Tag Archives: joy

joy.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10

“As soon as we pay off our student loans, then we can really enjoy life.”

“As soon as my son passes the ‘terrible twos’ and stops throwing tantrums over dinner, we’ll be in good shape.”

“As soon as I learn how to master every chore in the most efficient way possible, then I can really relax on weekends.”

These are just a handful of “if, then” statements I’ve muttered to myself over the past few years. There are plenty more, but they are all essentially the same in that they don’t allow me to experience joy until certain stars align. I get myself so focused on the THEN, that I feel like I can’t possibly enjoy the NOW.

I was thinking about that this week as I was preparing the discussion for our monthly small group and the above scripture jumped out at me. It is Jesus speaking and, in most teachings, the “thief” he refers to Satan. And certainly I think this still applies. But there are plenty of other thieves that Satan employs in our lives that come to kill and destroy the abundant life that God has promised:

  • work stress
  • financial woes
  • health issues
  • comparison
  • mean people
  • and many more.

The thing about that scripture is that there isn’t a waiting period. It’s not like, “As soon as Lindsay gets back from vacation, then the thief will steal her joy with a pile of demanding emails.” Or, “As soon as Lindsay’s paid off all her student loans, then the thief will attack her with a four-digit hospital bill.” The thief doesn’t play that game.

But thankfully, neither does the Savior. He doesn’t say in that verse, “As soon as Lindsay goes on vacation, then I will give her an abundant life.” Or “As soon as Lindsay can figure out how to tithe on the regular, then I will rain money on her head.”

It is automatic. Abundant life is automatic.

Joy is automatic.

We just have to quit waiting for it to show up.

Sure I haven’t paid off all my student loans yet; but I can afford my rent and I can buy groceries at Publix.

And sure my kid is in his terrible twos; but being his mama, I’m also his absolute #1 favorite person in the whole entire world.

And the scoreboard of my life is currently LAUNDRY-49, LINDSAY-0, but I have clothes on my back to keep me warm (regardless of their state of cleanliness and/or wrinkledness).

Joy abounds RIGHT NOW. Be glad in it.

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the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

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things i love thursday! (september 19, 2013)

If you’re thankful and you know it, write a blog…

nosering

THINGS I LOVE THIS WEEK:

  • Dax has been a milestone-hitting machine lately! Just this week alone he’s done all of the following:
    – cut another tooth
    – learned how to sign, “more” and “please”, bringing his sign language vocabulary up to three words
    – said, “Mama” when I’ve asked him what my name was
    – took his first steps
    – made me cry tears of pride
  • Playing acoustic pianos.
  • Impromptu music meetings.
  • Productive iMessage meetings.
  • The words, “I forgive you.”
  • New clothes.
  • Bringing Dax by the office and letting all my friends play with him instead of doing work. You’re welcome, guys!
  • I started a seminary class and it’s really interesting! Yay!
  • Catching up with my cousin Brian on the phone. (It’s his birthday tomorrow, by the way, so send him thousands of presents, Internet.)
  • Going to Starbucks and NOT ordering a pumpkin spice latte because LOOK AT THE CALENDAR GUYS IT’S NOT FALL UNTIL SUNDAY SO SLOW YOUR ROLL OKAY?!
  • Unexpected two-day weekends! YAY! (Hashtag ministry problems.)
  • Tickle fights with Dax.
  • And Dan.
  • Getting texts from friends with pictures of famous people who they think look like me. WELL THANK YOU!
  • Memes.
  • Alone time.
  • Catching up with Jessica!
  • “St. Elmo’s Fire”.
  • My nose hoop.
  • Miracle naps.
  • Having a son that lets us sleep in till 9, and sometimes 10!
  • Being a Hufflepuff.
  • Book clubs with my Tallahassee friends. (Holla back, Skype.)
  • Middle schoolers and high schoolers. They just get me.
  • Because I’m perpetually 12.

What do you love this week?

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when we make ourselves bleed.

It is Sunday and I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I foolishly downed a grande Starbucks iced latte this morning so I’ll be awake and vibrating until Tuesday so MIGHT AS WELL EXPEL SOME FINGER ENERGY, AM I RIGHT? (The piano is getting slaughtered as soon as I’m done with this.)

Failure and grace are on my heart today, because:

  • I just got done writing an apology letter to a mother in our congregation for our streaming platform being down this morning during her son’s baptism.
  • Dan had to apologize for not being the husband/father I needed him to be on Friday.
  • And a few days prior to that, I had to send an awkwardly phrased apology email to a mentor whose blessings on me I have not exactly honored.

There have been a lot of “I’m sorry”s floating around my head this week, thrown both at and from me. A lot of disappointments. A lot of failures.

It’s easy for me to forgive Dan because he’s so silly and wonderful. But my mentor forgave me (for probably the millionth time) and I’m crossing my fingers that this mother will also forgive me. However, even though the reality of their forgiveness is within my reach, I still find it hard to forgive myself.

Last night I went to dinner with some ladies from our church. My friend Kimberly told us a story of her son’s experience at a local water park. There is an area that has big, floating lily pads with a rope suspended above them. The idea is that you can jump from lily pad to lily pad and use the rope to help you across.

Kimberly’s son decided to make his way across by only hanging on to the rope and not touching down on any of the lily pads. When he got to the other side, his hands were blistered and bleeding.

“Why didn’t you stop when you were hurting?” she asked.

“Because I didn’t want to fail,” he said.

WHAT.

Whenever someone forgives me for wronging them, it’s like I look down on their grace like her son did those lily pads. I dismiss it and choose instead to cling to my shame as punishment — a thick, tough, splintery rope — and mentally beat myself up. In a sense, I make myself bleed because I’m so upset that I failed in the first place.

Is it failure, though? Is it?

To admit you need help? To admit you made a mistake? To step down on a lily pad? To apologize to someone and say, “I missed the mark and I’ll try to do better next time,” and to let their grace be enough? 

Perhaps when we find ourselves in pain we should stop, step down on a lily pad, and apologize instead of making ourselves bleed unnecessarily.

And then, we move on, more aware of the reality of love and grace and mercy and redemption than we are of the lies of shame and guilt.

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things i love thursday! (july 25, 2013)

Hello lovelies! Especially all of you new followers. Every Thursday I try to post a list of things for which I am grateful. Keeps my spirit on the upswing, you know? You should try it. Check it out, lots of wonderful things happened this week!

dax_bday

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • My baby boy turned one. ONE!
  • My mom, aunt, cousin, and his wife all came down to Naples for Dax’s birthday. I teared up when they pulled in (and when they left) because I just love them so, and I love that they care so much about Dax to drive 8 hours in a day just to spend time with him. (That’s my mom in the picture above.)
  • Making cupcakes from scratch with the husband. Confectioner sugar storm!
  • Being Freshly Pressed on WordPress! Huzzah!
  • A quiet house at the end of the day.
  • Playing a real piano. Nothing better.
  • Being randomly invited over to friends’ house for dinner.
  • Fun at the pool with my little boy.
  • Anything buffalo flavored. Pizza, pitas, whatever. I will eat it.
  • Lunch times out with coworkers.
  • Starbucks two days in a row!
  • Being ambushed by naps.
  • Whatever compels my baby boy to randomly crawl onto me and cuddle me for no reason. (Last time was ten minutes of cuddles! Love him!)
  • Trashy magazines. (Sometimes you just gotta give in to the trash.)
  • Sketti night.
  • Having nurse friends I can text when I accidentally BURN MY LEG by spilling BOILING WATER ON IT. (#fail)
  • Gifts and cards in the mail for Dax! Including…
  • A stuffed pony that gallops and sings that Dax is (LOLOLOLOLOL) totally 100% terrified of. (Sorry Liz! Hahahaha he cries whenever it turns on! And I laugh because I’m terrible!)
  • Seeing a Taco Bell employee get fired right after he handed me my food.
  • Bubble baths.
  • Also, showering long enough to shave my legs.
  • Breakfast dates with my boy. We share strawberries.
  • The Hufflepuff anklet my husband made me on his last mission trip.

What do you love this week? I love your gratitude lists! Comment and let me know!

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open letter to my son on his first birthday.

Dear Dax,

Today at 1:34 AM you turned one. You have been alive, outside of my womb, for one whole year now. (But you were alive and inside my womb for 38-ish weeks prior to that!)

Do you remember what life looked like a year ago? Well, yesterday you forgot that you like grapes even though the day before you couldn’t shovel them into your mouth fast enough, so if your memory is a little fuzzy, that’s okay. That’s why I’m here. Because I remember it all.

A year ago, we were cuddling in my recovery room, number 309, and everything was white and sterile and loud, but quiet at the same time. There were all these machines and people buzzing about us, even the few times when you or I were asleep, and time seemed to creep by and zoom past as we got to know each other.

Though you were a big, 8-pound-4-ounce ball of heavenly chub, in my arms you felt fragile and tiny. The most precious thing I’ve ever seen. And I couldn’t believe that you were mine.

Because I loved you so much, I didn’t know how to hold you. You can tell because in the pictures that were taken right after you were born, I was holding you in a way that I never held you again. Once I got to know you, every inch of you, I learned the way you love to snuggle. But, at first, I was just so scared and so new at being your mommy and I didn’t know if I was doing it right. Thank you for giving me the chance to learn.

daxbday1

That first night in the hospital was an exhausting one for me, and probably you, too. While your daddy slept, you and I (after sixteen hours of labor) stayed up together learning how to nurse. When your daddy woke up in the morning, I got to tell him about how much you loved to nurse and how (much to the nurses’ dismay) you and I both preferred for you to sleep on my chest as opposed to in the bassinet. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I was so tired that night was because every time a nurse came in I’d pop awake and pretend I wasn’t sleeping — just cuddling you while VERY STILL — because I didn’t want her to tell me to put you back down.

daxsleep

daxsleep2

Adjusting to life with you at home definitely took some time. It was several weeks before you learned how to sleep at night and, even still, you would only sleep in bed with your daddy and me. I didn’t mind, though.

As a newborn, all you really did was sleep and eat. And cry. A lot. We found out early that you had a bit of colic, and your tummy was very sensitive. Because I breastfed you, I had to eat a very bland diet in order to keep your tummy happy. As much as I loved cheese and ice cream, I did it gladly, because I love you more.

Though you smiled in your sleep when you were only three days old, it took you a while to social smile. On Labor Day, you actually FOR REAL smiled at me for the first time and do you know what? I instantly burst into tears.  And then my crying made you cry. I’m sorry about that. But after six weeks of colic, that fleeting grin was enough to send me over the edge of joy.

daxsmile

And then, there was a period there — between four and nine months — where I felt like I couldn’t keep up with you. It was almost as if you started each new day by hitting another milestone, something that made my heart simultaneously swell with pride but break with longing. As proud as I am to watch you grow, it also hurts a little, because every centimeter you grow pulls you that much farther away from being a baby. Being my baby.

At 6 months, you got your first tooth, sat up on your own, and tried solid food for the first time. Your first taste was carrots and you absolutely loved them! However, now, you’re a bit more picky when it comes to carrots. Though you do like them, you seem to hold out for more tasty options like sweet potatoes. (At the time of writing, sweet potatoes are your favorite food, followed closely by apples, bananas, pasta, pickles, yogurt, and — of course — mama’s milk.)

daxpickle

At 7 months, you said your first word. It was “dada” which makes sense. You love your daddy so much — he can make you giggle like no one else on earth. And he loves you too. So very much. Your second word was “nana” and your third — finally! — was “mama”.

At nine months, you learned how to crawl and pull up. And you have been unstoppable ever since. You can zoom across our house in seconds flat and get into everything on your way. You are funny, though, because you like to crawl a little bit, then stop and turn around to make sure I’m still there watching you.

daxpeek

You are cautious like that. Though you are capable of going far and doing much, you approach each new situation with trepidation and analysis, very carefully examining each and every aspect of the new. This is the case when I take you to a new friend’s house, or introduce you to something weird like grass and flowers. Because you trust me you don’t cry. But I can see in your eyes that you are wary and skeptical. I admire this about you, and I believe this will come in handy when you are a teenager. (Lord, help me.)

daxflower

You are also very particular. You like the things you like and you want things to stay the way they are. This is why, despite taking two two-hour naps a day and sleeping all night in your crib, you refuse to sleep in the church nursery or in your Pack n’ Play at a friend’s house. If things aren’t just right in your world, you notice. I think that — just like your blue eyes — you get this from me. It is a blessing and a curse and I’ll do my best to try and help you navigate this. If you find yourself an advocate for social justice with a burning desire for people to DO RIGHT and TREAT OTHERS RIGHT, know that this is where it stems from. But, if you don’t end up an advocate for anything else than a consistent bedtime routine, that’s okay, too.

daxsleep3

I know a lot has changed in the past year, but I am so very grateful for the one thing that hasn’t. To this day, just like it was when we were in the hospital that first night, your favorite place to sleep is still my chest. You fell asleep there this morning as a matter of fact, and every time you do, I thank God for one more snuggle. If the way this year has flown by is any indication of how fast the rest of life is going to fly, I hold few things closer to my heart than these moments.

daxsnuggle

Dax, a year ago, you turned my whole world upside down. You took what I knew about life and love and you shook it all up and rebuilt it into something beautiful, something I don’t fully understand.

daxlaugh

Thank you for letting me be your mommy that day a year ago, and thank you for continuing to let me be your mommy today.

I love you more than words could ever say. Happy first birthday, booger.

Love always,

Mommy

daxbday

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things i love thursday! (july 18, 2013)

You guys.

You guys.

My kid turns 1 tomorrow. That’s all.

happy_bath

THINGS I LOVE THIS WEEK:

  • The big smile I get whenever Dax first wakes up.
  • Sleeping in until 8. (Yes, non-parents. This is a big deal.)
  • Random ice cream adventures. (Frozen custard, too!)
  • Discovering new fun places in Naples.
  • Planning a trip for our anniversary.
  • Cat cuddles.
  • Bath time.
  • FREE SLURPEES.
  • Cooking.
  • Naps.
  • Spontaneous trips to the beach to watch the sunset on the gulf (and the fact that I can do that pretty much anytime I want.)
  • Playing games with Dan on my phone.
  • Encouraging/inspiring phone calls.
  • Unexpected packages from friends.
  • Filming silly videos for church.
  • Quiet runs on FLAT streets.
  • Downtown Naples.
  • New local restaurants. (Ask for Michelle at Mel’s Diner!)
  • Planning a BIRTHDAY PARTY for my kid. (WHAT?!)
  • Texts from Australia! THANK YOU, iMESSAGE!
  • Crab cake sandwiches.
  • Blogging in bed.
  • Technology.
  • My husband.
  • Making friends!
  • Margaritas.
  • The fact that booze almost always makes this list.
  • The fact that Dax has an awesome family who are all coming to see him this weekend for his first birthday. :)

What do you love this week?

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