Friday, March 30, 2012


It happened so fast
Not even sure how
Not who I wanted to be
The person inside of me

Innocence of the unkown
Then completely aware
I didn't see it coming
Holding on, yet running

The war inside raged
Until I forced the silence
Couldn't mistake it for peace
Simply numb as it ceased

Too little, too late
It was already done
I knew too much
Now life is such

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Puzzle Pieces

Several years ago I received a one-thousand piece puzzle as a Christmas gift. It took a couple of weeks to piece together, even with the help of my husband and then very-little kids {who, in reality, didn't help as much as they thought they were}. During the process I had the edges of the puzzle pieced together on the coffee table with all the yet-to-be-fit pieces nearby where I could see them. Sometimes I'd walk past the puzzle and stop long enough to fit one piece in its place. Other times, I'd sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour or more, analyzing the pieces, trying to determine where they fit in the big picture. When I {we} finally finished the puzzle, we could see that it looked exactly like the picture on the cover of the box: a cottage with pink, red and purple flowers blooming all around it. It was no longer a scattered, blurry mess of pieces.

Lately I've been considering that sometimes life is fragmented. I look at all the pieces of my 36.5 years and wonder how they all fit together. Sometimes I wonder how the parts of me from just one day all fit together. To go even further, when I'm being introspective, I wonder how all the parts of me make up a Christian. Just a few days ago, I told someone that anything church-y no longer appeals to me. That's true. However, most of my life has been defined by church-y expectations: attendance, dress, behavior. Breaking free from those expectations has left me feeling a bit like scattered puzzle pieces, and asking this question:

What does the Christian life look like?

The Sunday School short answer is loving God, loving others. While that's true, I need the breakdown. I need to see how body, soul and spirit work together as one instead of separately. I need to determine how a life free of Christianese lives to love God and love others. I need to see how my past, from the time of my first memory all the way to yesterday, fits together. Because, honestly, there are times I think some of those pieces will just never, ever fit in the big, beautiful picture that is supposed to be the end of my life.

Serena Woods over at Grace Is For Sinners said in a recent post, "Our past can kill our self-esteem. It kills how big we’ll dream. It reduces how hard we try. You are your story and if you try to bury it, you’ll be too busy trying to segment yourself to do anything else. Everything you do will be hollow." And my heart agrees with her words. Yet, my puzzle pieces are still scattered in a blurry mess.

Read more:
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I love stories.

I love to read, to get lost in a story. Lately, the stories I love the most are those of people I know.





All of those, in any order. Or maybe none of those.

Story is what connects people to one another. It's what makes us finally realize we're not alone. It's often the key that opens the door to living life well.





Removing the mask and revealing the story buried beneath is what allows shackles to fall at our feet.

Have you told your story to anyone lately?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Anxious Eyes

My family spent a few days of spring break at the beach. I love the beach, and have been waiting all winter for warm weather and beach time. It's about a 4-hour drive from my house to my favorite beach spot, but because I'm always so anxious and excited to get there, it seems like it takes forever. I swear the last two-lane, 45-minute stretch of the trip is the longest! But at the intersection at the end of the two-lane stretch, the beach is only about a half mile away.

As we arrived at that intersection last week, I was so excited to see the water. I looked straight ahead and, for a moment, took in the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico. I instantly felt myself relax. But as I focused, my vision revealed the joke it had played on me. Instead of staring into the bluish-green waters of the Gulf, I was staring at the green tin roof of a gas station. I laughed at myself and how eager I'd been to see the water that I easily mistook a dirty ol' roof for my favorite sight.

When we're so anxious to see something, our eyes {and minds} can play tricks on us. We can end up focusing on the wrong thing, camping out there, never even realizing we missed the beauty of what we were searching for in the first place.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Those Kinds Of Books

At Sunday-after-church lunch, dressed in our Sunday best {well, I had on jeans because I'm trying to break out of the conformity}, a friend that I honestly don't know all that well asked me a couple of questions:

So what book are you reading right now?

{Obviously I've rattled on enough that she knows I like to read.} I answered that I'm reading a couple of books right now: a fiction novel; and a book that I pick up, read a while, then put down to absorb.

She asked about the book I pick up and put down: Is it fiction too?

No, it's a nonfiction about the church: Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola. I wanted to leave the topic alone at this point, but I was right when I guessed that the next question was coming.

What's it about? Christians who act like pagans?

No, it's about the pagan roots of the modern-day institutionalized church. I didn't want to explain any further because my heart was starting to beat a little faster. I know that most of the people I know don't really want to hear the details found in this book.

Her next question has stuck with me since then. Why do you read those kinds of books? I often mention in Sunday School class books I've read and how they've helped shape my view of God and the Christian life, so I assume she meant Christian non-fiction, not necessarily just that one book.

I didn't answer her with the first response that popped in my head...Doesn't every Christian? Instead I gave her some answer related specifically to that book, and my frustration with how the church functions within four walls, a time slot and scheduled program.

Since Sunday lunch I've wondered more than a few times why I read those kinds of books. Obviously, everybody doesn't. So why this passionate need to dig and discover? I can only trace it back to one thing.

Over the past six years, God has been revealing Himself to me in ways that are so far outside of the box in which I wanted to contain Him. And about a year ago, I asked Him some specific questions to which I knew I wouldn't find the answers in my circles. It's as if He's put book after book in my hands exactly when I needed them on this journey of seeking Him and His ways. They never fail to come alongside whatever I happen to be reading in the Bible, and answer questions I have. For instance, when I was so intent on reading and studying law and grace last year, and the Bible seemed to me to contradict itself, I "stumbled" upon Forbidden Grace...a book that radically answered so many questions.

I guess what it boils down to is that I read those kinds of books because I want Him to reveal to me the God I never knew. This song sums it up for me:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Square Peg

Hey! How are you?

Good. How are you?, I respond without missing a beat or a step. If she answers, it doesn't even register.

The truth is that I'm not good. And I'm quite sure she is. She'd never understand why I don't want to be there. Right?

She seems to thrive in that environment. I get lost in it.

For the most part, I'm pretty sure I look like I fit: best clothes and smile on my lips. I go with good intentions in search of community. But I feel like a square peg in a sea of round holes whose histories are linked:

  • My theology doesn't match.
  • I live more in the gray than in the black and white.
  • I'd rather learn from and share with others in blue jeans on a sofa with a cup of coffee and some cookies than in cushioned wooden pews and metal chairs.
  • Just one among the thousands, I have questions about the sermon that I'll never get to ask.
  • I sing the words, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and I think how He already has.

Almost every time, I leave with the realization that even though I've just spent two-to-three hours with thousands of people, I didn't experience community or commonality. I've simply played my part. I wonder how church in the four walls became less about relationships and more about role play.

And I wonder how many more secretly identify with my words here, but fear the hushing if they break the silence...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Experiencing The Unexpected

Something happened the other night that quite frankly shocked me a little bit. I was invited to attend a ladies' worship group. During the prayer time, we were asked to visualize God with us. Now, good Southern Baptists have not been taught to visualize anything. If we've been taught anything, it's to stay away from vision-talk and such. So, admittedly, I was a bit freaked out. I decided to sit and pray as I usually do, not attempting to visualize anything.

What I realized during the prayer time was that when I pray, I always imagine myself at the throne of God, head bowed at His feet. I began doing that several years ago, not necessarily out of a conscious decision, but just as a reflection of my humility before Him. It began after the first time I was so humbled by His love and grace. Much like the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair in Simon the Pharisee's home, I felt unworthy, yet longed to be in His presence. I've prayed that way ever since, without even thinking about it.

So as I was praying the other night, imagining myself bowed at His feet, it was as if He lifted my head. The words to an old hymn ran through my head: Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. I was momentarily overwhelmed with the awareness that He has made me worthy to be in His presence. I sat there for a few minutes, stunned. And immediately began to question: Is this real? Am I making this up? Was that really God? And I've been questioning ever since. You see, although I was seeking God, I wasn't expecting to experience Him in such a personal way the other night.

But last night, as I was reading blog posts from a couple of my favorite authors, God showed me something. If I continually question His work in my life, I won't grow. I have to trust Him in this journey He's leading me on. Serena Woods, author of Grace Is For Sinners, says in a recent blog post, You have to trust God enough to lead you in ways that your spirit will understand even when your finite mind cannot. She goes on to talk about seeking people's approval for what God is doing in your life {which I am prone to do}. She writes, I’m telling you this because if you don’t understand what is happening, then you’ll question your relationship with God and your spiritual life to the point of sucking all the life out of it.

Because I struggle so often with wanting approval {and let's face it, there are just some people who are never going to approve of anything I say or do or experience}, I tend to question every encounter with God. What would my family think about this? What would other church members say if they knew? Would my friends think I'm crazy? But what it all boils down to is that my relationship and experiences with God are just that: mine. And because we're all different, our relationships and experiences with God are different.

I wonder how many times I've discounted intimacy with God because the experience with Him was different than what I'd been taught to expect...

Read more of Serena Woods's post:
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