Glimpses to Cling to

Sometimes life is so complicated and cloudy that I can’t sleep. Sometimes when I pray I feel like I’m just talking to myself, so I exhale, shrug my shoulders and give up. “This is just the season I’m in right now,” I’ve been saying. But sometimes it feels like an awfully long season. Sometimes my inner voice is so mean she makes me doubt myself, my relationships, my abilities. She also refuses to let those extra pounds I’ve gained go unnoticed. Sometimes I spend an entire hour in a counseling session unashamedly crying as the pile of tissues in my lap gets bigger and bigger.

But then my counselor stops me. She tells me to breathe in deeply – as deep as I can till I can’t breathe in any more. And release.

But then I receive a note from a kind friend who describes me with words I wouldn’t have used for myself. Edifying words, words that build instead of break.

But then I look across the table and my eyes are met with Timothy’s eyes: eyes I love and want to look into forever. And I know that when I don’t know anything.. his love I can trust.

But then I go to a wedding and I watch a woman whom I have loved and respected and admired for a very long time marry a man who looks at her in a way that makes me cry silently, and happily, in my wooden pew. She’s a vision in her white, lace dress and I think about all the ways she has been so kind to me since I met her, and how her new husband is going to be loved so well and so.. big. I can’t sing along with the hymns because I’m distracted by the way he is holding her hand on the altar and looking at her like he doesn’t realize we are all there.

Glimpses of bigger, beautiful things. Heart, hold fast to these glimpses. To these things that make life worthwhile and full, because sometimes life doesn’t feel very full or even very kind. When its hard to breathe, remember the way he looked at her in her wedding dress. Remember Timothy – always Timothy – and the way his bearded cheek feels against yours. Remember that you’re loved by people who know you deeply, have seen you in your lowest.. and stayed.

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November 9th, 2016

I felt a little bit like I had gotten beat up this morning when I woke up. I was worn out and disappointed and really exhausted. I didn’t sleep much on election night, which wasn’t something I expected. I hadn’t planned on staying up to watch any of the coverage – I knew what was going to happen so there was no need. But when the numbers kept changing and adding up differently than I or the newscasters I was watching expected, I couldn’t move off my couch. Timothy and I went to bed quite late, digesting what had happened. We were silent on our separate pillows till I said,

This is really disappointing.”

A sentiment that my mother echoed when I called her this morning on my way to work. Her voice lacked its usual enthusiasm and her first words weren’t words at all, but a heavy sigh.

I can’t believe this is happening.

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My favorite part of wearing my ‘A Woman’s Place is in the House and the Senate’ shirt around Washington DC was having so many women say “I like your shirt” as they walked past me.

Because it is surprising to me how hate, division, and fear have ruled and won this election. I didn’t think it would end this way. I truly thought that it would be risen above and the betterment of our entire country would be the priority, not the betterment of a political party.

And moreover, to be so very honest, I couldn’t believe that a woman didn’t win this election. I wanted her to. I wanted that victory because it wouldn’t have only belonged to her. It would have belonged to the women who died fighting for the vote and the women who somehow – magically and beautifully – still believe they can do anything despite men like Donald Trump talking to them like garbage. I watched reports of 98 year old ladies who were born before suffrage crying as they held their ballots because they waited 96 years to vote for a woman. I cried with them. I read articles about Susan B. Anthony’s tombstone getting covered in “I Voted” stickers. I cried with them, too. And I cried this morning at my desk at work, which was wildly unexpected and rather embarrassing, because I wanted to see her: Hillary, a woman strong like the women in my family, there. For my great grandmother who lived to be 102 years old and never saw a woman get so far I wanted Hillary there, and for my niece who I hope never ever ever questions her potential as a woman, I wanted to see Hillary there.

I don’t think I realized how badly I had wanted her there till this morning.

This doesn’t discount the strides women have made and I feel so sure that it won’t take another 96 years to see a woman’s name on the ballot again (major hell to pay if it does, by the way). And this doesn’t weaken the incredible potential we have in our bones and our blood, and this certainly doesn’t make me any less thrilled to death to be part of the royal sisterhood. But friends, I was so very sad this morning.

Just ask my coworker who had the unlucky privilege of being at my desk when I started to cry.

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This election has been disgusting. So angry and so, so mean. I haven’t been on Facebook all month because seeing post after post after post of anger made me tense all the time. Even articles that I agreed with wore me out. You’re right: I don’t think a person who disrespects women (and minorities and the disabled and the poor) so candidly should be our president, but I’m tired of thinking about the way this man disrespects everyone. I have never thought about politics 24 hours a day but it’s been impossible to escape. The worst of it was that I started viewing those who supported Donald Trump with anger. Every car that pulled in front of me with a Trump sticker elicited swearing and hate. Articles that I disagreed with weren’t just ignored, I stewed on their stupidity all day and wondered how the author or people who shared it could possibly be so foolish. And I don’t know why I’m speaking entirely in past tense: both of these happened this morning.

But I don’t want to think that way about other people. I don’t want to participate in division because that only drives the problem deeper. I don’t want to think of you as my enemy just because our focus isn’t in the same place. I want to celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we can all vote, even if that vote doesn’t go the way I feel is right. Man. Freedom, eh? Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

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God and I have been in a weird place the last couple months. Honestly, it’s been a lot more than a couple at this point but “a couple” sounds better than “eight”.  I think part of this has been my descent into election anger, though there are many factors for another blog post. But today I had peace.

I had peace because God cares about women no matter what office they hold. Moreover, God cares about the Muslims and refugees and blacks and Mexicans no matter who is in office, period. And as God’s people, we don’t need permission to love and to help. I had peace because God is a lot bigger than our president, our country, and us. And I had peace that God doesn’t care about your political party, or mine. I had peace because even if our president elect doesn’t want to open his arms to the poor, we still can. We can still fight for good.

We don’t need permission from anyone to love others. We don’t need permission to be kind or to be helpful or to be happy. I don’t need to wait for our country to close the divide to start loving people I don’t agree with. Its our duty as human beings to do that with passion that doesn’t cease. When we do, we transform our communities and country more than any politician ever could. Our love is more powerful than policies.

I don’t need a woman in office to continue fighting for equality, as much as I look forward to that day. And Donald Trump can sit in the oval office all day long as I tell my niece that her worth isn’t in her looks or body, beautiful as she is, but it’s her simple existence. It’s her brain and her actions and her furious passion. And one day I’ll tell my daughter how amazing it was to mark a woman’s name for the first time on a ballot. The first of many times.

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I didn’t personally support the election of Donald Trump. I do, however, support the following wildly important things that I will turn my mind to when it wanders towards those things I can do nothing about:

I support dancing to Queen and Jimmy Eat World in the car and singing Adele really, REALLY loudly. I support drinking sangria with friends who are fiercely complex and exploding in laughter. I support writing letters for no reason except to write someone a letter. I support comfortable slippers and baggy t shirts. I support Project Runway. I support eating your feelings sometimes. I support ignoring political opinions and loving people anyway. I support being kind, because in a world where you can be anything.. be kind. Life is still such a gift even when it doesn’t go the way you really really want it to.

Work: not so much a love story

We recently purchased a new computer that has the most updated version of GarageBand on it. For my husband, a very talented musician who has been without recording equipment for a very long time, this is very exciting.

“This is so perfect for demos!”

“These drum tracks are so intuitive – such a good stand in till my buddy can write the drums!”

Etc.

We have had this computer for 6 days and I believe he has logged 10+ hours already working on ideas. In fact, right now as I use the computer he is sitting on the couch with headphones in listening to his drafts over and over again on his phone, finding ways to make them even better. Timothy loves music and it shows, because he’s very good at it. And even though he is talented enough for it to be, music isn’t his paycheck.

And this is something that he and I have been talking about a lot lately.

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A few weeks ago I was home visiting my family, a little south of Tampa, down where breweries and coffee shops aren’t on every corner. I rubbed shoulders with my parents, my aunt, some cousins, some-not-actually-related-to -me-but-basically-cousins and at one point it occurred to me that none of us were really talking about our jobs. Looking around the room I saw Publix employees, a custodian, a lawn man, and people like me who worked at a company they liked but grew up dreaming of working somewhere that seemed more grand. All jobs that take as much hard work as anything else (maybe even more so – a lawn man in the Florida summer? yikes), but jobs that are kind of ordinary. Jobs none of us necessarily dreamed about. This felt vastly different from my life in Tampa where it seems jobs are your identity. And the cooler the better.

My family didn’t all talk about their jobs because their jobs aren’t the things they are most passionate about. And what a nice idea: our vocations aren’t our passion – other things are. For myself and the people in that room, our jobs are just a job. And to be honest, it felt really nice to not feel like a dummy for not having an edgy profession. Maybe it’s just me, but all the pro bloggers and coffee roasters and people who own their own businesses and those who make Instagram posts about hustling hard and “if you love your work you never work a day in your life”, just make me feel less-than because my job isn’t instagram worthy.

I’m not insulting those jobs, of course,  but I’m insulting the idea that we are our jobs. That we’re only as cool as our jobs. That we must talk and dream and write about our jobs always because our jobs must be our biggest passion. Our jobs need to be unique. Our jobs need to be able to be done in coffee shops that we can take photos in of us doing our jobs. In our culture, selling things on Etsy, is infinitely more applaudable than working at Target. Should it be? They both take a lot of hard work, they both allow parents to provide for their families. Why is one better?

I work for a non profit that I believe in and where my participation brings me happiness, but it is not my dream job. It’s also not a glamorous job – my office building looks like the set of a 90’s sitcom with terrible art on the walls and most of the day I leave voicemails for people who have ignored my calls (My dear volunteers: I can tell when you have denied my call because no phone on earth rings twice and then goes to voicemail without being prompted to). But you know what? I don’t have a dream job. There isn’t one thing that, right now in my life, I envision myself doing and being so wildly joyful over. Other people feel this way (and they should follow those specific dreams if they have them), but I don’t, and so I am no longer letting myself think that makes me lazy, boring or stupid.

I have many passions. I spend my free time doing things that make me feel very content, very satisfied, and very happy… then I go to work because they’re separate, and that’s okay.

Timothy is still sitting on the couch listening to his demos and when he sets his headphones down and goes to work on Monday to do something not at all related to playing guitar, that’ll be okay too.

We should work hard at whatever it is we do. Every job has worth, but no job determines worth. 

And also, your talented isn’t diminished if one person or four thousand celebrate it. The top (by a landslide) commenter on my blog is my mother and that’s a-okay with me.

Hi, mom 🙂

 

Resurrection

“Well I don’t think there is a better time to struggle through something than tonight,” she said to me. “Life is hard, God is good. That’s all I know.”

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It was Maundy Thursday and I was very broken. So much so that I didn’t have the ability or strength or wherewithal to notice the beautiful irony of feeling so heavy on the day that Christ felt the ultimate heaviness. I yelled at God in the middle of my living room much like Christ yelled in the garden two thousand years before me, also on a particular Thursday.

I always pictured Christ kneeling very elegantly, in the way we often see in paintings when I read that scripture. Even though it says he “fell on his face”, I still paint a much more “holy” picture in my mind. An image of Christ saying a holy prayer in a holy and tragic garden. Fearful, but in control. Worried, but still peaceful.

But maybe He wasn’t. He probably wasn’t. Falling on one’s face doesn’t indicate peace. Maybe Christ looked more like how I looked last Thursday. Stomping and pacing with clenched fist and clenched teeth and stinging tears and worrying a little bit about people overhearing but not enough to stop from yelling. Maybe he had a headache from crying like I did. Maybe he also counted on God to understand cries when He couldn’t think of words. He threw himself on the ground and I yelled in my living room.

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She invited all of us from House Church to come to a Maundy Thursday service that night. She actually had invited us to come to services all throughout the Lent season but I never once gave the invitations a second thought, truth be told. I can always come up with excuses to not have to challenge myself.

When I sat back down at my desk, utterly defeated from yelling at God and hearing nothing in return, I saw her email and felt just broken enough to get out of my own way and attend a church I’ve never been to before. Really, I was hoping I would find Him there because He didn’t seem to be anywhere near me. I texted her that I was coming with a really bitter comment about feeling abandoned and broken and heavy. “Well I don’t think there is a better time to struggle through something than tonight,” she said to me. “Life is hard, God is good. That’s all I know.”

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On top of feeling so wildly crummy from that afternoon, I was late and I hate being late. The door creaked really loudly when I opened it and some people looked at me and I hate when strangers look at me. I was wearing my purple work polo and I hate looking like a golfer. I wasn’t at my best. I sat in the very last pew even though she had saved a seat for me. I didn’t want to have to walk by anybody. The speaker was finishing up when I sank into my seat and ended with the words, “the table is ready”.

I cried as I watched people I didn’t know take communion. God had stripped away parts of me that day. I realized I had believed lies about myself for years and years and years and it hurt, deeply, to lose them even though they needed to be removed. I hadn’t earned the grace that was poured out on that table.

She took communion with her family and while walking back to her seat she saw me and walked back to me with her hand out and asked if I was ready for communion. She walked with me, put her hand on my back as I took it and sweetly laughed when I didn’t know what to do with the little plastic cup that we don’t use at our home church. She came back to my seat with me but quickly got up when she noticed another person (I honestly don’t know if she even knew him or not) sitting alone. I watched her walk with him to the table too. She gently touched his shoulder when he wiped tears from his eyes. That’s who she is: she’ll walk up to the communion table three times if it means that no one has to do it alone.

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I’ve known this sweet woman for about 7 years, which is wild to think about. I met her very quickly after I started going to Watermark and she spoke truth and wisdom and beauty into my life in a way that no one except maybe my mother ever had. I loved her immediately. I loved the way she used her hands when she talked and the bold lipstick she wore and the way she talked about God.

When I look back honestly, I think I put her on a pedestal. To me she was perfect, and that’s always a dangerous way to feel about someone. Because she wasn’t, none of us are. Things broke a couple years into our friendship and because of how infallible I thought her, I handled it poorly. I was scared and honestly angry because it felt like my foundation cracked a little. Our foundation isn’t supposed to be built on other people, we know that we know that we know that, but sometimes we build it anyway. We expect mere humans to be Christ. That is simply always asking for trouble.

About a year after the break I moved to Memphis. I didn’t reach out to her when I was in town and her address was never one I wrote on letters back home (my heart weeps at the thought in hindsight). After I moved back I was too consumed with my own transitions and goings on to notice that weeks and months and then a year passed before I saw her on a Sunday morning. She was sitting two rows ahead of me and my heart stopped for a second when I saw her–I didn’t know why. I wasn’t afraid of her or angry at her. She had just become a sort of stranger to me. And maybe on some level I knew that I had been a terrible sister to her.

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But there we were, sitting in a church I had never been in before on Maundy Thursday. I wept and spilled my soul to her. I told her about the lies I had accepted as truth for years and how awful it felt to realize that. And I told her about the parts inside of me (like my fear of not being capable or smart or passionate) that probably are lies, I’m told they’re lies, but feel completely like the truth. I told her about not hearing from God and I told her about being really angry. I counted on her to understand my cries when I couldn’t think of words.

This friend that I realized I had missed terribly prayed with me, for the first time in years. She again spoke truth and wisdom and beauty into me. She told me I could lean on her faith and that we’re bounded together in Christ. We apologized to each other and said “I love you” about 17 times and really really meant it. We stepped over the broken bits and were alive again.

I believe in resurrection because I believe that God brings things back from the dead every day. I believe He raised His son after three days in the tomb and has been raising things back from the dead ever since.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate the achievements of women in all kinds of areas and to reflect on the movers and shakers who are fighting for equality and improvements for women. What a glorious thought! Indeed I quite wish my entire Tuesday could have been spent talking and learning about women who are fighting for all of us (instead half of my day was sitting at a cubicle and leaving voicemails for folks ignoring my calls – such is life). I wish I had been plopped on a couch with my favorite female friends, sharing our plights as women: the highs and the lows. Instead of listening to answering machine messages, I wish I had been listening to brave women talk about their hopes for our sisters and their fights against the injustices facing so many. But I’m thankful that those conversations still happen. Maybe they didn’t on International Women’s Day, but I hear brave things every day. I hear empowering things and heart breaking things and stories that make me so happy and proud to be a woman. So, I guess I can let it slide that I was in an office that looks like an office set straight out of a 90’s TV show instead.

 

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I took this photo from a friend on Instagram because the words were so overwhelmingly lovely to me 

And I am very proud to be a woman. I’m thrilled to be a daughter of Christ, a lady and a gal. My culture didn’t raise me to be proud of this (not with words like “girly” being an insult, and “running like a girl” being synonymous with running like an idiot) but Christ did, my parents did, and many others in my life did. And actually, they had to battle pretty hard against what my culture told me about being a woman because culture was (is) LOUD. And also wrong. From culture I heard that I was weaker than men, way too sensitive, too fat, too tall (someone told me once that I would have a hard time finding a husband because of my height #vomit. The joke is on them because I am 5 inches taller than my husband and he doesn’t give two whats about it), an object for men to enjoy, but also a whore for getting any attention from men. Culture wanted me to be held responsible for my own actions, and also the actions of men who couldn’t control their own.

I’m very thankful for the messages of truth I have continually been told that counters all this nonsense. The truth that was written to me in scripture, in letters from my mother, in hugs from my friends, in passionate conversations over cookie dough.

So today, on a day to celebrate the fact that women can now run for President (regardless if you want to vote for her or not) but to also acknowledge the big steps we still have to take for true equality and safety for women around the world, I want to simply write little love notes to the women who have made me proud to be in their club.

To my mother (and to my father, too): Pink may have been my favorite color when I was little, but instead of dressing me as a pink ballerina for Halloween, you made me a pink Power Ranger costume. Thanks for that. I felt things very deeply as a young girl and was so easily heart broken. You never once made me feel silly for tears. You told me that it meant I had a big heart and when I got older that would help me love other people well. You bought me dresses when I loved dresses and nothing but pants when I felt too self conscious to wear dresses in middle school. You never put me in a box labeled “YOU’RE A GIRL SO THIS IS WHAT THAT MEANS”. But more than that, you told me your stories very honestly. Your stories that devastate my heart, frankly: stories of abuse, stories of strength. Your stories of working hard to care for your children, no matter when that meant barely having time to rest and not allowing any junk food in the house because you couldn’t afford the doctor. You taught me to never ever believe that women aren’t as strong as men, because when I look at you (and so many of the mothers who I work with every day) I see nothing BUT strength. I am eternally grateful to you for not keeping these stories from me. Sad as they are, they have shaped me and the way I view my own gender. I remember in middle school I repeated the slang phrase “wife beater” referring to the white tank tops that guys wear (a very common slang term, something I had heard in school and didn’t even for a second consider the meaning) and calmly you said, “Don’t say that.” Why? “Because I was a beaten wife.” You didn’t point this out because it hurt your feelings, you pointed it out because domestic abuse isn’t funny and the fact that its so common is both unacceptable and a tragedy.

To women like Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey: Rachel, Sarah, darling friends who I have never ever met – the words in your blogs and books have brought such light into my soul. Truthfully I don’t think there are two authors who have been more impactful on my faith and my own self-awareness. You taught me that the F word (feminist – yikes!) isn’t a bad one. Actually, it aligns quite beautifully with the gospel and the teachings of Christ. You taught me that God loves me so individually and specifically as a woman. He didn’t call me to be a wife and a mother and a submissive little dear. Rather, He called me to be those things (perhaps differently than the church has sometimes taught) along with so many other things! He called me to make noise! To care about injustices! To marry a man who considers me his equal and partner in decision making! To sometimes submit and sometimes to stand firm! He may or may not have called me to be a mother (the jury is still out) but if He did, it’s so that I can build up my children to cherish the gifts and strengths of both men and women. You told me that men and women are both so complicated and intricate and necessary. Without knowing it, you spoke to all the hunches I’ve carried all my life that I kept quiet (“is being a wife really the highest calling for a woman?” “If so many women are such great teachers, could it be that God is actually cool with them.. teaching?”) and you put a megaphone in front of them. Rachel, you said you learned about feminism from Christ. Well, thank you for pointing out the way to allow me to do the same.

To my female friends: Thank you for being the greatest of community. A community of truth and encouragement that has never once rolled its eyes when I started yelling about how “ITS ABSOLUTELY INSANE HOW COMMON IT IS AROUND THE WORLD THAT WHEN A WOMAN IS RAPED ITS CONSIDERED HER FAULT. BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED AND TRAUMATIZED IS HER FAULT. HOW MESSED UP IS THAT!?” because you also care about those things. Because you care about God’s vision for our world, and you know this isn’t it. I owe much of my confidence to you. It’s a lot easier to have confidence when you have amazing, strong friends standing behind you, propping you up. I hope to always treat you all as valuable, capable, extraordinary beings. Because that’s what you are.

To my female friends who are doctors and engineers and tattoo artists and other professions not typically female: You’re amazing. You have told me stories of feeling like you have to work twice as hard as your peers just to earn the same respect. You’ve said that people have been surprised at your abilities entirely because you’re female. Once a patient of yours even complained to you about not having seen a doctor all day because they assumed you were a nurse, despite your white coat, ability to diagnose and answer questions, and you know, your name tag that says “Dr.” Thank you for not becoming angry over this. For not throwing in the towel. For working twice as hard when you needed to and for smiling and saying “thanks” even though being told “wow, I didn’t expect this from a girl” isn’t actually a compliment.

I am so proud to be complicated and sensitive and gentle and strong, and to know that these things aren’t contradictory. I am proud of my sisters who are taking stands for our tribe, and thankful for my brothers who are doing the same. Happy Women’s Day, friends, may we continue working to make our world even better for our daughters and sons.

The Most Important Thing We Do.

I have decided that I will never ever again ask someone, “so how’s married life?!”

It isn’t a good question. It’s surface level and always asked in passing. It’s a feeler’s and introvert’s nightmare. Because what I want to say… is that it’s really good and so hard sometimes because you have to apologize a lot and often for things you have never had to apologize for in the past because you’ve never been married before and you were always able to make your own decisions and do things the moment you thought of them (that’s me to a T – I have to do everything the moment I think of it. My new husband, it turns out, does not share this crippling desire) and you always were able to watch whatever you wanted in the evenings and you never had to share your popcorn. But it’s all still really okay because now you have someone to help you wash the dishes and you get to lay down next to each other at the end of the day when the phones are put away and the blankets are pulled up to your chin and you talk about the silly bits of the day that had passed and those moments easily make up for every blunder.

Instead, though, I just respond with “Great!”

But it’s so much more layered than “Great”! It’s so much greater than that word does justice and it’s so much trickier than you expect! It’s allowing a colorful Star Wars pillow case to be on your all cream colored bed because your husband loved it, and it’s being the person who bought it for him in the first place – knowing that it would clash in every way- because life is more than keeping your home white on white on white (no matter what instagram says). It’s watching movies you don’t really care to watch (two weeks ago we watched both Braveheart and You Drive Me Crazy) (how good is Drive Me Crazy?) but who cares because you’re hanging out with your very best friend.

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One of the best parts, to me, has been praying together. Sometimes we both pray, sometimes one of us prays the entire time if the other is feeling heavy. Sometimes it’s entirely about others and sometimes it’s entirely about our relationship. Every time, though, it’s good.

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Last night, after devouring a sleeve of Saltine Crackers for dinner, we pulled two of our wobbly dining room chairs together. One of us was about to make a phone call to a family member and we weren’t excited about it because truth needed to be spoken and love needed to be given and Christ needed to be reflected. And that’s really intimidating sometimes. We knew that it had to be God speaking – that He had words to share with his beloved and our mouths were just going to be the vehicle that he would use. We asked God to get ourselves out of the way. We asked him to prepare the heart and the ears that were going to receive our phone call and to be oh so present.

Sometimes when I pray, particularly out loud, I start to realize things only as I am saying them. It’s the same as when I write – I don’t have the words ahead of time, God tosses them to me as we go and they usually are ones that I needed myself. Last night as we were praying, I heard myself say “God, let us remember that loving other people is the most important thing that we do. We get distracted with our hobbies and friends and the people we wish were our friends and our list of tasks, but all of that pales in comparison to the importance of loving other people.”

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And now, an overheard conversation between Katie and her incredibly patient Heavenly Father:

“Hey, Katie. God here. Loving others is the most important thing you do. I noticed you were spending a lot of time doing the opposite of that.. so I just thought I would remind you. ”

“So true. Could you come back in like a second? I have to post on @choosetampa and like all the tagged pictures, it’s a whole big thing..”

“That’s not even importan- no. Listen, your time could be wiser spent. Loving others is the most important thing you do.”

“That makes so much sense, God, but I’ve only watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls seven times and I know I can make it eight*. Hey, while I have you, go ahead and bless Amy Sherman- Palladino because this show is just..”

“What? Just- Katie, for once in your life be cool. I’m telling you to do one thing. One thing. Love others. Write letters and cook a meal and help people move even though it’s hot (I hear you complain – I KNOW it’s hot) and make difficult phone calls and use your money for wiser things and, seriously, pay attention to the things that people are carrying because as my daughter and my love, I expect you help carry that weight right off their shoulders.”

*I have watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls WAY more than eight times. Way more. Embarrassingly more. Team Jess till the day I die. 

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Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Loving others it the most important thing that we do. It’s the best use of our time and money and hearts. Friends, I’m going to try to love you so much better. Timothy, I will spend my whole life learning how to love you like Christ. 

The Things I Wouldn’t Dare Forget

At this time last week I was fiddling with my rose gold hair pin in the bathroom. Timothy was on his way to come and see me for the first time in my wedding dress – the dress that had hung in my closet for 5 months, waiting and waiting for the day I could finally dance in it. Our day was everything we wanted it to be and this first week of marriage has been positively blissful.

Leading up to the wedding there were a few comments that were repeated over and over and over again by different people. The biggest one was that the day would be over before we knew it. That it would blur past us and at the end of the day we would find that we had missed things. “Don’t worry too much about the details”, they’d say, ” you won’t think clearly enough to even see them on the day of!”

Ultimately, I suppose this was true. I didn’t notice the center pieces on the reception tables, though it took an hour to put them together. I didn’t even think to look at the cake all assembled, though you must know I gave specific instructions to my sister to bring me a piece the MOMENT it was cut. Some dance songs played without my even hearing them and even some guests came and went without my getting the chance to see them. Try as I have this last week, I can’t even bring to my memory all the lovely words our pastor said during our ceremony.

I missed some things. But I would not say that it was a blur.  I would not say the details hadn’t mattered. Maybe the aesthetic details didn’t impact the day very much, but details mattered. My wedding day didn’t zip past my eyes as quickly as people had said it might. I may have missed it when “Don’t Stop Believing” played during the reception, but the things that mattered the most are engraved into my soul.

I will always remember the most precious friend who spent the days before the wedding working at the church with me. With her beautiful  baby strapped to her chest, she ironed table cloths and made my bouquet. She kept ladders sturdy and helped me create the altar at which I would be wed.

I will always remember the gathering in the kitchen of women I love putting together fruit kabobs the day before the wedding. I sat on the sill of a big bay window holding that sweet baby in my arms and watched my sisters and mother and aunt and friend laughing over bowls and bowls of fruit. Their joy, their willingness to serve, to help, was positively radiant. I’m thankful for their laughter that echoed through that kitchen and rested on my anxious heart.

I will always remember how I felt gathering up my wedding dress and beginning the walk towards a turned away Timothy. We saw each other before the ceremony because we wanted that moment to be just ours ; we had waited and counted and paced for that day and that moment was deserved by only us. I could tell even from looking at him from behind that he was nervous. I had heard him in the other room struggling to get his tie just right and the nervousness from his fingers seemed to have taken over his whole being. When our photographer told him to turn around, he did so slowly.  When he saw me, his smile took over his entire face and the nerves he had been wrestling with turned into the most lovely laugh. I picked my dress up a little higher and shuffled as quickly as I could into his arms. The arms in which I have always felt safe and loved. That day  more than ever, those arms were my home.

All our wedding photographs were taken by Sindy Gonzalez. She is one of the most incredible human beings we know, and an amazing photographer || www.verancephotography.com
The moment we saw one another for the first time on the most special day of our lives. All our wedding photographs were taken by Sindy Gonzalez. She is one of the most incredible human beings we know, and an amazing photographer || http://www.verancephotography.com

I will never forget the moment right before the doors opened for me to walk down the aisle. It was the most real thing I have ever felt. It was similar to the feeling you get when you’re at the top of a roller coaster, or when someone holds your hand for the first time. It reminded me of when I said goodbye to my parents the first time I moved away, or when I loaded up all my things and drove away from people I loved and moved to Memphis. Those moments when you’re about to do something that scares you, but you’ve been led there by God so you know that it’s good and right and true. I walked down the aisle with both of my parents because the three of us have always done everything together. They’re my people. My best friends and my foundation. Standing there in the hall, with my mother on my left and my father on my right, all the nerves that I had some how avoided leading up to that moment ransacked my heart. “Saturn” by Sleeping at Last started playing, my mother put her hand on my back, and the doors were opened. I was scared, so I did what I had alway done when I was scared: I squeezed my father’s arm. He cupped my hand with his giant, familiar hands, and led me through the doors.

I will never forget the sight that awaited me once I began walking down the long aisle to Timothy. Looking back at me with such love where the faces of almost everyone I love. The face of a friend who traveled down from Atlanta to be part of this day. The face of a friend that I have known since first grade. The friend who prayed with me when I needed it the most, the friend who traveled to memphis to visit me when I lived there and was so lonely. I saw friends who were carrying burdens and brokenness. Friends who sat aside their own hurt in order to be joyous with me – what exceptional community. I saw my family. Family who had to travel a long way to come but came anyway.  I saw my nephews who were more like my bothers when we were growing up. I have looked into their faces a million times before this day but seeing them in that moment was the most important of all.  I saw the precious woman who gave birth to me – our matching blue eyes filling up with tears.

I will always remember serving communion to all of our guests. Timothy held the wine, I held the bread and we asked all those who loved Christ to join in with us. God was so present in that moment. I saw Him in every person who came to us and partook in the body and blood of Christ. I saw Him in every shoulder squeeze and hug that were snuck in. The last thing Christ did with his people before he was crucified was take communion. The first thing Timothy and I did in our marriage was the same.

I will always remember the fullness of hearing Timothy say his vows to me. Words I had wondered if I would ever hear, words I don’t deserve to hear. I looked into the eyes of the man that I love. The man who God used to change my life. The man who has taught me grace and love and how the gospel plays out in our lives. The man that I prayed for before I knew him.

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These  are the things that really count in a wedding day. These are the things that matter… period. Community and love and grace and Christ.  These details mattered. It mattered that the people who were part of my day weren’t strangers, but those who had made big impacts in my life. Anyone could have done my hair, but it mattered that it was one of the most lovely girls I have ever known. A friend who had loved me out of some heart break and who shared my joy on this day so authentically. It was important that the friend who did my make up had allowed me to intrude a day at the park years ago because my heart was so sad. She had been at the park with her children when I texted her. She brushed my hair out of face and poured wisdom into my heart as her kids played in the background.

Centerpieces and bouquets and favors don’t mean anything. Those are the things that blurred past. What lingers are the things that I wouldn’t dare forget.

Lesson Learned: Celebrate Everything

Some time ago I sat down in Oxford Exchange and began writing a book. A book about the things that I have learned from the beautiful men and women I have rubbed shoulders with and embraced over the years. This task will take ages but I am not letting myself be flustered by that. The truth is, I do work full time at a non profit that takes an emotional toll sometimes, and I am planning a wedding and trying to cling to God as my life is about to change. The writing is slow. It’s slow, but it’s good. To my soul, I mean. I was revisiting some of the first essays I wrote out – still very rough, just like me – and I decided to share one. This last week brought along a rockslide. Fear and the slamming of doors. Now more than ever, I need to remember the importance of celebration. 

This particular lesson was taught to me by a beautiful blonde, who, states away, is still celebrating with me.

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I guess the real first thing she ever taught me was to cook dinner for people you love. Get yourself a round table* and sit at it with new faces and old faces and beloved faces. The first time she invited me over for dinner at her round table she made a light and fresh and healthy homemade meal. It was delicious and made more so by being followed with giant bowls of ice cream. We sat crisscross, knee to knee, with our mountain sized bowls of delicious frozen calories in our laps. We chatted and laughed on a day bed she had in her living room, which was being used as a couch until a cheap one could be acquired. Some time later I would sleep on that very bed while temporarily living with her after returning to Tampa from a year in Memphis, TN with no home. But I’m jumping ahead.

That evening was the first of many times I was impressed with her. Her eyes sparkled when she spoke about the friends she had moved away from and the city that was engraved in her heart. She told me about the life celebrations her community would have back home. They celebrated everything together. “Why should only people who are getting married and having babies get presents and parties in their honor?!” they questioned, and so new jobs and new homes and new attitudes and all exciting moments received acknowledgement. How beautiful.

I think that’s the way it should be: everything should be celebrated. Everyone should receive photo books and love letters. Everyone should have his or her name on a banner every now and then – especially if it’s homemade bunting. While the old saying ‘too much of a good thing is a bad thing’ can be true in certain circumstances (I’m looking at you, Target), I do not believe it applies to celebrations. Or dessert. Yes, I am quite certain that the authenticity of lifting one another up will never grow out-of-date.

And the why of it is very simple: there are plenty of things in every one of our lives that are heavy. There is no shortage of worry and stress and heartache and fear in my life or in yours. If the weights on our shoulders were literal and not metaphorical, chiropractors would be the busiest people in the world. We’ve all got really heavy things. We’ve all cried ourselves to sleep, snapped at our loved ones because of stress, wandered away from God through the misconception that we have to handle things ourselves. With heaviness often comes loneliness and the feeling that we’re the only ones who have experienced such garbage.

I’ve felt this way a million times: right now as work has thrown for a scary loop, when I was feeling the weight of the seventy thousand emotions that came with moving to a new state alone, I believed that no one on earth could have possibly felt the turmoil that I was feeling. I was wrong, of course. As we always tend to be when we think we’re the only ones.

This is a really basic example, but some months ago I met up with an acquaintance from high school for drinks. She was the one who asked me about meeting up because I wouldn’t have asked her if my life depended on it. Suffice it to say, we weren’t in the same social group back in high school. And by that I mean she was IN a social group and I spent my Friday nights eating Chinese food with my parents and watching “My Best Friends Wedding” every single week (no regrets – Rupert Everett is a peach, plus I can probably lip sync “I Say a Little Prayer for You” better than most as a result of so many rewatchings of that film).

She was beautiful when everyone else was an awkward teenager, and she was confident in a way I could have only ever dreamed of being. She was always very kind, but her friends tended to be… well, not so nice. They weren’t outrageously impressed with the tall gangly girl who wore a lot of band t-shirts and skinny jeans and stammered every time she talked. And they were not subtle about it (y’all, be nice to every single person you have the chance to be nice to. Even if it kills you… which it won’t, because being nice isn’t that difficult. Don’t be the mean person that quiet people like me grow up to write about).

Essentially, she was out of my friend league. Imagine my surprise when six years later we both found ourselves living in Tampa and she asks me for drinks. I tried on three different outfits and ventured downtown to see her. My, was it a lovely evening. We talked about traveling and flirtatious elderly Italian men, had cocktails I couldn’t really afford, and laughed about high school. In talking with her I learned something very important, something everyone in high school needs to understand: the people who seem to have it all together and also crushed when someone doesn’t like them back, also feel weird in their skin, and are figuring it all out as they go, just like you.

I’m finding the same concept to be true in adulthood as well. Every time I shake my fist at the air and yell “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING AND EVERYONE ELSE IS GOING TO MEDICAL SCHOOL AND MOVING TO LONDON AND RUNNING THEIR OWN BUSINESSES AND I’M MAD ABOUT IT”, I very quickly come across a friend who shares the same sentiment. Turns out most adults don’t know what they’re doing. Who knew? I am stumbling through life as I go, reaching for God spastically like a cat that just fell in water, half listening to His instruction but also kind of panicking. And so is everyone else, at least for a season. That, my dear reader, is the most concise definition of adulthood I can muster.

Therefore, because everyone feels weird and life is hard and sometimes we feel so terrifyingly alone, and because we’re all submerged cats panicking (is this the best metaphor I could use? Probably not), those moments of getting on dry land, temporary as it will certainly be, need to be acknowledged. More than that, they need to be celebrated. In celebrating together, we will be lifting one another up in beautiful community that will refresh our own souls as well as whoever’s name is on the banner.

So what I would like you and I to do next time someone finds himself on dry land is to not just send a text about it or leave an encouraging emoji filled comment on their instagram. Make them a banner, invite just a few lovely souls over, pour some wine, and celebrate. No matter how busy you are, no matter how underwater you yourself are feeling at the moment, praise Jesus when someone else has come out of the waves.

If life is going to be hard and heavy anyway (and it will be), we might as well walk through it hand in hand and really celebrate the heck out of anything and everything we’re able. 

* A note about tables: I’m no craftsman or designer, but I am here to say that there is a reason King Arthur’s knights sat at a round table. When you get your own home or apartment, get a nice set of white dishes (they’ll match every cool and colorful and eclectic thing you bring home from a thrift store) and a sturdy round table. Here’s why: it is much more conducive to seeing the candlelight dance in everyone’s eyes when you’re in a circle, the support is in the middle so there isn’t any awkward banging of knees as you sit hip to hip (I’m 5’10 and nearly all leg so I feel I have the authority to say that wrestling with a leg on every table corner is unacceptable), and it’s easier to cram a whole gaggle of loved ones in a circle than a square. Seriously, get yourself a round table. Go to thrift stores, go to garage sales, go wherever you need to go that fits into your budget, but get one.

That’s an order. **

            ** A note about my note: my handsome fiancé read this while I was writing and he said, “Well, you know there really WAS a significant reason that the knights sat in a circle. And it had nothing to do with dancing candlelight”. So, okay, sure: if you’re going to be a history snob about it, the candlelight probably had nothing to do with King Arthur’s design intentions. But it should have.

When God Keeps His Promises

I was sitting in a kitchen I had been in a thousand times before. A kitchen in which I’ve laughed so hard I cried, a kitchen in which I’ve yelled and endured yelling, a kitchen in which I shared meals and blueberry crumble with people I loved. The blue curtains were letting in perfect sunlight as I watched her freckled hands slice a green pepper as she spoke. The glide of the knife moving in rhythm with her words. Her movements were graceful and methodic, but the story she was telling was beautiful. It was a story of redemption and resurrection and grace, a combination that can give you goosebumps. She moved her long hair away from her face as she told me about the very real ways that God has led her out of a wilderness. She had been like a small sparrow unable to break through the canopy, seeing rays of light but not the fullness. Now she was basking in the light of her Father and she was radiant. People seem lighter when they’re so entangled in their Heavenly Father. There’s no mistaking it. She shone in a way that only those who know how deeply they are loved by Christ can shine.

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She had read through some of her old journals earlier that day and she said that all she could do was cry. Old journals are the most raw of biographies; they sit stately on the shelf, with worn pages pressed together carrying secrets and heart break and memories that had to be remembered. Journals hold all the questions that couldn’t be answered and authenticity we are afraid to show people we love. Sometimes journal pages are love letters to God, sometimes they demand His response. For those who put pen to paper, a journal is a piece of their heart. Journals can be time machines filled with old wounds. Journals are proof that God does what He says He will do. My precious friend recalled the very deep things she had felt and cried the tears of a loved daughter when she realized how God had led her away from the deep and dark wilderness.

He said, “These are the things that I do, I will not forsake them.”

Isn’t God so big when you’re hearing things like that? He doesn’t even fit in the room with you – He’s positively overwhelming. No matter how often it’s easy to not notice His presence, I feel it is impossible to not see his calloused hands working alongside yours when someone is speaking of redemption. It’s an honor to hear these stories, to be trusted with truth and vulnerability. Oh God of second chances and new beginnings, I pray for a million more afternoons like this one. A million more stories of praise, a million more faces to look upon with love, a million more interactions with a God who doesn’t leave us in the wilderness.

Familiar Eyes

My knees were shivering and my hands were trying to keep warm in my pockets as I wiped tears away from my eyes with my mustard yellow scarf. We were standing together in the empty parking lot of a college whose students had long gone home. “I don’t want to leave just yet, he might still come. Can we just pray for him and wait a few more minutes? I know that feels stupid. I don’t know what else to do.”

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In the interest of full disclosure, I stole this picture from Timothy’s instagram. But hey, whats his is mine.

I had first encountered him several months ago at the restaurant I worked at. He came in with an elderly woman who obviously did not know him but wanted to help him out. She bought him a few tacos and before she left, with tears in her eyes, she told me to be kind to him. I meandered over to talk to him while he shyly ate his food. “Are you from Tampa?” I asked, not knowing what else to say and feeling so aware of how loud I sounded in the small and empty restaurant. He looked at me with sad, deep brown eyes.  His eyes were so familiar to my heart. My precious nephew has looked at me a million times before with eyes so similar. He looked so young – certainly not as old as I was. He shook his head no. I asked a few more questions and he politely answered as he ate. He asked me if the place where I worked was hiring but because he had several tattoos on his face, I knew that there was no way he would ever be hired by the uppity and judgmental management I worked for. He thanked me for the food and left. And while watching him go, I cried. Because I didn’t know a single bit of his story yet my heart still felt the weight of it. Because Christ called me to love those in need and I didn’t know how to.

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A few weeks ago we were out to celebrate. Timothy was offered a job we had been praying for for a long time and margaritas with friends seemed the most perfect way to cap off a day of exciting news. He and I both had a very hard season of hunting for jobs and feeling like “less thans”, and within the same week our God brought us to beautifully open doors. An honor we truly do not deserve. We were nearly to the restaurant.

We had just gotten off the highway and were stopped at a light that almost always included a homeless man at the corner with a sign. Usually it’s awkward and sad but forgettable as soon as the light turns green. But tonight, when I glanced over, I saw a pair of familiar eyes. “It’s him!” I yelled as we drove away. It was that sweet boy. That sweet, young, weighed down boy that I had met months earlier. We drove around the block, parked on a bumpy brick street, and walked over to him. He remembered me nearly instantly and I felt more humbled than I have ever felt in my life. We told him that we didn’t have anything with us, and we had to be somewhere in just a few minutes, but we wanted very much to buy him dinner. We made plans to meet him back in the same spot in two hours.

We hoped to bring him to a shelter and we knew we needed more room than Timothy’s tiny kia. A kind and creative and wonderful friend who had been at dinner with us agreed before the question was even out of my mouth to come with us.

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He didn’t come. And he didn’t come. Over and over I asked God for wisdom. Do we dare leave and miss him? Maybe someone else helped him out and took him to a shelter? He had told us that he slept in the park so any kind of shelter, especially on a cold evening, would be such a blessing. I didn’t know what to do.

So we prayed. We bowed our heads and we asked God to reveal Himself so fully to this man He created and loves so deeply. This man who has infinite value, this man who is in no way lesser than us. We asked God to stir in us, to give us divine insight to know what to do.

I felt so small and entirely helpless.

I felt angry at the pastor whose phone number we had been given as someone who may be able to help. He told us that “they were all crooks” and to not waste our time. I felt disappointed in myself for not knowing of safe and loving homeless shelters in the city I live in.

I felt thankful for the men standing on either side of me. On the left, a dear friend who offered to help us with no questions asked. On the right, my sweet Timothy. Men who prayed alongside me and who cared that I was cold.

I kept my eyes opened as we prayed, every so often scanning the sidewalks, hoping that he had just been late. I looked down at our feet and recalled how I had imagined this night playing out: there would be laughter, salted rim margarita glasses, a blatant ignoring of the clock growing later. I was so suddenly overwhelmed with the sense that nothing I have is mine.

Nothing in my life was my doing. The new job that I am so excited to have? I didn’t deserve it any more than this boy deserves such a job. And you don’t either. Nothing we have is truly ours and nothing we have gives us more value than the people who are sleeping in the park.

I started @choosetampa because I believe in this city. I believe in the people and the creativity and the vibrancy. And I very much believe in the brokenness that is held within our city walls. We must be kind to one another. We must love and give and build.

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Our circle dissipated and our cars were started with heavy hearts. We pulled out of the parking lot to head to the homes we all felt very unworthy of having when I saw him. Walking down the street with sad and heavy and familiar eyes.

The Giving is Sweeter

I am sitting in a Starbucks as I write this (so stereotypical I could die), drinking a beverage I in no way enjoy. But we have an arrangement, Starbucks and I. I buy one of their fancy drinks, they let me plop on their wifi for two hours while I make weird faces at my computer screen as I try to write a post. Across the table from me is my editor: a sweet boy who eats really quickly who I also call my boyfriend. His warby parker glasses are sliding down his nose as he works and occasionally we make eye contact and smile at one another.

We are in a hard season together, my boy and I. God is teaching us to seek Him, and even though He is the most beautiful thing to ever bask in, for some reason this is a terribly hard lesson. In this moment, nothing is secure except God and each other. And that is kind of wonderful. This relationship, this man, and this season is entirely different from anything I have ever experienced. In hard ways and in beautiful ways.

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I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’ve never been here before. In relationships, yes, but never in anything that resembled this pairing of Kathryn + Timothy. Everything prior was heavy and difficult and sad. Long threads of bad decisions with too much emphasis on people who didn’t and couldn’t love me like Christ. People that I didn’t and wouldn’t love like Christ, either. My track record is not pretty. I have had relationships that only existed because he and I both wanted someone to complete our individual dreams without being willing to sacrifice… anything. Without even really wanting our individual dreams to intertwine. Those relationships ended in yelling and hurt feelings and with me stomping down the front porch steps in the most dramatic exit I have ever made to this day.

To have this man sitting in front of me: this man who has endured my yelling and craziness and tears and who has decided to still sit across form me at Starbucks, is something that I have never experienced. This is all new territory. I know, now, how selfish my past relationships truly were only because of the way God has revealed Himself through Timothy. Because of the way he cares for me and for the ways that I long to care for him.

That’s the difference I’ve found: I know that I am selfish in our togetherness, and I detest it. I am no longer content with serving only myself. It’s my nature and always my gut reaction, but it has become the thing I hate about myself. Now, I long to love Timothy like God loves Timothy. I long to respect him and build him up and talk to him like I would talk to someone of infinite value – because he is of infinite value. It has become of the utmost importance for me to show him that I love him. I want to buy him treats at the grocery store and listen to the music that he writes and not complain when “The Walking Dead” is on. These things aren’t always easy to do – I really don’t like “The Walking Dead” – but my heart wants to be better and better at doing them because even though it’s hard, there is such joy.

This Christmas we traveled up to Memphis to see his family, the first time going back since our move to Tampa. My heart was a little heavy because I have never spent a holiday away from my precious family before. Every single Christmas morning I have ever had started with waking up in the home I grew up in. It began with eating warm cinnamon rolls, and ended with visits to friends who were as close as family – friends I’ve loved a very long time. Every Christmas I have ever had has been filled with comfort and longevity and familiarity.

This year all of that was being traded in for something completely different. A trade I had never been willing to make: no holiday, Christmas or otherwise, had been given to another person before. I am far too sentimental to surrender such things easily; to put down my traditions for someone else’s. I never had even the slightest desire to do so.

I packed my bag, bought presents for people I didn’t know well enough yet to buy good presents for, and walked hand in hand to Gate A30 with the most handsome and excited man in the Tampa airport. My soul so very much aware of all that I was about to miss.

As it turned out, seeing Timothy so wildly and obviously happy amounted to a lot more than missing my traditions. Suddenly I understood why people are able to make sacrifices for the ones they love: sometimes, they aren’t really sacrifices. Or, they are but they don’t possess the negative connotation we so often give to the word. They’re only good. My heart was content knowing that I wasn’t missing out on a single thing. Seeing Timothy play with his nephew, hearing the way his Tennessee accent twanged through when he talked with his dad: these moments sparkled more than all the christmas lights in the world.

I don’t know anything about relationships. My past will support this and the number of times I find I must apologize to Timothy also show it to be true. That two people with different interests and opinions and backgrounds decide to come together doesn’t make an ounce of sense. And yet in this weird world that I don’t understand, I am finding my heart more full than it’s ever been because I have the opportunity to love someone above myself. I don’t do this well, but the rare moments I sit back and let him be full are glimpses of God’s Kingdom around us. And they are the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. May we allow Christ to teach us how to love. May we be willing to put our ‘wants’ on a shelf and find that the giving really is sweeter than the getting.

When You’re Lying Awake at Night:

There is something so incredibly human and so wondrously raw about lying awake at night. About being heavy, about worrying.  I can’t decide if it makes my heart light to know I’m not alone, or heavy because the thought of others so burdened is heartbreaking. We think and we analyze and we panic so thoroughly that even sleep can’t always give pause to our rampant minds. This is exhausting. This is weariness. This has been my week.

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And all I can say is, when you’re awake at two in the morning, with tears in your tired eyes and heaviness in your heart, remember to whom you belong.

You belong to the One who was and is and will be. You belong to the creator and master. To Love itself. You belong to peace and grace and joy incarnate. You have been seen. In a world of chaos, in a world of mass communication and sounds and messes of people, you have been seen. You have been picked out and adored. You have been known fully, for better or for worse. And yet you have still been loved. Your darkness hasn’t scared away your Father. Your shortcomings haven’t elicited God to throw up His holy hands and be done with you. As you are lying there, staring at the ceiling fan and wondering if you have made the right choices, remember. I have drowned myself in second guessing and what ifs. I have imagined the paths I did not take, with outcomes far more lovely than my current lot. I am the queen of wondering and worrying, but I am surrendering my crown and remembering.

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Remembering that God’s timing isn’t ours: it’s deliberate and wise and right. And sometimes it seems slow, but He says to wait for it: It hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. His movements, His stirrings, are intentional. Every gift He’s given me, every freckle on my face is intentional. Because our God isn’t distant. Even at two in the morning. Especially at two in the morning. Like Joel and Clementine lying side by side on the frozen Charles, staring at the night sky, our God lies next to us and after every time we mutter, “Lord I can’t handle any of this”, He softly answers, “I can“.

Remember that no matter the number of things that are unclear, no matter how many doors you are waiting on, no matter how many things feel “paused” or in limbo, there is never down time for Christians. We are never useless. We are never sitting on the sidelines. I wasn’t picked for a single sports team in high school (for wildly good reasons), but God hasn’t benched me once. There are still people to love. There are still songs to write to God. You have things to do. You have many things to do. I do too. We need to be love to our roommates, you need to encourage your spouse, you need to tell your children about Jesus. These are the things that count. These are the things that are gold. You, my friend, are astonishing and wondrous, but you are not big enough to ruin God’s plans. Be still. Put those heavy things down and remember. Remember you aren’t of this earthy kingdom. It’s regulations and measuring sticks and ways of distributing worth do not apply to you. It’s apples and oranges: our jobs and salaries and instagram feeds mean nothing in the kingdom to which we belong.

Praise God.

Praise God that my Heavenly Father is awake every night with me. As my heart is tempted to collapse under the weight of worry and wonder, He holds it with a strength unattainable by man and a love that no romantic could imagine.

To The Mothers.

Yesterday on Instagram I shared a nomination for Darling Magazine‘s “#12DaysofDarling”. The question was simple: Who would you nominate as someone who’s made an impressionable influence on you?

There truly is a long list of men and women alike who have made impressionable influences on my life. Sisters, friends, pastors, mentors, so many. I am thankful to every person who has made that list so very long. However, the person who always makes their way to the forefront of my mind when I am thinking of impact and love and lessons, is my mother. Mothers are always making big impacts, even if sometimes negatively so. Mother’s (and fathers as well, but this is about the moms) take up a lot of space in our lives; they’re our example and our teachers. Even when it’s unintentional.

My nomination was simple (well, as simple as I could make it – they asked for a few lines and I most definitely gave them a paragraph because my mother can not be contained in a few lines):  I am not my mother’s daughter by birth. She never felt me flutter in her body and she was not the first person to hold me as I breathed in life for those first cherished moments. But I am most certainly my mother’s daughter by love. She didn’t feel me flutter, but she felt a thousand butterflies as she waited for me – as she planned for me and wanted me. As she stood in the hospital watching and praying. She did not give me life, but she has given me love ceaselessly for 24 years. Love and light and goodness. She has taught me about Christ. She has taught me how to make my grandmother’s special pumpkin pie. She has held me in her arms over and over and over again. As a child with hurt feelings, she would whisper the song “I’ll Be Loving You Always” into my ear. As a teenager with a broken heart, she danced her fingers through my hair and listened, knowing all the while that I would most assuredly heal. As an adult so terrified of being an adult, she has sweetly said “I know, baby” and kissed the tears on my cheeks, never making me feel ashamed. In her arms I have learned that the way to love others is to be there: arms open, harshness set aside.

That is, truly, the very very least that I could say about my mother and the way that she has loved me well. She is my safe house. She is my protector. She is my best friend, my role model, my person. Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 6.13.09 PM

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Writing that short post prompted me to sit and think about motherhood. How beautiful it is. How spiritual it is. How amazing that God would allow us the honor of being mothers (and fathers). I began thinking about all the mother’s that I know – women in my family, women from church, my friends who are going to be mother’s so soon – and my heart became so full. I don’t know about you, but when my heart is full I can’t think of a single better thing to do than to write a letter. So this is a letter to the mother’s that are knee deep in nurturing. The mother’s that have inspired me. It’s a letter for you to share with the women in your life who are also taking on the gigantic and lovely role of motherhood.

Untitled-1 I do not write to you with any sort of credentials beyond having had an incredible mother. To be sure, I don’t know all that much about children, I certainly have never been a mother myself, and sometimes just the notion of being a mom somewhere down the road is enough to make me anxious and panicky. We are who we are.

I don’t know all of you well. I don’t know your stories or your tastes or what makes you laugh the hardest. But I’ve seen you love your children, and that says a great deal. Certainly more than what you’re favorite movie or color is. I’ve seen you invest long hours in dance classes and music classes and cooking classes. I’ve seen you sing silly songs and speak in funny accents (or was that just me and my beautiful mom?). I’ve seen the tutu’s and cowboy boots and rain boots that you allow your children to wear because of the joy it brings them. Truly, I don’t know all of you, but I love you for the mother’s you are.

Some of you may have never intended to be mothers – others may have tried and tried and tried. Women come into motherhood in so many different ways, with so many different feelings and so many different fears. And I want to commend you, the mothers that I know, because no matter how you came to be a mother – if it came with tears of joy or tears of fear -, here you are: embracing this God-ordained role. Not without blunders, I’m sure, and perhaps not without glasses of wine after your littles have gone to bed, but you’re doing it. You’re shaping human beings. This fact literally blows my mind. Through you, God has created a person and He has asked you to dance with His daughters in your living room and kiss His sons when their knees get scraped. Because to be sure, those are not fully your children. They are His. Isn’t that insane? Mothers, don’t you just get chills thinking about that? My mother, perhaps partly because of how she came to be my mother, was always so acutely aware of the fact that I was first God’s daughter. When I left on a few different trips to Haiti and Nicaragua, she would say (albeit with tears in her eyes) “Even though I’m scared, I can let you go because I know that you are God’s”.

I’ve seen you laugh with your children. I’ve seen you play together and climb together and create together. I’ve seen you dedicate your babies to God, and I cry every single time. I’ve seen your children cry and yearn for you when you’ve gone to church or out to dinner and when you finally came back to them, I’ve seen them cling to you with every fiber of their tiny beings. You are their love of loves. And in a world where so many parents aren’t whole enough to be there for their children, my heart rejoices for your diligence and patience and willingness to sit on the floor and let your babies cry into your shoulder.

So many of you are creatives: building teepees and weaving and sewing and painting and photographing. Creatives and hard workers and doers. Truly the women that my path has crossed with are impressive. You may be a mother through and through, but you are still reaching for dreams and using the passions and talents that God has given you. Your dreams don’t need to be sidelined because you’re a mother. I promise, when your children see you working / creating / doing, you are teaching them something wildly important. And on the other side of that, even though you are a woman filled with abilities and dreams and ideas, you still allow yourself to first be a mother. Projects are sidelined, work deadlines are pushed back, because you have a job to do. You have boo boo’s to kiss and laughter to share. You ladies are a beautiful balance – a yin and yang – of being your own unique & lovely person, and being your child’s person.Your selflessness shines like a prism. You’re radiant in your love.

Children don’t know how to always thank their mother’s for the love that is invested (that is until they become older and write long winded blog posts), and those late nights of colds and fears and excitement may feel unnoticed. So, because you’re children may not yet know to say it, I will. Thank you. Thank you for loving your children well. Thank you for teaching them about Jesus, for protecting them, and for showing them that they are lovable. It’s noticeable. And it’s beautiful.

A Letter to My Little Orange Seed.

Last weekend I took some quick photos for friends who are as near to my heart as humanly possibly. The pictures were for a special announcement: a little girl is on the way. This is the first time someone I love so dearly is having a baby. This is the first time my heart has broken in the most beautiful way over a child. This calls for a letter.

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My darling little orange seed,

I love you already. I have loved you, “wholly and completely”, since the moment I first learned of you. I had barely made it in the door when your mother yelled, “Guess what!” and I knew. She told me you were the size of an orange seed – so small and dainty. I hugged your momma tightly and I fell in love with you in one fell swoop.

You are tangled into every prayer that I say. I ask our Father to keep you safe; to hold you and your beautiful mother in the palms of His hands. For He loves you even more than I ever will be able to – even more than your sweet mother & father are capable of. He already knows you. I already love you, but he already knows you. He knows the sound of your laugh, He knows the things that will scare you, He knows the songs that will get stuck in your head. Sweet girl, you are already adored by the creator of the Universe. And I am begging Him to keep you safe so that I can also have the pleasure and honor of hearing your laugh.

My heart flutters when I think of the joy you are bringing to your parents. You are going to have it better than you could ever know. Your mother is beautiful and the most loving vessel I have ever met. She is going to teach you how to serve others and how to bake pies. And your father is going to keep you so, so safe. He is going to be an excellent earthly father who points you back to your Heavenly Father.

Last week I was at a party filled with people who are going to go crazy over you, and I watched your parents across the room. Your father was resting his hand on your mother’s stomach, hoping to feel his daughter dance. And when she wasn’t watching, your father would look at your mother and smile. So content. So peaceful. So thankful for the woman who is giving him the greatest joy: you.

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Our friend Kelly made this print for little orange seed – click the picture to head over to her etsy shop!

Oh my sweet little orange seed, I have already imagined what it will feel like to hold your tiny body in my arms. I have already grinned ear to ear over the thought! I can’t wait to tickle your neck and steal every single one of your kisses. You’re going to have so many aunts and uncles – some by blood, and many by love. I pray that you’ll save up all the love you are going to receive and then, when you find people in your path who have not known love like you have, you’ll give them yours freely. I pray that you know that this is what your Creator desires of you. You are invaluable in His eyes. Even now, while still just a fluttery bump inside of your mother, you are invaluable to God. You will never have to work or strive or fret for worth. You have it, so don’t worry your beautiful little head about that. Instead, spend your time loving. Walk closely with your heavenly Father and love.

I promise to do my best to always reflect Christ to you, little orange seed. I promise to encourage your sweet parents, to pray for them and you, and to sing hymns into your ear. You’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, my darling. A force of good and a serious force of beauty. You’re going to move mountains and if you’re anything like your mother, you’re going to have quite the affinity for cats. I can’t wait to meet you because, after all, I already love you.

— always and always yours.

Subway Tile Doesn’t Add to the Fullness of Life.

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When I see photos like this on instagram & pinterest, I imagine people fighting. I imagine oven doors getting slammed. I imagine hurt feelings and shouts filling the space. I imagine clutter and misunderstandings and vases without flowers. I imagine crying children sitting in those chairs and angry teenagers stomping out of the room. I’m not a cynic, I also imagine reconciliation. I can hear the apologies being spoken across the table, and the sweet laughter that escapes lips as tears are sheepishly wiped away. These spaces are lovely (and boy are they meticulously styled to look that way) but they will never be as lovely as the life that fills them. All the wildflowers arranged “just so” in thrift store and antique vases will never be more beautiful or more important than the intangible events happening around them. Truly, the flowers and anthropologie knick-knacks are not the most exquisite part of a home. Not by a long  shot.

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A few weeks ago I was with a friend who I adore for her creativity and honesty. I mentioned a woman I followed on instagram who always shared photos of her white-on-white living room and images precisely styled bookshelves and well behaving children (who I am certain are not always so well behaving) playing with vintage and folky toys. My friend crossed her legs, looked at me, and delicately remarked, “Everybody is full of crap.”

And they are. And I am. And we are.

I have found myself trading eternal things for material things. I have found my soul degraded by materialistic idolatry. I have placed Jesus and love and others on the shelf and have surrounded myself with instagram accounts and pictures on pinterest that make me dream of my “one day home”: the home that I will share with one husband and not 18 roommates. The home that I will turn into an instagram worthy gem. I think of the way our bookshelves will be styled and the tile in our bathroom and the dinner parties we will have and the garden I will grow and the Bon Iver album that will waft through the living room.  I blatantly ignore things happening around me at times because they just don’t seem as important as taking photos worthy of the #livefolk hashtag. I want people to be impressed with my style. I want people to be envious of my life. I want to weep at the selfish person I have become.

My pastor always says that idolatry is taking Jesus off of the throne and putting something else on it. I have plopped materialism in His spot and am pleading with it to give me all the things that I am supposed to receive from Jesus.

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I am willing to accept that not everyone who pins and posts these type of images are drowning in the sludge of materialism and the slime of conceitedness, but I am confessing that I am. My motive is never innocent. My eyes have not been focused on the things above, only on the things around me that will look trendy in a vsco filter.

I have bought into the delusion that having sleek kitchen tile matters. That having a home (or wardrobe or vacation or meals) that others are envious of is a feather in my cap. That gold silverware will contribute to my wholeness.

When the day comes that I marry that boy of mine and we have a space that is ours, we might very well have dinner parties, and we might have pretty bookshelves, but we will also most definitely have fights. Probably fights so loud Bon Iver is completely washed out. We will hurt one another’s feelings, we will cry over sickness and missing loved ones and feeling far away from God. We will laugh and love and forgive one another. We will leave dirty dishes in the sink. If we have children, they will shriek and cry and break things. They will also run and giggle and wrestle and create… and break things. Yes, our home will be filled with pretty things, but those pretty things will mean a pittance compared to the wholeness that we will experience through sadness and frustration and love and partnership.

I don’t want to ever be afraid of coming across as anything other than perfect. I don’t want to be an instagram account someone follows and remarks to her friend, “this kathryn girl looks like she has it all together”. I want to be known so intimately and so fully by the people around me that they wouldn’t think for a second that I belong inside a Kinfolk magazine because they know I am a mess and have no idea what I’m doing. They have seen my dirty home and endured my grumpy moods and tolerated my screaming children. I don’t want to stuff all those real things in the closet like clutter I am trying to hide. In fact, I want to spend so much time loving others that I simply don’t have time to worry about rearranging my living room. And I don’t want to apologize for it.

This is not how I feel right now. Right now, I still don’t want you to know how dirty my kitchen is and just how much the two hand-me-down couches in our living room do not match. But my God is a miracle worker – He turns dirty hearts into loving ones. He turns selfishness into active love. And praise Jesus, He also forgives me for every time I have made the number of ‘likes’ I receive on instagram mean more than the simple and freeing fact that I am His.

So here’s to the nights when our kitchens are filled with anger; may we celebrate the fact that part of a full life is yelling and forgiving and loving. When our home is a mess and a dear friend comes over in tears, may we be so fully aware that that moment is more precious than any pinterest inspired dinner party.

Homes hold many things. The most valuable, however, will never be able to be posted to instagram.

Steam & Shadows

Steam rises from our tea cups placed on the table and the lit candle casts shadows on the wall but there is something in that room far more consuming. It is the only thing that has captured my attention. It is her voice as she tells me the story of what happened while I was in Memphis. The terrible, heavy, heartbreaking thing that happened while I was away.

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“I know the only reason you’re able to tell me all this so matter-of-factly is because God has already begun healing and carrying you . You’ve already had several months to deal with it,” I managed to say before my eyes began welling with tears and my voice started to crack, “but I haven’t. My heart is broken. I am so, so sorry.”

Love can look like so many things, but it’s perhaps never as beautiful and raw and fragile and important as when it shows itself through two friends hugging each other with sorrowful eyes. Songs and poems and stories have been written about love, but I wonder if all the words in all the books could compare with the passion that is found in the three simple words, “I’m so sorry” being whispered again and again into the ear of a broken sister. 

I held her hand and I cried. I told her how beautiful she is, how wildly thankful to God I am that He has pulled her back to Himself so quickly, how I couldn’t believe I was so far away when this had happened, how “I’m sorry if it’s weird but I just want to keep holding your hand for a while longer”.

There are many things to be felt when someone trusts you enough to allow you to carry their heavy things. As I was sitting on that couch, ignoring the steam and dancing shadows, I first felt sadness. And fear. And anger. My heart danced between feelings like a nervous ballerina.

But as I experienced a hundred different emotions, there was one that sat constant in the background.

Have you ever played apples to apples, or some kind of card game where you have cards rotating through your hand? There’s always one card that you can’t get rid of. In apples to apples, the other six cards are always rotating – they get drawn, discarded, and are then replaced with a new card. But there’s that one tricky card that never leaves your hand. That’s how this one feeling was for me. Only, the reason it never left was because it was good and beautiful – not because it was a stupid noun that didn’t fit any of the green cards.

All the while I felt overwhelmed with a sense of honor and privilege. Not just because she felt safe enough with me to share a gigantic burden, but because in that moment I was given an opportunity to participate actively in the gospel. I was being the love that Christ insisted was to exist in our communities. By the grace of God I was given a chance to tell someone that because they are in Christ they are a new creation.

“You are not what has happened to you. You are God’s and you are still whole.”

It is humbling and an honor like I have never experienced to get to look into someone’s eyes and speak to them on God’s behalf. And it is humbling and an honor to have others who have done the same for me.

Time doesn’t heal wounds. God heals our wounds. Sometimes by using others, sometimes by just showing up on His own. The times we get to be used as part of His healing is wondrous. And it isn’t because we are word-smiths or fantastically empathetic or incredible christians that God provides us these almost magical opportunities to love, but because this is how we get to be part of the gospel. Even with our filth, we get to love other people because we have been loved by God. He has poured us tea and held our hands a million lonely nights, saying “I will turn the darkness into light before you and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them”. Like a child copying his parents, every act of love we ever make is only mimicking the love that we have seen from Him.

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Sometimes being part of the gospel means sharing the name of Jesus to souls who have never heard of their savior. It can mean moving across the world for some, it should mean tending to the sick and the homeless for us all. There are also times, I have discovered, where it looks like not having anything to say except “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry”. It looks like showing up and holding hands because nothing else seems right. It looks like allowing your heart to break simply because other hearts are broken. 

Claim it.

I have begun writing a book. Kind of. I mean, I have, but in no way does it resemble a book just yet. Mostly it looks like lists and paragraphs that aren’t cohesive. But outlining and list making and writing writing writing and deleting deleting deleting is part of the process. Figuring out what the process is, is also part of the process. At any rate, I’m writing a book because  I have always wanted to write a book. I want to join in with women like Shauna Niequist (love me some Shauna) and Sarah Bessey and Katie Heaney. I have things to say, darn it! I am officially finished telling myself that I am unable to do the thing in which God has given me a passion to do.

I am finally creating something that I want to create. I am owning a talent that God has given me. I am reflecting my Creator by also creating. This feels good. A sweet friend of mine shared a podcast with me (I think that the only reason podcasts are still around is because christians spread that jank like wildfire. So iTunes, you’re welcome) about claiming the gifts and the talents that we’ve been convincing ourselves we don’t have. I’ve spent most of my life believing that every one else had gifts and I kind of had an ability that resembled a talent but it wasn’t ACTUALLY anything so, like, pay it no nevermind. I have been lied to. And you have been lied to. We have all been lied to by the greatest of all liars that “it’s everyone else, but not you. Other people can write a book, create music, defend justice, proclaim truth, etc. butttt… you can’t. Awkward”.

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Claiming things is scary because once you claim something as yours, you have to work at it and be confident in it and be bold. I made a decision to say “I’M A WRITER!” when people ask what my deal is and I try to not have too many disclaimers like “but not like, a writer writer. I actually have no idea what I am doing”. No, I’m not published and yes, most of my readers are my family (hey, sisters!) but writing is what I love! So I’m a writer. And that’s that.

*gulp*

I don’t think I have ever felt more vulnerable in my entire life than I have the last few weeks when someone has asked me what my book is about. Telling them about what I’m writing feels a lot like spilling out my soul, and that is nerve-wracking in any scenario. It’s about me and friends and love and God and feminism and lots of bits and pieces that I adore, but when people ask me about it I tend to become ashamed that I’m not writing the most influential novel of the twenty first century. Or lame because I didn’t actually study english and I can’t tell you the first thing about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism. I have claimed writing as mine, but I worry that I don’t fit into what other people believe a writer is.

But at the end of the day, I am creating. I am writing the words that God and experiences and life puts into my head. I am working and it feels good to work. Right, even. And as long as I am using the talents that are rightfully mine from my Father as opposed to pushing them away under the impression that gifts are for everyone else, I’ll be just dandy. I don’t need to fit into a certain idea of what a writer is and is not, I need only be brave and bold and proactive because I am allowed to be. In Christ I have freedom to be who I am. And so do you. Go on and shout “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO, NO MATTER HOW LOFTY OR OUT OF CHARACTER OR DIFFICULT IT IS. THIS IS WHAT I WANT” because there are too many books and films and recipes that haven’t been created out of the belief that it’s everyone else but you. 

And as an aside, an incredibly large factor that has led me to begin writing a book is the incredibly awesome people who have said “hey, you should write a book”. The friends who text me encouragement after reading blog posts, the family members who share my posts on facebook –every encouraging thing that anyone has ever said has not just wafted past unnoticed. I notice. And I thank you sincerely.

p.s, I ate an entire pan of brownies while writing this. I guess you truly didn’t need to know that but I suppose I felt like confessing. I’m also supposed to go “running” with my roommates in an hour but that’s just simply not going to happen. Eh.

p.p.s, don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Eugene Cho’s new book on social justice entitled”Overrated” here by saturday the 11th! 

That Time Eugene Cho Read My Diary: A Review of “Overrated”

I was asked to review this book to join in a conversation about changing the world and social justice and to assist in promoting the book by sharing my thoughts and what have you. That’s the reason I was asked. However, that wasn’t actually the reason I was given this book. Fly By Productions thought it was, but it wasn’t. Turns out, it has nothing to do with them, with Eugene Cho (sorry, man) or anyone else who had a part in the book. It had only to do with me. God put this book in my hands because I needed to read it. God put this book in my hands because it’s about the same exact subject matter that I have been conflicted by for months. Out of all the blogs on the internet (literally a trillion million), mine was one of the few that received a comment asking if I’d take the time to read this book? Reeeeeeal subtle, God. I am of course still going to share my thoughts and participate in this conversation as I was asked to do, but you should know that wasn’t actually why God wanted me to read this book.

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Eugene Cho’s “Overrated: Are We More in Love With the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?” is perhaps one of the most pleasant books that has ever made me feel like I had been slapped in the face. The slap was so subtle through his gentle language that I barely noticed it until my heart was massively heavy over the things that I had read. A ‘ninja slap’, if you will.

He writes boldly and bravely about one of the truths we don’t like to listen to. Seriously, tell me how much God loves me all day long and I won’t stop you once, but start talking about the poverty in other parts of the world (and our part) and how indifference to such things can not coexist with gospel and I’ll squirm nervously in my seat and pretend to have to go to the bathroom.

The issue of social justice is hard. It just is. It’s hard because it demands so so much of us. It demands action – putting your money where you mouth is, walking the walk instead of just talking the talk… on instagram and facebook and every other soap box we clamber on top of to shout about trendy movements. Social justice screws up our selfishness. And in our culture that is maddening. The only reason, I feel, that Eugene Cho is qualified to write such a book is because of his honest confrontation with selfishness. Praise the Lord for an author who includes so much of his heart and honesty in the pages. He shares moments when saying no to others would have been easier than saying yes. Stories of feeling heavy and angry and pulled.

I wrote earlier that this subject is one I have been wrestling a lot in the last few months, and I truly meant that. I have been trying to get myself out of my own way and allow God to teach me how to love, with little success. I have been searching my heart and horrified, often, at what I have found. To receive this book was not a coincidence, it was an act of my heavenly Father who isn’t giving up on me yet. Even though he has never met me, there were parts of this book that felt like Eugene was writing about me. Like he had gotten a hold of my diary and was addressing all the sins and struggles that needed addressing, ninja-slap style.

When I was in college I went on several different trips to several different poor countries and the way I viewed them then, vs. the way I view them now, is incredibly different. I was asked to go on several of these trips so that I could photograph the work that was being done by different organizations. I felt amazing. I was getting to play with beautiful children, I was taking photographs of said beautiful kids, and I was making a difference. But I wasn’t, really. I wasn’t at all. Those trips didn’t benefit the children and people that I was meeting. They benefited me and my ego, but nobody else. I shake my head when I think about the facebook posts I made about these trips and the talks that I was asked to give at church about the importance of loving others. I didn’t know anything about loving others – I knew only that these trips would make me look interesting on facebook. What I was practicing is what Eugene would call doing unjust justice. In chapter 9 he writes,

“I don’t want to question somebody’s motivation, or the heart behind why he or she wants to act. But having a good heart is not enough. It’s not enough when our actions affect the lives of others… especially people who are already vulnerable. At times we choose to help others in a way that makes us feel as good as possible. When I say “we”, I’m including you and me. Perhaps we help others so that we can have a good experience, get good photos, or tell good stories later. This is not enough.”

*gulp* I haven’t done enough. And you may not have either. But praise Jesus, our Father hasn’t given up on us. He hasn’t been too disgusted by our pride and selfishness and laziness to call us into His kingdom and to participate in furthering justice. We are called, and “Overrated” affirms that on every page. This book is both empowering and humbling. It is Eugene’s confession of favoring the idea of changing the world more so than actually changing it so that we can, in turn, confess the same thing. We were not called to hashtag, we were called to help and love and move. But we are called to help and love and move wisely and intentionally. If you feel stirred to help wisely and intentionally, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t feel that stirring yet, I highly recommend this book. Essentially, if you are a believer in Christ, I highly recommend this book. But a fair warning: you’re going to get ninja-slapped. 

“When we are faithful to what God wants us to do, beautiful things happen. No, I am not suggesting that everything we will do must appear successful by the world’s standards of success. Our work may not be huge. It may not grow to a massive size and scale. It may not garner the attention and affection of media. It doesn’t have to be about those things. It will likely not be easy… but it will be beautiful nevertheless because we will have been faithful to the Lord’s call.”

To make it even easier for you to read his book, I’m having a giveaway! I really loved what Eugene Cho had to share and I truly want others to be able to read his thoughts as well. All you need to do is comment on this post by Saturday October 11th to be entered in the giveaway! I will pick a comment at random on Sunday the 12th.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 225: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choise of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.