Whores. Idols. Love. Rain.

November 11, 2013 - One Response

I wrote my first song when I was 17.
Inspired by the story of Hosea marrying a whore because God told him too, and then taking her back time and again.

A bit of it went…

“God chose his bride.
She made mistakes.
And as she stood there looking out among the crowd,
her head hung low, her body ached,
when a voice she knew rang out strong and loud…
‘I love you. I’ll claim you. And I’ll pay any price that they will ask.
I missed you. I’ll never leave you. And I am so very glad to have you back.'”

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Worship & Rescue

September 30, 2013 - One Response

There were many pranks we took great delight in as youngsters, tricks that make kids oh-so-happy.

Here’s one: take a small scrap of paper and fold a corner of it down, lick the back and stick it to your fancily wallpapered dining room; it will appear as though someone has torn the navy florals and your mom’s face will turn a shade of red that even the bulls in Pamplona are unfamiliar with.

Another Martin favorite was the ol’ wrap a rubber band around the sink sprayer; the victim turns on the faucet for a drink of water and gets an impromptu shower.  (This will backfire when you get a 5am wake up call from a tired, and soaking suit clad dad. Whoops.)

We liked pranks, but we loved illusions…
Seperating our thumbs terrified our tiny toddler brothers, invisible ink always wowed the crowd, and every volunteer marveled when we asked them to step into our kitchen doorway and press the backs of their wrists against the wooden frame.  After a slow count to thirty, we would ask them to step out of the doorway, and their arms would ‘magically’ float up effortlessly.

I thought of this door trick while worshipping not long ago, standing small under looming eaves with my hands in the air.

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Top Hats & Tennis Shoes

August 26, 2013 - Leave a Response

Have you ever witnessed a toddler throw down a tantrum that’d make Veruca Salt proud?
Screaming at the top of their lungs, squeezing out screeches in between dramatic breathlessness, pounding the floor or restaurant table with their fists?

We all have, and regardless if it’s in a Target aisle or the seat behind us in First Class, it can be irritating.
However, as you watch the parent attempt to deal with their tiny tornado, when their resolve dissolves just so the red-faced mini monster will quiet down, as they hand over the candy bar or toy they’d tried to say ‘No’ to, when they give in to the outburst, have you ever thought “My that child is loved.”?

You haven’t.

You’ve offered a slightly empathetic smile, you’ve glared out of annoyance, you’ve judged whether or not they’ve been paying close enough attention to the Parenting magazines that litter their coffee table, but I would bet an armful of my favorite vintage gold bangles that not once did “My that child is loved.” skip across your thoughts.
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Lovely & Loudly.

June 3, 2013 - One Response

Spring had just begun to sprout, and I was reclining on a stone patio swirling ice around my glass of spiced tea.
Across from me was the kind of woman you write about… she is gorgeous sans makeup, is raising bright & talented children, dipping in intentionally to her community, she is a musician and a writer and a wife with a laugh like wind chimes and cupboards full of blown glass.

A few years after a fist fight with breast cancer, her pixie cut has grown into shoulder length curls that lay around her neck untamed and thick with victory.

We meet for tea every few months or so and just chat about the real stuff of life.
She’s one of those women whose time you don’t want to waste with empty chatter.

So, I was lighting up to tell her how in love I am, a drastic change from our last chai conversation, and I was pelting her with questions about the books she’s working on and the tiny artists in her brood.

We would pause as the almost-too-chilly early spring winds swirled around us, still enjoying the being outside.
Somewhere hunkered down in our many words about life and love and God and joy and hurts, she tipped back a bit and said “I just love all of the lovely and beautiful things about life.  Sometimes what’s dark and ugly just absolutely knocks me out.  I know the dark and ugly is a part of life, and a part that I have to deal with, but it can just knock me out.”
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March 19, 2013 - One Response

I want to slip my skin off.

A few weeks ago I stood a dozen feet away from the worship stage at Passion City in sweet, sunny Georgia, and I felt my fingers fly to the ceiling.
Those around me didn’t just sing, they cried out as though the battle was being realized, as though the fog that keeps us distracted had cleared enough for the enemy to be seen and we used our voices to throw him aside.  We used our voices to beckon the King to come and meet us.  I brought my arms to my sides and stretched them out, palms pushing an unseen darkness.
There were two beloveds to my left, six beloveds to my right… and thousands of brothers and sisters surrounding, and we cried out.

We stood in an old Home Depot turned church, and what could’ve been very sterile, tall white walls at every turn, was warmed with the Spirit.  The temperature was due to each of us, Spirit inhabited us, rallying together and there was more than just a battle cry, there was a communal love for our King.

Arms aching, tears streaming down, voice sore, my heart pounded for heaven.

It was then that I thought how very much I would like to slide my fingers across my skin up secret seams, letting my hands find hidden buttons to untwist and invisible zippers to pull, so that I could slip my skin off.

How desperately I would want to step out of my epidermis and let my bones and muscles dissolve.
How I would love more than anything to walk around as just my spirit for awhile.

My mouth many times opens to let words fly out to God, but more often than that words of gossip, envy, hate, & hurt swing into the sky.
My arms wrap around the middles of those who need touched, but they also wrap around my middle as I lay curled up, self-protecting and doubting a good Father.
My eyes flicker to find needs to fill, but they also skip over For Sale signs and business cards and baby announcements that let sheer jealousy seep into my heart… and oh,

My heart.

My heart breaks and bleeds for how I’ve disappointed Him, it charges to think of how I could shift this world for Him, but it also pumps wicked amounts of poison into my insides as I let the seeds of every hidden sin grow wildly.

Without my mouth and arms and eyes and heart, not to mention my ears and feet and few dozen other parts, if just my soul did the wandering around… how different would it be?

I want to peel off every part that gets in the way of me & Him, and right now it’s a few thousand coils of veins and nerves and anger and fear that stand between me walking boldly through the world as a warrior or limping weak and wounded.

I want the golden buzz of my spirit to bumble around and bump into the hurting, not the me that might let my selfish skin and blinded eyes ignore the need.

That morning at Passion City we were encouraged to forgo the prayers we often throw up that He already knows.
We were encouraged to quit wasting precious time.

“So God, there’s this girl I work with that just…”
He knows.
“Lord, last night when he wouldn’t kiss me, I thought…”
He knows.
“Dear Jesus, when we go to the hospital today they’re going to…”
He knows.

So peel back the reminders and the to-do lists from your prayer journal pages and stand ready for your marching orders.

Come before the throne with a blank page and full pen instead of a sheet full of requests and a dried up inkpot.
Ask what He wants of you, beg to know more of Him, request to see the needs He wants you to tend to.

Bumble around in just your spirit for awhile.

Take off the pinching pressure of your skin to fit into the self-written role you’ve dictated and let the One who lives in you expand, breathe, and move.

Tear your weary eyes from the computer to the weary shoulders at the next cubicle.
Fold up the ears that hear sour notes when you sing and let your jaw crack wide to allow the Spirit to sing back to the Father.
Untwist your fingers from around the calendar, the holy grail of our everyday, and leave space for God to move.

On Sunday, over guacomole and salsa verde, I burst into tears when my best friends asked me what kind of party I’d want for my 30th birthday.

I sat crying over the carnitas because nothing, nothing, is what it should be.
30 has loomed like a black hole literally my entire life.
I’ve never been able to think past it, only up to it.
And up to 30 my insides planted dreams of a loving partner, mismatched kids, matching china, published books, & a thriving pod-casted ministry.

I must’ve taken a wrong turn, an un-re-routable wrong turn.

And while I feed the eyes that see what I don’t have and let the heart that longs for what’s empty in my home grow fatter, I am starving the Spirit in me that wants to grow bigger than the boundaries of my skin, and more importantly, grow bigger than the boundaries of my dreams and expectations.

If my soul bounced around growing and loving and breezing past the dark disappointments I cast in bronze and establish as a memorial, if my spirit was what looked, listened, learned, and loved… without ME getting in the way… would I feel so wasted?

Earlier this evening I was on the phone with my kindred spirit.
She was beaming.
Through the phone I could hear that kind of smile.
She is in a relationship where she is finally being adored the way I knew she was always meant to.  She is finally being appreciated.  She is finally being seen. 
This is a season of no disappointments.

And it hit me that I want to love God that way.
I want to adore Him, appreciate Him, finally see Him.
I want to get so out of the way, to live so truly naked, that this stands as a season of no disappointments.
A season that doesn’t stand memorialized and un-re-routable.
A season where I wriggle out of my skin and burn up my ‘plan’.
A season where I live ready to march, to fight, to cry.

A season where when you bump into me, my spirit is known before my jealous eyes and bitter heart and lustful skin.

There have been moments without parameter and expectation since that afternoon in Georgia that’ve breathed life back into my insides.
Where I’ve felt skinless and scheduleless.
When I’ve gotten lost in a conversation with a pair of spearmint eyes that was more important than my to-do’s… when a friend dove into the deep end of his heart after spending years treading the shallow and I ignored the clock to watch him come up for air… when I wrapped up in a nest of a dozen blankets as freezing rain fell and felt so safe while letting the hand around mine mean more than bedtime.

Forget wrestling your spirit into the submission of a subpar schedule and relish what He’s got in the moment.
Of course we want a trajectory and a report card of gold stars to know that it all means something.

I don’t want to go wasted, but more importantly, I don’t even want to faintly believe that He’d let me go wasted.

I need to unknot the ribbons and swing the buttons out through their loopholes, I need to let my skin of sin not stand between the Spirit that lives in me and the world that needs the Spirit.

Let’s get naked.



January 14, 2013 - 10 Responses

I don’t want to be a virgin anymore.
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Up the ladder to the roof.

January 3, 2013 - Leave a Response

Seven years ago, and almost unbelievable that it’s been that long, seven years ago today my toes were tucked into the famous pink sands of Eleuthera.

I was two days in to what would be the best week of my life.

It was the week that nothing mattered but my hands, my heart, our hands, our hearts.

Six women joined me on three flights to the tiny island that needed Jesus.
Because even tiny islands need Him.

Somewhere between the making breakfast and the painting and hammering and singing and teaching, somewhere around sips of sweet punch and through the indescribable surf, all that mattered was that we wanted to help, we wanted to love.

We went to bed with sunkissed smiles curled on our faces, even if the sand fleas hopped maddeningly around our legs.

And in the days of no makeup and peach skies and kids in our laps and conch shells within every reach, I realized that the nudging to get there, the nudging that’d poked at my insides during a cold Ohio autumn & winter was something that deserved attention.

We helped, we laughed a lot, we knotted tight our friendships, and we came back thankful.  And we were so connected from working side by side, we had a shared experience, and a joyous one at that. The blessing we felt was rich & thick on our spirits… we weren’t hollow from blessing others, from giving, we were more-than-far from hollow.

This last week, tucked under my roof and my old blankets were two beloveds.

Four years ago these two joined me on a not-so-tiny island that needed Jesus.
Because even The Big Apple needs Him.

We spent much much longer than a week working side by side, and this shared experience was seeded with just as much hard hurt as it was with joy.

But here we were, all these years later, and that tight knot of friendship? …not one thread unraveled.
We spent the days laughing. …laughing and talking and daydreaming out loud, asking for advice and passing around hefty heaps of memories.

There was something about that season that we shared that was absolutely, without a doubt, on purpose.

Life doesn’t always seem to be dished on purpose, designed on purpose, enjoyed on purpose, lived on purpose…

And in the nooks between intentional seasons, or, in my case, in the football fields of valley-dom that lie between the eensy crannies of hilltop beauty & purpose… is it about being satiated or is it about fighting for the hilltop?

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Happy Anniversary.

December 10, 2012 - 2 Responses

I’d been commuting to Indianapolis for a year, sometimes 3 times a week… just for church.
It’s not that my hometown wasn’t full of steeples & Sunday morning bells ringing, it was that it didn’t fit anymore, and I didn’t fit anymore.

So on the advice of a friend who was watching my heart stretch for something more, I layered up in my blue velvet blazer & drove 56 miles to sit in a chilly seat on Central Avenue on a wintry Sunday morning, and that was it.

That was really it. I’d found my new home.
So for a year I drove ‘home’ on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and usually at least once more every week.

Then one night pacing in the parking lot of my alma mater, I held the phone tight to my ear as a love told me she was lonely.  She’d moved to Indianapolis to get married, and now the ring was off and the wedding was off… and her plans were derailed.
So what if I finally made the move?
Well, okay.

I gave our realtor only one request… I wanted room for dancing.
I threw a formal New Year’s Eve party every year and there just had to be room for the shimmying, the shaking, & the sparklers.
After a terrifying jaunt through 38th street, we opened a door downtown in Windsor Park to stained glass and hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings & reclaimed character, and we said yes.
Maybe a bit naive to what an ‘up & coming’ neighborhood really was, but 4 years in and all of the crack dealers have been pretty polite.

That 2nd week of December we unpacked without the heat on or the windows installed, but we bustled to get everything set & ready for the holidays.
With the silver shined & the guest beds made, glitter everywhere & champagne corks popped, we rang in the evening as well as a new chapter!

It was time to make Indy my new hometown.

It wasn’t all cocktails and Crate & Barrel those first few months… did I leave out the minor detail that I moved to Indianapolis without a job?

Dozens of job applications filled out with my best friend’s much-better penmanship, I clicked around in my patent pumps like I already owned the town.
Too bad my years studying Scripture and waiting tables wasn’t quite as impressive as I’d wished, especially during a recession where even the PhD’s were donning aprons.
Through a Columbia Club connection of my brother-from-another-mother, I snagged an interview at a downtown restaurant.
Apparently the restaurant’s VP of development took one look at my resume, saw “church” & “Bible college” and handed it to the chef who’d be conducting the interview and told him not to hire me.

That afternoon I sat with the tantrum-throwing Gordon-Ramsey doppelgänger and charmed him.
He said “I need an actress, I need someone to fake it when they’re stressed, I need someone to serve while putting on a show… and I have a sneaking suspicion that all of this giggling & happiness you exude is actually not bullshit.  You start tomorrow.”

So for the next year I did just that.
I put on a show.
I fell in love with my regulars, I spun through the hot busy kitchen smiling & joke-telling, and somewhat-awkwardly talking about Jesus all the time.
I got to know names and stories and who-worked-where and what-to-do and what-to-see in this new hometown of mine.
I was excited when I saw a face I’d poured sangria for at the local market, I loved that a customer & his wife offered to pay for me to take an improv class at a down-the-street comedy club, I had a crush on at least half the staff.

The summer came and I moved to Manhattan.
But that story’s for another time.

I came back, and suddenly the ‘big city’ didn’t seem so big, I noticed the sweetness of the people, the green everywhere when I drove, the heartfeltness in how hard everyone worked.  I came back so appreciative, but with the energy of the Big Apple still pulsing through me.

I snagged a second job at J.Crew as a lowly sales associate.
(But a sales associate with a passion for cashmere and a wicked discount, nonetheless.)
From my downtown home & restaurant to my worship in Broad Ripple, and now my new gig on the Northside, my little arms kept wrapping around more of Circle City.

Within 6 months I became the store’s youngest personal shopper.
I was exhausted & happy.

Then that restaurant VP who had been more than leery about hiring this snow leopard, asked me when I was going to come onboard as the manager of his upscale gentleman’s barbershop.
The man was prickly on the outside, with a heart of gold tucked away on the inside.  I’d quickly fallen in love with him,  his redheaded spitfire wife,  and their  beautiful baby boy.  I was thrilled at the opportunity to work for a family I believed in and a business I believed in.

I’d walk out the glass doors under the early-morning dark, with the glimmer of our shop’s chandelier sparkling behind me, and I’d traipse down Washington, turn on Meridian, and pump strong worship music through my headphones, swinging my bangle-stacked arms and smiling like a girl who’d found herself.
Because I had.

The barbers & our shoe-shine man knew everyone, and I mean everyone.  So as the blonde frontwoman, I shook hands with everyone from the town troubadour to Mitch Daniels.

And on the afternoons I swung up north to style the city’s fashionistas, it seemed I was building a family.
I rested in the arms of my church on Sundays, refreshed enough to tackle loving everyone well the rest of the week.

I turned 27 and made a decision to become the visual director for Indy’s J.Crew.

For the next year plus, I painted and hammered and bedazzled in a place where the aesthetic fueled me.
I helmed a corner of the brand I was passionate about in every sense… from the buttons to the maritime stripes to my collar-popped coworkers.

And then an opportunity I couldn’t pass up came my way, and though it turned into a rough season I don’t much care to chit-chat about, for a short chapter I was the Merchandiser for hipster central.
With my little photo in Indianapolis Monthly, and 60+ hours a week spent draping forms in vintage tees & thrashed denim, there were some highs in that low valley.  But when I found myself crying everyday, I knew it was time to find myself yet again.

And this time around, it dawned on me how much of a family I’d built out of this town.
Within days I had a new job.
Just days of e-mails and phone calls flying between friends who reached from Greenwood to Castleton to Carmel to Irvington, and I had a dozen interviews.

So now, less than a year into my new gig at a multimillion dollar salon & spa & boutique, I spend that forty minute commute thinking about how thankful I am.

Four years ago I just did it, I packed the boxes and moved without a job or a safety net.

And since then there’s been countless stacks of cinnamon sourdough toast at Patachou, at least a hundred blushing smiles when Ricardo at La Piedad greets me with an “Ahh, mi amor”, pages of bad poetry penned after horseback riding at Ft. Harrison, hugs-a-plenty when I go to giggle with Kay at Mass Ave Toys, the perfect gift always served with a side of sarcasm from Kris at Silver in the City, movies on the lawn, lanterns floating lazily, and private swoon-worthy tours of the IMA with Jillian, heavy-hearted conversations of a fearful future with my favorite dancing barista on 56th, an apologetic bartender at The Ball & Biscuit when I’m on yet another terrible & hilarious bad first date, even worse first dates and more sincere apologies over a Krunch Munch roll at Naked Tchopstix, meaningful words chosen to slip into envelopes at Chelsea’s, Buddha Blossoms sipped while the gossip flows at Usual Suspects, and long nighttime strolls taken through Woodruff Place or around the canals.

And when I push the cart at O’Malia’s or Fresh Market and when I slurp pad Thai noodles at Siam Square, chances are I will see a familiar face.

We’ll hug or high-five and spend a few moments catching up.

I officiated my first wedding, handed out my first business cards, experienced my first mugging, & styled my first TV spot here.
I’ve sat awed under spinning Cirque du Soleil aerialists, swayed and screamed at countless concerts, & spewed yearning words into a microphone on Illinois Street.
I’ve fallen in love in this town.  I’ve had my heart broken in this town.  I’ve cried while speeding south on 10th & held a half-dozen new beloveds at Clarian North.
Hours have been spent tipping back & forth on my porch swing, or planning parties at Petite Chou.

And so on days like today where I stood, yet again, on an 8th floor on Pennsylvania, with my toes tucked near the edge, staring down at the city I love, I think how good it is to sometimes just do it.  Just pack the boxes and go.

Because I didn’t just find myself along the circle, and I didn’t just find a family thanks to Common Ground, I’ve found my hometown.

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What can I do?

November 26, 2012 - One Response

I opened up an e-mail this week and read…

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Thank You.

November 7, 2012 - Leave a Response

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
Meister Eckhart

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