#navbar-iframe {display: none !important;}

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Self Examination of Leslie Knope

Y'all. Leslie Knope and I are the same person.

Leslie, the fictional blonde-haired, crazy-eyed government employee of a small town in Indiana, yes the two of us are the same. It's like watching myself on screen. She's joyfully, annoyingly crazy. She's loud, on the go, and is loyal to a fault. She's enthusiastic and passionate about her job. She's motivated by her love for people. She responds irrationally to situations and has a corner to point her in the right direction. She verbally processes, a string of thoughts just falling out of her mouth. I AM HER.

I've seen Parks and Rec episodes numerous times. Most of the time, it's just on in my apartment, while I'm moving around, doing other things. I can quote it like a boss. It's been a source of hilarious comfort to feel a bond with a person who doesn't exist.

I also have a coffee mug that says, "be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do."

I really think we can learn from anything and everything.

Lately, I've been thinking about self examination. I'm always thinking about self-examination. You know, the whole crazy painful beautiful process of becoming more fully and wholly and freely who Christ made you to be. Man, it's tough sometimes. It's layer after layer, peeling to the core. I sit down with my LifeGroup ladies and hear them talk about discovering who they are and they didn't realize this about themselves and who am I?? and what is this?? and I think, I'm right there with you. It's a wild, interesting, crazy process.

And the process never ends.

It can knock you off your guard. Make you feel like you're stuck floating in a snow globe. But sometimes, I actually don't hate it. When I can see it for what it is, it's actually really, really cool. When I can see the work of all God, I can see the way He is sanctifying and reforming me.

He is intentional and intricate and He really, really cares. 

Leslie got a new job in season 4 and had to make a new, unpopular decision in season 5 and she feels disoriented and unsure and like she's lost her bearings on her values. Good and faithful and steady Ron Swanson looks her in the eye and says in no uncertain terms get yourself together and reminds her that her circumstances may have changed, but her values have not. The core of who she is has not. She remains hardworking and passionate and believes in the best interests of people. Her context may have changed, she will grow tremendously, but her character has not. She will be stretched, but she will be better.

Because don't those turn out to be the greatest seasons of life, those in which we groan and stretch and attempt to run, but once we move forward, we find that we are better for it? Our self, our soul, is being shaped into fullness and doesn't that almost never happen in stagnancy or complacency?

This process reminds me of words from the song Ever Be on my Lips. We sang it last week as a staff and these lines came alive,

you father the orphan
your kindness makes us whole
and you shoulder our weakness
and your strength becomes our own
now you're making me like you
clothing me in white
bringing beauty from ashes

Making me more like you.

Life is a sweet journey.
Wherever you are, God knows.
He believes in your life.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


My life looks very different than it used to look, in a lot of ways.

It is fuller, busier, more challenging, more joyful. I have really amazing conversations with people on a regular basis. I am asking questions of myself that I never have before. I am surrounded by people who make me better in every way. It is purest gift from the Lord.

Recently, I was in the midst of transition and I'll be honest with you, it was hard. I had no control over my calendar (Kendall, where you at?). My time was telling me what to do. I was hitting uncomfortable and new areas and thinking that I had no idea what I was doing. 

My soul was tired. 
I turned my phone off and ran away to the beach. 

That week, I began reading a book by one of my favorite authors. Her stories are so whimsical and magical, full of joy and full of hope. I've been reading her books for years. I was reading her newest on the beach, borrowed from my sweet friend, with the sand in my feet and the sound of the waves in my ear. This one was about the adventures of three friends during one summer. It was a hilariously sweet story about companionship and beauty pageants and cats and dogs. So deliriously weird. But there was a layer of depth to it, a layer about the soul. 

I remember reading it one afternoon on the beach and felt something stirring deep within me. This character, I related to her so much. Her words about her own soul, I connected with them. It was so very tangible. The imaginative, creative, childlike side of me responded. She resurfaced and squealed and I gasped at the freedom and the surprise at her unearthing. It all felt so.. familiar. It was familiar, the part of me that dreams and hopes and believes in stories real and imagined. 

It was so familiar. You know what I mean? That familiar feeling when you meet something or someone and you think there you are. I have been waiting for you. I have been missing you and didn't even realize it. But now that you are here, I wonder how I made it. You're it. That's what felt off. 

It almost feels too sacred to document.

I was having breakfast with one of my sweet friends this past weekend. I love her deeply, we have known each other since her high school days (now she is off to NYC adventures!). I asked her about faith and she began talking about grace. 

I believe God believes in my life. Grace is nuts and it is so important and it is a reality. Grace is a reality. 

My soul said yes yes. The same piece of the soul that resurfaced at the beach nodded in agreement. Yes yes. God believes in my life. 

The soul is first. Fortify the soul. I tell my leaders and my students and my peers that I have learned this the hard way, that the only way you can care for other people's souls well is if you care for your own. The only way. There is no other way. 

My soul needs coffee. It needs Jesus and clouds and laughter and friends. It needs conversation and stories and whimsy and rest. It needs freedom and words and adventure and song. It needs grace and peace and hope and joy. It needs life. 

I refuse to let my soul languish. I refuse to live a frantic life. I refuse to live joyless. I refuse to not put armor on each day. I refuse to push prayer to the wayside. I refuse to not soak in the beauty that is all around me. I refuse to live complacent. 

The soul lives and when the soul lives, I am able to experience the fullest and freest life. And when I experience my fullest and freest, I am more able to point others to their fullest and freest lives. The full and free life is Jesus. 

Onward and upward, friends!