Open Call for Broken Unsophisticates, AKA the God-Loyal

If we want to be counted God-loyal, we must disappear into the moving fog which rises like steam over the houses and evaporates into high white clouds, burned up in blue and light.//

He reveals himself to humdrum unsophisticates.

Do you know something? Have something to offer?

Forget it.

He’s not interested

(at least, not what’s in you head, on your resume, or on your calendar.)

He’s after the raw heart,

The one open to unforced rhythms of grace.IMG_20160712_105349

Stop pushing your way through this life, trying to get known and noticed.

Don’t you hear the hollows of notoriety?

Do you feel the sting of being forgotten?

Good.

Our mark is not in being seen or appreciated.

We serve a God of the downtrodden and disrespected,

Of the broken and bashed up.

If we want to be counted God-loyal, we must disappear into the moving fog which rises like steam over the houses and evaporates into high white clouds, burned up in blue and light.IMG_20160730_174523

//

This is the life filled up with compassion for neighbors we don’t know,

exuberance for the child who chatters our ears off,

a stick to-it-ness that scintillates like ice melting together, a clump, in a cool glass of water

until it’s gone.IMG_20160826_101601

This is the conviction that holiness can be soaked up

From any person

We are challenged to truly see,

Every situation

In which our heart struggles and wants to leap ahead and yell, 

“Hey, look at me!”

Yes, even in our self-centered song, he says, “You can find me here.”

For he knows our insides and out, that we are always doing

What we don’t want to do.

He knows the floods and earthquakes we face, the fears we dread like plagues.

What was dark in all of us is made light, free, and easy,

When we lay what we want down and give ourselves away.Tweet This

He loves it when we disappear.


The Backstory

Over the years, the Bible I grew up with became boring, dead, and almost impossible to read. I got used to the language and I read it like a Whirpool manual. Imagine, putting your life together like a dishwasher. (It doesn’t work.) So I’ve been re-reading the Bible in The Message version. You know what happened? I didn’t find God in the words. He found me, there in relevant language.

God jolts me awake with phrases like unforced rhythms of grace and God-loyal.

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Reading the Bible is hard, folks. I sat in church just this week and wondered how people who didn’t grow up under a steeple manage to stick with the Bible when the prevailing assumption many Christians have is: If you follow Jesus, then you must read the Bible regularly, and certainly, you must know what’s going on.

Really, the opposite is true. Most of us are as lost as geese without a V. We’re floundering. But we come to churches, groups, and blogs with hope that a word will snatch us out of our stupors.

I hope poetry will be an art form to help you hear what God might be saying to you in context of our culture and life, right where we long to be electrified with words that come alive and transform. 

Here are the scriptures that inspired this piece

Matthew 11:26-30

Proverbs 21:26

Proverbs 15:28

Five Minute Friday

This post is written with the Five Minute Friday folks: a weekly flash mob burst of creative writing on one word. This week was LOYAL. (// indicates the start and stop of five minutes. If you haven’t noticed, I have a hard time with the stopping part.)

Your Turn

What does God-loyal mean to you?

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What Two Lovers Dreamed Up Over Date Night

IMG_20160731_210159Wasn’t it just Friday night we were dreaming about making a place where everyone truly belongs?

Where we don’t absorb each other’s funk.

Where opinions are welcomed, truth is offered, and grace prevails.

Weren’t we having a glorious rendezvous over turkey bacon burgers, peach cobbler, and wine? Just you and me, my love. We were doing the important work of uniting our personal goals into a family mission statement. It was the stuff of really important, godly, spiritual legacy-making, stuff-that-matters work.

But we starry-eyed lovers come down from our dreams, long after we pick up cranky, sleepy heads from the babysitter, cleverly disguised as Kids’ Night Out.

Sunday was a twenty-four hour complaining spree doled out by both kids. Monday morning started with a kid’s dramatic sigh and belly-flop on the couch, the let down after the high. The rest of the week will bring the nitty gritty field work of living our grandiose designs out in the flesh.

Why is this so dang hard?

This morning I looked at a child who skillfully pushed buttons I didn’t even know I had. The blanket covered this kid’s body like a burrito.IMG_20160728_190913 IMG_20160729_184736 IMG_20160729_181412

I was trying to have a quiet prayer time, when I was so rudely interrupted. (Cue: the funk.)

Half-open eyes under a mop of hair peeked out at me to see what my next strategic move would be. Oh, testing, I rue you with a passion.

I felt my defenses succumbing to that sickening, maddening feeling of being manipulated again. It’s really nothing, just a dramatic kid tortilla. 

The fire in my chest rises for a minute, but didn’t you say something about making our home a place of grace? Didn’t the word compassion pass over your lips?

We are facing the hardest kid phase yet: drama, over-exaggeration, and near-constant fighting. It takes it’s toll. But we are together, aren’t we? When I am crazy, you are sane. Somehow we are mystically joined in this solid knowledge: God loves us no matter what we feel, despite what we do, and definitely besides what we don’t.

If only we love, through a word, a hug, or a glare timely ignored. If only we aim for heaven and not settle for the passive past or a controlling future, but rather, feet carried forth in the realization that is new every day: we are loved. We go forth in peace, secure in ourselves, surrendering the funk every time it rears it’s ugly head to the One who gives us the power to say to the child burrito, “You are loved. Grace is yours. Now get up, and get moving.”

We cannot carry any burden the future will not hold.

No stink eye will deter us from the vision, will it, my love? Let’s write it down in the thickest ink, post it over the places we fight, make love, and mend our broken selves in forgiveness. Let’s promise to make every Friday as holy as that one so we remember this is where we belong.

Three Resources for Infusing More Grace and Vision into Your Tribe

  • Develop a family mission statement. This is a fabulous template Tsh Oxenreider developed, and it’s the one we are using. It’s taking us a few sessions (and we’re not done yet), but so far, it’s been worth it.
  • Check out Grace-based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. One of my annual parenting reads.
  • The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.
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The Moment I Found My Dream Team

IMG_20160722_190744Something clicked in my heart and my mind that Thursday morning. Something which had been broken for years. I stood in a huge roomful of 800+ women. All creatives like me. Writers. Speakers. Christ followers. They spanned from wall to wall and I saw myself among them for the first time, not as a competitor, like it has always been, but as part of a team.

Maybe it was all the overachieving I did in high school when I strove for valedictorian but ended up salutatorian. Perhaps it was the pressure from professors in college to major in subjects I was good at but didn’t love. I have been competing for a long, long time, and it’s exhausting.IMG_20160722_135357

I want to stop running for unattainable goals and start really living, not for myself, but to help others, however I can. There I stood at the She Speaks conference as a seasoned writer who often thinks she really has it going on. But I didn’t know how to break down this gnarly brick wall that’s been staring at me my whole life: the challenge to do what I love with others. Together. On the same side.IMG_20160720_113114 IMG_20160729_133828

Writing online is a journey for the stout-hearted—I get that. We’re not privileged to see our fellow creatives face to face all the time. But I needed to see them. To meet them. And I did. I held their hands, hugged their necks, cried over dinner, and prayed boldly. I rode the elevator with them as they told me their stories and shared their dreams. I saw their faces, insecurities, hurts, and humility. Their beauty, scars, and willingness to go to the ends of the earth.13754569_10210335973774579_653346372690410773_n

On the way there and the way home, I met up with them in city centers and lake beaches, played with their kids and talked for hours. I saw them: individuals making big and small waves in a world that needs every drop of hope any of us can muster. All comparison aside. All judgement banished. It drowned forever in that sea of beautiful faces.

I almost lost it right there as the music played over us.

We always have been together. We are writing to change the world for God and we are on the same team.


I got to meet so many beautiful writers on my recent trip. Thank you all for changing my heart and saving this writer with your love.

This post is part of Five Minute Friday, a flash mob of weekly creatives who write on one word collectively. This community has been instrumental in breaking down the first bricks of that wall. We are an amazing team. I hope you’ll join us.

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The Glorious Wooing: How God’s Beauty Wins Human Hearts

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God is terribly selfish. He creates a vibrant, beating heart of a world, puts people on it, and says, “Love me.” God’s beauty is not only for our good, but for his. Revolutionary.

This is the last week of Beauty Rewrites. Say what? It’s been bold, tender, and absolutely beautiful. Ludavia Harvey, Emily Conrad, and I have opened our hearts to you. We’ve shared honestly about the flab of post-baby bodies, bravely baring our faces au natural to the world, and being a beauty queen is not all its cracked up to be. I’ve dug deep into my own story and learned from these bold women that God’s beauty is so far beyond anything I’ve ever imagined.

If you missed a post, catch up here.

Today Emily closes out the series with how God draws us straight to himself. Maybe its selfish, but I think its love. That’s always pretty crazy.

God’s Beauty is a Stunning Idea

God is in the business of winning us to his heart and turning our idea of beauty right on its head. Emily says,

If the stunningly beautiful and glorious God of the universe woos us to Himself not with the beauty of his appearance but instead with the beauty of who He is, his steadfast love, his mercy, his grace, isn’t it silly of us to try to attract the world with long eyelashes and skinny waists?

Follow me to Emily’s blog to read the rest.

Beauty Rewrites

Beauty Rewrites is a body image series for women to help us get on good terms with our bodies. Writers include Ludavia Harvey at NiftyBetty.com, Emily Conrad, and Christina Hubbard at Creative and Free. We hope this series inspires us all to stop pursuing perfection and learn to embrace what’s true and sacredly beautiful about ourselves. Forget ideal. Embrace the real.Copy of Beauty Rewrites (1)

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Why I’m Not Afraid of Aging Anymore

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I got my first gray hair at 27. Yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I was playing on my parents’ deck with my daughter who was not even 2. That day I was horrified with the wiry reality sticking out from my crown like it was a bug antennae: I was aging.

In the back of my mind, I always knew someday I’d get varicose veins like everyone else in the family and crows’ feet around my eyes. But those were always some days.

Many of us attack our hair monthly with a plastic bottle of dye and gloves and smooth on creams to combat the sag and the crinklies. Time is marching forward, the world is changing, but we are doing everything in our power to freeze ourselves, hopelessly.

It’s a law of nature, and still, we fight it.

We know it, but we don’t KNOW it. Part of growing older is facing reality, gracing in wisdom, and embracing the future. (Easier said than done in a culture obsessed with the sexy kind of beauty.)

In recent years, I’ve befriended many strong older women. Their beauty and strength takes my breath away. They wear their gray hair boldly, love their families fiercely, and bring grace and strength to the world around them. These women are gritty and glorious! They teach me to care less about the world and more about what matters. They have endured cancer, grief, and heartache and have come out swinging. They know age spots and stretch marks are well-earned battle scars, each a story of God’s provision.

Once, I thought an older woman had to hide her imperfections and getting older was all grays, cellulite, flab, age spots, losing bone density, and shriveling up into oblivion. Strong grace-filled women have show me aging is the art of becoming the best kind of beautiful.

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.

–Betty Friedan

A well-aged woman is like a bottle of fine wine, to be savored and revered. Her life has strength and influence, a beauty that makes you remember who you want to be, and that is nothing to be afraid of.

Copy of Beauty Rewrites (1)

Beauty Rewrites

Beauty Rewrites is a body image series for women to help us get on good terms with our bodies. Join us her every Tuesday through July with stories from Ludavia Harvey at NiftyBetty.com, Emily Conrad, and Christina Hubbard at Creative and Free. We hope this series inspires us all to stop pursuing perfection and learn to embrace what’s true and sacredly beautiful about ourselves. Forget ideal. Embrace the real.

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A Manifesto for the Creative

A Manifesto for the Create-ive (1)For the one who must create or die. For the maker of art, poetry, word, perspective, imagination and life. For the inventor of a new idea right on the tip of your tongue, bubbling up to birth a need, a question, an answer.

You create because this is what you were made to do. A natural gifting to form something from nothing. A way of seeing the world and responding in kind with what we need more of: light. Contrast. Truth. A shift in thinking. A fresh way of living.

This is a manifesto for the untethered heart.

//

I will create with my need in mind, because that is what connects me to the world.

I will make something better: to entertain, inspire, provoke, and change.

I will startle the world with the beauty I’ve gathered, a bouquet.

I will create for courage, truth, and grace. All else is falsehood.

I will form life, not death. It will breathe oxygen into dry bones and make them leap again.

I will forge a path to fight evil with such honesty, that it will make the onlooker cry.

I will create to make sense of pain and to ease suffering.

I will make to be transparent so and that one person will know they are not alone.

I will infuse meaning into void.

I will design because tomorrow is not guaranteed, art gets stolen, and beauty gets suffocated.

I will shape substance to change the world.

I will leave a mark, unforgettable, fierce, and full of love.

Frederic Chopin said, “I shall create a new world for myself.” I disagree on this account:

I will create not only for myself, but also for you.//

Be Creative with Us

Fridays I hang with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday community in a totally creative rush of typing as we write on one word. If you create, join us. (// indicates the start and stop of five minutes.)

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