Start looking at the leaves.

Because sometimes when you get to the end of one of the most hectic and blurry days of your life, you get to sit down and remember that the people and things that light a fire in your heart are the things you should keep close. Those people who are so passionate that they can’t help but light up when they talk about the things they love and inspire others, those are the people that pull you in. Ever since I’ve come to college, and probably even before honestly, I have gravitated toward a fast-paced lifestyle. I don’t know why, but that idea has always been appealing to me, and I would definitely say I’ve lived that out. But then again, 20 hours of work, 18 hours of classes, new commitments, 5 exams, papers, and project presentations don’t really lend a hand in slowing down. However, I’ve come to this place of desiring rest. Like, no-to-do-list, no-lingering-anxieties, real rest.

I’ve realized it’s easier for me to mourn a loss than to celebrate a new beginning, and I’m about to have a hell of a lot of goodbyes to say.

It’s been a long road, losing all I’ve owned
And you don’t know what you’ve got until you’re gone
And it’s a nasty habit, spending all you have, but
When you’re doing all the leaving, then it’s never your love lost
And if you leave before the start, then there was never love at all
And heaven knows I’m prone to leave the only god I should have loved,
And yet you’re far too beautiful to leave me.

I’m also realizing how much has happened since I last posted. There was the formal one of my friends convinced me to go to 24 hours before it was happening. There were little courageous steps I took in the past month where I look back and think, “My God, was that really me asking those questions or saying what I wanted? Oh wow, it was!” There was a senior farewell dinner for my scholarship that made me feel the beginning of entirely too many emotions. A catalyst, if you will. There was the late night, the Misterwives concert (AKA the best night of college thus far, from the people to the music to the atmosphere of Finals Fest, everything was perfect). There was the Rooted worship event outside on a Sunday morning with a fire burning, a guitar being strummed, mugs of coffee all around, and some solid company. There was accepting a position as a WinShape Community Impact Team Leader (more to come on that in the next few months). There was my best friend getting the scholarship of a lifetime that’s going to keep her at Berry for the next 2 years (I screamed. I cried. I felt a lot of things. And then we ate cupcakes.). I almost cut my bangs (surprise), but then I didn’t. We roadtripped to Chattanooga in the middle of the week to go to one of the greatest concerts I have ever been to and eat tacos and drink too much coffee and sit on the back patio of the Hot Chocolatier for 2 hours whilst eating macaroons and chocolate and answering the question: “If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?” I went to the last house church of the semester, and was honestly so pleased with the way that God has it in His plans for certain paths to cross. I sat in that living room, the one with the pillow that says: “Life takes you to unexpected places. Love leads you home.” And I felt home with these people all over campus. I traveled to South Carolina in a day to be with a friend whose dad had passed away. I finished 2 book reports and 2 video project/programming proposal presentations. And right now, I’m smack dab in the middle of finals week. To say the last few weeks have been wild would be an understatement, but I wouldn’t trade it for one thing.

Stop looking at the ground, start looking at the leaves,
Up among the dirt and rust is where the Kingdom breathes.

I heard these lyrics screamed from the voice behind me at the concert we went to in Chattanooga last week, and I think these are accurate words for this season of life, in mourning losses and celebrating new beginnings.

I’ve also been very day-dreamy lately. I’m generally a day-dreamy person anyway, but recently it’s just been amplified in the midst of chaos. I think it’s because I can’t wait to watch the sunrise from a plane and wake up in New York City in less than a few weeks. In fact, I just finished sitting here for over an hour and writing down the list of places I want to see when we’re there in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS. New York City makes my heart skip a beat. I feel like when I get over the feeling of being sad about change, I get really excited and inspired and passionate about all of the things that are coming. He turns the bitter into sweet, and that is such a beautiful thing that I know I often overlook. I think these past few weeks have been the closest I’ve felt to God in a really long time, like truly finding Him in all of these moments that would otherwise seem insignificant. God gives us these really cool relationships so that we have the opportunity to see Him and know Him better. One of my friends who spoke at the last house church talked about hospitality and how that doesn’t always look like opening up our homes to people like at the times described in 1 Peter. Hospitality means catering to the things that the people around us are hungry for. She put it in terms of authenticity, focused attention, selflessness, and just somebody to sit and listen to their story. And she talked about how loving someone earnestly can be wearing, but showing hospitality without grumbling is truly showing the love of God because that’s how He approaches us.

A couple nights ago, we had our end of the year staff party celebration thing with taco soup and paper plate awards, and I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would. I did, however, cry the entire way up to mountain before Breakfast at Retreat because I realized how much I already felt myself missing the people that would be leaving soon. It was the strangest thing.

And last night I slept for 11 hours, woke up in my friend’s bed, and made brunch for both of us and it was probably the best brunch I’ve ever made. I’m going to miss our mountain sleepovers with breakfast and French presses and movie nights and spontaneous things and just that person who makes you feel at home. So now, I’m going to finish making my list for summer reading books, get ready for the last girls night, and try to adequately put words with all of these moments that God’s allowing me to live in. The best piece of advice I was given in a Facebook comment this week: Lean in, little bird. Here’s to leaning in.


It’s the wildest thing.

Hi, it’s been a month since the last post but you should know I’m still inhabiting this little corner of the internet.

About a year ago, I wrote a post about how change and I don’t get along. I wish I could wish that change and I had a better relationship now, but I’d be lying if I said it was all peachy. So it’s not. We’ll start with that and go from there (here’s the part where I lay out another welcome mat and say, “Hey, come on in. We’re about to talk about the state of my heart, so hold on tight.”).

If I could sum up my life in any metaphor lately (and you know I love a good metaphor), it’d be a messy table. I love tables. I love community and gathering, but I also love to spread all of my stuff all over the table when I’m ready to get down to the nitty-gritty and study really hard or make a chart about what I need to do. Basically, I need a lot of space to process and that big table for processing, yeah it’s messy right now. I’ve probably used the word “messy” at least 50 times in the last few months of blog posts, but hey, I think you get the picture now. And at first, that mess was incredibly irritating. There was no sense in it, and I was ready to shove everything off the table and lay on top of it and fall asleep because of how exhausting it was to be pulled by change and emotions. But now it’s this really beautiful mess of chaos that I see God putting His hand in the middle of, and I am loving every hard minute of it.

A lot of things are really good. Last year, I was afraid of missing God in all of the goodbyes and the change and the constantly packed schedule to distract myself from pain and change, but this year that is not a fear. I definitely still pack my schedule to distract myself from pain and change, but I don’t question His presence right now. I say right now because it varies a lot, so hear me on that one. However, He’s right in the middle of everything right now, I know that for sure. Something I have struggled with a lot lately though is contentment. Just contentment in who God is and not always striving for the next thing. My heart just gets messier and more broken, which is inevitable, but a lot of times lately I’ve just had to stop and be like, “Hey God, I need you to heal me. I need you to call out anything in me that offends You and help me to fill those spaces with what You have for me.”

Side note on contentment: I struggle A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT with comparison, and I know I’m not the only one when I say that. And we think, “Well, I’ll only compare one more time and then I’ll shift into being content with my life now,” but that’s really not how it works. We can’t sit back and continue to think, “Oh, she has it all together. If my life were like hers it would be so much easier to be joyful or close to God,” or, “If I had a relationship like that, surely I would feel filled up.” These are the things that are most damaging to our relationship with God because that’s basically us saying to Him, “I don’t like what You’ve given me, but I know what I need, and I need you to give me something better,” even though He knows what’s best for us, so you can see how this dialogue is a bit ridiculous. He is a God who operates out of abundance, so just because we see someone else receiving something or see God doing really awesome things in their lives, that doesn’t mean that He’s taking something away from us. Why would it?

Words by Amy Poehler (commit these to memory) and image courtesy of @greentiestudio

We went on a Spiritual Disciplines Retreat a few weeks ago, and something that was really emphasized was creating a space for God because He will be faithful in filling that space when we invite Him to come into it. We have these dark spaces that inhabit our minds, and we let sin fill them and really start to control us, but what would happen if those were the places we invited God to come into instead of saying, “No, this is too messy and too ugly to ask the God of the universe to come into. I can try to do it on my own,” but then it just ends up exploding in our faces. He wants us to invite Him into the dark rooms. And I’m learning that courage is opening those doors and allowing Him into that space you’ve made the effort (failed effort, I might add) to keep Him out of. He teaches us so much in the dark. A week after that retreat, Barbara Brown Taylor came to Berry to speak on Learning to Walk in the Dark, and she said, “To run from the dark may be to run from what makes us the most human.”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” // Psalm 30:11-12 ESV

I’m tired, but my heart is for You. These hands are Yours. I am weary, burned out, and tossed by change. I feel everything and nothing at all. I feel like I’m in this storm, but I also feel like I’m in a drought. Tell me what the name for this place is.

Hungry I come to You, For I know You satisfy. I am empty but I know Your love, does not run dry. So I wait for You. So I wait for You. I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me. Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for.” These are lyrics to a song I heard on Spiritual Disciplines Retreat and again on Saturday morning at the close of our Night of Prayer and Worship. There’s something to be said about His faithfulness when we keep denying Him and He keeps staying. We ought to learn a little something about steadfastness and staying from a God who has mastered it. We essentially say, “God, You’re not worthy enough for this, but I am so come follow me.” And He probably laughs, sits back, and waits for us to realize we need Him. That’s the little dance I’ve felt myself in lately. There will be these days when I am so hungry to know Him better and to spend time with Him, but then there are the days where I want to feel independent so I offer up a facade of control, and within a few days, I’m running on fumes again.

I sat on the front steps of our chapel on Friday night with a friend, and she asked me how I was doing, and I just started weeping (surprise). But not for all the reasons I’d been crying for the last few months. Through a mess of tears, I just said, “He is so faithful.” There was a closeness with God I absolutely cannot describe from that night of worship. We have a God who dwells with us and presses on when we don’t want to or we think we can’t. His heart is steadfast and constant, and I think if I’ve gravitated toward any aspect of who God is within this realm of learning what courage is, it’s His steadfastness. I’m thrown by change and He is not and that blows my mind a little bit. How can a person not be thrown by change?

And for the first time in a long time, I am happy. And not just happy, but genuinely joyful in what God is doing even when I don’t understand it. And I’m excited. So so so excited for the things that God is doing that He’s inviting me to be a part of. There’s this little fire in my belly that’s coming back and I’m remembering what it’s like to have passions and desires, and not only those things, but to have the passion and desire to bring His Kingdom closer to the heart of every person I encounter on a daily basis. It’s the wildest thing.

“I am broken but running toward You, God. You make me whole.”