These Bones Will Sing

It was the gown that finally broke me.

That ugly, faded, worn so many times before me, hospital gown.  After 45 hours of labor, I stepped into a sterile hospital room and looked around at everything I hated about that place.  I took a deep breath and tolerated the machines, the curtains, the cold bassinet they intended to put my baby in, the harsh lighting, the vinyl floors, the IV drip I’d soon be hooked up to, the mechanical bed with scratchy sheets.  But when my eyes fell upon that gown – that hideous cotton drape that was going to turn me into a patient – my heart gave one final plunge into despair. 

For me, the hospital gown was the final step to making my birth medical and I feared that it would strip away everything primal that had risen up inside of me.  It symbolized everything I was losing.  I was never supposed to be in this room, never supposed to be told what to wear.  I was supposed to give birth naked in my bedroom, in a pool in my husband’s arms.  No needles.  No machines.  No nurses.  No vaginal exams.  No cold bassinet and no harsh lighting.  No freaking rules.  I was supposed to be at home where it was safe and peaceful – where I was in control.  However, after two days at home my baby was getting weak and my plan needed to change.  I walked into that hospital terrified, my body quaking with contractions and grief.  But half an hour earlier I was told that my daughter’s heart tones were no longer varying, and I became a mom.  So with tears pouring from my eyes, I sat down on that horrible bed and put on the stupid gown.


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Fifty Shades of Degradation

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Yesterday was election day.  The news was full of poll predictions and voter turnout stats.  My facebook feed was overwhelmed with selfies of friends adorned in “I voted!” stickers.  The word on the street was that lines at the voting booths were wrapping around buildings, out into the rain.  For the politically minded, it’s all very exciting indeed.

Let me be clear right up front:  I do not wish to be political on this blog (or ever, actually), but what I do want to be is socially conscious.  And what I especially want to be is gospel-centered and biblically sound.

This election season, and really this cultural season in general, has brought one particular topic to the forefront of debate time and time again. In recent years I have watched this issue mold and twist and morph into something almost unrecognizable, with no clear lines or simple meanings, and my heart has become increasingly broken for women everywhere.

The subject at hand goes by many names: “Feminism,”  “Female Empowerment,”  “Equality for Women,” and these names have come to simultaneously refer to many things: equal pay, equal opportunity, political power, ending violence, positive portrayal in the media, right to abortion, and sexual liberation.  [insert dramatic pause here.] 

Folks, some of these things are not like the others.
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this mystery is profound

So for years I’ve heard people say this thing about marriage that goes something like “nothing will humble you quicker than marriage.”  And for years I have thought that was a really cool aspect of marriage, but one that probably would not apply to me.  Not that I already thought I was humble enough; I just thought I wouldn’t fail often enough for it to really make a difference.  In fact, as my own wedding date approached and I began to hear this sentiment more and more, I would often think “oh, that will be really good for Brandon.”  Honestly!  I don’t know who I was kidding with this arrogant, absurd, prideful, drastically flawed thinking.  But boy was I wrong. Continue reading

the hardest thing about being a newlywed

I’ve been married for three and a half months now.  It has been such a sweet time of getting to know the man I love as “husband” and learning together how to shift our relationship from dating to married.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blissfully overwhelmed by being a wife, how often I’ve been humbled by own shortcomings, or how surprised I still am by my new last name.  Marriage has so far been a continuous and wonderful adventure, and I am so grateful for it.

Over the past few months, my new marriage is naturally what everyone wants to talk to me about. They like to shower me with wisdom and advice, for which I am grateful. But mostly, they want to ask me endless questions. They shamelessly ask me things like, “Are you glad to finally be having sex?” (Nah. A sexless relationship was SO easy to maintain for 3 years… idiots.) “Are you pregnant yet?” (Not yet…) “Oh, when are you planning to get pregnant?” (…What is wrong with you?!) But sometimes I get questions that actually warrant a response. Out of these, the most common one I’ve received is, “What has been the hardest thing about marriage so far?” Continue reading

it is finished

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Tonight I’ve just come from the Good Friday service at our church.  Each year I find this to be such a sweet time of worship, reflection, and anticipation.  I think as Christians we sometimes have a hard time knowing exactly how we should feel on Good Friday.  We are thankful for the sacrifice made on our behalf, we are reminded of our own sin, we’re sad, we’re excited, and we’re probably too preoccupied with plastic eggs to allow ourselves the mental freedom to sort it all out.

So I’ll save you the trouble.  We should feel freaking amazed.  Amazed because God, in his infinite wisdom, created us already knowing we were going to suck at loving him.  He created us already knowing he would die for us.  And that even after he died for us, showing just how much he loved us, that we were STILL going to suck at loving him.  He knew that we were going to abuse his grace.  He knew that we would make a mockery of his name.  He knew that we would betray and reject him. Continue reading

why we’re actually gathered here today

For those of you who don’t know, I am getting married on Saturday.
What an exciting time!
Through the past year of planning and preparation, I have learned so much.  About myself.  About my future husband.  About the Lord.  But sadly, what I’ve probably learned the MOST about is planning a wedding.
I can tell you how much it costs to rent out almost every venue in the greater Austin area.  I know which ones require you to use their caterer and which ones allow you to use your own.  I know noise ordinances and fire codes.  I know the prices of things like chair rentals, photographers, and hair stylists.  I know the breakdown of every Men’s Wearhouse tux, and that for all their monopolizing they still don’t carry David’s Bridal’s “petal” pink.  If you need some useless wedding knowledge, I’m your girl.
I know all of this because there is this strange phenomenon that occurs in our country when a woman gets an engagement ring.  She is all at once stripped away from the normal rhythms of life and thrown head first into the world of weddings.
This alternate reality is one in which your stream of consciousness is filled with things like colors and programs and flowers and ribbons.  “Big” decisions are made about dresses and food and invitations, and you go to sleep at night feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and accomplished.  It’s a land of self-obsession and entitlement; it’s designed to shift reality into this idea that your entire marriage, nay, your entire existence, hinges upon this one day.  It’s YOUR day.  YOUR spotlight.  YOUR chance to shine.  After all, YOU deserve it!!
….proof of a broken world under the influence of a clever and scheming enemy. Continue reading

best&worst

A few weeks ago I was serving at a holiday dinner for our church staff.  The dinner was being held at my pastor/future uncle’s home and toward the end of the evening he gathered everyone together to reflect upon the previous twelve months as well as to look ahead to the coming year.  This is a pretty common activity during this time of year, and at first I thought very little of it.  I took a seat in the back and prepared myself to listen to what these men and women of the Lord were going to share.  Mark opened the floor up by asking a simple question: In what ways have you seen God move in our church this past year?  With this one sentence, I felt tears flood my eyes and out of nowhere I was struggling to hold it together.  Because the ways that I saw God move in our church this past year have been too great to number, because the ways in which God moved in my life this past year have been too great to number, and because the Holy Spirit just decided this would be a great time to totally wreck me out…. I was completely speechless for the next half hour or so as I quietly remembered.  
To tell you what God has done in my life this past year will require me to tell you what he did in my life the year before that.  This is my best story, and this is my worst story; and this is not my story at all.