Men, Eggplant, and Fat Coats

I haven’t blogged in a while.

I like to write when I have clarity about what season I am in, what God is doing, or after major revelations or breakthrough.

But in efforts to maintain the mission and integrity of this blog, I have always felt the conviction to write about the process. The middle and in-between stages of life. The normal… at times, mundane… things.

So this is an in-process post.

I don’t have major revelation or breakthrough. Just small ones… little bits and pieces that God is teaching me in the small moments.

This post might seem like a ramble. But I’ve decided to write the small revelations I have gotten in the past month. Not just when the breakthrough happens, just the learning and the in-process moments that I am currently in. Because for some of these, the breakthrough hasn’t happened yet. The truth and revelation are there. But the sinking in and accepting it as a reality in my heart hasn’t occurred yet.

It will. In time.

But for now… I process.

#1) We have to let men be men. My goodness, have I received and realized this conviction in the past month. My relationship has recently taken a “re-vamp,” if you will, after a few hard conversations, followed by a couple of weeks on a break to let God speak and work on us. I had become frustrated that he wasn’t leading how I wanted him to… Was his work ethic an issue? Did he have ambition or drive? Follow-through? These questions surged as I forced my hand into his life, bringing about my own motion to things I felt he should be working towards, trying to make him the guy I would want to be with. I led. I controlled and didn’t let go. Until I broke. And realized that what was happening wasn’t sustainable. If we wanted a successful, kingdom-minded relationship, he didn’t just have to lead. I had to let go. I had to take a step back… let him grow… give him space to step up.

And this is the moment. Because, women – the moment you let go, real men will step up and lead. As women, that is often the most terrifying part; letting go and trusting someone else with the plans. Trusting someone will take charge of their life and therefore lead you well. Real men will do it. They will shape up, get their life together, chase after their dreams and goals, and pursue you with everything they have. They just need to be given space to do it. And you must make the choice to relinquish your control over his life or keep trying to take the lead. Show him you believe in him enough to lead you.

Men don’t need more mothers. They need best friends, supporters, believers, cheerleaders, partners. Women who will be with them in the trial and error, the failure and the success. 

#2) Shame is stupid. I’ve realized there are two things that keep us out of the Throne Room of God – our sin and our shame about our sin. Shame is just as much of a hindrance to intimacy with God as our sin. It is our sin that puts a barrier between us and God, but when we realize our sin and are too shameful to run to Him in it, we are refusing to walk out of a jail cell that isn’t even locked. God is the safest place to go to in our mess. It is why David is considered a man after God’s own heart, despite being an adulterer and murderer. Because in his darkest and most shameful sin, He RAN, broken, unhindered and unfiltered, into the Throne Room and the arms of a loving Father, full of repentance and desperate for forgiveness.

#3) Comparison makes me want to vomit lately. Last week a female co-worker looked me up and down and then asked if I wanted a winter coat. She had bought it when she weighed 180-190 and was “very large” and now it simply was way too big on her (she AND her dog fit in it)…so she thought I’d want it. I looked at her wide-eyed and smiled that I would love the coat, later sulking in this realization that this woman not only thought I was much larger than she was, but also assumed I weighed around 180-190 lbs. It was a comparison trap – bait that was sitting there, waiting for me to take, telling me that I should absorb the words into my being, compare how my beauty measures up to the women around me, and immediately begin dieting. Women! We must put an end to this! Be the most complete version of you that you were created to be! You are enough! Stop provoking comparison out of other women by self-promoting. Rant over.

#4) Joy the Baker’s new cookbook is changing my life. Changing my life is an exaggeration. But I’m totally in love with it. It’s worth every penny. Buy it.

#5) Spaghetti squash and eggplant are secretly delicious. I’m obsessing about these two things right now. I made this recipe for a friend and it was TO DIE FOR. I’ve also been eating too much eggplant parmesan because Trader Joe’s sells these breaded eggplant cutlets in the frozen food section and they are unbelievable. Pan-sear them, sprinkle parmesan on them, the serve them over spaghetti and a tomato sauce of your choice. SO good.

This ended up being more of a top 5 things that are on my mind right now. Pick and choose which one you’d like to hold on to for your week.

We Showed Up

My first year of college was transformational, weird, and wonderful.

I had moved 12 hours away from my family to attend a college where I knew 2 people, in a state I had been to twice. It was terrifying yet thrilling.

But one of the most frightening things was walking into a dining hall as a freshman.

I asked a few college freshmen earlier this week if they knew what I was talking about… they didn’t. So this very-well could just be me.

 

I would walk into a dining hall for lunch or dinner those first few months of college and become absolutely terrified. After surveying all the options, circling the dining hall a few times, then deciding exactly what I wanted, I would more often than not get my food to-go and eat it back in my dorm while watching America’s Next Top Model. Dining halls were scary. They were filled with lines, and so many choices, and more intimidatingly, people I didn’t know… who didn’t know me, but seemed to know each other very, very well.

My first couple of months of college were filled with lonely meals. Not because I didn’t have friends yet or because I was anti-social, but because I didn’t know where my family was.

 

You see, I had spent the first 18 years of my life coming home from school and having dinner with my family. That’s just how things worked in my house. Meals were connect times with people who loved me and wanted to hear about my life. And college was seeming to be a place where I’d have to go without them.

 

But there’s a shift that happens that no one tells you about towards the middle of your freshmen year. You realize that you can still have your family. It’s just going to look a little different now.

You have to allow your friends to become your family.

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This wasn’t an overnight thing for my friend group. It was a gradual thing that came after we had all subconsciously made some choices. And even now, as a young adult, I’m finding we still have to make these choices in order to keep having family. But as a young adult, these decisions must be way more intentional.

 

Looking back, I realize there were a few key decisions we all had made, un-voiced in our hearts.

  1. We decided to eat together. It sounds simple, but there is something about having a meal together that bonds people. Shauna Niequist says it best: “When we stop everything else to gather around the table and eat a meal…, we honor our bodies and the God who created them… And in that moment we acknowledge that even though life is fast and frantic, we’re not machines and we do require nourishment, physically and otherwise.” You must make an effort to eat meals with your friends. Cook for them. Let them cook for you. Sit at a table with them and enjoy every bit of the meal and company that is placed in front of you.
  2. We decided to be honest with each other. Enough with the word “fine.” When someone asks you how your day is, believe that they actually want to know. They don’t want to hear that your day was “fine.” “Fine” is the most generic and superficial answer we can give. But when we choose to believe someone cares about our day, walls are brought down and family is formed. It allows bonds to be made that proclaim “I know the season you’re in. I get it. I’m with you in it.”
  3. We decided to run errands together. My friend, Jeff, is a prime example of this. We became friends our first week of college, but he quickly became family. I’m pretty sure I ran more errands with him than any of my other friends… possibly even my real family; trips to WalMart, HEB, the mall, Jimmy John’s, wherever. He became my brother because we were together and doing the boring, mundane stuff of life together. You get to know people really well after you take a trip to Target with them. And then I started thinking how different college would’ve been if I had run those errands alone. Don’t run errands alone, friends. Drag someone along. Chances are, they need toilet paper too.
  4. We decided to become texters. If you aren’t a texter now, start becoming one. Some people are anti-group-text but I am ALL about them. It’s an amazing thing to have a piece of communication where plans can be organized and everyone can be in on it. Yes, your group-texts will sometimes go off into rabbit-trails about the latest Iron Man movie or why creamy peanut butter is way better than crunchy. Just let it happen. While we’re talking about this, let me add – you should respond to texts! Send people “How’s your day going?” texts. Be intentional. And yes, you have time for this. It takes about 15 seconds to send a text.
  5. We decided to show up. It didn’t matter who was initiating the hang out… it didn’t matter if I knew 2 or 20 people there… it didn’t matter if I had no interest in the movie we were watching or the restaurant we were going to…  if I was available, I showed up. As a “family”, we became committed to celebration – the big and little things. We chose to mourn with each other when things were hard. We came to performances, dinners with parents, birthday parties, prayer times. We decided to be there… when it was most difficult, when life was crazy, when we were tired. We chose to be there.
  6. We decided not to run away when things got hard. And things DID get hard. Disagreements were had. Breakups happened. Awkward conversations were braved. But we chose to press in when things got uncomfortable. We didn’t stop showing up because things were awkward. We didn’t stop showing up because we were offended. We had the hard, necessary, clarifying conversations. We tried our hardest to accept correction with humility and not pride. We stayed vulnerable. We forgave. We extended grace to each other in our messiness and mistakes. We learned how to do life together, not alone.





The key was pressing in.. being present.. acknowledging the now moments and living fully awake in them. It was being free from comparison by celebrating the accomplishments of another “family” member. It was realizing that each person, despite their own weaknesses, had something entirely unique that the “family” needed. It was loving the imperfections, walking through the mess, and allowing your friends to become one of closest families you’ve know.

 

My Groaning and His Glory

I wish I could just let you read my journal from the past few months. The pain, the timing, the oh-so-perfect alignment, and the now-evident irony.

 

You might’ve gotten a feel of it from my posts from this summer… But since April, I’ve been full of groaning. Groaning that might not have manifested itself in the natural but was more than felt by my spirit in the unseen. This feeling of longing… that if I have to wait any longer for something to change, I just might die.

 

It was this terrible battle inside of me.

I wanted to quit. To give up hoping. Abandon ship.

But I also knew that if I stopped hoping, I would die. 

I had to hold on to hope; to hold on to the unseen belief that He is trustworthy and good. Because without it, I would be dead where I stood.

 

I say “dead” like it would’ve really happened because that’s how it felt. The hoping was painful but the quitting was sure to be even more so.

 

There was nothing I could see to make me believe He was moving – nothing I could even feel to make me believe He was actually listening to the painful groaning of my anxious heart. Peace came in waves. When one revelation of hope washed over me, it was soon followed by doubts and lies that swarmed me like bees.

In the morning, I could wake up fine. But by 3 pm, I would be overwhelmed with everything that needed to be taken care of that I had absolutely no control over.

 

I couldn’t put my hand to anything. Nothing I did could bring about forward motion.

I was forced to be still. 

To move when He said move, but mostly to be still. To press in when He said press in, but mostly… to be still.

 

But He was listening.

 

When I didn’t see it or feel it, He was listening.

He was behind the scenes, silently orchestrating every little detail.

 

As I groaned, He held me, not saying a word but allowing me to dig deep into the truth of who He really was.

I dug for answers. I dug for revelation. I dug for truth – something to hold on to.

He mended my heart. He brought up places of pain, hurt, neglect, and doubt. Every inch of them, He brought to light. I tried to not feel, but He pressed in. Trust me, He begged. Hope in meHe reminded. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are my ways your ways. Trust for the fulfillment.

 

“But why?” I wanted to, and often did, scream at Him. “God, what is the purpose of hope?”

“Hope keeps your heart alive. It keeps it healthy… beating… thriving. It allows you to see things that haven’t happened yet. It allows you to laugh through pain. It supplies oxygen to your lungs. It keeps you breathing. You must hope in my Goodness.”

 

So I chose to believe for provision, for fulfillment, for answers to promises. That I wouldn’t be numb forever. I wouldn’t be stuck in the same thought patterns forever. That the season WOULD shift.

 

I just had to wait.

 

He loved me in the middle of my mess and impatience. He loved me despite my doubts that He did. When I told Him that there wasn’t any way He really loved me, He never left… He just made Himself even more near… never angered or frustrated. Always loving.

 

And then just like that, one day, everything shifts.

You feel it. Something in your bones says “Today is the day that everything changes. Today’s the day that we’re done with that old season and we’re walking into a new one.”

 

For me, it started with a new house. 

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A house that has almost every minor detail I’ve secretly wanted. A house that has enough room for hosting people. A house that I have come alive decorating and creating in already. A house God promised I would have when I moved to Raleigh… I just had to wait a year for it.

 

It was then followed by a table. 

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A table that was totally free. A table that should’ve cost a month’s rent. A table that can comfortably seat 8. A table that makes my heart flutter with dreams of dinner parties that fill people, body and soul. A table that is a symbol of a dream of God in my heart and this is only the beginning of the fulfillment.

 

And then there’s this last part.

How when I left California, I felt like God had said “Let’s go home and buy you a car.” How after that, I just chuckled and said, “Well okay. This should be good because I have $350.” But this time, there was no doubt that followed. I knew it was going to happen, despite the facts. So I came home and told a few people “This week, I’m buying a car.”

I asked God for specifics.

He mentioned a silver 2009 Nissan Versa with 110,000 miles on it. And something about $3000.

 

Last Sunday, I texted a friend to pray for provision for a car. This is the same friend who prayed for me to get a job this time last year, and two days later I did. The guy has serious favor for asking for big things. So he prayed.

 

On Monday, I came home with one of my friends to my roommate in the kitchen. We started talking and then I heard what sounds like running coming from the other side of the house. In seconds, about 12 of my friends swarmed my living room, cheering and yelling! Confused, I start laughing and said “What’s going on?!” They told me that we were having a surprise encouragement night for me (!!!) and then a worship night. I was so overwhelmed. Surprises are one of my love languages but it is extremely hard to surprise me. Apparently not as hard as I thought though, because I had absolutely no clue this was happening.

So they each took turns encouraging me. My heart felt like lava was being poured in it. Refreshment washed over me and I was totally undone with love.

 

My roommate ended the encouragement time by hanging me a gift bag with an envelope inside. I opened it to find a stack of 100-dollar-bills and started bawling. “That’s a little over $2500 we raised for a car.”

 

Undone.

 

Overwhelmed.

 

The tears could not stop flowing as I covered my mouth and looked around the room of my friends, cheering and clapping.

 

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He had heard.

This whole time, when I had doubted that He had heard, He was actually rallying the troops. He had been organizing a battle plan all along. He had been moving on my behalf when I couldn’t see it.

 

This weekend, with the money my friends spent a month and half raising for me, I’m going to be able to put down exactly $3000 on a 2009 silver Nissan Versa that has about 110,000 miles on it.

 

 

He’s a God of breakthrough. He’s a God of fulfillment. He finishes what He starts.