Unfriended in the time of Pandemic

Yesterday, I ran across one of the most heinous Facebook posts I’ve seen in a while. I can’t find it to quote directly, because the person who shared it unfriended me.

In summary the post, which was re-shared by a Christian woman who said she wished she could take credit for the words, said:

• This outbreak is a conspiracy. The government is going to take over.

• Its just a virus like the flu. Chill.

• You’re an idiot if you are complying with this “bullshirt” quarantine stuff

• It only kills the elderly and have you heard of natural selection? This is what it supposed to happen.

• It is not my job to make sure other people are safe, “There I said it!” she said. You are not my responsibility.

That’s the gist. I responded to the poster, who I only know as an acquaintance, but she most definitely identifies as a committed Christian. I said, essentially, “I’m going to need to see this person’s Doctor of Medicine certificate. Also, it was Cain who asked, ‘Am I my brothers keeper?’ Yes, in times like this, we are one another’s keeper.”

She never responded with words – no discussion, no argument. She simply unfriended me. I will not miss her, as we hardly know one another, but the inability to be challenged, as a fellow Christian, is astonishing. I’m still appalled by what I read.

On any other day I’m willing to bet she is a card carrying young earth, six day creationist, but in this time of inconvenience, her fear has her touting survival of the fittest.

Unmitigated fear is ugly, y’all. I’m sure she is pro-life, as well, but not for the elderly or immunocompromised.

People like that cannot be reasoned with, as evidenced by her simply ending the conversation forever.

I only have this to say: Christian love is a self-sacrificial love. We absolutely do inconvenience ourselves to care for one another. Suffering love is our model. The elderly do matter. Government conspiracy or not (and I think not), our response is the same: take care of our neighbors.

That means we are to be a neighbor. “Who is my neighbor,” is never a question. The question is always, “to whom can I be a neighbor?”

I hope this woman does not contact coronavirus, because I’m afraid she is dangerously close to the age at most risk.

I pray for people to stop spreading conspiracy theory, and focus on the task at hand. Stay home and check on your people. Drop supplies on people’s front porches and leave. Shop for one another while you’re out. Use Venmo to exchange funds. This is what my neighbors and I are doing.

Use technology to stay connected. Don’t stress about schooling your kids. This is a unique time and there will be so much grace given. Set up Facetime play dates, and visits with family. Hang up those Christmas lights and light some candles. Turn off social media for most of the day (that one is mostly for me 😬). Be kind and think of others. We are sacrificing our own lives temporarily for the greater good. This is the call.

Stay human, y’all. 

Walking with God through apathy

Apathy – lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern; detachment. Can be associated with depression.

This, unfortunately, describes my current state of being. I’ve actually been stuck here for quite some time. The funny thing is that apathy, for me, isn’t a result of me not caring, or being unconcerned about things.

Quite the opposite: it is a result of being burdened so heavily that my mind has now decided to compartmentalize everything painful, so that I can actually function, somewhat, every day. I wouldn’t say I even feel all that functional, but I’m getting the main things done, and I’m not falling apart in the process, so, that’s something.

Apathy can be a means of self-protection – at least, that’s what my counselor tells me, and I think she is right. Some of my more religious friends will say, at this point, that self-protection is a sin…or really close to it. I’m toeing the line between letting God be God, and trying to be my own God and my own savior. I just need to have the right kind of faith and all will be well.

These are the same people who won’t let people have any negative emotions, such as anger or fear or grief. I have zero interest in what they have to say, in case there is a question in your mind, and will give zero attention to that kind of talk. It is not reality based and it isn’t even Bible based (see the entire book of Psalms).

You don’t manage “negative” emotions by outlawing them. That just drives them underground and announces to others that you are not a safe person to talk to. There are better ways to handle them, which I won’t get into today.

The truth is that it is God who made us and designed us with the ability to manage and survive trauma and difficulties. We don’t want to stay in these places forever (places like apathy, detachment, dissociation, anger) but they serve a purpose. They divide up the load so that we don’t become overwhelmed, and then piece by piece, when the time is right, we are able to unpack and let Him help us figure out what to do with each part.

He heals them, He grieves them with us, He repairs cracks, He might throw one as far as the east is from the west, and He might want us to hold another one close, to be used in our own ministry to others.

What I’m saying, in a sort of unclear way, is that I have had a hard few years. I have experienced a certain kind of trauma – religious/spiritual trauma (that may or may not make sense to some of you, and at some point I might take a deeper dive into it, but for now I’ll just leave it at that). There are major relationship struggles. There are things from my childhood which I thought were not a big deal, which actually affected the trajectory of my life and my ability to trust people. I have concerns about a couple of our kids and am trying to understand their individual needs and how to meet those needs.

Basically, everything feels really heavy.

Sometimes I feel guilty for my inability to put on a front or say all the right Jesus-y things. My programming tells me I should be doing better by now. I should be looking better. Chin up! You’re making the Gospel of Jesus look bad!

But, what is the Gospel of Jesus? Did He come to make me less bad? Did He come to make me a better faker? To give me a new false self? What is the good news?

The good news is that Jesus has come. God revealed Himself to us in the flesh. We saw what He is like. There is a new kingdom available, here, now. He didn’t just die so we could go to heaven. He came to be with us. We still need Him to be with us, even though His work is done. (This paragraph isn’t meant to be a complete dissertation on the Gospel. Thank you in advance for understanding.)

This ain’t heaven, y’all. This is what I like to call, “the Crapside of Eternity” (consider that phrase copyrighted, because I have plans for it ;). Kind of irreverent, but it’s true. Crap still happens here. And God is still good. There’s more than one kingdom at work in this vast universe. There’s the kingdom of God, and then there’s everything else – the darkness we all are very aware exists. They sit right alongside each other.

He didn’t fix every broken thing. Christians are all just a bunch of people in the process of becoming more like Him. We aren’t there yet. And, Jesus told us – we will suffer. That is part of what it is to become like Him. It’s part of the process.

So, in my process of suffering, I could waste time feeling guilty for being apathetic (which I have). For feeling numb. For wanting to quit everything, and run away, sometimes. For wanting to hide.

I can keep wondering why it won’t go away, even though I’m doing all the right things.

Or I can ask Him to be with me in it. I can trust Him to be a safe place to go. I can relax and take my time, and surrender to the process, because something is being worked out in me. I can trust God’s timing.

I can remember that He has experienced what I experience. I can trust that He is not mad at me, but wanting to walk me through to the other side of it. I can believe He will use this in a unique way in my ministry to other people. I can believe He is forming me.

There are very few quick fixes in this life. We have go through things to get through them. There is no shortcut.

I am incredibly uncomfortable in this place. It isn’t fun, and sometimes I feel less-than because I’m here. And, also, it won’t last forever. I believe that.

I share all of this because I know I’m not the only one.

If you find yourself in a similar place, or in depression, or anxiety, or whatever, don’t be a hero. Find the support you need. Pray, listen to music, go for a walk, sit in the sunshine, talk to friends, find a counselor, and yes, you might need support, for a time, from medication. There is no shame in that. I don’t care what anybody says.

Just don’t give up. Do what is necessary. Take care of yourself. You’re the only one who can make decisions for you.

And, remember, God is good and He is with us in every circumstance.

It must die to flourish

I came into 2018 all big and bad, full of hope and excitement, with the word flourish as my guide. With a word like that, which means, to bloom, blossom, grow, or thrive, one might expect things to quickly start coming up roses.


That has not been the case. I’m only two months into the year and what I’m feeling would be better described as apathetic than excited, or motivated. I’m not doing all the things I hoped and believed I would.

Things feel more fragile and cracked and some days I don’t know what I know anymore. Something I’m learning though, is that when we feel God has given us a vision, it’s not always a straight line to get there. In fact, I think we could build a scriptural case to say that it almost never is.

Think of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David. They all had destinies but they also had a lot of trouble, and a lot of themselves, to work out. I don’t compare myself to the fathers of our faith, but I will say it makes me feel a little better about my own sometimes crooked, sometimes circuitous, path.

The hope that I will live a flourishing life is still with me.

There’s another thing I’m learning: sometimes things have to blow up before they get better. A thing might need to absolutely fall apart, right down to the foundation, so it can be built back up, strong and secure. A seed must fall to the ground and die for the life inside it to begin to grow.

Today I see hope like a nutrient inside that seed. We go around talking about hope, claiming we have it, but usually that’s on our good days. We quote selected Bible verses to others who need them, feeling like we have this hope thing under control.

The thing is we don’t know whether we really have hope until things get hard. When we need hope, is it still there? Do we trust God, really? I think there’s a grace that comes only when it’s needed. Jesus told us not to borrow tomorrow’s trouble. There’s enough for today, right? That’s a way of saying, you don’t have grace to bear what isn’t happening today. When the time comes, it will be there.

The seed has to go down to the dust for life to come forth. We may die a thousand little deaths during our lives because there is so much standing between us and the image of Christ which is being formed in us.

So, while I don’t have answers to all my questions, and some days I’m not sure I know which end is up, what does remain secure is my hope. My hope is the straight line in the midst of what looks like a child’s scribbles on paper.

I am moving toward a flourishing life. He will take me there. God is a good gardener, who prunes, cuts back, transplants, and knows what His plants need. He is cultivating beauty and fruitfulness where things have been barren; there’s a method to what feels like madness.

As He tosses another seed to the ground, and it lays dying, I remember: it must die to flourish. And hope will sustain it.

Out of this liquefied life…

A few days ago, I was listening to the Fun Therapy podcast, hosted by Mike Foster. Mike is a Christian therapist who interviews people about their lives and their stories, going into the deep places in their hearts. It’s not actually fun, by the way, in the traditional sense, so don’t picture an upbeat theme song or fast paced conversation.

In this episode he was talking to Annie F. Downs (author, speaker, and host of the That Sounds Fun podcast), making an analogy between us and caterpillars in the process of metamorphosis. In case you don’t know this, when a caterpillar goes inside its cocoon, it uses enzymes to digest itself, eventually becoming mostly liquefied. Some organs remain basically the same, some are restructured, and some, which had previously been dormant, are awakened for use (i.e., the imaginal discs which become wings).

If you’ve been a Christian for long, you’ve no doubt heard that the word for the transfiguration of Jesus, and for the transformation that happens to us, as followers of Jesus, shares it’s root with the word “metamorphosis.” For instance, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” We are changed/transformed/metamorphosed from one thing into another glorious thing.

My experience tells me that the liquefied caterpillar is the perfect analogy for what happens to us, as Christ followers, as we are changed “from glory to glory.” Step by step, we become something completely different.

As Mike went on, he said something like, “out of this liquefied life comes something beautiful.” It stopped me in my tracks when he said it. I’ve been feeling a little disintegrated myself, lately.

A writer named Joseph Campbell (who I’ve not read, beyond this quote) said this:

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” I have found this to be true and I have a feeling I’ve got more caves to explore.

In the cave of pain, the cocoon of transformation, lies our hope. We all have our ways of dealing with pain, with conflict, with shame. We mitigate it in whatever ways that were most natural to our personalities when we were children. Or we handled it in the ways our parents or adult leaders taught us: hide it, cover it, let it all out, become a doormat, pretend you’re fine, put on a mask, become a bully…whatever. It’s all a means to avoid feeling pain.

Numbness, anger, codependency – pick your poison. Because that’s what it is: poison to your soul, and to the life God has given you.

It’s only in the cocoon, where all the things we have used to survive on our own are dissolved into a useless sludge, that we begin to come alive as new creatures. All the bits and pieces we need are already there, lying dormant, because the spirit of God is in us.

The seeds of the life of Christ are there.

He has breathed His life into you. And because of that, and because he loves you, and because He loves the people around you, He will allow things to come which make you feel like you are dying. Like everything has fallen apart in an irreparable way.

All those tools that once worked for you, that got you through, are not needed anymore. They aren’t the best tools, or the best ways. And, let’s be honest, they didn’t really work before…they just carried you for a time, until He could get to you and begin your transformation.

Understand this: no matter what things look like, if you are a Christ follower, His spirit is in you, and you ARE a new creation, right now.

But you are in process. We are all in different places on this journey and we need to give each other grace to become. The more space we make for people who are in the cave, the faster their processes will go. And the sooner you stop trying to avoid your own pain, acting as though you’ve already arrived, the sooner you’ll actually be transformed into the image of Christ from the inside out.

Reserve judgment. Don’t rush others or yourself. Keep your ears open to what He is saying and He will teach you the way to go. Sometimes His instructions seem counter-intuitive, or counterproductive, and maybe the keepers of the Law in your life will try to tell you what THE RIGHT thing to do is. But the right thing to do is what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do. Even if it’s different than what might be the right thing for someone else in a similar situation.

Inside the cocoon, or the cave, whichever analogy you prefer, we are surrounded by something so healing and transformative, that it can’t not do it’s job: the unconditional love of God. There’s no pain, rejection, sin, or failure, we can’t face when it’s done in the knowledge that we are absolutely loved and forgiven, and will be loved to the end.

You’ve got beautiful wings waiting to emerge, friend, but they’ll only be seen after the process runs its course. Fear not. He is good. Stay in. Don’t run. You will make it. You will become. You are new.


That time a butterfly came and drank Earl Gray from the palm of my hand

One Word: Flourish

In his book, “Run With the Horses,” Eugene Peterson quotes a Czech philosopher and martyr named Vitezslav Gardavsky, who said that the most terrible threat against life is,

“that we might die earlier than we really do die, before death has become a natural necessity. The real horror lies in just such a premature death, a death after which we go on living for many years.”

Recently I had a moment of clarity. It was born out of a short conversation I had with someone who had no idea how his words were landing on my heart. I won’t get into the story he told, but I’ll tell you it ends with a person who made big plans and talked about desires, but never followed through with most of it. And, in truth, was never going to from the get go.

His words hit me like a freight train.

In that moment I thought, I do not want to be that person but I am dangerously close to becoming her. I don’t want to die one day having never tapped into my potential or discovered what God could have done in me and through me. One of my greatest fears is that I’ll leave this world and people will stand around my grave talking in hushed tones about what could have been:

“She could’ve been a great ______________, but she never even tried.”
“She always wanted to ______________, but she was too afraid.”
“God had given her something to say, but she never shared it.”
“She was so loved, but she never knew it.”
“She had so much potential.”

I know that’s kind of dramatic, but after listening to what this man had to say, I realized that I have been waiting on someone to give me permission to be me: to do things I love, to enjoy what I enjoy, to express myself in my own way, to approve, to set me free. I allow myself to be intimidated or let fear keep me from trying new things. In a sense I’m waiting on permission to fully exist.

Even the smallest thing can feel like a giant leap, sometimes.

I’ve allowed the acceptance or rejection of others to determine my capacity for growth and for pursuing God’s call in my life.

At a low point in Jeremiah’s life God asked him this question:

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5)

If you can’t muster the strength to carry on in a relatively safe place, how will you do when things really get hard? Or as Eugene Peterson put it,

“I called you to live at your best, to pursue righteousness, to sustain a drive toward excellence. It is easier, I know, to be neurotic. It is easier to be parasitic. It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average. Easier, but not better…not more significant…not more fulfilling. I called you to a life of purpose far beyond what you think yourself capable of living.”

Ouch, y’all. I felt that when I read it. I’ve often relaxed in the arms of The Average to avoid the pain of failure and rejection. When you frequently hear a little voice whispering, “Who do you think you are?” it’s tempting to hide.

During this moment of revelation, I made a deal with myself. A resolution, if you will. If I want to do something, or feel called to something, and I have the ability to do it, then I just need to do it. If I have a dream that can’t be fulfilled today, then I need to make a plan to get there. I need to be willing to take the first step. (Keep in mind this is about things that are within reason – it’s not about me just living my life and forget everybody else. Just to clarify.)

It means I’ve got furniture to build, canvases to paint, words to write, stories to tell, a faith to share, friends to make, places to go, and children to love, inspire and take on adventures. Today.

In short I’m called to FLOURISH.

That’s my word for 2018. Flourish.

Listen to the meanings and synonyms for flourish:

To develop rapidly and successfully; thrive; prosper; increase; multiply; bloom; blossom; make headway; improve; to go places; move forward in leaps and bounds.

I love the sound of that.

Honestly, I haven’t really flourished since…well…I can’t remember when. So, my goal for this year is to live life in a fuller way, to show up more, to create, and to be bold. I know it’s easier said than done, and it won’t happen without some help and a lot of perseverance, because, let’s be real – I’ve lived like this for a long time and change doesn’t come easy.

One thing I know is that the key to a flourishing life of any kind, whether plant, animal, or human, is the right environment. This isn’t a thing I’ll be doing on my own. It’s dependent upon my roots going deep in God and abiding with Christ (John 15) because apart from Him I can do nothing. His nearness is the right environment and in that place I can flourish, no matter what is going on around me.

The flourishing kind of life is also heavily dependent on connection with others. No form of life is capable of growing and thriving alone. We need people to spur us on to love and good works and to help carry our burdens (Hebrews 10:24, Galatians 6:2). Also, there is wisdom in the presence of many counselors (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 24:6).

Having friends who know me and see the real me has become so precious over the years. They speak life to me, encourage me, see my potential, point me to Jesus, and ask good questions. I hope you have that and if you don’t, begin praying for God to send those people your way. They’re out there.

The truth is that I may never get permission from all the people in my life to fully be myself, but I’ve got all the permission I need from God to use the gifts I have and to be brave. In fact I have more than permission, I have a responsibility. He created all of us to do the good works He has already prepared for us, so that we could walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

That’s it.

He prepares the work and we just start walking. (He makes it sound so easy, does He not?).

Jesus said He came to give us abundant life – life to the full – and I think He really meant it. My hope and prayer is that I would live this life to the full, to the glory of God, and that y’all would do the same.

No matter what word you choose for yourself this year, or if you choose one at all, may we all flourish and grow in 2018, and may none of us die that death “after which we go on living for many years.”

Let it be said of us that we lived to the full, right to the end.

When I Think about Mercy…

When I was little I was a Daddy’s girl. If I heard his keys jingle from across the house I bolted to see where we were going, because he wasn’t getting out without me. Poor man. Never a moment’s peace.

Occasionally, throughout my growing up years, just for no reason, he would tell me he was proud of me. I couldn’t understand that. I always wanted to know what I had done to deserve it. It wasn’t necessarily tied to my performance, he just said he was proud of me. I guess it was just because I was his.

I never wanted to lose that. I always wanted him to be proud of me.

In February of 1997, I was a 21 year old college student studying biology. At the time I was living what we think of as the stereotypical college student life, which consisted of parties, late nights, work, and some studying (but mostly the other stuff). I was not living the chaste life I always thought I would, having been raised in a Christian home.

I’m pretty sure it was Monday, February 3, when I went to see my doctor for a pregnancy test. The nurse asked me to have a seat in the waiting room while the test processed – she said it would be maybe 10 minutes. She was back in under two. I knew what that meant.

Because I’m terrible at hiding things, I knew I couldn’t see my parents again without telling them that I was going to have a baby. So, within 24 hours I went to see my mom at work and told her I was pregnant. She said, “Well, let’s go tell your dad.”

I was like, wait, no. What? Right now? Can’t you tell him? I didn’t want to see his face when he found out his little girl had been doing “big girl things.” I was terrified of disappointing him.

But Mom said, “Yep, right now. Let’s go.”

So, we did.

I sat beside him on the couch and hemmed and hawed and cried and fidgeted for what seemed like eternity. I kept saying I knew he would be disappointed. He just looked at me, with wet eyes.

Finally, I blurted out,

“I’ve got a bun in the oven!”

Classic. (I couldn’t bring myself to say the p-word, yet)

His response was beautiful and kind: his eyes brimmed over with tears and he said, “There’s nothing you can do to make me any less proud of you.” I thought I even saw a little smile cross his lips. I wondered if, despite the shock, he was already excited about the baby growing inside of me.

It was pure love and mercy to my needy heart. No matter what I had done, I was still his little girl. I felt fully accepted, fully loved, and secure.

I know that not all of us would have the same experience with our fathers, but for me it’s a picture I go back to often, when I think about the mercy of God.

When we go to Him in times of failure, we expect anger, but we receive kindness.

God is sometimes portrayed as an angry monster, who delights in punishing people for their mistakes, sins, or wickedness. Sometimes people seem giddy with expectation about the destruction of “the sinners,” however they define the term.

I have to wonder if they’ve paid much attention to the man who hung on the cross. Does he seem angry at people? Was he looking forward to punishing them sometime in the future? Even the ones who drove the nails into His wrists?

No. He came and said, essentially, do your worst to me. I’ll take it in order to demonstrate my love for you. I won’t fight back, I won’t resist. Though I am innocent, I’ll absorb the punishment due to the guilty. I’ll paint you a picture of God, because you have no idea who He is, or what He’s like, or how deep His love is for you.

And, this is the God you are to run to when you fail. When you’re needy. When you’re hurting. When you’ve done your worst. When you’ve walked away and don’t know how to get back.

His kindness will lead you to repent, to change, to go a new direction. His mercy will change your life. His love does not run out. He knows you are just dust and isn’t caught off guard when you mess up.

He knows He can make something beautiful out of our messes. He knows He can work all things for our good, when we let Him. He knows He can bring beauty from ashes and He gives us good gifts even when we don’t think we deserve it. He gave me a beautiful baby girl who changed my life and has taught me so much about love and kindness. She’s one of my best friends.

And that’s why He can smile a little smile when we choose to come to Him in times of trouble, rather than run away. He’s not a monster God, He’s a good father, full of mercy and compassion. He doesn’t turn anyone away who wants to be near Him. The choice is ours.

There’s nothing you can do to change that.

The Art of Restoration

Below is a screenshot of a quick Google search I just did. I couldn’t remember the name of the technique but I knew the Japanese had made an art of repairing broken things with gold.

Kintsugi recognizes the history of the object without disguising the ways and places it’s been broken.

Just stop and think about that a second.

The connection to our lives probably needs no explanation, but because I’m a woman with a lot of words, I’m going to do it, anyway.

A few years ago I was in a very broken place. As I sat in prayer I was apologizing to God for being such a screw up. I felt like everything was sliding through my fingers and I was a big mess.

Instantly, a picture formed in my mind. There was a work bench in a dimly lit room, and a kind-faced man was bent over a pile of broken pottery shards. He held a small dustpan and broom and was gently sweeping up the pieces.

He wasn’t angry or frustrated. Gentleness emanated from him and I knew he was going to take all those pieces, spread them out on his workbench, and put them back together.

The broken shards were me and the kind workman was God. My Father.

When our lives are broken He isn’t angry. When we are distraught over the messes we’ve made, or feel like we’ve made, He isn’t. If we let Him, he will take whatever bits we bring and lovingly put it all back together.

And he doesn’t hide his handiwork, he puts it on display.

We don’t have to hide it, either. It is what it is, but that’s not the end of it.

I love the idea of God filling the cracks with gold, highlighting what we’ve experienced – even the pain of the brokenness.

There’s no shame there.


When he puts us out there, he’s not looking for our perfection. His power is perfected in our weakness. He is most on display in us when our brokenness is evident, but so is our healing.

Never hide your story, your testimony, of the goodness of God. Don’t hide the brokenness that is yet to be touched. We all have it.

To me, it’s beautiful. I love to hear a good redemption story but I also love the gut cries of a contrite heart. And so does God.

A broken and contrite heart He will not despise.” Psalm 51

Don’t hide your history, or put on a disguise to cover yourself.

Let us see the beautiful way God has restored you and continues to do so.