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

Out of Sorts.

Have you ever felt like you had it all figured out and then you didn’t? Maybe that you knew exactly what you believed about that one thing and then you realized, wait, maybe I don’t know what I think? Or that at one time the world was really black and white and everything you believed made sense…and then it didn’t? Have you had doubts, felt more like you’re wandering in the wilderness every Sunday morning rather than sitting in that comfortable church pew?

My answers to all these questions? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. My faith has always been a part of who I am, but it has changed and evolved over the years. Sometimes it has made sense to me, other times it hasn’t. Sometimes I welcomed the changes and sorting out with open arms and sometimes I clenched my fists and fought against the feeling that I need to let go of these ideas that I always thought were right. Sometimes I felt really alone, other times I felt like just when I thought it was just me out here wandering, I would see Jesus and a friend would come alongside me too. In her new book, Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey is that friend.

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Sarah Bessey is one of my most favorite authors and her new book did not disappoint. I think every other line is underlined and I’ve lost count of the number of times “yes!”, “amen”, and “me too” fill the margins. It’s packed full of so much truth. It’s her story of how her faith has evolved and how she has made peace with that, but through her story you are confronted with so much truth. Truth that makes you dig deep, that makes you reflect on your own story. Her words remind us that we’re not alone and that God is oh so present in the sorting out. I see my story in her story.

It’s hard for me to articulate all the goodness found within Sarah’s writing so I think I’ll have to do a series of posts about it, but whether she’s writing about the Kingdom of God, community and friendship or the Church, her words drip with truth, life and light. It’s clear her writing is Spirit led and this writing is necessary and important to us all. It made me feel less alone and has helped me make peace with my evolving faith and I think it will for you too.  Sarah explains what the book is about, “Really, it’s a book about not being afraid. This is my way of leaving the light on for the ones who are wandering.”

Sarah also says, “There are many of us out here sorting, I think. This might be a small candle, but I’ll set mine on the lamp stand and you can set yours there too — and maybe our glow will light the path of others.” So join us on this lighted path so you can join your candles with ours and we can remember that we’re not on this journey alone.

{I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for Out of Sorts, which means I received an advance copy of the book in order to review it and spread the word about it. I didn’t receive any compensation for this, just the benefit of reading it so I can tell everyone how great it is and that you should buy it! You can find it on Amazon here.}

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I was so excited to get the book! Seriously…go get your copy!!!

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And just in case you need any more reason to love the book, there are the cutest printables with some of the themes from the book that you can find here.

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!

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.

Lies.

I’ve been reminded lately how we are surrounded day in and day out by lies. Some of the them are so common and subtle that we don’t even notice we are taking them in. Others stare us in the face, but we believe them.

I don’t want to sit across from a teenage girl and listen to her tell me she will never amount to anything because that’s what those around her tell her. I don’t want to sit across from a friend and listen to her tell me she is ugly and no one will ever think she’s beautiful. I don’t want to sit across from a child and listen to her tell me she hates herself.

I hear these things all the time. It hurts me to hear people believe these lies. But then I look at myself and realize how often I believe these lies. How many times have I thought to myself that I am anything but beautiful? How many times have I believed that I will never really do anything with my life?

Lies. Lies. Lies.

I want to sit across from this teenage girl and tell her she will amount to something because she is smart, she has the kindest, selfless heart of any teenager I’ve ever met, and she loves deeply. I want to sit across from my friend and tell her she’s more beautiful than she will ever know. I want to sit across from this child and tell her she is loved, she is beautiful, she was created for a purpose by a God that loves her more than me or anyone around her ever will and she is good.

I want to whisper truth across the souls of these precious and wonderful people. I want them to know they were created for a reason, that they are part of a bigger story, and that they belong to a God who fiercely loves them. I can say this with confidence because I struggle with these very things and I have felt that still, small voice whisper across my soul that I am beautiful, I am loved and I was meant to live and live life abundantly.