Tag Archives: Church

26 to 26: I need Jesus.

credit: pasotrepaso

credit: pasotrepaso

It hit me in the shower this morning—steam rising, mist splashing in the tiny stall—trying to scrub off feelings of sin and failure.

This is the gospel: me falling on my face.

That’s it.

I can’t get up tomorrow and hope to be stronger or wiser or less filled with sin. It is in me. It stitches me together and pulls me tight.

And yet, this is grace: unbinding the stitches—one by one—and piecing me back into wholeness.

This is mercy: that in my tripping and falling, I am lifted to my feet.

This is love: that in my darkest darkness, my most grotesque sin, Christ died for me.

It is timeless Truth to be repeated with ceaseless thanks:

I need Jesus.

 

May I learn it and feel it and deepen in this understanding each day. The gospel is for me today and tomorrow, at 26 and at 96.

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

26 to 26: Do not envy your friends.

credit: Florencia Carcamo

credit: Florencia Carcamo

 

Envy is a dangerous thing.

It creeps in and consumes. Promising to bring pleasure and comfort, it breaks in and steals all joy and gift.

Envy infects and spreads and fills a life, a heart with bitterness and strife.

It settles into the cracks of relationships, driving wedges and filling them with want.

Listen to me close: do not envy your friends.

Do not spend all of your time peering into the windows of their lives, coveting all that they have. We like to peek in and believe that they have found perfect. We inspire ourselves to self-pity. I am the only one with problems.

Do not believe the lie that they have something that you deserve. Do not let shallow hypotheticals and suspicions destroy relationships that run deep.

Do not open the door to bitterness by peering into windows.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

26 to 26: Sixteen things I loved at sixteen.

Today marks a measly 16 days until my 26th birthday.

Sixteen was such a great time. Life was fun and exciting. I was just getting my license, illegally driving my best friends around. I was dating my first (and only…COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH) boyfriend for a whopping three months. I was buying clothes from the Salvation Army, wearing aviators before they were cool again, and finally growing into my personality. I was also sweating a lot…that’s definitely an over-share but it’s definitely the truth.

I loved being sixteen and still feel so fondly about the things remind me of that time. This post is an ode to you, sixteenth year of my life, and all the things that made you so great.

51U3HRq0AzL

Chuck Taylors.

Mine were pink but mostly gray from extreme over-use.

PUB  5

Taking Back Sunday.

Their album, Tell All Your Friends, pretty much was the anthem of my sixteenth year. Yeah, I’m that cool.

adam3

The only thing better than TBS was their lead singer, Adam Lazarra. 

Adam, I have always and will always love you.

128202

The Format.

Before Nate was in Fun, he was in The Format. I liked him before he was cool. #hipster

download

Cowboy Coffee at the Lady Killigrew Cafe.

A perfect post-youth group pickmeupandmakemestayuplate beverage.

262736c65cf211e299af22000a9e29bc_7

BYOT (Bring Your Own Tube)

This is something that you didn’t even know existed. This was a camp reunion before camp reunions were cool…and before any of us had our licenses. Basically, this was just a big ole’ slumber party.

images

Bradley Hathaway.

I discovered Bradley’s poetry at that time I began to uncover my love for words. He’s still doing his thing but now he’s telling stories through music.and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Pic4

The Ghetto Max.

My 1992 Nissan Maxima (which looked nothing like this). Leather seats. Sunroof. A/C. The numbers outside the doors unlocking thing.

Ray_Ban_Aviator_Sungl.88006

Aviators.

Before everyone was wearing them, I bought some at a gas station. My affinity for big sunglasses persists to this day.

-font-b-Cute-b-font-font-b-Handmade-b-font-font-b-jewelry-b-font

Little Kid’s Jewlery.

If it was plastic and cheesy, I probably owned it. Bonus points if I found it somewhere.

1396-1-2013-01-27473804_zpsf5c92239

Livejournal.

Before blogging was really a thing, I had a Livejournal. The things that I posted are just down right embarassing. And hilarious.

(Mine is still active and the last post alludes to Ashley Parker Angel…from O-Town…yeah, just Google it.)

Extreme-Teen-Bible-NKJV-9780718001643

My Extreme Teen Bible.

Did I read it a lot? Nope. Was it filled with trinkets from camp? Yup. Did the paperback binding tear away completely almost immediately? You know it. But it was my first REAL Bible and I had purchased it with my own money.

t-shirts

Thrift Store T-Shirts.

Nothing screams I’m so alternative like a good, pre-loved t-shirt.

short-emo-girl-hair-6

Emo Hair.

I’m pretty sure that I had at least three variations of this haircut.

pl1007211-custom_surgical_stainless_steel_nose_stud_rings_piercing_jewelry_with_round_prong_set_zircon

My nose ring.

My dad made me sign an agreement that this would be my final body modification. HAHAHAHAHHA. THAT’S NOT BINDING THERE WAS NO LAWYER PRESENT!

download (1)

Old Graveyards.

Don’t ask me why. I didn’t actually like them. They scared the crap out of me but the person who drove us all around loved them. I spent more time in them that I would have liked.

cabin6

Pine Brook Camp & Cabin Six.

Summers were always (and still are) meant for camp. Dang, look at those highlights.

Thanks, Sixteen. Now I feel even more self-concious.

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

26 to 26: There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously goodlooking.

I believe that it was the great philosopher, Derek Zoolander, who once said:

“There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking…and I plan to find out what that is.”

So much wisdom, so much truth.

If we’re honest, this is a lie that we whisper to ourselves in front of mirrors and our peers.

Life would be better if __________________.

We fill it in with dreams of higher cheekbones, thinner waists, fatter paychecks, broader influence. We fill it in with things far off and fleeting.

We stuff these Photoshopped ideals chock full of promises of easier, better, fuller living.

But the storms still come when you’re beautiful. Relationships still strain when you’re thin. Loss still hits when you’re rich. Failure still comes when you’re famous.

And just because they have rock hard abs and stunning features, doesn’t mean that they [male models] can’t not too die in a freak gasoline fight accident.

We can spend our lives chasing after thoughts of how we should look, how our lives should look. We can and often times do. But I wager that it is those who are concerned little with physical beauty or worldly wealth or hoarding power who are indeed the most beautiful, affluent, and influential.

I wager that those living life-fullest are fleeing from better and clinging to now.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33

 

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

26 to 26: It’s okay to ask for help.

creative commons: VinothChandar

creative commons: VinothChandar

Sometimes I think that I’ll be able to muscle the strength, the stamina, the courage to do something on my own.

Sometimes I think that I can try harder, push myself further.

Sometimes I think that I can bite my lip a little harder, grit my teeth a little tighter, lock my elbows and my knees and pull this life-load alone. My lips bleed and my jaw aches and my joints buckle.

Sometimes I tell myself lies so that I don’t let others know that I need help. They always echo: You’re alone in this.

Sometimes you can’t lift a weight yourself. Sometimes you can’t bear a load as one. Sometimes you need to ask for help.

And that’s alright.

We were built for community and relationship and life-load sharing. We’re wired to need and be needed by other people.

We weren’t meant to carry breaking burdens, secrets alone.

It’s okay to ask for help.

 

2 Comments

Filed under to write.

26 to 26: Rest

It’s okay to rest. I mean, rest is good.

Sometimes rest is hard. Sometimes rest means facing the facts and looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Sometimes rest means quieting yourself from to-do lists and overbooked schedules to listen. Rest is hard when you just want to run.

But sometimes, rest comes easy. Like today.

Like a day when you woke up at 4:30 am and spent 5 hours in the car and then proceeded to spend six hours awkwardly chatting with strangers and sitting through a lecture on youth ministry in the church even when you don’t work in a church or often in youth ministry.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to rest. It is good to rest. It is gift to rest.

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

No One & Naan

It’s only been 4 months since I posted last & 3 weeks since I started writing this. I wish so whole-heartedly that I was better at all of this that I am. Regardless. I finished something.

___________________________________________________

bread dough

click for source

I came home tonight and I felt alone.

For the first time in the two weeks that I’ve been roommateless, I felt really alone. Maybe it was because I had no to-do list to keep me company. Maybe it was because I knew that I was exiting a car with two people whom I love dearly and entering an empty house.

My co-worker’s father died this week. Tonight was his wake. Tomorrow they will put him in the ground, whisper long goodbyes.

Death stirs up so many questions, and still for me, illuminates so many fears about family, friends, and self. And this haunting thought—it is coming for those I love.

It’s on nights like these- lonely, quiet, fearful- when you need something warm and hopeful and home.

So I mixed the flour and the sugar and the yeast and the water. I formed thin, round circles. I covered with a cloth. I waited.

There’s something about yeasted bread that gives so much comfort. The perfume of dough rising smells nothing less than home.  The feel of a loaf proofing puts magic at your finger tips.

Yeast is a magical thing. It lies dormant in our refrigerators and pantries, awakening to life with a little warmth, a little sugar. It’s comforting. It shows evidence of life—springing up, bubbling over— where there seemed to be nothing by dry, desert death.

And I heated oil over flame to transform the dough into bread, the nothing into naan. Four misshapen rounds of dough becoming bread.

I took a round from the plate where it lay cooling. I broke it, still so warm—almost too warm for my skin to take— and remembered a body broken. Remembered a death. Remembered a sacrifice—a remembrance so unexpected.

I took it and ate. I remembered and gave thanks for a life-given for my life-rescued.

I chewed and thought only of communion, thought only of doing this in remembrance of Me. Thought only of the dry, dead yeast springing up dough like my dry, dead heart springing up with new Life, new Hope. I thought only of the death which gave and which gives life.

And I was filled—with warmth, with home, with Hope. I was filled with remembrance & thanksgiving that from death springs forth life; from old springs forth new; from pain springs forth joy; from Christ springs forth communion.

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

Spring Breaks and Breaks and Breaks Me

 

creative commons; d. sharon pruitt

creative commons; d. sharon pruitt

 

It’s spring after a long winter. Too long. Too much.

Farmers tilling up dirt, making soil ready for bounty. God is tilling my heart. I am learning, feeling this as I put hands to the dirt in worship this morning, preparing spring ground for summer flowers.

The frost has heaved up rocks, pushed them to the surface. I pull them from beneath the soil and wonder where they come from, how far they’ve traveled only to be tossed aside.

The weeds—they’re so alive. They come up first, pushing through as a glimmer of hope. Toxin disguised as hope. They kill, they choke. I’m pulling up them up and out of this ground but each tug is filled with uncertainty—is this ugly thing only weeks away from radiant bloom? Or is this the poison that strangles out beauty not yet born?

The invaders, the unwelcome, I find their roots so shallow. So weak. A slight tug and they give way.

The flowers, they’re deep rooted, strong. Clinging to dirt deep. Awaking from winter’s long slumber. They don’t go gentle.

Oh, how I wish to be a flower. An iris. A lily. A tulip. A daisy. Dug in so deep. Bursting with beauty and light and newness. A beacon of hope, a pennant of promise.

Oh, how I have longed for spring, for the winter to roll back on my soul, for the Vinedresser to pull out heaved rocks and poison-plants.

This winter of my soul has lasted much longer than New England snow and ice, stuffed turkeys and heart-shaped candy boxes. I found that no jacket or mittens or boots could keep me warm and safe and dry from my own wretchedness.

I’ve waited long for this season—this time of new and fresh and beautiful; this time bursting with life and potential; this time of tearing up dead to make way for life. I’ve waited to feel the Farmer’s hands at work, to feel the plow meet the field of my wintered heart.

And it’s here. Tearing and sprouting and blossoming.

Spring breaks and breaks and breaks me and it feels like life.

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

Prayers & Promises

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do but the words formed at my lips, pressed from my mouth before I could grab hold of them:

Can I pray for you?

But…I don’t…I can’t…I…

I am empty of jargon and oft-quoted phrases and trite expressions.

I am silenced. I’ve offered prayers that I cannot utter.

This moment of collision—my empty faith, my thankless heart, this broken world, His hurting people.

My mouth is dry, my throat is tight. I choke out His name.

Father.

One who spoke stars and filled seas and sculpted Adam and fashioned Eve and forsook True Son. Maker of worlds and heaven and these clammy hands and this brain knocking about for words. One who cradles close and promises peace.

Abba.

My voice is quiet and slow. Each word drags heavy and pulls tight.

I’m clawing at Your goodness and struggling to pull it close, to make it real, find it tangible. I’m drawing near, this time not just to Your promises, but because of them.

Come closer.

I’m asking and seeking and knocking. I’m drawing near. I’m offering up these bumbling words and broken heart as an invitation, as a desperate plea.

And another collision— the Giver of good and perfect gifts, my restless heart, His peace.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” –Psalm 51:17

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.

A Call, A Promise, & Peace

There are days when I feel like I can’t approach the throne of God.

Today is one of those days.

I feel distant, I feel alone. I feel away.

These are the days when I deny myself grace, deny myself the promise of forgiveness because denial is the path to God, is it not?

I feel like if I’m quiet long enough, if I don’t ask for anything today, if I keep my shoulders hunched and my eyes down in a posture of shame, God will beckon me to come.

I know, I know that I am wrong. I am wrong a thousand times over.

The very essence of God is a beckon to come, a call to communion. The very Spirit of God, alive inside my wretched frame, a seal of relationship. The only Son, by his voice, invites me to Come.

The hand of God, extended always, not to push away but to bring near.

His Grace is crying out into my darkness and it is saying I am here.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. –Ephesians 2:12-16, ESV

It is finished. It is done. I have won.

And this is his banner over me: peace. A flag of nearness and promise.

It flies high today, just as it does every day.

Leave a comment

Filed under to write.