feeling grabby

I’m sitting in my favorite Starbucks in leggings that I love. headphones in my ear, trente vanilla iced coffee, no classic, with cream, venti iced water (one drink is never enough) within reach. I admit, it’s not cold enough for leggings. September 29th in the south does not mean it’s cold; this should come as no shock to me.

there’s this line in this Lauren Daigle song that says, “You tell the seasons when it’s time for them to turn”. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I got annoyed that it’s “fall” and doesn’t feel that way. but I’m reminded that even down to the calendar, all is held within the Lord’s hands. and that I hold no thing within my hands.

yesterday, I read this Bob Goff quote. “embrace uncertainty. some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.”

hm. the adjective I’ve been using to describe the way I feel lately is grabby. when I say it, I picture myself walking down an aisle at the grocery store, reaching high and bending low to collect all the things that I want and think I should have. I’ll reach for this because I think I should have it nowI’ll take that because that sounds fun. or the worst one: I need to feel better about this thing, so give me that thing. 

I’ve done little to embrace uncertainty and a lot to encourage satisfaction right now in this season. I made a joke yesterday that I’ve been calling my life “this season” for like three years now, lol. as if three years is only a season. obviously God is having a tough time getting through to me. it seems that my grabby tendency stands in opposition to the gospel and to the God that has already taken hold of me and given me every good thing.

though satisfy-myself-now my natural inclination, I think I’m beginning to get that this has never worked for me.

see, I’m finding that I can reach for things as long as I remember that they’re not what fills the cup. I had a hard, weird day; I can go get an ice cream cone only if I know – like deep in my soul know – that it doesn’t fill my cup. that it can’t satisfy my soul. I can reach for temporary satisfying things only if I’m sure that my soul only finds rest in the Giver of life.

for me, every moment I have to consider it. I wake up on a Saturday morning with no plans, reach for a person to spend time with me, send a text and find a friend and we sit across from coffee tables at our favorite Starbucks. but when I start to believe that somehow I can have value only if that person wants to be with me too, I only set myself up to be forever searching for the next, right thing (grabby). but when I can consider that the Father that I know and adore has already given me value, I can sit at coffee tables at my favorite Starbucks – alone or with all my favorite people – and actually have peace and rest.

I think in my head, I’ve convinced myself that a lot of things would fix a lot of my problems. if God would just give me xyz, this would be a dang lot easier. if only God would just give me what I want, this would be easier.

yikes. I think that there is beauty in finding that all the pieces you think you need cannot satisfy your soul. that feels like the best release. that promises me that I cannot do anything right enough or wrong enough to satisfy my own soul. for this enneagram 1 that thinks she has to be totally good enough, that makes me weepy. that is a freedom that I want to live in.

here’s to being in progress and figuring it out. here’s to being less grabby – not because that is sinful but because my motives are. here’s to remembering the Father that has already done all the things for me. here’s to grace upon grace and letting that fuel me, rather than the shame my head wants to use as a motivator. here’s to the beauty that in – really and truly and fully – found only in the kindness of God. here’s to a heart that is bent towards Him and not to all my crap. here’s to freedom and to my favorite Starbucks and to those headphones and to a soul at peace.

a late 24th

well, my birthday was almost a month ago.

I always come here and talk about what the previous year taught me as a way to say cheers as what the new year will teach me. I tell you how the Lord has been kind and how He has taken away and how I learned to trust Him in both. and how I’m jumping head first into my new digits.

lately, life feels so sweet. one time recently, I said that I finally feel like I’m showing up for my life. that’s only gotten better. my showing up has been so fun. life feels fun. insert all the party emojis here, people.

so for my 24th that was almost-a-month-ago, let’s talk about what I’m loving this season. maybe that 23rd year recap will come someday.

I am loving Baxter. omg, that little chunk makes my heart sing. sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I feel his little body against mine and it is just so special. his little paws, the way he puts his face against my face, how he snores even when he’s awake. I am so loving this little pup.

I am loving evening walks. for sure my favorite rhythm this summer. it has become a discipline that I adore.

I am loving – and living for – summer. I was dreading it because it’d be slow, but the slowness is exactly what my soul needed. it’s making me drag a bit (likely because I will sweat buckets if I move more quickly), and I’m thankful because I’m forced to stop hustling so hard. Jesus, don’t let me take a single day for granted, summer rocks.

I am loving meeting new friends. the last few times I’ve said yes, I have left those meetings loving Jesus more. I am loving my community.

I am loving finishing projects. ugh, this one makes me want to roll my eyes because I’m such a perfectionist, but it’s just true: I feel like a better me when I am productive. I love being able to complete something that I’ve thought about. it has felt like holy ground.

I am loving the Braves. this is nothing new, but I genuinely look forward to watching. being a fan of something – no matter what it is or how big it is – and getting so behind it is just the best.

I am loving the pool. which I thinks mean that I am loving my body. it makes sense that this would follow a healthier view of my body because – truly – I feel that bodies are a work of art (see My Body Freedom for more on that). but I’m loving being at the pool in my bathing suit. high fives all around for freedom.

I am loving traveling. contradictory to my usual pace, I filled my summer with cities other than home. seeing my people in their places is one of the best gifts this summer.

I am loving good books. so many good books. summer, you are bliss.

I am loving my sister. I mean, I always have. but she’s 21 now and being adults together is just so cool. it feels almost like I’m figuring it out all over again with her too. she spent her birthday with me because she wanted to and that just feels like the world to me.

I am always loving enneagram. recently, I’ve found compassion within the enneagram and that has been so sweet to my soul. rather than seeing my identification with the 1 as a cage to hold me in, I’ve begun to see it for its uniqueness and its beauty and its charm. man. that has blessed me so deeply.

I am loving freedom. it is like my soul thirsts for it now. I crave it. I want it in every area of my life now that I know I already have it. Jesus, help me feel it deep on my soul. for freedom I’ve been set free, for freedom I’ve been set free. let that not get old.

and I guess I am loving fun. I mentioned “fun” a lot here. this year has been challenging and like I’m learning way too much, but it truly has been so fun. cheers to 24, you look dang good already.

I’d tell you how I’m being set free

I’m going to think of this like we’re sitting down for coffee. a corner table.

that feels appropriate. because that feels real and intimate. if I’m typing this only to myself, that doesn’t feel good enough. I’m going to let you take me to coffee. and I need to be saying this to you because I have deeply needed people these days.

so I’m going to think of this like we’re sitting down for coffee and you asked how I actually am. I’d put on a brave face and be honest.

I’d start by telling you how I used to struggle to sing some lyrics in songs. in one song, there’s one line that talks about surrendering everything – loved one, dreams, hopes – to Jesus. I’d tell how I always skipped singing that line because I didn’t really believe it. it wasn’t that I believed I shouldn’t believe it. but it was that it didn’t feel true to me. I didn’t want to surrender everything to Jesus. I didn’t feel that I would have everything I need if it was only Jesus.

I’d tell you how this season, the Lord has been doing a work. how I had no idea I was in for this doozy of a year. how I feel that I have grown leaps and bounds, learned to love the Lord with more intentionality and more tenderness, and have been given eyes to see all the miracles. all since 2018 began.

I’d tell you that this week, something happened that kind of derailed me. it exposed a lot of idols that I didn’t know were hiding in my heart. it exposed a lot of fear. it exposed a lot of misplaced hope. I would probably tear up a bit.

I would tell you how I took a gift – something good from the Lord – and set it up so high that it shattered when it fell. I’d tell you how my hope fell with it. I would definitely make a joke about how silly it sounds to put my hope in something that I can manipulate. I’d smirk here.

and then I would start talking out of order and tell you how this happening feels sort of like a reckoning to not being able to sing those lyrics. I would roll my eyes and move my hands a lot and say yes, I know that God is so good. so, so good. yes, I know that He gives good gifts. yes, I know that He is for me and He keeps His promises and that I find my yes and amen in Him alone. yes, I know. but! things like a husband one day and the need to feel secure and my community and my need to be good enough and my need to be affirmed were just some of the places I was putting my hope. I’d confess that I trusted God, but also I trusted all those things. and how I needed both.

then I’d correct that – I thought I needed both. and then I had something not go my way, and I kindaalmostbasically threw a temper tantrum. I’d explain that the problem wasn’t in promises unfulfilled, but rather, it was in seeing where my hope actually came from and how backwards I had placed it.

I would tell you how I think the hardest part of this thing is that it felt like a blow my identity. surely there are tears here because this cuts. it was so much less about losing what could’ve been, more about this aching, painful pruning that the Lord is doing in me. I’d touch my chest because it actually does ache as I feel my flesh and my soul at odds with each other. the Father seems to be pulling away my idols so that I’ll stop putting my hope in things other than Him.

I’d quote Body Matters, my small group book. I’d interject to tell you how that book is wrecking me in the best of ways. I’d pull out my underlined copy and find the quote, page 70 – “it is when we allow these good things to become ultimate things, when we are driven along by our passions for comfort, control, power, and approval that we corrupt these good God-given gifts.”

that’s how this feels. this feels like I took a good thing and made it my ultimate thing, and now, it feels corrupted and uprooted and unfulfilled. it sucks and it hurts.

but then I’d tell you about my hope. the hope that I have learned by the abundant grace of the good, good, good God that we serve: but you know what I’m confident in? that at the end of this, I will look more like Jesus.  I’ll walk out of this looking more like Jesus than I ever have before. I’d tell you about that podcast I listened to where Annie said this – “pain and poison will always get out. you get to decide how it leaves.” and I’d tell you that I’m deciding how the poison gets out. and it is moving a bit slow and it feels thick and gross, but that I’m letting it runs its course while I cling to the only One that can actually carry the weight of my worship.

I’d tell you this is how God is healing me. how He has given me wisdom to see it all lately. this is how Jesus has been after my heart lately. I’d probably be a bit weepy by now because I feel raw and tender and so exposed. but I’d tell you that I have a problem with needing to be affirmed, I’d definitely talk a lot about enneagram 1, and I’d tell you that this is where that all comes from – be enough, Brenna.

I’d tell you about how I keep thinking that I can hear the Lord telling me, “Brenna. you were focused on this”, and He’d hold cup His hands really small, “when I was trying to give you all of this,” and He’d make big motions towards the sky. I’d tell you how that makes me want to weep, and I’d dramatically say, “God! I don’t want to miss out! fix my eyes!”

and then I’d probably let you speak some life. I’d ask you to text me those things too so I don’t forget them. and then I’d screenshot those messages. because Jesus, I can’t feel it now, but I know that You are working in me. I’d let you tell me all the lies I’m currently believing so that on the other side of this – the walk out where I look more like Jesus – I would be able to call BS on the stories I once believed. I’d let you quote the Word to me so that, next time I’m derailed, I can remember how it carried me out of this. and I’d let you remind me of my value because it feels low. because rejection of any sort is hard. because following Jesus isn’t easy.

and I’d tell you how I’m still asking Jesus for all the same things, all the same desires. how I haven’t quite figured out how to not but how I’m holding it loosely and getting real honest with God. how I’m saying Jesus, I want this, but I also want you, so take it away if it’s not from you. I’d tell you that I’m chanting lyrics like if more of You means less of me, take everything and in every comfort, Jesus is better, make my heart believe, and how I’m halfway believing them and asking them, but that’s better than nothing, right?

and then I’d kind of talk to myself, remembering that Jesus is the cup, and the rest is overflow. and I’d hug you. and I’d tell you thank you and I’d tell you how this little corner has felt so safe to me. and that you’re allowed to laugh at me in ten years (no sooner) over how dramatic this conversation feels, but make you promise me that you’ll not laugh now because it’s too real.

and I’d walk out with my head just a bit higher as my story continues to set me free.

my body freedom

there seem to be some themes that the Lord has been chanting for a while. my body and how I care for it has been one of those for the last six months or so. it seems that every book I’ve read, podcast I’ve listened to, sermon I’ve heard is about stewardship or being content with how the Lord made me or accepting myself or loving myself or having grace with myself.

I have never really cared about my body. I’ve always been a number of things (tall, half-black, half-white, heavier, etc.) that have triggered some insecurities for me in my life, but I seriously have been so blessed to always be a pretty confident gal. I am often beating to my own drum. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve worn a one piece. And I almost always roll my eyes when someone is being ridiculously insecure (sorrrrrry). I just never really cared what people thought about my body.

so fast forward a bit. in November 2017, I decided that I would do a Whole30 in January. I was eating terribly and did noooot feel good. I had gained a few pounds and didn’t feel awesome about that. I needed to like vegetables to be an adult or something, so I decided on give it a go.

then, in December, the Lord brought down some conviction on how I was stewarding my body (or not stewarding it, for that matter). I began to feel this stirring to actually care – not care what people think of me, but care about using this thing that the Lord gave me. not to the glory of myself, but because the world knows what I believe and where my hope lies based on how I treat the gifts of the Father. such as my body.

and then in January, of course, I was put into a place to lead a small group on the body. of course.

as I began to learn more about my body and why it matters, I felt the chains holding me. I realized I was enslaved to things that I didn’t even know I had a problem with. I learned that confident does not equal comfortable. on the outside, little gets to me. but feeling uncomfortable in my own skin was something I couldn’t just brush off anymore. the Lord took me on this journey of figuring out how I treat my body and why it even matters.

and from there, the Lord gave me care. I read about how your body is a temple, how Holy Spirit dwells inside of it of alllllll the places He could have chosen to live. I listened to stories about the lies we believe and crash diets and what we think value means and my heart broke for how confused, frustrated, and downright mean we are. I read about finding my worth in the clothes I wear and the exercise I do. I prayed for freedom from my body – not for pounds lost or for better skin or for slimmer thighs or healthier hair, but for freedom from the idea that this thing is where my value lies.

I started running. for as long as I can remember, I have hated running. like hated it. it was like there was a wall between running and me, and I had just accepted that it would be something I’d never be able to do. but why should I accept that my body can’t do a normal thing at only 23 years old? that’s silly. so I started #onemileworship-ing. I’ve worshipped for one mile for the last 35 days. I decided that this thing has to be about the Lord, because anything less than the good Father that I adore is fleeting and cannot hold the weight of my worship. so I made a playlist and I showed up to the gym and took step after step.

I started eating low carb. I was putting a loooot of unhealthy things in my body. I had zero filter and zero care. now, I love roasted broccoli. and grilled chicken. and I eat butternut squash. and cashews are my snack.

and somehow, because the Lord is in it, this whole thing has felt like worship. I’ve carefully guarded it all. I don’t beat myself up over a slow run. I don’t have a meltdown when the numbers on the scale don’t change. I don’t rely on the one thing I sorta have control over to give me hope. this has to be about the Lord.

I don’t have any magic tricks. I don’t know the secret formula. I don’t know how many carbs per day you should eat. I still don’t love all vegetables, and sometimes I eat food I don’t want to eat and other times, I eat food and am tempted to feel guilty and shameful. but I do know that when you keep showing up in obedience to the Lord, He will keep showing up too. not to say that He ever stopped showing up. but every time I’ve said “okay, Lord, here we go”, He has met me with grace upon grace upon grace. His kindness has found me in such tender ways that I could weep. that I have wept.

I’ve found so much freedom. maybe that’s really what He has been chanting all along. I didn’t even know I needed freedom. I didn’t even know I had a problem. I didn’t even know there were any chains. but I’ve stopped believing the stories I tell myself. I’ve stopped feeling discontent when I look in the mirror. I’ve stopped giving myself so much credit, because every time it’s been about me, it hasn’t worked.

I’m not near perfect. I’m not even close to done with this journey. but if I know one thing, it is this – the Lord cares. He cares for the small things and the big things. He cares that I don’t love my thighs and He cares that my heart sometimes gets broken. I feel so deeply loved and known because I know that my Father cares about all of this.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He (not your weight, not your endurance, not your strength, not your false hopes, not your idols) will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55.22

remembering 2017

I’m terrible at remembering.

Really and truly, my memory, mostly my long term memory, is so bad. I forget to mail packages or to call the doctor and important dates. But worse than those, I forget memories quite often. I should name it “2017: the Year of the iPhone Calendar” because that calendar was the only reason I was successful at anything.

But often, I just need to be reminded. For the most part, once I’m reminded, I remember. And with that, here are the 2017 tales as told by my Instagram Best 9.


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my anthem for the year: life is a gift and the Giver is good. #thelittleminthouse | July 3, 2017

This one. Ah. This moment came after a couple months of some depression. A kind of depression that kept me up at night and crippled me. I didn’t realize this time was quite so raw until I started remembering it now and tears came to my eyes. This reminds me that sometimes people suck. This reminds me that not everyone treats others fairly. This reminds me just how much of a homebody I am. This reminds me that I can seriously derailed when I don’t feel at home. But more than those, this reminds me that the Lord gives good gifts. This reminds me that goodness is on the other side of listening to the whispers from the Spirit. This reminds me that I can be more full of faith than I would have ever thought possible. This reminds me to wait for the best yes.


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I was believing every lie. I was begging to be noticed and cherished and worthy. Six years ago, my wailing turned to dancing. I rose up from needing affirmation, needing to be enough, needing to be adored. From sinner to saint, orphan to daughter, wretched to redeemed, old has gone and clothed with joy, I was given a new name. No other fount I know, Jesus. You are better than life. | September 18, 2017

This. This reminds me that the Father is still after my heart. I’m teary again, maybe it’s just that 2017 was a lot. This reminds me that I’ve been set free. This reminds me of rekindling an old friendship and just how sweet that can feel. This reminds me that, more than anything, even in the busyness of the day-to-day, I am deeply, deeply grateful that God saved my soul. I don’t think I remember that one often enough.


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the Lord is saying a lot of things in this season. faithfulness is one of those things. my people are getting married 🙌🏽 #MakeHerAMassengale | June 30, 2017

This reminds me that I can celebrate the gifts that God gives my friends without longing for them. This reminds me that He is kindest Father. This reminds me that when I buy in to what the Lord is doing, I could run and sing and dance because of the joy that comes. This reminds me that marriage is good and from the Lord. This reminds me of sweating on summer nights outside under twinkly lights. This reminds me that He is faithful if I’m quiet enough to hear it.


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here’s to embracing wildly curly hair, extending grace for all the hard days (and sister, there are lots), and learning to be okay with not being the “adult” I thought I should be by now. big, big thanks to @ashleytstout for reminding me to be happy with the season I’m in. hit her up if you need some snapshots 😻 | March 25, 2017

This reminds me that I’m beautiful. It reminds me that I’m not a size 2. It reminds me that my hair is hard to tame and that’s a gift. It reminds me that grace to myself is just as important as grace to anyone else. It reminds me of Enneagram 1 and the ache that I feel over that. It reminds me of feeling inadequate. It reminds me of being present and how that matters more than being perfect.


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In high school, we spent every weekend together. Now, five years later, we can get together and it feels like nothing has changed. Cheers to weddings that bring us all together, cheers to Aiken, cheers to my people 🍺 #LindseyRunsOnDuncan | May 13, 2017

This day. This reminds me of my best friend and the joy in my heart over watching her happy. This reminds me of high school. This reminds me of the gross taste of Old Fashioned cocktails. This reminds me that I’m way critical of myself and I need to work to see myself as lovable. This reminds me tight hugs from sweet boys that have rallied for me. It reminds me of crying over sparkler sendoffs because it meant everything changes. This sings of friendships that really can last. This feels like home.


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I’ve spent most of the year being the most hopeful while also the most questioning, the most faithful while the most aching, the most needing of a good Father that gives life. it’s been a season of waiting while I begged for things to move, a season that taught me to say “have it all, Lord”. and now, August. oh August, I think you’ll be my redemption song. and I’m here for it. | August 1, 2017

This reminds me that we live in the tension. This feels like “you can have it all, Lord.” This feels like promises answered in the nick of time. This reminds me of hardwoods under my feet. This reminds me of the sunroom that I was so excited about, the one I need to throw some summer ’18 parties in. This reminds me that home really is so, so sweet to me. This reminds me of hot days and espadrilles. This reminds me of promises fulfilled in ways far bigger than just a roof. This reminds me that even August can redeem some things. This reminds me that the light always wins.


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The eclipse was amazing, and I really almost cried when it happened bc thankful for this job, thankful for this university, and so so so thankful for this team. my cup big time overflows. | August 21, 2017

This day. Maybe my favorite day of 2017. This reminds me that God is still in the business of performing miracles. This reminds me of fun and how I Enneagram wing to a 7. This reminds me that my job is such a blessing and that my people are – seriously – the best gift I could have ever received in this season. This reminds me of summertime tans. This reminds me of Welcome Week and being so tired and delirious. This reminds me of laughable puns and Interstellar. This reminds me that I’m living the best life.

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 10.52.47 PM.pngHappy November from the 117. ❤️ | November 25, 2017

This reminds me that things die in the wintertime. I’ve spent too much time thinking of how I could photoshop some alive plants into this picture. This reminds me of the blessing that is Baxter. This reminds me how thankful I am to have someone else depending on me. In the most innocent of ways, Baxter has always given me a reason to come home. That responsibility feels perfect. This reminds me that even though he peed on my bed last night, he is worth having. This reminds me that a good contour goes a long way. This reminds me that new friends are sweet. This reminds me that traditional things in a year of change is weird but can still be so good.


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Need advice? Get a job with your best friends, and it’ll really feel like you’re getting paid to have fun. 🎉 | October 21, 2017

And this. This series. Last but not least, this reminds me that I have an incredible job with incredible opportunities. This reminds me that working with some of my best friends is amazing. This reminds me that hot stone massage pedicures after a doozy of a week are always a good idea. This reminds me that pricier dresses that are funky and different can also be a good idea. This feels like gifts can come from really unexpected places. This feels like the Lord softening my heart. This reminds me October is good.

Slow tears dripped down my cheeks this entire post. Man. Lol. 2017, you were one for the books. We sucked and we sang. We danced and we fought. We laughed. We drank. We read and cried and believed and stood. We were weird and hard and rewarding. We were something. We lived.

2018, the year I’m expectant. I’ve settled on that word. I want to live as if God really is the God of immeasurably more. I want to live outside of what I would expect of God. I want to see miracles. I want to see promises fulfilled because I wad obedient enough to believe in them. I want to believe that heaven can kiss earth while I watch. Not expecting. That would mean that I’ve got something I need fulfilled. No, I’m expectant and waiting.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

a story to tell

I’m making myself write this.

I’m making myself sit in front of this screen, candle lit and Johnnyswim singing about heaven and second chances and Annie, and I’m making myself type some words and not stop until they say something, even if it’s just a lot of rambling. like a sprint, I’m just gonna keep typing.

I have felt for some days now that somewhere inside me, words were there. there were there and waiting on me to call upon them.

I think that people flippantly talk about graduating and moving and being a “grown up”, but over and over again, I feel the incredible weight of “adult”. there is nothing flippant here. this is work. this is holy ground. this is something magical and aching and sometimes I wanna dance while I cry.

in the last year, I have moved into a full time job, moved away from another job, gotten a dog, moved to a new house, started a new school year, and done everything in between. the change has got my head spinning a bit. all good things, for sure, but nevertheless, things.

recently, I took the Enneagram. as I clicked through the true and false questions, amazed that a simply “true” could ever pinpoint me to a certain type, I finished the 54 questions. and found that I’m a 1 – lovingly known as the Reformer, not so happily also known as the Perfectionist.

at first, I thought that the test has pinned me wrong. I mean, I care for order and for consistency, but I’m not a perfectionist.

and yet, as I’ve lived and existed since that test, it has check check checked every box. it is so true.

it’s the reason that the words of those closest to me – my interns, my best friends, my family, and even myself – can cut deeper than I care for them to. it’s the reason that I cannot get over that one time when I was 12 and I lost my cellphone. it’s the reason that I’m always right, even when I’m not right. it is me thinking about the broken swing in my backyard and how I really need to sweep off my deck

it’s the reason that I can notice something off as I lay in my bed and feel that “off” thing in the back of my head when I get up hours later. it is like an ever-present whisper of needing to fix things. and while a lot of the time, perfectionist is a burden to me, I’ve found that it is also restoration and reconciliation and never being able to let go the things not right. it is still feeling burdened over telling that friend’s mom her secret back in 7th grade. it is the laundry list of to-dos, yes, but it is also running, sprinting, in the direction of Heaven as I hear the Lord calling me to freedom. it is deep in me. and while it is insatiable, it is also something magical.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the last year. I’ve come face to face with some truths, but I’ve also come face to face with some beauty. I think I found a different girl than I thought I would and I’m continually surprised by this new girl. she is far more intellectual than I ever thought she’d be. she listens to her emotions a lot more than I would have guessed she should. she cares deeply about things like building rather than buying and personality tests and television shows like Parenthood that make her weep, because God, I’d rather feel something than nothing at all.

she believes in hospitality and cries almost daily. she yearns for white and bright and candles burning. she thinks in spaces and separation and hard conversations. she stepped out of her shell a bit, said yes to some things that her former self never would have, and she’s lived these days like they really matter.

I think I found me. I think maybe that’s what living on your own, creating your own home and friendships and job and meals and life, can do to you. I cannot believe that I pay someone to cut my grass, or more, that it is my responsibility to do that. oftentimes, I am tempted to leave my living room untidy, and then I remember that oh yeah, this is my mess to clean and literally no one else is here to do it. right.

I think I found me. I found me in all my striving and reaching and trying to control the world around me and continually coming up short. I think I found me when the Lord whispered grace something deep to my heart. I think I found me while I sometimes longed for a spouse and yet, on the other hand, praised God that I got this season to find that girl.

I think I found me in the decorating of a mantle, in the designing of a built-in. in Pinterest-ing recipes when even I got tired of eating out. in the preparing of my home for my friends to come over and fill my living room floor. in the buying of fall decorations. I found me in saving for and then buying euro pillows. I found me in styling a corner that pleases me soul.

I think I found me. in tears and in frustration. in patience and in grace. in hospitality. in practicing grace for myself. in being invited to speak on a panel about beauty and letting my eyes fill with tears as I speak that beauty is in being exactly who God has called me to be. in the places that I thought were just there to pass the time, just a means to an end, I found myself. in typing words that I didn’t even know were true, I realized I found me.

I feel a bit like I’ve come home. like maybe I was jumping for something that was never in my reach, but something in me decided to sigh and be okay with where we’re at. while my soul still feels the heights and lows of all things life, I found some contentment and some peace. I think I found God there – in the silence and the stillness and the dust settled. I think I’ve found more than I bargained for, but praise that with her, we found life.

as I look back on a life of lots of hard things, I settle in deep with my story and how it beautifully and magically brought me to this moment. candle still burning, Johnnyswim now sings about living while we’re young, oh how accurate, some moments later, she brought me here. the old she found God and the new she gets to dance in that. this story is one I’ll keep telling, more boldly each new time than the time before. this story of striving and then believing and then resting while I fight and dreaming while I think and being while I become, deeper into my couch and closer to my Father.

I guess those are the words I needed to say.


this feels a little like coming back to an old friend – one that is always there, one I can meet up with and it feels like nothing has changed. this corner of the internet has held me and sustained me and believed in me.

it feels appropriate that I’d return today: my 23rd birthday. I know and have known for months that I have words to say. words about making myself more of an extrovert. words about struggling to believe that “life is a gift, and the Giver is good.” words about some weeks of being so low that I confused a little depression for things like mono or the flu. words about what it feels like to finally breathe after holding my breath for ten months. those are to come.

this morning, I woke up and hugged my dog. I held him so close to my face that his drool soaked my cheek. a year ago, that would’ve disgusted me. now, he loves me and I can hug him and he holds eye contact for minutes, big brown eyes that somehow get it, and I think I needed a love, a dependency, a loyalty like that. Baxter, you have no clue just how great you are.

we wandered to the patio, to the birds chirping and the sun rising. isn’t it funny how in all the little moments, nothing changes, and then someday you wake up and you’re 23 and life has happened?

today, today we’ll talk about a birthday. about 23 whole years. about how at 12, I could never see passed 18. about how now, I dream of 30 and 35 and 43.

today, we’ll celebrate how the Lord is overwhelmingly kind, a brand of kindness that moves me to tears. we’ll celebrate His goodness. how though it doesn’t always look like kindness, I can stand and run to that goodness. how it is very truly the anchor of my soul when I feel untethered from all the things that I thought would last.

let’s have a little cheers to the last 23 and a big yes and amen to the next 60. let’s cheers to all that He has done, what 23 years have taught. God, you’ve moved some mountains, don’t let me forget:

  1. that happiness is fading and fleeing, but joy, even when it is clothed like everything else, lasts. you can bargain on joy, sister.
  2. that the older you get, the better life gets. man, it gets good, hold your breath on that.
  3. that being truly rooted, coming from the vine, looks like a hope, no matter the season. I used to confuse contentment or happiness for life being good. no, life is good because I have the hope of Christ, even when that hope aches.
  4. that friends are truly one of my best blessings. I could not say thank you enough.
  5. and speaking of friends, that they will walk through the fire alongside me. that’s a weepy thought. but again, eternally thankful.
  6. that family changes and needs room to change, like a wine that gets sweeter with time.
  7. that gratefulness is a state of mind.
  8. that in the daily, I can find holy ground.
  9. that depression needs her name. and that when you don’t call her by her name, she becomes a million times harder to figure out.
  10. that even the worst of worsts can be redeemed.
  11. that if He will clothe all the flowers of the field, the ones here today and gone tomorrow, surely He will continue to clothe me.
  12. that I can call life to dead things. that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me – oh my goodness. goodness. that is some real goodness.
  13. that it is truly a privilege to step in the gap for my brothers and sisters, to appeal to the Father when they feel no appeal. to hold their arms up.
  14. that the Church is even less of a location than I’ve ever thought. that ministry matters when her tears, not my tears, are streaming. that theology carries weight when I have no words for him, but I’ve been given all the words I could ever need by the One that spoke truth and life. that I don’t need to know more about the Lord because, truly, I have all that I need.
  15. that fear does not come from the Father.
  16. that I can worship through the venti vanilla iced coffee with cream, no classic. somehow, the way that it is mine and something to hold and a helper when I need it is sacred. coffee lovers, tell me you get that.
  17. that I have to give myself grace on the worst and best days. because if I don’t, it’s hard to let Him. and if I can’t let Him, my best days are the best and my worst days are the worst. don’t lose the anchor.
  18. that natural light can cure anything. joy comes in the morning, babes.
  19. that you are never too old or too settled for a new friend.
  20. that doing things with God beats trying to do things for God a million times over. walking with the Lord is a new kind of song.
  21. that the things I am passionate about will be my callings, and I am thrilled about that.
  22. that He has already given me freedom and I don’t have to live like a slave to my past or my present or to all the future. freedom is mine for the taking.
  23. that I could never be enough, no matter how much I think I need to measure up. praise be to God, the Father.

23, I’m ready and expectant and believing. life is a gift, and the Giver is good.