You Are Not a Jar of Nutella

Healthy does not equal perfection.

Healthy means acknowledging what in your life needs to realign with God’s unique plan for you.

Asking for help shows strength, not weakness. Invite others into your journey as long as they aren’t detrimental to your health.

Growth requires pain. If you are covered in more sweat, blood and tears than rainbows and butterflies, you can rest assured that you’re on the right path. Rainbows and butterflies are opaque patches that cover us up. Blood, sweat and tears are transparent and show vulnerability.

Don’t allow the expectations or the pressures from others indicate whether or not you’re striving to be like Christ.

{{Just a few thoughts as we all contemplate the areas we need to grow in the new year.}}

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Let Your No Be Your Yes

Keep Going.

Photo Credit: Visionello, Flickr

Just because you may hear “no” a million times doesn’t mean that the biggest YES–the calling for you to change the world in whatever you way you are meant to change it–diminishes.

The “no” is water thrown next to the fire on the dirt.

It doesn’t touch the flame.

Keep going.

Look What God Did

Dear 25 year old Anne,

It’s me. Anne. Today you…me…we…? turn 35.

Holy Moses, has it been a decade?

I wanted to tell you four words: “Look what God did.”

25 year old Anne, 2005 was the year you landed in the hospital so stressed out and so hurt from working at a church. You were 40 pounds overweight, working 90 hours a week, and glued to people-pleasing. You thought doing things for God was the same thing as being with Him.

But it wasn’t.

And over the next two years, as you resigned from that church and healed, you wrote about your journey. You helped others.

God took that terrible mess and made it beautiful.

A few years later, you had to do something terrifying. You had to open up to a group of strangers who were investigating the man who sexually abused you 12 years beforehand. Memories you buried so deep emerged and you even went into shock as you recalled them. You put words to the actions of what a grown man, a trusted youth pastor, did to a vulnerable high school girl who just barely had her driver’s license.

It was like watching a horror film in your mind on repeat. But God gave you the words and the strength and the right medication and friends to help. The man was finally caught. His sins finally came to light. And God healed you and the shame and gave you ways to share your pain and His healing with others.

God took that terrible mess and made it beautiful.

When you turned thirty, everything was in full bloom. Life. Was. Good. You just finished writing your second book and still had a contract for more. You rode your bicycle across the flipping United States. California to South Carolina. You made friends in those two months that forever changed you and shaped you. And then the tragedy of divorce fell into your path. Grief swept you away but friends held on to you for dear life. It was a long, quiet, tough road of healing. And God was good even when everything was going bad. You learned this about Him then.

A few years later, a strong and Godly man with a passion for truth and holiness and loving others and serving everybody who comes into his path humbly and out of the abundance God gave him met you in the most lovely Michigan town. He won your heart, even though you were still timid to give it, afraid of being hurt again. Then, when you were afraid, God met you in a living room on a cold night and music played singing “night must end.” God gave you this moment and said, “You can trust your heart to him.”

So you did and you married this man on a beach at sunrise because you and he wanted to raise an ebenezer to the fact that God’s mercies are new every time the sun rises.

God took that terrible mess and made it beautiful.

And now, here you…me…we? turn 35. You live in west Texas and you pretend you’re Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights and you’re minutes away from the church where you got baptized thirty years ago. Life has come in such a full and glorious circle. You’re surrounded by new friends, loving neighbors, and people who pray with you with babies on their hips and in the midst of toys in the kitchen floor. You sing praises to the God who took those messes and made them beautiful surrounded by the voices of others you call your church–your friends, your small group. Twice a week you get to see a few dozen teenagers who are uncovering the depth and breadth and faithfulness of God and it’s so exciting to watch your husband lead them and their eyes light up with every moment of new truth revealed to them through your Word.

God took that terrible mess and made it beautiful.

So, as another ten years passes and the wrinkles on your face grow deeper and gravity continues to pull you down, as people come in and out of your life and as you come in and out of theirs, even when those you love are dying or are sick, are broken and are hurt, know that God is good because God is good. He is not good only because He redeems; He is good because He allows things into our lives that need to be redeemed.

All this to say, and always say, and never stop saying to a world who always needs to hear it:

In everything, in every moment, God took it all and made it beautiful.

Look. What. God. Did.

Free Devotional: Surviving Christmas: Advent Devotions for the Hard and Holy Holidays

Growing up, I didn’t know much about Advent. Christmas cantatas, yes. Live nativity scenes, yes. Stolen baby Jesus dolls, yes. Advent…not so much.

It was a few years ago after I began attending St. Bartholomew’s in Nashville where Advent really took a hold on my heart: a time to prepare and reflect upon the coming Christ, his birth, death and resurrection, the narrative of Mary and Joseph, angels, dirt, mundane, pain, rejoicing.

Over time, I’ve written a few blog posts inspired by the season or on Christmas in general. Because as mystical and ponderous Advent is, the holiday season is hard for many people.

Family and travel and money and parties and finals and bad weather and schedules and so…many…things that distract and hurt and remind us of a broken world, not a healed one.

This year, I’ve compiled a couple old blog posts with a few other reflections (if you received my Advent emails last year, those too) and made a little eBook.

And it’s free. Just head over to Noisetrade and download it. Please share it with your friends, your family. Study it by yourself or with a group of people. Print off a million copies of it and give it to anyone you think could find it helpful. It’s yours.

It’s my prayer that by taking just a couple of minutes each day as we approach Christmas to stop and breathe and pray and hope and to know we aren’t alone in this hard and holy season, we can live vulnerably in the dualities of joy and sadness and pain and peace.

Those tensions have been lived and wrestled in since the beginning of time but in this season we know the most beautiful moment is in our rest.

And we can rest and know we are loved and can love, we can rest in knowing hope and holiness, and we can rest knowing our Savior has come (and is here, now).

Blogging Isn’t What it Used to Be…And that’s Okay.

Several times a week, I log into the dashboard of my blog and think I have something to write.

  • I could write about true freedom, and how that means willingly accepting my identity as a slave to Christ, which doesn’t bring oppression, but true joy.
  • I could write about how I think the voice of the peacemakers is being shut down because the voice of the cynics is so loud…and the peacemakers know there’s really no point in fighting a virtual battle of words.
  • I could write about all the new stuff I’m learning about anxiety disorders, OCD, trauma and grief or about the theology of subordinate & ultimate purposes in moral ethics.

But I don’t.

It’s not that I can’t; as if I have some writer’s block and I keep pressing delete and thinking my writing isn’t good enough.

It’s not because I’m scared of what people will think about what I write.

It’s not even that I don’t want to.

Or that I don’t have time.

None of those things are true.

Photo Credit: Thomas Lieser

Lately, I’m full of words and inspiration, most of which are being poured into the channels of a launching “Lean on Me” which comes out this October. Or into my other-new book that will come out next year. It flows into my husband as he goes through some exciting ministry changes, and into some friends over coffee or a glass of wine. I give these words to the trees and the sky when I go on walks with my dog, or sometimes they only rattle around in my head until they break into little digestible pieces I can stomach. These words fuel me as I straighten up our kitchen or hang up the laundry (who am I kidding? Tim so graciously does the laundry. I hate doing laundry.) 

A few years ago I would have wondered if you missed me.

Maybe I still do a tiny bit, but most days this blog is so far from any of my normative thinking. Only when I see the bookmark to my dashboard to log in, I log in. And that’s really just to delete any spam comments.

want to talk to you. I remember how, almost ten years ago, a small group of fifty or a hundred people would come here and listen about me putting up Christmas lights or running from tornadoes or wrestling through tithing as an automatic deduction from my church-staff paycheck. Then that number grew into the tens of thousands and the conversation changed and I began to love those numbers much more than I should have. And then, life changes pounced and left me wounded and I took everything off of the Internet for a couple of years and that huge audience I was so enamored with dwindled back down to a handful of people.

But that’s okay.

It’s taken a year or so of being truly back “online” for me to accept the new Web 2.0. Or is it 3.0 now? It’s not even about the Internet, is it? Whatever it is – whatever this is – I’m okay with it.

I’m not saying goodbye to blogging, and I’m certainly not bidding adieu to writing. I’m embracing how different it is now, both externally in how social networking has changed in the last decade and internally, how I’ve changed in the last decade.

I’m giving myself permission to keep things close, as Mary did, pondering them in her heart. 

My heart used to be online, but now it’s found in quiet moments with trusted friends, in solitude, and in quietness and trust.

That is where I find rest.

That is where I find Him.

 

Shake the Dust :: Letting Go

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Things fail.

Health.

Friends.

Love.

School.

Work.

Expectations rise and fall.

Rise.

And fall. And fall.

(and rise?)

Someone says or does something (or perhaps nothing?) and it opens up scars from the past

Scars that say you’re not good enough

Or that you’re dumb

Or not worth it

Or too much…

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Anis Mojgani perform Shake the Dust

years and years and years ago.

Recently, my fingers found a scar not quite healed

and those voices

those LIES

came pouring down like gasoline on my open wound.

Stop it.

Stop it.

Stop it.

I said.

Let it be.

Let it go.

Shake the Dust

I heard it rattle in my mind.

And I hope that no matter what voices you may hear,

No matter who you are,

What you do,

What you look like,

Or how broken you are,

Shake the Dust. [watch the video below or if you don’t see one, click here…]

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Grace in the Mundane

When you feel longing creep in as you pull your feet through the mud of the daily, command your spirit to rejoice. If the rocks cry out, imagine the will it takes to get a defeated soul to move. Command it anyway. Rejoice anyway. You are a child of the One who has loved you in the past for eons and will love you into forever for infinity. A man died in your place, painting you pure and lovely and nothing can steal this away from you.

Give Someone the Gift of Speaking Freely (Book & Bracelet Bundle!)

 You know, it’s time to do Christmas shopping.

We all know.

Let me help make it a little easier for you!

Permission to Speak Freely Bundle Anne Jackson Anne Marie Miller

Do you know someone wrestling through a difficult season? Who maybe needs some encouragement and needs to know they aren’t alone? Or just enjoy a good story?

It just so happens that I have a lot of these books, and I’d like to make them a little bit gift-able for you.

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For $25, you get two autographed copies of my book Permission to Speak Freely, with two “Gift of Going Second” bracelets, and a cute little ribbon to boot.

And I’ll even ship them to you for free.

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If you haven’t read this book, the poetry, or seen the crowdsourced art in it, maybe now’s the perfect time. You get one and you can give one to a friend!

Or maybe you just want to give a couple copies away.

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Just click the button below, and these books will be on their merry way!

In the voice of an engaging but battle-scarred friend, Anne Jackson questions a church culture that “sacrifices the beauty of confession and brokenness for religious trappings and the malady of perfectionism.” Read through the poems, essays, stories and confessions in this book and join Anne on this journey. It’s time to face our fears. It’s time to live in a community of healing confession. It’s time to move past shame and into hope. It’s time we had permission to speak freely.

Price: $25.00

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