Blood, Sweat and Tears

If you still look cute at the end of your

Gentle Reader,

Now that you’ve read the above quote, please resist the urge to slam your laptop shut and walk away.

I’m not throwing stones here. I’m not even talking about exercise. So chill.

On Saturday I tuned into the Living Proof Live 2015 Simulcast. I’m all about a conference that I can attend while wearing my pajamas. I’m also of the opinion that Beth Moore is a very gifted teacher. (We can disagree on this. I will still love you). Her teaching this year zeroed in on the concept of audacity.

From my notes:

Audacity – intrepid boldness, disregard of normal restraints; not held back; resolute fearlessness; the guts to do it anyway; adventurous

The first image that comes to my mind as I continue to ponder those words and phrases is that of a mountain climber. You don’t decide to scale Everest without a healthy dose of grit and guts. You don’t decide to take on Denali without a sense of adventure. Despite the winds and the snow and the hunger and the near-inability to breathe, you do it anyway. You don’t shave. You don’t wear nice clothes. You’re exhausted. But you’re not thinking about anything like that. You’re out there to conquer this massive thing, this huge obstacle.

And you’re doing it because it’s fun.

Because it brings you joy.

This is what we’re missing. Life is hard. Life is serious. Denial is not part of faith. Sticking our heads in the sand is not part of loving Christ. Wars rage, tsunamis rumble, cancer strikes. Women are raped, children are orphaned, men toil in sweatshops. The world groans with longing. The spirits of all people cry out for the True Lord (whether they acknowledge Him or not). We have to face these things. We have to roll up our sleeves, put on our big kid pants and move into the pain. We have to bring light to the darkest corners of the globe. This is our mission as the people of God.

But we don’t have to do it with a sour expression.

We’re getting this wrong. We trudge through life. We wear our faith as this heavy badge of obligation. Many of us are ready to jump into arguments at a moment’s notice. (Often political arguments, which are ultimately meaningless and draw ridiculous dividing lines between people). We’re ready to use the Bible to beat people into submission.

Where is our joy?

Go out with courage and joy. Go out with both.

Yes, we must have the nerve to stay in the Word and stake our lives on its truth. Absolutely. But who is ever going to be drawn in by a bunch of screaming? By dry, lifeless logic?

What are we doing?

Love with everything you’ve got and stand in the truth of God. Don’t fight with people, fight for them.

Let’s be honest: Who wants to hang out with someone who’s got nothing but a disapproving glare on her face all the time? Who wants to spend time with a man who can do nothing but frown?

Never before have I made a connection between courage and joy. I’ve not considered that bravery comes from the fun of the thing. And despite all the hardship of this life, Christ is fun. Do you know that? Do you understand that He made the duck-billed platypus and snow and music? Do you understand that He created you with the ability to laugh, deep down in your belly, so hard that silence descends and the tears roll down your cheeks? Do you see when He splashes the horizon with brilliant bits of color at sunset?

God is fun. Following Him is fun.

We’ve forgotten that. We get so fixated on other things. Easily the adventure He brings to our lives slips from memory. He becomes an afterthought, a tag-along.

When we go out into those dark places in the hopes of bringing life and light, we should do so because knowing, loving and following Him is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. We can smile with delight. We can dance and sing with fervor. We can pray with the full assurance that He hears and will respond in the best way possible.

Faith is not drudge. It is not boredom. It is not obligation.

It is great fun. It is wild adventure.

In that fun and adventure flow the blood, sweat and tears. As we sing, it is with voices strained by loss. As we dance, our steps are halting because of the wounds. As we share the Gospel, it is with a catch in our throats as we remember from what He has saved us.

This isn’t about ivory towers of academia battling with each other using fancy-sounding words. It’s not about political parties. It’s not about protests. It’s not about shunning people. It’s not about feeling superior to anyone.

This Christian life, this walk of faith, is about moving forward with the tattered clothes and the aching muscles and the bruised skin. It’s not about looking cute. It’s not about being acceptable. It is about splitting ourselves wide open and allowing the Lord to shine through. It’s recognizing that a difference of opinion is no reason to end a relationship. It’s knowing that every piece of our lives belongs to and can be used by Him.

It’s about getting down and dirty. It’s about sitting next to someone in the mud as they search and grasp. It’s being willing to embrace the messy. To accept that each one of us is at a different point on the road. It’s about saying, “I get you. I know where you are. I accept you. Please, let me tell you about this extraordinary God who pulled me out of that very same pit.” And then sticking around.

It’s about being winsome, being “attractive in appearance or character.”

It’s about having a ready, genuine smile and real confidence, knowing that, whatever comes, the end is good and glorious.

But stop expecting it to be perfect. Stop thinking that it will go right every time.

We have to get out there. We have to be honest about our ugliness. It contrasts so nicely with the beauty of God. Our authenticity allows others to see how amazing He is. We must share our passion and knowledge from a place of brokenness, pointing everyone we meet to the Holy Glue.

We get out there and do the thing. We run. We fight. We engage. We get beat up, torn up. Our hair won’t stay pretty. The mascara will run, even the best waterproof kind. Our muscles will burn. Our bones will break. It will never, ever be neat or nice-looking.

We go hard. We love hard.

And we do it with a grin.

Because He’s the greatest blast of our lives.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Same

Along the Way @

Gentle Reader,

It’s Thursday night. The hubby is at man camp.

Bring on the Chinese food and the sweatpants and the Twitter party.

Kate. The tribe of comedy fangirls. We are: same.


My first encounter with suicide came at age eighteen. A friend had landed in jail. I don’t remember why. He called me one night, from that gray enclosure. Wanted to talk. I was rushing out the door. For work? To meet my boyfriend? I don’t remember that, either. In extreme naivety, I asked if he could call me another time.

He was dead the next day.

Just after New Year’s.

I left work early to attend his funeral. Clad in black from head to foot. I distinctly remember sensing that this was a very grown-up thing. Something I wasn’t prepared for. Long rows of chairs in the sanctuary. Surrounded by familiar faces. Everyone was quiet. Respectful. Dressed nicer than we had for our high school graduation.

They told stories. His parents, his brother. Other people I didn’t know. Awfully bizarre to speak kind words and laugh about precious memories when he wasn’t there to hear, to participate.

Later, afterwards, I sat in a diner with two of my guy-pals. The smell of stale cigarette smoke and bitter black coffee. They pulled their ties loose. We didn’t say much.

I still don’t say much. Not about this.

Logically, I know that I didn’t make him commit suicide. I know that the choice was his.


I wonder. Could I have said something? Could I have alerted someone? Was there some cue or clue I missed in the months before? Maybe. Maybe not. When someone gets it in his mind, really dwells on ending his life, he doesn’t talk about it. He doesn’t ask for help.

It just happens.

I know that now. I’ve walked that road.

For those left behind, suicide is a glaringly selfish act. How on earth are we to come to terms with it? How can we escape the sense of guilt? The anger? The questions?

For those who take up the weapons of destruction, suicide is the end of a long, weary road. A road that twists and turns and doesn’t make sense. A road that leaves right thinking and acting by the wayside. Selfishness doesn’t even enter the equation.

We are all suicide survivors. We’ve all been touched – a family member, a friend, a coworker, ourselves. Some of us bear mental scars. The wondering. Some of us bear the razor marks.

It is the vile work of the Devil.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” – John 10:10a (NKJV)

Beloved reader, hear me now: Whatever side of this you are on, whatever you have experienced, there is more to the story. It doesn’t have to be this way. History doesn’t have to repeat itself. We don’t have to read the same ending over and over and over again.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10b (NKJV)

Loved one left behind, let yourself off the hook tonight. It’s not your fault. It’s not.

You who are in agony – cry out. With the last ounce of strength and courage that you have, cry out. God will hear and He will move. I guarantee it. He did so for me. He preserved my life. He foiled my plans. It will not happen in a way you expect. It will be something you would never think of in a million years. But He will – HE WILL – cast light into your darkness. Blinding, brilliant, life-saving light.

You must speak. You must tell someone. Even if all you do is collapse in their arms and weep. Even if it is the most broken and bitter-tasting moment you have ever experienced.

You are here, in this place, at this time, for a reason. You are not just a random collection of atoms. You are God-designed. God-planned. Fitted with gifts and talents. Made with passion and purpose. You have not plunged to such a depth that the arm of the Lord is not longer and stronger. You have not out-sinned His grace or worn out His patience.

Little child, your Father is here.

He is faithful and mighty and gracious and ever the same.

The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.” – Psalm 145:14 (NKJV)


My journey to faith. (15)

When the Facade Comes Crashing Down

Along the Way @

Gentle Reader,

I feel sick for Anna Duggar and her children.

The disgust, fear, sorrow, confusion and rage she must feel, even if she doesn’t express it. No woman goes into a marriage thinking that her husband will one day be exposed as a complete fraud. No woman expects to find out that her husband cold-heartedly set up accounts on a website catering to those looking for affairs. No woman is “okay” when she finds out that her husband molested his siblings (no matter what she might say).

I hope she has at least one person in her life, in her physical presence, who tells her that it’s perfectly acceptable to cry, scream, throw things and kick this man to the curb. Yes, God can and does work miracles. When repentance is real and raw He can do the impossible in anyone’s life. God also deals in realities. He never says that there aren’t consequences to our actions. He never says that women have to lay down and take such treatment. (Before you even go there with the whole “submission” and “forgiveness” thing, be aware that I will whip Ephesians 5:25 back in your face).

Yes, Anna should forgive. Not for him. Not for anyone else. For herself. To be free of the weight. It won’t happen today. It shouldn’t happen today. There’s a process. Grieving and questioning. Maybe their marriage can be healed and saved. Maybe. Even so, it’s well within the bounds of logic, love and holiness for her to demand a very lengthy separation. For the safety of her children. For her own safety.

Despite this hope of mine for someone to be a champion for and defender of Anna, I have no doubt that there are many voices in her ear, telling her a different story. One of stuffing the problems and keeping sweet. One of “supporting” her husband. One of taking at least a portion of the blame. If she’d only done this, if she’d only been that, he wouldn’t have strayed. Wouldn’t have made another “mistake.”

For that is the only reasonable conclusion to reach within a system that twists and turns Scripture to prop up fragile male egos. That views women as “less than.”

That’s not God.

The public outcry over this – I find it justifiable.

When people pursue the limelight – and what is a reality show if not a very blatant example of such a pursuit? – they invite comment. They invite criticism. They invite an audience. It’s ridiculous for public figures to complain about a lack of privacy. No, I don’t think that anyone should be harassed, but entertainers of all sorts should expect that one day their skeletons will emerge. Emails will be hacked and shared. Embarrassing photos will surface. Far better to be honest and up-front than allow the inevitable blow-up.

So when this family chose to put themselves out there, it was unreasonable for anyone involved to expect that the shiny image would remain intact (if there was a shiny image to begin with; this is debatable).

That said, of course Josh Duggar’s actions are not the actions of his entire family. His siblings didn’t do anything wrong. His wife certainly didn’t do anything wrong. Even though I am of the opinion that the way in which Mr. and Mrs. Duggar choose to operate their family contributed to their son’s problems – more on that in a moment – they didn’t create the Ashley Madison accounts. They didn’t hunt down strippers and porn stars (allegedly).

The fault, and therefore the blame, rests entirely upon the shoulders of Josh Duggar.

It blows my mind that there are those who can’t see this. For every person angered over what he has done to his family, there is one who defends him. For every one who would gladly offer money or shelter to Anna and her children, there is one who supports and echoes the blame-shifting. The hand-wringing in fundamentalist circles is reaching epic levels. See! We told you! Internet bad! TV bad! Music bad! Women working outside home bad! Man has no control over self!  

They fling themselves deeper down the rabbit-hole of legalism.

Here’s the deal: IT DOESN’T WORK.

You can try to follow as many rules as you like. You can have your day scheduled down to the last millisecond. You can listen to ranting “sermons” (translation: screaming fits laced with conspiracy theories and eisegesis) about the state of the world. You can be King James only. You can be a homeschooling, head-covering, skirt-sporting mom of eleventy bajillion kids. You can be a dude who runs his own business because for some reason working for other people is bad.

You can toe every ATI/IBLP/Bill Gothard, Vision Forum/Doug Phillips, Best and Only Church Ever and Everyone Else is Going to Hell/Steven Anderson line out there. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter.

Because rule-keeping is not where abundant life is found.

Rule-keeping is not where Christ is found.

Sticking your head in the sand does nothing. Hiding yourself from the evil world does nothing. Because the Internet isn’t bad. TV isn’t bad. Books aren’t bad. Music isn’t bad. Art isn’t bad. If parents do not teach their children how to sensibly approach the world and everything in it – beyond “run away!” – then the kids wind up with no clue how to handle anything. If all they hear is “repress, shun, avoid,” eventually the volcano will erupt.

Because it’s not about the rules.

It’s about us.

If you go the route of self-righteousness, you’ll find you’ve got only yourself to rely on. And that’s truly frightening. How very easy it is, for a time at least, to maintain the perfect surface. How simple to go through the motions. Again, for a time. Eventually the facade comes crashing down.

Legalism doesn’t work. It will never work. Attempting to follow a long list of rules and regulations will not keep us from sin. Inevitably such a life ends in deep frustration and despair. We need a transforming encounter with Christ, one that reverberates throughout our remaining days. An encounter that inspires obedience flowing from joy in knowing the rich love of God.

Perhaps surprisingly, this obedience has very little to do with the style of clothes we wear or the movies we watch. Yes, our choices in these and other areas will be impacted and reshaped the longer we travel the road. It is right that the Holy Spirit should become our primary influence. But I have been wrestling out this thing called faith for a long time now, and I have yet to read anything in the Bible or receive any impression upon my heart that pants are bad or music is bad or books are bad or the Internet is bad or being a woman with a job is bad.

God is far more interested in my motivations for choosing the pants and the music and the books and the Internet and the job than the objects themselves.

Were the Duggars ever a perfect family? No. Never. Have they done themselves a disservice by falling into the trap made by rigid rules (and staying there)? Yes. Have they done harm to Christianity? In a way, yes. There are undoubtedly people who have watched their show and read their books and come away with the impression that this is how all Christians are. That this is the Gospel message.

It’s not.

My journey to faith. (15)