Self-Rejection and Becoming Beloved

Ok, friends lets get real honest. I’m fighting today, fighting to believe that I am loved. There are lots of things that can trigger insecurity for me, but today I’m sitting with one particular trigger, and it’s stirring up lots of self-doubt and self-rejection.

Henri Nouwen calls self-rejection “the greatest trap in our life”. And then goes on to write,

I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation. As soon as someone accused me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” Instead of taking a critical look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others’ limitations, I tend to blame myself – not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says: “I am no good…I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned.”

Today I’m choosing to “take a critical look at the circumstances” and “try to understand”.

A little over a week ago I announced that I was going to teach two special Yoga Nidra classes. I decided to try something. I decided to try pitching an event rather than just my normal weekly classes. I decided to charge money and make people pay ahead of time in an effort to value myself and what I have to offer. I thought Yoga Nidra would be a good event/workshop type class to start with, since it’s very accessible for all levels, and I picked an evening time since I’ve had a number of people tell me it would be easier for them to come in the evening after their kids are in bed. I also decided to put myself out there and market the classes in a way that I haven’t before – putting out lots of clear asks, updates, reminders, and info about yoga Nidra.

When I launched I told myself I’d have no problem filling the classes and some part of me believed that.

Now it’s been a week and a half since I announced the events, the first class is 5 days away, and only 2 people have signed up

I don’t want to admit that. I don’t want to publicly share that only 2 people signed up so far.

The psychology-intrigued side of me says don’t share, if you make people think others haven’t signed up then they won’t want to either. People want to be where other people are, where things are happening. That’s when the shame side of me jumps in with a very clear, “Plus, admitting only 2 signed up will just prove to everyone how lame and insignificant you are.”

Shame is loud on this one.

Another voice rises up and tries to fight, pointing out that someone choosing not to come may have nothing to do with me. In fact it almost certainly has nothing to do with me. Each person has every right to make the choice that’s right for them in this moment and maybe this class just isn’t for them. That’s fine. It’s not going to be for everyone. Not everything I offer will be for everyone. I’m not going to be for everyone. I get that.

But shame doesn’t stop there and back off, of course not. Shame continues to berate me with all the other classes, and projects, offerings and dreams that haven’t been chosen, that no one showed up for, that failed. I begin to wonder if I’m for anyone, maybe I really don’t have anything to offer the world, maybe no one likes what I put out there. I am useless. I am insignificant. I am nothing. I am nobody. 

I take a deep breath. I take captive every thought and surround it with larger truth, “Jesus loves me”. Then I pull myself back from the edge, “Two people signed up, that’s not no one. I’m for those two. They are for me. And there’s still time more could sign up.”

I do battle with my thoughts as I sit in the line of cars waiting to pick up my son. My playlist from this morning’s yoga class plays quietly in the background, and just as Shame roars up again, I catch the words of the song echoing, “You’re enough. You’re enough. You’re enough.” My breath catches in my throat and I fight back tears.

I’m enough. 

Statements like this used to bother me, I’d push back with comments like “I’m not enough. That’s the whole point, that’s why I need Jesus. Only Jesus is enough.” Then I realized enough doesn’t mean perfect. What I need to know in those moments when my heart longs to hear “you’re enough” is that I have nothing to prove, nothing to protect, nothing to gain or force or strive after.

I am enough for Jesus right where I am, right as I am. I am enough for the life he’s placed me in. I don’t have to work, and strive, and pull myself up from my boot straps. I don’t have to kill myself to be something I’m not. I can be me, as he made me. I already have everything I need for life and godliness through Christ Jesus. It’s enough. My weak, feeble hands are enough. I don’t have to kill myself to gain favor, to be accepted, to be significant. I’m enough already. For one generation the phrase that struck the heart was, “Just as I am”, for another it’s “I am enough.”

I turn the music down and open the door for my son. As he climbs in, I think about how I never want him to feel less than, or small, to shrink back from the good God created him for, or to doubt that God created him for any good at all. But I know that he will. Because we all do.

Today I’m feeling “less than” because only a few people signed up for my class. Yesterday, I felt “less than” for entirely different reasons. What I need at both times is a reminder of my original significance, of the value God gives his children, of my identity, not as struggling floundering yoga instructor, or as failing mom, or temperamental wife, or whatever else, but a reminder of my truest, deepest, core identity as “beloved”.

I am loved. 
You are loved. 
We are loved. 

And so I fight shame, and the desire to shrink back, not by puffing up and making you think lots of people have signed up and I’m this great yoga instructor leading all these classes, but with Satya: truthfulness.

I fight shame by getting honest, and open, by pulling off the cover and revealing that which I’d rather keep hidden. I fight shame by showing you my insecurity, my fear, my self-rejection, and claiming something different over myself.

I fight shame by sharing that only 2 people have signed up so far.

Friends, please know I don’t share that to manipulate you into signing up or to put pressure (or shame) on you – God forbid!!! There is complete and total freedom for you, friends. You don’t have to come to my class to prove that you love me or that I’m significant. The truth is you can’t do that anyway, even if you did come to my class. I could have a full class and still feel insignificant and unloved. As long as my self-worth is tied to other people I will always ride a roller coaster of self-rejection. What I need is not affirmation, what I need is to accept the love God pours out on me, to believe that I am valuable to him.

John Philip Newell writes in his book A New Harmony, “What is it we need to know in our lives? That we are loved. That we have always been loved.” We can’t know this simply by other people telling us, we have to claim it for ourselves. We have to take hold of love.

Henri Nouwen writes in Life of The Beloved:

Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire?…But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.

Well, you and I don’t have to kill ourselves. We are Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.”

I am loved. 
You are loved.
We are loved. 

Breath it in friends. Claim it.

Grace and peace,

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

On Hawaii and The Senses

I was a pre-teen when we first started coming here. For awhile we came almost every summer. It’s not really one of my childhood places, it’s not where I grew up. But I have roots here. And they are specific in nature. 

My skin was covered in salt and sand and sun. I had spent a good portion of the morning swimming in the ocean with my daughter and by the time I came into the room to gather food for lunch my hair was large with frizzy curls and my cheeks were slightly pink. I glanced in the mirror and that’s when it hit me, like a wave knocking me over. 

I like what I see.” 

The thought felt so foreign to me that I paused to think about it longer. No it wasn’t a completely foreign thought, more like a visitor you only see on short rare occasions. And then I realized it was a visitor I was most familiar with in this place. I feel pretty in Hawaii. Attractive. Beautiful. Even sexy. 

Why? What is it about this place that makes me feel that way. Because I don’t normally feel that way. And honestly I could recognize the person in the mirror, she didn’t look all that different from the person I saw in the mirror at home. Sure her cheeks were sun kissed and her hair was wild and free and curlier than normal, but she still had the same flabby tummy and the same flat butt and the same blotchy pimply skin and the same wrinkles and the same slightly saggy breasts. All the things I normally focus on and obsess over, the things that make me feel anything but pretty or sexy or beautiful, they were all still there when I paused and looked again. But for a moment I could see those things and yet not see them, because what I felt was beautiful.


Something about this place makes me feel more alive, more beautiful, and more like a women than anywhere else I’ve ever been. 

Perhaps it is the timing this place holds in my life. It’s my coming of age place. 

My parents would come here on their own when I was a little girl and I wanted so much to join them, but I was always told I wasn’t “old enough.” 

And then one summer I was old enough. 

Coming here was almost akin to a rite of passage. My parents only let us come once we were old enough to make our own lunches and fend for ourselves. It was a place where everyone was responsible for themselves and got to determine for themselves how they moved through the day. I would run around all day on the beach, play in the waves, spent hours reading and sun bathing on the sand, and go for long walks by myself. While we were here I could determine my own days, I was the captain of my own ship.
This place makes me feel like an actual adult. Not in the way that buying a house or having a baby made me feel like an adult, but in the sense that this place communicates to me that I am old enough to make my own decisions and follow my own desires.


But Hawaii doesn’t just make me feel like any adult it makes me feel like a woman. And it makes me feel like it’s ok, even good to be a women in my own skin, in touch with the senses. 

Because everything here plays to the senses. 

For me Hawaii has always been a sensual experience, a place devoted to the senses and where sensuality was not something dangerous to be avoided, or something superficial to be pushed past, instead it was celebrated. 

My trips here were always about the sensations. The sound of the waves crashing, or the wind moving through the palm trees. The feel of the sand between my toes, the water enveloping my skin as I dove under a wave, the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. The way papaya seems almost to melt in my mouth, the sharp sweetness of pineapple, the flavor of perfectly cooked fish fresh off the grill. The view of a rainbow after a sudden shower, the vivid colors at sunset, the way the light plays on the water. This is a place made for the senses and somehow experiencing life sensually, fully engaging in the senses, leads me to a feeling of contentedness with my own being, with my own skin, with being a part of this world that is so full of color and sensation. 

The senses remind us that we are alive and that it is good to be alive. They tell us something all of our philosophy has struggled to understand and rarely gotten right. They tell us that we are physical body and it is good to be a physical body alive in a physical, beautiful, good world.

This practice of engaging in the senses somehow transforms the way I experience being in my own skin. It makes being in my own skin something good, not something to criticize or fix, avoid or overcome. 
Perhaps that sounds strange, but the truth is I have not always been in places where it feels ok and even good to be a physical being, and especially a woman. I am often still in places where I do not feel comfortable in my own skin or in touch with my senses, and I am surrounded by others who are uncomfortable in their own skin and with their own senses. 

We are not just spiritual beings who happen to have bodies. We are spiritual bodies. We are whole beings, not divided, and our bodies are not just part of us, they are us. The God who is One, created us as one. When I criticize and demean my body, I am criticizing and demeaning my heart, my soul, my very God-created self. When I criticize and demean my body I am criticizing and demeaning the image of God within me. 

Perhaps the first step towards moving away from the sort of body shaming and critiquing I am so good at is to recognize that I am one being not many. My physicality is not something to be avoided, feared, or ignored. Perhaps I need to start by celebrating the senses, engaging in them, fully experiencing them, letting them take me over and pull me into the present moment, because when I feel all the goodness and beauty of this world through my senses, when I experience the ways in which this physical body allows me to experience this amazing world, well, then it becomes a lot easier to see the good in my body than the bad. My own body gets to become part of the good, beautiful, amazing world I get to experience.

This world is clearly broken, and there is a lot that is heartbreaking and terrifying and gut-wrenchingly wrong, but it was also created good, by a good God who desires to give good gifts. And like this world my body is broken, it is not perfect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. This physical body is still a good gift from a good Father, who values the physical so much that he refused to abandon it and instead chooses to redeem it. All of it. 
This body may not be exactly as I’d like. I may have more allergies than I wish, and according to my doctor, the asthmatic lungs of an 84 year old rather than a 34 year old. My stomach isn’t flat, it’s curved. My skin still breaks out almost as much as it did when I was 16. But this body of mine, it is good. It can taste and touch and see and hear so much that is good. 

This body is a grace, pure grace. 

So I pause and look in the mirror a little longer. Thanking my body for all it does to enable me to experience this one brilliant and beautiful life. 

And it feels good. 

And I like the beautiful girl that stares back at me. 

Grace and peace,

Bethany Stedman 

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Fragile Confidence

Twice today I had opportunities to share small pieces of my heart and I shrunk back instead. I shared circumstances rather than soul. I stumbled over words and dismissed something that meant a lot to me rather than speaking boldly about it. I do this a lot.

I often withhold my heart from others, because consciously or unconsciously I make a decision about my worth, and the worth of what I have to share.

I decide for them that they wouldn’t care. I decide that it wouldn’t be as important to them as it is to me, and because it is so important to me (as all things that are of the heart are) I fear they won’t give it the attention or care I want, so it’s better not to share, not to put it out there. I shrink back.

“They have their own things, they don’t want to hear about mine.”

“Now’s not the time. They aren’t really asking for heart stuff, they are just asking in passing and if I go to heart stuff it will get uncomfortable.”

“They don’t really want to know. They are just being nice.”

Often thoughts like these move so quickly through me that I can’t tease them out or discern them, I just stumble over my words and pass up the opportunity before I realize it even was an opportunity.

At yoga today a women I respect and look up to, who I would also really like to get to know better (the worst combination for making me feel socially anxious) commented on my hair and then asked if there was something that prompted the extreme cut. It was a perfect opportunity to let her see heart, to maybe broaden this casual friendship. I sputtered and stumbled and mumbled something about it “just being time”.

Friends, this hair cut was about so much more than it “just being time.” It was something holy, something long coming, something necessary. It was something worth documenting and remembering, something worthy of a blog post despite my long silence in this space.

I wrote in the fall about snakes shedding skin, and the need to strip off what isn’t for me anymore. I’ve been sitting with that for a long time. A few things have peeled off, a few things are fighting to peel off now, there is constant shedding and re-evaluating, this last season has been full of it. But for awhile now I’ve been feeling a new season stirring. A season not separate or different from this season of shedding, of giving up territory that’s not mine, of breaking old chains, but a season that moves broader. I needed an outward symbol of this season. I needed a act that solidified the desire to not put old shed skin back on again. I needed a symbolic gesture that showed I’d been there, I’d shed, and now it was time to move on to new depths.

And more than that, I needed a new shedding, a shedding of the part of me that devalues myself. The part of me that feels about twelve even though I’m in my mid-thirties. The part of me that puts others up on pedestals and says they are so much better and far beyond me that I have no right to want to be their friend, or even to give them honest glimpses of my heart when asked. The part of me that makes myself small and young, incapable and weak, timid and afraid. The part of me that forgets that I have something to offer the world, that I do have value, and a voice, and a place.

I needed a haircut that not only symbolically shed layers, but that also was a bit bold, confident, spunky even. Something that made me look mid-thirties instead of mid-twenties. I prayed for bold confidence as the scissors snapped and the pieces of hair fell to the floor, confidence to be who I am, to share who I am, to believe that I am valued and deeply loved. 

Today, when I shrunk back from sharing even a small glimpse of my heart, I shrunk back from that prayer without even realizing it. So I’m realizing it now, I’m confessing it, I’m saying I want to live bold, authentic, open hearted, and confident. I’m tired of shrinking I’m tired of hiding.

Oh but, friends, change comes slowly, and even today’s story doesn’t stop there. I shrunk when it came to speaking about my hair and then I puffed up when the next opportunity to share heart came. Both times I hid.

Three different people this morning asked me how my first yoga class at my new home studio went last week. Here was another opportunity to share heart, instead I chose to highlight only certain things, things that kept the conversation light and comfortable, even things that made me look good without showing hurt.

I shared about how the room was full and how we ended up with more people than I expected because some of my friends brought their older kids to do yoga too.

But, friends, this is another area of my life that I need to document, that I need to process out in words, and for some reason I’ve been shrinking away from sharing, not just in person but even in writing. More than that this is an area of my life where I really need encouragement and advice and people to hold space for me. I need sisterhood in this area of my life and I’ve hidden from it. 

I’m terrified to start trying to teach yoga again. That’s the truth of it. Scared absolutely shitless. 

This desire to teach yoga started almost 8 years ago. It came at me with fire and passion and a vision that was big and beautiful and beyond anything I’d ever experienced. I wanted to do more than teach yoga, I wanted to usher people into the presence of the Spirit of God. I wanted to lead them in an experience of worship that was wholistic and complete. I wanted to shift things in their bodies, hearts and spirits. I wanted to preach and teach and walk beside them in tangible, physical, radical ways. I wanted a class that would be more than a class, I wanted a sisterhood, a tribe, a deeply bonded community who would hold space for one another, who would do more than practice yoga together, who would practice life together. I didn’t know anyone doing that. I had never heard of holy yoga, or Yahweh yoga, or Jesus & yoga, or anything like that.

I started a yoga teacher training program and at the same time started teaching whoever I could gather in to my home for free classes. I called it yoga and prayer or something super basic like that and you can find some of those early classes in the archives of this blog. I started with so much energy and then there were a lot of classes where only one person showed up, or no one showed up. This little seed of a dream started to show some small cracks.

Then I got pregnant and my world turned upside down and this little seed got buried.

Every now and then over the years I would start teaching again. A few months of classes in my home, a few weeks of teaching in my mother-in-laws living room, a random class here or there, a few classes for the college group at church, a few weeks of teaching corporate classes at my dad’s office, but nothing came close to touching that original vision. Every attempt felt like a breaking, a cracking in the dark. Each attempt ended in hurt or disappointment.

Most of the time tending to this dream has looked like tending to dirt (or tending to shit). I’ve spent money on trainings and mats, props and books. Always with the question, “why the heck do I keep doing this?” hanging heavy on my shoulders.
But isn’t that what it’s like tending to seeds before they germinate, before they sprout? You water dirt. You care for dirt. 

And some seeds have such long germination times.

Right now, having an entire room of my house devoted to yoga and tentatively starting to teach classes again, somehow feels different than other times I’ve tried to teach.
When I was praying this morning I had the perfect picture for it. This attempt feels like a sprout. It’s not the full plant I want it to be, but it feels like something green and alive, fresh and new. It feels different than attempts I’ve made in the past, it doesn’t feel buried. Something is breaking out of the dark. I can feel it. I don’t know quiet what yet, but it’s there.

Oh, but it is fragile, like one tiny shoot reaching out towards the light. It feels like it needs protecting, a greenhouse of warmth and encouragement. And though it’s there above ground, it’s main job isn’t to produce fruit or even grow much, it’s main job is still to put down roots, to soak up all of the nutrients from the rich soil that it can. 
So, class last week was good. It felt alive, a living thing bigger than me, but it also felt so fragile, so tender, so thin and small and easily destroyed.

Teaching again has meant breathing into a lot of hurt spaces for me, a lot of self doubt, a lot of fear of rejection, a lot of feelings of not being good enough, a lot of hard sticky spaces. It has meant a lot of falling before God and asking for a movement of the Spirit, for him to do a work in me and through me, for him to bring to completion the dream he gave me. A lot of praying for him to change how I see myself, to give me a right view of myself, not too high and also not too low. A lot of praying for bold confidence to value what he’s given me to share. 

Grace and peace, friends.

Grace and peace,


If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Claiming The Land

Months ago I wrote about how I was praying for a Year of Jubilee. I wanted a season of rest, very specifically a rest from cancer, and all the worry and pain my husband’s cancer treatments inflict on my heart. God, in his grace, has since given us six months of “stable disease”, six months without treatment. 

What I didn’t realize when I prayed for a Year of Jubilee was how much God would call out in my heart the other purposes of this specific season of Jewish law. During Jubilee slaves go free, and for months God has been showing me one place in my life after another where I wear the chains of slavery. I am slave to old wounds, slave to what others think of me, slave to approval, slave to fear, and shame, and guilt. And I am slave to so much sin. 

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15)

God placed bright lights on my slavery, and honestly I didn’t always respond very well. Oh but grace! Grace began to whisper and then to shout, and the words that grace speaks are LOVE. Pure love. 

Some chains broke, some began to loosen, some still have a long way to go. But I know that it is the work of the Spirit to free me and it will be done. In time. Through love. Not through my natural attempts at shame or striving, but through love. 

As this new year began, I started looking at a different aspect of the Year of Jubilee. There is a clear message of place in this season. A call to trust God for our “land”. A call to give up land that you’ve claimed that doesn’t belong to you and take back, reclaim, land that is rightfully yours. 

In a society that lives off the land, land means more than just home, it means place and purpose and work. Your land was your place in the community. 

And so I’ve been asking God a question… 

“What is my land? Where is the place that is for me and only me to claim and occupy?”

So often in my life I think I have shrunk back from claiming land that could have been mine. I shrink in fear, in uncertainty, in self doubt, in self consciousness. I don’t want to do that anymore. 

But I am no stranger to the other side of this either. I have often tried to claim land that probably (or in hindsight, clearly) wasn’t for me. I have spread myself thin, dipping my toes in lots of different communities, in lots of different activities, in lots of different work and dreams. I don’t want to do that anymore. 

Here’s what I do want: 

Only the land God has for me. 

Only the place He’s written my name on. 

Only the seat at the table that He directs me to. 

I’m not really sure what this will look like. For the last month it had meant canceling a lot of things, not going to a lot of things. It’s meant being home a lot, because the one place I’m certain is for me is my place with my husband and my children. I don’t say that with any since of obligation, or chauvinism, or old wounds of “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.” I say it because I love my husband and children, this is where my love is, this is where my vows are, this is my family, my roots, my clear place. 

But I know it’s not my only place either, and I feel sure that there is land, purpose and place in community, that God has for me and my family that we haven’t claimed. So I continue to pray. 

A few weeks ago this prayer took a very tangible turn, and it resulted in very clear and physical leading that I don’t want to forget. Because here’s the thing, in this day and age our place and purpose doesn’t have to be dictated by our physical, tangible, geography, but it will always, always, be influenced by it. 

So as I prayed for place, I began to pray for tangible, physical, geography as well. We’ve been living in a rental, borrowed land, for two years since moving to Arizona. We’ve been living far from our kids school and from many of the people who we consider part of our close community. 

So every day as I drove the 30 minutes to take my kids to school and the 30 minutes home again I began to pray for a house. And I began to pray super specific, for necessary things and unnecessary things. Above all though I prayed that we wouldn’t move just to move, but that God would move us where he wants us, to the house that has our names written on it, the place that would put us where he wants us and enable us to be the people he wants us to be. 

I remember one day in particular, when I got super honest with my own heart and with God. I told Him I really like our rental now, that although I wanted to move, I didn’t have any urgency to leave this place. This house has been a safe haven for us the past two years, it fits us well. I don’t want to leave it unless I’m absolutely sure that the next house is a place God picked just for us. I didn’t just want a move, I wanted a calling, a calling to a specific house. 

Well friends, today, only a few weeks after that prayer we are 14 days away from a close date on a house. And I can say with confidence, God picked it for us. 

Soon after that prayer I told my sister I thought Bryan and I should start casually looking at houses, no urgency, just looking. She instantly got on her computer and found a handful of houses within the few blocks surrounding her house. One of them, the one with the blue door, stood out. It was a bit more expensive then I wanted, and a bit bigger than I thought we needed. But I kept feeling nudged towards the house with the blue door. I think I looked at it on line every day that week. 

That weekend a dear friend of ours who is a realtor took us to see a handful of houses. We went to the house with the blue door first. It had nearly all of the necessary things I had prayed for and many of the unnecessary things I had asked. It was essentially turn-key and would need little to no work, which is very rare for the area we were looking in. We loved it, but our guard instantly went up. We looked at a bunch more houses that day but none of them met any of our requirements. 

We came home thinking and praying about the house with the blue door, but both secretly saying good bye to it, because we weren’t sure we were ready to move on it as quickly as we would need to in order to get it before someone else. We also weren’t sure we could really afford it and we knew the owners had already turned down one low offer. 

That night our landlady sent us an email telling us she’d like to sell the house we’ve been renting. The next day she officially gave us 30 days notice to move out. Suddenly we had our urgency, but we still weren’t sure we could afford the house with the blue door. 

We went back to the drawing board and looked at a bunch more houses. We only found one other house that met our requirements and felt livable for us, but it didn’t stir anything in us. We both kept thinking and talking about the house with the blue door. 

One day standing in the kitchen Bryan said, “I think we need to make a big ask. I think we need to ask God to give us this house and to give it to us at a cost we can afford.” So we started to pray. 

I went back to the house with the realtor to see it again, and though I didn’t want to admit this to anyone, walking in the door already felt like coming home. 

We started working on financing and my anxiety attacks started. For me it wasn’t just the fact that it was a bit more expensive than I’d like, I wasn’t sure I was really ready to buy at all. I wanted the benefits of buying, like being able to re-do things, make things more accessible for Sage, paint etc. But I didn’t want the liability. Bryan’s cancer is stable, but we have no idea how long it will stay stable and all I could think about was the liability that would fall on my shoulders if it didn’t. 

And then we were told that because we still have another mortgage (a condo we bought when we were first married) we couldn’t qualify for enough to make an offer on the house with the blue door, in fact we were a bit too tight for most of the houses in that area. 

We felt discouraged but kept praying. I started praying for some unforeseen way that we could have the benefits of owning without all of the liability. That’s when my parents went and saw the house, decided it was perfect for us, and offered to buy the place for us, with the understanding that we could buy it from them once we were ready, and if something happened to Bryan and we never were ready then they would take care of selling it or renting it or whatever needed to happen – the benefits of owning without all the liability, exactly what I prayed. 

While all this was going on the owners got another offer on the house, a high offer, but a contingency offer, and they refused it.

We decided to make a low offer with the understanding that they would probably negotiate higher. My parents hate negotiating, and Bryan and I aren’t fans of it either, so I quietly prayed that they would accept the first offer, never imagining that they actually would.  They accepted our low offer right away. 

At this point we felt awed and grateful, but we knew there were still lots of things that could go wrong. 

The next time we went to the house there was a note from the owners saying how happy they were that a young family was buying their house and how happy they had been living in this house. There was also a stack of boxes and tape they had left for us. Tears welled in my eyes as I walked through the house again. 

When the house appraised it appraised for exactly, to the dollar, the amount we had offered and they had accepted. When the inspection was done there were some minor little things found, but only two bigger things. One was the roof which we had already known about and factored in going into the deal. The other was that there is a leak in the master bath room. Someone wouldn’t normally say that a leak in the master bathroom was an answer to prayer, but for me it was a little bit. The master bath was our least favorite part of the house and one of the things I wanted to do to the house was re-do that bathroom and make it accessible for Sage. I thought we’d have to save up for a while to do it, but the leak gave us urgency. Rather than ask the sellers to fix things we decided to ask for a credit to go towards the roof and bathroom. I had a set number I was praying for and they agree to that. 

Oh, and we were also able to set a close date that was less than 30 days out so that we would close three days before we needed to be out of our rental. 

Friends, I know all too well that things don’t often work out so smoothly in life. But sometimes, purely and solely by God’s grace they do. This house feels like it has our names all over it, like it’s exactly where God wants us. It feels like a gift given to us by someone who knew us really well. And I want to remember this time, document it, and call it to mind. 

Now my prayers have shifted. Now, I’m praying for paths to place, to the place in community that is FOR ME, that are as clear as this move has been.  I’m praying for what my friend Morgan calls “holy nudges”. The kinds of nudges that lead me to pray big bold asks. The kind of nudges that make me say, “That’s not possible” and then let me watch and participate as God makes it possible. 

I don’t want to fight against walls. I don’t want to try and claim land that’s not mine to claim. I also don’t want to shrink back from the big asks, or from the places God has for me. 

I just want to follow the Spirit. 

I want to claim just what God leads me to. I want to claim the places that are mine, and for me, and have my name on them, nothing more and nothing less. I want God to fight for me, and my work to be the work of love, grace, and prayer, the persistent work of simply marching around the walls of Jericho with trumpets calling forth praise, the work where God gets all the glory cause it’s all him, all His grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. 

Grace and peace,


If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Who Am I In Truth

The alarm wakes me from unconsciousness and I rise, dragging my feet as I do most mornings when I’ve managed to get an ounce of sleep, my body craving more of the illusive comfort. Sage is awake and we sit for a moment on the couch cuddling. I am not ready to break the stillness, the silence, but I can feel the clock pulling at me. It is time to get moving.

I hand Sage a doll to play with and head to the kitchen. It is still dark outside as I flip the switch on the electric kettle and wait for the noise of the water boiling inside. I wish I could turn a kettle on inside me some mornings, to warm the chill that creeps in and find the heat to start the day.

I pull a mug out of the cupboard and pour the hot water into it before sitting down at the table. I should go wake Thad. But, I’m not ready. I’ll just finish my hot water first. I grab my phone and out of habit click on the Instagram icon. It barely opens before my thumb hits the large white button at the bottom of my phone. That’s not how I want to start my day.

Instead I click open my bible app and read the passage for the day. Genesis 35 glares at me from the screen, as if it were a large road sign momentarily lit by the light of a speeding car.

(Click here to read)

There’s something here for me. But, I’m not exactly sure what. I switch translations and read it again slowly in The Message, and then in The Voice, and then I sit.


In the dark.

One word stirs in my heart, “Ask.”

I’ve been posing the same question to God for years, decades even, “Who are you?” I’ve been praying over and over, “God show me who you are, in truth. Not as I imagine you to be, not as people tell me that you are, not even just as I’ve previously believed you to be, show me who you are in truth.”

And another question, equally common to humanity, “Who am I?” has rested heavy on me. Lately it has held me captive. Who am I really? Who am I in truth?

These are the most basic questions, perhaps the most common, but they aren’t as easily answered as I’ve often been led to believe. These are questions we live into, these are questions we breath, questions we ask again and again sometimes getting one answer sometimes getting another, sometimes getting no answer at all but simply soaking into our hearts some truth completely incomprehensible to the intellect.

God tells Jacob to get up, arise, move. He tells him to go to Bethel, which means house of God. And so Jacob and all his household purify themselves, cleanse themselves. They take a bath. They take off all their jewelry, all the trappings they hide behind, and they set aside all their foreign, alien, false god’s. They gather all these false, foreign, extras and bury them.

In the dark quiet of my kitchen a prayer escapes from my lips, a question passes through my heart…

What is false in my life? What is foreign? What things am I hiding behind, clinging to, giving a place of honor in my life, wearing like jewelry on my heart, that are false? What things am I picking up that are foreign, that aren’t mine, that aren’t for me? What idols am I quietly collecting? Show me the things that need to be set aside so that I can simply and completely, in wholeness, be who I am, as you intended me to be. Show me the false, so I can see the true. Cleanse me, so that all that is left is what is true and real, right and mine. So that I can come to Bethel, the house of God, and meet with you in truth.

And God meets with Jacob again and gives him a new name.

“Your name is Jacob (Heel); but that’s your name no longer. From now on your name is Israel (God-Wrestler).” (The Message)


What did Jacob think of this new name? Is it what he hoped for? Perhaps not. It’s not exactly a feel good name, it’s not Father of Nations, or Prince of Peace. God-Wrestler invokes a certain amount of pain, doesn’t it? And yet it’s an honest name. We can see it in Jacob from our vantage point, but could he?

And isn’t it, in fact, a name full of honor? God Almighty let Jacob wrestle with him, allowed Jacob to bring all of his baggage and questions and frustrations right before the throne and wrestle it out with the God of the universe there. What a privilege!

Do I want God to speak an honest name to me? A name full of honor and privilege, but also, quiet possibly, full of pain? Or am I still wearing so much of my jewelry, and carrying so many of my foreign god’s that I can’t accept an honest name. Do I hold on to a name that is lesser than all that God has for me? Or strive after a name that is more? Can I let him speak honest truth over me instead?

Israel doesn’t seem to accept the name right away either. The text continues to call him Jacob.

And then a son is born and Rachel dies. Jacob is given a great joy with a great pain. And then the text reads, “Israel journeyed on…”

It’s as if that moment of mixed pain and joy confronts Jacob with his true identity, God-wrestler.

I again read over the last few verses of the chapter, names and places. It blurs a little. Stop. Pay attention, something has happened. Israel is Jacob once more. Why? Is it important.

Israel was an honest name, but perhaps it was also one that Jacob had to live into, like the questions. Perhaps that is how it is with us as well sometimes. God shows up and gives us a glimpse of who we are, at heart, in honest truth, and we don’t claim it right away, and then maybe for a time we do, we live into it, and then we revert back for a time to our old self, our old foreign falseness.

And maybe this is yet another place where we need each other, where we need community. We need people who can call out our real names. People who will remind us when we sink back into the old self. People who will speak truth to us, even when that truth looks harsh. People who will say, “This is not who you are. This is something foreign. This is something false. You need to bury this.”

Jacob had a new name. Perhaps for the first time in his life he saw himself rightly, saw himself honestly, as God saw him. And then he went back to his family, his sons and his father, and they called him Jacob. Rather than call out the deeper true identity, they saw the old, the “heel”.

Often in my own life I feel a great shift has happened, a peeling back of the false and a stepping into the true, and then, well, then life continues. And things go back to how they were. And perhaps there are hints of the change, but it isn’t acted out in completeness.

And sometimes, no often, even when those around me do call me by the truth and see the new or the could-be in me, I don’t believe them. I still cling to the lesser name.

There’s a chapter in Henri’s book The Inner Voice of Love that I haven’t been able to shake lately. He writes:

“When people who know your heart well and love you dearly say that you are a child of God, that God has entered deeply into your being, and that you are offering much of God to others, you hear these statements as pep talks. You don’t believe that these people are really seeing what they are saying.
You have to start seeing yourself as your truthful friends see you. As long as you remain blind to your own truth, you keep putting yourself down and referring to everyone else as better, holier, and more loved than you are. You look up to everyone in whom you see goodness, beauty, and love because you do not see any of these qualities in yourself. As a result, you begin leaning on others without realizing that you have everything you need to stand on your own feet.
You cannot force things, however. You cannot make yourself see what others see. You cannot fully claim yourself when parts of you are still wayward. You have to acknowledge where you are and affirm that place. You have to be willing to live your loneliness, your incompleteness, your lack of total incarnation fearlessly, and trust that God will give you the people to keep showing you the truth of who you are.”

And there, hidden towards the end, lies some key to the spiritual life, “…trust that God…”

Trust that God will keep speaking truth over me. Trust that God will keep calling out my true name, and giving  me others, at just the right time, who would speak that name over me as well. Trust that God will finish the work he began in me. Trust that it is God, by his grace, who does the work.

The light is beginning to creep through my kitchen window now and my cup is empty. A prayer lingers on the air…

And the day begins.

Grace and peace,


If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.