courage on display.

a few years ago i found myself at a conference in ireland with a few hundred other crazy people.  i’d just gotten home from that time i traveled the world and i didn’t have a clue what i was doing with my life.  i remember being in that room; confused, angry, heartbroken and overwhelmed all at once.  transition was happening so fast around me i felt like i was spinning.  one morning during worship the lord prompted someone to do some declarations.  one declaration in particular.  “i am a woman of courage,”  i stood on a chair and screamed.  over and over and over everyone in the room chanted.  courage.  courage.  courage.

i was laying in bed tonight thinking of that moment.  i was thinking about how i am certain i became more courageous in that space.  as i was reflecting i decided i don’t think it came from some big announcement to the world.  courage took hold inside of me because of the small act of standing on the chair and opening my mouth.  it’s in the day to day things.  it’s in the moments when we quietly choose.

lately, i’ve seen courage on display.

courage

but it hasn’t looked like giant gestures and loud proclamations.  nope.

it’s looked like telling roommates they are settling in that relationship.

it’s looked like the middle of the night text messages that say “i messed up.  again.”

it’s looked like circling yes on the survey and admitting for the first time “that happened to me.”

it’s looked like speaking up in a meeting and stepping out of your comfort zone.

it’s looked like accountability and repentance and the receiving of grace.

it’s been saying yes to that date and no to that ice cream.

it’s looked an awful lot like emails that just say “help.”

it’s looked like break ups and changing majors.

it’s certainly looked like hard conversations scattered with tears and laughs and sighs.

lately, courage on display has mostly looked like a new bunch of crazies.  a slew of incredible, beautiful, wide-eyed college women.

how blessed i am by them.

home again.

homei left friday morning to make the two hour trip to atlanta.  there wasn’t much on the agenda.  i just wanted to be with my people.  oh, how i have missed my people.  i pulled up to the familiar house on branch bend road.  i’ve worshipped, cried, slept, laughed, dined and celebrated in that place.  it’s familiar.  greeted by hugs and how are yous i sunk into the couch.  patti made me a sandwich and mike insisted on checking the oil in my car.

exhale.

it felt good to be home.

 

 

i invited myself into a previously planned dinner.  we squished seven people around a table and enjoyed a meal.  we reminisced on what has been, speculated on what’s to come.  decided to be thankful for what is now.

exhale.

it felt good to be home.

“brunch in the morning?”  yes.  i sat across from one of my dearest friends for nearly two hours.  conversation came easy – there was no getting to the real stuff because it’s just there.  laughing about the imperfections that surround us and exist within us, sharing about work and our lack of social lives.  brunch turned into a few more hours of snacking on popcorn and continued chatting.  it was just what i needed.

exhale.

it felt good to be home.

birthday celebrations with favorites and ones who happened to be around.  walks in the park with hundreds of lantern holding friends.  a perfect summer night.  a breakfast of cinnamon rolls on that all too familiar red couch.  laughing and crying.  the crying comes on that couch one way or another.  a slow morning of goodness.  lunch with the birthday girl.  a quick trip to see a new home.  the place they’ve been waiting for.  one more time, helping to unpack a box – at this point, we’re all pros.  we sat in the garage for two hours because i couldn’t make myself leave.  hugs and see you soons and holding back the tears.

exhale.

it felt really, really good to be home. 

vending machine jesus.

vendingmachine

put your dollar in.  push e16.  get your snickers. simple enough.

unless it gets stuck on those revolving metal circles.  in which case you will probably try to shake the thing and curse it when the snickers is still hanging there.  you’ll either sacrifice another dollar in an effort to get your prize  or you’ll walk away frustrated, angry and swearing off both candy bars and vending machines.  forever.  because they are from the devil.  am i right?

today is good friday.

 

i sat down and read the story of the crucifixion this morning.  because good christians should do such a thing on days like today.  i would like to tell you that my heart was overflowing with thankfulness and i am completely undone by how much jesus has done for me and that i feel the swelling hope that ‘sunday is coming’ and everything that means for my salvation and for my life.

but none of that happened.  instead.  i realized i treat jesus like a vending machine.

i worship and praise and read my bible and go to the women’s group.  and then i make my request.  e16, if you would, jesus.  i’ll take that perfect job, the healing i’ve been asking for, the husband and 2.5 kids.  i’ll take the provision, the relationships, the hope and peace.  could i please have the miracle.  e16 jesus.  i don’t think it’s too much to ask for.  afterall, i just put my dollar in.  and you know, that dollar was quite a sacrifice.  so if you could please oblige with the e16 that’d be great.

but then.  the e16 doesn’t come.  and i spiral into disappointment and rejection and frustration because of course the machine would break on me.  today of all days.  because the world hates me and i will never eat another candy bar as long as i live and i hate vending machines.  they must be from the devil.

and then i take a nap and have a cup of coffee and give the vending machine another go at it.  sometimes it spits out what i’m asking for.  it’s usually pretty good to me.

so, here’s the thing that struck me today.

i hate that i still think and act this way.  i don’t want to treat jesus like a vending machine.  i desperately want the presence of the machine to be enough.  whether it ever delivers an e16 or not.  i want to be a woman who is thankful and content with the presence.  so for as much as he has already done and given, today i’m asking for more.  i’m asking for more softening of my still resistant heart.  because even that has to be an act of grace.  a labor of love.

would my heart and my life be one that puts in the dollar without any expectation of something in return.

simple reminders.

so, here’s the thing.  seven weeks ago i left a group of twenty three people.  i’d basically fallen for all of them and was devastated when i had to say goodbye.  since returning stateside i’ve been keeping myself busy; traipsing all about.  sleeping on couches, in other people’s beds, hotel rooms, and plenty of naps on plenty of planes.  tomorrow i’m starting my last big trip (at least a trip that’s planned) to south africa to see my people.

i’m basically beside myself excited.

i’ve been packing and prepping all week long and here’s what i’ve noticed.  i think that  the lord feels similarly about me as i feel about them.

i was writing notes to them and over and over and over again i just kept writing “i’m proud of you.”  and i am.  incredibly.  so proud of who they are becoming, the ways they are saying “yes” to whatever the lord puts in front of them.  i’m proud of how they have fun, how they celebrate each other, how they earnestly pursue the voice of the father.

and because i love them i’ve been running around like a crazy person to get them the stuff they want.  starbursts.  check.  chapstick.  done.  new underwear because, let’s be honest, six months of hand washing them suckers…..  but it doesn’t feel like a hassle to bless them.  i’ll spend all of the time and money i have because they’re worth it.

and, i don’t know.  maybe my sentiments are just extra strong these days.  but its been such a good picture this week of how the lord thinks of me.  he’s proud.  even in the mess and the brokenness and the having nothing figured out…he’s delighted.  and he’s happy to give me the things i ask for, just because i ask.  i don’t do anything to earn them.  i’m just worth it because he says so.  he’s happy to bless me.

so, that’s it.  nothing incredibly profound for you today.  just a simple reminder.  he sees.  he knows.  he’s proud of you.  he’s happy to bless you.

with that, i’m hopping back across the pond.

stand up straight.

growing up i heard my mom say to me “stand up straight” more than i heard her say anything else.  my grandmother used to poke her hand in my back as an emphatic reminder to “stand up straight.”  for whatever reason, i’ve never been known for my impeccable posture.  i’ve always had a habit of slumping and slouching.  not with any particular intention, it’s just how i carried myself.

the theme of my standing up straight always seems to come back around.  i’ve been reminded on several occasions by the prominent voices in my life to stand up.  stop slouching.  carry yourself upright.  head high.  shoulders back.  confident and unashamed.  stand up straight.

easier said than done.

last night at church a spiritual papa came and put his arms around me.  he remarked at how confidently i’ve been walking for the past several months but that he’s seen me begin to slouch and slump again.  the ever familiar curve in my back had returned.  he reminded me that sometimes we have to carry ourselves unto faith.  “walk as if you know who you are,” he said.  head high.

shoulders back. confident and unashamed.  stand up straight.

through tears i rose and stood up a little taller.  in about two minutes i realized just how uncomfortable i was.  my back was hurting.  my knees were going weak.  “this is not normal,” i thought to myself.  “this hurts.”  and the holy spirit smacked me across the head with a revelation that sometimes becoming who you already are hurts.  choosing to stand in the place of your god-given identity isn’t always easy.  and it’s definitely not comfortable.  it takes a lot of discipline and work to form the habits that make you into the person you are.  i don’t know about you, but i’m not always a fan of things like discipline and hard work.

ugh.

the last several weeks and months have brought circumstances that have made it difficult for me to stand up straight, tall and confident.  i haven’t always done a great job of standing on the word from the lord. i’ve been too wavered by the opinions of the people i trust and admire.  i’ve been shaky in my resolve, allowing my circumstances to determine my attitude.  my posture towards the lord has been one based not on faith, but on the feeling of the moment.  and little by little i’ve sunk lower and lower into an identity that isn’t actually mine to wear : slouched.  slumped.  cowered and ashamed.

but, thank you jesus that we always get to try again.  we always get the choice to stand up taller and walk as if we know who we are.  i’m choosing to stand straighter today.  head high. shoulders back. confident and unashamed.  it’s still uncomfortable.  but it feels more right.