somehow, He keeps making a way.

It’s been a week now since the PTSD first appeared at work, and nearly a week since I reacted in any significant way. The ten hour shift on Sunday came and went, and I felt… dare I say it, relatively unscathed.

I’m walking to my car, having a conversation with my co worker. The co worker who has expressed to me that he’s against religion because of all the hypocrisy in the church, the co worker with whom I’ve had some tension, but the co worker who just now wanted me to wait for him so that he would have company walking to his car at 1am.

I’m just about there… and then I hear it.
LOUD.
… a train.
The horn.
It’s really, really loud.

The walk to my car is maybe halfway over when I first hear it. As soon as it sounds, I’m not immediately triggered – I’m just pissed. Really, really pissed.

Why did it have to come? Why did I have to hear it now, as I’ve almost made it through the night unscathed?

I hear it again.
The anger in me rises.
I can’t handle it.
I just can’t.

I continue the conversation like nothing is wrong. I don’t say anything about it to him. In all honesty, it’s probably a good thing I was with someone when I heard it.

The long, cold walk is over, and I get into my car. I sit for a bit… reflecting. Stewing.

As I said, I’m angry.
This whole thing has left me incredibly angry.
Why does my safe place, my workplace, the place that brings me such JOY… why does it have to go and get spoiled simply because the train nearby is making noise?

The phrase repeats itself in my head, the phrase that’s been swirling around since this all began last week…

“That is who You are.”

Okay God, but this is just so… so stupi-

“That is who You are.”

It’s just so frustrating, nearly everything that formerly was a suicide trigger now triggers a very real trauma response. Textbook PTSD.

“My God… that is who You are.”

Fast forward nearly another week. Preparing for my work week, I’m grateful to be feeling… normal again. I haven’t felt this much like myself, this depression free in weeks.

But as my last night before I work again draws to a close… the anxiety sets in again. Perhaps because I’m thinking about it, reaching out and asking people to pray. Is this all in my head? Am I making it worse than it needs to be?

“That is who You are.”

I can’t get over that phrase. I don’t know why, but it just will not leave my brain.

So I ask myself… who is God?

  • Way maker – when there is no way, He does it anyway. He makes the impossible… possible. 2019 was my impossible, and yet it happened.
  • Miracle worker – after what God did a year ago, I firmly and fervently believe that He is still very much in the business of miracles, they just might look different than when He walked this earth.
  • Promise keeper – what He says, He will do. It’s as simple as that. I could look at just a small portion of my life and I would be able to tell you so many ways in which He has kept His promises.
  • Light in the darkness – even in the darkest of rooms, the darkest of nights… the flashlight or candle that, during the day, seemed incredibly dim? Suddenly that light is brighter than anything I’ve ever seen. He is the light that wants to shine in on our darknesses.

As I write, thinking to myself about how all of those names and titles for God apply in my own life… am I still anxious for work? 

Yes.
I don’t want to hear that train.
I really, really don’t want to hear that train.
I don’t want to get triggered.
I want to just… get over this.
I want to enjoy my job, I want to continue finding great joy in it.

That joy… the joy that, a year ago, I feared would never come.

So my heart still beats a little faster when I think about work tomorrow, yes.

“That is who You are…”

It slows again.
So does my breathing.

“You are here…
Touching every heart.
Healing every heart.
Turning lives around.
Mending every heart.”

God doesn’t promise that I won’t hear the train tomorrow.
He doesn’t promise that I won’t react, that the trauma response won’t come.

I will carry Immanuel with me to work tomorrow.
And I will be okay.

Because my God?
That’s who He is.

when the wordsmith loses her words…

speechless
adjective
1. unable to speak
2. not speaking
3. not capable of being expressed in words

This past weekend I traveled for the first time since moving to Virginia, and in preparation for the time on the flights I found some new (old!) playlists on Spotify. In the process I re-stumbled upon a song off of an album that I listened to when I was young… and as so often can happen, the song hit me in a whole new way.

“And I am Speechless
I’m astonished and amazed
I am silenced by your wondrous grace.
You have saved me
You have raised me from the grave.
And I am Speechless
In your presence now.
I’m astounded as I consider how
You have shown us the love that leaves us speechless.”

The song is “Speechless” by Steven Curtis Chapman, off of his album of the same name that was released in 1999. I’ve always loved the song and the album (youth group jams to “Dive” anyone??!), but given my recent life experiences… well, to put it plainly, I now know what it’s like to be genuinely and completely speechless in light of God’s miraculous rescue and grace.

I think it’s rather ironic that as I’ve moved through a season of becoming truly speechless in my response to God’s forgiveness and love, I have also been leaning into the piece of Mary that is a writer and a wordsmith. One such clue is how, as I’ve come more and more to realize that my primary love language is words, any time I make that comment to someone that knows me even a little bit… I’m met with one big, “no DUH!” and a laugh.

But really. What can we make of the moment when the wordsmith and the writer is left utterly speechless? For one, I feel in some ways like a fish out of water. I almost don’t know what to do. I mean, my number one skill and trade with which God has gifted me to tell my story, HIS story?

Words.

So learning how to lean into that posture of, well… speechlessness… it’s a bit of a paradox.

But then I think about where I was a year ago. Because the Mary of early 2019? She was genuinely unsure of how much longer she would be alive. There were never any concrete plans made on my part to… well, you know, put an end to my pain. But really, the headspace I was in? It was even scarier than if I had had a plan, because I was just so bitter and resigned and angry.

So… to be here. In Virginia. A year later. Not only not wanting to die, but wanting to live. To really, really live. And then on top of all of that? being excited for this crazy, beautiful life God has for me.

I mean, if that doesn’t leave a person speechless and breathless in gratitude and awe, I’m really not sure what else would.

The second verse of the song ends this way…
“To know you rejoice over us
The God of this whole universe.
It’s a story too great for words…”

And I think this can be a beautiful reminder. Because while I can lean into and utilize the gift that God has given me – words – to continue telling this incredible story… there’s something to be said for what those speechless moments can do. Whether they are just between us and the Lord, whether they are as we minister and love someone else, whether they are when someone is showing us the love and presence we need… the concept of “the ministry of presence”? It’s good stuff. There’s a reason that it’s demonstrated to us all throughout scripture.

Sometimes, even for the wordsmith and writer, the speechless moments can be the most beautiful. So as I move into this next season of my life and this next season in Richmond, I will try to remind myself that it’s okay to not know how to respond. I know and trust and believe that we really do have a God that, more than any good work or eloquent prayer… He just wants us. A relationship. He went all the way to death on a cross for that relationship, and He would have done it for just one of us.

In less than a month here I will be hitting all of the “one year ago…” milestones.

One year since that conversation when I finally said out loud what I had been wondering for so long.
One year since I finally started to have clarity on the demons and bondage that really needed to be addressed.
One year since I last took a sharp object to my skin.
One year since I broke up with those sharp objects once and for all.
And, ultimately, one year since I woke up with a spirit that was characterized by intense darkness and heaviness…
One year since I woke up and genuinely wanted to die.

In conversation with my therapist later I mentioned how I’m thinking it will be good to set in place safeguards and support in the coming months as I anticipate a possible increase of some kind in the trauma symptoms (trauma of nearly losing my battle with mental illness so many times). He challenged my “maybe they will happen” with a “they WILL happen”, and then reminded me that it’s all about how we prepare and then respond. So… I guess I can start with the reminder that sometimes it’s really okay to be left completely speechless. In the good times and the bad times, it really is okay to just sit with the presence of the Lord. To let Him have it – the anger. The overwhelm. The questions. The fear. The gratitude.

All of it.

Because… He’s heard it all. Really.
All of it.

And despite the fact that He’s heard it all and knows everything about every single one of us?

Despite all of that, He loves us.
We are His.
And NOTHING could ever change that.

Full lyrics to “Speechless” by Steven Curtis Chapman

My words fall like drops of rain.
My lips are like clouds.
I’ve said so many things, trying to figure you out.
As mercy opens my eyes, my words are stolen away.
With this breathtaking view of your grace…

And I am Speechless
I’m astonished and amazed
I am silenced by your wondrous grace.
You have saved me
You have raised me from the grave.
And I am Speechless
In your presence now.
I’m astounded as I consider how
You have shown us the love that leaves us speechless.

So what kind of love can this be
That will trade heaven’s throne for a cross
To think that you still celebrate
For finding just one who was lost.
To know you rejoice over us
The God of this whole universe.
It’s a story too great for words…

Oh how great is the love
The Father has lavished upon us,
That we should be called the sons and daughters of God

We are speechless
(We stand in awe of your grace)
so amazed
(We stand in awe of your mercy)
You have saved us
(We stand in awe of your love)
from the grave
(We are speechless)

How big is our God?

Get out of the boat and walk on the water
Get out of the boat and take His hand
Get out of the boat and walk on the water
He will be with you in whatever you may do
He will help you stand
On the blue waters of life, my friend
He will help you stand

For last night and most of today, I’ve had this song stuck in my head. It’s a Sunday school song that I remember singing years ago – it could be the catchy melody, it could be from remembering some of the actions, it could be since it speaks of such a well known story… but it’s a song I’ve never forgotten.

Earlier today I sat in on the final week of a book study – “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg. Today we discussed the final chapter, chapter 10 of 10, entitled “How Big is Your God?” And, oh my goodness… how timely for me right now. I was able to read it last night, and I am so grateful I did. It’s such a good reminder that the moment we think God is anything less than He is, the moment we start to doubt or question His power… that’s when we put God in a box, and that’s when things start to, well, not work so well. It also talked about how worship of our God and Creator is really the only appropriate response; it reminds us just how big He really is.

I think so many of us have heard the phrase or expression to “put God in a box”. But do we know what that really means? Can we know what that really means until we’ve lived it, until we hit rock bottom and realize that the only way back out is to take God out of the box?

I know that’s what it took for me.

So I think it’s no accident that last night, prior to reading this chapter, I decided to rewatch a sermon at my church in California from back in May. While watching it I also took a peek at the notes I wrote that day, because it was the following day that my plane landed, that I finally started to internalize God’s love for ME, and that my life changed forever. Upon going through the notes and watching the sermon, a phrase I wrote stuck out to me…

“But… You’re God. I’m not. And if Your power can raise the dead to life, who am I to do anything but simply trust?”

Wow. The sermon that day was titled “Power vs. Pretending”. And that quote? Those were the last words I wrote in my journal that day. The following morning, less than 24 hours later, after weeks of struggling and questioning and upon the return of such devastating hopelessness… It all changed. And I got it.

It’s been over six months, and now I’m living in Virginia. The whole move has been a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness, but six weeks in… to say things are going differently than I expected would be an understatement. I anticipated difficulty upon moving, sure. After all – it’s not every day that you pack up and leave behind everyone and everything you’ve ever known and move 3,000 miles away. But while I anticipated difficulty… I couldn’t have predicted this. No one could have, really.

Due to some factors that could be within human control as well as some that are most definitely NOT within human control, I’ve experienced symptoms and even relapsed and regressed far more than I would like to admit. In the last few days I’ve been able to see it for what it is and even start seeing why things may have happened this way.

But that doesn’t take away the pain.
The heartache.
The frustration.
The questions.
The… the shame. Yes, the shame.

It’s been hard to know how best to move forward. Well… to start moving forward.

But then I read my words last night for the first time in over six months, for the first time since I wrote them.

“But… You’re God. I’m not. And if Your power can raise the dead to life, who am I to do anything but simply trust?”

Wow. God knew I needed that, and He knew I needed the chapter and discussion this morning. It’s helped me to get grounded again, grounded in perspective – His perspective. That’s one of the biggest gifts and take aways from this spring… perspective.

As I’ve been pondering all of this, last night a dear friend commented on how much she loves the peace God gives me, that she’s having a hard time with it herself right now. So, being a writer, I immediately began pondering how I could put my peace from the Lord into words.

And, well… it’s basically this. Wee shouldn’t trust God instead of ever fearing, questioning, or worrying. Of course He calls us to move away from these things – He wouldn’t tell us not to fear so may times if He didn’t! But to use my word… it’s about shifting the perspective.

What if it’s not about trusting INSTEAD of fearing.
What if it’s about trusting IN SPITE of fearing.

Basically to say… yes, I’m worried. I’m anxious. Any rational human being would be in this situation. But I’m going to spend all the energy I have looking to Jesus, and to Him alone. I’m not going to spend energy trying to get rid of my anxiety… no, that’s God’s job. Not mine.

However – I am going to choose to trust. I’m going to put more energy into trusting than into worrying. In fact, I’m going to put ALL of my energy into trusting. And eventually… we might just forget about that fear and that worry. And besides, if we have any part at all in getting rid of that anxiety? Well… we won’t, because as long as we’re trying, the anxiety is not going to budge. It’s not until we let God fight our battles FOR us and not WITH us that He starts to move our mountains.

So as I’m here in Virginia, seemingly more questions than answers right now, I would be foolish to say that I don’t have questions or that I’m not anxious. I would be foolish to say that I haven’t started to ask God why He brought me all the way out here just to feel like I’m nearly back where I started. But I would ALSO be foolish not to look to Jesus. To worship Him for His goodness and faithfulness and mercy and love… to thank for Him for all that He has done. Because in doing all of that? I remember just how big He really is. And when I remember how big He is, I remember what He has done in my life, and how on so many different occasions He’s come through with far more than I could have asked or imagined!

Both last week and this week, the pastor leading the book/Bible study has asked the group, “Where is God calling you to get out of the boat?” I haven’t said anything, but I’ve wanted to raise my hand with an “Umm, well, I’m here, aren’t I??”. Because really, me moving to Virginia has been a big step out of the boat. And as this pastor put it when he talked about his own take-aways from the book, “The point of the story from Matthew 14 is not that Peter was bold enough to walk on water. The point is that Jesus rescued him when his faith faltered”.

Wow.
So as things have gone differently here in Richmond, as I’ve questioned and asked why and just been so confused… I remember Jesus’s promise that He will ALWAYS be there to stretch His hand out, to lift us up, to rescue us.

I remember that this big, amazing, incredible, awe-inspiring God of the universe has given us the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us – even if that means going all the way to the cross.

And it did. He went to the cross not just for everyone else in the world… but for me, too. He went for Mary Rachel.

And if that’s not a reason to worship Him with not just our songs but with our lives as well… I don’t know what is.

Be blessed and be loved, my dear friends.

if I told you my story…

The song came out about four years ago. I was working at Family Christian bookstores at the time, and I remember that I really liked the song at the time. I bought the CD, it played a whole lot in my car. It spoke to me then… it speaks to me now. Little did I know, though, just how much it would speak to me four years later – August 2019.

The song in question? “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave. It’s off their album “Beautiful Offerings”, released in September 2015. As I mentioned, I was working at Family Christian at the time, so the song was on our store soundtrack for a while. My life until that point had been difficult, and I had already faced some incredibly dark moments. When I think about the seven years after high school, I mentally divide it into three loose sections… 2012-2014 was the first hard section, 2015-2016 was the “middle” section – still dealing with the dark demons of mental illness but making it through okay – and then 2017-2019 was my never ending hell that, praise Jesus, ended with His miraculous intervention in my life.

So, operating off of that, the song came out when things were relatively… okay. I mean, that Christmas season was difficult. I remember that on more than one occasion I had to ask my manager at Family Christian to lock up the box cutters, but she was such a gift… she would do so without asking any questions, and I always knew that she was praying for me on those days that were especially hard. Over the last few years I have remained aware of the song, but when I heard it again today on the radio (and mind you I hardly EVER have the radio on in the car anymore!)… it hit me. In a new way, in a beautiful way. In a way like never before.

2019 has brought about a turn in my story that I never expected. I never even thought it was possible, so why even think about it? But, as a result of God’s incredible intervention this year, so many doors of opportunity have opened for both myself and for my parents. And, not to say that those doors weren’t there at all before, but… with all that has happened this year, let’s just say some of the doors that were there before are now FAR more realistic. For instance? The door that leads to my parents and myself no longer being a household of three.

See… my whole life is about to change. And this is probably going to be the hardest and most significant change I have ever walked through. My parents are moving to Idaho, and I am hoping to stay here in Santa Rosa. That, or I am hoping to transfer somewhere with my company… but we don’t have any availability in Idaho. So, even if I left Santa Rosa, I more than likely will not be following my parents up to Boise. I’ve lived with my parents as just the household of us three for thirteen years now… that’s about half my life. Six years of school and then the seven years after high school. And not only have I lived with them by myself for so long (older sisters moved out), but we are all very close. The three of us have walked through some hell together, mostly surrounding my battle with depression and mental illness. We haven’t always gotten along, no, but they have always had my back. They have always supported me in ways I never could have imagined. They have always been my own personal rockstars.

Back to my story… actually, well, HIS story. Him being Jesus. Since my plane landed in May, and since things have continued to unfold and show that there might be something to this plane landing, I have wanted nothing more than to share with others and to love others as He has loved me. I have begun having maybe even LESS direction about my career and my future, less tangible direction. I know now more than ever that it is my heart’s desire to do something with my life that brings glory to Him in a beautiful way and allows me to love and support others with the wisdom He has blessed me with. I want to be His vessel of grace, His instrument of peace.

So… what exactly does the future hold? I honestly have no idea. I’ve never had less of an idea! But at the same time… I’ve never had a peace like this. An excited, “I cannot WAIT to see what God does because even though it’s going to be hard it’s going to be beautiful” kind of peace. And if my parents had planned to move even nine months ago? I would have felt so differently. So as I still sometimes get anxious about my future or what’s going to happen, all I have to do is look again at my story. HIS story. The story of His beautiful rescue and relentless pursuit of a daughter who was hurting and lost.

If I look at the lyrics of the song, so many phrases and words convey so beautifully what my heart wants to share. “If I told you my story, you would here hope that wouldn’t let go… love that never gave up… victory over the enemy…” WOW. All of those things have shown up in my life this year, and they have shown up in some big ways. Because we have a big God. Two of my favorite words, two words that appear in scripture at least once… “but God.” BUT GOD! Ladies and gentlemen, just when we think all hope is lost, God shows up. And more often than not, He shows up in some pretty incredible and miraculous ways.

I could go on and on and ON about the small ways that I have seen God just this year, but for now I will just say this… my story is HIS story, and it is His now more than ever before.

I knew I wanted to close this post with a scripture, and given the subject of my post and the timing and all that is happening in my life… there is really only one option. It is a verse I have grown up hearing my dad say from the pulpit – actually a prayer I have heard him pray from the pulpit – as he begins every single sermon. And given that, more than likely, I am drawing towards the end of having pastor dad in my every day life… I felt it was an obvious choice. Psalm 19:14…

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Amen.
It is so.
It is so yesterday, it is so today, and it will be so forevermore.
Amen.

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… it’s a fishbowl?

I’ve wanted to write this particular blog post for quite a long time. In fact, I came up with my creative title nearly a month ago – on the night I hit a deer in Wisconsin. Don’t ask me why; don’t ask me how I remember all of that. But the reality? Even long before I had my title, I had been wanting to write this post and share this piece of my heart. In very recent days, though, I’ve come to realize that there has been a lot of fear involved for me in putting this out there. I’m not entirely sure how some people might respond, and the LAST thing I ever want to do is hurt someone. But when a lesson, a truth, a lightbulb moment… when it’s burned and ingrained into your heart in a very deep and passionate way, there comes a point when you decide that, enough is enough, and you take that step of faith knowing that the Lord will be with you.

So, now you’re probably pretty curious. A random, albeit creative, title… talking about fear behind finally sharing this piece… what on earth could this be about? Well, dear friends, today I’m going to address what is commonly known in the church as the “PK fishbowl effect”. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this term, the first thing to know is that PK refers to “pastor’s kid”. So, yes, my dad is a pastor. And while he became a pastor after I was born, I was so young at the time that I hardly remember any different. The fishbowl effect then is basically referencing how, very often in a church, the pastor’s family is known very well by pretty much the entire congregation. Sometimes TOO well. In some cases it can become an extremely negative thing… bringing with it large doses of legalism and forgetting the true heart of the gospel, the grace of Jesus Christ.

But in my story, thankfully I did not have to endure growing up in such an environment. My home church (St. Mark) has been nothing but wonderful and supportive to me and my parents over the years, even in the years after high school when I slowly began attending the church that I am now at every Sunday. People have been and still are offering so much support by way of prayer and encouragement. So when thinking about St. Mark, legalism is the LAST word that comes to mind.

However, when I graduated high school and began to experience the extreme darkness and intense struggle with mental illness, I also began to feel uncomfortable worshipping and being around St. Mark. I can’t tell you why – as I said, everyone there has been so amazing over the years. But as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t do it. Since I’m the kind of person who will do whatever it takes to be in church one way or another, I began attending another church in town (not my other current one) with some family friends from high school. They helped to provide me with a safe space to worship and just be and to ask God about why this was all happening. Eventually, thought, I got more and more connected with what is now my regular church – Spring Hills.

Time kept moving, and over the years I went back and forth. Slowly, more and more, Spring Hills has become my “home away from home” church. I’ve been very involved there and I have met some amazing people there. For the longest time I thought the primary reason for my church shift had to do with the music and the worship style. Last November, however, that all changed. And as that all changed, I began to ask myself some questions, and eventually that led to a lightbulb moment that played a critical role in landing my plane… yes, a lightbulb moment about that PK fishbowl effect.

When I was in South Dakota last November, I decided that I would attend a nearby Lutheran Church for my weekend worship. There were a variety of reasons, one of which being the small world and homey feeling that the LCMS has provided over the years. (At this particular church I didn’t manage to find a personal connection, but had I been there long enough, I have no doubt something would have turned up!) The first Saturday night I attended, I was a bit caught off guard by the traditional worship. I’m not sure what I was thinking… after all, this is a Lutheran Church in South Dakota. Traditional worship is probably the norm there. Regardless, though, that first night really struck me. I actually enjoyed the hymns and traditional worship, and maybe even in a way like never before. I even felt like that church could be home if I ended up moving. My time in South Dakota ended up being very abruptly cut short due to my health, so I was only at this church one other time. But even in such a short amount of time, it left its impact on me. If left me wondering and questioning, is the music truly the biggest and main reason for my migration to attend regularly at Spring Hills? Or was there something else?

Fast forward, and we’re gearing up for Easter this year (2019). Having realized in South Dakota that I was actually missing the hymns and traditional worship, as soon as I saw on Facebook that a local ELCA (Lutheran) church was putting on a beautiful cantata with traditional music on Good Friday… I knew I wanted to go. I knew I needed to go. I talked about it with a few people ahead of time – including my high school choir director who would be singing that night – but I didn’t make a definitive decision to go until that night. More specifically, I didn’t tell my parents until that night. The thought of going to another church on Good Friday, a church that is NOT Spring Hills AND a different Lutheran Church??! … as weird as this sounds, part of it just felt wrong. Like I was somehow being dishonest, or that I shouldn’t. Or to go to the extreme that my mind was trying to tell me… that doing so would be a betrayal to my heritage.

But as I said… I knew I NEEDED to go. So I did. And about an hour before service times at both St. Mark and this other church, I finally told my mom what I was planning for the evening. I tried to be honest with the feelings of uneasiness, and she reassured me that it was fine. She also threw out the “fishbowl” word, and fairly nonchalantly at that. But as soon as she did so, it stuck with me. And it got me thinking. Both in dialogue with her for the next minute or two before I left as well as on my drive over to the church. And what it helped me realize that night is something that has freed my heart and spirit perhaps more than anything else next to finally believing that God’s radical love and forgiveness is actually for me.

Basically, I started to think more and more about that PK fishbowl effect. See, as I have slowly transitioned to Spring Hills and have continued to struggle making St. Mark a place of worship for me, I have always assumed that because everyone there has always been so loving and wonderful… well, with the disconnect more and more apparent, the blame has to fall somewhere… right?

The short answer? Yes. But not in the way one might think, especially in a situation like this. That night, Good Friday 2019, I slowly began to realize just how much I was internalizing the disconnect, and I slowly began to realize just how much I believed that the disconnect was a result of something I had done wrong. That it was yet another result of the failure of a person that is Mary Rachel, and that I was letting everyone down because I wasn’t able to respond and make it work in the way that I have wanted to.

As this was all running through my brain, I began to wonder something else. What if – what if sometimes the fishbowl effect still happens, even when the church is healthy and filled with wonderful people. What if just the reality of being a PK really is difficult and that no matter how amazing the home church is, there might always be an element of the fishbowl. This is a fallen world that we live in, and sometimes these frustrating things just happen… not as a result of anything that one person has done wrong, but because we live in a world that is not perfect.

Woah. My life was changed, I kid you not. I remember one distinct thought I had that night, something that I wrote down. Basically, I spoke to the crazy feeling that comes when you’re finally free of a burden that you never even knew you were carrying. It was crazy. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me or expressed concern about growing up as a PK and I have responded by simply dismissing any negative effects because my home church is totally amazing. Well, yes, St. Mark IS totally amazing. And while that is true and will always be true, it can ALSO be true that there have been times where I have just needed space. Where, particularly because of my depression, I have needed to be somewhere separate where I can blend in if needed. The possibility of BOTH things being true and okay simultaneously had never occurred to me. But as soon as it did? Like I said, my life was changed.

As time has moved forward from Easter and from my plane landing a couple of weeks later, I have continued to see God work in the craziest and most beautiful ways. I am learning and growing and healing in ways I never thought possible. This particular lesson that I learned has continued to peel back layer after layer of the chains and shame surrounding the issue that held my heart captive for so long. And between this lesson and so many other things, I have never felt more free than I do now.

So… that PK fishbowl effect. I’ve always had an empathetic and compassionate heart, but with all the events of this year, that has only grown more and more. With what I’ve learned in regards to this, then, is something that speaks straight to the depths of my heart for people. If I had the opportunity to sit down with a fellow PK, particularly with one who is struggling or hurting in some way, I would want to hug them and tell them that it is OKAY to need space from their home church. And it is STILL okay even if the church is healthy and wonderful and lovely. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with them as a person, it just means that sometimes life is messy and complicated and that we have to work a little harder to have grace with ourselves.

But it’s going to be okay. Because Jesus is Jesus, and it doesn’t matter which church we’re in or when we worship Him or even what songs we sing. What matters is that He loves us with a love that we can’t even begin to comprehend. What matters is that we are free to live life messy because we can rest in His grace to carry us through life’s darkest moments. And what matters in such a big deal and joyful way? He has won. He has overcome.

… it is finished.
Now and forevermore.

So, dear fellow PKs, if you need to step outside the fishbowl? It’s okay. I promise. No matter what. Jesus will be at a different church, too, and He will meet you right where you are and will carry you fully and perfectly to where you need to be.

A different kind of vow renewal…

Having grown up in a very liturgical church, the idea of a “rebaptism”, or getting baptized again as an adult, has always brought about thoughtful conversation. I remember when I was baptized as an adult back in August of 2013. It was a neat experience, and it definitely brought about some really good discussion and thinking about what I truly believe about the sacrament. But… I’m not here to talk about the theology. I mean, sure, maybe a little, but only because the discussion earlier today sparked a really great analogy.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we will be taxiing for the next few minutes…

Okay. So, many of you know that I love all things airplanes, air travel, aviation. I currently work for a commercial airline in my hometown at our small regional airport. Being surrounded by something that I love so much has been an absolute joy. I mean, the travel benefits are great. But being able to help people in a very tangible way? To help them travel… weddings, graduations, new grandbabies, even long lost family… it makes my heart happy. It’s why I do what I do.

Continue reading “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be taxiing for the next few minutes…”