Tag Archives: Ann Voskamp

The Year of Dessert First

All my friends have been posting photos of their year from Facebook. I’ve always been more of a words person, so here is my year in words.

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I didn’t write much this year. I started out 2014 unemployed and depressed, scared that I may never want to write again. While at first this terrified me, I found God whispering something new to me, in the midst of my own silence.

Live My love story.

I started this blog a few years back specifically to “Write My Love Story,” to share the story of God’s audacious love in my life. I didn’t know how to experience God apart from writing. Writing is prayer. Writing is life. For me, at least.

But I’d lost writing. And, consequently, it felt like I lost God.

In this year of silence. Of words not typed out on pages or scribbled across receipts. I lost my writing, but I found I didn’t lose me.

I don’t have to write for my life to be real. For my prayers to be real. I don’t have to write at all to be a person. To be loved. To have worth.

The life can just be mine. The thoughts just mine.

If I had to pick a title for my year, I would call it “The Year of Dessert First.” Not that I skipped all the healthy things or the hard work, but it’s been a year of grace, where first accepting the dessert, the gifts, the grace, leads to health and wholeness, recovery. 

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I could list all of my accomplishments of 2014: starting a graduate program in Linguistics, teaching a university level course, securing myself a boyfriend. But those are just the outside trappings. I stand back almost bewildered that this is my life now. I did nothing to deserve this. To earn this. And that’s the beauty of it.

When I look back on my year, the moments I cherish most, the feats I’m most proud of have nothing to do with a college acceptance letter or my relationship status.

I’m proud that I persevered. That I continued with counseling even when it seemed nothing was improving. That I started a grad program even though I had no idea if I would have enough energy to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone do homework or attend classes. I’m proud that I had the privilege to invest in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients as a caregiver in a last ditch employment attempt. I’m proud that I traveled to Israel and Palestine and let everyday peacemakers teach me something about grace. I’m proud of the moments I let my friends in, let them cry with me, sit with me, mourn with me and hope with me.

With my boyfriend, I’m not boastful in my relationship status, but deeply moved by what he’s taught me about grace and self-acceptance. I’m thankful for every moment he makes me feel that I am enough. Just as I am.

I feel resurrected.

This woman of words is at a loss to express the healing that’s taken place. The peace I know.

That phrase from the song, In Christ Alone, seems to say it best:

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

            when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

There’s a contentment within me that I never imagined possible. Not because I worked my ass off for self-love and self-acceptance as I have in the past. In fact, I didn’t try at all. And I think that’s the best medicine a recovering perfectionist can encounter. And I don’t mean this as a formula. Not a how-to-get-over-depression-and-love-yourself DIY manual. But as my story of God’s undeniable grace in my life this year.

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grace from the disgrace

beauty from the ashes.

stillness to dancing.

And so I enter 2015, happily dancing and enjoying dessert.

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Lent: Turning to Love

I meant to post this yesterday, on Ash Wednesday, but somehow things got away from me. Anyways, here are some of my Lenten thoughts.

I’ve never been a fan of penitence–I mean, who is? Not that I don’t feel regret or remorse for the bad things I’ve done, for the ways I’ve hurt people. I do. But just the word “penitence” makes me think of a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon with fiery wLent Crossarnings of Hell and scare tactics.

I am not drawn to a God of anger, but a God of Love. I serve a Savior whose Law is Love and whose Gospel is Peace.

I don’t really know what to make of substitutionary atonement, but it’s easy for me to see I’m messed up. I’m selfish. I’m prideful. I’m apathetic of others’ pain and hurt. It’s easy to believe the wages of sin is death. I sow seeds of death every day.

And the only antidote is Love. Is Love Himself come down among us, with us. The only answer to this messed up world we live in, to the grains of anger that lead to war and genocide and torture and all of things I could never imagine doing because I have a hard enough time watching crime shows or Fight Club, the only antidote to all of this is the complete opposite of hate and revenge, bitterness and vengeance. It’s Love.

And I see that in the life of Christ. The life of a man who prayed for and forgave his enemies, not just the distant “them” enemies, but the very enemies who killed him. The ones right in front of him. I see this hope, this love, this answer in the life of a man who served others and chose powerlessness and integrity over power for his own gain. Who healed the sick and gave sight to the blind and set the captives free. Who chose sacrificial love to the point of death. Who showed an alternate way to live and be in this world.

This Lenten season I want to set aside time and prayer and energy to be more like Jesus.  Isn’t that, after all, what Lent’s about?

Ann Voskamp writes, “Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation.”

This Lent I want to be formed. I want to cultivate compassion in my heart and actions. To choose the way of sacrifice and rebellion against self-interest. To retreat into the presence of the Father when I become overwhelmed. To draw my strength not from the esteem of man, but from the One who has called me blessed. Who has called me to continue His works. Whose hearts breaks even more than mine for the injustice and poverty and horror in this world. Whose heart breaks for every tear that falls.

This Lenten season I have decided to give something up. In years past I’ve been vegan or given up desserts or diet Coke or gum for Lent. This year, I will be giving up tv–well Netflix to be exact. With my new volunteer job and ongoing freelance responsibilities, I don’t have as much time to waste watching Netflix, but I still find myself turning to the comfort of tuning out to English language episodes whenever I’m bored, tired, lonely.

For the next six weeks, when I find myself bored or tired or lonely, I will choose, instead, to spend that time either in prayer or in connecting with the people around me or praying for the people I love who are far from me. I will engage. I will not disconnect. I will sit still in the presence of the Lord and allow Him to speak. Allow Him to form me. I will turn to Love.

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Are you giving up anything for Lent? What do you hope to gain? 

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For more ideas on how to engage, reflect, and prepare for the Lenten season, check out Rachel Held Evans’ 40 Ideas for Lent compiled with the input of her blog  readers.

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