Being Naked (31 Days #31)

To read all the posts in the 31 Days series, click here.

Here in these mountains, it comes quickly…if you blink you’ll miss it.

The leaves bud with new life in early spring and are lush and green through mid-October. And then suddenly, for a minute, the green gives way to gold and to orange and then to red and you have to stop everything, drop your load and go inhale.

Then the wind blows and the rain falls and after your slow blink your eyes open and the trees are bare. Beauty scattered and blown about with every passing breeze and empty limbs slow dancing as we mourn that it ended so quickly.

We spend the rest of winter watching those empty limbs dance, scrutinizing every sign — watching and waiting for the next season while missing and mourning the last.

And when we do that — when we miss what was and wait for what’s next, we miss the beauty of the emptiness, the beauty of the barren. We miss the gift of the now. (tweet)

For when the trees bear no evidence of their fruit, we’re able to see the tree. The twisted shape of its trunk, the free form of the limbs. We see it for what it is, not for what it produces.

When the tree is free from evidence of what it produces, you see it. You see it and see through it and what it produces doesn’t obscure your view anymore. You’re able to see past your yard and into your neighbor’s; see through the wood to the road ahead.

In its most stripped down and naked form, it provides you the most perspective.

And we resent it.

This being thing requires living in your winter. Letting go of what you do in order to be who you really are. Outside of what you produce and what people marvel over is a stripped down and naked you. And when God brings the wind and the rain and makes our beauty scatter and blow about, what’s left is us.

Just simple, basic and plain us.

But the most beautiful part of being the tree in our winters is that people finally see us. They see us for what we are, not what we do. They see us and through us, and what we produce — no matter how beautiful — doesn’t obscure their view anymore.

When we’re scattered and blown, we give others permission to see their neighbors and the road ahead.

In our most stripped down and naked form, we provide others the most perspective.

Jesus’ ministry was an autumn, you know. He brought new life and green leaves to the manger and then suddenly for a minute, the green gave way to brilliant golds and oranges and reds and everyone — everyone — stopped everything, dropped their load and inhaled.

But then wind and the rain came and He was barren. They blinked, and He was stripped down and naked, twisted on a tree.

And finally — finally — they had perspective and they saw Him.

They say to not despise the day of small beginnings. And usually we take that to mean to pay our dues, to humble ourselves and do whatever it takes to be obedient.

But I think sometimes our small beginnings are the winters. When our beauty has been scattered and we’re laid bare and our empty limbs dance…that is the very beginning — the smallest nuance of new life. It’s the inner life being renewed long before the green sprouts forth on the limb. The beginnings that have were birthed while we’re missing our golden glory and anticipating the next thing.

What if — instead of longing for yesterday or striving toward tomorrow — we stopped everything, dropped our load and inhaled in the winter, too? I wonder if the sharp air would burn in our chest so deeply that we couldn’t mistake that yes, we actually are still alive. And what if the falling snow insulated and protects the new that God is preparing in us?

What if — when our limbs have no fruit and are slow dancing in the breeze — we were giving others the gift of perspective? Allowing them to see the real us — empty and twisted — to see through us to The Road Ahead?

What if.

Being You (31 Days #30)

To read all the posts in the 31 Days series, click here.

They say to be who you are.

Just be you. The world needs you and your voice and your perspective. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else or wish for what they have, because God has a unique plan just for you. 

They say it and say it and say it. They all say it. And you know it. You know it in your head but the connection between your head and your heart is so broken. Just so broken. And the running marquee continues to display,

But what if you don’t know who you are? Or worse, what if you know exactly who you are, but don’t like it? 

What if — when the pressure rises and you feel completely lost and full of doubt — the real you that you fought to keep hidden emerges? And she’s a petulant child, kicking and screaming what about me??

What if, when everyone’s telling you to be you — you suddenly realize you don’t want to be her?

We struggle with not feeling enough — smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, talented enough, thin enough, known enough. And the insecurities and doubts that arise from feeling just not enough can drive you into a shell you weren’t born with.

And those times are hard — not feeling enough is hard.

But in those times, you don’t recognize it as who you are…you recognize it as what you’re not.

Then there are The Times. The times when your flesh takes over every part of your mind and soul, and nothing you tell yourself — no thoughts or clichés or scriptures you muster forth — can shove it back down.

And you’re forced to stare face-to-face with the reality of you. The ugly, sinful you that is so easy to keep hidden from the world as they watch you from the outside and read your carefully crafted words and know your (photoshopped) highlight real.

And there you are. You and y-o-u. And your breath catches and you want to turn away but there’s nowhere to go. And your heart aches because she is not who you want to be. But she’s part of you. She might not take over all the time, but she’s there — lurking under the surface and now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of her, you fall to your knees in a desperate cry for God to redeem her and make something beautiful from the ashes she holds out with trembling hands and red, swollen eyes.

This concept of being — of being still and being free — it can’t always be a quiet moment in a fall meadow. It can’t always be moments of peace in your cozy chair with your fuzzy blanket, or giggles with your daughter or snuggles with your son.

Sometimes, being means sitting with you — with who you are, the real you — and owning her. Recognizing the ugly and the sinful — the brutal and the broken. It’s being aware that you are not perfect, you aren’t quite whole, you just aren’t there yet.

Sometimes, being means accepting you. All of you. The messy and the chaotic in the left hand stretched as far as it can. And the healed and the redeemed in the right hand stretched as far as it can.

Sometimes being means recognizing that Christ is the one in the middle of the left and the right and He’s the bridge to both of them. Recognizing that you’re not either/or. You’re both.

Remembering Jesus is the and.

And when you realize that this tension is supposed to exist, you realize that they are actually right. You can be who you are.

Because who you are is held together only — ONLY — by the grace of God. And that is a story that always stays fresh and never gets old and we can never tire of hearing.

The world needs you and your voice and your perspective. Because God’s word is always alive and His word is etched on our hearts and in His hands, and therefore it can never be old.

You and you, and Jesus is the and.

You Jesus you.

They say to be who you are.

And they’re right.

Being Still-er (31 Days #29)

To read all the posts in the 31 Days series, click here.

I’m not sure I know what to say about my experience at Allume. I was asked about it today and this was all I was able to manage:

“I’m still figuring it all out. It was incredible and the messages were exactly what I needed to hear; but something was going on in my heart that completely took me by surprise, and it made me see everything through a really blurry filter. I’m praying through it to see clearly.” 

And I really want to — I want to pray through it and see it clearly and work through it with God.

But in order to do that effectively, I need to be still.


Stiller yet.

God seems to be purifying me of some things. It’s rising to the surface and He’s wanting to skim it off. But before He can do that, I need to let it finish rising.  I need to be honest about the truth of it and I need to be still.

I heard that one blogger said this about her experiences at Allume: she didn’t get the answers she was hoping for the first year, and that her story is still being written in the second year.

And when I heard that, I just cried. Because I think that’s exactly what’s happening with me. I went for answers to the wrong questions. And God is still writing the story.

So I’m still processing Allume. But I will say this:

Meeting online friends in real life and loving them even more than you thought you would is the best feeling in the entire world. (Finding out they are sorority sisters is just icing on the Devil Dog.) And spending time with these friends — unencumbered by the responsibilities of real life for just a few days — brings a bond that it forever etched in my heart and His hands.

It’s a beautiful thing.

And I’m planning to be still-er to soak in the memories of that, too.

p.s. Ann Voskamp never stops reflecting the joy and glory of Jesus. Not ever. I almost grabbed a towel to throw over her head, because my eyes!

p.p.s. Melanie Shankle had the greatest hair and flat out preached. And I want all her accessories and booties.

p.p.p.s. Lisa-Jo Baker is tall. Like 5’10” tall, and I was so excited I almost did a happy dance! (In public. Definitely did one in private.)

Being Honest (31 Days #28)

To read all the posts in the 31 Days series, click here.

I tried to write from Allume the first two days, but I just couldn’t put things into words, and I’m not sure I can yet. But I can say I have a lot to process. As in, miles and miles to process. As in, this weekend left me with a multitude of opportunities to be honest with myself, and I didn’t like most of it.

Until I can sift it all down into brain-wrappable thoughts, I wanted to let you know that episode 4 of the Be Still Be Free podcast is live today! Today starts a 5-week series called Be Good To Yourselfand over the next five weeks we’ll discover what it means to Be Honest, Be Content, Be Emotionally & Mentally Healthy, Be Spiritually & Physically Healthy and Be Beautiful.

Y’all, it’s going to be a soul-churning few weeks.

In a good way. I hope.

So click on over to Be Still Be Free to read the post, get tips on practical application, free downloads and additional resources, and listen to the podcast.

And I’ll be back Tuesday either with thoughts about Allume, or random thoughts about Being a Unicorn or something like that.

Being Realistic (31 Days #24)

To read all the posts in the 31 Days series, click here.

I’m heading to the Allume Conference today. It’s going to be three days and nights of learning and being inspired and laughing and drinking coffee and socializing.

And I get to hear Ann Voskamp and Melanie Shankle and Jennie Allen and Holley Gerth and a whole slew of others live and in person. 

(Oh dear…green is so not your color.)


I’m definitely going to try to continue posting in this 31 days series while I’m there. Because honestly, I’m loving the challenge of writing daily and I’ve already come so far! I don’t want to quit now!


I’m also a realist. The schedule is jam-packed, and I want to fully engage with the people I’ve looked forward to meeting in person for months and months. AND. MONTHS.

So if I don’t post, I’d appreciate you throwing grace at confetti at me so I can dance in it freely, understanding I’m too busy being to do.

Because after all, isn’t practicing being the most important part of this process? Even more than writing about it?

(And collectively we all yell, YES and AMEN!)

(And can we have a moment to acknowledge I’m not organized enough to have posts queued up and ready to go?)


I can’t wait to share about Allume with you!