Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blue Like Jazz


Go check out the link to this new movie. It's a movie based on Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz

I don't have much else to say other than that it's completely amazing. This book has shaped my faith more than any other books about God or spirituality. 

It says all the things you're scared to say as a Christian. It's tells you what you're really thinking when you're scared to admit it. 

It's honest and, frankly hilarious. 

Don't take yourself too seriously when you read it. 

And go watch the movie afterwards!

Here's the link...




I always end up writing something right at the moment Im about to turn my alarm clock on, switch my fan on, and try to fall asleep. Something hits me and I just sit there staring at my computer debating with myself whether I should turn it back on, which takes a ridiculous 10 minutes, or tell myself that what Im thinking really isn’t that worthy of words and roll over in my bed to get a decent amount of sleep. I always end up staying up at least an hour an a half longer if I decide the former. 
Tonight is one of those nights when the right side of my brain won out and Im attempting to scribble out whatever it was that I thought was so profound all the while trying to keep my bleary eyes open. 
Here it goes…
I think I am finally understanding who Jesus is. 
I always loved the idea of Him while growing up. He sounded very nice and everyone told me He did a very thoughtful thing for me. (dying, of course). 
I also believed that there was a huge God above the sky responsible for all this beautiful creation and I also thought He was very nice for creating flowers for us. 
When I decided to identify myself with this group of people who follow God’s teachings in the Bible and live with integrity and love I realized God was even better than I thought. He gave me a community who knew what love really was and showed me how serving made me much happier than shopping and kissing ever could. 
Then I God gave me something else… this crazy thing called the Holy Spirit. It was like God crawled inside me and sucked out all of the hopelessness from my heart and filled me up with peace. It was incredible and it still is. 
God did all this stuff for me and I can’t even understand most of it, but now I feel like Im finally coming face to face with Him. 
It’s like I’m one of those Compassion International kids in Kenya who gets a card and some trinkets from a wealthy and kind-hearted American once a month. I even get a little teary eyed when I think about all that I’ve been given. I don’t even deserve it. 
I have never met this rich and generous American… until now. 
I don’t know how or why I feel like I’m finally coming face to face with Him but I am. Honestly I was a little intimidated to finally meet him. I have a lot of expectations about Him and I’m nervous that I wont exactly know what to say. I mean, He already knows what Im thinking, but that just makes it even more intimidating. 
I see Him from across the room and He’s coming nearer. He has such a kind smile on His face but Im seriously starting to sweat. When He finally comes close enough to touch He takes me by the hand and pulls me into a bear hug and I feel like I’ve known him all my life. 
In a metaphor, that’s what it’s been like recently. 
I’ve been reading the gospels lately and I have been floored by His personality. He is the friendliest guy ever and he’s smart too. He always knows exactly what to say in every situation and He knows how to make me laugh. He can boost my self-confidence just by one small smile and He teaches me how to be a better person without ever making me feel dumb or incompetent. I think that He would invite me over to dinner and want me to tell Him all about my life- even though He knows it all already. He would ask just to listen to his child and his friend talk and He would hear every word said. 
I still find Him intimidating sometimes, and honestly I still find it awkward to pray. It’s a weird balance of striking up a good conversation with a new friend and still keeping a level of reverence. Im not sure if I should talk about my day first or thank Him for the sunset. But I think it’s going to just get easier and easier. He has a way of breaking my guard down. 
So I hope that this was as profound as I thought it was in the morning… or at least worth it to have stayed up an hour later. The point: I’ve made a really cool new friend and I hope I can be just as good of a friend as He is to me. 
Yeh, this is definitely going to sound cheesy in the morning. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


  • This is probably going to turn out weird… like a whiny baby weird.
    Sometimes I feel like we as Christians have to be passionate about a certain something. You know? Like I have to be wearing an organization’s name on my t-shirt, and it better be a freaking cool t-shirt or it’s just not a good enough cause. 
    And if you wear the same organization’s t-shirt as so and so, it’s also not a very good thing. 
    Maybe this is just me, but I feel a whole lot of pressure to dive into some cause of some sort. It’s intimidating to me because I don’t really feel like I can do that. I mean, it’s really cool to see people passionate about one thing, but I don’t know if Im going to be able to do that. 
    There’s so much going on in the world and I just want to love people. I don’t even know how to love them well half the time, but I have this fiery feeling in my heart that keeps me awake at night and compels me to find any way I can to make sure people know they are loved. I think I do this well by listening to people’s stories (Maybe that’s why Im a counseling major)… But that’s not really good enough to go on a t-shirt.

    I was reading in the book of John today (ok, I was studying for a Gospel of John test…) And I just love how confident Jesus was when He loved people. He always knew how to love people well.
    He always knew what to say.
    He always knew when to back off.
    He always had confidence.
    I just love that.
    I want to be that confident in the way I love people. I don’t think Jesus needed a cool t-shirt or a popular blog to feel like He had to right to jump into people’s lives and love the crap out of them. He just did it. And it wasn’t all that cool back then. I don’t think people admired the way He did things sometimes. It was a little weird to some people.

    I want to be so passionate about loving people that it doesn’t matter what context I do it in.
    If Im an RA, I want to love well.
    If Im living back at home, I want to love well.
    If Im working at Walgreens, I want to love well.
    If Im working for an organization nobody knows about, I want to love well.
    I sick and tired of basing my faith on how good it looks on a t-shirt.

    I just want to know that I am being Jesus to people everyday. I want Jesus to be proud of me. I just want to figure out how to love Him more.

    So this was all some sort of reality check for me I guess.  
  • LINK

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


So today was Valentines Day huh?

It's kind of a weird thing going to a Christian college... maybe this happens everywhere- like at every college- but I've heard that it's actually a thing at Christian colleges. The thing is getting in a relationship and having a ring on your finger by spring. Now don't get me wrong... I have really great friends who are getting married right after they graduate and some that are already married and they really, truly have their head on straight. But, I have to say, that there's a lot of people who don't. It's a moderate obsession here... this whole relationship thing.

Let me give you an example... at my own expense....

The other night a girl asked me if I had a "special someone" (who says that?) to share Valentines Day with... I could have jumped at the opportunity to be really snarky, but I knew what she meant. She meant, "do I have a boyfriend"...

"No I don't", I replied with a smile on my face, hiding my cynicism.

"Oh... have you ever had a boyfriend here?"


"No, I haven't. I've been on a few dates, but nothing serious."  (handled that one well...)

(here's the kicker---)   "Oh... and you're a senior?"

I swallowed, took a deep breath, and mustered a smile as best I could.  "Yes... yes I am"

In my mind here's how it went:  "Why yes I'm a senior. And no. I'm not a pathetic loser and actually I don't hate my entire existence because I don't have a boyfriend. I'm actually functioning quite well as a human being."

So that's what I mean about the thing at Christian colleges. It's ridiculous really. What's even more ridiculous is that sometimes I fall for it. Sometimes I actually give into the lie that in order to stop feeling lonely I have to be in a romantic relationship. The truth is, everyone feels lonely sometimes and a boyfriend doesn't necessarily cure that. I've been there. Done that.

I'm writing this because today I actually felt a pang of loneliness. It's a little tough when all of your close friends get a Valentine and you don't... not even from your mom. And it's easy to feel unvalued or unlovely. I felt a little of that today.

But you know what? Tonight I baked and baked and baked for a Valentines party for the terrace ladies tonight. About 40 girls showed up and we ate chocolate until our eyes turned brown, put balloons in our shirts like Dolly Parton, and took fabulous pictures with pink feather boas and glitter sunglasses. It was the most fun night of the semester, by far. And I felt so loved and so valued and so lovely (especially in those oversized sunglasses).

That's what cures loneliness... not a boyfriend and a dinner date, or a gallon of ice cream and a sappy girl movie.

It's recognizing the community that you're given in that moment and appreciating them. You will never get rid of lonely feelings until you stop wishing you had something that you don't.

So... I guess what I'm saying is... stop wishing for something else and be thankful for whoever you have now. They are a gift from God and you won't have those specific people in your life forever. Make some dessert and have a party with them or whatever.

Know that you are always loved by someone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Minor Key

Here’s something strange about me…
I hate the smell of roses. Sometimes I think I’m breaking some sort of unwritten rule for the entire female population. All girls love the smell of roses. But I don’t. I haven’t since I was eleven.
            When I was eleven I saw a dead body for the first time. It was my aunt. She wasn’t very old. In fact, she was very pretty and young looking for a woman at the age of forty. I didn’t know her very well, but I remember that I always thought that about her.
That day, I remember that I really didn’t want to be there. Not because I was sad, but because I was bored. Instead of sneaking into unoccupied rooms with my cousin in hopes of finding something spooky, I was stuck following my mom around and shaking hands with people I pretended to know. It was all very uninteresting to me, except for the flowers. Red roses- supposedly my aunt’s favorite. Those were very pretty.
            I remember the moment I saw her. I don’t know if eleven year olds are supposed to be able to process seeing a dead body, but I don’t think I could. There, lying like a Barbie in a box was the shell of a beautiful woman never to talk or laugh or sing again. I couldn’t say I was sad because, honestly, I didn’t know who she was, but I remember almost wetting myself when I saw her. Looking straight at death from across the room scared me more than the Chucky movie I sneaked a peek of over at my friend Heather’s house. I never wanted to see people that I loved scrunched up in a box, painted like a pale porcelain doll, unable to wrap me in their arms and hug me again. I hated death. I also hated the smell of roses.
            It’s sort of funny how God does things in our lives. I think He does too and He enjoys being a sneaky rascal. He seems to take the very things that make me squirm in my seat, fight back tears, or run screaming in the other direction and have me come face to face with them again in order to do something beautiful. I guess I should see it coming, but most of the time I don’t.
            The most ironic thing God has done with me so far is given me the gift of counseling people. I love it so much that I’m earning a degree in it. And you probably saw this coming, but I have discovered that the people I deeply love to listen to are  people lamenting some sort of loss. I have fallen in love with grief.
            I love it because it forces us to be raw. Completely naked before God. Throwing our hands in the air and weeping from the deepest part of our soul is one of the most authentic things humans can do. And it’s necessary. Without grief we can never experience the complete brokenness it takes to make us fall to our knees at the feet of Jesus. It’s one of the most beautiful things God has given us. It’s as beautiful as music.
I have this friend named Julia and, in my opinion, she can sing better than anyone I have ever heard. I might be the only person who thinks this because her music is sort of unusual. I think that’s why I enjoy her so much. If I had to use words to describe it I would use words like delicate
and haunting. Her music literally gives me chills kind of Johnny Cash does. One time I asked her why her music doesn’t sound like the girls on the radio.
“I like to play in minor key. It gives the song an eerie feel, but it’s beautiful all the same,” she told me.
I think grief is like beautiful like this. Cold and somber but having the power to deeply move us. Maybe lament can be one of the most intimate ways we can communicate with God. Maybe grief is worship in minor key.
This past weekend I had some of the best food I have ever put into my mouth. Maybe I was just flying high because my entire family was together sharing the meal with me, but it was probably the food. If you’ve never had vegetable stew made from vegetables grown in the backyard you seriously do not know what you’re missing. All forty of us were packed into my grandparent’s house in Tennessee. I spent the weekend catching up with cousins who have moved far away, looking at pictures of new babies, and blowing dust off of my dad’s old yearbooks in the basement. The reason that all of us put our lives on hold to come together was because my grandma died.
            We all came to Tennessee to weep and mourn together over the loss of the most vibrant, caring, animal print-wearing woman we all loved. But it wasn’t all sad. As we looked at old pictures of her, we laughed and told stories about all kinds of outrageous stuff she did in her life. She was, hands down, one of the craziest ladies I have ever known. As I was looking at old pictures of her I looked around at all of the people stuffed in the small living room.
            None of us would have ever come together if it hadn’t of been because of tragedy. None of us would be laughing and hugging and getting sloppy wet kisses on the cheek from Aunt Mary. It took death to create this moment.
            Even though I still don’t like the smell of roses, I have come to believe that grief has a way of making us see all of the beautiful things in life more clearly. Like the unique bond of family, or the gift of sharing a meal with people, or the miracle of a sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tears have a way of washing away all of the meaningless crud and free us to let go of things we once had so we can embrace the next gift God wants to give us.
            So who knows what God is going to have me look square in the eye next. It’s probably going to be something that makes me want to run as far away as possible. But if God is as good as I’ve come to think He is, He’s going to make the sweetest music out of it.            

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I want to feel made for something. 
I want to have that moment where there is no where else in the entire world i would rather be.
I want to have something that I fall asleep dreaming about. 
I want to have a fire so deep in my heart that I cannot help but chase it. 
I want that something to feel so right in my soul that I know God wove it in me. 
I want to have a purpose.. a specific purpose that I can follow with my entire life.. and not just     when I happen upon it later in life. 
I want it now so I can devote my whole existence to it. 

I am dying for a dream. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Love is my identity

Over the past year I have really been wrestling with this whole identity concept. I've heard every college student goes through it, but really I wonder if that's true sometimes. I mean I don't hear anyone else talking about not feeling like they have a place they belong to or a niche.

College is a weird place too if you think about it. We come here with all of these strangers and live with them. There are tons of clubs and teams that people are encouraged to become a part of and everyone makes their own mini life. We have jobs and homes and community and it all seems like we recreate ourselves once we're here away from our parent's home.

But what if the communities we envisioned ourselves becoming apart of don't happen the way we saw it? What if we don't make the team or find out that we're not as (whatever) as we thought we were. What if you can't find that sweet spot that everyone talks about and sees on TV?

It kind of feels like a mid-life crisis... or at least what I think it must feel like.

There's almost a pang of loss or a sense of low-grade grief because our expectations are totally flipped. We try to just pick up and go on.. find a new community or thing to invest in.. but after a while the searching is kind of exhausting. I mean, shouldn't we have found whatever everyone else is talking about by now?

This is the dialogue that's been in my head. Tiring isn't it? It has no end and, really, no hope. And I think it's a little too tragic to be reality.

I think God has been trying to tell me for a while now that my relationship with Him is the only thing that makes me me. All of the other stuff doesn't stick to me the way He does. I can have the biggest group of friends or just one and still feel lonely or unfulfilled. I can be the star in every play, starter on every team, and leader of any ministry and still feel like a stranger to myself. Whatever I'm searching for won't ever become clear to me unless I have God close to me holding the flashlight.

While this not so easy to keep in my head when I start to feel lost, the concept is so simple that I'm ashamed to say I forgot it. I can't feel like me without God! My search for identity in the communities here is meaningless unless I have every intention of growing closer to God and loving other people through it.

It's just like 1 Corinthians 13 says-- I can't do anything without love! Nothing else will last without it. Everything I'm good at will eventually end and my group of friends won't be impressive forever. If I have love the things I do will matter forever.

So this semester I want to focus on keeping my sense of home in my heart rather than in my communities. I want to feel at peace within myself so that I don't feel a need for a certain community to define me. I want to feel at home with God in my heart when everything around me starts to look unfamiliar and lonely. I want my identity to be love.