the cool stuff that happens with confession

I have a confession to make.

I judged her. I judged her the moment she walked into the house. Before she said a word. Before she shook my hand.

Have you ever done this? Judged a person due to your own insecurity, your own lack of confidence?

Yeah, me too.

Breathing Eden - Surrender Pride is True Strength

I am over at my friend Kristin’s today, sharing a confession. (Confessions are never easy, are they?) Will you join me over there?

 

what it might look like to miss home

I am in the tension. I miss my home.

The smell of a burning candle. The creak of floorboards under bare feet. The windows opened wide in the morning. The bluejay in the primroses outside the kitchen.

The kitchen itself is torn up, the first place I would head to each morning. Tiptoeing to open the shutters, letting out the dog, waiting for the light to flood in while the house still sleeps.

miss home

My soup pot is tucked away in storage. My baking sheets in boxes with my spices and mixing spoons. I miss cooking. I miss baking. I miss the familiarity of simple things: walking our dog around our neighborhood, going across the street to get the mail each day, visiting Berta, my ninety-two-year-old neighbor, playing music through the speakers while I write and then make dinner, leaning on the counter while my kids eat a snack and tell me about their day.

Home not home

Our furniture is stacked in the middle of the family and living rooms, a mountain covered in  plastic sheeting to protect it from dust and wood chips and paint. We walk through before picking up the kids from school–climb up onto the stair-less porch, visit each small room, shutters clapped tight.

I walk through to the back, where the writing studio is an open shed with a fixed roof now. Insulation will be installed soon. When we move back in we won’t be cold in the winter and hot in the summer when we sit at our desks and listen and write.

Home not home Home not home

In the backyard I find the old metal watering can and grab the hose. There are still plants in the backyard that are green and need tending. It feels good to turn on the hose, let the water flood through and pour into the potted soil. I water lemon trees, and shrubs, and a climbing vine with purple flowers. (I have never known the name.)

Home not home

Things are a mess inside and out. Walls torn up to the studs. The wood floor covered in thick paper and tape. Dust layering everything. Our front and back grass are dead. There is a gray porta-potty by our front window, next to the fence.

Home not home

I miss my home.

But I mostly miss the rhythms, the privilege of taking care of it–cleaning and caring for the little bungalow He gave us nine years ago. I miss my family harbored inside, the familiar rhythms of waking and walking and listening and cleaning and working in it. Most of my writing has happened in these walls.

Maybe that is what I miss most–not only when the house is filled with voices and smells and warmth and movement–but also the stillness of the place when everyone is gone and it is just me in it. The moments with the house to myself when I sit at the kitchen counter, or on the floor, or walk around the neighborhood and I listen and I write.

Things feel unfamiliar now. We have been out of our home for three months now. And there are months more to go. My days are spent book marketing, and driving the kids to their schools back in our old neighborhood, and asking God to show me how to listen for Him, find Him, in this new space. I miss the simpleness of routine, of comfort, of familiarity. With this book launch, I am so out of my comfort zone. I don’t even know how to write about it here.

What to do when you miss home. Read more ->

And that is when I have to trust that I can do all things with my God. And that a place does not equip me for success. And familiarity can make me stagnant. And adventure and newness and uncomfortableness push me to lean on Him.

Father, remind us how you are our constant. You are our rock. You are our fuel and our guide and our solid path. We are not floundering. We are not forgotten. We have not lost our way.

What season are you in now, sister? How do you need reminding that God is steadfast, despite your circumstances?

 

Because Our Life Is Not a Movie but it’s Sacred Everyday

Life is not a movie, but it is sacred holy everyday. [su_dropcap style=”simple”]I[/su_dropcap] grasp the black handle of the tea  kettle, turn to the sink behind me and fill it with water. Put on the lid and turn back to the stove. Place the kettle upon the gas burner and turn on the gas. Watch the reflection of my self in the kettle’s stainless steel. Listen for the gas. Vrmmp.

Consider how, if this were a movie, if this scene were being filmed, I would assume the moment was one of importance somehow, maybe even reverence. You know, the every day, normal activity to which we can all relate but so easily overlook.

Life is not a movie, but there is sacred holy of the everyday.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil.

Except this is my life. And I am not in a movie. There is no beautiful angle or amazing lens or talented photographer here to capture this and convince me this is more significant than it really is.

And yet this life is amazing. It is holy. It is beautiful and sacred space. I know.

Life is not a movie, but there is sacred holy of the everyday.

I have a conversation with myself, wondering why I push against what is sacred? Whom am I to decide what is holy, worthy, good?

Why do I need documentation of my life to believe it is worth something?

To whom am I looking for validation? To whom am I asking, do you see me, notice me? To whom am I asking, what am I worth?

It looks prettier everywhere else sometimes, unless I look at my life and recognize it as holy. Right here. Right now. I am holy, a daughter of God.

Because life is not a movie, but it's sacred everyday

Life is not a movie, but there is sacred holy of the everyday.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil.

Last night we learned the good news that the city has approved our plans to remodel our little bungalow. We started dreaming about this project over a year ago. And in this crazy Silicon Valley area in which we live, it is a complete miracle we are able to live here–and run our nonprofit here–at all. Our little lot is maxed out, so we can’t add a single square foot of living space. This has forced us to be creative, make the most of each room, look more carefully at what we’ve been given, be even better caretakers and stewards of the gift of this home. Dreaming and planning and sketching and researching these last six months has been crazy fun.

Help me hold all your gifts, God.

Because your life is not a movie, but it's sacred everyday.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil.

I can look at these gifts God gives and twist them into something they were not meant to be.  I can so easily switch from feeling grateful to feeling overwhelmed. Work stuff’s been keeping me busy. Our oldest is graduating from junior high in a few days. Justin is doing his yearly planning for our summer backpacking trips. And now, in two and a half weeks, boxes need to be packed, backpacks stuffed, and we need to be out of the house. This is all awesome. It is.

Our life isn't a movie. but let's embrace the sacred holy of the everyday.

I want to hold the everyday holy. I want to hold these gifts with open hands, do the work in front of me and yet not be so consumed by it I get myself distracted.

When things are busiest, when things are good, when things seem small, I can so easily forget to inhabit holy space, in all things, with God.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil.

Life is not a movie, but there is sacred holy of the everyday.

These lives of ours are filled with the glory of God. They are sacred and beautiful, filled with richness and hope in the midst of the everyday that is not so everyday. As I look towards summer and prepare for the busy schedule ahead, I know God will show me how to slow down, how to listen, how to look for him, how to recognize the kingdom of God speaking and singing loud and long. Perhaps it will begin with the sound of a tea kettle. I need more moments waiting for water to boil.

What about your life feels mundane right now, even though it’s not? Where, in your life right now, do you recognize the kingdom of God?

 

When You’re Convinced God Is Not Here

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1509064038015{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]God not hereYou aren’t swimming underwater now, waves tossing you so you aren’t sure which way is down, or up. But I know this isn’t how you feel. You are convinced you are sinking, that she is smarter, that you are slower. That she is prettier, that you’re not so special.

Come to think of it, you aren’t sure what is worthwhile anymore.

That job. This home. This struggle to make ends meet.

You scream the prayers in the night. Father, where are you, in the middle of the mess? Do you hear my cries? Do you recognize me, even here, where it is surely only dark? Can your light shine on me? I can’t find you.

I don’t even believe I know where to look.

God not here

You say it again: Why do your words, God, feel hollow, just letters on a page? How is your voice one I can hear? Would you even speak to me? Would you even want to? How can I believe this love you have for this world is love that applies to me?

You scrawl down the prayer, and you wonder if God hears it. You beg him to answer, do you have time for this, for me? Do I need to know more about you to be able to follow you, hear you call my name? That can’t be true, can it?

Will you help me find my way to you?

God not here


Dig deep now. You know where I am. You know where to find me.

Dig deep now. It is written in you, the way to me.

Make no excuses now. You are stronger than you know. You are not weak, not afraid. No, this is not who you are. Your story is written beautiful now. Step into it. Step into it, daughter.

You’ve stepped out. Now, step in. Claim who you are. Claim the fierceness for me, the fight for me.

God not here

Sometimes the fight to reach me is real. Don’t be distracted now. You are not alone. I am in you, do not forget. If I am in you, and you have lost your way to me, it is because of this: you are forgetting who you are and how you are made and the strength of faith and identity. I am the one you claim, dear one. There is nothing else you need to claim.

And there, there is beauty. And there, there is strength. And there, there is hope. And there, there is direction, a map to go deeper, further. Stretch those arms open now. You are not afraid. You are wise, with me. You are fearless, with me. You are mine. You are mine.

And there, there is beauty. And there, there is strength. And there, there is hope. And there, there is direction, a map to go deeper, further. Stretch those arms open now. You are not afraid. You are wise, with me. You are fearless, with me. You are mine. You are mine.

Praying now, friend. Jesus, come. We are fearless and fully ourselves with you. Remind us now. Let us step forward, ever deeper, ever free.

What is your prayer? What questions are you asking God?

 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Why it’s time to share what you’ve been hiding

What you've been Hidng collage[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]hey sit, these sisters, clasping tea in hands, telling me the story I know. The story of silence, the story of keeping it all hidden, pretending everything is okay.

They sit and share the wounds of the darkness, love muddled in attempt to keep things clean, organized, simple. The problem with pushing down truth is that truth cannot be hidden forever. And there is a cost to silence that is more bitter than the initial pain itself.

Repercussions to silence are felt in new ways–all for the fear of letting light shine.

Why it's time to stop hidingAvoiding conversations about the tough stuff may mean avoiding the potential mess that occurs when hearts are spilled open, raw. But avoidance–choosing silence–opens the door to believing lies, to making agreements about things that aren’t true.

Do you, friend, have a memory when you, as a child, tried to put together the pieces to a situation you didn’t fully understand? Do you feel the burden of silence, of things unspoken, of relationships strained?

We are made for relationship. We are made for community. We are made to share stories and let His light shine on the places of pain, of fear, of pride.

Time to share what you have been hidingMy friend leans forward. We must unearth truth, she says. We must unearth lies that need to be surrendered. We must unearth wounds pushed deep into hard, dark ground.

I squirm in my chair and my heart leaps with recognition. Yes, I understand this.  This invitation to unearth–seeking to discover lies of my past–makes me both excited and afraid.

For I remember. I’ve been here before.

Time to share what you have been hidingUnearthing creates turmoil in the dark places, underground. The roots have been established, wound their way through shadowless dark. Silence plants the message: deal with your burden on your own; figure it out; ignore it; time will make it all go away.

Over the years, the yearning for truth is squelched, pushed down, too far. And the darkness receives it, swallows it whole.

There the lies are nourished, fed by the years of handling the silence on our own. And there, the agreement is made:  I don’t have a voice, I am alone, I need to figure this out by myself, the cries of my heart don’t matter, I am not good enough.

The silence makes its insidious crawl, pushing its way from the deep recesses where it is further watered and new sprouts shaped. It curls upward and winds it way along the surface of the ground, a vine snaking in shadow, away from the chance of life outside.

And that is when the unearthing must come.

Time to share what you have been hidingThe vine must get pulled up by the roots because it prefers lurking in darkness and fears brightness of light.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5) .

“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Dear sisters, you are not meant to be silent. Your wounds are not invisible, forgotten, uncared for. Your voice, when you call His name, reaches to the heavens (Psalm 10:17).  His love for you cannot be contained.  The silent scars you bear are not invisible to Him, are not silent to Him, are not unnoticed by Him. He calls your name and cradles you close, knocking, asking if it is okay for Him to lift you up, to unearth the pain you bear (Luke 11:10). He promises to take that burden from you, carry it Himself, longing to remind you that He did it already, when He hung on a cross for you.

Time to share what you have been hidingHis voice called your name, breaking the silence of death with His death. His last cry to His Father was for you, as He chose, in His love for you, to suffer and die.  He allowed His body to lay cold, in the earth, alone, so that you can be unearthed, dear one, and rise with Him.

Let the Father unearth you like He unearthed His Son.  He redeems the darkness.  He makes everything light.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

As sisters, as daughters, as friends, we are called to bring light to darkness.

We are called to give voice to truth and then trust that He sets the captives–of silence–free.

We are called to give voice to truth and then trust that He sets the captives--of silence--free.

I appreciate the beautiful vulnerability–the courage–demonstrated in the Loop Prayer Sisters group. It is a private group on Facebook (you can request to join here) where sisters lay bare their need for God–asking for prayer for themselves and lifting up one another to Him. I pray it is a place, even on-line, that the Holy Spirit covers, leads, and women are in community sharing what is on their hearts.

Is there something you are keeping hidden that God is asking you to trust Him with? How do you need community around you now?

I Bet You Can Hear God Speak

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]A[/su_dropcap]cross this screen, we are not so far away from one another. Hundreds of miles can separate us, making it difficult to wrap our arms around each other in person. But uniting of hearts isn’t something we’re in the business of doing on our own. So miles don’t matter, really.

I bet you can hear God speak

I have spent this day unpacking duffels and doing laundry–and tossing a lacrosse ball back and forth at the park. Not important things, maybe. But this is: I need to tell you how I believe we see and hear God when we claim what is ours to do with Him. I have friends who crave to hear God’s voice but doubt He speaks to them, only because they think they haven’t heard it yet. They believe God speaks to other people, sure, but not to them.

I don’t believe this.

Just because we may not have recognized God’s voice doesn’t mean He hasn’t spoken to us.

We have all been given different gifts and personalities, and we are not going to hear the Father the way another person does. But I believe that the God who created each one of us is a communicator, a connector, a relationship-builder. He made us, and He likes us. He loves to hang out and be with us. He does not love from afar.

His own hands cradled the dirt He made, and His breath gave Adam life. When we long to hear Him speak, we must remember that God is more than language, than words, than thoughts formed within a human heart. He is a God of experiences. He loves to experience this Life with us.

I am reading through the Old Testament now and I am humbled by the closeness of God with us, His interaction with the prophets, His caring about the details of our lives. I try to soak up the truth of the Father’s intimacy with us. Everything points to love. Everything points to Jesus. When Jesus died, His Spirit stayed to be within us. I wonder if one of the first keys to hearing the Holy Spirit’s words is to trust that the Spirit of the living God is truly in us. When we say ‘yes’ to Christ, His Spirit is here.

Speech is translated through the language of our heart with the Father. He has designed each of us to love to do certain things–experience life, uniquely, unlike anyone else. And we need to trust Him. The things He puts on our hearts to do can be the words He speaks.

What has God put on your heart to do?

God’s words to our hearts are a language unique to each of us. And it takes the desire to know the language He speaks–intimately, specifically, to each one of us–to open the doors of our hearts to understand what He loves to say.

I am convinced to this: We hear Him when we are stretched, beyond ourselves, to do what only He, in us, can do.

I may hear Him in words that come out translated into language upon a page. And it is the most beautiful love language, and precious to me, because for most of my life–as much as I have always loved words, and reading and writing–I didn’t believe I had a thing to say. In the very place where I felt the most wounded and insecure, God spoke love and truth.  But I have to choose to believe it, sisters.

I  have to choose to believe God is in me, desiring to speak to me. I must choose to believe this everyday.

I must choose to believe God speaks to me. I must choose to believe this everyday.

What experience is He calling you into, with Him, to experience His intimacy, His love language, to you? Sometimes, the first time we hear Him speak is when we let Him in to do the hard work of healing past wounds.

We choose to let Him in.

And sometimes, the first time we hear Him speak is when we are surrendering completely, relying utterly on His own strength in us to complete a task, set out on an adventure. We know we don’t have what it takes on our own. And rather than feel discouraged, we feel free. That is His voice. Freedom. We hear it, and we are emboldened–encouraged, steadfast, sure.

We hear Him when we do things that are too big for us, alone, to do.

How you hear Him may be so similar to how I do–or it may be completely different. But it comes down to trusting Him, believing that you are loved so much that, through the experiences you have with Him, He is communicating.

He wants to remind us who we are, with Him.

He wants to be in community with us.

He wants to have us trust Him and go on adventures with Him, so that we can experience His love and hear His voice in our hearts.

God’s heart is not silent.  He loves us too much to not connect and say “hey.”

How do you hear God best?  How do you experience His voice in you?

When I Didn’t Know We Can Hear God Speak

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]S[/su_dropcap]he stands at the stage up in front, microphone in hand. She talks to a room full of women sitting around circular tables in the fellowship hall of our church. Paper plates sit piled with scones and sliced fruit. Styrofoam cups hold coffee. Strollers line the back of the room. Many women hold babies in their laps. My kids are in the church childcare, and I lean forward, curious to hear each word she says.

God speaksShe says she hears from God. She doesn’t say I can hear Him too.

After she talks for forty minutes about the challenge of raising kids and following God with our whole lives, she spends the next ten minutes doing something I have never seen before. She tells us that God, during her talk, has been whispering to her about certain people in the room. God has given her messages to tell these women. And she is going to tell us, right here, right now, with microphone in hand, specifically what He has said.

I about fall out of my folding chair.

I’ve read about this kind of stuff happening in those stories I read in the Bible. Those prophets were pretty amazing. Obviously special, clearly close with God. And then this speaker stands up here, a woman a decade older than me, seemingly totally normal, and says God has been talking to her and she is going to tell us what He said. What?! I didn’t know this was possible. Not here. Not now.

But I believe her. Well, at least I want to believe her. Say something to me! Tell me something God says about me! I’ve never considered God wanting to talk to us. I’ve never thought that prayer could be more than a little girl in her bed with the brown paneled walls, asking if God would stop her mom from smoking, telling God she was sad about her dog being run over by a car, believing God must not be anywhere near, once she became a teenager and had sex with boys and was obviously filled with sin and was no good.

Nope, God wouldn’t speak, at least not to me. But maybe He speaks to other people? Yes? Could this really be true?

The lights in the room dim. The speaker stands up there, a light shining on her from above the stage, and she begins talking in vague terms what God has whispered to her: there is a woman here who suffers, whose family member died recently, who is struggling with a secret she doesn’t want to speak aloud. The speaker says she doesn’t know to whom God is speaking in the room, but that God knows who she is and that this is what the woman needs to know: she can share her story; she doesn’t need to stay silent; she is not alone; God is with her; He knows this pain. And, if she’d like to come up afterward? There is more He has to say.

She says there is another woman in the room who is paralyzed by fear, who feels unloved and unwanted, whose illness is debilitating, causing her to question God’s presence, who believes she is not able to be healed. Would she like to come up afterward too? The speaker continues like this, speaking of a few more women whose names she either doesn’t know or she chooses not to speak aloud. And I am begging God through the whole time she is saying all this–choose me! I begin to yearn for something I hadn’t known existed.

I am not considering the possibility that God would speak to me personally, straight to me. Would He want to? But perhaps He would speak to her about me? I would love to know what God might have to say.
God speaks

But she doesn’t. I am not one of those lucky women. I don’t fit any of the descriptions. And when the talk ends, and she prays aloud for us all, I am curious about whether or not the women she referenced will go up to the front afterwards. Was it true about them, what she said He said? Did she really hear God speak? Were the women she said God was whispering to her about really here?

And then a woman at my table whom I have never met goes up. And then I see four more women, in different parts of the room, make their way to the front, too. I am jealous. God, what about me?

I look back, a seed being watered I never knew was ever planted.

What has been your experience with listening for God? Do you believe He speaks now? How have you heard Him speak to you? 

Sisters In the Circle Where Jesus Is

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]Y[/su_dropcap]ou tell me how he left, how you’re by yourself now. But you tell me you’re strong because God is with you. You tell me you’re going to be okay.

In the circle sisters where Jesus is

There you are, on the other side of the world, a sister decades younger, and we are connected. I feel your strength, even here. And in this circle, I am strengthened too.

We send each other stories, emails. We explain heartbreak, words typed on blank white and sent to each other’s computers thousands of miles away. We can’t do this alone–hold each other close, listen to one another’s story and not feel overwhelmed–without Jesus.

We can’t love each other well unless we choose to see Jesus in the middle of everything we say.

I sit on my knees, hard floor beneath me. I close my eyes, and I see you. We stand before the Father, us two. But it’s not just us. There are hundreds, thousands of sisters, more than our eyes can see. And we are known here. Gathered in a circle. We are the circle. We are the circle of light.

We are the daughters who stand at the feet of their Father and live knowing we are held and adored and championed and safe.

Oh, we are completely safe.

You tell me how even though your boyfriend is leaving, and you are pregnant, you are not alone. You tell me you are strong and there is a future for you. You tell me God is recreating you, and it is always a new beginning with Him. And I believe it. You help me hear His voice. When you speak, I hear His whisper. A whisper to my heart that started as an email to a stranger that is a sister.

No, we are not strangers, you and I.

In the fall I finished writing a book, and it is in the hands of the publisher and editor now.  It is a book about desperation and darkness. It is a book about regret and pain and sadness and beauty and life and hope.

The book is a collection of cries out to God when we feel we will surely die if He doesn’t come in right now–right now–and let his light shine bright on our face.

Oh, Jesus, shine your light on our face. 

sisters in the circle with Jesus PIN

Now, the circle.

Next to us, also in the circle, is a sister whom I connect with on Facebook, a darling one who confesses what she has never shared with anyone else before. I am on my stomach on my bed, my laptop in front of me. Justin is at his men’s group, and I leave the screen for a few moments to corral a teenager and find a water bottle for a 12 year old and kiss a ten year old who loves to be tucked in. But I return to my laptop, and I am with Jesus, in the circle with our sister, and I stand next to her, with Jesus. We hold hands.

Nothing she says to me, I think, can shock me, can make me not love her, this sister I have yet to meet face to face.

Yet, the circle.

This place where sisters gather, in the company of Jesus is safe. It is holy ground. I thank God that He has made it so. I thank Him for coming, leaning against the almond tree when I laid on the ground in the orchard and believed that my heart was a place where no light could ever shine. And Jesus came. I return to the almond tree and Jesus is there, looking at me, shining light on my face in my darkest night.

Jesus, You shine.

Now sister, that boyfriend of yours, he may not change the way we wish he would. That past of ours, the one we wish we could rewrite, is history that will never go away. But the circle, the light shining bright, is where we remember where hope is. We speak words of confession and we love each other the way Jesus loved us first. And then we see Him and we hear Him and we feel Him.

Yes, this circle is where we stay. It is safe here, in the place where Jesus is.

Can you see it?

Raise your head now, dear one.

Can you see?