Category Archives: Journaling

When Goodness is the Trial

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For me, 2017 and 2018 are a study in contrasts. 

Last year was dark and stripping. Depression came, people left, the wilderness was stifling and sanctifying. The painful shaking out of all my dreams and plans was healing and holy, necessary and good. And, while I wouldn’t particularly love to go through everything again, I would repeat it all in a heartbeat in order to be where God has me today and to know Him as I do now.

Because of the lessons in the wilderness, I can tell you with more conviction and clarity than ever before that God’s Word is true, His promises are real, and His grace is sufficient. His character is flawless, His methods and ways are good, and His purifying fire never gets a degree hotter than He intends. He is trustworthy in our trials, torment, and terror, and He calls us to lean into all of those things in order to receive what we crave most: more of Him.

It’s in that receiving we quickly learn that He is better than the fulfillment of any and all earthly desires. Jesus is better. I want to go to my grave declaring it to be so. He is better than our hardest battles and deepest sorrow, better than an easy path or comfortable lodgings in this world. He is better than relief from trials or realized dreams. And, as I often repeated to my forgetful heart last year, knowing Him is better than knowing what He is doing.

“If every good thing He has given were to vanish, we would still be safe in Christ––and our basis for gracious gratitude would have no reason to be changed at all.” -Mary Mohler, Growing in Gratitude

But what if those good things aren’t removed but instead stay and multiply? What about trusting Him in seasons of abundance? I know He’s better than His gifts, but how do I accept and enjoy those gifts without shutting down from fear of their removal?

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When Your Heart Breaks: Jesus Stays

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“Broken hearted one, Jesus Christ knows all your troubles, for similar troubles were His portion too.” -Charles Spurgeon

The middle of May was hard.

Though the spring sun was shining its way into summer, clouds were rolling into my heart and the horrible, unwelcome darkness of the depression I thought was conquered slithered into my soul.

The following is a raw and bitter-but-trying-to-preach-and-believe-truth journal entry from May 25. Maybe someone else needs to be reminded, as did I, that there is One who will never change His mind about us.

“For the Lord will not forsake His people;
He will not abandon His heritage…”
-Psalm 94:14

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11 Quotes from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Learning, reading, and writing are three of my favorite things in the world. Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird combined all three in a way that often left me laughing and filled with the constant desire to put the book down and write my own words.

Whether you are a writer or not, it is my hope the following quotes encourage and motivate you to use your gifts and do your thing—that thing that gets your blood pumping, brain firing, and soul soaring—at the highest possible level to love others in the greatest way possible.

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February + March Reads

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“Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs though, so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads.” -John Trapp

The following books have filled my soul’s tastebuds over the past couple months. I recommend feasting on pretty much all of them.

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Disobedience, Relationships, and the Idol of Self-Protection

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Admitting I need or want people is terrifyingly hard.

Accepting, much less confessing to someone that I need or want them in my life automatically gives them an incredible amount of power, and I’m scared of being manipulated.

No one wants to be taken advantage of. No one wants to feel used. No one wants to hold out their heart only to have it shattered by broken trust or the selfishness of others.

But it happens. And I’m learning that, even if it does, I still need people, and God-honoring relationships are worth having your heart shattered for. Just ask Jesus.

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Finding Beauty in the Winter

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My sister loves winter.

She loves the snow, the cold, the way your lungs freeze up and give out when you try to breathe, all of it. (Okay, fine, I embellished the breathing one, though she does like breathing cold air.)

I’m not a fan.

I love sunshine and warmth and the smell of dirt and trees. I love being outside and hiking and adventures and going barefoot and being at and in the lake (that isn’t frozen). I love outdoor sports and Enoing (is that a verb? Let’s go with yes) and picnics and grilling and barbecues and, as you can see, pretty much anything that includes eating outside.

On the other hand, it’s unnatural how much I hate jackets and coats. I would rather risk pneumonia than put on a jacket. You know what else I could go the rest of my life without? Socks. And short days and having to start your car 20 minutes before you go anywhere so your hands don’t permanently freeze to the steering wheel.

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Joy is Here

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(This is in NLT, not Amplified. I’m sorry.)

This is a hard season for many.

I feel deeply the weight and heaviness of sin, brokenness, and the overall hurt of living in a fallen body in a fallen world with other fallen humans.

But the pain isn’t meaningless.
The weight won’t crush us.
The fire won’t burn us.
The flood won’t drown us.
The despair won’t destroy us.
The enemy doesn’t have the final say.

Our champion reigns.
Hope is here.
Glory is coming.
Joy is to be had.
Freedom is ours.
Victory is here.

Fix your gaze.
The true and better Aslan is on the move.

“You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him,
and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring of Israel!
For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,
and He has not hidden His face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to Him.”
-Psalm 22:23-24

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When You Don’t Know What You’re Waiting For

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“What do I do, God? What would You have me do in this situation?” 

I wish I could tell you those questions, repeatedly and sincerely prayed, were met with a booming voice from heaven that said, “This is My beloved will in which I am well pleased; go and do it, honey child,” but, alas, that hasn’t happened.

Instead, after writing those questions in my journal, I read Psalm 27 and was met with words that have become as familiar as my afternoon cup of coffee:

“Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!” -Psalm 27:14

Scripture, man. It’s like yeast: alive and active. It’s like a fog light: searching and exposing. It’s like a sword: sharp and piercing.

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Monday Morning Munch No. 159 – Made for Greatness

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And we’re not talking about another human.

The Olympics are great and I adore every part of them, but even the best athletes were made for more greatness than a piece of plated metal on a pretty ribbon.

Don’t put your identity in anything that will not outlast you. Stake your life on what will matter 30,000 years from now.

 

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July Reads

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“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

In June, I shared what books I had read for the first six months of the year. It felt appropriate to publish July’s reads today, as I’ve been told it’s National Book Lovers Day (also, who comes up with these holidays? Asking for a friend).

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