Tag Archives: faith

an open letter

To Christian parents, mentors, therapists, teachers, and well-meaning friends of people who struggle with mental illness: you don’t have to make every single conversation with your depressed loved one circle back to God. Sometimes it’s important to leave those conversations for another day, or leave them altogether. Sometimes all the other person really needs is a kind, understanding word, a hug, or just your quiet presence as you silently let them know you’re there for them. With all the things spiraling in the mind of a mentally ill person, it often only adds to the guilt and confusion and frustration to have someone you care about be able to do nothing other than talk about how God is the answer to everything.

Because while, yes, He is the answer, it’s not YOUR job to tell them that. It’s not your job to make them feel God’s presence or to convince them that God’s love is the only thing that matters. Because sometimes a hurting person needs to be told that their pain MATTERS, regardless of whether or not God works that pain for good. It’s your job to simply love them. Because sometimes they need to know that YOU love them, because you are what’s right in front of them.

I know you mean well, and I know you think it’s necessary to connect EVERY little thing to religion, and I know you may even question my own faith for saying this, but frankly, you gotta let it go. You over-harp on the one thing you know, and never consider that there are other components to someone getting healthier. The fact that YOU don’t have any other coping mechanisms for struggles in your arsenal is NOT an excuse to guilt trip someone else with constant talk of God. Seriously. It’s exhausting. Give it a rest already.


Reblog: I Should Be Engaged.

Duly Noted.

I want to be engaged this year. As of yesterday I’ve been on this earth for more than twenty-three years, and I think it’s about time for me to be engaged.

I’ve been asking people on my Home Team what one word they want to hold true for 2016, and when the question was finally reciprocated by my friend Sanford, I couldn’t come up with anything. I hadn’t found one that quite fit just yet.

I would  say seemingly meaningful words aloud to see if their meanings would hold any significance for what I want this next year to be.

I rustled up words like depth or rest or value and announced them to myself in the car or in the shower or on my walk to work. Nothing was clicking.

Until I drove to Joshua Tree yesterday morning, and that’s when a word so unexpected was whispered into the silence…

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CW7- God is Bigger

this tale is a modern rendition of a well-known and much-loved Bible story. i did take quite a few creative liberties with this one, but hopefully it will become obvious which story it is; if not, read the tag at the bottom. =)

A frosty mid-January wind gushed in as the door slammed shut. Terrance sat by the window, watching his older brothers Nick and Levi jog down the icy sidewalk to catch up to their friends. Every morning the two older boys headed off to the nearby middle-school, while nine-year-old Terrance remained at home to do school with his mom. Having discovered that he had a slight learning impairment, Terrance’s parents had decided to home-school him for a few years. Terrance loved spending time with his mom and getting to do school-work with his dog by his side, but sometimes he wished he could be like his brothers: big, smart, strong, and hanging out with friends every day. The boy used his sleeve to wipe away a fog that he had breathed onto the window and gazed at the now empty street.

Breaking his reverie, Terrance’s mom rushed into the room, holding two brown bags and glancing around.

“Did your brothers take off?” she asked, her eyes resting on her youngest son.

“Yeah,” he answered simply, turning around and letting his feet dangle over the side of the couch.

“Oh great, both of them forgot their lunch, and I’m in no state to run after them, especially in this weather,” she bit her lip in distraction.

Terrance smiled as his eyes shifted to his mom’s penguin dotted PJ’s and pink bunny slippers. “You could drive after them,” the boy suggested, desiring to help in any way he could. “Wait, no, don’t do that!” he exclaimed, his eyes wide with an idea. “I’ll take it to them! I already have on my tennis shoes and jeans, see? And I’ve got my jacket right here.” He ran over to the coat rack and pulled off his jacket from the lowest peg.

His mom watched tenderly as he zipped up his coat; reaching his hands out he said, “Give them to me! I can do it.”

The careful mother hesitated a moment before swiftly deciding. She placed the bags in his hands and a kiss on his head, “I know you can do it. Now, hurry along before it’s too late!”

Terrance gleefully headed out the door and down the porch steps as his mom called, “Be careful on the sidewalk! It could be slippery.”

“I will,” he replied, choosing his hasty steps with caution.

Two minutes later, Terrance neared the school building; as he did so, he beheld a spectacle that alarmed him. A boy considerably bigger than Terrance’s brothers was in the act of beating up and verbally abusing a much smaller boy. To his horror, Terrance saw his own brave brothers standing to the side, doing nothing. Nobody was doing anything about it. He knew that someone must do something, and  he decided that he would be the one to do it. The small boy trembled as he set down his packages; “Dear Jesus,” he prayed silently, “Mommy says I can do all things through You, so please, give me the strength to do what’s right and face this bully.”

He stepped forward. “Hey,” he said faintly at first, then louder, “hey! Hey you! Leave—leave that boy alone!”

The bully dropped his business and turned his attention to Terrance. “Well, look’ee here,” he mocked, “if it isn’t Nicky and Levi’s stupid little brother. I thought you were supposed to be too wimpy to come to school. So whaddya doing here, huh?”

“I—I came to give my brothers their lunch. And—and you better stop—you better stop being mean.”

“Aw,” the bigger boy jeered, “I better stop—what did you say? “Being mean”? Ha! I better stop or what?”

“Or else,” Terrance glanced momentarily as his brothers, “or else the principle is gonna come get you!” Out of the corner of his eye, Terrance could see Levi turn and sprint into the school building.

“Is that all you got?” the bully laughed derisively, “I’ll show you how to really get at someone.”

As the older boy made his way to Terrance, the young boy staunchly held his ground.  Beginning to relish the prospect of new prey, the bully suddenly heard a voice call out, and he turned around to see Levi dragging an adult along, pointing in his direction, and yelling, “There he is! He’s going to beat up my brother!”

Terrance had never been so grateful for adult intervention in his life. Before long, the bully problem was taken care of, Terrence’s mom had been called, and Terrance was waiting patiently for her to pick him up. When she arrived, she showed no signs of anger or agitation, only concern for her little boy. She ran to him and scooped him up in her arms.

“I heard of what you did just a little while ago,” she said as she squeezed him, “and I’m so proud of you. It sounds like you faced quite a giant.”

“Yes,” Terrance replied calmly, “but he didn’t seem so bad when compared to Someone bigger.”

His mom laughed. “You mean the principle?”

“No,” he said, wrapping his arms around his mother’s neck. “I mean God.”

J4- A Bag Packed in Faith

  Heritage Ministries International (we just call it HMI) has played a huge part in my life for the last several years, even though it only takes place for one month out of the year. i’ve wept, laughed, worshiped, prayed, grown (spiritually and physically), and gone on adventures with these people. i luv y’all.

Every year, my family and several of my friends’ families host Japanese high school students for the month of August. It’s always the highlight of my year! My friends and I have made so many memories and new friendships through this program.

This particular year, 2011, I had been told that I could join the group going to the airport to pick the students up. Oh, joy! That meant spending the night at a friend’s house after church and waking up at 5:30 A.M. on Monday morning for the two hour trip to Los Angeles International Airport; it meant greeting the students as they entered the airport; it meant spending the day talking with and getting to know the students. Well, in the midst of my excitement, I got a phone call saying that there was no seat for me after all.

Bummer. But I was more than sad. Something inside me would not rest; something tugged and pulled at me saying that I was supposed to go to the airport. The incessant feeling grieved me, and I poured my heart out to God. As I prayed, I felt a great calm and peace come over me. Then, something popped into my head and concreted itself there. I found myself unable to erase the thought, “Pack your bag anyway. I will make a way for you to go.” In that moment, I put my trust wholly in Him; supreme joy filled my heart as I realized that I would go, because, by golly, God Himself had said that I would!

On Saturday, I ecstatically packed my bag to spend the following night at my friend’s house and then put it in the car. On the way to church the next morning, I began to ponder who I could talk to about finding a ride. And then it hit me: I wasn’t supposed to do anything to find a way. That was God’s job; that was the whole point! Well, at that moment, I started to feel a little insecure, but I figured that if I had trusted Him this far, I sure better go all the way. Later on, during social time after church, I got a little nervous and felt the urge to ‘negotiate’ with someone for seat. But I held strong, and I trusted that God would yet show the way without my help.

Suddenly, my friend Linnea walked up to me and—having no idea of my predicament – she began to explain, “I’ve decided I won’t carpool since both of my sisters want to go. I’ll just take my own car. We’ll have several extra seats that way.”

I stared at her dumbly before screaming and excitedly telling her that she had just unknowingly answered my prayer. When she heard my story, she almost started to cry.

The following day turned out to be a huge blessing. I started friendships on that day that I still cherish. Most importantly, however, this experience impressed upon my heart and mind the fact that God’s faithfulness will always exceed my own.

CW2- My Hope is in You

A funny thing happened while i wrote the following acrostic poem. i was working on the last few lines of it, sitting on a bench, at 7:00 at night, behind our church building, in the cold and the wind, waiting for my parents’ class to be done. In my ingenuousness, i had not even thought about bringing my jacket. Believe me, it was cold (don’t worry, i eventually moved inside. not that you actually worried). Trying to block myself from the wind, i hunched down over my legs for  a minute. from that position, i saw something shiny on the ground. i picked up what turned out to be a pendant, or charm. i turned it around and read the single word etched on it: “Trust”. i stared at it, then glanced from the pendant to my poem, and back again. i grinned.  Whoa.

Every hope I give to You, O Lord;

Expectations, both big and small, may You mold to Your will.

Let no earthly disappointment cloud my trust in You;

Love from You remedies my confidence after heartbreaks.

In my darkest hour You know the desires of my heart;

If I cry out in distress, I know that you will restore my faith in time.

Zephyrs whirl around me as I trust in Your plans for me.

Zenith above me, ground below me; I believe this is so, just as I believe Your love will always surround me.

All you who are lost put your hope in the Lord, and He will give you peace;

As the disbelief closes in, call out and He will answer.

But do not wait until hope is discouraged!

Beg for His closeness even when life is pleasant, so that your faith is strong at all times.

Even when I despair, O Lord, You will never leave me.

Eagles soar high, never distrusting the wind beneath their wings;

That is how trusting I should be-

To never doubt that Your faithfulness will sustain me.

Here on earth are many trials to crush my faith;

Help me to remember that You are the source of my true hope.


Coming from You alone, O Lord, are my aspirations.

Courage is what I have when I place my trust wholly in You.

All other desires pale in comparison to You!

A song of hope I lift up to the God of heaven.

My heart longs to believe in the Lord;

May I always put my faith in God Almighty.

Please show me Your faithfulness, O God!

Put my disbelief to the side;

Bring me hope in the night.

Blessed are they who rely on Your promises;

Each of them will be fulfilled.

Every day I surrender my heart to You;

Like a close friend You give me reassurance when I need it.

Longing pierces my heart

Like a sharp knife, but You quiet the nervous anticipation in my soul.

Life, strength, and hope are in You, Lord.

J2- The Greatest Treasure

Psalm 119:162 is truly a gem: “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”  God’s Word is a treasure? How wonderful is that! This means that we are to seek Him and His word, the way a treasure-hunter doggedly goes on whatever path necessary in order to achieve the prize. However, His word is not just any treasure- it is the greatest treasure. What other prize tells the history of the Children of God? Where else can you find jewels that promise forgiveness for even the worst of sins?  What glowing gem can show the way to everlasting life? This is what makes the Holy Bible so unique; the life-giving message within cannot be found in any earthly prize, nor can it be found in any man-made religion. It tells the story of grace, and how we as humans can do nothing to obtain that grace; it is a free and eternal gift, straight from the hand of God.  Now, that sounds like treasure worth rejoicing over.