Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

When We’re Waiting in the Top Envelope

Apr
21

Photo: Engin Akyurt

In my living room, next to my favorite bookcase, two envelopes hang on the wall. Nearby is a small stack of notecards. We put our prayers in the top envelope – the little leaf reminds us of hope for the future – and when God answers, we move them to the bottom envelope, our hope having bloomed into joy.

My little prayer corner.

I set this up after reading that Anne Lamott has a box where she keeps her prayers – God’s inbox. I thought this was genius but that we needed an outbox, too, a way to keep track of all the times God has answered – because, if you’re like me, you know how it goes. We pray (and pray and pray) and when God answers, we are grateful. But then, as the storms of life move in and the wind begins to toss us around again, all those filled needs and reassurances fade into the chaos and uncertainty around us. We forget (at least, I forget) how God has shown up for us in the past. How over and over again, when it looks like all is lost, He has come through.

I wonder if Jesus’ friends forgot too, right around this time a couple thousand years ago. The whole world must have looked pretty black this weekend. A Friday that looked anything but good, followed by a Saturday in what must have been utter darkness and despair. For a moment – an agonizing few days – it appeared that the corrupt power systems of this world had won. Goodness and love had taken its last breath and was buried.

Planted.

Just like our envelope prayers. When it has been a lifetime of leaves with what seems like only occasional flowers, too few and far between, and now the whole tree itself looks dead and dry, it can seem impossible that Sunday will ever come. That a dead tree could ever bloom again. That a Man could rise from the dead, resurrecting our hope and faith with Him. The waiting is the excruciating part, when we’re not sure He will come through this time, even if He has countless times before. But may we remember, even in the waiting, even in the not-sure and the not-yet, He is still good.

If you are waiting in the top envelope, hold on. Sunday and flowers are coming. You are not forgotten. You never, ever were, and you can never, ever be. The God of the universe, Maker of oceans and stars, is already whispering to your flowers to go on, unfold. Just wait till you see them. Just you wait.

 

-c

All the Shoes

Sep
26

photo: Tatiana Diakova

I know I haven’t written in a while.

It’s because the events of the past several weeks have been something I haven’t been able to put into words. But I want to try, because there sure is a story in there that God wants to tell.

Let’s start here, because it’s my favorite part: about a month ago, Christopher proposed to me in Amsterdam and we are now ENGAGED!!! Y’ALL. I KNOW. Cue ALL THE HAPPY TEARS! The girl who was always waiting and has always felt unloveable is now the girl who is finally chosen. I still haven’t fully processed it. My heart doesn’t even know what to do with this information. I’m all discombobulated and thrown off, in the very BEST WAY. No words do justice to the amount of care and sweetness and thought and love he put into it, but I’ll still tell you the very best story from my life so far as best I can: (more…)

When You’re Feeling Left Out, Unloved, and Lacking

Jul
30

photo: Tobi Dami

The faces in the photo were overcome with joy, smiling big. Four girls leaning on each other, one in a wedding dress. A ton of Instagram hearts below solidified its status as a joyful memory and a lovely photo. But looking at it made me want to cry.

A little over a year ago, I traveled to Uganda with a group of total strangers. Though none of us knew each other before the trip, and we had nothing in common beyond saying “yes” to flying across the world to serve together, we all quickly bonded over our shared experiences in this new place and became fast friends. We worshipped together, cleaned up a library together, planted fields of grass together, ate together, and danced with girls rescued from trafficking together. We were a team, leaning on and learning from each other, and I flew home to Missouri with a deep hope that, though we were all from different states and places, we would somehow stay connected as friends.

I later learned that several of them had the same idea. A handful of times over the past year since we returned, I have seen photos pop up on social media of several folks from our trip getting together at conferences, events, or just because. It hurts to admit this, but I have never been invited to any of these get-togethers. The first few times, I tried to brush it off as coincidence and not take it personally. Later, I tried to reach out in a positive (not a whiny) way and say things like, “So fun that y’all were able to get together! Let me know for next time – I’d love to see you again!” Once, one of the other girls and I actually did make a plan to get together in her hometown, but she later cancelled on me. No big deal…things happen. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.

I blinked down at this new photo that had just popped up on social media. It was a handful of the girls from the trip celebrating at one’s wedding. It appeared that they all took part in the wedding as her bridesmaids, while I wasn’t even invited at all. To be fair, I fully support her right to have whomever she wants at her wedding. I just didn’t understand why they were all included, and I was left out…again. I thought we were friends, too.

I wish I could say the biggest emotion I felt upon seeing this photo was pure happiness for my friend getting to marry her sweetheart. Instead, tears filled my eyes and my heart cracked open, prayers spilling over. It wasn’t the wedding, it was all of it. All the times I’d been left out by these girls over the past year bubbled up all at once, and all I could do was cry. Lord, I sobbed, I believe you have to be a friend to have a friend. I have prayed over these girls, texted with them in the middle of the night, encouraged them, tried my best. So it really stinking hurts to realize that I have been left out and left hanging these past several months. The only common denominator here seems to be…me. Did I do something wrong? Were we not as close as I thought? Have I not been a good friend to them? Did they just forget about me?  (more…)

Why Grace?

Jul
16

photo: Michael Gaida

Today, I want to talk about grace. I chose it as the name of my blog, my podcast, my little corner of the internet. But I realized recently that I never explained it to you, why it’s so important to me. You see,

Grace changes everything.

A friend of mine once told me a story that illustrates what grace is really well. When my friend was a kid, he loved baseball. Couldn’t get enough of it, played it all the time, basically ate, slept, and breathed baseball. Once, when he was about nine, he was playing in his backyard with some neighborhood friends and accidentally hit one right through his parents’ bedroom window. Eeeesh. He knew he was in big trouble, and his mom confirmed he was going to get it when his dad got home. Knowing his dad, he knew that meant a spanking – probably a big one, with the belt – and having to do some work for his dad for a looooong while in order to pay back his parents for the window. He waited in his room, consumed by his guilt and shame – how could he be so stupid to play facing the house like that? – and full of anxiety and fear leading up to the spanking. By the time his father got home, he was a total nervous wreck. He could hear his dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs, and when his dad opened his bedroom door, he jumped what felt like a foot off his bed. (more…)