Monthly Archives: June 2013

what good is it?

I went into a bit of a spiral recently, feeling very, very tired (which is always a trigger for me), giving voices of desperation and urgency unlimited airtime in my mind.

A panic was rising up inside me—a fear of always feeling tired and depleted, a sense of disorientation, and an unnecessary pressure to get some things “figured out.”

Some breathing room has arrived through the following reflections:

There are a lot of popular opinions out there about how we need to do our lives, sell our work, experience success. And there are a lot of people chasing those popular opinions — some for better, some for worse. But, as Jesus (and my friend Corrie) asked, “What good is it if we gain the whole world and lose our own souls?”

THIS IS THE QUESTION, DEAR Souldiers.

Are we allowing pursuits that were meant to bring us meaning become pursuits for our worth? Are we allowing conventional wisdom to bully us into thinking we have to do it like everyone else out there? Are we busy doing things we think we should be doing instead of busy doing things that we have been called and created to do?

I wonder if the problem isn’t so much that we’re busy . . . but that we’re busy doing things that don’t matter to us. We’re busy doing things that are actually stealing our souls instead of nurturing them.

If I am busy doing something I love—and I’m doing it as an offering instead of holding onto it like an idol—I don’t think it will sideline me. If your pursuit is your act of worship instead of the thing you worship, then I believe it will bring you life . . . not death.

But how many of us are feeling dead. Or, at least, numb, glassy-eyed, like my dear friend Edna Pontillier (from The Awakening) . . . floating out to sea on the waves of our wounding.

In our attempts to live full and meaningful lives, are we:

(1) chasing something we’re never going to catch?

(2) allowing the lives and opinions of others to dictate our decisions?

(3) overly fixated on trying to figure it all out instead of letting it unfold?

(4) acknowledging and actively accepting our own human limits?

(5) gaining the world but losing our own souls?

Here are some words I’m meditating on as I, for the one millionth time, begin again, re-trusting God with my path, re-trusting that he has a spacious place prepared for me that I’ve been invited to live in.

“True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction” (Psalm 23:3, The Message).

And these beautiful words from the Beatitudes: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (Matthew 5:8, The Message).

What good is it if you gain the whole world but you lose your own soul?

What does my soul need today? What does your soul need today?

God, we’re prone to panic. We’re prone to anxious fixating. We’re prone to strangling the neck of life. Help us catch our breath. Send us in the right direction. Help us get our inside world put right so that we have eyes to see you all around us, in and through it all. Show us how to live. Amen and amen.

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i am a SOULDIER

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Think of a person in your life who loves you, a person who believes in you and stands up for you and defends you (even when s/he has to defend you from yourself). A person who reminds you that you are DOING IT. A person who makes you feel beautiful when you thought you were merely the world’s biggest barnacle.

Think of that person. The person who tells you, “You know when you were cleaning poop out of the bathtub the other day? Yeah, I thought you had never looked sexier.”

(And if you don’t have a person like that, then I will be that person for you. Go back through this blog and read and you will see that I am here for you in that way — to tell you that you CAN do it, that you’re not failing even though you might be struggling, that you can be alive and awake in this world, that you are already worthy.)

OK, are you thinking of her? Are you thinking of him? Do you have that person in mind?

Here’s my challenge for all of us on this Monday:

How can we begin to see ourselves the same way that person sees us?

Let’s do something revolutionary together. Let’s decide to be SOULDIERS — radical defenders of our own soul.

What does it mean to you to “radically defend your own soul?” What does that look like in your life today?

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BIG NEWS!

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

In 2004, when I was living in the Middle East, just months after Steve and I were married, God opened a door for me. I was a 27-year-old newlywed, and I was on my ear a bit. Just not sure what was next, where I was headed, who I was becoming. We were returning to the States in a matter of weeks, and God opened the door—a tiny little miraculous crack—for me to become a writer.

Over the next few years, and until Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places released in 2009, that door creaked and squeaked open more and more. Little by little. Nothing was blown off the hinges. Nothing was thrown wide open. One miraculous inch at a time.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a second book. I’ve mentioned it here a time or two. Just working away. Honing ideas. Allowing our conversations to shape things. Revising. Rethinking. Rewriting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Well, the door that God is opening in my life has opened a bit further, and I have NEWS. After a long time and a lot of hard work (not to mention the tireless efforts of my amazing agent, Chris), my second book has found a publishing home!

I’m thrilled to be starting a relationship with the staff at Revell and feel very grateful that they believe in me and in this project.

The working title of the book is BREATHING ROOM. It is my personal manifesto on having the courage to be a companion to ourselves.

You know I’ve been writing about this very thing for the last few years—how we can become a friend to ourselves instead of an enemy, how we can create a culture of honor instead of hostility, how we can learn to believe in ourselves again (or maybe for the first time).

I am inspired by the truth of Psalm 18 – “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (NIV). I am experiencing a great work of transformation in my own life. FROM believing all the small-living lies TO allowing Christ to usher me out into the spacious place, the wide open field, the broad place, the expanse (as other translations refer to this place).

I long for the spacious place. I long to live from freedom. I have an inkling of a whisper of a flicker of a hunch that YOU are longing to find and live from this broad place, too. You are longing for some Christ-saturated breathing room.

I believe we can run and run and run in search of that breathing room. We can try to manufacture it, force it, strive for it, manipulate it, and create all kinds of false versions of it. AND IT WILL ALL CRUMBLE IN, leaving us gasping. And most of us, in our moments of struggle and desperation, will turn on ourselves.

But what if we could stop punishing ourselves, stop blaming, stop harassing, stop pinging . . . and ask God for the courage to offer ourselves the broad grace that he’s bathed us in. What then? Is it possible that only after we have found a home within ourselves can we become fully alive and awake in the world?

I believe you and I can live differently—not following the road map of “You have to” and “If you don’t” and “This is the only way.” I believe we can live from the broad place. I believe we can find breathing room.

Please continue with me on this journey!!! And if you know of others who need to hear this message, please invite them along, too!

I will spend the next handful of months writing, writing, writing. And then the book will release next year. Of course, I will keep you posted on all the details as they unfold.

AND, if there are particular conversations or ideas or moments that I’ve written about or talked about in the last few years that have REALLY resonated with you, please let me know so I can be sure those thoughts are included in the book.

I WANT YOU TO KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALONE. That’s why I write. That’s why I will keep writing. And I will trust that as God sees fit, he will continue to open doors in my life inch by magnificent inch.

AMEN.

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