Change is Coming

October 11, 2016

I first heard it as the summer drew to a close, as I ordered my textbooks for my last year of college, and as the sunset came earlier and earlier.

I heard the still, small voice in my heart – and I thought I knew what He meant. I thought that He was preparing me for my new internship, for my last few exams, for my occupation on paperwork to change from Student to Social Worker.

But the changes He is whispering to my heart are so much bigger. 

I realized it as some relationships faded and others grew stronger than they have ever been. I realized it as I sought community from friends of my past. I realized it as joy sprouted within my heart in unexpected places at unexpected times as God showed me the things in which He delights. 

I realized it as I was pulled deeper and deeper into the Word and as I fell into Jesus’ heart so suddenly that I am still reeling from it. 

And it is all good. And it is all hard. 

Change, for me, is much like physical illness. In the same way that physical illness wears down my immune system and makes it easier for germs to enter my body, change wears down the guards around my heart and mind and makes it easier for unhealthy things to enter in. 

When I am physically sick, I take extra precautions to protect myself from outside threats. I wash my hands more often than usual and I feed my body only nutritious food, like noodles and orange juice. I drink a lot of water.

When I am experiencing changes in my life,  I take extra precautions to protect myself from outside threats. I read my Bible more than usual and I only listen to life-giving music, like NEEDTOBREATHE and Lauren Daigle. I drink a lot of the water that Jesus says becomes in me a spring welling up to eternal life. 

When I’m writing, I’m very particular about what I listen to and what I read, because it gets inside, you know? I’m a little more permeable in seasons of writing, and so I want to choose stories and sounds that keep good company, that make me braver and wilder and more honest.   — Shauna Niequist 

She gets it.

When I’m experiencing changes in my life, everything gets inside so easily. The emotions are so much deeper and I find myself in tears of sadness from what used to be, of joy from what is to come, and of gratitude that He is with me still. I’m more permeable in seasons of change, and I want to choose books and music that encourages and loves me through. 

My chicken noodle soup during this particular time of change has been very specific. I find myself reading the same stories over and over and replaying the same songs again and again because I cannot get over the messages they whisper to my soul. They’re too good to let go.

What are your stories and sounds you love when you are most permeable? 

Here are some of mine:

Stories:               

  • Philippians (I cannot get over the ENTIRE BOOK) – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)                                 

  • Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis – “When have you ever read a story of God’s great work that made a lot of sense, a story that didn’t seem a little over the top, a little impossible? Not often. Radical, extraordinary love just doesn’t make sense in a fallen world; that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. But it is the very nature of God … God is the same yesterday, today, and always … We want big things from God and then think it’s strange when He asks us to build an ark, or feed five thousand or march around a building for seven days with seven priests blowing trumpets made from rams’ horns … I serve the God who used Moses, a murderer, to part the Red Sea; a God who let Peter, who would deny Him, walk on water. A God who looks at me, in all my fallen weakness and says, ‘You can do the impossible.'” 

  • How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathon Martin – “The bad news is that this shipwreck feels like death because you really may be dying. The bad news is that old and familiar things you love and that made you what you were are slowly passing away. The good news is you’re being born, and this drowning makes possible the moment when all things become new – most of all, you.”                

  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) – “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and will all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” And Jesus answers, “‘Do this and you will live.'”

Sounds:                            

  • My Story by Big Daddy Weave – “If I should speak, let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sin. Of when justice was served and when mercy wins. Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in. Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him.”

  • Chain Breaker by Zach Williams – “If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain-taker. If you feel lost, He’s a way-maker. If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior. If you’ve got chains, He’s a chain-breaker.”

  • Dear Younger Me by MercyMe – “You are holy, you are righteous, you are one of the redeemed. Set apart, a brand new heart, you are free indeed. Every mountain, every valley, through each heartache you will see: every moment brings you closer to who you were meant to be.”

  • Stars by Skillet – “And still You come and You’re calling me by name.”

  • The God I Know by Love & The Outcome – “And then I threw my hands up, worries down. I remember when He showed me how to break up with my doubt. Once I was lost but now I’m found. No strings attached when He saved my soul. I want you know the God I know.”

  • Something Beautiful by NEEDTOBREATHE – “Hey now, this is my desire: consume me like a fire because I just want something beautiful to touch me. I know that I’m in reach because I am down on my knees. And I’m waiting for something beautiful for touch me.” 

  • Wake by Hillsong – “You will never fade away, Your love is here to stay. By my side, in my life, shining through me everyday.” 

  • Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin – “I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side.” 

  • Trust in You by Lauren Daigle – “When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move, when You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through, when You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You – I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.”

It Feels Like Home

October 4, 2016

If you know me at all, you know that the love I have for The Little House on the Prairie (both the books and the 1970’s TV show) is indescribable. I have read the series multiple times, I have a lot of the TV episodes memorized, and I went as Mary Ingalls for Halloween more years than I care to admit.

I love these stories because they’re about real people, real struggles, real celebrations.

The theme song sometimes moves me to tears and every single time I open one of the books and am tossed into the prairie, loud with crickets and dotted with gophers, I am home. 

And as Laura Ingalls Wilder herself said: “Home is the nicest word there is.”

Home is not always a place; home is a feeling.

My home feels like long horseback rides through the snow, holding my breath because the moonlight makes everything look like glass and I’m afraid to break the night. 

It feels like waking up in my cozy sleeping bag in a mess of family, watching my breath appear in the air and hoping my cousins wake up soon.

It feels like listening to Journey and Tom Petty in my parents’ kitchen as an adult while my dad makes breakfast for dinner. 

My home smells like honeysuckle warmed in the sunshine, sounds like deep belly-laughter, and tastes like butter gravy on a Sunday morning.

And that’s what opening The Rise of the Narcoleptic Turtles, the second book in Emily Humphreys’ series, felt like. I began reading and, as I entered the halls of Desert Academy and sat dreaming in Ruby Fink’s dusty attic and raced toward the Superstition Mountains in a car named The Purple Wonder, everything was familiar and safe, and it felt like home. 

Grab your copy of both The Dark Ferret Society and The Rise of the Narcoleptic Turtles at the link below, and join us on the adventure.

Come see the magic of a perfect prank to balance the scales, find a new love for red balloons, and fall in love with the characters who will remind you of people you know.

Moments like this just hit you. This fuzzy feeling of warmth and the light coming from my house must be the closest feeling to home I’ve ever felt.

— Ruby Fink, in The Dark Ferret Society

Buy Emily Humphreys’ books here and find more of Emily Humphrey’s writing on her blog.

Power Walks & Vulnerability

September 25, 2016

So, here’s the deal: Social work does not mess around.

I had a particularly difficult week, complete with two separate meltdowns – one to my mom and the other to my best friend. By Thursday, I was emotionally drained and mentally exhausted, and I was thankful that I did not have to go to work or my internship that day. “You just have to sit through class,” I kept telling myself. “This will be an easy day.”

It must have slipped my mind that I’m a social work major and we like to have the hard conversations.

And let me be clear: I hate vulnerability. 

“Have you ever heard of a power walk?” my professor asked the class. “Line up one one side of the classroom,” she instructed us, “and walk across the room when I say a statement that you identify with.”

I reluctantly stood up with my classmates, the majority of us rolling our eyes and checking the clock to see how much longer we would be trapped in this classroom.

I wasn’t too worried – I thought they would be easy statements akin to, “You hope to work with children, families, veterans, etc.” and “You played a sport in high school.” 

Oh no. That is not how social workers do this. We go straight to the heart-wrenching things we keep quiet about because we aren’t sure anyone else will understand. 

Walk across the room if you grew up poor.

Walk across the room if you, a family member, or a close friend is living with HIV/AIDS.

Walk across the room if you, a family member, or a close friend is part of the LGBTQ community.

Walk across the room if you have ever witnessed someone being ridiculed or abused, and did nothing.

Walk across the room if you, a family member, or a close friend is struggling or has struggled with substance abuse.

Walk across the room if you, a family member, or a close friend is or has been in jail for any length of time. 

Walk across the room if you were raised by a single parent. 

Walk across the room if you have ever been physically hurt or emotionally injured by another person. 

It was painful. It was hard. It was awkward at times. 

We were surprised. We were anxious. We were relieved. 

This experience was beautiful and amazing and unifying. Silently, I connected to people I never would have guessed in ways I never would have imagined.

I walked across the room with friends and we made eye contact, wondering how we never knew we had this connection. I walked across the room with immigrants from Somalia and China and Ghana and we gave each other small smiles, acknowledging that maybe we aren’t quite as different from one another as we may have thought.

I walked across the room and turned around to see the majority of the class staring back at me and felt even more connected to the few standing with me. 

I dare you to try a power walk and not cry. 

And I hated the entire beautiful thing because I hate vulnerability. I cannot stand it.

I’ve read enough Brene Brown to write my own book on vulnerability and shame, but I’m not sure I’ll ever understand myself enough to figure out how to actually embrace vulnerability in my own life. It’s scary, but it’s also the key to authenticity – and who doesn’t crave authenticity?

“I’m glad you have the same dark and twisted sense of humor as I do,” she said as we walked out the door. “That made that whole thing a lot less scary.” 

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. 

Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead 

A love letter to nurses everywhere

June 2, 2016

My day today involved working on a trauma unit with beyond-stressed nurses worrying about their patients going to surgery and trying to manage pain with Motrin because that’s all the doctor would order and praying for patience and unconditional positive regard for a difficult patient detoxing from heroin.

It was a hard day and we were divided, rather than operating as a team, for much of the day.

I almost cried (because I feel ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME) and I thought the attacks were personal. But then I realized that it was not about me – it never is. 

So, here is what I want you awesomely compassionate and intelligent people to know:

Dear Incredible Human,

Let me tell you something you probably haven’t heard in too long a time, if ever: You are a truly, no-doubt-about-it AMAZING person. No one remembers to tell you that and everyone takes you for granted. I know.

We’re in this together. 

And I want to take a moment to let you know that I see you. 

I see you paging the respiratory therapist 6 times trying to get them into your patient’s room for a breathing treatment. I see you taking the dozens of calls from nurse practitioners and pharmacists and physical therapists and social workers, and every other person assigned to your patient’s treatment team, and trying to coordinate your patient’s plan of care.

I see you counting to 10 and taking a few deep breaths before responding to that non-compliant patient who is so close to making you pull out all of your hair. I see you struggling to find the words for the mother of your patient who was shot 7 times during a home invasion. 

I see you and I’m with you. 

And I know this job is harder than you ever thought it would be.

I know you never imagined what it would be like to comfort grieving family members as your patient draws their last breath after a long, hard fight. I know you didn’t know how hard CPR is when you first started this job and you had never felt ribs breaking under your hands.

I know you came into this job not fully understanding all it would entail. I know it still surprises you sometimes, even though you swear you’ve seen it all. 

I know because I didn’t know either. 

But let me tell you something: You are killing it. 

You are fantastic. This is what you were created to do. I can see it in your eyes when you’re hugging your patient’s daughter. I can see it in your kind smile when your elderly patient apologizes for making your job harder. I can hear it in your soft voice as you ask if the pain is better today. 

So, Friend, smile and hold your head high because you found your passion, your calling, your life’s work. This is how you make a difference, this is how your impact the world, this is your legacy. 

You are awesome, and you do hard work and you do good work. This work is worth more than you’ll ever know. 

Without you, the world would stop.

Thank you. I stand with you.