Vulnerability should be a byproduct of spiritual family, not the goal.
Vulnerability only happens when there is a space given where someone feels valued enough to be vulnerable. It is built on a mutual trust between two people, and trust is built when people are valued enough to be spent time…
“The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect, and still be deserving of compassion and kindness.”—Daniell Koepke (via lizraine)
This isn’t so much about looks as this is about perception and the lies that swim around in our heads.
I never liked the way my legs look. Ever since I became aware of my looks at the late-blooming stage of high school. I hated my legs. They’re too big. Too much fat or too much muscle. Why couldn’t I have “chicken legs” like most of the other girls?
Funny enough, of all my (take this sarcastically, ladies and gents) “marketable body parts,” my legs have gotten the most attention (whether genuine or crude), so where’s the disconnect between what I believe and what the truth is?
How did I decide that my legs were “too _____” or “not ______ enough”? If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past century, you know the answer is media and culture. I know these messages are lies because if I were a model, I would be just as insecure (or even moreso) about my body.
The point, I think, is not about whether or not my husband or even some creeper likes the way my legs are built. I don’t even have to love my legs. I think the take home is knowing that I am enough, big legs or small legs. Long or short. I’m not defined by my legs at all, in fact. I think it’s a daily choice to fight to be comfortable with yourself because most of the world is trying to convince you otherwise, not because they hate your lack of thigh-gap (stupidest “fad” in the world), but because it’s a good way to get your money. Nothing that they use to convince you (the messages behind ads, music, marketing, art, copy, etc…) is real though. But your legs are. Your heart is. Your mind is. I’d rather love what’s real than buy into a contrived message. Wouldn’t you?
Sounds pretty… tyrannical? Manipulative? Controlling? Well, Jesus said it. So… maybe it’s not! I’m not gonna lie, I was puzzled by this verse, but then I started getting to know Jesus as a person.*
What I find in this verse (John 15:14) is that it makes sense in relationship. I have friends that I absolutely adore, and I’m sure most of you do. I love some of them so much that if they asked me for a favor, it’d be a no-brainer. I would set aside the things on my to-do list, give them my 10-minute break at work, etc… for them. In a blink. For my even closer friends, I’d anticipate what they needed/wanted before they even asked! How crazy is that? Sometimes my friends don’t even have to ask me if I would like to receive something on Valentine’s Day. They just mail away!
It’s the same with God. In asking tons of questions, sharing my deepest secrets, and answering some of his questions, I’ve built a relationship with him and I decided I really like God. Even though, he’s puzzling at times or answers my questions in ways I don’t expect, I enjoy his mystery… it’s not uncommunicative mystery either. It’s more like an alluring surprise (I won’t lie and say I’m always keen on these unknowns all the time!).
Can I be frank with you? I wanted to rip someone a new one today. This person hurt me. A lot. Not just once either. They could use a good telling off. And the worst part is, I don’t even know if they know what they did! “They deserve to be enlightened…” I say, “with my fist!” God, being God, listens patiently and tells me to put the pitchfork and soapbox down… and let him deal with it. All of it.
That’s awfully scary to hear when I’ve gotten so used to sticking up for myself in this big, intimidating world. But I decided today that I would listen to God because in our friendship, I found things work out really well when I take his advice. A lot of times it sounds like, “Don’t worry, I got this.” It’s that still, small voice amidst the chaotic panic or my active, creative, and beautifully messy thought-space.
In relationship, this “obedience” is more like taking advice from a dear, trusted friend. A friend close enough to be honest with you. It helps that this friend can see into the future too. At times it can feel like a grind, but that only happens when I’m not thinking in terms of our relationship. So I have to go back and remember that Jesus is for me. He knows what I want before I do. And that’s a friend that can be trusted.
*People I talk to get confused and even frustrated with the notion that one can get to know a “spiritual being” that isn’t physically present. I see it as having a great wifi connection to God. We’re on Skype 24/7, except I don’t need a computer or a smart phone. It’s even more direct because the wifi connects my heart with his. Who needs screens?
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”—
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
This verse shows me that relationship is the most important part of the Christian walk. I read it as us needing to know we’re loved by Jesus (vs. earning his love), and then overflowing with that love onto others. It’s not always easy to do, but I can assure you, it’s much easier to take someone to coffee, buy your stepmom some flowers, apologize to that grumpy coworker, etc… on a full love tank.
There’s a lot of chatter in the circles I run in about “obese Christians,” and I don’t mean people that are physically overweight that profess to be Christians. I’m talking about people that are over-saturated with receiving wisdom, kindness, ministry, etc… and are not giving it away. Some of us are over-eating at the banquet table of the Lord, but we’re not working it off by walking it out.
I made the move from my university city back to my hometown. The transition was hard and I knew that it takes time to build relationships and get integrated into spiritual family (those things take a lot of time and intentionality!) so I started feeding myself spiritually by waiting on the Lord, reading books, listening to teachings and I started getting spiritually chubby. I was benefitting from all the gains and getting wiser, but my outer circumstances weren’t changing much and the fruit left much to be desired so I decided to employ a kingdom principle that I’d learned: Give away what you’ve got to make room for God’s blessings (Proverbs 11:24).
I started serving at my old church and at a new church, investing into both, not expecting anything back (note: one is able to do this for a sustained time only when it is done out of strength from the Lord—a good example is Heidi Baker who has not burned out in all her years of living and doing ministry). There were a few other investments that I made financially and in intentionally spending time with family and new friends (this isn’t a post about my doings, so just imagine the rest!) and I can pleasantly say that God has been faithful in getting me to feel un-stuck! God hasn’t thrown a bunch of distractions at me to fill up my planner, but he’s blessed me with purpose, with his manifestations—big and small—and with friends that I will happily call spiritual family! Isn’t he great?
He’s been showing me that the fruit he’s producing in my life is good; the work I’ve been creating is fulfilling and a pleasant aroma to him. I believe he is still doing things to set us all up for our destinies, so why not have some mini-games/adventures on the side? All I had to do was trust that He’s better than I think He is, figure out a few places to express love and serve, and then let it rip! If you’re doing the same, I’d love to hear about it!
This year I spent NYE with a shipload of sailors… real sailors. Shanties and all. I will never forget that
Apart from that, one of my favourite parts of the New Year is my new year letter to myself from the year before…
Let me explain…
Every year I write a letter to myself to read in exactly 1 year. January 1st is a convenient time to write this letter since everyone else is so motivated about starting new things or self-improvement. (I’ve kept this resolution for at least 5 years!!) It’s not that I don’t have friends that I write to myself (I promise, I do! There’s a reason I’m not reblogging everything!). This letter from the past is a great reminder that I’m not the same person after 1 year. We grow, make mistakes, learn, love, get our hearts broken, achieve, fail, and get back up. The process is beautiful.
What do I write to myself? I ask myself questions… years ago I remember reading a previous letter asking whether or not I was married… that’s hilarious. Anyways, I write about my job(s) or lack thereof, the hobbies I entertain myself with, and even predictions I have for myself in the next year. In 2013 I predicted that the current job I have now would be a character-defining factor in my life, and BOY, that’s the most accurate guess ever! It’s my first full-time job, and getting a wacky creative to tie herself down to a desk for 8 hours a day is like pulling teeth from a rabid badger.
This past year I road-tripped across the U.S. with my best friend, lost my dog, Sammy, got my first promotion, painted on stage/in public for the first time, watched my brothers graduate from college and high school, and made two new best friends. A lot happens in a year and it’s too easy to forget unless we reflect…
I highly recommend doing this since it provides a sense of perspective. It shows you how much you can grow in a year, and even how you learn best. It teaches you that it’s ok to take risks once in a while. Writing these reflective letters can inspire you to live more whimsically or to invest more time in relationships rather than work.
Here are some topics to write on if you’d like to give this a try, but don’t know where to start:
Your highlights of the year
Big achievements (graduation, career, new car, etc…) and failures
Friends, family and relationships
What you hope for in the new year
Questions you’d like to ask your future self
Personal growth, worldview?
Top 3 life lessons you learned
Some handy tips: I use Google Drive to store my letters in one doc so I can go back and read letters from years before if I desire. Plus, I won’t lose it and I can access it from anywhere with internet. To look back at events and choose my highlights or memorable moments, I go through pictures and even Facebook posts. This is incredibly helpful as you’ll constantly be surprised how much you achieve in a year!
Do you write New Years letters? How has that been going for you?
I’m usually ruminating on things I’ve learned while driving. It seems like a good use of time. Plus it keeps me from being frustrated from other drivers.
I realised last night behind the wheel that insecurities that I pump in my heart through my veins don’t just keep me from achieving more, they’re also damaging to the relationships around me, especially in the long run. Ah, the journey of life…
When my insecurities manifest to actions that don’t identify with who I truly am, it’s to protect myself, but in doing so, there’s a good chance I’m being manipulative.
Say my neighbor offers to cook me dinner because I lost my job and she’s feeling sorry for me. I could turn it down for a number of reasons: 1) it’s too much trouble for her and I don’t want to be a bother (false humility) 2) I don’t want to feel pitied (pride) or 3) I’m not worth her time and effort (self-hatred). These aren’t the only possible reasons one might turn a kind gesture down, but we’ll stick with these for now. The three reasons (and others) listed aren’t the facets that hurt my neighbor however. If I say no, and then put on a facade of optimism about employment in my response and I’m expecting her to leave me alone. I know how she will react and I am inducing her response by creating an persona that I don’t actually have.
While my enthusiastic no-thanks-I’m-doing-great-see? response will probably not physically or emotionally hurt my neighbor, it’s still an act of falsehood in an attempt to trigger an expected outcome from someone else. That, friends, is a form of control, no matter how sweet it looks in its straight-cut bangs, bow-tie flats, and peter-pan collar.
Not convinced? New scenario: I’m the president of the photography club in my college and a new person arrives. I flip on the PR-personality: no matter how crappy my day was or exhausted I am, I am fun-loving, inquisitive about everything in this newbie’s life (OMG, you do yoga too? I LOVE yoga!), and I am ready to party. "We should, like, hang out or something." In reality: I have no idea who this person is, they’ve never seen me before and we have no investment in each other. Plus, I hate yoga. I just want to get another member in the club, because… being in the club will make them happy, right? And it’ll make me look good because I think I need external approval to be happy, my drug a la insecurite. Or maybe I can just be me, let them be them*, welcome them and let them decide if they want to come back next week.
My behaviors that rise because of my insecurities (extreme politeness, brash sarcasm, silence, over-bubbliness, super-extraversion, the list goes on!) are methods of control, especially if I can guess how others will react to my behavior. If this is true, acting out insecurity is no different from manipulation, except the insecure one is usually fooled into thinking that he/she is only affecting himself/herself.
No, it’s not a cardinal sin—in fact, people do this all the time! Have you ever told someone you bumped in to “Hey we should catch up some time!” when you have no intentions to follow through or initiate? Maybe you’ve shrugged off your own needs to hide some hurt or avoid healing. And we all lie to the telemarketer when we want them to stop selling us their new organic soap. I know it’s not the worst thing I could do to another person, but I think when I’m working with relationships, control is not a good asset to have in my inventory. We can get away with these subtle manipulations and live happy, healthy, yoga-doing lives (I don’t actually hate yoga), but it makes it harder when important situations arise and you need to be honest, vulnerable, and genuine. Honesty and trust are the most important currency in your relationships. Don’t be poor.
*Quote of the day: "How about you let me be me, and I let you be you?" –Jason Westerfield
Depression is usually caused by a state of hopelessness that says that the circumstances around you are greater than the person in you. It’s generally a heart issue that says you have no control and are powerless over your situation.
"What’s Next?" Both of my brothers recently had kids that more than likely complete their families. They’re both older than me, so it makes sense they’re at a different stage. They met and married their wives, they bought dogs and they had kids, all in a nice little sequence. I love watching them build their&
Someday I am going to have to have the conversation with my son. No, not the conversation all parents dread giving and all kids are mortified having. I enjoy making people uncomfortable so that conversation should be fun. No, I’m talking about another conversation. The one that happens after I catch his eye doing what&
“Don’t bother too much about your feelings. When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them; when they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask to have them altered. In neither case are they you, but only a thing that happens to you. What matters is your intentions and your behaviour.”—
Love—platonic and romantic—is messy. There’s no escaping it. You might as well roll up your sleeves and dive right in.
We can keep our walls up all we want, protecting our emotions and pride. Ultimately love, the real love that means anything, REQUIRES risk. It’s a beautiful and selfless thing, to pour out what you have for someone and expect nothing back. Even more so, you lie on a cold, stainless steel operating table, with your chest naked, skin pinned back, heart exposed. The scalpels and knives are laid out on a tray—anything could happen. A few of the other test mice have been lucky, scoring close to 100%, but most of us have to learn in ways that involve a bit of cutting.
The fact that we can’t be sure of the outcome will never go away because love requires trust and faith. We can’t be sure if someone will love us back the same amount or even in the same way. We can be sure though, that no matter what, we will grow every day and learn to love better and better as long as that is our choice. With every friendship or relationship that doesn’t go as we planned, and even the ones that blossom, we build our “heart muscles” to love the next people that come along. We don’t expect to not get hurt anymore, but we can expect to love more fully and deeply with each day. And how beautiful would it be to look back and say we gave it everything we had?
“If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.”—Charles Bukowski (via spiritual-mess)
“1. Fruit is not meant to remain on the branch, it is meant to be given away and consumed.
2. When I say yes to one thing, I say no to everything else.
3. The Father has a love that only gives everything.
4. Let it be said of me that the last few days with Him have been the very best.
5. Let’s begin to explore the repercussions of replacing these three words: prayer, intimacy and worship, with these words: talking to God.
6. Anyone who gets up here [the pulpit] on a Sunday morning as if they have arrived is probably lying.”—
It might seem odd that on this, our one-year anniversary, I am beginning a post with the declaration that my husband is not my soul mate. But he isnât. I wouldnât want to imagine life without James…
This was the first thing I saw on my Facebook feed this morning from Chris Cron… And I think it’s true:
"I think the founding fathers made a mistake in the language of the constitution. In the phrase "life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness", the word "pursuit" is wildly unnecessary and extremely dangerous. It is the driving force behind every kind of evil this nation has seen or been a part of: the pursuit leads us towards our own desires and selfishness. It gives no heed to anyone else.
"In my whole life, I have discovered that my excursions into looking for happiness have led me in the opposite direction. I become obsessive, and focused on myself. None of the things I’ve pursued have made me happy. It is only when I stop chasing and surrender that I discover what happiness is. It’s in the realization of the beauty of the world around us; the design of the creator. It’s in just being. It’s in what is already right in front of you. Pursue it and you will never find it. Sit quietly still and it will reveal itself to you. Happiness is just being that child of God that you are.
Today marks another pivotal moment in my walk with Jesus.
Whether it because I’m in the middle of nowhere or I’m still in the middle of processing post-grad emotions or I still haven’t started processing it—mostly because I’m avoiding it—I’ve been essentially looking for closure. A closure to…
I wish my folks would do this… I’m taking this as a prophetic sign of #breakthrough
“You know, the Bible doesn’t teach us to be defensive in relationships. It doesn’t tell us to protect your heart and be extra cautious ‘cause you don’t know who’s going to betray you, who’s going to leave you, no it doesn’t say anything like that, it just says love. And it says love always trusts. And it always tells us to forgive; forgive means they’re going to wrong you first and then you’re gonna forgive. And then go back up and trust again. That’s what the Bible says about our relationships. It never says, ‘No, close your heart ‘cause you’re going to get hurt. Be protective. Protect your own heart.’ No, it never says that. It says, ’Get hurt, I will heal you, I’ll restore things, reconciliation is for you, and then get back up and love again. Trust again. Go belong to that group again.’ That’s how the word of God teaches us.”—Myunghwa Choi, ”Loneliness Unmasked (via hammereddrunkwithfaith)
I’ve been spending a lot of my time thinking about how much of an idealist I’ve been. I always treasured it, it’s always allowed me to think and dream big. I also felt like it correlated with childlike faith— to not compromise on God’s promise over your life, to refuse to settle for anything…
Oh boy, this summarizes my current season SO much…
We are now into the 9th week of our 10 week quarter. One would think that things would be winding down as the school year ends, but on the contrary, things are starting to accelerate. That’s just kind of how it’s always been at Origins, I guess. I’d like to share what I’ve been up to and also some…
Sometimes All You Need to Do Is Give Yourself A Little Push
This particular encounter with God was something that I was going to keep to myself, a little gem to cuddle, one to go in the personal mental scrapbook that no one else is allowed to read. But as I was chatting with a best friend of mine, I realised that this testimony might help others have confidence to step out in faith. It probably would have helped me if I’d heard it before.
I was at a church meeting on a Wednesday night, not sure what to expect. This church was trying to break through into the supernatural and pursue the Holy Spirit. I was invited to come to the meetings to help pray for the sick and prophesy over people. The fact that this all was happening was so encouraging, but I did not expect what was about to happen as I walked up to share about an encounter I had two days before.
Being relatively shy, it took me two awkward long pauses as the pastor asked and waited for anyone to volunteer a God-story. “Anyone have any cool testimonies since last week?” The first time should have been enough to get me out of my seat. What would these nice, conservative church-going people think of my crazy encounter? How would they receive the fact that God is tangible today? Or that this nobody can hear his voice? Long pause. As if the pastor knew someone was holding back. Another girl raised her hand and shared, and I thought surely I’d missed my chance—slightly relieved, but also kicking myself. “Anyone else?” That was my cue.
I nearly ran up to the front of the sanctuary—terrified to let another opportunity, like so many others, to share what my Daddy God had done slip me by—and bashfully introduced myself. The church was an old church of mine, but most of the congregation probably did not recognise me. The pastor affirmed my history at the church, which I felt gave me a little credibility and launched me into the telling of my encounter with the Lord in my car as I drove to work on Monday (the Fear of the Lord met me in my car as I peeled away from the curb and long story short, it was hard to drive 30 minutes with so much glory happening in my little coupe).
At the end of my 3 min schpiel, I asked everyone to find the courage to seek an encounter with the presence of the living God, handed the mic back to the pastor, and made my way back to my seat next to my mother. I was jittery with what I thought was adrenaline from speaking to a crowd of strangers, but I quickly realized it was much more… my body went from jittery to trembling, as if a thousand volts of electricity were surging through my body, from the top of my head to my toes. Immense peace, power, and joy was channeling through my veins. I set my hand on my mom’s shoulder to see if she could feel it and she asked me if I was alright. That was enough to confirm to me that this was a physical manifestation and not just one felt in the spirit. My Energizer-bunny encounter lasted till the meeting broke and people rose to go home. As I was leaving, a good handful of people thanked me for my courage to share and told me they were very encouraged by the testimony.
This type of encounter/manifestation does not typically happen to me, but I wanted to share that the only thing I felt like I needed to do was elect to use my free will. I chose to fight the fear and take one step towards the front of the sanctuary in front of 30 or so people. The rest, including the other 15 steps, receiving the mic, introducing myself, sharing my testimony, and getting hit by a bolt of Holy Spirit just sort of… happened. I didn’t have to try. I didn’t get nervous. It was if God was in total control. All I had to do was give my weak yes and yield.
God realizes and understands that unbelief holds us back sometimes. But when we choose faith over fear and take that tiny, mustard-seed-sized step, he will back us up to the ends of the earth.