The Freedom Of Losing My Most Valuable Possessions

losing my life in christ

When I lost a bag at the airport a week and a half ago, I had about 5 minutes of, “Did I really do that? Oh crap all my debit cards were in there and I need gas to get home. How am I going to do my work and write the things without my computer? Oh shoot all of my IDs were in there. My book proof was in there!”

And then I was fine. A brief panic and then total peace. I was thinking about it today - as I can look forward to my items returning to me next week (yay they were found!)- I was thinking about how grateful I am that this week and a half was filled with peace when it could have been filled with panic.

I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t stressed. Instead, I felt free. There was some awkwardness about what to do with my days as losing my computer was a plan thwarter, but even that was a gift - it reinforced what God has been showing me about how to use my time differently.

I felt free because my life is not my own. My life is hidden in Christ - it’s His. My plans, my work, my various projects - these don’t belong to me and they aren’t for me and they aren’t for impressing other people or for checking off a productivity box. It’s all for Him.


And if it’s all for Him, and if He is calling me to do these things as I believe He is, and if He has access to all of the resources in the world, my little lost bag isn’t going to get in the way.


It was a huge reminder to my wandering heart of how the fullest, most satisfying, most peaceful existence is one where my life and everything in it belongs completely, is entrusted completely, to Jesus.

The fullest most satisfying most peaceful existence is one where my life and everything in it belongs completely, is entrusted completely, to Jesus

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:42

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This Is Not A House For Birds

devotion covering ugly parts of us

This birdhouse has a purpose and it is not to house birds, or to feed birds, or to do anything related to birds at all.

Its purpose is to kill wasps and to look pretty doing it. The wasp traps are disguised because this little space is being turned into a beautiful garden.

Ugly eyesores, like these traps, get hidden in parks and pretty gardens - they get cleverly disguised as pretty things so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb amid the creations of a green thumb.

But, you guys, we are not parks. We are not gardens. We don’t need to cover up and hide bits of ourselves to protect an aesthetic. We are something beautiful and we’re being made into something even more beautiful, but not by hiding what’s broken, disguising what’s ugly, or building up pretty walls to protect our image. We don’t have an image to protect!

We are works in progress - there are bound to be wasp traps hanging around.

“Whoever loves his life loses, and whoever hates his life in the world will keep it for eternity.”

- John 12:25

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

- 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Only The Stupid Hate Correction

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The Hebrew word translated to “Stupid” in this proverb is “ba-ar.”

It means brutish, stupid, unreceptive.

“Brutish” is an old word without much context for me, so I looked it up.


“Unreasoning and animal like,” the definition said.

Those who hate to be corrected are “unreasoning and animal like.”

learning to love correction


I’m learning to love correction - to love the opportunity to be better, to love God better, to love people better.

It doesn’t mean every dang person in the arena gets my ear for their criticism. But it does mean having vocal people around me - people who love me, who I trust - who will tell me hard things, who will correct me.

It means soaking up the correction, taking it to God, learning from it, discerning whether it’s accurate, and moving forward with more knowledge regardless.

You can reject every correction, or you can take it all in while hating every word and let it break you, or you can accept it with one hand, gratefully, looking it over and taking it to the creator to see what you can learn from it.

I’m working toward the latter.

Who Is The Expert On My Father

Photo: Negative Space on Pexels

Photo: Negative Space on Pexels

I live with my Father.

I eat every meal with Him and we pour over His words together. I walk with Him and I talk with Him about everything.

He wakes me up most mornings with a song. And most days I sing songs back to Him.

Who is the expert on my Father

He holds me and He loves me and I’m never alone.

One day my Father sent me on some of His business.

While I walked on the road I met a man who asked where I was going. I told Him about my Father’s business.

The man reared back and stopped short and puffed out his chest.

”The Father wouldn’t send you THERE,” he said. “The Father wouldn’t send you to do THAT.”

I shrugged and continued on my way, but the man followed.

He told me about all of the books he has read about my Father. And he told me of countless hours spent studying Him. He pulled papers out of his bag to show me how the great Universities decided he is an expert on my Father. He told me how I was wrong, how I was going the wrong way, how I was doing the wrong thing, how the Father would not be pleased.

I smiled at the man and thanked him for spending some of his time with me. I invited him to come over later, and told him I would introduce him to my Father.

And then I went about the Father’s business.

Finding Myself & Jesus in Where The Crawdads Sing

Jesus and Where The Crawdads Sing

**MAJOR SPOILER ALERT**

My stories of rejection do not compare to Kya's, but I - like many of you- have been wounded repeatedly by rejection.

I believe the enemy often uses one type of wound over and over until it only takes a tiny version of that wound to make us a bloody mess. For a long time, the slightest hint of rejection sent me in a tailspin.

Like Kya, I internalized the external circumstance - the rejections - believing this was my lot, my destiny.

Like Kya, I feared relationship, built walls, attempted to keep people at a safe distance - somewhere where the rejection, when it came, would not be so painful.

Like Kya, I believed two huge lies about rejection and abandonment.

The first lie: I believed there was something inherently wrong/different/weird about me - this is why the rejection came, this is why they couldn't stick with me. I am years beyond believing any of this nonsense, but this story - Kya - drove this point even deeper into my heart.

Reading about Kya, seeing how she faced rejection after abandonment after rejection, I saw in a new way how this was nothing but a destructive lie.

There was nothing inherently rejectable about her. In fact, our author builds us a character who is bright and precocious and loving. From the reader's perspective, Kya is beautiful and interesting and brilliant.

The second lie: I believed the actions of others occurred in a vacuum. I ignored, or was oblivious to, the brokenness of the other actor. They did not happen upon me and decide, based solely on who I am and what I did, to reject me.

I've never see this more clearly than as I read Kya's story. Every person who hurt her had their own story - they were living and choosing out of their own brokenness. And it's not an excuse - it doesn't make their treatment of her okay - but, and this was abundantly clear to the reader, it shows how their actions really weren't about her at all.

Her father was completely broken by the shame of his actions in the war. He was further ashamed of every horrible decision he made next. He was a run down, dejected, sad man.

Jesus and Where The Crawdads Sing

Her mom was abused and broken and exhausted. When we hear the story of why she left and how she tried to return for the children and how she lived out the rest of her days - it is clear to the outside observer that her abandoning actions were not about Kya at all.

The same could be said of Jodie and of Tate - they were acting out of their own stuff, their own immaturity. Neither meant their actions as a rejection of her, and both, after maturing on their own, came to deeply regret how their actions hurt her.

In my own life, believing these two lies led to a series of self sabotaging moves. Here again, I saw my own story reflected in Kya's.

Her reactions, while natural and understandable, kept her isolated. Her expectations kept her from seeing where her perceptions were wrong. She was oblivious to some of the peripheral characters in her story who were on her side, who saw her, who cared for her.

The cashier and the truancy lady - one on the jury and the other sitting in the courtroom - she didn't even know they were pulling for her. She didn't know how they had pulled for her since she was a child.

And she was oblivious to how deeply loved and accepted she was by a core group of people.

In the courtroom, when the man from the publishing company gets off of the witness stand and joins the row of people behind Kya - the row of people who loved her, who supported her, who were literally and figuratively behind her - I wept.

I had to stop reading for a bit.

As a reader, I knew how each of these people loved and respected Kya. And, as a reader, I also knew how oblivious she was to their feelings. I knew how, though surrounded by people who genuinely loved her, she felt alone and isolated.

This is the destructive power of rejection and abandonment.

It whispers to us that we are not worthy, it convinces us to isolate more, it blinds us to love and acceptance even when it is staring us in the face. And it works. It works because we NEED to be loved, we NEED to be accepted, we were made to belong to each other and to belong to God.

Kya was not inherently rejectable. Neither am I. Neither are you.

This world is just not what it was meant to be. Neither am I. Neither are you.

We are all bouncing around, bumping into each other's bruises and scars, reacting out of our own pain, getting hurt, hurting others - this is still true.

Where The Crawdads Sing Christian Review

But I am no longer at the mercy of every threat of rejection.

Because Jesus.

He says I am worthy of love. He accepts me exactly as I am right now and He loves me toward growing into the person I was made to be - He makes me more and more and more myself. He never rejects. He never abandons. He always loves - the love never stops flowing and it can't be taken away from me.

Love and acceptance from people are like cool waters washing over us under a summer sun - it is a lovely feeling, and comfortable, but when it is gone - when it is not immediately available - we forget.

Rejection though - rejection cuts bloody gashes into our skin. Eventually it turns to scar, but even one wound stays with us.

I know I can't hope to walk out the rest of my days on this planet avoiding rejection. I'll rack up a few more scars I'm sure, but any bloody gash from a human is immediately met with the cool washing waters of love and acceptance flowing over me 24/7.

We need love and acceptance that flows freely and never stops. We can't get this from people - the love of other humans is beautiful and a gift and something to be sought after and cherished, but it is imperfect. I need - we need - the perfect love of Jesus.

You can bump into me when your own bruises and scars flare up, you can hurt me out of your own pain, but my reaction now is not to isolate. I don't run away and nurse my wounds and convince myself to wall up and keep everyone out - I run to Him.

I loved this book. It showed me my own brokenness in a new way and it showed me my redemption in a new way.

I’m Not A Whoopee Cushion: Thoughts On Contentment

Contentment in Christ Whoppee Cushion

I got some great news today. In the wake of it I was giddy - the little surprise had my smile wide, my head high, my step light.

And then I was reminded of something stressful - something that has weighed on me for months and is coming to a head this week.

As I shifted focus from the good news to the stressful event, I felt myself deflate. The positive air I was full with just seconds before leaked out, dropping my heart into my stomach and nearly convincing me I’d be more comfortable in a deep, dark hole somewhere.

I fell into an old trap - looking at my circumstances and letting them determine my feelings, instead of looking at my God and bringing contentment into the circumstance. (Philippians 4:11)

I was like a whoopee cushion - puffed up and inflated only until someone came along and sat on me.

But I’m not a whoopee cushion.

No butt is big enough to deflate me when I am filled by Him rather than my circumstances. (Romans 8:39)

I’ve got my eyes back on Him and I’m reminding myself His grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I can thank Him and enjoy the joy of the good surprise. I can thank Him and lean into His promise to work through all things for His glory as I remember the upcoming stressor. (Romans 8:28)

The good doesn’t artificially inflate me because I’m already full. The bad doesn’t deflate me because what’s in me isn’t thin air.

I am a child of The King, I am a citizen of The Kingdom, I’ve found the one thing I need and it will not be taken away. I am not a whoppee cushion.

We Weren’t Made To Fit In; We Were Made To Fit Together

Together in Christ there is room at the table

Let me tell you something, human person. 

You fit. 

But you don’t fit into some sort of scary Stepford mold - you are a nuanced human person.

You’re a living being made in the image of a living God.

You’re not a lego trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle or a round peg trying to squeeze into a square hole. 

You don’t have to sand yourself down, or suck it in, or conceal your wounds, or cover up to belong here. 

You weren’t made to fit in somewhere - you were made to fit together with someones. 

Pull up a chair and open your mouth and I’ll bet everything I have that we’ll find a source of connection, of togetherness.

Bring yourself, as you are. 

And if you’ve envisioned the table of Jesus Christ as a place for the put-together, for the ones wearing a certain type of clothes, having certain talents, being married, being parents, being ones who don’t make big mistakes, or ones who know the Bible - I want you to imagine Jesus flipping that table over.

The table where we gather has room for everyone. 

The table where we gather is one where you belong.

You.

You don’t have to change your clothes, 

Or your mannerisms,

Or your language,

Or even your beliefs

To find a seat here. 

Sit down. Let me tell you about Jesus, who knows you and loves you and carved out a place for you at this table before you ever knew His name.

I’m scooting over for you right now because there is always room at His table.

Do Through The Doubt

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I have moments, hours, days where I feel so empty of hope and disillusioned with this world that I want to quit. 

Moments where I wonder if God is there, if He hears me, if He is ignoring or rolling His eyes or punishing or toying with me. I am not one to question His existence, but I often question His goodness. 

I question whether I heard Him correctly, whether I am walking the right path, whether the things I’m pouring myself into are really from Him, will really have eternal weight. 

Sometimes I can barely breathe from the weight of it.

Sometimes I want to shake and pace and scream with frustration over being stuck here where I’ve never felt I was meant to be. 

And while it is comforting to repeat truths to myself – to remind myself God is awesome, to remind myself life is short, to remind myself this isn’t home, to remind myself of all the times He has provided and loved and come through for me – sometimes what my heart needs is to leak or pour or gush out the things weighing it down.

I need to lament. And because I am a writer who tends toward the poetic, these little lamentations come out of me. I’ve decided to put them here in this book because much like the ones in scripture, and many of the Psalms, I think it can be a comfort to recognize your own pain and suffering and frustration in the lamentations of another.

My wish for these is that one or more would leave you feeling less alone, less isolated, and in such a state you might look up and find the one who loves you most has been there all along, unchanging, unwavering.

He is good. I cannot ever hope to understand Him, but I can become more and more convinced He is good. I cannot figure out why He does what He does and doesn’t do things I think He should, but I can fall more and more in love with Him. 

And I don’t have to hide the things in my heart – the sorrows and the doubts and the anger – because He knows them already and He has already loved me through it and He wants me laid bare before Him. 


*This is an excerpt from my book “Capturing Thoughts", which includes a section of laments. I am printing all preordered books + 50 extra copies in July. Preorder on Kickstarter by July 10th*

Grateful For My Anxiety

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It’s funny how one day I can be in a state of near- full surrender, of kingdom-mindedness, of eternal focus, and the next day I can be a tightly wound ball of anxiety with my eyes fixated on the temporal and my thoughts magnifying what isn’t going my way.

I’m working on a collection of short meditations on anxiety right now. They are the things I say to myself and to others - and the things I think God says to us - when we are rolling in the muck of it. But as I write these down, as I contemplate the anxiety monster, I find myself incredibly grateful.

The knot in my stomach, the tsunami of thoughts, the tightness in my chest, the trembling limbs - they light up the cockpit of my life and remind me, painfully, to get out of the pilot’s seat.

In this way, the anxiety is a gift. For me it is a clear heads up to get my head up.

It still sucks. I don’t love it. At its best it is mildly aggravating, 
at its worst it is soul crushing. It’s a monster we won’t be bothered with on the other side of eternity.

But I’m grateful for the way it has taught me to shift focus.

For how it teaches me surrender.

For how it won’t let me be the pilot - how as soon as I take control of the cockpit it wakes up and sounds every alarm.

I don’t love it, but I’m grateful.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

*This little book of meditations, lamentations, and prayers is going to print in July. When you preorder through Kickstarter, shipping is on me. CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY KICKSTARTER PAGE

 

He Spoke And The Universe Appeared: Let Me Introduce You To My Good, Good, God.

Photo by   Rakicevic Nenad   from   Pexels

He spoke and the universe appeared. Full stop. He spoke. He said a word.

And everything in this natural world appeared. Everything you’ve ever seen, felt, heard is here because He simply spoke it into existence.

Imagine speaking and watching as what you spoke appeared. Imagine willing something into existence. It is almost unfathomable to me.

Yet, almost daily, I find myself telling my God - my God who spoke a word and saw the universe appear - I find myself telling Him how something should be done, where He should interfere, where He should move.

Me.

Telling Him.

It’s ludicrous.

But the best part of the whole thing is this -

God doesn’t squash me or punish me or wave me off with a “How dare you!”

He tucks me under His arm and whispers “I got this,” and He reminds me who He is and what He can do and He lifts my chin and pulls my shoulders back and he calls me “daughter.”

He loves me.

Let me introduce you to my uncontrollable,

unshakeable,

unrelenting,

undeniable God.

He is good.

He is mine.

I am His.

I'm Not a Statue, I'm a Voice in a Microphone: Loving Jesus When You're a Mess

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"I don't really want to be here - in this body, in this place. I don't really want to be here, looking out from behind this face.”

These are the opening lyrics to a song I wrote when I was about 13. I was miserable. I was desperate. I hated being alive. And I hid those feelings from everyone.

I didn't know God then, but I'm sure I would have hidden from Him too.

Even though I know we are all broken, even though I know it is our flaws and our need that pushes us toward God, even thought I know it is my imperfections and my mess that will be a microphone for the Gospel - even though, I still hide the mess when I'm in the middle of it.

I often wait until I've already dealt with something before I talk to any of my people about it. I don't let them see the raw, aching, gut wrenching part - the part where I doubt and I wrestle - I wait until it's over.

And it's not that I leave those parts out of the story I tell, it's that I'm keeping my people out of those parts of the story. I'll tell them all about it - when it's over, when it's wrapped up a bit, when I feel like I have a handle on it - but too often I leave them out of the messy middle.

Too often I leave God out of the messy middle.

And with depression and anxiety - this can literally kill us.

When I leave God out of the messy middle, I inevitably arrive here - "I don't really want to be here - in this body, in this place."

I arrive in my familiar hidey hole, surrounded by anger and cynicism and angst, curled up in a little ball, breathing quietly, hoping no one will find me here, wishing I would turn to dust.

In the messy middle of anxiety, there are whispers. The whispers say you wouldn't be here if you REALLY knew God, or alternatively, you wouldn't be here if God is REAL.

Those whispers are lying.

I don't need to mend myself for God to be with me. He is near the broken.

I don't need to peel my own self off the floor - He saves the crushed.

I'm NOT a monument - I'm NOT a shiny, beautiful, unmoving sculpture pointing people to Him.

I'm a voice in a microphone - flawed and raw, a living, breathing, messy testament to His redemptive power.

Shame and hiding and pretending and white washing - these pave my road to more brokenness.

Honesty, vulnerability, laying it down on the altar - these pave my road to redemption, these will amplify the good news of the Gospel, these will be the microphone for my voice.

And I will lift my voice. From the messy middle, if I have to, I will lift my voice. I will tell the good news. As long as I have breath, I will speak into this microphone. I will whisper prayers for the ears who hear. I will spend myself for this worthy cause - for the glory of God, for adding to the Kingdom population, for you.

Quit Striving

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I think the only striving and effort in the Christian faith is striving to know God more - to seek Him and Love Him and know Him more each day. To crawl continuously toward Him. To sit at His feet. To know His word, His will.

In knowing Him more, we are the salt who does not loose it's flavor. Salt does not try to be salty, it doesn't strive toward more saltiness - it just is. And those who encounter it know it is salty - no proclamation needed.

If we shine with the light of Christ it is because He is in us. The light does not come from trying super hard to be righteous and generous and faithful - it simply shines because we know Him and He is in us. 

It would have to be actively hidden to not be seen.

A list of accomplishments, notches on a belt, strings of good deeds, piles of avoided sin - these flow naturally and unmeasured from a soul filled with His light.

But if I do to get God, if I make my lists and notches and piles my focus, if I plaster myself with light rather than simply being light, I do nothing more than paint another layer of whitewash on a tomb.

Taking A Second To Say Wow

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I’m taking a second to say WOW.
To say THANK YOU.
To say I CANT WAIT TO SEE ETERNITY.

I’ve been ruminating this last week on pain - the news cycle brings word of big, nasty, disastrous pain and closer to home is the somehow more real to me pain of friends losing pieces of their hearts.

And I want to say “oh death, where is your sting?” And I want to mean it, but to be honest I can see the sting right now. It is right in our faces sometimes and it’s worse than a sting - it’s a throat punch, it’s suffocating, it’s gutting. **
So I’m taking a second to say WOW - to look around and find a reminder God is real and good and alive. Something that makes my soul do a little flip and sends a chill up my spine and forces a puff of air from my lungs because WOW.

I’m taking a moment to say THANK YOU - to replay those ways He proved His love last week, last month, last year, last decade. I’m saying thank you for life and for purpose and for contentment.

I’m saying I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE ETERNITY as a way to remind myself it is coming - to remind myself mourning is not forever.


God is awesome. Life is short. This isn’t home. So I raise unclenched, reaching hands toward heaven and say WOW & THANK YOU & I CANNOT WAIT.

Dear Graduates:

Dear Graduates on stevieswift.com

Dear Graduates:

 I hope you will forget a lot of what you’ve learned so far.

I hope you will forget how to stand in line in response to a bell, how to go somewhere someone else told you to be simply because they said so, how to sit quietly and idly and wait for a clock to tick a certain number of times before you rush into the things that give you life.

I hope you forget to raise your hand to speak and to create three drafts before you share what you write, because sometimes you need to speak that thing on your heart without permission and without editing. Sometimes you need to get it out and sometimes it’s someone else who needs it in – whatever it is, I hope you say it.

I hope you forget how to read for an answer to prove you’ve read and I hope you find words that feed your soul. And instead of committing them to memory, I hope you let them roll around and shake you up and find a permanent place in your heart.

I hope you forget to respond to someone else’s bells and whistles and timetables for your day, for you life. Because everyone can’t fit on the same train and go to the same place at the same time. This big wide world has room for us all, but your short little life doesn’t have room to take in the whole world, and what a waste if you become another one of Pavlov’s dogs responding to commands until you shrivel.

But most importantly . . .

I hope you forget a lot of what they have told you about God, because the only thing they, and me, can do is point you toward Him or point you away from Him. You have to meet Him yourself, you have to come face to face with Him yourself, your soul has to have that moment where it is enraptured by the reality that is God, where you can’t not worship. 

If you have had this, keep chasing Him and following Him and seeking Him, but if you haven’t, don’t stop seeking until you have it. It is the most important thing you can do in this life. And that is an understatement because He IS life, He is breath and beauty and the fire inside of you and the most purposeful, only purposeful, thing you could ever chase.  

Did You See My Daughter Today?

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Did you see her? Did you see my daughter? She was moving slowly. Probably too slow for you. She wasn’t trying to be in your way - it’s just harder to maneuver the cart than it used to be - did you wait patiently? Did you see my daughter today?


She might not have looked up at you and smiled, but it’s just because she’s nervous to be out. Nervous about what she can’t do anymore, what she can’t reach. Did you see her? Did you offer to grab the thing off the high shelf? Did you see my daughter today?

She hasn’t left her house since last time she came here for groceries. She was excited to be around people - to see children, to see couples holding hands, to talk to someone, even if it’s only the cashier who makes conversation. Did you say hello? Did you see my daughter today?

I see her every minute of every day. And I love her. She brings me joy always, as you do. I thought today, when you crossed paths, you might bring each other a bit of joy. Did you? Did you see my daughter today?