The Honey-Phrase: A Class in Southern Sass

When you live in the South and someone calls you honey—something’s up. It might mean you recently experienced a terrible break-up, so you get an “Aww, hoooneyyyy.” It might be because someone decided to switch on the southern sass and say, “You have no idea who you’re messing with, honey!” And it might be another way of saying, “Bless your heart, you just don’t get it.”

The South is notorious for using normal words with numerous meanings, and you’re supposed to know them all if you live here. Luckily, you can usually classify the honey-phrase by the tone of voice. For example:

“Now honey…”

This one, I’ve heard before. So much. And the tone? Condescending. Sure, maybe she meant well, but those two words…well, they ruffled my feathers a little.

She continued, “…don’t go questioning God.” She said it with concern across her brow and good-intentions written on those now pursed lips.

But I wanted to scream.

What exactly did she mean? I only mentioned asking God, why because I was facing a tough situation. She may have been listening to me, but she wasn’t hearing me at all.

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I don’t question His existence. I don’t question who He is. I don’t question His ability to do anything. I don’t question His knowing everything. I don’t question His love. I don’t question His plan being the best for my life. These are the very reasons I feel completely comfortable asking Him why.

 

“…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything…God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:25, 27 (ESV)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8a (ESV)

 

To me, why is the deepest question. I could ask what, but that only gives me the facts. How—the process. Where—the location. When—the time. But why? Why is thousands of question marks packed into one tiny word. Why digs to the heart of an issue.

Asking why makes me feel closer to you, because your answer gives me a glimpse of your heart. Sometimes, I even draw answers from your silence, knowing that wisdom often comes in quiet.

And I think asking why is essential to spiritual growth.

You see, asking why tells God I don’t understand but I’m here anyway. I want to know His heart. And I think God wants to be known deeply, just like I want to be known deeply—loved, trusted, and respected even when I don’t make sense to the one asking why.

Sometimes, He directs me to an answer in His Word. Sometimes, it’s just His gentle whisper to my soul saying, “Trust Me.” Sometimes, He sends me a quiet peace that I can’t explain.

What God does doesn’t always make sense to me. I ask Him why all the time. Instead of walking away disappointed by what I don’t know about life, I always walk away with a deeper understanding of who He is and how intense His love is for me. And that is enough.

Leaving Egypt

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

Hosea 11:1

Slavery. Literal in this passage (and for so many hurting souls across the world), figurative in my life (and so many others’). My chains cannot be seen by the naked eye. I am shackled to my past, pain, insecurities, doubts, fears, and outright failures. But here’s the thing–just like God called the Israelites out of Egypt and into a place He prepared for them–He called me out of my sin and the normal of this world into the extraordinary love, grace, mercy, healing, and wholeness of His arms.

But here I go, weak as I am, trying to turn back to Egypt. Over and over. When things don’t go my way or aren’t perfect, I let go of His extended hand and walk away. How many times have I ignored His call or drowned it out with the sound of my own desires–turning my head back over my shoulder, reaching for torment in my Egypt? Instead of leaning into His loving guidance, I opt for the life that only strengthens my bond with what’s behind me. I grasp at this destructive inheritance of pain and regret, instead of rejoicing in my inheritance of His glory and hope.

The journey from Egypt is wrought with trials and pain as well, but I travel on the hope of what lies at the end. I am His beloved daughter.

I am His. 

He calls to me, and I want to cling to Him. I know I have to let go of these chains. I’m leaving Egypt behind once and for all. And as I walk through the desert, I realize I am free.

He is my promise.

He is my future.

And in that I found my freedom. 

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At Least I Can Breathe

At least I can breathe.

I recite over and over

Quietly, internally.


 

At least I can breathe.

I feel all of life deeply,

and maybe too quickly,

and maybe that’s a problem.


But today at least I can breathe.

My heart no longer pounds

Gasping for air in its cage.

Its wounds are healing, slowly,

And it doesn’t feel so broken.


At least I can breathe.

The soothing rhythm runs on—

Inhale, exhale, and repeat.

It keeps me tied to reality.

Life moves on; I must move too

Or be stuck here forever.


At least I can breathe.

Movement is an uphill climb

I’m dragging and falling behind.

My head spins as the air gets thin

I want to go back to the start,

Where my heart’s trail meets

This rocky, mountain road.


At least I can breathe.

The altitude crushes my lungs.

I bite back the bitter sting of tears,

As I climb higher still

And further from the noise.

The cold air burns my nose,

It turns that angry shade of red,

But I feel it—I’m alive, I’m awake.

And at least I can breathe.


Oh, the view from this peak’s point!

I find myself breathing easy now,

Taking in the vista of crystal–

Blue sky, frosty lakes, and emerald forests.

This beauty expanded my heart,

My love is not cold but tempted

To explode from my chest

In the most erratic fashion.


And once again, I’m here, telling myself—

at least I can breathe.

(Don’t) Let it Reign

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” Romans 6:13

When you find your new identity in Christ, it is so hard not to have moments where you want to slip back into your old identity, your old way of doing things with your old friends in the same old place you’ve always been. Trust me, I’ve been there. The old way is comfortable, and much easier than implementing all of these changes God asks you to make. Change is messy, and incredibly difficult. We can’t turn toward God without His strength working through us.

Sometimes, we have weak moments. We try to do things on our own.  We try to pull pieces back in from that old life. But the old life and new life in Christ–they just don’t mix. Even if you say, “Well I wasn’t really that ‘bad’ before,” we all have or have had bad habits in need of being broken. But there’s still a difference in picking up old habits and letting your sin run your life. Life is such a delicate balance of knowing your desires, and following God, and somehow getting those to align.

We all slip up from time to time, when those old habits just come along and the temptation is too strong for us. And we fail to ask God for help so we give in. But it isn’t just that once that breaks us, it’s the giving in again and again and again. That is when sin runs your life. And this may sound like such a simple statement some of you will wonder why I even made it, but if sin is running your life, Jesus isn’t.

It is possible to slip and slide until you don’t know which way is up. So what do you do when you realize sin has taken over? You choose. So simple, yet extremely difficult. Whether we realize it or not, we are always serving something or someone. The choice to change is a huge step, but the hardest part is sticking with it. So you pray, you surround yourself with godly friends, you get involved in a church, and you stay in the Word. Life as a Christian is not easy. Making the choice to live for Christ is not easy. Consistency is not easy. But every bit of it, despite the challenge, despite the failure, despite feeling like you will never figure it out–is worth every bit of effort.

Break and Choose

When you break you have two choices. One: You can break and let your life fall to pieces, let those pieces scatter to the wind and always feel like you’re missing something as you walk through life dissatisfied and confused. Two: you can break, fall to your knees, and reach up for the Hand that’s reaching down to you.

Walk On, Walk Tall

What do you do when your fear becomes reality? Keep your head up. Let the tears fall. But remember–chin up, dear, lifted toward heaven. He gathers your tears; He knows the exact location of each break in your heart. He knows the way the pieces will fall. He knows your pain. He knows YOU. And that is why you can walk on and walk tall. That is why you keep smiling when your world feels like the darkest place around. When your heart is broken, let Him hold it. He knows just how to hold it gently so it won’t feel the breaks quite as much until He heals them.

Whispers in the Night

When the sun sets my eyes no longer fight
The urge to cry until they cannot open.
Darkness pricks their drooping lids until
It overtakes even my conscious thought.
The still of the night whispers things
That make me shudder when I hear.
My body trembles and quakes as it waits
For dawn to break on the horizon.
Heavy Eye lids locked tight causes
The darkness to seem unmovable.
Lashes cement to block my vision
And any chance of letting daylight in.

.Bruised.

The other day, I banged my knee against a metal spoke on my exercise bike. Oh, my goodness–that hurt! In the moment all I could do was stop, grab my knee, and rock back and forth on the floor silently suffering. My body was shocked by the sudden sharp pain and I couldn’t react any other way; so I just to plopped down, rocked in a soothing motion, and felt it. By the time I finally gathered myself and headed toward the stairs, I could still feel the initial sting, but I was over the shock. I still couldn’t say much (other than “Ow, ow, ow, ow. Oh my goodness that hurt!”), but felt a little angry with myself for not seeing that spoke. I knew I would have a disgusting bruise there in the days to come.

My bruise started out as this slight, very lightly discolored place that only hurt when I touched it. A few days have gone by now, and this bruise looks nasty! It’s purple and black, but it’s starting to heal. It only really hurts when I put a lot of pressure on it. Honestly, if I don’t think about it, it doesn’t bother me at all.

The bruise resembles my life right now. I was shocked by some unexpected news, nothing tragic, but something that seemed out of place and didn’t make much sense. Honestly, it kind of rocked my little world. The first moments after knowing for sure what was happening—I felt numb. Then I let myself feel. I cried. I talked it out with my best friends. And then I got angry, and oh, I felt that all the way through. And now…I’m walking. Taking this a day at a time. I’ve laughed today, and I’ve cried today. I’ve taken deep breaths and I’ve felt that deep, physical pain. But I’m just on the other side of this thing and bruises don’t disappear overnight.

So just like my bruise—there was the initial shock, then the pain, and now I’m in the dark, painfully ugly healing stage. And just like my bruise will soon heal—so will my heart. I may remember that the bruise was there, but it will fade. And the pain in my heart—that will fade too. After all, my Jesus is the master healer. And He knows what it’s like to be bruised.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5, NKJV

Seaside Storm

This calming ocean breeze once kissed my face,

And now it violently stirs and whips the waves,

Tossing and crashing them onto the shore.


My hair slashes across my face and into my eyes,

I shut them and blink back the urge to cry.

The sand stings as it blows wildly around me.


Storm clouds roll in, coloring the sky deep gray.

My shirt now clings because of the pouring rain.

But I stand here, holding my arms open to the sky.


I need to feel the wrath, feel the power of the storm;

The rain soaking my skin ties me to this new norm.

I hear the thunder roar, but still I cannot move.


I know I have to feel this pain all the way through,

Down into my bones, my soul, I’ll know its truth.

And though I may have many tears to cry, I will survive.


And once again, the tides have changed.