Killing pride.

My god is me.

I’ve never had a hard time loving myself.

And hating myself.

And focusing on myself.

It’s the sin of pride. Of utter disillusionment.

And it’s all over Twitter.

It’s all over the world.

Our fear is tricky.

It has a way of coiling, snake-like into our knees and elbows.

It becomes us.

And we play victim to it.

Sometimes, master.

But then for a few of us,

there’s that moment we give it up.

We exchange the world for the One

who created it.

And we’re left with fresh eyes,

Old lens and retina scalpeled

and peeled, soaking in a hot-white

reality where truth is buried deep

and lies are swallowed whole.

We are new.

Fresh.

But the stink

can still seep into

the pores.

There’s always

a stalking, walking

lion,

ready to devour.

But then again,

there’s also the

hopefully-winged

beating of our

hearts.

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She talks to Jesus.

I talk to Jesus all the time.

But not in a super weird religious way that doesn’t fit right but in a sort of, “Oh hey there, best friend, this guy is offering us free popcorn. You want some, too?” kind of way which often gets me kicked out of Wal-Mart.

It’s like I take Him in by osmosis, deep breath by deep breath.

And I think it might be for a few reasons:

  • I’m growing deeper in my faith journey. I’m learning more. I’m learning to love others which has never been my cup of tea. I’m making myself available to people, which I supposed is part of that whole loving thing. Again, it hurts. (The fact that my husband and I routinely joke about my icy heart and RBF should tell you a thing or two. Which he kind of loves because I can’t be moved, y’all.)
  • The world is ending. I feel like one of those crazies on a street corner with the sign and unwashed hair but the crazy has worn off and all I see is a deep commitment to truth in their eyes.
  • I’ve cut the fat. There are so many distractions on the daily. I’ve removed so many in my life that I now feel like I have my finger on the pulse of who God is and who He created me to be.

Perfection? Ah, heck no.

But growth? I’ve got that one down pat.

And really, it all began with one little word to the Father Almighty:

“Hello.”

Insert Adele sound clip here.

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He loves you, not your Lexus.

Commercialized Christianity.

I termed it this way to one of my very cool blog readers (Hi, Daniel!), and it’s stuck like gum to the shoe that is my brain.

Or something like that.

I don’t know if you feel it, but it seems pretty prevalent. Doctrine based on the prosperity gospel (this concept that financial blessing and physical well-being are always God’s will for a person…um….have these people met God?) and other false doctrine tends to lend itself to this new-fangled term.

Or maybe it’s old-fangled. Maybe there’s a whole Wikipedia page about it that I’m too lazy look up. In that case, apologies.

I guess my issue now (as well as back in the day when God was the last thing on my mind…right after getting an “oil change.” I mean, that just sounds gross) is that people turn the grit and grime of Biblical living into a beautiful little present with just the cutest little bow on top.

Have you gone outside?

Nothing cute about that mess.

This life is no different from when Moses was wandering out in the desert, face in his hands.

True, Christ came and He rose and we have that good news (no wait, BEST news) in our hearts that makes this life so worth living now.

But there is absolutely nothing cutesy and safe about this walk with Christ. In fact, let me remind of you something:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:33 

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:1-5

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62

It might just be me, but I’m getting the sinking suspicion Jesus isn’t too concerned with how many Lexuses I own.

I’m not saying having money is bad. I’m not saying being prosperous is bad. And I’m definitely not saying that’s not God’s will for you.

What I am saying is that your security, safety, and good fortune are not the point of the Gospel.

Jesus is the point of the Gospel. How He lived and died and loves you and me and every sinner in this world despite the fact that we certainly don’t deserve it.

Maybe, just maybe we shouldn’t read the Bible to learn about ourselves, and instead, read the Bible to learn about Him.

One last note: Have you ever read the Book of Job? Do you understand the point of Job’s story? It’s this idea that God allowed so many horrible things to happen to poor Job, not to punish him, but to elevate him to a spiritual status like none other.

God loved Job. So God gave Job a trial to further their relationship together and to release Job of everything that doesn’t matter in this world.

Everything but God.

And I can assure you this: Job never received a Lexus.

And I have a feeling that Job didn’t care.


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All the thoughts in my head.

Last week I started getting panic attacks again.

An all out black fear that wouldn’t let me breathe.

It tried to convince me God doesn’t exist.

And I was choking on that lie, that misguided belief.

Before Jesus, I pretty much ascribed to the theory that my mind was dented sometime during the manufacturing process and all of my thoughts were simply the result of an imperfect production process.

I think differently now.

Sometimes I’ll be thinking something and it’s woven into something darker and larger than myself which facilitates such a deep fear that I know didn’t do this all on my own.

I’m not that talented.

I know I had help.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

And I think sometimes Satan still roams, preys on those whose eyes are finally open and now live with the deepest faith. 

On the intuitive ones who have known him for the longest time.

I mean, wouldn’t you want back what you were once convinced was yours to keep?

How easy to take a mind, to snatch at what God has created and render it fruitless.

But how easy to know and love a God who’s never really let it go in the first place.


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Finding road, not water.

I started an email account for my daughter when she was a baby.

And I wrote emails to her pretty regularly so you have to imagine that inbox looking like the chronicled thoughts of a post-partum lunatic.

I mean, I don’t want to brag, but at some points in my life, I could have definitely given Sylvia Plath a run for her money.

There was one evening, driving on the JFK bridge (John F. Kennedy Causeway if we’re going to get all technical about it) that connects Flour Bluff to Padre Island. And to this day, that bridge is representative of the very thin veil that exists between my heaven and hell.

Because that day, her screaming was so bad, I thought about it. About what metal and concrete and the slow-fast glide into a solid sheet of water would feel like.

How nice it would be if everything just got a little bit quiet.

It’s not something I’m ashamed of as much as it’s something I refer back to, thumbing through to my beginning chapters and telling myself: “See. That was what darkness felt like.”

And then I turn my face to the sun.

But sometimes it comes back, that old familiar feeling. I break bread with it in my closet, give it a little room to sort through my shoes and rifle through my shirts. I imagine it looks at me and smirks, “Look who thinks she’s all grown up.”

But we never are. Not on our own.

There’s you. There’s that voice telling you to venture out. To search that quiet.

To make everything stop.

But then there’s God.

Because that night, who do you think steadied my hands and straightened my gaze, my eyes finding road, not water?

I can guarantee you, it wasn’t the post-partum lunatic.

So here. One last email:

Dear Ava,

Your mother’s crazy.

But she loves you.

And she’s never needed anything except for God’s unfailing light.

If that’s the only thing I teach you, then I think we’ve won.

Love,

Your Mother

 


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To suffering: until we meet again.

My Job period is coming to a close.

If you haven’t heard me screaming from my rooftop and seen the clumps of hair I’ve been scattering through the city, then let me bring you up to speed: I’m thirty-three-years-old. And I’ve been battling acne.

It’s been a hard turn of events for someone who was once stopped in the street by a member of the male sex in his mid-twenties and was told point blank, “You are really naturally pretty.”

It also may have been in the middle of the night. And that guy might have been stumbling drunk out of a bar.

But still.

I’ve learned this: I’m a very vain person, and I put a lot of stock into my looks. Which is really too bad because despite the acne, my looks are leaving me and will continue to do so.

Age, man. It’s a losing battle.

But I’ve chosen better instead of bitterness. I’ve chosen the Job route: getting angry at God only to have a conversation with Him and to really understand that He is the Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth. And maybe this point in my life isn’t a punishment but an opportunity.

An opportunity to get over myself and learn who I really am.

Without all that wretched prettiness getting in the way.

I have a purpose, a calling. An urge to write truth and let it sting the page.

Maybe I’ll focus on that for a little bit. And let the catcalls of a mid-twenties drunkard be the faint whisper of a bitterly sweet life.

Once here. Now gone.

Bring on the future.


Never fear. I’ll be writing another post about how exactly I cured my acne in case you, too, are an early-thirties victim of this Job-like epidemic. Prayers and hugs to you. And perhaps start walking around aimlessly in the city to find some drunk dude willing to give you well meaning compliments.

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Three easy ways to save the world.

Somebody on Instagram mentioned how things haven’t changed for us women.

And she’s absolutely right.

And they haven’t changed for the men either.

Or the children.

Or every person every shade under the sun.

We all live in a personalized hell. And Satan has an uncanny way of making us feel like we’re drowning in a pool of our own making.

He also does this cute little thing where he allows you to bob your head awhile to stare at somebody else’s pool. And there they are, lazily floating on their pool float, soaking up the sun.

Jerks.

Right?

I’m not a fan of the “-isms.” Which is a major 180 from the person I used to be. When I was twelve I asked for books about Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan for Christmas. I soaked up every ounce of their lives, their existences, what they fought for. I had no God, not really, so I needed people.

I needed people to save me.

My teenage years were very dark. I ran for miles and miles and miles in the incredibly chest crushing Houston heat. I hated my body, myself and in some sense, I wanted to disappear. I ate nothing but small portions of grapes and pretzels with a little bit of mustard (how I thought this was a brilliant idea is beyond me, well, this older version of me, but I digress) and every time I sat in my closet to read Cold Mountain (summer reading), I started to cry. But not just cry. Panic cry like someone was trying to kill me.

People talk about money and privilege like it solves everything.

It solves absolutely nothing. And I’m convinced it’s just another shiny thing Satan uses to get you to lift your head.

Like fighting for something you believe in even if that means fighting against somebody else.

I’ve thought about it for a long time. Prayed about it, too.

This world will not change on our own accord. We are not the brilliantly evolved beings we like to believe we are just because we have indoor plumbing.

The same issues that arose in biblical times arise now. And we still solve them the same way: with the force of our hands.

So how do we really solve the problem?

Here, let me help:

  1. Christ. Follow him. Give up everything else that is shiny and beckoning and makes you believe you’ll have it all figured out “if just.” If just nothing. Satan knows your heart and your mind. He’ll keep playing you. And he’s very good at it.
  2. Stop the pack mentality. Stop the -isms. Stop grouping yourself into a category and grouping everyone else into another. JUST. STOP. IT. I know you think you’re helping, and if we could just cut that other group down, then wow, we’ll really get somewhere! No you won’t. You won’t get anywhere.
  3. Instead? Look everyone in the eye as the individual they are. Look at every situation as a specific occurrence you can handle with God’s help. Otherwise, you’ll move through life like a mindless pack animal who starts to get twitchy every time somebody posts something on Facebook that’s counter-intuitive to your way of thinking. Nobody like twitching. Nobody.

And here’s one more I’ll throw in for free: don’t judge. I firmly believe our paths as Christians are highly individualized and even though we come together as one body, we all have separate purposes. Some of use might be missionaries, some of us might be called to stay right here. Some of us will be hanging out with the used and abused, some of us will be working with those who label themselves as the quintessential Christian and are under the impression their feces gives off the scent of fresh, cut roses (mmmm!).

So if you happen to be bobbing along in your pool, skin soaking in the sun, hop off your float. Get into someone else’s pool. And help them out.

Otherwise?

We’ll all start to drown.


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Let the dead bury their dead.

Ego.

I have a heaping pile of that to give away.

I’m smart. No, really.

I get that I can’t tell time and have a hard time doing simple math (“simple” is really a misnomer and should be ashamed of itself for hanging out with math in the first place), but I once took an Internet IQ test, and let’s just say I should be doing your taxes right now.

And here’s the thing: we’re all at fault.

And maybe not just ego, but pride, too.

I kind of think the worst thing in the world is to be proud. 

I can’t tell you how many people (myself included) strut around this place (Earth) like we’re the fourth member of Hanson.

Have you taken a hard look at us lately?

We kind of suck, you guys.

The world, our world, America is quickly dissolving into a pot of stewed tomatoes. We smell terrible and are the most hideous shade of vermilion.

And even if we mean well, storming to the polls, shaking our Internet fists at the wrong in the world…we still think on an individual level that we got it all figured it out (our way is the right way, correct?).

But do we?

I have a hard time believing in collective thought, meaning, I have a hard time fitting inside the restraints of what “I SHOULD BE” and doing anything at all that somebody tells me to do.

It’s why I sacrifice a majority of my time as a living mannequin for the auto section of Wal-Mart.  

And I’m always in awe of people on the interwebs, how self-assured they are of their thoughts, beliefs, social acceptances, political alliances, when in the background, the bills aren’t getting paid, the violence is getting worse, the sickness is worming its way in.

The car won’t start.

Pride is the tip of the mountain, the zenith (shout out to my fourth grade vocabulary test. I owned you like a beast), the uppermost point of something built on hidden failures and too much time spent pointing fingers instead of taking a hard, long internal sweep of the soul.

And that dang mountain has a stench about it that’s worst than a whole vat of stewed tomatoes.

You can’t love Jesus and serve two masters, his heart and your staunch convictions.

You can’t worry about the state of everything and call yourself a Christian.

“Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.” (Matthew 8:22)

Meaning? Let go of it all and start walking His path.

There’s a lot of talk in the Bible about those who call themselves Christians truly not getting it. And not getting it is the worst thing in the world.

Because when you don’t understand and are frustrated by the state of things that you truly can’t control, you’re too busy fretting to love.

And love, complete faith in Christ, and moving through the world with an empathetic heart will get you much farther than taking sides and teetering on your soapbox.

SPOILER ALERT: you’re going to die. But you have today. You have your home, your children, small steps to make changes where it counts.

You might not be able to take the whole world in your hands and conform it to what you think is best. But you can you start praying and listening and doing what HE thinks is best.

And I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something to be said about closing your eyes and letting go.

Well, I better get a move on. Those heavy duty windshield wipers aren’t going to artfully model themselves. 


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Everything must go.

Not everything.

Clothes are probably a must.

But I don’t know.

We (my husband and I…just assume from here on out that “we” refers to me and a man I tricked into marrying me ten years ago and stays because I’ve hidden his keys…in the ice maker…shhh…) love watching Naked and Afraid.

At first, I just assumed it was a bunch of naked people running around for the sake of ratings.

And yes, it kind of is.

But it’s also so much more.

Take for instance the three alpha males who continuously pray to God before they score during a hunt and even though they reek of testosterone and electric eel slime, they check their egos at the door and even keep offering the other naked group on the show the food they’ve killed because, and I quote, “It’s the Christ-like thing to do.”

You’ve never seen so many naked Christians.

I think I’m writing this because I wanted to tell a fellow Christian friend how much this show rocked but then I didn’t because I thought she’d judge me.

HOW. MESSED. UP. IS. THAT.

Here’s why I think we shouldn’t judge: there’s a very intricate web being woven at any given moment and you only get a glimpse of a few basic strands.

What I mean is that God is moving all of us, those who believe in Him and those who don’t. And just because you assume certain things shouldn’t be done/said/thought by those who love Jesus doesn’t mean that you’re the final authority on what should be done/said/thought by those who love Jesus (Matthew 7:1-5).

That’s…well…kind of Jesus’s domain.

Things aren’t as defined as I once thought they were. I think we wade waist deep in a big ‘ol sea of gray when walking this Earth.

But God knows that. He knows our hearts, and He’s molding us as we tip toe down the path he’s mapped out for us even when our feet are tired.

So when you see someone walking down their own path, open your heart and snap shut your criticism. Pray that God has them as tightly as He’s holding you.

And if you notice their feet are bare, don’t judge. But maybe offer them some shoes.


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