When You Just Can’t Rest

When you can't rest

“Mommy syndrome.” The oral surgeon removed the tongue depressor from my mouth, and leaned back in his chair.

I stared back blankly, starting to feel offended. I’d come in for an emergency follow up after my oral surgery a week before, sure that the non-stop excruciating pain was due to an infection, or dry socket, or something that required an urgent medical intervention.

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What A Pile of Trash Taught Me About Good Friday

The first thing I noticed was the smell of rotting meat.

I’d just flown back from a two day conference, where I’d sat elbow to elbow with CEOs and marketers for million (or billion) dollar companies, learning from a multiple time bestselling author and renowned speaker. 
Before the conference, I obsessed over what I would wear, over how I would introduce myself, over the chip in my nail polish that would surely give me away as an impostor who didn’t belong there. The stunning location and beautiful event materials made me want to shrink inside my navy blazer and disappear. 
But then, the conference got underway. I stumbled through introductions, and to my shock, no one told me to leave. In fact, they actually listened to my ideas and took my suggestions seriously. No one interrupted me, or made me feel like I was too young, or too idealistic, or just didn’t understand the way things worked. They actually listened to what I had to say, and found it valuable. By day two, I felt like I belonged – like I could be confident and speak up, because I’d be taken seriously. I was taken seriously. 
And then the conference ended. And that brings me back to the smell. 
As soon as I walked through the door to my office, I smelled decomposing meat. 
While my colleague and I were gone at the conference, some other team members had been using our workspace, without asking. They’d had some BBQ for dinner, and left their trash on our desks. 
Dirty napkins, empty coffee cups, and of course, the rotting carcass that I’d smelled when I first walked in. 
These just happened to be the same team members that we’d just spent hundreds of hours of our time over the last few weeks in planning for a project for them, and then my colleague spent two solid weeks of travel, and several late nights, early mornings, and squeezing in their phone calls and helping them even while we were at the conference. They’re the same team members who don’t fill out request forms, and demand 24 hour turnarounds without apologies or even a thank you. 
I bet it’s happened to you too, even if you don’t work in an office. A few hours after your birthday celebration, you realize that you’re the one they all expect to wash the sink full of sticky plates and silverware, and clean the cake out of the carpet. After the Mother’s Day service at church, your husband complains about the laundry not being finished, and the kids are whining about what you fixed them for dinner. You come home from coffee with a friend feeling refreshed, only to find the house is in shambles inside and your husband is so happy you’re home … so he can go back to cleaning his car.
The injustice stings. These are the people we’re trying to help, and instead of showing appreciation, they just demand more, or respond with outright disrespect.
I set off to find those co-workers. I was going to show them the photos I’d just taken of the evidence. I was going to demand an answer to why they thought that was an ok way to behave.
They weren’t in their offices. I felt a little thrill as I thought of being avenged, and I swung by my boss’s office. But she wasn’t there either. Still angry, I marched back to my office. 
I cleared off and threw away all the trash. The injustice of it still burned. 
Driving home, my mind drifted to weekend plans, and I remembered suddenly that Good Friday was in two days, followed by Easter Sunday. 
And then slowly, like sunlight rising over the edge of the horizon, it began to dawn on me. 
Two thousand years ago this week, Jesus suffered mockery, abuse, torture, and finally death at the hands of the very people he came to serve. 
But it wasn’t just for those people in Jerusalem that he willingly suffered and died. It was because he knew that I would sin that he died, so that I could be right with God.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6

Friend, sometimes we will be despised. We may actually suffer at the hands of those we’re trying to help.

But thank God, we have a savior who knows what it is to suffer. And he modeled for us servant leadership, and true love. And when he calls us to love the unlovely, he’s already shown us what that looks like.

Because he first loved us, when we were still sinners, trash and all.

This Year . . .

This year needs to be different. 

When I look back over 2014, nothing really stands out. It feels like a dark, stressful, rushed, frustrated, and tired blur. I don’t even have to look at my resolutions for last year to know I didn’t accomplish many of them. 

I spent so many long hours trying to finish a project at work – all to realize at the end of the year that it was out of my control. I neglected my family, friends, and all the things I enjoy, really all for next to nothing.  

I feel like last year was a waste. Yes, we paid off some debt, we bought our first house, I got promoted, we’re now expecting our first baby – but while we passed so many milestones, I didn’t take the time to enjoy them and let them sink in. Looking back now, I’m saddened. 

This year, beyond just checking off my resolutions, I want to end in a better place than when I started. Better spiritually, relationally, emotionally … all around healthier, happier, and more satisfied because I’ve spent my energy on what really matters in life and what refreshes and refuels me. 

This year is going to be really hard. I’m having a baby in July, Lord willing. And my dad is getting deployed this spring, to Liberia, to provide security at the Ebola camps. Talk about scary. 

And who knows what will happen in the next 12 months that I never anticipated. But this year, I want to be present for it, even the hard things. 

I want to take time to feel happy, to do some things that make me happy, and to take care of my health and family. I want to take time to grow. And to just be. 

JJ Heller puts it well, per usual, in her new song. 

I do have a list of “resolutions.” But it just boils down to one thing: making 2015 a better year.

Do you have resolutions for this year? Or a word or phrase that’s your focus? Share it in the comments below.

ReLent: Healing

“A week of meditation and confession.” This how the Lent devotional series from She Reads Truth would end?

This is going to suck…
Was honestly my first thought.
…and yet heal me. 
Was my second. 

I was already familiar with meditation, but confession, well, that’s different. Yes, as a Protestant, we confess our sins directly to God, and it’s great. But I realized over the course of the week that too often my confession goes something like: “I’m sorry God for all the bad things I’m sure I did today. And moving on…”

I don’t often really think about my sin. It’s uncomfortable. And I certainly don’t talk about it with anyone else, despite what it says in James:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

That’s beyond uncomfortable, to a level of vulnerability that I can only aspire to.

But praying the prayers of confession with the She Reads Truth community was exactly what I feared, and hoped for.

It felt like removing a deep, deep splinter. You know it’s going to hurt, but the only way to heal is through the pain.

This prayer in particular ached for days:

Prayer: “The Deeps”

Lord Jesus,
Give me a deeper repentance,
a horror of sin,
a dread of its approach;
help me chastely to flee it,
and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust,
that I may lose myself to find myself in thee,
the ground of my rest,
the spring of my being.
Give me a deeper knowledge of thyself,
as saviour, master, lord and king.
Give me deeper power in private prayer,
more sweetness in thy Word,
more steadfast grip on its truth.

Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action,
and let me not seek moral virtue apart from thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until thou alone art seen in me,
thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
they fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but thee,
no law but thy will,
no delight by thyself,
no wealth but that thou givest,
no good but that thou blessest,
no peace but that thou bestowest.

I am nothing but that thou makest me,
I have nothing but that I receive from thee,
I can do nothing but that grace adorns me.

Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan prayers and devotions, ©2001, The Banner of Truth Trust, p.75.

And quarry deeply He did. 
So many things I’d long repressed and hadn’t even thought of in years came bubbling up to the surface over the last 40 days. I caught myself saying, “Not that deep God!”
But then this final week as I’ve read through the accounts of Jesus’ final days on earth, his prayer for us, his agony in the garden, the mock trial and crucifixion.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 

So as Lent ends, there’s nothing left for me to do but lift my empty hands, and pray:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

ReLent: Fighting

I waited for the service to start sitting at the end of my row, while people bustled around me, greeting each other, reserving their spot with their Bibles while they went to get donuts and coffee. 

I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I knew I couldn’t even muster a Sunday morning smile and “fine,” today. 

I closed my eyes and tried to clear my head of all the boiling emotions. Church was starting soon.

Why am I angry? 

The thought caught me off guard. I wasn’t angry… just frustrated. Bitter maybe. Ok, definitely a little angry. Fine. Pretty furious, if I was honest.

But why? 

I felt abandoned, because God had taken some people out of my life that I really wasn’t ok with letting go. 

I was overwhelmed and feeling way over my head at work. 

And I felt lost. So many things God was doing just didn’t make sense. 

I funneled all my anger into one question. I wanted to scream: 

God, where are you?

But I just sat there, in my pew. And fought. 

Why is this happening to me? Why have you allowed these things to happen to people I love? I just don’t understand what you’re doing. WHERE ARE YOU? 

I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like I’d really heard from God. Or the last time I knew I’d seen God at work. Or the last time I felt like He was actually working in me, and using me. 

Church would start soon. I had to cram my thoughts into the back of mind to deal with later. To distract myself, I pulled out my phone and started scrolling through emails. I opened my daily Lent devotional from SheReadsTruth, and read: 

And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

– Jonah 4:4

I stared at the screen, and let it sink in. 

Do you do well to be angry?

It hurt to say it, but I knew the answer. 

No. 

Of course no. Like Jonah, I’d witnessed God’s mercy. I deserved nothing, and received so much. 

Besides, what good did my anger do? What did it accomplish? It didn’t keep me from feeling alone, overwhelmed, and lost. It put a barrier between me and the only One who could help. 

I don’t remember the sermon. But I left feeling more hopeful than I had in a long time. I knew the timing of the email wasn’t an accident. 

On Monday, before I started on the daunting tasks for the day, I read: 

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

– Joshua 1:7-9  

Then the next day, a friend shared stories from their life with me that reminded me of two things:

  • I’m not alone.
  • And as trite as it sounds, God really does have a bigger picture at work.

When I took my seat the next Sunday, while none of the situations in my life had changed, everything else had. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t afraid. And I knew where God was. 

Of course, He’d never left.

Relent Part 1: Failing. ReLent = Starting Lent over, and the idea of giving up, which seems to be what these 40 days have been all about.

ReLent, Part 1: Failing

I just have to say, I’ve really sucked at Lent this year. 
And I mean, really, really sucked. Miserably failed.
Two years ago, I observed Lent for the first time, and it transformed my life. Last year, I didn’t do it, and I missed it. So this year, I noted the date weeks before and planned to spend some time meditating on what I would fast from this year. Then, I promptly forgot all about Lent until Ash Wednesday. 
I spent the first week of Lent trying to decide what to fast from. Ice Cream? Too easy for someone who’s lactose intolerant. Coffee? I would die. Facebook? Need it for my job. Could I fast from stress? Busyness?  Worry? I wish. Then I’d actually have time to sit and think about what I actually should fast from. 
I finally decided on meat, “rich meats” to be exact. Several weeks ago, I started attending a Bible study on the book of Daniel. Beth Moore suggested fasting from “rich meats,” like Daniel and his friends did. She defined “rich meats” as beef, pork, not including chicken and fish. 
This might be far too easy to really count as a sacrifice, I thought. 
I was so wrong. 
I quickly lost count of the times I messed up … the corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, the pepperoni pizza, the Ruben sandwiches, the bacon … so many times.
 I should be so much better than this. I can’t believe I messed up again. Maybe I should just give up. But this is so simple! Surely if I just try harder, I can get it together …
Another day, another failure. Frustration turned to anger. 
Finally, I collapsed on the couch, curled up in a miserable ball of failure, and cried.
I CAN’T DO THIS. 

It was sob and a prayer.


Yes. That’s the point. 

It was a still small voice. Not audible, felt, more than heard. 

And suddenly, the light began to dawn. That’s the point. In order for me to stop rushing and be still, I had to come to the end of myself. 


Now, I was ready to listen. 

But that didn’t mean I’d like what I’d hear. 


ReLent, Part 2: Fighting, is coming soon. 

About the name, ReLent. The prefix “re” has the idea of re-doing, starting over, starting again. In some ways, I started my Lent over at this point. I started following the She Reads Truth Lent series, and its changed everything. 

“Relent” also means to give up, and give in. So far, that’s been a recurring theme for me.

Have you ever observed Lent, or are you observing it now? (If not, you might be interested in the post I wrote two years ago, 4 Reasons To Observe Lent, Even If You’re Not Catholic.)

I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments (Please tell me I’m not alone in failing at fasting… K thanks!).

LIFE: Why I Love/Hate Change

“But…nothing will be the same!” I exclaimed, ashamed of how cliche and immature I sounded even before the words had left my mouth.
“Yeah, that’s life.” Brian stated, and although I knew he was right, something in me rebelled.
But WHY. Why can’t life just stay the same for once?
We were discussing an announcement at church last Sunday, a big change that will affect us, and our entire church. We knew it was coming. I feel simultaneously happy for our friends involved, and sad for myself.
Brian reminded me that life is always changing. In today’s world, it’s very unlikely that we’ll have the same jobs for the rest of our lives, or that we’ll live in Arizona forever. Now, I just felt panicky. 
I have a love/hate relationship with change.
In some circumstances, I thrive on change. I can’t do the same workout for more than a few weeks without getting bored out of my mind. I like moving around furniture and rearranging decor to change the look and feel of a room. Even though I strive to shop ethically, I struggle with getting tired of my clothes and wanting to switch them out for new things. 
I love reading about self-improvement, and I enjoy changing my routine and habits to be more productive and reach new goals. I enjoyed the challenge in school of learning new topics and applying that knowledge to different projects. 
I read somewhere that change and novelty are key to feeling happy. While I think that’s probably true, it also makes me miserable first. 
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

Anatole France

There is comfort in sameness. I like knowing what to expect and making plans. Change upends everything, ushering in uncertainty. 
And yet, there is some comfort in change as well, knowing that “This too shall pass.”
I remember during my darkest days in high school, fearing that I would always feel the mental anguish of depression. But my situation did change, and that period of my life did pass. 
Change brings with it a sense of loss, but also of gain. I know, deep down, that this present uncertainty will result in my long-term growth. 
In a month or two, I’ll be excited about the possibilities. But first, I think I need some time to mourn life as it used to be.
How do you react to change? I’d love to hear any tips for accepting and embracing necessary change you might have, so please share them in the comments!

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FAITH: Strangely Dim

Have you ever been driving down the road, playing the radio in the background, when suddenly a song comes on that you’ve heard a thousand times before, but this time the lyrics just jump out of the speakers and stab you right in the heart, leaving you sobbing over your steering wheel? (Total driving hazard, by the way.) That happened to me yesterday.

“Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli is one of those overplayed songs on the Christian radio, but from some reason, yesterday, the lyrics perfectly captured what I’ve been experiencing the last few months, especially the first verse.

Strangely Dim

I’ve had all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold
And I don’t know why,
I got a front row seat
To the longest wait
And I just can’t see
Past the things I pray
Today

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don’t look around
Any place I’m in
Grows strangely dim

Sometimes where I stand
On this narrow road
Is in a raging storm
Or a valley low
But oh

When I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don’t look around
Any place I’m in
Grows strangely dim

I don’t know, I don’t know
What tomorrow may hold
But I know, but I know
That You’re holding it all
So no matter what may come

I’m gonna fix my eyes on all that You are
‘Til every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
Let all my worries fade
And fall to the ground
I’m gonna seek Your face
And not look around
Til the place I’m in
Grows strangely, strangely, strangely dim.

The phrase “strangely dim,” is from the chorus of the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Have you ever been touched by the words of a song you’ve heard? Tell us about it in the comments!

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INSPIRE: Growing as an Independent Thinker

On Friday, I told you about my interview on Sage Grayson coaching, but I saved another bit of news for today: I also guest posted on Sweet and Sage. Sweet and Sage is an online magazine for women in their twenties who crave advice that’s both kind and smart. The topic for July is “Independent Thinking,” and my article shares 3 Ways to Grow as an Independent Thinker.

I’m a by-the-book girl—I thrive on how-to guides, step-by-step plans, and other people’s approval. Independent thinking doesn’t come easily to me. But the times in my life where I’ve grown the most have been the times when I made decisions that didn’t make sense to the people around me.


Read the rest here!


Interestingly, the story I share in the beginning of the article is also when I started this blog! Another benefit of independent thinking that I continue to receive. 
Do you consider yourself an independent thinker? Read the article, and let me know what you think in the comments over there!



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Confidence Challenge: The Year So Far

It’s hard to believe that this year is now halfway over. I took a look back at my New Year’s Resolution, summed up with the word: Confidence.

I want confidence. Confidence that doesn’t come from what job I have or what I can produce, but in who God made me. Confidence that no matter what happens, He has a plan for me and is working all things for good, even the things that seem like mistakes or detours to others…and myself. 

I also wrote a list of ten goals for the year that I tried to revisit and re-write every week. It’s a tip I learned to help you accomplish more since they will probably go through changes from the first of the year to December. My goals for the year in January were:

  • Launch a business that I was working on at the time with two co-partners
  • Get published
  • Run a 5K
  • Get my closet down to 100 items
  • Pay off a school loan
  • Guest post on 3 blogs
  • Quit Target
  • Redesign Scribbles
  • Finish the church flyer and my quilt
  • Make art
So much has changed in six months. As of June,
While I’ve met many of those goals, and many more I’ve made throughout the last six months, I wonder how I’m doing on my overall resolution – growing in confidence. 
Dealing with failure and rejection has helped me grow in confidence. For example, when the business partnership didn’t work out, I went through a period of self-doubt, but I was also determined to try again on my own. Bleu Feather Paper Co. doesn’t have people breaking down the (virtual) door yet, but I have learned so much in the process of setting it up, creating the brand, marketing, and trying to find what works. For example, you’ll find out via the next newsletter that there’s been some important pricing adjustments.
I’ve been rejected for a several jobs that I thought I was a great fit for, without even an interview. That really struck a blow at my confidence at first. I wallowed a little, thinking I wasn’t good enough for anyone, but instead of letting that last for months, I decided to proactively work on getting more experience so that I could be a better contender. 
Interviews are a great way to work on your confidence, as it turns out! After all, you’re selling yourself, your skills, and the potential benefit to your employer. I’ve had two interviews this month, and while at first I felt a little like I was faking it, now I do feel more confident in my abilities. 
And I can tell more changes are on the way for the next six months. For one, I’m very excited to announce that I am now an intern for Sage Grayson! My first day is July 1st, and I will be helping her with social media, scheduling, and graphic design. I know I’m going to learn a lot from Sage, and I’m glad that I’ll be able to use my skills to free her up to focus on coaching and writing.
From right here, I can see the beginnings of many possible paths for the future. Who knows what the next six months will bring?!

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”

I’m deeply grateful that God knows the plans He has for me, and it’s all under His control, not mine!

I’m also deeply grateful for all the love you guys show me through your faithful reading and sweet comments. Thank you so, so much for being here!

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? How are you doing on keeping them? Share your progress in the comments!

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