Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Daughter Is Not Jesus, And Other Ways Food Makes Me Goofy

Sweet potatoes and yukon golds, roasted in the oven.

Delicious and definitely on the "approved foods" list. I'm back to eating the right stuff after flinging myself off the wagon over Thanksgiving.

I ate, little bits of everything I wanted to taste. It was delicious. I really didn't overeat at all.

But I didn't eat the "good stuff". And I didn't feel well. I didn't necessarily feel badly, but sluggish. Bloated. Foggy. Slow.


And the sugary stuff sent me over the edge. My body is really sensitive to sugar.

Who knew? I was eating so much of the stuff, all day long, indulging every whim, that the pump was always primed. Now that I essentially eat no sugar at all, that little bit of pecan pie packed a powerful punch.

And here's what I noticed: the first bite led to the craving. Every hour, I wanted another taste. Another hit. It took a lot of self-control, all day Sunday, to break that habit. But by Monday, I was good and clean.

I feel better today. I continue to react strongly to caffeine; a slight re-introduction to morning coffee indicates that the boost I thought I was getting might actually be contributing to mild headaches and a lack of focus.

I couldn't talk today. I referred to my daughter Sydni as Jesus, in what seemed like a logically constructed sentence. Maybe caffeine makes me a little goofy.

Who knew?

I'm wearing pants that I haven't been able to fit in since last year. That feels good, but it's more like a great side effect. I've tried to keep that in mind: I'm not on a diet. I want to be healthy.

It makes a difference in my attitude. It makes it just a bit easier.

Have you detoxed from anything recently?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Praise God On High

I am writing this post with my "Mom" hat on, so indulge me for a moment or two.

One of the greatest joys of my life is seeing my kids nurture their love for music. All five of them are passionate about music, with very diverse but authentic tastes.

Honestly, I haven't really pushed them hard in this direction. They've just been around it all their lives. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't even insist on piano lessons for any of them; they all can pick around a bit, but I didn't want to turn them into mini-me's. In hindsight, I wish I'd pushed that issue a bit more; as a piano teacher, I wish someone had helped them acquire those life skills the way I help kids do the same now. I'd certainly do that part differently if I had a do-over.

Today at church, some of my favorite people played on the worship team. Great musicians, each and every one, they connected with God and with one another in a way that made it easy to bypass distractions and be very present in the moment. (You can watch the service here - the music and the message might bless you.) One of those favorite people was my daughter. 

Obviously, I'm biased - she's my kid, and my job in life is to be her biggest cheerleader. That, I am. But I'm sincere when I say that she is, by far, one of the most effective worship leaders I know. When she sings, her worship is pure and focused and authentic. She is humble and her leadership is gentle; she simply sings because she loves God, and her voice sings His praise. She leads me to an authentic encounter with God - she always has.

I think one of the reasons Sarah's worship resonates is rooted in her life experience. At a very young age, she's wrestled with some challenging stuff: her parent's divorce and the ensuing issues there, and a late-adolescent battle with bipolar disease (you can read more about that here.) Her dependence on God at this season of her life is authentic, and that seeps into her musical worship.

Recently, I stumbled upon a recording of one of Sarah's very first experiences leading worship, over a decade ago. We listened together this afternoon, after church; our hearts swelled and our eyes filled with tears. We all talked, just for a moment, about how far we'd all come. With Sarah's permission, I'm sharing that recording here.

She was eleven years old. We lived in Cleveland, and worshiped at Fellowship Bible Church. That's me, playing piano, and the FBC choir singing, and Sarah leading the verses. The style is drastically different from PCC, our current church; but the heart is the same.

Sarah started there. She's come a long way. God led her. It's been a good journey.

Note: If you are here via an RSS feed and the audio file below doesn't show up, please click on through to the actual post and give it a listen!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Now Let Us All Give Thanks

I just hit the start button on the dishwasher for the second time today. We filled it to the brim, both times, with the remnants of good food and a full table.

Today was the 26th day of my 25 day food detox. I saw the doctor yesterday, and told him I really wanted to eat my mom's cornbread dressing. Among other things. He gave me a stern look, and told me to go ahead. Start again tomorrow.

So I ate, tiny amounts of everything with no regard to sugar or gluten or dairy.

And my gut is not so happy. But I tasted everything I put in my mouth, and to some degree - even though it was a full frontal assault and a barrage of tastes and flavors and inflammatory things that I've avoided for several weeks - I could tell what was good for me and what was not. Awareness is such a valuable tool, and I'm thankful for it.

Even though I keep burping.

But it's not as if I did something horrible or fatal. There's something about the fullness of family and friends and years of tradition that brings good health. And so I refuse to beat myself up or worry about not sticking to the program or feel the tiniest bit of guilt over what I ate today.

This is my life, and I get to choose, and I choose health and good fuel for my body, except on this day when I chose to savor the taste of my history and my memories and a shared sense of the community that is my family.

We had all the kids, and my parents, and Travis and his mom, and Max, and our new friend Sam from church, and two tables - one for the kids and one for the grownups, except we're all so grown up now that it was more like a table for the "seasoned" folks and one for the fresher faces. We had new tablecloths that will be part of my traditions, and my mom's good stoneware came from my cabinets to the table this year and looked beautiful. We had candles and Shannon's sweet potatoes and Daniel's dump cake and Sarah's peanut butter pie and Bitsy's green bean casserole and Mom's turkey breast and cornbread dressing and giblet gravy and we burnt the rolls, like we do every year. We stood in a circle, held hands and gave thanks. We sampled lemon pie and cherry pie and pecan pie from a cast iron skillet while we went around the room one at a time, doing our "Thankful for..." tradition.

I am thankful this year for my home, for my husband who refused to settle for anything less than awesome for it's heart - our kitchen; for daughters that are well and good in lives away from home and yet still want to come home. Thankful for my parents, who guard their health and are strong and here. Thankful for my sons, who are becoming amazing young men. Thankful for Max, and Travis, and the way I am learning to love each of them, although it feels dangerous at times. Thankful for Bitsy and her friendship. Thankful for the man who calls me his wife, and his steadfast love and commitment to our family.

I am thankful indeed, for second and third chances and a life full of grace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Me Faith

It's an oddly shaped week; strange meeting schedules and rehearsal on a Tuesday night.

But, oh, what a great night it was.

I am biased toward the Powhatan Campus this week, as my daughter Sarah is back in town for the holiday. She has enough leeway in her schedule (after running around doing a lot of photography for folks) to lead worship with us. With most of our college students home for Thanksgiving, we were able to put together a band that included Sarah, Travis and Tanner. Matthew and Sean are anchoring things, and Walter and I get to be the old guys on the platform.

Several folks involved in various college ministries around the area have been encouraging me to introduce a new song. Actually, it's not that new, but it's certainly new to us.

Sometimes, songs just have a certain something; in old-school spiritual terms, we'd say that a song is anointed. Something special just happens in the singing, regardless of what's happening in the melody (sometimes nothing special) or the chord progression (sometimes quite standard). I think How He Loves is such a song; Majesty by Delirious is another one. You Are Good. He Is Yahweh. 

And now there's Give Me Faith. The lyrics aren't anything new or sexy. The progression is not unusual. But there's just...something.

And it fits our current series in a unique way. We're talking about being stuck, and the things we can do to get unstuck. But ultimately, we have to remember that the power of God has the potential to do incredibly more than anything we do; and without it, our lives are out of balance.

I may be weak
But Your spirit's strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God, You never will

Give me faith 
To trust what You say
You are good
And Your love is great

In rehearsal tonight, this song came alive. It was incredible and indefinable.

That's a part of faith that is appealing and captivating and utterly fascinating to me; there is a supernatural component to believing in the One who created everything. 

We had a powerful moment in rehearsal, and then the kids came home and we brought extra people with us and built a bonfire and sang it again. Along with a bunch of other stuff.

Sunday is going to be a very good day. My hope is this: If you are headed to PCC, give this song a listen or two. Get familiar with it. And then come Sunday, ready to add your voices to the chorus.

And by the way, I heard some folks talking last week about not singing - about how they don't want to offend anyone because they don't sing well.

Sing. It's not about your neighbor. It's worship, and God made that voice, along with the rest of you. He loves to hear you sing.

Come. Sing. Be part of something powerful. And trust me: if you give it a listen or watch this video and think, "What's the big deal? It doesn't do much for me..." - well, just trust me. It's got that something....

What songs do it for you? Which ones would you say have that special something?

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm about 23 days into a different way of living. Motivated by minor pain and a sense that things just "weren't right", I've adjusted my eating habits rather drastically.

And what a difference it has made.

(You can read about it here.)

After three weeks, the physical changes are becoming the norm. I still don't struggle much with cravings, although as I sit here surrounded by packages Sarah brought from the Savannah Candy Kitchen, I'll admit to a bit of minor desire for something chocolate...and sugary....

But the desire isn't enough to provoke action.

(Although I did eat a bit of chocolate last night; the Candy Kitchen makes this stuff called Gophers and they are TO DIE FOR and so I asked for one little piece, just a tiny bit. Tony - my biggest cheerleader - broke off a piece and handed it to me. And listen to this, people: I sucked on it for about 20 seconds. I swirled the chocolate taste in my mouth and oh how I wanted to chew up the caramel and the nuts and the dark chocolate but I didn't. I gingerly spit it into a napkin and threw it away, much to the horror of the candy-loving people around the table. I just couldn't eat it. I think I earned some major points with that bit of willpower...)

Here's what I'm learning:

  • What I eat has a powerful impact on how I feel. I have introduced - carefully - caffeine, with a cup of homemade Chai tea Friday morning. The caffeine sent me through the roof.  I could feel the impact of the caffeine on my body. It wasn't necessarily bad - or good - but the point is this: I put a stimulant into my body and I was aware of its impact.* To me, this is huge; I've spent years pouring caffeine and sugar and everything else into my body without any awareness of how it changed my mood, my energy level, my thought process, my ability to focus. By stripping everything down to such a raw level, I am back in touch with how my body works. I can't begin to describe how freeing this is, and how empowered I feel. Plus, I am healthier - it's obvious.
  • What I eat has a powerful impact on my confidence. I feel better. I have lost a bit of weight, but I'm still way far away from the skinny, size 2 I was several years ago. But it's not about the size of my clothes. I'm learning that feeling in control of my eating habits and being free of the numbing influence of sugar and carbs and processed junk has done wonders for my self-esteem and confidence. It's impacted my work life and my relationships at home and my ability to get up and tackle the day. It's impacted my spiritual life; there's some sort of righteousness that comes with honoring the body God gave me. I like this.
I am convinced that I walked around for years in a fog, numbed by Pringles and Oreos and yogurt and cheese and steak and sugar and Starbucks. Somehow over the course of my adult life, I gave my power away. I ate what was in front of me, what the commercials and the slick ad campaigns touted, what I craved. I ate what good Americans ate, what surrounded us, what was easy and available and quick and convenient. Indulgence was king.

No more. It is not convenient to buy fresh vegetables, to stop at Food Lion for red peppers and hummus when everybody else is eating pizza. It's not convenient to eat oatmeal every day, without sugar. It's not fun to drink only water. 

But there's this: I feel great.  Spiritually, physically, emotionally. I am present in my life. Honestly, I'm not sure there's any amount of Oreo's that could get me here.

I'm thankful. This is good. Amen.

*By the way, I also experimented with eating just a bit of red meat in some chili. No major issues, not much of a noticeable impact. However, not so for the soup I made for the family last night. It included homemade cornmeal dumplings, and after working so hard to make them, I decided to eat just a few. The impact on my stomach was quick and not pleasant. My body doesn't like corn, or flour. We'll figure that out as we go along. The point is - now I know. When I eat certain things, I don't feel good. So, the choice is mine. I can choose the temporary pain, or I can avoid the food and feel better. 

This is good.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Changing The World, One Conversation At A Time

Just the girls today...the boys were off shooting things...
My kids are all home.

That means all five of my babies, the ones I rocked and nursed and cuddled and cried over and laughed with - they're all back in the house. They're together. There's something awesome and beautiful about that, what they make when they are together. It is a sure and steady thing, the most brilliant and amazing tangible evidence of love I've ever seen.

And then there are the extra pieces that come along, the bonus bits of energy in boyfriends and best friends. They round out the day and bring joy.

The house is full. It is loud again. And it is good.

But it is loud, I'll admit; and that's a bit jarring. But I am glad for it.

So I rested, today; after a beautiful service at church and some good time with my youngest girl, we came home to a chaotic lunch and a nap for me. After two hours on the couch, with the chaos swirling around me, I awoke refreshed.

The service today lingers in my heart, for many reasons. It was a very interesting, unusual message on prayer - not quite what you might have expected. Brian talked a bit about his experience with centering prayer and the influence of Thomas Keating on his spiritual life. He mentioned having a "mantra" - a keyword that helps "bring you back" when your mind begins to wander or you find yourself distracted, and Brian went on to say that learning how to refocus, reduce anxiety and redirect energy with this "centering word" has become part of his everyday life - not just his prayer life.

Because I work closely with Brian on a weekly basis, and because often our work is anxiety-inducing (THE MESSAGE IS TOO LONG! WE'VE ACCIDENTALLY OFFENDED SOME PEOPLE! THE MESSAGE IS TOO SHORT! I DON'T KNOW HOW WE'RE GOING TO END THIS SERVICE! WE FORGOT TO TELL THE WESTCHESTER TEAM WHAT WE'RE DOING! ARE YOU CRAZY? FINANCES ARE GETTING TIGHT! ONE OF THE LIGHTS IS BROKEN! I HAVE TOO MANY EMAILS! HELP!!!), I just wanted to share my perspective on the spiritual practices he has put into place since his sabbatical.

They work.

I have literally watched him, in the middle of a conversation, reach back into a place that he didn't have before and find that calmness, some strength, a sort of peace. I don't say this to simply add my testimony to the truth he brought today, but to tell you that the practice of centering prayer can not only change your life, but impact your relationships as well.

Imagine being in a conversation in which your anxiety levels are rising; think about what could happen if things get heated and out of control. Imagine that you are struggling with something that's been said and you find yourself unable to listen.

And now imagine that you have practiced the art of centering your mind, calming yourself in centering prayer. Although your experience is in the presence of God, in silence, you find that you can calm yourself and return to the conversation - be present without your emotions or your adrenaline rising.

Brian is doing this now on a regular basis, and it's had a profound impact on our working relationship. There's something incredibly safe about working with someone who can bring this kind of influence to your dialogue. It builds trust. Ultimately, it benefits the  Kingdom as we work together more effectively, with more focus.

As believers, what if we were the ones who brought peace into heated conversations? What if, when things escalate and tension begins to creep in, we were the ones bringing a calming light? In the midst of challenging invective regarding politics or social issues or relationship stuff or religion, think of how things might change if we became bringers of peace.

We could change the world, one conversation at a time.

So give it a try. Trust Brian, as he said today. Trust Him.

We ended the service today with one of the most powerful songs I've heard recently. You might add this to your time with God; it can gently lead you to a place of remembrance, embracing the comfort and reality of who God is and how He regards the human race. Let Him speak to you.

I am the Lord your God
I go before you now
I stand beside you
I'm all around you
Though you feel I'm far away
I'm closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Lived

My husband is making music in the living room, playing an old acoustic guitar that is seasoned with millions of notes and the resonance of life. I think I am hearing snippets of "Beautiful Things" and it is, indeed, beautiful.

I am exhausted, after one of those 13-hour days with no breaks. My brain sort of stops working at some point and I just long for stillness and quiet. I have it this evening. The house is still, as the kids are hanging with their dad and the girls went back to Harrisonburg after a quick trip home. The guitar sings through the quiet house and all is still, and well, and good.

We made real music this morning, played the blues this morning that opened up a time of honest and authentic praise and shouting and prayer to God. I think the church is absolutely a suitable place for the blues, because what are the blues if not the deepest cry of our souls? Don't tell me David didn't write those Psalms as blues lyrics, mournful and heartfelt as any 12-bar renditions you'll hear today.

We played good music tonight, hearing from different people who are singing their own songs and standing tall in the gifts they've been giving while bowing down to offer themselves to God.

And in the middle of it all I shared a meal with my family, my mom and dad and husband and all but one of my children, at a table big enough to hold us all, over biscuits and roast and potatoes and carrots and gravy. I made it all but ate none of it, because I cannot partake as I stick to my conviction that changing the fuel for my body is changing my body and my mind and perhaps, even my heart.

It was a good, long day, and I have a large, throbbing bruise on the heel of my hand that hurts now and will hurt more tomorrow. My shoulders are yearning for a deep, long massage and my hand hurts and my eyes are dry and I feel like I am alive, like this day we were given was used up to its very core, every crevice licked out and shaken until there was nothing left.

I feel satisfied in my Savior today, in the glory and grace of a day I lived.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Feel Good

I feel good.

In fact, better than I've felt in years.

And I'd like to tell you about it.

A chronic neck/shoulder issue has bothered me for years. I've had some issue with it for at least eight years. A little physical therapy made a minor dent in the pain. More recently, I'd been seeing a chiropractor for regular adjustments. But the underlying cause never seemed to get any better - in fact, I had no real clue what the underlying cause might be. When I began to notice a lack of muscle strength and some other issues on my left side, I decided to seek out some additional info. On top of the shoulder stuff, I just didn't feel good. I felt a lot older than I should. I didn't feel healthy.

I visited a chiropractic neurologist, hoping for some answers.

I got answers.

I'll spare you all the details, but the first few weeks of treatment involved more neurological application than chiropractic care. No surgery, no "therapy" - just an approach that dealt with the core neurological responses over all. There were exercises I could do at home - and I did.

It worked.

After a few weeks of initial treatment, it was obvious that the doctor had found and addressed the problem in my neck and shoulder. Along the way, he'd asked for information to do a complete physical assessment; not just a complete blood workup, but also a long - and I mean LONG - questionnaire. I answered questions about my eating and sleeping habits, gastrointestinal issues, stressors, cravings, and more.

He took all the information I gave him, from my brain and from my blood, and he sat me down to ask if I wanted to take the next step.

I'll spare you the details, but the next step involves addressing any issues I might have with food that easily causes inflammation. In order to determine that, I stopped eating those foods.

And that is how I find myself, about 18 days later, 10 pounds lighter and feeling good. Better than I've felt in years. I will confess that my meals are somewhat boring, but it is absolutely worth the trade off. After 25 days total, I'll reintroduce foods one by one to determine which ones might be a problem. Then I'll know how to manage my eating habits in order to continue feeling so good.

Here's what I don't have: achy joints, fatigue, brain fog, bloating, "delicate gastrointestinal issues", headache, stiff muscles, depression and more.

Here's what I don't eat: red meat, bread, dairy, eggs, orange juice, coffee, chips, processed foods, sugar, wheat, soy, corn and more.

Here's what I do eat: fish, chicken, veggies, beans, bananas, applesauce, almonds, walnuts, oatmeal, water and not much more. Like I said, it's boring.

But that's okay.

I feel good. All across the board. And I am SO grateful.

(I'm not going to get all preachy about this, but I'm serious: if you are feeling that something is just "not right" and you're around my age, don't settle. Think about what you're eating. It might be as simple as that. And seriously - I cannot believe how much better I feel!)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thanks For Coming. Hope You Don't Get The Wrong Idea

At the FOCUS bonfire tonight; students everywhere, carving pumpkins, making s'mores, singing, wrapping themselves in toilet paper. Lots of energy. Lots of kids.

I was warming my hands at the fire when Brian walked up. We talked about this and that.

And then this happened.

ME: I wish we could tell people how cool it was to see SO MANY PEOPLE at church today.
BRIAN: Yeah, it was awesome.
ME: You should write a blog post or something.
BRIAN: You write a blog post.
ME: I can't. I mean, it's awkward. I'm a musician. It's like people will think I'm excited because there were more people in the audience to hear us play. I don't want people to get the wrong idea...
BRIAN: (with that dumbfounded, "you're too dumb to talk to" look he gets sometimes) And it's not awkward for me? You don't think they'll get the wrong idea if I write something about how great it was to see so many people there today? I'm the one standing up there talking. They might think, "Oh, he's just happy because there was a big crowd to hear him talk." It's risky for me, too. Maybe more. 
ME: Well, yeah.
BRIAN: ...
ME: But you should do it. 
ME: Just...because.

The point is this: when the room is full, there's a unique sort of energy. There is something powerful when we gather together - we see it and feel it every week. Jesus said, "When two or more are gathered in my name, I'm there with you." I really believe that something supernatural happens in our togetherness. That's not to say that amazing things don't happen in smaller groups, or even with a handful of people. But a full room has a different kind of energy.

And this morning, the room was full of familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while. One of the greatest privileges of the platform is the ability to see people I love. That made today extraordinarily special.

We heard a powerful story, about how God transformed the life of a man who seemed hell-bent for destruction. We experienced that story together. There is a synergy and a power that comes from that "together" experience that can't be replicated.

I think it's part of the reason behind God's encouragement that we "do not give up meeting together" (Hebrews 10.25). Something happens when we are in the same place, experiencing the same thing.

Thanks to all of you who came to church today. Thanks to those who brought friends and family members.

Thanks for coming back. We've missed you. You're family. Home isn't the same without you.

And now I've written the blog post. If you got the wrong idea, sorry. I just liked having all of us together.

The end.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Too Much Brokenness?

Life. Work.

That's why I haven't written here much.

But I have been thinking, processing, writing journal entries in my head...and here's where I am today; it's about work, which - for me - is church, and life and friendships and it's all intertwined (which, may I say, is sometimes incredibly challenging. There's nothing else I'd rather do, but it is challenging at times. This season is one of those times.)

Tomorrow we're wrapping up a series that explored what it means to be a Christian. Our teaching pastors put forth four ideas, not meant to be exhaustive, but pertinent. Following Jesus in a way that leads to abundant life requires one to accept and acknowledge that we are broken, blessed, chosen and called.

(We even have a theme song - an excellent worship tune written by our own Artist-in-Residence, Laura K. You'll hear it again tomorrow.)

Every week, we've introduced the new concept while reminding ourselves of what came before. Our church is built for people who are broken; those who are in bad spots, at the end of their ropes, ashamed, stuck - our hope is that people who are hurting can safely worship at PCC and find time and space to be with God. So it's been quite natural that we've hit the "we are broken" refrain every week.

A dear friend sent me a note a few days ago, gently asking if we weren't getting a little too bogged down in the "brokenness" part. He wondered if we shouldn't be introducing other, more positive concepts; encouraging folks to move forward.

I respect my friend's opinion and insight, and so I've been giving this a bit of thought. It's especially applicable because tomorrow, as we teach on the "Called" topic, we're going to be leaning a bit into brokenness again. Jerimy Ford is going to tell his story, about how he came to be a Christian and the difficult path he traveled to get to this point in his life - where he is happily, actively serving a church and, in fact, is considering a move towards vocational ministry. Jerimy has been broken; it's a huge part of the process for him.

I did the programming for this week's service, and I chose a song we did a year or two ago for the message set up. I'm going to sing it, because it suits me, both stylistically and lyrically. I've been singing it in my head for three or four days, working with the words and getting comfortable with the chord progression. Today, I sat at my piano in the living room and ran through the first verse:

Peace as elusive as a shadow dancing on the wall
Life swallowed by the pain of yesterday
Left broken by the shame of things that I had done
No freedom from the choices that I'd made
But with one touch you made me clean
You met me in my deepest need

Well, there it is again, that brokenness bit...

I've thought about it all afternoon, going about the business of caring for our home and our laundry and our kitchen. I've thought about it while I listened to an Ian Morgan Cron podcast about spiritual practices and how essential it is to simply be with God and let that be enough, rather than to always think it necessary to do.

I've considered the very real fear I have of people getting tired of the same old stuff from me, worried that they'll think I'm trying to milk my shame for some sort of attention or awkward validation. I've contemplated the truth about my own desire to "get past it", to move forward, to rise above the past and become a Very Good Church Worker or an Excellent Minister.

It dawned on me this afternoon that I seem to be fighting hard these days to shed that label, to be something more than Beth, the divorced one or Beth, the one who was unfaithful. I think I'm stuck someplace, looking for the new label. Seeking the new identity.

Trying to be a grown up, a big girl. Trying to be successful. Trying to be.


I'd like to say it was an epiphany, or that it became crystal clear...but it did not. It's more like a little nudge, a small idea in the thickest part of my heart. It's wrapped in grace and there's no small amount of mercy offered as well.

I had this thought, and it was this:

You are broken. You will always be broken. 

But I love you. 

Be who you are. Stop trying to be something else.

I'm going to sing tomorrow morning, a song that is so true of my life that it's almost uncanny.

I will sing, and it will be true, and Jerimy will follow me and tell his story, and then we will sing "Redeemed" and I will proclaim my brokenness. I will claim it.

Because this I know: it wasn't until I was truly broken that I understood that I needed God. I needed to be connected with my creator through the redemptive power of His son. Without that brokenness, I was smart enough and clever enough and good enough to play church.

Brokenness made it real.

If I walk away from my brokenness, everything gets fuzzy. If my life with Christ is going to be authentic, it must be centered on my brokenness.

I don't know if this is solid theology or not, but it's what drives me to my knees and draws me back to the heart of a God I do not understand, a Jesus who somehow transcends time and space and is real to me.

I cannot get there unless I am real.

And I have to stop trying so hard.