Confessions of An Evangelical, White Girl To The Black Community; and Exhortations for The Human Experience to Anyone Who Will Hear

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I grew up cloistered in a pretty specific bubble in suburbia. The kind of bubble where you might have the cops called on you if you left junk in the front lawn, or let the grass get higher than two inches.

I saw the police up-close-and-personal only once a year, for National Night Out. One policeman would hand out badge stickers, and another would be dressed in the dog mascot costume.

I remember a coloring worksheet with the silhouette of a policemen and the caption that if ever I was in trouble, the police were my friends.

All the people in my neighborhood looked like me. 

I didn’t go to public school, so I never had friends from other backgrounds. Just me and all my evangelical, white brothers, and our evangelical, white friends from church.  By my late teens, I had a black friend, but because of the strong white influence, all his friends called him an “Oreo”: black on the outside, white on the inside.

I didn’t encounter black culture until my early twenties, when I moved to a predominately black neighborhood in Minneapolis.

And I didn’t encounter my own ingrained white privilege until the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

I was the person, in response to the news of violence against blacks coming from other states, that wanted to be bipartisan–a “peacekeeper.” I wanted to have all the facts. Generally, I assume the good in all people, both those who fall victim and those who perpetrate, and when Ahmaud Arbery was shot in Georgia while jogging (Feb. 23), I tried to withhold judgment until I had all the facts.

Now I see that “having all the facts” is a form of hiding, hiding from the kind of injustice that my spirit knows I am inadvertently apart of, and demands the entirety of my heart to set right.

The truth is, I didn’t go on to find all the facts–nor the truth–but got sidetracked by my birthday the following day, and my own comfortability. The happenings of the racist south were far from my little bubble in (unbeknownst to me, racist) Northern Minnesota. I had to go look up the spelling of Arbery’s name and the details of the story in order to write this.

I suppose ignorance like mine is why the powerful motto emerged in the wake of George Floyd’s passing: “Say his name.”

Say it, Grace, so that his life becomes real to you, so that you don’t forget he was in the middle of his story when another man, one who might’ve handed out sticker badges to white kids, ripped out the pages in the second half of his book.

Say his name, like the mighty pushing of a snowball down a hill, that justice may be given the chance to write an epitaph for all the names you didn’t know–Eric Garner (2014), Michael Brown (2014), Laquan McDonald (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Walter Scott (2015), Freddie Gray (2015), Jamar Clark (2015), Alton Sterling (2016), Philando Castile (2016), Stephon Clark (2018), Botham Jean (2018), Breonna Taylor (2020), and that justice may be given the chance to pen a revolutionary second half for the millions of stories of people of color in this world.

Waiting to “have all the facts” is the epitome of white privilege, that my bubble is so set up to shield me from the blatant racial profiling and prejudice of my neighbors and fellow man.

Waiting to “have all the facts” is part of why the black community has been waiting so long for social equality and justice. The longer I wait to engage the truth of my white circumstances, the longer my black neighbors wait out their own deaths in the streets, or in their beds.

The longer they wait to feel safe.

I can’t imagine the sensation of not feeling safe in my own home. The truth of my white circumstances is that I rarely feel unsafe. The truth of my white happenstance is that the world around me is created to pander to my pleasure, ego, and privilege. Why are the “nude” cosmetics at Target always in shades of beige? As beauty guru Christine says, “Nude is a concept, not a color.” For the black girl who also watches YouTube makeup tutorials, her “nude” is not beige, but a deeper tone that is rarely included in cosmetic marketing.

And why are the nude depictions of Adam and Eve always white-skinned? Or Santa Claus? White-haired, blue-eyed, rosy cheeked…. Did you know St. Nicholas was actually born in Turkey? It must’ve been a shock to his system to move from such a hot climate to the tundra of the North Pole, but all the Scandinavian children had to have their Christmas presents. It’s a tradition to honor their white Jesus getting gold, frankincense, and myrrh, you know.

Recently I watched a news clip from CNN where the anchor interviews NFL player Benjamin Watson in a follow up on his essay about Michael Brown being shot by a police officer. In both the essay and the clip, Watson says that “ultimately, it’s not a skin problem but a sin problem,” and goes on to express his beliefs that the solution to social inequality and injustice is not education but the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unsurprisingly, CNN cuts him off before he can finish.

I agree with Watson. Education goes a long way, especially in bringing awareness to the ignorant (put your hand up with me). But only grace transforms a bad heart. Only love heals what is broken. Only the blood of a perfect man breaks the bonds of captivity to one’s own selfish reality. We are all guilty of assuming our experience is everybody else’s experience. It’s the nature of ego, of the inner narrative. A child, regardless of their skin color, thinks their reality is the only one. As expressed by a little boy to a little girl in an argument, “You’re not real, I’m real!” Interestingly, they are arguing about a difference of opinion bestowed by their mothers, showing that the truth of their reality is heavily influenced by what is instilled in them by educators. When they grow up, their language will shift from “real vs. not real” to “right vs. wrong.” But the heart-cry is still the same–validate my real-ness.

Like the CNN anchor, much of the West doesn’t want a “religious” solution. They put racial inequality/injustice on the shoulders of the government to fix, policy-making and reform, and there is a place for that–an enormous place. But it’s also on the shoulders of white, evangelical, 26-year-old girls like me, who don’t vote because they wanted to be bipartisan, and didn’t realize that their vote really does have power to effect change. Every day, I can vote against the tide of white supremacy trying to buoy me up, both in government and in my inner narrative. I can look for other realnesses beyond my own, and for fault lines in my reality.

One “realness” is that of spiritual powers. Our battle is not with flesh and blood; like Watson said, the battle is not over skin color. White supremacy is a spirit with its claws in the belief systems of people. It is the same spirit of evil that generated slavery and the dominance of the Aryan race during Hitler’s regime. It can be as overt as the KKK or as subtle as a white Santa Claus. Every human heart is susceptible to it, but it begins as a power external to you, and it takes the discernment of the Holy Spirit to know what is the truth of your heart-thoughts and what are the thoughts of this pervading principality.

When I first moved to Minneapolis and walked Penn Avenue to and from work, I would hear voices telling me to walk on the other side of the street. “Cross over from that black man–he might hurt you.”

Never in my life had any person told me such a thing. Never in my life had I questioned the value of a person with a different skin color–red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight–or doubted my love for them.

I had to fight those voices, stay the course, look the person in the eye, smile, say hello.

You and I are not the enemy here.

You can see how such a thought, hard to distinguish as not your own, would begin to build a culture of racial profiling. We begin to associate “burglar,” “rapist,” “thug” thoughts with people of color, those who wear hoodies, or who are loitering/walking in a certain locale, and generalize the entire population that way. Racial profiling is what happened in every case of police-person of color death listed above. As soon as I agree and say in my heart, “Yes, I should walk on the other side of the street in case he intends to rape me,” that thought of an evil spirit becomes belief, and belief is what my actions are built on; then what strengthens and spreads throughout a society. If a person has bad thinking, they will have bad actions. If a society has bad group-think, it will have bad actions.

These thoughts would become my own–flourish in the fertile soil of the unredeemed heart–if I did not believe Jesus is my claim to righteousness, or have the Holy Spirit regenerating me.

Just as every heart is susceptible to evil spirits, they are also susceptible to the Holy Spirit. Any love in my heart for the black community originates in Jesus, and because of him, I know these are true: I am not a white supremacist, and I am still susceptible to white supremacist thoughts/beliefs and must deconstruct the instilling of any such education.

I also know that I have never before questioned my love for people of color, but suddenly find myself doing so. If you identify with what I’m preaching, I want to give you a word of reminder and encouragement.

There is another spirit, equally manipulative and gross, working in tandem with the white supremacist spirit–the religious spirit. The religious spirit had me questioning my Holy Spirit-dwelling heart if I love black people.

Maybe I don’t, I thought in a panic. I don’t even have black friends right now, and I always want all the facts! I’m not racist, but maybe I’m not anti-racist either! Quick, post an anti-racist blurb on social media so they know I’m not racist, I’m ANTI-RACIST.

As soon as I start agreeing that I’m neutral, I give power to neutrality.

As soon as I agree that I can never understand the black experience, I will never understand the black experience. (Who am I to limit what wisdom the Holy Spirit will give? It is in understanding that reconciliation begins to grow. It is my spirit-privilege to be privy to things impossible to the flesh.)

Rather, I should start agreeing that I’m anti-racist, because that agreement gives power to justice, and engages my heart in the black cause. The gap of their waiting narrows or widens with every agreement we make.

I say the burden of proof has always been on the one who asserts. If the spirit of white supremacy is accusing your heart of racism, let that spirit prove it. It has no power except that which you give, and if you are giving it power on the basis of mere accusation, you have need of some deep soul validation from your divine Creator (oh, look, something understandable to every other human experience on the planet!)

Similarly, if the spirit of religion asserts that you will never measure up to your part in reconciling people groups–to do better–you tell it that Jesus Christ finished the work of reconciliation on the cross, and you carry his ministry by the Holy Spirit. It is your destiny to reconcile heart-cries to their answers, whether through relationship, reform, or rearing the next generation that seeks to experience and celebrate the realities of others.

To myself, and my fellow Jesus-lovers: prove your assertions with a pure love.

It’s not enough to love people of color with reforms and policy-making, social media tirades or protesting. The basic needs of a human soul are not the right to vote or the right to own land, or the right to free speech or a fair trial–those are obvious “duh”s, and simply what makes a society flourish. The accomplishment of those things isn’t going to afford the black experience the dignity, safety, and honor that their human nature inherently deserves. Policy doesn’t validate human nature. Laws for equal treatment don’t validate a heart longing for intimacy and home.

Rather, human nature can validate human nature.

And in the deepest places, where a soul knows its existence is sacred and fears that it is not seen–there only divine nature validates human nature.

The God in you wants to validate the heart-cry in others.

To my friends with the white experience:

COVID-19 is giving a chance to go slower. Take the opportunity to find your heart and do the work of looking for the truth. Don’t be afraid of what you might find–you are loved; you are valid; you must grow. If you believe, you are covered in the blood of Jesus, and no one can condemn you.

Go slower, and go lower.

Go lower into humility. Beware the religious-spirit which serves the black community with a prideful heart. Pride/judgment is sibling to the supremacist.

Go lower until you find the bottom, where Jesus dwells.

To my neighbors with the colored experience:

To repent means to change your thinking. And when your thoughts change, your beliefs change, and when your beliefs change, your actions change.

I am repenting. Because I love the Lord, I am repenting. Because the Lord loves you, I am repenting.

Forgive me for living in my white-privilege bubble for so long. I’m trading it for my Jesus-privilege of sharing grace. I ask for your grace in this process of heart change, and patience for the fruit it will produce.

COVID-19 is a chance for your voices to be heard and amplified. We are responding to your call. Where our city is closed because of disease and rioting, my heart is opening to your suffering. You are loved; you are valid; you are growing. If you believe, you are covered in the blood of Jesus, and no one can condemn you, not even corrupt government. I desire to understand your suffering, to share in it as I share in Christ’s, and to see you get your full reward.

Now is your time.



Will We Ever Rise – The Brilliance


Overtaken – Molly Skaggs



Water wheel
Jon Uriah

I woke this morning to my heart bursting.

With ideas, dreams, desires.

Within half an hour, a little too much caffeine was added to the mix, making my insides reminisce about the peaceful days of early July, when fireworks exploded outside the body.

I’m not sure what happened.

Just that, when I went to sleep, I didn’t have the same capacity I experienced when I woke up.

Which is good, because there’s a wide selection to choose from on the To-Do list: three jobs notwithstanding, the lawn needs mowing, the garden weeding, the tomato plant (which is fruiting!!) needs support if I’m going to taste any of that fruit….

My heart feels a little like that tomato plant. Like desire has grown too quickly for the strength of my spine, and its weight is just…sort of pulling me over sideways.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about placemaking and sustainability.

I did the obvious things in response to the cultural hype of zero-waste living: ditch-and-switch all things plastic for bamboo, single-use for reusable.

I must’ve spent close to a thousand dollars, renovating the externals of my lifestyle for long-term goals, and I’m happy I did that.

But now the Lord is taking sustainability into deeper regions of my soul, with a word over this season: guardianship.

Similar to stewardship, to investment. Guarding the good he continually brings to my life.

It also means, “leave no thing orphaned.”

All the parts of my soul should be mothered and fathered. And all the things I put my hand to I must claim responsibility for. It’s incomplete to jump on a gardening trend because growing your own vegetables is sustainable, but leave behind the parts of your own heart that need tending.

Here’s what I’m realizing: it’s not enough to participate in a lifestyle switch just to participate in a lifestyle switch.

You have to cultivate desire for it. You have to answer the why first, and then the how.

I want to stop buying bread because it comes in plastic packaging, which never biodegrades but pollutes our oceans, but how will I get bread, then? Am I ready to undertake making my own gluten-free loaves? Do I have the capacity and the desire to make this a sustainable switch? (Presently, all things cooking- and food-related are burdensome to me.)

Or will I burn out, because I’m also abandoning clothes shopping since I have a sewing machine (that I barely know how to use)?

The truth is, abandoning a convenient, consumerist lifestyle for intentional, sustainable living is more work, not less (whatever the minimalists propone!). It’s a lot of work to mix your own mayo and DIY your own lotion. Apply that same intentionally to your work, to your relationships, your dreams, and your future, and you could burn out quickly if you launch prematurely.

But if you walk with God, you might also wake to an exploding heart because maturity is coming quickly.

See, the best part about receiving a word from the Lord is that it always comes with the equipping intact. He didn’t say guardianship to me as the next thing to learn. He said it to me as the next thing to practice. 

He’s already equipped me with the ability to guard, cultivate, and steward through his Spirit.

Now, to the furthest reach of my desire, I get to participate with the sustainability of his heart. It’s less about making a list of all the switches I want to make and more about cultivating an unmanageable desire.

Because then he has to give me a capacity to match.

And, really, what’s more intimidating to our faint hearts? The stress over biting off more than we can chew?

Or the untameable growth of a desire that’s heaven-sized?

In the face of a God who will always outdo us in dreaming, we choose to belittle our desire until it’s more manageable. Which sidles up a little too closely to soul-killing duty.

I don’t want to cook meals because it’s my duty to sustainable living. I don’t even want to cook meals because it’s my duty to the earth, to my own convictions, or to the Lord who entrusts me.

I want to cook meals because it’s my joy. And if I don’t have joy there, something orphaned in my heart needs a guardian.

Good thing I have the best keeper–one who has promised never to leave me or forsake me. With him, everything is to my advantage, and every advantage is sustainable.





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Kitty Thievery

Think of the ones you love–whether persons, hopes, dreams–

reach down deep
into the recesses of your tenuous, tired heart
and see that you have the strength to keep going
simply because you care.

He longs to join the caring,
as the one who raised it in you,
like a breadmaker who works his hands into the dough.

Let the yeast permeate–
let him work his caring deeper into you.

And yet,
so often,
we feel alone in caring.

Rather than tasting
the sweet warmth of freshly-baked bread,
we feel the tearing of crust from flesh,
the scabs of our past caring that left wounds.

Because caring hurts.
In this world, to care is to risk everything.

Do you feel it?
The temptation to turn it off.
Switch to autopilot,
switch to obligation,
switch to apathy.

The heat is turning up.
Don’t turn it off, friend.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit (John 12:24).

Then grain must be threshed before it can be dough.
Bread must go through the fire before it can be eaten.

Death is promised–and you will feel it–but it’s not permanent.

Your portion
is his hands cupped around bread, the breaking;
and his hands cupped around blood, the pouring.

Your portion
is communion with him in the needing,
and connection with him in the kneading,
and resurrection with him in the rising.

Your portion
is his care for your life.

If we could get the perspective of this breadmaker-caregiver,
could it change the risk in caring?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the Psalmist sings,
what is the son of man that you care for him? (8:3-4).

Lift your eyes a little higher than the heat.

(Jesus calls himself the “son of man,” remember?)

You have put him a little lower than God and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet (5-6).

Including discouragement, defeat, death.

Whether you are the one giving care or the one needing care,
or, like most of us, a little of both,
the man who was made perfect by the breaking, who was the first to do the raising,
is the one who wants to share in your suffering.

God wants to lend you his strength.
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong from yourself (Psalm 80:17).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you…
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:6, 7, 10).









watering can
PC: Glorin

I pass, for the first time, through the double-doors into the homemaker’s heaven:

Hobby Lobby.

Bright lights and long aisles and…instrumental Easter hymns playing over the loudspeaker?

Observing the 30-day devotionals and wall-hanging Bible inscriptions, I presume the owner is Christian.

Immediately overwhelmed by the size of the maze, I ask an employee to show me the chalkboard markers.

We pass rows of craft supplies, bolts of fabric, Easter bunnies and plants, picture frames and furniture.

I feel an unfamiliar conflict stirring up inside me, making it difficult to concentrate on the employee’s direction.

Excitement and inspiration (the endless possibilities of homed decorating!) colliding with something like…revulsion?

I pause briefly at an aisle that catches my interest, craning my neck to see to the top of shelving laid neatly with farmhouse-style goods. Serving platters and jars, kettles and bottles and baskets and spouts, all with distressed finishes, or that green/blue patina mimic of rusting copper.

My revulsion turns to anger. Someone is making a profit off somebody else’s insecurity and attempt to construct an identity through an aesthetic!

What someone would naturally achieve by living and laboring for generations on a real farm in the country is duplicated in a sweatshop in China for five dollars, then sold for quadruple to an American suburbanite who will change their theme in five years when the next trend emerges!

I’m all a righteous, red flush and rage.

Until I realize I am the one with the insecurity and constructed identity. I am the suburbanite, and the anger is the Lord’s.

Someone across the Sea is not making a fair wage in good working conditions so I can furnish a new house! This elusive home I’m trying to find and create, telling the Lord I will do it with him, but first not understanding what it is to be at home in his presence.

Not understanding the injustice done to others to fulfill my desire, which is a false identity in the first place. I’m compensating. A wooden chicken for the assurance that I belong.

Oh, Jesus, give me rest from this striving!

All that comes is vapor (Eccl. 11:8)…. And when we’re dead and gone, and the accumulation of our striving blown away with our last breath, all we’ve left is a crater-sized carbon footprint of the landfill junk that once constructed our worth.

What can I do against such reckless, pervasive sickness?

Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgement (11:9).

I pass, for the first time, through the double doors of the Earth Maker’s heart, and I find grief.

His grief over the system, my grief over missing his heart in all this. There is more of heaven’s will to be manifest on earth, in my life!

He’s preparing a place for me, the truest home. It’s available to me right now, in his heart.

Will I exchange my perfectly-curated, white-picket-fence, Christian-American dream?

After all, it’s just an illusion.



Picture: Juha M. Kinnunen

In my spirit, everything is white.

Like clean bedsheets. Like freshly laundered blankets and sheets and pillowcases whispering on the line.

Like light pouring through the window onto bare walls—not sunlight, varying in its golden tints, but plain, white light.

As this morning: the winter sky is overcast, though not slate-gray, but salt-white; and snow falls in the lightest, tiniest grains.

It is white above and white below,

and white coming through every opening to reach my soul.

Is this what it is to be a young wife?

White. Space. Peace.



Like snowflakes, quietly, exquisitely in freefall. The white, the space, the clarity, the snow—they fall around me with purpose: a mercy-covering for the ground in the cold season, blanketing seeds long-sown that will emerge with life and color in the spring.

Mercy for the hibernation.

I am slumbering under a cloud of white blankets and sheets, stirring long enough to turn over and find your body next to mine—still a surprise.

I’m not yet used to the permanence of your presence, this home you have made in my deepest places… and at the same time,

the recollection of life before you is slipping away.

Fox Hair

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Through the black bedroom window, I can see a full moon casting its iridescent glow beyond the limbs of the snow-saddled maple tree.

It reminds me of the pearl earring I removed before applying the henna dye to my hair.

I sit in an old white t-shirt and shower cap, looking like a mushroom with a little red fringe peeking out from underneath.

I mixed the powered henna plant with a little allspice and chamomile tea, a spoonful of white yogurt. The paste turns out green, but once applied, heated occasionally, and rinsed, turns my hair a fox-red, like the drawing of the animal on the box.

It’s a long-held girlish fancy of mine, to have red hair.

Without meaning to, my hair styles have come to coincide with whatever season I’m in with Jesus. A natural, physical reflection of a supernatural, spiritual reality.

Dreadlocks for a season of grieving, a shaved head for a new beginning, a pixie cut during true self-discovery, the disheveled, asymmetrical growing-out process during an overseas season of suffering…

This is a first for me, dyeing it other than a color close to my natural blonde.

But what’s the reason? What’s the season? Why is now the time when I take my interest seriously and go to a full-day’s effort to turn my hair red?

I suppose it’s a re-turn.

A returning to lots of things I would call “girlish fancies.”

Girlish fancies being the things we–Jesus and I–did at first, when I was young captured by romance, and long before I ever attributed the whispers of love to Jesus Christ, but only found “the ring around that moon enchanting.”*

Every few minutes I pick up the hair dryer and heat the shower cap through, and the shadows on the snowy yard shift slowly with the movement of the moon.

This is a returning to the natural, instinctual endearments of a child, before the first fracturing, the first heartbreak, the first clumsy attempt to bind–with self-protection, or people-pleasing mechanism, or withdrawn silence–the wound left by bitter, cynical adults who were all too eager to welcome you to “the real world.”

Let the little ones come to me.

A return to innocence and simple delight.

In the basement, I rinse my head over the laundry room sink and blow-dry the vibrant, wet strands, giggling nervously at the shocking red-orange tint.

The color will deepen, and shift ever-so-slightly, in the next few days.

Back under the covers, I lie awake in the company of a moon with its own orangish hue. I am a fox, flitting between shadows, striking red against the white snow.

I’m returning to my first love.



*See for reference: Anne of Green Gables

The Pizza Guy’s Here

© Columbia Pictures 2006

For a persuasive moment, I see the evening unfold before my eyes:

Me in sweats, an old beanie.

A movie on Netflix, likely a rom-com,

a glass of wine,

and a microwaved Lean Cuisine, still in its plastic tray.

The vision jams in my mind’s eye and begins skipping on replay, mocking my Friday night, Saturday night, every night for the rest of my life;

and, really, it’s the sequence from every rom-com ever made, showing the same scene over a time lapse, only with a different sweater, a different lounging position, and a mound of take-out cartons piling up.

I suppose it’s all those rom-coms that’ve stuck the scene in my head in the first place.

Still, there’s an appeal in it.

Netflix has got some great originals…and French wine is available at Top Valu for under ten bucks.

As I move toward it in my heart, with victimized resignation, my spirit does a backwards somersault, as if trying to create reverse momentum. Why would you choose that?

Obviously I have no comeback that would satisfy my honest places. Excuses are for the parts of us that have already departed from the truth, and the Spirit only deals in truth.

It’s aggravating in this moment, but truth is the most satisfying channel of life right now, aggravating because it’s also quite narrow in its permission. I’d give anything to be working an evening shift, or unpacking boxes in a new apartment, or even to have a book I’m excited to read (taking suggestions, by the way.)

Truth, by its nature, is sufficient, however. Even however limiting it may feel. You can spend many an evening with nothing to do, no one to do it with, and apparent little to look forward to, and still be satisfied with only the truth.

The truth of who Jesus is for you, and who you are to him.

The truth is that a lifelong addiction to romantic comedy is not my destiny–pardon my French. (Are we confessing the truth? Because I’m drinking French wine as I write this. Don’t worry, I’m not under its influence. I ate the Lean Cuisine earlier, and it was full of rice.)

Why am I taking up a victimized heart posture as if that’s all I amount to? Even for a single evening, I don’t have to resign myself to less than who I am created to be.

Truth is like your friend, the pizza-delivery guy, who always arrives in the last fainting moments of craving, with permission to be honest like an extra side of cheesy bread.

(Tip that guy, because no one delivers like the Holy Spirit.)

Honesty ushers in grace, and grace is the channel to receive love–a need of which you buffered a rom-com in the first place.

Take whatever it is you do on an aimless evening and ask yourself: why do I do this?

And then ask yourself, is it consistent with the truth in me?

The truth is, I’m supposed to be on the wrestling mat of my soul, where Holy Spirit wants to pin me.
Instead I’m bobbing-and-weaving around him, avoiding some painful truth–’cause let’s be honest, truth is also the scalding cheese on top of the pizza that blisters the roof of your mouth for a week.

…I’m boxing the air, feigning a warmup, because I know I’m supposed to be wrestling him, I’ve just left the honest place for Excusez-moi, there’s just one thing I need to do first…

My spirit knows it, it’s telling me so. It’s practically doing gymnastics in my stomach, and I think drinking wine is the solution to decompress??

It’s called a holy unrest, people.

It’s meant to agitate, to get you to pay attention to the fact that your soul is not free. Your freedom is the best tip you could give Holy Spirit.

During these aimless evenings, whether it’s momentary or a movie-marathon, slow down enough to confess the truth: you are made for more than what you’d choose for yourself.

Then ask Jesus, what exchange would you make? 

I bet you every evening of the rest of my life he’ll tell you this truth: I’ll give you my life for yours.



Maybe it all started when I chose underwater-breathing as my superpower.

You see, throughout my childhood, I loved the idea of magic. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the RingsHarry Potter.

I reenacted the stories, and wrote my own, full of magical weapons, secret lands, and girl-heroes.

When I reached adolescence, romance was the magic. I loved chick-flicks like Serendipity and You’ve Got Mail, stories of chance meetings and stars aligning, and belief making impossibilities normal.

But when I met God a number of years ago, it became a problem.

Here was an all-powerful being, who, I finally started to believe, loved me unconditionally, with all the magical possibilities of my romantically-saturated heart at his disposal. Because I didn’t yet know him, I innocently assigned portents for the way he worked. He’s a God of signs and wonders, after all.

You (might) know, stuff like seeing “signs” in the letters on a license plate or searching for meaning in nature. The eagle became a sign of fulfilled promise, the color fuschia a representation of spiritual condition, my extra heartbeat a harbinger of holding people’s stories…

I never could prove for certain that it was God, though, so eventually I gave it up. Along the line, I realized I had to believe God at his word, not at the demonstration of his powerful arm.

I had to trust that he loved me when he said, “I love you,” instead of inserting him into the ways I wanted to feel loved.

Nevertheless…I still maintain that belief in signs is evidence of our intrinsic desire to be intimately known.

Fast-forward three or four years to summer 2017.

While I was soaking in prayer and worship one day, I saw in my spirit an image of an aquaman suit. Not the superhero, the diving suit, the shoulders and helmet-head, mostly. Something like this:


I had no idea what it meant, but I filed it away.

Six months later, in Ireland, I saw this colorful mural painted on a wall in Belfast:

extramural activity
© 2017 Extramural Activity 

I still didn’t know what it meant, but I laughed.

Six months after that, I saw (belatedly) DC’s Justice League, in which the superhero Aquaman appears as a side-character.

I laughed a second time.

Another six months, bumping into last week, when I saw the Aquaman movie in theaters, thoroughly appreciating the underwater fantasy world and story of Atlantis.

It wasn’t the ethereal setting or snarky script or Aquaman’s body that captivated me, however. The magic happened for me at the three-quarter mark, when the protagonists pursue Neptune’s Trident to the Sahara Desert, of all places.

An aerial camera provides a sweeping view of the ocean rolling onto the shore of the Sahara Desert, where I had been myself not two weeks before.

My shout of laughter from the front of the theater turned to silent tears.

In an instant I was transported to the pink-orange sand of the dunes, the scorch of the sun, the trickle of sweat down my back. I smelled fish, and felt the rush of icy water and broken shells, and heard the flap of tent sides.

I remembered standing in the swell of foamy green sea on the edge of the African continent, with the dunes at my back, and hearing the voice of God promising to carry me out of the longest, darkest season of my life.

Now here I was, sitting in an American theater, watching the last two years roll before my eyes like an old movie reel, the faithful love of God at my back, bookmarked by the image of an aquasuit.

Tell me he isn’t a God of his word, and a God of signs and wonders.


Dandelion Humility


I meet the dandelions at their level.

On my stomach in the backyard, I notice the grass needs to be mowed–it’s getting on four or five inches tall. The bright yellow weeds poke their heads out, leaning toward the sun like she’s their mother, like that’s where they get the family resemblance.

Dandelions are an emblem of humility, I decide. They don’t think more of themselves than they truly are (spoiler alert: they’re a weed) but neither do they think less of themselves than they rightfully deserve. Look at the way they populate without apology, like the lawn is their Eden and the sun has just commanded them be-fruitful-and-multiply.

As a result, they’re the most unpretentious floret around, sprinkling the landscape with a quiet happiness, bowing left and right to the source of their life.

My proverbial hat to you, Dandelion the Humble. Out of curiosity, I look up the definition of “bow.” Merriam and Webster say it is “to cease from competition or resistance” and “to incline [the head] especially in respect or submission.”

The dandelions make me think of competing gladiators, those stubborn, resilient weeds of the Roman Empire. One bested warrior sinks to his knees before his opponent, bowing his head to expose the back of his neck, the fragile vertebrae and fibrous nerves that will shatter and split under the incising of a steel blade.
Or civilians, taken into captivity by an invading army, bowing to the General, entrusting their lives to him–their faith that, in ceasing resistance and submitting to vulnerability, they will be shown mercy.

∴ ∴ ∴

I think about mowing the backyard, to earn my keep, but then I would decapitate the dandelions. Besides, Mom and Dad aren’t making me earn my keep. I won’t have any dues until August, because I’m still paying rent at a house in the city.

I moved back home with three months to go because I need something from my dad that I can get nowhere else–a voice. A voice telling me who I am, what I’m worth. It’s also a season of refathering with God, the ultimate voice, which actually looks like silence, stillness, and afternoons in the sunshine watching dandelions grow.

It’s a season to observe humility. Learning the cadence of brokenness, openness, and receptivity like seeds of a dandelion that loosen with the slightest breeze, catching in the sunbaked earth, sprouting offspring. Learning who you are and where you come from, so your life will carryover the impact of one who is loved.

I bow to the dandelion, student of humility.

∴ ∴ ∴

One of the things God did voice to me was his promise to take care of me. Among the major transitions of the spring was my decision to write full-time. I stopped job-hunting, come what may, and started writing. And waiting.

And waiting some more.

And now I am stressing about how to pay rent at a house I’m living in. Bow to the inevitable penury of the life of a struggling writer!

Until I come out here, to these fields of green and gold, and hear the long-standing promise of a Teacher of humility: Look at the flowers, how they grow…they do not toil or spin, yet I promise you, not even King Solomon dressed as gloriously. If your Father so clothes the grass, alive today and fading tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you, you of little faith!*

Faith. The act of bowing before your lord, exposing the vulnerable places of your life, and trusting that you will receive mercy.

Humility. To see yourself as you truly are, nothing more and nothing less, as he dictates. And he says I am at least a higher priority than the dandelions…

Voice. To confess who you are, to speak it aloud. To know your worth and declare it. (Isn’t it the first thing they teach you in a writing class? “Find your voice. No one else can write like you.”) And how do you learn his voice–the ultimate authority on words–except to be silent and listen, to hear from the time you are a seedling that. you. matter.?

And how do you cultivate your inner voice except to bow to his, stopping your silly resistance to needing validation, submitting to the humility of receiving help, and demonstrating faith that people will hold your vulnerability with mercy.

Oh, to meet the Lord on his level! To be lifted out of the gravitational pull of worry and striving and self-sufficiency, to be like a dandelion of the field, casting her crowns.

Here today, gone tomorrow, I am a seedling on the wind.

But this fragile, soon-forgotten life is re-sowing seed of a simple, bowing promise: that love will take care of you, and never let you go.







A Feeding Friendship

These are my friends, Joe and Matthew, on a hike up Cave Hill, N. Ireland.

Last autumn, Jesus told me to open up my heart, that he wanted to teach me friendship.

Nine months later, I’ve barely begun to understand what the concept is, nevermind the actually being of a friend.

All I know is, I have to learn his friendship toward me before I can be a friend to anyone.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked his friend for the third time.

“You know I love you,” Peter answered, injured that his master kept pressing the question.

“Then feed my sheep.”

What was Peter internalizing after that exchange, after Jesus promises him a painful remainder of his life, and commands him to follow anyway?

I wonder if Peter internalized the same things I’m realizing about friendship.

Jesus isn’t being manipulative–if you love me, then you will…x, y, and z. He isn’t like men, with muddled motive and masked insecurity. He isn’t bossy.
Didn’t he say to his disciples before his crucifixion, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his master is doing, but I call you friends”?
Jesus was giving Peter another chance, based on what he knew about his friend. Peter’s heart had changed since the resurrection. His faith was ripe, his fear of men eradicated.

For the three times he had denied knowing Jesus before men, Jesus gave him three times to declare his love in a newly-resurrected heart.

I feel Peter’s heartbreak. I know what it is like to look Jesus in the face and wish I had never denied him, to try to convey the depth of a new commitment because of the grace he showed.

The funny thing is, Jesus knows even better than I do. No one has explored the depth of my loyalty more than he, and no one is excited for me to discover it myself more than he. He knows how compelling and far-reaching his grace is.

He knew the life Peter would live and the death Peter would die, an upside-down crucifixion. He lets Peter–the man who once, rather, three times, denied him–in on the secrets things is doing. He calls him friend.

And tells him to feed his sheep.

Why? Why doesn’t he respond to Peter’s emphatic I-love-yous with “I love you, too”?That’s what friends usually do, isn’t it?

Nope. Feed my sheep. Not as in, Take-care-of-my-pets-while-I’m-on-vacation-in-heaven, but as in, Give-yourself, broken-body-poured-out-blood-for-the-life-of-the-world.

The bread I give for the life of the world is my flesh, Jesus preaches in his most offensive sermon ever (John 21). 
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Bread of heaven, broken and given for us on the cross.
You are my friends, if you do what I command.
Feed his sheep. Give the broken, redeemed bits of my flesh for the life of a friend, because he did the same for me.

And because I love him now.

For each time I have disowned and rejected him, I have experienced an equal grace to instead love him with the love he gives.

Only from that place can I learn to offer his broken-body friendship to those who are starving.

And only from that place can I receive the friendship I so desperately crave. I just wanna eat you up, so to speak…. Because you will nourish me, help me grow, mature, and change into the glorious woman of Christ’s making.

Because we are made for fellowship, the breaking and partaking of bread. We are meant to partake of one another’s brokenness in order to taste the sweetness of Jesus’ perfect wholeness.

We were made to be friends, you and I.

We are made to be friends, you and I, and Jesus.