Uprooted.

For the last six months a common question I’ve asked myself is this:

What lies need to be uprooted today?

I’m realizing the more work I do to work towards wholeness the more I have to come face to face with my own unhealthiness, with the lies I’ve always believed and the parts of me I would rather not focus on. It’s not always enough to just acknowledge these things…you’ve gotta roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel and do the work to uproot them.

Author Sarah Bessey tells a story about how her family moved to a new house and they kept noticing patches of grass dying and mold growing. They would dig that part up and plant more, but it would just happen again. Come to find out from an old neighbor, a tree used to grow in the yard and after it was cut down the stump was left underground. It was killing the grass above. The grass couldn’t grow in a healthy way until the whole tree stump was uprooted.

I think this is how lies work in our life. Even if we know they’re there, they’re still going to be destructive unless we do the work to uproot them.

At some point we believed that we would never be good enough so every day we seek and strive to show that we are.

At some point we believed that we weren’t pretty enough so we live every day avoiding mirrors or buying the next thing that will make us look better.

At some point we believed that we always had to be strong so we live every day pushing away any weakness that comes up and putting on a happy face.

At some point we believed that one life matters more than another whether that’s because of a difference in skin color, socioeconomic status, birthplace, sexuality or religion so we live every day thankful we’re not like “them”.

At some point we believed that there’s not enough for everyone, that scarcity is the way so we live every day making sure we get what’s ours.

At some point we believed that in order for me to belong someone else can’t so we live every day glancing side to side, trying to stay relevant and not finish last.

At some point we believed that life is black and white and there’s a set of rules to live by so we live every day in shame if don’t stay on the “right” side.

The lies could go on and on. These lies make us live in fear, they make us live in shame, they make us think we’re not enough and the more time that goes on the deeper they take root.

It’s not good enough to just know they’re there. We have to uproot these lies that have grown deep into our souls.

My prayer every day is that God would uproot the lies that have taken root in my soul and that freedom and truth would bloom in their place. It’s hard work, but it’s the best work.

Uprooting these lies and replacing them with truth allows growth to happen. With the lies cleared out, the truths can be planted and actually take root.

So instead…

We believe we are enough and live every day ceasing the striving and resting in our God-breathed worth.

We believe we are beautiful and live every day in confidence that we don’t have to meet any beauty standards, but we’re beautiful because we are who we are.

We believe that no one can be strong all the time and live every day knowing it’s okay to be weak sometimes.

We believe not one life matters more than another and live every day disarming any talk of other and do our part in writing a better story.

We believe that there could be enough for everyone and live every day looking for abundance and how to live with open hands.

We believe that we all belong, we belong to each other and live every day connecting instead of comparing and realizing where I am is not where you are and that’s okay.

We believe that in life there are a whole lot of shades of grey and live every day ripping up our checklist, saying goodbye to shame and living into freedom.

Can you see the new, fresh sprout growing? Can you see the new life that comes when we uproot the lies that poison our souls?

Don’t get me wrong, it is hard, hard work, but it is the most rewarding work.

It’s soul work. It’s “your Kingdom come your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven work.” It’s wholeness work. It’s worth it work.

uproot the lies that have taken root in my soul and that freedom and truth would bloom in their place

Photo courtesy of inhabitat.com

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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Dear Exhausted Job Applicant

Dear Exhausted Job Applicant,

I see you. I see you over there trying to word “I would love to work for your organization” in three different ways so they really understand that you want this job. I see you rewriting and rewriting cover letter after cover letter, researching another organization and trying to formulate your resume to make it look like you’re qualified, because you know you are but  “on paper” it seems like you’re not. I see you getting your hopes up, sending every resume off with a prayer and then hanging your head when there’s silence on the other end. I see you.

You try and remember that your value isn’t in your work, but it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard when you enjoy working and know that is where you find joy and now you don’t have the certainty of that. You try and remember it’s normal that people change jobs and job hunt all the time. You try and remember that “God is in control” and all the truths you know you’re supposed to remember, but it’s hard.

It’s hard when you feel like you’ve been led to let go of where you are in order to grab onto what’s next. It’s hard when what’s next isn’t clear. It’s hard when people stare at you like a crazy person when you say you are leaving one job without knowing what’s next. It’s hard when you felt such peace about your decision, but then nothing seems to be working out. It’s hard when you’re just trying to do the next right thing and then all of a sudden you’re not sure what the next right thing is. It’s hard when you don’t want to doubt and be confused, it’s hard to not be terrified all the time.

It’s easy to stop applying and just hope something works out. It’s easy to have a pity party and complain. It’s easy to beat yourself up and give into the fear. That’s the easy part…but that’s not where beauty shines through.

Beauty shines through when someone looks at you, not like you’re crazy, but says they’re proud of you. Beauty shines through when a peace that surpasses all understanding fills your soul. Beauty shines through when even when it’s easier to have the pity party and believe the lies that you made a mistake you choose to replace the lies with truth. You’ll slowly feel the truth cement in your heart and start to grow roots in your soul. Beauty shines through when even with all the unknown and the time of transition, people come alongside you and hold up your hands and remind you that it’s going to be okay. Beauty shines through when people extend you the grace, compassion and understanding that you’re having a hard time extending to yourself.

So, exhausted job applicant, let me replace some lies with truth for you. You are not your job or your occupation. You have value regardless of what you do because you are not what you do, you are who you are. If you know God led you to a decision or a choice and it doesn’t seem like he’s showing up, remember all the examples in your life before and how he’s been faithful. Why would he stop now? Also, people don’t get hired overnight. Some of us who are impatient and like for things to happen right now have a hard time remembering this (Of course I’m not talking about myself…).

This is getting long and you’re already tired from all those cover letters and resumes so let me tell you these last things. It’s okay that this is hard. It’s okay to grieve what you’re letting go of and still be excited about what’s next. It’s okay to have a pity party, just don’t stay there for long. It’s okay to be dramatic, but just make sure you have a good friend there to let you know when you’re getting ridiculous. And remember, you need people. Even if you’re coping mechanism with all this is to retreat into yourself, don’t retreat all the way. Remember we’re not meant to do life alone. There are people who want to be there for you, give people a chance to show up and let that beauty shine through amidst your circumstances.

I see you and I’m with you.

Love,

Abby aka An Exhausted Job Applicant

The Beauty of Community.

I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend in Michigan with some of my favorite people. The beginning of the trip was with family and the end of the trip with friends. It was refreshing and exhausting all at the same time, but overall, it was just what I needed.

No matter where I live or where I go, Michigan will always be home. Staring out the big window in my parent’s living room and looking out to the backyard, sitting on the beach, playing in the waves at Lake Michigan and soaking in the sunsets are where I find peace.

That weekend I didn’t even spend much time at my actual house, but I was with people in lots of different places. It made me realize home isn’t always a place, but it can be who you’re with too.

My friends and I rented a house for the weekend. We’ve been planning this trip for almost a year and we managed to find a time where all eleven people could come from five different states to one of our favorite places, Lake Michigan. When everyone arrived, my heart felt like it would burst because it was so full.

Some of these friends I have known since I was a baby, some of them elementary school, some high school and some have “married into” the group, but regardless of the length of time each person has been in my life, they each mean so much to me and have a piece of my heart.

The weekend was a healing balm and jumpstart to my heart, all at the same time. One group got dinner ready, while others played cornhole and others talked on the porch. We played game after game after game. We sprinted across the sand to meet the sunset. We talked life plans and caught up in ways that can only happen in person. We settled into each other’s presence and picked up where we left off. We jabbed and joked with each other and went back and forth, where others may look in and wonder if we’re more like siblings than friends. But that’s the beauty in community, just because we don’t share blood, doesn’t mean we can’t be our own kind of family.

With each burst of laughter, each heart shared, each question asked, every joke made and every smile exchanged, I just saw beauty. Beauty in friendship, beauty in bonds that last through change, through moves, through life transitions, beauty in new friends and marriages and babies and life milestones celebrated, beauty in community and beauty in the ability to sit down, pick up where you left off and really be together. States, time and life might separate us, but that doesn’t mean the beauty is gone. It just means we have to hang on to it when we can and know it’ll be there the next time we’re together.

We are meant for community. This weekend was a testament of that truth for me. We are meant to open ourselves up to each other and do life together. We are meant to encourage, comfort and listen to each other. We are meant to enjoy, laugh and have fun together. We are meant to be a part of each other’s story.

I am so thankful for the community I have and that through the people who exist within my different communities and “families” that I am able to see and experience so much love and so much beauty.

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All the lovelies with our cute little banner…geez, these people are the greatest!

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.

Your song.

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I read recently in the book, Faith-rooted Organizing, Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel, a really great story. I am privileged to have Alexia as a professor this semester and I have learned so much from her! Not just about organizing, but about faith and life and it has been one of my favorite classes.

In her book she shares this:

In several regions in Africa, when a woman is pregnant, she must gather in the forest with other mothers and members of the community to discern the song of her baby. They all sing the song while she is giving birth so that the baby will be born well. When that baby grows up and begins their education or their career, or at any other important moments of life, they remember and sing their song. When they find their life partner, they sing a duet. When they are dying, the whole community sings their song. When a person has committed a crime, they also gather the community, place the offender in the middle and sing them their song to remind them of who they are.

I just think this is one of the coolest things. My first response to this was, wow, what an illustration of community! This is what the Kingdom should be about. Not only do others prioritize helping a mother discern the song of her child, but this community remembers this specific child’s song…they remember who he/she is. They call him or her back to who they are.

How affirming that must be for someone. For so many people to care for you and to sing your song in celebration and in death, to care enough that even if you commit a crime…they gather to sing it to you, as a reminder. When I first read this I thought it was going to say they bring the offender in the middle and take away their song or strip away their rights (this shows how ingrained our penal and judicial system is in my head), but rather, they gather the community, place the offender in the middle and sing them their song to remind them of who they are. WOW. What grace, what a way to approach someone with dignity even if it may not be “deserved”. It’s not letting the person off the hook or absolving responsibility, they’re not backing away, but rather confronting and calling them back to who they know they really are. It’s beautiful.

This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read recently and I realized that although a literal song may not have been discerned over me when I was born, I still have a song. We all do. We all were uniquely created to be who we are, whether we’re fully and wholly that person yet or not. I am so fortunate to have people in my life who sing my song with me in celebration and who remind me who I am.

My hope and prayer is that I can do that for others too…that we would all do that for each other.  That we realize the importance of knowing others’ song…that we’re not afraid to sing that song to them, to remind them of who they are. The world would be a better place if we all recognized that each and every person has a song. Sometimes people just need to be reminded of who they are and that everyone’s lives matter and that everyone has a song.