Gratitude Through it All

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” —Gilbert K. Chesterton

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” —Alphonse Karr

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

 -- Psalm 100:1-5
One of the best sounds in the world is a little kid laughing. In that moment, there is this overwhelming feeling that everything is right with the world, that it is beautiful and wonderful, and that true joy exists. In these moments of unfettered happiness, another emotion pops up: thankfulness. Thankfulness for children, for laughter, and for weird moments that children find hilarious. 

When we experience joy, gratitude tends to come along with it. A truly wonderful phenomenon is that the opposite is also true. Scientists have found that gratitude can reduce stress, increase sleep, and improve heart conditions. It has an almost instantaneous effect on mood, increasing feelings of well-being, happiness, and joy. 

When we focus on what we are grateful for, our minds dwell on the good things that are in our lives. We remember the people we love and why we love them, we remember the amazing events that have happened in our lives that border on miraculous, and we remember the goodness of God in a messy, broken world. 

This brings a boost to our minds and our souls, awakening a happiness and love that was lying dormant. It increases our sense of meaning in life, our overall satisfaction in life, and how hopeful we are. 

The opposite of gratitude is a lack of appreciation, or the inability to see the gift that was set before us. When we let our minds dwell in these places of lacking and of not seeing gifts, we are liable to start seeing dark storm clouds in every silver lining. We verge on never being content, never being happy, and finding fault in all things, even the great things.

We have all met people like that; they are never happy and trying to make them happy can be a waste of time and energy.

When we are grateful (expressing it or keeping it to ourselves), we not only add blessings and happiness to our own lives, but we bless those around us as well.  

What are you grateful for this week? 


Fighting for Survival

Sometimes people mean different things when they say that they’re “surviving.” Sometimes they mean that life is neither good nor bad, that they aren’t doing anything particularly exciting or interesting but also nothing terrible is going on either. What they really mean is that they are existing.

Sometimes people mean that they are not doing anything at all, that they are letting life take them where it will and that they’re along for the ride. What they really mean is that they’re coasting.

And sometimes, more often than not, when people say that they are surviving, they mean that they are actually fighting for their lives.

Surviving isn’t passive. It’s daily hard choices to wrestle and fight for your life. It certainly isn’t pretty. It’s filled with blood, broken bones, tears, mud, and sweat. Surviving isn’t existing, which is a fairly neutral state to be in. It is fighting for your existence. Surviving isn’t coasting. Coasting takes no effort on our parts. None at all. Fighting though, fighting takes everything within you. It takes courage, passion, determination, and getting back up when you don’t want to anymore. Surviving is an intentional fight for your life.

You are fighting for you, for your family, for your loved ones, for life. You are fighting the same battle that Jesus died for: for you to have life and life abundantly, for you to be healed and whole. Take courage, you are fighting for an infinitely worthy cause.

At times this may not be easy and you may feel like giving in— keep fighting. Even if fighting looks like taking a nap when you need one or cutting toxic relationships out of your life. Even if fighting looks like watching hilarious cat videos or walking with God on a hike. Even if fighting looks like being angry, hurt, or sad— keep fighting. Even if it looks like crying, punching something, breaking something. Even if it looks like a long hug, laughter, deep breaths, and heavy sighs.  

You are worth the fight.

You are not alone. Fight the good fight.

Through the Mud

Have you ever had to walk through a muddy field? There was no way around it, no other way you could go, you had to walk through this muddy, squishy, wet field that might very well claim a shoe or two? You spend the whole time looking down at the mud, carefully planting one foot after the other, doing your best to find the least gross path, and trying very hard not to fall. You might even step slowly to try to minimize the amount of mud and water that gets splashed on your clothes.  

We do this in our lives too. When life gets messy, overwhelming, chaotic, or downright gross, we keep looking down at all the mess, muck, and mire. Because, if we don’t, we will for sure make a wrong step, fall down, or lose a shoe. Sometimes though, we spend so much time looking down that we end up walking into even muddier field or going in circles or going in the complete opposite direction that we need to go in. We so badly want to get out of the mud with as little causalities as possible that we don’t think we have time to stop and look up.

We can get so consumed with looking down that we don’t even know how we ended up knee deep in mud and very much lost. As God walks with us through the mud, He asks us to pause, to breath, to take a moment. And to look up. When we look up, we see that the mud does end, that there is dry land, a warm shower, and clean clothes on the other side. We can see that where we are going is better than what we left behind. When we look up, we can see the promises of God. When we look up, we can see God Himself wading through the mud, offering His hand, offering direction, and never forsaking us.

Closer to God

How do we connect to God and His heart, mind, and emotions? We long for to feel like God is near, close, and speaking to us. When we think about this feeling, we assume that it will feel like an overwhelming emotion of happiness, love, joy, and tranquility. We think it will feel like being connected with something other than us, bigger than us, more powerful, beautiful, and more loving than us. And sometimes, it does! We have even felt this closeness a couple times before. To know and feel that God is near is a truly wonderful experience.

But we don’t always feel that way. In fact, we normally don’t, unless you are one of the lucky ones. So when we need to feel connected, if we feel a deep need to hear God’s voice, to be in His presence, what do we do? Sometimes lying in our beds or kneeling down or praying while we are alone just doesn’t seem to work.

In the meantime, while we are waiting for that deep, emotionally charged we-know-God-is-near feeling (which is amazing and wonderful and worth searching for), we can connect to the things that God is already doing, the things He already loves. And we can partner with what He is already participating in. We know God is where good things, just things, beautiful things, kind things, true things are. We know that God loves people, so how can we love the people around us a little more? We know that God loves the world He created, how can we love the world we are living in a little more? We know that God loves our physical bodies, how can we love our bodies a little more? We know that God loves justice, how can we bring more justice into the world? If we can get around the things that bring joy to God’s heart, we get to experience those things with Him.

The list goes on. If God is the embodiment of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; if God is justice, beauty, life, breath, and sustenance; if God is every good and perfect gift, let us get closer to those things.


There is a strange thing that happens to the human heart and mind when we think about negative thing or when we think about positive things, especially in regards to other humans: the emotions get amplified. When we think about all the great things about someone, they become greater in our minds. When we think about all the terrible things about someone, they become even worse.

Why is this important? Because what we think about someone directly impacts how we act around them and the vibe we give off. If we think someone is terrible, we will act like they are. In turn, they may become the worst version of themselves, reacting to us from a not-great place. This reinforces our belief that they are, in fact, the worst human we have ever come in contact with. 

People are highly perceptive to non-verbal cues. Most of the time, we can control what we are verbally saying to people but we tend to give off unconscious signals of how we feel. Then other people, who don’t even realize they are interpreting those signals, internalize them and create emotions based on those signals. And then actions from those emotions.

So, what do we do? At its very core, if you want to positively impact those around you, one way of doing this is to change your thought patterns and your beliefs.

Try this activity: bless those around you, pray for them, ask for good things for them. For instance, take someone you are currently annoyed, angry, or frustrated with. Pray, “God, bless [insert name]. Thank you for their role in my life. I ask that they feel your love and your presence close.” This is especially helpful out loud. Do this a couple of times a day. How do you feel?

This might not change whether you like someone or not, or whether they are good, smart, positive people. But it will increase your own gratitude, empathy, energy, love, grace, patience, joy, and overall contentment within yourself and hopefully, within the people around you. And, at the very least, you get to connect with God’s heart a little bit more.

Be Still

Being still is not something that our culture is very good at. With the enormous amounts of information and entertainment literally at our finger tips, it is hard to actually find real stillness. What does being still look like?

Being still is similar to mindfulness. Mindfulness is the exercise of bringing one’s attention to the present and the present only. Stillness adds an element to this though: it is a focus on the present but it is also a focus on the omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence of God.

It is being still and knowing He is God. It is allowing yourself to be fully present, in the here and now, and being aware of the vastness and closeness of God. This does not have to be done in a completely dark room, legs crossed, and eyes closed. You can step into stillness at any point in time. This can be while you are in a meeting, driving around, eating dinner, etc.

What happens when we are still? It simultaneously gives our minds a break from overanalyzing the past or over-worrying about our future. It allows us to accept and love the current moment, despite its hardships, its disappointments, and its heartbreaks. It also refocuses and reframes our reality to incorporate a God who is infinitely bigger, wiser, more powerful, and closer than we tend to realize.

Ebbs and Flows

When we look at the lives of those who have done amazing things— who have scaled mountains, healed hearts and souls, built multimillion-dollar companies— when we look at them, we see excellence. Not only excellence, but we assume that the way they achieved what they wanted was through a steady linear progression into awesomeness. They always improved, they always made the best decisions, and they never regressed.

This gives us the feeling that all of life should be a steady linear progression into what we want. Every day we should improve at least a little bit. The unfortunate fact is that life doesn’t work that way.

It is a steady stream of ebbs and flows. Five steps forward and two steps back. One step forward and three steps back. Sometimes we balance our work, home, health, and spirituality well. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we are kind, gracious, loving people. Sometimes we are vindictive, petty, angry people. Sometimes God feels so close, so near, and we hear His voice so clearly. Sometimes it’s like He couldn’t be farther away.

We don’t always give ourselves, or other people for that matter, grace in those moments when we ebb. We rejoice when life is flowing and full and wonderful! But we feel ashamed of our ebbs, our moments when we go backwards.

But that is the nature of humanity, of the seasons of the earth, of the tides. Everything ebbs and flows. When we give ourselves and other people permission to improve and go backwards, we allow for more growth, more joy, less shame, and an infinite larger amount of freedom.


We all hope, one day, that our lives are like a peaceful walk through a beautiful meadow. The sun will shine, the birds will chirp, and the wind will gently touch our skin. We will walk through this meadow with a spring in our step, joy bubbling from our hearts, and a feeling of connectedness.

Yet, most of the time, life isn’t a walk in a meadow. Sometimes it’s a war; bloody, messy, and exhausting with casualties on both sides, injuries galore, and more violence than you ever want to see.

Sometimes it’s a trek through a barren wasteland, with little water, few people, and no peace. 

Sometimes it’s a journey through dangerous and unfamiliar lands, carrying a burden you don’t know if you can carry for much longer.

Through these seasons, these wars and wastelands and burdens, what do we do? How do we continue to fight? How do we keep going? Sometimes the answer is the buckle down, pick yourself up from your bootstraps and just keep going.

 A sometimes the answer is to celebrate the small things.

Small things like the breath in your lungs, the wind on your face, the hug of a friend. Small things like, today, today you survived. Maybe it was a hard day, a bad day, but you survived it! You faced the war head on and you made it. You have stared the beast in the face and you stood firm. You were knocked down and you got back up. You were wounded and then you healed. You were stepped on, crushed, defeated, and yet, you are still here.

Your heart beats every day with the small, glorious, and miraculous phrase: I am alive. I am alive. I am alive.

Your very DNA speaks of the thousands upon thousands of people whose genes live inside you; who because they lived, you live too.

Your fingerprints shout of the beauty and detail of God Himself. You were formed by someone who loved you. You are alive because the Creator of the dandelion, the Milky Way, Niagra Falls, and the Grand Canyon thought the world needed you. Because He loved you.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. And beautifully, gloriously alive.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” Ephesians 6:13


When was the last time you were completely honest with someone? Not in a judgmental way or an accusing way, but with complete honesty about your feelings. Your fears and doubts, your insecurities and conflicting thoughts, your joys and what you love.

We crave relationships in which we can be honest. Honesty paves the way for vulnerability, connection, and movement. You cannot be vulnerable without being honest. This is not an honesty without tact or thought to another’s emotions, this is an honesty about your own personal thoughts, feelings, and desires. Through sharing these things, we actually create the thing we desire the most: connected and intimate relationships (NOTE: not everyone deserves to see the most honest and vulnerable you. This should be with people who are safe and who care about you).

What God wants in a relationship with us is the same thing we want in relationships: deep, intimate connection. Which cannot happen without honesty and authenticity. So, if you are angry with God, like so many of us are, tell Him. He already knows anyway. You are no worse off intentionally voicing or thinking or expressing that anger than you were when it was trying to stay hidden inside of you. Do you sometimes not believe in His goodness? Tell Him. Do you sometimes think you have a better plan for your life than He does? Tell him. Do you sometimes think that your holiness and goodness require less of God? Tell Him. Do you feel unclean, unworthy, and undeserving of His love? Tell Him. Do you not feel His love at all and He feels distant? Tell Him.

This vulnerability with the God of Creation starts a dialogue, starts a conversation that leads to deeper and deeper intimacy with Him. He is so very kind. He loves you. And He already knows the worst things in your head and heart, and He already knows the best things. Bringing your emotions and thoughts to the Lord, without judging them yourself, without knowing the exact answer to solve the conflicting and chaotic things you think and feel, allows you to step closer to a God who is always near, always present, and always singing His love for you.

Wordless Prayers

“Some days

The only prayers I can muster are a morning run, a cherished sip of coffee, a warm embracing of someone I love.

Some days, my only prayers are responding to this existence through the gift of my body.

Even now, using words diminishes the power of these prayers” – Scott the Painter


For most of us, prayer is a form of communication with our Creator. And like most people, we think of communication as talking or writing. Therefore, most of the time we think of prayer as the act of saying, writing, or thinking words back and forth to God.

This is great way to be with the Father. It is the clearest, most obvious way to know whether you are communicating with God. You know you are speaking to Him because you are directing words or thoughts to Him. You know you are praying. You know you are communing. You might not always feel like He is responding or that you are heard, but you do know that you are communicating something at some level.

Yet, there are other forms of communication that God has given to us. With each other, we communicate through physical touch, through giving gifts, and through spending time with each other. We also communicate through body language, the way we look at each other, the small things we do daily.

If these are forms of communication that are available to us for each other, they are forms of communication that are available for us to connect with God. Therefore, prayers do not have to be verbal in nature. They can be as simple as actually just breathing or walking. They can be as simple as humming a song, drinking wine, being with God in the ordinary. Using your physical body to commune with an all-powerful God who is ever present in the small parts of our day, in the delights of our hearts, in the warmth of love and joy.


Do the Dishes

In order to change your life, you actually have to change it.

There is an organizational book out there that talks about how to get the dishes done and keep your house clean. The brilliant realization is that in order for the dishes to get done… you actually have to do the dishes.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. The same goes for your life. If you want your life to look different, you actually have to do different things within your life. If you want the dishes to be done, change what you are currently doing to something that will get you to your desired result. There is no magic fairy dust that gets sprinkled in your life when you want something to change or improve. If you don’t move or change, your life won’t either.

The hardest part about this is the changing of momentum. You are currently running a certain direction. The momentum it takes to change that direction is uncomfortable and different than what you’ve currently been doing.  The key is to make tiny, simple changes.

If you feel a deep need to change something in your life, that God is calling you to something great, that a new season needs to happen, then sometimes you just have to do your dishes. What is the simplest, even the most boring task that you could do that would start to change your momentum?

Our lives can be change in monumental moments; those times of epiphany, great joy, triumph, tragedy. But most of the time, our lives are changed by the small, silent, simple tasks.

If you feel like your life is out of control, honestly, start with the dishes. Get them done every day. One step at a time is still progress.

One step at a time is how every race is run and how every race is won. One small, positive decision at a time is how life is changed, how your life is run and how your life is won.

Here, There be Dragons

Shame is like a dragon. It’s powerful, terrifying, and seems impossible to defeat. We cower in fear, run in terror, and do all we can to avoid it. We can feel it’s fiery breath as we hide. The warrior that once lived in our hearts shrivels and shrinks.

How can we defeat this thing, this shame, that makes us hide? Brene Brown* defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” It keeps us in isolation because we fear someone finding out that we really, truly aren’t enough. We fear that our own brokenness will be exactly what we fear it is: proof that we are not worthy of love.

Shame keeps us silent and alone. So how do we slay the dragon? How do we rise up as conquerors? There are 3 things shame needs to survive: silence, secrecy, and judgment. Therefore, to defeat this dragon, we need the opposite of these things.

We need to be vulnerable. We need to be authentic. When we are, shame dies. This should be done with safe people, people you love and trust. It allows us to connect, to be loved, and to lay our burdens down.

We also need truth—real, authentic, loving truth. The truth that comes from Truth itself. The truth that you are worthy, you are loved, and you belong. The truth that you are precious and beloved. That there is nothing that can separate you from the love of Christ. You are not alone.

This week, tell someone you trust if shame attacks you. Reach out. Bring your shame to God. In writing or out loud, tell Him the shame that is weighing on you. Lay it at His feet. Then speak Truth over yourself.

(NOTE: If you don’t feel like you have a safe place, we at Witheos would love to talk with you or connect you with someone. You are not alone)

*Brene Brown is the Best-Selling author of “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” a book about shame and how to defeat it


When was the last time you were afraid? Was it last year? Last month? Yesterday? Maybe a couple of minutes ago?

What was it that you were afraid of? Pain? Rejection? Isolation? Not enough money? Not enough time? The inevitability of death? Embarrassment?  The welfare of your loved ones?

After you were afraid, what did you do? If you are like most people, you will try your hardest to make sure that the thing you are afraid of happening doesn’t happen. You will either avoid it entirely, plan for the most optimal outcome, or act perfectly for the rest of your life so that nothing painful, shameful, or uncomfortable happens in your life. And why do we do this? Because pain and fear are unbelievably uncomfortable things to hold within us.

There is something deep in our souls that screams that we were not designed for pain, for fear, or for shame. That we were not created to feel this way. And you would be right! We were not created to feel these things. And yet we do. Life still knocks us down, kicks us, breaks us, and tears us down at every corner. There are legitimate things that we are afraid of, legitimate because they are so very painful.

So, what do we do? If we approach fear as something that must be eradicated from within us in order for us to move forward, we very likely will not take steps forward. If fear is something we can never have and if we do, we have failed in some way, then we will inherently fail daily. If fear, and all things that cause fear, are to be avoided at all costs, then we will never risk, never try, and never change.

What if, instead of living in a way that avoids pain and tries to lessen fear, we step forward in courage: the doing of things even when we are terrified because we know that they are good or, at the very least, we believe that they are good or will be good.

And funny enough, fear is not lessened when we avoid things that are scary. Fear is actually increased the more we avoid or ignore the things we are afraid of. For some reason, fear is only made smaller when we do the things that are scary. Leaning in and walking through fear makes you less afraid. Will some of your courageous actions cause you pain? Probably. Will some of your courageous actions cause unbelievable joy, love, mercy, energy, and excitement? Most definitely.

When we choose to walk in courage, despite the fear, we also show other people how to live courageously. They start to hunger for the authenticity, the bravery, the joy that you have. Fear is a thing that becomes multiplied the longer your sit in it. Thankfully, courage is multiplied the more you are courageous.

The Art of Adventure

“Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic” —Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon runner and author of The Road to Sparta

“Comfort equals boredom”—Michael Hyatt, author of Best Year Ever, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, and Living Forward

“We experience the strongest positive emotional response when we make progress on our most difficult goals”—Timothy A. Pychyl, psychology professor


God has placed things on your heart that you want to do: write a book, climb a mountain, start your own business, etc. Chances are these things are risky and scary. They are going to take a lot of hard work and effort. These things tend to intrude on the patterns of our current life.

We all want to be comfortable. If we had the choice, we would all choose a life without pain, without strife, where everything we wanted to do was easy. We want to know what each next step entails and know we would succeed. Essentially, we want a life without any pain, fear, or discomfort.

But a life that is only comfortable, that doesn’t test you, doesn’t ask you to risk anything, to be brave, to be daring, or to grow in any way is actually a very boring life.

Deep in our hearts, what we want is not comfort but adventure!

We want to strive towards something meaningful, we want to fight for something we believe in, we want to struggle towards the highest mountain peak. We want to live lives of adventure, excitement, and wonder.

As this year begins, take some time to ask God what adventures He has for you and make this the year that you take a leap of faith, that you climb to new heights, create new and wonderful things. The year you listened to the call of your heart, the call of adventure. 

To Fail or Not to Fail


“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Failure is just part of the process, and it's not just okay; it's better than okay. God doesn't want failure to shut us down. God didn't make it a three-strikes-and-you're-out sort of thing. It's more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.” 
― Bob GoffLove Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Before time existed, God was and was perfectly whole, full, and wonderful. And, for a reason we don’t always understand, He saw fit to create us so that we could share in the perfect wholeness and love that He had. He then did something even wilder than create us: He gave us the ability to choose, to make great decisions or terrible ones, to love or to hate, to break or to heal.

Because we get to decide what we do, we can win and triumph and soar above. For most of us, this tendency to triumph is one of the greatest parts of humanity. We get to see people overcome impossible obstacles, defeat metaphorical or actual giants, love and serve others in such a way that our hearts are moved. In the tenacity of the human spirit, it’s grit and perseverance—its ability to do such truly great, wonderful, good things— we see the beauty in what God created in these moments.

And then we fail. Humanity fails. We make mistakes, missteps, and errors. We make poor business decisions, we waste money and time, we hurt someone we love. And we can feel the downside of choice, that we can choose things that aren’t amazing.

And when we fall, we hear this nagging voice in our heads (or even from friends, loved ones, or strangers) that we “shouldn’t” have made that mistake. We think we hear God say it too: “you shouldn’t have done that.” We feel shame creep in. We start to hide our failures from Him and from each other. We fear their judgment, our own judgment, and God’s judgment, because we think we are going to be shown as lacking, broken, dirty, or bad.

But what if failure was necessary for growth, for love, for connection? What if failure was the thing that actually created change, healed our hearts, and helped us love? God did not ask for perfection, He asked for Love. He asked us to show up and to accept others as best as we can. He asked us to love each other so much that failures are not seen as gross diseases of a feeble-minded person with no self-control and no morality but that failures are a human necessity that, for some reason, brings us so much closer to each other and infinitely closer to God.

If we allowed each other to fail—without judgment, condemnation, or fear—and we were allowed to fail, do you think we would grow faster? Do you think we would love each other better? Do you think our relationships would be more open? More honest? More fun? Do you think more people would feel acceptance from the Church as a whole? Do you think you would feel more love?

You are allowed to fail. Heck, you should fail. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t growing. If you aren’t failing, you are aiming for perfection which is only attainable by one being: The Creator Himself. You are not God, you are a human— a human who is so loved by the One who spoke the sea into existence, the One who drew the lines in your hands, the One who calls the sun to rise and set, so loved that He will lead you to a place in which you fail and fail, over and over again, until you realize that you’re relationship with Him, with others, and with yourself is way more important than whether you trip and fall along the way.

Out Loud

So many wonderful, beautiful things live inside of you. Your unique thoughts on the world, your intriguing emotions, your personality. So many broken, divisive things live inside of you too. Your judgments of your peers, your hatred and shame, your anger.

These thoughts and emotions come out of us in different ways, how we talk to someone, how we approach the world, or what we do. Some of these thoughts and feelings come out of us naturally. They flow out, sometimes bringing joy and healing and love, other times bringing hurt and brokenness.

There are instances though where the thoughts and emotions don’t come out of us. They end up getting stuck. We want to release them but we don’t know how. So they swirl around our heads and hearts. Whether these are positive thoughts and emotions or negative ones, there is something in us that wants to bring the things that live inside of us out.

When they get stuck, we can become overwhelmed, exhausted, isolated, and anxious. So how do we get them out? There are two things that we can do that connect our inner world to the outside world: language and action. These are our two release valves and communication tools. There is no other way to express what is inside of us other than these two things. They help us take what is silent, hidden, and unknown and turn it into something alive, known, and something that is expressed out loud.

Bringing what is living out of us does not have to include other people, but sometimes it helps if it does. Living out loud could be talking to yourself in your car, expressing what is going on in your head and heart. It could be journaling, without judgment of yourself to release the shame that has been building. It could be calling up a friend or loved one to express fears and doubts that have been nagging you. It could be dancing alone in your room to your favorite song to release and connect with the joy that lives in your belly.

When we do these things, we allow beautiful things inside of us to find new life and the heavy things inside of us to finally be released. We can see truth more clearly and lies fall away. We understand ourselves better. We relate to those we love better. And throughout this process, we become connected to God in a new way as we start to see what beautiful, lovely, wonderful things He has planted inside of each of us. When we live out loud, we find that God responds back. We start to see His fingerprint in everything, feel the vibrations of His voice in all of creation and in ourselves.

I See You, I Love You

Reposted in it's entirety from Rusty Geverdt's newsletter

Aidan (Rusty's son) and I had the honor this past week to spend time in Haiti with Back2Back Ministries serving the orphans of two children’s homes. It was a wonderfully memorable team experience in a deeply fractured land. (Remember the earthquake in 2010?)
We headed out each morning for the children’s homes to work on building projects while the kids were at school; we then played with the kids in the afternoons. It was great fun, and also challenging. We don’t speak Creole, and they don’t speak English, but kids are kids the world over. Playing Jenga, cards or soccer in the school yard needed no translation—laughter, smiles and hand gestures are universal. 

Due to the heat, I was exhausted in a matter of minutes and retreated to the shade of a nearby classroom in the open-air school. Being an introvert, I relished a moment alone. I thought I had slipped away unnoticed from the crowd of playing kids but, in fact, I hadn’t. The tiniest little girl in the children’s home, 4-year-old Estania, soon found me. She had a deck of playing cards in her hands. With a cute little smile, she sat on the bench across from me and began to deal out cards with purpose. Five for her, five for me. I had no idea what game we were playing, as I’m not much of a card shark, but that didn’t seem to matter. She’d slap a card down and then sweetly look up at me. 

Rather than try to explain that I didn’t know how to play, I just laid a card down. It must have been the wrong one because she gathered that hand to herself, and slapped another card down. I randomly chose another card and laid it down, to which she aggressively slapped another one down. (These kids really make a statement when they discard.) I, following her example, slapped down another card, which she gathered and then slid that stack to me. Hmm? I thought, I must have won that round, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why. This was like no game I’d ever played before. 
When we ran out of cards, she gathered hers and mine, loosely shuffled and dealt again. She hardly ever looked up at me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. When she did shyly look up, a big smile would break out on her face. I made it my goal to always be smiling when she looked up at me. 
After 30 minutes, it became obvious that she didn’t know how to play that card game, either. She was mimicking what she’d seen the bigger girls do, but without understanding. She wasn’t included in the games, being so small, but here she was playing with me, and soaking in every minute of it. 
Uninterrupted time with a fully engaged adult is rare for these little ones, and she was drinking it in like a sponge in water, and so was I.
As we said goodbye that day, the children all lined up and shook our hands. I made a special effort to shake Estania’s hand and look her straight in the eye. I said, without words, “I see you, I love you.” She smiled and squeezed back into the group, the message received. 

We are forced to look further into people in such environments. We can’t always take things at face value. Words aren’t that helpful, and time spent tells you more. We began to understand who these children were by how they lingered. 
I wonder if something principled isn’t speaking here regarding knowing God. 
Our first impressions of Him might be a little distorted. We watch and listen to others thinking they’ve got it together, but feel lost when left by ourselves. Some say that God doesn’t speak face to face, but something is communicated when I read the Scriptures and linger there. 
It’s in the lingering that confidence in God is formed. Just as little Estania drank me in while playing cards, we drink in the presence of God when we linger in prayer and His Word.
He who lingers longest with the Lord will never be lost or at a loss. Look up once in a while and see Him smiling at you. 
Where do you linger the most?

To learn more about Rusty Geverdt and his ministry, visit his website:


Being and Becoming

The human brain is wired to look for what is lacking. We search and search for what could go wrong, is wrong, is absent, is off balance, is not the fullest it could be. We do this so that we can fill in the gaps, fix the wrongs, avoid hurts, or know how to improve. It feels logical and productive. In some ways, it feels like we are objectively, critically, and maturely analyzing our lives.

This pattern can be a good thing! If we don’t know what is going poorly in our lives, is hurting us or our relationships, or is off balance, then we are most likely going to end up broken, isolated, hurt, and exhausted. Knowing what is lacking is important to growth, development, and health.

What is equally important is knowing what we don’t lack. When we only focus on the things that need to be improved, are dissatisfying, lacking in some way, not perfect, we start to believe that our lives—not just parts of our lives or bits of our lives— lack everything. We start believing this simply because it is the only thing we are looking at.

When we shift our focus on the things we do have, the things that are going well, that are wonderful and beautiful, that are life giving and balanced, that make us laugh, that make us feel loved and love in return, and that make life feel brighter and lighter, when we focus on these things, we start to find joy in our daily lives because we are looking at things that are joyful. We start to feel satisfaction, contentedness, peace, and love. We can handle the things that lack better than before because we don’t just lack, we also have abundance.

What is strange is that these things feel like they are at odds with each other. How can we be content but want more? How can we be striving to fill the lack but be happy with the things around us? For some reason, they seem like they don’t fit together. Yet, living in this tension is what brings us closer to where we want to be. The tension between contentment and desire, between knowing lack and knowing abundance, between enjoying and improving, is in a sense, the nature of walking with God.

We are constantly learning to enjoy His presence while also striving for more, with a love for where we are currently and a longing for where we will be. We are in a constant state of being and becoming: being loved as we are right now without any strings attached and becoming image bearers of Christ. Within the lack and the abundance, within the tension of what we need more of and what we have, we find a determination to move forward, to accomplish something, to have a grand adventure combined with a sense of fullness, peace, contentedness.

Come and Be

There is a power in just being, of not having to prove that you belong somewhere. Whether there is silence, talking, or movement, there is a knowledge that both parties are pleased that the other one is there. In groups or one-on-one, we don’t always feel like we belong. It feels like we have to prove to everyone there that we deserve a place there, that we are expected to show our worthiness. When we do this, we end up reading into every response we get, constantly searching for validation and fearful of rejection. We think that if we do enough, prove enough, that we will get to stay and the sting of denial won’t be felt.

In some cases, this proving period is good. We don’t want unhealthy, toxic people to have central places in our lives and we don’t want to be parts of groups that are toxic or don’t want us around. This is not a proving of worth but instead of healthiness and compatibility.

But most of the time, we are trying to show everyone that we deserve the things in life we want desperately: love, belonging, validation, value. When we feel these things, there is a state of being that happens, of just being as you are right now with another person. To find this, we have to risk a little bit. We have to be willing to show our true selves in order to ever get to this place of being. We have to be willing to show that we are a little more messy that we want anyone to know, that we are infinitely more complex that we could ever express, and way more beautiful than we will ever guess.

When this happens, the filter that we put on in front of everyone else slips away, we become our most authentic selves, the most vulnerable, and the most courageous. And then we find that authenticity, vulnerability, and courage start to grow exponentially, eventually seeping into other areas of our lives. All because we were just “being” with another person.

Now, when we take what happens when we can just be with another person and the power, love, courage, and authenticity it brings to our lives, we can multiply that one-hundred times over for the power of being with Christ. Since He can see all, knows all, and is everywhere at all times, we have access to a presence that is constantly being. He is. In His being, we find the greatest freedom to be as well. Filter or not, He sees you as you truly are, saw all the messiness, all the complexity, all the beauty and actively choose to be with you. You don’t have to prove you belong or that you are worthy. You don’t have to prove that you are smart, funny, talented, beautiful, or wise. God asks you to come as you are. So, come as you are. With all the healthy parts of you and all the bruises, all the triumphs and downfalls, all the flaws and all the strengths. Come and Be.

Made for Connection

What makes people happy? In the longest longitudinal study on happiness, researchers from Harvard University have found that the number one predictor of how people age is their satisfaction with their close relationships. The found that, “Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.” There is something within humans that needs connectedness to other people. We can see this in the failing health and deep pain of those who are lonely, abandoned, or in unhealthy relationships. We were created to be in good relationships with each other.

When we aren’t, everything from our mental to our emotional to our spiritual to our physical health can start to decay. We can see this in the effects of solitary confinement on prisoners which include anything from headaches and stomach pains to increases in anxiety, depression, aggression, and poor impulse control. We have felt it ourselves in times of isolation and loneliness: it hurts to our very core. And it hurts so deeply because a basic human need isn’t being fulfilled.

Why are we like this? We were created to be in communion and community. We can feel it in our hearts, the want and need to be connected to someone. We want teammates and partners. We want to belong and to have people belong with us. We are ever searching for our tribe, our family, our people. When God created humans, He not only made us to relate with each other but also made us hungry for a connection with Him.

These studies give us a glimpse into the very nature of who we are and who God is. We need more than food, water, and shelter to survive. We need interactions and connections with other people. We need to feel like we belong.

But we don’t always feel like we do. So how can we change this? In order to find deep, authentic connection, we have to be willing to be authentic ourselves. We have to be willing to risk rejection for the reward of intimacy. We have to put ourselves into situations in which bonds can form, we have to be around people we think are cool and wonderful, and we have to find communities that are going places that we want to go to as well.

Thankfully, we aren’t alone and isolated completely until we find our tribes. We have access to the purest, most authentic, deepest, most accepting form of connection in the presence of Jesus. For we are never truly alone. For He does not leave you nor forsake you. For He has known you since before the beginning of time. He knit you Himself. He knows you. Loves you. Searches after you. Longs to connect with you.

So, lean in. Lean into people, into God, into the uncomfortableness and awkwardness of life and relationships. Lean into the work and the risks and the rewards. Lean in closer. Connect with life, connect with humans, connect with the Creator.