the flip side

A heartbreak detour a few months back had me scrambling for default mode. No matter how much I busied myself or how many plates I kept spinning, I couldn’t keep myself together. I couldn’t shake it. Someone had scaled my walls to really see me, opened up my mess and real-time thoughts yet was not overwhelmed by me, sat in my dirt and stayed for a while. Then he dared me to let everybody else into this Layne too, he swore they’d like her even more than they like the faraway one. I’ve heard this dare before; his was an echo of Someone Else’s all-my-life dare: Go ahead, My girl. Just be you already. I made you just-right. You’re Enough because I say so–and what I say goes.

So before I could backtrack or think twice, Abba did it again. He stole me away to the quiet where I’d hear Him. To get my heart racing again, He took me all over everywhere, that I’d taste of His Love from every which way. He spoke tenderly to me, spoke tenderness right into me. God leaves no thing unchanged, so He didn’t just patch up or fix up. He did a wild, new, wouldn’t-believe-it kinda thing! He took hammer and nail to this keepaway heart and remade it, untangled it, synched it up to His rhythm. He sat in my dirt with me, let me cry and saw no less brave in me when I couldn’t keep it together. He brewed within me uncharted emotion, took care and took notice of me. My God dared me like always to let people into my nothing-special, and then He went and gave me the best of them. So I did it! I really did it. I unraveled all summer in broad daylight, while strangers and little sisters and my home team cheered loud. I told them my Story, all the fine print. Just like He promised, they cared, listened, prayed, stayed and on some days, they cried right there with me. They called me my flip side name until I called myself Enough too.


Abba is always speaking Enough over me, into me, out of me. He never tells me to be the balancing act or play put-together or fake okay. He doesn’t require of me. He doesn’t ask me to impress Him or win Him over or prove myself worthy again and again. There is no catch to His Love, no must-be-met expectation. It does not hang on my performance or hinge on my deservedness. Though I try to work-hard barter with Him, He is not like the rest of them. His Love is free of charge—I wish I’d never forget.

But while I know the voice of Abba and I chase Him long and hard, the Liar keeps up with my pace. Loud and annoying, He allures me like my before days with gold stars, trophies, ‘good job’s and glory. He feeds me false grace and false gospel, likes to set my gaze on all their attention. He’d do anything to convince me that I am my old self and that Abba’s Love must be merited.

When I hear the Liar out, I resort back to before Layne. I manufacture joy, I am some exception to emotion. I try hard to make myself lovable, to keep good and holy and polished-up for Him. I stack bricks high, for my mess should be unknowable. But just when I default to my old name and nature, my God comes quick to shake me awake. No head-shaking or lecture or ‘I told you so’–He just reminds me that I know better, that I’m not the Layne I once was. His Love barrels through my balancing act every time just to sweep me away with Him. He does what He always does, the very thing He does best. He speaks His words right back into me and re-tells me my Story, just as I’ve started to forget:


I am my flip side, my new self
I am not her: the Layne I used to be
or all the things they expect of me
or the dots and stars they stuck on me
I am so much more than she
I am not my old chains or old names
or a GPA or resume
I am Enough, He says I am
Enough is who I’ll stay
I am my flip side, my new self
Enough I’ll always be
my God rewrote my history
traded old Layne for one set free
I am plain dirt turned to Glory
I am my before-and-after story
I am a nobody-turned-somebody
A recovering Pharisee
A performer let loose to just be me
He’s pleased with me already
Though I have no merit to my name
no worthiness to claim
I am enough, He says I am
Enough is who I’ll stay
Enough! Enough!
my flip side’s stuck
Enough I’ll always be
now it’s time I tell the world
how Grace has set me free

This is my Story! How dare I forget it, or crawl back to old Layne as if Grace can be undone. This is the Story He habitually wakes me up to. He tells it on-repeat until I know it backwards and forwards, until I’m proud of it. Then He sends me out to coffeeshops,  mountaintops and the occasional up-front onstage spot. My girl! Our story: I love it so. Come on! Let’s show and tell it.

I will lure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her heart | Hosea 2:14

Being confident of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. | Philippians 1:6

Do you believe that God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that He loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain? That He loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it and your whole being rejects it? Do you believe that He loves you without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be? | Brennan Manning




truth & a dare

this one’s for my little sisters, who know I love Truth & a good dare

I think you’re special. In fact, I know so! My God swears you are, and what He says and thinks goes. You’re special. The God who spoke stars and tides and mountain ranges into existence in a split second took His time on you. You’re His finishing touch, His grand finale, His pride and all of His joy. The same hands that pioneered creativity itself created you. You were handcrafted by the best, with deep thought and divine attention to detail. His own breath turned dust to Life because He wanted a world with you in it. Your bear Glory’s signature; my God made you just right. He loves the you He handmade. So do I! I wish you loved her too.

I wish I could shake the insecurity and the not-enough right out of you. You were not made to critique your every part. You’ve been tricked into thinking you’re a disappointment, a list of problems, a statistic or nothing special. You are not my “project”. You are never ever a burden. You are not a size or a GPA or a number of likes or pounds or dots or stars. You’re my girl! Deep down in you, I see color and influence and wisdom and someday dreams and joy and a future you and I will be proud of. If only you’d see the you I see, the you He made you to be.

I’m no exception to insecurity, but He and I have a good thing going. Every day, He tells me the the Truth about you and me, all His wild and colorful thoughts about the Ones He handmade. He keeps it plain and simple, kid-friendly, steady and sure. He says so until it settles deep inside me, until I’ve memorized it backwards and forwards, then compels me to go and tell you. Tell her the truth. Tell her over and over again until it means something, until it’s deep-rooted, until she can repeat it right back to you. Tell her this way and that way, handwritten and over coffee and in a surprise text. Tell her until it defines her, until she starts to believe Me herself.

Though the world is set on convincing you otherwise, I’ll keep telling the Truth. For God so loves you! Better yet, His Love claims you, speaks “enough” over you and overstates I love you. His love renames you, calls you chosen and worth it and beautiful and His. His Love’s like no other. It is so wide and so high and so deep and so long, you can’t contain it. On your best days, you can’t define or adequately describe it. His Love is loyal, fierce, immovable no matter how much you sway. It surpasses all parameters, knows no condition, requires nothing in return. His Love is sufficient; it never shows up late or puts you second or runs out or abandons. It’s the forever-after kind. Best part? His Love’s yours for the taking. Here’s what is True: you are loved, significant, special and handmade no matter what names the world stuck on you. His Love sets you free, calls you closer to Himself, does not condemn you when you fall. He lavished His Love all over you, that you’d be called His girl. His Love is my anthem and it’s longing to be yours. I dare you to let it.

I dare you to live a 2017 marked by His Love. I dare you to choose it, to hold tight to it, to let it redeem and redefine you. I dare you to love the you He handmade. It will take grit and certainty with a dash of crazy–no one’s doing it. It’s counter-cultural,. it goes against the way the whole world spins. It will take every ounce of courage you’ve got. I dare you to fight to hear God’s voice over the hype and white noise of the world. When everybody’s swearing you’re not good enough or skinny enough or successful enough or popular enough or pretty enough or important enough, lean in. Really listen. He’ll assure you, you’re you enough. I dare you to hear Him out, to take really good notes, to stake your identity in His word and Your hope in His promises. I dare you to trust Him at His Word, to let what He says dress you. I dare you to count your victories and list out your gifts, to color your dreams a little outside the lines. To look in the mirror less, to fight growing up and fitting in. To dig deep and hunt for the gold He set within you and refuse to let it sit stale there. I dare you to shake your past off, to forget last night and last year, to step into the freedom of what He’s got next for you. I dare you to hold tight to the Good News though the world’s screaming headlines that hold just the opposite. I dare you to claim His word as absolute Truth, to wear holy confidence in the things He swears are true of you. You’ll look different, you’ll catch eyes and the good kind of attention. You’ll see a bunch of little you’s wondering what you have that they don’t and one just might ask you how to get it. Sound familiar? It’s how you and I started out.

If she asks, I dare you to let bravery loose and tell her your whole story start to finish. Tell her the before, the after and all the in-between. Don’t sugarcoat or water down or keep things out. Brag on His Love, how wide and high and deep and long it is. Dare her: it’s yours for the taking too! I dare you to speak up, to speak loud, to tell her steady and clear as day who and Whose she is. Tell her the Truth about you and me and her, all the good things He told me and I told you. Crazy things happen when you sell out to defend and declare the Truth to somebody not yet believing it. I dare you to keep telling her so, and maybe you’ll someday taste my story. It will settle deep inside you, you’ll memorize it backwards and forwards, and before you know it, you’ll start believing Truth for yourself too.


J, my girls are in really really good, trusty hands. I trust You. I trust You. I trust You. Will You come alive to them, right in front of my eyes? Will you show them just who you made them to be? Will you give me words and favor and holy confidence in the Truth I’m claiming? Will you use me? Will you use them? To love them is an honor–thanks for letting me.


to the watchtower

Our garden’s no Eden. Battered, broken. Ruled by evil, hatred, greed, judgement. Sin runs rampant, the power-high sit enthroned, the power-hungry eat their fill. Like it or not, this is home. Home to the ungratefuls, the unsatisfied, the violent, the self-righteous, the disobedient, the forgetful, the faithless, the runaways. Wild newspaper headlines, scandals left and right, our political state in shambles—this beat-up world is crying out loud. It’s like one big lightbulb went off and we all realized what’s always been the case: our world is decaying by the minute.

But halfway through the good book, there’s a story much like our own. Habakkuk just gets it–He too calls home a world he isn’t proud of. He’s sick of bearing bad news and telling it from his mountain. He’s marked the good news guy but he can’t seem to find it. He’s stuck defending a God who doesn’t seem so good these days, One who seems invisible and inactive. He’s wrestling: Where is the Lord in all this? Does He see? Does He notice? If so, does He care? If so, won’t He do something already? How long, Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen? Or cry out to you, though You do not save? Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk 1:2-3) Sound familiar? We’re all there.

Habakkuk’s story is short and actionless, just a few pages with no forward movement. Yet it was by no accident marked significant enough to fit into God’s timeless Word. His story’s for us! “This account of wrestling with God is not just a fragment from a private journal that has somehow entered the public domain. It was composed for Israel. It represents the voice of the godly in Judah, struggling to comprehend the mystery ways of God.”  For those of us who know Truth, whose hearts break with holy discontent, who crave heaven already and would prefer it to this mess: Habakkuk’s story says “I’ve been there. Keep at it. Don’t quit.” It’s an invitation for the good-news tribe to keep on telling it.

Habakkuk’s initial reaction to a  sin-struck world is like anyone’s: he questions, rants, rambles on and on, looks left and right and all over. But he’s different! Here’s where He stands out: Habakkuk means the one who clings, and he does just that. Where and when our generation buckles or blames a God we can’t quite figure out, Habakkuk looks Up and holds tight to His mystery hand. Ravished by a holy confidence, He starts to trust Him again. He bows low before the Father on behalf of his broken, crying-out-loud world. He dares the Lord to make His move around here, then runs to the watchtower expectant He will.

I will stand at my watch and station myself at the ramparts. I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint…Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work—will You do it again?—and in our time make it known. In wrath, will You remember mercy, compassion, Love? / Habakkuk 2:1, 3:1


Here’s what we don’t need: We don’t need a king or a quick fix. We don’t need any more cynical Facebook posts, no more fist-shakers or noise-makers or defamers. Call me crazy, but we don’t even need a president or political state we’re proud of. A messed-up world set to decay needs the Lord, and the Lord alone.

But the few who know Him, trust Him, love Him, are called by Him and consider Him the Ultimate Authority? We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to stack hands with each other. To circle up and talk life and Jesus and politics and highs and lows and the glory that’s on its way. To be wrestlers—not okay with evil or sin or violence—who take our questions to the One with the answers. To speak up, to not shy away. To let our hearts break for the right things, the things that break the Lord’s heart too. To be cross-bearers, to endure the suffering in our almost-home, en route to the someday Glory. To be big dreamers and bold prayers who beg an able God to do a fixing-up only He can. To be Light-seekers though the tunnel is all we know. To look different! To stand out in the way we speak, trust, pray, dream, preach, vote, expect, move. To swear by the Good News. To be movers and shakers, Truth-tellers and Life-speakers, watchtower-climbers and horizon-scanners.

We’re the Lord’s party and we’ve got cling tight to Him. Our guy’s up to something–it’s time we take our place at the lookout! Race ya to the watchtower.

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in my Lord. The Lord is my strength, my personal bravery. He makes my feet steady and sure like hinds feet on high places / Habakkuk 3:17-19



Abba’s delight

Give me a podium and an audience of wide-eyed little sisters and I’ve almost always got good words to say. I spend my days studying her heartbreak, her insecurities, her fears and doubts and dreams and all the names the world’s screaming her way. I’ll tell her the whole Truth. I’ll lock eyes with the brokenhearted and swear that she’s lovable. I’ll tell the wayward she’s welcome back Home. I’ll tell the ordinary she’s something special, the nobody she’s somebody, the too much or not enough that she was handmade just right. I’ll tell her God’s crazy about her, that His Love is priceless and hers for the taking. I’ll swear with everything in me that she is Beloved. Most days I feel made for this, but there are days when I run out of words.

There are days when I stake my Hope in my own qualifications or so-called wisdom. I try to textbook-define His Love or claim expert over it. She watches me, all tangled up in how best I can articulate or demonstrate or display it. I forget it’s the kind of Love that speaks for itself.

There are days when I overcomplicate His simple gospel. I confuse her as I work hard to earn what I swear to her is free of charge. I put on old tendencies I swore I was over. I aim to impress Him, I stack my good things high and keep my plates spinning. I forget there’s no currency to trade in for His Grace.

There are days when my own hands and heart are shaky, when I panic up front because nothing I say is noteworthy or eloquent. My performance is wobbly when I can’t dare believe Truth for myself, much less scream it from my platform. I forget who and Whose I am in the first place.

There are days when my nothing-special is exposed, and my little sisters get a front-row seat to my humanity.  These days are more frequent than not. Yet on the days that I have impressed no one, I have offered nothing, I am no different than the ones taking notes—my Abba can’t take His eyes off of me. He invades my ordinary and meets me in the very depths of my being, over and over again. Like the first time and the second time and the fiftieth, He meets me of all places there. It’s on those days that I notice and hand Him my whole attention.

He meets me where I rattle off: Am I impressive? Is what I say relevant or remarkable or brand new? Are they drawn to me, do they adore me? Am I right, or do they think so? Do they trust me? Do they like me, do they want to be like me? Have they figured me out? He meets me where my pride is loud and unruly, where I’m paralyzed by insecurity and a desperate quest for their applause and approval. Where I’m selfish and entitled, a thief of His glory. Where I can’t for a second fake put-together or polished up. Where all their expectations weigh heavy. Where I am so broken, empty and human—He meets me there. He holds my shaky hands and sits in my dirt and swears, on those days: My Layne, you’re Beloved. He says it with His words and His eyes and His touch and everything in Him. He’s the Truth-teller. I can’t shake it. I’m Beloved. I. Am. Beloved.

Something wild has happened, in broad daylight as my sisters are taking notes: I leaped from simply being the teacher of God’s love to the subject of Abba’s delight. ( Brennan Manning) The word—no, the name—Beloved spoken into dry bones flips my whole wide world upside down. He takes hammer and nail to a stone heart I’ve been working hard to make lovable. He barrels though bricks I’ve stacked high hoping nobody would get all the way in. He looks at me, really looks at me, and somehow loves what He sees. I am the subject of Abba’s delight.

By the standards and qualifications of the world, I don’t belong up front. I am no expert. I will never have His Love all figured out, I cannot tame or define or adequately describe it. But I do have a story that Love Himself has written just right. I’m convinced that there is no better teacher of God’s Love than one who has been ravished and undone by it. So I am qualified! I am qualified to teach little sisters simply because I know His Love, I’ve tasted it and I’m hanging on to it for dear Life. It has unraveled me in the best way. It’s the best thing I’ve got, it is all that’s good within me. So I’ll spend my days chasing, knowing, loving and, when I’ve earned my right, teaching my little sisters. I’ll tell them the whole Truth.

Abba, she and I are no different. I too am brokenhearted and run wayward. I too think I’m nobody or too much or not enough. I too am quick to critique my body or my story, and crave affection or applause or a “well done” from whoever’s watching. I too am lonely, longing and a thief of God’s glory. I too compare myself to this girl and that girl, and straddle a line between wanting to be known but never wanting to be fully figured out. I too re-wear chains Christ went to crazy measures to break off. I too can list off a million reasons why You shouldn’t love me. But Your mystery Love makes no sense at all! You have chosen me, and qualified me, and always walked beside me. You have renamed me, seen my every scar and scuffed-up edge and loved me relentlessly anyways. I am the sheep You left the ninety-nine to chase after, the one You piggyback the whole way home. I’m the outsider You went the long way to get to, the girl You’ve got memorized. I’m the kid You trekked far and wide to raise back to Life. I’m the nobody You handpicked to follow You, to get an always shotgun seat. I am the subject of all Your delight. I am Your Beloved, your Bride of choice! So send me to the little sisters bound to decay, refusing to believe they’re loved by You. Send me to the ones buying a false gospel, and to those who have yet to know the forever-after Love. Send me to little Laynes. Go with me. Grant me favor, influence, holy confidence and words. I love this life with You!

There is an anticipation, an electricity about God’s presence in my life that I have never experienced before. I can only tell you that for the first time in my life, I can hear Jesus whisper to me everyday, “[Layne], I love you. You are Beloved.” And for some strange reason, that seems to be enough. | Mike Yaconelli



the Grand Rescue

1 Samuel 17 | Israel is way at risk. God’s flock is cowering, wavering, shaky and afraid. The enemy giant has taken his champion stance at the battleline, and none will take his dare. Day after day, not a speck of courage in Israel’s sight. But the God of Israel is at work. He takes to the fields, finds the just-right one for the job. All this while, He’s been readying him. He stocks him full of the Spirit and arms him from the inside. Unarmed and plain ordinary, the shepherd boy braves the battleline. He’s sure this battle is the Lord’s. David heard Him say so! All the times he wrestled bears and took out lions to protect his sheep, it was God who gave the marching orders. This danger’s no different. God is for Israel—David’s got a million stories to prove it. So he hangs on tight to the God that’s able, and hears Him play-call: David, I’ve chosen you–yes, you! You’ve got what you need. Do you trust Me? Do what they won’t. This is our moment! Put your war paint on, look him right in the eye. I always win! Make me proud, make me famous. Take him down, for the sake and safety of the flock. David, do you trust Me? Trust Me. I’ve got this.

So David hurries up to the battleline, unbridled and a wide-eyed kind of ready. He beats the giant there. A quick-thinker, he uses all he’s got: some stones, a homemade slingshot and the audacity of one who’s heard the Lord say I’ve got this. Goliath’s taunts don’t even faze him. He tunes out the noise and the names and he wears God’s promises like holy armor that fits just right. In the face of what’s after his very life, David does not cower or shrivel or shrink back. He doesn’t shake or sway or rethink his mad dash of bravery. He takes one shot and hits him first-try in the forehead. Facedown, headfirst, the Philistine hero’s no match for the Lord’s army. The enemy army flees and Israel’s set free! They’ve seen it: there is a good God in Israel! So the whole flock celebrates and cheers loud. I can only imagine they threw David atop shoulders, parading him around the whole place. Victory, sweet freedom via the humble, nothing-special shepherd boy turned warrior king. This is a grand rescue!


As I study his story for what must be the millionth time, I want to be a David! I want to wear his courage, his defiance, his brave split-second reflexes. So I read and reread. I squint my eyes real tight and tilt the pages sideways and attempt to reshape him so maybe, just maybe, we look alike. I want His brave story for my own! I want the applause and the “well done” and the king crown awaiting me upon victory. I want to defy the odds and do what they swore I couldn’t. So I try with all my might to see myself in him, until I hear from the Truth-teller as it hits me heavy: I’m looking at the wrong guy. I’m the one He came to rescue.

I fit right in here, safe and sound a hundred yards from the batteline. I’m just like the rest of them. I look the part, all dressed up warrior-ready. I’m shielded and stocked up, holding sharp things and heavy things and things meant to take down giants just like the one way in front of me. But back here, back-row, I’m all talk. I rattle off excuses like he’s too big or I’m too small, like I’m tired or inadequate or not enough, like I’m not ready or I don’t know enough or maybe I wasn’t set up right. I try to convince God he’s better off sending someone else, someone a little braver or a little bigger. So I hide away, armor clanking as I shake and sway in too-big-for-me boots. I’m a sheep, a costumed soldier. I’m no David–there’s not an ounce of His defiance in me. I’m a Rescuer wannabe but instead, He leaves His post to come rescue me.

In walks the Rescuer, unarmed and plain ordinary. He doesn’t look much different than I. He comes in humility, in holy audacity. He doesn’t taunt or put down or aim to prove wrong or impress the expectant audience. He doesn’t need fancy armor, applause or aggression. Stripped down to raw humanity, he’s still no underdog. I start to trust Him, really trust Him. I remember all those times He’s taken out all my lions, my bears, my howling enemies with his bare hands. Then and now, it’s God who gives the marching orders. This danger is no different. He’s the Good Shepherd, the best one God’s got. And when He sees me cowering, wavering, shaky and afraid, He comes quick to take out what’s paralyzing me. He throws on my war paint, takes my place on the battleline. Holding danger’s hand and mine, He hurries to the front lines to face my giant.

Jesus stares right at him, unfazed by his size or his scowl. There’s our giant, bulked up by our sin. Our pride. Our shame. Our fragile parts. Our insecurity. Our hard hearts, quick to judge or rank or pat their own backs. Our apathy, our anxiety. Our hurt. Our old names–every last one of them. Our loneliness. Our best-kept secrets, our deep-down mess. Our pain. Our not enoughs. Our regrets, from last night or last year. Our lust. Our lies. Our fear of the unknown, the upcoming. Our selfish nature. Our broken histories. The Rescuer takes one look at him, then takes one shot at him and what once shook the Life right out of us can no longer stand. Facedown, headfirst, our giants are no match for the Lord. We’re rescued, set free! We’ve seen it, day after day: there’s a good God for today’s Israel. So we ought to cheer loud, to celebrate, to parade around the whole place. This is the Grand Rescue!

You are crazy about me. I can’t downplay that any longer. You take down my loneliness, my pride, my ulterior motives. My dark is no match for Your Light. You defy the odds and defend me though I’m nothing but a sheep, a costumed soldier. You are mighty and good and faithful and able. You always win, You always come through. Thanks for taking the frontlines and letting me watch. It’s a joy to be rescued by You.





Today’s garden is no Eden—I’ve never been more aware of it. It’s nothing close! It’s marked by noise, fast pace and a drive-through hurry. I’m cheered on for plate-spinning and rushing here to there, I expect all God’s good things to-go and on my time. I’m tired of running but it’s all I know. Hurry’s familiar—it’s Shalom I hardly recognize. But I hear You, J. Shalom. Shalom. Shalom.

Accustomed to restlessness, I think Shalom sounds foreign, outlandish and unproductive. I don’t have time to hunt for it! But I’ve heard the whispers. On repeat, Shalom. Shalom. Shalom. He knows better, so I set out to study and really find it. I cried out for it and hunted for it and raced to get to it and relentlessly asked God to hand some over. I convinced myself it’s a lost treasure or a season or a spiritual gift not mine. It must be found in achievement, applause, a vacation or  a check-things-off satisfaction. My Rabbi is patient. He knows I’ve got it all wrong—He saw me run right past it! But He’s not like the rest of them. He doesn’t shake His head or call me crazy or tell me to come back here right this minute. He takes off running. He catches up to me! He matches my pace and talks back.

Shalom is not a gold star or a place or even a Person. Shalom’s a promise—and from me, my God withholds no good thing. He offers it always—shalom’s mine. Shalom is unclenched fists, palms wide open and ready to receive. Shalom is releasing the heavy stuff, surprised as it falls feathery light and makes no sound. Shalom’s still waters and a whisper that’s somehow louder than all the noise. Shalom is leaving things undone, and not looking back!  Shalom has no agenda. Shalom doesn’t play hide-and-seek or demand your attention. Shalom doesn’t sit behind curtains or wait to be found and uncovered. Shalom doesn’t make you take off messy shoes once you get to it. And shalom is not the absence of things hard or things dark or crashing waves or chaos—it’s even better! Shalom’s the inner stilled spirit smack-dab in the middle of it. And the best part? In the midst of all the hustle, Shalom sits still.

Jesus declares, Shalom. My exhale is Shalom itself. Breathe it in. Taste it, swallow it. My world is still spinning, trees still blurring beside me, my legs are still running but something’s different. My insides are different, my spirit’s different—slower, fuller, content, complete. That’s it! He’s made (and won’t stop making!) Shalom known to me. It’s simpler than I thought or imagined. More than a shalom talking-to, the Rabbi offers a piece of Eden to the rush hour world “to reestablish shalom. This is God’s mission in His son—to reconcile rebel hearts to Himself and reestablish shalom for His glory and our joy” (Bruce Henry). Shalom’s part of the promise, ours for the taking—we’ve got to slow down or we just might miss it!

We’re on this chase together and I can’t take my eyes off of Him. I forget what I’m searching for! It’s like we’re talking over coffee and Shalom is His every answer and my Jesus is talking clear as day back. A hundred books or scholars couldn’t teach me like the Rabbi is. A peace unfamiliar— must be from the Other Side—surpasses all my understanding, insecurity, agenda, hurry and the stack of things unfinished. I start to move a little differently than the world taught me to. I slow my pace, pay a little closer attention, stare wide-eyed at the glory passing by, notice the colors and the clock ticking and the fine print. Then, something wild happens: I start to exhale Shalom too. 

Hey J, thanks for showing up mid-run where You knew I’d listen. I’m thankful You beckon, and pull me from interstate speed off-road just to see what slow tastes like—and when I miss my exit, You run to me. Thanks that Shalom is unfazed by frenzy and its dimensions are stretched out on all sides. Shalom is enough. Though I’m lacking, it fills the holes. It’s a little tiny taste of Eden—one bite and I’m whole, full, satisfied and in less of a hurry. Keep it coming! Shalom. Shalom. Shalom.

isaiah 61

Stuck on repeat, my God’s been singing Isaiah 61 over the year I’ve stepped into. He swears by it: this is the year to see, to savor, to proclaim My favor. I’m taking notes. I’m paying attention! And oh, how He has already come through. He makes and keeps His every promise–I just get to write them all out and rave about Him. He’s the King who can and will save–He says so! He pledges this: He’s anointed me, set me apart. His Spirit is thick and alive deep down in me. So I’ll tell the good news to those who aren’t hearing it, I’ll patch up and piece together the broken-hearted. I”ll swing wide the cage door and set free the captives. I’ll proclaim freedom! They won’t dare forget it! I’ll break chains and leave them to rust undone. I’ll release and restore and fix and set free. This is the year of My favor–just you wait!

And all the little ones I’m chasing after? He’s got big things around their next corner. He says: I’ll comfort the crying, I’ll be just what she needs. I’ll come to my Zion that’s tired and lonely and hurt and stuck hiding. I’ll pick her up! I’ll crown her in beauty to wholly cover rags and ashes. I’ll lavish My joy and praise and all the good things instead of tears and despair and defeat. I’ll plant her just right. I’ll root her down deep. I’ll grow her up, and hold her hand, and watch her rise again. Someday, she’ll display My splendor. That’s what they’ll see! She’ll stretch and sway and look like Me. She’ll pick up pieces of her world and restore the places that only know devastation. She will rebuild, she will remake her ruined city. 

He tells me to let her! To watch and learn, to pay attention and take notes. To cheer loud from my front-row seat. To stand close enough by to see the day He swears is coming. To play my little tiny part, to proclaim it loud and clear and confident: this is the year! He says this about me, and you: You will be called Mine. You will tell My story and bear My name. You will be fueled and fed by the harvest. You will see abundance and plenty. You will not carry shame or face disgrace, you will not lack or long. You will receive much and rejoice much! You’ll taste My joy–the kind that doesn’t run dry, that sloshes out and can’t stay contained. You’ll take notes, You’ll pay attention. You’ll see it, You’ll call it the same kind of year I swore by. And I’ll say “I told you so.”

I will see the Kingdom touch down in the world of Austin West. I will see it and I will add a hundred more lines to the “ways God comes through” list and I will shout from my platform: this is the year of the Lord’s favor! So today, I’ll sit in His promises and read them right. The harvest is ready to be run to. I’m calling it!


Thanks for 60-something people rallied around me, willing and waiting to see You flex. Thanks that my call is simple and though You don’t need us, you think we’re way more fun to include. Don’t let me claim credit or steal Glory or forget it’s You that’s big and able. Thanks for a new crown and kept promises. I love You lots!

a Love lavished

see what great Love the Father has
lavished on us, that we might be
called children of God / 1 John 3:1


Luke 18 | The backwards King comes to town. High and mighty and holy, He shows up to the land of the small, the meek, the lowly. He sits down among the ordinaries, as the anyones come from all over to hear His teaching live and loud and clear. The crowd multiplies, layer upon layer as the nothing-specials rush up close to Jesus. The littlest kids tag along, their moms hopeful that an encounter with the King will bless, heal, grow them up right. Like any little kid would, they peeked through gaps and tiptoed up real tall. But from the way back, they can’t see the One they’ve been wondering about. So wide-eyed, they crawl through legs and weave around grown-ups as quick as their little feet will move. They’ve got to see the King! Right then and there, the disciples can’t stand what they’re watching! Jesus’ very best students, those most studied-up on His tendencies, get Him all wrong. They call out the parents: How dare you let your street kids enter such sacred space! How dare you let them muddy holy ground. Have you forgotten this is the King?

But my King’s different. He loves the little children. He doesn’t stop them or slow them, He bends low to their size, to their eye-level. He’s available, He welcomes the little ones in. His mercies are simple and special towards them. His hand pulls them close and wraps them up tight and sets them down at His feet. There’s a space for them there, their very name etched on it. And He lets them stay though they fidget and forget it’s the King they’re looking at. His love’s big and beckoning, colorful and upside-down and kid-friendly. It’s a Love lavished, that we might called His children. Lavished not that we’d be called His students, His shepherds, His apostles, His warriors, His workers. A Love lavished, that we’d be called—of all possible names—His little kids. Jesus loves the little children—for they’re the ones who get it right.

Quit holding them back! Let My little children come to me. Do not slow them or stop them, for My kingdom is all theirs. They’re Mine and I just love them. Watch how well they know that. Watch how they receive it, watch how they run to Me. I love them just because—watch them get that right.

Just-because Love, lavished like there’s no running out! It’s backwards to the way this work-hard world spins—no conditions, no resume, no measure or qualifications. All for the recipient, for free and forever! For the anyones and everyones. For the littlest kids! For the empty-handed, the messy, those stained and sticky. For the hiding, the hurting, the ones dragged unwillingly to Him in the first place. For the incapable, inarticulate, unqualified and misunderstood. Just-because Love, lavished that we’d be called His little kids.

I want to get it right! So I’m done with manufactured maturity and keeping my distance from the grandest King. I am not made to stand stoic back row when the backwards King beckons me closer. He holds His arms all stretched out, that I’d run His way hard and fast and uninhibited simply because I’ve got to see the King. He notices me in the way back, lets me come messy, and renames me His very own. A Love lavished, that I’d run wild from who knows where. That I would not be hindered or held back, that I’d drag whoever will come with to the beckoning King. That I’d crawl through crowds until I’m up close to my Jesus. And that I’d quit attempting to earn or win or dissect or study up on His love. A Love lavished, simply that I’d receive it. A love lavished, just because.

You tell me to come messy—not to polish up or perform. You prefer me undone and uninhibited, running fast as I can at You! You tell me, Breathe easy, child. I can exhale at that. So unwind me, J! Unwind me back to little kid Layne. May I receive just-because Love—no resistance, no whys or buts, no handing it back. And may I wear the crown You set on my head, for I’m called a child of the backwards King.

hannah’s song

1 Samuel 1 | Hannah was loved, by husband and a heavenly God. She was special to Him, and she retreated to His holy house often. She craved a child to call hers, and went to the Lord’s house to tell Him so. She believed Him at His Word—her God was able and big and mighty. There she bows low on bended knee. She buries her head in the dirt, thinking: who am I to ask to Him? To request or require of Him? But He was mindful of her—she was certain. So she repeats herself over and over again and her voice does not waver. She dares Him—the holder of every answer, of yeses and nos and far betters. She pours her soul right out, hands her wildest wishes over —and promises something in return if He comes through.

Lord Almighty, if you will only look on Your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget Your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life / 1 Samuel 1:11

She doesn’t barter or bait Him. It’s simple—she abandons herself, her plans, her wishes to the able One. She grasps that God has mastery over her, and just takes her rightful place wrapped up in His will. He hears her, she knows it. And she promises to share Samuel forever after. Oh, that I would pray like Hannah. Oh, that I would take a knee and just dare Him. Oh, that I would believe God at His word—that He hears me and wrote out my very desires and is just glad I finally decided to ask. Her story tells those who are longing that we’re allowed to. And that when God comes through, we better sing our Hannah song.

‘I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.’ And she worshiped the Lord there / 1 Samuel 1:27

Abandoned to His answer, in holy anticipation, Hannah waits. The very thing she asked of Him, God gives! She names her son Samuel—heard by God—and hands him over, just as she promised. She takes Him to holy ground where he’d grow up amongst God Himself. In giving Him back, she sings. She sings to the God who is faithful, the God who takes care and comes through. She sings of His power and triumph, His intricate authorship of the wishes of her heart. She sings to the God who sources her joy and satisfies her longing, the God who can pull off anything. She raises her horn high, her power made great thanks to the Lord. Hannah’s a thankful recipient of kept promises, and she keeps them right back. So she sings. 

Hannah’s song is a song of the rescued, of the heard, of the recipient. It’s a song of the servant of whom the Lord has found favor. I’m not sure what my Samuel will be. A book, a child, a dream fulfilled, a husband, a ministry, or a particular desire He’s yet to unleash within me. But I want to try on the audacity of Hannah for size and good practice. I want to dare the God who is able and sing my Hannah song when I watch Him move. I want to bare the rawest desires of my heart to the God who put them there, so I’ll sing.

Though at times You are quiet, You can hear me just fine. I just want to know what my Samuel is!!!! I dare You to make it clear as day and then make him happen! Until then, I’ll sing hallelujahs & I love You’s. Take joy, my King.IMG_5634.JPG



a letter to the changeless One,
as I stare 2016 change in the face


Abba: 2016 will not sway or reshape You.

 Still, You are infinite. Still, You are timeless and changeless. Still, You assemble the stars and escort the tides. Still, You master time and hold all that exists in Your hand. Still, You keep planets spinning; still, You man galaxies; still, You are always and everywhere and everything. You are Light. You are brilliance and glory and all the good stuff. You captivate. You pierce darkness and perplex the perishing. You let us look at You, our eyes can’t stay away. You are different than all we see or know or have words for.

Still, You are Love. Still, You are a Father, a Friend and a Lover. You will romance me, like always. You’ll wrestle for and chase hard after this little heart of mine You made. You won’t stop until you win its whole attention. You’ll tune it up to Your heartbeat, and safeguard our special places. You will chip at its stone, You’ll call it pure and lovely and all Yours. You’ll remake its tender pieces a little every day. At the end of myself, You’ll piece me together and patch me back up. Still, You will hand-deliver sunshine and play days and adventure just to see it race. You’ll share it with only those who will delight in it, too.

Still, You are Grace. Still, You will set me free from old chains and an old covenant. You will wake me with morning mercy and an agenda of all Your surprises. You will not stop wanting me or shelling out fifth and fiftieth chances. You will blot out my stain. You will unwind my shame, dust me off and call me new names. You will trade my tattered rags for robes of righteousness. Though I’m messy and unraveling, You let me wear Your splendor and still say I got Your good looks. You will give me tomorrows and breath and Your grace that runs deeper than I deemed possible. You call me worthy and qualified and brand new. You make promises, and keep them! Still , You’ll carry me to completion.

Still, You are good. You are so, so good. Still, You will call me daughter, and Bride, and beloved–over and over again until I call myself so. You’ll offer Water that doesn’t run dry though I’ve settled for cheap substitutes. You’ll cheer loud front-row as I do just what You made me for. Still, you are consistent. You will show up and show off. You will choose me–I  still can’t get over this. You will always choose me. You’ll stick by me. Still, You will hear me, and get me, and have me memorized. You know me–and You’ll let me know You too. You are Love–wild, unruly and outside the lines Love. You will Love me so relentlessly all I raise is my white-flag.

Still, You are able. You will make somethings out of nothings, somebodies out of nobodies. You will hand dry bones Life. You will shut down and shut up the enemy–Your words will forever speak louder. You are faithful. Your plans will not be thwarted and Your purposes will prevail. You will not surrender. You will not retreat. Still, You win. You always win. You will take Your victory gold and turn all You touch to just that. Still, You are for me. You will take me, and grind iron and iron. It will not look or sound pretty but You will not stop working on me. You are creative. You will whittle away at me and polish me up, until I’m sharp and shiny. You will stretch me out and spread me thin. You’ll prune my dead leaves and occasionally uproot and undo me. You’ll prove me wrong, a lot. You’ll bow me low, a lot. You’ll test me, a lot, that I’d come out as gold.

Still, You are persistent. Still, You have my tendencies, my waywardness memorized. Still, You are Hope. You remember the whole story, I always come back around. So You’ll scan the horizon day in, day out–just for the speck that is me. You are patient. You’ll whisper my name. When I am too far to find Home, You will come to find me. You will brave my wilderness as I catch Your eye. You take off running. Still, You are kind. You don’t grow tired on the chase. You will wrap me up and kiss my head and shut up the sorry speech I’ve mustered up and mastered. You take me back. You carry me Home. You crown my head and robe me in second chances and celebrate, and You say I’m right where I belong.

Hallelujah. You are all that You say You are.

You made me to forever love change, but today I’m enthralled by Your solidity. You’re changeless! You’re not rocked by new years or shifting shadows or my own wandering instability. You are the same yesterday, today & all my tomorrows. 2016’s all Yours, J.


why I like Ruth

Ruth 1 | Their better halves ripped right from them, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah pick up and pack up what’s left. Bitter and brokenhearted, Naomi heads homeward—back to the Bethlehem she left for this supposed happily ever after. Her heart’s hard toward the God who used to give, but won’t stop taking away. She tells her daughters-in-law to break free, to run fast towards new adventures and greener pastures! While they’re young and able, alive and beautiful—bolt for faraway glitter, for a take two, for a new last name! Lonely and longing, with mustered-up courage, Orpah says her goodbyes. She’s like anyone–thirsty for affection and a hand to hold, thirsty for what’s new and what’s next. But I like Ruth.  What she chooses fires me up.

IMG_4517 - Version 2Don’t urge me to leave you
or turn my back from you.
For where you go I will go,
and where you stay I will stay.
Your people will be my people &
your God will be my God
Ruth 1:16 /

For what I’m convinced is her first time, Ruth hears the Lord. She hears Him. Loud and clear, He tells her to stay. She doesn’t wrestle or question, doesn’t pace back and forth or drag her heels. She says yes. To someday eternal Life, to salvation. And from the minute she calls Him hers, she starts to do Life with Him and for Him. Her love story actually begins here. She’s all His now—and she instantly does whatHe asks. He stirs her heart to obey, to stay where He put her, to link arms with her Naomi and trust what’s up His sleeve.

Ruth pledges her allegiance to her God and her Naomi. Her loyalty and all her love’s linked up with Naomi and they move onward together. This is her moment, her kingdom, her crown, the thing God set before her for this season exactly. This is her story.

Ruth just started following her God—and now she’s all in. I think that’s why I like her—she’s always all-in. Ruth’s steadfast. She’s about sacrifice and big Love, the kind that treks far and holds tight and roots itself down deep. Ruth makes promises and keeps them. She’s hopeful, like she sees His big picture. Ruth’s independent, she doesn’t go by the world’s ways but dares to do her own thing. She’s patient. She’s different, she’s a rarity. She doesn’t chase after winds of attention and affection or feel obliged to move at everyone else’s pace. Ruth stick to and stands by Naomi. Ruth said yes and stepped forward, into the promises of the God that got her there. She did so—because she heard Him say so: This is your story, My girl. I think You’ll like it.

This is my story, too. I heard Him say so. I’ve got my own Naomi. She’s a bunch of high school kids, or middle school kids, or mamas or college disciple-friends. I’ve got three years with her, or maybe five or ten or forever! She’s this red and blue new world Young Life set me in—I’ve got some time to hold tight to her and root myself down deep. To gather her grains and supply what’s lacking and offer the thirsty the Water that does the trick. To choose her, to keep her company. To give of my heart and soul and resources and efforts and late nights and weekends, to kinda give my life away for the sake of her. To pray someday prayers for revival and whole restoration, for her to get to the Promised Land—and to watch front-row all the while. To call her mine. To call this my story, my home.

Today, I choose my Naomi. The weary one, defeated and run ragged and hungry for whole restoration. Though what’s faraway glitters, I have no need to hurry up time, no need for greener pastures or a take two. A far greater glory is waiting if I simply walk in His ways. At my very feet, there are seeds to sow and water and watch grow. There is grain to gather and a rising harvest that demands my time, labor and attention. There’s a Naomi expecting my always return. There is a place for me at dining room tables and in black box theaters and front-row at rowdy football games. There are high school and middle school girls to chase after–desperate for redemption, desperate to feel noticed and chosen and heard and loved, desperate for a friend who sticks to and stands by. There is a tiny world that’s tired of being taken from. There are hundreds of hearts craving a happy new beat. So this is my story—the part where I link arms with Naomi and her people and our God. I heard Him say so.

Today, I release. I release a shaky heart to You, whose Love does the trick. I release the needs of my Naomi and these tired hands. I release the world’s expectation that a Boaz will take notice, take care and waltz in wanting to love my Naomi too. I release the little somedays, that aren’t the real Someday I’m after. And in the release, I’ll hold tight to You and what You’ve written just for me. My Abba, you write the very best stories–I won’t look down.

unchained & renamed

I’ve said it before— I can’t stand sin. It’s this unruly condition that chips away at our intended design. It stings and it leaves a stain and ultimately, it separates us, keeping us us far far far far away from a good and perfect God. The God that made us, that we were in fact made to be around. But a perfect God can not sit beside what is imperfect, lest His perfection be at risk. What’s perfect is tainted in the company of what’s not, so God must isolate Himself from a sinful you and me. So we come to grips with the dirt and the distance–it’s all we know. Sin is familiar, it’s all around us and has whirled deep in our DNA since the Fall. It’s the subject of capital letter newspaper headlines in foreign countries and right down the street. It tears families in two and breeds guilt and shame that weigh heavy and unbearable, and gives us names that we aren’t proud to wear. Slave chains and a slave name: sinner.


We wear the name slapped across our chest, like a scarlet letter—and by our own accord, there’s nothing we can do to escape this identity.  We are all sinners, having fallen short of God’s perfection and glory. Jesus Himself said so, You who are sinners are enslaved to sin. Sin is our master; we do just what it tells us to. Old sin, new sin, secret sin, newspaper headline sin—our hearts are bent towards rebellion. We feel its gravity, pulling us further downward than we knew existed. No amount of our labor and striving, or attempts at clawing our way back up can cure it, unwind it or undo it. Sin’s unbearable yet inescapable. It’s killing us slowly, eating us alive. We’re left screaming for freedom, for a new name.

Scripture says that the wages of sin is death. The wages we’ve hard-earned for our perpetual disobedience is death, of a two-fold kind. It’s a death far worse than the grieving and grave-burying we’re familiar with. Instead, we’ve merited the scariest unknown there is: eternal separation from the Father. Kept far far far away from the Father we were made to be around. Kept dirty and at a distance, stuck wearing slave names and slave chains.

So I hang my head low and hide my face, reading and rereading these names sin handed me. I start to memorize them and believe them until He shakes me and locks eyes with me and says loud and clear: “I see these names. I see them, but oh how I love you, Layne. I love you anyways. I’m going to prove it. I’ll take care of this.” I get the feeling that He means it. And He’s riled up a holy anticipation in my spirit–I’m eager to watch Him fix me and do what He swore He would. The God that comes close–so I’d know Him–isn’t up in heaven pacing back and forth, scared of a sin condition running rampant and out of hand. Our mess and our newspaper headlines don’t shake Him, He knows just what to do. In fact, He’s already done it.

It was all part of the plan. God handed our little world his Jesus, initiates a wild rescue mission to fix the problem and set things straight. For God is not a God of distance. He’s about proximity and it’s you and me He’s after. His son Jesus spends 33 years learning, growing, preparing, readying to make His big move. What came next didn’t surprise Him or catch Him off guard–He came to the world to do this thing exactly. All part of the plan.

When God said so, sinners like you and me threw a spotless, sinless king Jesus sprawled out in front of governor Pilate. He was declared innocent by trial yet the crowd grew unruly. The ones He came after to set free turned, and came after Him to do just the opposite. They whipped Him, mocked Him, spat on Him, threw Him around until He was left battered, beaten and threadbare. They hung Him up, nailed to my cross–unknowingly pinning every speck of my sin and old ways to it too. This was all part of the plan. And while His raw back ripped open rubs against the raw wood of my cross, He faced my wages, my punishment. Wore names that were all mine to wear. Bore a death that was all mine to bear. He hangs there, hours upon hours and expels a dying breath, His last words: It is finished.

Sin of yesterday, today and all the tomorrows: finished. The separation between a good perfect God and his messy, sinful people: finished. These names sin stuck on me: finished, peeled right off. It is all finished. “God made Him who knew no sin to become sin—to take our punishment–that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (1 Corinthians 5:21) God made Jesus to take on the whole gravity of sin. All part of the master plan–to rescue and redeem, to win us back. To set us free and rename us. He’s whispering I told you so’s. And I’m wearing new names.

IMG_3592 - Version 2.JPG

J, this is the craziest! You did this for the liar, the rebel, the addict, those battling envy and eating disorders, the prideful and the prodigal. While wearing those names, You died for us. For me! In my furthest wanderings, my deepest depravity–You met me. You locked eyes with me and saw more than the hundred names I hate wearing. You say I’m so loved and so cherished and all-the-way forgiven and so important and Your very own daughter and so enough and You did what You promised. You always do what You promise. You set me free from sin and stain and slave chains. I sure like my new names!

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 |

For we know that our old self was crucified
with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be
done away with, that we should no longer be
slaves to sin—because anyone who has
died has been set free from sin.
Romans 6:6 |

the new self


Colossians 3 | Paul charges the nothing-special you’s and me’s of Colossae to live like we’ve been raised to Life. To live because we’ve been raised to Life! He says to set our minds on the things of Heaven, to let our heart and spirit rise up and settle There often, to long for our Someday and run hard like it’s coming up quick. He tells us to look backwards for just a second–enough see the old self in the rearview—and thank God for second chances and new Life and an undeserved brand new self. He tells the new us that we’ve been made alive and made holy. We’ve been set apart, sanctified for God’s purposes and dressed up in His righteousness. He says our game plan’s to simply suit up.

What an invitation! Yes, to follow Jesus. Yes, to walk in His ways. But this one: to wear Him and the things of Him, to let things of Jesus cover what’s plain old me. Yes, to put on His law, His love, His mercy and Grace though I’m ordinary, nothing-special. To wear compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, humility, dressed in the character of Jesus Himself. To walk this planet looking a lot like Him.

Sounds simple, but Paul’s charge is two-fold. To wear the good stuff, we’ve got to put to death all that reminds us of or belongs to the old self. The old self is screaming our name and scratching its way back on–desperate for some attention and to be back as our chosen attire. I’ve got to rid myself of old ways, ditch them and deprive them of power. I’ve got to throw the things I wore back-then in closet back corners, unwelcome here. I’ve got to ignore the old self and fight every urge to put it back on. I’m charged to take off the old self–and keep it off. Only then can I suit up.  Grace gives me a new self and I get to wear it! Clothed in newness, in Life, in Christ. Wearing compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience and humility. And above all, I’m all wrapped up in a Love that doesn’t let go. May I never walk without it. And just like that, the new self coats the ordinary in custom-made splendor.

I’m named holy, chosen, dearly loved–and He lets me partake in His glory. My new attire looks a little more like my Jesus every single day. I dream of the day this dress-up becomes natural, automatic almost. I want to get there. When dawn breaks to daylight, I want to choose to wear the things of Jesus. I want to choose to wear what’s lasting, what’s sanctifying and glory-bound. I want to receive His carry-to-completion promise instead of settling for the old self.

I want to walk like Jesus, talk like Him and love like Him. To wear gentleness—to listen a long while, to stay slow to speak. To comfort and come close and let in. To wear humility—to bend low and bow often. To wear a name I let fade. To always point Up, to keep this not about my reputation or my renown. To be small and ever-thankful, to credit the Glory where it’s due. To always wonder. To wear kindness—to see good deep down, to make no assumptions. To wear joy abundant, to offer grace over and over again like it’s as daily as He swears it is. To include, to invite, to notice the outsider and the far-out. To love just-because. To wear patience—to trust, to wait, to move slow when He says so. To keep circling my Jerichos, to wrap it in God’s promises sure He’ll come through. To faithfully repeat my heart’s desires, certain I’m heard. To never see His slowness as inactivity. To hold palms up, to just be still and know. To walk brave in holy anticipation. To wear compassion—to wear the good kind, that gives all I’ve got and comes back around. To supply beyond the need, to hand out hugs and authentic how are you’s and second chances. To layer up, and always wear Love—the extended, stretched out, spread wide kind—that holds every little thing together.

my Rabbi, You covered my eyes, spun me around and then let me see—really see!—a spotless new self. You took care of my stain, my sin, my scuffed-up edges and clothed my nothing-special in the prettiest plain white. You dress my ordinary up in wild glory. The old is long gone, the new is right here!

the valleys + the Gideons

Forty years of peace post-Deborah until Israel slips backwards into old ways. They’re caught up in back-then sin, caught worshipping the gods their own God said not to. They’re forgetful—like always. Lifeless, aimless, running in circles. So the Lord hands them over to Midian—who attacks from all sides and angles, ravages the land bare, drives Israel into caves and back-corners. Israel’s defeated and deflated, wayward and worn out. They’ve fallen all-time-low to their own little valley, and it’s just what it takes to get their attention. For the valley is the place of vision—their eyes are forced upward. There’s only one way to look from down here. When they lock eyes with the God they’d forgotten, He doesn’t list out a million remember-whens or call them crazy for forgetting, doesn’t shake His head in disappointment or leave them out to dry. He’s the One that set them down safe in the valley—not as timeout or “take that!”—but to last-resort win their attention. And it works! Here they’re so low they can only look Up, so somber even His whisper breaks the silence. My Israel, watch Me get you out.

The Lord scans the place and handpicks Gideon for quarterback, who’s tucked away and okay with it as he labors. He names him–yes, him!–Mighty Warrior—tells him to ready up, suit up for big things and big plays. God tells Gideon it’s time to get Israel the heck out of the valley—and he’s leading the charge. But Gideon’s like anyone. He’s come to grips with the valley, made a sad little living down here. He’s all-fixed on the lonely, hard and hungry days, the days where God seemed anything but good and for Israel—there’s not a speck of hope left in him. Gideon’s like anyone. A proof-requirer, though everything in him wants to just believe easy and already! He wants to take God at His word when He promises to pilot and fight beside, but He’s slow to trust in God’s goodness and promise. He can’t lock eyes with Him: There’s no way You could call and carry a nobody to something wild like this. There’s no way You mean me. Gideon’s like anyone. Gideon’s like me!

God handpicks a nobody to call the plays and lead Israel to better days. He’s like anyone—but to the Lord he’s just right! God chooses oak tree anyones like Gideon and myself. His whisper breaks our silence and tilts our head back up. He has a way of shaking inadequacy and not-enough and fear right out of us and shutting down quick our reasoning for why He must be mistaken. He tells Gideon and his Israel company: Go! In the strength you have—what little is left—and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Fear not—it is I who sends you! He knows they’re run ragged and worn down—but He makes the valley the place of vision. It’s where we call the depths home but see big God dreams in the heights. It’s where we look Up and lock eyes with the One that gets us out.

I’m like anyone–I make friends with the valley, I get cozy and comfortable here. I busy myself here, find my hiding place and home here. Weighed down, slowed down here. Dreams are colorless, heart and hands are light on hope. Heavy-laden. Somber. Exhausted by the mere thought of scaling these way-high walls. But the God of Moses and Zacchaeus and the woman of Samaria comes to find me, picks me up, dusts me off. He breathes adrenaline and new Life back into valley bones. He picks me–yes, me!–to lead this charge out of a lifeless, lonely valley. It was never meant to be made home. Adventure’s awaiting! But I’m just like Gideon. I whisper a muffled, shaky yes as I stare straight up at walls there’s no way I’m scaling. But He’s louder than my fear, mightier than gravity, when He speaks the mountains shudder and listen.  I hear His Gideon charge echoed: So, go! In the strength you have—what little is left—and save my people from valley lows. Fear not—it is I who sends you! For the valley is the place of vision–a vision that teems with color and endless horizons of possibility and promise. A vision I’ve got to see up close, surely worth the calloused hands and the climb. So I look Up. My hands and feet follow. Onward, upward, chasing my summit someday. It‘s only up from down here. 


Lord, high and holy, meek & lowly
Thou hast brought me
to the valley of vision
where I live in the depths
but see Thee in the heights.

hemmed in by mountains of sin
I behold Thy glory.
let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime
stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells
the brighter Thy stars shine.
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

the valley of vision // a puritan prayer

my Jesus–You’re the God of ups and downs, of valley lows and the highest Heights. You turn nobodies to somebodies, turn oak tree anyones into the mightiest warriors, You multiply strength and steady shaky knees and handpick me though I’ll never quite get it. pilot Jesus, lead me on. lead me onward, upward, Homeward. let me find Thy victory in my defeat, Thy heights in my depths, Thy glory in my valley. for the valley is the place of vision–where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights. You meet me here in this valley and walk me Up all the way. I count it a joy to be sent. ‘Til our summit someday, J!

at His feet


There are times where my God’s the storyteller, the teacher, the Dad with stories of old sure to fascinate me and draw me in. I have a spot at His table, an open chair with my name all over it. There I listen to and learn from and try to keep up with the Rabbi. I’m hungry for fuel, for fill, to just be fed already. I scribble out His Word for-word, my mind brewing with curiosity, my elbows tabled up and spirit wide open and teachable.

But there are also times when I can’t quite make it to the table. Times where I wake up yet another sunrise morning and my heart doesn’t ache for wisdom or story or textbook. Times when my Old Testament kick’s subsided and my brain’s run too-tired and timeless words don’t just jump off the page. En route to my table spot, there are times I fall down heavy-laden and hungry for Jesus Himself. Times like right now, in this very season.

He knows my need, He knows my heart. He’d heard its weary little beat all day and shows up quick to my welcome mat. He steps willingly into the world of my mess. Though I expect Him to take His spot head of our table, He chooses a different seat. He instead steps over what’s unfinished and unkept to the living-room middle of my heart. I follow, and drop an impossible agenda and all shame and the load I’ve been carrying and fall right at His feet. There’s a spot for me there—He’s just happy I chose to take it.

At His feet my heart leaps from back corners to my sleeve to His own trusty hands. At His feet He tells me Layne-tailored love stories—I’m all eyes and all ears, no note-taking necessary. At His feet I exhale and re-encounter first-Love Jesus as He holds me tight against His own heart of hearts. Affection’s relentless there, I’m understood there, Love’s like gravity there—it doesn’t let me stay standing, pulls me down low to His feet. I taste a love that tells stone hearts they’re lovable, a Love that makes even my heart race.

I’ll forever be a seeker, a studier—quick to dissect and reread and retell Scripture. But when my brain’s so nestled in the pages of His word, my heart can miss right out on Jesus Himself—the living, breathing risen Christ who swings wide the front door and comes on in. He calls me a good student, a good disciple, but says I’ve forgotten to be a good bride, a good daughter. A good bride basks in her belovedness, a good daughter sees Dad come home and races to greet Him. She sits at His feet, wide-eyed, spirit sprawled out and satisfied by a company that echoes of her Someday. She chooses what’s better. She’s fixed on first-Love Jesus—He won’t be cut short or interrupted or taken away today. He’s her One Thing.

You’re my One Thing, J. I’m sure of it! Forgive me for forgetting. Forgive me for trying to corral You, contain You, figure You out and textbook-define You. Forgive me for placing discipleship over daughtership and studying You over just plain sitting with You. Thanks for days of solitude that stir my heart to slow down and take a seat at Your feet. I will not resist You, holding me against Your heart, whispering over and over again who and Whose I am. I’m loved by You, J. Today I start letting You love me—here in the chaos and clutter of my little world—and I can study up and frequent Your table some other day. Today I’ll love You right back.

quiet hour

John 4 | It’s quiet hour, lonesome hour, outsider hour. A nameless woman in the midst of her everyday rhythm: wait out the crowd, heat of day, empty bucket, hike to fill. It was her getaway, her hiding place. Quiet hour. Back home is a kid or two crying and expecting and requiring of her, a man not bound by covenant ordering her around. Back home is shame and sin stacked high and a crowd of so-called neighbors leaving her unwanted and out to dry. So she hikes all-alone to Jacob’s hand-me-down well, to grab bucketfuls of the very thing that keeps her alive.

It’s quiet hour. It’s a chorus, a routine—but today she’s interrupted, her groove’s thrown right off. Water fills her little bucket for the thousandth time but a man’s voice from behind says, Woman, cast your bucket down. Won’t you give me a drink? She’s startled, how dare he! How dare he approach and address her, much less request of her, a woman of Samaria? How dare he invade her quiet hour? But He cuts to the chase. He states her details aloud, says He knows who they say she is. He knows who she goes home to, knows her heartache and all her history. He knows she’s lonely. He knows her sin, her shame, her scars, her scuffed-up edges. Better yet, what He knows of her doesn’t scare Him, disgust Him, catch Him off guard or send Him running. He knows what she runs to doesn’t fix her or do the trick, He knows why she comes at quiet hour. He knows her, every square inch.

It’s Jesus—the One she believed would someday come. She didn’t recognize him at first, for he looks plain ordinary and was alone—a rarity. But he took the long way here. He had this woman and their very encounter in mind. He makes the long haul for the outsider—she’s his favorite kind. He goes after the outcast, the left-out and thrown away. She hides, He seeks. It’s automatic and never by chance—he’s after our quiet hours. There’s no hiding place he can’t see. So in the gray of her quiet hour, He makes plain His own mystery. He lets Himself into the crevices of her heart, doesn’t require password or invitation.

This water, this well—it’s her everyday, her familiar. It’s what she knows. But Jesus hands her an invitation to consider something far better: Drink from this well and it will quench your thirst for the time being. It will sustain you today—until you come back tomorrow and all the other tomorrows because you’ll surely grow thirsty again. This bucket will always run dry. Come, try my kind of Water. It doesn’t just quench—it satisfies. You don’t have to walk far or reach down deep to get it. You’ll never run out or need to refill—instead it will become a spring of unruly, wild Living Water inside. It will well up within you to eternal Life. Come, get your fix and your fill. You want in? He offers her forever Life right then and there. She says yes and drops her bucket—she won’t be needing it anymore—and takes off running faster and freer than on the way here.


My heart’s got its fair share of quiet hours. Quiet hours I trek far and wide and weary to, hoping nobody dares to show up of-all-places there. Lonesome hours, where I arrive bearing an empty bucket, and head home to the expecters, the requirers, the conditional lovers with bucketfuls of what looks just like real thing. Outsider hours, where I can’t stop running to wells of stagnant water like that’s what keeps me alive. He meets me there every time, yet I’m always surprised He came to find me. One little encounter with my Jesus and I remember: I’ve tasted His kind of water and it satisfies.

This is a new routine, my everyday interrupted by J’s invitation. He’s not afraid of my quiet hours, and He knows I’m headed there—He’s got my tendencies back-pocket memorized. So He takes the long way. For He’s not too busy or too spread out or spread thin or too Jesus to show up to my quiet hour. It’s there I’m slowed down enough to pay attention, where He lets Himself into the Jacob’s Well of my heart. No password, no invitation. He enters my world to point back to the living Water so I remember He’s what does the trick. He reminds me, refreshes and recharges me until it’s time to drop my bucket and take off running. He comes to my quiet hour. He and I take our sweet time there. I forget who’s waiting on me or expecting me to come through. Because when Jesus comes after you and stops to pay attention to you and hears out your whole nothing-but-the-truth story, you forget why you came to the well in the first place.

Thanks for a season spent throwing on a blue dress and being her Wednesday after Wednesday. You wanted me to get it and I had to become her to get her! Thanks for knowing my depravity’s depths and handing me forever Life anyways. Thanks for coming to to where I’m at–just when I was tired of running.

by His definition


29°43’47.2”N 98°07’12.2”W
T Bar M Sports Camp

I’m home! From a three-month stay and a writer hiatus, both sides of my brain bursting at the seams. It’s where there’s a Layne-sized chalkboard and way-sweet tea and Life runs on kid wonder at camp speed. It’s where the anyones are welcomed, noticed, known, empowered, invited to taste of eternity. It’s where Glory turns a football field into holy ground, where His brightness and brilliance collide with plain ordinary. And it’s where He unplugs me–though I wished to write out, type out and relay all the wild ways He defined my season. But instead, I got to contain them, keep them mine all mine until He said it was time. (Time!)

This season was about expecting | Expecting all day play days and the forever kind of friendships, expecting He’d edit and polish me here, expecting He’d supply when I ran right out. Expecting what I loved of my past summers here, though He instead handed me that plus a billion exclamation points. Expecting, dreaming, asking big since my drive-there anthem: I want to see You flex. Expecting Him to show off, daring Him to be neon-lights obvious, to loudly proclaim His own excellencies–so wild only He could receive credit.

It was about letting | Letting my God interrupt me and inconvenience me often, letting my plans change and all His surprises sweep in. Letting my job description and my relational capacity figure-8 each other just right. Letting Him use me when He saw fit, and letting Him sit me faraway way-back when He didn’t. Letting Him undo me often, all the way ugly, letting out tears I didn’t know were locked up in there. Letting a certain cabin and covenant of women know that Layne–with parts I’m not proud of and can’t pretty up–and letting them love me anyways. Letting Him quiet me, teach me, heal me, letting Him memorize me and prove it.  Letting Grace welcome my frenzied heart home every time.

It was about learning | Learning my people’s ins and outs, then learning to love them accordingly, specifically, biblically. Learning to see my work as worship because He never once took His well-done eyes off me. Learning to yield to the Holy Spirit, learning to approach God’s throneroom boldly like it was made just for me. Learning Scripture and story, feasting on His word and as He hand-delivered wisdom. Learning when to sit the bench and when to suit up, when to listen and when to talk Life, when to face crowds and when to choose solitude. Learning the character of my mystery Abba unveiled.

It was about holding | Holding tight to a ragtag team of people like I’ve never clung to before. Holding on to their belief in me, for camaraderie and accountability and to spur me towards tomorrows. Holding on to that heart-race feeling I get walking into the place I first came alive in. Holding my palms up, hands stretched wide open. Holding to the sweetness of being unplugged and far-removed from all that’s out there. Holding tightest to the gospel, holding unswervingly to capital-T Truth that doesn’t waver or quake or claim sometimes or list a single exception. Holding J’s hand, walking lockstep with my Rabbi.

It was about listening | Listening to Truth—the spiky kind my heart ached hearing, and the honey stuff that sent me out smiling. Listening to the Spirit’s subtle whispers, somehow louder than the lies. Listening to mercy and grace and a hundred second chances wake me up every morning, pull me down from way up three bunks high. Listening for thirty minutes at a time to the sweetest names my tribe heard Him call them, listening to my God’s name echoed all over this place. Listening to Jesus sing love songs my way on an off day I won’t forget, listening to Him swear I’m desirable and beloved until all of me believed it. Listening to my heartbeat tune back up to His.

It was about loving |  Loving kids, loving others—like I’m told is first priority. Loving the nameless and the know-it-alls, the homesick and those at-home here, the kids I used to sit on a swing and talk Jesus with and the ones He doesn’t pick me for. Loving my on-days and my off-days and every speck of the Layne job set before me. Loving a covenant that tenfold returns the favor and loves me right back. Loving whoever He caught in our wide net today. Loving with a fervent, earnest, stretched-out 1 Peter love that breaks through glass ceilings and pulls up to the rooftops. Loving His company, like it’s all my heart longs for.

It was about chasing | Chasing most-likely lasts and every sunset I could. Chasing the flock He handed me to run after and stay alongside and defend and push forward, push homeward. Chasing them when they invited and when they performed just-fine and when they detoured or detached. Chasing the hard-hearted campers He led me to encounter, to chase them until goodbye day because the gospel can’t be oversaid. Chasing righteousness as He sanctified me on the chase. Chasing Jesus until His dust was all over me, chasing Him right back to the Austin I once left.

It was about naming | Naming this summer my favorite, where the happy outweighed the hard a thousand times over. Naming each teammate an indispensable part of the body, and listing reasons. Naming the Paul to my Timothy, so she’d know her words weigh heaviest, so she’d know she’s why I came back. Naming the Shepherds, the Teachers, the Fighters, those of influence and those with hearts of straight gold. Naming women Enough. Naming what’s rare in them, the pieces God spent the most time detailing. Naming myself the names He gives me, and naming Him right.

It was about noticing | Noticing the kids on the fringes, the disinterested, the distant. Noticing good in the anyones—like He made me to, way back when. Noticing the good and faithfuls not asking for thanks or attention, those who don’t aim to be noticed or to impress. Noticing old tendencies spring up or moments I’d hear out the liar, and noticing the Holy Spirit steer my ship back His direction. Noticing God’s hand over every square inch and intention of this place, His touch turning really anything to straight gold. Noticing because I’ve never felt more noticed.

It was about trusting | Trusting that being here was the best yes, that my long-ago reasons are irrelevant but I matter here and by-miracle made it back here. Trusting people, a whole lot. Trusting Him when He’d sideline me though the game’s all I knew and wished for. Trusting Him to restore what was worn or torn in me, to diffuse righteousness right into my system. Trusting He’s active and at work the days I can’t quite see it, that His word does not fall early or return void. Trusting my God to take notice, and take care of all of these acres and my little heart. Trusting the Promise-Maker to be the Promise-Keeper too.

It was about standing | Standing up front and speaking His name loud when He let me, and standing backstage or way-back when it was my turn to watch. Standing for capital-T Truth, standing because Grace straight deserves it. Standing up and fighting hard and loud for the gospel, relentless and brave and no-matter-what. Standing up in power, not shrinking back in timidity. Standing when my knees shook or my feet hurt, armored up at the frontlines—only to watch Him stay giants and dominions without a movement of mine.

It was about staying | Staying up late for story time and companionship’s sake. Staying okay though my Young Life sisters rolled across state lines where I’m not. Staying all there 13 whole weeks in my happiest place—rooted beneath rocks, dirt, dust, freedom. Staying, sitting still though I’m restless and crave change, though this next chapter of mine’s dangled pretty right in front of me and I just want to get there already. Staying inside the wake of His movement, His action—refusing to hang back or veer too far to the right or left. Staying on course, though He stirred waters wild and sent sails flying. Staying until the finish.

It was about readying | Readying camp itself for two hundred wide-eyed kids, Sunday after Sunday to make room for the Kingdom to come here. Readying bible studies and hamburger milkshakes and readying my Timothys to fish the way He tells us to. Readying shaky hands for a bigger role and bigger question marks on the rise. Readying my heart that He calls able, readying me like Joshua next in line. Readying me for the landing, for the shore I’ve waited for.

It was about remembering | Remembering two summers ago when my God woke me to Life here. Remembering why I’m back by-miracle here in the first place, so He’s got to be up to something here. Remembering first half victories in the rearview to better press through the home stretch. Remembering and writing out all the ways the Lord came through for me this summer. Remembering that Wednesdays are the real paydays because paychecks can’t compare to our forever reward. Remembering my 12-year-old decision that flipped my world right side up, and my perpetual joy since.

It was about celebrating | Celebrating salvation well before kids came, celebrating forty five baptisms—two of which I’ll never ever forget. Celebrating, and squeezing tight two of my sisters as the Holy Spirit washed away yesterdays, and pulling them out of living Water to a forever family celebrating. Celebrating as He turned twos to tens! Celebrating like heaven every name that called Him theirs this week, the Kingdom expanding kid by kid. Celebrating and high-fiving at every Saturday checkpoint, celebrating with a million hallelujahs at the three-month finish.

It was about finishing | Finishing and refusing to forget. Finishing, looking a whole lot different than the way I walked in.

Hallelujahs and a hundred thank Yous, for the summer I fully believed You delight in me. I am my Abba’s child, and there’s not a name I’d more proudly bear. Thanks for my Promised Land this side of heaven–I’m convinced it looks a whole lot like Up There.


come out of hiding


Luke 19 | Jesus shows up to Jericho, simply en route to the better destination. He heads onward to Jerusalem, until a swarmed-in crowd slows Him down. He’s used to this—this is nothing new. Crowds too big to count press up-close to Jesus, to lock eyes with Him live and in person. They crave proof, that He is who He claimed to be. But He seems nothing special, looks ordinary unlike they’ve been imagining. They’re whispering disappointed and unimpressed—no jewels or shine or magic or waltzed-in grand entrance—as the so-called King walks in plain ordinary.

In walks Zacchaeus—infamous tax collector rich off the scams of this crowd exactly—but no one seems to notice. For he’s disliked and he knows it and crowds of those he’s blatantly wronged are his least favorite. So he too slips in unannounced and plain ordinary. Refusing any eye contact, he scurries ahead to a sycamore, climbs up up up high to get a better look at this Jesus. Tree limbs and leaves rustling and crowds pressing in, but Jesus pauses. He stops the second He reaches Zacchaeus’ hiding spot, looks up up up and locks eyes with Zacchaeus. He calls him by name and says, Come down here, come quick! I must stay at your house today. The crowd grumbles—how dare He choose that one! Who invited this sinner today?

One encounter with Jesus and Zacchaeus knew He noticed him always. No matter the crowd’s density or the hiding spot’s seclusion, the King won’t let him go unnoticed. Jesus invites this sinner today: Zacchaeus, friend, won’t you come out of hiding? Won’t you let me into your world, and share a table with me? Won’t you look my way? One simple invitation and Zacchaeus empties his pockets and his pride. He comes out of hiding, in every way possible. Unveiled, exposed, found all-the-way out—then comes one final invitation. A divine one, a lasting one from King Jesus Himself: “Today, salvation has showed up to this house. Welcome to the family, friend. For the Son of Man came to notice the anyones, to seek and save the lost.” 

This is what salvation looks like. How could I forget? Remind me I no-way deserve it, that You look in my direction, that You’ll freeze time until I notice You notice. You stare straight into the Holleys and the Mias and the Laynes and into Zacchaeus and see the very heart You handcrafted. You invite them into real Life, and all of Heaven’s up up up There cheering! I’m noticed, I’m invited, I’m called by name. I’m found all-the-way out and You love me anyways. You don’t miss a thing, my J!

the Good Shepherd


the Lord is my Shepherd and there is nothing I lack. He lays me down in green pastures. He takes me to quiet waters where He refreshes my soul.
| psalm 23:1-2 |

I’m trailing behind the Good Shepherd. I lack nothing. He knows His sheep, in and out, backwards, forwards. He knows me down-deep, and I know Him. He calls me by the very name He gave me, says you belong to Me over and over until I believe it. He leads me to pastures of plenty and still waters. He will never abandon me, forget me or move too fast for my tiny feet. He doesn’t let anyone fall behind or go unnoticed. He waits for the slow-movers and treks at the stragglers’ pace. When just one of His 99 slips away, He notices. The Good Shepherd won’t continue on until His flock’s complete.

He tells the ninety-nine to move forward, to keep on, to press on but He’s got to find the wanderer. He runs fast to the hiding places, looks high, looks low, looks every space in between. Then He finds her, He always finds her. There’s no sigh of relief or head shaken in disappointment, no consequence or stack of things she better not ever do again. He shuts down her sorry speech, wraps her up and throws her over His shoulders and celebrates her the whole way Home. He corrals the hundred at the welcome mat, to celebrate the lamb who’s no longer lost but found, no longer wandering the wild but right where she belongs. She belongs and she’s noticed and deep-down known. In fact, she didn’t mean to wander or lag behind, she didn’t mean to mess up or go missing, she even tried to find her way back to Him but the Good Shepherd found her instead.

The Good Shepherd lays down His agenda, His destination, His life for the sheep. He takes the flock from valley lows to mountaintops and all the trekking in between. He’s a noticer. Notices every single one. Not a single hiding place is out of His reach. He’ll chase me forever. He’ll find me, He always finds me. And no matter how far I’ve run, how long I’ve strayed, how deep I’ve done wrong, He responds with Love. Just Love. The no-matter-what, capital-L kind. The kind that screams you belong to Me, and I’ll go to the ends of the earth so you’d someday believe so. The kind of Love that notices and chases and lays His own life down to take good good care of His sheep. The Lord is my Good Shepherd–it’s His kind of Love–and there’s nothing I lack.

My J, teach me to follow You, trust You. To tune out the voices that aren’t Yours, and obey what only You command. Take me to quiet places, slow me down when You see fit. Keep swearing I belong. I’ll take Your piggyback–it’s the shortcut Home.

someday hallelujahs

IMG_1216The book of Judges isn’t all wartime and swift action. Move past Sisera’s 20 years as tyrannical king in cruel opposition towards God’s own. Past Israel’s heads hung low in defeat, past wasted time bickering and battling, unable to come to a united front. Lying at the end of Israel’s fraying threads is the good stuff, the sweet stuff. It’s here they remember to look Up. Longing for help and someday hallelujahs, all of Israel cried to to their God. So the Lord named Deborah.

He named her Peacemaker, and Teacher. Sat her down shaded beneath palms and honey, to speak wisdom and offer insight that’s divine. To serve as direct line between God and His people Israel, to bury petty disputes, stir up stagnancy and remind of the real war at hand. He named her Fighter, and Chieftess. She stood up, that Israel might man up, bow up, armor up. To summon them to the Lord’s war. He named her Mother, and Shepherd. The tribes sat still and shaky until she took lead. She’s easy to follow. So they trailed behind her, descending and assembling from all over to lock arms and take down the mighty. He named her Vision-caster, and Friend. She calls out the fragile, the timid, the Barak. Says if you don’t man up, someone else will experience what could’ve been yours. She points out purpose in the unlikely, she’s a Namer too. She names go-getters, warriors, movers, shakers. He named her Good and Faithful, and Chosen, to hear out and call out and send out—the kind of woman that leaves behind a wake.

Deborah names Barak what he didn’t even see in himself. She names him Capable, she names him Called. Were you not listening or taking notice? God called your name. Now what are you waiting for? Has not the Lord gone ahead of you and promised the victory’s His? Naming himself Outnumbered, Lacking, Not Enough, he followed Deborah fearfully, dragging his heels all the while. Faithlight and forgetful, Barak forfeited claim in the triumph because he didn’t believe the names and required company. He refused to move forward without Deborah head of the pack. The 900 Canaanite chariots were summoned by Sisera—upon hearing of Barak and Deborah’s tag-team lead. She cheers, “Up and at ‘em! Let’s go! For this is the day the Lord has already given Sisera into our hands!” Courageous with the Lord as ally, she knew Canaan would be theirs to conquer. As battlesite, Sisera chose Jezreel’s valley alongside the Kishon, where his chariots could move easy to and fro as advantage. But this was his ultimate undoing, attempting to predict strategy of the hero God who fights same-side with Israel. God routed 900 fancy Canaanite chariots under Sisera’s lead to run right into the Israelite army. Every single man opposing God and His Israel fell to the sword—no enemy remained.

King Sisera fled the second the Israelites showed up, ran fast to a hiding place where they’d least expect him. The tent of Jael, a quick-thinking woman who outwits the enemy in his attempt to lure her in. She assured him he’s safe, some come quick! And dare not be afraid. But she tricked him, finished him off in her own living room, armed with just a tent peg and hammer and a hint of bravery. A dauntless victory that could’ve been Barak’s, but the glory stayed hers for keeps.

So He’s won! And the ones He’s named Chosen head into 40-year peacetime shouting hallelujahs and singing a celebration song. They march to the Holy Spirit’s war-drum beat, to rehearse and remember how He always wins, how He’s won. They’ve tasted triumph and seen Him carry tired frontline fighters to a place of joy and escape and breathing easy. How can they not sing to their God the hero? And the hallelujahs wouldn’t stop coming.

Your Heaven powers fight for Israel and for me. I want to believe so and move quick like a Jael and steady like a Deborah, and never shrink back in fear or shrivel by timidity. I want to face the enemy head on, and take down the other side valiantly, relentlessly. You store Your might in frail jars and name them Invincible. This season, I’ll believe that the mighty God of Israel is the God of me too. The God that fights for and beside me and always always always wins. Name me, Chief. I’m listening.

dear little sisters

to my Austin High seniors

May 2015 showed up sooner than expected. June 4th’s the night I’ve been wishing would please take its sweet time. In a matter of days, you’ll strut across a stage and grab the paper that says you’ve done it and flip your tassels and flip pages to next chapters–pages that don’t tangibly include me. I won’t even be there to watch. And while I’m all settled elsewhere, you’ll pack up all you’ve got and move eastward, westward, forward. This will be my scariest turned page.

A four-year finale. Just. Like. That.

Easy answer, that time a boy asked me who I’m most myself around. You guys. You’ve been my people all this while. You’re my summer pen pals; you send life-giving letters like I like, like I love and live by. You visit me on 24-hour off days so I can exhale in good company, good conversation. You say a spontaneous yes to ranch road trips and hay-bale climbing and sunrise from the rafters and all kinds of Layne adventures. You show up to Monday night dance parties, for pied faces and hermit crab guest appearances and Layme jokes and so I’d speak to an audience of faces familiar. You let me steal your Wednesdays, to sit around a picnic table or fireside in a cozy living room to learn Truth, to love people, to let Him weave each of our wild stories together pretty like only He can. You let me steal your sleep and your mornings and your secrets, the ones you don’t want to tell and don’t even really mean to but tell me anyways. You invite me to birthday dinners and fancy banquets and graduation parties and to be your AGS guest expert judge and into your homes and your pasts and your hearts.

Oh the things you’ve taught me—that list might stretch forever. From high school slang to snapchat to 1 Timothy 4:12 in action. (Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.) From promposals and a thousand fishbowl rounds to porch swing salvation and Mozarts morning book clubs. Pep rally mosh pits and dinner dates, off-campus lunch and school night sleepovers. Exploring wheat fields and creek beds and celebrating really anything. Dock getaways and just-because costumes and all my ridiculous ideas you carried out with me. Embarrassing you front row at soccer games and Redjacket showcases. Playing pretend-mama in the circle drive, koala hugs galore, photographing your every move on the mom camera. Seeing you face stacks of out of state college decisions expectant and ready. Watching you flip cardboard over brave, having known and chased after both the before you and the after you. Cheering from the sidelines as you find and reach the lost sheep I never ever could, as you scream from platforms the things that last forever. Tag-teaming ministry alongside you. I’m better, because lots of you’s rubbed off on me.

You’ve expanded my heart’s dimensions, you’ve become my people—I didn’t sign up for this. You’re my freedom friends in a whole lot of ways. The kind of friends that jump all in and don’t ask for fine-print details. The kind that speak words so good I etch them inside my head and my heart, plaster upon pages and chalkboard walls. The kind that sacrifice and tell me I matter and don’t ever perform like this relationship’s only top-down vertical. The kind that let you breathe easy, the kind that love me right back.

You’ll give graduation speeches and grace sorority pledge classes and fly far away from here to new homes and new adventures. I’ll be back in your city, on a different side of town, watching my God fill my heart with what’s next. You’ll take pieces of me across state lines to Cali, Virginia, Arkansas, down the street, Mississippi, Alabama, College Station, Kansas, Tennessee, and I’m not sure what will be left. But there will be room. I’m not sure what or who He’ll fill left-behind spaces with but I’m dying to find out.

I know you’ll miss my pep-talk tangents, so here’s one for the road: Climb mountains palms up, peak them and move them. Hunt for the sheep not of this fold, slow down for the stragglers. Throw the waywards over your shoulder and celebrate at the welcome mat. Armor up when the enemy says you better edit you, edit God’s prized creation—start believing Him at His word, that He doesn’t make mistakes. Always abide. Mess up. Own up. When He says go go go, don’t think twice because there’s nowhere He isn’t. Choose faith instead of fear. Be song-writers and story tellers and always call home, or at least call me. Refuse to let the alive, active word of God sit stale and dusty bedside. Study it, see it with wonder eyes, feast on it. Ask the rich questions, be the friend someone’s begged God for years. Grow up in only the good ways. Think big thoughts and big dreams. Remember the only kind of enough you ought to be is you enough—and I think you’re just that. Sink your roots down deep where He plants you. Make Kansas soil and College Station soil and down-the-street soil your own. Let Him water you, stretch you, color you. Dare to resist—don’t conform to this place and its patterns. Don’t let the dots or stars stick, dare to believe you’re special. Sit still enough to listen—really listen—to the Holy Spirit that empowers and whispers reminders of the good stuff. Run away to the mountainside when you’ve just got to be with your Abba. When everyone else is choosing everything else, choose Jesus. Bottom line. Choose Jesus. I dare you.

Someday far along this timeline towards eternity, I dream you’ll still be a part of my story. Whether I’m on your radar or not, I’ll be off doing who knows what, who knows where, having not forgotten about you. And I’ve told you this before: if you don’t remember much about me, He’s the One you better never forget. He’s who never puts you second or shows up late or graduates or moves on or loses—but He loves, He wins, He lasts. And He’s been waiting, scanning horizons just for you.

4 years ago you scared the living daylights out of me. Today, I find my clenched fists resisting the let-go. Let’s face our own little unfamiliar at the same time, life on life, like we’ve mastered. This one’s for my freedom friends, my forever friends, my little sisters. I love you deep and wide, love you long time and long distance.

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!
| Dr. Suess |


You’re a good good Father and You take good good care of my people. I trust You. My Isaac little sisters all handed over to the hands that know a whole lot better. Ready me for what’s next. I love You!

surely Your goodness

Remember when I learned about the Old Testament wait, that the Lord knows no hurry? Let’s call that the Moses phase. Still I stand by that kind of belief. But sometimes—when you least expect it—he moves at Lightspeed. All of a sudden, He moves quick quick quick when you’ve been waiting slow and steady for six months going-on-forever. You study forty whole years of slow wilderness trek behind the ark of the covenant and the best servant God’s got, with the Promised Land a mere speck on the horizon. And then, nearing the place he’s longed for, He lays Moses to forever-Rest and shakes things up. He hands an Israelite army to second-string Joshua and they slay enemies and destroy whole people groups and conquer Canaan, like the Lord promised Jacob, Joseph, Isaac way back when. This is the Joshua phase. He tells me I’m on the edge of that.

I’ve spent most of this semester taking my story and lining it up neat with Moses’. I’ve been hiking his hike, training up my Joshuas. I’ve been readying for the finale, the send-off of the people I’ve walked beside or ahead of all these years. I’m trusting that my story doesn’t end atop my Mount Nebo, and I catch myself begging Him to just to say what’s next so I can go there already. I would’ve taken a whisper but He chose to be neon-lights loud. He’s a God of plot twists and surprises, and out of nowhere, I’m Joshua. Suddenly, I’m the benchwarmer called to big plays, the little guy called to armor up up-front, called to fit tiny feet into big shoes leftover. I’m no Moses. And all this while He’s been readying me for such a time as this.

Moses was able, renowned, favored, fruitful. His story’s worth ever-remembering, worth etching down across a few hundred pages of timeless Word. He’s tag-teamed with his Abba to ensure the Israelite pack is sustainable and going places and settled down like He made sure it would be. And Moses gets His place in the Promised Land that’s infinite. Regarding who’s next, the Lord looked low. He’s always been a noticer. He noticed Joshua, the only bearer of good news after scoping out the Promised Land. Joshua, sure Israel’s God would come through no matter what war’s coming. He noticed Joshua fighting frontlines, noticed potential and influence deep down in him, and let him serve as sidekick to Moses atop Sinai in his holiest moment. He called him by name—it means The Lord is My Savior—and He set him aside. Watch and learn, shadow. Here’s the best teacher I’ve got. He prepares him, steadies his shaky knees, and then He swears to him: “Today, I’ll show the Israelites that you matter, that I put you here. I was with Moses. They’ll know that I’m with you too.” (Joshua 3:7)

God’s a promise-keeper. He carries Joshua and company until they reach Canaan, and always fights beside Israel, for Israel. He swears they’ll win everywhere they go. He took the Israelites to Jordan shores, and stopped its rushing flow the second their feet hit the water. Turned wild water to dry ground—He’s done that trick before. At His trumpet-cue, the Canaan walls crumbled. He fights with and for His people. Joshua stands tall in obedience, in righteousness, yields his heart and the hearts of his people to the Lord in white-flag surrender. He fights by sword and by Spirit and knows He’s small but God Himself told him to man up, armor up, to please be strong and courageous. And like Moses, he spends his last up-front stage time pointing backwards and Upwards to their God and all He had done. To His rescuing, redeeming, protecting, providing. He assembles the Israelites, calls the tribes to a covenant-renewal. He reminds the Israelites of who and where they came from—and tells them to pick and choose their allegiance, either to the gods of gold and wood and silver, of to the God that got them here. He invites them to join him and his household, where they’ll forever serve the Lord.

Sanctify yourselves, make yourselves
holy and ready. For tomorrow, the
Lord will will do wonders among you.
| Joshua 3:5 |

Studying Joshua trains me to be okay with being small. The God that stills rushing rivers, splits seas, sends hail to take out who’s opposing His people notices me, names me capable and steadies my shaky knees. He stops the sun at Joshua’s request, crumbles Jericho walls in just seconds so His able Israelites can take what’s theirs. He’s almighty and the Master of all things, but still He spends time and thought and detail writing pretty things on my next pages. Yet no matter how He shakes up and switches the roles, He still lets me play a part in His big story. I’ve been called out and named excitable a time or two, since my heart races at turned-pages and new directions. But I’m hearing and trusting the Promise-keeper say this tomorrow offers God-wonders and a world of new territory we’ve yet to chart out. Better yet, He promises His goodness and mercy and provision have gone before me and chase after me, and that He won’t ever up and leave without me. Better still, He’s racing me there.


You stop rushing Jordan rivers when I put both feet in. You’re a promise-keeper and You swear You work for my good. I’m bracing myself, dusting myself off, all kinds of ready for tomorrow’s wonders. Abba, I’m way thankful You put me here!

let back in the Light


It’s seasons like my May where I’m all wound up tight and tangled up in the lasts, running headfirst towards tomorrow. He stops me. Stops me right in my tracks because something beautiful is at my fingertips and it’s called today! My God doesn’t stop when my four-year adventure does. He’s over there waving, I’m not done with you just yet. He’s the God of beginnings too—always turning dust to diamonds, always springing up some new thing. A diamond new thing: “Layne, I want to know God.”

It started with a text. Actually, it started three years prior: with an 8am box of free donuts, and a wide-awake new Young Life leader (me), and a shameless introduction to a girl I’d never seen before. California transfer-girl, caught in the whirlwind of a brand new high school—she just needed a hey that day. We became friends in early 2012, Facebook says so. I got to engage, invite, include her—I brought her into the fold of all things Jesus and Young Life. She came to everything I told her to—faithful to club Mondays and coffeeshop campaigners, said yes to a December weekend with me at camp.

Then 3 years of nothingness happened. Anyone who’s been a people-pursuer or a ministry-doer sees that number and names her still-unreached. I am no different. I’d lost her. Though in practice, I was consistent—always inviting her to Mondays and Wednesdays—in belief I was faithless. I gave up. But my God is always faithful.

She’s been through a lot, far more than I’d write for any 18-year-old. I hate that she isn’t new to bad news. But this particular Saturday brought the worst kind of bad news. She got a sunrise phone call. Ezra—her boyfriend and best friend—had passed away in a 4am car wreck. She collapsed to the ground, wept lonely at her lowest low. She says Somebody caught her there. Fast-forward a few months, she texts me: Layne, I want to know God.

She’s been on my heart and my mind since the Saturday he died. I’ve been studying prayer, retraining my spirit to pray big and pray little and pray much. I’ve been mindful of her, praying for salvation, for surprises, for Somebody’s arm to come grab hold of her quick. I watched our Campaigners sisters circle together in a living room and pray for her: for strength, for Grace, for desire to get out of bed in the mornings, for her to taste the goodness of God in the midst of tragedy. I watched my Young Life team circle together in my living room and pray for her: for comfort, for bravery, for peace that surpasses understanding, for her story to bring together every corner of this scattered school. And I heard how thirty-something of her classmates circled together in her living room and prayed over her—because she asked them to. She’d asked for someone who knew how to please pray right then and there, because she felt the presence of a God she’d never ever encountered before.

My God is full of surprises. He uses the weak to shame the strong, uses the meek to challenge the wise, uses the lasts to bring attention to the beginnings. He uses the unexpected—a brand-new Jesus-seeker—to drag her to the last Young Life club. The club I forgot to invite her to. The club run entirely by her peers, her classmates, the brothers and sisters that rallied around her in her own home. The club where 18 of them boldly flipped over a piece of cardboard to prove that Jesus makes all things new.

April 29, 2015 | Lakeside coffeetable fourth from the right. I’ll never forget it. We dove real deep, real fast. We caught up—a whole lot of life happens in a three-year time frame. She reminded me of her story, of adoption and state-hopping and arguments and settling down all swallowed-up by Austin. She lit up as she repainted Ezra moments alive for me. Filled me in on inside jokes and the happiest of times and listed the hundreds of bullet-point ways he made her better. She mentioned the phone call, and the dark, blurry few days afterwards, and the funeral, and the uphill fight she’s hiking now. She brought a journal to our date—to take notes on how to get to know God and all the steps it will take to get her there. I got to interrupt her: no steps, no sword-fighting. Turn around to perfect Love. He’s been waiting and waving: I haven’t given up on you just yet. He’s always been there, always had her, always held her tight when she felt alone.

I told her Skylar’s story, how God took death-measures to wake up the lonely, the prodigal, the anxious yet “okay” pretenders, to assemble 35 post-grad pledge sisters from all over like only He could do. How He wrote the tragedy of one to bring hundreds to their knees in surrender. Perhaps He wrote Ezra’s to do just the same. But I had to go out with a bang—had to tell her God’s story, where He took death-measures of Jesus for her sake, for her sin. That she and I’d someday receive the forever kind of Life. Her response? I’m in. Layne, I’m all in. Sometimes, like my she-and-I moment, God’s presence feels breezy and real and right-there. I got to watch salvation make her eyes sparkle, her smile more infectious than usual. She’s been through war and dirt and death, but I’ve never looked at a more beautiful thing. She’s seen the Light, she wants a whole lot more of it. She said yes to capital-L Life and capital-L Love Himself. She’s in!

She’s always been a fighter. She fights to stay put together, to contain buckets of tears, to be the strong one—and that pace of life’s exhausting. But today, she got to breathe. She dropped tragedy’s weight, Jesus set her free. She let the Light back in. She replayed the moments of bad news, with a new shine about her. She started to notice how every bit of it had strengthened her, readied her, trained her to stay standing even when the world beneath her gave way. She said she guesses, no she thinks, no she knows it had been God all along that held her steady. She knows it was Him who multiplied the 400-expected guests to 1400, because He knew Ezra deserved a celebration at-capacity. She’s seen Him in a thousand horserides at her Onion Creek paradise. She’s even seen Him car-wrecks and kitchen arguments and the loneliest of lows. She’s seen Him take away a life but give her eternal Life. A sweet exchange, and a God that’s mighty good.

Here I am, shutting the door on this season and here He is, still handing favor out like it’s free. Look far and wide at our harvest, He says. Thanks for being one of My few. Who am I to receive that? Who am I to get to call this Mia memory mine? To sit beside her, to be restored and revived by her salvation. Don’t you see? I’m springing up a new thing. I may take away but I always always give. Joy will come, joy will always come. Let My Light back in.

You bring me low. You love to bring me low. Last club, when I’d least expect it, You win. You always win—and there’s been a whole lot of good in this. You’re faithful when I’m faithless or faith-light. You’re always on the move, while I’m quick to think Your timeline’s too inconvenient or too slow or too late. And sure, You give and You take but You revive and You remake. Thanks for her story—letting me play a tiny tiny part. Maranatha—keep coming, Jesus.

promised land song

IMG_0734This week my mom & I said goodbye to Moses. We’ve followed behind him all this while, all this way and the clock’s ticked slow to his own little end. At Deuteronomy’s finish, after forty years of hiking head of the Israelite pack, bearing patience and the Spirit and belief in the God that goes with, Moses earns himself one last monologue. This time, the old hero points out all that’s good in God’s people. My mama says, “He gets to say goodbye when they’re faithful.” To shed some light on their good, to call it out from back-corners. To speak a home-stretch drive into weary bones so they can finish their wild race without him.

Moses’ last God-instruction? To peak Mount Nebo—able, steady, ready—because there’s glory’s waiting at the top. Just trust Me. He hikes his way up, quiet and willing. 120 years on him yet not a speck of lost vigor or vision. Once he makes it, God lets him sit wide-eyed at a Promised Land panorama, wide-eyed at all the places his dust will soon cover. My mama says,  “How sweet God is to Moses even when he doesn’t get to go in. I love how he got to see the Promised Land from up high on a mountaintop—how beautiful it must have been.” Moses is all done. And well done, good and faithful—he gets a God-sized thank you stretching east to west, he gets to check out the finish line from the best seat in the house. He could see the whole thing! He sure deserves to see it—and he knows it won’t compare to Where he’s headed.

He breathed his last atop Nebo’s splendor, small amongst endless horizons. He dies among only the Lord’s company, buried in glory by the hands of God Himself. He was something special, remembered for staying ever-faithful in leading the most headstrong of people, for staring God’s glory head-on and looking a whole lot like Him, for always looking ahead to his forever-reward. Oh how God loves to send Moses to the mountaintops–where he was first commissioned and commandment-handed and saw God’s glory, and now atop Nebo, he hears his well-done good & faithful as God tucks him into a heaven Rest.

I graduated from my university last May—diploma and stage time and fireworks and all—but the real adventure I love called for one last lap to run. Senior year with my people, my high school friends turned little sisters. I had to finish the ministry I’ve received in the Lord (Colossians 4:17). And now I’m saying hi to the May I’ve begged to pretty-please take her time. But she’s here, and I’m here, at this four-year grand finale. Wrapping up the adventure He always said had numbered days, having stayed four-year faithful to my own set of Israelites.

Still I climb–able, steady, ready. I hike my own Mount Nebo—with a fraction of his followers and his forty years, and I don’t think my story ends here. I’ve finally made it up top, best seat in the house. His voice is loud from up here: Layne, look how they are faithful! Watch as I’ve readied them, as we’ve readied them. They’ll slay giants here, they’ll make it here, they’ll find the milk and honey I’ve long-since promised. They’ll one day be rooted down deep here. I get to spur on and see good in and speak into my friends today—and they’re finally in faithful mode too. I see them keep choosing Jesus, and it makes it a whole lot easier to let go. They’ll enter their own promised lands with packed bags and a whole new world at their fingertips and no parents and no Layne. I hear Him: Just trust Me. From my own Nebo peak, I get to see a little of what He sees—infinite horizons and His big picture view. Look at the all the mountains left to climb! But as for this one, I’m all done. And well done, He names me good and faithful. As for what’s next? He spies my next wild adventure and I trust Him though I can’t quite see it. Time to pack up camp and go find it.

Thanks for fifty-something strangers-turned-sisters, for letting me stay and see through to their finish. I’m singing! I trust You–they were were never mine in the first place. You’ve taught me to lovelovelove change, and crave it. Onward, Papa! What’s next?

holy spirit, you are welcome here

Our God promises over and over and over: His presence will ever be among us. He’s Jehovah Shammah—the God who is there, and He’s always sought out up-close encounters with His people. From Eden adventures beside the first two of us, to settling down thick in Moses’ tent of meeting, to wrapping divinity in real flesh, real bones and handing over Jesus—it’s no surprise that He came even closer still. In Jesus’ preparation for his grand exit, he hinted at the Holy Spirit’s imminent entrance. To the twelve who were daily covered in his dust, he said: Slow down before you sell out to the Great Commission. Once I’m Home, you’ll be made capable and complete. Just trust Me on this one—He who’s coming will make you better off than I. But the audience didn’t buy it, couldn’t believe there’s something better than life with right-there Jesus.

But what came was a Somebody—the third thread to braid together the Trinity. “The Father has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Galatians 4:6) He’s what lets our hearts mesh with our Maker’s. He’s our forever-advocate, proving the world’s wrong about all things sin and righteousness and judgment, repeating the truest reminders of the Lord’s age-old promises so we’d just get it right. It’s the Spirit that protects, equips, empowers, pierces with conviction. He invites into salvation, tugs heartstrings to u-turn or free fall or just say “yes”. The Spirit’s not of fear or anxiety or timidity or confusion, but of power and clarity and bravery and direction. (2 Timothy 1:7) He’s what searches, studies, savors the depths of God. Scripture swears that since the get-go, the Holy Spirit’s work was to finish and sustain the promises of the Lord. “Deposited as a guarantee of what’s to come” (2 Corinthians 5:5), it’s the Spirit that points towards Forever, that goes with me in all the directions. The Spirit’s also the Life-ingredient–He’s the very thing that turns straight dust into Life. His breath makes somethings out of nothing—and swears to someday do so again, to breathe resurrection life to earth dust as we enter eternity. The Holy Spirit takes orphans and binds them to the holy lineage, binds them to the Trinity braid. He who once stood beside now stays inside. It’s the Holy Spirit that lets God live not simply among us but within us, setting God closer to His beloved than ever before. And the best part about this Holy Spirit? Where He is, there is sweet sweet freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17) And the Spirit says He’s not going anywhere.

I’m quick to forget that I live in the era the Israelites and Jesus’ disciples dreamed of–the era of the Holy Spirit deposit. To walk physically in-step with a tangible Spirit cloud that rises and settles in a patterned come-and-go seems simple and preferred. I’d love to just see Him, and move where and when He says to move–and no one would call me crazy because they heard Him say it too! But Jesus meant when He said I’m better off with the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful I’m not Moses—not held to a high and heavy regard to be the only Spirit-bearer in a whole tribe, not measuring and remeasuring my righteousness to make sure I still get to maintain Him. Not studying the Spirit’s interactions at a distance, as He touches down separate from my own soul. Instead, I received Him invisible and almighty into my very being. The cross and the new covenant make me a ragged tent of meeting who bears residency of the eternal.

The Holy Spirit’s entrance into my depths paled compared to His Pentecostal debut. No wild heavenward wind, no fire poured out from heaven, no perplexing tongue-speaking to a Jewish audience from all over. In fact, there was no noticeable moment of divine invasion. I spent a whole lot of years praying like my God’s way up There, or like I can hide from him or mask particular Layne pieces from him. Unaware of, unfazed by, apathetic towards my Holy Spirit deposit left me big time missing out. All this while, the Father’s been raising my spirit to meet up with His. I cried out “Abba, Father!” and He just fixed my eyes on my insides. I’m captivated, caught in His wake. Cheers to the Holy Spirit. Thanks for settling thick inside my nothing special. As I long for the Israelites’ “well done, good and faithful-enough” en route to their Promised Land, I acknowledge my all-day, always access to Jehovah Shammah—the God who is there. The full magnitude of the godhead calls my spaces sacred enough. Today, the Holy Spirit deposit dwells permanently and universally. He chooses frayed hearts of plain flesh instead of their fancy tabernacle tent. And where the Spirit is, there’s freedom for believers to unveil and unwind–that’s where Grace screams loudest.


So I sit daily at the feet of my Jesus, talking life with the Father, to activate and encounter the Spirit that’s divine and alive and racing through my veins. It’s in this sacred space that the Father recreates. Polishes, pretties up, edits and erases. The Spirit sanctifies—recreates little me to look more and more like Himself, one degree of glory after another. He adds touches of God-glory to nothing-special, that I’d leave every holy encounter looking radically different than the way I walked in.

To dare to spend life dancing to the Holy Spirit’s lead is brave and unpredictable but guarantees surprises around every corner. He takes locked-away old ways and sheds so much Light you can’t quit looking, and helps you rip them to shreds right then and there. He takes a mind-made-up stubborn Layne and forces a u-turn change in direction, back to the very first thing that caught my eye. He can take away something that’s good and God-glorifying because He knows better, even when you want it to just stay. He’ll tune your heart to hear Him, see Him, recognize Him. He’ll double the drive time on 2-hour solo car rides because He chose your tent of meeting today and everyday. He’ll tell you to bare your heart from a platform that’s public domain–and won’t budge until you say I’m in. He takes your four months of studying His own mystery and still leaves you hungry for forever more–He’s got plenty more layers to reveal. Walking in step with the Spirit’s risky—He tends to beckon us beyond what’s known or what’s comfortable or sometimes, to what’s not on our hopeful-for list. He knows ships don’t belong safe or tied tight at harbor.

Holy Spirit, You’re here whether I welcome you or not, but today I welcome you. Show up in the wind and in surprise run-ins and in the mailbox. Show up in that wildflower-strewn field I stop to climb trees and backflip and press pause mid-run. On this website, in my passenger seat, at every coffee table and park bench and red light I encounter today. You’re welcome here.

Four months into this fascination study, Lord—don’t let me stop seeking! Let me become more aware of Your presence within me, thanks to the Holy Spirit deposit. Keep me awed by the very thing that sets me apart, at its New Testament permanency. Love You, J!

glorious day

In light of a recent Easter, where God taught me His timeless Love Story’s the same kind of radical from up airplane high. |

I can’t stand sin. It’s the condition that chips away at my intended design, the thing that separates me from the Maker I was made to be around. The condition that Satan pat my back because of, the one he spent 18 years telling me I’m different because I don’t really have, that I must be some holier-than-Thou exception, that I better keep thinking so. The condition that tears families in two, causes capital-letter news headlines, that Satan loves to see brushed off, denied, ignored, underestimated, never ever stood up against.

The Lord says that no, not one is righteous. All have fallen short, all have braked hard at their own little distance from the finish, far from His perfection and His glory. None have measured up or met His mark. All bear the gravity, the reality, the symptoms of the inescapable sin condition. We try our quick fixes and strategy and covering sin up with makeup or performance but we can’t rid ourselves of it alone. No amount of our labor or our striving can fix it, or cure it, or snatch the condition right from our hands. It’s killing us slowly, eating us alive. That’s the point. It’s sin that speeds up our decay. Scripture says the wages–what we earn for sinning–is death. And this death we’ve earned is of an unfamiliar kind, far beyond mere grieving and grave-burying like we’ve tasted the bitterness of. We’ve earned the scariest unknown there is: eternal separation from the Father. But His story’s a Love story rescue mission–and the Father does whatever it takes to get His kids home.

The story didn’t start out pretty or lovely or really anything good. It starts with angry Pharisee religious leaders throwing Jesus down sprawled out in front of governor Pilate, screaming, Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him! Who is this ordinary man to claim power and authority and God-glory? His attire was bloodied long before he reached Calvary’s hill. Beaten by handmade weapons intended to nearly-kill but leave threadbare, wedged between feisty crowds that mocked him and spat on him and shoved him and wished him dead, he carried the cross for miles and miles and miles. At the hilltop, they pierced his hands and his feet, nailed him to the cross that my sin warranted. Thorn-crown pressed deep into his temple, royal robe slapped atop battered open wounds. He breathed his last breath and daylight disappeared. In walked Jesus, to do what I couldn’t. He took the cup that called for death. He took the cup the Lord called for, the one with my name etched all over it.

there in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain

He was no victim. He chose this cup, this kind of exit. My Jesus died to unwind the wages and wash me clean and all-cured from the sin condition. He died so that I’d be made new. The cross of Jesus Christ took all of our yesterdays–every moment lived within the confines of our sin condition–and fixed us, cured us, snatched the condition from our very hands. And it’s not even the climax. This next part alters our Forever.

Joseph of Arimethea approaches the same Pilate that said yes to the crucifixion, asking for Jesus’ body to honor him by proper burial. Joseph takes Jesus’ body, wraps it in fresh linen, and places it into a empty tomb. The Marys watched firsthand nearby as a huge, heavy stone was rolled in front of the entrance to shut up the space. The next day, a mob of chief priests and Pharisees ran frantic to Pilate, “Sir, sir! We can’t help but remember, while this Deceiver was still alive, he said he’d rise 3 days post-death. You  must quickly order that the tomb be made secure and untouchable until the third day arrives. For if not, those on his side may come and steal his body, and lie to the people claiming this Jesus has been raised from the dead. This fraud will be worst than his first!” Pilate understood, finding and ordering the mightiest guards to make the tomb as secure as they knew how and to stand by through the night.

Three days later, the Marys went to Jesus’ tomb on the day of the Sabbath–clinging to mustard-seed belief in his three-day promise. A wild earthquake shook the ground as an angel of the Lord rolled the heavy stone aside and sat upon it. His appearance, like lightning; his clothes, white as snow. The mightiest of guards shook spellbound and speechless. The angel assured the women, “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was indeed crucified. He’s not here. He has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he once lay. Then go, quickly! Find his disciples and tell them he’s risen. Meet him in Galilee, he’s gone ahead of you there. You’ll see him face to face.” The Marys hurried away, afraid yet abundant in joy, and ran to find his disciples. Then suddenly, they saw Jesus! The women ran to him, clasped his feet, and worshipped him right then and there. They saw the scars in His hands and His side and His feet. It’s their same Jesus, alive again!


The most glorious day: Jesus rose from the grave! Just as he said he would. It’s simple yet fascinating–it’s reality. It defied science, it defied the tomb man swore couldn’t be messed with. It defied and won over and shut down death. And it satisfied, fulfilled just what Jesus always said He would do. The grave—no matter how tightly secured or mightily guarded—could not contain our Jesus or keep him down for long. He took my death and was victorious over it, that I might live. His third day kept-promise meant that we too can have life anew, life all over again—just like Him. A new kind of life: a capital-L life, a second chance at Life after we leave this place. This life marked not by our sin condition, marked not by our failed attempts at fixing or covering up, marked not by that one night or that one year or that one thing. A new kind of Life, an unmarked one.

Jesus took the cup with our name etched on it. He took our sin, our sting of death. We are no longer destined for death–the rightful wage of our sin–because He took our place on our cross to die our death and death couldn’t hold him down. It took him three little days to simply exchange our forever. His scarred-hands hold out to us the free gift of eternal Life, the exact opposite of the wage our sin earned us. An upside-down exchange. As Jesus tackled absolute death and woke to all-over-again Life, he invites us to say yes to the exchange, to the free gift, to a the Someday that offers capital-L, forever Life. I chose it, and I’m ever-chasing it. That’s bound to be a glorious Someday.

In the same way, count yourselves dead
to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
For sin shall no longer be your master, because
you are not under the law but under Grace.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
| Romans 6: 11, 14, 23 |

Hey J, You shed precious blood so I’d be washed white. Thanks that you’re alive–that I don’t worship, run to, follow a God who stayed put in a grave. Thanks for breaking sin’s grip and mastery, thanks for inviting me to upside-down exchange yesterdays for the freedom and joy and Life of today ’til forever. Love love love You.

consider the wildflowers

If you know me some–you know if I’m handed a bouquet of flowers, they’ll shrivel to nothingness within a day or two and surely go under-appreciated. I’ve probably warned you–I’m not wooed by them and I don’t like the smell and really, I have no clue how to tend or take care of them. But if you know me lots–you’ll know I prefer my flowers wild and unruly, visible from rooftops and windows-down road trips, vivid color speckling plains of dry ground. I’ve grown up craving wildflower season, spending my Aprils peeking out of oversized open kitchen windows, just waiting to see where they’ll pop up this time around. Scattered in little pockets all over four acres, in every nook of my childhood backyard. I’ve always loved the wildflowers.

They sure aren’t bouquet-ready, they don’t like to be told where to stay, they call the messiest places home. They’re the masters of consistency yet still-a-surprise, lovely yet growing wild and untended in the most unexpected places. Only the Creator knows where they’ll land, and they didn’t put themselves there. He thought it out–put them each right where He wants them, to cover lifeless fields like carpet. He set them there, patches of color amongst the grays of sidewalk cement and highway medians and unkempt backyards–so we’d consider them, so we’d look at how they still grow. Unpredictable, going wherever the wind carries them, landing amongst weeds and dirt and who-knows-what just to spice up the place. They’re reckless and windblown and free and beautiful, handcrafted with His intricate detail; they bring Life to what’s dry and fix eyes on what’s never-noticed. No one’s watering them or pruning them or prettying them up–and still they catch your attention.  Consider the wildflowers. Look how He’s enthralled by them, how a single wildflower outdid the king’s finest attire, how He lets each one bear His splendor and His color and His Life! Look how they still grow!

He tells disciples of that day and today’s day to consider the wildflowers–because we’re a whole lot like them. We can’t predict where we’ll land next season, and we sure didn’t place ourselves here. We’re messy and windblown and alive in season, and the world ought to see us speckled bright and beautiful in places of ordinary gray. To His audience of worries and little faith, thinking today’s in small hands or incapable hands or no hands, he pleads, “Won’t you just consider the wildflowers? Look how they still grow.” If the Lord takes care of the flowers of the field, which are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He take care of you! He’ll color you. Maintain you. He’ll always notice you, consider you. Watch you, grow you, move you. Occasionally uproot you. Stretch you up up up to the sunshine and to Himself. He’ll be always enthralled by you. So take to the weeds and the dirt and traffic-lined highway medians, assemble beside the others into a patch of wild color and someone’s bound to notice. Settle roots deep where you’re planted–willing, eager, bright, expectant–because He thought it out and you’re catching eyes of onlookers and He promises you’ll still grow.

consider the wildflowers of the field, look at how they grow! they do not labor or spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. and if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers, which are here today and gone tomorrow, oh how He cares for you–you of little faith. | Matthew 6:28-30


Thanks for springtime wildflower season and eyes that have always noticed. Take me where You wish–I trust You’ll pretty me up and grow me and You’ll go right there with me. I’m ready! I trust Your winds.

forget Me not

The start of Deuteronomy’s a slow read. It’s a Moses monologue, with little to no forward movement of the Israelites. It’s as if I’m stuck right there with them—all caught up in their adventure, eager to make it to the land of milk and honey and all things good. But if anyone gets to ramble, it’s Moses. His time is running out. He’s nearing his own little end, staring at Promised Land horizons just beyond his permissible reach. Well done, good and faithful. He gets the forever Promised Land instead.

Deuteronomy could be an academy awards speech, or a boastful recollection of Moses’ resume, or a speech imploring those trailing behind him to please forget me not. But Moses doesn’t do things ordinarily. He is righteous, ready to use his platform for thanksgiving and praise and God-glory. He’s the mouthpiece the Lord uses to wake up forgetful Israelites: forget Me not!

My Israel, don’t you remember?

Remember your rescue? Remember your release, where chains fell and authority dwindled and walls of Red Sea tumbled down, swallowed up Egypt trailing close behind?  Remember how I split seas for you? How I fought long and hard and mighty for you? How I destroyed all who weren’t you, all who bowed to a handmade Baal? How I never ever up and left you? 40 years in your wild—hemming you in before, behind. Enveloped by desert in all directions, I handed My manna to your hunger. A new taste, with satisfaction and some heaven and a “thank You” in every bite. A 40-year wilderness hike—still somehow your clothing’s thread intact, your feet strong and able all this while, all this way. Remember how despite miles of restless motion, I multiplied You? Remember how we defeated whole people groups together, drove out rivals together? How we took down nations tougher and braver and taller than you? You were outnumbered and small but you’re Mine—and remember? I told you we’d win. 

Isn’t that enough? I see your memory of Me graying to nothing. Watch yourselves. Don’t you dare forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your fickle hearts. Write it down, permanent and pretty. Tell your children and your grandchildren and your grandchildren’s children, around campfires and dinner tables and scribbled in journals you’ll read and reread. Display your story, loud and lovely—don’t keep or contain for yourself. Talk about your Me story when you stay and when you go, when you lie down and when you get up. 

Don’t you see your story’s a rare one? Don’t grow immune to its storybook splendor.  Yours will be an age-old tale that they can’t forget—ever-after generations will read the reality your own set of eyes saw, wishing it was theirs to claim. They’ll call you chosen, etched in pages of unchangeable, timeless Word—let that replace your name. They’ll see seas split and chains fall and redemption too—but it will look a little different. Not as tangible, and right-there as your own.

So won’t you remember me? Won’t you obey me? Won’t you call Me yours?

Don’t you wonder why I’ve held tight to you? Why I rescued you from slavery and from rivalry, placed you safe amongst plenty and beauty? Why I used every ounce of My might to protect, to provide for, to set free and set apart My chosen people? So you’d remember the God that goes with, the God of immeasurable might and yet gentle touch. So you’d claim none beside Me, call Me matchless and only. To humble you, to bow you low, so you’d feel small in light of infinity. To test you, whether you’re gold or gold-coated—so I’d know just what makes up the crevices of your heart. To discipline you, and a hundred ancestors before you. To train you: to abide, to obey, to forget Me not.

Be a generation of rememberers, and the world around will take notice. The nations will teach and admire My wise and understanding and set-apart people. My chosen people. Don’t forget escaping the grip of Egypt slavery, or trekking safe between walls of water, or hiking to the lead of My living spirit en route to this place. Don’t stop revering Me. They’ll watch, they’ll learn. Someday I’ll turn their stone hearts to flesh and they’ll remember you and revere Me too. Don’t forget the new covenant—you’re not bound to the one before. Don’t forget My covenant of Love—sworn to a thousand generations of My lovers and obeyers and someday disciples and rememberers that refuse to forget.

When you reach your little finish-line paradise, don’t forget or lose your wonder. Forget not your fathers—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—as you receive the place they deserved but I reserved. Just for you. Wonder at the thriving cities your hands did not build, homes full of what you didn’t provide, harvests you didn’t plant, wells you didn’t dig. In your relief, forget Me not. In your satisfaction, forget Me not. When you lack nothing, forget Me not. When my Promised Land pledge stands its wild ground before you, be small—you didn’t get yourself here—and forget Me not.

I am a fire consuming, a jealous God. I crave every bit of your distracted attention. Oh, but I am abundant in mercy. I will not abandon or destroy you or forget the very covenant I promised you. I only forget what I forgive. My Israel, welcome home. Stay Mine here, and just wait until you see the Land I’m readying for your Someday. I think you’ll like it Here too.

my God: I didn’t get myself here. help help help me forever remember.

we all with unveiled faces

It was routine but I can’t wrap my mind around it: Moses and the Lord’s daily encounter in the sacred space. Free of charge, day to day, yet like anyone, Moses wanted more. In what may be weightiest demand of God by man—Exodus 34—Moses dares God to reveal Himself. To really reveal Himself: fullness of glory, in broad daylight! This same man that jumped back from the burning bush and rattled off insecurities always and once feared eye contact with God Himself, in a flash of valor, “Show me more!” Moses dares Him to show up before he takes the Lord’s people a step further. What a request of the Almighty.

This Moses—who tags along and walks in step with his Rabbi, who bears a caliber of intimacy rare and enviable and infinitely more than just 40 day-nights at the Sinai summit—he gets what he begged for. The holiest encounter, just ordinary him and the Lord in all His wild glory. No earth-shaking or rolling thunder. Still every speck of His infinite brilliance rolled by tucked-away Moses, slow and steady, and proclaimed His own mighty name. Moses can’t help but fall facedown, bowing low in raw worship and wide-eyed wonder.

And when he stands? He’s resplendent. God-glory rubbed right off onto Moses.

He treks down from there radiant–because time with the Lord leaves you looking a whole lot different. He descends carrying a new covenant and a new shine, gathers all of influence and tells them everything the Lord told, taught, and promised. The faith-light Israelites take notice. God restored their belief—He knew they just had to see Him to obey Him, to trust Him, to follow Him. The people see Moses’ shine and remember the God that rescues and goes with and they start to trust Him again. So Moses covers his face fast, veiled so those trailing behind can’t see his shine fade to underneath nothing-special, so they’re stuck remembering glory alone.

Keeping up with Moses’ journey towards the Promised Land makes me way thankful I live this side of the crossI’m not cut out for the Old Testament–and I’m sure thankful for a cross and a new covenant. The Cross handed me all day, always access to my God. Grace’s good news meant the living God invades every tent that lets Him, that my nothing-special is where His Spirit chooses to settle. When Christ defeated the grave, and the curtain ripped in two, my Moses veil was ripped right off my face. Grace made me a living, breathing, New Testament tent of meeting on the move. Unlike Moses, I am not stuck re-earning my right to maintain this Spirit, my right to encounter my God firsthand. Instead, I bear a Holy Spirit deposit that walks with me and whispers forever reminders of the good stuff. Instead, I’m called to keep off the veil because when my my humanity peeks out and my resplendence fades, Grace shows up loud and clear. It tells the world I’m needy and desperate, that I’m just plain dirt that divinity chose to touch down on. He sends me out from His sacred space a modern-day Moses, that they might notice the shine He let stay on me. It’s in our unveiling, undoing, unraveling that He makes Himself known.

we all, who with unveiled
faces contemplate the Lord’s
glory, are being transformed
into His image with ever-
increasing glory, which comes
the Lord, who is the Spirit
| 2 Corinthians 3:18 |


I’m promised all day encounters with the God of Moses and me–that I’ll look more and more like Him each time we meet. Veil-wearing is exhausting, and says the Cross didn’t do enough. So I’ll walk with borrowed resplendence, proudly unveiled and point to Grace when my shine fades to ordinary Layne. I’ll rally alongside the glory-bearers, as we all with unveiled faces transform into Glory’s likeness. I won’t fight His undoing.

Continue making relevant thousand-year-old stories. Teach me to sit and savor and come out of each encounter shining. Palms up—don’t let me pick up and put on what covers up Your shine.

tent of meeting

Exodus 33: Moses pitches a tent a hike away from camp and names it the “tent of meeting”. Pre-tabernacle construction, Moses’ tent of meeting must have been a ragged little thing. Carryable, collapsable, requiring just one-man set-up. A nothing-special little thing—except that the spirit of the living God chose to settle down (of all places) there. My God is full of surprises. He’s the thing that makes a space sacred.

Just before Moses would meet there with his God, he’d summon the anyones and the everyones. An open invite for the disinterested, the seeking, the apathetic, the little, the seasoned, the forgetful, the faithful: you’re all welcome to watch. Then Moses would breathe deep and actually enter into the mystery. The living God as a pillar of cloud descended every time Moses entered the place. The Spirit of God stayed there, settled there—and everyone could see Him! Moses would sit down nothing-special in the sacred space, and they’d all watch with wide eyes as glory touched down. The Spirit of the Lord settled from on high, thick at the entrance of the tent of meeting—and the Israelites were amazed! They couldn’t get enough. From front row to way far back, those pressing in and peeking out—they couldn’t keep their eyes off what they knew had to be infinite, beyond comprehension. They rushed forward, craving an upfront up-close look. They fell facedown, spellbound, speechless. Tasting eternity leaves you like that.

So they worship—because they’re all out of words. They’re welcome to feast on wonder at the fringes of the tent of meeting, because someone invited them to pay attention. The Israelites were forgetful. But they’d just watched with wide eyes—remembered their rescue—as the God who splits seas met them right there in their wild.

Tucked away inside, the Lord speaks to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.

There are days when I feel far from the magic, like He’s a selective God and I’m nothing special and He must have chosen everyone else’s tent to encounter. It’s days like these where I’ve placed myself outside the scope of the new covenant. I’ve flipped back the pages of His gospel—rewrote His story minus Grace—and forgotten my own rescue. I’ve forgotten the open-invite magic of the Holy Spirit deposit, forgotten my God is my friend. I’m forgetful too.

When I remember the Real Story—of the open invite, of endless Grace, of the Holy Spirit turning my nothing-special sacred—I pay attention. Whether pressing in or peeking out, I rush forward, craving an upfront up-close look. I see Him! Today’s Spirit of the living God doesn’t rise from this place. He stays here, he settles here—inside our very beings. He’s chosen our nothing-special to inhabit, because we’re His kids, His people, His friends. We too are tents of meeting on the move, promised holy encounters in the midst of ordinary todays. Let’s quit trying to contain our infinite Friend, start inviting our own Israelites to pay attention. Let’s extend Moses’ invitation: you’re all welcome to watch.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. It’s time I start paying attention.

old testament wait

2015’s hurry steals the best of me—so my Abba drives me deep into the good old days. The slow days, days of Moses and the Old Testament wait. Hurry tells me to run faster, that the things scribbled on my next pages are worth skipping some for. But my God’s of Moses and 2015–He loves to see me wait. He sits me down—says stay—so I’d be all here while He writes my post-August pages. He says stay, just trust Me on this one. I hold your today and all the tomorrows. Come move at My speed for a while. 

So He rolls back the pages to the Moses ones, nice and slow:

Just to study the Old Testament wait, I’ve had to shake off hurry like I’m made of it. I’m hardwired to hurry. I rush, I race through even paper pages because I’m stir-crazy, because I can’t sit still or read slow, because I’ve grown up knowing this Moses story. He’s the favored one, miracle baby turned chosen one, to rescue the Lord’s own and lead them to what’s better. He’s radically old—my 2015 imagination can’t even picture a 100+ year old hiking Sinai head of the pack. He’s the staff-carrier, the old guy guiding crowds of forgetful followers to the Promised Land he isn’t even granted entrance to. He’s faithful, following His God every which-way, handed tablets of Ten Commandments by the God that wrote them. He’s righteous. He’s obedient–he held his palms up too. He redeems a whole people group, to ultimately resemble the Jesus that’s on the way.

But one little thing falls afresh, falls colorful atop pages of old news: He’s patient. He’s patient—but not the 2015 kind. 2015 patience means you don’t despise traffic or when your lunch date’s late or when job applications move slower than what seems convenient. He’s patient, and moves at actual Godspeed. He’s hardwired to wait. Years of rushed reading make you miss that.


Stuck as family yet foreigner growing up a fostered Hebrew as Egyptian, Moses faced 40 years of slow identity discovery. The Lord was at work, brewing within Moses’ Hebrew heart a passion for His people. He too wanted to hurry—the Lord said stay. He stayed until a Midian getaway, 40 more years. This time, of simplicity and husbandry and corralling a hundred sheep. Years of ordinary, yet the Lord was busy painting dreams and saying stay and Moses was sure listening. He holds time tight in His hands. Our God knows no hurry.

80 years of what seems ordinary and yet all the while he’s sworn he’s something more. And 80 years in, it’s the finest “thank you”—God shows him a dream, says This one’s for you! I’ve been waiting to hand this over. Thanks for staying steady. An adventure of releasing and red-sea redeeming, a big call for a man thinking he was nearing his own little end. 80 years waiting—for his big big big calling, his divine assignment. Our God knows no hurry.

The Lord is good to those
who wait for Him, to the
soul who seeks Him.
| Lamentations 3:25 |

Even mid-mission, Moses waits. He wanders the wild at Godspeed, dancing to the lead of the actual Spirit of God. The Spirit settles, Moses and his people set up camp and stay put. The Spirit rises, they rise awake and on the move. He waits for direction, for holy encounters. He spends his days meeting up with the Spirit of God and waits to experience the fullest of His glory. Our God loves to see him wait. Still he’ll wait for what feels like forever for his Promised Land. Still he’ll wait wait wait for the coming Messiah, for the Holy Spirit deposit. But in the waiting, Moses is far from idle or aimless.  He’s patient. He’s all there. He moves slow, at the Lord’s steady pace. He’s keeping close behind Him–so close, there’s no room for hurry.

Abba, I want to move at Your speed. I trust you with my question-mark next steps, surely they’re worth waiting for. Fine-tune me to Old Testament wait.

what ships are for


I know my harbor full well. I call it my back-corner blog, where every inch of my heart’s laid vulnerable and bare, yet only a select few know about it. Transparency’s easy when I’ve handpicked the audience, when my full name and face are kept secret. The harbor’s quaint and cozy. I can hardly hear the Liar there–he hopes I stay put.

When a writer and mama friend of mine asked to hear my big God dream—so big only God could do it—it came out easy. I want to be a writer. A writer of words that strike chords and stay remembered, words that creatives like me write down all pretty. A writer who uses the power of words for good, to color dreams and cast vision and spur on and celebrate. A writer that tells what Jesus teaches and what life with Him lets me see. I’ve always known I’m made for it—even she said so.

My heart was bound and bridled by every flavor of fear until this back-corner blog gave me space to unravel. The ones that kept up knew my moves were little but called it Layne brave. Every writer’s got to start somewhere. Two years in, I see He’s been readying me—to set sail, to uproot, to upgrade to a big girl blog. Her words are gold to me. She tells me when I write, I teach. That maybe this space can be my new teaching domain—not corralled between four classroom walls, or across tables over coffee, or always in a living room of high school girls. My own little domain to write and ramble, and teach whoever tags along about my Jesus. She got me thinking, she got me dreaming. And then she called out the Liar—said those are old fears—and called me out of hiding. I’m not made for still waters or to stay tied tight at harbor.

So I’m off! I set sail, wobbly because my fears stack a mile higher than my equipment. To plaster my face and full name loud atop the most precious offering I’ve got? To face mystery waters and audience head on, all messy and untied and undone? It’s dangerous. But it’s what ships are for. What’s more dangerous than an unbridaled ocean? The One who tames it. He’s fine-tuning my craft, steering me safe, stopping for storytime so I don’t forget Who this is about.

I pray this is always about my Jesus. That this would not be about me: the advancement of my renown, my name, selfish ambition, or Layne glory—like the old days, the ones I prefer left in the rearview. But that here, I’d fiercely proclaim His story for His glory. That my words wouldn’t alter this gospel, lessen its allure, overcomplicate or sugarcoat it. That this would run not on applause or attention, but on the purest of wonder. That this wouldn’t dare become a façade of pretty words if my insides are tangled or twisted or run dry. That my mess would be relevant to one, two, or a hundred somebodies. That this would multiply my joy until it’s holy and uncontainable. That He’d stretch what’s brave in me to broader dimensions. That my caliber of vulnerability doesn’t diminish. That I’d reject the Liar’s critiques and hear Truth-whispers scream louder. That when expectations squeeze tight and comparison corners, I don’t let my enemy steer me to dry ground. And that wherever this takes me as a learner, a writer, a teacher, a disciple-maker, a daughter, I’d claim only what He says is true of me: that I’m beloved, that I’ve done well, that what I hand Him will always be enough.

I’ll surely fight and rewrite and erase and retreat–and You know I’ll be my own worst critic. At times I’ll be faithless or faith-light and I know You’ll stay faithful. Steer me, steady me until I’m safe at Home. What I’ve got is Yours, J! 

palms up

this resurrection Life you’ve received from
God isn’t a timid, grave-tending life.
It’s adventurously expectant, greeting
God with a childlike,
what’s next, Papa?
| Romans 8:15 MSG |

Deadlines and job decisions and forked roads grow even the wonder-struck up all kinds of fast. I’m right in the middle of the very season I wished for, somehow blind to the mystery of the here and now because I’m caught up in the there and the next. I’m staring bucket-list dreams in the face, whiny because my excitable little heart beats fast about more than one!  So I’ve run to grownup opinions and scribbled a fear versus excitement chart, pretending it’s friendlier than a padfolio of pros and cons. I’ve weighed the options and calculated the risks, so overwhelmed I drove all the way home to just be a daughter at the dinner table. I forgot to sit with my Abba. I forgot that I don’t run this whole thing, that His word is alive and active, that this resurrection life He handed me free isn’t of timidity or paralysis or risk-calculating. I forgot that He’s a good good dad–but like always, I stumble back to the spot at His feet. I’m forever welcome there.

And just when I sit still enough to listen:

Here comes that dreamer,” scoffed these so-called brothers, quick to ridicule his wild outside-the-lines thinking. Joseph, the daydreamer, marked by colorful dreams and colorful threads—they called him crazy. There’s just no way he’s going places, no way he’s made for more than a life our kind of ordinary. They dreamed too—ugly stuff like rage turned revenge, like this dreamer brother left dead, like Joseph never even existed. Struck by just cowardice and comparison, they stripped the rainbow robe to pieces and set him stuck in a cistern. They couldn’t finish him off—not a speck of brave in them. So they handed him off easy to the Midianites, shackled a nobody to new somebodies—and fooled his father thinking he really was left dead. This father, who stripped himself of glory attire and wept and rejected every comfort attempt, claimed he too was better off left dead. Taking Joseph, they took pieces of dad too. You can’t take my daydreamer. You can’t take all my color. Meanwhile, Joseph resisted not, was sold from right there to the slavery big leagues, winding up least of these under Pharoah’s ranks. His shackles didn’t slow him, the future’s uncertainty didn’t steal faith from him. Still he dreamed of better days and the God who’d write them. Bound below Potiphar, he labored lots and expelled rebel lusts and never ever stopped chasing after righteousness—through it all, His God never left him.

Wrongly accused, his next chapter said prison. And Joseph resisted not. Still, the Lord had gone with—handing Joseph favor in the eyes of the prison warden and company. Bound behind bars, he obeyed always and was entrusted with much and never ever stopped chasing after righteousness—through it all, His God never left him. Moving forward, upward, stacking doubt and mockery and mistreatment like ladder rungs well beneath his feet. Even Pharaoh himself showed favor on Joseph, raving about him to all the people. “Can we find anyone like this man? One in whom the spirit of God is this alive?” So Joseph rose from rags to royalty, and his well-tended, Pharoah-entrusted land reaped plentiful harvest—they stopped keeping records, it was beyond measure! Rescued the hungry, and baskets leftover. Still He moved forward, upward.

Lots of just Joseph-and-Jesus time made him well aware of their intertwining. He spotted the Lord’s presence despite shifting setting, refused to set Him aside. He trudged through it all; through it all, he trusted. He went—valiantly—in every direction the Lord sent him. He knew no chains, no authority could keep his God away. I think God sends the Josephs through the wringer, to prove to faith-light readers He’ll never ever up and leave. It says it right there, debateably too much—far from subtle so the audience can’t miss it. His God never left him. His God went before him, behind him. The God of Joseph is still mine, and goes before me, behind me. He never left him, or me. He won’t lead us where He doesn’t also go.

I like Joseph. He dreams big, won’t let the noise of opinions turn colorful dreams ordinary grey. He’s a runner—chasing dreams, Jesus, righteousness. He refuses to fold his cards or live life cautious. He’s palms up, obedient and uninhibited, not even a blink of resistance. I’ll bet he woke up wide-eyed, adventurously expectant with a childlike, “what’s next, Papa?” That line on repeat, the one swearing his God never left him? He’s sure of it, and he’s brave because of it. He’s driven by the always-company of the God that doesn’t forget us or move too fast for tiny feet. He dreams because playing same-team with the God that goes with, no dream is too risky or too lonely or too wild. His God never ever left him. And Joseph was way aware of Him there.

This season, I want to be a Joseph. To pull big dreams out of backpockets and lose sleep over plan B’s later. To choose not to settle down cautious in His shadow—protected, timid, safe so never sorry. I want to be a Joseph. To reject fear and each chance to fold my hand of cards. To spend every day chasing my Jesus, as what isn’t of Him falls right off of me, as He whittles away at Layne until she’s straight righteousness. I want to be a Joseph. To sacrifice what’s safe because surely the jump holds more good stuff than the what if’s. To continue coloring these outside-the-lines dreams, racing through the shackles and the cells and past the play-safers calling me outright crazy. Holding these palms up.

I’m all set. First step? I’m saying a brave yes! yes! yes! to chase the adventure whose left-field shine caught my eye. No fine-print details or back-up plan–but it’s a Layne dream, and it’s surely outside the lines. Palms up: because I’m trailing behind the always-company. He’s running fast in that direction, and I’m tripping over joy to catch up and keep up. My Guide goes before and behind, endures with me, doesn’t move too fast for Layne feet. I can see Him–he’s got His palms up too. He’s always had them that way.


I trust You, I trust You, I trust You. Teach me to choose faith when fear’s screaming a whole lot louder. My God, we’re a forever-after tag-team. Keep prying these hands wide open. I’m just a few steps behind, J.  Stretch this offering far and wide. Just surprise me!

hey hey mama

happy birthday Mama | October 2014
I’m convinced you’re pure gold.

23 years ago | I was nonexistent
You straight defied a doctor’s millionth “no” —and prayed to the Life-giver with desperation yet belief—and welcomed your “miracle twins” into this world. You believed in us before we existed—and never let me forget I’m a rare and beautiful and almost-didn’t-happen thing. You shared me with your people. You celebrated every first imaginable. You raised me gap-toothed and bubbly, to crawl quick and touch just about anything and push a baby stroller like it was already my job. You taught me the Longhorn hand sign early, how to smile Layne big, how to bear hug and butterfly kiss. You never stopped praying, holding your Isaac babies with open hands, praying for lots of days, for strength, for bravery, for a someday husband, mostly for us to know and delight in and one day meet our Maker.

17 years ago | I was 5
I was stuck clinging to your leg because I’m a mama’s girl and elementary school’s for the bigger kids. You said I’d love it, and you were so so right—and you showed up for surprise lunch dates or storytime or with class cupcakes from kindergarten to senior year. Of college!!!!! You taught me to think big and maybe too much. To befriend the masses. Girls and boys, few years up or down. To talk a lot, at recess and during arithmetic, to see no setting as silence-worthy—until the teacher I just wanted to win over cried about it. To learn, to be inspired—to start filling composition notebooks with teaching practices the someday Miss Hutcheson might implement. To read fast, and read plenty. To lead, that I was made for it—to be brave and go wild chasing the dreams apparently not every kid was dreaming. To smile just because, to delight in sunshine and color and strangers’ hello’s. You taught me about the One that made me—said He loved me, and made me little and lovely—told me He keeps big big things in the tiniest packages. You said He had happy plans in store for me. So I kept a kid-friendly picture Bible bedside. You read it to me, and prayed with me—and you’d turn the lights out and kiss me goodnight. But once you left, I’d pray just like Mommy did. And I began to believe He heard me, that my little shaky scripted prayers were symphonies to Him. That He was big but He loved me bigger that I could dare imagine.

10 years ago | I was 12
You were the halftime snack-provider, the backyard backflip-spotter, the mom-spectacle who balanced rambunctious twins and PTA and a small business and the hundreds of people you invested richly & consistently in. You (still!) wrote lunchbox notes in pretty cursive, and let me wear only blue and orange athletic clothes because it was comfy and I just didn’t care. Paid for two rounds of braces and fancy white coronation dresses and all my one-size-up shoes we prayed I’d grow into. You taught me to time-manage, to say “yes” to soccer and cheerleading and student council and volleyball and fiesta committees and youth group—and back then you were schedule-keeper and schedule keep-upper, and chauffeur while I scribbled homework or fell asleep front seat. You taught me to know people, that platforms are God-given. That all His creatures deserve a friend who sees them as such. That school mattered, that my drive might take me far. That I had to stop faking healthy and perfectly all right, that I was just 75 pounds, pale, at only a third of blood volume—that didn’t have to pretend strong. You stayed beside me in a hospital room, and hid the cookie bouquets and Dr. Peppers and cupcakes I wasn’t allowed to eat. You held my jittery hand, you knew I was scared even when I was too stubborn to ever say so. You played with my hair like I like, and promised me we’d make it through this—that I’d come out of it a fighter, you just knew it. You never ever ever left my side or fell asleep before me, or cried in fear in front of me. You kept telling me I was brave. You still do. You taught me “yes ma’am” and “yes, Lord”. You taught me about Jesus, and made what church delivered dull just sparkle. And I really wanted it! I learned what He did for me, and I couldn’t dare keep it secret. So I made Him mine, and proclaimed doing so to the whole church body. And He washed me new and named me Daughter and I started to see the world and the Word way different.

5 years ago | I was 17
You were my loudest off-beat cheerleader. You stacked my all-over mess into neat little piles and hung my car keys on the hook even though I prefer them mid-hallway so I couldn’t miss them. You always kept up with my scurrying and re-heated 9pm dinner when I was home from it all. You’d walk alongside me into the high school and every kid would race up to you for your famous bear hug, authentic “good to see you!”; you’d call them by name and ask about the girlfriends or football wins or college acceptance letters. You pulled all-nighters with me, simply to keep me company and patch up what I’d procrastinated on. You were essay-editor, back-scratcher, signature-forger when I pretended cheer practices were doctor’s appointments. I forgot to thank you, to really appreciate you. I was too busy running this Layne show, I stopped noticing you. I forgot to love you. You never acknowledged it or loved me less. You oversaid you were proud of me, that you loved me and I better not forget that. You taught me to invite people, to love people, to refuse to be too busy for people. You opened our front door to the anyones, and taught us Jesus and scripture and how to live like we were created to. You promised I was influential, and listened to. You told me to leave a legacy—a good one—and really leave it there as Christ’s love, instead of accolades and applause or anything moth and rust will weather away into nothing. That queen crowns and superlatives ought to give Him the glory. You taught me to love Him. Not to just know Him or labor for Him or impress Him, but to fall in absolute Love with Him. The kind of love I ran away from and looked down upon—that kind of Love, times infinity. You taught me to wait. So I promised I was His and His alone, that He was the real Somebody my heart longed for. You believed in my standards, in my steadfastness. You never stopped learning about Him—so I started to hunt for gold in scripture, store it inside of me, let it rule my thoughts and my efforts. I started to chase Him and work for Him, and ask my up-There Daddy what He’d like me to do for Him today.

today, happy birthday! | I am 22
Still you’re sending long-distance love through the mailbox, in forms of tooth-fairy Halloween costumes or twirly dresses you know I refuse to shop for, or a just-because letter I didn’t even know I needed. Still you’re my in-home tailor, our Young Life team mom; still you’re a keeper, of memorized details and long-ago friendship and my sanity. Still you always tell visitors they’re welcome—to please make yourself at home!—even when it bugs me and it’s the thousandth time I’ve heard you state the house rules, our house an open invitation for anyone who wants in. Still you make an hour drive like it’s not out of the way—to hug your little girl and yank out tears your Mom radar says I’m cooping up. I’m 22 years old and still I can’t help but speed home any chance I get, just to sit with you and eat your chocolate chip cookies and your guacamole that’s something special. And when I’m there, still you (attempt to) force manicures and mall escapades, and love me when I’m too bratty to shop long or try anything on. Still you serve, spur on, and celebrate really anything. Still I find new ways you’ve rubbed off on me: Like the way I say “okay” or describe Grace. Like stealing your graphic design ideas, or really any instance I create. Like after all those years of posing grudgingly for your pictures, I can’t help but have every moment camera-captured. Like the way I pick up kiddos or interior design, or dissect Scripture. Still you’re the queen of power naps and puppy corralling, full of nonstop surprises and the Holy Spirit. Still you make disciples out of preschool mamas and preschoolers and make our Jesus appealing to the most disinterested. Still you love with the selfless kind—that sometimes runs you ragged because you gave every bit of your love away today. Still you’re everyone’s mama. Still you’re my best best best friend, and you know my heart by heart. You detect off-ness before I do, and don’t buy the performance that everybody else fell for. You supply just the words I need, you say the tough stuff—that no one else will. Still you’re my most faithful fan, and loudest cheerleader. And surely, you’re still the only one I’m convinced reads this thing.

But still: You teach me about Jesus. As lover, as Light, as the perfect sacrifice. You grind iron and iron to pretty me up, to make me increasingly more radiant and Christlike. You fight the enemy for me, when I’ve been trusting his words over the Word. You challenge me to keep these hands wide open, adventurous & expectant. You push me towards ministry, and tell me I’m doing a very good thing—regardless of income or prestige, and you stood by me when no one seemed to get it. You love my people simply because they’re my people. You pray wisdom and Truth and glory over me; You long for heaven with me, and remind me that the way He’s kept me childlike is rare—life’s more fun this way. That I am forever your little girl, that I am a beautiful handmade thing. I’ll say it straight up: I want to be you when I grow up. You are my (2nd) favorite Rabbi, and I’ll trail behind you forever Mamacita. I love you best friend.

IMG_2678  IMG_2677

when Skys are grey

Suicide is real–and I sure wish it wasn’t. It pierces like none other; It leaves you speechless and furious and battered and somehow numb all at once. Sometimes, its snares catch one of the most alive sisters you know. Suicide caught my Skylar–but it couldn’t keep her down forever. My God’s always good–He’ll write a tragedy of one to bring hundreds to their knees in surrender. He breathes mercy. He is Light. He just wants us Home. The work of His cross is finished–and way back when, He took even last-second sins of believers and washed them white. We’ve got to throw out the suicide theology of this mad world and stare deep into a gospel that’s sweet and plain simple. For those who have tasted salvation: there is no exception, no undoing, no Grace take-backs. No sin is unforgivable, no power of hell or scheme of man wins. Skylar Grace: you are Home and you are robed in pure sunshine and you are enthroned right where you belong. Can’t wait to hug you once I’m There.

A tribute to my sunflower friend:

The enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy. I, in manufactured, foolish pride, say that lightly. Sure, he distorts and he distracts and he whispers fabrication as I invite him to keep doing so, but I’m of tough skin and handmade walls. I pretend he can’t get to me. I’m convinced I’m untouchable.

But the Lord chose Job. To prove the enemy yet again the underdog, God chose a man esteemed, righteous, faithful, adored. He let Satan take shots, aim his bow at Job’s fame and his household and his harvest. Job was stripped of children and fortune, comfort and company. When all was robbed of him, still Job fell to the dust in raw worship. The desperate kind, where your soul screams and the tears don’t stop coming and the only way out of the dust is to look up high. Satan had to be furious as faithful Job stood when his world flipped in circles. But the Lord still chose Job. So the enemy entered Job’s now-desolate world; only this time, he went straight for the flesh. He took the target itself and chipped at his skin, at his bones, at his sanity. Satan drove Job to despair, until he questioned, whined, wept, picked at his boiled flesh, worshiped, and eventually until he began to wish away his lowercase-l life.

Skylar too was esteemed, righteous, faithful, adored. But the Lord chose Sky. And for what has to be divinely intended, He let Satan straight to the target. He chipped at her joy, at her gentleness, at her sanity. He stole parts of her, aged her, flustered her simplicity, corralled a free spirit. Satan drove Sky to despair, until she questioned, worried, wept, picked at a depressed mind, worshiped, and eventually until she really wished away her lowercase-l life. The enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy. How dare I say that lightly.

But Grace. Always but Grace. Grace doesn’t just quit at the deathbed. To reject life, yet receive Life doesn’t make sense. But Grace. Grace is a foolish thing—beautiful in all its nonsense. Grace won’t let a scheme of man or the power of hell take what’s not theirs. Thank goodness Grace is irrational, and sure to claim any victim that recognizes His face. Sky knew Grace; Sky was saved by it. So I can only imagine the kind of Life she arrived to. The promised capital-L Life must be the best type of Welcome Home.

And who says 22 years isn’t long enough here? She sure lived and loved the whole while, sure lived and loved like we were made to. 22 years of this race, she just beat us Home. And who says she shouldn’t have gone out this way? The Lord chose Skylar. Esteemed, righteous, faithful, adored. To shame the happiest, the ignorant, the prideful must-be untouchables, that even a Skylar—when the enemy hits—can fall to that kind of low. To wake up the loneliest, the prodigal, the anxiety-struck “okay” pretenders, that even a last-breath sin is Grace-covered. To assemble 35 post-grad pledge sisters from all parts of this state in Skylar’s Tyler together, to squeeze the hand next to us and fall to the dust in raw worship. The desperate kind, where your soul screams and the tears don’t stop coming and the only way out of the dust is to look up high.

And the Sky was anything but grey.

He painted the skies that day just like she’d like them—clouds floating slow, steady, never quite big enough to wholly veil the sun. God calls us to move forward. From our knees in a Tyler chapel down interstates back to the place we came from. Slow, steady. For Sky’s sake we won’t dare sulk, or sit lifeless in our tears, or attempt to picture threadbare stranger-Sky that last week suggests. She’d no way want that. We’ll remember our Skylar.

I’ll remember free Skylar, windows-down Skylar. Skylar who would listen—really listen—and hang on to your every detail and hang on to the spot on your arm just above your elbow, real tight. Skylar meek and inquisitive, adamant about obedience, sure to follow her Rabbi wherever He took her. I’ll remember Skylar the cross-carrier, quick to pick yours up to stack atop hers. I’ll remember silly Skyler, prone to nose-squint smile and tiptoe and echo infectious laughs down the hall. Skylar the people-magnet, a graceful companion to every corner of this patchwork pledge class. Skylar, your legacy’s of laughs and big hugs and, oh my stars, it’s of Grace. I’m chasing my someday, Sky!


Skylar Grace Standefer
November 30, 1991 – August 30, 2014

Abba, You win. You always win—and there’s got to be good in this. You comfort those all cried out, You envelop the lacking, You fill the space she left behind. You always win—and there’s got to be good in this. Save souls by her story. Tug hearts of the secret-hurting and the okay-pretending, break the so-called untouchables until we wake up quick. You always win—and there’s got to be good in this. Thanks for saving her, for robing her in real live righteousness and celebrating her capital-L life. Your Grace is my most favorite.

excellent absurdity

Graduation | May 2014

thank God for the excellent absurdity which enables us, if it so happen, to play great parts without pride & little ones without dejection, rejecting nothing through that false modesty which is only another form of pride, and never, when we occupy for a moment the centre of the stage, forgetting that the play would have gone off just as well without us. | CS Lewis


Here I sit, all different but still so the same. Crazy how a four-year finish can change you so much during the longest haul but leave you feeling the same old self at the end. Because aside from this savings account and a tassel I’ll soon flip over, I’m still me. Just a better, brighter, less-babyfaced, less-tethered me. A new edition of me, with 22 candles and eyes looking brave at what’s ahead. Like graduating college!!!!! Like the unknowns of upcoming middle school ministry, like this “big girl” role at camp, or trying long-distance friendships on for size, or raising a yearly income from scratch.

But still, I’m me. Still carrying a list of what makes me feel alive that’s just barely longer than the one of what makes me tick. Still sporting kid-sized Keds and the messiest of ponytails, and a messier room, without a trace of domestic in me. Still doodling too much and sleeping too little, still choosing twirly chairs and always sitting Indian-style. Still climbing higher than I should, and love love loving His stars. Still, I prefer football fieldside but think worth watching up high too. Still chasing the sunshine. Really, still unable to figure myself all the way out. Still me: ever-fighting my tendency to keep creating me—instead of sitting still enough to let the One who signed me add, alter, erase. Still me, despite a season of all things chaotic and unpredictable, all things excellent and absurd.

What a tagline for this four-year frenzy: Excellent absurdity.

But if I pause long enough to rewind, and roll back the film of four years, I can’t help but notice: despite changing settings, faces, feelings, dreams, lines, plan B’s and priorities, not once did the Playwright step out of the picture. Steadfast He stood, watching His craft panic and muddy herself and stumble through a line or twenty of them, and crave bigger parts or louder applause and sometimes forget Whose story this whole thing was. Forget that this whole story would have gone off just as well without her. I’ve played almost every kind of part. I’m remembering scenes of lines that just kept coming, and significance and every eye on me up-front. Scenes of solitude and whiny monologues, scenes off-stage and backstage and center stage. Scenes of loud cheers and thrown roses and those of subtle spotlight-shining and curtain pulling. Scenes spent polishing the others for their big parts. Steadfast He stood—through each wave of unpredictability—offering second chances and hundredth ones, perfecting His craft and way proud of her. And every misread, every pause, every hint of anxiety or not-enough made room for His perfection, for His Glory.

So cheers to You, who wrote all reality, who remembers it all even clearer than I, who never stopped watching, polishing, applauding. You, who didn’t need me one bit but thought it would be way more fun to include me. Cheers to You, my Father, Rabbi, Teacher, First Love and Best Friend. What an adventure You crafted! One of big parts and small ones and messed-up lines and that audience quick to critique and still quicker to clap, to commend. I’ll look back and believe I made You proud. I know You look past the opportunities I ignored or ran from, the times I put me first or talked me up or let go of priceless pieces of me. I know You see diamonds deep beneath all this dust. And You were the first to high-five me at the finish.

It’s here I discovered spontaneity. You let out bait and You caught me and I can’t help but stay hooked to it, because life is way richer after tasting this stuff. You scripted adventures I probably said I didn’t have time for, like falling intentionally out of airplanes or rooftop stargazing or roadtrips an hour and a half north because the coffee’s better there. You wrote seasons where I set aside the planner I worshipped and found worth in, and once pat my own back because of. You kept me laboring in fruitless, lonely seasons—and drove me desperate home to knownness, to comfort, to crying shoulders. You shut me up every attempt at being all put-together. You taught me to sacrifice, that quitting may in fact be a calling, that sidelines offer less than surrender. You rewarded obedience with increasing fearlessness and freedom. And sweet Jesus, You and I indulged in that freedom.

You taught me to invest. To relate. That, yes! my mess is relevant to one or two or a hundred somebodies. And You continually rewrote the before and the after on that cardboard. Way down within me, you planted radar to spot my own sin with sensitivity and definite disgust. You sent pent-up pride packing each time it came back expecting to stay. You urged my heart to run from places, people, memories, things prone to stir that sin back into the picture. To run to the forever-friendships, to the home team You handed me—that I might never ever ever have to perform. My mess became real yet somehow You saw and see only righteous, and You love me now and for perpetual tomorrows just because. You gave soul sisters and brother figures I’ve always prayed for, firsthand—ones that see righteous too. You showed me what forever-friendship ought to look like and Who it’s got to really be about. Friendships that promise to love without expectation, friendships that redefine and extend and refuse to erase. Friendships that promise to love the deep-down me, the suppressed me. The kind that carry into the Kingdom.

You taught me to crave scripture. Really crave it, like I crave peanut butter or pink starbursts or wordy affirmation times infinity—and to read read read until my eyes quit on me. To etch Truth into picnic tables and high school souls, and to deal with rejection because the cost is incomparable to the coming Glory. You dared me to run all over, to backwoods Tennessee and Colorado paradise, to rainy North Carolina and over and over again to that secret little gem of New Braunfels, Texas. But really, You dared me to stay. To stay where You put me, to play, to pray. To really pray. For the nameless and the known, for the state of my heart 10 minutes from now and 10 years, too. For relationships needing redirection, for camp sign-ups, for eyes to notice Grace always, for hallelujahs and stuffed 24-hours to just be multiplied like only You can do. And oh how You were faithful! Steadfast You stood & supplied.

You taught me to like me. To really, really like me. To like the me that’s beyond what they all think they know of me, to like the me only You and I really see. You promised that I’m highly thought of by my Handcrafter, that anyone who thinks less must be blind or bored or bitter. That I’m autographed proud and pretty. You woke me up day by day calling me lovely, You took my heart and tweaked it so I’d see You only as my Groom. I fell hard, in love with You. And in that fall, You broke cynical Layne-theory into simplicity and sweet nothings. You told me dating is good, and I didn’t buy it. But Abba, first dates are fun—and twenty-first ones, too! When I let You direct conversation and next steps and shut up the no my heart’s already made certain. You took a stubborn, neatly-packaged heart and gave messy fragments to someone, when I swore it would always stay ours. You didn’t let my depths go unseen.

Four years later, I’m an embracer of solitude and surprises and u-turn changes in direction. We made You-and-I memories I’ll never move past. It was always You who unleashed cooped-up creativity, and let my hair down and my feet run whatever direction the day said to. You came alive to me. Tangible and irresistible. You slayed me, You slowed me down, You turned me around. Still You gave generously, and never stopped snatching my cup up for a refill. You wired me new and alive and we made movements all over everywhere. You gave the prettiest music and bucket-list friendships and I think a whole lot of Your kids’ wonderful dust rubbed off on me. You sustained me and rooted me down deep, and supersized time. You taught and You sure took but You made it all taste sweet, and every attempt at recollection reminds me it was worth it. Because You took mud-rubbed eyes and made them stare straight into glorious Grace. Unveiled, this mystery of Grace I looked past and limited. This Grace I’m all caught up in, this Grace that invaded my heart and evicted every bit of belief that I’m the exception. You remade me, You remake me, and You won’t stop bettering the design You somehow already saw as just right.

You make preciousness from dust,
please don’t stop creating me.
| Rend Collective |

Abba, continue shaking up what’s static and don’t You dare stop creating. Cheers to the past four and the next forty, my J! Keep tweaking my heart until contentment, no matter the role or the reason. I love & long for You. 


talitha koum

Spring 2014

I’ve memorized my feet and the inches that surround, certain I’m stuck—Layne of the littlest faith. I’ve felt miles and miles from salvation and I’ve made every excuse in the book to just keep these eyes shut. I’m sleepy Layne, I’m spent—all tucked in and tied down and hard-pressed from every which way. I can’t stop complaining about the here, the now, the mystery I’m headed into. I’ve been listening to—no, I’ve been inviting—a billion lies. And this bitter heart turned rebel heart turned tired heart sees its state as paralysis. So I am stuck. Stuck by pretend-paralysis.

To the child and the childlike, paralysis is fill-in-the-blanks and single file lines. It’s days-left countdowns, it’s saying “no” when every fiber in you is screaming yes. It’s weeks looking identical, it’s being benched when the game’s all you know. It’s trading the exquisite parts of your Divine design to meet drab expectations. But to those restless and ever-running, it’s really just deception—and deception by pretend-paralysis is the Liar’s favorite party trick. But Grace is a Rescuer, a Truth-teller. Grace walks right in, through mobs of disbelief, through the already-mourning and the doubtful, through those at the end of their tether, through those all out of tears. He’s come all this way—and it’s you He’s after.

They’re too busy seeing straight through Him—labeling Him nothing-special and nonsensical—to notice His quiet whisper get your little heart back to beating. That whisper their weeping screamed louder than—the loveliest notes delivered straight to your soul, intended just for you to come alive to. Talitha koum. Words that flutter like watercolor yet weigh enough to snap you all out of monotony and the most rigid of rhythm. Talitha koum. While wind satisfies raspy lungs, and this marathon-semester dream screeches to a stop. Talitha koum. It’s an infinite pinky-promise: my Oldest Friend just keeps coming to find me.

Talitha koum.
Come alive, My little girl.
Show them I’m up to something.

All this Glory I’ve been slumbering through seeps through the windowpane and His rough-handed touch somehow braids relief and ready all together. Every square inch of me remembers Whose I am. The doubters quit and the mourning stills and those who thought He was done using me wake up a little bit too. Talitha koum. The coloring books, the balloon bundles, the cloudless blue skies—they welcome me back. Life welcomes me back.

Fear sits stale in a sleep cycle as spontaneity and surprises color me back the way I like. I wake up all valiant, tiptoeing behind Him, hands stretched wide with expectancy. I’m restless, and ready ready ready for turned pages because I peeked, and soon I’ll call my happiest place home. My liveliest place! It’s here that all costumes are just-because, and the fun limit doesn’t exist and I get to bring up my Jesus every chance I get. Little kid screaming and hug-bombing and roughhousing is the expectation and our nametags don’t force us to stop it but to add to it, to meet them right there in it. The outside world is lightyears away, and popsicles and scribbled handwritten notes pinned public on a day-maker board charge you up. My place of mealtime benchtop dance parties and constant cartwheels, where the childlike and the child see all things as shine. And the noise never stops and tiny people don’t stop either, but this place is my happy place. My here looks a lot like Up There—and I don’t know much but I do know that I’m awake and myself and meant to be here and I’m real happy he called my heart alive.

Talitha koum. He whispers my spirit awake each morning, mercy afresh and Life breathed deep into my lungs. He’s come all this way—to revive me, to restore me, to remind me there’s Glory waiting out there as I slumber. To remind me I’m always and forever His little girl.

today I praise You for wake-up call whispers, and a sunshiney run, and fancy words prettiest left untranslated. thanks for a near-finish—oh how I crave the Other Side. thanks for calling me Yours, for always coming after your handmade runaway! thanks for Mark 5:41 and proving the sleepers & doubters wrong, thanks for fueling alive.



rain reflections | December 2014

There waving its arms in the rearview stands my Windy Gap season He’s quick to resurface—particularly when it rains. North Carolina residency meant rain was routine, and yes the ropes course is still on and yes we celebrate how far we get before our socks are wet and yes the ropes fam laughed at their sun-loving sister and almost always, yes this firebird just wanted her sunshine back. 5am morning hikes through foot-deep puddles, robed in homemade trashbag-ponchos while the shivering never ever stopped. The droopy trees of Shady Hollow spilled rain hours and hours after the clouds stopped its coming. But somehow the downpour rush broke both the silence and the noise, a melody I’ll never mute. He hinted towards a six-months-prior silly prayer I’d forgotten about: Daddy, I want to like the rain.

to the rainshower He says,
“be a mighty downpour”.
so that everyone He has made
may know His work, He stops
them from their labor… saying,
‘listen to this, Job; stop and
consider God’s wonders’
| Job 37 |

And in the most peculiar winter weather Texas has probably ever seen, He’s forcing me to stop and consider His wonders. Snow day after late start after ice day after snow day and I’m definitely delighting in the sleep-in and the be-still. So He stops His people from their labor—to tell us a lazy Wednesday afternoon is no synonym to complacency, to shut us up into a Rest we can’t plan for, a spirit-revival not orchestrated by mortal hands. I’m thankful for snow day, slow days—forcing my plans awry, keeping me inside under cozy covers, happy amongst company I’ve been running too fast to enjoy. He hands rain-wrapped envelopes of gifts unfamiliar: things like spare time and quiet and a real-live nap and somewhat of an attention span. And nothing beats watching 10-year-olds call really anything “snow” and run wild and free through mud puddles. So I don’t care what authority my nametag claims, I refuse to let them stop or sit still or shut up. It’s the puddle-jumpers that inherit the whole Kingdom.It’s the ones midfield mid-flurry, tongues out to taste what He’s sent.

Slow down, My little one. Stop striving.
You don’t have to run. Play. Go dance in it!

 I may forever be a sunshine-preferer, and sometimes I genuinely wish He’d keep this stuff up There. But He loves to remind Little Miss Sunshine that the water’s His too. And that no sun, separate from the Son, can maintain my joy or multiply it. So He sits me still beside my window, hearing rooftop raindrops break the silence and all that’s stubborn. And thanks to His rain, I stop—just enough to consider a wonder I kept looking past.1147758_10201568406953686_1639453442_o

| photos courtesy of Emily Coffey |

thank You for slow-downs & sit-downs & rain rhythms outside my window. I sure do like the sound! and I really really like You.

sunsets, the Sabbath & a speeding ticket

a getaway | september 2014IMG_1264

Just this morning, I remember begging Jesus to press pause and give me a Sabbath today. Maybe because this month’s been an absolutely wild rush or because my legs are tired of running or maybe because I’m just craving simplicity. And who says Sabbath days are old school? Even the Maker of time and space and dandelions had to take a break from all His work. So I, the queen of balancing acts and “I’ve so got this” and eating breakfast to-go, figured maybe He needs more of me today. Maybe He needs all of me today.

No no, I had to slow my pace just to get it. All of me just really really really needs Him today.

Just like He says, we are people-shaped clay being carried to completion, despite our inevitable tendency to flinch and head wayward and scuff up our edges. Yet the Potter is always sculpting, shaping, polishing, perfecting, fixing dents and cracks and etching His name in us just right. So maybe a Sabbath means sitting still while He’s at work. A day where the Maker and the masterpiece sit side by side and all quiet, basking in the Glory of what the tag-team of creativity and eternity can muster up. A day where I choose grown-ups and wakesurfing while the sun goes down and sweet waves and early bedtimes.

come to Me, you who labor.
come to Me, you weary and burdened.
come, you’re invited–
into this rest you’ve never known.
trade with Me, 
for My yoke is easy,
My burden is light.
| Matthew 11:28-29 |

I just had to get away from my just-right lakehouse day trip, high on freedom and windblown hair and spontaneity, because the most Glorious sunset was eager to be chased. As I headed homeward, the Creator swapped color for color on a moving canvas in my rearview mirror. Fields and fences blurred together in my peripherals as His sunset design lay perfect right where He wanted it. And so what if this Jesus-and-Layne road trip was moving too fast for some county’s liking—not even a speeding ticket could shake up my Sunday. Because Jesus is better. Even my Mom’s guacamole is better, wakeboarding’s better, sunsets are a heck of a lot better. And yes, those cop car lights drowned out my sunset—but I got to drive on home looking up at the stars.

my J, thanks for sweet exchanges, for faithfully pressing pause, for grown-ups that listen to my dreams, and for letting sunshine into pieces of my heart since I can remember.

exhilaration & everyday

Nothing beats 4pm windows-down road trips home. Where I exhale and drive onward to what seems like infinite horizons, and leave behind tomorrow’s lesson plans and a school system’s expectations and grownupness. Wind in my let-down hair and “well done” etched in bright colors on my heart. Set free from the repeated kid-questions and thepretend-authority, the scrambled subject transitions and the pressure to keep on performing. But all trials he rolls out as a trail. Red-carpet trails, winding rocky ones, trails unfamiliar and aimless or those breath-sucking and crumbly. Every trial is but a trail. Even the ones keeping me indoors on sunny, my-kinda-days. Even weeks without my-size people, or brake pedals, or reckless abandon adventures.

I know just what what these bones of mine miss. Spontaneity. Greenbelt adventures on sunniest days, with whatever combination the Creator of life abundant gets there. Road trips home for a few hours, or lazy laundry, or 9 fluffy puppies, or dad’s iced coffee, or mama playing with my hair. Dropping obligations, projects, plans for a sister. Freely talking about Jesus. Showing up, whatever the cost. Rooftop stargazing. Pretty-weather running, not on a time crunch. Staying up past 11pm. Waking up whenever my body wakes up. Skipping class for boat rides and pretty weather and people. Sonic dates and playground playdates and car rides with an invisible yet there Jesus always calling shotgun. Never questioning professionalism, or purpose, or that I matter. Waking up joyful. Young Life Fridays. Believing that I’m not known of, but way-deep known. All things rich and right and really, all things Layne loved and lived according to.

I expect these things. I’m selfish and so entitled. I thought I could balance it all and love you all and soak in the glory of the audience’s, “She can do it all.” So I cross my arms to this season, and hang up a white flag to say no to positivity and promise and His so-called plan. And these eyes once hunting for His surprises are stuck puppy-dog pouting at my season. All complainy, burnt-out, selfish, achy. Thinking I must be alone in this fight against maturity and resumes and communication strictly via email and big girl clothes. Feeling spent and set aside, craving the adventures of my seasons before.

yet all this while:
it is well with my soul.

Because in the midst of a mighty storm, in a somehow-steady shabby old boat sit my Jesus and His Layne—and my soul is still, my spirit expectant, my heart beating fast knowing this season matters much. And while I can’t depend on my usual fuel—coffeeshop conversation or high school ministry mini-victories or a few hours on a Wednesday playing in the sunshine—I’ve got Him, and He’s surely got me. And it is radically well with my soul. Over-well with my soul.

Knee-deep in the mire, still He is sweet. Still He throws pretty packages at a heart all thankless and unreceptive. Still He paints skies just for me and sends sun rays through window blinds and surrounds me with 10-year-olds who refuse to censor their authentic adoration, for me. Still He is sweet. Still He sends Tennessee firefly friends to my rooftop and my secret dock spot and my escape place because He sees my thirst for company and quenches it. Still Hewakes me up early to surrender what I’m carrying. Still He schedules standardized testing I can’t legally help out with, just when I’m needing a slow-down the most. So still, He sits me down all alone in a quiet teacher’s lounge, because this blog thing matters and doesn’t belong in eighth place.

I’m done standing stuck in this stuff. Mire doesn’t steal movement, it just slows it. So I’ll hobble, I’ll limp victoriously. And I’ll stop labeling this ground as the mire, the muck, the winding, the worst. This trail’s not just of desperation. It’s matched by determination–because I can see the diploma prize finish just ahead. I’ll savor His surprises in mundane Mondays and kids hugging all over me all semester long.  He’s handed the richest conversations in the most random of places and the cookie dough has never eve run out. I see Him letters with my name doodled all pretty, in picture-taking and playing and tree-climbing and backflipping, in realizing that this life is not mine. That He’s got me, no—wait—that He’s always had me.

I want this Life to scream that it’s not mine, and to reject cyclicality because my next day is bound to be my best day. Even in uphill-climb semesters, I want the hills to be mere exhileration—to add to my joy and my adrenaline, to force my weary eyeballs Up There when I’ve been too busy staring at shaky hands covered in crumbs and exploded markers and recess dirt. And my Abba’s a completer. He doesn’t leave us limp at the climax—He writes to completion. He drags me halfway-obedient to seasons He promises we will finish. This limp is of victory, of revelation, of let-go. And I can’t wind down, or complain, or quit just yet because a spirit-tunnel triumph is already cheering my name.


thanks for proving me wrong and loving a thankless heart, and throwing surprises my way still. thanks for pinky-promises that prove this season matters much, that I’m sharper and better off and more alive because of it. thanks for Psalm 40, its truth and its right-now relevance. You get me.

be here now, be here now

Spring Break | March 2014

Incessant hallelujahs. That’s really all my raspy, all-screamed-out voice can muster. I’m the good kind of tired and this to-do list is definitely do-able thanks to the Multiplier of time. But I’m back, in more ways than one—from a big girl spring break, my senior year Disney World kidventure. Back from a refuel, all stocked up on joy, dreams and desire. A revival. A 4-day playdate escape from the circus of lesson plans and disciplinary strategies and highschool drama and feeling excluded and this unfamiliar and overbearing cage I’m in called fear. Fear of infinite aloneness—that perhaps this isn’t just a season. Fear of wasting a degree I’ve always sworn I was made to utilize well. Fear of raising my own support, of complacency, of isolation. Fear of the year I’m expectant of not being all it’s hyped up to be, that I’m not adequate or listening or able. Fear of being set aside, being replaceable.

A few weeks of letting this fear paralyze me, letting fear keep from me sunlight and childlike joy but Jesus just hands me Disney. He unwraps for me a week in my element, the kind of atmosphere He designed me to choose. A week exploring the most magical place thisside of heaven, a tangible daydream. Where picturesque backdrops lie in every direction and you never ever meet a stranger. Where complaints are nonexistent, where roller coasters shoot you straight into the sun, where everyone’s smiling and enjoying and living and no one grows all the way up. The me in this adventure is the me I’ve known, yet forced all-day indoors, into a game face and ballet flats. The me that’s been choosing solitude and missing the joy I’ve always just kinda woken up to. Tired me, quiet me, master-of-routine me. But this me swallowed up the book I swore I’d never read. Through it, He began to release my femininity, unravel my beauty–and this call to just start living made me burst at the seams.

We should live whileIMG_3381
the pulse of life is strong.
Life is a tenuous thing:
fragile, fleeting. Don’t wait
for tomorrow. Be here now.
Be here now. Be here now.
| Stasi Eldredge |

The pace of life I fly home to is exhausting and shows no mercy as I attempt to keep up. But in Disney World you can’t help but exhale without overthinking and we never perform like we’ve got this thing together. Here, fast-paced means dodging strollers for front-row best-row, and jam-packing 3 parks in one day, and half-walking half-running a grand total of 55 miles on achy feet screaming that this is so worth it. And Disney’s a whole lot dreamier than when we were just pigtailed kids trailing behind weary parents. 21-year-olds have learned the secrets and there’s no such thing as over-riding and no fun limit or age limit and you can eat cupcakes for dinner just because. And right when we’d get too caught up in our playday agenda, the ride’s stuck or the route’s wrong or the photographer missed the point but then came laughs and remember when’s and a plan that was far better. We were always provided for and all the littlest things seemed to fall right into place.

It’s all about those littlest things, the simplest of things. Like an airplane sunrise, ridiculously reviving Jesus time on flight. Family Reunion pins upon arrival, because that’s really what this kidventure was. Leaving laptops and lesson plans and group projects dusty back home. Abundant joy, the little kid kind. Basking in sunshine. Babies galore. Roller coaster bucket-lists all the way checked off. Telling jokes to crying babies, making friends and making memories stuck on the Tower of Terror. Hunter’s star treatment and automatic reride beneath a firework sky. Churros. Backwards hats. Double-scoop chocolate ice cream wobbling atop a cone. Watching sisters take down fears. Coffee by the gallon. Suessland (Layneland) and all its bright-colored splendor. Disney secrets. People-watching. Not a hint of teacher clothes. Riding the same ride at sunrise and sunset and under starry skies, from upside down and twisting around. Leaving old people and little ones in our dust. Chugging Butterbeer, faking drunk. Restoration. A fanny-pack stash of lollipops and wishing well pennies. Freedom. Disney never ever ever saying “no”. Windblown tangly hair. Playing charades and playing kids. 200+ happy photos that won’t let me forget.


It’s here that I never find my heart wishing away a season or an hour or wishing I was anywhere but right here: we’re just being here now. We’re settled here. Park benches and dinner tables and kiddie rides still us and sustain us and keep us laughing and pressing on and always remembering. Home-base real-world batting its eyes in our peripherals, but we haven’t landed there just yet. The Rabbi knew to save me from the questions about graduation or the route I’m taking after, or about boys or how on earth I’ll pay the bills. The whirlwind of distraction and thoughts of raising my income and rainy weather and this earthquake-subtle paralyzing fear can’t spin on without invitation, so I reject it and send it packing. Here we’re high on delirium, on ice cream sundaes, on Jesus and our kind of adventure, where all things are colorful and magical and anything but grown-up. And the heart I thought was too tired, left threadbare to love and live running on just a few miles to empty—it’s got a new beat.

I think Heaven’s a whole lot like Disney World, and that’s the Forever I’m bound for. And this tiny little life has a finish line—a checkpoint unbeknownst to me. So I’ll choose to run on, and I won’t stop until the Finish. I’ll do it—I’ll remain the me that’s alive and playful and delights in the littlest of things. I will not let a world of urgency rob me of the childlike spirit He set in there for good, I won’t bury the little girl left in me. I’ll let my joy stay silly, untamed, unaltered. My age won’t dare define my job description or my state of being. I won’t choose apathy, or avoidance, or to hear the Liar out. I’ll cling not to a definite 5-year-plan, to a guaranteed tomorrow, to really anything but Grace. I’ll just be here. I’ll be here now.

When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the
fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
| CS Lewis 

keep me little, my J. thanks for creating us to play, to live here & now. incessant hallelujahs sent straight Your way.