Posts tagged Faith
A Beloved Fixer Upper

If my soul were a home, it would be a little brick cottage. There would be a great big welcome mat, and you could see footprints where it had been trampled a few times. You would have to wiggle the door handle, but in time it would open; it was never locked in the first place.

There would be a cabinet of chipped china, but you would learn to admire the broken pieces because the stories behind them were always worth hearing again. Everything would be a little messy, with books all over the floor and half-filled cups of coffee in every room, but you could tell that the owner liked it that way.

Words would be drawn on the walls in crayons and paint, and you’d recognize that the century-old passages were integral to the entire structure. If you tried to erase them, parts of the ceiling would start to fall and disperse.

The hallways would have “Do Not Enter” signs scattered all over the floors— like they had been removed from the doorways grudgingly but necessarily. Almost all of the doors to the rooms would be open so that you could see the light spilling into your path. You could see that some rooms were brighter than others, but you’d notice the light everywhere—like Someone Else was footing the power bill.

Eventually you would wander into the kitchen, but you’d quickly realize it was under construction. There would be cabinets off the walls; it would be missing an oven and have debris all over the countertops. You would notice the Carpenter in there and ask what’s going on. He might smile at you and say, “Don’t you just love this house?” You’d probably look at Him confusedly because it seems a little chaotic, but He would keep talking, “Just wait—this room is going to be good. It might even turn out to be the very best part.”

Our Questions & His Character

I’ve been arguing with God lately. My prayers sound a little bit like some of David’s in the Psalms; I’m asking for answers and help and mercy. 


“What are you doing, God?"

"How are you going to use this mess? What do you want me to do here? When will this season of trials be over?”


I don’t have all of the answers yet. I’m still walking around in the piles of dirt, waiting for the harvest. 

My emotions are all over the place, y’all. I feel like a walking Taylor Swift album. 

And since I can be a little too introspective, I recently tried articulating all these feelings to my patient husband. To which he gave me some perspective and brought me down a notch, like husbands and good friends often do. He pointed me to Scripture and to God, toward light and hope and grace. These are the things that are worth our undivided attention. 

Here’s what I’m learning: How I feel about God right now doesn’t matter as much as the truth of who God is.  

Don’t get me wrong, I think feelings are important. The Lord has given some of us the tendencies of introspection and empathy (bless our hearts), and these are gifts that can be used for His glory. But sometimes I feel ALL THE THINGS and get caught up in the madness. 

I know this is entirely off-brand for this postmodern, everyone-gets-a-trophy world—but making decisions and shaping opinions supremely on how we feel is a destructive way to live.  We cannot rely on our emotions over the Word of God. So, while I’ll still be asking honest questions with a side of Davidic lamenting—these days, I am holding onto my Bible like a lifeline, like a healing balm for my heavy heart. These days, I am trying to focus on what I know to be true about God. 


Because the one true God is perfect and blameless and pure. He is the beginning and the end. He is a respite for the weary and healer for the hurting. He is the creator, author, redeemer, father, and friend. He hands out mercy and grace to a bunch of undeserving sinners like me. He is just and compassionate and forgiving and miraculous and worthy of all praise. 

He is faithful to the faithless and hope for the hopeless. He knows and sees everything. He is light and peace and righteousness, the unblemished lamb who paves the way and pays the price. He weeps for us and intercedes for us and fights for us. He is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The great high priest, the ruler, the king, the shepherd and servant and savior. He cares for every single one of us. He loves every single one of us. (This brings me to tears; I can't even deal.) He is everything that is good. He does not leave us in our doubting. And He does not alter His character, ever. He is who He is. 

This amazing God sent His one and only Son to take our rightful place on that awful, wonderful cross because of His overwhelming, can’t-measure-it-or-comprehend-it kind of love. Because of Jesus, we have a chance to be free from the chains that all of our mistakes placed on us. Because of Jesus, we can live in eternal and perfect bliss with our God. Because of Jesus, there is a bigger and better and holier picture. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound indeed.

Gosh, every time I lift up my eyes from my own self-centered world, I notice this hard-to-live-out truth: it is a far better thing to focus on Him. I don't know about you, but I need this reminder taped to my phone and dashboard and coffee maker: God has been faithful before; He will be faithful again. No matter the hurts we are experiencing. No matter the valleys we are walking through. No matter the demons we are facing. 

Praise the Lord that real faith is not circumstantial! Praise the Lord that His grace does not waiver and His character is not contingent on our behavior. 


If we do one single thing right today, may we allow this Gospel to shift our gaze heavenward.

Glory awaits.  


did you know...?

If you sign up for the email list, you'll not only receive the monthly letter (above), but you'll also get exclusive resources and lists of fruitful finds (This month's list included a sermon that might cause you to clutch your pearls at the mention of politics, a book that I can't stop talking about, and a podcast episode with Australian accents!)


5 Truths to Remember When You're Feeling Fragile

Have you ever been in a season when you felt incredibly fragile? Or maybe you are in one now. You have higher levels of anxiety or fear or you are just all-around burnt out. You are at your most vulnerable, afraid you will completely fall apart at any given moment.

Maybe the trials keep coming and the earth keeps spinning and you are just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe you sit in your car, pleading with God and trying not to cry. Maybe you wear the mask of having it all together, when in reality it feels like the drumbeats of Jumanji are about to erupt from your heart. Maybe you are about one rude comment away from losing your ever-loving mind and pulling a Britney Spears.

(At the time she went off the deep end and shaved her head, I remember thinking, “Wow. What kind of mad (wo)man does that sort of thing?! She is crazy.” And now I’m like, “Eh. We all have those days. Cut her some slack.” She just cracked a little more clearly than everyone else. Because maybe she isn’t so lucky. And she does just cry, cry, cry in her lonely heart.)

I digress.

I guess my point is this: we have all been through seasons of fragility or we will face them in the future. We are living in the not-yet, and the brokenness is all around us. The brokenness is inside of us. Life can be hard and incredibly Toxic. (Oops…I did it again. Guys, I’m just saying: she has been sending out cries for help ALL ALONG.)


But because of all of the brokenness, it’s easy to react to our fragilities in not-so-Christian ways. Sometimes we play the victim and sometimes we play the martyr. We might take out our pent-up weaknesses out on others, trying to hurt someone else in the ways we are hurting. Or we might just embrace the emotional train wreck in which we are living and little by little—we lose hope. 

Here are 5 truths and Scriptures to remember when you’re feeling fragile (I am preaching to myself here, friends):

1.     When you find yourself anxious and afraid, remember that there is no chaos in God. Anxiety and fear are not fruits of the Spirit. Our God is a God of perfect peace. The more I battle worry and fear, the more I think anxiety is a form of spiritual warfare. Satan feeds on these weak spots and hits us in the pressure points; he wants us to become trapped in his web of lies. We have to re-align our focus on God approximately one million times a day. This is a discipline worth fighting for, over and over again.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.
—  Isaiah 26:3

2.     You are not a victim; you are a warrior. It’s okay to feel fragile, but it’s not okay to play the victim. You are a part of God’s army and we need you to be who God created you to be. We need you to show up with your beautiful gifts and abilities, taking up the space in the world like only you can. If we are constantly feeling sorry for ourselves and licking our wounds, we are still being self-centered and self-focused. Once again, we must shift our gaze and remember our identity is from the Maker, not from this world.

…yet I will not forget you.  Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands
— Isaiah 49:15-16
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
— Rick Warren

3.     When you are deeply hurting, remember that it becomes increasingly easier to hurt others. This is part of the problem and not the solution. We have to get out of this crazy spin cycle. I know we all crave a good revenge story—but while revenge might make us happier in the short run, it is an extremely toxic (I promise that time was inadvertent) way to live. Forgiven people forgive people in this beautiful, upside-down Gospel.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
— Matthew 6:14-15
Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

4.    You are not alone in this. Dear one, I know it sometimes feels like you are taking on the entire world by yourself. But there are people around you, ready to jump in the game and cheer you on. Ready to speak truths with you and pray over you. If there is no one in your life right now that you feel comfortable sharing the burden with, go out and find someone. In the meantime, I am raising my hand over here. We should not ignore the importance of community. We all need each other more than we know. 

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
— Galatians 6:2
We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story.
— Shauna Niequist

5.     When it feels like you’re falling apart, remember that God is in the business of putting pieces back together. This is the best news, isn’t it? No matter how many times we crumble, our Father is there to pick us up off the floor. He sees our mess and loves us still. He wipes our tears and calls us by name. We are deeply known and forgiven and made new, washed by His blood. God’s arms are always open for the brokenhearted. Especially for the brokenhearted.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in Spirit.
— Psalm 34:18


I know I'm always looking for podcast, music, and book recommendations, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my recent favorites as well (and feel free to send any my way that you've been loving)!

To Watch: Priscilla Shirer's talk at Passion 2018

Turn off Netflix and turn on this. I am so serious, y'all. I was working while I was watching, and I kept stopping what I was doing so I could write down all of the brilliant, Spirit-filled things she was saying. The last ten or so minutes, I could not look away because our sister Priscilla was plain BRINGING IT.

"Yes, come as you are, but don't stay as you are."

"We have sacrificed holiness on the altar of impressing people...You [have to] live for the applause of heaven. You [have to] decide, 'I will not be politically correct before I will choose to be holy.'"

To Read: 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke

I am finishing up this book, and I'm finding myself talking about it constantly in everyday conversation. We are learning the advantages and disadvantages of this smartphone era, and this Biblical perspective on all things technology is worth the read for anyone who is prone to the Instagram-comparison trap or the occasional Netflix binge. 

“The more we take refuge in distraction, the more habituated we become to mere stimulation and the more desensitized to delight. We lose our capacity to stop and ponder something deeply, to admire something beautiful for its own sake, to lose ourselves in the passion for a game, a story, or a person.”

To Listen: Face to Face by Mat Kearney

All of his new songs have been on repeat over here, but especially this one. 

"I feel your thunder pourin' like rain
Down on the mountains of all my mistakes
Rolling like rivers, running with grace
Into the ocean of your embrace
Your hand of my side, leading the way
Ten thousand horses couldn't pull me away
I hear the music, heaven has made
Oh when we're standing, standing
Face to face."

The Anti-New-Year's Resolution

A Time to Plant Roots

Every time the new year rolls around, it seems we are always dreaming up and listing off all the changes we are going to make this year. This year I'm hitting the gym at least three days a week. This year I will spend less time on my phone. This year we are sticking to the budget. No, really-- this year I am going to eat healthier. 

It's great to have goals, to make changes where they are needed and set out to accomplish something great. We should dream and plan and make the most of this life we've been given. 

But I’ve been learning the importance of being rooted. To plant one’s roots deeply in a soil—in a community, in a church, in a neighborhood, in a career, in the Word, in prayer and a mission field—it’s a hard but beautiful experience. This doesn't have the glitz and glamour of goal-setting. We don't list our non-changes into cute little blog posts featuring funny GIFs and styled photos. 

We know that the new year is not going to bring about changes in every facet of our lives, and we would be entirely too overwhelmed if it did. But still, we skim over the consistencies. We tend to attribute long-term routines to the elderly or complacent or OCD. 

And while we recognize deep-down that it’s not great for our well-being to move every year, to constantly change jobs, or to cycle through friendships when stuff starts to hit the fan-- we still like a good escape plan. So we prep the getaway car, just in case.


Being rooted is difficult, isn't it? Friendships can be messy. Community is imperfect. Neighbors blare their music too loudly or mow their lawns too early. Cities become stagnant. Jobs become boring. Distractions are abounding and hypnotizing. We forget to invest in the place we are because we are busy thinking about the places we would rather be.

Often, it seems a heck of a lot easier to make new friends, change churches, move to a new place, get a new job, give up completely. But if we keep doing this—if we keep skipping town and ditching people, we will miss out on the really good stuff. We will uproot too quickly, and we’ll never witness the harvest. 

The main verse I based the name The Harvest Letters on is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I think that says it all. There is so much beauty to be found in everyday faithfulness. When we pour out grace in relationships and stay rooted even in the storms, we are imitating Christ. Through our commitments and disciplines and sacrifices, God shows up and pours out His glory. It is a privilege to invest where God has planted us. It is a privilege to be here, in this wonderfully-ordained moment in time, to show up day after day in perseverance and patience and humility. 


There is a flip side to this, though, and I don't want you to misunderstand me. Some of us do not have a choice in the changes; we get fired or dumped or we lose a loved one, and the changes come whether we wanted them or not. There are reasons for these turn of events, which we probably will not understand until much later. This is a really annoying part of life, and we will almost always question Jesus during these unwanted changes. I think it's okay to question Him. After all, He's the One with the answers.

Also, I am not saying we need to claim martyrdom all the time. We do not need to tolerate everyone. Toxic relationships and false teachers, verbal abusers and crazy exes-- we can shake the dust off our feet. 

Gosh, I know there are a lot of us who have been burned-- by the church, by friends or family, by organizations or anonymous social media bullies or cowardly strangers. To you, I say: I am so, so sorry. You do not need to get burned over and over again. There is a difference between giving up and moving on. 

So these scenarios I just listed? I am not talking about planting roots there. I'm just saying that we don't give up on someone who looked at us the wrong way. We don't leave a church because they never play our favorite worship song. We don't move cities because we are starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. We don't break a relationship off because they told us a hard truth. We should value rootedness a little more and stop running from our problems all the time.

We should listen to the Holy Spirit, who sometimes pushes for change and sometimes wants us to invest in the place He has planted us.


I don't know about you, but this does not come naturally to me. I want to put up a wall around my heart with an army of protection. I want to care less, be the one who is less invested. I want to make tentative plans and then cancel them at the last minute. I want a code word to leave parties early. I don't want to be disappointed in people, which can't happen if I keep everyone at arm's length. I can't fail as a farmer if I never plant the seeds. 

But God did not design us to have surface relationships. He did not put Adam on this earth to end it there. We are made for deep, real relationships. It is not good for man to be alone. We are meant to plant the seeds. We are made to grow the roots.

I suppose I've been learning this, however imperfectly and inconsistently, in the past few years. Throughout the first two years of our marriage, Kevin and I moved three times. We were residents of Alabama, then Arkansas, then Georgia, and finally we made it back to sweet home Alabama.

While we were thankful for the lessons we learned in each place, we both felt the Lord nudging us toward planting deeper roots. We knew we wanted to end up back in Alabama, so we took a leap of faith and moved back to our hometown.

We bought a house we could grow into and joined an imperfect, but community-filled church. Now it’s been almost three years of developing relationships with our neighbors, both on our street and in our city, and it’s been three of the sweetest, hardest, light-filled years. Unless the Lord leads us in a different direction, we are filled with expectant hope in remaining rooted in this place where He has so wisely placed us. 

And when the time for more changes arrives at our doorstep, we hope to stay rooted in the most important thing; we seek to remain rooted in the unchanging Gospel Truth.

Because even in waves of change and confusion, He is steady and sure, a perfect and holy anchor for our souls. And if we reach out a hand to the Lord of the Universe, He will never let go. 


Let's not give up, friends. There might be a harvest on the horizon.

Alex FlyFaithComment
Twenty Seventeen.

This year I tried to be David. I picked up my slingshot and stones and then aimed at my giants. My slingshot broke apart. The giants kept standing, taunting, confronting me. I backed away... slowly and then all at once. I am not David.

This year I tried to be Noah. I bought the wood and started building my ark. Please, God. Am I doing this right? I don’t want to face the floods. I don’t want to drown. But I threw away my hammer. I am no carpenter.

Then I found myself in the lion’s den, so I tried to be Daniel. Be brave, I thought. Be strong. But I was so scared. I ran away before the lions could attack. I am not Daniel.


Finally, I decided to wear my own heart. I carried it around on my sleeve like a badge of honor, like a beautiful broken trinket I kept bringing to show and tell. It felt strange and wonderful and free.

At some point along the way, an exposed heart becomes even more broken. And all broken hearts need a remedy.

This year I gained a few more scars. I lost a few battles I never even knew I was fighting. I found myself crying to God more than I’d care to admit.

I suppose when He asks us to walk through fire, some of us are bound to come out burned.

But don't scars have the best stories?


I lived in the middle of the ocean this year. Waves pounding. Sea roaring. I lost sight of the lighthouse a few times. But no matter how severe the storms, I never drowned. There was always another breath to take, another glimpse of the light.

It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him, holding out a lifesaver when I grew desperate. He has saved me so many times.

He keeps saving me when I stand there stubbornly saying I can fight the waves myself. He waits, patiently, faithfully—because He knows. We are never able to save ourselves.


Thank God. I would make a terrible savior.


I am staring at 2017 in the rearview mirror now. And the truth flashes across the highway pretty obviously: I was never meant to be David or Noah or Daniel. But we do have one thing in common: we are not the heroes in our stories. God is. He keeps saving all of us. No matter how small or insignificant or broken we are. No matter how many times we try to run away.


So I may not consider myself

a poet, a prophet, a king or a priest.

But I will forever attempt to describe

this radical, wonderful grace.

For He keeps rescuing me—

A sinner, offender, the very least. 

A Challenge For This Holiday Season

We are nearing the holidays, which always carries an array of emotions. Some of us are counting down the days on our perfectly-designed Advent calendars and hanging twinkly lights and planning family devotionals. And some of us are watching the days tick by like a slowly approaching time bomb that will likely explode in eating too much casserole and arguments with family members and fighting traffic for last-minute gift buying.

Some of us expect this season to be full of magic and joy and we end up finding disappointment and hurt like we are opening up a beautifully-wrapped present only to find a note that details all of our insecurities and fears. A lot of us know that the holidays will bring up pain because all we notice is the empty seat at the table where a loved one should be sitting and eating and laughing with us.


I went to hear a speaker at our church last week; he was a really smart guy full of facts and wisdom and good advice. He started talking about how our brains function, and I expected to promptly zone out since my particular brain does not comprehend science and statistics well. But I kept listening while he revealed this interesting research: it's scientifically proven that our brains hold onto all of the bad stuff more easily than the good stuff (he said this a lot more eloquently). Basically, we tend to remember the hurts and disappointments and fears over the joys and laughs and sweet moments.

We must fight to notice the good stuff.

I don’t know about you, but I can tell you from experience that this must be true. I don’t go to bed thinking, “Man, I had such a great day. Let me list off all my accomplishments.” Nope, I go to bed thinking about all of the tasks I didn’t check off my list, all of the things I said at the wrong time, the numerous hurts that haven’t quite been healed. For me, it is a constant battle to hand these worries over to the King so that I don’t stay awake all night dwelling on disappointments and not-yet-answered prayers.

But here’s the thing: when I started understanding these tendencies to dwell on the bad, I knew I must make an effort to remember the good. The joys and beauties of this messy life are all around me, but without any effort I will remember those about as much as I remember high school calculus lessons.

We know this, don’t we? It’s why we make lists of gratitude and hang signs that say, “Count your blessings.” It’s why we have a whole season dedicated to giving thanks. I believe it’s why we start the Lord’s prayer with a sentiment of praise. We must train our brains to remember, to notice, to praise Him even when we don’t feel like it, even when it seems the whole world is ripping apart at the seams.


So here’s my challenge to you (and myself) this holiday season: take note of the good stuff. This doesn’t mean we ignore the bad. Pushing our hurts and sorrows deep down is not a healthy approach either. But we mustn’t remain in a place of disappointment because we have so very much to be thankful for.

Let’s just make an effort to take note of the joys. Open up a journal and start a list. Pull out a chalkboard and have everyone in the family keep a visual record of thanksgiving. Start and end the days with singing praises. Crack open the Word to pray the Psalms of gratitude. Leave post-it note reminders of grace in the car. Take photos that hint at His glory. I think this is worth the effort.

Because if we allow it, gratitude might change everything. 


Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
 For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
-Psalm 95:1-3