girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

life recipe

1 take a full measure of passion
2 add to this a full cup of commitment and courage 
(there should be no half measures in this recipe)
3 then stir in a good dollop of inquisitiveness
4 take a large heap of emotion and pass through a fine sieve, removing any unwanted lumps of apathy
5 sweeten with some love
6 add a generous pinch of don't give a fuck and a sprinkle of hope
7 turn up the heat
8 pour into a serving dish and savour each and every mouthful

Monday, January 28, 2008


proverbs 21:21

whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself—glorious life! 
choose to laugh
choose to smile
choose to help
choose to be patient
choose to be healed
choose to try
choose be kind
choose to embrace
choose to play
choose to be vulnerable
choose to be still
choose to be fair
choose to be consistent
choose to be responsible
choose to care
choose to be held
choose to reconcile
choose to hope
choose to be changed
choose to love
choose real life-
choose to believe that it is freely given
and ready for the taking.
choose blessings.


acts 12

peter was put in jail...

his community prayed-
angels busted him out.
it's hard to believe...
and easy to by cynical.

be blessed as you live in the balance between doubt and faith.
having the space to ask your questions,
the space to be honest,
the space to seek truth,
the space to believe,
the space to breathe & to
be blessed as you seek out what it means to pray.
in the times when you feel like you go unheard
or question what could possibly come of your words.
be blessed also in the times when you step into the silence-
in the darkness-
when your loneliness runs so deep 
and you allow your soul to speak to something outside of yourself,
that you might not quite understand.
let us be blessed as we search for answers.
let us be blessed as we yearn for truth.
let us be blessed as we try to release our cynicism 
and as we cling to a hope that in spite of all our efforts,
we need not have it all figured out, 
we need not be in control.
we need only rest...and be blessed.




it is hard enough-

hard enough to keep your head afloat during this holiday season.

hard enough to be with some of the people we're around.

hard enough to be without some of the one's we've lost.

hard enough to manage the crowds-

to get everything off the checklist.

to tie all the bows.

to wrap all the boxes.

hard enough to be kind, and available, and loving, and giving.

hard enough to breathe.

it is hard enough with all this...

but then to be asked more-

to be reconciled.

to be healed.

to listen.

to help.

to get yourself out of it all so you can see the forest for the trees,

or the truth of christmas through the hustle and bustle.

yes, it is hard enough...

but let it be enough.

let us rejoice.

let us hope.

let us be blessed.


'tis the season


may you be blessed as we enter this holiday season.

as we sit under the twinkling lights,

with our souls continually pining for something more...

something bigger than the world is handing us tied with ribbons and bows.

may you be blessed.

may your soul feel its worth.

may you feel the thrill of hope.

may this season stir things in you

and may it also bring you peace.

may you be blessed.

find the things that are important.

seek to tell those around that you love them.

hope, above all else, and make space that the God above can move in you.




listen...and hear.
listen...and move.
listen...and follow.
listen...and be undone.
request the chance to be heard by others.
request the chance to be trusted.
request the chance to establish something real, something tangible, something worth believing in.
look for those who might be searching
...for those who have lost hope
...for those who struggle silently
and for those you can walk alongside.
choose to dialogue and not just speak.
choose struggle over certainty.
choose a life together instead of a alone.
choose to build something, to experience something, choose to yearn, and ache, and push through this journey.
be blessed today...and all of your tomorrows.

a friend in need-friend indeed.

luke 16: shrewd managers & rich men.

money makes the world go 'round.

blessings on you as you grow, and learn, seek & heal.
for the moments when your heart breaks at the hurt that the world is suffering.
for the moments when your body shakes with anger at the injustice.
for the moments when your eyes well with tears and your shoulders ache from the intensity & weight of a world that needs so much.
blessings as you choose to see what the world looks like from other eyes
-through the widow, through the poor, through the orphan.
as you use your voice when they cannot.
blessings as you are moved to change-
to bend, to hold, to help, to fight, to try.
your race is not yet over, there is still time.
blessings as you venture forth.
blessings as you return.
as you draw in every breath-transformed anew.

extra! extra!

what kind of news is the gospel? 

is it really good news?
and how much do we share, as much as the world wants to hear?
do we be bold...or do we be sensitive?

blessings as you humbly seek to live in the tension of sharing...and of healing.
wanting to reveal just what is making you whole,
desperately seeking to share,
and to be understood.
wanting to help hose that stumble along your path.
running your race to the best of your ability,
but pausing to lend a hand, an ear, or your heart.
blessings as you try to see what the 'good news' could mean...
looking and being aware of those that are needing liberation that our world refuses to give.
blessings as you live a life of love.
listening for the unspoken hurt & brokenness other travel with-
being present to the world around you-
with no hidden agenda & with humility.
blessings are you share, as you help, as you live.


acts 7

sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

consider that you are the church.
that wherever you go, wherever you breath, wherever you speak...
you are taking with you the church.
consider listening.
listening to those around you that may share a different belief,
to those that have come before you,
and to the whisper deep inside yourself.
consider being stretched.
allowing yourself to no longer be comfortable,
but to be undone.
consider ending your indifference to the broken world around you.
consider forgiving...and being forgiven.
consider dropping your stones, right there where you are...
walking away from them & never looking back.
know that you are welcome in this place,
that that you are blessed.


acts 6

the seven are chosen. stephen is seized for his 'blasphemy'...and in the midst of it, looks like an angel.

be blessed...
as you face the reality that not everyone will agree with you,
that the world is full of thinking minds & varying opinions,
& that not all of those will be of the same accord.
be blessed...
as you seek out humility-
knowing that who are you today may not be who you are tomorrow.
be willing to love others as you continue to seek.
be willing to stay engaged, to listen-
not simply waiting to share your opinion-
but listening to truly understand.
be blessed in who you are.
know that there is something out there that began writing a story long ago.
you are part of that story-
in your flaws & wrong thinking...
and in your ability to love those who differ.
you can stand firm in knowing you are in a safe place,
you are wanted,
and you are cherished.


acts 5:12-42
 miracles. healings. some believed, some didn't, and some wanted them dead. then there was galmaliel.
and what about us? what do we do when others don't listen, when we disagree or are disregarded ourselves...when we are not as sure as those apostles were.

consider that when things go wrong,
that you can keep trying.
consider that you are not destroyed by someone else's rejection.
consider that your anger, your reactions, and your refusal to be humble or admit fault,
are arising from your fear.
consider that your fear is from a lack of stability-
that they are symptoms of a lack of knowing who you are 
and what you stand for.
consider that you are not your thoughts & you are not your feelings.
consider that you do not know everything.
consider that others are there to help & love you along the way.
consider that in this moment you can begin to choose who you are & what you stand for
-that you need not wait another moment.
consider that you are here. 
here for a reason
-perfected in love...already whole & completed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

a story

love is the movement

TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS by Jamie Tworkowski

Pedro the Lion is loud in the speakers, and the city waits just outside our open windows. She sits and sings, legs crossed in the passenger seat, her pretty voice hiding in the volume. Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite. It hits me that she won't see this skyline for several weeks, and we will be without her. I lean forward, knowing this will be written, and I ask what she'd say if her story had an audience. She smiles. "Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars." 

I would rather write her a song, because songs don't wait to resolve, and because songs mean so much to her. Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness. These words, like most words, will be written next to midnight, between hurricane and harbor, as both claim to save her. 

Renee is 19. When I meet her, cocaine is fresh in her system. She hasn't slept in 36 hours and she won't for another 24. It is a familiar blur of coke, pot, pills and alcohol. She has agreed to meet us, to listen and to let us pray. We ask Renee to come with us, to leave this broken night. She says she'll go to rehab tomorrow, but she isn't ready now. It is too great a change. We pray and say goodbye and it is hard to leave without her. 

She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since. She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds. Six hours after I meet her, she is feeling trapped, two groups of "friends" offering opposite ideas. Everyone is asleep. The sun is rising. She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to write "FUCK UP" large across her left forearm. 

The nurse at the treatment center finds the wound several hours later. The center has no detox, names her too great a risk, and does not accept her. For the next five days, she is ours to love. We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life. It is unspoken and there are only a few of us, but we will be her church, the body of Christ coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms. 

She is full of contrast, more alive and closer to death than anyone I've known, like a Johnny Cash song or some theatre star. She owns attitude and humor beyond her 19 years, and when she tells me her story, she is humble and quiet and kind, shaped by the pain of a hundred lifetimes. I sit privileged but breaking as she shares. Her life has been so dark yet there is some soft hope in her words, and on consecutive evenings, I watch the prettiest girls in the room tell her that she's beautiful. I think it's God reminding her. 

I've never walked this road, but I decide that if we're going to run a five-day rehab, it is going to be the coolest in the country. It is going to be rock and roll. We start with the basics; lots of fun, too much Starbucks and way too many cigarettes. 

Thursday night she is in the balcony for Band Marino, Orlando's finest. They are indie-folk-fabulous, a movement disguised as a circus. She loves them and she smiles when I point out the A&R man from Atlantic Europe, in town from London just to catch this show. 

She is in good seats when the Magic beat the Sonics the next night, screaming like a lifelong fan with every Dwight Howard dunk. On the way home, we stop for more coffee and books, Blue Like Jazz and (Anne Lamott's) Travelling Mercies. 

On Saturday, the Taste of Chaos tour is in town and I'm not even sure we can get in, but doors do open and minutes after parking, we are on stage for Thrice, one of her favorite bands. She stands ten feet from the drummer, smiling constantly. It is a bright moment there in the music, as light and rain collide above the stage. It feels like healing. It is certainly hope. 

Sunday night is church and many gather after the service to pray for Renee, this her last night before entering rehab. Some are strangers but all are friends tonight. The prayers move from broken to bold, all encouraging. We're talking to God but I think as much, we're talking to her, telling her she's loved, saying she does not go alone. One among us knows her best. Ryan sits in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar, singing songs she's inspired. 

After church our house fills with friends, there for a few more moments before goodbye. Everyone has some gift for her, some note or hug or piece of encouragement. She pulls me aside and tells me she would like to give me something. I smile surprised, wondering what it could be. We walk through the crowded living room, to the garage and her stuff. 

She hands me her last razor blade, tells me it is the one she used to cut her arm and her last lines of cocaine five nights before. She's had it with her ever since, shares that tonight will be the hardest night and she shouldn't have it. I hold it carefully, thank her and know instantly that this moment, this gift, will stay with me. It hits me to wonder if this great feeling is what Christ knows when we surrender our broken hearts, when we trade death for life. 

As we arrive at the treatment center, she finishes: "The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope." 

I have watched life come back to her, and it has been a privilege. When our time with her began, someone suggested shifts but that is the language of business. Love is something better. I have been challenged and changed, reminded that love is that simple answer to so many of our hardest questions. Don Miller says we're called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. I agree so greatly. 

We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she's known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true. 

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home. 

I have learned so much in one week with one brave girl. She is alive now, in the patience and safety of rehab, covered in marks of madness but choosing to believe that God makes things new, that He meant hope and healing in the stars. She would ask you to remember. 

Monday, January 14, 2008


it's been a month since i blogged last...and in 'blogworld', that's a pretty long time.
it's not that i haven't had things to say...i tend to just wait for really poignant moments.
last night i had one of those moments.
i spent the whole weekend at the bastrop state park having fun with my friends that i know through ryan's fraternity.
above is a picture i took on one of our hikes.
they're a great group of people and it was a refreshing vacation for all of us.
we sat by the fire, we played games, we saw old brewery ruins, and most of all we just relaxed.
the only thing missing was ryan.
he had come to some conclusions and realized some responsibilities, so he stayed behind.
he and i are still on our break and we hadn't seen each other for two weeks.
the weekend came to a close sunday morning and my car was all packed to drive myself and three other friends home...
when i realized i couldn't find my car keys.
we unpacked a lot of the stuff and searched through the cabins again...
finally we crammed ourselves and as much of our stuff as we could into other cars and made the two hour drive back to houston.
i dreaded making a phone call to whoever i would ask to drive me back once i got the spare key.
eventually i gave in and called ryan.
the next few hours were spent in high anxiety and a fight ensued between he and i.
it was mostly filled with a breakdown in communication and a lot of fears were dug up.
i won't give you the gory details and i'll fast forward to my point of clarity:
i don't want ryan to like me.
last night i told him, again, that i felt like he wasn't 'thinking about me' when he made certain decisions and that sometimes i don't feel like he really likes me.
he told me that sometimes he doesn't think i want him to like me.
when he said it, my tears stopped and i was awestruck that he could say something like that.
why on earth would i not want him to like me?
what would cause him to say such an awful thing?
i sat there silent for awhile...
and i realized that he was right.
i don't.
i don't want him to like me because i'm afraid that if i'm truthful and i really let him see who i am, that he won't like me.
sometimes i don't like myself...and the cycle is driving me crazy.
it all comes down to fears...and the truth that i am terribly afraid of him...
and of me.
i told him that i just wished it didn't hurt so bad...the pain inside of me.
and he told me that the pain had nothing to do with him.
i realized he was right again.
i love the abc primetime series 'grey's anatomy'.
i watch it every thursday...i go online and track down all the music they use in the show...and i re-read the quotes of their episodes.
i think their writers are brilliant (wish they'd get off that damn strike, however),
but there are times when i absolutely hate the main character, meredith grey.
she is whiney, and annoying, and a complete basket-case. 
she's also an ACOA-Adult Child of an Alcoholic. 
(her step-sister mentions her own issues with co-dependency b/c of being an ACOA in the most recent episode)
sometimes i wish i could punch meredith in the face.
in last thursday's episode she broke up with her boyfriend.
well, they broke up with each other.
he had previously told her that he wanted to marry her and was even beginning to look at plans for building a new house.
she freaked out.
she told him the reason she freaks out is because he does things that cause her not to trust him.
he told her that she'd never trust him because she can't trust anyone.
she turned and walked away...and that's where they left it.
there was an evening over the christmas break when ryan and i were supposed to hang out, but due to another one of our communication errors we ended up not being able to.
he made other plans and i was left frustrated at myself and overly angry at him.
i went to bed fuming and sent him some really angry text messages.
i had been telling him for the past few months that i wanted to trust him, 
but that night i finally realized that i was telling us both a lie.
i told him that, if i'm really honest, i don't want to trust him.
i then proceeded to list off all the terrible things i thought he was doing instead of hanging out with me.
i'd rather believe the terrible lies that i tell myself instead of trying to trust him.
i regretted saying all of that, of course i did, but i also felt a huge relief:
i had finally been honest with myself and with him.
i had finally said what i had been hiding for the last few months.
i had finally looked my fears straight in the face...
and i hated them more than i hated anything else.
i finally had control over when was stirring beneath the surface,
and i was finally able to take a step forward.
i felt bad for unleashing on ryan and throwing up all my ugliness,
but i was also able to realize just how afraid of everything i am.
...and i mean everything.
most of my friends don't believe that i could be a person so afraid of the world-
i come across as a really articulate, thinking, and honest person.
but somewhere deep in the crevices i hide some pretty ugly fears,
and i don't want to do it anymore.
i don't want to be afraid...
i don't want to be unable to trust anyone...
i don't want to dislike myself or force ryan to not like me either...
i want to be whole,
to stop feeling so crazy all the time.
and i guess perhaps they're right...
and the only way through something is to go through it.