Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…

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#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?


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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?

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When disappointment interrupts your attitude.

Last week I found myself in a different sort of head-space than normal: I was perplexed and confused and annoyed. It was not a fun space for this girl to find herself in. There wasn’t a single thing I could pin my feelings back to, but rather a series of smaller things that culminated with a general sense of uneasiness.

As a friend of mine from college would say, “Stop the world. I want to get off.” Ok, I didn’t really want to stop the world and I didn’t really want to get off, but I did want to hit the pause button and spend some time thinking about what was going on around and within me!

This new head-space I found myself in was causing a shift in my mood. It was causing me to question my motives and attitude. And it ultimately made me ask myself: what am I supposed to do when disappointment interrupts my attitude?

When vacation plans change…
When opportunities are offered to other people…
When family doesn’t respond the way you anticipate…
When a relationship comes to an end…
When jealousy creeps in…

To be honest, I had to sit with that question for a while. Not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I did know the answer – and I wasn’t living up to it.

Inside I was reeling and wanted to embrace it. I wanted to do all the things I knew I shouldn’t – hold on to the hurt, be upset, say something harsh, eat a handful of bon bons. But none of that would ease the disappointment or help my attitude (or my waistline). I knew I needed to take a breath and remind myself that I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, but that I’m to “put off [my] old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of [my] mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

But even more than simply adjusting my attitude, which is often short-lived and always a work-in-progress, I knew I needed to recall the One who holds my life in His hands. It’s a difficult lesson I’m learning – that I don’t hold the map of the master plan for my life. This lesson is uniquely and simultaneously both humbling and empowering. My life isn’t filled with the same giants the prophet faced in Habakkuk 1:1-4, but the same word God spoke to him holds true for me. And His promise in 1:5 excites me: “I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

And with that word lingering in my mind, I breathe deeply in and out. I’ve found the answer to my dilemma. And I’ve found myself ready for the world to keep turning.

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A girl in limbo.

I feel like I’m caught in a limbo of sorts. I’m in that odd place where I know a major life change is on the way, but I’m just sitting on the couch waiting for it to arrive. I’m forced to sit on my hands and wait. I have no control of the situation – and even if I could rush or delay the inevitable I would never want that power.

I can’t prepare any more than I have; I can’t book flights; I can’t pass off a task list to colleagues. I have no control over the timing. All I can do is wait. But that’s the hardest part – carrying on with everything with uncertainty looming over me. It’s difficult to keep my mind focused on the present when my thoughts are racing toward what the future holds. When will the phone call come? When will I regain the sense of control I feel like I’ve lost?

When it arrives, then I can hit pause on “normal” life to release myself to the highs and lows of the situation. But what to do in the meantime? I’m ready for the change and not ready at the same time. It’s a hurry up and wait moment. Hurry up to begin processing the emotional impact, but wait for the actual moment to arrive. Prep myself for loss, but still extend love while I can.

How have you processed situations like this? What did you learn? Any advice for this girl in limbo?

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Hole. Whole.

One letter is the only thing that differentiates these two words, and yet the difference in the definition changes exponentially by that simple change.

It’s incredible that so much hinges on such a small element that’s either included or omitted. It’s the difference between a gap in the ground and a solid surface. It’s the difference between emptiness and completeness.

Before one afternoon this fall, I’m not sure I’d ever noticed such a large difference between two words that are so similar. I was at a conference and listening to Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, as he shared about his book, “The Hole in our Gospel,” and what he believes is a glaring hole in Christianity as it’s lived out in the United State. Stearns believes what’s missing is an active concert for people affected by poverty and injustice.

It was as if I had been sucker punched in the face. Stearns was talking about a hole in the way people live out their faith, but with concern and action it could become whole. It was a difference that could be accomplished in one step (albeit a difficult one). You could change the complete meaning of a word by adding one letter. It was the difference between hole and whole.

How much of our lives hinges on the difference of something this small? Are there areas of your life that would take a 180-degree turn if changed by one simple (or difficult) action? Could one word make the difference? One sentence? One apology to a friend or spouse? One act of forgiveness when you don’t really want to but know you need to forgive? One moment of faith?

Could you discover the difference between hole and whole in your life?