Tuesdays Are For Living

It’s dark in the sunroom this morning, hours before the sun comes up. The wall of windows reflects the light from my lamp, the end table, my own face. I come here in the early quiet, pour the coffee, let out the dog, sit with a blanket, and listen as the yard wakes up behind me.

What stories will I tell today?

light at chatting at the skyToday is finally April but most of the trees don’t know it yet. A long winter has kept them sleeping right on through March. The little ones wake up first,  shooting out flowers at the end of skinny sticks, coloring the cul-de-sac in light pinks and yellows.

It won’t be long now.

I think about those of you in the southern hemisphere, how your April season is our October. Is that right? Are you heading into cooler weather, watching as the trees close their eyes for a season?

Even the most predictable process to me is the opposite somewhere else. We all have our perspectives, don’t we?

This year’s (in)Real Life theme comes to mindWe Need Your Story - And we do, whoever you are. Because it’s different from ours, from hers, from mine.

We are all telling our stories everyday we live. Some do it with words like our friend Lisa-Jo - attorney, mother, writer, superhero – with her brand new book releasing today, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom

Some do it with their crazy ideas, like  my friend Haley who launches a children’s clothing line today – Wildly Co. - and I can’t even get my mind around this girl and her fun, thoughtful, wild ideas. If someone dangled me over a cliff and said they would save me if I would launch a children’s clothing line, I would just have to go ahead and fall because how in the world do you do that?!

But Haley tells this part of her story because it’s hers.

Then there is my son at the breakfast table this morning with an endless string of Your shoe’s untied APRIL FOOLS! You have something on your nose APRIL FOOLS! The sky is falling APRIL FOOLS! 

He tells his stories, too.

Each of us will speak today, some into microphones, others near the microwave. We will speak with our movements, our meals, our routines, our laughter, our compassion, our grief, our to-do lists.

What will we say?

Will we speak hope, love, fear, or truth? Will we say it to thousands or only to one? Will we say it out loud or only in secret?

Maybe we’ll say it all. Maybe that’s alright. Maybe we’ll learn something or teach something or remember something or surprise ourselves. Maybe today will be the same as yesterday. Maybe that’s alright, too.

Let’s respect the loud and the quiet alike. Let’s not elevate the big stories over the small ones. Let’s honor, celebrate, and speak in whatever ways we can today.

Today, on this regular Tuesday, what is the story you’re speaking with your life?

The Most Revolutionary Question You Can Ask

morningI recently watched a four and a half minute video where author and pastor John Ortberg remembers his friend, Dallas Willard. (I’ll embed the video at the bottom of this post). One quick segment shows John and Dallas on stage together having a conversation only a few months before Dallas Willard passed away.

John: “How do we help people – if somebody wants to think about how is my spiritual life going or how is my soul doing – how do we help people ask and answer that question?”

Dallas: “Well, very slowly. One at a time, we listen to them . . . I think the next thing is a question and not a statement: What’s bothering you? Start there.”

They talk some more and then John makes a joke.

John: “What’s bothering you? could be an interesting liturgical question – to start the church service asking, What’s bothering you? and the people could respond back, And also you.”

I laughed out loud when he said it and so did the audience. Then, as the clip ends, Dallas can be heard saying, “That would be absolutely revolutionary.”

I had to pause the video at that moment, three minutes and fifty-five seconds in, Dallas’ deep voice and thoughtful statement hanging there in the air over my desk, That would be absolutely revolutionary.

My head couldn’t nod big enough.

It’s true, my instinct is to not be bothered because it just doesn’t seem right. To ask myself or someone else what bothers could be seen as self-focused  or as an opportunity to rant or complain.

But what if we looked deeper in? Instead of manufacturing peace by shooing away my frustration or smoothing out my ruffled feathers, I am learning the importance of getting quiet enough to honestly consider what bothers me – not just on the surface, but deep within my soul.

Sometimes what I learn is ugly or uncomfortable. But there are other times I discover right next to my frustration lives a drop of passion I didn’t realize was there and a spark of hope I didn’t realize I needed. This is actually how all of my books were born.

Admitting what bothers me exposes what I most deeply long for. When I know what I long for, I become more fully alive.

What if we began to ask ourselves on a regular basis, What’s bothering you? What if we asked this of one another?

Is there anything bothering you today that you’d be willing to share?

For When You Feel Restless for More

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In January three years ago, I wrote a post called How to Live Big. You can read the whole thing, but here’s a blurb:

God writes big stories, stories that seem impossible. And they are, if you think about it. He seems to take great interest in impossible stories, and I think they’re interesting, too. But I rarely raise my hand to live them.

I write small stories. Everyday, I write stories for my life that include comfort and fun and entertainment. I live inside my little story like coloring a sunshine yellow – I stay in the lines and keep to the plan. Suns are supposed to be yellow, right? I am a rule-follower.

I wrote those words before my first book came out, 25 days after that email from Annie when she declared 2011 the year of making art. It was a time when I was wrestling with my own fear, a time when I was stepping out of my own small stories. Looking back on that time now, I would replace the word small with the word scared.

In those days, I used those words interchangeably. Not so anymore.

It’s true, God writes big stories. But we can only see that from here looking back. His big stories started with smallness: five loaves, two fish, a foot washing, a mustard seed, a fisherman, a shepherd boy, a baby.

But I felt restless in those days, wanting to write words that mattered, wanting to parent in a way that meant something, wanting to have a voice, wanting my life to count for something beyond myself. If I’m honest, I also wanted to be successful, the definition of success changing for me depending on what success looked like for my peers. I still struggle with the definition of success, actually.

Last year when we were brainstorming titles for my third book, one of the phrases I tossed into the pile was the title of that post, How to Live Big. You should know that it wasn’t a serious contender, but in titling discussions, anything goes and you can’t be afraid of bad ideas.

When I said it, I was sitting in my parked car in my driveway on the phone with Esther, my agent. We talked for an hour, trying to find just the right phrase. When I said this one out loud, her response was this: ”Meh. Do people really want to live big?”

I had to think about that for a while. In fact, I’ve thought about it now for a long while.

I don’t know if I 100 percent disagree with that post I wrote, but if I were to re-write it, I would word it differently. A lot differently.

Now, my restlessness feels different. I am careful not to color the word small in negative shades, as if it were something to run from or escape.

It almost seems like an oxymoron, but these days I’m feeling restless for smallness – not out of fear of man but because of my union with Christ.

I want to start small because I’m human and dependent, not in hopes that my small will grow into something bigger. Maybe starting small will remind me that is what I am – and Jesus will give me the grace to stay there – even when it hurts and even when it’s hard.

I’m restless to stay small in His presence, not because I’m scared, but because I’m His.

I want this to be a relief rather than a frustration.

I’m restless to accept  the beauty of smallness, hiddenness, and the secret work of Christ in the deepest part of who I am.

I’m restless to let Him come out of me in any way He wants, no matter how big or how small that may seem to me – whether that be in one big way or in a million little ways.

I’m restless for believers to see, as my dad often says, beyond what is to what could be. And this doesn’t mean I am to dream big and amazing things for God. Rather, it means I am to believe in a big and amazing God, period. I can trust Him to be Himself even as I dare to be myself.

And maybe as I do that, I’ll realize that starting small isn’t a means to a bigger end, rather I start small because it’s what I am.

And this is good and right and holy.

***

restlessMy friend Jennie Allen writes in her new book Restless: Because You Were Made for More, “We are called to dream but we’re afraid to. But because we are called, when we don’t act on it we become restless—restless to find purpose, to make a difference in the world, to matter.”

She urges believers to pay attention to what causes our restlessness, as this could be the very doorway through which the Spirit is urging us to walk.

During the month of January, we’re talking about some of these same concepts, what I like to call making art with our lives – this week specifically, what it means to make art in little ways. Maybe one little way you could make art today is to consider this question: Can you name the restlessness within you? What is pulling, tugging, and causing a bit of discomfort in your soul?

If you have an answer and would like to receive a copy of this new release, simply leave a comment telling us of your restlessness and from those we’ll pick five of you and share the winners on Saturday, January 11.

one question to ask yourself before the end of the year

As many of you know, my small group girls graduated in May. They’ve been in college now for a week. I wanted to see them before they left but I knew they were busy packing up and spending time with their friends. walk to school

In the end, five out of the ten texted me seperately to get together. So the week before they left, I was squeezing in coffee and frozen yogurt and a few hours of conversation on my living room sofa.

During the course of my one-on-one conversations with them, I asked them all the same question before our time was over – When May comes and you look back on your freshman year, what do you hope you’ll be able to say about it?

They all had a little different answers depending on their goals and personalities.

But not one of them said, You know Emily, I really hope I’ll be able to say that I was anxious, worried, and fearful the whole year.

We don’t plan for anxiety and we don’t hope for it, either. It tends to show up without an invitation. Same goes for doubt, procrastination, comparison, and defeat.

Walking our fourth grade girls and our first grade son to school this week, I’ve been thinking about the end of the year – What do I hope they’ll be able to say about this year when the end of it comes? What do I hope to say myself?

Maybe a better question is this one:

What can I do today to practice the future I hope we’ll have?

I wonder what it is for you – when this school year is over, what word or phrase do you hope you’ll be able to use to describe it? Is there any way to practice that future today?

a sending prayer for college freshmen

a prayer for college freshman

Dear Lord,

They move in to the dorm this weekend and will bring their bags filled with clothes and their boxes filled with books. But you see what they bring in their hearts – anticipation, adventure, love, regret, anxiety, motivation, and hope.

They are a mix of excited, ready, terrified, and wide-eyed freedom.

As he looks for a fresh start, remind him of your faithfulness every morning no matter where he calls home.

As she looks for community, remind her you are always with her no matter where she may go.

As he looks for adventure, remind him how you walk on water, turn water to wine, feed thousands from just a few pieces of bread. Remind him how you bring life straight up out of death, beauty straight out of ashes.

May she have the patience to believe even when she doesn’t see results.

May he know the greatest adventures are found in your presence, the greatest love comes from your heart, the greatest hope is that you’ve made his heart your home.

When insecurity, comparison, disappointment and failure knock on her dorm room door, may she turn to you with her questions rather than run the other way.

Weave your wisdom into the fibers of his soul, bearing the fruit of confidence, clarity, contentment and a light heart.

May he not despise his humanity, rather may he embrace it.

May she not despise her body, rather may she learn to receive and respect her shape as a gift.

May he not despise his weakness, rather may he see how weakness brings a daily reminder to trust.

May they not fear failure, rather may they thrive in the midst of it.

May they not be quick to judge, rather may they be patient and curious.

Help them to find true friends and be a true friend in turn.

Help them find their voice and to use it to be an advocate for themselves and for others.

Replace her shame with courage.

Replace his confusion with peace.

Replace her fear with a love that moves within her beyond her ability to understand.

May your grace surprise them kindly.

Amen.

simple thoughts on faith and leaving

Many of you have written me kind notes of encouragement since I first shared with you about why my husband is quitting his job. Your emails, comments, (and even some letters!) have been cool water on dry days for us. Today, five days before his last day as a youth pastor, we are encouraged, thankful, and filled with hope.

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I have wanted to update you on how things are going as it relates to John’s job and what comes next, but before I do that there is something that has been rolling around in my soul and I’m unable to move forward in writing or in thinking until I find the words to express some thoughts regarding this transition.

Since we announced to our community and to the public that we have made this Very Big Decision to quit our perfectly acceptable job with our perfectly regular paycheck, we are never sure exactly how people are going to respond. But there are some common themes to most of the responses we hear:

You have so much faith.

You are brave.

You are an inspiration.

And every now and then, we also hear what people say behind our back to friends and relatives: What in the world are they going to do?!

I think I love that one the most, because I know that’s really what many are thinking but they worry it will offend us if they say it to our face.

I understand where people are coming from when they say all these things. I’m deeply grateful for the encouragement and don’t want to take away from the genuine and heartfelt support people so kindly offer. But I wanted to take a few moments and point out some of the unspoken assumptions that might hover invisibly over words like “you’re brave” and “you have great faith.”

There is a part of me that gets a little squirmy with the implication that we have faith in greater measure just because we are leaving a job.

It’s true, faith is often required to leave a job.

But faith is also required to stay at a job.

“I’ve never attended a ‘steadfast obedience’ party at work. I’ve never been invited to a ‘staying put’ get-together. I’ve never heard of a ‘sticking around forever’ shindig. And I haven’t for one simple reason: We live in a corporate culture that celebrates people who leave and ignores those who stay.”

Jon Acuff, Quitter

We have to be careful not to point to outward actions as the only implication of an inward reality. You can’t always tell from an outside glance what is happening on the deep level of the soul. Over time, theses realities become clear. But be careful to elevate those who seem to be making noticeable decisions that have obvious impact over those who make small decisions in quiet corners with little noticeable impact at all.

All movement requires faith no matter how big or small it may look on the outside – whether you’re stepping into the unknown or stepping into the same thing as yesterday.

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John and I have have been praying for over two years about what might be next for us. For two years, we have quietly waited, listened, and stayed right where we are. During that time, no one said we were brave or had a lot of faith because there was no action to point to as proof. But those years of waiting and listening were necessary for the movement happening right now – the kind of movement people can see.

Maybe your movement is small right now, too. Maybe you watch as others around you seem to be making “big moves” and have “great faith.”

Take heart, friend. The size of your faith isn’t really the point; only the size of your God.

So yes, we are leaving a job. And over the next few days, as kind friends and curious bystanders send us off and say some of these lovely words, John and I will receive them with gratitude and beg God to filter words of praise for us through the person of Jesus who did only what he saw his Father do and said only what he heard his Father say.

May it be so of all of us no matter how big, small, or ordinary our next steps might be.

3 words for the graduates

My small group graduates this weekend. From high school. As in, they’re going to college. We celebrated a few nights ago with a fancy dinner out and then a FroYo dessert. And they surprised me with a scrapbook of our four years together. Stop it.

small group

I can’t talk about it. You guys, they are growing up. But I also am so happy for them and also for me because from now until forever I have 10 hilarious, brilliant, beautiful, and wonderfully weird little sisters.

small group

small groupI wasn’t even supposed to be their leader. The leader who started with them had to back out half way through their freshman year. So I told John I would be willing to “fill in until they found a replacement.”

Yeah.

So here we are, three and a half years later and they are all driving and half of them have boyfriends and none of them have braces anymore. They are beautiful and learning to be independent, but they are also still terrified on the inside and small and wanting to be seen and loved for who they are – the part no one can see.

I’ve written them little notes and we’ve had lots of conversation but nothing I’ve said so far seems adequate compared to what I want to say. And so I’ll take a little space here on the blog to give the best three-word advice I can think of right now.

Go make art.

Make art with the way you live in your house until college starts – the way you hang out with your mom, the way you laugh at your dad instead of roll your eyes, the way you choose to listen to your baby sister who is going to miss you more than she can possibly put into words right now.

Whether you’re taking a gap year to work or travel or spend time with YWAM, make art with how you enter in – not like a tourist who watches from behind a camera lens and insists all of your usual comforts are close at hand. As best you can, enter in to your new situation ready to be creative and make art with the circumstance you are given no matter how crummy it might turn out to be.

If you’re headed off to college, be it close to home or a day away, make art in your dorm room – not just with how you decorate, but with how you exist with your roommate or suite mate or friends. Be curious. Be open. Hold fast to your confidence when you are among many but remember to share your vulnerability when you are among few.

Learn, not just from your professors, but from your classmates. Be slow to judge, slow to speak, slow to anger. Be quick to listen, quick to pray, quick to look for the hope in dark situations.

If at all possible, laugh until you tee tee in your pants.

Bring your giftedness as well as your insecurity with you as you go.

Bring your story, the one you’ve already lived and the one you want to live. You’ll be tempted to leave out the boring or embarrassing parts as you tell it. Don’t. Every bit of it counts.

small group

Practice thankfulness, silence, and discipline.

Don’t light candles in your dorm room or get in cars with strangers.

Don’t forget who you are.

Remember Jesus. Remember family. Remember love.

And be sure to call your mom.

If you had only three words to tell a graduate, what would you say?

Want to explore more of what it might look like to make art with your life? I wrote a book about that. It’s called A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. It releases this fall.

why you need to tell someone how scared you are

The pool opened this weekend so the air smells like burgers and coconut sunscreen. I spent the weekend fully clothed in my lounge chair – most days it was too cold for me to swim. But it’s never too cold to people-watch and one of my favorite places to do that at the pool is down by the diving boards.

diveI watched my son fly off the low-dive, swim to the ladder, walk fast back to the diving board line and fly off the end of the board again. He doesn’t even think about it.

But that isn’t the case for some. While he made his rounds on the low dive, I noticed a little girl – maybe 8 or 9 – standing at the end of the high dive. She wasn’t jumping.

Instead, she stood there looking around for another way down. She bent her knees like she was preparing, but quickly stood up straight again.

Bend, straighten, repeat.

After a few tries like this, other people began to notice her and it wasn’t long before all eyes were on her. Her dad appeared from the crowd shouting encouragement and waving a thumbs up.

It happens a lot at the pool – some kid gets scared at the top of the high dive and everybody watches from below. Secretly? I kind of love it. I don’t love watching scared kids – I love watching scared kids jump. It never gets old.

Someone started to clap. Soon, everyone was clapping, cheering her on. We could tell she desperately wanted to jump, but I heard her say faintly, “It’s too high.

She couldn’t do it and slowly climbed backwards down the ladder.

My heart sank for her. But you know what else? My heart sank for me, too. I wanted her to jump. I don’t know this girl personally, but I understand her fear.

Ten minutes later, I saw her climb back up. I nudged John next to me, “Look! There she is again.”

She seemed more determined this time, standing on the edge. She bent her knees same as last time. And again, she straightened back up.

Crouch . . .

Stand.

Crouch . . !

Stand.

jumpThe crowd began to clap again, this time with more energy. Several people from across the pool started a countdown – 3 . . 2 . . 1 . . and with one slow motion crouch, she flung herself from the end of the board, arms straight above her.

As she fell, we all whooped and hollered, our collective happiness coming from a genuine excitement for her. I know she heard us before she hit the water.

Here’s the thing: kids jump off that board every 30 seconds and nobody cares. They turn flips and touch their toes and they do it 10 times in a row.

But it isn’t until someone hesitates that the crowd gets involved, even a crowd of strangers.

With a little more than a month left in the only job John and I have ever known as a couple, I feel like we are not only standing at the end of a diving board, we’ve decided to go ahead and set up a tent there on the edge.

Last week I spent some time with the other pastor’s wives at our church. They were kind to gather in the midst of a busy month to spend some time with me and say goodbye. As we sat around the table eating pimento cheese spread on crackers and a delicious chocolate cake with my name on it, I cried as I shared with them my excitement as well as my fear.

They prayed for me, and in a very real way, I felt like I was standing scared at the edge of the diving board. But I had a profound awareness that for those moments, these women were a tiny crowd around me, encouraging me to jump.

If I hadn’t told them I was afraid, they may not have known to cheer.

Now before you get the wrong idea, I want you to know something about this group of women - these other wives and I are not best friends. We don’t have Bible study together or go on vacation with each other’s families. I like them, I respect them, I love to spend time with them. But we hardly ever see one another and it honestly would have been easier and more comfortable for me to not let them see me cry.

After that evening with them, I reminded myself of this: Don’t insist your encouragement should come from a particular person or group of people. Be open to receiving God however (and through whomever) he may want to show himself.

Sometimes it’s good to let them see you sweat even when it feels awkward. Fear seems to grow in the darkness of isolation. But when you expose it in the light of community, it tends to lose power. Sharing my fear is often the path that leads to courage.

So here’s to climbing up on top of diving boards and being honest about how terrified we are. May you push through your insecurity and fully admit your fear. And may you be open to receiving the kind community of people there waiting to cheer you on.

3 questions to ask yourself before you change the world

Change the world is a tired, over-used phrase. I know that. But you know, we could say the same thing about “I love you” so I’m just going to go with it. These three questions are for anyone who wonders if it might finally be time to do something – write, teach, move, speak, listen, join, or quit. They are questions that help me – but maybe your questions are different. I’d love to hear what they are.

3 questions

In an interview Jeff Goins did with Seth Godin, he (Seth) said all his books were a result of his being frustrated by something. (By the way, raise your hand if you have ever called them Jeff Godin and Seth Goins – I mean, really. Could their names BE any more similar?)

Seth: “For me, I don’t wake up in the morning saying I need something to write about or I owe the world a book. It’s totally fine with me if I don’t have anything. If I’m gonna name something or if I’m going to bother going the year long trouble of writing a book, it’s because I’m frustrated. The only reason I do any of this is because no one else has done it in a way that I think is going to push an idea forward that I think is worth addressing.”

I’ve thought about this for a while and compared what he says to the way I feel about why I write or explore an idea.

I wrote Grace for the Good Girl and Graceful because I saw myself in the girls in our youth group. Jesus didn’t seem to be an answer to real problems in their lives. He was only an example to follow when they wanted to be good Christians.

This gross distortion of the Gospel broke my heart and made me mad. Are we teaching our students a compartmental salvation? And am I partially to blame for that?

So yes, frustration was the first spark of my motivation.

Being frustrated didn’t make me qualified or ready. But it did wake something up within me, something that compelled me to move, something that made me want to get ready.

The frustration rolled into a compulsion towards change – passion to communicate a message, to move into the chaos of the questions even if I didn’t have all the answers.

But being frustrated about an issue and compelled to do something about it won’t sustain the message for the long-term. For me, what really keeps me moving is the hope of something better.

In my experience, when I am frustrated and passionate without hope, I’m vulnerable to cynicism. If I don’t have hope for change, despair creeps in and I want to give up.

Am I able to peer behind the mysterious curtain of the present and catch a glimpse of what could be?

Am I willing to move into the darkness even though I don’t feel fully qualified or confident or prepared?

These are important questions for me to ask about the work I do. There are plenty of things that frustrate me. But that doesn’t mean I am called to tackle them all. It’s only when I sense all three of these motivations working together that I begin to accept I might need to explore an idea, a thought, or move towards influencing change.

Frustration wakes me up.

Passion gets me moving.

Hope keeps me going.

What about you?

What frustrates you?

What compels you?

What do you most hope for?

Maybe these questions will help you define and refine your goals, your dreams for yourself or for others, and your desire for change.

A quick thanks to you for your kind comments, emails and prayers regarding my last post. John read some of your responses as well and afterwards he looked at me and said, “Wow. A lot of people are in transition.” So here’s to waiting, to believing, and to seeing what’s next.

What Now? (and why my husband is quitting his job)

The book return slot was out of order at the library so I had to walk in to return my books. Since I was already inside, I decided to browse around a little, just to see if anything caught my eye.

library books

I walked out with a stack of books I didn’t plan on, one of them by Ann Patchett called What now?

The small book is actually a commencement speech she gave at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, and it seemed short enough to read in one sitting. (Two, as it turns out, but close enough).

The main reason why I ended up taking this book home was because of these words from the dust jacket:

“What now? is not just a panic-stricken question tossed out into a dark unknown. What now? can also be our joy. It is a declaration of possibility, of promise, of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may well do more than anyone expected of us, that at every point in our development we are still striving to grow.”

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John and I are living in a What Now? kind of moment, so this book seemed fitting.

If you go to our church or receive my letter every month, you already know this. But I thought it was time to go ahead and share the news here on the blog.

After 12 years as a youth pastor, my husband is quitting his job.

And after his last day at work on June 30th, we’re not sure what we’re going to do next.

There are so many angles I could share this news from – I could tell you of our finances, our hope for the future, our life stage, our thoughts about church and community.

My rational good girl side wants to over-explain myself and assure you that we are not stepping blindly or making any spontaneous decisions.

But for now I don’t want to talk about those parts of this transition. I just want to let you in on what is happening in my life. And here it is, in four words: We are dreaming together.

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In the mornings, after we take our three kids to school, we talk about what it means to have the Spirit of Jesus Christ himself living within us. And if you don’t know him, I realize that sentence sounds insane. But if you do know him, maybe you’ll agree that Christ himself is the most spectacular gift.

As we talk, we consider our individual personalities and our mutual desire to contribute to the spiritual conversation in our local community.

We toss around ridiculous ideas about what we might like to do, what shape our vocational dreams might take, what context there might be for me, a woman who comes alive through writing and conversation about the deeper life and John, a man with the training and heart of a pastor.

We consider how we long to listen and be spiritual friends with others and what that even means.

For the first time in our marriage, we are cultivating a respectful curiosity for our mutual desire as a couple.

We laugh.

We roll our eyes at ourselves.

We take notes.

We make plans.

We pray.

Sometimes we worry.

Other times we tear up.

We tear up because we are beginning to catch the tiniest glimpse of a vision and what we see both delights and terrifies us, depending on the day.

We also embrace the distinct possibility that we might be a little bit crazy.

john and em

But here is what makes this crazy ride worth taking: I’m watching my husband come alive in ways I never thought were possible for him. And I feel courage growing inside me in the place where fear used to live.

I’m telling you this because in a way I’m sure you’re not aware, you are part of this transformation.

Writing at Chatting at the Sky for the past seven years has served to wake up part of my soul. I sincerely hope that makes sense and I apologize for my inability to explain it further than that right now. But perhaps you know what I mean?

I know we aren’t the only ones in the midst of transition. This time of year represents transition for a lot of you – graduations, weddings, the end of school, the beginning of something new. Maybe you’re grieving a loss, a move, a heartbreak. Maybe you’re asking what in the world is going on in your own life.

One way to ask that question is with a frantic soul, a furrowed brow and two tightly clenched fists, What now?!? Admittedly, that is always a temptation for me.

But there is another way to ask – same words, different posture. In the midst of the waiting, of the wondering, of the time of transition, we can rehearse the things we know for sure.

Our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Nothing can separate us from his love.

We will never be alone.

And so we ask with hopeful expectation, with open hands and a willingness to sit with our questions as we whisper these words before God. What now?

For us? We don’t know. But we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

“Sometimes the circumstances at hand force us to be braver than we actually are, and so we knock on doors and ask for assistance. Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.”

-Ann Patchett, What now?