Five Minute Friday: hidden

It’s been a good albeit long week of summer. We watched a summer movie ($1 at Regal), shopped for school shoes (already!), I had an interview on the Debbie Chavez show, we played at the pool a lot and did a lot of indoor activities trying to stay cool during a sweltering week. Today I take a break and return to the blog, joining in Five Minute Friday.

Five Minute Friday is my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description draws me back every week, and the community of FMF keeps me writing – “This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”


Hidden holds intrigue and promise, like a buried treasure waiting to be found. It’s a new life blooming within a mother’s womb. A long cherished love that awaits the right time to be expressed.

Hidden is also shame-tinged. It’s where I store my latest failure – bolted, safe, secure, for no one to see. If you’ve been abused, you know the burden of a hidden secret.

Hidden is good or bad, depending on what it is we are hiding and why. If it’s the latter – the long-buried secret – it needs the light for healing and freedom. Those sorts of burdens aren’t meant to stay hidden and borne alone. Speak about it with someone safe. Feel the burden begin to lighten.

If it’s the first – the type of hidden that’s like a treasure waiting to be found – I can think of no better analogy for what the Bible calls us children of God: “hidden with Christ in God.” We are God’s treasured ones, kept close and precious. Our glory is waiting to be revealed. 


Noticing Goodness

A few weeks ago I spoke at a local MOPS group (Mothers Of PreSchoolers). And one thing that really struck me was their themes for the year: “Noticing Goodness” being my favorite. Doesn’t simply that phrase refocus your thoughts today?  What I love about noticing goodness is that it means: 1/there is always goodness to see and 2/goodness needs to be noticed, some moments more than others. 

As a counselor and the author of a book on shame, I’ve trudged through some dark places in the past decade – both in my own heart and in the lives of others. In some ways, I’ve trained myself to notice the struggles in life – the places where someone is lonely, isolated, stuck. And I’ve been invited into these dark corners, to be part of the redemption of our God, leading us into places of light and beauty once again. I’m realizing anew that even here – especially here – there is goodness to be noticed. Not in a fake cliche type of way, because that backfires, but in a real way that seeks out the treasures found nowhere else but in darkness. 

Were it not for the winter’s doldrums, spring wouldn’t be so sweet – so life-giving. 

Without depression, it’s all too easy to take emotional health for granted. 

The hardest, most baffling parts of the story are where character is forged, perseverance is developed, steely hope emerges, and compassionate empathy grows. 

My shame stories give me the ability to connect with you authentically. (And even write a book about it.)

And then there are the thousands of small beautiful moments waiting to be noticed in our daily lives:

  • Pink and purple glory bookending each day through sunrise and sunset
  • The taste of a perfectly ripened sweet berry
  • A moment of calm in between the stress of a busy day
  • Music!
  • My kids’ excitement for new experiences and skills gained
  • Unexpected kindness
  • Humor
  • Witnessing a friend’s resilience through hard circumstances
  • Art created 
  • A blank page
  • Words that make your heart sing
  • A good story
  • A refreshing walk/run/yoga session

What goodness will you notice today? I’d love to hear about it! 


Light in our darkness

photo credit: Mary Yonkman @

photo credit: Mary Yonkman @

The world was dark, formless, void. Nothing at all but nothing. Our minds cannot comprehend it. But there was the Spirit. Who hovered above the waters. And He spoke, and what was created first? Light. Imagine the symphony playing in heaven while the first rays of light entered creation. Light was preeminent; everything else would follow – unleashed to dance in the spotlight of the Creator.

Fast forward through a few centuries of redemptive history. There has been sin; Israel formed as God’s people; Israel in exile for their rebellion; Israel rescued and returned; and then Israel awaiting Light again. He came humbly this time. Small, in a manger – the Light of the world. He came to die in darkness and shame, taking on the weight of your sin and mine. After darkness of crucifixion, Light returns in resurrection. He is alive!

And now we come to your heart’s story of light. This same divine power exists to create light in your heart that was so full of sin’s darkness. My heart was dark, formless, void before His light came. He spoke Jesus, and began to separate the light from the darkness within me. He spoke light into my darkness so that I could recognize true Light. So that I could see God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

My story of redemption is a story of light shining out of darkness. Anytime I reach out in love instead of curl inward in despair or selfish hoarding of resources, light is shining out of darkness. Each time I am able to comprehend, even for a moment, the eternal weight of true beauty found in my Redeemer and I turn away from the false beauty promised by the world, light shines out of darkness. When I take a deep breath and ask for forgiveness from my 4-year-old twin daughters instead of wallowing in shame that I yelled at them (again), light shines out of darkness. Every moment that I remember I am saved not because I was a “good girl,” but despite the fact that I try to be good without God, light shines in my sin-deceived heart.

What about for the darkness of a world broken and grieved around me? Will there be enough light there, too? In my calling as a counselor and a pastor’s wife, I often have a front row seat to life’s brokenness. This past summer our church community underwent grief of tragic proportion in the deaths of a mother and daughter. In the waves of darkness, of questions without answers and grief without limit, even here there was light to be found. I witnessed it when a weeping father told his distraught daughter after sharing the unspeakable news of her mother and sister’s death – “We are Easter people. We are Easter people.” It was the refrain of his heart in the middle of the darkest tragedy, and his words spoke light into my darkness and that of his daughter and that of all who heard.

How can you survive the worst of the worst? Or walk through the darkest of valleys, the middle of the broken, of the mess we have created from our darkness without Light? It is impossible. But herein lies hope – God has made his light shine in our hearts. It is a light that conquers all darkness, even the darkness of death. This is the light that dwells within –

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5, ESV)

The light shone into a world that was empty, void, formless. It shines into hearts that are the same. The Light cannot be overcome by darkness, but it will overcome darkness. What a promise to count on today for you and me as we engage in this same journey in our own hearts and in the lives of those around us.

one word for 2014: light

Last year, prompted by the invitation of a favorite blogger and author, Ann Voskamp, I chose one word as my focus/prayer for 2013. It was “new” and you can read all about that here.

As 2014 rolled into view, I began thinking and praying for another word. And “light” came to mind, and kept coming to mind. I want this year to be a year of light. A year of knowing the light of God shining into personal darkness (my winter blues, e.g.!). A year of walking in the light with others, speaking truth, listening to input and advice, coming clean when necessary – out of the shadows. A year of inviting others into the light, which is my profession and my calling and my privilege as a counselor. By speaking words of the previously unspoken, light fights against the darkness. As long as something is hidden, it is powerful. But speak it – and the powers of darkness lose. Shame begins to fade away. Light always wins. And I want to know and live that reality in my own heart, in my home, with my family, friends, clients, and city. I want to be part of Light.

I love this word “light” because it is not only a noun that we fight for and walk towards and become enveloped by, but it’s also a way that we live. It’s the promise of our Jesus who says – “Come to me, all who are burdened and heavy laden … Take my yoke upon you … for my burden is LIGHT.” (Matthew 11:28-30) I want to live with light burdens. Not in a Pollyanna sort of sugar-coating way, but in a way where I allow Jesus (and others) to bear burdens for me, with me.

And then there’s this other aspect of “light” – what does it mean to hold lightly to the things which aren’t eternal? To live with light luggage; to give away more than I acquire this year (dangerous words to pen); to bring light to those in need by living with less – living more lightly.

I have a feeling that I’ve gotten myself into deeper waters than I would choose for myself with this word “light,” but I do trust the one who knows me, who IS Light, to shape my life to become more like his own … and to force me to hold on more tightly to this Light as I willingly journey into darkness.

I am anchoring my focus for 2014 in these verses below –

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2

In him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5