Tag: Faith

Brave Means Taking The Very Next Step

We think brave is shown in a big defining moment. But what if brave is something more humble? Sometimes its easiest to muster all our brave for the big earth shattering blow, but its the days that follow that sometimes take the greatest courage.

Putting on that cap and gown, saying “I do”,  getting the first glimpse of your baby’s face…these are the milestones that forever change the fabric of our lives, but its the ordinary days, after days, that layer together to build a lifetime..

As a teenager with social anxiety, my family was so proud that I had the bravery to go out on a stage and perform as Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. But the crowded auditorium and staring eyes were white washed under the bright lights as adrenaline propelled me forward through my choreography. What I couldn’t form words to explain to my parents is that it took more bravery some mornings to walk through the double glass doors of my school, day after day to the overwhelming buzz of small talk and what felt like critical stares.

Sometimes the initial blow overtakes us in a consuming wave that leaves us disoriented and underwater. Bravery comes as easily as swimming to the surface and finding air. But once we find our bearings, as we stand and begin walking to the waters edge, its the wave after wave that slowly wears us down and steals our strength.

Maybe brave isn’t withstanding the waves but finding the strength to get back up and take the next step. Maybe brave is getting out of bed when depression covers you like a thick blanket. Maybe brave is staring at your precious daughter, her face covered in an angry red rash and smiling past the tears that threaten, to tell her, “darling, you’re beautiful.” Brave is your 15th round of chemo, bringing your dad lunch as he recovers from brain surgery at the hospital, or making coffee and taking a shower two days after you kissed your wife goodbye after her final breath. Brave is raising your daughters, working a job, and supporting your husband while secretly battling the aches of a chronic pain. Brave is the wife beside her husband’s hospital bed after a year long fight with a disease that no one has heard of. Brave is having Christmas in a makeshift apartment as you rebuild your home that was lost. Brave is forgiving the husband that cheated. Brave is facing cancer for the third time and still fighting with all you’ve got.

Maybe brave isn’t dressed in the clanking armor of Saul, but the regular human flesh of you and me, filled full of an unshakeable God-sized hope. Brave doesn’t mean we have to be bigger than the giants that we battle, or the storms that we face; brave isn’t as strong as lions, or hate; as powerful as death. No. Brave is knowing WHO IS. 

Brave faces an uncertain future and grasps on to an unshakeable hope.

My dear brave friends– with shaking legs and outstretched arms I lift you up in fragile prayers, to the One who will hold our hearts and makes us brave.

What I Want This Christmas

Its the final sprint to Christmas and I’m standing at the crossroads of anticipation and sadness. I love the festivity that Christmas brings. It brings people together in joined anticipation. It gives us a reason to wear pretty clothes, and string up lights, and hang wreaths. Our hearts beat a little faster at Christmas in preparation and excitement. 

But what happens the day after Christmas when the paper is torn and the shopping malls rush to disassemble it all? Its a day we don’t discuss in the days leading to Christmas, a day we put up on a shelf to face when we must, when we’re forced to look at our weight on the scale and long list of to do’s reserved for “once Christmas is over,” once again.

But before you think I’m a total Christmas buzz kill I’m getting at something, I promise.

I’ve heard about Christmas wishes of the different children in my life. Bree wants a unicorn, Hannah wants a bike, Ava wants an IPhone. I have my own little list of the things I’ll shop for at the after-Christmas sales. Then I think of the famous song by Amy Grant, “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” I would love for those hopes to be fulfilled too. Things like “no more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, that time would heal all hearts.” Yes please to all three. But as grown ups we know that we live in a world that will always be a bitter blend of beautiful and ugly–that on this side of Heaven, restoration comes in the dark corners and broken bits of life.

So I sit here looking at the twinkle of my tree, and a glimmer of hope in my children’s eyes. My heart is full of hope, and love, and faith, and yet a deep ache for something more. Something more that I’ll have to face on the other side of Christmas, but is hushed to sleep with sugar, and wine, and pretty paper.

It challenges me to ask how I can take the bright hope of Christmas into the days that follow. It challenges me to think of the things that I can unwrap on the 26th, 27th, the 30th, and January, February, July, and the long dark days that scatter between.

So, this is my Christmas list:

  1. Laughter Every Day– Even if its laughing at this mess of life, I want to find a reason to laugh every day: kid’s belly laughs,  laughs that cramp my stomach and escape in tears at the corner of my eyes. I wish for bowls and bowls of laughter.
  2. Heart to Heart Conversation– The kind of talk that makes me feel seen, the beautiful mess I am. I wish that this year I see more people holding out their hearts so I can cradle them–more people that know me enough to love me through all my aches and victories. More time with the people that already do.
  3. Inspiration– Whether its books or poems, center pieces, or paintings I want my life to spill creativity, and the hope that it blooms.
  4. Song– I’m learning that music lifts my mood and inspires my words. I want to remember that even on the days that feel too somber for song, that I need to turn it on, and let the hope crack open my heart.
  5. Ordinary Grace– I don’t just want the holy grace that I experience in the words of forgiveness from a pastor. I want to share and experience the reckless grace from loving wildly. I want my kids to learn grace as a life, and not just a precious word between the pages of scripture.
  6. Messes and Face Time– I want to abandon my chores to read my kids books, to cook impromptu muffins, or to leave my house in a moments notice to sit and listen to a friend in crisis.
  7. Lovely Contradiction– Too much of my life I’ve wanted to organize things in a way I can understand them. This makes me the ultimate judge and curator of life. I’m learning people are a knot of complication and nuance. That I’m not called to understand or approve but to love and be love to a world that doesn’t have enough.

Open the Eyes of My Heart

converse-fields

Open the Eyes of My Heart 


Their feet tangled together, baby blue high tops and pink ankle socks in sequined slip ons. Their heads dipped  to share a secret as the band played a song I knew well. Squinting his eyes shut, the boy in front crooned “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see you.”

I sat beside my niece for “special friend day,” and as we sat in chapel together, I had the rare opportunity of enjoying time free from my two daughters.

In the peaceful moment, I absorbed every detail like dry soil.

But as we asked “open the eyes of my heart, Lord,” I realized that God was in our midst. Because the kingdom of God was with us, five feet above the ground in these seven year olds with feet too big, and grown up teeth, uncertain smiles, and excited, stumbling steps.

Too often I wait for God to show up around the corner, instead of finding him right in front of me.

I look at my niece and her friend. I remember when friendship was made of simple things like secrets, and giggles, and swapping snacks at lunch. How easily we adults complicate it with insecurities, and judgement, and boundaries that we construct around ourselves.

How easily I find reasons to rush through my moments in a harried haze with a list of chores and to-dos, instead of opening my eyes to the kingdom of God that’s right in front of me in baby coos and delighted laughter; the smell of jasmine and strong coffee; in dancing to a good song in the middle of the grocery store and finding rocks on the sidewalk.

When we look at God we realize that he reaches us through simple means that are real, and right in front of our faces. Through the trees He  teaches us his timing through seasons that reveal a cycle of living, and dying, being pruned, and bearing fruit. He teaches us His truth through simple means of bread and wine and water. He made the entire universe and yet He took the time to craft each of us uniquely and intricately from our little toes to each eyelash.

Our world teaches us to strive and scrape and rush and push, to earn and accumulate and achieve. But when we live with our eyes and hearts open to each passing moment, God teaches us a slower pace that relies more on what He will do, and less on what we can accomplish. When we rely on God’s provision, then we can be more like the trees, and the birds, and the flowers, waiting on his nourishment, and trusting in His timing to reveal His creation through us.

I look at my seven year old niece that is often in a hurry to grow up. She can’t wait to have a phone, to wear nail polish and lipgloss, to carry a purse, and become a teenager. So often I remind her to slow down and enjoy jumping rope, and learning cartwheels, to savor every art project, and class party. As she skips ahead, I see all the lessons she still needs to learn before she can take on the responsibilities of a teen. But then, I watch her with her best friend, trying to pick each other up, giggling at inside jokes and funny faces, and I realize, I am just like her, living moment to moment, yet rushing ahead to the next big thing. As I remind her to appreciate the life before her, God whispers a reminder to me, that I have much to learn before I try to plow ahead.

How easily we believe that we still haven’t found God’s kingdom, that we still don’t know the fullness of God’s truth. We squeeze our eyes shut singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord.”

But when we open our eyes in the moment, we see life lived in the process of growing. In seven year old kids, growing in to the people that God created them to be, but living in God’s fullness in that very moment. Because God numbered our days, but He parcels them out second by second- so that we can have open eyes and open hearts in each precious moment, and so that we can see His kingdom in our very midst.