A Few Notes on Healing

“They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace where there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14

Let the healing begin we say

As we ignore the bleeding

Let the healing begin we say

As we put a bandaid on a broken bone

Let the healing begin we say

As infection sets in

I want to heal. I want community. I want unity. And because I want those things, I want the difficult conversations. I want to set the bone even though the pain will be excruciating. I want to clean the wound with antiseptic before the bandage goes on. I want to make sure we heal correctly with no lingering effects we’ll have to live with forever.

Unity is not the absence of dissension. It’s dissension without destruction. It’s people disagreeing and not understanding the “other side” but loving each other so much we’re willing to listen and try. It’s being humble enough to hear things that get our backs up and open enough to talk to the person who seems on the total opposite side of us. 

This is our moment as a community of believers to actually BE the church. To model to those around us how to do life. How to live messily. How to disagree beautifully. How to sit at the table together with grace and humility. This is not a moment for false peace. A peace that says let’s just all hold hands and move on. People are frightened. You might think they have no reason to be…listen to them anyway. This election has shown what we’ve all known for a long time was the truth, we are deeply divided. It is folly for the church to pretend that the way forward is to move directly from the pain to peace.

We have to get out of our echo chambers of thought. We have to admit that we have made an idol out of the power that comes from American politics. My allegiance has no border. Love of country will NEVER be more than my love of God’s people. All of them. The ones it’s easy for me to love because I identify with them, and the ones that require more work to love because they seem so different from me. I will not settle for a false peace. I’m not afraid of dissension. Dissension at the table with Jesus at the head leads to true peace. A peace that passes all understanding. A peace that leads to genuine healing.

I’m ready for that kind of healing. Are you with me?

“You will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7 


I Contain Multitudes

I contain multitudes

I am a living contradiction

I stride with confidence

I hurry along in uncertainty

I bend but don’t break

I fall apart at the sound of a word

I put myself back together in the next breath

I hold a grudge

I let things go

I believe

I don’t believe

I know myself

I know nothing

I am held captive by lies that feel like truth

I am set free by truth that feels like lies

I can’t do what I need to do

I don’t have the strength

I am capable of doing what is in front of me

I am the strongest person in the room

I contain multitudes

I hold on to this truth

Am I my fears?

Am I my doubts?

Am I my weaknesses?

Am I my strengths?


These things are all part of me

But they are the branches on the tree

The root of it all

The root of me

Is in the identity I find in the one who made me full of multitudes

The one who breathed his spirit into mine

The one who called me beloved

His love defines me

And I’m not afraid anymore 

It has space for all my multitudes

We march on

The one about the face

It’s that look on my friend’s face

I’ve seen it before on other people’s faces

The look that says they’re done with this conversation 

I’m doing it again 

Making it too difficult 

I have an answer for everything 

No, scratch that…I have a question for everything. 

Why can’t I just stop? 

Why can’t I just accept the words being said to me?

Why haven’t I learned yet?

Are these my options?

Suffer in silence or cause others to suffer while I speak?

I drown in my questions. I lay awake at night haunted by them. Screaming in the dark to a silent God. I try to get them out of my mind by speaking them out loud and this is the face I get. 

The “I’m done.” face 

The “Can we talk about something else?” face. 

The “Good grief just stop doing x, y, or z and you’ll be fine.” face 

The “Nothing I’m saying is sinking in so why keep talking?” face 

And I’m not angry. I’m sick of me too. Sick of my inability to just shut up and move on. They say misery loves company and maybe that’s true, but not for me. I keep talking to get the poison out of my own heart and mind, not to infect others. But maybe that’s what I’m doing. Putting questions in people’s minds they’ve never had before. Being part of their own doubts and destruction…being the author of them. I don’t want that. So…what do I want?

The hell if I know 

I want to believe. I want to pray with audacious faith without doubting the character of God. I want to be used by Jesus to change the world in both micro and macro ways. I want to be able to do that without being overwhelmed by the despair that can come when you’re face to face with a broken world. I want to have thick skin but a tender heart. I want to believe.

But most of all I don’t want to see that face. Because here is why I cried after seeing that face. It wasn’t because I thought my friend was sick of me but because deep down I’m afraid that’s the face God is making at me. 

That he’s tired of me. Tired of my doubts. Tired of my questions. Just…tired of me. 

So here I sit. On the bench in a park crying and scribbling in my journal while Philly walks by and actively does not look at me because, hello…crazy person on a bench? No thanks. I sit and I listen. To the music in my headphones. To the voice in my mind. To the voice in my spirit. And I say to the Father “here I am. This is all I have to give you. Today, I choose you not because I think you’re the best, but because the alternative seems so much worse. I’d rather struggle with you than without you. I hope you feel the same way.” 

And then, a text from that same friend. “Listen to this song.” A link included. A song I already know. Different artist. Same song.

I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. Our God is three in one. I believe in the resurrection. That we will rise again. For I believe in the name of Jesus. 

So maybe I misread the face. Maybe I saw my own face on someone else’s. Projected my own insecurities outward. Maybe it’s as simple as this: I believe in the name of Jesus. 

I’m here Jesus. You say that’s all you need from me. You don’t need me all tied up neatly with a bow. No doubts. No anger. No insecurities. You just want me in the same room as you. So here I am. I’m holding on to your name. 

For I believe in the name of Jesus. 

The one about the sun

The sun looks different

Driving home from work for the past two weeks I’ve noticed it

The weather is still very warm

My air conditioner is getting a workout

My hair still frizzes in the heat

But the sun looks different

There’s something different about the sun in late August compared to early June. The shadows it casts are longer. It exudes warmth but warmth that seems to warn of a chill arriving soon. Oh sure there’s a scientific explanation for it. I’m not interested in that one. I’m interested in the difference that I feel in my bones. In my fingertips. In my heart. Summer is ending. And I’m not ready. Continue reading

The one about faith like a child

“Miss Janelle. Where do the waves come from?”

The question was asked with serious focus. I was standing in the ocean with my pastor’s 2nd oldest daughter, Claire. We were having a blast jumping the waves (as much as you can jump waves in ankle deep water) on what might have been the hottest day I have ever been on the beach. The icy water of the Atlantic Ocean felt cool and refreshing thanks to the 90 degree air temperature. The water in front of us and the beach behind us were full of people from our church hanging out and enjoying the day. Later on we would celebrate water baptisms but for now Claire and I were focused on spending as much time in the water as possible.

But now we needed to pause. A question had been asked and Claire seemed pretty sure I had the answer. In the space of about five seconds my brain ran through several thoughts at once.

Waves are linked to the tides

Tides are affected by the moon

This is a child about to start kindergarten

There is no way the moon and tides explanation is going to make any sense

What came out of my mouth was a mish mosh of sentences about how some physical things like boats sailing by, as well as the movement of the wind over the water can cause waves. It was inelegant, not very scientific and honestly not totally correct. But it was what I came up with on the fly. Claire looked at me a bit suspiciously. She may only be 5 years old but she has a very wise soul. She eventually nodded her head and said “That’s cool” and then we went back to jumping the waves.

It was another moment where I was confronted with the concept of what faith like a child actually looks like in the practical. How many times have I read the passage of Scripture where Jesus says to enter the kingdom of heaven you must have faith like a child? And how often did I resent that same verse when it was thrown at me as a reason to stop asking the questions I so often have about the faith I hold so dearly.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Have faith like a child

Why does God answer some prayers and not others? Have faith like a child

Why do some experience a supernatural healing and others die? Have faith like a child

How can God be truly good? Have faith like a child

Does God even really exist? Have faith like a child.

The verse started feeling like a weapon. And I resented it. And then my sister had children. And I was around children more than I had ever been in my life and I figured something out. Do you know what children do? Do you know what they do constantly? They ask questions.

When are we going there?

What are we doing today?

What are we eating

Where are you going?

What are you doing?

Why is the sky blue?

Why do some people pick their noses?

Why do we go to school?

And on and on and on. Children rarely accept the reality they are in. They want to know why. And they want to know why now. So maybe all this time when I’ve felt that faith like a child meant “Shut up and stop asking me questions.” What it actually meant was “You have questions? Come to me and ask them. You’re a child that’s what you do.”

Here’s the interesting part. Sometimes kids ask questions and the answer to that question is too complicated so we “dumb it down” a little bit. And yet, the child that is smart enough to ask the question is also smart enough to know they aren’t getting the whole story. It’s the look of suspicion on Claire’s face. The same look of suspicion I get when God “answers” my questions. The look that says “this doesn’t sound totally right.” We know enough to know we aren’t getting the whole story but we don’t know enough to fully understand if we did get the whole explanation. In fact the full explanation would probably sound just as far fetched as the “dumbed down” version.

So what saves us from walking away in anger? From calling the whole system a lie and deciding we want nothing to with it anymore? It’s the same reason Claire accepted my answer…trust and love. I love Claire. I’m not going to lie to her. How does she know this? Because she knows me.We spend time together.

Are you getting it? God loves me. He knows me. We spend time together He wants me to grow in wisdom and knowledge. So he’s going to help me do that the best way he can; by giving me the information I can comprehend in the time I can comprehend it. And I in turn have to trust in his love for me. When my brain picks up on the inconsistencies in his explanation I don’t lose heart. This is my father and he loves me. Someday I’ll be able to understand the whole story.

For now, I see through a glass darkly; and some things I might not see until the day I am face to face with Jesus. But I’m not going to be afraid. I can’t see. But he can. And so I’ll keep asking my questions. I’ll also keep jumping the waves holding tightly to the one who split the sea from the sky. He will quiet me with his love and rejoice over me with his song. And we’ll keep going. Until the day we are face to face.

Ready to jump some waves

The one about the hard work

PC:Tika Siburt

“If my people who are called by my name. Will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I’m starting to become numb. It seems like every day brings another situation that has me stretching my arms to heaven with my fists clenched, shouting to the sky “how much longer Lord?” The second week in July seemed to be a particularly stark example of hell coming to earth. In the space of one week we watched 2 men killed during encounters with police; one live on Facebook. Then, before we could catch our breath 5 police officers were gunned down in the line of duty. Gunned down while doing their jobs; protecting protesting citizens. That was just in one week, but on the fabric of our souls are etched all the others; so many names, so many cities they start to run together. But that week in particular was hard. Continue reading

The One about Bethel

“Then Jacob woke and said ‘Surely the Lord is in this place and I wasn’t even aware of it. It is none other than the house of God- the gateway to heaven” Genesis 28:16-27

He’s running away from something bad. When his mother told him the story of his birth; how the Lord told her two great nations resided inside her, that the younger would have the blessings of the older; when she told him these stories he could not have imagined this is how it would have ended up. Brother against brother. His father is grieved. His brother wants him dead. His mother is afraid. And so Jacob runs. This can’t be how he thought it was going to go. Continue reading