Friday, August 11, 2017

finding home

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Place.”

I’ve lived in a lot of places for my age, so I’m told.

Nebraska. Kansas. Colorado. Nebraska again. Missouri. Arizona. Kansas again. 

All of these places have good and bad memories attached to them. When a hint of them crosses my mind, sometimes it’s joy and sometimes it’s sorrow. And as with most people, I wanted to find my place at each place.

But I’m not sure I ever have.

I don’t want to go down the road of, “of course I’m the different one” again. I do that far too often in my life. But I have struggled, in each new start, to figure out where I fit in. What I could offer this new place. What it could offer me.

I far too often associate a place with doing. When it really should be about being.

While I still believe that God is ever-changing me, I am still me in each place. I bring a new set of learning as I move on, but I’m still me, carrying around my baggage and my idols and my sin. But also carrying around the triumph and transformational power of Jesus Christ with me. So maybe I’ve been approaching this all wrong.

Maybe going to each new place is more about being than doing. Maybe it’s about finding home within myself, and not finding home in a place.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

of dreaming and marching

I’ve never been to a writer’s retreat.

The fact is, I don’t really consider myself a writer, though I do occasionally call myself that. There is a tension in “being” a writer and just being someone who writes, I guess. We started out the retreat with the question of, “Am I called to write?” And for some many of the women there, they are called to do this. They can’t imagine NOT writing. I guess I feel that way, too. But I also don’t have that drive… that call to the pen and paper. My call is different. Writing may be part of my call, but I don’t think it’s primarily my call.

I wanted to come to the retreat because I’ve been struggling with only feeling inspired to write when things are hard. My inspiration tends to come from emotional pain, which I haven’t had a lot of recently. So I wanted to see what the answer to that might be… what it looks like to write in all circumstances. So my reflection during the weekend really centered around this. But then Friday night, Christina read a poem to us that led me to a really big question.

“What dream has God given me?”

I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I asked myself this.

Maybe I never did.

Dreaming always seemed silly. Unimportant. Unnecessary. Something that couldn’t pay the bills. Now that I’m old, dreams seem even more illusive.

But do they have to be?

More will come on this topic, because it’s far too important to my heart right now as I consider how writing fits into my call. There will likely be multiple posts about this big question. 

But this point is about my weekend with beautiful women who left me thankful for God’s design. How he makes everyone different and beautiful and in his image. This weekend was about how he gives each one of us a heart for something: Native Americans, publishing a book, changing the barrio in which one lives, writing poetry, worship, the beauty of grace, traveling around to stay with strangers we’ve only met online. We heard stories of walking knee deep in water in the dark, the pain of losing someone we love, the 10 hour journeys to arrive when it seems impossible to get away from life and family and work.

I was quiet this weekend. Which is somewhat unlike me. In group situations I find myself being the clown... the sarcastic one ready to create the giggles. But not this time I listened. A lot. And I wanted to listen more. I want more and more of their hearts to pour into mine as I learned what God has called them to. 

I’m sure we all are somewhat uncertain of God’s call in our lives, except perhaps the call to love one another. 

(photo credit: Jan Lamos)

Which is what I felt march first out of each women’s heart this weekend. Love. Love marched first, to create a place where hugs and tears were ok with someone we just met 2 hours earlier. Love marched first when we all weren’t sure what God was going to do. Love marched first when we shared what we wrote Friday night. Love marched first when we sang songs and asked questions and dreamed together.

May love continue to march first out of our hearts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


I feel my heart bursting out of my chest and suddenly I cannot stop myself. The words pour out of me,racing from my brain to my heart to the fingers and onto my computer and 

It's like I just threw up.

I long for those burstings. Those moments I just cannot contains and words are so important, feelings too explosive, and meaning too valuable to stay inside me. To be inspired is far too often a rare thing for me, to be inspiring is what I long for all day long. 

For inspiration to hit... for it to fall through me like a rock falling off a 20 story building... it can be unstoppable.

Which also means it can hurt.

I've had moments where my words are pain to others. Nights where my heart has rushed out onto my computer screen and the next thing I know, I've undone a friendship. 

Where is the line between letting my words speak the truth and keeping those words contained? Where is that place where I can be certain that this inspiration is something that must come out... but won't offend?

Does such a place of inspiring exist?

This post is part of Five Minute Friday, a link up of posts doing a five minute fee write on a prompt word. This week's word is "inspire".

Thursday, July 20, 2017


I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Collect.” We’d love to have you join us on Thursday nights for our Twitter party. Don’t forget to check out FMF’s new home at 

Today was a weird day. I was overly emotional for just about everything - stuff I was working on, things I read on the internet, music I listened to. These over the top emotions were connected to memories. They brought about feelings of regret, loss, pain, sadness... connected to people, places, situations...

Memories are merely collections. They can function as the graveyard for our souls, or the scrapbook of our hearts. Most of the time it's both. Our collection of memories can send us into a tailspin of regret or take us to a place of love and a sense of belonging.

I would love to figure out how to un-collect those memories that bring those feelings of regret and loss and pain. With all the things I collect in my life (books, scarves, kate spade bags...) it's the one collection I'm less than proud of. (My kate spade collection is a distant second.) Because these are collections that cause me to face my own sin and the sin others have put upon me.

Collections are intended to being us a sense of joy or comfort, usually. I have a friend with a collection of Starbucks from every city she's been to. Another who collects ceramic frogs (I try not to judge her for that one), and a friend who always buys a refrigerator magnet when she goes on vacation.

I've tried those different kind of collections. I've never been able to really stick to one. I have a few magnets from places I've been but my refrigerator looks like a half-hearted attempt at my travel log. And don't even get me started on my coffee mugs. That's a story in and of itself. And the frogs... well, thankfully I never tried that.

I'm not good at collecting those physical things that are meant to bring us joy when we look at them. Instead I collect the memories from my past, buried in a dusty corner of my heart that gets swept out once and a while when a email triggers me or a song reminds me of someone I used to love. Or someone who used to love me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

the road to authenticity?

There's been a trend in the last few years talking a lot about the importance of authenticity. Which, of course, is nothing new. Churches have been having conversations about authenticity for the last 10 years at least, seeing that the new generation of adults attending church were turned off by big concerts and light shows that became so popular in the 90s. Brené Brown brought forth to us what living in shame does for our souls, and the culture around us continues to tell us to simply "be who we are, no matter what anyone else says".

There are good things in this authenticity. For myself, it fed a certain part of my personality in some unhealthy ways. Earlier this year, I took a class where learning my Enneagram type was part of the experience. After I learned my type (I'm a 4) and meeting with a counselor about my test results for that and other personality tests we took, I was broken. The other tests I'd taken were nothing new to me, but learning about how a type 4 views the world and themselves broke me in a way I'm still not sure I can explain or understand.

I've learned to be careful about personality test results over the years. They can become a crutch and an easy way for me to explain away my own sin. "That's how I was wired..." is something I've thought to myself a lot while justifying my behavior. The power of learning my Enneagram type has been that it immediately showed me my struggles and my sin. It was powerful. As an already broken by sin person, I was even more broken by the ways I've seen myself use my tendency to "be different" (classic type 4 behavior) in a multitude of sinful ways. As Richard Clark, online editor at Christianity Today and podcast host of The Calling, explains it, "It's a lot like finding out you're an INFJ except there is... an added self awareness component that comes with some negative feelings."

He goes on to explain that the negative feelings that come with learning your Enneagram type can be valuable and represent growth. Which I've found to be completely true. Since learning my MBTI type (INFJ) it's merely served as a way to help me process how awesome I am. But the Enneagram has showed me my major areas of needed growth.

I've not talked too much about my Enneagram type with those I love and trust, certainly not in the same way I used to proudly proclaim my status as an INFJ. Some of that could be that I haven't researched it the way I have my MBTI type. The other reason is likely in how it has convicted me. The root of my sin in being a type 4 is intense. It's not something I want to proudly proclaim.

So what does this have to do with authenticity? Apparently 4s hold authenticity up as some kind of crown jewel in life. For me, it means I do strive for authenticity in relationships and in how I resent myself to the world. But the sinful way it plays out is I tend to sniff out those who are inauthentic and place my judgmental medal of honor on them. Being a type where introspection is a hourly event, I have no reason to expect people to know themselves as well as I know myself.  When you know yourself well, you can be more authentic (and even comfortable) with others. As a 4, I tend to dismiss those who haven't done the same amount of internal work as me, judging them as emotionally immature and even lazy.

The tension in all of this is that we all want to be who we are, right? Even deeper than that, we want to be accepted for who we are. The world is constantly telling us to "just do you." There is a measure of wisdom in this. But I don't think that's enough. The Enneagram showed me that by fully indulging who I am leads to deeply flawed and sinful behavior towards others and myself. There are good and healthy ways for me to "just do me" but that's not the end of the story.

God loves us for who he made us to be, but he loves us too much to keep us there. We are called to be sanctified, made like Christ, despite our sinful nature. (Because he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it...)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Authenticity is not the end of the road in our journey to be ourselves. It's part of the journey, but it's not the destination. It's easier, sure. Which is why we all want to go there first and call it a day. But to deprive ourselves of who we can be by settling for who we are now is simply an adventure in missing the point.