August 1, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Volume 107

Hey Y'all! Can you even believe it is AUGUST already?

I mean, AUGUST??? How can summer be almost over already? I hope you are enjoying it... savoring it a bit and doing things that cause time to slow just a little - at least now and then!

Featured today are posts by Lisha Epperson, Brene Brown, Kristen Welch, Lori Harris, Sarah Bessey, Michelle DeRusha, Alia Joy, JJ Peterson, Tony Kriz, a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

* This post by Lisha Epperson with Give My Grace: Trajectory... 
" My pace slows and for the first time since I started training –  I don’t have voices to soak up the monotony of my run. For the first time… I hear.  The sound of feet striking the ground. Making a connection with the cycle of what I’m doing, I feel my body hurled through space and bouncing back each time, a little farther.  I pay attention to the foot song that belongs to me, the heartbeat of my feet – the unique way I make contact with the earth. I’m quiet and slow, but strong. After a few minutes I’m focused, awakened, to life on the trail.

My dancer training kicks in. The self-instruction and correction, the direction. I’m telling myself where to go. I know how to make it work when the music stops. Improvisation is what dancers do but this is different because…this time, the quiet compels me to think for myself, by myself. In this quiet moment, I’m looking for answers.

Another dialogue begins. I hear now, the other voice dancers hear. The one that stifles freedom of movement, freezes creativity and makes me forget the grace of gods gravitational assistance. He orders my steps, pilots my path. I don’t have to worry so much about what’s next when I give Him control. He cares for me."

* This post from Brene Brown with The Most Dangerous Stories We Make Up... 
"As we enter the Rising Strong  launch countdown, I thought I’d share one of my favorite passages from the new book with you. Even though this is something I know in my head, it remains something I have to practice in my heart.

From Rising Strong:
The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity
Lovability: Many of my research participants who had gone through a painful breakup or divorce, been betrayed by a partner, or experienced a distant or uncaring relationship with a parent or family member spoke about responding to their pain with a story about being unlovable—a narrative questioning if they were worthy of being loved.
This may be the most dangerous conspiracy theory of all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past thirteen years, it’s this: Just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable."

* This post by Kristen Welch with 24 Lessons I Want To Teach My Daughter (Before She Leaves Home)...
"sat straight up in bed in the middle of the night, heart pounding.

“What is it, honey?” my husband asked groggily.

“Do you think she knows not to call boys? Have I told her that yet?” I asked.

He sighed.

It’s hard letting your daughter turn 15.

I remember being 15 years old. I think I cried every day that year, always trying to figure out how I fit in a one-size fits-all world.

She is more woman than girl now and she longs for independence and understanding. I’m learning to give her a little of both. She is strong—the change-the-world-kind.

24 Lessons I Want to Teach My Daughter (Before She Leaves Home)

Three years. That’s all I have left with my daughter at home. I long to teach her so many truths. Even though I know life is a great teacher and she’s got my stubborn streak. Yeah.

Last week at church, I watched a mom hug her 30 year old daughter goodbye as she and her family prepare to be missionaries in Africa. I cried seeing the look of pride and brokenness on the mother’s face. I don’t know where life will take my daughter, but I’m holding on a little tighter and learning to let go a little more every day.

And I’m making a list of the lessons I want to teach her (or continue to) before she leaves home:

Less is more–less makeup, less skin, less perfume, less selfies
There is a difference between being alone and being lonely: Life can be lonely, but you are never alone because God.
It’s okay to be alone.
One good friend is better than 10 who just like your new shoes.
If in doubt, always wash your clothes in cold water.
Failure is often a better teacher than success. Even though we usually prefer one over the other.
Don’t pursue a guy. If he’s into you, you’ll know. You don’t have to call or chase or change who you are. Just wait. The right one will come (you know, when you’re much older).
You are (skinnier) than you think  (prettier, taller, ____ fill in the blank). Embrace your looks. It’s a great way to say thanks to God. Looks aren’t everything, so don’t make everything about the way you look.
Always carry a little cash in your purse."
(Click through to read the whole list... it's very good!) 

This post by Lori Harris with On Marriage...
“You know you’ve reached the pinnacle of marriage and parenting when your oldest is old enough and responsible enough to babysit for a few hours while you and your main squeeze sneak out for a late dinner. 
We’re there, people. We. Are. There. {can you hear me cheering?}
There’s a great little Mexican place with outdoor seating overlooking the Tar River that has become our little getaway. It’s only a few miles from our house and although the food isn’t fabulous, we like the privacy of the deck upstairs, particularly the table under the tree. If we close one of our eyes and squint really hard, we can almost pretend we’re somewhere other than home. It’s a glorious retreat. 
Last night, after I’d fed the kids a throw together meal, we locked up the house and parked ourselves under that tree at Chicos. 
We chatted about church and work and writing and the kids. Everything always leads back to the kids, doesn’t it? 
And then we dug into talking about marriage. 

Last week, two of you messaged me privately and asked if 
I’d share how Thad and I have made our marriage work for 15 years. 

What have been our biggest mistakes? Greatest failures? Glorious successes? Do-Overs? Regrets? What have we learned about making marriage work? How have we managed to stick things out when things have hit the fan? Could we sum up marital success in just a few words?

I could write a book on all the things we’ve gotten wrong in marriage. 

But I won’t.

I’ll just give you the short story of us...” 

This post by Sarah Bessey with In praise of...
Listen to me lift my voice.

In praise of early mornings (oh, so early) because I wake up to a quiet house and I slowly work my way upstairs with Maggie in my arms. Of quietly shutting bedroom doors in a futile effort to keep tinies sleeping in and, oh, sing for that first cup of tea. In praise of babies rolling on the rug, scootching and stretching, and growing before our eyes. In praise of children who wake up warm, stumbling down the hall, looking for me.

In praise of a morning off from church in favour of, well, a rest: a rest from running around and going and showing up on time. In praise of quietly reading Scripture at the kitchen table with crumbs under my feet and of listening to my children sing their songs to Jesus when they think I’m not listening. In praise of ten thousand reasons and forevermore. In praise of taking a breath to stand outside and say hello to God.

In praise of loose leaf tea and the perfect mug. Of cold water and fresh food. Of hot showers and white sheets. In praise of deep breaths and slow kisses, of long hold-on-to-me hugs, of children draped on my lap begging for slow back scratches with my fingernails while watching television. In praise of Barbies on the floor and Legos under the bed, of full laundry baskets and towels on hooks, of books laid open and dog-eared decorating magazines.

In praise of sandwiches and oranges, of take-out pizza. In praise of still feeling the relief of pressing send on the email with the latest round of edits on my book, oh, that felt good...” 

This post by Michelle DeRusha with Why It’s Time to Step Across the Divide {and how I recently failed to do that myself}...
"A couple of months ago I attended a fundraising luncheon here in town. My friend Jess and I found three open spots at a table in the middle of the packed room (we saved a seat for our friend, Meg, who was arriving late), and as we sat down, I said hello to our tablemates. The three young women, all of whom were wearing hijab, the head covering typically worn by traditional Muslim women, politely returned my greeting. I then turned my attention to the menu and to my friend, and the three women resumed their conversation.

A few minutes later Meg arrived, and after Jess and I had chatted with her for a bit, I noticed that she then turned to the three Muslim women on her left. She greeted them, introduced herself, and engaged them in conversation. She learned their names. She asked what they did for a living and where they worked. The four of them chatted about Meg’s earrings.

It was a simple conversation, pretty basic as far as conversations go. But it was a conversation.

Two months later I’m still thinking about the marked difference between how Meg and I interacted with the three Muslim women and why that difference is important.

I had been polite, but guarded; Meg was warm and engaged.

I’d kept my distance; Meg made a genuine effort to connect.

After a cursory greeting, I had retreated to my comfortable, familiar place and talked with the person in my own circle; Meg stepped out to connect with three strangers, three people different from her and outside of her immediate comfort zone.

In short, I was content to let the three women remain “the other” – separate, distant, different. Meg made an effort to get to know the three women as real people.

We are living in a time of great racial unrest in America, and often, I find it’s easy for me to assume that these issues have nothing to do with me. I tell myself the rampant racial problems we are experiencing right now originate with and are perpetuated by “bad people,” racists, people other than me. I tell myself I’m not responsible for these problems, and therefore do not have a critical role in helping to remedy them. But in that I am wrong. I am responsible. I do have a role.

Chances are, we have more in common with those we deem different than we might assume, but in order to discover and embrace those commonalities, we first have to recognize and acknowledge where and how we define people as “other,” and then take a conscious step toward bridging that gap."

This post by Alia Joy over at Incourage with When You’re Called to a Ministry of Tears...
"How do we speak to the void we feel when prayers seem to echo unheard and vacancies take place in our hearts?

I feel the loss in my bones and I find myself weeping for a child I’ve never known. For a mother that’s yet to become. If she were here or I were there we’d share tears. I’d sit by her side and hold her hand and cry with her. I am realizing the importance of weeping with those who weep.

I am learning to love in the way I long to be loved. I am learning to love with a ministry of tears.

A few days ago, I gathered my things and lugged the suitcase out of the garage navigating my way through stacked cardboard boxes and piles of things we’re getting rid of, the neon garage sale stickers slapped onto items as they’re tossed aside to make room for the change that’s coming. I am stifled by the reminder that we’re moving and this four-day jaunt across the country will do little to help me get my to-do list checked off.

I drag the luggage up the stairs and lay it open on my bed. My closet is mostly packed away by now. I’ve a few dresses hanging still, ones I wear over and over, and I toss them in. They’re the same ones I wore last year to the (in)courage retreat. I will be the same but different. Last year I came without need or want. This year I come famished and with so much need I wonder if it lingers on my skin like a haunted thing reeking with longing.

This year has spread me thin. I am contrary. Worn thin like a wisp, sheer as gossamer yet weighted down with hefty burdens. I come weary and raw, tears just shy of the world always at the ready. I know to pack waterproof mascara if I pack anything at all."

* This one from JJ Peterson over at Storyline with How a "Step of Faith” Might Look Different Than You Imagined...
"We think we have to take the step (of faith) with confidence, because God might be disappointed in us if we have doubt in our step.

After all, we are taught that faith and doubt cannot coexist.

I disagree.

I think faith and doubt are two sides of the very same coin. 

Not that wisdom is bad, in fact it is needed in taking steps, but sometimes faith comes in when wisdom has reached it’s limits and one foot needs to be lifted to be placed in front on the other.

Take watching a toddler take his first steps, for example.

This is one of the most fun things you can experience.

Their steps are rarely large and they are never leaps. The hands generally wave wildly while bowed legs and pigeon turned feet try to hold up the massive weight of a body too large for the chubby untrained thighs to carry.

By any reasonable measure of success, the first step is usually a failure.

It doesn’t go very far, it ends in falling on their padded bottom, and many times is followed by tears.

A toddler’s first step is off balance, looks ridiculous, and ends in a flop almost every time.

But, the fun of watching a toddler take his first steps is nothing like the fun of watching his parents watch him take his first step.

There is cheering and laughter, encouragement and joy. And clapping, oh the clapping.

The moment is probably capture on film, and if not, there is disappointment. The tears of the parent are so different than the tears of the child, but the tears are often there.

Calls are made to relatives, posts go on social media, and there is always an attempt to try for a repeat.

There is no punishment for the fall, there is no disappointment in the awkwardness of the posture, there is no hope for leaps or running.

There is only joy in the tiny, little, uncomfortable, weak, trembling, pathetic, dangerous, amazing, life changing, party prompting step. Why? Because it was a step.

In moments of steps of faith, I’d like to imagine God like the parent of this wobbly toddler."

* This one from Tony Kriz with Live Like You Are From the Future: The Story of a Church the City Wants to Close Down...
"The strip mall could not have been more forgettable. It was in disrepair. But just like a first century Middle Eastern peasant man, externals can be deceiving. Serenity started on the western end. “This is our free store. All the neighbors, even those that complain about our presence, come to get clothes and other FullSizeRenderneeds.”

It took months of advocacy and phone calls to get a Narcotics Anonamous in this community. Now a full functioning and locally led NA facility abides as the mall’s center tenant.

Serenity, the consummate local leader and storyteller, peppered all of her descriptions with the names of personal friends and beloved neighbors that had joined the interrelated movements of that forgotten strip of storefronts.

“The church is technically called Valleybrook Vineyard, but no body knows it as that. We all just call it ‘Joe’s Addiction’.”

We entered the coffeehouse together and Serenity immediately forgot me to hug FullSizeRender_2her dear and, to others, invisible friends.

I took a seat by the west wall and I was immediately lost, enraptured really, in the beauty all around. The church is populated by addicts, dancers, friends from the street. Jamie (founding pastor and owner of Joe’s Addiction) and Eric led spirited and passionate worship. Wet faces lifted lyrics to the sky.

Pastor Serenity took the stage. There were 50 or so in the tight space. Her twenty-two year old eyes surveyed the room. It was clear that there was not a story in the room that she did not personally know and experience."

* This one from right HERE with Sunflowers, Prayer Walks, and How He Speaks To Us Through Flowers...
"I began to notice an abundance of sunflowers at every turn. Huge ones, small patches, some tall and towering, some just starting to climb. They were around every corner and down every road.

We were finding an unusual amount of gorgeous sunflowers. So much so that I asked God if He was speaking, because so often wonders surround us and His heart is singing over us truths that we long to hear, if only we would slow and tune our ears and hearts to listen.

Here's what I know about sunflowers: 
Each head is actually thousands of individual flowers -each petal is a ray flower, which speaks to me of keeping our own identity while being connected to community and of being a light! 
They are called sunflowers because they turn their face toward the sun... so I obviously love that! This speaks to me about our priority of being in His Presence and how we are drawn to Him... we are after Him and desire the warmth of His gaze.
They are extremely cheerful flowers and symbolize joy and adoration. Also, they grow rapidly in dry places... a burst of happy amidst the hard.

I'm sure if I dug around I could find more revelation, but this was enough for me!  A gift... a prophetic word... a bit of wonder waiting to be found. 

Some of these flowers were planted and cared for... some it seems just popped up and thrived anyway.

Yes, Lord.  Let it be so.

Let that be said of us. Let our hopes and dreams and very lives be like Sunflowers to those around us - full of joy and adoration... lifting heads and hearts to the sun... to the Son... strong and tall, just giving praise by simply standing and looking full on the face of God."

Lastly, we close This Thing up with a video each week and sometimes it is funny and sometimes it is worship... this time, well - it's a video over on vmeo for Amber Haines new book Wild in the Hollow... click HERE to watch this gorgeous book trailer!


Happy Weekend! 


  1. No kidding; where did summer go?? And gah...Brene Brown. So much goodness!! And that Michelle DeRusha post...oh how we all need to read that post. Also Alia Joy's post was one of my faves this week. Inanh ways it inspired my "Bottled Tears" post. Love you friend!!

    1. It's flying by, right? Why does it seem to go by so much faster the older we get? ;)


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