Fear Not: How We Should All Be Living this Christmas

Fear Not: How We Should All Be Living this Christmas

She climbed up on stage, a bright-eyed three-year-old, and said it so softly, full of wonder: “Jesus!” And it was all I could do not to cry. If only we all approached Christmas the same way: eyes wide open right up to the edge of the manger, peering into the face of God.

I’ve been asking it all season this year: what is Christmas all about anyway? Courage, the Spirit whispered in my ear. Christmas takes courage.

Ann Voskamp and A Charlie Brown Christmas taught me all about it yesterday:

The spirit of Christmas—is about not having a spirit of fear.

It was the very first lesson of Christmas: living courageously. The angel appeared to Mary and the shepherds—proclaiming both times, “Fear not!” Over 2,000 years later, we’re all gathering in churches and homes, all around the world, waiting to celebrate again that miraculous Thing that changed the world forever.

And we’ll never forget it, not til the end of time: that God so loved us all that God pulled on human skin and entered the world through the holiness of a woman, lowering Godself to save us from ourselves.

Jesus killed Death when he rose from the Tomb, and I’d argue that Fear is a form of Death, wouldn’t you? Jesus came and lived and died and rose again, so that we could live unhindered by all types of Death.

So, this Christmas—let’s live into the Spirit of Christmas. The one Ann Voskamp told us about:

Maybe the Christmas Spirit is letting go—to let the Spirit move.

Maybe the Christmas Spirit—is about letting the Spirit heal you.

Maybe the Christmas Spirit—means: Reconcile for Christmas.

This Christmas, let’s let it all fly into the face of Fear and reconcile—to each other, to ourselves, to the Church and God.

 

My Top 5 Books of 2017

My Top 5 Books of 2017

I love the end of the year! Or maybe it’s the beginning of the year I really enjoy. Either way, this time of year—as we say goodbye to one year and hello to the new—is one of my favorite times of the year.

One of the reasons it’s my favorite time of the year is because everyone begins posting their “Top 5 Books of the Year” lists. These lists fascinate me! Not only are they are great ways to find new books to read, but you can always get to know a person better by the books they love.

Here’s the books I’ve fallen in love with this year:

  • Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans — This was the exact book I needed this year as I moved from my huge, non-denominational Evangelical church into a small, progressive mainline Protestant congregation. Everything was so confusing and messy and I was convinced that I would never find a home outside of Evangelicalism. With these words, Rachel Held Evans ushered me into a bigger, better world of faith.
  • Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places by Kaitlin Curtice — This book is a game-changer. I prayed it over my house days before we moved in, blessing this new home with Kaitlin Curtice’s powerful words. If you’re looking for God, you’ll find the One you’re searching for in these pages. You’ll start looking and, before you know it, God will be everywhere: in your morning coffee, on the wind, within each and every person you meet.
  • Of Mess & Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker — I’m not sure I have awaited the release of any other book quite like I did this one. I don’t know about you, but I needed to be reminded how to live this life with joy. Let these words remind you that there is glory and delight even amidst the wild and messy. Don’t let it scare you: we are all full of moxie.
  • Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors — I had the incredible privilege of being on the launch team for this book, and it definitely did not disappoint! I laughed and cried through the entire thing, learning more about God and God’s character than I ever have from one single work. Is God really good? Does God really love us? If you’re finding yourself asking questions like these, this book is for you.
  • You are Free: Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons — I heard her say it on a podcast and I knew I needed to read the book: “Anxiety had become my fancy word for fear.” I’ve been looking back on 2017, reflecting and remembering, and the word that keeps coming to mind is fear. This year was so full of fear for me. If there’s anything I want to embrace in 2018, it is freedom. This book is honest, compelling, encouraging—pushing us all to be more fully who we were created to be.

What books have moved, changed, or challenged you this year?

 

 

 

How to Survive the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

How to Survive the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional and I strongly urge anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder to get help by confiding in a parent, trusted friend, pastor, doctor or counselor.

Can you believe it? Here we are, already in the midst of the holidays again. Having Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all lined up in a row always feel like a one-two-three punch, each holiday following just a few weeks after the other.

And we all know what that means: food, food, and more food. American culture has fused holidays and food together. Between family gatherings and church potlucks and school parties, we end up stuffed by January 1st.

For those of us who struggle with an eating disorder (about 20 million women in America), this time can be especially uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. It can seem like no matter where we go, we are assaulted by turkey, candy, and beautifully decorated Christmas cookies.

We cannot avoid food (and we shouldn’t!), but there are a few ways to reduce our food-related anxiety and minimize panic:

Continue reading this article at Pursue Magazine here >>

When you need to remember how to dream

When you need to remember how to dream

December 12, 2016

For someone who finds herself in an anxiety-induced frenzy during the changing of seasons of life, I absolutely adore the changing of the seasons of weather.

I love the thawing of the earth as Winter moves into Spring and new green life peeks through the mud when the rain finally stops pounding the dirt. I love Spring leaping into Summer with magnificent thunderstorms and steamy days spent sweating and smiling and running, determined to soak up every second of sunlight and every minute of the still lengthening days. I love Summer fading into Fall, falling back in time, remembering that sleep is important and watching golden wheat be run down to feed America.

Where I’m from, where people rise before the sun and work straight through lunch and dinner because crops don’t pay attention to the time of day, Harvest is a sacred season. 

There is something beautiful, holy almost, about mowing down still growing life to feed Human Life and it reminds me of a Savior who laid down His life for ours – and I find Love and Grace and Peace in the fields. 

But my favorite season change is Fall into Winter. 

Winter is a quiet season. It makes time and space for reflection and planning and just being. Snow falls thick on the ground and covers the earth like a protective blanket, encasing what creates Life in every other season for a Season of Rest. The dipping temperatures and the low-hanging clouds and the bare tree branches against pale gray skies invite us into a Season of Rest too.

Let the world keep its frantic shopping sprees and jokes about awful in-laws and stressful holidays. Let the world burn with envy if it insists, but give me Rest. 

When Winter blows into my corner of the world, I build a fort to keep me warm and quiet until Spring showers come knocking.

My fort is built of yarn and knitting needles, of twinkling lights and old Christmas records, of blue pens and crinkled paper inked with words that feel too personal to speak aloud, and of hot food cooked in a crock pot and peppermint coffee.

And every year, as I finish my fort and step back to examine my work, I’m reminded that forts are only helpful in the cold and bitter seasons when they are shared. 

So I tidy up a bit and I boldly write the words I want to share large on the walls of my fort. If you were to come visit, you would see them.

Across the door, it’s loud with joy: WELCOME.

Inside, it’s written daringly, scandalously: LOVE RESIDES HERE. PEACE ABOUNDS HERE. GRACE OVERFLOWS HERE.

And I would invite you in. I would wrap you in a hug and a quilt stitched with love from tiny scraps of fabric I found under my bed, like a mosaic of shards from a broken heart sewn into something new. I would stoke the fire and it would roar wildly to remind us that Life does not die in the Winter. 

I would let the tea kettle screech as I whisper the words you need to hear and then pour the hot water into colorful mugs and we would watch the steam curl into the air, like our dreams rising out of the dust.

“Tell me yours,” I would ask, searching your eyes with my own, as if I could use them to peer into your soul. You would whisper softly everything you long for in life and I would smile at your courage.

“Anything is possible,” I would say, daring you to believe.

We would begin speaking it into existence, splashing our dreams bright against the white walls, our voices growing louder and the words coming faster with excitement. We would get caught up in the magic of believing in what the world claims is impossible and suddenly we would look up and see the lives we dream of painted on our hands and engraved on our hearts. 

We would grow quiet again and marvel at the beauty of where we are and where we’re going.

“I can see it!” you would exclaim in surprise.

“So can I,” I would reply, a smile stretching across my face. “This is why Winter comes around every year. To remind us how to dream again.”