Monday, March 07, 2022

For Over Two Years Now


I’ve wanted to write something to express my thoughts

for over two years now.

For over two years now,

I can’t fully express how,

but every time I’ve tried,

I’ve either felt too much all at once,

or nothing at all.

Nothing at all; a blank page.

I fail to beautifully articulate the ache and the quiet rage.

But it’s not beautiful, is it?

When a new year starts with a goodbye…

when pandemics and protests arise…

In the disconnect, I start to question,

“Am I actually awake?”

Surely, this is a dream.

Yes, a dream.

Programmed to turn it all off,

that’s how I would operate in the current state.

It’s better to just not show up at all

than to show up late.

It’s kept me afloat

for over two years now.

Yet, amidst small waves

or giant floods of recent days,

I’ve been reminded that

I’ve always felt a full range of emotions.

My trouble comes

when I believe it’s all just a dream.

When I let oceans of emotions leave with the tide,

And I don’t really feel what I feel inside,

I’m a bit displaced.

But, then in friend’s embrace,

in a baby’s laugh,

in an injustice served that strikes a nerve,

I remember what brings me joy.

I remember what hurts.

Memories flood,

chiming in my mind like little alerts

as if to say, “don’t turn this off this time”.

And when I feel it all, I feel most alive.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

A Loss and a Gain

There is a loss and a gain 
amidst sorrow and pain, 
and I haven’t quite figured out 
how to embrace that fact. 
I had one who encouraged me, 
always on my side, 
one who built me up when my faith lacked. 
It is such a strange thought to sit with,
as the heart and the mind try to put back the pieces 
that only a deep love can fill. 
On one hand, we count the blessings, 
we rejoice in the complete healing, 
and in the Glory that our dearly loved is now surrounded by. 
On the other hand, we wish they were with us still, 
and we even question, "why?"
There is a loss and a gain amidst sorrow and pain, 
and I haven’t figured out 
how to embrace them both yet. 
It’s as if something is missing, 
as I sit in a crowded room, 
and then I realize that it’s the one who 
brought the whole room together in the first place. 
I have to rejoice in the completed race; 
in the kept faith. 
Yet, someone is missing.
Someone is missing as we are all gathered around. 
What’s left now is a legacy. 
What’s left is a call to be kind, to love well, 
and to see the beauty in this world while we’re in it. 
There’s a loss and a gain, 
and I think I can accept them both, 
if you will just give me a minute. 
I fumble for words, but I know this is true- 
we only have so much time on this earth. 
When I ask myself, “what is it worth?”, 
I wonder if my actions will echo into eternity. 
I wonder if my grandma thought the same 
each time she shared the love of Christ 
to a child sitting on her knee. 
There’s a loss and a gain amidst sorrow and pain, 
and I have to rejoice in a life well lived. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Chasing Sunsets

The sunset last night was beautiful! Also, I turned 30 yesterday, and I'm not going to lie, I felt like the sky was a special gift just for me. I was on my way to run some errands before meeting up with friends for dinner, and as I backed out of the driveway, my eyes could not believe the colors that glowed across the sky. We're talking vibrant shades of pink, orange, and even some was amazing! Something came over me, and all I wanted to do was soak up the beauty of it all. I knew the colors would fade quickly, and that if I was going to enjoy the full display, I would need to get somewhere out in the open, where parts of the sky weren't blocked by a towering army of East Texas pine trees. 

I can't really explain why I felt such an urgency to chase the sunset, but suddenly the errands that I needed to run didn't feel important, and I just drove like my life depended on it. I drove from one side of town to the other, and it was amazing just how quickly the sky changed by the time I reached that open field. The sun was quickly going down, and the vibrant colors were going down with it. Also, I parked my car at the entrance to someone's property, and then got out and ran, yes, ran alongside a ditch for several yards in my cute heeled winter booties, only rolling my ankle a couple of times in the process. I literally chased after the sunset. I wanted to get the best view, and let's be honest, the best picture, where no power lines, trees, or buildings were in the way. I wished that I could've gotten there quicker. I wished that time would freeze, so that I could have more time to just delight in what had been painted across the sky. 

I stood there for a minute, wondering if the cars passing behind me thought that I was crazy. I'm wondering in this moment if anybody reading this will think I'm crazy, or too cliche, or that I should really find more hobbies to invest my time on, but I also feel like I gained something on my 30th birthday....some perspective, some hope, some reminder of the pure beauty all around us. I hope that my 30s are filled with more opportunities for chasing sunsets, and I hope that I do choose to chase them. There's no denying that the sun rises, and the sun goes down every day... I hope that in my 30s, I will stop often and long enough to see the beauty in each day. 

Time is such a strange thing. In some moments, in the thick of life, it can seem like time has frozen, the days just drag on and on, and I wish things would speed up a bit. In other moments, I'm left wishing that time would stand still, or at least slow down a little. If I've learned anything in my time on this planet, it's that we are only given so much time. The sun will set. The sun will go down. It was during that short time of standing and staring at those bright and beautiful colors in the sky that I was reminded what a gift this life is. Maybe, you have some literal or figurative sunsets that you're chasing after? Maybe, we can join together to acknowledge what's worth chasing after, and take time to really see the beauty of it? 

Monday, December 17, 2018

"Home Sweet Home"

"Home Sweet Home"- I have struggled with this phrase for a solid 10 years.
Whatever the season, I’ve always had a general feeling of “this is not really my home,” 
or “this is just temporary," but after a whirlwind of a weekend spent moving, downsizing, unpacking, and settling in to my small garage apartment, I’m finally pausing to process the words that are printed on the doormat that was left outside my new dwelling place. I’ve already walked across those words too many times to count, trying to ignore how irritating, uncomfortable, and untrue they feel. Home Sweet Home. After much denial, I feel in my heart that it’s time to deal with those words and what they mean for me. 
Maybe someone else needs to deal with what they mean for them as well. 
Who knows?!?

Here’s me diving in. 
I guess I’ve been feeling like I can’t really have a real “home,” and like I haven't been given permission 
to have a “sweet” one. 

Why do I feel like I’m disqualified from the warm wishes of a doormat?

I think the answer lies in the lies that I’ve allowed myself to believe for so many years. Somewhere along the way, I bought the lie that you can only have a sense of “home” if you have a family that you come home to everyday. The lie that plays on repeat is: “If you’re almost 30 and single, you can’t possibly experience the sweetness of home, so just keep on feeling disconnected and unrooted until you’re in a more complete season of life. It’s not worth it to simply embrace where you’re at and make good use of your time there.” 

What crap! Life is happening right now. I've decided that it's okay to long for the things that I don't have in my life, but it's not okay to count myself out of being joyful where I'm at, being grateful for what I have, and embracing the simple sweetness of things like having a roof over my head and an Opal House pom-pom quilt on my bed. Somewhere along the way, I also bought the lie that:"It’s not "home sweet home" if you rent instead of own the place where you reside."

This idea that “it’s just a rental. It’s temporary” has kept me from allowing myself to enjoy the sweetness of where I am. Who really even cares if you rent, own, live with family, sleep on a friend’s couch, have outdated green carpet, hook up your rv in a different spot each week, or somehow find yourself moving for the 6th time in 10 years!?! 

Another cliche phrase- “Home is where the heart is.” I’m now choosing to buy into that.
I’ve lived in a lot of different places- some with roommates, some on my own, and I’ve spent too long feeling bitter, and less than, and envious of others because their home appeared to be a certain level of homier than mine. With the new year approaching, I’m striving to embrace reality more and more, and by that I mean, the actual reality-- not the one that society and I have created and dug our heels into.

Because the reality is that my outlook on things will either hold me back, push me forward, or make me freeze as I stop and stare in comparison at my neighbors, friends, and family. As I type this in a cozy corner of my new place, I’m reminded of many blessings that I’ve received along the way. I have hardly any memories here yet. I'm not sure how long this will be my home, but it's the same for every living, breathing person on the planet. Our time here is temporary, so for now, I'll choose to really live in my home sweet home.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


A yearning desire that overwhelms the soul,
a begging for something more,
the missing piece to the puzzle that makes it whole.
Measured by an aching deep inside the bones,
or a hunger within that is never completely satisfied,
it's as though the sustenance simply sustains but never seems to ease
the discomfort of a stomach that groans and groans.
It's an appetite for more than what already exists,
and an eagerness for that which hasn't come to be.
It's a vision for what lies in the distance,
and the craving to bring it into view
where the details are clear and plain to see.
It's the reaching out for a hand to hold, but all you grasp is air.
It's the yearning for better days ahead that keeps you from despair.
An unsettling feeling of "if only", and a determination to just hold on,
we all feel a great sense of longing for what we had and what is gone.
We long for that which we've never had- it's the stuff that fills our dreams.
It's a hope that tomorrow is really brighter than it seems.
We long for grace and to see the face of the One who calms our every anxious thought.
We long for peace, and rest, and a sense that we truly belong
even when we feel like we do not.
With me in my longing, oh, Satisfier of my every need,
help me trust that you hold my life in your hand as I follow where You lead.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Called By Name

I stopped by Walgreens during my lunch hour yesterday, because where else in the world can you buy a pack of 8 soft-baked cookies for $1? Anyways, as I finished checking out, the cashier, a middle-age woman named Kathy, handed me my receipt and kindly said, “Thank you, Amanda.”

It was the simplest gesture, but it took me by surprise, rendering me frozen for what was most certainly, and most awkwardly, too long. “She knows my name,” I thought, as I stood there not taking the receipt from this woman. Forgetting that my name and information would have flashed upon her screen after I swiped my debit card to pay for the aforementioned $1 cookies, it really was a sweet moment that I have continued to think about. I’m sure that Kathy probably thanks all of her customers by name, but there was a sincerity about her that truly made me feel like a unique individual and not just another customer in line. 

When I got back to my office, I made a conscious effort to learn the names of the students and prospective students who stopped by the One Stop Center. Not that I wanted to conduct an experiment (I definitely wanted to conduct an experiment) to see how differently people respond when they feel known by their actual name instead of the labels that we assign to them, but the results were amazing. I’m convinced that there’s something great that happens whenever we slow down enough to make connections with those that we interact with. I’m also convinced that even more than most of the things that people want in life, a sense of being known and seen ranks high.

We could all just take this as a lesson on good customer service and move on, but I can’t help but be reminded that someone else knows my name. Someone else knows your name. Someone else knows the name of the man who sits alone under an overpass in the heat of the summer. Someone else knows the name of the girl who has been treated badly for years, being called many names, but never her own. Someone else knows the name of the child who waits for the day that they can answer to another name as “son” or “daughter.” Someone else knows the name of the bully at school, the grown-up version of the bully at school, the world’s cruelest criminal, your sweet grandmother, your neighbor who’s name you don’t even know, your cashier at Walgreens, and the name of every human being who has ever lived or will live in this world. The God of the universe knows my name. He knows my name!

Scripture tells us that God knew us before we were ever formed. It is mentioned in various places how He calls us by name and how we are His. Even more, He knows literally everything about us, even the things that we don’t know yet, and He still desires for us to reside within His presence moment by moment, every single day. What an incomprehensible devotion! When I consider how He knows my name, it becomes easier to lose the made up names that I give myself and the ones that the world gives me. Being made in His image, in the image of a God who calls me by name, I can replace all of the untrue names that have been assigned to me with ones that He has given me. I can take on names like Victorious, Redeemed, Blessed, Chosen, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Overcomer, Loved, and Precious In His Sight. So, when Satan, The Father of Lies, tries to distance us from God, The Father of Light, by stealing our confidence and replacing our God-given names with names like- Failure, Not Good Enough, Unredeemable, Rejected, Ugly…the list goes on, it’s important to remember that He is literally full of it. 

The Ultimate Accuser might constantly make it hard for us to live in The Light, but he won’t win. My God has already taken care of that. How sweet it is to be known, called, and treasured by a God who fights for us consistently and constantly! May we all seek to make connections and genuinely know the people around us by name in such a way that our interactions reflect back to The Name Above All Names.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Response To His Victory

Throw off your cardigans and coats.
Throw them onto the streets.
Cut the freshest of palm branches from the nearest of trees.
Roll out a soft carpet of your clothes and leaves.
Prepare a cushioned path to greet Him.
Stand in line to meet Him.
It's no red carpet, but I'll do what I can.
"Hosanna," we'll all shout to honor the Son of Man!
A triumphant entrance from The King of The World,
the very same One who would be bruised and beaten,
and mocked as insults were hurled.
The sky turns from light to a darkness unexplainable
as my Savior, the ultimate propitiation and forgiver of my sinful situation,
takes your place, takes my place;
takes the very fate of the entire world,
making life eternal attainable.
What a notion!
Suddenly it becomes clear
what is meant by His kingdom,
and by His kingdom here.
And now The Author and Perfector asks me,
imperfect me, to authenticate my devotion
as I consider how He loves with so much more than emotion.
Complete devotion He gave and gave;
caused quite a commotion when in three days He left that grave,
and now He sits enthroned, and all glory belongs to Him alone.
Throw off your guilt and shame.
Throw off the cloak of sin that entangles and holds you back.
It's like a straightjacket.
Embrace the power of a conquering Christ.
Whatever you need, He doesn't lack it.
A triumphant victory like no other; He beckons me
to lay down a path before Him
as I greet Him with an expression of gratitude and praise.
No greater love have I ever known.
I will honor Him for all of my days.