Dear 29

I asked 28 to surprise me, challenge me, and scare me and I spent many days of the past year asking myself why the heck did you do that? This past year absolutely scared me. I had days of feeling loneliness in such a deep and scary way. I also experienced the deep and beautiful feeling of community and family and the way we can love each other into wholeness. 28 definitely also challenged me and surprised me. I grew in ways I could not have foreseen, and have been pleasantly and not-so pleasantly surprised by the events of the year.

So to 28, I say “BOY BYEEE!” But really I will look back at you with gratitude for all the hard lessons and big growth. I will not look back for long because I am walking forward into new days, one day at a time — one step at a time. Walking forward with confidence in who God is, leaning fully on His consistent character, His overwhelming grace, and His perfect peace.

So 29, I promise to let you be exactly what you are supposed to be. As the last year of my twenties, it will be tempting to make you what I think you are supposed to be; to make things happen quickly, to figure things out, to get all my young adult ducks in a row. But I am going to take you one.dang.day at a time, letting life continue to surprise me, and maybe in that offering freedom to people coming behind me.

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When You Realize You Matter (and what happens next)

I have been trying to come up with a creative introduction to this but have not had any luck, so we’re diving right into the deep end.
I’ve been thinking and learning a lot about the power of our words. I have been learning that they all are either contributing goodness to the world, or they are like little knives or poofs of poison being released into the atmosphere. What if we could see, tangibly, the character of our words as they left our lips? They are either adding life or bringing death. What if we viewed them as having an impact — like second hand smoke, or the smell of clean laundry? What if we understood the weight of them, the urgency of their potential?

When we wield our words with little thought or concern for their potential impact, we are like a blind man swinging a sword in a crowd. We have no idea what potential hurt we may inflict. And, I am realizing, it all comes back to our view of ourselves.

Here is a theory: If I do not believe that I matter, I most definitely will not believe my words matter. And when I do not believe my words matter, I can cause all kinds of harm.

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Dear Twenty-Seven,

Dear 27,

You were a rollercoaster! So much has happened and I am incredibly grateful for you. At the beginning I was not so sure; I told people it felt really old, maybe because it was more syllables than any age I’d been before (or will be, for another nine years). Or maybe it is that when you start inching closer to 30 something happens inside you. Like all of a sudden some of those life goals or hopes that you have kept stuffed in the back of your mind start pushing their way to the forefront, and things start to matter a little more than they used to. Each passing year makes me hold my days a little more tenderly, knowing there are (I know it is morbid) less and less left.

But the days were beautiful and full of surprises. When I rolled up to my 27th birthday party in that sassy romper and lipstick I had no idea that a year later I would be living in a different home, have a different job, and have traveled practically around the world.

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I’ve Been Meaning To (Uganda Stories: Part II)

I’ve caught myself multiple times since returning from Uganda saying, “I’ve been meaning to…”

This isn’t new, I know I’ve said it a lot before I went on this trip. But it just wasn’t something we ever really heard when we were there, and so I started to notice it in myself when I came home. Saying, “I’ve been meaning to…” could mean one of two things: You’ve either forgotten, or you’re hesitant to do something.

In my case recently I have found myself in the first camp, although I certainly am queen of the latter. The times recently where I have caught myself have been something along the lines of: “I’ve been meaning to text you/see you/catch up with you” and as nice as that seems it actually implies, “I had a fleeting thought about you and then went on with my day.” Harsh, I know, but we’re here to grow, right? I want to be better.

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God Knows Exactly What He is Doing (Uganda Stories, Part I)

As I sat in the school office, I did a double take. Did that sign really say those words? 

Rewinding back to around three months before we were supposed to leave for our trip to Uganda: we found out that the organization we had planned to work with was cancelling all their summer trips. It was scary and overwhelming and heartbreaking. Not just for our team, but for everyone involved with this organization. They put loads of time and energy into that decision, and we knew they had not made it lightly.  We had no choice but to trust that God still had a plan for us. 

We felt confident that the Lord had invited us to go to Uganda, and we knew that this change of plans was not a surprise to Him. I sat down one day to pray about the situation, and the only words that I could utter were these: You know exactly what You are doing.

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God Doesn’t Give Awards (and other things I’m learning)

It has been one of those weeks where I am learning a whole lot of little things. My best friend is always asking the question, “What are you learning?” so, here you go:

Celebration actually is a discipline. Last weekend some friends and I threw a party. It turned out incredibly fun, but the honest truth is that beforehand we were all pretty cranky. It was snowing, we had procrastinated preparation, and just all around were not feeling it. But then it was so fun! And I said to one of them, “This is why celebration is considered a discipline. It is actually work – but it is worth it.” We have to celebrate. Even when life is hard and it doesn’t feel like there is anything to celebrate – there is. There is always something to celebrate. You might just need to look harder. I also learned that you never get too old to be fun. But I can tell you that story some other time.

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BUT WHEN GOD

This past weekend I was at a Beth Moore conference that was nothing short of amazing. It was not your typical Beth Moore conference; it was geared specifically for women in their twenties and thirties who are passionate about and feel called to teach and write about the Bible. Beyond anything else, I walked away with a renewed sense of passion for the Scriptures and for intimacy with Jesus.

So I came home and was determined to be in my Bible, which has been a rare occurrence in recent months. I analyzed my daily liturgy to see where I was wasting time and where I could make room for what really matters.

I started in Galatians, and barely made it through chapter one. I was struck by the way Paul starts this letter with his story. He is reminding the church in Galatia of their need for the Gospel – the true Gospel. In order to convince them of this, he tells his story.

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I’m With You

A few months ago a friend was dealing with a difficult situation. I won’t go into detail because it’s her situation, not mine (sorry not sorry, you nosey people!). It was one of those moments where I asked her how she was, and she just burst into tears like she couldn’t hold it all in one more moment. She explained the situation, and then talked about how in the midst of it everyone and their mom (my exaggeration, not hers) had an opinion about it. Isn’t that the way it goes? Everyone always has an opinion. And sometimes those opinions are less than helpful.

All she really needed was someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and probably a big glass of red wine. And a cheese plate. We always need a cheese plate.

A few days later, I texted her just to tell her I was praying for her, and added at the end: #imwith___ (insert friend’s name here. Anonymity is my specialty, ok?) Yes, this was inspired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan. Don’t freak out.
Since then, I have loved this idea. No matter the situation, no matter what someone is going through, that is I want them to know above all else. I’m with you.

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Little Moments

The eleven-year-old sixth grader got into the car, slammed the door shut, and sat in silence. I tried to make conversation but she clearly was not having any of it. In silence, we drove to pick up her two younger siblings from their school. When we all arrived back at their house, she ran up […]

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