Today, Lindsay speaks to us about living outside of the box, finding her freedom and working through anxiety with God’s help.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born and raised in a small town in Connecticut with my parents and two older brothers, I had a great childhood and was raised in a Christ-centered, loving, and stable home. I know that’s something that isn’t everyone’s experience, and I don’t take that for granted. My parents were very intentional with everything they did and didn’t do, I think my brothers and I model a lot of the values we were surrounded by. But now, we’ve lived in NYC for almost 10 years, and honestly this feels more home in my mind than anywhere else!
Otherwise, I had a pretty typical day to day life; school, friends, family time, church activities. I played basketball when I was younger and did dance when I was older, but from an early age I was never a big school, sports, or extracurricular person. I was always more interested in writing, photography, or crafts as I grew older. I think the arts always found their home in my soul.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: During the past year, Isaiah 43:18-19 has been one that’s consoled my heart and mind in so many ways. It says, “Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” So much beautiful imagery, packed with truth and commands, but also gentleness and encouragement.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: In my mind, I feel like there’s a laundry list of things I want to snap my fingers and instantly be better at, have under control, and have overcome. But I know that’s not realistic, or even possible. There are a few things in particular I’m trying to focus on more though.
First is gratitude; there are endless opportunities to complain and look at what’s going wrong in our lives. I used to struggle with negativity a lot more than I do now, but I felt like it protected me from something. I’m finding that’s garbage reasoning, and the more I take small moments in my day to thank God for things or close my mouth and not complain, the more my heart feels soft and open.
The other focus would be leaning into Christ’s peace more than my own strength. If I’m not careful, I will trend towards anxiety and fear really easily. Small things can overwhelm me, and big things can lay me out. Much like I mentioned above, I used to live in a severe state of anxiety because if I came up with the worst case scenario first, everything else wouldn’t seem as bad. This does nothing but drain my body of peace spiritually and physically. Over the past year I’ve been learning when big or small things come, to combat it with prayer and scripture and literally spoon feed myself a bowl of truth. Most times more like force feeding. It’s hard to stay on top of and has to become a discipline, but it’s one I’m certain releases our grip of control.
“I used to struggle with negativity a lot more than I do now, but I felt like it protected me from something.”
Profession: The profession that I work for 365 days a year with ample payment of hugs and some tantrums, is being a mother! I have a 4 year old son and am currently pregnant with our second baby who is a girl, due in March (or maybe once this is posted she will already be here!). After that, my husband Dane and I launched and operate a specialty coffee roasting company called City League Coffee Roasters. He is the go-to guy in all of it, but I keep things together where I can behind the scenes!
I treat my writing as a profession as well. I do some of it leisurely, some for an internship, and I also have an Instagram page called @forthehope. That’s where I spend most of my time writing for posts, and for a weekly e-mail I put out to subscribers. I use it as a way to hopefully give others truth, hope, and understanding through my words. That all takes up a portion of my time each week and although I don’t gain income from my writing right now, I hope to in the future!
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I actually have a few pages of a memoir typed up on this computer. So now I feel like I have to think of something really great since I actually I hope to write it one day. I’m awful at thinking of titles for things and it takes me a long time to move through what I want to emulate. So for now, I just know it would be a title that pulls a few themes together somehow — hopelessness, darkness, anxiety, Jesus, redemption, radical change, hope. So basically, this book’s title might be a sentence long.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? The answer to this is a little complicated and comes in a few different parts, so I’ll do my best to explain briefly. I grew up in a Christian home and feel I always had a knowledge and foundation of Christ throughout my life.
As a teen, I had the usual missions trip and weekend retreat emotional faith highs, but nothing that I felt was an actual life changing encounter.
When I was in college, after leaving an awful dating relationship, I did have a pretty amazing moment of being filled with God’s peace after praying with some friends. But I view that as more of a stepping stone, I still don’t think I internalized it deeply or made any foundational changes. I coasted along in life for the next 10 years on what I call a ‘help me faith.’ I had foundational knowledge, but I was not living in the freedom Jesus offers in any way. I would simply come to him in desperate times like a tool you pull out of your pocket. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t appreciate relationships like that here on earth.
During all those years, I dealt with a pretty severe anxiety disorder that worsened over time and came to its breaking point after having my son. I had no direction and no idea what to do with myself during those years. I would pray but be hopeless and angry about it, that’s it. I told myself this was my life and there was no other way around it. A little over a year ago, things got even worse than they already were. The anxiety issues took another turn and I got unwillingly thrown into the darkest, scariest, and most terrifying time of my life. It’s all too much to type out here, you’ll have to find that memoir one day, but through this situation God literally took me by the collar and threw me into freedom.
I remember being so bewildered and having no idea what to do, but through a quiet moment with God, it was like this innate force went through me to the core and the trajectory of my life changed in a moment. It’s still hard for me to comprehend or emulate exactly what happened that night. It makes no sense, at all. I’m aware that it isn’t logical, but I hope that can serve as a testimony to God’s power because I had nothing to do with it. I could not have done what happened in my own power. And that’s not to say in a snap my life was grand and I skipped off into the sunset. I wish, but no way.
I felt God saying to me, ‘this is going to be really hard and dark, but I’m going to walk with you through this, not over it.’ I’ve spent the last year or two battling for my life and my freedom in ways I never thought possible. My eyes were opened to the fact that I didn’t have to live this way anymore. That anxiety was not my title in life. I was forced to get to the root of every single thing about myself. It’s been incredibly hard, and I’ve been sifted in multiple ways. But I can look back and see why God had to allow something dark in order for light to be seen. I’m not “there” yet, wherever there is. But goodness, I am not the same shell of a person I once was. What’s happened in the past year has been nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and it can come off like this ethereal, lofty, ultra-Jesus story. But I’m just a person who was trapped and radically saved by a grace I couldn’t have combated if I tried. If you asked me a few years ago, I would never ever think I’d be apart of even something like this interview. I was too deep in the muck. But the deepest breaking is what brought me to the most vast freedom.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I think I unwittingly answered this above! It’s changed everything for me, while still leaving room to know I am not and will never be perfect. There’s freedom in that knowledge, to know we are to strive to be more like Jesus, that he can change and transform us in incredible ways — but we can never literally BE Him. That takes a lot of pressure off.
I don’t need to perform or run myself ragged trying to achieve perfection, I’m met with grace. My relationship with him has changed me in multiple ways despite my continued faulty human nature. I’m more apt to forgive, to be convicted if I know I didn’t act or speak how I should have. I’m not such an angry, bitter and resentful person as I once was. I don’t willingly stay in darkness and call all of my closest friends to join me there. I’m a better (but certainly not perfect) wife and mother. It’s mostly changed my mind, to not be so focused on myself and my feelings and my expectations and wants. He’s helped me to let myself and others off the hook way more.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Continually going to Jesus even when I don’t feel like it. I know it’s always the answer to whatever problem is before me, but I often spend a while twiddling my thumbs and running in circles trying to avoid the obvious because I just want an easy answer. I want to keep myself in distraction. I don’t want to deal with it or work towards it. But all that does is prolong the issue. Once I finally push myself aside and just sit and pray or read through some verses, listen to worship music or simply just sit in silence, I always leave lighter.
My track record for avoiding used to be years, now it’s days, so I think I’m making some progress here! Jesus tells us and asks us to lay down our burdens at His feet, that he WANTS to take them, but we’d rather keep a firm grip on our problems ourselves. After going through that tumultuous year as mentioned above, I quickly learned the only way I could access peace from panic and intense fear and anxiety was to stop and praise or verbally speak against any oppression around me. To pull out my Bible and pace the house reading verses aloud. Keep going to Him, over and over and over. It doesn’t make everything easy and tied in a bow, but I’ve found His presence and peace easier to access when I stop trying to do it all myself.
Just read/currently reading?: Do people in the younger generation know Francis Chan? He was just kind of gaining traction when I was a teenager, and then he made a lot of big and admirable lifestyle changes and I feel like he fell off the map with the current generation (which I think is what he wanted), but he will always be a solid go-to for me. I love his mindset, vision, and purpose in life and how he teaches and admonishes others through it. I pulled out his book Forgotten God recently and read the whole thing in a week or two. It’s about the Holy Spirit, and it’s an incredibly challenging book for us as Christian’s and as a church. All of his work makes you feel like you want to change your whole life the next day because everything you thought might be wrong. He has this amazing way of presenting truth and hitting you deep to inspire change in your faith. I highly recommend any of his books, you can’t go wrong with a single one!
Top three essentials: My husband will laugh at this because he knows I can never pick a favorite thing or a ‘top’ thing, because I enjoy way too many different things. But I’d have to say: hugs & kisses from my husband and son (it literally calms the body to stay in a hug embrace for longer than 20 seconds!), my phone so I can stay in easy contact with all the people I love, food from all different cultures. I love ethnic foods and enjoying culture and food mixed together!
How did God speak to you recently? I recently had a bit of an anxiety setback after doing really well for months. It left me feeling extremely discouraged and questioning myself and a lot of other things. I spiraled into that place I talked about above where I just felt down and sorry for myself and like I didn’t want to do what I knew would soothe my soul again.
But at one point, I felt God say, ‘the more promises and truths you continue to sift through, the more the enemy will try to tear them down behind you as you walk forward.’ I chuckled to myself because in the past any type of anxiety setback would leave me so deep in the ground that I really never recovered, I’d just go from one anxious state to the next over and over with no change. As I wrote and processed through things, I made a post on my page that ended by saying: “I’m contending for my freedom, but the enemy will always be contending for my capture. This time a setback didn’t demolish me — it taught me. I still have work to do with God. There’s still places I don’t trust Him, where I need to learn what it means to ‘be still and know.’ But there’s so much grace here in the setbacks. They aren’t meant to tear us down, but to lift our eyes to hidden places needing some light.
“There’s so much grace here in the setbacks. They aren’t meant to tear us down, but to lift our eyes to hidden places needing some light.”
Hobby: Definitely writing! I have always loved writing since I was little. I would write notes to my parents, poems in school, etc. As, I got older, I loved any creative writing classes and this was somewhere I really thrived, despite basically failing every other academic type class. I lost this hobby and passion over all those years when I was just wallowing in nothing, but I’m so thankful the Lord has restored this passion in me and I’ve been able to bring it to the surface in many different avenues.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Stay in the light:
Not literally, although that does help too! But don’t stay in the proverbial darkness. The longer you stay there, the deeper it sucks you in. Darkness has no mercy and it wants all of you. I know how it feels to want to just stay inside, to close off all your relationships and sit in the dark. Part of you maybe even wanting to stay there because it feels easier. God is always fighting for us, but we can’t sit idly by and do nothing, expecting truth and light to just be instilled inside of us. We have to fight for these things, and by fighting for them we are learning in the process. Stay in connection with loved ones or your community, continue to sit down with God even if it means literally just sitting there, and filling your mind with truth (God’s word, worship music, podcasts, anything). Fighting to stay in the light is also God’s way of teaching us perseverance, faith, trust, and sometimes even long-suffering.
I don’t like to give too much power to satan, because in the end he really doesn’t have any. But it can’t be denied that he does have very convincing “truths”, schemes, and lies. We do ourselves a disservice if we aren’t aware of these schemes, making it easier to get our feet snared in traps. There’s a fine line between blaming all your problems on the enemy when it could actually just be your personal issues, and being under a true oppression or attack. Looking back, I know I was under a dark oppression for many years. And it wasn’t until God pulled me up from under the ice and truth shone everywhere that I could see it. I had to start learning how to disarm all the years of multiple layers of lies. Take time to learn his tactics that are particular to you and over time it becomes easier to say, “wait! no!” and take action in stepping away from the traps.
I think a lot of us have grown up hearing all of the basics and we can get kind of stuck there- “God loves you, pray and you won’t have problems, you should always be joyful, if you’re a Christian you should never do XYZ or there’s something wrong with you, etc. etc.’ and it can start creating a really unrealistic mindset on faith and who you are.
It causes people to become perfectionists in their faith, feeling like they have to perform. Or on the flip side, like they’ll never be good enough. If you make a mistake or you aren’t always joyful then you might as well give up because there’s something wrong with you. Jesus felt many real and raw emotions during his time on earth, even though he was perfect we still see scripture show that he wept, felt sadness, got angry, and so on. Faith is not neat and tidy, and neither are humans. It’s normal and okay to doubt, be afraid, go through dark seasons, struggle with spending time with God, not always feel joyful, or be frustrated with unanswered prayers. Faith is hard and takes a lot of discipline, work, and grace. There’s no one that gets to any point in their life where they have every aspect figured out. So be realistic about what’s real and normal as a Christian navigating this life, keep perspective and talk to others who can lend you a ‘me too!’
“And it wasn’t until God pulled me up from under the ice and truth shone everywhere that I could see it. I had to start learning how to disarm all the years of multiple layers of lies.”
Favorite person in scripture? Although there are many people in the Bible that I love and admire, for this one I’m going to say Moses. The book of Exodus has innumerable amazing accounts of his life and different ways God used him. But I especially love everything about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and being in the desert for 40 years. This was a huge theme and story that kept recurring in my life over the last few years, and it helped me in a lot of ways as I felt in a desert of my own for a long time. I love how he consistently sees himself as this unqualified person who God certainly wouldn’t and couldn’t use, yet God builds him up and uses him in countless incredible ways, and ends up leading the people to the promised land and being a great man of God. There’s some Moses in all of us, and going back to Exodus continually reminds me that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we think, it’s God’s power and ability that everything hinges on, not our own.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Oof. That I’m not some special, chosen, perfect Jesus person. While yes I am special and chosen by God, I am still devastatingly human. I think we can often read or hear people’s stories or words on a screen and feel somewhere inside us that we’re not as great, or crazy things like that haven’t happened to us. But I was and am just a regular person who was met by a revolutionary God.
I certainly don’t wish what I’ve gone through on anyone, but I’m continually learning the why’s and how’s of it. And because I am so human-y, I really need God to be my voice and my words.
When people look at me, I want them to know there is nowhere too dark, ugly, broken, or distant that the hand of God can’t reach. I want them to understand that I was all of those things. But that God can do literally anything in an instant. You aren’t too far gone or worthless to be helped. That these things don’t always come instantaneously (although they can) but that it takes work and being humble to being broken and taught. I would want them to learn that God can truly take pieces of dust and make it into something beautiful. That He is always in the business of profound redemption.
How do you engage with your community? So I live in a very interesting community as far as geographical location. We live in NYC, smack in the middle of Brooklyn’s Chinatown. We’re continually trying to learn how to reach and love people as our physical neighbors and as the community our church is also located in. One way me and my husband and son really love to engage the community is by sitting on the stoop in the summer. It’s just like in the movies, all of the neighborhood kids come out and play on the sidewalks and streets. My son is very loud and social, so we always end up with 5+ kids in our tiny “yard” (literally a 6×6 patch of grass) and they all play together. Many of them have hard stories and home lives, so we try to be a loving and open place for them to play and have fun, and we’ve gotten a number of them into the church sporadically for events or Sunday school which has been great to see. It’s a very dark area surrounded by rituals, alters, and statues for different Buddhist rituals, so many of these kids have never even heard the name Jesus. We hope we can be bearers of His love and acceptance in some way in their minds.
“It’s a very dark area surrounded by rituals, alters, and statues for different Buddhist rituals, so many of these kids have never even heard the name Jesus. We hope we can be bearers of His love and acceptance in some way in their minds.”
A goal you have? I would really love to have a published book one day. I know this is a long, daunting, and often discouraging road that many people navigate as they work through writing and trying to get it in the right hands. So I know it’s not something that’s going to happen next year, or probably the next multiple years if not even longer than that! But long term, I would love to accomplish writing a memoir style book, so we’ll see what that future brings!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? So there’s a lot of studies out there about sleep. How important sleep is to our lives, and how detrimental it is if we aren’t getting it. It’s said that a chronic lack of sleep can lead to things like: cardiovascular disease, mood swings, poor immune function, hormonal imbalances, anxiety/depression, and even a lower life expectancy.
Anyone who’s ever dealt with insomnia or just a few poor night’s sleep can vouch for this. Lack of sleep is a form of torture. So given these facts, what I’d like to do is roll up into heaven with a pack of me and all the mothers of the world. We’d stand there and put out our arms, and in our arms would be babies and children of various ages (most commonly newborns to let’s say, 5 year olds) and just be staring blankly at God, cross-eyed, PJ’s on, and hair in messy buns and in unison just say…. Why? Haha 🙂
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I’d love to raise more awareness on living outside of the box of “society”. I don’t think it’s talked about very much, and if it is it’s usually not well-understood or seen as completely unrealistic. My husband and I have a strong passion for this subject and think most people just don’t give themselves permission to take a step outside of the lines because it’s scary and not safe, or not logical. And all of that is true, we would never suggest someone to just go quit their job and make rash decisions. With anything in life, God gives us each specific passions and routes, but of course we’re all here together to also inspire or spur on change in others. For those that do feel like they have this pull somewhere inside of them that their 9-5 is killing them, that they’re miserable or know they aren’t living out their passion in life we’re here to say: go. for. it.
Like anything else, it isn’t easy. It takes a ton of hard work, prayer and dedication to continue to push for what you want for your life or believe God is extending his hand out to. But don’t shrink into safety or logicality because that’s what others expect of you or what makes sense or is just easiest.
Do the hard thing, the crazy thing. Do what sets you on fire and doesn’t make you feel like its a soul-sucking job or lifestyle every day. Overall, we live our lives a bit backwards from most, we’ve made a lot of sacrifices and changes to frame lives that don’t model what society tells you you have to do to survive. I don’t think we’ll ever return to a 9-5 job, but we’re positive if we can do it living in the most expensive city in the U.S, that anyone can within reason. We’re no one special, we’re just trying to follow what we believe is best for our family and what God has instilled in our hearts, and hope that can resonate with some others too.
“Do the hard thing, the crazy thing. Do what sets you on fire and doesn’t make you feel like its a soul-sucking job or lifestyle every day.”
What does your morning routine consist of? Well, I have a lot of ideas of what I’d love a morning routine to consist of, but with kids that becomes really hard! They are always throwing you for a loop and changing things up. My son can start consistently sleeping until 7am for weeks, so I’ll decide to get up at 6am and start a quiet time routine. What will happen the next day? He’ll start getting up at 5am.
So, I’ve learned to roll with the punches as best I can and work with what I’m able! Lately, mornings usually look like little early morning feet running down the hallway to our bed and cuddling/sleeping together for a bit, and eventually we’ll get up and have breakfast together.
Since we don’t have a standard work schedule, each day looks a little different- some days we’re all home for the morning, some days either me or my husband is off to do work, or some other activity for my son. But our mornings are pretty simple and easy-going, regardless!
What is on your nightstand? Always just three things: a lamp, a video monitor, and a stack that consists of my Bible, whatever book I’m reading, and my journal.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Where darkness, brokenness, and sin touch hands with an all-knowing, forgiving, and redemptive Father.
For more Lindsay:
Until next time, keep witnessing!