"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Noise. Commotion. Disquiet.
Always noise.
Filling my senses. Overwhelming them.

Perhaps from the television screen.
Maybe from phone screens and tablet screens.

But always noise.

As I look at the precious 8-week-old face of my son, I see such innocence, simplicity, malleability. Somehow, I find a greater need for stillness, for quiet.  His fragile life is in my hands and I must not fill his space with the same noise that has saturated my own.

God gently knocks, knocks again, until I see. He knows my heart is stubborn and needs prodding. These messages about slowing down, making space, and eliminating noise has presented itself several ways over the last few weeks.

I have slowly been paging through Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  She writes:
It's only when we're truly alone that we can listen to our lives and God's voice speaking out from the silence...In seasons of deep transformation, silence will be your greatest guide. Even if it's scary, especially if it's scary, let silence be your anchor, your sacred space, your dwelling place. It's where you will become used to your own voice, your agency, your authority. It's where you will nurture that fledgling sense of authority... Silence will become the incubator for your newfound spirit, keeping it safe, growing it steadily. (pp 105-6, emphasis mine)
My tendency is to fill the space of my life. Episodes of Criminal Minds and Big Bang Theory on the DVR. Rounds of Candy Crush on the phone. Always occupied, always activating the senses. Muting my personhood, filling the space of my life and pausing my sense of agency.

Yet silence is where we experience ourselves. Only in the quiet can we hear our own thoughts and become aware of the recesses of our minds. The places where we connect most deeply, where we hear most clearly the voice of the Lord. The parts of ourselves that fully enjoy, that express our desires, and pursue our interests. We get consumed by the noise and lose our truest selves in the process, living in a routine that has been created for us by the hubbub, the voices of those around us. When we do this, we relinquish our sense of choice.

In the silence I rediscover what I love, what I enjoy, what I long for. And I begin again to actively choose the way I live my days.

In the psalms, David reminds himself, and us, to "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

Be Still.

Easier said than done in the hustle of everyday tasks and errands.

But in the stillness we sit in a place to receive the spring-like newness and restoration of the Lord. When we stop striving, He Easters us in our rest, giving us life and showing us our purpose and direction.

The stillness is where we experience the Father, we feel his quiet prodding, we remember his deep shalom.
We learn to abide deeply in the redemption He has already gifted us.
He Easters us with his presence when we stop long enough to listen and experience him.

So now I have a choice. God has shown me, on repeat, the importance of stopping. Breathing deeply. Experiencing the beauty around me. And the beauty He has made inside of me.

So I stop.

In the stillness I remember I can choose.
In the stillness the Lord deepens my rest.
In the stillness He prods my heart to desire, and reminds me of the agency He has given me to live out His call.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How My (Former) Dermatologist caused me to develop Lupus.

I was having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning because my joints hurt so badly. I was constantly tired and couldn't roll over in bed without sharp pain in my hips.  It became hard to move, though I continued to live my life normally.

Here's the story:

I thought I had somehow dodged the single-most terrible self-esteem killer of the adolescent world.

When I graduated high school and college without any major problems with acne, I thought I was in the clear.  Little did I know that the struggle would start ten years late!

Working in the Kansas City area, my position was incredibly high-stress (this feels like an understatement). The degree of stress brought on all kinds of new problems with acne, anxiety, and depression too. I moved to Saint Louis thinking that the change of scenery and drastic decrease of stress levels would be a cure-all.

It wasn't.

I started seeing a dermatologist in the area who prescribed me a low-dose antibiotic.  It didn't work.  Two months later, he increased the dosage.  It didn't work.  Two months later, I ask if a different medication might work differently/better for me, so he prescribed a different antibiotic, at a higher dosage.  It worked a little bit, but not much.  Two months later, he increased the dosage.  And increased again.  And again. And again.  The same increase, every two months, for two years.

Never having been educated on the effects of antibiotics, I didn't know any better.

After getting married last summer, I changed health insurance companies, which meant that I had to switch dermatologists.  My new dermatologist is younger, and educated in a different school of thought than my previous near-retirement dermatologist. When she saw the dosages of antibiotics that I had been on and for how long, she immediately told me we start weaning off, because of how bad it can be for your system.

As we weaned, she continued to ask me if I had been having any joint pain.  At first, I said yes, but explained that I had been in a car accident in 2006 that caused ongoing knee issues. Several months later, I was having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning because my joints hurt so badly. I was constantly tired and couldn't roll over in bed without sharp pain in my hips.  It became hard to move, though I continued to live my life normally.

When I told my new dermatologist, she immediately ordered bloodwork and explained that the prolonged use of antibiotics can cause drug-induced lupus. (Here is some info on Lupus from Mayo Clinic)


I was shocked.  And sad.
My bloodwork came back positive for ANA (antinuclear antibodies), which indicated that my immune system had launched a misdirected attack on my own tissue.

In July, three months later, I had bloodwork done a second time to see if the levels of ANA were back to normal.  With drug-induced lupus, the lupus should go away after being off of antibiotics for a period of time.  The symptoms should lessen.

Mine didn't.  And still haven't.

They anticipated the levels of antinuclear antibodies in my bloodstream would dramatically lessen over the three months after the original blood test.  Two weeks ago, I learned that my levels of ANA had only dropped a tiny bit.  I also learned that drug-induced lupus can persist and become regular run-of-the-mill lupus.

I have lupus because my former dermatologist didn't know or didn't care that high doses of antibiotics over time can cause problems. And that's a problem.  Doctors need to be informed, need to be updated on new findings in their field.

Because my dermatologist was uninformed, he put me in a position to develop lupus that has the potential to last my entire life.

I don't usually blame other people for problems in my own life.  I'm a strong proponent of taking responsibility for yourself and making active changes to improve your quality of life.

This time is different.

I am only almost 29 years old, and there is nothing I can do to change the diagnosis, except to keep moving and make the best of it.

And I will warn others of the dangers of prolonged antibiotic use.

Please pass this along, for the health and longevity of the people you love!

Current:  I have been off of antibiotics completely for four months, and my skin is better than ever! We have a RainSoft water purification system that has helped more than I ever thought possible, and I'm on a low-dose hormone blocker which has made my acne almost completely disappear!!

Monday, April 6, 2015


Every few days, there are moments in which I think to myself: "Man, I'd love to write about that!"  And just as quickly as I think it, it gets pushed aside because something else is more pressing.

Here I am, a year since my last post, finally writing.

So much has changed.
I have been challenged.
I have changed.

Marriage does that to you.  It should do that to you.

I suppose it began before we even were officially married.  We were two very independent adults, living very independent lives.  Suddenly we were forever committed to a life that looked very, and naively unexpectedly, different.

I say "naively unexpectedly" because I thought I knew.  I thought I knew Jeremy well enough to know his flaws, to know how to respond well, and how to protect myself from getting hurt, because everyone who loves gets hurt.  I thought I had experienced enough, helped enough people, and maybe even learned enough to have a marriage without problems with conflict or strife, because I knew how to communicate well and to mediate conflict resolution.  Or so I thought.

I find myself, over and over again, marveling at and mourning over my own pride.

Marriage is not easy.  Not even a little bit.  Sure, the companionship and love are nice.  I like having someone to do life with, to find new hobbies with, to have fun with.  I like knowing that I get to arrive home to the arms of my husband to rest at the end of my far-too-often 16-hour weekdays of work and classes.

I also know that there are days I would rather spend alone, but I don't have that option anymore.  I know there are times when I'd like to go on a little shopping spree, but I don't have a full-time income and sole control of my finances anymore.  There are even times when I'd really like red sauce on my pasta, but open a jar of alfredo sauce instead, because I know Jeremy doesn't like red sauce.  I know it's a small thing.

Marriage changes things.  It means I actually have to give up what I want.  Not just be willing to compromise (because compromise is easy - I still get part of what I want) but willing to completely set aside what I desire for what is best for usUs is very different than me, because us isn't just about me.  It's about us together.

And for us it means a lot of changing.  It means that we work our conflict all the way through even when it's the hardest thing to do.  It means loving the other person enough to stop being defensive.  It means not always being right, even when you know you're right. :)

So we continue to navigate this marriage thing.  We continue changing and growing.  Walking over the rocks and around the boulders, sometimes being the helping hand, and other times needing the hand.  Sometimes burying the rocks, and other times building an altar of remembrance and praise.

This isn't easy, but it was never meant to be.
By the grace of God we will continue navigating. :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

the soundtrack of our lives.

More often than not, the radio is turned off in my car.
A year ago, this certainly would not have been the case.  Ten years ago, I would have been upset if I even had to turn it down from the ear-drum shaking level at which I preferred it.

Sometimes now I just feel too full, too loud, too anxious to even have it on quietly.
My thoughts certainly need more space than music allows sometimes.

I've heard it said that the music we listen to is the soundtrack of our lives.

What we choose to listen to shows the pace and activity of our lives.

And I desire for my life to be paced well.  To be slow and steady and peaceful.  So my choice of music, when I do choose to listen to it, generally consists of acoustic folk music and quiet indie folk.  The music allows my mind the space to think, provides the backdrop for real processing, and slows me down enough to really see what I see and to more fully experience what I experience.

Sometimes isn't that what we need, deep down?  Just enough slowing down that we really enjoy the things we experience.

So I choose a soundtrack for my life that exemplifies the kind of life I desire to live: intentional, peaceful, simple, quiet, communal.

What is the soundtrack of your life?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's all interwoven.

When I'm at work, my mind is completely focused on my job.
When I am at school, my mind is entirely committed to the things I am learning.
When I am with Jeremy, my mind and heart remain focused on only him and our relationship.

Sounds nice, right?

Each part of my life only affects that one part of my life.
Ideally, anyways.

About a month ago, I was forcefully confronted by the fact that life cannot possibly remain compartmentalized.  That what happens at work, affects school, affects Jeremy, affects... everything.

Because our lives are messy.
And it is not our job to clean them up.

As much as my perfectionistic, logical, type-A tendencies would like to convince me otherwise, it's okay for my life to be messy.  It's okay, and even, dare I say... good for it to stay that way.  I would love for the stories I hear at work to have no effect on my relationships.  But they do.  I have new awareness, even fears, that have developed because of the incredible brokenness of women who have experienced certain things.  I would love for what I learn in my classes to stay in the realm of counseling and theology and stay there as a skill set, rather than as a pervasive mindset shift that is inextricably linked to every area of my life.

But maybe God wants our lives to be messy.  Perhaps there's beauty in the scattered, in the integrated, in the diverse.

The relationships I had in college still affect me today.  The things I learned in high school still apply to me today.  The way I learned to "parent" at Shelterwood still influences the way I set boundaries and interact with people today.  And that's okay.

God certainly designed us to pursue him in all that we do.  Everything.  Not just in the time allotted for church and small group.  Not only in seminary classes.  But in our time at the gym, our sit-down at the dinner table, our friendships, and our shopping.  And in our every day trips to the grocery store.

I am reminded of the Old Testament Jewish law, where God commanded the people of Israel not to harvest all of their crops, but to leave the edges for the orphans and the widows.  God's heart is to provide for his creation, and mind should reflect that.  So at the grocery store.  Purposefully choose the food items that have a portion of the proceeds donated to an organization.  Put some quality food in the donation bin, not just the cheapest box of generic mac and cheese you can find.

I am reminded that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we should take care of them.  So instead of buying chips and ice cream, I buy fresh produce and whole grain bread - something my body actually knows how to use and to process.

Every part of our lives is integrated, even as we walk day to day with a Christian worldview.
As we pursue what is important to the Lord.
Even as we walk through the aisles of the grocery store.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

changes, churning, blessing.

A woman prophesied over me a few months ago.  It was my first experience with this and I most certainly had my doubts.  I anticipated that she would speak in broad generalities and have a demeanor something like that of a "psychic".  She blew all of my expectations out of the water.  She began speaking into the lives of some people I know, making specific references to details of their past that represent their most protected memories, encouraging them that God is using those things for good.  She could not possibly have known those intimate details on her own. I saw that the Lord was - maybe, just maybe - working and speaking through her.  But my guard was still up.

It was my turn.  She took my hands in hers and began praying over me.  She prayed over and spoke into areas of my life that only the Lord and my counselor know about.  My guard dropped.  The tears flowed.  And the Lord spoke through her.

Among other things, she spoke of a harvest that was coming after a long and hard dry season of doubt and sorrow (with more detail than I care to share with the public, but that confirmed she was not just making a general statement that could refer to anyone).  It seemed as if this "harvest" was coming too quickly, like I needed to stay in that place of hardship longer to keep learning, to do justice to the hard place before stepping into harvest time.  The Lord knew my thoughts, and this woman spoke them aloud as they were spinning through my head.  I was amazed at the knowledge of God.  Never before had I felt so understood, so known.


I feel it.

The ground is churning.  Things are changing, shifting, falling into place.

The dry season is over and growth visible, vivid, rapid.

God is working in more ways than I can even comprehend, but I am so blessed.

- I am officially accepted into the Master of Arts in Counseling program at Covenant Theological Seminary, starting full-time in August.

- I am finally shifting into a position at work that will bring a taste of normalcy to my schedule, giving me my weekends off again!  It may take a month or two for it to become a reality, but I wait in anticipation.

- God has so blessed me to have a wonderful man in my life.  One who I feel honored to be with, who desires the Lord over everything else, and who exceeds any expectations I have had.

- Just this week, he was offered an incredible job working for an esteemed company, that just happens to be located only a few miles from my apartment!

In very tangible ways, things are finally changing.  They seem to reflect the ways in which I have grown internally over the last few months.  It was so agonizing to feel as if things were changing inside, and yet my circumstances were not at all getting better, as I had no new direction or hope for change.  And then the Lord brings the harvest - a great manifestation of the waiting season I have been in.

I am certainly blessed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

hiatus over.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in a while.  If not, don't feel bad, I'm not offended.  But you may have wondered why.

Well, here it is.

Sometimes things are hard.  I'm not fine all the time.  Sometimes things can't be fixed with an easy quip at the end of a blog post (ex. "So we press on").  And sometimes we just need time.

Any and every irrational thought, mis-timed feeling, and anxious leaning, I have learned how to replace with the rational and reasonable.  I look at a hard situation and tell myself that "I should be able to make it to the other side of it because obviously it's going to end.  Obviously it won't last forever.  Let's be realistic here."

In doing so, I denied myself of emotion.  I denied myself of being honest about what I thought.  I deceived myself and everyone around me into thinking I was a certain kind of person.

It was all a lie.
Unintentional, of course.  But a lie nonetheless.

As I'm honest about what I think instead of replacing my thoughts with ones I see as "better", well, it has brought up a lot of doubts.  My faith has been shattered and is slowly piecing back together.  My thoughts are raw and I see myself as the dirty, wicked sinner I am.  Real.  I feel like I'm finally being real.  With myself and with others too.

I didn't even know that I wasn't being real before.  It certainly was not intentional, but the realization wrecked me.  And now I'm healing from it.

In that time of doubt, well, I had to deal ruthlessly with my own soul.  To lay the axe to the root of so many wrong foundations.

I made some choices that I regret and wasted time doing what I wanted.
But I finally gave up the last piece.  The piece of my own desires that I finally surrendered.
And dang, it wasn't easy.
It never is, is it?

But I am so confident that it was right.  Giving in to the God who has had control all along and always will.
Lord, help me, because as much as this is right, it's hard.

It's hard to blog about what God is doing in your life and what He is teaching you when you don't let yourself see it.  That's why I stopped for so long, and that's why I'm starting again.