Dear Liturgy

I was sitting with a mom of three while the band warmed up at church.

As the sounds of tuning guitars echoed through the small room, my new friend expressed her relief.  She and her husband had just moved their little family across the country eight months before, and she was finally starting to feel like they were settling into a routine. Her bright-eyed, 8-year-old daughter leaned on her shoulder as we talked.

“Kids need some stable rhythms in life in order to feel safe and grounded. It’s a basic need. If they don’t have a stable rhythm, it’s hard for them to be their best selves,” she said.

And then she added: “I think the same goes for adults.”

If only she knew, I thought, my back rigid against the folding chair that held me.

I gave her what must have been a knowing, affirming nod. I was immediately reminded of how I react when change happens in my own life. On that day in particular, changes in my family, work and schedule had been making me feel unbalanced and unsteady.

I, too, was in a time of transition.

Just as the guitars in the worship band seemed to merge their notes into the beginnings of melody, my new friend gave words to the chord she had struck in my heart.

“It’s liturgy,” she said.

LiturgyIn church tradition, it’s defined as ritual, sacrament, rubric, practice. It’s the rhythm by which we live and work and worship.

As humans made in God’s image, we were created to flourish in the rhythms of the seasons. Daily tasks. The everyday cadence of sunrise-to-sunset, literally in-tune with how God made the earth.

“It isn’t just kids. We all need those essential rhythms,” my friend said, speaking about these things as if she was well acquainted with them – like she had learned these truths by walking closely with them.

And as I resonated with her words, I thought: I want to walk closely with these truths. 

I want to walk closely with the unchanging God and his unchanging truths when everything else shifts. I want to be grounded. I want to be connected to the way God created us, living into the rhythms of work and play and rest as he intended.

I want to be acquainted with the liturgy of my life.

What is the basic cadence of rest, prayer and worship that will enable me to live out of God’s truth, rather than running on my own empty tank?

Well, to start, I know how this doesn’t look.  I can tell when my life’s rhythm is tending toward unhealthy.

When I start to feel out-of-sync with my own life, I operate my body and mind at a pace that’s too fast for my soul.

Instead of resting or creating space in my schedule, I fill my days with commitments and people and experiences. I push and prove and perform for others, loving my to-do list and its satisfying check marks. I run from that quiet place where I might feel the discomfort of change.

And then, I crash.

Anxiety cripples me. I struggle to eat and sleep well. I wake up at night, over and over again, anxious about the day ahead before dawn even comes. I feel tired, out-of-sorts and frazzled.

My body gets my attention, almost saying “hey, we’re moving way too fast.”

 But, there’s a different way, I’m learning. The way of God-centered liturgy.

There’s a way of tuning our lives back to God’s melody, syncing our lives with the harmony in which we thrive.

There’s a way of allowing the quiet discomfort of change, looking it in the face, and therefore diminishing its power over us.

There’s a way that means that even if we move thousands of miles from home, we can still move at a pace that allows the still, small voice of God to break through.

We can – we must – return to basic rest and truth.

If you, like me, are feeling the discomfort of change and uncertainty, can I be the one to invite you to slow down in the process, rather than try to speed through it?

Can I be the one to encourage you to gather around your table, gather up your people, get some fresh air, and get some perspective?


If you, like me, are feeling out-of-sync, don’t allow the discomfort to scare you. It doesn’t mean that the

change is bad. It doesn’t mean that you need to force yourself into old routines and regimens just to regain (what feels like) stability.

It does mean you need to slow down and listen – to God and to your own soul.

It means you need to find your liturgy once again. Return to it.

Say no to the invitation to cram your day with activity. Plan for uninterrupted time with a friend. Fill your notebook with honest prayers.

Make a meal. Make a phone call. Make no plans at all.

Allow yourself to sleep. Allow your muscles to unwind. Allow the still, small voice to speak right to you.

Feel the companionship of meeting in the quiet with Jesus and feeling your soul refresh in the most essential ways.

Return to liturgy.

Return to the dance that was made just for you and God before your life even began.

Like the guitar strings searching for the notes of true worship, tune your heart back to grace.


Dear Friend, Here’s What to Know About a Work-Driven Life

This post originally appeared on the blog at Denver Institute for Faith & Work and also at, an online forum designed to equip, inspire, and empower twenty-somethings to embrace their season and live wholehearted lives.

A young woman stares at us looking exhausted – and yet, exhilarated. She is fueled by coffee and (we can presume) little else.

Her cheeks are hollowed and her hair disheveled, implying that her body is worn out by speed and demand of her work. Her sleep-deprived state is compared to drug use.

She is praised as the modern portrait of a “doer.”

In January 2017, online freelance marketplace Fiverr released this advertisement in a larger ad campaign titled ‘In Doers We Trust.’

This striking poster appeared on New York subway cars and Facebook feeds. The public – and the media – responded with concern. What are we demanding of today’s freelancer? To what degree do we demand constant availability from employees and contractors?

And are we supposed to work ourselves to death to be successful?

Fiverr stated that the goal of these ads is to “seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less.” However, in a response piece in The New Yorker, writer Jia Tolentino comments that “there’s a painful distance between the chipper narratives surrounding labor and success in America and the lived experience of workers.”

Translation: American culture says your success comes through round-the-clock action; our bodies (and I would argue, our souls) are struggling to keep up. Refer back to our frazzled friend in the ad for just one example.

As followers of Christ, what is our response to the culture of the “doer”? How do we create patterns of healthy rest in a world of 24/7 connectivity?

Here are three questions to consider in your work this week.


In the 5280 Fellowship, we discuss how our daily work habits contribute to our wholeness as followers of Christ. Because whether or not we recognize it, our work is affecting our souls.

If our daily habits include multitasking, constantly checking our notifications and running on coffee alone, we are teaching our bodies and minds that worth comes from task completion. And this reveals what our hearts truly praise.

If we prioritize productivity to the point of neglecting relationships with coworkers and clients, and even disregarding our own health, we are not trusting God with the ultimate success of our work offering (Psalm 127:1-2).

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:1-2

God invites us to find fuel in our relationship with him, and to love and serve others with the work of our hands. Where does your own sense of fuel come from?


In my role in a communications agency, much of my work can be done from a coffee shop or the comfort of my kitchen table. Thus, it can be tempting to blur the boundaries between work and home life.

I was encouraged by a mentor to set hourly limits for myself to assert my boundaries with clients and coworkers in order to safeguard times for rest and relationship.

I was encouraged by a mentor to set hourly limits for myself to assert my boundaries with clients and coworkers in order to safeguard times for rest and relationship.

If you (like me) are prone to blur the boundaries between work and other life priorities, who in your community can hold you accountable to balance? Maybe it’s a spouse, trusted friend, or pastor. Who is going to call you out and invite you to slow down when your body is revealing that the speed and demand of work might be too much?


Curious about balancing our call to hard work with our call to Sabbath, I recently sat down with Stephen Redden, pastor at New Denver Church (NDC) and director of The Church Cooperative of Denver, NDC’s church planting initiative.

His diverse career path has challenged him to juggle the roles of husband, father, business owner and church leader simultaneously.In light of such deep and diverse responsibilities, I asked him how he maintained his own rhythms of Sabbath and rest.

I loved his response: “Resting is like a muscle. You have to work it to make it stronger.”

“Resting is like a muscle. You have to work it to make it stronger.”

He admitted that there have been seasons in his life when business responsibilities demanded much of his time, attention and energy. But for him, it was crucial to remember that those demands were only for a season. He learned to be fully present at work when working, and fully present to rest when resting, ultimately trusting God to honor the boundaries between those spheres of life. His wife helped him gauge and maintain his health and wholeness in times of busyness.

“I had to truly learn the rhythm of rest. It took practice, just like my work tasks did. Both required intention to learn to do them well.”

Let his words be our own guide this week. As the tasks and calendar invitations build, let us exercise the muscle of rest, even as we stretch our muscles in work.

I think we can still be “doers” by day. But when we sign off of email on Friday at 5:00 pm, let’s trust in a job well done and rest with peace.

Dear Authenticity

Watches. Jerseys. Jeans. Car parts. Autographs. Mexican Food.

What do these things have in common?

This assortment of ideas all appeared when I typed the word ‘authentic’ into Google this week.

I didn’t know what was in store when I started looking for a definition of the word. Authenticity is a bit of a buzzword these days. We want our jobs, our writing, our websites and our social media feeds to feel “authentic” to who we are. Maybe, we mean that we want to be genuine, or transparent, or whole in the way we present ourselves to the world.

After more Googling, I found a more satisfying definition.

The word authentic literally means to be made in a way that faithfully resembles the original.

I love that.

To be made in a way that faithfully resembles the original.

What does it mean for us to resemble the original, whole, genuine selves we were each made to be?

As a recovering perfectionist, I often struggle to believe that my authentic self is worth bringing to the world. I struggle to believe that my ideas are worth sharing, that my voice is worth hearing, that my heart has something to offer to those around me just as it is.

I have often felt God inviting me to contribute or speak up or lead but then I battle the belief that I have to address my bad habits and get more sleep and look nicer and altogether clean up my act before I can be effective.

Being authentic is harder for me than I’d like to admit. 

What might it look like for me — for us —to fight the temptation to manage our appearance and practice true authenticity? To explore the beautiful mystery of being made in God’s love and image, and thereby share our true selves? To faithfully resemble the original?

A couple weekends ago, I was in a room of young professionals, and we were studying the concept of calling – what it looks like when God gives a person a specific calling to do something for his people at an exact time in history. Together we read the story of David’s call in 1 Samuel.

At this time, Saul had been ruling the nation of Israel, and the Lord told Samuel that a new king was going to take his place.  In 1 Samuel 16 the Lord talks to Samuel about who will lead, and he says, “Go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”

Samuel arrives in Bethlehem. He finds Jesse. And they look at the lineup of future kings Jesse’s oldest sons.

These are men of stature, you might say. Tall, experienced, accomplished.

But they are not the ones chosen to lead. David the youngest, skinniest, lowliest by all accounts is the chosen leader.

And in 1 Samuel 16:7 we are given one explanation: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Let us take clues from David’s calling. Following God faithfully isn’t about appearance, but about heart. It isn’t about showing off our best self but slowly having the bravery to share our one, true, authentic self.

God calls not the likely leader, but the authentic leader.

In that same group of young professionals, last weekend, our leader gave us this analogy.

When it comes to leading, we all want to be Jesse’s older sons. The ones that look the part, that have the stature and the accolades. The ones with the right timing, the right outfit, and the right social media campaign. We all want to be the story’s superheroes.

But what if what we actually need are more leaders that resemble the men and women behind the masks?

The everyday Bruce Waynes and Clark Kents, not the batmen or the super women.

What if we believe that change comes not from the superhero, but from the everyday hero.

“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

To practice authenticity, and fight the temptation to clean up our appearance first, I’ve written down these reminders to take with us :

  • Look at the heart. I know how tempting it is to focus on cleaning up your appearance, or waiting for the right timing, or having the right experience to lead well. But the truth is that we already serve and lead other people today in our homes, communities, schools and jobs. Look at your own honest heart. Look at the hearts of others. Who is someone that you already interact with who could use a friend this week? How could sharing a piece of your imperfect story give someone else permission to be imperfect, too?
  • Offer grace to ourselves. I told you I’m a recovering perfectionist, so I struggle with this. But we must remove the masks of perfection, busyness, speed or cleverness. God does not expect perfection from us; we don’t need to demand it of ourselves. In giving ourselves grace, we are better equipped to extend that grace to others. And we allow God to be our sufficiency in weakness.
  • Celebrate our roles as the the everyday superheroes of the world. Whatever your sphere of influence, steward it well. Commit to your daily tasks and close relationships. Believe that your everyday faithfulness will powerfully and beautifully affect those around you.

God calls us to be authentic  as leaders, friends, supporters. Why?

Because authenticity  is a practice in faithfully resembling the original. Discovering and sharing our most essential selves, made beautiful and complete in God’s image.

Things That Work Teaches Me

I used to work in the hallway.

On the first day of my current job, I was ushered to a seat at a small desk in the hall of our corner office, adjacent to the rooms my colleagues occupied. Adjacent to the coat rack and the supply shelves. Adjacent to the office kitchen, where CNN was on TV all day, ringing the world’s news into my ears. I’ve never been so up-to-date on current events nor the sounds of the microwave humming.

This month, I will celebrate two years at the communications agency that I work for out of that same corner office in downtown Denver (although I have since moved out of the hall).

When I started, I was fresh onto the scene of agency marketing, and was coming from a nonprofit where I felt constantly connected to the larger purpose behind my work. In my new position, I struggled to see how my duties in the corporate sector were contributing to the greater good.

As I’ve felt my perspective shift, and learned about the inherent gift and value of hard work, my job has started to reveal new meaning and depth. Or rather, God has revealed new meaning and depth to me. I’m more and more aware of the ways that my daily tasks contribute to the economy, commerce and culture, and the ways that my work contributes to the cultivating, creative work that God is doing in our world.

The realization of this gift – and this opportunity – began at that hallway desk.

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I’m in an industry where we serve multiple companies at the same time, all the time. People are in and out, going to meetings with clients and vendors, attending events one day and working from home the next. Thus, every day has a different cast of characters and a different agenda.

I’m learning that variety keeps me sharp.

I always loved school, and I was often afraid that my post-school life would be somewhat lifeless because I would be tied to one thing. Not so. Work allows me to collect information and to constantly discover new things about the world.

Work is the new school. Honing and refining the good, weeding out the bad, and encouraging me forward through the cadence of daily tasks and routines.

Whether your work takes the form of a 9-5, volunteering, several part-time gigs, parenting or care-giving, the daily rhythms of work are important to keep us focused on things bigger than ourselves.

Some days, when I feel like all I did was field emails, and I wonder about the point of my work, I think I stewarded the body and mind God gave me. Or I learned something new. Or I communicated truth to someone.

Though simple, these things are productive and valuable.

Some days, when I feel like I’m failing in my responsibilities, I am gently reminded that failure isn’t fatal. The hallway job and the corner market job and the nannying job are not opportunities to show off our talents and perfections, but rather opportunities to learn from and accept our imperfections in the pursuit of growth.

Jobs are hard at times. I have messed up a lot of things and arrived late for meetings and had to be corrected an embarrassing number of times.

After writing a post last February about living free and fearless and loved, I found myself standing at a work cocktail party flooded with shame. It was one of the biggest projects I’d yet worked on – a big happy hour gathering for members of the media.

I really wanted to do a good job that night.

But when it came, the clock ticked slowly forward and only a few people showed up. Much less than I had promised. And all I could think, as I looked at the sparse room, was how I wrote about living loved and then proceeded to let a bunch of people down.

I returned to my hallway desk thinking, What’s the point of this? How do I accept this and move on? 

God teaches me – gently, persistently, over and over again – that failure can be a catalyst for good. That letdowns are just invitations (albeit painful ones) to take a hard look at reality and then figure out how to move forward with grace and endurance.

In dusting myself off and continuing to show up to our corner office each day, I have learned that showing up is half the battle.

But when you do, and you ask for help from God and friends and mentors, you find that you gain footing, gain confidence, gain a perseverance of spirit through the power of allowing yourself to be helped.

There’s always another day, and another chance. 

In writing, planning, organizing, designing and presenting, my work teaches me that there’s always another chance to get it right. There’s urgency with each project, but there’s also room to grow.

The biggest challenge for me has been to allow myself that grace. To refuse the voice that says I have to show up perfect every time.

I used to feel so disheartened that I couldn’t show up flawless to work each day.
The freedom came when I realized that I didn’t have to.

Work, for me, is an ongoing lesson in imperfection and grace.

The variety, the learning, the messy growth. It all contributes to this lesson God is teaching me over and over, gently reminding me that my lack is an invitation to hold tightly to his abundance. Work shows me the value of daily faithfulness, the discipline of commitment, and the hope of serving others through my skills.

And in a beautiful twist of perspective, after entering my corporate workplace so pessimistic about the potential for public-sector work to contribute to kingdom-level change, I’m developing a solid belief that my work is good. My work is good because it mirrors God’s work. 

I provide for others, make things better, create and re-create, because God is provider, makerCreator and redeemer.

Whether from the penthouse or the hallway, we are called to be vessels of connection, truth and faithfulness through our daily tasks.

And with God’s ever-present help, I believe that has eternal value.

Dear Friend, You’re Allowed to Ask Your Questions

 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 6:28-29

I think we all tend to ask the same questions, just in our own languages.

We all want to know what it looks like to live life well. To approach our days through the lens of hope. To advance good.

We want the blueprint for that life.

We ask, “what do we do?”

Once, in a library in a small town, as our hunched shoulders encircled a corner table, I asked my college friend this question.

“How do I know if God is pleased with what I do?”

At the time, I was wondering about a big choice that I had to make. In other seasons, I have wondered about my jobs and the duties of friendship and sisterhood.

In the library corner table, I asked, “what do I need to do to know that God is happy with this? That I’m doing the right thing? That I am contributing to God’s work?”

I wanted to know the blueprint – to appease my own anxious thoughts with a plan.

I wanted to know what the crowd wanted to know in John 6. They were following Jesus’ signs and miracles across the region, tracing his steps as he traveled.

In the beginning of chapter 6, Jesus walked on water to join his disciples in a boat. So in verses 28 and 29, folks are figuring out that Jesus seemed to have magically transported himself across the water. They see that his followers departed without him in the one boat that was on shore, and yet he stood on the other side the next morning.

They’re in awe. Maybe skeptical.

When they ask “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” it’s almost as if they are asking: “How can we get a touch of that? What do we need to do to taste the miraculous?”

Like me, maybe they wanted a concrete answer. Directions for this increasingly winding journey. Maybe they wanted to know more of the mystery.

“How do we know that this is the work of God?”

I wonder if they — like me — were asking in order to appease their own need for control.

I wonder if they — like me — were asking because the mystery of not knowing is uncomfortable.

Jesus calls them back to simplicity.

This is the work of God,” he says. “That you believe in him whom he has sent.”

“What must we do?” they ask. “What you ask for is found first in me,” he seems to say.

Jesus doesn’t give the blueprint. He offers leadership, gifts, the Spirit, other people. He gives, he calls, he directs. Of course.

But  Jesus always and first calls us to, before he ever invites us to do.

He always and first calls us to himself, where he longs to show us again how deeply he has loved us before we ever produced anything.

He invites us to keep asking the questions, not to access more of the signs or the perfect formula or the tangible treasure, but to access more of the treasure of himself.

The work God loves is rooted in this – his love. The mysterious, overflowing treasure of Jesus.

Is this the place from which you work? Is he your energy, your hope, your place of purpose? Does your job or your season allow you to serve God and serve other people? 

If so, then I believe you can say a bold yes: God is happy with your work. He’s present with you as you go out and do. He delights in your creativity, your service, your gifts and your perseverance.

This is where we can bring our questions, and where we can rest. God is pleased with the work of his people when the work of his people is an outpouring of his love in the world.

This is how we know the works of God. This is how we know that our day-to-day work has eternal worth.

Jesus always and first calls us to, before he ever invites us to do. But friends, he’s with you in the doing — however that may look for you.

Let him be our pursuit anew this day, and every day.

Dear Margins, Thanks for How You Show Us Hope

I love it when snow falls outside my office window. The flakes flirt with the wind currents between skyscrapers, sometimes drifting both up and down as the breeze catches them.

What might be tumultuous at street-level looks graceful and peaceful from 27 stories high.

And that’s a good metaphor for how 2016 was for me – sometimes challenging in the grit and grind of the everyday, yet so eternally beautiful and good when seen in rearview.

When I walked to work this past week – with flakes stinging my cheeks – I was reminded of how wearying life’s sting can be. But protected by panes of glass, the snow falls silently and without harm. It dances – it shifts.

When I walked through some really hard choices and faced ugly, jealous, insecure feelings this year, I felt despair starting to sting me. Why do I always come back to the same, tired issues? Why does that old, hurtful memory keep crippling me? Why haven’t I learned better by now?

And yet. When time passed and I looked back, things shifted in my view. What felt tough and tired in the moment was – when viewed from a distance – revealed to be eternal, good work that God was doing in and around me.

When 2016 was just beginning, I wrote about hope. It was my word for this past year.

As 2016 closed, I wrote down what happened over the course of the year. I listed the gifts and the milestones in my journal in black pen, and then I went back with a red pen. I read over my handwriting and I scrawled the word HOPE in the margins each time I saw it reflected back at me.

I went to new many cities, and returned to small towns that hold big places in my story. I saw more of the world out the windows of cars and trains and planes, feeling adventure unfold in both new and familiar ways. That was hopeful for me.

I practiced living in messy, beautiful relationships, and saw a little more about what relational wholeness looks like – from my friends and my family, from my small group and my fellowship program, from dating. Hope was there, too.

I learned a lot. I took a cooking class and I took personality tests. I toured the Art Institute to hear about their programs. I wandered libraries and museums. I read. I explored new neighborhoods of my own city, got to know parts of this place that I have overlooked before.

But the best part, I realized, is that hope became more than a perspective for me in 2016.

Hope became a practice – more than it ever has been in past years.

I practiced looking for hope right in the margins of life, where – of course – it is always waiting to be found.

This hope-seeking became crucial in times when things were not easy. In times of loss, in politics and worry. Somehow, by writing down the word, and by looking for it in the margins, God fostered hope in me, right in the messy middle of the everyday.

I saw hope in the midst of hard things sooner and more willingly than I have in past years. I didn’t have to wait to the end of the year to see it. God helped me practice hope and joy in the moment.

So. As one year of gifts turns into another year of opportunity, I’m thinking we all have the chance to see hope more readily in our everyday. Each new day this year is going to give us the gift of seeing, of learning, and of practicing hope.

Hope is always available because God is. His very character is one of hope, and His hopeful presence is always ours as his children.

We get to choose what goes with us into the new year. Let’s invite HOPE to make the list.

I’m praying that we’ll see it this year – together. Whether from across the table, from across the street, from 27 stories high.

Or, maybe, in the margins, where – of course – it is always waiting to be found.

Dear Friend, Maybe We Are All Invited to the Feast

“This whole universe is Grace University. And honouring one another is how you get an honorary degree at Grace University.  Everywhere, we get to learn. Everywhere is a class. Everything begins with the next face you see, the next person you stand beside.”
-Ann Voskamp, from “When You Want The Messiness of Things to Pass

“Everywhere, we get to learn,” Ann Voskamp says.

About each other. About the world. About the Creator of each other and the world. To which I say, amen.

And this week, I got to learn about flour.

Me and a small group of others in the 5280 Fellowship program toured the Denver headquarters of a flour mill company that processes raw grains into the grain-based products that we eat each day.

Flour, I learned, is a big business.

As the first snow of the season fell gently outside, we toured the spacious test kitchens where the milling company tries out their products in cookies and breads and sauces. As cars slid down Lawrence street, we were shown rows and rows of bread loaves, fresh from testing, each with its own texture and integrity based on the flour that was used.

Not only was this tour eye-opening (who knew flour could be so cool?) and mouth watering (yes, we got some great samples)- it registered to me as metaphor.

It all feels especially poignant this Thanksgiving week.

Grain and grind. Milling and measuring. Feeding jobs, feeding production, feeding people.

I was in awe of the beautiful and complex way that basic ingredients are cultivated into nourishment. The way that things we take for granted are actually made possible by the work of thousands and thousands of other people. The way that a Denver-based office  and its employees make products that are consumed by more than 100 million people around the world every day.

The feast really just begins with flour.

The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people.

Our tour of the flour mill was lead by the company CEO – who is a follower of Christ. It isn’t listed on his business cards or touted in new client meetings, but the signs are deep and clear. He speaks with a quiet confidence and humility. He leads his employees to serve others before themselves. He casts a vision for a workplace where each and every person feels valued and seen each day.

“Good business principals are actually Biblical principals,” he tells us. “When we see our jobs as just paychecks, that’s called transactional thinking. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But when we see our jobs as agents of good in the world, and good in God’s kingdom, that’s called transformational thinking.”

Transactional to transformational. Flour to feast. Midwestern city kid to CEO.

This, I think, is what the body looks like. This is the meaning we can find in our work. This is the ‘why’ behind our hours logged and long commutes driven.

With God, the transcational becomes transformational.

The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people. Grain and seed and crop becoming table and communion and feast.

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
– 1 Corinthians 11: 23

He took bread – the flour, the mill sifting, the dough rising.

He broke it – he shaped it with his very-human-and-entirely-Godly hands.

He said, “this is my body” – and when Jesus uses a metaphor, I believe he means it.

Bread is just one sacrament. Flour is just one metaphor. The work that you do each day is your own way of cultivating beauty from the raw stuff of life. 

As the baker sifts flour between her fingers, so the home loan officer sifts out what the single mom sitting across the desk from her really needs.

As the chef kneads dough – once, twice, three times – the teacher gently repeats the problem, encourages the whirring brain inside that tiny head – once, twice, three times.

As the CEO of the flour mill shares donuts with his employees to encourage conversation, so the youth pastor brings donuts to group this week – to encourage a smile, an introduction, a glimmer of something newly discovered.

If we look for God’s fingerprints, we will find them. In the most unlikely places. In the board room and the classroom, the kitchen and the convention center.

I’m more convinced of this with every passing week. It fires me up just writing about it.

The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people.

In your work, you’re creating things where there once was vacancy. New from old. Something from nothing. Simple to sacred.

You are how that happens. 


Before we left the flour mill, the CEO dusted flour from his fingers, and joined his hands with ours in prayer. As the first snow of the season fell gently outside, our communion with one another in this creative space started a conversation with the Father.

We didn’t need to invite his presence -because he is presence.

He was there already.

In the grain and grind.

In the milling and measuring.

In the creation of beauty from the raw stuff of life.

The raw stuff of us is used by God, no matter how simple or small the start.  The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people.

Flour taught me that.

For these and so many reasons, I will feast this week with a reverent and grateful heart.


Dear 25

“I eventually realized my own humanity. Our message of God’s grace is exponentially more powerful when we embody a picture of the gospel instead of just preach it.”
– my friend Andrea Joy Wenburg

We couldn’t see the floor.

It was this time last year, and my friend’s living room was packed with air mattresses and blankets and pillows wall-to-wall.

Friends from all areas and seasons of my life had gathered to celebrate my birthday, and after making homemade pizza and laughing through several hilarious games of Taboo, we were challenging the clock toward midnight.

I looked around the room teary-eyed at God’s faithfulness to me in the form of my friends. My college girlfriends were huddled in one corner, catching up on their lives as small town teachers. The party hosts were settling on the couch with worn-out grins on their faces. Members of my small group were packing leftover treats to take home to husbands.

Friends of 16 years, 6 years, 6 months. All gathered to celebrate life with me.

I thought, “Surely, there is something sacred about this.”

There’s got to be something sacred when you can’t see the floor anymore.

When you’ve invited friends from across town and out of town to stay over, tucking everyone in all together. When the smell of pizza lingers and the table is still full of empty glasses and candles burning down. When the pillows are pulled out and friends allow themselves to rest. When you’re tuckered out from the good and hard of life, but you gather people together to celebrate anyway.

Here’s what I’ve come to believe in the year I’ve lived since that birthday.

Sacred happens together.

It happens when we show up fully in each other’s lives, whether that means crying or celebrating, grieving or laughing.

I want more together this year.

I’ve created a list of five truths I want to live by in the coming year – more guides than goals. Representative of how I want to live, more than what I want to do.

But, honestly, I just want to continue in the amazing, grace-drenched, laughter-filled pattern of the past year. I want to go deeper in knowing God and knowing myself. I want challenges and dreams and brave choices. But I wouldn’t change a thing about my community, my people, the way we do life together. I want more of that – a reprise.

I came home last night after a great birthday weekend and realized that I couldn’t see the floor in my room anymore. I laughed at the memory and at the disaster scene. If I can’t see my bedroom floor, this is a sure signal that my week has been insane. This means I’ve dropped my bags and mail and magazines and books and clothes and running gear and craft supplies everywhere on my way to elsewhere.

Just as the full floor represented the wonderful people gathered on my last birthday, my full bedroom floor this week also meant that I was doing life with others. I neglected to clean my room in favor of spending time with people, accepting invitations to learn and grow and hear people’s stories and share their tables.

Full floor means full life. And I’m all about that.

I’m all about weeks so full that they’re overflowing. I’m all about days where activities and meetings and work and plans string together like beads on a necklace, just barely overlapping, one thing after another, full of variety. I’m all about wearing myself out with activity, and then crashing hard into rest, knowing that I’m living life to the very fullest.

So, this year, I want to continue filling my floor (but mom, if you’re reading this, I promise that I will clean my room sometimes).

That’s first on this list of my truths to live by in year 25:

1. Fill the floor.
Keep your life full of deep friendships – deep, not necessarily wide. Invest well in a group of close friends, leaving the floor of your bedroom a disaster in the process. Show up for your people and invite them to gather together, seeking shelter from life’s hard and weary road. Practice love. And at every possible opportunity, cover the floor with air mattresses for sleepovers.

2. Do the hard, right thing
Believe you’re brave. You are. You have absolutely everything you need to do hard things. When you know the right thing to do, trust your instinct, and act. Don’t doddle and don’t be afraid. Hard is not a sign that you’re doing something wrong, but rather a sign that you’re living a brave life.

3. Go gently –  body, mind and soul.
Allow your body, mind and soul to stay true to each other, for this is the path to a WHOLE life. Don’t worry about what you ‘should’ feel – allow  yourself to feel how you feel. Pause before  you say ‘yes’ to anything, making sure you’re aligned with your values and boundaries. When you day is packed solid, remember to breathe and invite the Holy Spirit to help you slow down. Take a deep breath to check in with your own truth, and take a deep breathe before responding to a friend’s truth.

4. Lead
Trusting God’s design for you and the work of the Holy Spirit in you, be a leader this year. Own it. Say something. Start something. Invite opportunities to lead projects at work and to lead discussions with your people. Use your creativity in your work, and for God’s kingdom. Point the way to hope and light.

5. Love Christ’s Church
Whether “church” is an existing community, a new community, Christ’s body at large or just your close friends, love the church. Speak well of her. Trust that your service and stewardship are never in vain. Learn more about what “church” means to you, and then go love it.


Here’s to a full heart and full floor, this year and every year, by God’s grace alone.

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday weekend so special and FUN. 25 is already the best year yet thanks to you.

Dear Bravery, Maybe You’re Not What We Think

You are doing the brave thing,” a doting friend says to the heroine of the movie, over cups of tea.

My friend and I watched the scene unfold over our own mugs of tea and pumpkin cookies.

“Oh, I know it doesn’t feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you’re not. You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life.”

Scenes like these sometimes give words to the questions we wrestle with, don’t they? For the bright, creative heroine in this movie scene, her choice to close down her business felt like a massive failure. A heartbreak. The end of something that she never, ever wanted to end.

In the confusing aftermath of the closure, in true Hollywood fashion, her on-screen friend her tells her that shutting the doors was the brave thing to do. Not because it was glamorous or tidy or pleasant, but because it required her to be brave in the act. The brave thing was inside of her, not in the circumstance.

I interpreted these words through our tiny TV speakers and wondered: What does what ‘the brave thing‘ look like for me?

Does the brave thing sometimes look different than I allow?

I go back and forth daily – hourly, sometimes.

Do I stay content where I am, trusting that my everyday faithfulness is used by God? or Do I allow my lack of contentment spur me on to new challenges and dreams?

Today, I’m sitting right in the middle of these two questions.

Does bravery look like staying, or going?

Settling, or dreaming?

Sitting, or spurring on?

I think back to the days just after I finished college, when I was sitting with a similar set of questions. Just days after crossing the graduation stage, I flew to Europe with my family, hoping to leave the weight of the decision-making behind.

I can figure this out, I thought furiously to myself, as we flew over the slate-grey Atlantic Ocean. There is surely a right and wrong way to live my post-college life, and I am not going to be wrong. 

I weighed my options.

Was I supposed to take whatever job I could grasp, like my dad’s foreboding economist friends said? Or was I supposed to do something more ‘daring’ and ‘passion-driven’ with my new-found freedom, like the Millennials seemed to do?  And why wasn’t it all more clear?

I remember a deep weariness in my heart. I wanted God – or anybody, really – to tell me what the right thing was. But I was presented with only choice.

The choices didn’t let me rest – or maybe, I didn’t let them go. They followed me across Europe, on planes and trains, over dark cups of coffee and Nutella croissants.

What does the brave thing look like for me? 

I didn’t know. No one told me. (And this, I might add, is precisely why Nutella and croissants were created. For times like these.)

In the confusing aftermath of the closure of that chapter of life, I wish I could tell past Laura: There is more than one brave path.

As my favorite writing professor in college used to say, “There are many roads in life, and most are good.” 

There are many brave, right choices.

Your choice to take this or that job, to move to this or that city, to take the advice or take your own path. Your choices will not surprise God, nor toss him off his throne, nor incur his wrath upon you.

It is possible to be obedient to God and still choose from any number of good paths.

I can’t go back and tell past Laura, so instead I’ll tell my current self: brave is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of trust. Not a matter of what’s happening around you, but what’s happening within.

What if for us – like for the heroine in the movie scene – the brave thing isn’t the staying, or the closing, or the beginning again, or the dreaming. What if the brave thing is us? 

Friend, I think the brave thing is you. 

I believe that when faced with the job offer, the temptation, the crossroads, the creeping sense of despair…the brave thing is within. Within is where the Holy Spirit dwells, where your most essential, God-breathed self lives. No matter the decision or circumstance, bravery begins here.

Do you come to God with your choice, and listen for his still, small voice? Do you talk with a mentor about what the next right thing is for you? Do you weigh the options and seek the truth before you leap?

Then, you are a brave soul. You are daring to imagine that your life could look a little different tomorrow then it does today.

You can choose, and you can choose bravely.

You can trust the work of God in your mind and spirit. You can listen for where he calls you to obedience. And then you can choose with confidence.

Let’s live like this is true. Let’s trust that the bravery of the Holy Spirit is ours to own and claim and display to the world each day.

Let’s ask God for his help in navigating the hard choice, trusting that He goes with us and that He is for us, no matter the path.

And let the Father be glorified as we lean on him to help us live out of our brave, beautiful selves within.

Dear Friend, Words for When Your Week Already Feels Weary

Last week, I was standing in line at a coffee shop and ran into an old friend of mine.

She is the director of an outdoor learning center where students and families gather to learn about agriculture and the food industry – how our food goes from farm to processor to table. This center was a dream for my friend, a seed that was first planted as an idea over 15 years ago and that is now in full growth. It’s a place where she thrives, and the center thrives right along with her.

While we waited for our coffee, I asked her about how their summer season went. She described a dozen or more weddings, seminars and school trips, board meetings and big fundraising campaigns, all leading to the most well-attended and successful season of events that the center has ever had. And those milestones were ushering in a busy fall season too! A harvest festival, another couple of weddings, and a big fundraising push.

Things have just been crazy,” she said to me. “I’ve been calling this the season of grit and grace.

Unknowingly, she gave words to what I was feeling in that moment. And maybe this is where you find yourself today, too.

Busy is where I’m coming from, and busy is where I’m going. 

Maybe the summer was fun and full for you, weddings and travel and everyday adventure breathing life into your schedule and spirit. Maybe the fullness of the summer was a sort of drug, making you feel light and free as you moved from pool to party and back again.

And maybe the fall looks just as full. Work is moving at warp speed, demanding that you keep up with it. Homecomings and fall break trips and big projects are on your horizon, and it makes you excited, but you get a little weary when you think about fitting everything into the limited hours you have.

Maybe for you, like my friend, things are good! You know that you’ve made good choices – brave choices – that have lead you to the important work you’re doing. You are living out of your dreams and gifts, showing up to for your work and meetings and loved ones, trusting that day-to-day faithfulness makes a difference.

Maybe there’s nothing really wrong. Maybe there’s no apparent trigger to the emotions, the weariness. Maybe you feel fine.

Even so, my friend.

It’s okay to feel the grit, and it’s okay to need the grace.

Even if things are good, even if you have the job and the full schedule, the community and the routine, even if the summer brought you sweetness and the fall feels ripe with purpose.

Even so. We are never, ever without a need to be held by God in the midst of it all.

Even if your life might look good from the outside, it’s okay to feel the restless ache on the inside.

A busy, full life – which is undoubtedly a gift from the Lord – is not a substitute for our actual, loving Father. The grit and grind of daily life – even in its goodness – calls us back constantly to our need for his grace.

As I wrote about last week, I am in an awesome Fellowship program this year, and in our small group meeting this week, I shared that I’ve been feeling  restless lately.

I confessed to my peers: “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. I have so many more questions than answers.”

And in reply, a friend said: “That’s how you know it’s real. The tension, the grey area. That’s how you know that God is working.

He’s right, isn’t he? Isn’t this the call of our life as God’s people? To wrestle, to surrender, and to keep bringing it back to God? To keep telling him how much we need him? To thank him for the good things, and to ask for his grace in them anyway?

It’s okay to feel the grit, and it’s okay to need the grace.


Even if busy is where you came from, and busy is where you are going, there is a new reality that is already yours in Christ. The grit of the world will rub against you, but the grace of his presence will see you through.

The grace we often fail to give ourselves is always offered to us from His hand.

This week, I have been humbly reminded of how these two realities are achingly real, and also deeply hopeful. In that coffee shop line, in small group, in conversations with my mom, in quiet walks through the turning trees.

The grit, and the grace. The dying of the old to usher in the new. Our busyness giving way to the bold love of the Father.

It’s okay to sit here, friends. Indeed, that’s what it means to be human. The tension of life – the middle of the grit and the grace – is uncomfortable, but purposeful.

And maybe, we don’t have to numb it or ignore it.

Maybe, we need to sit with the tension. Maybe it’s not trying to hurt us, or make us ungrateful, or cause us to doubt.

Maybe it’s simply inviting us back to the grace of the Father, as we transition into new seasons, as we greet each new day.

Maybe in the middle of full questions and full seasons, we’re called to remind our weary hearts to find our true fullness – ever and always – in our maker alone.