my life in boxes (redux)

There has been one constant in my life for the last decade. From sunny Southern California to the rainy Pacific Northwest and back, one group of companions have gone through it all with me.


Lots and lots of boxes.

In the last ten years, I have moved over twenty times. I want to say that this last move might be lucky number twenty-three, though I could be off by one or two, give or take. I learned quickly that good moving boxes are hard to come by, and when I knew I would only be in a space for a limited time (whether it be a few months or a year), I would hang onto my boxes, breaking them down and keeping them in a safe, dry place. Sometimes I don’t even unpack fully. I have been surrounded by boxes, proof that my roots ran about as deep as a non-Chicago-style pizza.

People joke with me that I must be a professional at packing and moving now, and I have to confess that it is the complete opposite. Packing, moving, unpacking… the whole process traumatizes me and causes me to freeze in my tracks. I have gotten progressively (regressively?) worse at packing every time I have to do it. New boxes join old boxes, reminding me once again that it’s time to be transplanted.

It’s that dread that tells me how desperately I want to be rooted. I feel a sense of impending doom when it comes time to compartmentalize my life into cardboard cubes, closing off little pieces of who I am until time comes for them to make an appearance again. Yet, how long will they get to this time? After ten years of wandering, looking for a place to belong, I want to find it. And the frightening thing is, I still don’t feel like I have yet.

I was sitting in my living room a few weeks ago, taking a break from unpacking and ignoring the ever growing pile of empty boxes taking nest in the dining room. I stared at them for a while, knowing I should break them down and toss them, and knowing inevitably that I will. However, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but feel a little wasteful, and the thought, “what if I need them in the near future?” kept flashing through my brain. I knew I won’t, at least not for quite some time–plenty of which to reload with new boxes.

Boxes intimidate me, yet I cannot let them go. They were a sort of safety net for a while, but what I’m beginning to realize is that they are now a crutch. They tell me that I cannot go too deep in friendships because I will leave soon. They taunt me that have not found my place in the world and frighten me into believing that I may never find it.

How can I keep them if this is their message to me?

Yet, the obstacle between their demise and my freedom is all that they hold inside. I’d mentioned that unpacking had become traumatizing at some point in time, and it still is. It has been two months since I’ve moved, and I still have boxes in varying degrees of emptiness and fullness scattered all over the house. I even had a box that was lost for so long, I thought it’d vanished.

In the midst of all this stress and box hunting, I overlooked the most constant companion beyond these ten years.

Who else but God has carried me through all of these moves, made them possible to complete? Who else but God can empathize being on-the-move so much? In the Gospels, Jesus and his crew stayed with people as they traveled; sometimes they were invited, sometimes they had to ask for a roof for the night. Yet Jesus was so rooted in who He was and what He had come to do. He trusted that there would be food and lodging because He fully grasped what His purpose was. The rest of the details would fill themselves in because they are details in a plan for God’s glory. Because God’s ultimate goal is to glorify Himself, and because He has chosen to use us to get to that goal, He absolutely will take care of the details that will get us there.

I have allowed my many moves to affect several pockets of my life. I have doubted my purpose, I have doubted my usefulness, and I have doubted my Father. I have felt as though all I’d been put here to do is survive and exist, and I have nothing to contribute otherwise.

But I do have something to contribute. Why else would God have placed me on this earth with my specific struggles and pieced me together with all the conflicting identities that make up who I am? I have nearly stamped out my voice, burying it under ten years of cardboard. I have lost faith in who I am, but I am finding faith in who He is. Moving is traumatizing for me.; it exhausts every cell of my body, but moving cannot take my purpose from me. I have been transplanted more times than I can count, but thankfully, God is a wise Gardener that knows how to keep my roots alive to give them a chance to dig deeper.

To give them a chance to find home.

I can’t say that I’m going to be cured of my psychological attachment to cardboard any time soon; it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to cold-turkey this in the blink of an eye. But I’ll be doing my best and working on it. It will likely involve loud, angry music, a sci-fi show or a rerun of a hockey game playing in the background, and maybe a few friends, but it’ll happen some day.

I have to believe that God has more for me than boxes and shallow roots. There is such a great desire in the deepest part of me to belong, to do something meaningful and come back to more than just a place to lay my head.

And I hope some day soon, I really will lose my need of boxes. I hope to find the place where I will settle down and stay and root.

Until then, I’ve got some work to do.

the struggles of a female hockey fan

I am a female.

I love hockey.

“You must think the players are hot.”

I understand the game.

“That round thing is called a puck. They want to shoot it into the opponent’s net.”

My favorite player is __________.

“You think he’s cute, don’t you?”

When I defend said player.

“You need to get over your obsession with him.”

My least favorite player is __________.

“What’s the matter? Not good-looking enough for you?”

When I go to games.

“Are you bringing a huge ‘Marry me, ______’ sign with you, Miss Puck Bunny?”

When I attempt to have a civilized discussion/debate with other fans.

“Whoa. Calm down.”

When I disagree with other fans.

“Stop trying to pick fights with fellow fans.”

When I pull facts and stats to discuss my points.

“Sorry, I disagree with your opinion.”

When I give constructive criticism on my team (usually in aforementioned discussions).

“You don’t understand hockey and probably only watch during playoffs.”

When (in the rare occasion) someone appreciates what I say.

“Wow, I’ve never met a girl who knows hockey like you do.”

When I get a new jersey or shirt.

“They’re not meant to be fashion statements.”

When I correct someone on just about anything.

*stink eye*

I am a

I love hockey.

I understand the rules of the game.

I definitely get the basic concept of putting the puck in the net.

I also get that centers, wingers, defensemen, and goalies don’t all have the same role and responsibility.

I am, however, still sorting out my left wings versus my right wings.

I know there are different kinds of defensemen and different kinds of forwards and even different kinds of goalies depending on where and how they learned to play, as well as their preferred style.

I understand that when we win or lose a game, the glory or blame does not fall on just one player.

I understand that sometimes, the numbers don’t tell the whole truth (whether positively or negatively).

I don’t think the “ref, you suck” chant is okay by any means. I’d rather just cheer for my team instead.

I don’t believe in booing teams, especially our own.

I don’t believe in giving up on my team, no matter how much they may be struggling.

I don’t rub my team’s success in people’s faces because I know that failure is the other side of the same coin.

I do celebrate my team.

I mourn with them.

I don’t know all the personal histories of the players or their wives, girlfriends, dogs, cats, etc. They deserve some privacy, too, and the ensuing drama does not positively affect my fanship, so it is unimportant.

I don’t always even know where they’re from.

Or how tall they are.

Or how much they weigh.

But I know how to pronounce their names correctly.

And identify their position and titles.

Because I think that’s respectful and the least I could do.

I call out BS when I see it.

Especially from analysts and commentators (I’m looking at you, NBC Sports).

I have met several women who are more knowledgeable about the sport than me.

I don’t like the women’s cut of a jersey, so I will usually opt for a men’s. (Very fashionable indeed.)

Many shirts I like only come in men’s sizes, too.

I know icing isn’t just for cupcakes.

I understand what offsides is.

I know most of the referee hand motions for penalties.

I definitely enjoy a good fight.

But I especially hope to see a goalie fight live in my lifetime.

Or at least a Gordie Howe hat trick.

No, I don’t expect to marry a hockey player.

Though I’m not opposed to the idea either.

I stand by my team.

Because they’re my boys, and I’m their fan.

I am a female.

I just love hockey.

This is (obviously) quite different from what I usually write, but I wanted to explore femininity a little differently this time through the lens of something I enjoy. Hockey is traditionally considered to be a “masculine” sport, but it is something I am quite passionate and knowledgeable about. Many of these reactions I have received personally; some have been experienced by other female fans I’ve interacted with. My hope is that when you see the second half of this piece on what makes me a hockey fan, you would see that a woman can enjoy this sport just fine and does not deserve the prejudices and snap judgments that we often receive. This may not be every woman’s experience, but it is mine and some of my friends’.


love your neighbor

I think everyone has seen the new “edgy” Buzzfeed video called “I’m a Christian, But I’m Not.” It is definitely cringe status to say the least. There’s a lot to say about this, but I’m going to park it on the alienation bit for right now, and then I want to move into what “being a good neighbor” actually means.

When you define yourself by what you’re not, it doesn’t give us any insight on who you are. I don’t golf. Does this mean I play hockey instead? Or maybe baseball? Or soccer? I don’t like spiders. Do I like things with two fewer legs? Do I hate all bugs and creepy-crawlies? I don’t want to own a cat. Am I a dog person or a lizard person? Do I like birds instead? Maybe I want a dolphin. Or better yet, a panda. I’m not that organized at home. Does this mean my car, my office, my everything’s not organized? Does this mean my school notes were disorganized? Does it mean my thoughts are a mess?

What does it really tell you if all I told you were the things I’m not like or what I don’t like?

Really not much, as you can see.

What does Jesus say about what it means to follow Him?

To know that, you have to look in the Scriptures.

It demands our life, and it demands our comfort (or lack thereof). We like the “hippy Jesus” that tells us to accept people and be good neighbors (as one of the speakers in the video states is the “core” of Christianity), but let’s take a look at what that actually means.

In Luke 10:25-37, we have the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We have our cast: the wounded Jew on the side of the road, the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan man. Let’s take a look at the last three a little more closely.

Many priests at this time lived in Jericho and went on two week assignments to Jerusalem, which was about seventeen miles away. The road they traveled was a common one and was known to them. A priesthood is extremely exclusive; it stayed in the family. This priest was likely wealthy and riding on an animal.

What were the stipulations and requirements to be a priest? What was his duty according to Old Testament Law?

1) he was not allowed to approach or touch a dead body, lest he became defiled
2) had he approached the wounded man to discover he was dead, the priest would have had to return to Jerusalem to be ceremonially cleaned
3) he would not be able to use the offerings he received (usually of food; his family and servants would also not be allowed to use them)
4) if the wounded man died later, the priest would still be considered unclean
5) serving as priest while unclean was punishable by death
6) when upon a dead body, he would have to tear his robes, but he could not tear nice, ceremonial robes

The Levite was an assistant to the priest in the Temple. He likely just assisted this particular priest and was on his way home as well. Knowing that the priest just walked by, he could not challenge the decision made by the priest to pass the man, and so he would pass as well.

There’s a lot more than meets the eye, right? This isn’t in any way to excuse or pardon the fact that they were not neighborly, but we cannot deny the gray area in this situation. And isn’t the gray where most of life is lived? It’s not as pure as black and white.

Inserting a Samaritan into this story was a particularly radical move by Jesus. Samaritans are a mixed-race between the Jews of captivity and the Samaritan people of the land in which they were captive. The relationship between these two peoples were hostile as a result of their history with one another. The Mishna states, “He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine.” The Samaritan is not a Gentile but is bound by the same law as the Jews. The Samaritan would not be naturally from that area, so the half-dead man would certainly not qualify as his neighbor.

In that time, a tradition known as “blood revenge” was practiced. In it, a relative of the guilty party may be punished for his crime in his place. It did not have to be an immediate relative but could extend to the most distant branches of the family tree.

So let’s recap the sacrifices this man had to make in order to love a man who was not necessarily his neighbor:
1) he risked defilement
2) he poured oil and wine on the man’s wounds, sacrificing monetary and material resources
3) he paid for a place for the man to rest
4) he paid for the man’s treatment
5) there was no way of guaranteeing that money returned; he was not expecting repayment at all
6) he exposed himself to the innkeeper and made himself vulnerable to blood vengeance

Loving our neighbors requires sacrificing our comforts and possibly even our lives. It means more than just being tolerant. I would hate to just be tolerated by my neighbor. I would hate to just be tolerated by my friend.

What often keeps us from what’s best is what’s good.

Tolerance is “good.”

Acceptance is “good.”

Love is best.

Yes, Jesus preached love, but this love is dirty. It is demanding; it requires us to get in the middle of people’s messes and love them. It requires us to point out what is wrong but not stop there—we must replace it with what is right.

It required a sinless God to step down from His throne to become a Man, made of dirt and clay; and it required His blood to cover all of our sin.

So pointing out the hypocrisy of Christians has been done over and over by the national media. Do we as Christians really need to add to it? When the world sees us dividing against each other, would they really want to know the Jesus we both claim to serve and love?

As the author stated in the link I shared at the beginning of this entry, the video was a declaration of a Pharisee, praising God that he is not a sinner like the tax collector, who is quietly begging God for His mercy to be extended toward him (Luke 18:9-14).

We don’t like the Christianity that is being portrayed in the media. We don’t like the hatred that is preached by some who call themselves Christians.

So what are we going to do about it?

Are we going to shame those people into submission? Did Jesus ever do that?

The kind of love we need in order to heal each other doesn’t come from us. It can never come from us. Look how easily and willingly we can choose to tear each other down.

So no, the core of Christianity is not to be a good neighbor. Even if it were, by context, we are failing horribly at it. No, friends, the core of Christianity is Jesus.

If we are going to preach real, biblical love, this is it. It is gritty and it demands so much more than words and a video talking at people. Real, biblical love demands for us to destroy our pedestals and use those pieces to build homes. It demands for us to dig deep into our our poverty and feed someone else. It demands for us to love someone with a ferocity that destroys apathy and hatred in its wake.

Are we ready to do that?


“The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’”
(‭Exodus‬ ‭3‬:‭7-8‬a)

“I know your sorrows,” He says to me.

Yes, I know He does. He sees more loss in the span of a day than I probably will in a lifetime, yet His eyes are still so kind, not hardened by the grief of each day.

And despite that, my sadness still matters to Him.

It has been a year since I lost my friend. I didn’t make it in time to say goodbye. By the time I’d arrived, he’d already gone, the smile that I had come to anticipate from him nowhere to be found. The young man I met years ago, who was so vibrant, so full of life, so infectious, had gone home to be with his Father. I can only imagine how excited they were to see each other, to meet face-to-face. I wonder, did Ben tell Jesus He’s “tight,” or was he so awed to speechlessness that all he could do was stand and gaze upon His face?

He’d dedicated his life to loving his Father. This love allowed him to love his wife, their son, and every single person he’d come in contact with throughout his life. Here was a man who was so selfless, always willing to assist where he could, never asking for anything in return.

I honestly can’t recall our very first interaction. We were probably introduced amongst mingling at Intervarsity. But subsequently, we became good friends, shared our insecurities, discussed Scripture, and laughed a lot—usually over a meal.

Ben once asked me, with my past how it’s possible that I don’t hate God. I think I’d said something along the lines of not being able to—His grace is irresistible after all. I’d answered that I’d seen too much from God to forsake Him, that He’d redeemed too much for me to try to keep going alone.

I thought about that question that day, and I still think about it now. I’ve concluded this: how can I ever hate a God who could and would breathe such a wonderful person into life and allow me to meet and become friends with him? The creativity and love and joy that went into creating a man who possessed such creativity and love and joy must’ve been exponential.

There are not enough words to describe who this man was and why we all loved and still love him. There aren’t enough to describe the way he loved God and people. He was always prepared to “speak on it,” giving all glory to God always.

There’s a song that I’ve been listening to a lot lately called, “Carry Me Down,” by Demon Hunter. In it, there was one line that always made me think of Ben:

So if you see me losing sight of all the death in life
You’ll find the peace in every time I failed to see the death in mine

If ever lived a man who poured out all he had every day, it was this one.

I miss you, my friend. You will never be just a memory. Your life will continue in all the people you’ve touched. What a legacy you’ve left behind in 29 years full of life.

Happy one year anniversary in Heaven, brother. Miss you and love you loads.




you keep using that word

Words are powerful little creatures. They have the ability to lift up and tear down, encourage and demoralize. Humanity is fascinated by the strength of words. We seek to wield its potentials as a weapon, using it to cut our enemies down and defend our loved ones.

But sadly, we don’t often do the work required to wield them. We don’t train, we don’t listen to another’s words or what they mean. We throw around single retorts to end conversations. If someone doesn’t agree with you, s/he is an ignorant bigot. If someone is very passionate about faith or theology, s/he is a dogmatic fundamentalist. If the same someone speaks up about it, s/he is intolerant and needs to learn how to coexist.

Someone with the figure of a model is called beautiful, whereas someone with a full-figure is called overweight. Students who are more partial to math and science are called intelligent, while those who are more partial to arts than logic are not given such high a praise. Asians are nerdy, non-Asians are something else.

Can you see the problem?

We decide a word needs to fit another word, and when it doesn’t, then we use a third word to judge it.

One of the biggest words against me is how unfeminine I am. That’s the word I’m going to focus on for this entry.

I’ve been called “kind of like a dude,” a “guy with boobs,” a lesbian, among many other things. I’ve been asked if there’s anything about me that’s actually girly, if I’d ever considered wearing more makeup and dresses, and a whole slew of the same such questions. I am a word that doesn’t fit a word that people have decided I should fit, and as a result, the aforementioned words are used in a desperate attempt to define me.

What does it even mean to be “feminine”?

When we take traits and interests and apply them to gender, this is where we get into stereotyping people into this one area, and this is where people who don’t fit such a stereotype become confused, upset, or depressed as a result. Who died and made the rule that boys like blue, and girls like pink? Who decided that boys can love Batman, and girls get left with Barbie? Why do guys get action movies while gals get romantic comedies?

This is where the judgment sets in: I hate pink, I love Batman (I just purchased an adult onesie for crying out loud), and my idea of a romantic comedy is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.


I’ve been slowly going through this book for a while. She describes dominant masculinity very well, and it’s her James Bond example that I used in this entry.

Hollywood has a type of masculinity that it calls “dominant.” This is your misogynistic James Bond-type character, but he has to rely on other masculinities in order to exist and be elevated. We, as a society, buy into this dominant masculinity, and, as a result, we allow it to define what masculinity and femininity mean. Guys have to be suave yet totally tough and rebellious (and a bit of a jerk), and ladies have to be Bond girls—size 0-2 (but curvy), sexy (like, objectified-sexy), and flawless (and often need to be rescued by the former).

Why do we allow ourselves to be put into boxes? Why do we tell the six-year-old girl that she can’t like Batman or the color blue because she’s a girl? Why do we shame the six-year-old boy if he doesn’t like Batman or the color blue because he’s a boy? What exactly are we telling them when we treat them like they’re doing something wrong by enjoying things that they aren’t “supposed” to like because of their gender? What will the repercussions be?

I had a conversation about these two words with a college roommate several years ago, and this is how she defined masculinity and femininity:

“Masculinity, as it should be, like femininity, is having confidence and strength in one’s own skin—gender and sex and whatever essence the individual has claimed for himself or herself—while remaining respectful for self and others.”

She says there is room for this quote to grown and change. I think we just have to let it.

When I was first trying to figure out what “femininity” meant, I did what lots of people do: I read a book. It was a book called Captivating, which boasts of exploring what biblical femininity looked like. And I spent most of my time yelling at the book in the margins: about its theology, about its use of verses out of context, about reading into verses what they were not saying, and mostly about the fact that all of the females they used as examples were characters in movies (I mean, I would love to have been an elf in Middle Earth, I guess, but I’m not, so…). I also talked with girls who seemed to have this femininity thing down pat. But every time, I ended up getting dressed up, and I kinda hated it. I think the third word for me there was “conform.”

These days, I’m taking my friend’s advice and claiming the term for myself. I am a feminine female in my own right as well as a masculine female. I possess an undefinable, unboxable feminine masculinity and masculine femininity. I am in the cluster of “other masculinities” that dominant masculinity needs to reduce in order to build itself up. And I love it here, but I won’t be reduced for it. I don’t have to become someone I’m not in order to be me. I’m already me! I like what I want! And I won’t let anyone try to package me up with nice, shiny wrapping paper, crisply folded and taped where things need to be wrapped and hidden away, and then finish me off with a bright pink bow.

The most harmful things in this world are words and the people who use them without thinking of what they actually mean. We decide girls should play with dolls, and boys should play with superheroes. We decide girls should be nurses, and boys should be doctors. This makes it very confusing for adults, let alone children.

So what does it look like to be biblically masculine and feminine? It will probably take a lifetime to unravel just a fraction of what it means. But one thing I believe it means is that our masculinity and our femininity work together in the Body for the glory of God. We don’t reduce one to raise the other. Both are necessary to work in the Kingdom.

Carry your uniqueness proudly, and take words with a grain of salt or learn how to put some on as armor. But don’t be the person that cuts people down with it. Words can just as readily bring peace as well as war.

How will you use your words?

your Savior has come

I was looking through some prayers and messages I’d written down in my notebook in the course of the last year or so, and I came across this that I honestly don’t even remember writing down. But it was the word that I received from God at the time, and it’s an encouraging one:

Your Savior has come. I am right here with you. You are My child. I see where you’re prone to stumble. Trust Me during those times. Fall into Me when you fall. Make Me where you turn, not yourself, not your old habits, not what you’re used to protecting yourself with, not what you think you deserve. I will protect you. I will catch you when you fall over, and I will heal your wounds. Your Savior has come, Daughter; I am here. I came for you, and you have Me.

“Liar” is not your identity. “Prideful” is not your identity. I wash these names that you have seared into your heart. I remove the scars you’ve inflicted upon yourself on account of those names. Trust Me from now on. These “identities” are no longer there to “save” you. Only I am here to do so. They will trap you and ensnare you if you give them the chance. I will release you. I will set you free.

Fall into Me. Let Me be your identity. Don’t try to live up to what you think I want. I want you. As you are. Let Me make you what I want you to become for My glory. I know you, and I still want you, I can still use you, and I will still use you. I finish what I begin.

Don’t ever lose sight of that.

up to the highest height

Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring

On my way home yesterday, I drove past a man on the bridge. He was likely homeless, the childless jogging stroller carrying all of his material possessions. It was a brief glance, but what I saw in him was something I’d not had myself in quite some time.


The man was flying a kite. At this point in the seasons, California is not exactly known for having breezes. There was a slight one, but certainly not such that would pick up a kite and fly it high. The amount of room he had on a sidewalk with a divider certainly added amongst the challenges against him.

Yet this man stayed on the bridge and moved and positioned himself as he was able in order to send it soaring as high as he could with what wind he had been given. I couldn’t see his face, but I would imagine a mix of joy, frustration, excitement, and resolve. The wind current and the weather worked against this man, but he flew his kite.

My passion for writing had somehow diminished in recent months. As it stands, I’d lost sight of the goodness of God and believed I had to take on the challenges of the world on my own. I put my kite down and went to work and came home and survived to do it again the next day. Whenever I thought about picking up a pen, I just as quickly pushed the thought away, feeling as though I had deserted my passion and, therefore, had no right to take it back up.

Challenges had begun to arise, revealing survival to be as hollow and unsustainable as was meant to be. I was put on this earth for more than what I’ve been doing. I am most alive when I am following my passion, and I do not have a passion for surviving. It is time to pick up the pen and move forward, adjusting with what I’d been given to work with and pursuing my dream as rigorously as this man pursued his delight.

I don’t know how long the man stayed there or how long he had been there before I’d spotted him, but I would imagine he’d lost track of time, possibly recalling a moment when life was simpler, and he was just a boy with his kite.

And isn’t this the best way to lose the time: doing what you love, what makes your soul soar, and your heart thrive?

Just a girl.

With her pen.

Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!


Dear Family,

What does this word actually mean for you? You toss that word around when it’s convenient for you, and when it’s not, you hoard it to yourselves and keep it exclusively. When has that word ever been used to describe us?

Yet you asked me this week—no, you shamed me—in order to convince me you’re my family. You tell me that you can’t believe I would trust an outsider over my own family. It’s not the first you’ve shamed me with this either.

But let me ask you something.

Where were you?

Where was my family when I had to put a restraining order on one of our members? You were on the side of my abuser. Where was my family when I longed to belong to it? You were abusing me and shunning me from your presence. Where was my family when the inheritance I received from my grandmother disappeared and the account closed? You were the ones closing it. Where was my family when I was suicidal in high school because of the abuse? You were oblivious to your role in my suffering, and you could not be found.

How do you ever expect me to trust you? How could you ever ask that of me?

I have not allowed you to define this word for me for quite some time now. The word “family” does not belong to you.

It belongs to the Person who guided me out of suicide. It belongs to the Person who redeemed my greatest abuse to lead me to my greatest salvation. It belongs to His children, who have walked beside me and carried me these past fourteen years when you were nowhere to be found.

“Family” does not end with blood.

Blood may be thicker than water, but grace runs deeper than blood.

You made me feel that I needed to earn a place in this family. Was being my mother’s child truly not enough? Yet in this grace community, there is no such thing as earning a place in the family. We are family because of Him.

This word is still being redeemed for me, but here and now, I claim it as my own. It is not a word for you to throw at me to acknowledge your authority. This word will not be reduced to something so petty.

This word means hope. It means acceptance. It means love—love unconditional, love to the point of sacrifice, love for life.

This word is too precious to me now. You cannot define it for me any longer because I know what it is now.

My Father told me. He showed me with His loyal love.

I have a new family now. Maybe you can join it some day. But you’ll have to understand, it’s on His terms, earned by His death.

I hope you can give up your small definition for His great plan.

Do you wish to get well?

Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to get well. The man made lots of excuses in his response: no one would help him; people keep getting in front of him (John 5:1-17).

Jesus asked a simple “yes or no” question. And I think the message underlying it is, “Say ‘yes,’ and I’ll make you well.” He was there. He was ready. Like in Isaiah 65, God made Himself available. He made Himself ready to answer when His people cried out to Him for help.

But no one did.

Not the Israelites. Not this man.

Not me.

Sometimes we convince ourselves we’re too dirty for God to want anything to do with us. It’s easier to believe God doesn’t care than to ask Him for help. Why is that?

“I’ve screwed up too many times.”
“God has better things to do than care about me.”
“I need to atone for this myself before I can be ‘clean enough’ to see God.”
“God bailed me out of this exact same thing last week; His patience has to be wearing thin.”
“I’m afraid to face the people I’ve hurt.”
“I’m afraid to face the people who hurt me.”

We make so many excuses, but are they actually valid?

How can they be if they are keeping us from God?

We hold onto everything: our excuses, the reasons we think we’re “doing God a favor” by keeping away from Him; and they are poisoning us slowly.

It’s time to let them go. As the chorus from “Yesterday is Over” goes, you have to “open up your hand.”

And let go of what’s behind you
The past can’t hurt you anymore
Or keep you on the ground
Will you let this be the moment
That you let go of yourself?
Let His love hold onto you
And He won’t let go

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me” — so let us ask for Him.

“I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me” — so let us seek Him.

“I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation which did not call My name” — so let us call His name.

(Isaiah 65:1)

“I called, but you did not answer” — let us answer.

“I spoke, but you did not hear” — let us hear.

(Isaiah 65:12)

And be healed.

“Do you wish to get well?”

Yes, I do.

Good job, baby

Good job, baby! Good job! Daddy’s so proud of you! Good job!

I decided extremely last minute that I would go to City Rock Fest this last Friday. It had been several months since I’d seen Disciple live, and I didn’t know when the next opportunity would be.

This small decision healed my heart in a way that I didn’t expect to ever experience on this side of eternity.

When Kevin shared a story about teaching his daughter how to walk, a door in my heart that had been swollen shut from the ache I felt beyond it had managed to crack open. This story let me see what a father should be like, what it’s like to be loved like a daughter. As she learned to walk, she fell often and sometimes with great harm to herself. And with patience and joy, he would pick her up, place her feet on his, and show her how to use her little legs. She would still fall; he would still pick her up and teach her again, never tiring of doing so.

Then one day, she propped herself on here feet and walked, and he applauded her and rejoiced with her. “Good job, baby! Good job! Daddy’s so proud!”

This is how God teaches us to walk. He picks us up and walks with us, showing us how to do the same. This is how we learn to give up our sin and choose Him—because He had been tempted in every way but remained blameless.

In Isaiah 65, God talks of allowing Himself to be found, to be sought after, of having His arms open and ready.

And no one looked for Him. No one received Him. No one asked for His help.

But when we do seek Him, He still allows Himself to be found (Jeremiah 29:14). When we ask for His help, His arms are still open, and He is still ready. He picks us up, comforts us, puts us on His feet, and teaches us to walk all over again.

And the day we prop ourselves on our feet, the day we take one step… and another… and another…

Good job, baby! Daddy’s so proud!

The day I take my first step away from my addiction.

Good job, baby!

The day I decide that sin will not ensnare me any longer.

Good job, baby!

The day I stop shaming myself but accept His redemption.

Good job, baby!

The day I stop atoning for all He’s already atoned for.

Good job, baby!

The day I choose Him above all else.

Good job, baby! Good job.

Daddy is so proud.

This is the relationship I’ve been missing my entire life. This is what a father looks like. This is how a daughter can be a daughter to her Father.

I have lost sight of what it means to call you “Papa.” After last night, I wonder if I ever actually knew.

But I’m thankful that with you, it’s never too late.

You are my Papa.

I am well loved by You.

Good job, baby.

2/20/15 Disciple