Friday, June 29, 2012

My Golden Birthday.

Today is the last day of my twenties.

Wow. It just looks really weird to see that in print.

As I've tried to prepare for turning 30, I've looked back on my last few birthdays and realized that each one was worse than the last because it was one closer to 30. A dear friend commented last night that it's like I've been counting down to this. I have. I'm not really sure why I've been counting down or what I've been expecting. Yet here I am on the precipice of being a 30-something instead of a 20-something, and I feel like I'm looking straight down the edge of a cliff.

For women who are married, I guess 30 is the beginning of a decade of expected milestones - kids, anniversaries, etc. I ache for my friends who are nearing this age without those milestones for which they long. I feel sorrow for my friends who are judged because those milestones aren't the ones they want for their lives, and they must constantly answer the expectations of society with rationalizations for the way they have chosen (or not chosen) to live. It's for all these friends that I'm feeling bold enough to write this. I don't want you to be judged, and I don't want you to live with the weight of others' expectations on your shoulders. I want to fling all our scarlet letters far from us and find a way to live in freedom and authenticity with one another.

For me, 30 is wide open. I've already passed the decade where everyone expects me to get married, settle down, stop going to rock concerts that damage my hearing, etc. I've dealt with the comments about when I'm going to have children and how going for my doctorate is just going to make me "more intimidating to men." Perhaps in my thirties, people will begin to appreciate what I've done with the extra space that God has chosen to give me and stop treating me like I've done something wrong because I don't have a serious boyfriend or children. Maybe people will stop making passive aggressive jokes about me being a lesbian. (Which, for the record, I am not. And which, for the record, is not okay to joke about - whether I am or not.)

I've heard that you get to be more yourself in your thirties without worrying about offending people. Apparently I'm coming out swinging.

This decade scares me because it is, for me, a decade with no road map. I have no expected milestones. I will probably get my doctorate in this decade. At least, that's the plan. I will move to Chicago in two weeks, and I have some fuzzy and idyllic images of me walking around the city, riding trains while reading textbooks, and cooking dinner in my new studio apartment. I want to spend this decade, as all my life, loving those who have no one else to love them. That's really the only roadmap I need.

As I stand on the precipice and look over, I can see nothing. Here's hoping that if I jump into the nothing, I will find myself falling not into an abyss, but into the arms of my Father who loves me and knows what milestones lay ahead. As scary as it is to walk into a phase of life for which I have no expectations, I can't help but think that no expectations means no disappointments.

I have been given a lifetime of gifts in my 30 years, and yet I have lived many days in sorrow and pain. Perhaps as I enter this new decade, I can see gifts for the extra kindness that they are and stop focusing (or allowing others to focus) on what I do not have.

Another dear friend said that perhaps the abundant life we've been promised is so much more than joy. Living full includes the pain. Abundant life - life to the fullest - would not be full if it contained only one extreme of the human existence.

Perhaps 30 will be a decade in which I can be thankful for the abundant life I've been given and stop feeling a pressure to live up to someone else's idea of abundance. The pain is never far off, but joy isn't either. His mercies are new every morning. Even tomorrow morning, when I will awake as a 30 year old single woman about to leave my semi-comfortable world for a world full of uncertainty. His mercies are still new tomorrow morning, and his grace is still sufficient.

I've stumbled many times in my 30 years, perhaps never so much as in these last few years. And in my tripping along, I am beginning to learn what grace is and how much I need it. Here's to a new decade full of failures, stumbles, ascents to mountaintops, descents into valleys, and enough grace to cover it all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Today was my last ever class at Richmont. Anytime I've said things about graduation to people outside my program, they seem to believe that it's a happy event, and cause for celebration. That's not what it feels like. It feels like grieving a loss that will never be fully grieved, because the hole it will leave is too big and too special to be filled by anything else. I have spent my life trying to learn how to love well. At Richmont, I learned how to BE loved well. I was pursued and valued here. I had a place and a role. I felt safe and comfortable. These three years, and especially this last year, have been difficult for so many of us. But Richmont has provided "emotional bubblewrap" (thanks for that language, Joel) for us in the moments that we have needed some small cushion from the pains and stresses of life. I have not only wept and rejoiced with my friends, but I have been wept with and rejoiced with. There has been depth and light, tears and laughter. There has been a lot of chocolate. There has been stress, anguish, turmoil, tragedy, trauma, and most of all, a holy and cursed waiting. We have played truth or truth (because none of us ever picked dares as kids), celebrated birthdays, sat in silence. We have worshipped together. We have done life together. We have done death together.

So forgive me if words of congratulations seem a bit incongruent with what I'm feeling at this point in my life. I'm sure there will be a day when I am excited and proud of the "accomplishment" of finishing Richmont and getting my master's degree. But today is not that day.

Today is the day that I cried (not pretty little tears, mind you, but the big ugly sobs) through the last five minutes of class. Today is the day that I thoughtfully and purposefully planned to wear my Wheaton t-shirt under my Richmont sweatshirt. I spent the day literally clothed in my past and my future, seated firmly in the present. And silly as it may have seemed, I paused in the foyer to take off my sweatshirt. I wanted to stay snuggled inside its warmth and cozy familiarity. It feels safe to wear a sweatshirt - the opposite of exposed. But yet, I knew that outside the doors, it was warm. The seasons had changed. It is spring now, and it is time to leave the comfort and coziness of this place behind. This season has ended, and it is time for us to move forward into our futures and the seasons that lie ahead of us.

There will be a time when I will be excited about the season coming next for me and the beautiful things that it holds. But not today. Today is about endings and goodbyes. It's about closing this time well and with honor for the weighty thing that it has been.

Forgive me for taking this out of context and using it in reference to an ending when its original context was in the death and grief of C.S. Lewis's beloved wife. I hope I will not do a dishonor to the weight of that story by using it as part of mine.

"Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal." ~ Shadowlands

Sunday, April 8, 2012

40 Days.

Easter has come. Lent is over. I’ve missed a lot of dates during this process. Some of them have been intentionally taken off to give myself grace and not to force myself farther than I feel I can go. Some of them have simply been forgotten. But I am a woman of my word. So here are 40 things I’d rather you not know about me. Happy Easter, friends. I am so thankful for this story of redemption.

February 22nd - I sing along with Mariah Carey.
February 23rd - I'm terrified of being teacher's pet.
February 24th - I already want to quit.
February 25th - I watch too much TV.
February 26th - Sunday.
February 27th - I am afraid of people thinking I'm a hypochondriac.
February 28th - I don't like to sweat.
February 29th - I feel valued when I am helpful.
March 1st - I failed.
March 2nd - I'm a messy person.
March 3rd - I wore pajamas all day today.
March 4th - Sunday.
March 5th - I don't like being vulnerable.
March 6th - I want people to think I have good taste in music.
March 7th - I'm not as good as you think I am.
March 8th - I was not okay today.
March 9th - I could not bring myself to be vulnerable today. It was too painful.
March 10th - I could not admit what was in my heart this day.
March 11th - Sunday.
March 12th - I'm indecisive.
March 13th - I eat unhealthy food while I watch Biggest Loser.
March 14th - I’m trying to guilt my sister into caring for my sickly and elderly cat because I don’t think I have the emotional capacity to handle it if my cat dies when I’m living alone in Chicago.
March 15th - The only place I've ever been asked for my phone number is at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.
March 16th - I feel guilty when I have a crush on someone.
March 17th - I'm so stressed that I don't know what town I'm supposed to be in next weekend.
March 18th - Sunday.
March 19th - I have a mild case of Bieber Fever.
March 20th - I am a procrastinator.
March 21st - I want to be a writer.
March 22nd - I might be co-dependent with my dog.
March 23rd - I reuse outfits.
March 24th - I went to see the Hunger Games. And I've read all the books.
March 25th - Sunday.
March 26th - I hate having my picture taken.
March 27th - Not only do I sin, but I resist grace.
March 28th - My most embarrassing moment is...
March 29th - It makes me angry when people treat me like I’m stupid.
March 30th - I’ve always wished I had a brother. I think I want to feel protected.
March 31st - Music is bittersweet to me.
April 1st - Sunday.
April 2nd - I hate goodbyes.
April 3rd - Sometimes when I'm really stressed, I add things to my to do list sometimes just so I can check them off.
April 4th - I'm lonely.
April 5th - I’m not properly excited about graduating.
April 6th - I think cursing can be holy.
April 7th - I still hate being vulnerable, and I’m afraid that I will not be able to find appropriate balance on this journey. But I trust that God has used this to teach me what he wanted to teach me, and not simply what I wanted to learn.
April 8th - Easter. Thank you God.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Authentic cursing.

I believe cursing can be holy.

Yes, I just said that. Now before you begin to tar and feather me (and before I lose my volunteer "job" singing on Sunday mornings at church for speaking heresy), let me explain. In the spirit of full disclosure, I think there are two types of cursing. There is vulgar cursing and there is authentic cursing. The same words spoken two different ways can be offensive to me or inspiring to me. In fact, there are many words that would not be considered curse words that seem so vulgar to me in the context in which they are spoken that they are more offensive than the "worst" types of words (which, by the way, are arbitrary words that have been socially constructed to be "bad," but I digress...). So what I'm talking about here is the latter - authentic cursing. Just like so many things, the focus for me is on the heart of the person more than on the legalism of what they are saying or doing.

I understand that cursing is offensive to some people and not appropriate in all situations. I'm not arguing for it to be any different. In fact, I'm not arguing anything at all. I'm being honest about who I am and vulnerable about things I'd rather keep to myself and reveal only in "safe" situations. That's this whole Lent journey for me.

The first curse word I ever said was in a prayer. I was angry, although I hadn't realized it before. I felt like God didn't care what was going on in my life. I felt separated from him. So finally, one day, I told him. I cursed as I told him. And then I collapsed into tears and sobs and felt him press into me, almost as if he were physically holding me. I felt him. Right after I cursed at him. I didn't really understand this then.

I think I understand it better now, years later. We've all heard that the opposite of love isn't actually hate, but apathy. Anger actually requires you to remain engaged in some sort of relationship with the person at whom you're angry. Apathy allows you to walk away or remain distant and unattached. When I was dishonest with God and trying to shield him from my questions and my anger, I was actually disengaging from my relationship with him. When I was finally able to be honest and tell him how I was really feeling, I was moving back into relationship with him. I was trusting that he could contain my anger and my questions. I was trusting that he was bigger than me and could handle all that I can throw at him. Accusing him, lamenting, and throwing my questions upon him was truly trusting him. Keeping my questions hidden was out of fear that he would crumble beneath my anger or my questions. It was too small a picture of him.

I've said something pretty radical to a few of my friends and clients. I've said, "I think sometimes curse words can be more righteous than worship songs." Are you offended? Let me explain. Although you can remain offended if you wish. Again, I'm not arguing for anything here. I've sung worship songs before and not meant a word. I've sung them without feeling. Disengaged. False. I've sung them pretending that I am okay when I am not. I've sung them self-righteously and smugly. It is in these situations that I believe God requires our true selves, not our false selves. And if our true selves are angry and accusatory (like, perhaps, the author of Lamentations?), I believe that is who God wants.

My false self is incapable of being in a real relationship. My true self is fraught with imperfection. But it is honest. It is authentic. When I am my true self, ruptures in relationships will occur. But repair and redemption is not possible without rupture. And redemption is what this whole story of earth is about.

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth— then my judgments go forth like the sun. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." ~ Hosea 6:1-6

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


This is the post I've been putting off since the first day of Lent. It's the one I knew I would have to write when I agreed to do this. And it's the one I've chosen not to write every single day since Lent began. Out of all the things I wish people didn't know about me, this has got to be at the top of the list. I'm literally taking a deep breath before I type it.

I am lonely.

It looks so ugly and shameful there in plain text. My fingers actually felt a little icky typing it. But there it is. I know it seems shocking to you that an almost 30 year old woman might feel a little lonely sometimes (that's sarcasm for Sheldon's benefit). But believe it or not, it's shocking to me. I've always been quite content to be alone. I enjoy the freedom of it. I am an introvert, and I enjoy having space and quiet to myself. But recently, I've found myself wishing that there was a person who would like to sit on the couch with me and ask me about my day. I've realized that I'm a little bit tired of going to concerts by myself all the time. I've realized that there are days that I really need a hug and there's no one to give me one.

I'm terrified for you to know this about me. I don't want to look desperate, clingy, whiny, or weak. I don't want to be "one of those girls" that people assume are miserable because they're single. Because here's the deal - and hear me say this clearly - I am NOT miserable. I really like my life. I get to do lots of really cool things, hang out with really wonderful people, and go really awesome places whenever I want. It's just that I sometimes wonder if it would be fun to do those things with someone. And believe me, the thought has crossed my mind that it might NOT be fun to do those things with someone.

I guess the bottom line is I'm afraid that admitting I'm lonely means admitting that I feel undesirable. It's the same old thing... if I allow people the opportunity to look too closely, they will realize that there is a reason that I am single. They'll be like, "Oh... That makes sense." They'll assume I have a dozen cats when really I only have the one that I've spent the last three years trying to get rid of. But this is a journey of laying down pride, and this is what it all comes down to for me. Pride lures me into believing that I can do it all on my own. Vulnerability, then, is admitting that I cannot. Admitting that I cannot do life without God is easy. I know I rely on him. Admitting that I need friends is new for me, but God has worked deeply in my heart these last three years and has showed me how much I need my friends and how much better of a person I can be if I allow them to help me. It is not easy for me to rely on my friends, but through discipline and practice, it is becoming easier.

Maybe this is the next step. Maybe it's not. I have always said that the only reason I would ever get married is if the two of us glorify God more together than we do apart. My mission and purpose do not change. I am called to love as well as I can the people that God puts in my path. And if he deems me able to do that on my own, then I will thank him for such an honor. If he brings me a helper, I will thank him for his gift. But regardless of his plan, to deny my loneliness is to deny a part of how he has created me. I do not demand that it be fulfilled, but to deny it is dishonest. I offer it back to him as a gift of my scared and wounded heart. And I believe the tattered honesty of it will please him. So I guess it doesn't really matter if it pleases anyone else.

"Do not let your longing slay the appetite of your living." ~ Jim Eliot

Monday, April 2, 2012


I didn't think I was a person that hated goodbyes. I've left so many people and places in my life that I've gotten pretty good at them. I enjoy change. I like fresh starts and new beginnings. But right now in my life, every new opportunity means another goodbye. The good is tinged with sadness. I guess that's always the way it is on this side of heaven.

The goodbyes are surrounding me. I'm saying goodbye to clients, my school, community, friendships, rhythms of life, family, musical comrades, trivia buddies, favorite restaurants and venues, my house, and even my car shop. I've spent many years trying to escape Knoxville, and now as I'm finally presented with the opportunity to leave, I find myself hesitating on the precipice.

That which we know is always more comfortable than that which is unknown. It takes risk to gamble on a future that isn't defined or spelled out. I'm not a risk-taker or a gambler. But without risk, there is no reward. Someone told me once to always live life on purpose, lest you wake up one day and realize you are somewhere that you never intended to go.

Goodbyes are painful, but they bring a closure that we need and that we do not always do well. It's easier to avoid them, because they involve embracing the pain. Simply allowing someone to leave your life is easier than saying goodbye. I know because I've always been someone who allows people to leave my life fairly easily. But if I am going to ask my clients to face the pain of goodbye, I must be willing to do it myself. I cannot avoid the end and loss of my relationships. I cannot pretend that things will not change. And I cannot regret a single ounce of my investment in them, even though the happiness then adds to the pain now.

I'm trying to learn to both embrace and let go, for the letting go is just as much a part of the embrace as the holding on.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


It doesn't take a great deal of Facebook stalking to know that I love music and concerts. But here's what you might not know. Concerts aren't pure joy for me. Music isn't pure joy for me. It has a flavor of bitterness to it. My heart still aches to create music, to play music, to be in a world where music plays a significant part. I hate that the dissonant notes are there, but at the same time, they deepen the melody.

I remember crying with dear friends not so long ago after one of my favorite concerts. I couldn't really explain why I was crying, other than the beauty and the longing danced so powerfully within me that I could not contain it. My emotion burst out of me. Tears are one way this happens in me. Music is another. Melodies, harmonies, chords, and lyrics used to burst out of the emotions stirred in my heart. But now the notes have quieted. And now I watch and listen as notes pour from the instruments and voices of artists. And my heart aches within me, longing to be one of them. Longing to have a part in their chorus.

God asked me to lay down music years ago. For a time, it was in its entirity. Being a part of a band had become my identity, a way that I tried desperately to earn friends or approval. I knew that I needed to learn about who I was as a whole person. So I obeyed, and I laid it down at his feet. After a few years, I was allowed to pick a piece of it back up as opportunities to sing at my church and in a gospel choir emerged. I believe this is all I will likely be able to hold in this one life God has given me. But my heart still yearns for more.

I love music. It speaks to my soul. But there is a part of my soul that will always long to speak back, to be a contributor to the field of art and not merely a consumer. Perhaps there will be a place for my words and voice on this earth. Or perhaps this is yet another way that I am reminded that I was not created for this earth. I long for a place where beauty exists without pain, where sweetness is not tainted with bitter, and where I am unleashed to glorify God with my full self.

I am learning to hope, despite the pain that hope brings. For hope reminds me that desires not satisfied in this life bring us an ever present reminder that they will be satisfied in the next.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My most embarrassing moment to this day occurred early on in my middle school career. I was homeschooled and started at a private school in 7th grade. This meant that I did not know any lunchroom protocol. So when I was standing next to the conveyer belt that takes all the trays into the kitchen and they began to fall, I did not anticipate that people might think I had dropped my own tray. And I definitely did not anticipate that they would laugh and clap.

The horror and shame and embarrassment I felt sent me into a dizzying emotional nosedive. I actually did drop my tray at that point, and then I ran blindly into the girls' bathroom, tears streaming down my face, and threw up. I am fairly certain I stayed in there throughout my next few classes.

When I have to tell the story for some reason now, people always say that I should have taken a bow. It never would have occurred to me. I guess it's ultimately linked to everything I've shared this Lent season. I'm afraid to fail in front of others. I'm afraid to let my weaknesses show. I'm afraid to be less than what I think I should be (or someone else thinks I should be). I'm afraid that the slightest slip up will result in me being the weird girl who did that weird thing and now she doesn't have any friends.

I still have issues eating in front of people, especially if it involves walking in front of them with a plate of food. Some days I can't make myself do it, and I make an excuse about not being hungry or having recently eaten. But the stronger I get, the more days I can risk tripping, dropping something, or being humiliated. I am trying to learn that I am free to fail, and that I can simply laugh and take a bow when I look foolish. I'm thankful that I'm not still in middle school, and that, as silly as it sounds, people won't stop being my friend if I do something embarrassing. It's embarrassing how hard it is for me to believe that. That might be who I was. But through the grace of God, that is not who I am.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sin and grace.

The church has taught us that people who have faith should not stumble. Some stumbles are okay, perhaps. Other stumbles are off limits. We know that sin is a part of life, and it is the reason we need grace. We know that we cannot earn or merit grace. And yet, we try. We trick ourselves into believing that perfection is attainable. Sure those "little" sins happen every day, but at least we're not doing those "big" sins. I hope this sounds ridiculous to you. And I hope it also resonates, because though we know it doesn't work this way, we act like it works this way. And then we must live up to the pressure. As Mark McMinn says about a man he counseled, "He could not afford to speak a language of sin because there were no arms of grace to catch him if he fell." Part of my job is to offer a place to fall and receive grace. But here's the thing. I also need a place to fall. Because I do fall. And sometimes I am not aware of the arms of grace waiting to catch me. I need to be reminded. And I'm so thankful for the people in my life who have been and continue to be those beautiful, strong arms for me. I hope my arms are grace for them too.

Even though I've known my whole life that grace cannot be earned, I must admit that I have continued to act like I could earn it. And therefore, I have acted in pride, as if I don't really need it. Nothing could be further from the truth. I need it, I don't believe I deserve it, and it's hard for me to receive it. It's a discipline for me to open my heart to receive what God longs to give me. I am not humble, as he would have me be. Instead, I am humiliated by my sin and shame, and I turn my face away from his grace because it exposes my sin. So I sit here, peeling off these layers in front of your reading eyes, exposing myself in ways that feel amazingly uncomfortable. I had no idea what truly waited for me when I began this Lent's journey. I'm stretching, practicing, trying to get better at being not only aware of my need for grace, but able to receive it when it is offered to me instead of feeling that I must resist it somehow. Some believe, after all, that it's irresistable. :-) (That's a joke for you people who love to talk about the five points of Calvinism. If you didn't get it, just chalk it up to nerdiness and continue on.)

My worship leader and dear friend sent me a song to learn today. It discloses my heart more fully than any words I could write. Sorry to spoil it for you if you like to be surprised by our Sunday set lists. Bryan, I hope this wasn't a secret. I just couldn't not share it. It was too perfect.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Take My Picture.

I hate having my picture taken. It's incredibly anxiety provoking. If you've ever tried to take my picture, you likely know this about me (and probably have a picture of my hand in front of my face). For those of you who go to Providence, remember when they used to have the band on the screens behind the words? Pretty sure I made a legitimate bribery attempt to get them to stop putting me on the screen. Then I stooped to using theological arguments. And I legitimately considered quitting the band.

Here's the deal. I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that, as a woman, I'm insecure about the way I look. Almost all of us feel it. But no one admits it. So I'm admitting it. And even though I know that most of you reading this will feel the same way, I still feel remarkably foolish admitting it. Society has me convinced that I am too round, too plain, too slouched, and the wrong shape. I've struggled with my weight being too high and too low. I feel like no matter how I pluck my eyebrows, they never look right. I feel lucky if one out of every ten outfits I wear is cute. The rest of the time I hope people don't see me.

Most days, I can remember that these things don't really matter. Some days, I literally stay inside because it's easier in here. Some days I look in the mirror and see my personality smiling back at me. Some days, I just don't look in the mirror because I can't handle it.

I don't share this so that you'll affirm me or feel sorry for me. I share it because a) that's the rule of this awful game that I'm playing. But more importantly because b) if you struggle like this, I want you to know that you're not alone.

And as a side note - if your struggle has you engaging in dangerous behaviors to try and control your appearance, I'd love to talk to you about how you can find some help. Eating disorders can be deadly. If you're wondering if you have any tendencies toward an unhealthy relationship with food, you can take a quick assessment online here: Are You Dying to Be Thin? Oh, and as a side note to my side note - I do not know this psychologist and am not endorsing her or her website. This is just a link to a helpful quiz.

Oh, and you might like these two songs. I'm not sure why I have so many links on this particular blog...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

My life currently consists of at least three contexts that do not overlap with one another. So I reuse outfits. I wore the same thing three times this week. I do this mostly because I'm lazy and trying to pick out clothing exhausts me. So when I find something I like, I use it in all my contexts so that I don't have to remember later where I wore it and where I can still wear it. I might have to get more clothes if my life ever aligns in a way that I see the same people more than 1-2 days a week. Reduce, reuse, recycle, right? Please don't think I'm gross.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Professor Lupin.

I wonder sometimes if I need my dog more than he needs me. I knew that when I rescued him off the side of the road I was indulging some level of codependency, because I told my mom that at least this was a healthy way for me to fulfill my need to rescue. I think he's a handsome little guy, even though the first time my sister ever saw him, she remarked, "Rachel. That is the ugliest dog I've ever seen!" This, by the way, is why he's moving with me and not staying with my sister when I move to Chicago this summer. She's mad about it, but she knows that I love him more (and that she never would have stopped on the road to pick him up in the first place). Sometimes he looks at me with his sweet little face and I burst into tears, begging God to never let him die. I know that this prayer is ludicrous, so please don't bother telling me. I know my dog will die. But I pray it anyway sometimes, so take that for what you will. For now, I'm good being codependent with my dog. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Did you know that "scribbler" is a synonym for writer? It means, "a composer of written work" according to I want to be a writer. I've always dreamed of it, although I could never admit it until two years ago. It's part of the reason that I'm continuing on for my doctorate in clinical psychology. Why is this something I'd rather people not know about me, you ask? Well, thanks for asking. It's because I'm afraid to admit that I want something that I'm not sure I'll get. I don't want to try and fail. I don't want to be that person who always dreamed of being something and never became it.

But here we are, on this journey of vulnerability, where I'm being forced (okay, gently led) to lay down pride and be honest about who I am and the rough edges that are just as much me as my gold stars. Perhaps the rough edges are even more who I am, for who I am is a broken and sinful woman in need of Christ. I am so broken that I can forget how broken I am. The stars are just a reflection of a Light that isn't mine.

So in my brokenness, I am daring to admit to you that I dream of being a writer. Let's go one further. A writer who a few dozen people have actually read. A writer who has had some sort of impact. It's a risk, because there is a very real possibility that this dream will never come to fruition. And then I will be the 89 year old of whom someone says, "Didn't you want to be a writer?" But I pray two things: 1) that God will provide a way for me to write if indeed he has something that he'd like for me to say and 2) that if he doesn't, I will not regret trying or being bold enough to admit what I wanted. Perhaps it is in the trying that I will discover my true calling. Or perhaps it is in being brave (or silly) enough to try that my dream will come true.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm a procrastinator.

I'm a horrible procrastinator. I wait until the absolute last minute before I begin projects. I write papers in a single sitting, usually the night before. I only clean when I'm putting off doing some project or another. Even my blogs are typically late at night. In fact, this one is only early in the day because I am literally doing this instead of writing two papers that I have due on Thursday. I become productive in various other areas of my life when I am procrastinating in one.

I don't know why I'm like this. I joke often and say that it allows me to work faster and that, "If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute." While I do believe that is true, I often wonder why I can't treat earlier minutes as if they're the last minute. I wonder why I can't follow through on doing things early even though I know I'm racing toward a deadline pile-up that just may kill me (and if it doesn't kill me, will leave me stressed and sleep deprived and broken down emotionally).

I guess the fact that I know it's my own fault is the reason that I don't typically ask for extensions when it all hits the fan. I know I've put myself into a bad set of circumstances, and so I force myself to stay in them, knuckle down, and get everything done. But I find myself wondering... What would happen if I allowed others to offer me grace in bad situations? What if I allowed myself to ask for mercy and grace not only when I feel I might deserve it, but when I know I don't? Sometimes that means accepting consequences, and I recognize that. But I wonder how many times I have deprived myself of the humbling experience of being shown unmerited favor, simply because I choose to do things all on my own? Just because I can do something on my own doesn't always mean I should.

And so here we are, where even my discussion of my bad habit of procrastinating has led me back to the place of realizing how truly bad I am at vulnerability. At least I don't have to worry about being vulnerable again until 11:50pm tomorrow. :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bieber Fever.

I watched the Justin Bieber movie. And I liked it. My sister and I rented it and fully indulged our Bieber Fever. Hate all you want, but this kid is talented. I don't own any of his songs or anything, but I will sing along in carpool dance parties riding down I-75 any day of the week. Mock away. Part of the fun of loving music (for me) is being able to enjoy the lighthearted alongside the heartrending lyrics that comment on the brokenness of our world. Life is all about balance. And sometimes you need a little Bieber to remind you to celebrate fun and innocence. Or at least I do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slutty Brownies.

I made these brownies tonight. They're called "Slutty Brownies" and I found them on Pinterest. Mmmmm. I could only eat three bites before I had to stop, because they are so incredibly rich. What makes this funny, though, is that I made and ate these while watching Biggest Loser. Dolvett would be so disappointed in me. And that would break my heart, because I am slightly in love with that man. My friend Megan can testify to this truth, as we watch Biggest Loser together (via text conversation) every week that we can.

So, take your pick of confessions from this post. I watch Biggest Loser. I eat really bad for me food while watching Biggest Loser. I'm in love with Dolvett. I thought I'd get several out all at once since I might not be able to post the next few days while I'm in Chicago. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Choices, choices.

It was nice to take a short break. I think I underestimated how difficult this would be for me. To be honest, I didn't post at the end of last week because I simply didn't want to admit to the public what was going on in my world (I did continue to be exceptionally vulnerable in friendships, though, so I think I should get some partial credit there :-)). I gave myself a bit more grace, even while feeling guilty for not keeping my commitment. How feeble and frail we are! I think this Lent is all about God showing me how depraved I truly am.

Yet God continues to give me blessings, even though I'm oh so aware of how much I don't deserve them. I found out today that I've been accepted to Fuller as well as Wheaton. I truly thought that I'd blown the interview at Fuller, and can't believe I've been accepted. I really did want to only get into one, because I hate having to make decisions like this. I'd rather be told what to do than to find or create my own way. There's less pressure that way, less risk of failure, less chance to make a decision that I'll regret, less chance that I might let someone down or be judged for making a poor decision.

But God gives us choices for a reason. I'm not sure the extent of that reason in general, or why he's given me this choice specifically. But the choice has been given to me. So while I'm going to make this choice, I'd love to hear anyone who has an opinion weigh in! :-)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Being okay with not being okay.

Today, I was not okay. It doesn't really matter why I wasn't, and I don't say this to get sympathy or for people to ask, "What's wrong?" I have dear friends who took care of me and who loved me well, as they always do. The point is to admit where I really am and not pretend to be something else.

I felt selfish and foolish letting tears stream down my face in public. I stared out the window for hours when I was supposed to be doing homework. And it was good. It was right for me to do those things. Because to not do them would have been false. It would have been stuffing emotions that needed to rise up. Today, I needed to not be okay. And for perhaps the first time, I was okay with that. Tomorrow, I think I'll be okay. And I think I'll really mean it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I don't like being in the spotlight. In the spotlight, people can really see you. And if people can really see you, they'll notice when you fall. If I'm hiding alone in the shadows, there is no one to notice when I make a mistake. I'm scared of scrutiny, deep relationships, and leadership, because I am afraid for people to find out that I'm not as good as they think I am.

I said this (or something like it) to my supervisor a few weeks ago. He looked at me with a slightly puzzled look on his face, then said, "But you're not as good as they think you are!" It was a simple observation. It didn't seem like he was trying to be particularly therapist-y at the time. He wasn't being mean or insulting. Whether he knew it or not, he was offering me freedom. I am who I am. If people think more highly of me than who I am, that does not mean that I must live up to their perception of me. Rather, my only aspiration is to live up to my true self - who God has created me to be, who I am at my core, who I am with all my muck and shame illuminated.

I sat with a beautiful woman today whose heart broke open to me, spilling shame and fear of being known into the space between us. I cried with her. I mourned her mistakes with her. And then God allowed me to speak grace into her wounds, as he has spoken grace into mine.

I am thankful for this journey that he has given me. It is stretching me and growing me. It is allowing me to step into ownership and authenticity, acknowledging my shortcomings and accepting grace for them. It is freeing me from the heavy burden of perfectionism one moment at a time. And I am thankful, for in moments like I experienced today, I know that I could not offer God's grace to this beautiful woman if I had not first allowed it to cover me. I could not have led her there if I had not allowed myself to be led there first. I could not have spoken to her out of a place of pressure and perfectionism, but only out of my own brokenness, freedom, and redemption. I cannot take anyone further than I wish to go.

And so I continue my journey, as I lay this part of it before you. I continue to choose risk, for it leads to redemption for me and for others. And I hope that you will choose risk along with me, so that we may all be prepared to lead with grace and freedom into peace that passes understanding.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I took a gamble and hit "shuffle" in iTunes, promising myself that I would post whatever five songs played first. This is risky, since I haven't cleaned out my iTunes in years and feel embarrassed by some of the songs that linger in its depths from memories gone by. I feel some small level of pride in my "good taste" in music, so I try to keep guilty pleasures pretty under wraps. So, here's the unfiltered shuffled playlist. It could have been worse.

Josh Ritter - Bright Smile
Des'ree - You Gotta Be (I had no clue I had this song! ha ha)
50 Cent and Eminem - Spend Some Time
Nirvana - Come As You Are
Josh Groban - Gira Con Me

Monday, March 5, 2012

Process Comments.

Today's post is a little bit of a cheat. I wrote a blog a month or so ago for my church that was posted today. It's pretty vulnerable in and of itself, but so that it's not a complete cheat, I'll add a little about what it was like for me to write it. We counseling-types call that talking about the "process."

Writing it was easy (much like these blogs). But the idea of people reading it - especially some people in particular - makes me squirm. I watched an episode of Biggest Loser recently where a contestant had a break down from the cameras being on her all day every day. She locked herself in the bathroom, and when the trainer came to ask her why, she said, "I've been used to being invisible for 42 years, and here it's impossible. And it's harder than I ever thought it would be. I've hidden behind walls my whole life, and now... other people are tearing them down. And I don't have any protection."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Richmont has been a place where God and others have pursued me and broken down my walls. This is an exercise in learning to tear them down myself.

Here's the link to the blog I wrote for my church on prayer: Providence Journey Blog

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pajama Day.

I love days that I can stay in comfy clothes with my hair up and not wear any make-up. These days are few and far between, but I enjoyed one today. I got an extra few hours of sleep, cooked breakfast, went to the gym, and then spent the rest of the day prepping various recipes so that they're ready to go during the week. I wish every week could have a day like this. I think my life would be more balanced and relaxed all around. I guess this shouldn't really be embarrassing. Maybe it feels embarrassing because I didn't really want to see anyone and didn't feel the need to change out of my sweatpants. My hunch is that it feels embarrassing because it sounds lazy. And as I write that, I realize that many of my admissions thus far have centered around a fear that I will be seen as lazy. There's a thin line between balanced self-care and a license to be hedonistic and pursue only what I feel like pursuing in a given day. I wonder where I fall on that continuum. There are things I should have done today - homework, the same freaking pile of laundry I wrote about yesterday, etc. Did I give myself a break, or did I give in to another day in an undisciplined life? I wonder...

Friday, March 2, 2012


Okay, so the title is just something I found in the thesaurus under "messy." I'd never heard of it before, and it made me laugh.

I'm a messy person. Not dirty so much. But messy. One day, I hope I'll wake up and be the kind of person who cleans when he or she is anxious or sad or stressed. I'm not. I'm the kind of person who eats chocolate. I have a pile of clean laundry on my bed that has been there for weeks. I just keep pulling things out of the pile to wear. I mean, really, it's more efficient that way. You save all the time of putting it away, and I'm all about maximizing my time at this phase in my life. :-) This one doesn't really take a lot of explanation, although I could go on about how messy literally means "marked by confusion or disorder" and how it can actually feel cathartic to me at times to let my external life reflect some of what I feel internally. Sometimes it just feels congruent - especially when I spend so much energy trying to make so many other parts of my life precise and ordered. I guess it's a way I rebel a little against structure, even though I really like structure in so many ways. But now I'm just rambling.

I kind of hope no one will read this, because it's a pretty shameful thing to admit that you're messy - especially as a woman. So that's the end of this one. Come over sometime. I'd love to have you! But I'm probably going to need a couple hours' notice first. :-)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


So, you may have noticed that I missed yesterday's post. Honestly, I was not trying to be avoidant or self-protective by not posting. I got home after midnight and had to be up for school at 5am, so it was more that I was exhausted and couldn't think of anything. Maybe that is self-protective. But I digress.

I had this window open to try and post something last night, because I had made a commitment and I intended to stick to it. That's what I do. I follow through on what I say I will do. If I don't follow through, I feel like a failure. And if I'm a failure or I'm not dependable, then people won't like me. Flawless logic, I know.

I'm in a profession where I have the incredible role of being a person that offers grace to people who feel like they've failed in some way or another. I am trying to learn not to make excuses for behaviors, but to help people understand that their behaviors make sense, and that there is grace to cover us all. That's the beauty of Christ, after all. That we have failed, and that his perfection and sacrifice covers us. He is glorified in our weaknesses. While sin and brokenness is painful and awful, the rupture in our relationship with God (and others) allows for the beauty of repair and reconciliation. I truly, deeply, profoundly believe that beauty comes from ashes.

And yet...

I still hold myself to a standard that I cannot achieve. I try to be perfect. I don't offer myself grace. I get defensive when I fail because I want others to think that I'm a better version of myself than I know I am. (That's a bad sentence, but I'm not going to fix it, because I'm trying to teach myself a lesson here about not having to be perfect.)

So by not posting yesterday, by failing to follow through on one menial day of a meager forty day commitment, I am acknowledging my inability to do life "right." I am allowing myself the space to fail, apologizing to my patient Father that I cannot even keep the simplest of promises to him despite my best intentions, and accepting that his grace can cover me. For this moment, anyway.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's fun to stay at the...

I don't like to sweat. I go to the gym because it's a necessary evil, especially if I want to eat scrumptious foods and drink lattes on occasion. I love walking. I enjoy taking a leisurely stroll or walking place to place with headphones in and good music playing. But sweating? No thanks. There's a reason that the line is, "It's fun to STAY at the YMCA." I'd rather be clean and not smelly. It's part of the reason that summer is not my favorite. Props to you if you love working out or playing sports. But for the record, it's a discipline for me, not something that I enjoy. I really wish it were. Then maybe I'd be able to wear my sister's new cute clothes that are a size almost nothing because the girl simply LOVES to work out. I so don't get it.

So if you're wondering what insecurity this is targeting, it's the "everyone is going to think I'm a fat kid if I'm not athletic." But here, in this season of my life, I'm trying to embrace who I am. Not so that I can cop out and say, "Well, I'm just lazy, and that's who I am and that's not going to change." My hope is that I will be able to say that yes, this is the way that God has made me - as someone who prefers to listen to music, look at art, and snuggle up with a book. My hope is that in being honest with myself (and you), I will also be able to challenge myself to say this is my tendency, but that I have the ability to work within that tendency to do things that stretch me and make me a more complete person. For it is in doing the things that might not be my favorite (working out) that I find the freedom to do more things that are (eating, exploring, traveling, living a healthier life).

Monday, February 27, 2012

I have a migraine.

You might be asking yourself why in the world this should count for my 40 days of risk/giving up pride journey for Lent. I think it counts, and this is why. I have a fear of people thinking I'm a hypochondriac. I never want to admit when I don't feel well, because I'm afraid people will think I'm complaining, making things up for attention, or that I'm that person who's always sick. I don't want to be obnoxious or a burden. I don't want to be someone who people can't depend on. So not only does this count, but it's actually a fairly big risk for me. You might think I'm whining or complaining. I might actually be whining or complaining. But here's hoping that you don't think less of me for it. And if you do, maybe I'll learn to be okay with that.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I watch too much television.

Television is one of the primary ways that I check out from the world when it is stressful, too painful, or emotionally exhausting. The movies I like tend to also be painful and emotionally exhausting, so I don't even generally watch movies when I'm in this mental state. Today, for example, I am coming home from a weekend in Chattanooga full of classes talking about trauma. Fascinating and mentally stimulating, but heavy and exhausting. So tonight, all I really want to do is wear pajamas, eat a large amount of Chinese food, and watch television with my dog. Sometimes it's self-care, and sometimes it's an unhealthy way to disconnect and remain self-protective. Which one is it tonight? I'm not sure. But it works. So for now, I'm okay with it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I am here.

I've been thinking all day about what to blog. I've typed three different confessions in the last five minutes, then deleted all of them. And I'm aware that I already hate what I've agreed to do. Being vulnerable isn't easy. But I'm also aware that God has challenged me in this for a reason. Maybe this entry doesn't count. But I think it says something that I'm already regretting my committment, that two days of vulnerability has taxed me and left me feeling emotionally raw. So for today, this is all I have. Because this is vulnerable enough. And sometimes it's okay to just say, this is where I am. Here's my red dot. I am here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gold stars.

Today's confession is brought to you by an experience in class today.

I feel a war between fear, shame, and giddy pride when a teacher praises my work. I flash back to a time when being teacher's pet was both the only way I knew how to get attention and when it cost me the opportunity to have friendships. I fear being wrong, and I feel embarrassed when I'm right. I almost always feel regret after I speak up or raise my hand, regardless of the outcome. I try to drink in the praise but end up choking on the fear of it.

I'm thankful for friends in my life now who love me, embrace me and my nerdiness, and don't mind when I'm that obnoxious person in class. You beautiful souls are teaching me to know who I am and who I am not. Your love gives me courage and coaxes me out of shame.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent and Mariah Carey.

It's Lent season again, and God has given me another crazy challenge. Maybe one day I'll stop asking him to really change me through this process. But the struggle always changes me and humbles me and (I hope) makes me a little more like him (or at least makes me a little more broken that I'm not like him).

I don't really like being vulnerable. It feels uncomfortable and risky and out of control. I have felt very convicted recently as I challenge some of my clients in this area, and I'm aware that I'm missing a log in my own eye while I'm helping them to see the speck in theirs. So last night, as I, a true procrastinator, was asking God what to give up this Lent, he gave me an idea so far out of my comfort zone that it has to be from him.

The desire not to be fully known comes from insecurity. And insecurity is ultimately related to pride - at least for me. I am scared for people to see my shortcomings, because I want them to think I'm better than I am. That's pride.

So for Lent, I'm giving up pride. Doing this completely would be impossible, of course. But for forty days, I will post one thing each day that I'd rather people not know about me. It might be a way that I'm not very cool. It might be something vulnerable about how I'm feeling. But it will be real, and it will be risky. (Is anyone else feeling sick to their stomach right now?)

40 days of risk begins now. So let's start with something easy, just to get this ball rolling.

My favorite song to sing in the shower to warm up my voice on days that I have to sing is "Long Ago" by Mariah Carey. It's not a great song, and I don't know why it's the one that always pops in my head. I wish I were cooler, but I'm not.

As a side note, apparently the music you listen to at age 14 has the most emotional influence over you throughout your life. That's according to Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds, so take it for what you will. Super reliable source.