorgeous &
Dangerous possibility
Open before us

Remember
Before
They told us
To fear

And we forgot
To live

Pentecost

31 May

We watch our cities burn
And wonder
How we can stop
The hate that festers
Because of hue
The judgement that finds
What is different
In another human
And fears it
We try to educate
To eradicate the evil
That grows like cancer
In our bones
But
Our 13-Step programs fail
Our willpower won’t work
Our attempt at recompense
are empty
Our efforts always fall short
As the gap widens further
More blame
More destruction
More lives ruined
But
In a room
They sat
Today and over 2,000 years ago
Every shade of melanin gathered

Then came a fire
But not the burning buildings type

A living kind
The same light, warmth, ferocity
That spoke through a bush
To free His children from slavery
That led them through miles of wilderness
That jealously consumed a soaked altar
That came upon them That Day (and today)
ALL languages
Backgrounds
Skin
Culture
Division
Were not
And all at once
Languages were understood
Barriers broken
Generations of wounds mended
The gospel being proclaimed
By the same man
Who walked with Jesus
And denied Him
At the crux of The Story
All at once
EVERY tongue, tribe, and nation
Knew who was King
Knew we are all one
Knew Who will heal this land
Starting in OUR hearts

Come, let us return to Him
To that room
Let the Fire consume us
Be healed

*Acts 2*
*Photo by Matheus Bertelli from StockSnap*

 No More Crossing Off Days

19 May

You’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but despite everything, 2020 has been one of the best years of my life so far. It is strange, how you can’t always recognize the metamorphosis happening when you’re in the middle of it. It is dark, kind of cramped and uncomfortable, and not a lot seems to be even happening.

In December, I was driving to a Wednesday night prayer and worship meeting at a local church and I suddenly felt God say, “I want to free you from anxiety.”  I thought “Well, that’s good. Of course you do. I believe someday you will.” I didn’t realize how cozy I was, snuggled up next to my old life-sucking friend, how “normal” it felt to have these terrible thoughts constantly, to overthink, to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, to panic and obsess until I reach behind me when driving to make sure I really put my baby in his car seat, that I didn’t leave him at home. It was normal. I didn’t need drugs. I was just dealing. Panic attacks on what was supposed to be a relaxing anniversary cruise with my husband wouldn’t stop me from forcing myself to have a good time. Facing my fear because that’s what I always did. Living with it. Sucking it up. Choosing to ignore and be thankful and live the best way I knew how.

That night, unexpectedly, it left like an evicted tenant, never returning.

I left it at the altar with tears of joy, with freedom like I hadn’t felt in years, with butterfly wings emerging.

The next few weeks I couldn’t even recognize my own thought patterns. My head felt clear. Like the stormy waves had gone from crashing to the stillness of a mist-covered pond in the morning light.

The beauty of it all, is that I did nothing. I didn’t follow a step-by-step process. I didn’t repeat scripture over and over again like an incantation. To be honest, I barely prayed. It was Jesus, only.

The past few months we’ve all been in this weird movie. Groundhog Day, maybe? Like we are repeating the same thing over and over until we get it right. I loathed it at first. My entire calendar was suddenly empty, so I started crossing out dates, counting down to… what? Freedom? I may as well have put etches in the wall like a prisoner.

I was afraid. Bored. Frustrated. I started feeling like maybe my old friend was coming back.  I had nowhere to turn but to Jesus, and He met me right there and reminded me where He has taken me and what He wants to continue to do.

A funny thing happens when you are forced into your cocoon. You can sit in the dark and mourn the life you once knew. You can miss those days of being a very hungry caterpillar, eating all the pie in sight, so alive crawling on the ground.

Or you can wait. Patiently. Actively. Expectantly. You can dare to face The Truth and see how beautiful The Story really is. And know that we have already been giving the ending.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”-Richard Bach

But, Spoiler alert! There are so many freaking plot twists. We know that moment will come, when we break out of all we have ever known, but we are not sure when or how.

But we see in our mind’s eye those bright, colorful, brand new wings stretching out towards a blue sky.

We know the darkness will last for a night, but the joy comes in the morning.

And suddenly the unknown is beautiful again.

Suddenly anything is possible.

And it doesn’t matter if our calendars are never full again. It doesn’t matter if we have days where bad things or good things happen. We fly.

There is no more crossing off days, only living that abundant life only He can give. Each day is a gift, and we can believe that with every fiber of our being.

This mystery, this new birth, this Spirit like the wind beckons us out into the morning light, whispering:

“Don’t be afraid. You are mine. It doesn’t matter how dark it seems, how long the wait. How hopeless the other side looks. It doesn’t matter if you have reached your absolute breaking point…. in fact, that is sometimes necessary. You will come to a point when you have to decide if you will choose death or Life. You may have to fight through that final layer. You will feel so, so weak. But I am SO strong. My breathe breathing in your lungs, that life-giving Wind, drying out those new wings….We fly.”

Remember the Story of Humanity

12 Apr

I am the high and mighty religious demanding a sacrifice for all our imperfections

I am the one who walked with him
Who walked on water
Only to tell a crowd I don’t know him
In his time of greatest need

I traded him for a bag of money then couldn’t live with myself

I slammed that whip into his back, tore open his skin with each blow

I pounded the hammer and nail through his flesh

I made his blood flow

I watched him carry it all
And I was too blind to see
As he carried it all
He carried me

He turned His face toward me
In his suffering and simply said
“Remember me”

Two words
Dripping with all the power in the universe

Three more words
That shattered the grip of death and hell,
Propelled humanity’s very existance into a new era:

It.
Is.
Finished.

I heard.
I believed.
It was done.

Darkness celebrated
But dawn had the final say

I died with him that day

But found myself awake, new air breathing in my lungs, new blood flowing within, stretching new limbs towards the sun

New eyes to see, the boulder rolled away

I am the one who walked in trembling
and saw the empty tomb

I ran, breathless, to shout as loud as I could:

HE IS ALIVE
(And so am I.)

I am the one who found Him in a garde
He spoke and I knew life like never before

And even when in my weakness I wanted to put my fingers on the holes in his wrists

His eyes shone only with Love

His physical body left
But His spirit came to cover the earth

The same power
The same Love
The same perfection

Resides in all who Remember Him

Remember, the story of all humanity

Remember me
Remember me
Remember me

The Best News

1 Apr

Watching the world fall apart
From my window.
Mostly, the window of my phone
This tiny electronic world
Feeding my brain information.
Feeding my soul fear.

Outside my real window
All is quiet and still.
And in the morning
Birds will calmly announce the arrival of spring.
As the world anxiously awaits
Orders. Results. News.
…Some good news.

I see more than ever how the human heart longs for it.
And we, Carriers of the light, have the BEST news:
That which killed death and disease and fear and darkness.

And yet…
We worry our club is losing members.
That our buildings remain empty.
That we too will succumb to a virus,
Or a broken society
Whichever comes first.

Wake up!
Open your windows, crash through them if necessary!
Walk in the light.
Proclaim healing, peace, freedom.
It is here.
It is within you.

We will go, again.
We will gather, again.
And we will know in every fiber of our being:
That we are whole. That the best is yet to come.

Quarantined Thoughts

17 Mar

There we were: flying through the universe at a million miles an hour. Disconnected. Anxiety-ridden. Swallowing our self-help brand of Christianty, our just-do-one-more-thing-isms. Hustling. Trying to get to that number: grow our businesses, our churches, our income, our views, likes, and followers. Trying to be noticed. To make a difference. To leave something for our kids. Prove something to pur neighbor, parents, pastors. Always competing in the name of doing good. We were so sure of the gods we worshipped. So sure of ourselves and the world we created…


Now…

Silence.
Empty streets.
Empty shelves.
Empty chairs.
Empty stadiums.
Uncertainty.

We didn’t know it would look like this.
We didn’t know we would be forced to STOP.
Forced to look inside of ourselves.
Forced to question what we are doing.
Why we believe what we believe
What the purpose of this all is.
Forced to live today, only.
Not in the future.
Not in some other place when our business, our ministry, our family, our platform, ourselves are where we want them to be.
Suddenly, we are face-to-face with our own selfishness, our own doubt.

I say, let it happen.
Let it all fall apart, so that eventually, it will all fall into place.
Let all the fear in: the fear of lack, of disease, of complete destruction… and then release it.
Then, give it to the one who made the universe
Who never promised easy days
But who did promise:
Protection
Provision
PEACE
One. Day. At. A. Time.

Pause.
And know what the birds and flowers know:
The manna will be there, today.
The sun will shine, today.
The Peace is available, today.
We will rise, better than before. But not by our own doing. Make no mistake, greater things are happening. He is NOT the author of darkness, but He loves to shine through His kids in the darkest of times. He has already won.

Life in the Preparation

28 Nov

I used to spend a lot of time writing, thinking, pondering, reflecting. Self-analysis was key to feeling whole and alive, and it has always been through writing. I could write myself down off of a cliff, out of the darkness, into the glorious light.

God would show up and remind me that what I am doing matters, that every moment is sacred.

I write all this to say, that is still who I am, nothing is lost, nothing has been taken from me. My day looks a little different than it did a decade ago, but it’s for the better. I am surrounded by beautiful little people who take up my time and energy and heart and soul, but I’d give up everything again and again just to see them find joy and beauty in this world.

But I dont have to teach them that. They teach me how each moment is scared, if only stop for a moment and open my eyes and ears, be present and stop hurrying, stop comparing, drop all expectations and just live.

My mom reminded of that the other day. She surprised me by reading my own poem to me over the phone right before I hung up. A poem I wrote years ago about what’s important, and how it’s not the grandeous things we all tend to think are superior.

I have this line from a Wendell Berry poem inscribed in my heart, and I hope one day I’ll get it tattooed on my skin as well,

“It soon became clear, I was not so much preparing for an important experience as I was having one.”

I think about today, across this great and broken country, all the people frantically preparing for a feast. The stirring and mashing and boiling and basteing and rolling. The mess of the flour, the grease and the all the butter, the mess of families and all our differences and flaws, all for one moment, one meal.

We rarely live in the moment. We see the majority of life as preparation. At least I do. I am always getting ready for the “next big thing.”

The anticipation is half the high. It’s why Christmas morning is worshipped, why we live in a society where Youtubers make millions of dollars from letting people watch them open boxes.

We forget our ancestors wandered the wilderness, in search of a home, relaying on God and perfect strangers to sustain them. Manna.

We forget our brothers and sisters around the globe just praying for enough water, enough bread or rice to feed their children for one. More. Day.

Living in the moment isn’t simply a trendy saying to add to our other decor, it’s really the only way to truly live.

Because we aren’t promised tomorrow. We have to fully live now, even in what feels like a season of preperation, of waiting, of wandering.

I came here to write a typical “things I am thankful for” post, but maybe thankfullness can only happen when we fix our eyes on today.

Not on the mistakes or the “good ole days” of the past.

Not on the worries or the dreams of the future.

This moment. Here, now. This is important. This matters.

I love how kids have no concept of time. 15 minutes or 2 years all looks the same. Isn’t that just like God? There is no sense of waiting, no sense of a season of wandering in the wilderness for him, He is right here, right now.

And maybe that’s why we feel like we have to walk through those times. When our kids are young and the day feels endless. When the preparation feels unimportant and the menial tasks of life seem to suck our souls dry.

We need to know that God is in the middle of that, too.

That there is life in the preparation.

As we get our hands dirty. As we prepare feasts and wrap presents. As we stop and slowly communicate, slowly speak and write words of life, slowly discipline in love.

As we make decisions every day hoping that one day our children will be better adults than we are.

We began to see, began to feel, begin to know, this moment matters.

As Jesus gently reminds us, we remind each other too.

And thankfulness bubbles up from the inside out, overflowing on dry desert ground.

The Rough Edges of Motherhood

23 Sep

“Mama! I hold you!”

My 2-year-old’s squirmy body collides into mine. He’s my wild child. Rough and tough. Abrasive at times. All mess and climbing and destruction and just 100% pure BOY. He sleeps with firetrucks, airplanes, and his toy rifle. He head butts me and I sigh deeply.

“MAMA! I hold YOU!”

I hold him, because I know that’s what he means, and his body goes limp for a moment. I breathe in his still baby-ish smelling head and remember just yesterday when he looked like his baby brother in the other room.

5 years now, I’ve been neck-deep in the muddy and heart-achingly beautiful reality of caring for these tiny people 24/7.

3 babies. 3 beings with individual likes and dislikes, passions and behaviors, bad days and good days.

My oldest just wants to be a grown up. She is so gorgeous and smart and independent and goofy and sarcastic. She knows the world is hers.

I remember being 5 and having the same feeling. The whole universe before me, ready to be explored. I felt the same thing at 18 and 24.

Now at 34 and a half, I am asking my Father to give me those eyes again. To see each day like a child, wonder and awe and joy, always an adventure.

This year has done it’s best to dampen my spirit and put our my light, but I won’t let it.

This matters.

I tell myself as I wipe another butt, another nose, another spill. As I talk, calmly, when I want to scream and walk away.

This matters.

You whisper in my heart as I lie awake again with my tiny baby, getting all his nutrients from my body to fuel his strong legs kicking, his huge, bright eyes smiling.

Giving, always giving, even when I want to be selfish.

This matters.

I know, as I teach my oldest to read and my middle to pour cereal and I take another deep breathe and ask Jesus to be so real to me because I just can’t do this without His strength, His patience, His wisdom.

I look in the mirror and for a moment those lies creep in and I feel old and stretched out and worn out and I wonder where my dreams have gone.

Where is the great big world I wanted to see, where are the books I have always wanted to write, trapped inside my tired mind, stuck until this all gets easier?

Reality check: it’s not going to get easier. It will always be hard, in a million different way, changing with growth spurts and hormones and emotions to navigate, as the darkness in life becomes more real and tries to press in on their tiny hearts.

There will always be moments where I am stuck in the tension of protecting them and preparing them, where I want them to step out on their own, but stay in my arms just a little while longer.

Motherhood will always have rough edges that cause boo-boos, those real scrapes and bruises and the emotional ones.

There will always be moments of pain and guilt, when it’s so difficult to swallow my pride and lay my life down and mother and teach.

But hard is good. It makes us better.

This matters.

And I have the mind of Christ.

This sleep-deprived, mom-brain doesn’t render me incapable.

I can homeschool my daughter.

I can deal with my toddler’s BIG emotions.

I can hold my precious baby a little bit longer.

And can write my heart out.

I can follow my dreams, because you see, when I really peel back the layers and work my way around those rougher edges of daily sacrifice and chaos,

These beautiful, brilliant, messy human beings, are my dream.

They are my greatest creation,

My favorite story,

My best adventure,

My most important job,

My most kingdom-changing ministry.

This matters.

So I cuddle and discipline and teach and cry and laugh and try my best to be present, for these days I get to be with them are a fleeting gift.

And those rough edges sharpen and refine me like hell, making me closer to who I was always meant to be than anything else.

And it’s never gonna be picture-perfect or easy, but it’s always going to be worth it.

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