Monday, October 27, 2014


Most of us know the story of Jesus asking his disciples "Who do you say that I am?"

We've read it and heard it in Sunday school and in church. Just like I did this past Sunday. The story was told, and as always, it struck a chord with me. It resonates because the answer is true for me- he is my savior. 

But then, working just along the edges of my prayers was this question- "Who do I say YOU are?"

It's a much harder question to answer. It's a question of worthiness and of giving yourself permission to be loved. 

It's about stepping out into the faith that if you love Christ, you are loved in return. And not only loved, forgiven. And not only forgiven, but a new creation. And not only a new creation but righteous.

No pressure. 


This is what I grapple with the most. I want to feel SMALL. I want to feel unworthy. I want to feel lost in the shuffle. I don't want to be important or to be beloved.

Because then I have to wrestle with feelings of being worthy. And those are feelings even pandora would run away from.

I've spent a lot of time trying to be good. Trying to be love able. Trying to serve and give. I've cultivated a mindset of jumping in when others don't because I've been there. I've been the homeless kid asking for money. I've been the kid at school with no lunch. I've been the woman at the grocery store with not enough cash. A thousand different scenarios. 

We've all been there right? When we look around and there's not a friendly face to be found? When circumstances rise up to us and circle like jackals. And we feel alone in the fight, backed up against a wall. 

When we think we've established a life where we need never feel lonely again. But we still end up there, where it's only us with our thoughts and deeds. When we end up misunderstood and judged and left behind. 

That's where all the scripture about crying out in the wilderness, about saving grace and redeeming love should be relevant.

But sometimes you are still alone with just words. Words of life and of truth, yes. But God never promised to remove loneliness and pain. Just that in the midst of it, he would be there.

And so when he asks me "Who do I say that you are?" The answer is loaded with emotion and fear. 

I am His. I am all of the things He has said. 

But to FEEL really be in it, to walk in it -even when everything around you is telling you that you are alone? Well that's another story.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 

I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. 

Wow. That's a lot of faith right there. And that's what it comes down to then right? That if we believe God is who he says he is, we have to believe that we are also his creation, made in his image, and beloved by Him.

Despite our circumstances and our sadness. Despite the world that tells us we are unimportant or others who disregard us.

The world and people can and may reject us. The word of man can be betrayed and vows revoked. Nothing in this life is certain.

Nothing but the love of God. Despite how unworthy we may feel or how small we are. How much we want to hide or how much we wrestle with the worthiness of our lives. 

Psalm 34:17-18 

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Who does he say that I am? His. Even as work toward being worthy, he calls me by name. 

And despite my feelings of unworthiness, I answer and I follow. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I have been laid bare, stripped away of all that was me.

Before what has happened and after what has been wrought are the remains of who I was and the life I was stepping glibly through.

I shouldered my burden of childhood and carried it high and proud on my back. I used its weight to propel me forward, and it's weight reminded me in many ways and in every conversation that I would never go back there.

I was who I chose to be. I was a woman immersed in a life I created. I was loved and I loved in returned. I served and I loved to serve.

And between the then me and the now me lies a shriveling of self, a backstep into who I never wanted to repossess. The hard edged, hard worded person I had left long ago.

The battle with circumstance has poisoned the sweetness of faith I worked so hard to wrap around my heart.

Have you ever been thirsty? So thirsty you would drink anything, anything, to remove the desperate calling of your body for replenishment? And have you ever taken that first sip and realized the water was bitter? Tainted?

But you drink anyway. Because you thirst. 

And this water makes you sick. But still, you are thirsty, so you still drink. And soon the sickness and the bitterness become like nothing. You no longer taste or realize how sick you have become. 

That's how the world, and life, and hurt, can turn your once cared for garden of a soul into a stumbling block of stony field.

It's not an overnight process, but a moment by moment slip and allowance of outside forces to become more important than the truth you know. 

And here is the Truth:

God is bigger than life. That He is and always will be working for your good. That our troubles here, in this plane, create in us a deeper need for Him and a calling home to where we are destined. 

Every tear is counted and every moment we spend in pain or in fear can create a carved path for our feet to tread to the cross.

Or it can lower us into a state of perpetual wrath, of giving over to thoughts of only wrongs and betrayals. It can lower our vision into only seeing the turned back of friends instead of the open arms of our Savior. 

Bitterness is sadness and anger given root and wings. It is savage in its spread and unretreating in its repetitive thought patterns. 

It has hooks and claws. But it is also a slow moving monster, and it has had me without me knowing.

In the tossing storm of the past few months my eyeline has shifted. It has moved from heaven to the horizon. It has turned from caring about God's idea of who I am to who everyone else thinks I am.

I am a bitter Christian with a loving God. One who is faithful even when I am not. One who loves me and wants to give safe haven when the world is storm tossed. 

Hebrews 12:14-15 

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. 

Defiled. It's such an intimidating word, but important. Because defiled is what your mind becomes when you allow your circumstances and your situation to outshine the knowledge that God is sovereign. That He is awake to all things, even when you are asleep. That when you rage and cry and scream and wail He is still in control. 

I lost my way in this. I allowed my life to become bigger than my God. I let my troubles become much much bigger than what I know to be true.

I don't like to give evil a lot of credit. I tend to try to ignore the fact that there is a force other than the One I love and live for in this world. But I can see, step by step, how insidious and easy it is to get a foothold in my thoughts. And once it is there how moment by moment it creeps and finds other thoughts to feed on.

1 Peter 5:8 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

In praying to God to change my circumstances and repair the broken things, I never prayed to guard my thoughts. 

Bitterness works it's way in the dark. It twists the actions of others through a lens of fear and hurt, so that everything becomes personal. It makes the innocuous hurtful and casts doubt upon every action others take. 

It twists the victor into a victim, and the hopeful into a wretch.

And I'm weary of being hopeless.

I have an amazing, vibrant, loving God. He has given me more than the world could ever take away from me. 

I'm stepping into a new life, one that is much barer of those I thought would be here for the journey. It's much quieter, and filled with confusion and hurt. 

But it is also filled with the symphony of my husbands voice, my children's calling and singing and laughing. It is filled with God's grace and His open arms and his word that speaks of home and life.

It is filled with all that can edge the bitterness away, push the stony ground beneath the cover of life that can regrow even in the barren places. 

It is filled with Him. 

Colossians 3:12-14 

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


The weather map lit up red. Angry welts broken by bands of dark green, pushing it's way directly across my area. Light flashed outside through purple rain clouds and thunder danced hard and turbulent. The kind you hear and feel all across your body- but mostly in your chest, next to your heart.

I tried to tell myself it was an ordinary storm. A typical Texas dust up that would be over soon. Then the sky turned yellow and the tv blared warning warning warning and I knew. 

I was alone in a small rented apartment in Texas. And I was scared. Right across from the door to my home was a floor to ceiling window overlooking the street and also the monstrous storm heading my way. I was on the second floor. No basement.  No cover. No shelter. 

So I stood. And watched as my world changed.

The sizzle and pop of eletrical lines being taken down by the twister began first. Lighting struck cloud to cloud, the heaviness and urgency of Mother Nature pushing the clouds closer to where I stood, framed by only wood. The dark finger of the tornado touched the horizon just as the first raindrops hit the glass in front of me. 

Hell broke loose. Rain pounded the building, lighting and thunder coming in waves directly over my head. 

Then stillness. 


I looked up, watching as the rain began swirling in a gentle arc, the leaves on the trees pulling off and up one by one. A sound like a far off train hit my ears just about when I watched the pool furniture begin to lift slowly up, like ghosts dancing in the air. 

And then nothing. 

It lifted as if it had never been, the clouds skidding away. The thunder echoing farther and farther.

But everything around me was altered. The landscape had changed, touched by something huge and monstrous and bigger than I could have ever anticipated. 

Everything my eyes touched was bitten, broken, missing. 

Damaged and wounded and in need of repair. 

And although this had happend to my world, I was helpless to keep it at bay. 

Storms are like that. Great works of nature that can sow great harvests or ruin entirely the landscape they touch.

And we don't know which until it has passed.

I've been reminded over and over of those moments I went through that day in the past week. The terror mixed with awe. The wonder at the storm and the remains of what it left behind. The hard work of putting things to right after, and how they still were never quite as they were before.

And the lingering fear of another one.

I feel like I've lived that monster over the past few months. The devastation and the fear and the ripping up of what I thought was safe and whole and real. The pulling of the foundation under my feet. 

I have been helpless to change the outcome. I have had to sit and watch, and have faith that it would work out as it was supposed to.

And I still don't know if it has. 

Faith is supposed to be believing everything is as it should be. But sometimes our faith gets pulled up by the storm. It gets worn by the wind and the rain and looks much different after than before. Unrecognizable.

I need a faith I can hold and cling to in the eye of the monster. One that holds true in the wind and rain and silence and destruction. 

I can't say that is true anymore. I have found the altered landscape created a distance to my faith I've never walked before. An ebb. A questioning of what this all was for and why God would allow this monster to unsettle and destroy things I've held dear and loved.

If you're looking for a happy wrap up, it's not here. I'm still there, in the moments you walk out into the life you've knowns forever, and do not recognize it. When you have to feel your way and stumble past things that were not there in your path before. When the landmarks you've used all your life have been pulled down. 

I'm there. Without a map. With a distant God who has a plan I don't understand and maybe don't believe in anymore.

I'm there in the ruins and hoping my own two feet will carry me through.