What Friends Are For

I grew up in the era of the sanctification checklist. “Have you read your Bible today? Have you spent time in prayer? At church? Serving others? Memorizing Scripture? At Bible study?” The list goes on. Extra points if your youth pastor added, “Did you spend more time reading your Bible or looking in the mirror this morning?”

This guidance came from leaders who desired to see teenagers fully devoted to Christ, but it felt like a fifty-pound weight on my already burdened heart. I longed for the satisfaction of feeling right before God—and that weight on my chest only increased my zeal.

Maybe, I thought, some more marks in those checkboxes would help me become holy. Maybe I can check off the boxes before the weight crushes me.

Many praise the move away from this type of ministry, but I wonder how far we’ve really gone.

Keep reading at Fathom Mag.

How to Be Faithful and Focused in the Face of the World’s Pain

One of my first memories of my freshman year of college is the activities fair that was held in the student center. I attended a large, state university with tens of thousands of students, and hundreds of organizations had booths set up at the fair, inviting students to come and join their ranks. Despite having a relatively good idea of the types of things I’d like to be involved in, I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many good and meaningful things to choose from, and I struggled to know how to decide.

I’d like to say that I grew out of the feeling that there are so many things worth my time and effort that I may need to divide myself in two. But the fact is, as I’ve grown older, while I’ve found deeper passions and grown roots that I did not have had as a young adult, I’ve also discovered so many more possibilities. While I’ve learned more about myself and my specific calling in life, I’ve also learned about so much more of the world, so much more of pain and need, and I find myself wanting to step up and engage however I can.

So Much Pain in the World = Overwhelmed Hearts

I have a hunch that I’m not alone in this. Posts on social media these days seem to rotate between telling one another what we should or should not care about, and telling each other that we’re tired of being told what we should or should not care about. There is no shortage of opportunities to pursue personal development, to become a better parent, spouse, or friend, to learn a new skill, to read a new opinion, or to engage a new issue. As Christians, we ought to desire to live holistic lives that are not merely driven by love of self, nor by work, nor by play, but by worship and fullness and growth spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Keep reading over at iBelieve.


pentecost imageOn January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

(also known as “The Feast of Pentecost”)

What’s this holy day all about?
“The Feast of Pentecost marks the arrival of the great Comforter and Advocate Christ promised when he left this earth: the Holy Spirit. As they gathered together for their own celebration of Pentecost…Christ’s disciples experienced a Divine sensation unlike any other they had ever known.” (Sacred Seasons Calendar)

Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is recorded in Acts 2.

What’s the history of this observance?
Pentecost occurred during the Jewish Festival of Weeks/Festival of Booths. “As with the term Pascha, in Pentecost Christians borrowed a Jewish term and applied it to their own festivals. Tertullian (3rd century) knew of Christian Pentecost, and the Apostolic Constitutions (4th century) speak of the Pentecost feast lasting a week. In the Western Church the vigil of Pentecost became second only to the Easter Vigil in importance. Eventually in the West, Pentecost became a Sunday set aside for baptisms.” (citation)

What’s it to me?
Pentecost gives us a taste of what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that it was better that he leave and the Spirit come. Rushing like a wind, the Spirit of God overcomes the gathered ones and they are filled with Him.

I’ve been in the church for my entire life, 28 years, but the Holy Spirit remains a mystery to me in so many ways. I think, in part, that this is good. But I also think that there are layers of Him that I need to press into further. The Holy Spirit makes us feel afraid, I think. We’d like Him to be a bit more caged, a little quieter. But I need Him louder, bigger, stronger. I need to stop viewing the Father and Jesus at one end of the table and the Spirit at the other. I want to press into their intertwine further, and better understand the Spirit’s function within the Trinity and within me.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the day when the Spirit of God was sent to the people of God on earth.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray the Collect for Pentecost: O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Rejoice! The pouring out of the Spirit is the creation of the church. The Spirit is what bonds the people of faith. Have someone over for dinner, text a fellow believer, thank God for the local church. Celebrate the chaos and the glory that is the body of Christ.

Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Pentecost and Ordinary Time season (which begins tomorrow) through the one page summary.

Offer up this prayer for Pentecost.

For kids: Read Acts 2 out loud. Find some great ideas here, including how to make an origami dove which represents the Spirit, and ribbon streamers which represent the “tongues of fire.”

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on the Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing Pentecost?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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when there is wonder and worry.

Friday morning started abruptly, Jared calling to me from Gabriel’s room.

“Babe, I think I need you to come in here,” the slightest hint of panic, definite uncertainty in his voice.

I bolted in to see him holding Gabriel, a pale face, heaving. Something red was smeared all over his crib sheet. Was that blood? Oh, my God. Is that BLOOD? Gabe was lethargic, didn’t look like himself. I called my mom, threw on a pair of boots, and he and I bolted to the Emergency Room.

We walked in the door and I stammered through the complicated explanation with a patient, nodding along nurse. “We think there may have been blood in his crib and he’s heaving and there’s mucus everywhere and he has a neuro-genetic condition it’s like CMT but it’s not CMT but his pulmonary system could someday be affected we just don’t know and so we have to be so careful.” The nurse was exactly how you hope a nurse will be – gentle, swift, understanding, listening, keeping things moving right along. She made me feel not crazy. This is not the point of an ER visit, but it matters. When your inner voices are battling, one telling you that you are paranoid, ridiculous for even coming here, the other telling you that your sons lungs could be failing, having someone agree with you provides an inner ceasefire, if only for a moment.

We saw a doctor, had chest x-rays conducted, discussed Gabriel’s condition overall and his condition that morning and were they related? The conclusion was no, thank you Lord. The doctor was certain that what we saw in Gabriel’s crib was not blood, but that he had vomited something up in the night. I was unsure about his conclusion but it was ultimately confirmed about an hour later when we were back home and the vomiting episodes began (or, continued, I suppose).

It was just a bug. Just a nasty little stomach virus that’s “going around,” as they say, keeping folks down for a few days then leaving, letting us all get on with our lives and Clorox our bathrooms. It’s just that there was the chance that it may not have been, that it could have been so much more. It’s just that these moments, these moments where we don’t know, where that could be a normal childhood temporary illness or it could be a sign of things occurring, things to come, that will impact us forever, it’s just that these moments put our emotions through the wringer, call for so much resolve, require so much decompression.

We really are okay. We are so thankful that it was just a little bug, already a memory. We are so grateful for doctors who were understanding, who did not make me feel paranoid, who listened to my concerns and addressed them. But we, or at least I, am still in a daily battle with thoughts to take captive and what it is to be vigilant enough but not paralyzed by fear and how to receive the “normal” ruckus of life with children yet maintain the possibility that what we are facing in any given moment may be abnormal.

I feel this every time Owen complains of leg pain. “My leg hurts, again!” he will tell me. Growing pains, I’m sure, I think. Or is it? Or are the mutations having their way? Is his body trying to tell us something beyond the fact that he is three-and-a-half, sprouting up like a weed, and runs every chance he gets? So far, it seems that’s the full story. But every day, every time he wakes up in the night with calves aching, I wonder, I fight the wonder, I ask the Lord to hold it for me, because I do not know what to do with it on my own.

We all face uncertainty in so many areas of life. It’s an odd place our family is in, this awareness of how many unknowns we have. Sometimes I would prefer the ignorance. But there is a little part of me, brighter some days, dimmer others, which knows that all of this uncertainty, all of this “what is it?!” of which we are so painfully aware, draws us nearer to the One Who Knows all things, holds all things, the One Who, in Him, all things hold together. I don’t like how much faith all of this requires, most days. I really don’t. But I find that He is here, that the faith springs forth from Him, that even my ability to believe is not contained within my limited strength. So I will keep handing Him the wonder, keep offering up the worry. And He will keep meeting me here.

a few quick thoughts + excitement for tomorrow.

When I first started considering the possibility of crafting a newsletter, a somewhat nebulous fear orbited around me. I wondered if I would be able to produce enough material to blog regularly, work on book projects, pitch articles elsewhere on the internet, be engaged on social media and give the newsletter the attention it deserved. I don’t want to be tossing words out into the wind, filling your ears (eyes?) with more and more and more stuff. Heaven knows that each of us is inundated with “content” day in and day out, and sometimes, it’s just too much.

I have many thoughts on that problem of our era, and perhaps I’ll explore them more in future pieces, but for now, what I want you to know is this. I’ve found that life gives birth to life. As I write words which I am confident came from the Lord and share them with you, He seems to give me more to share, and insight into the best places in which to share them. Some ideas are book ideas, some are for the blog. Some questions fit better in a devotional than a newsletter. Some links are better shared on social media than anywhere else.

This discerning, life-giving spirit is the one in which I’m learning to dwell, and I’m so thankful for how I can see the Lord guiding me in it as I craft April’s newsletter to release tomorrow. I want you to know that it’s written from a place of authenticity, joy, and reality, and that it was written with you in mind, your heart and mind and needs and desires. I’m so excited to see what you think about it.

Make sure you receive Carefully Curated, the Joy Woven Deep newsletter, by signing up here. I can’t wait to give it to you!

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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maundy thursday.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey. 

Maundy Thursday
(also called “Holy Thursday”)

What’s this holy day all about?
On Maundy Thursday we reflect upon Jesus’ observance of Passover with His disciples (recorded in Matthew 26). “The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for ‘command.’ The ‘Maundy’ in ‘Maundy Thursday’ refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another” (citation). The two major components of our remembrance are the institution of Communion/The Lord’s Supper and Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

What’s the history of this observance?
There are records of Maundy Thursday celebrations from the Middle Ages, and, while Maundy Thursday is certainly a special observance all its own, there is a sense in which we observe it each time we take communion and remember Jesus’ last supper with His disciples.

What’s it to me?
This passage puts us face to face with the truths Jesus deemed most important to impart to those closest to Him before He walked the road to the cross. “Remember me,” He said, and “love one another as I have loved you.” Those commands are so simple in their wording, yet I find them to be so difficult in their application sometimes. I overcomplicate; I refuse to walk into the small and simple ways of remembering, of loving. Maundy Thursday calls us away from all of our cultural and personal attempts to add to Christianity, leading us back to a faith centered around the person, work and words of Jesus Christ.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Maundy Thursday represents the day when Jesus observed the Passover/had The Last Supper with His disciples. It is here that He commanded his disciples to love one another as He had loved them, instituted communion and washed His disciples feet. Maundy Thursday beckons us to remember intentionally and love sacrificially.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray the “Collect” for Maundy Thursday.

It’s not too late to join us for an 8-day Holy Week journey through a simple devotional. Click to have Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant emailed to you.

Read Jerusalem Greer’s Holy Week ideas from last year (family friendly).

Host a Passover Seder with friends or your family. If that’s too much to pull off this year, file this away for next year and perhaps look through it and choose one component to talk about at dinner tonight.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent + Holy Week through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us of Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and red (reminds us of Jesus’ shedding of blood) to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

Take a moment to write down a few areas of Christian life and/or ministry where you are tempted to be distracted from the foundational principles of remembering intentionally and loving well. Ask the Spirit to make you sensitive to those distractions and to remind you of the person, work and words of Jesus spoken at the Last Supper.

For kids: Put together a simple craft, or choose a “love one another” coloring page, and share the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my new Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing Holy Week + Maundy Thursday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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Holy Week + Palm Sunday

 On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

Holy Week | Palm Sunday

What is the time span of the season? Holy Week is the final week of Lent, beginning with Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday prior to Easter. Holy days include:

Palm Sunday – March 20
Maundy Thursday – March 24
Good Friday – March 25
Holy Saturday –  March 26

What’s this week + holy day all about?
Holy Week marks the week of Christ’s journey toward the cross, beginning with The Triumphal Entry/Palm Sunday, which we observe today (and is recorded in Matthew 21). By riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, Jesus fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9.

“The large company of pilgrims, mainly from Galilee, were acknowledging Jesus as a King by “spreading” their coats on “the road” before Him (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). Likewise, throwing small “branches from the trees” before Him symbolized the same thing (cf. 1 Macc. 13:51; 2 Macc. 10:7).

Rulers rode donkeys in Israel during times of peace (Judg. 5:10; 1 Kings 1:33). This was a sign of their humble service to the people. Warriors rode horses. Jesus was preparing to declare His messiahship by fulfilling this messianic prophecy. By coming in peace, He was extending grace rather than judgment to the city. He was coming as a servant now. He would return as a conquering King riding on a war horse later (cf. Rev. 19:11).

Jesus rode on the “colt” (a young male donkey), not on its mother, the donkey (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). It would have been remarkable that Jesus was able to control a presumably unbroken animal, moving through an excited crowd with an unfamiliar burden on its back. This was just one more demonstration that Jesus was the Messiah who was the master of nature (cf. 8:23-27; 14:22-32). Surely He could bring peace to Israel if He could calm the young colt (Isa. 11:1-10).”
– Dr. Tom Constable

What’s the history of this observance?
There are records of Palm Sunday observances taking place as early as the 4th century, marked by a procession and in the 8th century, a blessing of the palms. – Church Year

What’s it to me?
As Jesus rode in on the donkey, the crowd shouted, “Hosanna!, which means, “save us now!” This challenges me to consider what I demand of Him, to realize how often it is relief now, peace now, comfort now. Jesus has come to give relief and peace; He is the One, True Comfort, but I am so rarely willing to wait, to let my definitions be rewritten in His terms. Palm Sunday prompts my heart to recognize Who Jesus really is and what that means for my life, instead of demanding that He conform to my desires.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Palm Sunday observes the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. The Jewish crowd seemed to recognize Him as King, as they laid their coats and palm branches in His pathway and called for Him to save them. The Triumphal Entry was a specific fulfillment of a messianic prophecy, a fulfillment which communicates loud and clear – Christ is King.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Read & pray the “liturgy & litany” for Palm Sunday.

Join us for an 8-day journey through a simple devotional. Click to have Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant emailed to you.

Read Jerusalem Greer’s Holy Week ideas from last year (family friendly).

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent + Holy Week through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us of Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and red (reminds us of Jesus’ shedding of blood) to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

Consider the places in your life where you want Jesus’ rescue now, where patience and long-suffering seem so hard to come by. Ask Him to draw you to a place of deeper trust and awareness of His sympathy this week as you ponder His own journey of suffering.

For kids: Read this version of the account of the Triumphal Entry. Make a palm frond, or a donkey.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my new Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing Holy Week + Palm Sunday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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where you are when you are here.

On Wednesday night, I attended a mentoring call with Bronwyn Lea through Redbud Writers Guild. During that call, she said something that I think will stick with me permanently, because Bronwyn’s words were ones I’d been looking for but seemed unable to find inside myself. Her words were simple, yet so poignant. I cannot stop thinking of them.

“This is how I think about my blog,” she said. “I think of my blog as an extension of my living room. The things I talk about on my blog are the things I would talk to you about if you were sitting on my couch.”

That is exactly how I feel about this space.

In the world of writers, there is a lot of emphasis on having a sharp, defined focus, on knowing what your niche is and staying within it, as in, “be able to say the distinct purpose, audience and tone of your blog in one sentence.”

(It’s okay, go ahead and laugh at the thought of me trying to communicate anything in one sentence.)

I understand this advice and agree with it to a certain point, but when I’ve tried to sit down and hammer out what it is, exactly, that this blog is meant for, I’ve gotten stuck. I’ve asked friends for help, I’ve talked to writers further down the road, and they’ve helped me get a lot closer, but here’s the thing – I’m just not a 100% pragmatic kind of gal, and I don’t think I ever will be. I love practical application and seek to give tangible advice, but I traffic in the philosophical and theoretical, the patterns behind what we can see, the meaning underneath it all. I tend, eventually, to get to the thing we should do, or be, or embody, but I’m also comfortable lingering a while, spending time in the swirl of thought. And sometimes that just doesn’t boil down very well into a one sentence purpose statement.

But I also want you to know what you’re in for, reader. I want you to know what kind of living room this is, how we talk here, what we discuss. So, with the help of some friends, here are some of the parameters I’ve set around Joy Woven Deep (JWD).

  • JWD exists to help people uncover the deeper places, encouraging them on their daily walk of faith.
  • JWD is a place for writing toward the wild and the rooted, to reveling in the mysteries of God and peering in to all that He reveals.
  • JWD is a reflection of the path God is leading me on, the gifts I believe He has given me, and the insight He imparts to me to share.
  • JWD is motivated by the prompting of the Spirit and conviction surrounding the truth and the ministry of reconciliation; it is not motivated by clicks, readership or numbers.
  • JWD is a space for sharing and conversation, for spurring one another on toward deeper thoughtfulness, stronger affections and meaningful action.

You know what I love about that list? It’s (in nearly every way) the same list I have for my life, relationships, ministry opportunities, family engagement…all of it.

So, yes, this blog is an extension of my living room. A place where I’ll talk personality tests, literary fiction, mass incarceration, Shonda Rhimes, trinitarinism and clinical depression with you in the same night. A place where my kids will make appearances but not be the epicenter of the evening. A place where we come with questions, and sometimes we leave with answers, but sometimes we leave with even more questions. A place where we know each other and love well. A place where you are welcome.

I’m so genuinely glad that you are here with me, that you are a part of what is shaping this space and my desire for it. If there’s anything you would like to see featured or discussed on Joy Woven Deep, would you let me know here or in the post comments? I’d just love to know.

As of yesterday (hooray!), I have a public Facebook page. Would you hop over and “like” it for me? I’ll be so excited to see you. We’ll be hosting a great deal of discussion over there and I don’t want you to miss it.

Thank you for being in this with me.

From Him | Through Him | To Him,

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PS – Palm Sunday is just 2 days away! Download your copy of Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant, an 8-day devotional for Holy Week by entering your email address here.

something different.

winter scene

Late last week, the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” started playing in my head. I don’t know why; I don’t know from where it came. If I knew, I would send it back to its mother.

It was as though the song was on a loop, the sing-along tune repeating over and over and over again. It seemed to begin entirely unprompted, and it hasn’t really gone away yet. But, it’s a little different now.

On Friday, as it played once again, I caught myself changing the words, almost subconsciously, maybe subversively, maybe both.

I’m still deciding if I’m following Jesus.
I’m still deciding if I’m following Jesus.
I’m still deciding if I’m following Jesus.
Will I turn back?
Will I turn back?

Owen spent this past weekend with my sister and her husband. We met halfway between our homes on Friday afternoon and again 48 hours later, agreeing to find each other in the same parking lot the second time as the first. I entered the Chevron’s address into my maps app, but when I glanced at it moments later, it didn’t say Chevron anymore. Instead, it read,

“From: your location
To: something different.”

I laughed at this, took a picture of it. From “your location,” to “something different,” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that. That is, when the rewritten hymn isn’t looping yet again.

A few years ago, I started seeing a counselor. It was shortly after we moved to College Station and I was so unsure where I fit. We were living with my parents while we built a house. Jared was flourishing in his job. I was battling anxiety, though I wouldn’t have called it that at the time. My heart raced any time I heard Owen cry, flashbacks to months of screaming and colic and feeling so isolated that I wondered if I would ever know myself or anyone else again. And so, for these reasons and many others, I started seeing a counselor. And it helped. It helped so much. She gave me, as my mom says, “a place to put things,” a place where I wasn’t a pastor’s wife and a pastor’s daughter and Abby who writes and Owen’s mom. A place where I could be entirely unsure about who I was. A place to look for myself, to see who I found.

I’m still deciding if I’m following, Jesus.
Will I turn back?
Will I turn back?

From: my location
To: something different.

Because of everything that has gone on in our lives in the last few years, people often follow up the question “how are you?” with an apology, or a “that was a dumb question,” or a “you may not want to answer that.” I appreciate this. I generally smile and say it’s okay, I’m glad they asked. I say that there are at least 7 different answers to that question, that we are grieving but grateful, that Gabe pulled up/cruised/crab-walked this week, that Owen hit his head but has recovered, that Jared is working a lot and praise the Lord that he loves it so much.

“We’re doing okay, Gabe had an appointment last week, his braces are fitting well (or aren’t), he’s sleeping well in them (or isn’t).”

They ask how I am and I answer with we. I’m not really answering the question. This is partially because I don’t want to. This is mostly because I don’t know the answer.

It turns out that “Something Different” is the name of a café in the same parking lot as the meeting place Chevron. It’s a small town Texas restaurant with a sign from the 1970s and a menu unaware that gluten is no longer on trend.

It also turns out that I don’t know what my “something different” is right now, that I can feel a part of my old self breaking off and floating away. It turns out that I don’t know if I want it back or if I’m content to let it drift.

Over the last three years, I’ve continued to go back to counseling on a semi-regular basis. When life started to feel like it was falling apart, when words like “genetics” and “mutation” and “potentially progressive” became a part of my everyday vocabulary, I dropped the “semi-“ and became a full-on counseling regular.

I also started taking anti-depressants.

A little blue pill every morning, a little reminder of my humanity, of brokenness, of how entirely insufficient I am on my own. This is my first time to write about this publicly, to share this part of my story. And I’m going to share more about it for many reasons, one of which is that I have a hunch some of you know waves of grief and depression that run so wild in your soul you’re not sure you’ll breathe again. I have a hunch that some of you know what it feels like to want to sleep more hours than you’re awake, to wonder if those memories of thriving seasons are an illusion, if they ever actually happened. I have a hunch that some of you are part of the sisterhood of the long winter, that the wait for spring has wreaked havoc on your soul.

Depression often comes in waves, unannounced waves, waves of various sizes, waves of tremendous force. Late last week, a wave hit me hard, knocked my feet out from under me. By Monday, I didn’t want to get out of bed. Today, it’s 1:20, and I’m under the covers as I type this, embarrassed that my prayers are a pathetic request for God to cause my children to nap or play quietly long enough for me to feel like I can get through the afternoon. This is my day today. There is no praying my way out of it. There are not enough Bible verses. There are not enough encouraging words.

There is the Spirit within me, God’s people around me. There is the little blue pill. There is the cozy chair in the counselor’s office. There are the words waiting to be said, waiting to be written. There is the discomfort that I do not know what those words are.

There is the fact that I wake up every day and have to decide if I believe God is real.
There is the fact that when depression hits like this, I wonder if I will turn back.
There is the fact that I want to believe.
There is the fact that, today, “help my unbelief,” is a much more honest statement than, “I believe.”

I’m not sure where all of this will lead. I am somewhere along a winding path between my former location and something different and part of me wants to turn back and part of me wants to just lay down on the road or in the nearby woods and stop moving and part of me wants to race ahead to that something different, believing that surely its better than here. I don’t know much of anything right now. But I know I’m going to keep writing about all of it. I know that sisterhood is one of the only things that keeps me breathing on these darker days. I know that it is no coincidence that our Bible study covered Ephesians 2:11-3:13 today – dividing walls abolished, the people of God brought together, leaning against one another, built upon the Cornerstone.

A friend in that Bible study today mentioned that we are quick to talk about grief and suffering when its over, when we feel confident of what that season taught us, when we’re a little more sure of things. She’s so right. And my response to that reality is this declaration: I am sure of so little right now. I am very much within the grief. I am very much within the suffering. I have no idea what I am learning or if learning is even the point. But I’m here, and you’re here, and He’s here. And if what Scripture says is true, then the fact that I’m here and you’re here and He’s here is a really joyous thing. That’s what I’ll be pressing into in the days to come, both within my soul and within this writing space. And you are so tenderly, openly, hopefully invited to join me.

when life is a whirlwind & He sympathizes with my weaknesses.


A few days ago, I stood at the sink in our kitchen, washing my hands, thinking. I looked up at the liturgical calendar I keep on the bar, the one nestled between pictures of the little boys, behind the holy day candle. The calendar stands there to remind me of the seasons, to anchor me in time.

Each page of the calendar tells me of a season based on the life of Christ. Right now, of course, it says “Lent.” Alongside the name of the season, various themes are displayed. And as I looked up from the trickling faucet, glanced away from my dripping hands, one theme caught my eye: disruption.

I felt the prick in my spirit immediately, recognized the inner knowing nod, the familiar frustration. In the last 8 days, Gabriel got sick, then got better just in time to go to Shriners. Twice. Then Jared got sick. Gabriel is now clingy and cautious, sore knees that haven’t directly touched the floor in weeks and uncertainty about what will happen when people touch him, what is coming next if I release him from my arms. Owen is feeling the chaos, trying to sort it out, asking me if Gabe has another “ma-ppointment,” if he has a babysitter coming.

This morning, I have called at least 6 different phone numbers trying to get a medical paperwork question answered to no avail. Both kids want my engagement at every level, want to climb on me and lay on me and are unimpressed by me attempts to engage them in independent activities. Right now, they are decorating a laundry basket with pipe cleaners and ribbon, and I suspect this will last for about 42 seconds. Actually, I overestimated. Gabriel is now 10 inches away from me pulling the cleaning supplies out from the cabinet (we’re big time “safety first” people around here, clearly) and Owen is yelling for me help him decorate his “rocket ship,” because “this is hard work.”

Gabriel has learned how to say “mommy” recently, which I treasure, storing up the gentle, excited sing-song of his voice.  But sometimes, his call makes me wonder how mommy-ish I really am; it makes me wonder if I have the tenderness these littles need. It makes me wonder why I feel like I’m one of the “mom” mothers, not the “mommy” mothers. It makes me wonder what it means when people observe that I don’t talk to my kids “like they’re kids.” It makes me wonder if I’ll be better at this when they’re teenagers.

I keep thinking about that word, disruption, about how just because our life has a high level of intensity, that doesn’t mean the little nuisances of everyday life won’t still happen. It all happens. The big and the small happen all at once, or they alternate, or they go quiet simultaneously or they get loud together and life is either a season of disruption or a season of waiting for it, of training my heart not to fear the future, not to assume that frustration is coming, but doesn’t it seem like it inevitably does?

Disruption in the context of Lent grips me hard and forces me to a lower places than I’m naturally prone to go. It transports me to the reality of the disruption of Jesus, of His perfect, earthly existence, of His sudden confinement to a body of a flesh, of endless worship turned to fatal scorn. He was not acknowledged for who He was, was not beheld, was not treasured or recognized. He was disrupted at the deepest level, disrupted unto death.

And the thing is, I don’t think that the Spirit is calling the death of Jesus to my mind in order to shame me. I don’t think He’s minimizing my disruption or negating it. I think that He is calling me to mirror Jesus in His acceptance, to acknowledge the pain and the imperfection and the wishing it could be another way and to keep going, to press in, to be willing to endure disruption, confident of the promises to come.

When I question my motherhood, when I think someone else could do this better than I could, when I see my limitations and weaknesses staring back at me in the form of two tiny faces, I think of disruption, of how to lean into it and not away from it, of how thankful I am that Jesus did not cling to that which was rightfully His. I am asking the Spirit to remind me of how unconcerning it actually is if I feel like a “mommy” mother or a “mom” mother, because I am the mother who is here, the mother who loves and prays and brings alongside, the mother God appointed for the boys He gave us. I think of how He is the One who decided that an introverted, thinking over feeling, writing over crafting woman would be the nurturer of these little souls, would be the mother who tries to live a life where experienced disruption is not equivalent to internalized depression so that her children can engage a broken world with strength, with the expectation of pain and the endurance to bear it.

Disruption is not my ideal, but it is not eternal either. And the Jesus Who faced ultimate disruption is eternal, so while I wait for the paperwork phone call and for Daddy to come home and for Gabriel’s anxious heart to calm, I’ll think of Him, how He knows more of disruption than I ever will. And maybe by the end of the day I’ll know Him, I’ll trust Him, just a tiny bit more.

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