Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…

Leave a comment

distracted confessions

I get easily distracted. I know what I’m supposed to do next, but then something crosses my mind and I feel the compulsion to explore it. Find out the details. Make the connection. Chase the rabbit trail…only to forget what I was originally doing.

I know this confession likely comes as a surprise to many of my friends. To so many people I am the focused one. I am the one who checks everything off the list. I am typically on-point and on-task. And this is true most of the time.

As a matter of fact, this blog post is because one of those rabbit trails (although I’d rather call it divine inspiration based off a real-life experience). One afternoon I started to write an email for work, but my mind was wandering because of a recent text I’d received. “Real quick,” I thought, “I’ll pop online and find the answer.” Sure enough, three minutes later I had found what I was looking for, but had also temporarily forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. Sigh.

How easily do we get distracted like this in our spiritual life? We get started on a good path of prayer, Bible reading, and small group gatherings but get distracted by other things that pop onto our radar. We pause and pursue, forgetting our original intent. We come back weeks later to the same chapter in the Bible we were reading – and have been reading for months. We recommit to praying each morning to “start the day off right” but hit the snooze time after time, day after day, and get off track. We sign up for a small group then forget to attend. And how often do we do this with our gym workouts or healthy eating or church attendance or calling family? The list goes on and on.

And while none of us can be perfect in our focus, there’s merit to working on being more focused. Our culture has moved away from this practice. We practically boast in the fact that we have a hard time focusing or are excellent at multitasking. It’s a badge of honor. But for so many of us, it’s an excuse to over-schedule and under-deliver. It’s an excuse because we’re bored with what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s an excuse to procrastinate and avoid working on our goals. As we multitask it’s an excuse to avoid connecting with the people around us and to keep us from authentic relationships. It’s an excuse to make our smart phones our focus.

Don’t misunderstand me…some people are amazing at multitasking and do it well. And others indeed have attention deficits and require medication to help them focus more. I’m not knocking either of those groups. But I do feel that so many of us should call ourselves to a higher standard. We need to remember what it’s like to focus, train our eyes on a single goal and accomplish it.

Where does that start? It starts with one step at a time. It starts by allowing yourself the freedom to not get distracted while you’re reading an article, researching online or writing an email (a-hem, preaching to myself here). Because let’s face it, there’s great freedom in keeping our eyes on the prize and completing a goal quickly.

Where does focus need to start for you? How do you stay focused (alone or in a group)? I’d love to hear from you!

An aside, I jotted initial notes about this post at work and promptly got back to that email I was writing. :)

Leave a comment

the big dream and why it’s ok to fail

The trend in the current generation (my generation) is to do great things. From the time we are young kids we are told that we can be president. We are encouraged that we can accomplish absolutely any dream we can imagine if we only try. We set out to be the best, come in first, take the top prize, be the leader, get the job, and have flawless skin and a perfect body. These are all accomplishable dreams, but are also short-term. Where are the goals that take time, effort and planning? But perhaps the better question is how do we learn the process of failing yet continuing?

So many people fail because their dream is seemingly unattainable. It’s too far off in the distance and they lack a clear path of how to achieve it. While making baby steps, they move too slowly, get distracted by what is immediately in front of them and forget the original focus. Or they become discouraged by the pace and give up before reaching it.

We need a reminder that life is to be lived in full from beginning to end. Life dreams (like becoming president) aren’t accomplished immediately. We must learn, mature, gain experience, fail, and experience what it means to start again. There is merit and character to gain in that process that is not gained any other way.

We must also remember that the big dream accomplished immediately is hollow. It’s a shell and only brings enjoyment for a short season before we are bored, abandon sustaining the original dream and need to find a new one.

My generation needs to stretch its eyes and look in the distance for the far-off dream. We need to look for the BHAG – the big, hairy, audacious GOAL. Then go for it! Determine how to get there, gain the experience, mature in our understanding of what the goal really is (let’s be honest, as we learn more about something we realize our original idea was not complete), fail many times, learn from our mistakes, and keep going.

It’s intimidating, this type of dreaming and goal-setting. BHAGs are just that – too big to accomplish quickly (or likely on your own), kind of ugly to comprehend the scope of what it completely entails, and way too daring to actually undertake. But that’s what makes this life so fulfilling! We have a carte blanche to set a goal beyond ourselves and go for it!

I’m personally convicted to dream bigger than I have ever before and set a BHAG. For too long I’ve been content with my little goals that are easily accomplishable. Friends have heard me say, “My goal is to make it through this week.” Granted, those were really stressful weeks, but that’s just not acceptable. As a Christian, I firmly believe what John 10:10 says, “[Jesus has] come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” And so that is what I’m resolving to do. Dreams are good, but goals are better. And BHAGs are better yet (especially if they are God-inspired).

Here’s to a year of consistent blog writing and starting to write a book!

What’s the BHAG in your heart? I’d love to hear about it.


to live present

Six days – that’s the marker for when the next big stage of my life will begin. For months I’ve been planning and prepping for my wedding day. I’ve had countless conversations about flowers and place settings and dresses and hair and food and chairs and venues. My head has spun from the endless possibilities for what this day could look like. I frequently find myself almost holding my breath, then I remind myself to exhale, breath in and out, relax, enjoy this season for all the craziness that it is. This is the one time I will experience this and I owe it to myself to fully embrace each wild moment.

To keep all of my thoughts straight for the big day I am making notes everywhere – my phone, scraps of paper, printed lists, an app, and a notebook. I’m not sure why I chose this particular notebook to keep my current life together. It’s one that normally sits on my bedside where I make little notes from the day – things I want to remember about an experience, conversation or a prayer. It even has a pro/con list about a house I considered buying last summer.

But this notebook also has notes about how I felt when I started dating my future husband. And it has a prayer I penned in Costa Rica last summer that was a deep cry of my heart:

“I want to live in this moment…not tomorrow or next week. Lord, help me to live now. To abide in You. To live full. Help me to be ever present in the moment, hearing your voice, sensing your presence.”

As I keep notes about my wedding in this journal I can’t help but feel that using this notebook was a divine moment to remind me about living present. To remind myself of how I felt when I first met Brian. To see, recognize and embrace each of these quickly passing moments. To live present.

Leave a comment


#tbt. If you have a Facebook or Instagram account you understand what that little phrase means. Each Thursday our newsfeeds are littered with “Throwback Thursday” pictures and captions describing our former selves. You name it, it’s out there: pictures from grade school, vacation, college friends, and more. They are our favorite memories and Thursdays have become our favorite day to share them.

I enjoy heading online each Thursday to see what friends have posted as their #tbt. Most are the best bits of life, but is that really an accurate story of our lives? We choose our #tbt pictures carefully, choosing the ones that make us look the best. Our hair is just right, our smile is big, the circumstances behind the picture are good or funny. We edit our lives to show the very best image of ourselves.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not necessarily saying we should post the negative pictures of life, but what if a stranger were to randomly pick a less glamorous picture to post for your #tbt? Would you be proud of what was posted? Would your Facebook friends and Instagram followers “like” your image? Would you be filled with joy or regret as that story is shared?

I am as guilty as the next person at handpicking how my story is shared. But there is a bigger question in all of this: are you living in such a way that you are proud to tell the complete story of your life?

While I certainly don’t succeed in every circumstance, in every thought, in every friendship and in every interaction, my goal is to live each day in such a way that I would be proud to tell my entire story. I want to be able to share with my grandkids stories of adventure, fun, romance and faith without having to leave out or explain away parts that are not pretty or polished.

I want to tell them that I broached the conversation when it revolved around a difficult topic. That I stood beside a friend who needed support when others walked away. That I fought for purity in a relationship and godliness in friendships when others couldn’t understand why.


Talking and flipping pancakes on a summer camping trip…sans make-up and a cute outfit. #authentictbt

And when I have messy moments, I hope that I will share those just as freely. That I can pass along to others the lessons learned in the times I messed up. I hope that I will not be so consumed with having a perfect exterior that I can’t share my imperfect interior.

But it’s more than telling that story to my future grandkids; I want to share that story with the people in my life now. I want to live authentically and transparently. I want to be a person that others know is real, who makes mistakes and owns up to them, who isn’t afraid to share the good and not so good, and who strives to be a better friend, daughter, fiancé and Christian.

Telling that kind of story means starting now. It means I have to start today with changes to my friendships, attitude, behavior, faith and involvement. To kick it off here is my #authentictbt. What’s yours?

Leave a comment

conflict & your life story

“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.” – Philippians 4:2-3 (NLT)

During a recent devotional time reading through Philippians I found myself mulling over this story of two women and their conflict. For weeks I’ve thought about these women and their story. What was their conflict? Why couldn’t they resolve it on their own? How in the world did it elevate to the level that Paul got involved?

I could take guesses all day about what Euodia and Syntyche’s conflict was about (lack of respect or honor, a household situation, a relationship), but the real lesson in the story of these two women is that continuing in their disagreement wasn’t an option according to Paul.

There are two things that stand out about this story of Euodia and Syntche:

They were believers and labored alongside Paul. The work they did to spread the Gospel brought their names to the level of attention that Paul not only knew who they were, but was also invested in seeing their conflict resolved. Their conflict was harming more than just themselves; it was also impacting the community of believers around them as well as tarnishing their witness about the forgiveness Christ offers through faith. By resolving their issue, Euodia and Syntyche would ease the tension of themselves and those around them (family, friends, fellow believers), be able to continue sharing the Gospel effectively, and actively live out a good testimony about conflict resolution that could be shared with unbelievers.

The simple act of living in community with others guarantees that we will face conflict. It’s our response to the conflict and how we take steps to resolve it that sets us apart from others. As Christians we are called to resolve. We can’t turn our back on a conflict and pretend it didn’t happen because then we are simply carrying the dischord with us. It’s a negative mark on our testimony about the forgiving and peace-giving nature of Jesus. Instead we need to make the active decision that our conflicts will not overshadow our witness.

They weren’t alone. Paul asks a fellow believer to step in and help Euodia and Syntche work out their differences. When conflict escalates and we aren’t able to settle matters on our own, we must remember that it’s ok to bring in people to help. We don’t have to navigate life and conflict on our own. The disagreement these women faced was consuming. It was the boulder in the path that they couldn’t see around. They needed someone to step in and show them how to move past it. That’s where Paul calls in reinforcements to help.

How often do I let my own conflicts rise to that level? How often do I allow an issue, situation, confrontation, argument or misunderstanding to take up such a huge residence in my life that it blocks everything else I am doing and it’s all I can see? It is the boulder blocking my path. My independent nature tells me I can figure it out and find a way to ignore the problem. But my track record reminds me that I can’t. It reminds me that when an issue becomes so large that others become acutely aware of it, I need an outside individual to come in and help me see more than my limited perspective.

This is the beauty of life as a follower of Christ: we are a living witness. For better or worse, we are the hands and feet for Him in this world and our actions (or lack thereof) speak volumes to those around us. We are called to be a good witness – to both those who believe and those who have yet to believe. What does your life say to those around you? What would Paul say about you if he were writing a letter to your friends, community or family?

Leave a comment

the unexamined life

I have gone through a lot of my adult life without thinking too deeply. Not to say I haven’t been involved in deep theological discussions, intellectual conversations, chatted about interesting trivia, or had impacting dialog about current events. Rather I have not thought extensively about the motives and actions of those around me, or what my actions and words speak to those around me. In part, I have lived the unexamined life.

It is only in the past few years that I truly began looking more inward and reflecting on the purpose of my actions, asking myself the hard question about my motives in certain situations. I have begun critically analyzing the words of others and what they actually meant when they said (or didn’t say) something.

This has led to good, necessary personal growth. Although I wouldn’t characterize myself as having been shallow in my consideration for others, I no longer dance through life without thinking about those around me and how my actions or words may affect them. Instead I feel more in tune with my community. I listen more. I talk less. (Although some of my friends may disagree with that last part.) I contemplate and ask questions. I pray more about how to respond — even in the moment — and do my best to choose my words carefully. I listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting when giving advice and counsel to friends.

It’s an exercise of sorts. It takes practice and work. I am not good at it yet and don’t feel that I will ever actually be great. But then again, if I ever feel like I’ve succeeded in this area then I am probably living the unexamined life again.

The Word gives us great examples of people living the examined life. David in Psalm 139:23-24 asks God to search his heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” In Lamentations 3:40-41 Jeremiah encourages the people of Judah to look at their motives when he says, “Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.” And in Proverbs 5:21 it tells us that God examines our lives: “For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.”

And so I do the same. I ask God to look at my heart, search my motives, call me out when I’ve overstepped or under-looked.

There are several questions I constantly ask myself to keep myself in check:

Why – Why did I react that way? Why did they react that way? (What don’t I know about the situation or the person’s background that will give me greater depth of understanding?)
What – What is my responsibility in this situation? What am I taking on that isn’t mine?
How – How am I supposed to respond that will be God honoring?

These questions keep me grounded to those around me and connected to the One above me. They allow me to walk out the examined life and become the woman of God that I am called to be. These questions aren’t perfect or complete — they are being refined, reworded and added to all the time. But they are a framework and highlight where I am right now in life’s journey.

What excites or scares you about living the examined life? What in your life deserves to be further examined? What is the biggest question you need to ask yourself to begin or continue the process of examination? In what ways do you need to allow God to be God in your life and let Him examine you?

1 Comment

pink sweater

There was a pink sweater in my closet up until about a month ago. It sat on the shelf along with my other sweaters but I didn’t like wearing it. I would pull it out several times a month, put it on and make it work with the other items I was wearing that day. But in the end I would swap it for something else before leaving the house. There was something about it that just didn’t feel right when I was wearing it. Sure, it looked nice and was stylish, but it wasn’t comfortable and I always felt like it was pulling in the wrong place or just a little too short or it didn’t make me feel good about myself. And so when I cleaned out my closet a few weeks ago the pink sweater made the move into the “donate” pile.

Like our wardrobes, our lives requires this same type of examination to consider whether certain aspects still deserve a place on the shelf. Are there habits you have, people in your circle of influence, and attitudes you carry that don’t fit quite right? Do you feel negatively about yourself or uncomfortable about things you do? Is there a pink sweater in your life?

There is a reason we don’t feel good about parts of our lives or actions. Like our clothes that don’t fit well, our habits can do the same. We may look ok from the outside, but the nagging feeling we have as we do these things is the very reason to get rid of it.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Getting rid of the pink sweater is more than just changing the things we do. It’s not just addiction, reacting harshly, using cruel words, or abusing others. But it’s also the attitude we have toward ourselves. It’s living with a sense of rejection and a victim mentality, fear, and being overly self-critical. The most destructive things are not always what you can see, but often the things you can’t see that make the largest and deepest impact on our daily lives.

Just like the pink sweater in our closet, our negative spiritual, emotional and physical habits take up mental space as we see it as an option to choose each day. To move forward in wholeness and freedom we have to get these things out of our closet and not see them as a choice to “put on” each day. We must choose not to allow substances to be a crutch; for harsh words to be how we share our feelings; for rejection to be our filter; and for self-deprecating attitudes to be our reflection to the outside.

We need to pull the pink sweater off the shelf and never put it back. Jesus came to set the captive free – He has the ability to change us! Seek God, share with someone about your struggle so they can encourage and keep you accountable, pray with others. But remember that Christ is the only one who can bring true, lasting change. Our part is to be ready to accept the change He can provide. Are you ready to clean out your closet and ask God to help you get rid of the pink sweater?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 911 other followers