Wednesday, September 2, 2015


"This is the kingdom, to see like a child, to live loved with my siblings, to work and to dance and to be filled up like a hollow, howl of laughter, fruit of joy." Wild in the Hallow, Amber C Haines

It has been the best summer of my life. 
There have been adventures and road trips and giant waterfalls.
Glasses of wine sipped with dear friends and the giggles that follow.
Sunburns in all their painful glory and splinters from running on boat docks barefoot.
I have played with kiddos in sprinklers and chased them through fountains.
Waves of fireflies covered moonlit fields as I sat with Jesus.
Waves of ocean water washed over my feet as I walked along the sand with my little brother.
I sang "Oh How He Loves Us" with new friends over high school kids as they wrestled with the Lord.
I sat on a wooden bench on a hill at Windy Gap with one of my best people and cried over the fear and the goodness of the truth that we are fully loved and fully known.
I tried new restaurants with my older brother and we shared desserts that tasted like Heaven.
I have watched the sunset over a lake and a river and the ocean.
There has been mountain biking, and go kart racing, and jeep riding.
Pools and beer and swan floats.
Darts and cornhole and Catan.
Weddings and fairs and drive-in movies.
A lot of iced coffee and a lot of ice cream.
It has been full to the brim with love and life and wonder. 
And every magical moment has felt like, what one of my heroes likes to call it, "colliding with the holy." This summer has made me feel new all over again and reminded me that Jesus is ALIVE. That He is here with us and is constantly inviting us to dance.
The summer is just a season and I know good and well that I won't stay on this mountaintop forever, but I hope and pray that I don't forget the magic. That when the winter comes and life feels heavier and colder that I would remember the lights and the love and the fireflies.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Oh, how He loves us so....

Last night I took a long drive down a country road that I know well. The road leads to "my spot"...a gravel turnaround surrounded by open fields that is far enough from the city to see the stars. Technically "my spot" is the entrance to someone's private property, but the property is currently for sale so that means I'm not really intruding, right?

I rolled down all my windows to soak up the air, thick with summer, and blared the new Chris Stapleton album through my speakers as loud as it could go. The soulful country tunes seemed to be the perfect soundtrack to my drive. I let my foot lay heavier than on the gas pedal than it should (don’t tell my mom) and turned my steering wheel back and forth as I weaved down the windy road. Freedom.

I pulled into "my spot" and turned off my car. My heart bubbled with adrenaline for a second when I thought about being out in the middle of nowhere by myself, but the symphony of crickets quickly drowned out my thoughts and filled me with peace. I climbed up on the hood of my car and starred out over the fields. I knew it was firefly season, but still somehow seeing a sea of them lighting up never ceases to amaze me.

I looked up into the sky at the stars that seemed to be shining brighter than I had seen them in a while…and then it hit me. This is my God. This is my crazy extravagant God. This is the Love that knows no ends. Love that would create a tiny little bug with a tail that lights up every few seconds and sprinkle thousands of them out over open fields in the summer to make a magical light show...all for me. Love that would place these unimaginably large balls of fire in the sky and make them twinkle like diamonds, all whispering “you are my bride.” Love that created crickets to sing songs of praise. Love that wraps me in warm air so that I would know a true embrace. My God is Love. And My God is extravagant and powerful and magical and he has been wooing me with fireflies and music and summer and backroads. And my God does it all because he loves me and he wants me to know how much. All because I am his.

So, my friends, here is to a summer of magic and extravagance and learning just how loved I am by my Papa. Praying the same for you.
How he loves us so...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Luke 7:36-50 (my version)

It's getting late, almost time for work.
I slip on my prettiest dress. The Pharisees are having a dinner party tonight which means faithful customers and good money for me. I sit in front of my vanity and brush my long blonde locks, humming as I try to drown out the sounds of my "co-worker" in the room next to me with a man that apparently likes it rough. I'm so used to the sounds. To the flirting. To the drunken men stumbling their ways into the bedrooms. To the banging up against the walls. The abuse and occasional screams. The sound of coins being exchanged afterwards. This has been my home for a long time now. I used to think it would always be my home, but ever since I saw that Man...things are...different....
Ha. Who am I kidding. 
I lock eyes with myself in the mirror...something feels off tonight. Oh, how tired I look. My once alive blue eyes are now a dull lifeless grey. My cheeks have little fullness left to brush makeup over, but still I make an effort hoping that the money will be worth the time spent on getting ready. I grab my bottle of perfume, the one my parents gave me as a little girl for my husband on my wedding night. When I first started in this business I tried to used the perfume sparingly in hopes of handing over this precious gift to a man whom I love, but now I use little because it is the only thing left I have of my life before this darkness. The only remembrance I have of family and sweetness and what a real home was like. Usually, I hate the smell of it for the painful reminder that it is and the memories the fragrance brings to my mind, but not tonight. Tonight I breathe in and something different fills my soul...maybe longing...or even hope? 
My eyes meet the eyes of this lifeless woman once again in the mirror. I let my mind wander into pity, something that has been happening frequently ever since I saw that Man on the street. I don't want to go out tonight. Though the money is high, something deep within me longs to stay in bed and dream of being held in a warm embrace. Self-pity quickly turns into shame and guilt and anger deep within me for the life I live...the life I have chosen. But I close this dam of my heart quickly before I drown in the mess of it all. I force myself to get up, remembering the truth of who I am and what I do. Oh how deeply I long for a different truth, but it doesn't matter, because this is who I will always be...right? I breathe in again and let the scent of my perfume fill my lungs for one more moment of dreaming and longing, then I smother the glimmer of hope by walking out the door. 
I make my way through the dark streets to the house of the Pharisee, Simon. My steps are quick along the way to avoid the slander and comments from the people in the town. I pretend that they can't see me and sometimes they do the same, but there is the occasional man or woman that sees my face and yells out "whore" or other words, words that seem to have become my name. Thankfully, I make it to the house unnoticed as the men start to gather. 
The air is cool but not cold like it has been the past few weeks. Spring is just around the corner. I place myself subtly by the door to let the men know that I am there and will be after their feast. The real business won't start until after dinner, until after they have had their wine. A few of these "religious" men see me as they walk past into the house. Though many have laid in my bed before, they try not to make eye contact with me. Cowards. Something about tonight makes me loathe them. 
And then, I see Him, the man from the street. The man who travels with the crowds following him. The one everyone talks about who performs miracles and heals people. Who eats with tax collectors, and sick people, and...prostitutes. 
I begin to panic. I don't want Him to see me, but all the same I want to throw my arms around His neck. My fear wins and I hide my face hoping He won't notice me. I wonder if He knows who I am or what I do? I slip around the other side of the house and run home as fast as I can, barely breathing. I burst through the door and collapse in the chair at my vanity trying to catch my breath, but can't seem to. Something about this man...I must see him again! Will He have me? No, there is no way a man like that would even be near me. But I must see Him! I meet eyes with the woman in the mirror again, and suddenly the dam opens, the one I have had tried to keep shut for so long. All my emotions burst fourth at once. I can't stop the memories from flooding my brain. Every mistake, every sin, every cruel word, every painful experience, every night spent used but still left alone. They come spilling out like a landslide. The tears won't stop. As I try to catch my breath, I my nose fills with the fragrance of my precious perfume...
Before I even know what I'm doing or where I'm running to, I find myself back at the Pharisee's house with my perfume in hand. I don't know what is happening but I do know the water pouring out of the dam of my heart isn't anywhere near stopping. I must get to Him. 
I burst through the door and quickly find the One I'm looking for in the back of the room at the table. I run to Him and throw myself at His feet. Something about His presence makes me weep even harder and I find my tears are washing over His toes. Everyone is watching, they have to be. They are all probably wondering what the hell I am doing here, a woman like me in the house of a Pharisee, barging in uninvited. But I don't care. All I care about is this Man. I realized that His feet are now in a pool of my tears. I grab my hair and being to wipe up the mess I have made. I kiss and I kiss and I kiss His feet because I don't know how else to show Him that I love Him. Oh how freely I have given away empty kisses before this moment. But these kisses are different. They are all I have to give him. These kisses and these tears. And then I remember my perfume. I grab it and before even realizing what I'm doing the whole bottle is poured out over Him. And I find that all I am and all I have is there... at His feet...pouring out. 
He talks with the Pharisee who owns the house, but my cries and my weeping and my kissing are so loud within me that I can't pay attention to their words to each other. 
But then, this man, Jesus, gently lifts my face from the ground to His face. My tear filled, blood shot eyes meet His loving gaze. He pulls me in close and whispers with the sweetest voice I have ever heard "Your sins are forgiven, beloved. Your faith has saved you; go in peace." And I dance in the home of His heart and His grace for the rest of forever in the truth of His great love for me. 
Thank you, O sweet Savior King, THANK YOU.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Repent and Return

"Yet, even now, REPENT and RETURN to me with all your heart..."-Joel 2:13


I feel like I'm in a dream as I lay on this sturdy rock and let the sunshine wrap its light and warmth around my body. The water runs clearer than I have ever seen it through these mountains today, begging me to taste its pureness. Above me, the clouds play a game with the sun by trying to hide it with their thickness. Of course not even the biggest one can mask the rays, but still they play. The bare branches of the trees wrestle in hopes of Spring; of being full with leaves and life. The grass dances with the wind, longing for their flower friends to start blooming. There is no one in sight, just You and me here resting in the beauty of this day You have created.
I have no agenda. No one else to worry about today. No appointments to make or things to get done. I write that more as a reminder to myself than a statement. How easy it is, even as I sit here in the stillness of this beautiful day, to rush "to do" instead of just being. But still the water flows with a whipser that says "Be still, my Beloved."
I have spent the last few days, the first days of this Lenten season, reading Joel 2:13 and wondering where and how to go about the "repenting and returning" to You, my Lord. What to get rid of? What to add? Where have I gotten away from you and how do I get back? You have already taken me to some dark places in my soul that scream of ungodliness and self-centeredness. I feel like most of my time spent with you recently has been much of "repenting" but not so much of "returning." How, Lord, do I return to You when I have gotten so far away? When I have screwed up so much and tried so hard to be my own god? But here in the midst of sunbathing and escaping and reading and resting, it seems to be happening without me even realizing it. I smile and laugh at myself a little for thinking that You would have this "returning" be anything else but getting lost in you.  What great JOY is found in your amazing grace and never ending love! Tears pour out of my eyes, reminding me of the blood that was poured that allows me to sit here on this Rock, on Your lap, in the first place. O Chirst, my Savior King, I adore you! My heart leaps at the thought of Your mercy! I am the "one whom Jesus LOVES," and how deeply that rings true in my soul today. Lord, may I, even now after all I have done against you and all I have failed to do for you, RETURN to Your loving arms and rest in the grace that washes me as clear as this water. Abba, you amaze me with your love for me! May today and everyday for the rest of eternity be about following you and loving you back. I throw myself in your merciful embrace... Amen."
[journal entry from 2/15/2013, a day spent at Greenbriar Park in Gatlinburg, TN]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Orphan Girl at the Graveyard

"Orphan Girl at the Graveyard"-Eugene Delacroix
"Delacroix is an extremely active artist. When he paint Orphan Girl in the Graveyard, she is not a tearful or passive orphan, but a vibrant young beauty, avid for life, alarmed and alerted by the nearness of death, but slack-mouthed and bare-shouldered as she looks away from the graves toward rescue. HEr eyeballs have the gleam of a frightened horse, but the tenseness of her neck muscles is completely healthy. She is not a victim, despite her label."

I wrote this in my journal this week and wanted to share it:

      Buddy Odom shared this painting and it’s description with me in the earlier days of Advent but she has follow me through the season faithfully. The girl is in a graveyard; a place of death and darkness, of hard memories and a lot of pain. She is alone, not only in the painting but in life. The girl is an orphan; no family, no place to call home. I imagine she is there, crouching down over her parents graves like she has done for days..months..maybe even years feeling the same ache in the depths of her heart that reminds her of a world that is not the way it is meant to be. Her eyes fill with tears for longing...groaning to be made whole again. To be called “daughter” and “loved.” Oh, how I long to meet her. We would have so much to talk about, so much in common. I know how she feels. I know her pain and her hurt and her brokenness. I know the longing for home that goes so deep in your bones that it makes you feel like you weigh a hundred extra pounds. When I first heard the name of this painting, I immediately started weeping because that is exactly how the past few months have left me feeling... Like an “Orphan at the Graveyard.” My heart longs for healing. My soul longs for comfort. I have felt the desperation for Christmas this year more than ever. 
But as the Orphan’s eyes fill with tears, something grabs her attention. Her eyes are full of fear and awe.  She looks up. She lifts her eyes from the hopelessness of the graves towards the “rescue.” It looks, to me, as if she is about to spring up from the ground and sprint towards whatever her gaze is lock on! Whatever it is that lights up her face, she wants, she needs. Oh, sweet Jesus I need you! I need your rescue. You have not left me in a cemetery to weep alone, you have not abandoned me. But you COME, O SAVIOR, you COME! You have come for me! I want to run to you, my Lord. I want to run as fast as I can out of this graveyard and into your embrace that is HOME. I want to hear your tender voice whisper “I love you and I am HERE.” Even as I write this, my heart leaps in excitement! I am not a victim, but a DAUGHTER. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

this Christmas.

"The only worry children have about Christmas is whether or not they can possibly wait for it to arrive.  Perhaps this is because only kids seem to understand the secret of Christmas: It isn’t really about giving; it is about receiving.
     According to the Gospels, the only person giving at Christmas is God. Everyone else is simply receiving this silent, holy miracle that breaks into the night.  Much later a few wise men show up with gifts, but their giving is only as an act of worship in response to what God has given us.
     Christmas is a poignant illustration of a dynamic we live with every day of our lives: we spend most of our lives trying to make things happen for ourselves and for the people we love.  But life is not reduced to what you give or know or achieve.  Nor is it reduced to your mistakes, your failures, or your sin.  Life isn’t even defined by whom you love.  Rather, it is defined by the God who loves you. In other words, you are not he central character—not even of your own life’s story.  This is not meant to demean you; it is meant to set you free."
 (Sacred Thirst by M. Craig Barnes)

Every Christmas since I was a baby was spent at my grandmother's house on my dad's side...and Christmas at my grandmother's house was a BIG deal. My grandmother passed away this summer and there is an estate sale going on at the house that I know to be lit up with Christmas lights and decorations and family this time of year. My mom, unlike my grandmother, has never really been big on Christmas. It usually takes a lot of begging from me for her to even bother with a Christmas tree. But this year we didn't bother. We didn't bother with Christmas lights or decorations. We didn't even bother with Christmas presents. Our family's only Christmas tradition has been to go to the midnight candlelight service at a church down the street from our house, but this year we didn't even do that. I went to church by myself on Christmas Eve. 
All that to say, this Christmas has been different to say the least. But this Christmas has felt more like Christmas than any I have known before. This season of Advent has been a hard one for me. I was READY for Jesus to come. To come and heal my in-pain heart. To come into my lonliness. To come into my broken and oh so dysfunctional family. To come into the relationships I have made messes of (and there is many). To come into my insecurities. Just to come save me!!! I have become aware of my groaning and longing and waiting so much more deeply than ever before. However, along with the groaning and longing and waiting was the excitement and joy of knowing that I was doing it all in expectation of receiving the best gift I could ever ask for, and I almost couldn't wait to open it!!!! It took all that I had to leave the gift unwrapped but it made opening it today sooooo much more than I could have dreamed! Today was not defined by what I got or did or said. It was not even defined by who I did or didn't spend it with. But today was defined by a baby that laid wrapped in dirty cloth in a dirty manger in a dirty stable. Today was defined by the GOD WHO LOVES ME enough to COME. To come after me and to rescue me and to SAVE me! Hallelujah, WHAT A SAVIOR! 
Merriest of Christmases to you, my people! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


"It is Christ who is to be exalted, not our feelings. We will know Him by obedience, not by emotions. Our love will be shown by obedience, not by how good we feel about God at a given moment. "And love means following the commands of God." "Do you love Me?" Jesus asked Peter. "Feed My lambs." He was not asking, "How do you feel about Me?" for love is not a feeling. He was asking for action."
-Elizabeth Elliott

"If you love me, obey my commands."
-John 14:15

I recently read a book that called sin "demanding-ness" and that is exactly what it feels like in my heart here recently. I want what I want when I want it. I want things my way. I want joy and life and adventure and love all on my time. I want to be happy. I don't want to feel pain. I don't want to feel like a mess or lost or confused. I don't want to question my identity or feel insecure. I don't want things to be hard, ever. And I definitely don't want to have to wait. I want control. So I cling to my life and my things and most of all my relationships. I hold them tightly with clinched fists. 
But Jesus comes. He asks me if I love him, and deep down, under all my selfishness and fears and crap, my heart says, "yes, Lord, you know that I love you." And he asks again and again, and it seems as if he is asking over and over not to assure or remind himself that I love him, but to remind me that I do. I love him so much. I love him because he loves me and is crazy about me. I love him because of the cross. I love him because he is GOOD and faithful and forgiving. I love him because he lavishes his mercy and grace on me. I love him because he is relentless and comes after me when I run from him. I love him because he calls me beautiful and wanted and HIS. I love everything about him. And when I really think about what I want, it all comes down to him. I just want more of him. And he will give me that if I open my hands to it. He wants to bless up with himself! He wants our lives, EVERY MOMENT of them,to be about knowing him and his love for us more so that we will fall more in love with him! 
Lord, though I will often fail or forget, my heart's cry today is to obey you. I will do whatever you want me to do. I will go wherever you want me to go. I will say whatever you want me to say. I will have whatever you want me to have. I will give whatever you want me to give. I will love whoever you want me to love. God, I want your way. I want your plan for me even if its painful, even if it messy, even if it means waiting and waiting and waiting, and even if it is hard. I will do anything you want if it means more of you. I surrender. I bow down at your feet rejoicing in your GOODNESS! Lord, may my faith be about action and not feeling. My I be continually moving towards YOU in everything I do. I am yours, Lord, all of me. May my life be about YOUR glory, and not mine.
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