Girl, Quit Washing Your Face

9 Apr

When I was a teen and in my early 20’s, I struggled a lot with acne break-outs. I felt ugly and embarrassed. I’d cover up with make-up, but those pesky pimples would always poke through. I tried different products: chemical ones I had to order specially in the mail, natural ones that smelled like hippies and half a paycheck. Some things would clear my face up for a bit, but eventually I’d break-out again.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I stopped washing my face completely. Maybe I just got lazy or gave up, but also I remembered something grandma had told me years ago: the only thing you need for your face is a washcloth and some warm water.

So I tried it. I used coconut oil sparingly just to remove stubborn make-up. And I haven’t had a breakout since. Maybe one or two triggered by hormones or stress pimples, but they always go away quickly.

Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes you don’t need to follow the latest trend, spend money on the newest product, or join the latest MLM.

Sometimes you just need to go back to the basics.

Do less, not more.

When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I wanted badly to “be a good Christian.” I struggled with consistancy, with returning to those bad habits and sins that kept me feeling ugly.

I went through humanity’s tired cycle: mess up, cover it up, eventually repent, try to do better, succeed for a little bit, then mess up again.

I looked in the mirror and the only thing I saw was my flaws. The answer, of course, was always to do more.

I just need to read my bible more, or even better, the newest christian best-seller that unlocks the secrets of the bible!

I need to pray longer.

I need to cut things out of my life that were junk for my soul.

I need to sacrifice, to serve God in “fulltime minstry,” go into all the world, be a martyr, give up everything in order to be a “world-changer.”

Shape up.

Clear up.

Fix yourself, because Jesus died for you.

Because that’s what Christianity is about…..right?

The hustle of “working out your faith.”

The radical idea that because we have been given everything, we now need to do everything.

Join the club, pay the membership fee, and then make sure you sell the product to others because it will change their lives too!

Work your way up to the gold level, get the rewards you deserve, if not here on earth, than surely in heaven.

In the midst of the hustle, we don’t realize we are ruining friendships by always being ready to sell.

We are so busy striving and pushing (all in the name of bettering ourselves and others) we don’t realize we are still staring in the mirror.

We trade real, raw relationships for a marketing opportunity.

We trade the power of the gospel for a self-help book.

We trade Jesus for a nice, man-made idea:

That we can be better if we just DO more.

Not realizing that is in fact the complete contradiction of amazing grace.

My grandma lived for nearly a century. Her skin was beautiful. At the time I thought her advice was silly and old-fashioned. Only water?! How will that clear my skin? Besides, what would people think? Won’t I be all greasy? Won’t that be gross?

It can’t be that simple, right?

You know when Jesus said “My yoke is easy, my burden is light” he was serious.

He knew it applied to people like me: a tired mom living in a weird culture where everyone glorifies the busy, the hustle, the striving for perfection.

(Or maybe it’s always been that way?)

Now, I am not saying that we should all give up on our dreams, our children, and our faith and just sit in bed binging on Netflix.

What I am saying, the older I get the more I realize that less is more.

Sometimes we need to stop striving and just be.

Sometimes sitting in the stillness is the most “productive” thing we could do.

Maybe we need to just rest and let what Jesus did for us be enough.

Maybe we need to get away from the mirror and look up.

Maybe we need to quit looking at opportunities to better ourselves and just look at Jesus.

Let Him wash us in the water of the word.

Let Him bring the right people into our lives.

Let Him bring us TRUE success.

Let His bread and wine be our sustenance.

Let Him finish the work He started in us.

He’s already made us clean.

He’s already made us enough.

Now we get to rest in it.

Advertisements

Frozen Ground

22 Mar

Why do we toil so hard to till frozen ground instead of just waiting for the sun?

Is this just the lot of all men? To work until their hands bleed and their minds melt of boredom?

To paddle against a tide and go nowhere?

Where are the explorers and inventors, the revolutionaries pushing boundaries of innovation and creativity?

Let them take their rightful place in the sun, pushing aside the corrupt politicians and peddlers of empty dreams.

Give them a voice. The future of humanity rests in them.

Winter Steals My Songs Away

7 Mar

I broke down the other night while rocking Wyatt and singing to him before bed. It’s a song I’ve sang a million times over the last decade or so, in different countries and different seasons of life.

Maybe I don’t have the strength

Maybe I don’t have the faith

You brought me here in 40 years

When I know this trip should take a week

I barely make it past the first line. I struggle a word at a time as Wyatt tries to stick his fingers up my nose. My usually crazy busy almost-2-year-old has wanted to cuddle all day. He puked all over me earlier. My 29-week belly feels tight and cramp-y. I am emotional. I am just exhausted.

I’ve shed my tears and shed my blood

I’ve been held ransomed by the flood
The winter steals my songs away

In all of this I come undone

It’s hardly March and this year feels endless. Snowstorms, sickness, more snowstorms, broken cars, more sickness. Worry and stress. More snow. Endless piles and heaps. Anxiety about driving on the roads, raising wild children, adding a 3rd kid to our family, my mom having heart surgery, what the future will bring.

Stop.

Breathe.

Whisper.

When you walk through the water I will be with you.

When you pass through the rivers these waves they will not overtake you

When you walk on the fire those flames they will not touch you.

You’re mine.

Slowly, my voice stops cracking and gains some strength.

I sing until I can count my blessing again.

I sing until I can feel it.

I sing until I can believe it.

All the tiny miracles throughout my day….

Everytime I put groceries in the fridge or lay down in a warm bed. Every bill that gets paid. A friend that calls or texts because they really care.

My boy, laying is head on my chest.

My girl, making us toast by herself.

My other baby, moving healthily inside of me.

My dog, laying her chin gently on my growing belly, all knowing.

My husband, always passionate and giving everything he has.

Immeasurable blessings I lose track of and forget to see in the middle of the chaos.

Motherhood is full of moments too raw to capture. I reach the end of myself more times daily than I can count.

I kiss Wyatt’s toddler forehead and think for the millionth time in the past 5 years,

“This is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.”

Don’t ever let me forget, it is also the most important thing.

Facing boring and bad days bravely, even when they seem to pile up endlessly like mountains of snow.

Knowing I can walk through it with Your strength. My legs and my heart get stronger. I can squint and see the beauty of the sunlight glinting off the icicles.

The hope for joy in the midst of cracker crumbs and screaming fits and throw-up and all the mess of motherhood.

The warmth and peace available to me when I just let go of control and breathe in the Love I have found.

You are mine,

You are mine.

(Enter the Worship Circle- Mine)

Dumbing It Up

26 Feb

I don’t know much
But I am sure
In my tired bones
You are the good
in everything

And maybe I can be
Ignorant
and ill-informed
and non-educated
and slow

But the place of Assurance
doesn’t reside in my brain

and intellect
won’t save me from myself

Maybe we’re all
choking on so much knowledge
drowning in information

But this is air:

I believe I am Loved
and that’s enough

Let Hope Be Born

9 Feb

This place is too evil

or so they say

Don’t bring a child into this world

They will only suffer

Society will crumble

The earth will decay

Your grandchildren will watch it burn

(If they are even born)

It’s selfish to raise children

In the midst of the apocalypse

Or so they say

Better not add to the overpopulation

Better not risk a bad seed

A bad apple

Another ignorant human

Better not risk disease

Pain

Disappointment

Better to avoid life all together

………….Or

You could wake up

To a new day

Grow beauty in your womb

Let her come out bloody and screaming

Speak life until your lips hurt

Walk justly

Seek mercy

Fight for love

Choose to hear the Redemption Song

In the middle of the caucophonos war

Tell them

NO!

What’s selfish is to give up

When all the potential for change and restoration

Lies in a brand new human

Emerging from the womb

Let hope be born

Raise your children to be brave

To love unconditionally

To see beyond the veil

To lift the curtain

Live beyond the shriveling systems

Raise your children

To see the good in everything

To stand up to the bullies

To plant flowers

Speak poetry

Love life

To not be afraid to travel the dying world

To know what they think

And who they are

Raise your babies to make the world better

Whisper

Even through the darkest, most hopeless nights….

“You are the light

You are the future

You are the very breath of God.”

Viral Jesus

12 Oct

If Jesus came in the flesh today, thousands would stand in line in hopes of getting tickets to his sold-out stadium event. Waiting in the cold, shivering from the chill and the anticipation, hoping to get a glimpse of this high profile celebrity.

After watching his Facebook Live video that went viral of him healing that famous billionaire with the rare disease no one can pronounce. 3 billion views. Is that even possible? He practically broke the internet. It’s a good thing there were motivated Christians to come beside him and help him continue to market himself. They gave him a brand, put him on a world tour that sold out in less than 12 minutes. The elite got their VIP meet-in-greet of course. And a few lucky ordinary people who shared his post
and tagged their friends.

Now the city is abuzz with this new sensation. Traffic surrounding the venue is at a stand-still. Protesters with angry signs shout behind barricades.

“Of course there are protestors,” those that are close to him whisper, “persecution is inevitable when he is making this BIG of an impact.”

The president would show up to shake his hand. Mark Zuckerburg would be there to put aside his different beliefs and vow to help him continue to use his platform for good. So much GOOD.


In a seedy 24 hr diner, on the other side of the railroad tracks…

A trucker walks in, dirty and exhausted from all the miles, needing a shower and some coffee badly. A stranger sees him immediately and buys him a cup. They chat about his work, but get to the deep stuff fast. The stranger sees things in that trucker he never saw before. All the hope and potential of a newborn. The tough, weathered trucker finds tears falling into his coffee mug as something in him releases.

A woman walks in. Or is it a man? She’s spent the night on the corner, trying to make a few hundred dollars. She avoids eye contact with the stranger. Something about him unsettles her, makes her feel shame. He doesn’t let her ignore him. He buys her some waffles and hot cocoa. They talk for hours and she finds herself pouring out her life story. The abuse. The rejection. The stranger nods.

“It’s not your fault. You don’t have to live like this.”

The conversation continues into the early morning and the woman knows her life will never be the same.

As the media broadcasts the life-changing event just up the road, few realize that maybe we have the wrong man.

coffee

The Only Cure For Despair

8 Jun

Every human is confronted with the same decisions: believe the dark thoughts or cast them out. And I am realizing that intersection faced multiple times a day is really what makes or breaks a life.

I am reminded again, you can have the whole world but lose your soul.

Money is an illusion. Adventure can be miserable. Traveling doesn’t bring you peace. Neither does having a beautiful, loving family.

The reality of human nature is this: nothing is ever enough.

We grasp at the stars with hands that can’t hold anything, it’s always just within our reach.

Happiness. Fame. Romantic love. Success. Amazing experiences.

They fade in color like anything left out in the sun too long.

We are the desert wanderers, watching miracles happen next to us and forgetting in a day, never arriving to the promise land we’re camped right outside of.

We are dust and we can’t get back to the ground fast enough.

Meaninglessness, meaninglessness.

If we’re honest, we all face the reality of the futility of it all.

Some of us ignore the pressing truth. We numb ourselves with pictures and noise, bury ourselves in stuff and other’s drama. We curb the appetite of despair just enough to get us to the next high.

Some of us fall completely into the darkness and let it engulf is. We give up all hope and decide to leave. The world is shocked for a moment, then keeping spinning.

But some of us. Some of us touch the light on the other side, grasp it like a rescue rope.

Some of us have tasted Love and know everything else is bitter. And know matter how often we forget, we have this Hope.

A Reason.

A Meaning.

Beyond the easily combustible stuff.

Beyond fickle emotions or the next best thing.

Beyond the broken parts of our mind telling us it’s not worth it.

Beyond this world that is slowly expiring.

And it’s not even some intangible thing we have to conjure up or repeat enough phrases or read enough or attend the right church or seminar.

IT is a actually HIM.

A whispered name that stands firm when all the walls around us are knocked down.

A nest, untouched in a hurricane.

The only real reason for carrying on.

Jesus.

So we moved forward, with Light on our faces and Hope in our hearts.

Knowing what the world needs.

Knowing what we need.

Rest, Child

22 May

When I was a child, growing up in rural New Hampshire, I always loved lilacs. There was one house in particular which had a yard covered in lilac bushes, and whenever we’d pass it, I’d say to myself, one day I’ll have a yard covered in lilac bushes.

After growing up, moving to Texas and traveling, I’d forgotten about this sweet, delicate, purple flower. Until the other day when I realized the large unknown bushes lining the fence in our backyard had blossomed.

I know it seems crazy to some people, but I still believe Jesus wants to take us on a beautiful adventure, full of wonder, awe, and even danger at times. And I can’t imagine living any other way.

When I was 22, I sat in a stuffy bus that reeked of cigarette smoke, on a dark road in western China. I cried tears of overwhelming joy because I felt God whisper in the stillness,

“I want to give you the world.”

I spent a few years feeling lost and forgetting who I was. I tried so hard to “figure out life,” I forgot the inheritance that is already mine.

I bought this book the other day. I probably would never have if I hadn’t found it on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I don’t really read much anymore, my attention span is shot and my mom-brain seems to barely comprehend anything. But I remembered how reading Shauna’s words in the past felt like an instant heart-connection, like my older, cooler self was writing to a younger me.

Last night I got hit with a stomach bug, so today I am recovering. It forced me to stop, be still, leave the dishes and laundry and get groceries delivered. I sit outside alone in the quiet while my kids rest, and breathe in the sweet lilac sent while reading some life-giving words.

You don’t have to be so busy.


Stop.


Remember who you are.


Remember what you have.

Rest, child.

And I remember it’s in the stillness in each day that I find myself at peace.

I am loved, so deeply

And I’ve been given the world.

Sometimes that looks like a grand adventure in another country, or finding a new home 1,000 miles away. Sometimes it’s my beautiful, frustrating, incredible children, and all the big and small moments with them. Sometimes it looks like the right thing on sale or reading the right words.

Sometimes it looks like a tiny, purple flower.

Machines & Beating Hearts

9 Jan

Just people attached to machines.

That’s what most of us see, when we look around.

It seems like something from a late 1990’s Sci-Fi film that makes you question everything you’ve ever known. But now, 20-something years later, this is reality. I am here at my gym as I type this. People, in a building, going nowhere. Attached to their treadmills, their headphones, their screens.

I am one of them. I like that I can create my own world, inside my hand. I like the anonymity of all this, I don’t have to talk to strangers, no one speaks to me. Headphones are the universal sign that you don’t want to be bothered, and I love it.

Or do I? Where would I be without people bursting into my life and turning everything backwards and sideways?

I look up to see my husband. Sometimes I look at him and remember what a miracle we are. That two people could find each other after all the impossible things, that we wrote our story together, created a whole new life. Created new lives.

I never want to get used to seeing him. Seeing our children. Those sweet, round faces full of so much wonder and promise, everything that is right with the world and worth living for.

I think God sees us like that.

Sees me.

But I don’t think He ever stops. He never gets tired and goes through days with His eyes closed.

He never gets distracted by the endless buzzing of the machines he didn’t make, the noise, the bright, artificial lights.

He never stops seeing the beauty in His kids,

Despite how messy we make things.

How side tracked we get, always missing what’s right in front of us.

He never stops fiercely loving me.

Even when I connect to all the wrong things.

Even when I pick up my smart phone instead of my husband’s hand.

Even when I ignore my daughter to read some stupid comment someone who’s not even next to me said.

Even when I go all day without remembering what a miracle all this is.

Love.

People.

Life.

So breathe in, breathe out.

Because you can, without a machine.

Hold hands and look each other in the eyes. Because it’s all we’ve got.

Sometimes I want to run into the wilderness and smash my phone and live like Laura Ingles Wilder, or at least like me from a decade ago, before this all got so impersonal.

(Maybe none of this is real.)

But somehow I know what’s real, above the whirring of machines.

And I can still hear the beating of our hearts.

Better Days, Better Dreams

31 Dec

In my dreams, I am often traveling. Somewhere foreign, usually by an ocean. I am alone, or accompanied by some random person from my past that doesn’t really mean much in my present life. I am often filled with adrenaline and excitement, trying to capture a beautiful moment with my camera. I am on my way somewhere I don’t know where. In the middle of this, I will experience a pang in my gut. Looking over a fantastic waterfall over a cliff I will remember something is missing…someone.

My family. I will realize this and begin to panic.

“Why isn’t my husband here?? Where are my babies? Did I leave them somewhere? Are they hurt? How could I be so careless?”

I will wake myself up and remember they are sleeping soundly near me. I will feel relieved.

Resolutions are a funny thing. We feel because we keep track of the passage of time, another 365 days gone by is another chance to start all over. New year, new self, right? We forget time is a made-up construct to keep us sane, or to maybe give us some kind of illusion of control on this rapidly spinning planet.

Of course, I need to lose 15-20 pounds. I need to stop eating sugar and processed carbs. I need to get off Facebook and read a book. I need to listen better to my spouse and preschooler, really hear them. I need to organize my house. Stay on a schedule. Get outside more. Journal. Pray. And of course, write that book I’ve been putting off.

So what do I do? Come up with a plan. Stick to it. Use my sheer will power to be better myself, because that’s what I want and need. That’s how my life will be closer to perfection. That’s how I’ll find peace and be content. Better days will come. Right? The problem is, the more we do, the more it isn’t enough. Nothing is never enough, until you have True Peace within.

I’ve always thought my dreams are not random. When I was a small child, I had a reoccurring dream for years I was riding in a van over a bridge and the driver skidded and crashed into the rail, sending is flying over the edge straight into the deep, dark water. I felt everything. The utter fear. The panic. The knowing my life was about to end. Even the rush of the cold water, sharp in my lungs. The lack of air and the darkness. I couldn’t escape the sinking vehicle. I died.

For years, this dream haunted me. I couldn’t get past it. It was so vivid I feared it might really be my destiny. Years later in my early 20’s, I had some revelations about my life while traveling. I began to get free from things in my past that had happened to me and I could literally feel the spirit of fear break. It was like my life split wide open and the light came in.

Suddenly, anything was possible.

One night, I fell into the unsettling dream yet again. It began the same, but something changed. This time, we the vehicle was crashing and plummeting off the bridge, I screamed a name:

“JESUS!”

With that name uttered, I found myself transported outside the van, flying above or, watching it crash into the water below. I found myself flying, up and up and UP!

Above the earth. Above the clouds. Above my fear.

I woke up with a jolt and heard a still voice:

“Once you were drowning from fear. Now I’ve set you free.”

As the clock counts down to 2018, I am not gonna focus about all the things I need to change and fix about myself, all the ways I will make this year better. I refuse to look at what I don’t have.

Instead, I will rest in what has already been done. I will celebrate how far I’ve come. I will find peace in thankfulness.

I will celebrate this great adventure that has been 2017, that has been every year, really. I will know that I am enough, and everything will come out of that.

I will know true change comes from the inside out, from a revelation that I have been set free.

I will celebrate the truth that I don’t need to waste the present longing for better days. They are here, now.

Last night I had a dream I was traveling. This time it was in the snow. Everything was so beautiful, cold, clean and pure. I looked over and I wasn’t some or with some random people. I was with my husband, my daughter, my son. I didn’t even feel the need to capture the moment. We were happy.

And you ask me what I want this year

And I try to make this kind and clear

Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

’cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings

And desire and love and empty things

Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words

And sing out loud

’cause everyone is forgiven now

’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

Goo Goo Dolls- Better Days

%d bloggers like this: