New Year, New You?

Happy New Year, my people! Are we over all the things that talk about New Year stuff yet? Well, suffer just this one more, if you don’t mind.

As this new year was approaching I was thinking of how using the New Year, the beginning of January, as a clear break in time, feels a bit artificial or forced. I mean what magical thing occurs that divides 2022 from 2023? Besides the world just saying something new and different is happening. We collectively decide we are starting fresh, although nothing has changed besides another normal setting and rising of the sun. Time is passing, surely. But in truth it’s passing like every other day. Today is a new start, just like the day before. All this passing time, everything seemingly staying the same and changing at once. All these days and months and years are bleeding into one another, blowing past in a blur, and dragging slowly forward. Nothing special, and yet full of things I know I want to mark as important. Kinda like when you ask a kid on their birthday morning if they feel any different than they did at bedtime the night before, January 1st doesn’t feel much different than December 31st. Why do we place so much pressure and emphasis on this new beginning?

Maybe it’s because we long for the hope of all things new. Our hearts are wired for restoration and renewal. We crave a second chance, a new life. So we love the opportunity to reset, or at least to dream that it’s possible. Whether we know what we are doing or not, we image bearers of God seek out ways to be like Him in the work of redeeming what was lost and repairing what is cracking apart. And so, we love the turning of the New Year, we celebrate it with gusto, we make resolutions, we strive for improvement, we fight hard to live out this New Year, New You mindset. At least for a few days.

Did you know that I hate setting goals? Being the glass half empty girl that I am, I like to set the bar low and avoid disappointment. If I don’t have something I’m officially shooting for, then I won’t be a failure. I can’t think of a single year that I actually set a New Year’s Resolution, even though in the back of my mind I always want to improve in general ways – love more, find hope, let go of unhealthy habits, don’t lose heart, get hurt/injured less, learn to rest. Some years I have tried new things, starting around the new year, adding some spiritual practice I think might be helpful, switching up my Bible reading habits, or maybe picking a word to focus on through the year as I read. Those things can be helpful, or they can feel like a burden, depending on where I am and how I’m doing.

Well, this is one of those years that I decided I would try to have a word or two to focus on. If you’re paying attention to the interwebs, a Word of the Year seems to have replaced making New Year’s Resolutions. So, I’m with that vibe and am super cool, or it could be that I’m jumping on the bandwagon. You can call it how you see it.

As the last few days of 2022 were speeding by, I was getting a lot of those end of the year book lists on my Instagram and Substack feeds. The books that really caught my attention were the ones that seemed to be dealing with the intersection of theology and art or theology and nature. The common theme that jumped out at me was wonder. And that’s how I settled on my Word #1 which is Wonder. I love that this word has multiple meanings. It can be a feeling of surprise mixed with adoration, or awe. It can be a curiosity or desire to know more about someone or something. But it can also be used in reference to feeling doubt or uncertainty. I want my life of faith to be characterized by wonder – I want a surprising admiration of who Jesus is as I encounter Him in the Word and in the world. I want a deep curiosity that longs to ask good questions of God, and about God, and of others (thank you Lore Wilburt. Y’all read her book A Curious Faith if you haven’t). And I want the courage to engage and address my doubts, not by dismissing them, but digging in to find the bedrock of Jesus underneath it all.

My Word #2 is Belonging. A few years ago I was struck by the verse Isaiah 44:5 that mentions that some will write “Belonging to the Lord” on their hands. Ever since then I have loved this descriptor and I think often of what it means to live as if I belong to the Lord. Belonging has also become an important word for me as I’ve gone through counseling. I am learning to trust that my belonging isn’t something I have to earn, especially with Jesus. My belonging is something I can trust and live into. It’s a reality that I have and receive, not a status that I have to work for by performing well. But I do get to live in ways that reflect or proclaim my belonging.

I chose these words individually, and love the deep meaning and purpose associated with them separately. But also, I love how when thought about together they can have an even greater impact. I can Wonder at my Belonging to Jesus – having a sense of utter surprise and delight and awe that He loves me and I can never be separated from that steadfast, faithful, eternal love. I can Wonder about my Belonging to Jesus – seeking to have a deeper understanding of what it means that I am His, that I represent Him as a minister of reconciliation in the world, or am a partaker of His grace so I can be a participant in His gospel, or am the hands and feet of Jesus to a world in desperate need of compassion and care. And when I Wonder if I am Belonging I can turn my questioning, unsure heart towards the One who has space for my doubts and fears, always.

My prayer for myself and for each of you for 2023 and beyond is that all of our whole selves, all of who we are, every bit of our emotional and spiritual and physical lives would be shaped by wonder and belonging. In our wondering about and wondering at and even in our wondering if – may our lives be full of curiosity and awe about the ways we can integrate our belonging to the Lord into our actual lives. May we be deeply interested in and astonished by Jesus and His redemption of our souls so that we can join in the work of His Kingdom. May our questioning and fascination lead us closer to Him and each other.

I would love to know if you have a Word for the Year or a New Year’s Resolution or a stubborn refusal to do any such thing. 

Love y’all,



Such Great Heights

📷: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
📷: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

When I was a kid I was afraid of heights. I know it’s a pretty common fear to have, a healthy caution in the face of conceivable danger. But at times my fear was more like a paralyzing anxiety, excluding me from engaging in *mostly* safe and enjoyable activities. I vividly remember the experience of learning I had this paralyzing fear. Little TomBoy Elizabeth froze 5 feet off the ground attempting a high ropes course at Camp Gravatt as a young camper. Heart racing, legs shaking, stomach in knots, tears streaming, and mind convinced I couldn’t go up or down safely. I know for years after that, I avoided certain rides at the Pavillion in Myrtle Beach and a dare to climb a high dive at a country club pool would without fail bring on a tummy ache. I still have a healthy caution, although my husband might disagree. I still get that knotted stomach and increased heart rate, but I’ve learned to overcome the anxiety in a way that allows me to enjoy fun activities at certain heights instead of outright avoiding them.

I remember the first time I decided to fight that fear head on. This, too, is a Camp Gravatt memory. It occurred a few years after the freezing on the ropes course incident. One day during the week, as a big surprise, the camp arranged to have a hot air balloon show up. Campers could climb into the wicker basket and soar up into the sky beneath the brightly colored balloon filled with air heated by the deafening hiss of a flame thrower! All safely tethered to the earth by sturdy ropes that couldn’t have allowed for much altitude to be gained. What could possibly go wrong?

I was dying to jump in and float upward, but oh so afraid! Such a tempting situation, to get a bird’s eye view of the camp, to see the layout of wooden frame tents and mess hall and lake from a height higher than the surrounding pine trees. I remember watching from afar, acting uninterested, pretending I just didn’t want to. Towards the end of the afternoon my FOMO got the better of me and I shoved the fear and anxiety down and hopped up into the basket and went for a ride. Even now I can feel my young self trembling with fear, staying as close to the center of the basket as I possibly could, as I dared to peer down onto the camp. The wonder of seeing the world from such great heights (cue the Postal Service song in my head) won me over, and I began to decide that since I survived and enjoyed this fearful experience, I was going to be more adventurous. I was going to do things scared if I had to. I was going to ride the rides, climb the mountains, jump off the cliff (within reason) into the water, even if it made me feel like I might slip off into the abyss.

It’s been a few weeks now but NASA released some amazing new pictures of outer space. Looking at the images from the James Webb Space Telescope first caused so much wonder and awe to well up inside me. But, roiling underneath that wonder is a current that disturbs. It’s got that fear of heights vibe for me. A tightening of the stomach like I’m on the edge of a cliff. Urging me to back off, keep your distance, this is dangerous. It produces an anxiety that is hard for me to handle and is a familiar background noise for my soul. Bubblng up from my gut is this fear that if the universe is so expansive and expanding, so mind bending in its complexity, how can this little planet in this tiny spec of time and space matter? How could the One who made and is making all of this notice me, much less love me and desire to be in relationship with me? Or care enough to take note of who I am and care for my needs? In the grand scheme of this ever expanding universe, full of uncountable stars, each and every one known and named by the Creator – I am lost. Tumbling around in the abyss of too much wonder over things I cannot grasp.

Now I love science and typically scientific knowledge draws me closer to the Lord, increasing my faith. The intricate ways our bodies work. The specificity of design. The way life cycles and is sustained in this world. It’s amazing to me and has always been a proof for there being a God of Creation and Love. The key is that I like knowledge I can wrap by little brain around. I love understanding. I crave answers. I want things to make sense. My approach to science and religion are about the same. I prefer a certain certainty.

But these new, incredibly magnificent, pictures of space. With their swirling galaxies merging, and cliffs of star generating gasses seven light years high, it’s disorienting to see. I can’t wrap my brain around the explanations of it all. If I’m not careful the images elicit this feeling that I’m about to slip over the edge, I’m losing my footing, about to plummet into a free fall of doubts and insecurities. So I shy away from thinking too much about it. I step back and disconnect from the feelings those brilliant photographs bring forth. I shove it down, ignore, deny. Without regard for what those feelings indicate, or how those feelings might pave the way for some experience or growth, maybe I just power through. But listen, I do not think this is the healthiest of ways. 

When I think back to my fear of heights as a kid, I think my approach was similar. At first I just didn’t do the things. I stepped back and let fear dictate. But at some point my FOMO began to rule the day and I started doing things scared. And I guess since I always happened to survive, I started to not listen as much to my fear. Instead of engaging and processing what I felt, I diminished it. Acted like it didn’t matter.

Granted it worked out ok for roller coasters and high ropes courses and such, I just don’t think that the emotionally and spiritually healthy solution for me is to ignore the fear and step off the cliff in blind faith. Diminishing instead of engaging. 

I guess it comes down to this. Knowledge that is too high for me, too difficult to grasp leaves me feeling out of control, which leads to fear. But it’s been so drilled into me that these negative emotions are wrong. Do not fear. Anger is bad. Doubt is sin. Questioning isn’t faithful. So guess what follows. Shame. And shame leads to isolation. Which is the exact opposite of where we need to be, of where God has made us to be. We are designed for real, intimate, relationship with those who love us: God Himself and other people.

Jesus doesn’t distance Himself from His people when we are fearful. Think of that time He was napping in the boat and the disciples were battling a raging storm, they didn’t pretend they weren’t afraid. They didn’t just keep paddling and bailing water. They went to Jesus in their terror. They woke Jesus up and said “We’re afraid, we are dying here!” He addresses their fear, but He doesn’t shame them or send them away because of it. (Mark 4:36-40)

So what should I do with my fear? Where do I go when awe and wonder brings a sense of being adrift with doubt. Jesus said do not fear, but I don’t think He meant pretend you aren’t afraid or never doubt or don’t have questions. There are lots of brilliant people that I respect talking about curiosity and doubt and questions, highest on my list being Lore Wilburt, who has a book coming out soon called A Curious Faith. The way she talks about engaging with God and His Word, encouraging deep curiosity, going to Him with our questions, being comfortable with uncertainty has been very helpful for me. I’m looking forward to reading more from her on this topic.

Similarly, being in counseling has taught me that my feelings aren’t to be ignored or even controlled as if I’m wrangling a wayward calf into submission and dragging it back inside the fence, its legs tied together at the hooves. Instead those emotions are God given impulses that invite me to move closer to Him, even when I‘d rather run away. To learn from the One who made me able to experience both excitement and fear. To admit the things that cause my mind to whir with worry. To name the people and places and circumstances that bring joy bubbling up like a spring. To seek the calming presence of a Savior who knows what it feels like to have a heart churning with anxiety and begging for relief, even in the knowledge of absolute belovedness.

Emotions are God’s welcome into being known and understood and loved. They aren’t the enemy, to be thwarted by stuffing and ignoring and denying. Jesus invites me into a different experience. It may be that I will do things scared, but first I get to approach the Lord and lean into Him with my questions and fearfulness, trusting that not wrapping my brain around every single thing isn’t going to lead me into a vast and spacious nothingness. I don’t have to step back from the heights of wonder and awe, afraid of uncertainty. I’m invited to draw close, even in my trembling, and peer out trusting that I’m held. Anchored. Beloved. Tethered to the One who brings out the starry host, one by one, calling each brilliant gaseous glimpse of the past by name.

My prayer for each of us is that we will lean into the wonder. May we go to Jesus with our awe-filled hearts that tremble with both fear and delight. May we trust that whether we bolt ahead with excitement or hang back timidly peering through our fingers we are known and understood and loved. 

Love y’all,


More than consumers

A few weekends ago, Netflix released seven episodes of Stranger Things 4. My kids were excited. I was excited. So we binged. Netflix does not operate like TV shows from the olden days when you had to watch an episode and wait a week for the next one. They dole out a block of entertainment and say “Have at it!” We, like so many others, had waited two years for a new story, so when these episodes dropped we dove in. Before the weekend was even close to over we had consumed an embarrassing amount of creepy, nostalgic story. We were consumed as we consumed. Netflix had us right where it wanted us.

It was entertaining for sure. The story is compelling and I’m so looking forward to the episodes coming out in July. There were things to think through that could lead me to truth and beauty, but something about it left me feeling… off. Having devoured, I felt discontent. I believe there are many things that contribute to this feeling, but maybe chief among them is that we were not created to be mere consumers. Despite what our western world is constantly yelling at us, this unrelenting pursuit of taking in as much as possible leads to lack. The act of consuming leaves us and the resource used up. We walk away feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. There is no really beautiful or good purpose associated with consuming a thing, even if the thing itself contains or can lead us to truth and beauty. The point is basically to use it up, to drain it, with no real thought for where we find ourselves in the end. My focus is my appetite in the moment. What can I selfishly get out of this, with no regard to necessary and good limits?

The truth is we were made for better things. Better for us, and better for the world around us. We were made to be partakers. While consuming holds a connotation of blind, selfish, draining of a resource, to partake in something carries with it a hint of relationship. There is a recognition of the importance of a thing and its relationship to my need and the needs of others. There is a mindfulness on my part as I take in. I am aware that as I partake of, or take part in something, I am being made ready. I am being prepared for something more. The partaking is not the end. This is not meant to be a selfish endeavor. I partake so that I can interact with the world around me. In partaking I care about the resource I’m taking in, I care about myself as I take in, and I care about how this will help me take on life with and for all that surrounds me.

From the very beginning God has invited us into living our lives as partakers, not consumers. Partakers that turn around and participate. The goal has never been to use up the goodness and beauty of this world, but to experience the goodness and beauty so we can join in. The creation mandate was to nurture and cultivate, to partake of the garden and care for it at the same time. Even after it all went south, God’s desire was to invite His people back into this mindset and purpose. We are partakers of His grace, so that we can be participants in His Kingdom. To consume this world and its riches and grace is a violence. To partake of them is to share in something for the benefit of others. 

A huge part of my growth in faith over the past ten years or so has been centered around an understanding of the relationship between indicatives and imperatives. I’ve been trying to reframe myself within the truth that what I am called to do has to be grounded in who Jesus is and what He has done. It was a correction from the crushing functional belief that I had to earn my belonging and belovedness. It has been a freeing and healing switch for me, to recognize that all the commands from the Lord come after and are associated with all that He has accomplished. All that I am called to do and be is inextricably linked with who He is and what He has already done.  

There is a deep hopefulness in the truth that we come to Jesus to partake, not consume. This life of following Jesus is in no way meant to be an individualistic venture, of gaining great benefit or reward and sitting on it. This is a communal life. A connected life. A life characterized by one-anothering. It’s not only that we are to do the imperatives from the indicatives. But also that we are to do the imperatives from the indicatives. As we partake of Him we are given just what we need to enter into the needs and burdens of the world around us.

As I was listening to the Bema podcast recently I heard the host make a statement that really struck me. The gist of what he said was that Jesus fulfilled prophecy so that we can fulfill the purposes of His Kingdom come in the world here and now. That really resonated with what I’ve been thinking about lately. The benefits of my salvation, the goodness of all that Jesus did to redeem me for Himself, are not the end of the story. I have been brought into relationship with Jesus so that I can partner with Him, joining in the work of building His Kingdom. I’ve been reconciled and now am to live as a minister of reconciliation in this world. I’ve been invited into a life of partaking and participating. We are not mere consumers of Jesus. We take part in who He is and it forms our lives. 

I Peter 2:5&9 says we are to be a holy priesthood. I’ve always struggled to understand what this means. Why and how are we, as followers of Jesus, to be a holy priesthood? Why do we need to be priests if Jesus was and is our perfect High Priest? What does that look like? Again while listening to the Bema podcast (yes I’m obsessed), I heard the host say some things that were helpful to me. Their discussion about the purpose of the priesthood in the Old Testament gave a new clarity to some things I struggled to understand. The duties of the priesthood served the purpose of facilitating relationship with God – making Him known and reconciling people to HIm. They were also meant to ensure justice and righteousness shaped the community. In addition they were charged with making sure the needs of the marginalized and oppressed were addressed – all that caring for aliens and widows and orphans stuff. In many ways the priesthood was a picture ultimately of what Jesus would come to do, and also a call for God’s people to live in specific ways that characterize this altogether different Kingdom. A Kingdom of people who image to the world around them a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, who delights in establishing justice and righteousness.

Jesus perfectly fulfilling the role of High Priest for us, enables and equips us to be a holy priesthood in and to the world around us. We experience Jesus as our sympathetic High Priest, so we can intercede for others. We receive wisdom and knowledge from Him so we can speak the truth of God’s message to a world in need of reconciliation and redemption. We care for the marginalized and the orphan and the alien and the widow as the church should, because we were aliens and orphans and widows that have been cared for by our great High Priest. 

This holds true for all of the different ways we experience Jesus. We partake of some grace or goodness from Jesus, and are in turn called to be participants in the lives of others by sharing His grace. 

We partake of His comfort in our sorrow, so that we can turn and be a comfort to others who mourn.  (2 Cor. 1:4)

We abide in the sacrificial love of Jesus, and are compelled to love one another as He loved us. (John 13:34) 

We experience the patience of Jesus who is slow to anger and continues to pursue our wandering hearts by following us with goodness and mercy, which in turn helps us to be persistent in doing good when it feels less than fruitful. (Ex 34:6, Psalm 23:6) 

We receive our Good Shepherd’s provision in the wilderness and deserts of our lives – learning to trust that He is our shade and shield and water from the Rock –  so that we can provide relief and refreshment for others traveling through their own difficult and trying lives. (Psalm 121:5, 33:20, 105:41) 

So this is my prayer for each of our hearts… May we not be people who are merely consumers. May our experience of Jesus not be only about what we can get out of Him, but also about how we can share Him. May His grace and mercy and love be something we seek to partake of in community, for the benefit of the world in which we find ourselves. 

Love y’all,


Another One

Hey kids!

Just wanted to let y’all know, just in case you aren’t on the Instagram… I have another piece of poetry that went live over at Indelible Ink Writers. I’ll drop the link below so you can go check it out.

The Return

If you enjoy this type of thing from me, and want more, give my writing account a follow on Instagram. I post poetry pretty frequently and also thoughts on books I’m reading or podcasts I’ve listened to, and other stuff like that.

My handle is elizabethwrites_insideout if you’re interested.

Thank you for all the ways you support and encourage this writing adventure.

Love y’all,


What’s the deal?

Things have been quiet for me here on the writing front, at least in the writing of prose. Since picking up a new found love and devotion to poetry, it feels hard and less enticing to try to sit down and write in complete sentences. To make a point in the form of an essay feels overwhelming, or maybe unexciting. Sometimes I worry this is laziness of thought rearing its head, an avoidance of the more difficult effort. For sure, to scribble or tap out a piece of poetry feels less constrictive, more free, and a good bit quicker. It’s funny, expressing myself in poetry feels easier, but without the luxury of feeling that I’m better at it. Although I don’t really know what I’m doing, whatever I’m doing seems to flow from me more naturally, which is saying something. So if you’ve been following along with me on Instagram you may be wondering: What’s the deal with all this poetry stuff. Here’s what I’ve been contemplating about the whole situation… Why does it feel more natural or enjoyable or compelling, and does that mean that I should stop practicing the old non-poetry writing?

The fact that you’re reading this is proof that I do not believe the latter is a very good idea. I think there certainly must be stages of growth and practice, times when preferences win out or one thing comes more naturally than the other. But I don’t think it would be wise to forsake effort in one area just because it’s hard or not as exciting. Practicing different forms of the same discipline can’t be bad. It stretches me, and keeps me in the effort of staying at the edges of, if not outside of my comfort zone. And honestly, the whole use it or lose thing is important as well.

As I’ve become more healthily unsure of myself (we can talk about that later if you like) and less staunchly certain, poetry lends itself to nuance in the way I am thinking and writing. It allows me to speak, less as a way of providing answers and more for the purpose of allowing more questions. I’m becoming more interested in leading myself and others toward deeper discovery, instead of giving pat statements of fact. I want the things that I ponder on paper (or tiny screen) to be pointing us to awe inspiring beauty, instead of convincing anyone to think what I think. I hope that the imaginative creativity of our Creator is shining through me in ways that help you use your imagination to wonder at His character, look for His work happening around you, and find ways to join Him as contributors not just as consumers. I aspire to echo the Divine invitation to ask questions or wonder or even wrestle and then be still in the quiet of a listening heart. I want the gifts and longings the Lord places in me to be used to stir gifts and longings in the people around me. We are cultivators at our core. We were made to make, thus reflecting the Maker. We are always partaking in order to participate. Each of us, in the very God imagined places and circumstances we find ourselves, has an opportunity to nourish beauty and goodness and truth.

Somehow for me, in this time and space, all of that feels more likely to happen with poetry. Instead of coercively trying to force feed a truth, I want to give it flesh and bones and room to move around. I hope to tune our hearts and minds to the ways God is present in the mundane, the everyday, the gloriously ordinary things we see and hear and taste and touch. I want to practice paying attention to the sense-able connections between how He shows up in the world around us and how He makes Himself known in and through His own words and the Word. The Word made flesh, calls us into a story of redemption, a true historical story, told with a beauty that is poetic and lyrical in its life changing power.

As I am learning to let the Lord out of the box of attainable understanding I’ve tried to place Him in, I feel as if I am growing. The expansion of who He is and what He is like is freedom. Not licentiousness mind you, but freedom. It feels like I’ve stepped out of a rusted out, rickety little cage suspended by a frayed rope over the Grand Canyon and into a hot air balloon soaring over the same. It is a breathtaking, stomach dropping experience of utter beauty and goodness. It’s not entirely safe, as we like to imagine safety, yet I am altogether secure.

There are some things that have been moving along this path for a number of years. It’s been a slow, hard, good process and involves lots of variables. Most recently though, I have found a new podcast obsession. The Bema Podcast has been blowing my mind in the best possible ways. One thing that has been the biggest game changer for me is their explanation in the introductory episode of the difference between eastern and western ways of thinking. In the eastern mind words are often formed into poetry, historically they tend to pass down history and story orally, and poetic language is often easier to memorize or remember. In general, us westerners prefer prose, our words and thoughts are bent towards statements of fact and proofs. We think in definitions, while easterners think in pictures. Western faith traditions focus on creeds and doctrines and apologetics that prove the existence of God, while easterners just assume God’s existence and so focus more on the nature of our relationship to that God, our experience of and with Him. Easterners also have a more deeply held belief that we westerners tend to downplay. The truth that there is a real power in words. Words can definitely harm, but also can cause growth, bring healing, ignite hope, mourn loss, celebrate life. And I have to believe, I’m banking on this truth, that words which invite and usher us toward and make us more aware of Jesus, words that help us wonder at and about Him, are words with greater power. So that is what I want to do, I want my words to be filled with healing and hope, and the wonder of wandering. I want them to lament over brokenness, and rejoice in the presence of beauty. For me right now the easiest and most inspiring way to do that is in the craft and creativity of poetry. I know that poetry isn’t everyone’s jam. So, I still intend to practice both prose and poetry, and maybe some prodding from others to practice this one more often would light a fire under me. Who knows?

Here’s what I do know. I’m praying that our hearts will be rekindled, set aflame, as we begin to think of God outside of the box we’ve crafted in our own desires and preferences and understandings. May we expand in our love and wonder, and may we step into a less restrictive hope and calling.

In case you missed it on the gram, here’s a tiny little poem I wrote and posted the other day. Enjoy!

place Divine character
inside of a box
instead of a heart
and galaxies shrink
reducing wonder
constricting hope
diminishing call

Love y’all


Check it out

Hey friends!

I’ve got some fun news to share, most of y’all have seen or heard, but this is for the few who don’t follow me on social media.

I shared recently that I’ve been writing poetry, and posting it on my Instagram account. Well, a few months back I wrote two pieces and submitted them to an online forum/publication. Both of the pieces were accepted and the first one was published this week! I’m so excited and humbled by this opportunity, and so grateful for those of you that have encouraged and supported me in this new area of creativity.

So if here’s the link for my poem over at Indelible Ink Writers. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think!

Love y’all!


When There Is No Peace

This world is desperate for peace. All our circumstances swirl like a whirlwind, kicking up clouds of dust that frighten and confuse, exerting forces that tear apart lives without regard, leaving behind a debris field of brokenness and hopelessness. War marches on, causing destruction. Death invades, leaving behind sorrow. Politics divide, setting us against each other in disheartening ways. Oppression and abuse are evident everywhere, most disturbingly in spaces that claim the name of Jesus. Situations bring difficulty over and over again. Our stories are not unfolding or ending with the ease and comfort we desire. We cry for peace, and there is no peace.

Sometimes I wonder, was Jesus yanking our chains when He promised in John 14:27 “ Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.”? There is very little that looks or feels like peace in this world or even within the church itself. But then I realize and remember that looking for peace as a lack of disruptive things happening in our world and in our lives is just a misapplication of what Jesus meant by peace. Jesus even goes so far as to promise that this world and our lives will be filled with tribulation. The peace He promises isn’t the peace we typically long for and seek out. 

For a few months now, in my daily bible reading, I’ve been alternating between the minor prophets of the Old Testament and the Epistles of the New Testament. It’s been an interesting, constant flipping back and forth between warnings and pointing forward from the prophets, and encouragement and recognizing fulfillment from the apostles. Recently, I was in the short book of Haggai, which speaks of a coming restoration of the Temple and a return of glory. A promise is made by the Lord. He points to a provision, a dedication of His very own resources and presence that will bring about true peace. The Message puts it this way in Haggai 2:9: “This Temple is going to end up far better than it started out, a glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish: a place in which I will hand out wholeness and holiness”. This is it. This is what Jesus means by peace. Wholeness and holiness paired together. This rendering of the word peace seems to line up nicely with the Old Testament idea of peace or shalom as completeness and harmony. Jesus promises to leave us His peace, which isn’t merely a lack of trouble or even a lack of anxiety or worry about our loads of trouble. It’s not just a feeling of ease or calm about a decision that needs to be made. It’s not a disembodied dismissal of the difficult physical realities and sin stained spiritual conditions we face. Instead His promise is to provide us with a wholeness and a holiness that repairs our ruptured relationship with God. He gives us His very life that was lived out in absolute wholeness and perfect holiness. He then invites us into a way of living, in which He helps us live a fully embodied, whole life marked by an increasing holiness of our own.  

Jesus came to earth as divine perfection incarnate. We love to talk about how Jesus completely embodied the nature and character of God, and lived a life of absolute holiness for us. His walking on earth among us was a vivid picture of the Micah 6:8 requirements of a faithful righteousness: do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. But sometimes we forget that in addition to being perfect, He also embodied what it means to be a real live person, with all the excitement and frustrations, temptations and victories that make life interesting. Jesus was a completely whole human being, He lived a life in which His whole self was expressed. He experienced emotions and engaged them without denying their existence or importance. Even the ones we consider negative, like anger and sorrow. He lived a life in which food and drink, rest and work, laughter and weeping, mercy and justice were all wildly important and necessary. He exhibited both a caring for His own needs by making time to fellowship with His Father, and a living sacrificially for the care and needs of others. We live in the faith that He applies both of these aspects to our lives, offering them to the Lord in place of our own lack. His wholeness and holiness are ours before God. When we belong to Jesus we are credited with His life. His perfect execution of what it means to live a whole and fully embodied human life in perfect righteousness puts us at peace with God. Making our relationship with Him no longer a point of contention and brokenness but one that is whole and holy. In every sense, Jesus has become our peace.

Now that we have this peace with God, He desires that we live a life characterized by the wholeness and holiness we have in Jesus. We don’t have to split ourselves into spiritual vs physical, or any other separation that divides and isolates parts that should be integrated together. Thankfully, in His kindness, the Lord doesn’t just instruct us to be whole and holy, and then walk away. No. He understands how impossible this is for us. So He says not only will I give you my wholeness and holiness, but I will transform  you into that state of peace I provide. A life of peace is a movement toward the fullness of who Jesus created us to be. It is a steady growth into experiencing Jesus with our complete selves. 

A foundational truth for us Christians is that Jesus came to pay the debt we owe for sin, to die a death that would give us life. But He also spoke and lived in ways that call us into full hearted holiness. A flourishing life that is about more than just easily attained, outward behavior modification. We are pretty ok at striving for this low bar standard. Instead we are called to a life that is focused on heart level change made evident in the way we interact with Spirit filled character. He shows that our holiness is about living in peaceful relationship with the God who cares about the righteous fruit that is the outflow of the heart born anew.

The compassionate life of our very good Shepherd shows us that our physical bodies are important to the Lord as well. Ultimately He came to accomplish a full and eternal spiritual redemption, but He also came caring for the physical needs and well-being of the hurting and hungry and marginalized people around Him. He came healing, and comforting, and feeding, and including. His care for real live bodies, means our physical wholeness is part of His redemptive plan, not just our spiritual holiness. One day there will be no more death, no more sickness, no more broken bodies. We will be whole beings in our perfectly glorious bodies. We won’t get to see or experience all of that wholeness before He returns, but it is absolutely coming, and He wants us to live into our future reality here and now.

I love that the Psalms model for us an emotionally full life that goes to the Lord with all of who we are. We have an example of engaging all of our emotions and longings and worries and triumphs in the presence of God. We see joyful heartfelt praise and wonder, deep gut wrenching lament, questioning His presence and the voicing of doubts, and even angry calls for justice and vengeance. Far too often, we ignore or push down the parts of us that we believe are robbing us of peace, or that feel disruptive. In reality, that denial provides a shallow peace that is just a feeble attempt at the prevention of circumstantial or relational difficulty. We prevent the waves of sharing or engaging our true selves in the hopes of keeping the surface calm and pristine. Jesus calls us into a fuller, more encompassing peace. A life of imagining how all of our emotions, positive and negative, can be used to connect us to the peace of Christ 

In the evangelical world of the 80’s and 90’s there seemed to be a widely held view that since the world was going to “burn up” when Jesus returned, none of it mattered. I truly believe that view, a lack of care for creation or turning a blind eye to governmental systems that are broken, ignores a huge part of God’s purpose for us on this planet. The creation mandate to care for and cultivate the world around us, and even the command to live in exile caring for the well-being of the city or country in which we find ourselves, point to the truth that this place matters. Our experience of this created world with all its wonder and broken pieces have deep purpose. Whether it be the wilds of nature or the societies and systems we’ve created, how we engage those aspects of life is important to the Lord and are expressions of peace to a world in dire need of true wholeness and careful holiness. 

Even the Lord’s call to love, shows how deeply He desires that we experience complete peace. When the Lord commands His people to love Him with all our heart, and all of our soul, and all of our mind, and all of our strength, and also to love our neighbor as ourselves, He is telling us what it means to live whole and holy lives. This is peace lived out loud. I just do not believe that the Lord would invite us to love Him with every bit of who we are, if He had no concern for our whole selves. Our experience of the peace we have comes as we love and relate to God and others with the holy wholeness of who we are: mind, body, and soul.

So friends, my prayer for us is that we would bind our hearts together in the peace of moving towards a full experience of who Jesus was and is with every bit of who we are. I pray that we walk into the raging storm around us, with a peace that passes all worldly understanding. May the wholeness and holiness He intends for us be expressed as we love Him and each other with our fully embodied, whole selves. 

Love y’all



For a little while now, I’ve been practicing writing poetry. I’ve posted a good bit of it to my Instagram account, but thought I should publish some of it here. So I’ll be doing just. Over the next month or so I plan to publish a few poems at a time. Poetry is a new found interest, but it’s been a fun new challenge. I hope you enjoy!

the end
absentmindedly i drag my finger
tracing the straits of swirling grain
i walk past leaving a trail in the dust
a tale of where i’ve been made more
evident as the light slants just so

between the tips of my own distinct
spirals of identifying ridges tiny specks
once hidden in plain sight blanketing
our world in evidence of time’s passage
enliven receptors of deep connection

small reminders we labor to wipe clean
as proof positive we care for space fillers
find their way back again to coat surfaces
layering thick with the end of all things ever
begun returning still from this blaze of life
a different heart

how did the model 
for living a righteous life 
of do justice, love mercy 
and walk humbly with God
morph so grotesquely into
don't listen to secular music
cover your shoulders and thighs
and walk in disdain for the other
we have lost the heart of it all
or never grown into our new ones 
given to partake of glorious grace 
so that we will turn and participate 
in newness of life for all the world
hearts meant to be shaped by a love 
that nurtures a flourishing of hope
when dry bones lie broken in the desert
hearts newly enervated to beat a rhythm
that mimics His well intentioned move
toward loners drawing water in blazing sun
hearts that burn with desire to rescue
from heavy burdens placed pushing 
further down those already drowning
hearts that ache with empathetic care
feeling deep pangs as hungry children
salivate over crumbs hitting the floor
hearts wet with tears shed over souls 
rejecting motherly desire to gather 
under the joyful shadow of peaceful wings
hearts oxygenated by the blood of the One
who chases relentlessly after the wandering 
with goodness and mercy all of our days

darkness marching 

i’ve heard it said darkness
cannot drown out the light 
but this marching of boots 
like a thick black cloud
seems to harshly obscure 
the protective goodness 
meant to radiate peace 
when evil aggressions 
wreak heart breaking havoc
bringing a night unnatural 
in its oppressive weight 
how do we reconcile the 
distant promise of all things
new with such senseless 
destruction of life created 
for glory of bright reflection 
how do we cling to hope 
when history repeats its 
ever darkening cycle so 
slow and painful and yet
to quit the hope of faithfulness 
is a darkness too frightful to bear 

imperfect perfection

buds browned by elements
winter cold leaving burns 
on soft petals formed like 
tiny fists raised in solidarity 
a resistance of beauty thrown
up in the face of harshness
and still i clip them off from 
what sustains and gives life 
longing to display imperfect
perfection unfolding a fleeting 
reminder that the scars we 
bear don’t detract but add
to the wonder of a life lived 


in the middle of desolation 
life seems to drain away 
yet distant hope calls soft
this heart petrified being
etched with Word deeply
engrained broken tablet
yields new growth after
dormant parts seemingly
hacked instead pruned in
carefully violent invasion
malformed tales undone 
allow a beginning again
to bud beauty long buried 
breaks out telling anew
of how fruit is found as
love re-stories existence 


i always think to myself 
how awfully soon this joyful
emergence of green blades
cutting themselves out these 
shallow graves pierced again 
by bulbs straining for light 
gasping for freshness of air
breaking up the all too quiet
reverence of wintering earth 
pale trumpets wrapped thin 
bulge as they raise the alarm
heralding a return from death 
newness of life inevitable in 
its sounding calls for notice 
hidden pathways drunk with 
nourishment of years gone by
recalling to mind ancient truths 
growth happens to repeat 

sensing presence 

i wonder what it’s like 
experiencing Jesus whisper 
your name in love as mary 
on her knees by a tomb
once filled with the broken 
lifeless form of Life embodied 
receiving the shock of hope 

could it look like horizon
bursting new with graceful hues 
morphing each silent moment 
coloring another blank page
vividly muted hints of mercies 
poured forth in faithfulness p
drawing out of dark mourning 

maybe it sounds like snow
falling soft yet echoing loud
unique purity crystallizing 
weighty in peaceful descent 
each flake drifting separate 
forms en masse solace this 
covering over is glory revealed

i guess it feels like gale 
whipping past as body teeters
on top of lofty peak gazing
down the heights awfully
ascended every slippery
recovery and burning step 
reminding of sustaining strength

i bet it tastes like wine
filling glasses raised high 
clinking to toast covenant 
promises of sacrificial lives  
imbibed deeply as witness 
binding two making one
proclaiming a coming feast 

for sure it smells like breakfast
cooking shoreside gentle fire
cracking fish freshly caught
crackles crisply wafting soothing 
affirmations of value and call 
despite failings and fears 
pointing to loving purpose 

Stayed tuned for more.

Love y’all,


Leading With Love

I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in front of the TV between Christmas and the New Year. I watched more than my fair share of movies, and shows, sometimes mindlessly, sometimes with interest. Obviously, some things were more enjoyable than others. Well, one night I watched the first episode of the Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, and let me tell ya, it was a literal snooze fest. There was one moment of interest though, and a line stuck out to me. Boba Fett, who apparently is some sort of ruler or crime lord or something, and has taken over for Jabba the Hutt who is no longer with us – Long Live Jabba, as the kids say. There was some discussion about this one dude who didn’t bring any sort of tribute to Boba Fett and how Jabba would have killed him on the spot. So Mr. Fett says something along the lines of Jabba ruled by causing fear, I intend to rule by getting respect. I don’t know how it ends for good ole Bobba Fett, I really don’t even care how it goes (snoring noises). But it got me thinking about how we lead and are led. What ways are effective but harmful? Shouldn’t leadership be more about the good of those being led than the power of those leading? 

Historically, lots of leaders have ruled with cruelty and the threat of punishment. It is somewhat effective, until it creates revolt, and rightful rebellion. And in reality this is oppression not leadership. By contrast, some leaders desire for their people to recognize their honor, and expect to be followed out of respect for who they are. This creates a sense of duty in those who follow, but rarely a sense of true devotion. Neither of these ways of ruling take into account the good of the group, they seek only to hold onto power through heavy handedness or manipulation. What kind of following could be inspired if leaders led with love and delight? With concern for those who are actually under their care? Would it make a difference in the way people followed? Would it affect the overall health and wholeness of those being led? I suspect the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes. 

Ok so maybe in the crime lord biz, fear is a super important motivator. And I’ll grant that in the political and government world, and even in the business world, honor and respect wouldn’t be a terrible reason to follow someone. But in the church, delight and love might be a more appropriate stance for those who lead. We do after all follow a God who is love, a God who delights in His creation. 

I’ve lived the Christian life absorbing different messages from those who were leading, whether intentional or not they affected the way I followed Jesus. These messages took truths about God, about His character and taught us how we should live, but for me they ended up being caricatures of the character and Kingdom of God. One such message was: God is Holy and you are not, so follow Jesus or there will be hell to pay. I’ve often lived under this message of fear, scared to death. It’s a pretty good behavior modifier to be sure. Until it just isn’t, because the self wants what it wants.

Another similar message is God is Holy and worthy of worship so out of duty you owe Him a life respectful obedience. I’ve also tried to live out this duty/respect angle. God is worthy of my worship to be sure, He is to be respected, and honored because of who He is. My sense of duty is strong, so for me this is a fairly effective pull. But it can feel like an oppressive and empty hearted way to live. And duty is a weak motivator when the path is difficult or costly. 

Now these views of God aren’t wrong per se. But I feel like the focus is off somehow. They seem to miss the mark of how God presents Himself and leads us. They miss the fullness of the gospel, by presenting disordered and disproportional doctrines of fear and duty, while missing the love and delight of God 

These caricatures of the Lord cause me to struggle, even now, to trust that God loves me, much less delights in me. I believe this is one of the saddest struggles I face. This lack of ability to picture the God who is, this God who rules and leads from a posture of unfailing love and pure delight. My imagination has been stifled by cold teaching of doctrines that emphasizes the bad news in such a way that the good news of the gospel has been drowned out for me practically. First and with great vigor, being taught of my brokenness and sinfulness, God’s desire for relationship, His eagerness to forgive and extend mercy takes a back seat. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure leaders in the church think this is a good way to call for repentance and encourage obedience and holy living. But I’m learning that isn’t where God starts, God starts with Himself, His kindness and love proclaimed through the creation of beauty and goodness in the universe. He then moves to the establishment of personal fellowship and relational purpose with those that bear the imprint of His image. 

Far too often when I imagine the Lord’s heart towards me, it is a heart that is disappointed and begrudgingly tossing a crumb of grace over His shoulder, or even a heart fighting the urge to just wipe me out altogether. A more appropriate, true picture might be to envision His face turned toward me, the corners of His eyes wrinkled by a loving smile of delight, and a heart inviting me to walk with Him in His garden bursting forth with life and beauty, to know and be known. 

Now listen, I’m not advocating for a tossing out of doctrines that teach us about the sinfulness of man and our need for redemption. But perhaps a better way of leadership in the church is to lead with God’s love and delight. To begin with His character that is doing all things necessary to redeem what has been broken. To highlight and reflect His heart that delights in practicing steadfast love, and justice, and righteousness (Jer. 9:24). To model lives of walking humbly with God in His call to do justice and love kindness (Micah 6:8), because His kindness is what leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4). To disciple with the truth that the Lord is near, He is mighty to save, and He rejoices over His people by singing a song of love and gladness (Zeph 3:17). To preach without reservation or qualification that God so loved the world that He sent His Beloved Son, not to condemn, but to die and give eternal life (John 3:16-17). 

My prayer for myself and for each of us is that we would be led and lead with a deep and abiding love for the God who is love. And that we would be characterized by delight in Him, as well as delight in the people and creation and actions that delight Him. 

Love y’all,


p. s. Here’s a piece of poetry I wrote as I was thinking about our struggle to treat others with compassion and grace, and how it might be connected to our struggle to view ourselves as God does – could it be that the doctrines we are emphasizing affecting our ability to lead with love?

true worth

why do we struggle to view

our fellow image bearers with grace

diminishing the worth of their souls

in misguided hopes of adding

to the weightiness of our own

we see them as other to be pushed away

we see them as wrongness to be corrected 

we see them as opposition to be conquered 

we see them as stupidity to be mocked

we see them as threats to be squashed 

we see them as doubters to be devoured 

perhaps connected is our struggle to view 

the self as bearer of the image divine

in disordered focus of doctrine 

the bad news drowns out the good 

leaving us doubting our soul’s worth

we feel separated instead of brought near 

we feel deep shame instead of conviction 

we feel shutout instead of pursued  

we feel exposed instead of sheltered 

we feel our lack instead of His abundance

we feel so broken instead of beloved 

i wonder if He sits on high and whispers 

oh child can you not feel My delight


From time to time my kids beg for a dog. I love dogs. Really, I do. It’s just that I’ve been selfishly avoiding the added responsibility of keeping another thing alive. So basically, I love the idea of having a dog, but I’ve got commitment issues. The truth is my childhood pets carved deeply engrained memories of happiness into my heart. Our first family dog was named Tiger, a stray who wandered up and became part of our family. He existed in the olden days when pets were allowed to live outside. Tiger roamed the neighborhood freely, following us kids wherever we went. He was the absolute best, loyal and gentle and fast as lightning. We proudly claimed he was the speediest dog in all the hood, able to keep up with any car he chased around the block. Legend had it he was part wolf. In reality, he looked more like a midsize version of a black Irish Setter.

I have a vivid memory of Tiger and another dog circling each other in the front driveway. Teeth bared, hackles raised, growling and sizing each other up. I was no older than 5 or 6, and so I thought I could de-escalate the situation by placing a reassuring hand on the other dog. Now reader, just as telling an angry woman to calm down has never in the history of ever helped that angry woman calm down, this did not de-escalate the situation. I reached out to pet the unfamiliar dog, placing my hand on his back. That angry dog, absorbed in asserting his dominance in the presence of Tiger’s territorial aggression, promptly turned and sunk his teeth into my tiny palm.

By some miracle, I was not and am not afraid of dogs as a result of this incident. Do I have a healthy caution when encountering large unfamiliar dogs? Sure. Do I understand that it’s not a good idea to approach an angry dog in order to snuggle? Yep, I do now. Do I often run through scenarios in my brain as I am running about what to do if I encounter a dog chasing me in attack mode? You betcha. Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I’m an enneagram 6, and I habitually plan for worst case scenarios. But, I still love *other people’s* dogs, and am not characterized by fear of them. Thankfully, I was able to use my understanding of what happened and my continued positive experience with dogs, who were not about to jump each other, to keep this frightening experience from developing into an unhealthy fear. 

I had a recent conversation with a friend about whether certain feelings are “bad” and whether we are wrong just for having them. We were discussing how I have gone through life seeing anger as only negative and to be avoided and not expressed at all. This has been an unhealthy and unhelpful view that I am now working through. She has seen anxiety in the same way, viewing it as only negative, a feeling we should not ever have. She experiences anger as useful and helpful in bringing about change and solutions to problems, but anxiety as holding zero productive value. Now she was thinking of anxiety more in terms of a steady state of being, seeing living in anxiety as a wrong and unfruitful way to live. I was defining anxiety in a different way, attempting to argue the point that anxiety, like anger, or fear, or any emotion really, is our body’s natural, physical response to certain circumstances, and when paid attention to can help us know how to move in response to whatever is going on. It’s not something that we can prevent, what matters is what we do with it. I fumbled around in my unconvincing explanation, but I think we got closer together in our understanding.

After our conversation I continued to think through things and remembered my therapist talking to me about how I metabolize my feelings. This word metabolize was a very helpful cue for me. It’s opening my eyes to the truth that denying or hiding emotions, stuffing them down and ignoring them, was and is unhelpful and unhealthy. In hopes of living a more embodied and integrated life of faith, I’m beginning the practice of encountering my emotions in ways that help me process or metabolize them.

Think with me about this word metabolism. If you’re like me, it conjures up thoughts of how our bodies deal with the food we ingest and how we burn calories. Metabolism is about taking a thing and breaking it down into useful parts. Separating something big into smaller pieces, in order to sift out the parts we can use from the parts that are unhelpful or harmful or unusable. All in order to help us move forward, to have what is necessary to function in the world. 

Emotions and feelings are a God given function of our physical bodies. They are the natural way our bodies react to circumstances we experience here and now, taking into account our past experiences and the stories they tell. They help us navigate what is going on and move us into our future. It is in our best interest to be mindful, to pay attention, to be curious, to metabolize what we feel.

Every emotion we have, every feeling we experience, every bodily manifestation of stress or joy or sadness or wonder is an invitation to encounter the God who has His eye on us. He is there to listen and help us break down what we are experiencing so that it isn’t left there to fester or weigh us down or block the passage of other feelings and emotions. He is there to help us explore, when we are ready, what’s underneath and behind. He longs to sit with us through the invasive why’s and how’s of our emotional responses to our circumstances. Not that everything is meant only to be a lesson, but everything is an opportunity to turn towards a perfectly attuned God. Just look at the Psalms, God has swung the door wide open and said “Come in. Sit with me. Tell me what’s going on inside of you. I’m here to listen, with my eyes and my heart on you. I can take your anger and your joy, your anxious worry and your exuberant hope. Your emotions are not too much for Me.” 

We are made for relationship, and our emotions are opportunities to enter into that for which we have been made. They are God’s way of inviting us into fellowship, with Himself and others. The way God created us to palpably experience emotions in our bodies, with a need to process them in the safe presence of another, draws us towards participating in relationship. We have an invitation to metabolize what we feel through relating in our emotions, not apart from them. To break down what we are feeling. To question why this bodily response was elicited. To risk naming. To courageously look at what’s underneath. To encounter the vulnerability of receiving empathy.

All of this, either in honest prayer with our compassionate embodied Lord, or in the loving presence of a safe and trusted other, helps us to recognize what is happening within us and what that means for how we live now and moving forward. Every experience of emotion is a call to move closer to Jesus through the careful process of metabolizing what is happening inside. Relationship is key to this process. Without relationship, our ability to use our emotions and feelings to move forward in health and wholeness is stifled.

It may sound silly, but my relationships, both with Tiger and adults who could attune to my right and natural anxiety, helped me metabolize the pain and fear of the dog bite incident. My experience of continued devotion and gentleness from Tiger, and a breaking down of the story of why I got bit, helped me to move into a future that was not characterized by fear and anxiety, at least when it came to dogs. This is a small but profound reflection of how Jesus calls us to live in relationship with Him. 

My prayer for each of us is that we would see our emotions as opportunities to draw close to Jesus and each other. To not spiritually by-pass them, or deny them, or ignore them. But instead to engage them with curiosity and compassion in the presence of Jesus and each other. All so that we can break those emotions down into the fuel that compels us into a more embodied walk of faithfulness to the One who invites us into deep relationship. 

Love y’all,