Between the Thunder and the Lightning

At the beginning of the year, I wrote these words: “I’m not one for many New Year’s resolutions, but I know this: I want to welcome what this year brings with open hands, embrace beauty, dare to follow creativity, and refuse to be led by fear.”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about that last part. Refusing to be led by fear.

You don’t need me to tell you that so much of the world around us is shaped strongly by fear – fear of strangers, of opposing views or political parties, of losing our retirement or the admiration of the crowds. More and more, we’re starting to talk as a nation about fear & divisions & polarization. I’m glad for that. And more and more, I realize that this culture of fear has certainly seeped into my own heart as well. Continue reading

One year.

It’s been one year since I began feeling so sick. One year since I spiraled into a maze of doctors appointments and the fog of illness and the anxiety of unanswered questions.

One year later, a lot of people are still asking me, “how are you feeling?”

And I get that. Although I began feeling like myself again somewhere around August, it’s been a long road of recovery and I don’t think I’ve been very good at keeping people updated with the slow, steady work of getting better. Continue reading


Some time ago, I realized my normal modes of exercise–mainly biking and walking–were primarily benefiting a certain set of muscles. My legs. Although I felt in good physical shape, there was a whole half of my body that never received a very strenuous workout. In order to right this imbalance, I needed to seek out exercises that targeted these weaker areas.

In some ways, the choices I make in my life are similar to the exercises I choose. It may seem like I’m in good shape, but when I look closely I’m very heavily focused on certain areas, with whole areas of my life ignored or uncultivated. Just like my physical body, these “muscles,” if not used, will continue to stay stagnant.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about risk. After years of making choices, we are (often unconsciously) choosing what muscles in our life we want to be strongest. Years of making a safe, easy, or comfortable choice will cause those muscles to become my reflex response. The more I choose comfort and security over risk, the more I’m closing my heart off to all sorts of scary but wonderful things God might bring me.

Choosing to embrace risk, doing things that are good but scare me, is a way to begin building strength in other areas, knowing that more scary things will inevitably come and these extra muscles sure might come in handy. As reluctant as I might sometimes be, I want to keep doing something that scares me every year of my life. I want to keep saying yes and building my muscles of trust, creativity, prayer, and dependence upon Christ.


What are some things that really scare you? I’m not necessarily talking about spiders, snakes, or steep ledges–although I totally get that. But what really terrifies you deep down?

Rejection? Failure? Isolation? Meaninglessness? Not-enough-ness?

Me too.

There are some days we look at our life and think, why risk it?

The point is not that risk is inherently good, but that life is about these sort of small choices we make every year of our lives. This isn’t about gaining points by being a crazy risk-taker, but re-aligning our priorities so that we’re willing to take risks for the sake of big and beautiful things. Discerning when to step into this risk intentionally, and the process of embracing it, is what exercises our muscles of dependence on the Spirit. We learn to pray, live, and love Jesus differently when we’re out of our comfort zone.

Here’s who I want to be: someone who enters into risk with the full acknowledgement that I need both wisdom and courage, that I don’t have enough of either of these on my own. I want to step forward towards good/scary things because I know whether I fail or succeed, just the very act of stepping forward is a victory.

And once I’m there, I want to look back with a knowing smile on my face, recognizing that Jesus led me all the way, and turn my face towards the future and say,

“Let’s try again tomorrow.”


You do all things well.

I recently re-discovered Tenth Avenue North’s album The Struggle. Many of their songs focus on making sense out of suffering. I’ve found myself thinking a lot about these lyrics in the past few weeks:

All I hear is what they’re selling me
That God is love, He’s isn’t suffering
And what you need is a little faith in prosperity
But oh my God I know there’s more than this
If You promise pain, it can’t be meaningless
So make me poor if it’s the price for freedom

I wonder sometimes how innocently I’ve believed the lie that what God wants most is for me to be happy. Of course in my head I know this isn’t true; although God loves me, what he wants most for me is my joy in becoming holy, in becoming more like Christ. But to follow Christ means to follow the way of suffering. So why am I alarmed, as Paul says, that I must suffer as well, whether it may seem big or small? Continue reading

Ups & Downs

Sometimes life is a wild ride. Sometimes just when you think you’re regaining your control of it, it defies your illusions and shows you just how little control you really have.

I’m usually not someone who has trouble being flexible, but at the beginning of this year I was really holding tightly to my plans for the next 12 months. And instead, the past three months have felt like utter chaos and I”m still a bit woozy from the whiplash.

This last month has been encouraging in many ways. I’ve begun to feel better and am hopeful that I am finally on the upswing, even though it will still be a gradual road. I’ve also been blessed with a lot of sweet moments with friends, new and old. I’ve been given a glimpse into just how precious this life is here that I live, and this has made it much easier to let go of my thoughts of what this time was supposed to look like.

But when I’m totally honest, some days are still a struggle. I struggle with looking back and wondering what I could have done differently to bring a different outcome. I struggle with guilt over how my problems have impacted those closest to me in ways they didn’t deserve. I struggle with wanting to control the future–wanting to guarantee that the next few months will bring full healing, that our trip to Europe was merely postponed instead of cancelled, and that life will continue on like it was before February.

The problem is that nothing in this life is guaranteed. The only thing each of us can do anything about is the moment we’re in right here, right now. NOW is the only guarantee.

Except Jesus.

Because while I want to control the future and make amends for the past, the only thing I can cling to in utter assurance is Christ. No matter what the future days, minutes, hours hold, he will hold me fast. I am guaranteed his presence and his eternal life. I can rest confident in his faithfulness every moment, every day.

One of my continued prayers during this time is for this season to help me recognize even more the beauty and sufficiency of Christ. Years ago, I sort of claimed this verse to be my life’s theme, and now I pray that the Lord would help me understand the meaning even deeper and richer this year:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.    – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thank you, Jesus!

A Prayer for Greatness

This week I’ve been thinking about love, about faith, about fear.

I’ve been thinking of the Letter from a Birmingham Jail. I’ve been meditating on Titus 3. I still have a lot of questions. And I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of words have already been spoken this week. What I need, what we all need, is not more words AT each other but WITH each other.

So here is my prayer. I’d love if you would join me in praying, or add a prayer of your own in the comments below!

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