a new thing.

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my shirt reads, I BELONG TO JESUS.

it feels like the most obvious statement i could make. i belong to Jesus. of course i do. i always have. i cannot think of a single moment in my life where i didn't understand this to be true.

but here i am, literally wearing this statement across my chest, getting baptized. again.

again? yes, again.

the first time i got baptized, i was 19. nine years later, i'm circling back around to it.


i used to think faith was linear. that you hit different milestones like rungs on a ladder.

getting saved would be like stepping on the ladder. you move up when you get baptized, when you get filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, when you beat an addiction, when you go through a hard time and come out on the other side still believing God is good. whatever it is, you advance. you move forward. to go back would be unnecessary, maybe even counter-productive.

i was always getting tangled up in this thought process.

i carried a bit of pride for the advances i'd made and would think things like, "i know that" or "i did that." like i was beyond that.
on the flip side, i wore a thin layer of shame for each time i had a new revelation. i would wonder out loud, "why am i just now realizing this? it feels so obvious."

but here is the thing. faith is not linear. the truth is not something you learn once and then move past, on to the next thing. there is no next thing. there is just the truth.

I BELONG TO JESUS.


when i got baptized the first time, i did it because i understood what it was and why a person should do it and i was taking that next step in my faith. at the time, it felt important. and it was. but it was purely symbolic – being buried with my sin; being raised to life in Christ. because He died, for real, so that i wouldn't have to. so that my act could be a symbolic one, in water, to publicly declare my faith.

i knew its importance. i did the thing. i belonged to Jesus. see?

but my faith was thin and frail and shakable. and yet, still enough.

but throughout the past three years, God has been breaking down my linear thought process and taking me in circles. around and around the truth, adding a little bit more weight to my faith each time. i've said "i already know this," "i've already done this," "i thought i was past this," and – my favorite – "how am i just now realizing this?" over and over. i've had to say goodbye, i've had to walk away, and i've had to let go. of things i was happy to part with, and things that felt like they took pieces of my heart with them. things that were toxic, and things i loved – which were, more often than not, the same thing. again and again.

until there was nothing left. until my hands were empty. until it was just me and my praise and the truth.

the truth, which i kept picking up and thinking, "okay, and what else?" or "okay, and what about [this thing i think is also important]?"

but there is no "and." it's Jesus. only Jesus. that's the thing. the same thing. the obvious thing. but it's a weighty thing. keep circling back to it.

I BELONG TO JESUS.


when i got baptized this time, it was for the same reasons, except it carried more weight.

this time, i can name the things that are left, dead in the water. the things that i've given up, broken off and carved out of me.

this time, i have not only been raised to life in Christ, but i'm stepping in that authority. into that freedom. i not only know what i was saved from, but what i was saved for.

this time, i wanted to let you know. I BELONG TO JESUS.

and it may sound like the same, old thing. an obvious thing. an i-already-know-that thing.

but He is doing a new thing. and i want in.

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charlotte | the best of both worlds.

this weekend seems like a blur. partly because my whole life does right now (how is it almost june??) and partly because i had a sinus infection that hit its peak while i was visiting. on mother's day, in particular.

also partly because i took like, six photos. (and, unless there's a photo reminding me that it happened, i probably won't remember that it did.)

anyway, i arrived on friday, just before dinnertime.

saturday was a full day of soccer in the morning, live streaming abby's graduation in time to see her walk across the stage (!!), and then helping T with a project she's been working on until it was time to go to church.

which, let me just hit pause on our weekend for a second. because one of my favorite things about charlotte – about having family there, visiting so frequently, the city in general – is elevation church.

usually, i keep the conversation focused on my family and how grateful i am that it worked out this way, that T and lee ended up in a place so easily accessible, that my parents followed (and J & A soon, too!). it's never lost on me how blessed i am that i get to have the best of both worlds, that i get to live my life in nashville and also pop over to charlotte once a month to see (most of) my family and watch my nephews grow up. i am in awe of how God worked out those details, solving problems before i even knew they existed.

what i talk about way less frequently is how incredible it is that they ended up in this place, where i have the opportunity to regularly worship at my two favorite churches (the belonging co, in nashville, and elevation church, in charlotte). maybe it's because i've always thought of it as more of a perk of having family in charlotte than one of the divine details of how it all worked out, but i've only just recently realized how much i truly have the best of both worlds – in my family life, and in my church life.

looking back, five or six years ago, i had no idea how much i would need this exact arrangement.

 cleaning crew. (sweeping and mopping with jack reminds me of lawn mowing and leaf blowing with luca, when he was this age.)

cleaning crew. (sweeping and mopping with jack reminds me of lawn mowing and leaf blowing with luca, when he was this age.)

i spent the night at my parents' house on saturday night, as i usually do when i'm in town for mother's day, because i know my mom likes having me there.

we enjoyed a slow morning, with coffee and chocolate covered strawberries and good conversation, and then we all went back to T's to spend the day.

as i mentioned, i don't really remember what happened this day, as i was mostly focused on how to make my face stop hurting. i do remember we had steak for lunch, which is not the greatest option when your sinus pressure is causing teeth and jaw pain.

i survived.

on monday, i was feeling much better as we carried on with pretty typical day-to-day, monday activities.

on monday night, T and lee went to a meeting at luca's new school, so i got to babysit.

luca likes to play "earth II," which involves him reenacting scenes from ...you guessed it, planet earth II, which you can watch on netflix. he has each episode memorized and will list them all out for you to pick which one you want him to do.

here is what happens: you sit in the black chair and watch as he acts out different scenes, moving his body around on all fours (in a way only a 4.5 year old can), climbing on the ottoman and couch, jumping off the ottoman and couch, making the animal noises, and also narrating with an accent like the narrator on the show has.

(also, this doesn't stop in the living room. when he's strapped into his seat in the car, he'll request from the backseat a particular song from the soundtrack, which he also has memorized – and can even tell you approximately in which order the songs go in.)

this is what we did on the night i babysat. jack (who was so tired – tired enough to sit still for an entire half hour) and i sat in the black chair and watched luca play.

later, luca would ask me to have a home date after jack went to bed and i obviously said yes to that, even if it was getting late. we drew hearts on construction paper, wrote our names, and then swapped papers so he has my heart and i have his. we've been on a lot of dates (many of which involved donuts), but this one might be my favorite of them all.

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i drove home on tuesday. always tuesday, so i can be back in time for church.

it's the best.

dancing in the deep.

i have always loved the bible story where peter walks on water because it seemed like such a fun and adventurous thing to do with Jesus. it was a miracle unlike the rest because it wasn't fulfilling a need, like multiplying bread and fish to feed the hungry or healing the sick or even turning water into wine. it was just peter, leaning in, and saying to Jesus, "if that's You out there, then i can do it with You. invite me out." in all my visions of what it would've been like, had it been me instead of peter, i always keep my eyes on Jesus. if you have enough faith and boldness to step out, i thought, then how do you not have enough faith to stay on top of the water once you're out there?

the story is told in matthew 14, but as i read each version (in mark and john) about what happened that night/early morning, i couldn't help but see how much it also tells the story of my real life in this season. it's common to call this type of waiting a 'wilderness season,' but i think it's more accurately described as 'walking on water.' which is not as much fun as i always imagined it would be. it's more of a terrifying kind of thrill, if i'm being honest.


i first stepped out of the boat in september of 2015, when i left my comfortable and secure full time job. although, looking back, i would say it was more of a dysfunctional comfort and false security. i was in a boat, in the middle of the sea, a few miles of course, and straining to row. in the midst of the wind and the waves, i spotted Jesus. like peter, i wasn't looking for Him to come closer, but for an invitation to step out. i had been singing songs like "oceans," which always feel like prayers as much as they are worship.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
let me walk upon the waters
wherever You would call me
take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
 

Jesus said the same thing to me that He said to peter. "come." that's the thing about telling Him you'll go – He always replies back with, "okay then, let's go." so i quit my job and stepped out.

it wasn't until a month later, that i first called it was it was. i sent my mom an email, continuing a conversation we'd had on facetime, explaining that i didn't know how i would pay my upcoming bills, but that i wasn't asking for help because i didn't think i needed it. i had quit my job, but i still hadn't gotten another one (not for lack of trying), but somehow small jobs kept coming out of nowhere and adding together to provide what i needed.

"it sort of feels like i have the opportunity to see what it's like to walk on water," i wrote. "i don't know what i'm doing, or what i'm supposed to be doing, or how i'm going to pay my bills. but God promises i won't drown, so He has to show up."

i went on to say that her offer to help me felt like her coming up next to me in a boat and asking me to get in. let me help you. let me protect you. let me save you. i remember holding my breath as i typed the words, "i don't want to get in your boat." because, as much as i loved and appreciated her willingness to help me, i felt like God was telling me, "this is it." but, quite honestly, "it" looked a lot like nothing.

the thing i'd never noticed about the story of peter walking on water is that it was in the midst of a storm. the same winds that had caused them to struggle and veer of course were the same winds that caught peter's attention out on the water. it wasn't just an isolated gust of wind that caused him to doubt, as i'd always imagined it to be. (listen, i always pictured it to be daytime too, completely ignoring the clear details written in scripture, so. i don't know what i was thinking either.) but that changes everything, doesn't it? i mean, i'm going to be honest, i don't know that i would have even stepped out of the boat if i were peter, let alone remained focused enough not to sink.

when i found myself sinking in march of 2016, there was no confusion about what was happening. i had stepped out of the boat, but i wasn't walking on water. i was treading water, and i was exhausted. Jesus wasn't letting me drown, because of course He wasn't, but He was asking, "you of little faith, why do you doubt?"

i've written about this before, about march, but i eventually hit a point where i had to face that question. why do i doubt? do i trust God and believe Him to be who He says He is, or do i not? it feels elementary, on paper. and i think most people skim right over it because the obvious answer is yes. and yet, when you're in the deep and you're sinking, it doesn't matter what you say. the fact that you're sinking means you're lacking faith and there's no pretending anymore.

after that, my whole situation changed because i chose to completely let go and really believe that God is who He says He is, even if nothing looked like i thought it should. i got a job. and when that one ended, i got another one without even trying. and i thought that was it. but i should've known better, after singing a new song.

set my feet upon the sea
'til i'm dancing in the deep


here i am, two years later, in a parallel season. just like what happened in 2016, i finished out the year before on a christmas tour, and i went home for a few weeks without knowing what the new year might bring, but confident that something would come. after a busy season at the end of the year, it felt like things were finally moving. and yet, the new year isn't unfolding like i thought it would. things have come, but nothing that allows me to see more than a couple days (sometimes weeks) in advance.

i am now, as i was in 2016, what you might call a "freelance" nanny. in quotes, for the way nannies are generally known for their consistent work with the same family. i work with the same handful of families, but the work is as-needed and very much inconsistent. sometimes i'm on tour with musician parents and their babies. sometimes i'm babysitting for toddlers who are too sick to be sent to daycare. sometimes i'm nannying for parents who have temporary jobs. sometimes i'm babysitting for parents who need a date night. it all depends on the day.

the winds didn't die down until Jesus and peter got in the boat, and i can tell you the winds in my life haven't died down either. it's hard. it's exhausting. and i'm tired. i'm ready to be done. watching God move in my life every day is awesome, don't get me wrong. but getting a miracle requires needing a miracle, and needing a miracle means you're in an unfortunate situation, which is uncomfortable.

but the difference between now and two years ago is that i'm not sinking. i'm not afraid. i'm not paying attention to the winds, to the voices that tell me i should be making different or "more responsible" choices. and i'm not saying things like "God has to show up;" i'm declaring the truth that He is already here.

i'm not trying to walk on water; i'm doing it. and i will keep going 'til i'm dancing in the deep.


i know this won't last forever. they get in the boat. the winds die down. and they get where they're going. in fact, john 6:21 says that when Jesus got in the boat with them, "immediately the boat was at the land where they were going." immediately.

i don't exactly know where i'm going, but i know that when we're done having our deep sea dance party, it won't be long.

e a s t e r | 2 0 1 8

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this is easter, twenty eighteen.

luca is 4.5, jack is 1.5

the photo struggle was real this year, since jack is old enough to know what he doesn't want and walk away but still too young to understand what it means to cooperate – that the sooner you do, the sooner it's done – even with a bribe.

luca was happily sitting as close to me as he could possibly be in our photos, while jack just needed me to move my arm and not be touching him at all. luca didn't need treat bribes this year, but that's what jack's looking at. he would stand there, in the frame, but he needed a bunny snack and for me to not get too close. we have many hilarious versions of this where you can see him whining and twisting out of my arm. it's always nice to get a good photo, but also – this is what real life looks like. jack and i may be best friends, but that doesn't mean his love language is physical touch. the best photo i got all weekend is that one with me and my OG bff.

the many (many, many) photos of them two together are quite comical. the best one of them all involved a lot of cropping out moving hands and feet, but look at their faces! i can't get enough of them.

we went to church on saturday night, which freed up sunday for all the easter festivities at my parents' house.

like the easter egg hunt.

and dying eggs.

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and, of course, a photo shoot.

the rest of the trip involved trips to the park and picnics and donuts and playing outside with the boys during the day, and the greatest showman and bonfires and late night chats with T and lee at night.