Yes Lord. What’s the Question?


The master bedroom in my house is the kind of gorgeous you only see at a retreat center.

A wall of windows. All muted browns and iridescent blues. There’s a remote that raises the curtains so you can look out over the lake. If it was my room, I’d be hard pressed to leave it every morning. I’d probably turn on the fireplace, wrap up in a blanket and just stay for a while.

I spent some time there this morning with my mentorship group. It’s a small group, just the three of us, and we’re pretty close. It’s not unusual for one of us girls to have a small breakdown– to let our tears fall on shoulders and pillows as they will.

Today was no exception.

We prayed over her as she cried, and then listened as she interceded for herself. She’s a passionate woman of prayer, and at one point she said, through sobs–

“I just say “Yes, LORD.””

and then,

“What’s the Question?”


I’m so unwilling to give up control in this way, to say yes without first knowing what He wants of me. I am so unwilling to say the quiet, the unrestrained yes, without reading the contract all the way through, into the fine print. I want to know every angle. I want to understand every clause.

But Jesus doesn’t work that way. And the thing is, He shouldn’t have too.

What more do I need to know but that He loves me? But that He died for me? But that He came to give me abundant life now, here, and not only in some different, distant heaven?

I shouldn’t need anything more than that, if I really believe His promises and words.

But let’s be honest,this semester, I’ve been working through the bruises life’s left on my heart. I’ve spent a little time being angry with Jesus. I got angry for things I’ve never been angry at before.

I discovered, much to my surprise, that He’s okay with me being angry. I think He’d rather me be honestly angry than consciously hiding how I feel from Him.

And after the anger, I’ve found the chutzpah to actually trust Him, just a little bit at a time.


This week, I’ve found myself looking at my life with more openness. There’s a peacefulness that comes over me at the thought of making big decisions and saying big things and, generally, moving on with my life into the next season.

And I don’t know what that season looks like, honestly.

I want to give my heart without the fear of it breaking, because I know regardless of what happens, He’s holding it. I want to trust that since He’s led me to this place–even to the point of death–He is still the Messiah, the Holy One, and He Who Loves Me.

With that knowledge, I can become the kind of woman who says YES to the LORD first and asks what the question is later.


Digging for Oil in the Desert


If you’ve ever been in a long-distance (in my case, intercontinental) relationship, you know there’s a point where you’re just over everything.

You’re over Skype calls that drop randomly or delay for no reason.

You’re over the time difference that keeps him 10.5 (what?) hours ahead of you all. the. time.

You’re really over paying .25 to even send a text message, and the $40 surprise that got tacked onto your phone bill (whoops, sorry!).

More than anything, you’re over simple things: like cooking dinner for one, or feeling single (when you’re definitely not) or having (well meaning) people ask how many more days you have until he’s home.

It’s forty days, people. Forty.

Today was the day that I realized just how very over distance I am. It wasn’t because I had a particularly hard day. It was eventful and packed with things that needed doing, sure, but it hadn’t been particularly hard.

It was because I could tell that the distance had finally gotten to him.

Just this once, it was incredibly evident how wearisome being apart has been on him too.

And that pushed it over the edge, just a little.

We’ve been apart for going on 115 days. We knew, going into it, we could do it; we could make it work. We even realized that it would be difficult, that we’d have to learn new ways to communicate with each other.

What I didn’t understand was how absolutely tiring it is to be apart from someone who brings me so much life, and joy, and the freedom to be myself.

It has been so exhausting.

We got to talk for just a little while early this morning, and afterwards, I sat on the dock and let my feet slip into the pollen-infused water and let the rest of me just lay down in the sun.

Honestly, I didn’t even know how to pray, so I just asked the Lord to give me something to go on. He gently pointed me to John 12, where Jesus is anointed at Bethany.

If you don’t know the story, basically, Mary (full of reverence and gratitude and love) pours a jar of really expensive oil over Jesus’ head and then wipes his feet with her hair.

The disciples–you know, guys like the ever trustworthy Judas–make a grand ol’ fuss and say she’s wasted valuable oil for nothing. The money spent should have been given to the poor.

But Jesus says she has done a beautiful thing to him and tells them to leave her alone.

In this quickly ending season of separation, I’m learning to pour out my oil for Jesus.

I’m learning to go looking for precious things in this desert time, and then to return it to Jesus with praise because He doesn’t owe me anything.

Not better phone connections.

Not closer time zones.

Not my money back.

Not for this man to come home to me at all.


The fundamental difference between the hearts of Judas and Mary, is Mary’s scandalous humility and love.

And I’m hoping that in the next forty days, that’s what I learn–scandalous humility and audacious love and monumental trust in Him who owes me nothing.

But who deserves to have all my precious oil poured out over Him.

And I’ll pour it out in long moments laying on the dock and quiet thankfulness for any phone call at all. And in deep breaths, taken in defiant peace while the enemy tries to wage war on my confidence. And in hope for the things to come.

I can’t ignore the idea that we dig for oil in the driest deserts. We look for something precious in a wilderness.

But even the things we find there aren’t ours. 

Catherine, Bringing Kingdom.


Her name is Catherine and she’s nine years old now.

I met her when she was eight. She was a little girl with close cropped dark hair and eyes like looking into a well at midnight. I had a nose ring then, a silver hoop. She used it to identify me, asking for me by pointing to her nose and saying “Sista.”

She was bilingual, just not in English. Bahasa–the official Malaysian language–was natural to her, and Tamil tumbled over her tongue.

In the instant when she walked into the children’s home, blue and white pinafore slightly askew and little hands fisted over her backpack straps, I knew she was my girl.

I spent April 2012 with her arms wrapped around my neck. She fell from the swing on the playground; I carried her home. She learned an English word; I learned a little Bahasa. She tickled my stomach and then laughed uncontrollably when I went after her in return.


And when, one night, she stopped breathing, fainting from panic, I bolted from the house, running as I have never run, for help. I stayed on my face, interceding, until she came home.

I prayed about staying behind, quitting my Race and living in Malaysia with her.

But God said no.


In the middle of this, I wrote. I wrote about our daily routines and the way we’d fall asleep with our feet pressed together. My heart was expanding far beyond it’s previous capacity for love.

The last time I saw Catherine, I walked her to the van that took her to school. She didn’t cry or kiss me or say, “I go too!” as she had all the weeks before. And when she drove away, my heart splintered into a million pieces that God laid into a simple path leading me back to the purposes of His Kingdom.

But it didn’t stop with me.


At some point between now and then, another girl in America named Emily read the stories I wrote about Catherine and felt something stir in her spirit. She started praying about going on the World Race and was recently accepted onto V Squad, which launches in September. She wrote a blog that told me about the effect Catherine had on her life. I got the message last night and just wept.

My little girl is bringing Kingdom and she doesn’t even know it.

I have prayed circles around this child, begging God to send people who could love her after I left. And He is. He is caring for our girl better than I could have, had I stayed myself.

More than that, He is showing me the fruit of seeds planted almost a year ago, seeds that were sown with tears and a broken heart. He’s showing me a love too big to be contained in time or space. He’s explaining His purposes behind Catherine in my life, purposes that include Catherine as a rallying cry for future Racers.

The thing is, He doesn’t owe me that explanation. It wouldn’t be out of line for Him to say, “Just trust me.” But He knows that right now, I’m struggling in that area, and so He’s giving me a promise fulfilled to hold onto.


And honestly, I feel like He’s given me a star. A little piece of light to hold in my heart. Something warm and shining and mine.

Catherine’s bringing Kingdom. He used her to bring Kingdom in me.

How to Breathe.


The deer have gotten used to me, I think.

I’ve been running past them for two weeks or so now, early in the morning, when the sun is just starting to peek out over the lake, and filter gracefully through the oaks.  They’ve  stopped darting across the street when they hear me coming, and now, stand quietly, looking curiously as I go past.

My little feet hit the asphalt and my breath hitches in my chest.

The whole purpose of this particular form of exercise is less for the five pounds I’d love to lose, and more for my lungs.


This recovering asthmatic wants to breathe.

The enemy likes to attack my breathing. In college, when panic attacks were common, he’d come in and steal my air, sucking it from my throat with an unholy vacuum. For years, I’ve tried to hide the tightness lingering in my chest, sucking in deep breaths just to feel them filled to capacity for even a second.

In all my years of doctors’ visits for chest exams–the kind where they had me blow as hard as I could into a little tube marked with little lines, gauging how strong my lungs are–no one has ever found anything wrong with me. Not medically, anyway.

When asked if I liked to run–a question I get a lot, strangely enough, I’d laugh and give a practiced response, “Honey, I don’t run unless something’s chasing me.”

That was the fear talking. What I meant was that I thought I actually might like to run, to do anything seriously active, if my lungs would cooperate. I never played competitive sports for just this reason.


It wasn’t until the World Race that I even considered it might be spiritual, and then not once did I think there was anything I could do about it. My panic attacks–the most violents of them anyway–were gone. I’d been healed of those, but the difficulty breathing remained.

A few weeks ago, in the middle of a high-stress weekend, I found myself kneeling on my bedroom floor, gasping, trying to force in air. Nothing came. I felt the familiar feel of suffocation and found that the only words to mouth were, Jesus, please.

And then there was air. Lots of air, in fact. My lungs filled up and stayed filled up. I could breathe.

Jesus, please.

In a prayer, I realized how much hold the enemy has on my physicality. He’s kept my lungs in his clenched fist, and I’ve felt powerless to get them back, to get them working the way I believe they should. But Christ didn’t just come for my sins. He came so I would be healed, body, mind, spirit and soul. So that all of me would be reconciled to Him.


The Tuesday after this last attack, I went running for the first time. I laced up my red Merril tennis shoes and pulled on my boyfriends sweatshirt. And with my heart beating a little too fast, I took my first shaky steps out the door.

One minute on, one minute off. That’s how this particular “start-to-run” plan works. So one minute at a time, I ran, waiting for the minute where my lungs would sieze and refuse to work.

It never came.

I’m two weeks into this running plan, with about six to go. It’s training for a 5k run, which, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. But to me, right now, it’s something. It’s a big something. It’s a big victory.

It’s taking back something the enemy stole from me. It’s reclaiming territory that he’s been illegally camping out on for a really long time. Let’s be real, it’s been fun to watch him run in terror.

Because this time, I get to chase him.

God of the Present Tense


I haven’t written much.

I’d apologize, but I’m not sorry.

Sorry not sorry.

I’ve been sowing in tears. A lot of tears. In fact, I’ve said–more than once and only half joking–that I’ve gone from being a girl who never cried to being “The Girl Who Cries At Everything.”

I spent the majority of last weekend yelling at the top of my lungs at a God I was finally brave enough to be mad at. I drove across one of many bridges in my town, hysterical sobs finally leaking out of my body as I clung to my steering wheel. I turned into a Starbucks parking lot and pulled the emergency brake on my life.

I sat and sobbed for an hour, finally uncaring that half my office had picked that particular day to go to that particular Starbucks. It didn’t matter. I was over trying to keep it all together.

For once, the grief was just too much.

Can I just tell you what a relief it was to cry about it? There were events grieved last week that haven’t ever been grieved, not in the twenty years I’ve faced them.

Not one tear. Not one time. Not ever.

And to be honest, even in the middle of that cryfest, I didn’t really feel God there. I knew He was, but I didn’t actually feel Him. I screamed and sobbed and begged questions that are small to write here–questions like “why?”–but have such incredible, horrible implications when I think of their context.

But what happened in those hours of sobbing was a breaking off, not a breaking into.



This idea that I’m not allowed to grieve the things I’m grieving got broken off. Because what I’d done in not allowing myself to cry was the emotional equivalent of building a giant cement bunker sixty feet underground and labeling it “radioactive waste” and then acknowledging its existence as if I didn’t have the option of it every going away.

The grieved things are–honestly–radioactive waste that has seeped into every inch of who I am, trying to poison me, to give me incurable cancer. And if I kept ignoring this little voice that something could be different, if I kept listening to the enemy, maybe that would be true.

But something got broken off on Saturday and–Praise God–it hasn’t come back yet. It’s not going to define my future.

Because even though I didn’t feel Him, I know He was there, working and healing. Even when the feelings aren’t there I can hold onto what I know is true. That He is good. And He is faithful. And He is present.

He is “God near at hand”, not “God far away”.

He isn’t just going to break off the cement bunkers. He’s going to till up the soil it stood on and turn it into a garden. He’s doing it. And what I’ve sown in tears, I know I will reap in joy.

The harvest is going to be abundant, but for now, His goodness is showing through my broken pieces.



Open Heart, Empty Hands.


A few weeks ago, Junior came into my office and sat down. He looked at me, face intent. “I want you to do something for me.”

I tried not to laugh; he looked so serious. “Of course,” I said. “What?”

“Write me an email describing dependance and empowerment.”

I couldn’t help laughing. “Ok, sure. Why?”

“Tell you when you write it,” he said, and promptly got up and left.

Thoughts on dependance have been following me through my days ever since. I think I wrote him an answer about a little girl in Alotenango, Guatemala–which he’ll use to for his class–who will always be the face of hunger for me, about feeling helpless and having to trust God in the face of an absolutely hopeless situation.

I meant to leave it there, but the question of dependence keeps creeping up on me. It keeps showing up in every situation, giving me more visuals of what it looks like to be dependent.

It looks like the month I didn’t get to hear his voice for weeks at a time.

And it looks like the day my tire blew on the way to work and the mechanic told me I had to get four new ones.

And it really looks like this Sunday, when I woke up feeling so much pressure that my chest felt like it was going to collapse from the weight of it.

There is an ache in this kind of life, because it means that I have to continually give up my (overwhelming and epic) desire for control. It requires me to wake up, morning after morning, with an open heart and empty hands, believing Psalm 32:8 with everything in me.

“I [the LORD] will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

Lately, it means that every morning, when I talk to the LORD, I put my palms face up on my lap and whisper an old Quaker prayer. “Whatever you put into my hands today, LORD, I receive.” And then, turning them over, “Whatever you take from my hands I release.”

And I am not even close to perfectly dependent, or even perfectly obedient to be so. But I am willing to learn dependence. If this week is any indication, the LORD is equally willing to teach me.

Anything Worth Everything


I finally watched Downton Abbey. I resisted for a while, mostly because everyone in my house has been talking about it, and what everyone generally loves, I am generally reserved on.

It’s bad. I mean, the show itself is really good. I’m not a movie person, but mini-series get to me. I get sucked in.

I nerd out about storylines, if you want the truth. A movie doesn’t take any time to develop the story. People meet and fall in love overnight, literally. Then they kiss, face a major crisis and live happily ever after in an hour and a half. Cue the epic music. And sunset scene. Roll credits. Game over.


Mini-series are different.

Everything is drawn out and complicated and intricate. There are plot twists, and then, the unexpected happens. And it lasts for several seasons. It’s like a good book series, always drawing you in.

(Actually, TV series are just the latest incarnation of the serial novel, which were originally published in newspapers. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created his Sherlock Holmes stories as a serial novel. This fun fact of the day brought to you by your very own Honors Seminar dropout.)

Anyway, there’s a lot tied up in why I like mini-series (and even some TV shows) above movies. I like things that last, things I can see the longevity of, things that take time.


I like letters because they take more out of us than emails. I’d rather make a meal than get fast food.

I like gardens that are well cared for and bloom year after year. I like handmade things made by little kids with unsteady fingers.


I would like to build the house I’ll call my home.

I like things that have lasted, things that can withstand the test of time. There will always be something more lovely to me about the parapets of Neuschwanstein than the tops of the Disney castle for just this reason.

At the heart of all this is the love of story. Because these letters, meals, parapets and gardens tell stories about time and how it is the currency of our hearts. The things that last are the things that are built–brick by brick–and planted–seed by seed–and then tended–day by day.

And I like these things because they cost me something to invest in. If I pay the price, then it is worth something to me. It’s worth is only equal to what I am willing to pay for it.

There are some things in this life that take time to develop, things that are worth keeping sacred for the right moment. Things that will be more lovely if I pay the price of waiting and watching and sowing into it, even when I am uncomfortable and lonely and hopeful all at once.


Because anything worth everything will always cost us something. 

And this time, I’m willing to pay big time for it.