Love is Enough for Syria

Today I believe love is enough,

Even when Syria kills its own kids with gas,

The world gasping with their dying breaths.

Today I believe past political narcissism.

Love knows how to scoop up broken bodies,

Bind screams,

Embrace avengers.

Even when the power-hungry tires to trump

It’s gentle kiss,

Love says, “Enough.”Tweet This

I do not understand her fluid, healing tongue.

I watch it speak swiftly, and I use my own.

Respond to the Syria Chemical Attack

Preemptive Love Coalition is on the ground helping those in Syria. You can respond in love with them to help those affected by the tragedy.

Five Minute Friday Retreat

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday crew, a community of creative writers. Today our one-word writing prompt was ENOUGH.

P.S. If you’re looking for an inexpensive creatively-inspiring writing retreat this summer, come to the Five Minute Friday retreat July 21-23. Just twelve spots left! I know a few people are on the fence about it. Here are three reasons you should go:

  1. There may or may not be wood-fired pizza. Ahem.
  2. It’s what all the cool people are doing.
  3. Yo! It’s about time you invested in your calling.
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You’re Slaying It, but How’s That REALLY Working for You?

There’s a powerhouse mantra going around the internet which reads without apology, “SLAY IT!” In other words, muster up all your know-how, skills, and confidence and kill the dragon: whether a dream, a task, or the fear holding you back. Take it down.

When I first came upon it, immediately I felt empowered and intoxicated. “Yeah!” I wanted to fist pump the air. I felt my hand reaching for my pen so I could slash my notebook into shreds.

I experienced the rush for what it was: the rebel heart.

She’s the one who loves to power-through on buckets of coffee and tell her kids to go away so she can pour her pent-up soul onto the page like today is her last day. She’s going to make up for all she lost. SHE’S going to take it back. SHE’S not going to let anything or anyone get in her way.

She’s high on desire and passion. She balks at her own need and self-care.

You’re either with her or you’re of little use.

Be advised to get out of her way, or she will slit your throat. This is my natural mojo: she’s strong, but she’s not so gracious. Last week slaying it left me with nothing to show because I couldn’t slay it anymore. I was weary, needy, and totally spent. I was done.

I found myself in Starbucks watching this sermon called “Try Harder” by Trevor Hudson. Slaying it was becoming a means of trying harder, and I was spent. God’s Spirit showed up in the leather chair adjacent to me. I surrendered and wrote:

Take your pride,

Your stuffy heady pretending and slash it.

Kill it, burn it,

Lay it down.

Surrender the choke, your yoke—

Your self-inflicted suffering.

Do you feel the lightness when you are real?

When you stop the push, the rush, the go, go, go.

‘Go get ’em. Slay it girl.

Slay it.

Sometimes that works.

Sometimes it’s needed.

More often than not, I AM’s got the tab,

Paid for your coffee. Your mess.

Given you a gift. Gone before you.

(Do you hear? I AM’s got this one.)

Bringing peace, walking into the mess before you ever pull up in your swag.

Have you forgotten I’m the God who is EVERYTHING?

HAS everything?

Here you are trying to be the boldest YOU possible.

‘Go get ’em tiger, you’re great!!!’

‘Slay it, girl.’


How’s that working for you?

How’s that over-burdened late night do-it-til-you-die going?

What are you missing?

What are you wishing for?

Win while you’re ahead.

Have you forgotten—I came and conquered and undid all of this for you.

Vulnerability is not your undoing. Pride is.

Stop pretending you’ve got this.

Stop waving the check in my face and receive what I’ve bought for you

Because I love you.

I love you, and I bought it all. All the crazy make-shifting you do. Traded out for love.

Forget striving for madness.

Get real with me and we’ll make it a date. Get real. You don’t have to hustle.

Yes, the world is a kingdom of cripples, crazies, and self-centered idolizers of shame and sugared up psychotic experiences.

The rush of new.

The thrill of more.

So many of your sisters and brothers crying out,

Am I enough?

Am I too much?

Go on and just try to fix it.

Slay it, girl.

Puff yourself up on your ability to pay the check. Take it all on your crumbling shoulders and your strained neck. Go to therapy and work out all the kinks. All the while, I’ve paid it. I’ve taken care. I’ve made your burden light.

Come, rest your head on my shoulder. Let’s begin again.

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So You Want a Friend to Fill Your Cup

“It’s the last place I want to be,” I cried to my husband. Tears streamed down my face. As terrible as it sounded coming from my mouth, the words spewed from my lips in relief. In a few hours, the church small group we had joined would be meeting, but I didn’t want to be there. The problem? All the brokenness.

We were a gathering of ordinary broken people all desperately searching for friendship. However, my own need for community felt so tender, so raw.

Empathy is high on my strengths. That’s what made going to group hard week after week. I felt everyone’s concerted longings and efforts to be accepted for who they were. Even worse, I felt MY longing.

I had begged God for friends for months, but I had criteria. I wanted mentors to pour into me, confidence to be spoken over me, and someone to heal my broken heart. I wanted people who would fill my cup.

When the group turned out to be a bunch of newbies like me, I realized this wasn’t what I had pictured.

Was it too much to ask for a friendship with someone who wasn’t as needy as me?

All Dried Up

Years of mediocre community leaves a heart parched and overbearing. The cracks in my spirit were so deep and barren, any amount of water or friendship would never have been enough. It’s like I needed to guzzle a pitcher of cool water, then ask for another so I could bathe in it.

I was saying in passive overbearance, “Love me exactly like I need to be loved. Fill me with friendship to make up for these years of pain and loneliness. Now. Please. Heal me, so I don’t have to live with this feeling of rejection anymore.”

We Can’t Fix Each Other

Demanding people to heal all our personal wounds is a surefire way to snuff out friendship before it begins.Tweet This

I’ve seen my loneliness as something needing to be fixed for a long, long time. Recently I wrote in my journal, “Do I see my brokenness as a problem to fix or as a blessing for others?”

When we expect others to meet all our needs and fix what only God can repair, our expectations can easily become a possessiveness and violence rather than an exchange of love and blessing.*

I couldn’t see how much Jesus loved them because I was focused on how they weren’t meeting my needs.

Ice Cream Helps

After I spilled my feelings to my husband, he saw I needed something else, “OK, don’t go. Get out of the house.” So I drove to the park and sat in my car. I listened to a prayer on my phone. I still felt lonely, but less alone. I reflected on the freedom of saying my desires and my gaping need aloud to God.

Then I went to McDonald’s and ordered a large ice water and an ice cream cone. (I really think a cup of water and a sugary vanilla cone can cure a world of ills.) While the brokenness didn’t vanish, a sense of sweetness, love and being known washed over me. The weather outside my car was bone-chilling, but I sat in the parking lot so filled with God’s friendship, I thought I might burst.

Could our brokenness be an entry point for recognizing Christ’s belovedness in each other?Tweet This

I believe it can.

People can fill us up, but only halfway. We’ve got to run to God first. He’s the only One who can feed our deep hunger and quench our thirst.

I’ve got to recognize Christ in me, then I can see Christ in you.  

That day I was able to go to group and be myself, mostly. It wasn’t amazing, but it was better. We were all there as empty cups longing to be filled. I poured Diet Coke into mine with less shame for my need or the aspartame I was consuming. I turned to the lady next to me and by some miracle, I thought of a big need in her family and asked about it. With God’s help, I was able to focus completely on her.

Clearly, it was the ice cream talking.

A Playlist When You Need a Friend

Music heals my soul. Maybe it does for you too?

* Henri Nouwen, The Life of the Beloved, sermon, 2011.

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Your Suffering Doesn’t Define You

Pain follows us around like a starving kitten, yowling its hunger for the whole neighborhood to hear. It scratches its way into conversations, arguments, and the moment when everyone is late for church. We lick ourselves with a self-deprecating comment to gain sympathy. We bite with sharp white teeth because wounding another feels better than dealing with the ugliness inside.

We all suffer.

Maybe it’s chronic pain, a betrayal, a marriage on the rocks, or a headstrong kid who glares at everything you say with dagger eyes. Perhaps it’s shame, or the blasted blame, the never-ending mind games.

//We can pretend we’re ok.

We can replay the tape in our head that it’s not as bad as it seems.

We can go on, press on, and persevere.

All the while, we starve.

We just want to go home, to be relieved of this burden.

Recently, I’ve realized all the pain I carry inside my body: the pinched nerve, the emotional upheaval, the struggle to forgive myself and others, and the walls I’ve built against people who are messy, all stems from a longing for safety.//

We long for home.

More than anything, I desire a safe place where I can stop smoothing all my caddy fight wounds over with fur and just be my matted self. Who will love a scraggly creature like me?

For so long, I’ve let my suffering define me.

I’ve let it carve more than flesh wounds. It’s changed how I think. It’s changed who I am.

Suffering has a way of slicing through a girl’s heart clean and cold.

She wonders, “Is this all I am? My mess. My inability. My stuckness. My unquenchable desire to be free. Does suffering get to decide who I am?”

Alicia Britt Chole writes in 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger, A Different Kind of Fast,

Is it not odd in a generation that rarely blinks at fictional violence sold as ‘entertainment’ that we spend relatively little time considering the all-too-real suffering of our Savior? Picture once again what Jesus endured even prior to the crucifixion. Then go stand in front of the mirror. Looking at yourself, say aloud these words: ‘Jesus endured suffering for me. He believed—and still believes—that I am worth it.’

Christ suffocated and poured out his lifeblood and water on a wooden beam in front of the whole world. He didn’t do it for Himself. He didn’t call angels to dislodge the nails and take Him up to heaven. He walked the way of suffering. He looked down upon the crying, hungry, scraggly lives of his friends, his mother, Romans, his executioners, and a thief, and asked the Father to forgive them.

Oh, how He loved them.

Oh, how He loves you.

Oh, how He loves me.

He takes my pretending, my fixing, my struggle, my pain, and my sorry state, every kind of suffering, both world and self-inflicted, and washes it with the purest water.

Your pain does not define you.

It’s not the boss anymore.

Suffering doesn’t get the final say. It doesn’t get to refine you, making you revile the very creation you are becoming. It doesn’t get to tell you what you have and have not. What you are and what you are not.

You are limited. I am finite. This is the human condition. Suffering reminds us every day as we cry out as and feel our deep hunger. Christ doesn’t ignore us. He ministers in the midst, spilling his blood and body as our sustenance. The milk which satisfies our soul is redemption, suffering redefined by the Son of Man.

Your pain does not define you. Christ’s does.Tweet This

Stop licking your wounds.

Take a good long look at yourself.

Come home, hungry child. Come home. Take. Drink. Eat.

This post is part of Five Minute Friday. Be sure to take community survey and be entered in the great book giveaway. (// the stop and start of five minutes.)

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The Hardest Person to Embrace

I see the moon and the moon sees me.

God bless the moon. God bless me.

-Nursery rhyme

//I bought a bouquet of muted fire. Orange roses for $3.99. For a whole week, I’ve been longing for them. I passed them by last week because it felt like a waste when I didn’t need them. Oh, but I do.

I need them dearly.

This week was my birthday. Thirty-eight years is beautiful, my friends. I love being this age: caring less what others think, slowing down just a tad, and still feeling like a total goober when I want to. (I get the biggest kick out of making my kids squeal and giggle right before bed time.)

I love the rest I feel settling into my beautiful bones. I relish the satisfaction taking the nap on a perfectly sunny day. I love writing in the middle of a March thunderstorm. I drink buckets of coffee, dream big dreams, and try to let things go.

There’s this one thing

Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list.

But there is a second to set alongside it:

‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

This one lesson. This second thing after the first one: loving myself.

I can’t love you unless I love me.

We all love ourselves, right?

As a kid, I did most certainly. I thought I was queen of the neighborhood and Barbie doll’s biggest rival. But years of pouring out my life, losing myself, wandering in the desert, and searching for my true home, I realize the truth. Loving others well comes after I learn to love myself. God already does. //

I’m still working on it.

A big thunderstorm is coming in a few minutes. I love it: the rain, the clouds, the green surging up from the ground as water pours. Maybe I will eat a piece of dark chocolate and cut the stems of the roses sitting in the porcelain pitcher and smell them until I know the words by heart:

…These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. (MSG Matthew 22:39)

May the hardest person to love be the first we embrace.

May God’s words hang on my outstretched hands, my beautiful bones.

Retreat + Freebies for You

This post is part of Five Minute Friday. Check out details for the upcoming retreat.

Have you subscribed to my Friday newsletter? I’m giving away two ebooks and a journaling worksheet through Easter.

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Aching for Friends

I call it the holy ache: what I felt when I walked one Sunday afternoon around the block, this desperation to be seen, known, and appreciated pounding in my chest.

Should I reach in my back pocket and relisten to the message from E.? She always makes me feel better. 

But I know the ache will return after an hour and my heart will nearly thump it’s way out of my chest. This ache often twinges like anxiety, but it’s not. It’s my ongoing need for companionship.

We all have this need: friends. It’s like going in for heart surgery, finding them, making them, and keeping them. But especially, to release them.

Let me explain

I’ve won friends over years, neglected more (and lost a few), stalked them, been rejected by them, judged them, and forgiven them. Most I keep in my back pocket there on my phone.

There are local friends: down the street kind of friends. We take walks together and talk real life.

There are meet at Starbucks and sip sugary mochas together: therapy kind of friends.

Then there my friends who live in the town I once called home, Liberty. These are the surrogate family friends, occasional spiritual guide friends who go beyond meeting half-way to pick up my kids and still invite them over for sleepovers because we’re-all-cousins-kind-of-friends.

Also, and definitely not least, are the unexpected friends from all over: South Africa, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Michigan, Australia, and so many places in between. Some of these I’ve never met face to face but we are as close as sisters can be. We are just a button away. Friends to text a note of desperation or victory: “Pray,” or, “It’s benign.” So we celebrate with heart emojis!

These friends I keep in my back pocket. I set the phone on the counter. Blooms spill out of my pocket with their love.

Friends never fill the holy ache completely. I’m coming to learn, they never will. None of us are supposed to.

Five Minute Friday Retreat

This week is spring break (aka home with interrupting kids), so I did not write this in five minutes flat. That’s O.K. The Five Minute Friday crew is forgiving and cool like that.

P.S. There’s still room at our summer retreat in Kansas City

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Each Friday I'll email you stories packed with courage and freedom. You'll also get my ebook Five Ways To Love Like You Mean It and Three Questions to Ask Yourself in the New Year FREE. P.S. Your email is safe with me.