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I feel like this year sneaked up on me.

I wasn’t ready.

But it’s here. And I’m taking a deep breath and embracing it.

i dont wait anymoreAnd this year, whether I’m ready or not, there’s a book coming out that tells the story about how God became the biggest thing in my life, the thing that overshadowed everything else until the dreams I’d had for myself faded away.

It’s called I Don’t Wait Anymore: Letting Go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for You. It was birthed out of a blog from a few years back when God was cementing in my heart the fact that He’s enough, the fact that He’s better than any dream I ever had for myself.

It’s deeply personal. I’m a little nervous about that.

But it’s a story that’s not just mine.

So I’d love it if you’d come along, if you’re up for it. You can find it here at a number of bookstores. It’s not out yet, but the pre-order links are live.

Ready or not … here we go, guys. A new year. A new adventure.

Happy 2016.

 

Defeated.

I can’t do this alone. That’s why Christmas happened.

It happened so that we can have hope, hope that fights for us. Hope that hinges on a victory that’s already been claimed. 

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That Santa, he was kind … and kind of plain spoken. And he wasn’t giving me much to work with.

“Tell me about a kid from sometime over the years who really made an impression on you.”

He thought about it for a minute.

“I remember one time a kid said if he didn’t get what he asked for, he was going to bring a knife with him next time he came to see Santa.”

I can’t print that, I thought. It’s kinda awesome, but I can’t print that.

I was interviewing Santa for a community newspaper here in town. In my non-coffee life, I’m a journalist. I spend a lot of time hearing people’s stories and retelling them.

People like Santa.

People like wrestlers.

A couple of weeks after Santa’s story I sat down on some bleacher seats across from three brothers, all key members of the high school wrestling team. They were kind. They were kind of plain spoken.

And I had a feeling that if they were provoked they could really do some damage.

“I know you fight hard when you compete. But do you ever fight each other?”

They all laughed … and nodded.

They don’t just fight. They break beds. They bust walls. They splinter furniture.

“It’s the worst when we fight each other. We know each other’s moves. We know each other’s weaknesses. So when we fight, we nearly kill each other every time.”

I’m no wrestler.

But I knew what they meant.

*****

I lay there in the bed, the weight in the room heavy and thick.

Like it could bust walls. Splinter furniture.

Kill me.

It feels like lately God has been doing a great work … an unspeakably great work, the kind that brings hope, the kind that pushes back the control of the darkness and sets us free to walk away.

It’s like I’ve heard chains popping around me. It hits me deep in the feels. It’s literally the best thing in the world.

It feels like Christmas.

But where light invaded, darkness came up swinging from a long winter’s nap. It’s like a fight got picked in the living room, the kind that goes from zero to gut-punch and hits you right where it hurts, like a brother who’s been watching your weak places since the day you were born and just waiting for the right opportunity to use them. It’s a well-studied enemy who knows what hurts. Darkness knows where you’re tired. It goes for those spots.

“God,” I whispered. “The darkness has no power here. No right to be here. You have so much more power. Please make it stop.”

As I lay there in the dark, heart pounding, it was one of those moments where the fight felt more real than it ever had, the transcendental more tangible than it ever had been. Like I could feel Jesus’ arms around me. But like I could see the glowing eyes of the enemy from inches away.

I had a lot of thoughts.

But one rose to the surface.

Thank God for Jesus. What if we didn’t know He won? What if we thought the outcome was still up in the air?

This week’s been a weak one. My Bible has stayed tucked in the same spot for days between the front seats of my car. I’ve let the radio take the time that Jesus and I usually talk while I drive. My back seat is an explosion of dirty clothes and gift wrap and coffee shop aprons, and it shows the state of my week.

Not quite together.

Can I life? Maybe. But I can’t brush up against an enemy who smells my exhaustion and knows when I haven’t looked into the eyes of Jesus this week and let the glow of victory fill me up. I can’t lean on the fact that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world when I’m not firmly gripping His hand.

He’s given us the biggest gift we could ever want. Ever.

Himself.

The fact that He’s already fought for us and won.

I can’t win this. I’m defeated before the first punch gets thrown.

But as I lay there in the darkness, I found myself thanking Him that the enemy’s eyes were trained on my world that night. Seems like a weird thing to be thankful for. Of course I didn’t want it. I hated it. But it reminded me.

I can’t do this alone. That’s why Christmas happened.

It happened so that we can have hope, hope that fights for us. Hope that hinges on a victory that’s already been claimed.

Hope that started before the enemy ever opened his eyes for the first time. Hope that started long before an infant opened his eyes in a manger, too.

And hope that’s there every morning I open mine, every time I shut them at night and the darkness tries to close in.

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(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)

Unexpected twists.

Some days it’s a lot. But one thing I wake up and learn a little more every day is that this wild and crazy story God is writing for us has a lot of incredible depth, a lot of incredible, unexpected twists … if we will just hand it all to Him … and hang on. Not to the stuff. To Him. To His story.

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I wasn’t there. So I didn’t get a name tag.

But Elizabeth tells me that if I would’ve been there, I wouldn’t have been allowed to write something normal on it. Like family. Friends. God. I’d have to write something ridiculous. Because everybody’s thankful for that stuff. And whatever it was needed to have a dinner-table story.

What did hers say?

Publix.

It wasn’t her best material, but she said it’d do, because long story short, Publix saved Friendsgiving last Sunday night. So all our people got to eat. And write name tags.

Name tags that said what they’re thankful for.

Things like … 10-minute breaks.

I stood outside on mine that night and let the cold hit my arms, my breath curling in the air that night while Friendsgiving was going on. I hated missing it. I love my friends. Our lives are messy. But they’re hilarious. I hated to not be there.

But I was making coffee that night.

And that … that I didn’t hate.

And there are all kinds of reasons why. This season has been an interesting one. I joked with someone the other day that I’ve found myself in charge of coffee, people and money, three things I’ve never wanted to be in charge of. My life used to be a lot of words. These days it’s a lot of steaming milk. A lot of doing the whip and nae nae while shaking whipped cream canisters. A lot of being really, really stretched. A lot of people … and a lot of stories.

And those people and stories are etching themselves on my heart, just like the coffee smell that’s permanently written on my clothes.

And that I love.

God is pretty cool.

It’s funny. This is a part of my story that I never would’ve expected at 35. Wow, it’s different from everything I ever planned to do. And wow, some days it’s a lot.

But one thing I wake up and learn a little more every day … is that this wild and crazy story God is writing for us has a lot of incredible depth, a lot of incredible, unexpected twists … if we will just hand it all to Him … and hang on. Not to the stuff. To Him. To His story.

Because His story is pretty great.

It has been for a long time.

And there’s still a lot left to go.

I want a piece of that.

It starts and ends in the Bible. And my coffeehouse is right there in the middle.

Not literally, of course. But all of the parts of God’s story go together into a living, breathing whole. All the parts, messy as they are, are a seamless story of redemption with Jesus at the center, and a life without night, without tears still to come.

Every night when I lock the café doors, God sees me. He sees me just as much as He saw Ruth in that wheat field even though she was a foreigner, as much as He saw the prostitute who saved His spies’ lives, as much as He saw the man born blind.

And the people He saw back then … the stories of who He is and how He saw them … are changing me.

Like a friend said the other day, reading the Bible really is kind of like reading a story … it’s just that the story is true and can change your life … unlike Harry Potter or To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is. It can.

It does.

It makes your heart pound. It wakes your soul up.

It gives you an ending to wait for. And it makes your today come alive.

I love it.

And that’s what I would’ve written on my name tag, what I’m thankful for.

Unexpected twists … and the God who writes them.

Every single one is part of the story … a living, breathing story. I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I know where we’re headed.

And that’s the best part of all.

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(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)

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