A Letter to Your Weary Heart, and Mine

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Dear Heart,

The world is an ugly place these days. You feel it deep.

People are lost, empty. Lashing out in their confusion.

You don’t understand it. Neither do they.

Dear heart, don’t become jaded.

The news bleeds these days. It’ll rip you raw, but don’t let it numb you.

Apathy is just as dangerous as hatred.

All this hurts so deep, but don’t close your eyes to the broken.

Don’t shut your ears to their cries.

Don’t close your heart off. I know you want to.

Fear runs rampant. It trembles in the bravest knees.

Dear heart, don’t let it debilitate you.

Dear heart, the world needs you.

Your voice is small, but your light is steady. It shines brightly in this darkness.

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You don’t have all the answers and your love isn’t big enough to fix a broken nation, not to mention a broken world.

But you have hope and you know a Love that is able.

You may not be able to heal a hurting society, but you can soothe one hurting heart in the mess.

You can reach for another trembling hand and clasp it brave. Because hearing “you are not alone in this” can break down defenses and soften a bitter heart.

People will challenge your intentions, your beliefs, your strength. They will call you names to shut you up because they’re afraid of the truth in your words.

Will you stand under pressure?

Will you fall on your knees in prayer for the victims, because it could have been you?

Will you intercede not only on behalf of the persecuted and abused, but for the persecutors and abusers as well?

Because all need grace.

Especially you. Especially me.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Dear heart, don’t weary yourself with worry. It is not your battle to fight.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Be still and know His heart – toward you, toward them.

Be still and know that He is working good out of all this mess, because that’s what the Father does.

Be still and know. He is greater. He is good.

 

“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17 NLT

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A Letter to Your Weary Heart, and Mine

The Truth About Coming Home

I’ve learned, as a writer, that there are certain words you can’t force.

There are times when you must write even though you don’t feel inspired and that can certainly be useful, but there are certain times you can’t.

These are the words that come from quietness and pondering; the kind that seem to overflow from somewhere deep within.

This is what I have found to be true.

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I have been back on US soil for over a month now and I’ve wanted to write about it all – how crazy and scary and amazing the past 9 months have been – but I couldn’t. The words weren’t ready.

But as I’ve began to finally settle into a rhythm in this new-old life and discovered that it’s far harder (and far easier) than I anticipated, words have been simmering at the back of my mind and in my spirit.

And when 4 different people (who you didn’t even know read your blog) in the last two weeks ask about your old blog and if you still write on it because you should…you know it’s time.

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For me writing has always been about breakthrough, about sorting through the pieces after a storm and making sense of it all, turning it into something beautiful, something useful, and passing it back to those who follow.

But lately there has been this whisper in my spirit – something about writing humble, about not having some wisdom to offer after everything is alright, but being something to offer in the midst of the process. Something like carrying hope alongside the hurting and not merely throwing it back from the finish line.

I’ve been humbled a lot over the past few months – had my eyes opened to who I am without God, when I loose sight of His way and misplace His Lordship with my own. It’s a terrifying thing to realize you are capable of doing the very things you’ve judged others for.

And I’ve prided myself in being a non-judgemental person, an empathetic. But sometimes God strips away the person we think we are, and shows us what we really are apart from His grace.

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No part of me wanted to leave Indonesia. And I had plans to stay. I had it all worked out in my head how I was going to make it happen. But that last Friday in April I was offered a choice that wasn’t really a choice to return to the US and continue my studies. I cried ugly for a whole weekend, threw a lot of questions at God. Yet His only answer was the same thing He always says,

Do you trust Me?

So I swallowed hard my plans and my tears, packed two suitcases, and hugged my friends and life in Bali goodbye.

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I know this is just a season. And I’ve come to understand why I’m here. The Lord has work I need to do, people I need to talk to, things I need to learn. It’s a process. I’m learning patience, trust, and discipline.

But I now have a job that I love and is challenging and stretching me in new ways. My church is launching a new campus in a different part of town and I get to be a part of that. I am meeting new people and building relationships and making connections. I have an opportunity to study at a great university with wonderful professors. God is good. He is really good.

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I’ve learned that you can’t force things, and sometimes you can’t choose.

There are times when you must follow blindly, just trust that He knows what He’s doing, that He really truly does know best.

And with quietness and pondering,

This is what I have found to be true.

~Grace

 

P.S. I am thoroughly enjoying being back with my family. ❤

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The Truth About Coming Home

Inhale, Exhale

I just realized that I start almost every poem with “And…” as if the words that follow are simply the next breath.

Because these days I write poetry like breathing.

It began again one day about two months ago with a sudden spark of inspiration from an obscure corner of the web where one brave soul had posted beautiful, honest words.

It drove me to pick up my peach felt tip and for the first time in forever, I scrawled halting lines in the yellow notebook. Suddenly I can’t stop.

Suddenly everything and everyone is a poem and I tuck it all away in pages both physical and digital.

I chuckled to myself the other day about how my brain works – how I can bookmark certain thoughts or moments that I know will become poetry – return to them like dog-eared pages in my mind the next time I have a moment.

And every spare moment is a moment to write…to dream, to think, to process – in meetings, in coffee shops, tucked behind friends on motorbikes.

Some days I can’t see straight until I scatter thoughts across paper to clear the fog of them all.

Some days I can’t make sense of my heart until feelings are emptied and dealt with in lines and rhythm.

Rhythm has always been healing for me. It’s why I write, really – to breathe easy and deep.

I have discovered the stability of a soul that lives in rhythm. And even in the craziness, the absence of schedule and routine, this soul finds her rhythm.

This rhythm of inhaling and exhaling beauty and heartache in each one’s time.

And in this way you can find delight even in the tired days.

“Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered…” Luke 12:7 ESV

 

Inhale, Exhale

Home Across the Pacific (Thailand pictures)

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Bangkok skyline

It was incredible coming back five years later to the country that had such an impact on me growing up.

I was raised to have a curious mind, to explore the beauty of language, to love cultures different than my own.

It was in this city that I found Jesus as my best friend, where I learned that family is one of the most important things you can have, where I became convinced that Thai food is undeniably the tastiest food on the planet.

I knew such a huge part of me was wrapped up in this land of traffic thicker than the humidity and blatant stares and friendlier smiles. I remember days when all I wanted was to leave. But you can never run from who you are. Missions runs through my veins and I knew I’d come back. I’d always come back.

This time it felt strangely like…home.

Home is one of those words I always stumbled over.

What is home?

I had moved so many times early in my life and I rebelled mentally about settling in the unexotic Midwest. And it wasn’t until I’d been back to Thailand twice, Kenya, Costa Rica, and finally Greece to realize that this little Midwest city that could hardly be called a city wasn’t such a bad place to come back to.

I fell in love with the smallness, the simplicity, the coffee shops, the culture. Even after my two closest friends moved several states away, I was content.

And for the first time I knew how it felt to be planted – my roots grew a little deeper. Suddenly I realized I had two beautiful places to call mine.

Friends come and go and home isn’t always where all the friends are. My people span too many continents for that.

All at once I realized that home was less about my surroundings and more about my heart. It was about the coffee shop I visited two afternoons a week, where the Americanos are strong and the baristas know my name. It was about my favorite streets and downtown memories and old houses full of character and charm and stories to tell. It was about the library brimming with the worlds and adventures that filled my childhood summers. It was about family and shady trails and quiet creeks.

It was when I became content to call my little Midwest “home” that Bangkok suddenly felt like home as well.

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Now I’m packing my suitcases and moving back to Southeast Asia, though a new part for me – a little smaller, a little more beachy, a little less familiar.

I’m less sure than ever about what the future holds and far more excited than I ever hoped to be.

New country, new people, new adventures to be had and memories to be made.

I am so looking forward to adding Indonesia to the places I call home.

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Home Across the Pacific (Thailand pictures)

I Choose

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These past couple weeks I’ve learned a lot about forgiving people – including myself. I’ve learned how to pray for those who have hurt me.

Praying blessings is powerful – to bless those who curse.

It’ll change the way you think about them, to intercede on their behalf, to plead with the Father for their happiness and well-being, to pray deep faith and abiding peace and overflowing joy over them.

It’ll do things to you – eliminate selfishness and bitterness, change the way you love.

Not for the faint of heart but I highly recommend it if you’re willing to learn a lesson in humility.

That’s where I’m at for the moment.

Humbleness. Prayer. Letting go of the need to be right, to be understood.

Because let’s face it, we’re going to be misunderstood sometimes. People aren’t always going to stick around to hear our side of the story and we’re not always going to get our apology.

And it’s okay. Really.

Their opinion doesn’t define you. It’s how you respond that defines you.

So I choose forgiveness and blessing and grace.

And that is when the healing comes.

I Choose

Poetry Summer

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This summer has been pure poetry. Love, loss, adventure, nostalgia, magic.

I thrive on this stuff – on new faces and familiar places, hotels and humidity and memories – reliving the old and making new.

I was born on the move. I live to love and let go.

She said it right, my mom, how I leave a piece of myself wherever I go…but I also take something with me. This is why I’m always changing, shedding my skin to open new eyes.

I think about regrets, choices and words that haunted me, and I turn a fresh page. To know this – that I had loved with all of me and tried my best and that’s what made it enough – this changes everything.

To live without holding back is often painful; but I’ve learned to not hate myself for the things that make me brave.

This is freedom – to walk humid streets and find no stranger.

This is magic – to see yourself as mystery and flawed and to choose love.

This is living deep. Poetry.

Poetry Summer

When Letting Go is Tough and Hope Comes Hard

I chuckled at how I probably looked staring contemplatively out of the bus window in the middle of 40 chattering, laughing kids with the wind whipping wild my curls while some kind of chill indie techno pop or whatever blared over the speakers, but there was something about the way the afternoon sunlight blazed golden across the tall grasses in that field and I couldn’t stop staring.

I soaked up the moment soul-hungry and mentally lingered, wondering at how underrated the Midwest actually is.

There’s something magical about camp season. When you escape to a piece of no man’s land tucked somewhere in the hills of who-knows-where with spotty cell phone reception and a gazillion sweaty kids for a week to run ridiculous relay races in the blazing heat and throw water balloons at each other that are actually filled with warm chocolate milk. Such fun.

But in all seriousness it’s kind of my favorite. And I kind of cry a little every time I have to leave because there’s nothing quite like getting away from normal life for a week or two (or four) to hang out with cool people and be silly and love on Jesus to the sound of an acoustic guitar and cicadas.

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“MuKappa” campsite

The funny thing is that I had some great plans going into this summer. I was going to work this camp, get into this relationship, apply for this job, move into this apartment…it was going to be perfect. I had it all figured out – my life for the next couple years. All in the name of loving Jesus, right?

Well, something started to unravel in me. Somewhere between a few certain whiny campers and another thunderstorm and mud all over everything (because we camped out in the woods for a week and it rained the whole time and I’ve never seen so much mud in my life) and soaked sleeping bags and sleep-deprivation. Suddenly here was the end of my rope and things weren’t working out and I couldn’t do this anymore.

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chief meeting in the rain

But Father kept whispering softly to me – in quiet hammock moments, in laughter and conversation around the campfire, on muddy trails, through falling rain. It was half a week later that I stopped long enough to listen, to lean in despite my disappointment and frustrations. His words came gentle, “Silly child, trusting in your own plans. Don’t you know to put your hope in Me alone? Do you really think you know what’s best for you?”

His probing laid me open and the next few days felt a little raw. It was a gradual releasing – of my plans and stubbornness – a softening. I thought I had pliable been all along. But there I was, “my” life and “my” future in my own hands again and it’s never comfortable to peel back the fingers of a clenched fist.

It didn’t make sense to let go. Because my plans made sense. They would work out perfectly with what I wanted and how I was going to live out the things God had placed on my heart if He would just work with me…

Ha.

Yeah. Sounds rather ridiculous when you think about it that way.

So I let go. Even if it meant doing the same things I’ve been doing for the past two years and living in my parents’ basement until I’m thirty. (Okay not really, but that’s how it felt if I’m honest….And don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but you know what I mean…)

With that releasing came such a peace.

Because if I was letting go it’s because God had something better in store and I’ve walked with my Father long enough to know He never disappoints.

I packed my suitcase that Saturday morning after camp was over and the goodbyes were said, and strangely enough I found myself looking forward to getting back into the routine of my life – housework, homework, and afternoons in the office.

But I come home to a surprise I was not expecting. It explains the releasing, the heart conditioning, and the hopeful expectancy for the future.

My season in the basement is over.

I’m going to Bali.

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me in my hammock 🙂
When Letting Go is Tough and Hope Comes Hard