I am set free

I've been noticing a trend in my life lately. I seem to be surrounded by thoughts of freedom. I yearn for freedom. I think about it constantly. Songs about freedom  strike a chord with me. And when I spend time with the Lord I keep coming back to this idea of freedom. 

I don't like feeling trapped. I doubt anybody does, but I really don't like it. I start getting antsy if I feel like my freedom is being taken from me. I want to be able to move and live and breathe without being held back. 

A couple of weeks ago I was telling Alex that I was feeling trapped. I love my life but I want to be sure that I am choosing this life. I don't want to stay in my life out of obligation or guilt, I want to actively choose to live my life the way I am living it each and every single day. I want to delight in this choice and feel free to make any changes I see fit without worrying about what others may think.

I also want to be free of all past mistakes. I have this tendency to go back and relive past hurts. I start thinking about something that happened a year, three years, five years ago...and it's all fresh in my mind. I begin to beat myself up over it. Why? Why did I do that? Why did I say that? How would my life be different had I made a different choice? I have to tell myself to let go, stop obsessing. 

I've been participating in a holy yoga class every Monday evening. It's...the best. I've written about holy yoga before. How it feels worshipful and meaningful. How it helps me focus my attention on Jesus. The instructor has a playlist of worship music playing while we get our flow on. One of the songs that always pops up is "I Am Set Free" by All Sons and Daughters. This song really gets to me every time I listen to it. It's a beautiful song that reminds me simply that I am set free. You guys, I am already set free. 

All the yearning and worrying I do, it's unnecessary. There is no more guilt, no more shame, no more seeking approval, There is only grace and love and promise and hope and opportunity. 

And the reason that I have been set free? It is for freedom. It is for freedom that I am set free. (Galatians 5:1) I need not get bogged down in feelings of regret or worry or the "yoke of slavery." I am to enjoy my freedom in Christ. I am no longer a slave to sin or to the law or people's unsavory opinions about me. I am set free. I am set free to love God and others. I am set free to hope in the future. I am set free to pursue my calling and passions. I am set free to walk with God. I am set free to revel in God's grace and mercy.  

It's time to drop those chains that I'm holding on to. They've already been broken by Christ. I'm covered in God's grace. I am set free. 

Mourning the Life You Thought You Would Have - Mudroom Blog

I wrote this piece for the Mudroom Blog. I've been wanting to share some of my raw feelings about our time in Denver and Tammy really helped me get it all out (Thanks!). Read a snippet below and be sure to click the link at the bottom for the rest of the story.

When my husband and I got married we moved from Miami, Florida to Wake Forest, North Carolina. We were beyond excited to get out of Miami. I wouldn’t say we hated Miami, I think we were just longing to see what was out there. We wanted to experience a different life from the one we had always known. So we walked down a church aisle, said I do, and then packed our bags and headed north. We loved our time in North Carolina. I went to seminary and earned my degree in Biblical Counseling. We spent weekends exploring nature trails and farmer’s markets. We drank sweet tea and ate venison. We eased into life, enjoying the seasons and Southern hospitality.

North Carolina is a beautiful place, but soon we fell in love with a different city. We set our sights on Denver, Colorado. The first time we visited the city we were in awe. The city felt young and vibrant. The people were full of dreams and adventure. And the mountains, well, the mountains are truly majestic. We really felt like it was a great fit for us. A group of our friends were preparing to move to Denver to plant a church and they wanted us to join them. They definitely didn’t have to twist our arms. My husband and I both had a heart for city life and the church, we felt like this is where God wanted us to be and were eager to do life and ministry in a place we loved.

It started out just fine. We bought a home and prepared for the birth of our first child. We met together with our church family, ate at new restaurants, took our dog to the park. Life was exactly as we hoped it would be.

But then something changed.

Read more at the Mudroom Blog

when I am weak, then I am strong

I've struggled with depression and anxiety for some time now. It started in the teen years but it really hit hard after Liam was born. The postpartum depression I experienced felt like a wave crashing down on all my motherhood dreams. Instead of reveling in my new role as a mom I retreated inside of myself unsure of how to even deal with life. I'm still feeling the ramifications of that period of my life today. 

Here's the thing about my depression...I've never given into it. I know that sounds weird. Why would I give in to depression? What does that even mean? Is this a cry for help? Not really, but kind of.

I think most of us struggle with projecting a certain image of ourselves, especially Christians. We know about grace but we still want the world to think we have all our stuff together. We share perfect-looking instagram posts and tell everyone we're fine when they ask how we're doing. Instead of sharing our struggles and an ugly cry with a trusted friend we indulge in retail therapy...and maybe a bit of ice cream therapy as well. C'mon, I know I'm not the only one. But why? We know better! I know better! I have a master's in Biblical Counseling and still one of my biggest struggles is receiving counseling during times of trouble. I have an incredibly hard time telling people that I'm struggling. Even my own husband barely realizes when I am feeling all the feelings because I just can't get them out. I can't say out loud that I need help. 

And here's the other thing, I keep lamenting about my struggles and weaknesses. I keep telling myself, "Be stronger! What is wrong with you? Why must you be so weak? Why do you struggle with the same things day after day, year after year? Can't you just change already?! People are going to start wondering about you." I have prayed and prayed for God to change me and take away my anxious, obsessive, depressive thoughts. The rational side of my brain has reminded me of the countless abundant blessings in my life...but I just can't shake it. Yes, I have improved greatly but it's still there, it's always there. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 grabs me by the face and forces me to pay attention. Paul says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

It's okay. It's okay this this is my struggle. It's okay that God doesn't make the depression and anxiety magically vanish. Instead of fighting my weaknesses I need to find a way to let God display is awesome strength through them. That's real faith. It's not about being perfect and having no more struggles - that will only happen when Jesus comes back. It's about embracing your weaknesses and allowing God to carry you through the pain. It's about trusting in Him more and more. It's about finding true joy and contentment in Christ and not in your circumstances. 

I realized the other day, I mean really realized, that it doesn't matter where I live or who is in my life or what I do for a living...if I'm not running after Christ and looking to Him for my satisfaction I will never be happy. I want to do that. I want to be happy living in a cave, as long as I have Jesus. 

I know these things in my head, but I want to know them in my heart and in my spirit. I'm praying for radical faith. I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to really show up. And I'm praying for myself. I'm praying that instead of fighting my weaknesses I will allow God's strength to shine through. For nothing will be impossible with God

Book Review: Jesus Feminist

I first heard of the book, Jesus Feminist, more than a year ago. I started following Sarah Bessey's work around that time and was drawn to her beautiful writing. I ordered her book but it sat on my shelf as other things took priority. But finally a couple of months ago I decided that I needed to read this book. So I picked it up and inhaled it. 

You guys, Sarah Bessey's writing is probably the most beautiful I have ever read. She really paints an amazing picture with her words. She makes you feel like you are at home, sitting on the couch in your PJ's with your best friend, sipping on coffee, having girl time. I have never in my life cried real tears while reading a book until I read this one. I felt like this book encompassed so many of the feelings I've been having in my own life. She raises the same questions that have been swimming around in my head, but does so in a way that feels non-threatening and non-aggressive. Her words are dripping with love and the Holy Spirit. 

Sarah's book isn't meant to divide. I know with a title like Jesus Feminist it can repel some readers. Some might feel like this book is meant to chastise men or non-feminists, but it's really not. She simply wants to have a conversation, share her own story, and make people think. There's no vitriol or nastiness, only love and compassion. 

I could go on and on sharing favorite quotes and ideas from the book, but I would end up sharing most of it. I really believe that this is a book for all Christians. All my lady friends, and even my dude friends, would do well to pick this up and give it a chance. I cannot give this book enough praise. I am so tired of debates and arguments, especially amongst Christians, this book was like a breath of fresh air and was exactly what I needed to read at this point in my life.

"There is not one way to be a woman; there is not one way to do women's ministry. There is only loving and serving God, doing life together in the full expression of our unique selves. Make room for them all and give glory to God."