The Lambs

The Lamb

Liars we were all

to ourselves first then to one another

believing we were brothers, lovers, fighters, doers, movers, shakers

thinking we were together weathered soldiers, belonging, bigger

when we were hiders, ashamed, pointless criers.

We chose our pride

And when outsiders eyed

our honor we protected the concept using jarred faces assembled in the doorway of an unhappy house.

Who was it for?

For us first, we constructed

For outsiders, first we crumbled

as we clung to an idea of presentation

like a homeless man throwing a cocktail party after sweeping the rat droppings under the rug.

Searching for saviors in dirty streets and sheets

lying with one another about a whisper

passed on with two tongues and fear-shadowed eyes

those windows to our unresting souls.

If ever we were born innocent, we have certainly


Thankful for the brainwashing un-blaming us for our abnormality, our disgusting practices warped into lifestyles with the speed of light.

Lamb of God

The lie was in the music and in the dance –

the happiest false presentation –

the only places we assumed bodies could not hide.

Yet, marvel! marvel! We hid all.

And so did some of you,

but you are washed, cleansed, chosen, bloodied, broken, blessed, forgiven, feeling brothers, together lovers of something bigger than ourselves and the lie

Gustave Moreau “The Wolf and the Lamb”

of our lost universe

spread like a vast field naked of farmers to harvest.

We are criers for the wooled eyes of stupid lambs.

But we were stupid.

Or we were vicious.

We were wolves.

For the strength of the pack is the wolf

and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

But the strength of the lamb is the shepherd.

And the good shepherd laid down his strength for the lamb.



*For my siblings – my wolf pack.*

*I hope one day we’re all part of the flock.*



If My Life Were a Movie…

GOML2Before college, my movie tastes were limited to action and adventure (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, James Bond) with the occasional family-friendly series (That’s So Raven, The Waltons, The Cosbys). I don’t remember seeing (m)any romantic figurehead films.

However, in college, things changed. In a conservative dorm of 50+ females whose gut reaction was horror when someone asked –

“Have you seen Pride and Prejudice?”

-and my response was, “No,” I was soon indoctrinated in all the best clean romance movies because the conversation which followed went something like:


“I just … haven’t ever wan…”

“Well, you must! It’s a classic. What are you doing Saturday night?”

Circle a calendar date, figure out who buys popcorn, call dibs on the dorm Blu-Ray player. GOML1

I sat down preemptively cynical, but I was surprised when I found myself liking a particular genre of romance; romantic comedy.

The improbably circumstances made me laugh, and I liked laughing. I discovered that I’d never laughed as much as I could’ve as a child.

Romantic comedy plots are all the same; two people somehow manage to do everything they can to mess up their potential relationship, the world is against them and they are against themselves (their best friend even fails them), yet they defy the odds, fall in love, and choose each other at the end anyway.

In a way, I appreciate these movies more than solely romantic dramas; comedies are full of awkward impressions, embarrassing moments, and fights – basically the stuff of real life. They never portray love as easy or smooth, even though their characters do get the happily ever after as the credits roll.

I just finished reading a book titled Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature. It was written by an ex-English professor from Concordia University, WI named Veith. In his analysis of comedy-centric plots, Veith writes;

GOML4“The assurance of a happy ending frees us to laugh at the pain that [a person] does experience at the moment.”

While umbrelled by the romantic comedy genre, we know we can laugh as the characters stumble through life because they are reaching toward each other. We know they will reach each other, no matter what comes between; that’s the genre assurance. As Veith aptly notes;

“The difference is the ending … both comedy and tragedy deal with the extremes of human experience and both put suffering and joy in relationship to each other. In comedy, the pain is transformed by the ultimate joy.”

The comic genre delights the viewers throughout the movie because they watch the characters suffer in hope of the joy that waits for them at the end. Joy is predestined in comedy. Pain is temporary. The quantity of pain is light and insignificant, although still poignant, compared to the happiness. The ultimate message declares, “All the suffering was worth it!”

Do you see where I’m going here?

In his words to the Romans, the apostle Paul says, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” (8:18 NLT) Similarly, James reminds his readers, “Your life is like a morning fog; it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (4:14 NLT).

In our temporary lives on earth, we are free to, in a sense, laugh at the pain of our moment. Not because it’s not painful, but because we have the assurance of a happy ending.

We are destined for joy.

Think of any romantic comedy. The characters don’t know the ending. Their struggles and setbacks are extremely real and hurtful to them, just like our lives are for us. The difference is we know the ending.

In the prophetic book of Jeremiah, God tells His people, “I know the thoughts that I think concerning you … thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you the end that you wait for.” (29:11 JUB)

The end that you wait for…

We are destined for joy.

GOML5The epic poet Dante defines tragedy as a story which starts with joy, but ends in pain, and conversely defines comedy as a story which finds its beginning in pain and its ending in joy. By that definition, the Bible is the centuries long divine romantic comedy of the world. Our sin painfully corrupts the world, but yet through Christ’s forgiveness, we head toward perfection and ultimate joy. Everything to thwart God’s romance toward us fits somewhere in between.

Here I am doing everything I can (it seems) to mess up my relationship with God, the world is against God and I, and I can be against God. My friends even sometimes fail me. Yet God defies the odds, falls in love sacrificially, and chooses me anyway.

I need to learn to appreciate the romantic comedy genre of my life – awkward impressions, embarrassing moments, and fights – basically everyday situations. These situations never portray love or life with God as easy or smooth or flawless, but when the credits roll, I’ll have the end that I waited for: Joy Himself.



Now that I’m Five…

fyo1If you told me in 2012 that my five-year plan would include graduating from a Christian college, joining a church, singing on a worship team, teaching at a Christian school, and staying in Wisconsin, I would’ve laughed and told you,  “*bleep* off.”

Well, not quite; I’ve always been too introverted for that, but my mind would’ve retorted that answer even if my face put on a fake smile.

If you told me in 2012 that my five-year plan would lead me into a horrible job situation, a busted relationship, a lawsuit, and debt, that I’d miss the opportunity to say good-bye to my loving, beautiful, favorite grandmother, that I’d spend sleepless nights wrestling with real nightmares and surfacing family issues, I would’ve neatly executed the suicide plans which had stewed in my mind since I was 13 – only this time my attempt would’ve been successful.

If you told me in 2012 that I would someday be gifted with the undercurrent of joy that connects all of life, I would’ve stuck a pin in your hopeful optimism. I’m a vehement pessimist.

I remember looking in a mirror when I was 17 and strangely seeing myself for real. This exhausted, wounded half-woman believing she bravely carried her assorted sin collection, feeling obligated to hide all the sin collections others branded on her.


Those who know me closely know I attended a Christian college as a last resort, a sort of final chance for God to do something with me since I was so cast away.

Few people know that the weeks before meeting God with my older sister in the college cafeteria were rough. Our family dynamics were wildly changing as ancient skeletons fell out of closets. I wasn’t even supposed to return to college for the spring semester, but my dad, who’d been laid off, insisted on our college educations, tossing our offers of family sacrifice aside. The clan of edgy kids I ran with fall semester hadn’t returned. I was taking 21 credits and working a lot. My sister and I fought … in public. The campus library, no less. Quietest place ever, stupidest location for a fight.

It was over quick; I pushed her down the stairs, I think. I was so blind with rage I remember little beyond running and running. Not very fast, but very far. It wouldn’t be the first or last time I ran off campus. Bless my poor dorm sup…

Few people know that my sister cried out to God that evening, frustrated with trying to draw me to herself and God for comfort and life. I didn’t know this part of the story until later. She was exhausted because we were supposed to be knit together wrestling through all the issues side-by-side, and instead we were each alone.

“I give up honestly.” She confessed to God. “I’m just done with her.”

And yet, the tired, done woman who’d given up sat with the angry, running sinner in the dining hall two nights later saying words that pleased the God who hovered over us and between us and in us.

And that God opened my mind and came in, blowing me, my sin collections, and my small, trampled picture of life away with grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and a supernatural, arresting presence.

I applaud the kitchen staff who valued my soul more than their bedtimes. They let us stay in the dining hall well beyond closing hours. I remember my brother-in-law-to-be getting in his car and speeding to campus to be the first to know and give me a big hug, welcoming me into another, better family. I can hear the voices of all my dorm sisters when I walked in late to devotions, interrupting the conversation with,

                “Dude, I just met God tonight!”

They were thrilled, hugging me like a sister.

I can see the first professor my sister and I told lighting up and setting aside time to have lunch with us so he could hear the details.

Dear God, bless all the sanctified individuals who lined up to stay in my life – who still are in my life – despite my fumbling, half-formed theology, fatal dedication to logic, countless struggles, and lists of questions … they are priceless.

I’m five. It takes a village to raise a child, and today I’d like to thank my village.




What About Offense?

Orlando Shooting WAO1
“Post Orlando Shooting”

I see a lot of defense in the church today.

We are more or less ready to react to what happens with a solid Tweet, a passionate message, a Facebook comment. We are willing to lend a helping hand, food, and clothes to those in need because of tragic circumstances. I see good things come out of our reactions – questions and conversations that may not have happened if we hadn’t found ourselves in the midst of the tragic situations faced by our culture. I see God find people in their aimless wanderings around our sinkhole culture; I see God draw people closer as they attempt to understand where the world is going; I see people walk away from God – even run away – as they fail to grasp the supernatural big picture behind the universe. Things happen that they will say made them leave God, the same things that others claim led them to God. I see more heads in trembling hands. I see more brows furrowed with confusion. I see more tears.

I hear more silence.

This year in the world, I hear a lot of praying for those who have lost people in every language. I hear a lot more crying and singing in our churches. I hear more stirring messages from pastors personally and professionally affected. I hear more requests for peace, more preached love, more anger at stereotypes and judgments, more pleading. I hear ignorance lacing the conversations of those who won’t stay on top of history and skepticism woven into the comments of those who’ve read everything there is to read on the subject and still don’t know what to believe.  I hear more silence.

I don’t see a lot of offense in the church today.

I don’t see many people standing up and declaring that they aren’t going to sit by and react; they want to be proactive. I don’t see many people who want to talk about their relationship with God before someone asks them why they are different. I don’t see many people who will vote.  I don’t see many people who are ready to say, “That’s why the world needs God” on all days, not just the bad days. I don’t see many Christians who want to stay on top of the culture, who want to be politicians, fashion designers, actors, business associates, executives, but I see a lot of Christians who don’t read the news, who complain about the presidential choices, the immodesty of clothing lines, the content of movies,

Fashion Designer WAO
Anja Gockel Fashion Show

and the corruption in big business. I don’t see many volunteering to pay for wells for those who need clean water. I don’t see many raising money for school metal detectors. I don’t see many take in prostitutes.

The Bible says that the gates of hell won’t win against the church, and that’s a wonderful fact. But does that imply that we’ve gone to the gates of hell and are pounding them in combat? Or does it imply that the gates of hell have slowly advanced forward on the church, and we are holding out against them frantically defending ourselves from frontal attacks? Knowing that we won’t ultimately be defeated shouldn’t be satisfactory for us.

In today’s culture, I see the latter. I see the latter and it makes me sad and angry with us and with myself.

It makes me disgusted when my mind says, “I’ll wait for him to ask about what I believe about God – I won’t offer it.” It makes me angry when I walk by the charity asking for donations, and I won’t give my change. It makes me sad when I hear Christians say that God’s judgment was poured out on Orlando, the same Christians who wept at the school shootings across the nation this year. It makes me upset when I hear “pastor” and “missionary” and “mother” being touted as the highest career callings for young Christians when young men and women want to be police officers, musicians, CEOs, reporters, designers, Marines. When I look at my own heart and find that I don’t even know how to fully defend myself from the attacks of the world, much less find an offense, I weep because God has given me everything I need to form strategies for both, and I don’t.

Knowing that we won’t ultimately be defeated shouldn’t be satisfactory for us.

Jesus didn’t separate faith and culture. It was just as important to Him to show His apostles to pay taxes as it was to show them He was a miracle worker when He supernaturally led them to catch the fish with the coin. It was just as important to Him that tax collectors would meet Him as it was for priests. Holding the children was just as

Jesus Heals Lepers WAO3
Jesus Heals Lepers

important as preaching to the adults. Healing the lepers was just as important as showing them who He was. Feeding the people was as important as having their listening ears. Giving someone a coat was just as important as praying for them.

We are the ones who separate faith and culture, fretting that meeting physical needs or being socially active is a violation of leading others into a relationship with God, thinking that there are full-time ministry careers and … secular careers. Faith and culture shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. Jesus blended the two together inseparably. We’ve divided them time and time again.

We’re in a war bigger than ourselves, yet often we live in a farce, building our weapon stores with study, prayer, and fellowship, constructing our walls of protection around our friends and family, never taking the fight to the gates of hell, but waiting for hell to knock loud and clear on our doors.

I do see some good defense in the church today, and I hear a lot of good defense. We’ve spent centuries learning and honing our defensive game plan, but it’s time for us to get back on the offense.




“You are not a God in need of anything we can give…”        You Are God Alone

Reflecting on the song lyrics for Sunday worship a couple weeks ago, I grasped an amazing facet of God’s character; He never asks, “What do I get from you now that you have me?” If He did ask, the answer would be, “Nothing,” but the point is, He never asks. His actions and statements consistently inform the world, “I am free.”

People are wary of “free” things because they often come with strings attached. A “free” trial expires if you don’t buy the product. A “free” dessert comes only if you answer a survey.

When Jesus died, He gave forgiveness, love, hope, peace, and so much more … for free. These were characteristics of His nature which no one could obtain until He gave Himself away. He doesn’t provide us with a “free” trial of Christianity, hoping we’ll buy the real version three months later. He doesn’t ask us to be anyone special or do anything extraordinary to receive Him.

But that means a person could take everything God has to offer and run, without growing as a Christian and serving God?!

Yes, that’s exactly what could happen.

I would argue that a person who treats God cheaply like this for a lifetime didn’t understand His free gift and therefore, probably couldn’t have actually taken it, but that’s beside the point. Freely giving comes with risks.

In today’s world, we don’t give things away for free because of the risk involved: people ripping you off, taking advantage of you, and encouraging others to do the same. God risked His life and lost it for the world. He lost it gladly. It was part of His plan.

Free doesn’t mean cheap; free things are frequently priceless. I’ve never paid a person to encourage me, but their words do priceless things to my heart, spirit, and life. I’ve never paid for a hug, but it gives me the priceless feeling of friendship, which in its genuine form is also free. Sunsets are free … there are many more examples.

God doesn’t need anything from us in exchange for His free gift. He doesn’t even “need our hearts and lives,” like I’ve heard some evangelicals claim. He doesn’t need our worship – if He really needed it, He could form His own rock band.

Instead, God loves us. Being needed is not being loved. In fact, it is so far from being loved that it might as well be hate. Being needed means your presence is necessary, whether you’d like to be there or not; it means being inconvenienced; it means being asked to meet demands, deadlines, and expectations. Being needed means collective failure if you can’t do it and results in pride if you can. Sadly, saying we need God is often the way we convince ourselves we love Him.

Being needed is not being loved.

We are not necessary to God’s existence. We can’t be there for Him. He doesn’t inconvenience us or ask us to meet His expectations. He doesn’t fail when we don’t accept His free gift, and we can’t be proud if we do.

I’m guilty of suspicion in relationships. This character flaw has never been more obvious to me than during the past several months, partially because I’m surrounded by the most genuine love I’ve ever experienced (that of my church) and partially because I’m actually trying for the first time to establish good relationships.

My fall-back thought at the initiation of a relationship is, “What do you need from me?” My second thought logically follows, “Can I give you what you need?” So, I realize a person’s need, perceive that I can’t meet it, and back out of a relationship, or keep it at an acquaintance level. Or I’m pushed aside first for being unable to meet their needs before I can determine to back out.

But God’s relationship with me isn’t like that.

 Sunset Worship


After practicing “You Are God Alone” two nights in a row in my bed, I finally grasped the meaning of the line, “You are not a God in need of anything we can give,” and all these thoughts followed.

Because God doesn’t need – it’s not part of His nature – I can honestly see the supernatural grace He possesses in selecting me. He wants me in spite of myself. He alone can genuinely love me because He genuinely doesn’t need me.

When I truly grasp that passion and desire, I want to give and praise and thank and love and live for Him – not because it’s my obligation, not because He needs it, not because He’ll love me any more than He already does, not even because I owe it to Him, though I do – simply because … how could I not???


Loving Isn’t For You?!

Heart Cookies LIFY
Heart Cookies

On Valentine’s Day weekend, I made heart-shaped cookies with the people at the home where I work as a caregiver. We watched Titanic, epic love story of the 20th Century, and colored glittery valentines. As days go at the home, Valentine’s Day went well. I like days where the home feels cozy, warm, and loving.

Sometimes going out of the home ruins that feeling.

Sometimes we’re out in public together and someone walks a wide circle around us. Or someone gets quiet and hurries past us. Or adults pull their staring children away from us.

I want to cry because these people are often so unloved by the world. I watch them as they’re thrilled to be able to even pick up a crayon and draw a light, crooked line on a heart, or dump a cup of sugar into a bowl for cookies. I see all the effort that it takes them, and I want to accuse God;

“YOU made them unable to walk and talk.”

But my conscience won’t let me.

The complicated part of my conscience that wants to accuse God for the world’s problems is the same part that proves God’s existence and love. It’s the God-given longing inside of me that screams;

“Things shouldn’t be this way! People shouldn’t have to live with these challenges! The world is cruel to them!”

That’s the desire that God created which groans and cries for love and perfection. It’s the hole in every human that uncomfortably yells, “Something is wrong. Something is missing. There’s something more.” God created this desire in us to cultivate a discontentment for anything less than Himself and heaven.

We’ll all know God and heaven when we see them because they will be the satisfaction of that ingrained craving we all had on earth, that craving for ourselves and everyone around us to be healed and whole, kind and fulfilled, peaceful and happy, loving and loved.

Girl Crying LIFY

In the meantime, whenever I see something awful, something that should never, ever happen to a child, a nation, a masterpiece, an animal, a friend, and even myself, I need to re-focus on God. Instead of accusing Him, I need to sink into the part of my created being that screams;


I need to take a deep breath and let those words be true.

The fact that I recognize wrong and injustice proves that there is a right and a just: God. He loves the world.

God created this desire in us to cultivate a discontentment for anything less than Himself and heaven.

Love is most truly love when the people I’m holding crayons in hands for and changing and feeding can’t (and probably won’t) do anything for me in return. God teaches me to genuinely love by allowing people who can’t always return love into my life.

Sometimes people in public do stop and talk with me and the people I support at stores. They normally say something like;

“Wow! I could never do that type of work!”

“I admire you for caring for them! I’m just, it’s… that’s just not for me.”

I want to retort;

“Oh, so you could never love someone that can’t always love you back?”


“What?! Loving and helping people isn’t for you?!”

Sometimes people smile at me and say;

“You know, it must be rewarding.”

And I want to say;

“Rewarding? Like having a plate of the dinner I just made flipped on the floor? Like getting slapped when I help someone pee? Or holding someone back as they throw my head against a wall?”

These answers are contradictory. On one hand, I want to tell others that I love helping and caring for people and that they should be involved and interested, too. On the other hand, I want to point out all the struggles I face when I’m supporting people because I’m selfish and human, too.

Love means continuing to serve when you’re undervalued and overworked.

Jesus and Nicodemus LIFY
Jesus and Nicodemus

Love is allowing your sleep to be interrupted by your fragile friends who are screaming for help as a storm rocks their boat. Love is staying up when Nicodemus comes to talk late at night out of fear of being discovered in your company. Love is not sending the crowds away to go and find their own food. Love is looking on each person with compassion because they need guidance and instruction, and they usually don’t get it in the ways that they need. Love is healing the ear of the man who wants to kill you. Love is being pleased and crushed to bruise and break yourself for the good of others. Love is stretching out your arms and dying in the worst way possible so that people can one day be healed and whole, kind and fulfilled, peaceful and happy, loving and loved.

God teaches us true love by allowing people who don’t always return or appreciate our love into our lives, and He shows us how to love them anyway because that’s what He does for us.

I’m immensely privileged to be allowed to show God’s love to the people who don’t always love me. I’m blessed with a conscience that recognizes the injustices in the world. But most of all, I’m gifted with a God that loves me when I don’t always love Him and rights every injustice in His perfect time.

Extravagant Surrendered Worship

ESW2Most parents plan names for their children before they’re born. Children are named after relatives or influencers, or names are chosen because of their meaning and sound. Sometimes alternate spellings are planned to ensure that the name is pronounced correctly and the lettering is unique.

I was named after my great-grandmother who died before my birth: Anna (pronounced with a long ‘a’ European-style because my great-grandmother was Polish). I was Anna before Frozen made the name famous.

Throughout my childhood, I was usually told that my name was pretty whenever I was introduced. But I wasn’t the biggest fan of Anna; it was too simple.

Once, during a break-the-ice competition in class, a teacher asked us who could create the most words using just the letters of our names. Want to guess who lost?

After I met God, I discovered that Anna means “God is gracious.” I realized that God has already shown me, and continues to show me, incredible grace. I embraced my name and purposed to demonstrate more grace toward others.

I found out that, because of the silent “h” in Spanish, Hannah and Anna are both pronounced the same way in Spanish-speaking countries. I researched Hannah from the Bible, considering her my namesake.

Hannah’s story impacts me because of how much she shows us about prayer. I’m surprised I haven’t heard a more messages on this passage, focusing on prayer in our relationship with God.

Hannah is one several barren women God brings to our attention in the Bible. Sarah and Rachel both find alternate solutions for their lack of children (Gen. 16: 1-2; Gen. 30: 1-4), and their husbands go along with their plans. However, Hannah never creates a plan; she turns to God for her solution.

Hannah is so vulnerable – she’s crushed by Peninnah and can’t hide it. We’re often taught to conceal our emotions with sayings like, “Never let them see you cry” and “Quit being a baby.”

But Hannah? She’s destroyed by Peninnah’s comments and Elkanah’s lack of support.
Her vulnerability doesn’t stop there; she’s not a wounded animal, hiding away, hardening her heart. She goes to God.

“Woman Grieving” by Cynthia Angeles

First, Hannah surrenders herself to God in prayer, begging Him for her desires. Eli thinks she’s drunk because of her passionate conversation with God. She freely expresses herself in prayer, being honest and intimate. She weeps.

She lays everything on the line – even what she doesn’t have – and she makes a bold promise to God.

Sometimes we have this idea that to beg God for our desires is selfish. We fail to “be who we are” with God. We forget that God tells us to ask Him for anything because He wants to give us good gifts. He is thrilled when He can shower us with gifts and fulfill the desire of our hearts.

Hannah has no problems with being who she is with God. She doesn’t even introduce her prayer with a few sentences:

“There are lots of other people in worse situations. I’m going to pray for them before I pray for myself. I know that You’re powerful and I’m lowly, so I’m not going to even bother asking. It’s been years and I haven’t had a child, so it must not be Your will for me to have a child.”

God honors Hannah’s request. He gives her a son. And Hannah gives her son right back to God.

The name that she chooses for her son reflects God’s graciousness to her: Samuel, “asked of God” or “requested from God.” She knows that she’s barren. She doesn’t think that she got lucky – she knows that Samuel is God’s miracle.

Second, Hannah doesn’t just surrender herself praying to God for her desires; she surrenders herself to God in sacrificing to Him. Her worship of God is extravagant.

Because a woman’s reputation was often unjustly measured by her ability to have children in those days, Samuel would’ve been considered proof that Hannah was finally “right with God” and “blessed by God.” Motherhood was a married woman’s identity.

By bringing Samuel to serve in the temple, Hannah was sacrificing her identity, her connection to an inheritance Elkanah would leave his sons, even her future security since a woman’s sons were tasked with providing for her after she was widowed.

Hannah gives God more than her child and her identity as a woman, both already great human sacrifices. She brings additional offerings to the temple: a bull, flour, and wine – presumably for a burnt offering, a grain offering, and a drink offering. These things are above and beyond what she would’ve already offered to God for giving her a son in the first place. Hannah’s sacrifice of herself and her son doesn’t stop her from giving materially to God – it only increases her desire to give.

When we truly sacrifice ourselves to God, our excitement to surrender everything else to Him grows.

“At Prayer” by Edwin Long

Finally, Hannah surrenders herself in praise to God. She gives God all the credit for Samuel and for what takes place in her life after Samuel. She brags about who God is and what He’s done.

Her prayer is similar to Mary’s Magnificant. Both woman acknowledge how they feel in God’s presence, give God all the credit for what has happened in their lives, praise God in beautiful terms, talk about their humble condition, and marvel in God’s power, justice, and omnipresent control.

Glancing into Hannah’s prayer life inspires me. My desire is to emulate my namesake’s extravagant, sacrificial spirit of worship to God.



For this post, I chose artwork which I felt captured Hannah’s emotions and devotion to God in worship. The pencil drawing at the top of the post is off of Pinterest, but I believe this site contains the original artwork:

The Year I Didn’t Survive


It’s been a while. A long while. A year.
I’d love to say that ceasing to blog was a positive, intentional choice that gave me some personal, no-pressure space, but the truth is, though I began blogging intentionally, I never intended to stop.
In 2014, I spent 6 amazing, fun months blogging for a bunch of other people, writing articles and posts for a spattering of small businesses with interests from organic food to political law. Constantly writing for other people pushed me to create more time to develop my own writing, but it also snatched the time I had to write for myself.
And part of writing is for myself. All writers will admit that, on some level, they write for themselves. They’re compelled and coerced to write – they can’t help it. It’s an identity thing.
To be honest, it’s a little annoying to be forever writing in your head, re-working what you’re going to say, editing discussions and circumstances, seeing personal situations like a comedy script or a human interest novel, thinking you’ll get things right the next scene around, rehearsing potential conversations in front of a mirror or on paper, believing that if you simply change a few elements, tweak a few characters, your story will fall into place.
But that’s the write-life.
At the end of 2014, much of the content from my 6 months of writing was left unpublished. A great portion of what was published was removed from websites post-publication. From the small portion remaining on websites, my name was removed.
Then, a financial crisis sent me packing back to where my story began in Detroit, MI to do what I’d sworn never to do post-graduation: move in with my parents for a month.
I’m not going to bore anyone with too many details, but the beginning of 2015 fell on an uprooted, unhinged, and discontent 22 year old, who did not believe that “everything’s gonna be alright.” Perhaps that shaky sentiment came across in my last blog post.
The new year always find me evaluating goals and priorities, assembling a reading list, pulling items off my bucket list that I want to do, setting new challenges for myself, seeing what I need to work on.
But at the beginning of 2015, I was watching pieces of myself shatter like champagne glasses on a collision course and fall to the ground like confetti to sad strains of “Au Laud Sang.” My past, present, and what I believed to be my future blended and broke in ways that made reading lists and bucket lists seem stupid. Forget about goal evaluation and areas of improvement; I needed a complete re-haul.
I came to hate my character, who I was as a person.
As a result, I came to God with my specialty: another list. Something like a “Honey-To-Do” list, fix-this-in-that-order.
Seeing my sin and ugly roots from God’s perspective was truly a gift. I had a lot of sin problems and ugly roots, many of which I’d planted myself – I still do. Pride had me thinking that I was put together and in control, something I’d asked God to remove from me.
A lot can happen in a year.
God is full of grace. He’s never showed me problems He doesn’t plan to carry me through; He’s never showed me something broken that He doesn’t plan to fix – on His time, His way, without my “To Do” list for spiritual character transformation.
He ripped my list up.
He ripped my heart open.
He ripped a lot of things out of my life.
Those sentences may sound rough to people who cling to the gentleness of God; I cling to God’s gentleness, too. The push that throws the child out of the way of the oncoming car, making her land in tears with scrapped elbows and knees is gentle compared to hospitalization, broken bones, death. A broken heart is better than a dead heart. God loves a broken heart.
Psalm 34:18 says that God is near to the broken-hearted and He rescues those with crushed spirits.
Psalm 51:17 says that God never hates nor refuses a broken heart.
But a broken heart still hurts. Pretending it doesn’t won’t make the pain go away. I can’t be macho with God.
God didn’t ask for my permission to break my heart – He doesn’t need to, but He did give me some time to adjust to the idea. He gave me some time to grow into the knowledge that His heart was broken and soft and tender, and He wants to give me another thing to have in common with Him.
What if you looked at your story and hated your favorite character? What if your favorite character was also your main character? What if that character was simultaneously your protagonist and antagonist? What if that character was you? That’s what it’s like to see pride and a hard heart.
But God offers a much better, humbling, real healing.
This healing is like looking at your story and realizing it’s not yours. It’s loving your favorite character, finding He’s your main character and the Author, and being saved by Him every day. It’s realizing you’re simultaneously an ant in the big picture story and the apple of the Author’s eye. It’s celebrating every new chapter – and all the previous chapters, no matter how ugly.
I’ve come to understand a little better how I’m new in God. Being new doesn’t mean burying and hiding the old; it means uncovering, uprooting, breaking, and burning the old; it means only building on the brand-new foundation, the Ancient Cornerstone.
A part of me didn’t survive 2015, but now I’m thrilled. In fact, I hope another part of me doesn’t survive 2016.
“He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30.