Under the Same Sun.

The cold post of the bunk pressed against my cheek as one of the boys shows me the music he’s been enjoying lately, downloaded to the sim of his flip phone. There’s sadness in his usually dancing eyes and I don’t know why. Ask, and he shakes his head. So we continue to listen to the sounds of Bollywood mingled with the rush of the rails. The next day he was gone, having left without a word to return to his fears and emerge a conqueror. After four tries and running away three times, he finished his Discipleship Training School in India.

Feet dangle hundreds of feet above the Ganges, hands gripping the door. The train stretches out on either side. From each window there’s smiling faces of the boys we were serving on the right, strangers’ contemplations on the left. Everything was grey and green and misty and alive.

Staring out the window, I see his face walking up, like I had dreamed would one day happen so many nights as a little girl, staring out that same window. The plumeria danced in the wind above him, his hair swaying to the same music. What joy it was to finally be in the same place at the same time. As the morning light caught his eyelashes, we met at the door to go on the picnic which would change both our lives forever.


Sitting in the green chair from the thrift store, the first piece of furniture either of us ever truly owned, His Words opened on my lap, sun smiles on the mint flowers given by a sister who had no idea the act she was doing for the Lord. In those flowers I saw His eyes illuminating everything that had passed and was that I could not understand. The struggles of marriage. The pain of seeing too much in all the wrong places- in yourself, even. The sugar of betrayal from one you thought would always be close. The furnace of making a home. The insecurity of young friendship, and the stars of acceptance. The galaxies of what it means to truly love and be loved, asking nothing in return. The sparks of discovering home may never be a place anymore, but will always be the gold in his chocolate eyes.


Feet propped on a coffee-colored chair. White windows meet at a corner as the peach tea flows down my throat. It is miraculous the moments a single song can tie together, crossing years and emotions. Waiting for the one who makes my home to arrive, learning what it means to grow through dirt and allow the nutrients to replenish the soul without the weight crushing down in the process. It’s so easy to think we know it all from our little corners of perspective.


Photo by Tim Wilgus on Unsplash

I wonder what he was thinking, as he knew the week was coming to a close and the group of people he had lived with for two weeks now would never be seen by him again; that he was returning to a journey he had never been able to complete; that this time he would. I wonder what the women a few cars down thought as they watched the pale legs clad in Colombia hiking boots now so coated in dirt the original shade is indistinguishable stick out the door, pink and blonde hair whipping her face. I wonder what the flowers thought as they saw two kids, young and in love, smile through glass without words. I wonder what stories that old chair has carried, tears besides my own soaked into its welcoming plush. I wonder what the woman across the street in the tribal shirt and tattered skirt is thinking as she walks her bike across the intersection. I wonder all the lives walking into their purpose at the moment I write these words- all the lives missing it in this instant by a seemingly small choice but which would define their destiny. I wonder why these words pour themselves out as the branches dance in the wind, like blood through my fingertips requiring release.


We can never know fully what is on the horizon. I think if we did, it would steal half the joy and excitement. In this interim time, caught up in a cocoon of the Lord’s love, I can sense the dawn coming by the layer of misty fog in which I dwell. When the morning comes, shedding light on the next season, these wings will emerge in their fullness and beauty, ready to discover what it means to fly. After having tried my wings for a bit, tired from the weight of newfound beauty, I’ll settle on a flower for a bit, under the same sun where I learned what it meant to relish in the joy of being His creation.



In an evening filled with the Spirit and raw emotion, He whispered to me through the vessel of a sister the purpose for which I had been created. With what I have and will see, I am to speak and create, and in that discover my blessing. However, flash forward six months and I am huddled up in a heap on the front porch of my first big-girl house, sobbing at midnight because it was all simply too much. I had sensed the burden for years, but could never determine its origin or identity. When Hannah spoke to me, I began to understand, but now that I was back in the field I was raised in, I did not know what to do with the revelation. The pouring out – the speaking and creating with which I was designed to bless and serve – were  coming from my own shallow pond of strength. I would allow Him to give me His topic, then fill it in with my words and judge the reaction according to a self-perceived dosage of talent. It would originate from Him, but get polluted along the way, leaving me frustrated, burnt out, confused and crying.


A year later, my husband and I lie exhausted after fleeing a hurricane in the one place we could find power and running water- on an air mattress in an upstairs office at the church where we served. After setting up camp there on Thursday, the Lord gave us our next assignment that Sunday. We were to move to California. While in the process of packing up and saying goodbye the excitement never waned, the familiar theme kept rising up in the form of what has proven to be my life’s most pervasive question: Am I enough? Each time I received the same answer: Of course not, because it’s not about me.

Do you realize how hard that is to learn? As the only daughter? As my daddy’s baby? As the pastor’s daughter raised the sweetheart of the congregation? I can tell myself as much as I want that it is not about me, but when it comes to the grit of things, there is a part of me that will always think that it is.


But before I am anything else, I am a Christian. From the moment I was born I was on a sort of pedestal. I would breathe and to some it was miraculous. I would yawn and to others it was sin. And then I went to YWAM and the proverbial plastic tiara proved transparent in the Pacific breeze, and I was worn out and without identity. For all my years either directly rebelling against the PK stereotypes or picking one to decidedly play into, while trying to figure out life, I had found my identity in the diadem rather than the Maker of my soul. So what happened when no one could see the thin little outline framing my artificial crown? I shut down. I came home and tried to stand back up but found I was crippled and dirty and confused. But during that time of paralysis, the Lord was slowly cleansing my knees, straightening my bones and picking the broken shards of  plastic out of my hair. When I hit the ground, so did the chaplet, and in the confrontation it broke.

The next year and a half – my time in Miami, with all the sidewalk tears and air mattress edicts – was about learning to hold my neck without the weight. Often I’d reach for other things to place there instead – a sewing machine here, a bit of dirt formed in the shape of a trial there – but in His grace He’d take it down and readjust my neck held crooked for the old balancing act. He was never offended, never frustrated that I had just dumped a mudpie into the hair He had just washed. He just smiled (sometimes I think He chuckled), and kept the shampoo close.


When we were reassigned to California, a new lesson began for the new season. Now I was to learn to say my name, and nothing else; to present myself as the same girl who sat alone with Jesus in a tree instead of the one poising a synthetic wreath with synthetic gems tilting slightly off my head, staring at you sideways, searching for eye contact through the shadow of the falling crown. I’m learning what it means to truly find my identity in Christ and nothing else. I’m learning how to thrive.

So what does it mean that I am a Christian first? It means that He has a waterfall gushing through these carbon bones. It means my entire being is made up of those moments sitting with Him, where His love flows into me just to rain on someone else as I do as He instructs, and perhaps those droplets of Living Water can help lead to their eternal life. Yet even as I make these notes, the girl who is used to the plastic crown cringes within me at the Christianese of it all and the amount of “I’s” written down. She is used to looking at her own talent and performance, and now Satan knows he can use that to stop my hands and mouth from doing as commanded.

That is what it all comes back to. It is not about me. It is not about my talent or performance but pouring out what He has put in me in the way He assigns, without worrying if my voice sounds like the old princess or if any of those old dregs of manufactured dignity come falling out of my hair. They will. The plastic polluted me. It is a part of my broken humanity. But it is not my identity. He is, and He alone.


What’s the plastic polluting the garden of your identity? Would you bring it to Him?

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10