Thankful for the Thorns

No one imagined our Thanksgiving table talk would end in tears. As we went around the table sharing what we were each thankful for, we couldn’t have anticipated my sister and I would soon be standing in the kitchen, sobbing, holding each other close.

And yet, that’s exactly how this year’s Thanksgiving meal ended. With only scraps of turkey and stuffing and lingering bits of glazed carrots and mashed potatoes left on our plates, we all went around the table sharing the things, the people, the moments we were most grateful for.

We all had similar sentiments. We were grateful for family, for each other, for the new baby sleeping peacefully by my sister’s side – my beautiful nephew. And, in some ways, we were even grateful for the pain that had brought us this beauty. We recognized that the discomfort of the unknown was also bringing us exciting new challenges and opportunities we hadn’t even discovered yet. Continue reading

The Joys of Berry-Picking & Other Discoveries from My Week in Oregon

1. Front porches should be a thing everywhere.

I’ve been to several cities where front porches rule the day: Columbus, Charlotte, Portland. California – at least, the Bay Area – is seriously missing out.

I long for a good front porch – it seems like the perfect place to both relax and get some good alone time and also be available to spontaneous chats with friends and passersby.

I don’t know that everyone takes advantage of their front-yard space, but I’m telling you: if I had a front porch, I would be out there almost every night. I love sitting out with tea or a glass of wine, chatting with friends, and saying hi to the neighbors. If the Lord ever sees to bless me with a house with a front porch, I promise to put it to good use.

2. Church is everywhere God’s people are gathered. As my pastor in San Francisco has often said, “We’re the body gathered and scattered.”

While I completely believe in the importance of regular gatherings with other believers – for accountability, teaching, and inter-generational wisdom – I don’t think that church is limited to Sunday mornings.

I saw this truth play out over and over again during my week in Oregon. Whether we’re talking over coffee or during a long car ride, conversations with dear friends is one of the primary ways I connect with God. I love learning other people’s stories, asking hard questions about our struggles, and “spurring one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

There’s a reason God gave us each other; he knew we’d need each other to be a full and complete body – with all our vital limbs and organs – able to live out his love in the world. Continue reading

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Say No

Last week, we looked at 4 Great Reasons to Say “No.” If you haven’t read that post yet, take a minute to go back and get the history before reading below.

Back? Okay. Just as there are some truly life-giving reasons for saying no, there are also a few that are actually holding us back. Which of these is most true for you?

  1. You’re Afraid

I’ve said no to so many things in my life that I was afraid of: sports, relationships, hamburgers. Yes, I was afraid of hamburgers. (It’s a texture thing.) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to try things that initially scared me – sushi, hiking, speaking in front of hundreds of people – and in doing so, I’ve become much more clear about what I do and don’t want (see point 1 under 4 Great Reasons to Say “No”). Continue reading

Lean In

I’ve been on quite an Allison Vesterfelt kick lately. After multiple people had prodded me to read her book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage, I finally picked it up and devoured it in a few short – but profoundly challenging – days. I finally understand why my friends were so persistent in recommending this book. They knew it would mess me up in the way only a good book can.

Allison – or Ally – and I have a lot in common. We both went to Whitworth University, we both studied English, we both have felt at home in weird cities (Portland for her, San Francisco for me), and we’ve both struggled to call ourselves writers. And yet, as both of us have discovered, we are because we do. We’re writers simply because we write.

In reading another one of Ally’s books Writing to Find Yourself, I’m finding so much encouragement to keep writing. Writing, like most things that are worth doing, takes effort and vulnerability. For me, writing is the process of putting little pieces of me on a page. Every word I type makes me vulnerable to criticism and has the potential to be misunderstood or to step on someone’s toes – I’m sorry if I ever step on yours! But these words also have the power to speak into someone else’s story, to allow that person, as Anne Lamott says, to speak the two most magnificent words you can say to another human being: “Me too.” Continue reading

The Invitation: “Taste and See”

DeathtoStock_NotStock2It’s a little scary how easy it is to miss Jesus. Even though he’s “Emmanuel” – God with us at all times – it’s all too easy to misunderstand his character and his purposes. To fail to see what he’s doing in our lives and how he’s inviting us to simply connect with him.

This is true both for those who do and those who do not claim to put their faith in Christ. Today, people’s views of Christ and Christianity are either watered-down or polluted to the point of unrecognizability. When we miss the power and perfection of Christ, we miss the gift of “living water” that God is offering to our parched lips. Continue reading