When Your Healing Story Turns Out to Be an Epic

When Your Healing Story Turns Out to Be an Epic

The leaves are stubbornly green. The calendar says October, but the weary heat is still spread thick, like someone forgot to pack up summer and put it away. It’s exhausting to wait while a season hangs on long after it was supposed to change. October holds echoes of a lot of loss for my family. Most years hope sings over the echoes, coming in on cool autumn breeze while the trees glow a golden promise that all things are being made new. But this year the hot air is still, and the leaves are just curling brown on tired branches. It’s like the Carolinas have forgotten how to move forward in the wake of the hurricane’s trauma. Oh, beloved Carolinas, I understand. Trauma’s a funny thing. Sometimes it feels like the turning seasons have wiped most of it away, and then...

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Living Tender in a Sandpaper World

Living Tender in a Sandpaper World

A picture of my friend’s blue-eyed baby girl hung on the wall as we sat at her kitchen table and caught up on life since I’d last hugged her neck four years ago. Last time, I met her for a hurried lunch as I passed through Nashville. This time my sister was with me as my relief driver on a quick up-and-back work trip, and my friend opened her home to us for the night. My sister sat there asking gentle questions about the little beauty on the wall, and the ache in my chest was no less than it was the first time I heard the story. A sudden seizure. Scans and tests and answers they didn’t want. Last memories, a fast decline, and a tiny grave just days before Christmas. My friend talked softly about the community that had come around them as they grieved. One young...

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The Messy Middle

The Messy Middle

One of the hardest things for me during our years in family ministry was unfinished stories. More often than not, we watched our students blossom and their families flourish, but there were times we could do very little to help move a struggling family towards healing. It’s a special kind of hard to see a train wreck coming for people you love, and having to let go and leave them in their mess. Occasionally we hear updates about former students that remind us that it can take years for the waves of sin and trauma to crest, and we ache for them all over again. We couldn’t stop their pain then, and we can’t stop it now. The reality of ministry – the reality of life – is that there will always be unfinished stories, where the hopeless mess seems to be winning. I was...

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When Grief Changes Clothes

When Grief Changes Clothes

A friend asked me the other day how I’m feeling this anniversary of my mom’s death. It will be seven years next week. How is it already seven years? How is it only seven years? My friend knows something you can only know by experience: that every year grief looks different than the year before. The first anniversary’s grief was still wrapped in breathless disbelief that it really did happen. The second was hollow and tired. The third didn’t hurt as badly, but the fourth was like being hit by a train. This year’s grief is like an echo of all the words that would have been spoken, the things my mom would have said if she had lived to see my girls growing up and to witness the courageous ways we’re choosing healing over bitterness. Grief has a large wardrobe, and it...

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No Shadow of Shame

No Shadow of Shame

I usually don’t even feel the words burrowing until they’re already under my skin. A little comment here, a critical thought there, slipping in and lodging like tiny splinters that feel like they should be easy to ignore. And there they sit, taking root until I’ve incorporated their poison and pain into my movements like they’re just part of who I am. Sometimes I don’t realize how much I’ve slowed and stiffened until things that used to come easily just don’t anymore. Taking a full breath. Loving without fear. Letting myself be seen. Those splinter words are seeds of shame, and when they’ve grown a bit they can be downright paralyzing. Shame is an expert impersonator. It mimics our own voices, pretends it’s familiar and trustworthy, convinces us it belongs. After...

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The Truth About Ministry (and Life)

The Truth About Ministry (and Life)

The anxious thoughts rolled in the morning after we got the big news. We finally had enough financial partnership to cover our budget, and we could start our next season of ministry. We’ve served with a large missions organization since 2004, and my new role in our org combines two of my greatest passions – writing and getting the Bible into the hands of women around the world. So what was I nervous about? Simply this: I might not be who my new team expects me to be. When I interviewed for this position in March of last year, they made the decision to wait on me during our time of partnership development before our organization would move forward with the initiative I’ll be contributing to. I’m grateful to have the chance to be part of strategic planning from the...

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Forgive Us

Forgive Us

We Christians can be trundlers, clumsy with our heavy feet and careless steps. We can be tanglers of words, crushers and blinders of tender minds. We Christians can be foolish dancers to the tunes of snake charmers, the music of lie peddlers who steal and sell the name of Christ. We can hide behind our I-would-nevers and hold no mercy for those who would, turning a broken heart inward to cut itself again.   Forgive us, Jesus, whose scarred hands are strong enough to hold gently.   We Christians can be pride-deaf, tuned to hear voices of power over the Word of God. We can welcome idol shackles, chain our hearts to politics and positions and possessions. We Christians, we are contradictions, owning freedom and flirting with slavery, too often closing our fresh...

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