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