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He makes me new, He is making me new

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A love letter to the WOMEN in my life

Boy some days I just can’t stay in bed another minute because my brain starts swirling with all the things God is telling me, mixed with all the things I am telling myself, memories, thoughts, ideas…..
So, coffee…and quick, someone hand me a pen so I can write it all down before it’s all gone and all I have left is a headache. That’s a filthy lie, I need a keyboard, because there is no way that my hand can go fast enough to write all that is brewing between my ears. 

It is still amazing to me that some of the most important lessons in life can be packaged in the simplest ways. Often I expect a huge moment, an epiphany, a light bulb going off and a dramatic and sudden understanding. But the longer I am alive and do life with Jesus the more this isn’t at all how things happen. 
One small and dramatic moment may in fact happen, but then it calls my attention over to all the small, seemingly mundane moments preceding it, all the seeds, the breadcrumbs, the accumulations that gave shape to this mountain of understanding. 

I had one of those moments recently and it suddenly opened floodgates of understanding. Again, the moment was not in and of itself remarkable, and it also wasn’t really just one moment. It was one long string of days when my eyes and heart were opening, and things suddenly making their way from my brain to my heart. And it is still happening. And I am caught up in this tide of swirling new, exciting, stimulating, liberating new ways that Jesus is showing Himself to me, and it is extending to what He is showing me about all that surrounds me. 

I see things differently. Today I could not wait to get out of bed to start making a list of all the things I am noticing for the first time as intricate and delicate parts of a larger and remarkable scheme. But I can’t. I can't really make a list, because these aren’t “listable” things. 
It is life itself. 
And if I were able to describe life itself with mere words, well, it wouldn’t be as captivating and amazing as it actually is. I can’t describe what my heart is grasping, because it has nothing to do with my brain, where words are organized neatly, and where concepts can be explained rationally. 

I am opening my eyes and I am seeing -maybe for the first time- the sheer amount of love that surrounds me, and it almost literally takes my breath away. 

I can’t explain all that is happening, but there is one thing, one specific thing that completely delights my heart in an almost completely new way. The amazing women in my life. See, I have been a fairly social person for my entire adult life (ok, ok, stop chuckling) and I have always enjoyed being around people. But it was always more of a taking for me what I was lacking inside myself. I was kind of a parasitic social person. I was around people partly because I enjoyed them, and partly because I “NEEDED” them to make me feel like I was something. I was always taking more than giving, I was needy, and found a mostly acceptable way to survive. Notice, I am using past tense, NOT because i am no longer like that, but because I am finding and learning new ways. I will probably always struggle with this aspect of my personality and heart. 
For this reason, the women in my life have always been important to me, and friendships have always been an absolute lifeline for me, becauseI have always enjoyed rich relationships. 

But then…I had never realized that I had never truly learned to be vulnerable. And I had never really learned what love entails, because I had never felt safe enough to allow myself to let down my protective walls. Interestingly I had convinced myself I was vulnerable, because I was “ open” with others, and was always wiling to share about myself. But I was really just hiding behind my walls of humor, loudness,and  “openness” enough to truly let anyone inside my heart, where it was cold, dark, and lonely. That journey began years ago, and it has been slow and full of sometimes highly frustrating lessons, dry and fruitless seasons, but it has made way for all this new understanding. 
And it has made way to this moment. 

The moment when I felt safe for the first time in my life. 

Safe enough to let a wall down or two. And it has changed everything. And I owe this to Jesus, His persevering pursuit of my soul, and to the amazing people He has filled my path with. Many of these people are amazing, beautiful, remarkable women. And they have made a life changing difference. Because when the walls came down, I could finally SEE THEM. 
It is so ironic. I spent my entire life demanding that others MAKE ME ok, while keeping them at an impossible distance, and when I finally allowed Jesus to melt my defenses and was willing to be vulnerable, one of the first things that happened was, I was able to forget myself for a bit. AND SEE. Ladies in my life, 
I could see YOU for the first time
And when I could actually see YOU, I felt loved. 

I am sitting here being FLOORED by this realization, literally tingly with excitement over this one small concept. God has made LOVE to be this way! He has made it so that when I feel safe, and I am willing to be vulnerable with you, I will see YOU, and that alone will be enough to feel loved by you.

I was motivated to finally get over my fear, and share myself, because I WANTED SO BADLY TO BE LOVED. But as soon as I felt safe and loved,  I saw that you, YOU also really want to be loved. And You are also offering parts of yourself, You are also needing to be seen, known, held, smiled to. I could see you as you are. And women….YOU ARE LOVELY. 
I sit here contemplating the amazing women in my life and now, a LIST does come to mind! 

You are:

Tender, Kind, Strong, Powerful, Gracious, Giving, Motivated, Protective, Caring, Self-sacrificing. 
You have smiles that light up rooms, laughter that melts hearts, voices that calm storms, arms that hold broken pieces together.
You have the power to bring life with you wherever you go.  You extend yourself and stretch out arms and hands, and hold out hope, and trust Jesus with your life.  

And your love has restored me. Your kindness and pursuit has melted my stubborn heart. Your laughter has kept me company, your smile has made me feel known. And I desire to know you, and laugh with you and smile knowingly, and make YOU feel known. Your joy has become MY joy, your sorrow, MY sorrow. Your desires mine, and your prayers, I hope to never forget to pray them for, and with you. 

You MUST know, that you have brought hope to a hopeless one
you have brought love to one who felt unlovable
you have brought light where there was darkness

You have brought LIFE. You have inspired life. 

Sweet amazing kick ass woman. Do you know the power that lives inside you? I pray you do. And because I am me, I will be loudly obnoxious about it until you KNOW, without a doubt, about the incredible power you hold inside. Because YOU have changed my life. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Gratitude is a funny, mysterious thing. In my experience, it cannot be summoned, manufactured, or provoked. I know there are very sweet, kind, loving people who advocate it as a choice. Just decide, be grateful, make a list, count your blessings. It will be good for you. I am not saying these are bad ideas in and of themselves, but rather that for me, they just weren't enough. I actually ended up feeling guilty when I couldn't quite work up my gratitude, when I couldn't be appropriately grateful for all the good reasons I should be. Aaaaah, should. My least favorite word. I would "should" all over myself and just create guilt, not gratitude, shame, not gratefulness. My focus was off. 

The lists are great, but they have to come from a different heart. For me, my heart needed (and still needs, no doubt) changing, and growing. My focus needed changing. My shoulds needed to go away, give way to grace, acceptance, and freedom. A heart that isn't free CAN'T be grateful, it just can't. 

So, what am I actually, honest to goodness, down to my soul grateful for in this season? My heart is changing, and my focus is most definitely changing. My heart, in actuality has always been free, I just didn't know it. I did not LIVE as if I was free, I did not live as if I had been transformed by the immense love of Jesus, or by the reality of what the gospel did for me. The reasons for why that was the case have actually been written about in many previous blog posts, and it's not the point of this one. The point is, that as my heart began opening, changing, and I could experience the true freedom of living LOVED, without shoulds, my heart automatically did the thanking. My heart automatically was oriented towards this unintelligible grace that was pouring down on me. I could not escape God's pursuit...determined, and unwavering. I could not escape His love, His surrounding me, His forgiveness. His all invasive and transformative mercy. THANK YOU came naturally. Without any shoulds, it came from a free heart, recognizing true freedom, and love, perhaps even for the first time.  "Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:7

I cannot begin to tell you the astonishment of walking this life of faith for so many years in what felt like frenzied fruitless shame. It breaks my heart to see how much time my heart needed, how much pursuit, how much insistence. I am not just stubborn in my head, but in my heart too! 
Faith requires a lot from us, trust sometimes, for some of us, seems like utter insanity after what we have lived through and survived. Paradoxically though, it is the ONLY thing that ever has a chance at healing our messed up heart. Without trust there is no love, without faith there is no real hope. Trust and faith, even the smallest amounts, can open the doors to the most amazing love we'll ever know this side of heaven. Gratitude is wonderful, it floods the heart, it pours out of your face with sheer joy. But it comes out of what is in the heart. 
My heart today is full of joy because I am loved. And because the One who truly loves me knows me and has cleansed and forgiven (and will continue to forgive) all that is depraved within me, I am constantly being renewed, cleansed, and loved. Loved, accepted, cleansed, forgiven, given new life, given new hope. And given a life that goes far beyond the tiny life I know now. 
I am grateful to finally grasp that, in my heart. I AM SO grateful to be known, by the only One who will ever truly know me.

Tim Keller talks about this change in focus, in his sermon about the priority of the inner life. Referring to the reality of Jesus' sacrifice, and God's provision and pursuit,(the GOSPEL) he says (I *might* have paraphrased): "To the degree you let it melt your heart, to the degree you allow it to orient your life, you will experience a joy beyond the walls of the world (and from that, Gratitude!!!) When you take the gospel and you apply it to your spirit, it is a Renewed Spirt. Use it for the HOPE in your heart. It is the ultimate love, joy, hope."

Love, joy, hope. I am saying, these, are prerequisites for gratitude. And because He knows this, He floods our hearts, pursues our souls, and sacrifices for us. And I am so grateful today for that unchanging reality. 

"I will give thanks to the lord with my whole heart" Psalm 9:1

I am so grateful I don't need a list. Just awe, wonder, stunned joy. LOVE. Real, ever-lasting, unchanging Love. That's what makes me grateful. 

Friday, November 07, 2014

Perfect Love casts out fear

Yesterday I listened to a fantastic sermon by Tim Keller about fear and anxiety. By the way...dude can preach! 
The closing part of it was a simple yet powerful statement "You won’t be able to overcome your fear unless you are in community. The opposite of FEAR is love. Fear is self centered. Love is self giving. THEREFORE you will never deal with your fear all by yourself, you have to love somebody." In that moment I knew not only the truth about the people in my life who have become that for me, but beyond that, the relentless pursuit of a Savior who has SURROUNDED me. He knew the depth of my brokenness, loneliness, shame, and desire to be known. He surrounded me with people (You know who you are!)  who have SEEN me. 
Enough that I may come out of hiding and consider that I MAY be lovable. And if I am, then I might also be capable of giving love. And if those things are true, then I may have a shot at overcoming my fear. My biggest fear. The fear of not being known. Of not being WORTH knowing. WORTH the effort, worth the time. 
Yes, Jesus is my identity and who He says I am NEEDS to be true for me, BUT, He is also gracious enough to reiterate that message in loud, unavoidable, real, tangible, flesh and blood ways. This is how He SHOWS me who I am. Through the people in my life. These people, these broken wounded healers of my soul. Thankful doesn't quite begin to describe what I feel today. 
Melting, thawing out, tentatively believing, slowly standing up. These are more accurate descriptions of what this love is doing to me and for me. 
I pray and desperately hope I can offer the same to even one person in my life as I walk forward and keep choosing to believe this about myself. THIS is redemption. THIS is love. This, is the GOSPEL of Hope.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What I learned from yoga today

I do yoga sometimes. I mean,  I PRACTICE yoga. that is the proper Yogi way to say that, my bad.

And every time I do it, I think, man this is good, I need to do this more often! And then I don't, but that's a topic for a whole 'nother blog!

Point is, today, aside from my usual "epiphany", I realized that throughout the whole 90', I was really receptive to what the instructor was saying, and learning. And I paid attention, and what do you know? I remember most of what I learned, so here it is:

1) breathe. so simple right? I don’t know about you, but from the moment I wake up, I am rushing, pushing, and moving about frantically. Sometimes it’s because I have somewhere to be, but I swear more often than not, I realize it’s a habit, a state of mind that automatically takes over once I get up and out of bed. a little voice that YELLS “come on, get going, hurry, you have places to be and things to do!”
So…breathe. what a concept. Take a SECOND to ask yourself why you’re even running and rushing and stressing everybody around you. And take a few deep breaths.

2) Relax your face.
This one made me chuckle. I can picture myself saying this to a stressed out friend. “relax your face!!” like…"keep your pants on!”
This one is cool literally and also metaphorically. Just relax, it goes well with breathing. Much of what we’re rushing to and from is relatively inconsequential in the eternality of things, i promise.
So relax your face, and your throat, your neck, your chest, your arms, well..you get the idea.

3) Let go of what you don’t need.
This one hit me hard and much more deeply than it was probably intended. For me, the theme of the season is shame. Let go of the shame and the lies found therein. Although I know a huge part of the process has to do with what Jesus does in my heart and I cannot will it anymore than I can will my dog to STOP licking the carpet (ok maybe I do have more power than i think in that scenario), I consciously have to exercise my will, and say, I won’t. I won’t keep carrying this baggage that doesn’t serve me, I won’t keep holding on to the end of this rope that is choking the life out of me. I will ask Jesus and the Spirit to fill me, but I will make room.

4) Ask yourself, what do you need?
The folks that wrote the book "Truefaced" say that you can’t feel love until you accept and admit that you have needs, and identify what those needs are. I was reading that this week and had been thinking about it So when the Yogi said “ask yourself, what do you need?” I thought she’d either read my mind or maybe I was meant to be there today and hear her ask that same question i’ve been asking myself all week.
Initially it seems so self indulgent, and so unchristian to be spending time trying to figure out what my needs are. But as the Truefaced authors explain -and I agree-, you can’t give what you don’t have. and you can’t receive love unless your needs are being met, and you can’t have your needs met if you don’t even know what they are. Bottom line, if you want to be able TO LOVE others, you have to first make sure you are capable of receiving love. It goes well with letting go of what you don't need, because it makes room for what you do need.

None of this is truly news, it just happens to be what I was already thinking about, pondering and considering, and chewing through this week, and it was so helpful to find it in the context of my work out.
And it has made me curious about people, and how we experience love, and whether we even realize that having needs is ok, and God-given, and that it would be good to get in touch with who God has made us in terms of our needs, and how we receive and give love.

So, I'm wondering, what do YOU need?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No one will take her out of my hands

I woke up this morning hung up on the thought that what was good about me was taken away when I was young, and I have spent my life covering up the gaping hole by “becoming” this “person” that I thought could….manage in the real world. And to my “credit” i managed somewhat for a short while, until it all started falling apart. 
So I have been attempting to tear down the false masks, the carefully constructed persona, the idols of my heart that have sustained me, even while I struggled to really love Jesus. It’s a freakin’ mess. No other way to describe it. 
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but the painful realization this morning was:

 “My father took what was beautiful about me and twisted into an ugliness I can’t seem to shake. If what I am is a twisted corrupted version of me, then I don’t even know what have I have to offer” 

Now, maybe its just me but thats a pretty bleak way to start a Tuesday morning! 

Then I checked my email and saw the "She Reads Truth” email. The wonderful She Reads Truth ladies are studying the book of Hosea, and I have to admit, most days when I see the email with the day’s passage and devotion, I skip over it. I’m too busy, and the maybe later…turns into never.

Aaah but today, today I  read it. and wept. 

Just yesterday I was doing my homework for theology class and reading about the Bible. The supernatural quality that makes it come alive again and again. The quality that makes it speak to a specific believer in specific ways. The way in which the Spirit uses each word in His perfectly appointed time, to instruct, correct, convict, and comfort.

My incessant and stubborn pursuit to make myself into something in spite of the ugliness I carry inside has defined my life. I has at times taken me away from God, it has caused me to choose sin and darkness, it has made me self-destructive. It has taken me down paths that have caused pain and darkness for those I love. It has only heaped more shame onto my already burdened heart. But God….in His infinite love and pursuit continues to tear down layers of shame and pain, and continues to lay down more bits of grace and beauty. Little by little.

This morning it felt as though overnight He was peeling away a layer, and making room for this morning’s grace. When I woke up i was disheartened, empty, tired. Nothing to offer…..kept ringing in my ears….

then I read Hosea chapter 2 from the She Reads Truth email that was sitting in my Inbox.


v14 Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. 
There i will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. 
There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

19- I will betroth  you to me forever
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice
in love and compassion
I will betroth you in faithfulness
and you will acknowledge the Lord.

I wept because My God, my Father, My Savior is RELENTLESS in His pursuit. I wept because my heart was overwhelmed with a love I have chased all my life but didn’t believe actually existed. I wept because my hard cover and walls are coming down and in my fear and uncertainty he bathes me with love, with beauty, with words that I didn’t even know I so longed to hear from the only One who can truly speak them and mean them. I wept because I desire to be made whole, and pure again, and He promises that He already has! I wept because I desperately want to belong to someone strong enough to HOLD ME….forever.


Betrothed forever. Beloved. That’s it. That’s all I got. 

For I am His, and He is mine. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thank YOU. For me

What if you find yourself lost?
What if nowhere is home and you feel as though you are aimless, alone, and have no safe haven, no place to take refuge? I have had many seasons like that, and each time, I strive to hang on to Jesus for my safety and comfort, but I usually fail. I get desperate, anxious, and mad. 

What I hadn’t counted on were countless of these seasons amounting to home. Countless desert nights amounting to a safe oasis. Countless tears of loneliness cried to a God who seemed distant turning into love. A Love so rare and so deep it made me wonder how I hadn’t known it before.

What I hadn’t counted on were the small, magical ways in which Jesus has given me a home inside myself.
I had not foreseen the almost insignificant but also the big changes that have given me this today. 

I hadn’t SEEN the smiles, the hugs, the tears, the laughs, the ridiculousness
I didn’t see the knowing nods, the prayers, the singing of songs
I didn’t notice the I miss yous and I love yous and the I SEE YOUs

I didn’t anticipate this feeling today, or the realization that Jesus brings me home to myself each time my heart feels known. In even the tiniest of ways.

People are meant to be loved, made to be loved. To be loved is to be seen. It is to be known, to be cherished, to be fought for. To be loved is to be brought back to yourself. 
This is what Jesus has been trickling into my heart through countless seasons of pain. His love, His pursuit, His word and promises, but oh, as if that wasn’t enough, He surrounded and flooded me with thousands of moments that even as I was unaware were returning to me what had been taken and seemed long gone.
Many glorious, broken, messy WONDERFUL people are a part of this tapestry of careful and deliberate healing.

I hope if you are reading this today that you KNOW you are a part of this amazing tapestry in my life, and what’s more amazing, in many other lives as well, no doubt, though I cannot speak for those. 
YOU have brought me healing. You have been used by God in wonderful redemptive and miraculous ways I cannot begin to adequately describe. And you may not have known it. It may just have been your smile one day. Or a silly joke, or a glass of wine…it could have seemed like nothing at the time…

This is what I know today. I am loved by my Father in Heaven so much He has spent my life surrounding me with moments. And you. Wonderful, broken, desperate, crazy you.
You have been returning pieces of me without knowing it. You have been helping to put back together a broken masterpiece. It will never be the masterpiece it was meant to be this side of Heaven, but oh…it’s going to be glorious someday!

Thank you. If you have ever SEEN me, and known ANY part of me, and if ANY part of me has delighted you, if you have ever gleaned anything good at all FROM me, if any goodness was exchanged between you and me. Thank you. I owe you….myself.

Monday, August 11, 2014


So much is swirling in my brain and in my heart it’s difficult to know where or how to start. But it needs to come out of my head. So it may be difficult to follow, it may be messy and not properly edited, but I don’t care.

To be sitting here so broken, so afraid of what’s next, so raw and unprotected feels asinine, it feels like the opposite of what I should be doing, the opposite of what I have always known to do best. Hiding. I’m an expert hider. It’s all I have known and the only way I have survived my life. But I sit here today naked, my cover is gone, and it’s because slowly but persistently the God who loves me do desperately has pursued and relentlessly surrounded me until I could let go. Until I had no choice but to let go. He has shown me the uselessness of my ways, the futility of my striving, and allowed me to break down, and give into His grace. Each layer of protection He takes away feels like being killed, it feels like dying, it feels like the pain I’ve been hiding from all my life will swallow me whole. It feels cruel, and mean one moment and the next moment it feels like the only hope I will ever know this side of heaven. How? How can feeling so much pain and feeling so hopeless lead to something good?

The paradoxes of God never cease to amaze me and leave me with very inadequate and empty words to attempt to describe it, but I still try because…because I never want to forget this. If I have ANYTHING of value to offer anyone it is my open bleeding and broken heart, that beats for Jesus still. That hangs on to His hope, and His sacrifice for ME.
Maybe none of this makes any sense if you don’t know me, if you don’t know my life, my past, my journey, and my story.
There are details too horrifying to ever put on paper (or on screen) so I will spare you those. I will share that as a little girl my hope was taken away. My body was violated, my soul was murdered by the very people who were supposed to love me, care for me and protect me from a difficult and painful world. I had no hope. I had no dreams, I learned at a very tender age to never hope and dream, to never believe in good things, to fight for survival and protect myself from ever DESIRING love again. But I also learned something more vile, vicious and toxic. I learned to believe that the shame of the sin done against me belonged to me. I not only believed that, but I became that. I BECAME THE SHAME of my abuse.
And then I became whatever I needed to become in order to escape that shame. In order to hide from it and to hide it from others. I became whatever I needed to become in order to be loved. But here’s another paradox. I had learned that needing love invited abuse, so I couldn’t really allow love in, but I was still desperate for it, so I allowed abuse instead, because it was at least human contact and attention. Abuse begets more abuse, and the only way you learn to relate is to prostitute yourself: “I’ll give you this if you give me attention” is not love.
I manipulated others in order to feel any kind of human acceptance, I lied to myself and others and manipulated my ways into situations that would offer a taste of what I thought I wanted.
I have never known what it means to respect myself, to love myself. The love of Jesus!? It has taken over 15 years of His relentless pursuit to start to peel away the layers of my stubborn protection. But it wasn’t protection at all. Sure, it kept me from literally dying inside when I was young, but after age 18 it was no longer protection. It was quite literally the opposite. It is the way I have kept people out of my heart, and kept myself at a distance from the possibility of ever being known. My shame still defined me. If you see my shame, I will die. Not so different from Adam and Eve huh? I was ashamed so I hid. And then right after that starts the blaming game “the woman you gave me”. In my case it became “the life you gave me”. I blamed God (albeit completely subconsciously) for everything I got, and everything I didn’t get. So all I had was shame, cynicism, and a fierce determination to make it. 
You have never met anyone so determined TO NOT be defined by abuse and brokenness. Or anyone so utterly defined by her abuse and brokenness.

And yet somewhere deep down I did desire to love Jesus. And little by little, He took this tiny desire and grew it, through trials, through His relentless pursuit, His amazing forgiveness, through his providence and provision, and in the face of ALL MY OUTRAGE, all my rebellion, all my sin and all my stubborn decisions to do life on my own, He never, ever gave up on me.
So today I sit with the broken pieces of my heart in my hand, all my desperate attempts to hide have failed me. The fear of who I might be if I let it all down is no longer bigger than the desire to let go and be free. I saw a t-shirt yesterday at the mall that had a picture of the cross, and a soldier and it read “Freedom isn’t free”. My freedom certainly isn’t. It isn’t free of pain for me, and it wasn’t free of deep pain and sacrifice for Jesus. I have spent my life running and hiding from pain, and desperate to be loved. But the paradox here is that once I could allow myself to sit with the pain of what was taken from me, I could actually and finally let love in. The pain I have held inside from the murder of my soul is heavy. It is big, it is vast it is deep, it is crushing. It takes my breath away and it threatens to swallow me up. But it is NOTHING compared to the immense and endless love of Jesus, who doesn’t just love me, but fights for me. And He fights harder than I ever could. And His weapons against my shame are love and grace.

I have deceived myself into thinking that loving Jesus and working hard to “make myself ok” are the formula for freedom. 15 years worth of sermons, books, talks, and prayers about grace and I was still striving to work hard enough to cleanse my own shame and brokenness. The fact is, the shame inflicted on me is so egregious, so vile, so dark, there could never be enough I could EVER do to make it ok. It was not, and is not OK. The only antidote against that kind of evil is surrender. Surrender to the ONLY one who truly has the power, and has already defeated the evil done against me. He has already cleansed me, He has already made me whole, holy, and pure.

Today I  feel as though all has been stripped away. My resourcefulness is gone. All my relentless persistence has vanished.
You don't think trusting is really all that hard until you realize it means giving up everything else, every other safety net, and you're left feeling empty. All I have left is a stubborn and desperate desire to hang onto my Daddy’s hand and to learn to TRUST Him. The Only One that has ever loved me perfectly, the Only one I can truly trust with my life. The Only One who gives me hope.