personal blog

Big, fat, dreamy dreams.

I’ve spent more time inspired in the past week than I have in an awful long time. I had time to lay in bed longer than usual, restructure this website, flex some creative muscles that haven’t been used in quite some time, flex some real muscles that needed some toning, and dream and love a little louder. I rolled over on a Friday morning, eyes fuzzy without glasses, and just saw white: the unexpected snow to wash everything clean. I walked in it to my last final of the semester: a breakfast party with all of our handmade pottery and beautiful flowers to put in our vases and a dog running around the studio, a sacred space that connected all of us in some strange way. This was fellowship, one of my sweetest classes of college by far. Inches and inches of snow, and a snowball fight on the roof, and some of the best people I’ve ever known in my entire life to watch me cry with joy because this day was the best. And it ended with some of my best friends and a dinner at 4 in the afternoon and sweet potato soufflé and hot tea and The Newsroom. So many days in the last week have felt like my best days, days when God’s abundance was so tangible.

And then there was this morning when I had the absolute privilege of baptizing my 12-year-old brother. Everything was a blur in those few moments and I was a blubbering baby but I was getting to watch him be washed by the water and commit to walk in a new way, free of sin and shame, understanding that there is a God who loves him so deeply and fully and abundantly. That proclamation, that statement of faith, is one that makes you want to have a Breakfast Club moment, fist in the air, and singing, “Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You, You silenced the boast of sin and grave. The Heavens are roaring the praise of Your glory, for You are raised to life again,” with no doubt in the world that is the Truth. It was surreal, like a moment I never deserved to live in but got to walk in this dream-like state for the remainder of the day.

I’ve also been on the road a lot in the last week, and those car rides have lent themselves to brainstorming and processing and dreaming and scream-singing Christmas music and show tunes. And I spent the last week in the office wrapping up final semester things and starting some planning and brainstorming for the spring, and one phrase kept coming into my mind:


Now, I don’t play sports. If you know me, you know. But I had this phrase seeping into everything I was doing. Leave it all on the field. Leave it all in the classroom. Leave it all in every project. Leave it all on the floor. Leave it all.

I put every bit of myself into everything I do, and that is something I’ve learned about myself in the past year. Sometimes it leaves me exhausted and completely at the end of myself, but that’s usually where the best stuff comes out. I vow to put all of myself into every last thing I finish out in this coming semester. I don’t want to leave wishing I had tried harder or done more or been more generous or invested more. I want to leave it all every place I go and in everything I do. And I realized I don’t just want this to carry through the end of my undergrad career, but I want this to be every single day of this life I get to live.

I sat at my desk on a morning this past week and cried over an Anne Lamott TED Talk. She said, “The two most important things about writing are: bird by bird and real god-awful first drafts. If you don’t know where to start, remember that every single thing that happened to you is yours, and you get to tell it. If people wanted you to write more warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better. You’re going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions, and songs — your truth, your version of things — in your own voice. That’s really all you have to offer us, and that’s also why you were born.”

I’ve written a lot of unpublishable things lately, and that’s a place I hadn’t put myself in for quite some time just because it was uncomfortable. Before that, my writing had been dry and bland and felt like a bunch of dust particles that didn’t actually have any flavor or the ability to form into anything that means anything. It’s a painful feeling but a startling realization that you’ve spent entirely too long not challenging and trying to make anything that matters at all. I always strived to write things to post, and I forgot what it was like to write the deep, dark stuff just for me. That’s why I’ve disappeared from this space for a while, and it was good for me, so good. I took a lot of time, time I’m still taking, to push myself into the deep, dark corners and inspect, look around at the museum of things I left untouched for fear of what they would make me feel.

And I’ve felt a lot of different things lately: awe, fear, infatuation, joy, sorrow, desperation, need, want, all of it. I haven’t been able to write the real, honest stuff because the real honest stuff involves feelings I’ve never felt before and harsh realities about standing in the darkest corners and refusing to come out. I plopped myself down in a coffee shop in another town on an afternoon before an eventful night and tried to make myself write the real honest stuff. And I came undone in a way, writing about people and places and feelings I’d never stood still long enough to inspect and not feel shame for. It was amazing. And my friend appearing was like a stopwatch going off, a time to drain the rest of the black coffee in the mint green mug and shut the laptop and turn off that part of my brain. Compartmentalizing has become refreshing, and not something I feel guilt over anymore.

On the darker, more anxious days, the world seems so small. But on the freer days, the ones where I remember my identity, I get to dream big, fat, dreamy dreams where I can be anyone and do anything and feel everything. These are the days I want more of, and this is what happens when we invite God into what we’re doing, what He was already doing in the first place. What a humbling place to stand in: a place where we can hold our brokenness in one hand and our humility in the other in order to live freer than we’ve ever lived before. That’s the place I want to stand for days and weeks and months and years to come. This is the place where the big, fat, dreamy dreams are born.

There’s this passage in Isaiah 55 I have kept coming back to in the past few weeks, and it reads:

let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s promises will not return void. And when I find myself in darkness, in a season of writing the unpublishable and pulling things off of shelves I long forgot existed, I remember that God’s will is accomplished and that He is a God who gives out of abundance. His thoughts are higher than mine, thankfully. It reminds me of a moment in Mona Lisa Smile where the girls are staring at this Jackson Pollock painting and Julia Roberts says, “Do yourselves a favor. Stop talking and look.” I feel God nudging me with that lately, and yes, I did just have God assume the position of Julia Roberts and that may be a bit heretical, but go with me. He’s gotten me silent lately. He’s gotten me sitting in awe and seeing His promises and provision in a land I thought was a barren wasteland. It has turned out to be this place of abundance, this growing, nourishing season of abundance. His promises will not return void.

So the past few weeks have looked like this: big, fat, dreamy dreams, late nights of finishing research, fun design projects, writing all the deep things, shoving poetry into composition notebooks and pieces of paper in my wallet, a concert that was basically a religious experience in itself, sweet fig pizza that was also a religious experience, texts about leaving room, the word “abundance,” final pottery projects, late movie nights, the-good-kinda-sore muscles, and remembering my freshman self in so many moments.

And if I could’ve told my freshman self anything, it would be this:

Develop self-awareness early on. Don’t ever be afraid of conflict. It probably isn’t wise to drink 7 to 8 cups of coffee a day. Fill up more journals than you know what to do with. Don’t be afraid to write the dark stuff down, nobody will try to read it. Write more thank you notes. Be more generous with your time. Don’t get caught up in the money, but don’t be stupid with it. Recognize “no” as a sacred word. Do the same with “yes.” They were right: you will grow to love your siblings and even miss them from time to time. Keep taking videos. Keep with the photography business. Keep reading for fun. And don’t make excuses for not reading for fun. Recognize God’s abundance and provision in every single second. Be where your feet are. You’re going to be okay. And I wish there were a less cheesy and less cliche way to tie the loose ends on this advice column I’ve written for you, but there just isn’t and I think that speaks for itself.

So I’ll go back to Anne Lamott because that’s always a good place to go back to. I’m not going to wake up one day and feel like hell because I didn’t write the stuff I shoved down into my heart. I’m going to write everything I need to write. And it might not all end up here. It might end up in a book or in journals I pack into boxes when I move my whole life around for the next few years. I’m going to hang up my dreams like Christmas lights on display to give life a little more of a pop. I’m going to sip everything a little slower, the coffee with the peppermint mocha creamer and the moments like an unplugged song at a concert or hand holding or the way it feels to hear people read a book out loud.

So here’s to leaving a little more room for the big, fat, dreamy dreams and the space to learn what God’s abundance looks and feels and tastes like. Here’s to leaving room to breathe and to write the dark stuff I sought to avoid for so long. Here’s to the joy and the grief and the darkest corners I tucked my journals into. Here’s to recognizing it isn’t a wasteland just because I labeled it one for so long. Here’s to seeing the new things growing.

It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.

A grocery list of prayers in the midst of disorienting grief. I’m intentional not to use the word “debilitating” there. It feels like it’s not grief that I own, but grief that has sort of entered into the picture and slowly filled up the space, like a really foggy morning drive across campus. It’s not my grief to claim, but it’s mine to process, which is why I’ve chosen “disorienting.” I’ve spent a lot of time assessing the people in my corner, the ones who know the grief and know my mess and celebrate me and serve me well and love me better than any people I’ve ever known, especially in the midst of the fog. I’ve sat in passenger seats while my mind runs wild and I have to process, “How do I tell this person to love me better? Is that selfish? Am I allowed to ask that?” I think the answer is yes, by the way, you are allowed to ask that. These are my real words, the ones I want to say. I have an entire other post written that are not my real words, the ones that lay nicely over the grief like a blanket.

A lot of my writing lately has reminded me of when I was younger, and my mom would ask me to go clean my room. I would begin the process of dumping every drawer, every toy chest, everything from my closet, and everything from under my bed into the center of the room. I kid you not, I thought this was the best idea in the entire world. I could assess the mess and all the things that made up my life when I created the chaos and could see everything. Piece by piece, and with a bit of panic from my mom, I would start to reorganize and “clean.” This would almost always end with me getting frustrated and shoving literally everything back into every place it was never supposed to belong and shoving the closet door and the drawers tightly enough to make it seem like everything was clean on the outside. That’s what the writing has looked like, and that’s what my mind has been.

I get that convicting little whisper: I never promised you understanding. I wanted everything clean on the outside, to be able to say that I’ve pulled everything out, sorted through the mess, and now God’s given me the words to understand the mess in my life. He promised to be with us. That’s what I keep getting pulled back to.

I wrote a poem a few weeks ago that used the phrases, “emotional currency” and “mental real estate”, and I feel like God has ripped those words from my writing to pull me into something deeper with Him. What am I spending my emotional currency on? What am I allowing to take up my mental real estate? Something I’ve had a strong desire to understand is intimacy with God, and He is certainly using those things to show me what it looks like. There is intimacy in the here and now. There is intimacy in being present. There is intimacy in asking God what is pleasing to Him.

I’m also getting nostalgic for a place I haven’t even left yet, and I don’t want to get to the end of this year and wish I had more time so I could actually learn to spend it well. I don’t want my emotional currency and my mental real estate to be spent and taken up by all the wrong things, so I’m finding myself in a place of reorganizing my priorities and reorienting my thoughts, while still trying to navigate those foggy mornings of grief. Sometimes the coffee tastes like guilt and shame, and sometimes the prayers don’t come as fluidly, but for some reason there’s still so much hope soaked into these moments. Sometimes the words get stuck in my throat, and I force them back down. Sometimes I feel the reassurance of, These are the people you need with you right now. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming peace when I’ve walked out of a mess. Sometimes it feels good to wake up slowly and watch the run rise through imperfect vision. And it’s also okay to accept that I feel all of these things very very deeply, all of the guilt and all of the love and all of the sorrow that sinks into every day, it’s okay to feel it all this deeply.

There has been a lot of aching and sadness and pain and desperation, and for the first time with a strength I haven’t known before in not allowing it all to control or dictate my days. It’s been overwhelming in moments, of course, but it hasn’t been something I’ve allowed to seep into the deep parts of my identity. I’m learning how to fall back in love with pieces of myself I fell out of love with in order to satisfy another person. And that’s a statement I wish I never would have had to write, but there’s more freedom in admitting that than trying to hold a Jenga tower full of pieces of shame and guilt and self-deception together. There have been a lot of unspoken words and whispers to God where I admit that I cannot do this on my own, if at all. God and I have a lot more of an open dialogue now, not just moments of deep need when I’m on my knees, though those have still come quite often. I wouldn’t say it’s as many intentional prayers as it is moments of desperation walking to class or standing in the back of the chapel or sitting in the passenger seat.

The honest prayers are starting to rise to the surface, above the mess and the what-ifs and the noise of everyone else’s voices, but I might not like the answers so I muster up all the strength I can on my own to shove them down. I want to ask, “God, what do You have for me in this next year?” but I’m terrified He might say something I’m not entirely sure about. I want to ask, “God, is this relationship life-giving or should I do away with it?” but I’m afraid His answer will be, “No and yes.” I want to ask, “God is how I’m living every single part of my life in a way that is glorifying to You?” but I feel the deep conviction of, “No.”

And that honesty is what draws us deeper into a relationship with Him and begins to change our hearts. I don’t get to experience that freedom and intimacy when I hold Him at arms length and pretend to ask Him what He wants for my life as if I’m going to be obedient to it in moments where I want to have full control everything to create a false sense of comfort. This is the part where the blanket is torn off of us and we’re met with the freezing atmosphere of the morning. This is our moment of bargaining with God when it was never our place to bargain. This is the reckoning.

My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God. If you say to God, ‘I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,’ that might be the most honest thing you’ve ever said. If you told me you had said to God, ‘It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,’ it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.
So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light. It is us reaching out to be heard, hoping to be found by a light and warmth in the world, instead of darkness and cold. Even mushrooms respond to light – I suppose they blink their mushroomy eyes, like the rest of us.
Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.” // Anne Lamott

There is joy in the humility and submission where my only prayer can simply be, “Help,” which is a lot of what it’s been lately. Help is the submission and the freedom of misunderstanding and mess. My priorities have not been here, and how can we expect miraculous things to happen if we can’t keep our head where our feet are? The enemy is working, and some days I can proclaim that more confidently than I can proclaim the name of the Lord. The enemy is twisting promises and creating noise that I’m being overwhelmed by. God gives me these people who I trust and who I hand my stories over to and the enemy deceives and puts blinders on, gives us the pedestal to place our idols on. However, there is boldness in abiding and crying out for help when we need our Father who holds our days in the palms of His hands, who does not deceive, and who remembers that we are dust. Literally, every single morning I can wake up hearing that He speaks victory and goodness and kindness and gentleness and humility over my life. That is something to celebrate and walk boldly in, even in moments where we want to cave and sip the guilt slowly and push down the words where we stand up for ourselves and demand respect and love.

Surround yourself with people who love you well and celebrate the small things and encourage you well and who will never stop reminding you that they are in your corner. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to desire to weed out the ones who drain you more than they build you up, and sometimes it’s a process, one I still struggle with every day. There is healing to be found in learning when to say enough is enough and there is beauty in the brokenness of hard relationships. God is in the business of making all things new. I find myself walking this part of my journey, the one of boundaries and asking guilt to leave, especially close to God, continually asking Him what His will is in these days and the mess and the aching.

There is healing in these words. There is healing in recognizing the mess of it all. There is freedom in the healing. And it’s the most miraculous part of Jesus I’ve ever known.

In learning all of these little things, I keep going back to that image of God rejoicing over us.  For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. When I let myself sink into that, I tap into a part of my identity that is powerful and that reminds me of the banner of victory already strung over me. Reading these words shoves out the guilt, makes the shame pack up and leave, and it frees up some of that mental real estate. It pulls me back to my seat at the Table and invites others to do the same.

I knew that You would come.

You stood outside my grave, with tears still on Your face. I heard You say my name, and my night was turned to day. You came, oh, I knew that You would come. And You sang, and my heart it woke up. Now I’m not afraid, I see Your face, I am alive. You came, I knew that You would come. And You said death’s only sleeping. With one word, my heart was beating. And I rose up from my grave, and my fear was turned to faith ’cause You came. Oh, I knew that You would come.

These are words I’ve been turning over again and again for the past week, and words that I’ve sang (read: screamed at the top of my lungs) in the countless miles I’ve gotten to drive over this past weekend. I knew that You would come. And those words are the thing that changes everything about the hope we have in Jesus, and I think those are the words are the bow that ties everything together perfectly in terms of everything I’ve felt and learned lately from God.

And maybe I am in a season of very heightened emotions, but I’m trying to choose to see it as a gift instead of somewhat of an annoyance that I’m constantly seeking to turn off. I’ve missed so many things lately, not in the way that I’ve let them slip by but that I just long for a lot of different things and my heart is in a million different spaces. I have woken up most mornings feeling the weight of the world and the sadness that comes with living in a world that is so broken, but I’m trying to choose to see that as a gift, to depend on God in a new way for peace and comfort. He calls us to live fully alive, and I think these are the moments when we get the opportunity to shut it down or lean into what God’s calling us into. He’s already come and the Victory has already been won, so we can feel the depth of brokenness without allowing it to take control of our lives.

I think there’s a reason I’m spending this time a lot more tenderhearted and inclined to what God is speaking into my heart instead of trying to shut it up. Yes, there are days when I wake up and think, “Dear God, if I tear up at another news headline or catch another pit in my throat from seeing a baby laugh, I’m going to freak out. Please keep it under control.” But then other days, I get the opportunity to sit in it, which is what I think God is intentionally inviting me into, especially in a season where He is the most consistent thing I know, as He always should be but is rarely the case when our flesh clings to anything else it can.

It’s so beautiful that in a season of so much change and transition, the greatest lesson I have been able to learn is about God’s steadfastness in the way He loves us so fiercely and cares for us in such detail, even in our feeling the weight of sadness and brokenness. I’ve had so many moments where I’m just stopped in whatever I’m doing, and I feel a comfort and peace of knowing that I get to do my days with Him. A lot of those moments I almost cry, but there’s also been a ton of pent up emotion, so I guess that’s normal, but then I have moments where I get to see God and I’m like, “WHY wouldn’t we all just cry in awe?” I think we ought to have that reaction a lot more than we do, and I think my greatest prayer should be that God would take away the numbness and restore us our sight to see things the way He intended them to be seen.

I went to visit one of my best friends on Lookout Mountain this past weekend, and every view I saw almost brought me to tears. Of course, this may have been embarrassing to cry at a hang gliding spot or to tear up just driving down the mountain and seeing the expanse of the city open up before you or to watch the sun set from her dorm room window. I caught myself every single time and thanked God that He would allow me to be loved so well by the people around me, but also that He would allow me to sit in awe of the things He created for me to see, like each view and conversation and comforting moment was a love letter from Him that I got to read over and over again and feel for the first time every time.

There’s an explanation for a song by one of my favorite songwriters, Sandra McCracken, where she says, “It’s God’s defiance against all that is broken and His ultimate Victory over those things, and the way that He accomplishes that is by His own steadfast, unrelenting, pursuing love, so I am staking everything on that.” His steadfast, unrelenting, pursuing love. What an image. That’s not just some far off thing that we get to watch like we watch a romantic comedy’s plot unfold on our laptops or read about in the classics, but that’s actually the way we’re loved. That same God we sing songs about is the same God that is unrelenting in His pursuit of YOU. I can’t fully grasp that, but I have a feeling that if I did, it would change everything about the way I live, as someone who is seen and known by God and fully loved and desired and sought after. I think it would make us stop seeking so much to have someone want us.

So maybe this is a season where I’m falling in love with everything around me but choosing to cling to God instead, because that’s such a nugget of wisdom I’ve needed to learn: you can fall in love with things, so long as it’s actually leading you to fall more in love with the God who created them, not just the thing itself moving higher and higher up on a pedestal.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Psalm 103 lately, and it’s one that a lot of people are familiar with, but I have found a lot of comfort from God in memorizing Scripture, which is never something I’d been hungry for until now. There’s something very special about being able to recall such rich truths about ourselves and about God in moments of panic and uncertainty and instability. I see the ultimate message being: He will always come through, above everything else. His character shows above everything. He is for us, and that’s something He also keeps reminding me of. I’ve needed to spend time in this because it helps the truths of who God is and who we are to not be overshadowed by the fears of who we are not.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;

    he remembers that we are dust.

The other beautiful thing is that this is how He calls us to love. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, so we ought to learn from this. He doesn’t deal with us according to our sins, so we shouldn’t deal with others in that way. He is merciful and gracious, so we ought to be the same. He has created us in His image, and He remembers that we are dust, but He asks us to love the way that He does because it is woven into the image of who we are and who He has created us to be. I can’t think of anything more honoring than to love like He does.

I think the best way to love the way He does and to pray that He would open our eyes to see like He does is to ask for humility, knowing that we can’t love like He does out of our own strength, but that we have to drink deep of His strength and His love in us.

This is a prayer I’ve posted before, but one I’ve begun to lean back into in a season of diligently learning how to love the way God loves us.

// Litany of Humility

Happy Tuesday, friends.

He is for you.

Man, this one has been a long time coming. The past few weeks have held a lot of transition, a little too much change, getting back into rhythms that seem foreign, some grieving, bits and pieces of processing, and a whole lot of desperately trying to rely on the Lord. Quick recap: I started my senior year of college yesterday (WHAT, I KNOW). Camp ended roughly 3 weeks ago, and there has been a lot of texting and FaceTime and phone calls trying to make it through that transition, but all sweet things. My family is in the process of moving out of a house we’ve lived in for a very long time, so there has been a ton of prayer and processing and packing up all that that held. There has had to be a lot of remembering that my actual family is home and the house is not. I’m still trying to navigate what grieving looks like and trying to take it one day at a time with the loss of a little friend who passed away at the beginning of the summer. There are a lot of road trips planned for the next few weekends, which I am beyond excited about. A couple weekends ago, we helped one of my best friends get settled into her new hometown and plan a wedding (ALSO WHAT!!). I’m in the process of getting back into regular rhythms with best friends and figuring out what the future is going to look like. I’m getting settled in with a sweet new roommate who God knew I needed in this season. It’s all been a lot but also something that has been so sweet, and I have felt God constantly caring for me in the details of every day.

Every day I’ve gotten to wake up and decide I want to do my days with God, and although it isn’t always the easiest, it’s always the most comforting because it means that I recognize that my grip on my days, memories, the people around me, everything really, has been so tight. I try to hold onto every single moment for dear life, and I miss the next one coming. In His kindness, He has shown me how to loosen my grip and trust what He’s got coming next, slowly but surely. I feel His kind and comforting reassurance every single morning.

This summer was wild. And I wish I had words that did the Lord’s work justice. Wild. Holy. Golden. Painful. Fruit-bearing. Faithful. Trustworthy. All of it. I could use all of those words. There’s a lot of peace in knowing that I serve a God so strong that my words will always be inadequate because that means I don’t need my words to be strong enough to stand on. I need His Word to be strong enough to stand on, and I have seen that in every single detail of this summer. He is matchless in the way He weaves our days together and cares for us in the details.

I never want to tire of singing praises to Him or doing good work in His name. It’s easy to get trapped in the idea of doing things to glorify ourselves or to just check off a to-do list, and I know we all do it from time to time, if not very often. This is the way we plan our days, what’s the most productive or what will make us feel the most accomplished. When I serve or do something good, I want it known, but God has been kind enough to humble me and show me that I am known, but I am known by Him which is such a gift that pales in comparison to being known by any human.

These weeks following camp have been very overwhelming. There are days when I want to find a specialist to turn my phone into and disconnect again or that I want to wake up and put my name tag on or that I miss having meals prepared for me so that was the last thing I had to think of. It’s a ton of little things I never knew I was taking for granted. I’ve had to acclimate to the real world again in ways I never imagined I would have to. I miss sweet little giggles every place I walked and the times we would stop wherever we were to pray with each other because it was such a natural thing to do. This life with school and an office job and to-do lists feels like it fits a little too tightly, and I’m having to settle back into it.

The hardest thing might have been realizing that the world kept moving when we were up on that mountain. There was still grieving to be done and bills being paid and moves being made that we got to be blissfully unaware of for 2 months. It was beautiful. It was probably the most comfort I’ve ever felt from God in the way He cared for me in the details of my days, the moments I was walking to breakfast and seeing sleepy little faces trying to get breakfast and wake up or moments when I got to listen to a ton of little girls scream about how Jesus called their names and they ran out of the grave. We walked on holy ground all summer. We watched girls say yes to Jesus for the first time in their lives. We watched girls say yes to him again and again. And it was the most beautiful thing I think I have ever been a part of. We watched their course of eternity be changed right before our eyes.

And then there were the people. I have never been so surrounded by so many women on the same mission, who wake up every single day craving nearness to the Lord and desiring to glorify Him in everything they did. They taught me how to serve earnestly, humble myself, and love so fiercely, most in ways they will never fully know.

These are people who walked back into the dark with me with a light through to Jesus, even in moments when they didn’t realize it. I sat in the back row of our last night together as a full staff during staff worship and heard, “You are for us, You are not against us,” and I had heard this song so many times before, but I sat there and all I could think was, I believe that You are good. I believe that You are for me. This is the first time I have believed that You are completely good.

I’d never really believed He was good, and I remember praying near the beginning of the summer that He would show me that He is good every single day, and He did. My stomach is flipping and my heart is pounding when I type that. He is so good, and I wish there were a bolder way to proclaim that. He is for us. He is enough. He is the strength in our weakness. He is kind enough to show us brokenness because it means that we know it falls from His design. His goodness was soaked in every detail of this summer, and something I’ve left camp realizing is that that same goodness soaked in the nights of worship and the early breakfasts and the walks around the lake is the same goodness woven into the details of every single day for us. The God I encountered for the first time on that little mountain is the same God I get to walk with every single day.

During that last night as a full staff in worship, one of my best friends pulled me in after the first song and said, “I want to encourage you at some point to stop singing and just listen, and you can’t tell me that’s not what Heaven is going to be like.” It was moments like that when it felt like their was no veil at all, and Jesus, in His kindness and sweetness and mercy, was showing us what the Kingdom looks like, that we would spend the rest of eternity praising Him and worshiping Him in all that we do and with all that we are. If I have walked out of this summer with more confidence in anything, it is this:

He is so good to us. He is so faithful. He is for us. 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” // 1 Corinthians 10:31

The thinnest veil.

It’s my off night.

I’m sitting here with a full journal, full heart, sort of empty tank in terms of energy, but also a body full of caffeine. I’m about to go devour some Chinese food, but I couldn’t pass this night by without laying out what the past few weeks have looked like and showing you a glimpse of what God is doing in the world around me. I always seem to crawl back to this corner of the internet when I’ve had a lot on my plate, eaten it all, come back for seconds, and here we are.

The Lord is so near. We can start there. I know I’ve written before about the veil and how there are moments when God is kind in showing me how thin that veil between Heaven and earth can be. The past few weeks, I have been. touching. Heaven.

This is the thinnest the veil has ever been.

Hear me when I say that.This place is so special, and I’m understanding why people say this camp really is holy ground. The Lord’s work is so evident, but it’s also a place where I see wars being waged on girls’ lives. We get to see them realize that a victory has already been won for them, and that has been such a gift.While I get to hold little hands during roller skating or watch girls realize they are called God’s accomplishment (you are too, just so you know – Ephesians 2:10) or watch young women live out of the freedom God invites them into or watch girls accept their seats at table for the first time, I also see a battle being waged in my own life.

I have learned more about my relationship with the Holy Spirit in the past 5 weeks than I may have ever learned in my life, in all honesty. For a long time, I said my prayers to Jesus, knew about the Trinity, sometimes talked to my Heavenly Father, but never fully grasped what it meant to have the Holy Spirit living inside of each of us. Our senior worship speaker read a quote in one of our morning services that said: “When all hell breaks loose, we have Heaven living inside of us.” This came at a time when I was starting to understand what it meant to trust the Lord with everything in me, including my relationships, my failures, all of it.

I find myself sitting down in the mornings and finally deeply desiring to spend time intentionally in God’s presence, where I recognize that’s what I’m doing. I sat down this morning and wrote a list of all the things I want to trust Him with. I want to trust Him with my position at camp, with the lives of campers, with my job, with each and every relationship I have, with every failure, with every lie I let take up residence in my brain, with every step I take in every single day. I sat in a big red truck we named Clifford and talked to a dear friend about how we both can trust God with our lives, like our plans a year from now, but we can’t manage to trust Him with the next day or the next hour or the next minute. We worry and stress and have anxiety built up in us, but we have a Creator who has already written every single one of our days before we were ever born. Maybe you need that reminder today, and maybe I do too, but we have to live out of that. When our circumstances say no way, we get to fix our eyes on a God who makes His way in everything.

I prayed a lot at the beginning of the summer that God would teach me about intimacy and what His design is for that piece of our relationships. I wanted help and endurance to not cling to the people around me but to realize the gift that intimacy is. When I start to understand intimacy with God, I can recognize the beauty of intimacy in our earthly relationships. About this time, I started to realize the importance of the Holy Spirit living within us, and God showed me that that is the ultimate intimacy we need to receive and understand.

Here’s the thing with intimacy. I can make it up. Why do you think people devour romance novels or dream of waking up next to someone? We have a desire in all of our hearts to be fully known and deeply loved, but that desire, every ounce of it, is satisfied in our Creator, Maker, Redeemer, Healer, Satisfier of our souls, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He is who we need Him to be because He is enough and He is everything.

For a long time I was forcing myself to say, “God, You are good,” even when I knew I didn’t believe it. I had one of the best conversations that, in His kindness, the Lord showed me was very much from Him, and He showed me that I kept asking Him over and over again, “God, are You good?” when I knew I had already made up my mind that the answer was no. However, He shifted my thoughts and instead moved the question to, “How are You good?” And that shift has made the biggest difference. He has been kind in showing me moments every day where I get to see His goodness. I can’t sit here and tell you that I believe He is completely good, but I can tell you the good is outweighing the bad today, in this moment. I have had to wake up every day, and say, “Jesus, I trust you. I don’t know if you’re good today, but I trust that you will show me.”

I have had to learn what grieving looks like in the past few weeks, which has been the most difficult part of camp. I was told that grieving is realizing that we have deviated from the original design that God had intended for the world, and that helped grieving click a little better. Grieving is weird. I would like to say that my plan is to make it to my bunk at 11 o’clock at night, in the dark, have a good cry, and go to bed, but it’s usually in the most inconvenient moments when I cry in the middle of our staff lodge or I find my heart in a not so gracious or compassionate spot or I feel like the entire weight of the world is on my shoulders or I hear a little girl laugh that reminds me of her laugh or I listen to “Let It Go” at one of our Nite Lifes and just start crying.

It looks different every day, but the most beautiful thing I’ve been in the process of doing is allowing myself to grieve. And maybe you’re in the same spot. And it sucks. But we have a hope that far outweighs the grief and the sorrow and the darkness in the world and the hard days. We get to cling to the One that says there will come a day when we will sit in His presence and there will be no more death and no more tears and no more pain and no more brokenness. We get to cling to the One who has planned that glorious day.

But for now, I get to wake up every single morning and love the people around me so fiercely and learn how to serve humbly and walk with Jesus in the hard and in the beautiful, and some moments that are both. He has gifted me with some of the most beautiful friendships I have ever seen because they have all been built on Him. I have learned what it looks like to pour my heart out to Him before anyone else. I have learned what it looks like to serve humbly like never before by the people the Lord has placed strategically around me. I get to wake up every day and say, “Holy Spirit, I trust You,” and this is the greatest place I have ever been standing.

Craving a space to breathe [and unpack the boxes].

When May rolls around, I find myself buried in bed sheets and old journals, forcing myself to see what I’ve learned in the past year. It’s easy to close out another school year and feel like I’m in the same place, but that’s never really the case. This time, school has ended, but I’m actually back at home for about 2 weeks before heading straight into being a videographer for WinShape Girls Camp (SUPER exciting stuff!!!). That also means that this is the first time I’ve had to move all of my stuff home, which was quite scary because there was entirely too much stuff, but I also have to pack up my childhood bedroom because my parents are preparing to move. I also have to pack for camp, and it’s honestly like my bed is an island in a sea of boxes of dorm stuff and old stuff. It’s quite chaotic.

There’s a lot of stuff. A lot of memories. And honestly, I’m quite tempted to toss it all and start all over (I’m not going to do that, but some mornings I wake up and definitely want to). I’ve had to go ahead and start thinking about post grad, learning how to save a lot of money while still buying stuff for camp and summer fun things.

I also got the AWESOME opportunity to share what God has been up to in my life in the past year at Stonecreek Wake (the student ministry where I became a Christian), alongside some awesome people who have also shared time in the ministry. It looked like a lot of talking about restoration, the dreams God has put in my heart, and learning what it means to follow Him in new ways.

Life is really wild right now, but I’m a big fan of it.

I feel like God has surrounded me with people He intended to have take care of me. Thank you, Jesus, for your kindness and your attention to details in the way I receive and feel love the best. Thank you for your solidarity. Even when the ocean around me is in complete chaos, hurricane season, if you will, you have set me secure on the oil rig.” 5/28/2016

Reflecting used to be one of my most favorite things in the world, but now I’ve found it to be a very difficult thing. Finals have finished. I’ve got a few days at home under my belt, the perfect balance of creating a morning routine and doing things to still push myself. I’m learning how to get back in the habit of writing every day, cutting back on coffee, and drinking more water. Let me tell you, it’s a whole lot easier to eat healthy at home because there’s a kitchen where everything is conveniently located. It’s been a slow and beautiful past few days though. However, still difficult and painful to process because I’ve spent the last year and a half shoving difficult things to the back of my mind, half-heartedly promising to “deal with it” later.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while now, trying to undo the knots in my head and in my heart because anything else I gave to you would be inauthentic. I said, “This will be real or it will be nothing,” and that’s the way I’ve felt about God lately. He’s either real, or He’s not. (Spoiler alert: He is, it is just taking me a while to sink deep in that).

I opened my Bible the other morning for the first time in months, or at least the first time I was really ready to confront God and learn more about Him without complaining about not knowing Him while not being in His Word. I’m not really in that place I used to be at with God, where you’re mad at someone but you can still sit down to lunch with them. I’ve grown more stagnant because I wasn’t willing to unpack a lot of baggage I’ve shoved into the back of my closet.

I have never found myself so desperate for God from such a stagnant place. I have needed God in my deepest valleys, but I’ve looked up to find the person beside me and clung to them. Every time. But I have never really been in this place, not steeped in strong emotion, not wanting to cling to anyone, and needed so desperately to cry out to God. I don’t have anyone to latch onto, but that’s a very good thing, and I don’t feel alone either. It’s a strange place to be in, and to be quite honest, I haven’t had the words for that until now.

I am very aware of my deep need for God.

I need not retreat into a quiet space or my work or academia or even into another person, but to fall headfirst and backward into the deep love and mercy of Jesus. That will be my greatest treasure and my deepest freedom: to know Christ fully, wholly, and with abandon.

I keep asking God to just show me how wonderful He is. He already is awesome and wonderful, but I want to recognize that and be inspired by the ultimate Creator. It is much more difficult to become discouraged when our hearts are knit to His and we take the time to slow down and recognize that. He is so big, mighty, and we’ve already been risen in His Victory. We are victorious over all of our fears, doubts, and anxiety because of His Victory. That is such a sweet reminder that I have needed for so long.

So, basically it felt like I was learning nothing from God for a very long time, but now it’s this steady incline of realizing He has been slowly teaching me things the entire time. You know, I don’t want to view God as cryptic because He does not withhold good things from His children, but sometimes I do see Him as someone who holds an answer over my head and laughs while I jump. That is so not true. He is in the waiting. We don’t have to decipher Him; we have to be patient and quiet and wait for Him. In His strength will we find our stillness and victory.

I’m super excited about this summer, and I am expecting that God is going to do beautiful things. I’ve pushed myself from one thing to the next so quickly and haven’t taken the time to truly slow down and be still before God, so I am sure this will be a summer of healing and restoration.

I keep coming back to the idea that one day, we will get to be fully satisfied in beholding God and being in His presence while He heals ALL that has been broken.

I love new beginnings. And I hate endings. Long goodbyes are never enough. And I will never not have an entire well of tears. I also keep coming back to this piece of Scripture: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” and He calls us to be the same. So I wake up some mornings and want to scream because I miss people so much or because bitterness takes chunks of my heart and makes it ache with resentment, but I remember that my God looks at me and loves me in my disgusting bitterness and hard heart. But He is merciful. He is gracious. He is slow to anger. He is abounding in steadfast love. He is an overflowing well, and He will never cease to offer us a drink. Let’s receive it.

Here’s to learning how to receive mercy, but also start to show it again.

Get ready, there’s a lot more where this came from. Happy Fri-yayyy, and here’s to the weekend.

Creative Crack: #OscarsSoWhite

You may think, “#OscarsSoWhite happened so long ago. Why is this even a blog title right now?”

Have you ever seen a train wreck of a situation happen for a company and wonder who has to deal with it? Have you seen the issues with Pepsi, Sean Spicer, and United within the last couple weeks? Crisis Management is one of the most important facets of PR, and #OscarsSoWhite is a prime example of people who tried to deal with a crisis well.

Can anyone ever do anything perfectly? Of course not. Can we learn a thing or two about damage control when we work for companies that set themselves in the middle of the public eye? Absolutely.

#OscarsSoWhite helps us to see the steps a company, or in this case The Academy, take in order to come back from a situation that could have made people scoff at the idea of the Oscars for a long time to come. However, after a year of a mess, The Academy was able to put out a response after the 2016 Academy Awards, and they also were able to make a turn for the better during the 2017 Oscars.

So what did they do?

  • Confront the situation. Some companies decide not to say anything, and that may be the worst thing you could possibly do, aside from saying more terrible things. However, the Academy came out with a statement when they were under fire for having all-white nominees for two years in a row. They stated the facts and started a dialogue with the public. They released the following statement on Twitter (the best form of social media when in a crisis):
  • Actions speak louder than words. The president of the Academy announced in that message that the Academy would be seeking to diversify their membership, and while it hasn’t been a drastic change, it has been a slow and steady change that they have clearly worked on.
  • Time is of the essence. These were actions that took place within the week. The Academy had called together their Board of Governors for the association and released this statement. In it they said,

The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up. These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

  • Actions speak louder than words pt. 2. During the Oscars of 2017, actors who were not white were nominated for Oscars. Among those nominated were 3 black actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and a black actor and actress were in the running for Best Actress and Best Actor. However, the greatest accomplishment to note was Moonlight, with a predominantly black cast, won the Best Picture, and both Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor Oscars were taken home by Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali.
Business Insider
  • Perhaps the greatest thing we can learn though: Leave them talking…about something good. The night of the 2017 Oscars left people talking because the Best Picture was first, mistakenly, awarded to La La Land, and revoked to be handed to the cast of Moonlight. There is the smallest chance this was an accident, but there is a greater chance this was the Academy explicitly showing, “Look, we are taking this Oscar from an all-white cast and making a drastic change by handing the most prized Oscar to a cast of minorities.”

This may have been the most brilliant comeback I’ve ever experienced in terms of organizations with a voice in the arts making an actual difference and strides in diversity. What a moment. What a cast. What beautiful crisis management.