New website!!

Hey friends!

First, I’m so thankful for you and that you take the time to read my blog. It means so much to me…more than I can ever say.

Second, I have a new website!! It’s still a placeholder for when I have more time to commit to it, but I’m excited about it! I’m hoping to launch some new things over the next year, so I wanted to make sure I had my own website to do that.

This means I won’t be publishing here on the blog anymore, but you can find everything over at Justalumpofclay.com! (Yay!)

If you receive my posts straight to your email, you’ll still be receiving them from the new site. I just have to sign you up again, so look for a subscription link in your inbox for the new site. You will just have to confirm your email. You’ll be getting that one soon.

Thanks again for reading and come say hello on my new site! See you there!

Me too.

Me too. Those two words can carry so much power, more than you may think at the time, but they can be altering. I’m continuously reminded of the power of vulnerability and the peace that can wash over you when you hear “me too.”

You never know when you take a step out and share your truth when it will connect with someone.  You never know when you decide to be unafraid and share a piece of your story who that’s going to connect with and maybe even give them the courage to do the same.

When we can look at someone and say, “me too” we aren’t necessarily saying I know exactly how you feel, but we are saying you’re not alone. We’re saying I can identify with you on some level. We’re saying I stand beside you and you are not alone.

I think a lie we too easily believe is that we’re alone. We believe that surely no one could identify with this struggle I have or surely know one would want to hear my story.

But then we get that two seconds of courage and we just go for it. In that sacred moment when someone on the other end is there that says, me too, we know. We know we aren’t doing this thing called life alone. We know we were created to stand next to one another to walk along our journey.

So, if you’re reading this…please know you’re not alone. Please know that you were created to be in relationship with people. Please know that even though the thought of sharing your heart or being vulnerable can seem paralyzing, the freedom that comes from it and the possibility of hearing those two little words is life-giving.

You are not alone. We are not alone. I am so grateful for the people in my life who can look at me and say me too. Or who listen to all my crazy and may not be able to say me too, but they at least listen. They listen and they love.

What would the world look like if we believed that there is power in our story? That there is power in sharing our lives with one another? What if we believed that sometimes all we need to say is me too and that listening and loving is enough?

I think the world would be better.

Me too.

When where I am is not where you are.

My life looks nothing like I thought it would. I struggle with that sometimes.

I don’t know where we learn that our lives are “supposed” to look a certain way. I don’t know why we think we need to take a measuring stick to other’s lives and see where ours measures up. I don’t know why we get so lost in the comparison game.

Blame it on social media, society, movies, friends, family, whatever it is, it’s there…this feeling that maybe I’m not quite where I’m supposed to be, or those people over there really have it figured out. Sometimes I feel like there’s a benchmark to meet. I look ahead and see everyone keeping up with the expectations and I’m just a little bit behind, always playing catch up.

I’ve had to let go of how I think my life should look. “Should” can be a dangerous word for me. It usually means I’m motivated by guilt or shame and those aren’t the healthiest motivators.

I’ve had to let go of my measuring stick.  I can’t look at life like a race or a competition where people are either ahead or behind me. Instead of choosing to see a line of people ahead of me and me trying to play catch up, I see people around me. Each in their own place, each with their own life, not ahead or behind me, but beside me. All in different places, all on different journeys, with not one being right and another wrong, but just being.

Because where I am is not where you are and that’s okay. It’s a beautiful thing actually. Everyone is on their own journey. Everyone is just living their story and like Shauna Niequist says, “With people, you can either connect or compare, but you can’t do both.” I can look at what others are doing, I can wonder what I need to do to get where I think I should be, or I can just let go and connect where I am and with those who I am lucky enough to be surrounded by.

So I’m choosing to let go of the shoulds in my life. I’m choosing to let go of the measuring sticks and the side-to-side glances calculating who I’m ahead of or behind. I’m choosing to connect instead of compare. I’m choosing to see people where they actually are. I’m choosing to look down instead of around, focusing on my journey and where I am rather than where I thought I should be.

With these choices I’ve found there’s a whole lot of freedom to be had.

Because where i am is not where you are and that's okay

The Disconnect.

I’ve been reading Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s new book, Roadmap to Reconciliation, and it has been rocking my world. I came across one thing she said and it made me stop, “What we believe about God will tell us what we believe about people, and what we believe about people will tell us what kinds of communities and societies we believe we should strive to create.”

This is it. This truth is why I get so passionate about justice issues, about equity, about any situation where someone’s treated like their life is valued less. This is why it’s hard for me to understand why we don’t talk about the hard things and stand up for the right things in church. This is why it’s hard for me to believe someone who professes to follow Jesus can be racist, homophobic or turn a blind eye to such broken systems like our education and criminal justice systems.

Our theology informs everything we do, how we view people, the decisions we make, the causes we take up. Theology is just what we believe about God. If we really believe everyone was created in God’s image then we would treat them like they did. If we really believed that God meant it when he said to love our neighbors and even our enemies…it would change how we treated others. If we really believed God meant it when he said to take care of widows and orphans or that he’s on the side of justice…wouldn’t we care more about justice? Wouldn’t we believe we should be doing everything we can to bring more love into the world and help create a place that affirms that image of God in others? If we believed God created the earth and all that inhabits it and declared it good, why wouldn’t we help steward that and care for it well?

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I think we’ve allowed a disconnect to happen between what we believe about God, what we believe about people and what kind of communities we should strive to create. We don’t see how they’re connected. We lose sight of how our theology should shape how we treat people and if your theology involves following Jesus it should be rooted in one thing…love.

This is why it matters that we stand and declare that #blacklivesmatter because we recognize that for too long they’ve been treated like they don’t. Because my theology professes that each human is stamped with the image of God and that no life matters more than another. So I should be outraged and broken over the fact that there are too many examples of how white lives matter more. I can’t turn a blind eye to that.

This is why it matters that we stand and declare that refugees should be welcome here or that our goal isn’t to isolate ourselves from “outsiders.” No amount of American exceptionalism should trump our theology. Because what we believe about God will tell us what we believe about people and what we believe about people will tell us about what kinds of communities we believe we should create…and I’m pretty sure Jesus said to welcome the stranger and to not neglect showing hospitality to strangers. If we believe everything else he says…we can’t ignore the things that make us uncomfortable.

I’m tired of living in a world of disconnect. I ache over the lack of shalom in our world, but I believe there’s a better way. I believe God is love. I believe God created each of us in his image, therefore declaring that we have value, worth and that we belong. Everyone. No questions. No exceptions. I believe God is on the side of the oppressed and on the side of justice. I believe God has shown us what kinds of communities and societies we should strive to create when we pray your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We should strive to create communities and societies where everyone is welcome and loved. Where grace is shown and kindness is a universal language. Where the table is big enough for everyone. Where we are peacemakers and we remember that we belong to each other. Where we live into the truth that God loves us and out of the overflow of that love we are able to love each other.

I believe in a world built on connection, where the disconnect is no longer present because we remember that what we believe about God tells us what we believe about people and what we believe about people tells us what kind of communities we should strive to create.

And if it all starts with what we believe about God well…God is love.

I see my story in your story.

A couple of months ago I went to a women’s networking event at a conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect. What happened exceeded my expectations.

About twelve of us gathered in a hotel conference room, the facilitators wanted to create a space for women engaged in ministry to come together and share their stories. It became even more than that, it became a thin place. A moment where it seemed like there was just a thin curtain between heaven and earth.

The oldest woman in the group started with her story. A small painting sat at the head of the table, a painting of a small African American girl standing in a field with butterflies. While sharing her story, this woman said, I see myself in that picture. She went on to explain her life growing up in the deep south, her experience with the Civil Rights Movement and how she still sees slavery today, it just looks differently. Every sentence she spoke dripped with wisdom. She saw her story in the girl in the painting.

While another woman shared her story, everything she said deeply resonated with me. Her journey and season of life was so similar to mine, I actually couldn’t believe it. Even a song she referenced that had been a lifeline for her in this season was the same song that had been a lifeline for me. I saw my story in her story.

This same woman talked about a business she was trying to start and when she said the name of it, the oldest woman said, “That has been my secret name for God all my years…” without any hint of surprise. They saw one another in each other’s story. 

Another woman shared her story. A hard story of trauma and abuse that has led to confusion about where she should go and what she should do. She shared her deep hurt, but also her hopes and dreams. There was not a dry eye in the room while she shared. Tears flowed freely because everyone there acknowledged the depth of her pain and the vulnerability it took to let us in on her journey. It was a privilege for us to be entrusted with her story. After she shared, the same wise woman turned to her, looked her right in they eye and said, “I see my story in your story.”

Looking in from the outside, one would see our group gathered and think most of us had nothing in common. We differed in age, race, socio-economic level, background, life stage, dress…it seemed our differences outnumbered our similarities. Yet, we could turn to each other and say, I see my story in your story. 

Wow. What powerful words. Sharing your story is a powerful thing. Making space to hear someone else’s story is a powerful thing – it allows glimpses into another’s soul. It makes us more human. It allows us to remember that we’re all connected, that we all have been stamped with the image of God. We too easily forget that.

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Lessons from a 1 year old.

A couple weeks ago I got to spend a few days with my nephew in Seattle. He’s the best. I hate living so far away from him and not being able to see him grow every day, but I cherish the time I do get with him. He’s so fun and it is fun to see the world through his eyes and all of the ways he continues to grow. I was there the week or so after he really started walking, so that was a fun time too to see him learn this new skill and take the world by storm in a new way.

Today is his first birthday (!!) so I figured it was appropriate to dedicate this post to him and what he has taught me. When I was spending time with him, I realized there’s a lot we can learn from a 1 year old. Since I love to make lists, I decided to make a list of life lessons from a 1 year old.

  1. Sometimes we just need to fall and trying to help can hurt more. Since he was just learning to walk, he fell…a lot. As someone who loves him and never wants to see him hurt, of course my reaction was to reach out and catch him or try to soften his fall, but I realized after awhile that, often times, that made him fall harder. (Sorry Jake and Em). Usually when he lost his balance and caught himself he was fine…he popped right up, ready to keep on walking like it was no big thing. I realized how often we can try to help someone or try to break their fall or fix it when they really don’t need our help. Sometimes helping can hurt and sometimes people need to fall on their own.
  2. Joy can be found in the simple things. My nephew and sis-in-law were in Michigan recently at her grandparent’s house and he loved this spoon he found so he got to take it back to Seattle with him. He loves a spoon…he also spent a lot of time entertained by my little shampoo bottle. These are not big, flashy, or expensive things, but simple, every day items. I think too often we get sidetracked by thinking that life is meant to be big and flashy, when joy and beauty is often found in the simple and every day.
  3. When in doubt…turn to wonder. Babies have so much to learn. Have you ever thought about all the things that we learn throughout life? That at one point you had to learn how to walk, learn to talk, to eat by yourself and learn how the things around you work. Sometimes I would see him look at something or hear something that he wasn’t sure about and then he would toddle over to check it out. Babies don’t have all the answers because they don’t know much yet, so they’re constantly turning to wonder and to curiosity. At some point in life, we lose this, we think we have all the answers or shouldn’t have any doubts, but that’s not reality…what would it look like if we turned to wonder more often? If we let ourselves do the work to figure things out and if we can’t figure them out, just turn to wonder and rest in the fact that we don’t have to know it all.
  4. Sometimes all the people in your life want is for you to show them love. He is a very active 1 year old…he isn’t about the cuddling life. Em would sit him on the edge of the couch every morning to wake me up and I just wanted to cuddle him, but he pushed away and wanted to be off exploring. I mean…I get it, there’s a lot to see out there! He doesn’t know any better, but it made me think about how much we want the people in our life to show us love, so are we returning the favor? Go hug someone. Go tell someone you love and appreciate them. It matters.
  5. Trust in who you follow. My nephew adores his mom and dad. He doesn’t hesitate to take their hand and walk around with them. When we put him down the slide, whoever was at the bottom would catch him and he hasn’t learned yet that maybe that person down there won’t catch me. He trusts in his parents and the people who dearly love him. I follow Jesus, but I don’t think I always trust him…not like a child trusts his mom or his dad. It’s a lesson I have to continually be reminded of.

So Happy Birthday buddy…you’re only 1 and you’re already teaching the world so much! I think we all need to strive to be more like little children and the world may become a more beautiful place.

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     Seriously…is he not the cutest? Such a cool kid. 🙂

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A dirty mirror.

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This mirror is one of my favorite things in my house. I found it one day in the barn at my parent’s house and asked if I could have it. They said sure and that it had been in the barn since my grandpa built the house back in the 70’s and came from their other home before that. It definitely wasn’t the most loved item, with dirt engrained in the wood and smeared across the glass so you couldn’t really see your reflection and paint chipped away. I was going to paint it a different color, but once I cleaned it up, I realized I liked how it looked…paint chips and all. It made a difference once you could see your clear reflection in it.

For some reason, I’ve always loved mirrors. It’s a weird thing and I don’t know why, but it’s a thing for me. So a mirror that actually came from my family and means something and looks cute in my house…jackpot!

Anyway…for some reason this image of a dirty and smudged mirror has been in my head lately. So often we think of ourselves like we’re looking at ourselves in a dirty mirror, we can’t see ourselves clearly and we can’t see a true reflection. We don’t see ourselves the way God intended. I think truly knowing where our identity rests, loving and accepting ourselves, engaging in healthy relationships, becoming self-aware, and dealing with our issues helps that mirror become more and more clear, so we can truly see who God created us to be.

This is a lesson I’ve been learning a lot about the last couple years. One reason I love life is because it’s a journey and I feel like there’s always something more to learn about others, about the world and about yourself! We need to love ourselves so that we can love others well and we need to continue to uncover who God created us to be and live into that identity. I think at some point in life we start building up walls, we start hesitating here, or ignoring those feelings there because we’re scared to be who we truly are. We get caught up in what people think of us, we get caught up in being perfect and we get caught up in being who we think the world wants us to be…at some point we look in a mirror and it’s so smudged and dirty, we can’t see ourselves and who we truly are.

For me, this journey of uncovering who God created me to be, of loving myself, of holding myself to a standard of grace and not perfection, and finding my identity in the fact that I am dearly loved has not been easy, but it’s worth it. I’ve realized too that sometimes we need others to help us “clean off our mirror.” A lot of the time we don’t actually see ourselves the way others see us or believe in ourselves the way others believe in us so sometimes we have to borrow that belief and accept that help from others.

For a long time I stared into my mirror and it’s like all I saw was dirt and imperfection and smudges, but then a friend would come along and remind me where my identity should come from…and she took a rag and wiped some dirt away. Then another person came along and encouraged me and affirmed who I am and that’s who God created me to be and took a rag and wiped a few more smudges away. Then another person gave me an opportunity to show that I was capable, even if I didn’t believe it myself, and they took a rag and wiped away some dust.

My people coming around me helped me see myself more clearly. They helped me pick up my own rag and wipe away all the dirt and smudges so I could see myself clearly, so I could truly see who God created me to be.

It may just be me, but this has been a process over and over again for me. Sometimes I forget and the mirror gets a little cloudy, but God seems to always send someone with that rag in hand to speak some truth until I remember it myself.

I hope we can all be mirror cleaners for others…may we only speak truth so that others see themselves clearly.

I want you to know that even if you don’t see yourself clearly right now, you matter, you have value and you need to start seeing yourself with love and grace. Sometimes we can’t do it by ourselves and we have to borrow that truth from others, so here I am, telling you this truth, you are dearly loved, you were created on purpose and you are meant to be who you truly are…let me get my rag so I can come clean your mirror.

The Discipline of Unlearning.

Recently I’ve been realizing how many things I’m “unlearning”. We all have habits, we all have tendencies, we all have things that we just do…our natural reaction to things, the habits that are just ingrained in who we are, how we respond to stress or difficult situations.

I’m realizing these habits, tendencies and natural things I just do aren’t always healthy. They don’t serve me well, but it’s hard to change them. It’s not easy to unlearn something. It’s not easy to go against the grain of what have become your natural tendencies. I really think it’s a discipline. The discipline of unlearning.

It’s easier to just keep doing what you do. It’s easier to just keep reverting back to how I handle stress and anxiety. It’s easier to not have to put effort into something because it’s how it’s always been. It’s easier to fix things than sit in the brokenness.

It’s hard work to choose the healthier option. It’s hard work to replace the lies you’ve always believed, with truth. It’s hard to remember that the motivations of guilt and shame are not healthy. It’s hard to take the risk when you just want to play it safe. It’s hard to be truthful and honest in a conversation when you’re used to just saying whatever will keep the peace.

This discipline of unlearning has been a process for me and every day I have to choose to not revert back to old habits. I have to make the choice to replace lies with truth. I have to choose to breathe in peace and not let anxiety rule my thoughts. I have to choose to sit amongst the brokenness and not try to fix it.

It’s definitely a discipline to unlearn. Discipline is not something I’ve ever really been that good at, but apparently whether I wanted to or not, these days have been full of doing things I’m not good at.

It can all be pretty exhausting, but the nice thing with discipline is that when you keep practicing it, it starts to come more naturally. Although it takes hard work and it’s not easy, the healthier tendencies are what start to become ingrained in you and it’s worth it.

What Friendship Looks Like

I’ve been reminded lately of how beautiful friendship is. I’ve said it before, but some of the best evidence to me of God’s love are the people in my life. I really value friendship and think it’s one of the most beautiful things on earth.

You don’t have to be friends with people and it’s a choice to love someone. You never really make a covenant or a promise to your friends that you’ll be there, but you’re choosing to enter into their life, into their mess and to be present with them.

I’ve had a hard time in my life being fully known. I’ve always had a problem with perfectionism and wanting to be well liked by everyone. I’m really good at reading people and personalities so this has made me someone who can be the right person for whoever I’m with. This isn’t a bad thing when there’s balance and boundaries, but for me it’s caused me to forget who I am and only care that I was the perfect person for whoever I was around.

I’ve been unlearning this habit and learning how to stay true to who I am and just hope people still like me and if they don’t…that’s okay. I am so thankful for people who like me anyways and even when they see my insecurities and my mess they’re still there.

Because friendship doesn’t look perfect…because we’re not perfect.

Friendship looks like meeting a friend for lunch and asking how they’ve been and instead of automatically giving a “great and all is well” answer they honestly say, not good and trust you with their true feelings.

Friendship looks like a friend asking me to list everything I’m anxious about regarding a situation and rather than judge me they listen and respond with grace.

Friendship looks like texts full of inside jokes and pictures only those few people will understand.

Friendship looks like ten minute catch up calls whenever you have a free moment and hour long calls when you have a few free moments more.

Friendship looks like asking the hard questions and sitting with someone even in the unknown.

Friendship looks like binge watching shows on Netflix together or going on a Sonic run to fulfill your shake craving.

Friendship looks like responding with “awws” and “so cute” the 100th time I’ve shown a picture of my nephew rather than being annoyed.

Friendship looks like celebrating your friends victories, achievements and successes and sitting with them in their pain, grief and uncertainty.

Friendship really just looks like being there and showing up…most of the time it’s in those ordinary and messy moments where beauty thrives.

13 Signs You’re A Classic INFJ

This is very much me and makes me feel a little less crazy and at least I have 3% of the population that feels similar to me!

Thought Catalog

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INFJ – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. INFJs are known to be great listeners, big dreamers, and deep, complex people. As the rarest personality type INFJ’s only make up less than 3% of the population. If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator you probably know what you’re categorized as but these are some signs of a classic INFJ.

1. You’re always in search of a deeper meaning. At work, in relationships, with friends, and interactions with strangers you’re continually looking at life and situations in an obscure way to discover what’s beyond the surface.

2. Although people have an easy time connecting with you sometimes you can be a difficult person to really know. You value your privacy and often feel like you can only be your “true self” around those closest to you.

3. You’re a highly empathetic and sensitive person with an innate ability…

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