Depression – What helps and hurts

Yesterday was global mental health day. I didn’t know it was until one of my friends posted a favorite quote about depression on social media. Every disease and social issue seems to have an awareness day or even a whole month dedicated to it (who gets to decide these things by the way?).

I think that awareness is very important, but sometimes it just adds to the noise and makes us think we are doing something to change the world around us when we aren’t, we are just sitting in isolation and typing up our opinions. I often see awareness as a young 20 something standing on some kind of makeshift platform with a bullhorn, trying to grab the attention of the people passing by her, all busy with their to do lists and relational priorities. Maybe what she’s saying needs to be heard, but the loudness from the bullhorn and the elevation she’s standing on to help her be seen, are actually the elements that will cause her message to feel distance and unimportant to those she’s trying to reach.


Listening hearts more than ears is what is needed for awareness to be effective, at least in my opinion. And the heart is not as easily engaged in awareness conversations.

I guess I say all that because the loud voices without action and heart engagement drives me nuts. But as someone who likes words and debating, I’m not saying I’m above this sort of passivity.

With that in mind I’m going to share a few of my thoughts on how to help people, who are struggling with depression. Depression is just one of the many mental illnesses people suffer from, but it is the most prevalent. It’s also the mental illness I have been dealing with for most of this past year.

Originally when I thought about writing a post about depression, I thought I would share my story and what I’ve been experiences with some tips for those who have loved ones who are also suffering. But I’m not at the place I can yet write about my story, so I’m just going to share a few thoughts about what was helpful and hurtful to me when I was really in a dark place, with the hopes it helps a few people better interact with their loved ones who are suffering with this illness.

A few qualifiers or items to note before I begin. These thoughts are all based upon my experience, and thus of course they won’t apply to everyone dealing with depression. Secondly, if you’re my friend and you find your actions listed on the “not helpful” list, it’s ok. So many of my actions towards many friends who dealt with depression before I had would also be listed there also. Thirdly, if you’re tired of reading already here’s my one main and plain pointer for helping your friends and loved ones who deal with depression, give them unconditional love! Show up in their lives and love them during the roller coaster of highs and lows.


(All these thoughts were written on my iPhone notes to help me cope and process during the really dark days. These helpful and not helpful actions and words were all things I actually experienced with people.)

What Helps


  1. When you hear me out and ask perceptive and insightful questions about what’s going on in my head and heart, WITHOUT judgement.
  2. When you dig past my generic answers. I want to share more, but I won’t share more because I don’t trust you actually want to hear it. So if you want to know how I really am, you’re going to have to dig a little and listen hard.
  3. When you tell me you understand and literally say “you’re not crazy.”
  4. When you remind me that you love me no matter what.
  5. Empathy without feeling the need to go into all the details of your story and assume what worked for you will work for me.
  6. Bible verses specifically about God’s love for the lowly and that He fights our battles for us.
  7. Telling me to come over to your house. I may not feel like going initially, but I always feel better when I’m there surrounded by people that love me.
  8. Asking me about suicidal thoughts (this was rarely done). I know you’re scared to ask, but you need to. Ask if I’ve thought about it, and if I have, ask if I have a plan.
  9. When you remind me about the good you see in me. I am not just my depression but sometimes I think I am. I feel as though I’ve lost myself or all my good qualities. Remind me that I haven’t. Where do you still see gold in my life?
  10. When you help me find a counselor. Compile a list, sit down with me and help me make the phone calls. Offer to help pay for some of the cost if you can. It’s so incredibly hard to make these phone calls and actually set up appointments.
  11. When you pray for me.

What Doesn’t Help or Hurts me


  1. Generic questions. “How is your relationship with Jesus?” What I hear when you ask this is, “your relationship with Jesus must not be good because you struggling so much. If you were really going to God and allowing him to move in your life He would.”
  2. The statement “You don’t have to be sad or be in depression, it’s a choice, get off the roller coaster.” (Hello, this was/is the hardest season of my life. Why would anyone choose depression?)
  3. “This is what I did and it worked.” – What I hear is, “if you were as motivated as I was you could get passed all this.” I want to hear your story and how you got through, but please first empathize. Tell me about the bad days, tell me how painful and hard it was. Don’t jump so quickly to how you go out of it, it belittles the pain I’m in and the battle I’m fighting. I want to hear truth and about your journey, but I need it from a place of caring and understanding.
  4. “Your emotions follow your thinking.” I largely agree with this, but it’s a long slow slow process. Don’t assume because I’m still struggling with depression that my mind is full of sin and lies.
  5. Lecturing me and reprimanding me when I’m in a bad emotional place. During depression, like all times in life, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to cope in the wrong ways. Don’t lecture me about my bad decisions during my bad days. During depression I had/have good days, save the lectures for those days or figure out how to encourage me to make good choices without the lecture. I still need truth on bad days, but the kinds of truth I need right now is the reminder that God loves me and you love me and believe in me.
  6. If you’re going to be there for me then be there for me. Don’t act like you are and then not answer my calls and texts. It’s ok if you can’t be there for me, not everyone can be. But I need people I know I can go to during dark times and they are going to respond. I need safe people. If you don’t have the time or energy don’t pretend to.

A few extra thoughts

Validations empowers. Validation gives me the ability to trust myself and believe I can make good decisions. Validation is necessary to help me stand up straight and begin to try and walk again. Maybe I need to be pruned a little too, but first offer some validation.

Shame does that exact opposite. Shame is fear based and it will only weaken me further.

Look out for the “struggling but” statements. “I’m struggling or life is hard, BUT God is good.” “I’m not doing the best, BUT God’s got me.” These statements are how we cut the tension. It’s a social politeness when talking to people to cut the tension. If we were to really tell you how we are, we know it would feel like a weight or burden, so we typically cut that tension with humor or with but statements (filled with Christianese if you’re a Christian). If you want to really know how we are give us eye contact and caring and insightful questions. Better yet, offer yourself and your time so we can really share our hearts.

If I really trust you you’re going to get the full brunt of my down days. You’re going to get all the negativity without any glimmer of optimism because that’s how I really feel most days. You’re going to hear my exaggerated sentiments about my life and relationships as I express my pain and hurt. The friends who have really helped me have left me vent and told me it didn’t faze them and reinforced after that they love me.

If I offer to show someone my true pain and I’m immediately hit with advice (meant to forge optimism in me) I will shut down and trust is lost.

Sometimes it seems ungodly to not offer optimism when we share our pain and battle with depression. It may seem like we’ve lost our hope in God when we verbalize our struggle without stating we “see God” or “we know he will get us through.” But it absolutely doesn’t mean that when we state our pain without stating anything about God that we don’t hope in him. In fact we probably hope in his strong arm to save more than we ever have. Yes, we may not be completely confident he will pull us through, but still it is our hope. And even if we are 100% confident he will pull us through we also know that is not likely to happen immediately. We know that we still have a long road ahead of us, will you join us on that road? Will you walk with us a bit? Or simply point to the road marker and show us on the map where to go, wish us luck without offering any part of your time and resources?

No Man’s Land 2: Pioneer Fear

Pioneering sounds like adventure. And these days it feels like every millennial has at one point had a clothing item, decor print-out, or Instagram description that says “Adventure Awaits” or “Wander Lust.” That might be a bit exaggerated, but it’s also a no judgement statement because I have both quotes hanging in my living room.  


A few nibbles of my journey

I was a shy, socially awkward 14-year-old when I saw a promo video for a mission trip my church youth group was taking to Jamaica. It captured my attention, and though I didn’t really like church at the time, I knew I had to go on this trip. In Jamaica, I encountered God and the spiritual world in a way I never had before, and I loved being around people and in a culture that was so different than my own, exotic and beautiful. Ever since then I’ve taken almost every opportunity I could to travel to the nations.

In 2011, I did an internship at Gateway House of Prayer and one of the reasons I did that internship was because God was speaking to me “it’s a narrow path that leads to life.” I had a lot of sin and compromise in my life at the time, and I knew God was telling me that I couldn’t keep living a double life. I couldn’t have the pleasures of sin and the fullness of life in Christ. If I was going to claim Jesus, I needed to let go of those compromises, lay aside my own ambitions, and be all in. I wanted to choose that narrow path but I didn’t know how, so I did the Gateway House of Prayer internship and ended up staying there for the next 6 years.  

During the internship there was an album I listened to all the time by Rick Pino. It caught my attention because the title was “The Narrow Road.” I listened to this album over and over, even though some of it felt weird to me because of it’s intensity. At the time I wasn’t very familiar with prophetic music, so I didn’t know that prophetic singing is what Rick Pino is known for. All I knew was I felt connected to the songs, and I felt like the words were being sung over me.

The two songs I listened to most on the album were “The Narrow Road,” and “Pioneer.” “The Narrow Road,” was the perfect song for the season I was in, as I was stepping through the narrow gate. It was a reminder of the choice I’d made to walk with Jesus, and to lay down my life and pick up his, everyday. Later that year I got my first tattoo as a reminder of this word from God, it simply says “Narrow is the path.” My blog is called Narrow Path Joys, because I hope to relay the joyous revelations Jesus has gifted me as I continue to walk with him on the narrow path.

The song “Pioneer” was also somewhat relatable in that season. Spending the required 10 hours in the prayer room every week felt like a new frontier to me. At the time I really didn’t know anyone that we doing that, so it seemed pretty radical. But on a deeper level, when I listened to “Pioneer” I just felt the sense of  “this is who I am.”

But honestly, I look at my life up until this point and I don’t see a lot of pioneering. I think that’s because I don’t like doing almost anything alone. I’ve travelled to over 18 nations, but I’ve rarely gone alone and when I have I don’t like it.

I’m an out of the box type of person, meaning I don’t fit most norms (no matter how hard I try). So sometimes I end up leading and/or simply doing life differently than the people around me, because…well because that’s how I’m wired I guess. But underneath my shows of strength and outward independence, what I most desire is to be deeply connected with people. Really I think that’s what we all want because God has wired us for deep connection, with himself and the people he’s made in his image. So feeling alone and unknown is like kryptonite for me, nothing will send me down a spiral of depression and hopelessness like the feeling that I am unknown.


A year before the Lord opened the door to the Middle East, he reminded me that I told him I would go anywhere he asked me to go. And then he showed me a piece of his heart concerning the terrible injustices happening to children in some of the hardest places on earth. I cried, actually I sobbed, and recommitted myself to going and loving those children with his love. When I did that I had to face some of the fears that had been holding me back. I had to face losing some of the most precious relationships in my life, especially my precious young nephews and niece. I had to face the fear of being single forever, and becoming that far out, old maid, missionary woman that wears weird pants. I had to face the fear of loneliness.


The day after the Lord started speaking to me about serving in the Middle East, before I had told anyone, a dear friend gave me a prophetic word for my birthday. He said he kept hearing “Pioneer! Pioneer! Pioneer!” and then with the adjective “driven.” “Driven Pioneer!” He also saw that I was about to cross a skinny one-person bridge and in a childlike way I was fearful to do so. This word touched my heart deeply as it so accurately described my situation. The Lord shouting destiny over me, “Pioneer! Pioneer! Driven Pioneer!” encouraging me to step out on the narrow bridge, and me feeling a bit fearful to do so. Not paralyzed with fear, but nervous like a young child is when they want to slide down the slide or go across the monkey bars, but they hold back a little. Meanwhile their parent is there coaxing them with affirmation and a loving smiling, promising that they will catch them. This word strengthened my determination to say yes to the Lord, and to go even if that meant going alone. I realized he was promising that his presence would be my provision.

The Lord is so good, and I’m thankful that I’m not moving to the Middle East completely alone. In fact he’s given me such an amazing gift, he’s sending my best friend, Melanie, along with me. I’ll also be joining a small but mighty team that has already been working in this conflict zone for the past few months. Still, the work I’m will be joining is very much in the pioneer phase. There’s so much need, and very few hands.

I believe that very soon there will be a large wave of lovers of Jesus going to the Middle East, and to every other hard place. I believe that because there is more prayer happening around the world than ever before in history. And like Samuel Zwemer said, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” That said, there’s this window of time right now where we know that’s going to happening, but we aren’t yet seeing it. I believe this is the time for the pioneers. Those of us who jump in now, before the wave, and go to these hard places. In weakness, but in faith, we say yes we will go even if that means going alone, at least for now.


I believe that pioneering is part of the redemption of a generation that is infatuated with travel and adventure. We call it wanderlust, but maybe it’s the Lord calling us to the harvest fields. We say “adventure awaits,” but do we realize the very definition of adventure is to risk or participate in a potentially hazardous activity? Yet pioneering is not just adventuring. It’s not risk for the sake of risk or thrill. Pioneering has purpose. It’s forging those lightly trodden, dimly lit paths because the people along, and at the end, of those paths need the light you’re carrying. And because there are people who will come after you that will be able to run farther and faster because you went first. Pioneering is a call to count the cost, to face the possibility of being misunderstood, because not many people have travelled the path you’re embarking on.

I have big dreams. I’ve been told those dreams aren’t based in reality. But I’m ok with that, because revival and reformation has never fit into the current system. God’s ways are higher than ours, and his promises force us into faith and to stop faking it. I dream of the day when every follower of Christ is taking seriously the call to make disciples of all nations. When the 3 billion people in unreached nations see an army of Jesus ambassadors heading their way. An army carrying within them the light of the world, bearing the name of Jesus, on a mission to set every captive free.

No Man’s Land 1: Comfort Less


There are areas of my life where I try to be honest with myself. I like Starbucks and I spend too much money there. I like napping on my couch and youtube. I like snacking by myself…on my couch…while watching youtube. These are things I find comfort in.

I enjoy comfortable settings. Though I myself am not great at interior decorating, I really appreciate when people create beautiful and peaceful spaces inside their homes. I notice and it makes me feel happy, more at home, and again…comfortable.

The people I most like to spend time with are people that know me really well. And people I can relate to on a deep level or have similar interests and passions. It’s easy to converse when I feel understood.  


I guess what I’m saying is I value comfort. I know the conditions that bring me that feeling of happiness and contentment, and whether I’m always aware of it or not I find myself spending a good portion of my life pursuing that feeling.

But comfort and contentment doesn’t equal fulfillment. I’ve found it’s easy to be happy and enjoy life, while at the same time feeling hollow inside. And equally so it’s possible to feel deeply fulfilled, yet carry a mixed bag of emotions and struggles that definitely aren’t comfortable.

~ ~ ~

This fall I’m moving to a conflict zone in the Middle East. I’ll be working as a nurse in a new clinic that is being established for local and displaced people (due to security reasons I’m not able to say where exactly I will be, but feel free to ask me in private or message me). I’m telling you about my addiction to comfort, so you know that I’m no different than you. My desire for comfort and intensity of love for my couch may even be stronger than yours. I’m also telling you this because it was one of the first realizations God had to awaken me to before my eyes could see the door He was opening to this place and people that his heart is broken for.

Like I said, I try to be self aware, and forthcoming about (*some of) my weaknesses. Because consciousness is the first step towards moving myself out of hypocrisy, where my stated values don’t align with my actions. But self-awareness only gets me so far, especially when a subconscious value is so deeply rooted inside me. I mean the kind of deeply rooted where I was making life decisions through the lens of comfort without even thinking about.

I enjoy adventure and spontaneity. Actually I need those things to really thrive. I’m also a passionate person, so I speak with intensity about injustice and the truths I believe God has shown me. So people, including myself at times, could look at my life and think I’m wired for taking risks and I’m totally unafraid to go wherever God would call me.


But I have been afraid, nervous about completely jumping in. My fears don’t have to do with death, but loneliness and unknowns. I’ve felt God beckoning me to “the hard places” for a long time. My heart trembling and overtaken with grief when I see the extreme suffering that is happening, specifically to children, all over the world. But I’ve looked away, pretending like I didn’t see Jesus motioning me to follow him.


The love story in Song of Solomon resembles my journey. In SOS 2:8-17 the bride’s Beloved comes to her and invites her to come away with him. He tells her now is the right time, it’s harvest time. He reminds her of their love and his desire for her to be with him. Though she loves him, she tells him to go on without her.

“Until the day breathes and the shadows flee,  Turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on the cleft mountains.”

After this scene, the bride goes through a process with her beloved, one filled with trial and pain. But at the end of the story the bride is the one beckoning her Beloved to the fields. Her desires and her actions now fully match his. And she proclaims that she wishes all could see her love for him.

I’m not yet at the place where the bride is at the end of the story, but I’m hopeful that this is path Jesus has me on. And more than that I’m encouraged because I know my Beloved’s desire is for me and every step of the way his leadership is full of love. He sees me. He looks at my heart, sees my desire to live fully with Him, but also sees the barriers to me doing that, and He knows how to perfectly and gently remove those barriers. All in love.

If we love Jesus, we are all on this journey. He’s beckoning us, he’s beckoning you, to come with him to the fields. The battle fields, the harvest fields, he wants you to come and join him there. We are his chosen bride, we are dark (full of sin/compromise) but he sees past that, to our potential, and says we are lovely (SOS 1:5).

No Father would give his pride and joy, his perfect son, to be married to an unworthy bride, to be joined with a woman who didn’t love him in the same way he loves her, and who didn’t value or want the same things he does. Yet God the Father is willing to give Jesus, the most humble and righteous man, to us in marriage. We who are lovers of self, and pursuers of comfort and pleasure. But he’s also committed to making us worthy of Jesus. We can not make ourselves worthy of him. But we can take Jesus’ hand and go with him to the mountain of myrrh, the place of death. We can choose to trust his leadership and believe the best about him in times of trial and pain, because this is what he does for us.

Sometimes you can have both fulfillment and comfort. But you have to decide which are you committed to. I think God wants us to be happy. He’s a God of joy, but He has this all encompassing plan in the works, so the whole world can live in that place of joy and it’s a battle to get there. Will we join him? Will we trade our pleasure now for the reward of never ending joy in the age to come? We’re all invited to the battlefield with him. Maybe it’s Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Chicago, the Red-light district, or so many other places that are in need of the perfect love, justice and mercy of Jesus. He wants us there, we aren’t some damsel in distress bride. We are his chosen battle companion.

One final thought

There is so much injustice and suffering happening right now in the Middle East and North Africa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed because there is so much need and you don’t know where you are “called,” I’m inviting you to come with me. Seriously, contact me and I can help get you connected. The time for lone heroes of the faith being sent out to nations alone, never to return, was amazing and inspiring; but now is the time for a nameless, faceless generation of lovers to arise and storm the gates of hell together.



Sometimes, I post things on this blog that are basically just excerpts from my journal (or iPhone notes). That’s what this is. It doesn’t flow very well, because it was a stream of thoughts, and I didn’t want to edit it. It feels relevant, so I’m posting it. But it’s also vulnerable, so I’m nervous about doing so. I added some definitions, because I feel the need to add some objectivity into the mix; which seems to be super rare these days.

Definitions (from

Sexism:  prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially :  discrimination against women

Feminism:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

Racism: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

My stream of thoughts and confessions 

It’s the same as racism
It’s stereotyping an entire group of people usually in a negative way
My sexism started from a wound that never healed
It created a stronghold in my mind that kept affirming that men can’t be trusted, men are prideful, men are sexist, men are not for me, I can’t connect with men
I didn’t want this stronghold
I often thought I was wired wrong
But I wasn’t wired wrong, I just had this large stronghold in my mind
I was hoping and praying the right man would come into my life and remove it with his perfect love and affection
But that Man is already in my life
He doesn’t try to change me unless I want it and unless I’m willing to work with him
I’ve been legitimately wounded and hurt my men in this world
But not all men are like that
I’m fragile now
I see the wall and I’m beginning to tear it down, but I need help
I need men to apologize and hear me out
Then I need to accept their apology, forgive, and move on
I need to repent for looking for the bad in them
They aren’t perfect
They are weak and fragile just like me
I need to ask for forgiveness
There’s so much of this pain out there
But we aren’t getting healed in the right way
The music airways are being filled with songs about women tired of getting put down by men
We vibe with the music not realizing this is making us hard, not healed
We don’t even realize it
We are blind
We demand our right to speak and unleash our pain
But we aren’t healed from bleeding in public
We are just unveiling our woundedness
I didn’t think I was the problem
But I was part of it
I nursed my wounds which festered hate
and I don’t want to be that woman anymore

Soul Sisters


The pain of loneliness comes not from being physically alone, it comes from being unknown. It’s much more painful to be surrounded by the people who “love you the most” and feel internally unknown, than to be physically distant from people who know your soul.

Some of the people I cherish most, who understand my inner working often better than I do, live thousands of miles away and across oceans.

They are family

forged through resurrection power

Soul sisters birthed in different time zones

but our internal navigation keeps pointing us to our true place of origin


the joy of journeying is in our blood

There’s always more to see

more to experience

But we don’t journey in vain

Our destination is always before us

it’s what motivates our movement

Zion our mother

the true land of the free

and home of our spirits

We set our course towards you

There is mystery on our maps

Our narrow paths intertwining and diverting

as we traverse mountains and valleys

But even when our paths separate

we are sure they will again unite

Times of refreshing

renewed vision

and running hand in hand


We often find ourselves running into unmarked territory

Wearied and bruised by branches of false accusation

and deferred hope

Eyes blurred by tears

yet onward we sprint

Love compels us!

Being known is our source of strength

as we run faster and faster

towards him who calls us by a new name

Do you remember young virgins when you first caught a glimpse of his face?

It is He who awaits us

and it is He who is among us

Let us find him in the fields

and kiss him with shocking abandonment!

Our pilgrimage carries purpose

Many will follow the paths we’ve foraged

They will go further faster

maybe even passing us

as they race with youthful passion

Ah but our prize remains in front of us!

We will never stop our sojourning

O beautiful sisters

our Beloved awaits us!

and in the night, His song shall be with me


The sun has gone down. The blue-grey sky painted with white billows of oddly shaped clouds, has again become a dark, empty canvas. Glitters of light are being thrown against this vast, black void. They multiply before my eyes.

Suddenly, without much notice, the voices of daylight are quieted. A hush blankets my surroundings. Deep breaths are being taken, as parents put their children to bed. A moment of rest and solitude, before sleep takes over and invites tomorrowland.

Reflected silverlight is drawing shadowed sketches of trees and buildings on street pavements.  The moon is commanding the celestial sphere, and capturing my gaze. Each night there is variance, but it’s grandeur remains constant.


The artistry of the night is different from the day. It’s simpler, yet bold and brilliant. If you pace with it, slowing down your muscles movements and mind meanderings, you’ll see it, feel it.

I’ve found fragments of shalom hidden in this secret place. The watches of the night, when fellowship with brothers and sisters is scarce. When the forces of distraction are lessened by the veil of darkness. When the sound waves of my small singing voice meet the gates of heaven and pass right through.

The night is a mystery. Often branded by the company it acquires. Its very name and description stirs up shadowy images of times and seasons better left as faded memories.

We relate to the night. We know what it is to feel as though our identity is nothing more than dark loneliness. But as we push beyond the fear of silence and sunless sight, our hands outstretched in front of us, we touch the invisible. Where faith and hope are activated, as we trust fall into the rest of God.

Darkness is the revealer of light.candlelight2

For when the night has reached its darkest hour, I look down and see the faintly burning wick of my spirit. It’s flame being pushed and shoved from side to side by forces of the unseen. But it is not quenched. I praise my God, my Father of all light, because it’s real. My light is small, but it’s beautiful. My love is small, but it’s burning with sincerity.

I look up and I meet the gaze of my Beloved. Though darkness has cloaked the path of my feet, he is the bright morning star. His eyes are forever burning with love, and I will not lose his gaze. My feet will not slip, because his eyes never sleep. And I choose freely to remain awake with him, in the watches of the night.

“Any fool can sing in the day. It’s easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight. But the skillful singer is the one who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by. Songs in the night come only from God. They are not in the power of man.”


These days…

Poetic words have not been my natural flow these days.
My mind space overrun with expectation
Daily tasks are crowding out my artistic expression
Creativity a luxury
Take me deeper
I don’t want to live on the surface
My soul deep within
Covered by organs, muscles and useless information
Awake my soul
Awake from your slumbering
I need you
Practical living, you stifle me
You slowly suffocate my complexity
My life is too narrow and easy to describe
I want to dive into inspiration
Newly grown revelation
Rise up within
Let a new day begin
I water you today with these fragile words of dulled down expression
My confession is I didn’t know where to begin
I had to search within
My mind has been rehearsed
So formal and flat
Lacking substance and spark
I need meaning to make art
And my source is within
A deep well of life
Burst forth again
Wine of romance
Come dance me into the love we had at first
Give me purity of speech
Purity of purpose

Let the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart be pleasing to You. Now and Forever!


Written for my dear friend Elisa, a women with a heart for authentic relationship and people telling their stories. She was the key person in helping me “come out” as a writer, about a year ago. I see now that poetry and free writing has always been inside of me, but it was a hidden treasure, mostly just used for internal communication between myself and God. It’s been a fun journey over the past year getting to share my poetry with friends and in larger settings, because relating to people in deep ways and exposing truth is so much of who I am.

This poem really is meant to be spoken, not read. So hopefully one day that will happen. In the meantime, here’s a small piece of my story with art and poetry writing.

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I used to think art was for everyone…
You know the guys who drink tea
The girls who like brie
The kids who watch Glee
The adults who live “free”
The people who actually like “The Old Man and The Sea”
But art, it wasn’t for me

Art was the kid who colored inside the lines when I was 4
She was the girl I sang a duet with when I was 8 and got all the compliments after the show
Art was the only class I didn’t do my homework in when I was 10
When I was 12 she was my best friend who wrote angry poems after class
At 14, Art was the boy who got out of class to practice choir
Art was the garage band my friends played in when I was 16
At 18 Art was my escapist dream amidst nursing school reality
At 20 she was the skinny jean, skinny me, hipster look I could never fully conquer

Then at 22 Art walked into my life as woman I could relate to at a point of loneliness and confusion
Her listening ears and open heart built trust and safety
And slowly she began to extend her hand, beckoning me into her world
The love in her voice couldn’t be resisted
So I followed her leading
Entering into to this world that had never been “me”

But something inside began to agree
And connect
Emotion came that I didn’t expect
And I began to reflect on both the intersect and disconnect
Realizing there had been both neglect and reject
So instead of fleeing I began being
Allowing the emotions I’d blocked off to begin breathing
It felting like seeing, for the first time
As I began to climb both into and outside my heart and mind
And the words just began to flow out in rhyme
And I began to find this captivating truth inside
Art was for me, more than that He was in me
He wasn’t for the elite and talented
I found out He’s unendingly multifaceted

See art is the external expression of all internal questions and confessions
She’s a thread in humanity that is meant to weave us together into a masterpiece of truth and beauty from ashes
Helping us to see through different glasses
With a theme of unity that surpasses our clashes
You don’t have to take classes
Just begin to open those boxes inside that you’ve kept closed
Those experiences you’ve said it’s better if nobody knows
Then I won’t be exposed and none can oppose

But let me propose a new idea through this prose
That little girl that dances inside needs to feel the sun
That young man with internal rhythm and rap needs to begin to run
Your art doesn’t need to be words and doesn’t need to be spoken
It’s just those inward realities that need to be awoken
And I’m hear to say you have been chosen
Arise and shine and take my hand
Let’s cross over into that new land
I can see the inner artist across all your faces
He’s trying to squeeze through even of the smallest open spaces
Embrace him
And let Art be the key to letting your inner man and women be what she’s always yearned to be

“Love looks like something”

Mother Teresa quote

Experiences in life are 4D. They aren’t linear, and there always seems to be four or five different themes going on at the same time. So when people ask me about Brazil, I either give them a few standard lines that I’ve said before, or if I can see they are looking for a more detailed response I usually ask them for a moment and then try and rack my brain for some sort of theme or experience I think might appeal to the person asking me.

For this post, I’m going to speak to one of the most powerful and practical “themes” of my time in Brazil. The title of this post is actually a Heidi Baker quote, “Love looks like something, yet it has no limits.” I can’t remember when I first heard this quote, but it’s the essence of a deep and confoundingly simple revelation I received while at the Iris Global school in Brazil.

I’m sure you probably can already guess where I’m headed with this, but let me ask a needed question. What’s the purpose of missionary work?

To feed the poor? Provide clean drinking water? Set-up a health clinic for a week? Maybe microfinance a small business?

OR maybe the more religious sounding answers, like preaching the gospel. Saving lost souls. And my heroic-sounding favorite, “advancing the kingdom of God.”

These are all awesome things, but maybe just slightly missing the real bull’s eye. I believe the purpose of missions is for people to have love encounters.

I know this sounds like blissfully simplified theology and/or fashionably hipster. But when you get it, like I got in Brazil, it’s compelling, supernatural, and deeply satisfying. Let me share a glimpse of how God revealed this truth to me.

There’s a place in Rio de Janeiro our school visited called Gramacho. Literally it’s a dump. A large landfill where garbage was dumped every day for 34 years until it closed in 2012. Thousands of people live in this place. Children grow-up here, and their parents make their living from the items they retrieve from the garbage. It’s an unimaginable life, for almost any American, and even most Brazilians. It’s a truly devastating situation.

Here’s the part that really got me though, at Gramacho people get “saved” frequently. Sometimes it’s even weekly. Christians come in, hand out some food, and the people “accept Jesus.” But their lives aren’t changed. They still live in the dump and their daily lifestyle isn’t any different than before.

Steph Gramacho

But some amazing heroes of mine are beginning to change that story. They are Brazilian Iris missionaries, who know Jesus, and know that He desires, more than anyone, to see this situation changed. They have built real relationships with the people living in Gramacho. They listen to their stories, they laugh together, pray together, eat together. And often they help meet physical needs as well, like caring for their wounds, giving them food, and taking them places. But their focus isn’t on what they are “doing” for the people of Gramacho. Their focus is truly loving them. And because of their genuine love, people are having supernatural encounters with the living God.

There are many stories of inspiring individuals I could tell you about, like Adriana (seen below) who encountered God supernaturally one day when Stephanie (an Iris missionary, who’s given up her career as a Brazilian model to serve and love these people full-time – shown in picture above) was simply talking and laughing with her. Adriana is now a powerful woman of prayer, she takes care of her seven children and her disabled mother, she runs a small store, she’s a preacher, and God has told her that she will not always be living in the dump. She has become like a spiritual mother to Stephanie and their bond of love for each other is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.



What’s also exciting is that God is providing ways for the people to literally get out of the dump. Land has been purchased, where houses will be built and Iris missionaries and many of the people from Gramacho will live together in these homes.

It’s hard for me to translate my experience in Gramacho through words alone. Because what’s going on there, the interactions between the Iris missionaries and the residents of Gramacho is something so special. It’s so real, that words alone can’t do it justice. It’s real love that’s happening, and it’s changing everything.

1 Corinthians 13 is probably one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. Paul goes through a list of really awesome things; like giving away all you have, and having faith to move mountains, and understanding all mysteries. And then he says, “but if I have not love, I gain nothing.” Why? Because love is the essence of God. Love is who He is, and it’s what He’s given us.

But what really is love? I don’t think I can sum it up much better than John did.

1 John 4:7-12 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

I used to think love was too simple and weak to really be the gospel. But then I’m reminded that God chooses the foolish and weak things of the world to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). I’m reminded that Jesus said that the whole Bible (which was the law and prophets back then) are summed up in two commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-40).

See people are hungry, poor, sick, and living in hopeless situations. But giving them everything they need to become a person of middle class wealth and health will not solve deeper issues. Neither will throwing a few Bible verses at them and saying a quick prayer. People need love, real love. And real love comes from one man, Jesus. Because there is no one else that loves like He does. He loved us and gave His life for us, while we were still His enemies. Love isn’t good feelings and goosebumps. Love is self sacrifice. And we who carry within us Jesus’ Spirit, must walk in that love. Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

(I listened to this 4-track Misty Edwards & David Brymer CD nonstop in Brazil. The songs are like the soundtrack to my time in Brazil. This song really sums up this post.)

Everyday God loves me, He loves me with all of Himself. And everyday He asks me to do the same. He asks me to love Him by loving His children. In John 21, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved Him. Every time Peter said, “yes Lord, you know that I love you.” And every time Jesus responded then “feed my sheep.”

I don’t live out this revelation of His love. But I want to, more and more each day. Loving the one in front of me. Loving not in word or talk, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). This could look like smiling at the cashier at the grocery store, it could look like holding someone close and just listening, it could look like sharing material possessions, or giving that stranger a ride to the bus stop. It could look like verbally sharing truth through the word of God, or moving into the bad part of town to build relationships with single moms and people addicted to drugs. “Love looks like something, but it has no limits.” This revelation on love truly is so simple, that I almost feel silly that I never really “got it” before Brazil and Iris ministries. But I feel like He’s now given me “eyes to see” and with these new eyes He’s giving me the opportunity to love Him more, by loving His precious children. Not loving them with my own affection that is inclined to take and not give, but with His perfect, sacrificial, and steadfast love.

(A small taste of Iris Ministries)