choosing my choices

Sometimes I live as if I don't have the power to choose, like I must blindly accept everything and anything that comes to me (because, faith).

That's not true.

So, this summer, I am choosing to make choices--some of them are hard, some of them are easier, none of them are comfortable. I mean, what's a summer without all of the ice cream in the world and spending hours sitting in the air conditioning scrolling through online dating profiles? That is not the summer that I want--not again.

So, this summer I am making choices. Here are the five that I'm focusing on:

  I am choosing to choose health—physical, emotional, & spiritual—over comfort & convenience this summer. Our lives and emotions and hearts are silly, slippery things. We can’t always tame them, appease them, or change them, but we can take time to hear them, hold them, & care for them. Living your life well is hard but a well-invested life is precious, friends. 

I am choosing to choose health—physical, emotional, & spiritual—over comfort & convenience this summer. Our lives and emotions and hearts are silly, slippery things. We can’t always tame them, appease them, or change them, but we can take time to hear them, hold them, & care for them. Living your life well is hard but a well-invested life is precious, friends. 

1.) I'm Whole30-ing.

Whole30 has been my go-to food reset for the last four years. It's taught me to listen to my body and has helped me as I struggle through my self-medicating, self-rewarding, self-destructive relationship with food. Since the New Year, I've tried to choose plant-based meals and proteins whenever possible and yet I hadn't really felt like I was properly fueling my very-sensitive-to-grains-and-legumes body. So, here I am: Whole30-ing again. I'm 14 days in and feeling good.

2.) I'm running again.

I've been Couch-2-5King for the last six weeks. It's giving me a reason to move my body and push my body. I've never been one with athletic ability or physical strength so I usually just choose to avoid these things because I don't want to embarrass myself or increase my desire for self-loathing. I'm finding, however, that I can usually do more, go further than I often give myself credit for. I ran for 22 consecutive minutes the other day. Big deal.

Also: Doodle's winter belly is gone, so that's a bonus. (Still workin' on my winter/always belly.)

3.) I'm not dating.

This is one of those things that has always just happened. I've never chosen to not date, it just literally never happens. It seems dumb to say that I'm not dating, especially when there are no prospects, but I felt like I needed to make this conscious decision and effort. This summer, I am choosing not to date and (attempting to) not think about relationships. I'm off online dating apps and trying to focus on cultivating health relationships with myself, my friends, and Jesus.

4.) I'm using "What If..." language

I'm a pretty big fan of certainty and playing by the rules so facing (or fantasizing about) change is always pretty scary for me. This choice is in its infancy but I'm learning to use What If language and not be afraid of what that might mean.

It's okay to have dreams. It's okay to have longings. It's okay to not be sure all of the time.

5.) I'm seeing a counselor.

Do you know that feeling of like, "Is this normal or is this just normal for me?" I feel that way a lot. I wonder if everyone feels and experiences and processes life like me. Seeing a counselor has been something that I've wanted to do for a while and have just never made happen. The pressing desire always comes in the darkest moments, when motivation is low and fear is high. By the time I feel like I'm bouncing back, the idea fades into the distance for another dark day. So I'm finally doing it and I'm already super grateful to be talking through and crying through and thinking through so much.

So, here's to health! Here's to growth! Here's to dreaming dreams!

one year ago

I wrote this last year and it feels even more true now. This life of discipleship is a constant laying-down, a constant handing-over.

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Gospel-living doesn't seem to make much sense. Over the last few years, as I've entered my late twenties, I know that, as far as the world is concerned, I should be coming into my own. I should feel more self-assured, more independent, stronger. But really, as I continue to walk with Jesus, all I feel is more and more helpless, less and less strong, less and less self-sufficient. Even here, laying by a pool with my mind in a million (often dark) places, I am reminded that I am dependent upon Him for ALL things - even for rest. This helplessness thing seems ridiculous, seems foolish but it is in my helplessness that I better understand His strength, His provision, His care for me. It is in this helplessness that I find true rest and true life.

"At that time Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'" - Matthew 11:25-30

 

strong woman

People keep calling me a strong woman.

The woman that I know, who lives in this skin,

she is many things,

minus strong.

She is petty and picky; too big and yet so very small.

The woman I know is weak.

She can’t make a decision without second-guessing or triple-checking.

She can’t, doesn’t, won’t trust herself.

She feels many things: fearful, empty, tired, frail

But never beautiful.

People keep calling me a strong woman.

Who is it that they see?

god's best for me today

For as long as I can remember, I have done my best to control moments, to take each one captive and determine the outcome in some way. At 30 years old now, that’s been a lot of moments and a lot of days and a lot of minutes and a lot of control.

A lot of control and very little surrender.

So often, when I look back on these controlled moments, I feel empty...or at least unhappy. Each time I’ve attempted to assert control, I’ve only managed to make myself feel more out of control.

I have done a pretty good job convincing myself that I’ll find contentment once my circumstances allow contentment instead of LEARNING what it means to be content. Right now, God is stirring up this question in me:

How can I be content in the places where I am, rather than trying to change the places where I am so that I will be content?

I read this article recently and this one quote has really stuck with me. The quote was in the context of singleness but I feel like it captures so much of my Christian experience. The author said, “Singleness is God’s best for me today.”

Don't I truly believe that God is a giver of good gifts? I can thank Him for the sweet moments that I get to share with friends and family or a sunset or a good book or a glimpse of His kindness, but do I think that God is withholding other things BETTER things from me? Do I believe that the things that I have and the places where I find myself are God’s best for me?

Maybe God’s best for me today is singleness.

Maybe God’s best for me is a life of pouring out.

Maybe God’s best for me is a two bedroom apartment filled with three people.

Maybe God’s best for me is wrestling with where I fit in the church and life and friendships.

These bests press hard against the idea of how easy or great life is when we follow Jesus. I don’t want to admit that I believe those things...but I think that the theology that I’ve taught myself actually preaches those things. I’ve allowed my discontentment to color my image of God. I’ve colored Him as a God who withholds.

And yet, don’t I believe that God gave up all things, even His very own Son, so that I could have the things that I take for granted everyday?

So that I could come before him in prayer and be heard by him?

So that I could sit in church and eat the bread and take the wine and reflect on the mystery of a body broken and blood poured out for me?

So that I could have a conversation with someone in which I model the ministry of reconciliation that I’ve been given and that's been entrusted to me?

If I believe that my God gives good gifts to other people, wouldn’t that mean that He gives them to me too? I suppose that might mean that some of the gifts that I’ve been given, ones which I haven’t treated with much gratefulness...those must be good gifts too.

Jesus, give me eyes to see them. Eyes that see cause for celebration and surrender, eyes that see gifts.

Jesus, give me a heart which holds those things up as a reasons for worship and thanksgiving.

old words, hard things

I am trying to be more vulnerable, trying to share more. It's hard...even when you know that no one is watching.

I wrote this post three-ish years ago. I wanted to share it but I couldn't. Sometimes words cut deep and sometimes they're just too real and too harsh to share right away.

A lot has changed since I wrote this: I've moved, I've changed jobs, I've healed and grown. Yet, these words still sting. I can still feel their intensity - so much so that it scares me.

But here's to sharing the hard things. Here's to feeling the hard things, too. 


There is a knock on my door, feet shuffling outside. Boots banging off snow and ice.


My heater rages. The tractor runs outside because this is my life: surrounded by noise. Stifled by scurry.


Never alone and yet always alone. When you live where you work and work where you live, there is no life apart from work and no work more difficult than life.

And my boss is a good man, a good friend. He cares about me so much and that’s all I can feel as I bite my lip and blink back tears because I refuse to let him know how bad it really is.

“I just don’t want to you get discouraged…”

I see the pain in his eyes because he has been there and felt the sting, the deep, grinding pain sliding through your live like a carving knife. He wrestles with himself to try to cover the scars.

I don’t have the heart to tell him that it’s much worse than discouraged. That discouraged was eleven months. This month, this season is called depression.


I am not discouraged. I am breaking, broken, in a million pieces on the kitchen floor.


Our eyes dart to all corners of the room. We are both hurting too much to share.


“I can see how it’s affecting you.”


I’m shaking off his attempts to talk deep. I am shrugging my shoulders and crossing my arms and
muttering, “I know.” I sound like the people that I hate.


If only there could be truth. If only I could bleed out all of this misery that I’ve been trapping inside. If only I could uncork this always-bubbling chaos inside of me.

If only what I wanted to say wouldn’t send him reeling, wouldn’t level him to the place where I am.

If only it wouldn’t leave him breaking, broken, in a million pieces on the kitchen floor.

Because I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore.

I am ready for change and I am waiting on what that means.

waiting, but why? // psalm 25

As I waited for a friend in a coffee shop, Americano & journal in front of me, I began to scribble words. I had been feeling them for weeks but they urged out of me in that moment so I put pen to paper. And then, at church the next week, Psalm 25. This. A response to my cry! An "I hear you!" to my plea!

I read these words this morning. I love how Scripture roots deeply in us, surprises us, ministers to us:

Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. - Colossians 3:16


Waiting, but why?

Wounded, but how?

Wanting, but what?

 

You say that your thoughts are not my thoughts...

 

But I want to know.

But I want to understand.

But I want a heart that follows.

 

You say that Your ways are not my ways…

 

Open my eyes.

Unblock my ears.

Let me know Your ways.


Let me know Your ways, O Lord;

Teach me Your paths.

Guide me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;

For You [and only You] I wait [expectantly] all the day long.

Remember, O Lord, Your [tender] compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,

For they have been from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;

According to Your lovingkindness remember me,

For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord;

Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

He leads the humble in justice,

And He teaches the humble His way.

All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulness

To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. - Psalm 25:4-10, AMP

two years ago

Two years ago, I sat in my parents’ basement and wrote a blog post. I had just moved out of my first apartment, left my first job in ministry, and I felt like I was falling apart. I was 27 going on 28.

I was embarrassed, feeling like I couldn’t hack it, like I’d failed. Feeling like What kind of a person moves back in with their parents on 27? I was terrified, not really sure where or what God was going to call me to next. I was exhausted from ministry, from life, and from my unmet expectations.

I spent the next six months watching a beautiful little baby (who subsequently taught me everything that I know about babies). We walked every day, we journaled, we worshipped, we baked a lot of banana bread. We sat in quiet and relished in all of the not doing happening in my life.

Two friends and I dreamed Conversations Around the Table into existence, lovingly called it CAT, and poured ourselves into creating community.

Six months being ministered to, healing my soul, and learning to live with empty hands. And then God said, “Leave.”

Now, two years later, here I am. Sitting in my parents’ guestroom, the room that was my bedroom for a dozen years and then for another six months, still trying to figure all of this out.

I used to think that life was a puzzle. I assumed that my life was just a single, thousand piece puzzle and I had to work to piece it together, adding pieces as they came, shuffling them around as life evolved. As life changed, as people came and went, as obscure details became more clear, I assumed that the pieces would start to fit together. I assumed that once I found one piece that worked, all of the others would start to fall into their place.

I assumed that if I obeyed Jesus everything would be easy.

I assumed that if I took a job that seemed perfect, every day would be rewarding and fulfilling.

I assumed that if I took a job in New Hampshire, finding a church would be easy.

I assumed that if I moved out of the Valley, I’d finally meet a boy.

I assumed that if I left all of my friends, I’d meet a million more to fill the void.

These days, I feel like I’ve been handed a new puzzle. I had worked so long to try to make the other one work, to try to make the pieces fit together and now I am starting from scratch. This puzzle has been slow, oftentimes lonely, to piece together - even as I’ve just tried to form the outer frame.

But at least once a week, I remember something that God taught me during that six months. Things about sabbath and purpose and how my loveliness and dearness to Him is not because of my rule-following or ministry-doing. Things about myself and my brokenness and my sin-nature and yet also about the gifted parts of me. Sometimes these are things that don’t seem new, lessons I’ve learned times ten, but sometimes, even these 18 months later, they storm in and break down walls with their newness.

My life has been ravaged by the goodness of God.

Even in the calling away.

Even in the taking away.

Even in the walking away.

Obedience is not glamourous, this I know. I have flailed and failed and fallen on my face. I have doubted and regretted and wanted to take it all back but His providence is not dependant upon my obedience. What is, is my ability to see all of His goodness.

I’ve been reading through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for the first time and every day, after several paragraphs of very self-centered journaling, it absolutely wrecks me.

Ministering in everyday opportunities that surround us does not mean that we select our own surroundings— it means being God’s very special choice to be available for use in any of the seemingly random surroundings which He has engineered for us. The very character we exhibit in our present surroundings is an indication of what we will be like in other surroundings.

The things Jesus did were the most menial of everyday tasks, and this is an indication that it takes all of God’s power in me to accomplish even the most common tasks in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels, dishes, sandals, and all the other ordinary things in our lives reveal what we are made of more quickly than anything else. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the most menial duty as it ought to be done.

Life is still pretty confusing and so not how I imagined it would be, even as I watch the days before my thirtieth birthday tick away. But some days, I catch a quick glimpse of all that I get to do, all the people that I get to meet, all of the gospel I get to share, through this simple, boring life - moments that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t moved back in with mom and dad or if I hadn’t moved to New Hampshire or had not said, “Yes, Jesus. I want to follow You - even though it’s hard, even when it's hard.”

heart racing

For the last couple of days, I’ve felt like my heart has been racing. So I hold two fingers to my neck, push hard, counting to the rhythm of my heart. Sixty beats in one minute. That’s completely normal. Why does it feel so strange?

I don’t know where this anxiety has come from, where it was hiding until now, and how I let it out. All I know is that it is creeping in, all around me.

So I nervously clean.

So I nervously journal.

So I nervously pick at my cuticles.

So I nervously obsess about details that do not matter.

So I nervously lay awake at night, unable to sleep.

So I nervously wonder if I need to see a counselor.

So I nervously wonder if I need to be medicated.

So I nervously wonder what this mental state says about me as a Christ-follower.

So I remind myself, again and again, about all that is wrong with me - this anxiety being number one.

So I nervously try to fix myself. Someone once told me that I come off as emotionally unavailable so I Google, “How to be emotionally available” in hopes of a cure. I’m just trying to understand myself, my brain. I end up taking an Enneagram test and it says everything that I don’t want to say: I am anxious and loyal. I fear being abandoned or left alone and simply desire security and support.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve been living my last 20-ish months without much security or support. Maybe it’s because this getting older thing, man, they undersold how difficult it would be.

These days, I worry less about the pain the comes with physical aging and more about the wounds I wear from my nearly thirty years of human life. The rejection. The disappointment. The harsh words and harsh looks. The shame. The guilt. My slavery to things that I hate.

I’m going home soon and for the first time in a long time, I am anxious about it. Maybe it’s because I think I won’t want to come back. Maybe it’s because I have to emotionally pry myself out of the Pioneer Valley every time that I pack up my car and drive away from supportive family and friends I’ve known for decades.

Putting words on pages has always been a salve for me, a way to press back a bit of pain. I feel like I’ve been uniquely aware, these last few weeks, of the importance of mental health. I’ve been able to carve through some hard thoughts, write down some hard truths. It’s been healing but it’s also been unnerving. Pointing fingers at moments passed or words said or decisions made can feel that way.

I haven’t written much for other people to see in this season. I am far too afraid and far too aware of the power of written words.  I am far too fragile to be vulnerable...but I’m trying.

Trying not to “be strong.”

Trying not to be cold.

Trying not to believe the lies that I tell myself.

Trying to cling to Truth.

who told you?

Who told you?

Who told you that you had to be beautiful to be valuable?

That you can’t have a beautiful life until…?

That you had to be beautiful to receive good things?

I often wonder, my mind wandering. What are the things that I don’t have simply because I believe that I don’t deserve? That because I haven’t arrived at the places I want to be, in one way or another, I can’t have beautiful things. That I can’t find love, can’t feel content. That I must be this, that I can’t be that.

Because I’m too much, not enough, not beautiful, undeserving.

But Truth comes timely, my Abba speaks softly.

Sweet Daughter, you don’t have to be beautiful to receive good things.

No amount of makeup or perfectly messy hair or cute tops or pounds lost will make your life full, make your life beautiful.

Your life is beautiful because I give you beauty, because I paint your days with grace, fill your dark spaces with light.

You are My image - your face beams with Me.

You are already beauty-full.