Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Post About Grace.

Grace is a common theme in my life if you haven't read my blog posts, heard me lead a group, talked with me about what you're going through, or heard me mention my favorite book. I love grace, but I mostly hate it.  Allow me to explain.

I don't deserve grace. I understand that's the whole point of it, but it's exactly why I hate it. For most of my life I've been working at deserving love, affection, attention, admiration, friendship, praise, and affirmation and I feel I must prove my worth. So when I'm in relationships where I must prove my worth the part of me that hates grace is completely satisfied. What sucks is when they don't notice how hard I'm working to gain their approval and it feeds the lie that I'm not good enough- that there's something wrong with me.

Last Sunday I revisited feeling unworthy of those that show me love. Ironically, Allie was preaching on entitlement. In this area of my life I cling to being entitled to disgrace, humiliation, and death, but not in a humble, God-fearing way. It's definitely selfish and attention seeking.

When I gain a new role I find it harder to believe and live in grace. My automatic response is to prove my worth and try to gain what I want or need. Being a girlfriend has been a new role I have found myself in this year and, last week, when I felt undeserving, it had much to with not being a "good enough girlfriend." I don't deserve Nathan's attention, affection, admiration, respect, time, friendship, or love because I have done nothing of great consequence to earn any of it, but he constantly refutes these lies I have clung to and showers me with affirmation.

I am amazed at how God shows me His grace through people. God is "suppose" to give grace because that's one of His remarkable attributes, but, when a fellow human shows me grace, I see God working through them. I hear God saying that He is at work in miraculous ways in the hearts of men and women and it is through people like Nathan, friends, family, and co-workers that I'm reminded of who God is and how I don't have to prove myself as deserving of His forgiveness and love. He shows me that being me, with all my imperfections, is enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Still learning...

Today marks the one year anniversary of my last post. I can't believe that I haven't updated this in that long. I have had many blurbs I started, but my perfectionistic tendencies and desire to make everyone happy have kept me from allowing myself to be me.

This past year has been an incredible journey of new experiences. It is hard to know where to start. I remember starting out 2011 feeling uncertain of who I was, but desiring to find out more. I had no idea what that would entail or what it was that I would find. I feared that there would be very little to find and that I was pathetic. Fortunately I found out that I have more to offer than I expected.

I remember the night I wrote my first blog post. It was a place of surrender. I was sick of trying to be who everyone else thought I was suppose to be. I was sick of holding it in that I hated being single. I wanted to be free of thinking that there was something wrong with me and that is what kept men from paying attention to me in a romantic way. I had bottled things up and felt lonely, desperate,  inadequate, and bitter. I thought that I had hidden it from everyone, only to find out that I had hurt people by not letting them in on what was really going on with me.

During that year I learned a lot about grace. I learned that I'm not a victim and need to take an active role fighting against what I hate. So I started to make changes. I started believing that I could "pull off" certain outfits just because I wore it with confidence and I liked it. I started to believe that if I was open to someone setting me up with a guy I could actually go on dates. I eventually believed that I was competent as a counselor and that I could work with people and see them change. I began to see that confrontation didn't mean that I had to take complete responsibility and that I could stand up for myself. I started to accept what others saw in me, but allowed myself room to be different than who they thought I should be. I accepted the fact that not knowing pop culture didn't mean that I didn't have anything to relate with.

I am by no means cured. I continue to struggle with being ashamed of not having things together. I continue to have high standards for myself at times, but I now see that I don’t have to continue living with those lies. I have loved ones in my life that I actually let in on what's going on instead of trying to get my act together on my own. It may be my battle, but I'm learning I don't have to fight it alone.

I'm not sure about what I want to do with this blog, but I think I'd like to reflect on some of the things I have hinted at and let you in on some of the first time experiences I have had. I also want to share links to blogs that have been helpful for me to read. Who knows… I am not sure what this year will look like or what time I'll have to share, but I am not ready to give up this blog quite yet.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Reach the "unreachable".
Teach the "unteachable".
Love the "unlovable".
Hope in the hopeless.
Believe the unbelievable.

This is what I believe the Lord has called me and the rest of the Church to do. I am beginning to see parts of this becoming more incorporated in my life. It isn't out of my own doing, but He is providing these opportunities for me.

I want to really learn how to do this and trust wholeheartedly in my Savior.
In a couple of weeks I will be walking into a strip club as a "minister". I will be talking with women who are currently in this business to make money for themselves, their children, and/or a significant other.

This is going to change my life.

This is going to be hard.

It won't just be me, my ministry partner, and them in this restaurant, but their customers will eagerly be waiting for these women to entertain them. I am going to be immersed in this industry very soon. As I think about this opportunity I am fearful and excited.

All I know is that the internship at Hope Alive is going to change things for me. I am going to meet people that are hurting deeper than I have ever felt and experiencing a life that I know very little about. My heart is going to be broken and changed.

Love conquers all fear. Immersion in His love is the only way I will be able to protect myself and learn how to deal with all of this.
My forever altered life begins tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I wrote this post at the beginning of December, but didn't post it because the next day I wasn't "feeling" the grace. And for me when I don't "feel it" it makes it harder for me to trust that I actually believe in it. Grace is a concept that I don't always understand and I have continually failed to accept so I didn't post this because I feared that I would quit accepting grace.

Grace: the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. Pasted from <>

I love structure. I am not very great at creating structure, but when it is set up for me I am reassured that there are rules, expectations, and boundaries. I enjoy strict leaders and syllabi that never change. I know how to please when it is written out for me. I like grades, sticker charts, bonuses, and words of affirmation.

Problems arise from my love of and inability to create structure. I have given God the attribute of having high expectations, strict rules, and rigid boundaries. I have tried to create "structure" for myself by having high expectations for myself. I place expectations on others and believe that they have certain expectations for me.

All of this is an attempt to create structure for myself. If I believe that these expectations and rules exist then I feel that I have something toe measure myself by. This structure is unsound and falls on a regular basis, but I love it so I pick up the pieces and start over again. I tell myself that I must read my Bible and pray regularly in order to be good enough, but since I am not very good at doing this I fall short and am disappointed with myself because I believe that I am not pleasing God. I expect that I should be a perfect roommate by picking up my mess, being attentive, cleaning dishes, seeing things that need to be cleaned, and reminding people that bills are due soon, but again I'm not good at that and I begin to feel like a failure. I have high expectations for the way that I perform in school or in my church community, and again I'm not quite up to par. I constantly fail at being a great friend and daughter. But then again there are times when I do everything I can and I seem to be good at those things and finally I am good enough to be a Christian (because I'm self-righteous, which I then realize again that I have failed and my structure collapses).

I have recognized this cycle since my sophomore year in college. I have wrestled with grace and found it to be unsettling and frightening. There are times when I would much rather be a slave to legalism just so I can be comforted by the rules. I don't understand why God would love me when I don't measure up or have it all together. Why doesn't he expect that out of me? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that he loves, accepts, and desires me.

When I started this blog six months ago I named it "Learning to be Just Me" because I thought it would be an avenue to express my struggle with being single. Little did I know that my struggle wasn't with that, but my inability to be myself because of my personal expectations. I struggle to be myself because I'm always expecting to be someone else. I had created rules that kept me bound to trying to be someone I am not. I thought if I could live up to what I thought people expected of me that I would be happy because they were happy, but I have never found that happiness satisfying or long lasting.

My encouraging and inspiring friend, Kelly Sharpe, gave me a copy of The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning to read and I am learning about grace that changes and restores. God is showing me who He really is and not who I thought he was. For the first time in a while I don't feel like He expects me be someone I can't be. I finally don't see a God with his arms crossed shaking His head in disappointment, but a God that is waiting patiently for me to turn to Him and see His open arms. I am content because I know how much God loves me and wants me to be exactly who He created me to be. I still struggle with believing that God loves me where I am at and for who I am, but I am beginning to see the Truth sooner than I once did. Grace is exciting, liberating, and life-giving, but it is also unsettling. I say that it is unsettling because I am learning what it means to be me and I have a lot to learn about who I really am and sometimes I just want to have it figured out already.

So here's to year double ones and learning what it really means to be just me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Invasion of the Heart

I'm not sure where to begin. There has been a lot of activity in my heart lately. I can see the string of events that have lead to this restoration process I find myself in. I want so badly to say my heart has been healed, but that would be not be an accurate portrayal of my current status my heart is in. For most of this year I have been searching for something to fill a void I perceived was in my life. I longed for someone to fill this void with their constant attention. I wanted someone to say the right words that snapped me out of my "funk". I wanted someone to tell me that I had every right to be bitter and frustrated with my situation. I thought that maybe if I could pull people down with me that at least I wouldn't feel so incredibly lonely. I rejected any answer I thought was cliché even if it was truth. I didn't want God near me because I believed that he would tell me to do something I didn't want to do and I didn't think he had anything good to offer since he hadn't given me the one thing I thought would be good for me. What would God have to offer that I would actually want was my question. I kept him and others at a distance. I hurt people I dearly love and continued down a path that was painful and devastating. I was overwhelmed by the hurt I felt and bitterness I lived in. I believe that when I started this blog I was hoping for a resounding AMEN about my singleness and an encouragement to be upset about the injustice I thought I was experiencing. I longed for something different though. I had hoped that someone would tell me to cut it out, grow up, and move on, but that didn't happen. I didn't want this to be a blog full of bitterness but hope, but when I started I had no hope to offer. I had shut hope out because I had shut God and others out.

I have seen my heart soften lately. Friends have shared with me the hurt that I caused them and I have seen the consequences of holding onto bitterness. I experienced unnecessary and unexpected grace that allowed me to experience what it means to have a God that accepts where I'm at. The Lord shared with me that he is good and does not hold things back from us that we want to see us squirm, but because it is not the time for those good things to be given. I feared that God would take my heart and shatter it into a million pieces. I feared that when I brought it to his "work bench" that he would take out the hammer, chisel, saw, and ruler and begin the painful process of being changed by him, but then the Lord shared with me his grace and tender love towards me. He showed me a picture of my heart wrapped in several hard casings. He took them off one by one with his hands and when he got to the cold, fleshy heart he held it to his chest and brought life back to a heart that I thought I was suppose to take care of. He offered my heart protection with his hand and a heart beat to follow. He didn't use the tools or try to break apart the heart he had created he only brought it back to life… abundant life. I have learned that God gives us more than we can think or imagine and that I don't have to come for my daily portion, but for exactly what he has for me… whatever amount that may be.

I haven't figured things out. I'm still working on restoring relationships that have been hurt and damaged. I have hope in this restoration process. And for once I'm okay using the word process and not hoping for a quick fix. I am realizing that I can't fix myself and my search for some sort of answer to some sort of question isn't a search that leads to any where good. I hope to continue learning, growing, and rejecting bitterness. It is still a fight, but I am consoled that this fight isn't mine that I need only be still and allow God to fight for me (Exodus 14:14).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cookie Cutter Shapes.

As I reflect on the past 5 years of interacting with my pastor, Heath Pearson, I realize that parts of my worldview have changed due to my interactions with this man and the words he spoke to our congregation over the years. I have always believed that each person is different, but somehow I thought that people were like cookie cutter shapes. There are many different cookie cutter shapes and variations. The thing about these cookie cutters is that they make multiple cookies of the same shape. I thought that was how people were different. There are different shapes, but multiples of different shapes.

When I first met Heath I felt very strongly about cookie cutter people. It became evident when I was frustrated with Heath's pastoral style. It was my belief that pastors were to be outgoing, enthusiastic people. It was their job to shake hands, greet people, counsel them, and seek people out. When Heath never did this I began to resent him. I was bitter and frustrated that my new pastor was not qualified to shepherd a flock correctly. He wasn't cut out to be a pastor. In my opinion as a sophomore in college he was trying to fit into a shape that he wasn't made to be. I was hurt that they would put such an introverted man in the position of pastor.
A message that Heath preached over 3 years ago convicted me of my bitterness towards him. I realized that I had wanted him to introduce himself to me and learn my name. I had wanted him to make me feel comfortable in the church, but I had been there before him. I had already established myself (somewhat) in the community. I asked for his forgiveness for acting that way. It was really awkward and uncomfortable to approach the man I thought was suppose to be a certain way and admit that I was in the wrong. I also had an expectation that because I made a step towards him that it would help him become the pastor I thought he was suppose to be, but again I was wrong.
I wanted to find another place to participate in church. I wanted to be a part of a church where the pastor knew my name, saw all of my potential, and asked me to be a leader. I was (and still am) a prideful person. Yet, for some reason, the Holy Spirit kept asking me to stay a part of this community. I didn't want to obey, but thankfully I did.
Heath also felt frustrated about our community at one point as well. I am thankful that he was obedient and stayed. I am thankful that he decided to allow God to use him. I am thankful for the redemption that took place in Heath's life. I thankful that God decided to use Heath and that we were able to learn so much from him.
Throughout the past five years I have been able to watch Heath become the pastor he was made to be. He didn't become the pastor I thought he was suppose to be, but I was able to learn how to play my own role in the community. We never became best buds, but he still impacted my life with his words, actions, and the people he discipled. Heath took us through difficult scriptures and unpacked them with hope and grace. He lead us with humility and authenticity. He allowed himself to be vulnerable with us and was willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the community. Heath preached boldly and challenged our beliefs. He helped us see the world differently and allowed us the chance to grapple with difficult realities. He didn't sugar coat the gospel and he never gave us pat answers.
His messages about identity and hope have impacted my life. If I had left my community due to my frustration and bitterness toward Heath I would not be where I am today. I wouldn't be continually struggling with the concept of grace because I would have continued to be content with rules. I would see people's issues instead of their potential. I would have viewed my counseling classes with little hope and tried to embark on this journey with determination to do it with no help from my community.
I realize that it was the God in Heath that made the lasting impact, but I am thankful that Heath was obedient and allowed God to use him the way he did. The 509 Community will forever be impacted by this man. Brother, you are missed, but we trust that you are pursuing what the Lord has asked of you.



Thursday, September 2, 2010


I wrote the previous post a month ago and posted it only a few weeks ago. Since it had been a while since I actually read though it all the way I decided I may want to reread what I wrote. It was refreshing to read through it again. I was encouraged by the comments I received here, verbally, and through email. Thank you.

My mom asked me if I regretted what I posted since I had been so honestly raw in what I said. I've been thinking about it and questioning myself, but I have come to find that I do not regret it. I want there to be honesty about life that people can connect with. I write like this for several reasons. I write because I want to connect with others. I want to see people talk about things instead of hiding them from everyone (I don't mean everyone should broadcast what they are hiding, but at least talk to someone). I want some sort of outlet to express my thoughts about life and get feedback from people. I have learned and felt a lot of new things in the past couple of years and I feel a need to share it. I want to know I'm not the only one that thinks this and let others know they are not alone. I want to try something different.

For a while the Lord has reminded me that he has created me to be different. All of my life I have just wanted to fit in. I wanted to be able to dress like everyone else. I wanted to know music like everyone else. I wanted to quote movies or tv shows like everyone else. I've wanted to sing, know scripture, be outgoing, volunteer more, get grades, be content, be passionate, travel, make money, have friends, date, lead, and artsy like everyone else. But the Lord has been calling me to embrace who I am. This is hard. It takes discipline. It takes a lot of grace and that is something I struggle to understand. So I'm encouraged that I have people that will "walk" through this with me and connect with what is happening in my life as I go through this process.

Two verses that come to my mind as I try to walk this out are 1 Peter 1:16 and 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

  1 Peter 1:16 says, "for it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" Betsy Hake (my mentor for an internship I did with Jericho Ministries) said that she looked up the Greek for holy. It means "no longer useful for ordinary life". I am not meant to live a normal, ho-hum life. I have been changed to live a life that is different and extraordinary. This is a helpful verse and a great reminder. Thanks, Betsy!

  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, "for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ." This verse is so powerful! As Christians we are equipped to with a divine power to destroy strongholds. DESTROY! Seriously that's awesome. I have had this thought that I would just have to deal with many strongholds for the rest of my life, but they can be demolished and torn down. That is exciting! The thing is though I believe that it is going to be a process. It is going to mean that I take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. I believe I learned this in one of my grad school classes, but I'm not entirely sure. I was told to visualize a thought or image actually being chained or caged and placed at the feet of Christ and tell it to be obedient. I am amazed at how truth floods my mind when I do this.

 One of the things that kept me from starting a blog earlier is knowing that people I know will read this. People that I interact with at work, school, and church will know what is going on in my life and may make judgments on it or connect with it. I may say things here with vulnerability that may embarrass people. I can't say I'm sorry because I want there to be an avenue that people can talk about taboo topics and not feel like they are crazy. I hope to work through things tastefully and with discernment. If you have a concern please let me know. If you are going through similar things lets talk about it and help each other through this maze of life.

I wrote this during a solitude time trying to convince myself that this is what I wanted and took a picture of it on my cell phone. I'm still trying to convince myself...