I have a very brave friend who not only started a Podcast, but asked me to share on a topic I am extremely passionate about: Biblical Womanhood.
I have a very brave friend who not only started a Podcast, but asked me to share on a topic I am extremely passionate about: Biblical Womanhood.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know all too well that I absolutely loved reading through Nothing to Prove. I am such a believer in Jennie Allen and behind the ministry of IF seeking to multiply disciple-makers.
Jennie’s story of feeling so unworthy and incapable facing a growing ministry refreshed my soul. As she named fears and lies, I was able to name many of my own, both in ministry and as an individual. That nagging, stabbing lie that knows precisely when to whisper and when to shout beneath all of our performance, “You are not enough.”
“If I were your enemy, I would intoxicate you with the mission of God rather than God himself.”
“Fear speaks a dark lie over our lives, over who we think we are.”
I listened to Nothing to Prove on Audible, treasuring hearing Jennie read her words aloud with her own inflection and tone. As a southern girl, I felt so comfortable hearing Jennie’s southern accent come through. Listening to her read each page felt like having coffee with a friend or mentor.
In the pages of Nothing to Prove, Jennie Allen reframes stories of Scripture, telling them as personal accounts. She tells the story of Jesus turning water to wine through the eyes of the bride and groom. She tells the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper through the eyes of Peter. Each and every first person narrative she created moved me to chills and tears. Each story transitioned in my heart and mind from stories I had heard and taught on to stories that took on humanity, frailty, and so much similarity to my own fears and struggles.
“Jesus wasn’t there for Mary and Martha to prove their faith to Him. He was there to prove His love for them.”
Nothing to Prove is an incredible read that I put off finishing because I really never wanted it to end. Each chapter ends with discussion questions that would be great for a small group or Bible Study to walk through together.
“You will watch God do incredible miracles if you stop looking side to side. In quietness and trust shall be your strength.”
Jennie shared so bravely about many painful parts of her story, facing an eating disorder, wrestling with showing up as a pastor’s wife, walking with her sister through a divorce, and I was so thankful to be met by her humanity, authenticity, and struggle, rather than another read of why I should be more and do more. I walked away from this book feeling less challenged and more like I had gained a new friend, while reframing my view of Jesus and all that He’s called me to.
I was first drawn to this book when my Bible study leader read an excerpt to my small group (Thanks for being you, Lisa). In this book, Warren highlights various aspects of normal, routine, and sometimes monotonous day to day life, like washing dishes and getting enough sleep at night. She exposes how we in Western Christianity have often teased apart the boring aspects of our lives from our Spiritual lives, interjecting that the two- the boring and the intentional are critically interwoven to form our holistic beings.
God says this is my beloved Son in who I am well pleased before Jesus had done anything but lived an ordinary life.
Warren emphasizes the ways in which Jesus, too, took part in the normalcies of our earthly life, like eating dinner with friends and learning a trade. Jesus cleaned up after his siblings, felt thirsty, and needed to use the restroom.
In her own journey of seeing the sacred in the ordinary, Warren began to see the presence of God infiltrated in her every day life. She began making her bed every morning as a practice of His presence. A normal chore that is routine for many was the means by which she was reminded of her call in the Kingdom to create order, imaging God in a fallen and disordered world.
Ever so refreshingly for my Millennial soul, the author writes of how each and every one of us want to change the world, but what we are first called to is the ordinary, rote, and mundane in front of us.
Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes
God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.
As we are in the season of Lent, I enjoyed her anecdote of struggling to identify what to give up for Lent one year. She was raising a newborn child while shepherding her own church congregation. She spoke with a mentor who encouraged her that all of her life was sacrificing, nudging her to practice pleasure and enjoyment of the goodness of God. Through this practice she came to see and know God in beautiful ways through a weekly trip to a coffee shop.
Warren highlights the sacredness of soup, sleep, and slowly sipping a cup of coffee, demonstrating that these facets of our lives no mater how ordinary or plain are integrally shaping as as spiritual beings nonetheless.
After reading Liturgy of the Ordinary, I decided to share a little bit of my ordinary by sharing one of my most ordinary recipes.
Ingredients (2 quinoa bowls):
- thawed chicken breast
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 1 can drained black beans
- baby spinach, washed
- mexican blend cheese
- red pepper hummus (optional)
- pink himalayan salt
- extra virgin olive oil
- taco seasoning
Most of these ingredients are staples of my diet. Actually as I’m reading back over them all of them are. These faithful friends are always in my fridge and always a go to that I mix and match for various recipes as I try to cook healthy for one on a small budget.
Out of creativity or desperation (I’ll let you decide), I ended up throwing them all together and my quinoa bowl has become a staple meal for me!
Here’s how to make it!
Also if you’re cooking for one like me, I make my quinoa bowl then place the rest in containers to make a quinoa bowl another day. You can also use the leftover black beans to throw on a salad with your spinach or have quinoa on the side with some chicken and veggies.
I have had the wonderful blessing of being a part of a revival that is taking place at Berry College this year. With the scholarship that I have, I live on Berry’s campus year-round (yes even summer and most of winter break) and work. This past summer, a student started to lead a worship night in our dorm’s common space. It was simply a night to come and worship each week. A friend of mine, and a LifeCast (read more about LifeCast here) short term intern last year, was on campus during the training week before LifeCast. On that Thursday, he came to the worship night and the Lord gave him a beautiful vision—to keep this going even when the school year starts. When school started, my friend asked me to speak. We were expecting maybe 20 people to show up, but the Lord had other plans. Fifty-nine people packed into a common space on campus that first week. Since then, we have continued meeting under the name “Common Worship” in different spaces across campus each week and the Lord has been moving in mighty ways. Now, I get to do more behind-the-scenes work along with seven others who have a heart of leadership and a passion for seeing our community grow closer to the Lord.
Part of being behind-the-scenes means that I get to sit in on a lot of meetings. A lot of the meetings thus far in the semester have been discussing whether Common Worship needs to become a Student Organization. When we are asked this, we always are told to be thinking of how to answer the questions “What need are you meeting on campus?” and “How is what you’re doing any different from what other religious groups are doing?”
This is a slightly weird thing to think about, because in simple explanation, it might sound similar to any other religious group meeting. We gather, pray, sing, someone speaks, we sing, pray, and then we disperse. Why is what Common Worship is doing different? What need is Common Worship meeting? To be honest, I don’t have a clear answer. Common Worship is completely student-lead and most of us are under the age of 20. In talking to the leadership team and those that come every week, here were some of the common themes:
There are people who regularly attend Common Worship each week who do not regularly attend a church in Rome. To be completely honest with you, I am still on a journey to find a church to attend and serve.
But the church is not just a building to attend each Sunday and Wednesday. We are the Church. You are the church. I am the church.
As believers, we are image bearers. A synonym for bearer is “bringer”. We bring the image of God, the kingdom of heaven, to the Earth through the power of Christ at work within us.
I cannot express to you enough just how in awe I am of what God is doing here. He is reviving this campus, realigning our heartbeats to His. He is preparing the hearts of this campus for greater things. Getting to serve at Common Worship makes me feel alive—body, mind, and soul. Getting to worship with fellow college students at Common Worship makes me feel alive—body, mind, and soul. Our generation is yearning to know the Lord. Our generation is asking the Lord to lead us from dead religion to dynamic relationship.
I’ve been wrestling with this a good bit recently. It’s been one of those things that keeps swimming around my mind, bumping up against my daily interactions repeatedly, yet I’ve convinced myself I don’t truly have the time to name it. Which is truly the fear of feeling it. Of being honest with who I am, where I am, how I feel, and the lies I believe.
The unseen. The broken. The ruins.
To know me well is to know I am deeply passionate about deep, honest, and open friendship. There is no better means to overcome shame and hopelessness than a brave friend saying the words, “me too.”
To advocate for your self, own your presence, and speak honestly about someone’s pointed words and how you experienced them, whether they were purposefully saying what they said or not is holy and sacred work.
Yet, what I’ve been drawn to is the unseen, the unacknowledged, or even the under-acknowledged. I recently read Unseen by Sarah Hagerty and felt her naming things I had yet had the resources to. The way some of my struggles and battles have felt unseen, unknown, or under-acknowledged.
In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp names these hurts as your own “unspoken broken.” The battles you face that are forgotten or overlooked. I have felt and seen the world of “Mommy bloggers” acknowledge so many of these unspoken brokens we carry, especially as women. Brokenness like infertility and miscarriages or the unseen daily sacrifice and service of changing diaper after diaper and picking up the same toy over and over again. How real is that.
And how real are our unseen hurts, our unacknowledged sacrifices. The prayers I can’t count how many times I’ve prayed, without the result I’ve wanted. The emptiness of grief that feels too sacred to share. The hurt that’s overshadowed by someone else’s. The sacrifice it’s better if no one else knows. But I know. And you know.
Hiddenness. How sacred yet how shattering it can be.
Sometimes the bones we hope could remain “unseen” slip out. Sometimes in a startling way.
His flesh wastes away to nothing,
and his unseen bones stick out.
And sometimes we feel known and loved by our Father who knit us together when we were formless. Who knows our innermost beings.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
10 even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
12 even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.
13 For it was you who created my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise you
because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
The unspoken hurt, suppression, anger, grief. The overshadowed emotions, fears, doubts. The under-acknowledged sacrifices, unmet needs, and untouched wounds. Unseen.
It feels hard to touch, to dissect, to understand which unseen things should be brought into the light and which should remain sacred. I think truly only we know. And truly only we hold the true weight, depth, and ramifications of our broken heart. Of the lies that ensue and the whispers that sting like venom in the quietness of the night.
You weren’t enough for him.
You weren’t what she needed.
You’ll never be able to do that.
You’re being dramatic.
I recently watched the movie Joy on a flight. Joy is a mother in her thirties barely surviving, raising her children as a single mom and caring for her parents who face some mental illness. She constantly sacrifices to make ends meet, but has a dream where she remembers how creative she was as a child. She realizes that for almost 20 years, she’s been hiding. In the dramatic dream, her twelve-year-old self looks at her and says, “That’s the thing about hiding, you think you’re safe but the truth is that you’re so lost, you’re even hidden from yourself.”
I’ve played that scene over and over again in my head trying to understand what it is about that scene and that dialogue that struck such a deep chord inside of me that has continuously reverberated into my heart, thoughts, and words.
I think sometimes my unspoken broken has been due to external issues, like someone else’s hurt or someone else’s grief, but the most sacred work I have done in the past two years is walking toward the 12-year-old girl inside of me, peeling back every layer of the ways she has hidden from herself to be safe. And in that lost herself.
I think holding some things close to our hearts is sacred, but keeping our own hurt from our own heart is the very opposite.
I think acknowledging our own unspoken broken, begins with seeing ourselves, acknowledging our own broken heart, and meeting our own tender souls with the same generous and gracious care we offer to those around us.
I tend to find out about books to read through other author’s recommendations via Instagram or Twitter, but I found this read quite nostalgically. I was in a strange period of time in my life when I was between books without a queue. That feels strange to even describe as I now have a stack of at least 20 (no joke). I channelled my inner Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail and went into a bookstore. I walked down the aisle and this book caught my eye. Though familiar with the publisher, I had not heard of the book or its author. It felt strange to hold a book in my hands rather than read reviews on Amazon. I remembered lessons from my elementary school librarian and read the back cover and flipped through a few pages. I was sold and I’m so glad I was.
We all have a story. We all have tragedies and losses and heartaches and miracles and real life, and while so much of life is glorious, sometimes it gets ugly. No one is exempt. We share in this thing called humanity, and I want us to feel– really face head-on– the reality of life with all its pimples and less attractive bits. I believe it makes the joy more vibrant, the laughter louder and stronger. So bear with me, cry with me, but please, please, laugh with me.
In this work, Kate Merrick shares about the difficult journey her family faced through her daughter Daisy’s cancer, ultimately ending in Daisy passing away. She describes the ups and downs of Daisy’s cancer, when she and her husband felt hopeful and hopeless, when she was angry that these were the cards they had been dealt, and when she would lay in bed and hold every precious minute she had with Daisy.
While this read is heart wrenching at times, I was so blessed by Kate’s metaphors for grief. She described the phenomenon so well and so honestly, even naming some facets of grief I had yet been able to put words to. She talks honestly and openly about meeting God in the depths of doubt, hurt, pain and bitterness.
Nearness to God results in a banquet of peace beyond understanding, with a heaping side of joy.
Merrick connects her own story and struggle to many women in Scripture who were similarly handed unfortunate cards. She bravely challenges her readers to move at their own pace, but to keep moving. To keep pushing on and pushing away the barriers to return to the sweetness and intimacy of God.
If broken Bathsheba can say in Proverbs 31 that an excellent woman laughs at the future, so can I. If Sarah laughs at the newborn manifestation of the promises of the Lord, then I will too. Grief is real. It is intense. But what is more real, what is more intense, what is eternal is the hope of Christ, the drying of tears, the new heaven and new earth, the final conquering of death.
Through some of the most broken experiences of her life, Kate Merrick nudges readers of And Still She Laughs to shift their perspective from defining God through our circumstances to defining Him through His Word and proven character. She holds the sacredness of grief and the depths of suffering she has faced, but walks with bravery and honesty into the truth of Scripture that provides the hope with which broken bones can rejoice.