OneWord 2016

I have been thinking, praying, and hoping to come up with my “one word” for 2016 for several days now. And, even though I actually did start thinking about it before January 1 this year, it wasn’t until yesterday that something finally came to me.  So, in typical Lindsey fashion, here is the post that most people would publish on the first day of the year, on January 4th.

I am frequently frustrated that spiritual change doesn’t come the way I wish that it did or the way that I expect it to, even though I’ve been a Christian for most of my life. I still expect the birth of spiritual things in me to happen the way birth happens in the movies even though I know that birth takes time. That it’s slow and subtle and that most of the work is done in the waiting, in the holding on and leaning into the ache.   That only at the end of birth, while that newborn baby nurses for the first time, do we look back and say “Yes, I must have been in labor then.”

This way of thinking has been unlike what I have previously termed “Spiritual Growth,” for I am not setting out with a plan or a goal or a list of character qualities to grow in myself. No, this spiritual birth I am describing is a lot more about God than it is about us and the kind of people we are. It is in the gazing long and hard and in community at the God of the Bible that we find ourselves changed, that we see spiritual birth in our lives and celebrate the births in the lives of others.

And it is for this reason that I waited and I let my word for the year come on its own, that I am through calculating and orchestrating spiritual growth, that I am ready to lean in to the waiting, to allow the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and the community of faith to work lasting, meaningful change in my heart, rather than attempting to cook something up with good words or nice thoughts or even noble goals for character improvement. I have been where those things lead me. And it was self-centered striving, heartbreaking disappointment, and ugly pride.

I have heard it said that the spiritual disciplines put us in the way of God’s grace—that as we read the Word, pray, confess sin, and spend time with the Lord and with one another, we open ourselves up to the life changing work of the Holy Spirit. To the grace that changes our hearts.

And this is why, my friends, I am excited about my one word for this year. Because it really has been months and months in the coming. That as I held this word in my heart, as I wrote it down over and over again, as I spelled it out in refrigerator magnets, I have looked back on my life and said, “Yes, I must have been in labor then.”

But birth is only the beginning, isn’t it? I am eager to see the way the Lord makes this word a part of me in the year to come, the way he who began a good work in me will keep on working.

My #oneword for 2016?

Living Room Liturgy: Third Week of November

Psalm 37

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him…

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, 

and his tongue speaks justice. 

The law of his God is in his heart, 

his steps do not slip.” 

Today, Lord, make me still before you.

In a world that rushes to do violence and to repay violence, may my heart hush still before you, eager for your wisdom.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him.

When my heart is tempted to worry and to preoccupation with the ache of our world, steady it with your wisdom.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

When all my heart can muster is fretful longing, fill it with the delight of the Lord.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

When the world creaks with sin’s ugly brokenness, remind me that sin is always first an offense against a Holy God.

Be still before the Lord.

When I come upon injustice in the world, in my home, in my community, be my voice.

Wait patiently before him.

When I choose complacency and convenience over justice and mercy, lead me in the way of righteousness.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

When this world’s brokenness and wickedness and injustice tempts me to close up, help me to open up the very same way your son did.

Mark my life by the generosity of the cross.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

Whatever interruption shakes the world, my country, my community, my family today, may I be found stubbornly trusting in your Lordship.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

Though all I have fall aside, though wickedness prospers, You, Lord, uphold my life. You are the keeper of my soul. 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

As you daily teach this truth to my heart, may it move me to a place of fearless righteousness and resolute mercy.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

Make us Generous

It’s a quiet September morning. It has taken all my energy and stamina, but I have loaded up a toddler and my very pregnant self into a car and driven a half hour to a church building full of women I have never met before, praying that my very obvious pregnant stomach will act as a buffer for my awkwardness around people I don’t know.

I have braced myself for sympathetic smiles and circles from which I am excluded and less-than-enthusiastic welcome for my daughter, who has never been away from me before and doesn’t actually fit into the appropriate age category.

After all, I am new here and this is a church.

I am met by something much different from my expectations. I am welcomed. My child is welcomed. And over the next 9 months, that welcome continues to grow to include my new baby for whom there technically is no class, but somehow always is someone willing to hold her.

It has been a year, I now bundle up my two toddlers, load them and my (very non-pregnant) self into the van and drive the ever-so-worth-it 30 minute drive to my Bible Study. Our Bible Study. The anticipation grows, and I am greeted and greet others by name, gather in that familiar circle, and our leader smiles warmly and begins to pray. Her words strike me deep in the heart, between deep breaths and the smell of fresh coffee.

“May we be generous…”

Generous? At first I assume she is referencing the offering envelopes we pass around the circle each week. And then I listen again, and I hear what she is saying. I hear what the Lord is saying.

“May we be generous as we share with one another.”

Her prayer is that we will share generously the truth that has been generously shared with us, that the grace extended to us we will freely extend to one another.

I wipe a tear from my eye and lift my head, eager to share with these women who have become such a welcoming place for me.  Eager to receive all the Lord has for us this morning.  Eager to be generous.

For me this is a place where it is easy to be generous. Where I walk in feeling like I’m brimming with insight and joy and expectation, and leave just as full as ever I walked in, full of new insight and joy and anticipation.

Another day, I sit in a different circle, and my heart breathes that prayer quiet, Lord make me generous. Here it is not so easy. Here I do not always leave feeling affirmed and encouraged. Here I often feel misunderstood and marginalized.  It is not easy to be generous.

Weeks later, I sit in my living room alone and feel that familiar pang. The sting of being misunderstood and alone. That homesick longing for “my people” rises in my heart and I’m tempted to wish those if onlys.  And the Lord reminds me again that he can make me generous.

He, the very same God who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things?

Jesus. Very God of Very God.  The God who became a man and gave himself for us and for our salvation.


Though he was misunderstood and marginalized.

Accused and brutally murdered.

Generously. Gave Himself.

And while the pang is still fresh in my heart, while my eyes still feel the sting of tears as I think of familiar people and comfortable places, I feel his hand gentle around mine, carefully prying clenched fingers open. The generous king making me generous.

Living Room Liturgy: second week of november

Psalm 43

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me.

Lord, as I take my steps today, make me a channel of your grace.

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me. 

As I move through the rhythms of my day,  make my ears quick to hear your voice and my feet ready to obey.

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me. 

As I speak to my children, husband, friends, co-workers, family members, strangers may my words be filled with your truth and rich in love.

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me. 

As I walk in the way set before me today, may I be attentive to the presence of your Holy Spirit.

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me. 

When I stumble, Lord correct me.

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me. 

Lord, by your grace, grant that i may live today as artwork and offering to the glory of your name and the coming of your kingdom.

Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me. 


if you wouldn’t call yourself an activist…

Friend, I understand. I know what it’s like to see that news story, turn your head away from that television, cover your ears when someone starts to talk about that tragedy. I understand. I have been there.

I understand worrying about sleeping at night, about how hearing about horrors might be fodder for your active imagination, about how you have to fight to keep your perspective.  I understand not wanting to engage with brokenness. I am embarrassed, but I understand.

I understand the cold sweat when you decide you’re going to do it anyway, I understand the shaky breath and the terror that grips your heart when you realize that it will mean work and rethinking and resorting what you believe about God and life and politics. How it will mean more chipping away at the parts of us that don’t look like Jesus. I understand the way that wave of panic will sweep over you as you read, the way you will become overwhelmed.  I understand that it’s embarrassing and hard to admit that sometimes you shy away from things you know will cause growth because growing just seems too hard.

I also understand that most of the time you aren’t shying away from it because your heart is callused, but because you are desperately trying to learn how to think critically without having a critical spirit. I understand how bad theology, fear mongering, and random legalism can make true Christian activism seem about as overwhelming as the crisis.  I understand. Sister, I hear you. Brother, I see you.  I understand.  I see that every time you choose to read one of those stories it’s a sacrifice.  But I’m also learning to understand something else. Jesus is showing me that choosing not to read these stories– closing our eyes and shutting our ears and pretending like it doesn’t exist– is a luxury we gave up the day we joined Him on that cross.  A luxury he eschewed the day he refused to turn his face away from our sin,  took it on, and gave his life for us.

I understand the desire for a wise spirit. A discerning spirit. I know that longing for a spirit that loves truth. I understand the feeling that in order to keep from developing a critical spirit, it’s probably better if we just stay out of it. But I also understand that those feelings are a lie.

And I just want you to know, that somewhere in the midst of seeing broken children being picked over like they’re scraps from yesterday’s garbage, in the midst of seeing thousands of children displaced from their homes, while I hear about women who are making homes in shipping containers, Jesus keeps finding me. And he gently reminds me that even though these are big things, there are small obediences.  And that his kingdom is coming to a broken world.

I get it. I understand. Sometimes these words are the only ones big enough to hold the ache.

Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Sometimes, I sit there with a heavy heart searching a little red book I started reading in college. Sometimes activism looks a lot like Gethsemane.

For the just and proper use of your creation, Lord have Mercy

For the poor, the persecuted, the sick and all who suffer, for refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger; that they may be protected we pray to you O Lord.

Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Sometimes activism is swiping at tears, while ransacking our house for baby supplies and driving to the local crisis pregnancy center. Sometimes it’s opening your home and your heart to children who have no place to go. Sometimes it is signing a petition that says THERE IS ROOM HERE. Sometimes it’s giving money and sometimes it’s giving your winter coat and sometimes it’s buying a Burger King gift card for that couple who is just trying to feed their children. Sometimes it is making signs and posting selfies, and sometimes it is just choosing to open our eyes and refusing the luxury that Jesus refused first.

Sometimes Christian Activism is big and sometimes it is very small.  Every time, it’s Holy Spirit whispers in listening ears.

Dear friend, Jesus showed us a better way than worrying and hoarding and fearing. He showed us a better way than denying hearts and closed eyes and clenched hands. Jesus showed us that the way to an abundant life was to give our lives away.


I understand. I know that there is still so much I do not know, so much I will never understand. I recognize that I could never do enough research to be an expert on any of the social, political, or economical intricacies of the crises facing our broken world.   But I do know one thing:

Jesus loves people. He loves women. He loves children. He loves men. He is on the side of the broken, the oppressed, the ones bought and sold. He brings peace where there is violence and justice where there is oppression. He is on the side of life and life abundant. In some tiny way, as we stand with our garbage bags full of belongings, as we weep for the dead and the dying, as we beg our president to make room, as we look for ways to open our homes and our lives to the broken, I think we are learning to stand with him.

if i’m not blogging you should pray for my husband

We did this weird thing about a month ago. We got rid of our internet.

We were bluffing at first. I had read about how you just say, “No, I really don’t want one million channels thank you, and no I won’t pay that much just for your slowest internet, and we’ll cancel if you really charge us how much?!?

And they said oh, okay. And all of the sudden, we didn’t have the internet.

Now, of course anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that we still have limited access to the internet via our smartphones, which is nice and probably necessary.

Anyway, the no internet thing means that blogging has to be a little bit more intentional (and that we have to check Arrested Development DVDs out from the library). And with a baby who has decided she hates sleeping again and a house that just will not stay clean for. the. love. I haven’t really been writing at all, privately or publicly, and I am like a starving person.

I don’t like living like a starving person. That sentence in my little bio, about not missing the fullness of my life because of the business of my life? It’s not a cutesy phrase that I found on Pinterest or something that I thought sounded nice. It’s the real, serious, honest and true truth.

We were recently talking with our care group about what it means to be at peace, living in God’s rest, even while our lives are busy. For me, writing is one way I abide in Jesus and in the truth. It helps me make my home in all the goodness and peace and quiet no matter what the practical details of my life actually look like. Writing helps me to see my circumstances rightly as a means of beholding the Lord of all creation and glorifying him.

My last month or so has been spent trying to make a home in my circumstances. Kind of like staring at smudges on a windowpane rather than looking through the window to see what’s on the other side. Writing helps me to look, it puts me in a place where I can really see. And, for me, a life without writing is sad. And exhausting. And hard. I’m just really, really not good at it.

And that’s why, friends, I’m still here. I’m going to keep pressing on and continue to follow through this year. Because I have to. Because just as I learn with my successes: from organizing a 9 week blog series, to getting some kind of food on the table for dinner, to simply making sure my kids don’t eat all manner of the ground up food that carpets our floor; I also learn by my failing: from completely neglecting to abide in Christ, to losing my patience with my children, to being a really difficult person to live with.

As I look back on the last month, and I think of all of it together, the failures and the triumphs, I find that I’m really learning (slowly, so slowly) the same thing in all of it: that Jesus is sufficient, supreme, King. The only home for my heart and the only hope for my family.
Back in the dark days, we changed churches. It was a difficult decision, but it had kind of been a long time coming. One of our first Sundays at the new church, after months of feeling alienated from God, broken, and tired, we sang this song. When the chorus began, I wept. This song still brings me to tears on the regular.

Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.

Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.

At that time, our lives felt so empty. And now our lives feel so full. And the truth is still the same:

All we have is Christ.

Jesus is our life.