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.

Showing Up

About a month ago, I came home after a long day of work and meetings and to-dos and was met with the most wonderful scene in our kitchen.

Friends. Jammed together happily around our little kitchen table.

A din of chatter echoed through the house, and music played in the background. Homework and water bottles and cookies rendered our table top invisible. Everyone was all spread out, just doing their thing. Grading papers. Studying. Doodling.

The people I live with are also my dear friends, so evenings like these are common. We host gatherings, some planned, some spontaneous. We collapse onto the couch at the end of the day and reheat leftovers side-by-side, celebrating the built-in community we have in simple ways.

I’m more and more in awe of the gift it is to live in a home with this kind of culture. This is something we prayed for. In the car, on the phone, and over text messages last winter, we asked: God, let our home be a place where you are honored. God, let this be a place of comfort and rest, where friends feel welcome just as they are. God, let this be a place where we learn more about your true character through meals and books, studying and conversation, laughter and late-night honesty. 

Our prayers have, undoubtedly, been answered. God is at work in a strong and palpable way in this place.

In our home, we love games and snacks and sweatpants. We make (and drink) full pots of coffee on lazy weekend mornings, mug after mug disappearing. We turn on the football game and spread out around the TV to work and do crafts. Our house is a place where we can relax, but also where friends and family and out-of-town guests can come to rest and play and be nourished as well.

Our house is full of mismatched furniture, but there is a unity there. Two-week-old party decorations still grace the living room walls, but there is grace in the imperfection of it. It’s never a place where I have to put on my best behavior or best outfit, and I pray that others never feel that way, either.

This is place where I can show up, fully.

I’ve been thinking about that phrase lately – showing up. It’s a buzzword in our home, borrowed from a favorite author. When things are tricky or hard or we straight-up don’t feel like leaving the house, we encourage each other with that. Just keep showing up.

Today has got me thinking about that.

I desire for my home to be a place where friends can come in without knocking, can show up exactly as they are.

Do I allow myself and my heart to be open in the same way?

Do I share my true opinions with grace, even if it isn’t cool or in agreement with others?

Do I show up – mind and spirit – in my life and relationships, or do I let distraction get the best of my energy?

I long to show up fully in my life, in this season more than ever. As a person of faith, I want my heart to resemble the heart of our little home. Welcoming. Open. Arms-wide-open. A port in the storm. A shelter and a gathering place. Willing to give and take.

I want to trust my close friends by sharing my full self, trusting that this is a good and sacred practice, and that vulnerability and freedom from me begets vulnerability and freedom in others.

I want my heart and my spirit to be a place where my friends feel seen and rested and known.

On that particular, ordinary Tuesday evening last month, when I came home to our bustling kitchen table, I dropped my stuff and joined right in. And right in the middle of a messy table and a weekday evening of papers and lists and projects, I sorta got it – why the showing up is both good and sacred.

We show up because God does. 

We let people in, we share our stories and we practice honesty, because Jesus modeled these practices in his life on earth. He let people in to his presence with a fullness and an up-front honesty. He kept the screen door open. He invited people around the table on ordinary Tuesdays, welcoming people of all kinds to sit and be nourished.

We don’t have to fear the raw, because God goes there with us. We can show up as a friend’s world is rocked by the storm of grief or confusion or self-doubt, and we can sit with it. We can listen as Jesus listens, his presence ever-close to us.

We go to small group or coffee or that one awful meeting, even if it’s cold outside, even if the couch is calling. Because we trust that our actions and the things we give our time to are eternally valuable and seen by the God who cares deeply for each and every detail.

We show up because God does. 

My friend, I commend you. You are so awesome. Today, you showed up. You opened the door of your spirit to the work of the day, allowing your coworkers and friends and even strangers to come in, imperfect and close to your heart.

You drove to work before the sun came up. You greeted your colleagues with a welcoming smile. You wrote, you called, you juggled tasks. You taught. You cared well for young minds and hearts. You sent the email and designed the flyer.

The Holy Spirit was able to plant more beauty and truth in our aching world today because you allowed him to use you as his vessel.

Today, you showed up. And in that, you lived out the fullness of your beautiful created nature in God’s image. You showed up just as our Father God does – an imperfect reflection, but a beautiful one. This is an honorable thing, my friend.

Thank you for letting others in to your heart, your life, your kitchen table. Thank you for being honest about who you are – more so with every passing day – and for sharing that with others. Thank you for teaching me about God’s faithfulness in the way that you’ve faithfully shown up today and so many days before.

Friends, let us be the people of the messy, weeknight kitchen table. The revolving door.

Let us be the showing up kind of people. Welcoming. Open. Arms-wide-open. A port in the storm. A shelter and a gathering place.

Let us be the people that come together at the end of the day around the table, imperfect but fully ourselves.

Let us show up, just as we are, to the throne of grace each new day, and then again the next.

Dear Mess

One chilly weekend earlier this year, my roommates and I had all of our parents over for dinner at our house. It was a combination of all of my very favorite things: People + warm food + table + s p a c e to be together.

We put the ingredients for chicken tortilla soup in the crock pot before church and popped cornbread and cookies in the oven just before everyone arrived. We lit candles on the mantle and set out the tablecloth and pulled out extra chairs.

And then, right on time, I ran to the doorbell and peeked out our front window to see our parents standing on the doorstep, flowers and gifts in hand. They walked in carrying coats and twinges of the chilly air.

Before long, the house was totally full of voices. Our chip bowls disappeared at an alarming pace, guacamole and salsa flying as we scooped. We pulled nine chairs up to our table meant for six, elbows rubbing as we dug into our soup.

It’s strange, really. A few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined a night like we had.

A few years ago, I predicted a cool, sophisticated version of my post-college self, working a big-girl job and wearing suit jackets, going out for margaritas with friends every night and having parents over for a candle-lit dinner on Pottery Barn plates.

And now I’m here. And my real life is a little messier. But it’s better, too.

I do commute downtown for my big-girl job, and it is fun and interesting and feels all grown-up to me. But, most days, I just wear jeans (and the very occasional suit jacket) and I grab coffee with my coworkers and I wade through piles and piles of emails and media lists. It is equal parts interesting & challenging.

I do have a super-fun group of close friends in my life, and they are my most treasured gift in this season by far. And yes, sometimes we go out for margaritas and buckets and buckets of chips and salsa. But sometimes, we go to bed early on Friday nights and work through hard things and hurt each others’ feelings. This is a messier but altogether more beautiful picture of friendship than I never could have painted.

And, yes, I had my parents over for dinner that weekend. But it wasn’t super fancy. We didn’t dust or vacuum  (there are only so many hours in the day). It took us a while to get the TV’s bunny ears to work (yep, we’ve got those). Our dishes didn’t match, nor were they from Pottery Barn. But we laughed and spilled salsa and popped a bottle of champagne to toast the Denver Broncos’ trip to Super Bowl 50. We laughed and told stories and figured out, once again, just how small our world is. At the end of the night, our dishwasher and our bellies were full.Life in its messiness can’t compete with that picture-perfect plan I create. I’m learning to be cool with my messy life. My really, really good, messy life.

I’m more than cool with a messy dinner party around a messy table sprinkled with chip crumbs. I’m learning to be cool with my messy emotions and imperfect schedule. I’m learning to be cool with messy conflict that leads to growth and healing and change.

Around the time of that dinner party, a friend and I were reading through the book of Genesis – a celebration and marking of beginnings in many ways. The book is full of births, celebrations, the start of God’s family tree, and the start of all of our family trees, really.

But have you ever read the book of Genesis? It. Is. Messy.

Deception. Running. Hiding. Family feuding. Slavery. Imprisonment. Fear. Falls. These are only some of the themes that thread themselves through these ancient, dusty, war-torn stories that stretch miles across the desert.

We read about Joseph – the boy who was sold into slavery by his envious older brothers, only to become a trusted officer in the Egyptian guard. We read about Tamar sleeping with her father-in-law in order to extend their family line – the line that would turn out to be the family line of Jesus. We read about the heartbreaking, competitive battles between Rachel and Leah, clamoring for the attention and affection of the same husband. We read about the tragic darkness that seemed to follow Jacob, Esau and their family like a shadow.

We read about the passing of both ordinary and extraordinary days, when God was steadfastly keeping His covenant with His people. Messy, imperfect people.

What God is showing me in these stories is that His purpose isn’t intimidated by my mess. He is showing me that He is gracious to continually give us purpose and good work, and that he doesn’t disqualify His people because their mess is too great.

Seemingly isolated incidents – hard, weird, painful, confusing incidents –  salsa stains and ordinary evenings and hard conversations – are stitching together a greater story of redemption.

The mess isn’t exempt from the redemption story. The mess makes the redemption story. 

And my life is the same way. Your life is the same way. Mess. Mistakes. Mondays. Bad dreams. Hard lessons. Hard goodbyes. Start-overs.

God is using the stuff of our days, friends.

I remember washing our tablecloth after the parents dinner party that weekend, after the house was quiet and clean.

And I got to this sorta peaceful place, heart and soul.

I ran my hands over the salsa stains on the blue cloth, trying to remember every detail of the evening before I tossed the whole thing into the machine.

Man, I thought. A messy tablecloth is a sign of a good party. 

Friends, I believe this to be true. About our tablecloths, and about our lives.

It’s not always what we thought, but it’s good. It’s imperfect sometimes, but it’s good. 

It’s messy, but it’s good.

The Sound of This Season

He was wearing a blue collared shirt, and a kind expression skirted around his wrinkled temples and blue eyes.

My college girlfriends and I were gathered around a table at a breakfast restaurant. The man in the blue shirt and his wife were seated next to us, within earshot of our fits of giggles.

Our table was experiencing the pure joy you feel when familiar, good friends gather to catch up after many months apart. We laughed and laughed in between sips of coffee and bites of omelettes. We brought up shared memories – late nights spent in our college town, favorite professors, campus characters and spring break trips. We remarked on how fast the time goes, and also how quick we are to pick up where we left off. A true gift.

After some time, the man in the blue shirt walked over to our table with a gentle shuffle and spoke up.

“I want to thank you all,” he said. And we all turned to face him, curious.

“It’s such a pleasure to enjoy one’s dinner to the sound of such laughter,” he said with a big smile.

I was suddenly so proud to be sitting at our table – the table of laughter.

“We are in our 80s,” the man continued, gesturing to his wife. “When we were young, we used to have a record. One of the tracks was called ’16 women trapped in a lavatory.’ And when you got to the track, all you could hear was laughter! That’s all the song was!”

He chuckled at the memory, and all of us laughed with him, smiling at his willingness to share.

“You all reminded me of that today. So, thank you.”

I imagined what the sound must have been like, and then I realized that I already knew it well, that sound of a laugh track.

It’s the sound that underlines my deep, sweet friendships, new and old. It’s the sound that defines each and every interaction I have with my sister. It’s the sound of my parents catching each other dozing off in front of the TV. It’s the sound of brunch with college girlfriends.

The words of that kind gentleman reminded me of something that’s important to me.

As we look forward to the fall season, I’ve been spending time prioritizing – deciding what activities are important to me, and what things I’m going to say ‘no’ to in order to make the important stuff happen.

This is not a pattern that I’m very good at. Ordinarily, I want to dive right into each new season (fall especially so, because it’s my favorite) with gusto and fervor and a ‘yes’ to every invitation. Savoring and enjoying has, historically, meant agreeing and planning and filling my calendar with friend dates and projects.

And this fall, I want to do as many of those beautiful things as possible. But I am realizing that, in order to make room for the good stuff, I have to say ‘no’ to stuff that’s less important. I have to say ‘no’ to the voice of frantic hustling – the voice of one more commitment, one more spot in the schedule.

I’m practicing that this fall.

For example, here are some things that I am saying ‘no’ to:

  • Spending time on social media on the weekends
  • Committing to more projects than I can handle at work

And here are some things I am saying a big, loud ‘YES’ to:

  • Inviting friends over for dinner around our table, rather than going out
  • Making space in my schedule to pray and practice silence
  • Spending time outside, admiring the changing light & leaves
  • Reading
  • Resting

And last, but certainly most vitally:

  • Laughter

Just as laughter defined our reunion breakfast this weekend, I want laughter to be a memorable and distinct thread, connecting my fall activities and meals and plans.

I want to be known for my laughter. I want it to be the sound that defines this happy and full and growth-filled season.

Laughter is hard-fought, and it’s worth fighting for. A true gift. The man in the blue shirt at breakfast taught me that.

It’s a sound that calls us back to what’s most important – these friends, this time, this place around our tables and in our homes. Laughter requires us to live in the moment, to double over and pause in the joy of connection.

Let’s keep the laugh track going this fall. Let’s gather and say gracious and necessary ‘no’s in order to focus on the good stuff. Let’s make space for ourselves and our people to breathe, to rest, and to share – laughter as our soundtrack.


Get To

Last night, I stood at the corner of a parking lot in downtown Denver and watched the sun sink slowly and magnificently over the city skyline.

Sometimes, it’s good and healthy and beautiful to see your own ordinary life from a new lens. Sometimes, it’s important to walk the sidewalks of your own city and watch the sunset from your own neighborhood. To remember the richness of your life, and the provision of the Lord in your days and your place.

This weekend, I got to do exactly that. I ate and explored and adventured and truly savored each moment, every day revealing new depth and nuance in my own backyard.

A dear friend and pen pal of mine was in town, and I got to take her to some of my favorite local spots, and many places in Denver that I had been wanting to try but just hadn’t made it to.

I was constantly telling her: “Gosh, I’ve always wanted to try this brunch place!”  or “I can’t wait to go to that coffee shop!” or “I have never had a chance to tour this part of town. And now I get to!

It was a whole weekend of ‘get to’.

With her by my side, and in taking on the role of tour guide, I got to see and taste and experience the wonder already here, the palpable and exciting buzz that already brackets my day-to-day working and playing.

I got to see the beauty in my own place.

As our weekend unfolded, I got to rediscover how the sun turns the sky into shades of gold over the mountains, light reflecting onto restaurants and shops and businesses. I got to see families laughing over pizza at patio cafes and couples walking their dogs to the park. I got to watch shop owners collecting inventory and witness small neighborhoods come to life with weekenders.

I got to watch baristas talk proudly about the subtle notes of different types of espresso, and waitresses talk proudly about the local farmers that contributed to the salads and protein on their menu.

I got to watch friends from different parts of my life mingle and get to know one another, laughing over ice cream at one of our favorite places, and asking deep questions over nachos under the market lights on our back patio.

I got to remember that my place – these people and this neighborhood and this world given to me – is full of hope and beauty and kind people at every turn.

This week, as we do good work and write the truth and care for students and friends and the people in our circles, let’s practice looking for the beauty.

Let’s practice the belief that we not only ‘have to’ in life – we ‘get to’. 

We get to walk in the beauty that’s already present in our places, in our day-to-day.

Our ‘get to’ is God’s gift to us in this life.

We get to walk freely, because He is graceful toward us. We get to connect deeply with friends (like the gorgeous gal in these photos), because He is relational and created us to be the same. We get to encounter life with a curious and awe-filled spirit because (as my sweet roommate and friend has echoed several times this summer) He created beauty for us to enjoy it.

We ‘get to’ savor our own life, because He has crafted it.

Our God is good, and He is for our good. His provision and His sovereignty are marvelous and ever-true.

He has given us people and work and dreams, and He is refining us into our best selves through both the good and the hard. The mountain and the valley. The vacation and the everyday task.

Our choice is our lens.

Let us choose this week to see through the lens of opportunity and hope.

Let us choose to see the beauty that exists in our own streets and sidewalks and backyards, ever-growing and ever-new for us to discover.

We get to, friends. And for that, on this Monday morning, I am deeply thankful.

“Believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without ever realizing it.”
– Shauna Niequist, from Cold Tangerines


Envy: The Danger, and The Invitation

This morning, I’m writing to you from the front porch of an adorable orange beach house, just steps away from the ocean in Imperial Beach, California.

My dear friends and I have spent the weekend mostly with sand between our toes, interrupting our time on the beach only to sleep and drink coffee and eat Mexican food.

There’s nothing like new and beautiful scenery to get me reflecting on the things that matter most. In the valley between mountains, in the air above the clouds, on a rainy morning by the lake, on the doorstep of the ocean. These are the places that I discover God, and often hear his voice in both comforting and confronting ways.

As I read through my journal on the porch of our beach house this week, I re-discovered a quote from a podcast I listened to recently. The host of the show said something that was both interesting and unsettling for me.

I always know where the Lord is going to lead me into big growth next,” she said. “All I have to do is examine the things I’m most envious of.”

Yikes. Envy. Good beach talk, huh?

She went on to talk about the envy she’s experienced around relationships, lifestyle, romance, and job success, and how her desire for what others had (or seemed to have) fueled her into asking important questions.

Her words didn’t sit right with me at first. It sounded icky that God might allow envy in our hearts, even if the purpose is to lead us or teach us.

I decided right then that I didn’t believe this to be true about God. I don’t believe God instructs us away from something – like envy – only to use that very thing to tease us or manipulate us.

And God’s instructions are clear on envy:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17

The Message version of this commandment puts it this way: “Do not set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Our Good Father tells us where we should and should not set our hearts, and he tells us that envy is not a safe place.

God cautions us against envy for our good. I think He saw from the beginning what envy does to fragile human hearts, and He invites us not to hang out there. He knows we’ll encounter envy in our broken world. He knows we will hunger for things that are just out of our reach. He knows we will crave a life, a job, an image, and a circumstance not our own, taking our eyes off of God’s gifts and exact purposes for our lives and putting our focus on lack.

He knows envy’s sting, and that’s precisely why he tells us not to camp there. Feel that sting, He says, but then move on.

Don’t set your heart there.

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” Proverbs 14:30

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:26

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” 1 Peter 2:1

That podcast discussion made me wonder if maybe it’s helpful and even hopeful to engage with our envy a little. Not to let it run rampant, but to stare it in the face and examine where it came from.

What if envy can be the jumping off point for good and important questions? For examining our hearts to get to the root of our emotions and true desires?

Maybe looking at the root of my envy can show me where I am in need of God’s care and leading.

Maybe envy is the beginning of a thought process that eventually reveals what I desire for my life, or what I’m being called into.

Maybe feeling envy is a signal to my heart to turn my eyes off of the people beside me and instead train my focus on the relationships and work that I’ve been given.

Maybe the danger of envy is in camping there, and the invitation from our Good Father is simply this: To move on.

Maybe the point is that even if we start there, we don’t stay there. 

I don’t believe God uses envy to tease us or torture us. But I do believe that God is in the business of taking our sin – our envy, our longing, our desire for the things of this world – and redeeming it for good. I do believe God is in the business of retraining our focus to align with our best selves and His good calling for our lives.

And maybe that’s what the podcast host was saying. Not that envy is a place to look for truth, but that envy is the staring point from which you can travel toward truth.

Friends, if you get anything out of this, let it be that there is hope here.

No sin we struggle with is beyond God’s hope and healing, and this is absolutely true of envy. In the same way the natural beauty and power of the ocean can exfoliate your skin and wash away debris from the beach, God’s beauty and power is refining and revitalizing your very heart.

Let’s show envy Who is boss.  If we envy our neighbor’s job, let’s take a class to see if that’s something we might be good at. If we envy travel, let’s get something on the calendar. If we envy her friendships, let’s invite our own dear friends out for coffee more often.

Let’s not camp there. Let us believe in His abundant provision in our lives.

Recently, I decided that one of my goals for this blog is to offer more questions than answers. I want this to be a place where we wrestle with tough and important questions together, ultimately pointing one another to our best selves and towards God’s good call on each of our stories.

So today, as you participate with me in the messy middle, here are some questions we can ask and return to when we’re battling envy.

  1. What do I actually envy? Her lifestyle and home and relationship seem put-together and idyllic compared to mine. But what is the heart of my desire? Reputation? Comfort? Companionship?
  2. What does that envy tell me about what I believe? Do I believe that my life is lacking? Do I believe that she must have it easier? Do I believe that there is unfairness in what I have been given? How can I talk to God about that?
  3. What does that envy tell me about what I value? Do I value possessions, appearance, perfection or control?
  4. What is the next step? What does my envy tell me about what my priorities are, and how can I reflect my priorities in my schedule in the coming weeks?
  5. How can God’s truth bring light to what I’m feeling?

Thanks be to our Good Father, who is ever in the business of turning our hurt into His hope. Amen.

People, Not Place

This weekend, I went to services at the church I grew up in.

Even though it’s Monday morning now, it feels like Sunday morning is lingering a little longer this week. Because that place – that church – tends to linger in my heart after I leave it.

Going to that church is like coming home for me, in a lot of ways. It’s an imperfect homecoming- yes. But it’s also warm and familiar, in the way that only well-worn paths can be.

It’s the church where I went to Christian preschool, where I first experienced felt board Bible stories and Sunday school hymns. It’s where we dressed in our best dresses to go to Easter services and Christmas Eve, my sister and I twirling our skirts down the aisles of the sanctuary in the candlelight.

It’s where I watched my sister get baptized. Where I tasted my first communion.

Most importantly, it’s the church where I grew up in my relationship with our good, good God. It’s where I was allowed to ask tough questions and grapple with the mystery of our faith in a way that was safe and welcome.

That church is where I fell in love with youth group, and where good memories of those friendships spill over the edges of the pages of my journals. There were long Sunday nights in the church kitchen, when we stayed long after group concluded to eat cold pizza and steal soda from the vending machine. There were weekend retreats when we played Sardines in the basement for hours, feeling like we owned the whole church building as we sprinted through the halls in the dark with flashlights. There was the freshman kidnapping ritual each fall, when we snatched frightened 14-year-olds from their homes and took them back to the church for a huge sleepover.

Our church let us run and play and be ourselves in a way that I am so grateful for now. What an absolutely beautiful and fun place to belong as a high schooler.

Most importantly, that church is where I first asked Jesus to forgive those places in my small heart that felt heavy with guilt and lack. It’s where much of my story has been written, in beautiful and important ways.

This church looks nothing like it did when I was growing up. Not in physical appearances, anyway. And that’s something I’ve had to work through.

This church has redecorated, reorganized and relocated over the years. Sometimes, change was for the better. Sometimes, change was hard. Change was painful and raw.

For example: The pews and carpet in the large Santuary used to be this outrageous orange-red color until they were (thankfully) replaced with dark green upholstery in the 90s.

Good change.

Another example: When I was in high school, our congregation chose to sell the building where the church had been meeting for almost 100 years, and relocate from Centennial to Highlands Ranch, to attract more young families and start a new chapter.

Hard, hard change.

I remember the Sunday when everyone voted to sell. I hated it. I couldn’t understand why that building full of history and beauty and growth had to be replaced with something newer. It felt like a betrayal to me.

On the last Sunday we met in that sanctuary with the dark green pews, I tried to hold back tears, but they streamed down my face when the organ played the last hymn.

For me, the old building represented solidarity and comfort and tradition. So when we built and moved into a new building when I was in college, the process felt cold. The new walls were too new, too echo-y with the transition.

People told me that the building didn’t matter. That it wasn’t about the place. People said that the church would remain, no matter where we met. But I didn’t believe them at all. Families were leaving the church. People were wrestling with the newness like I was. We were saying goodbye to the place where I met God for the first time and where I felt God and His church walk with me into who I was becoming.

I mourned that place.

In the way that change often does, that change helped me grow up. My home church has always helped me to grow up, even if I was resistant.

The church may have changed outwardly, but it’s inward nature has remained the same. It took me a long time to see it.

But this weekend, I saw it clearly.

I walked into the new church – the building that is now very much the church home – and I was greeted by the familiar feeling of being known, and being loved.

Couples and families that watched me grow up and that have walked with our family for almost two decades surrounded me, greeted me and shook my hand. They asked me how I was doing and they meant it. In a slow and deliberate way, they smiled and said “Good to see you, Laura.”

I looked around the new sanctuary during service and recognized couples who had prayed for me, sent me packages, and supported me over the years. They were everywhere, those familiar faces.

Because of them, church doesn’t feel too different after all.

In his sermon this weekend, the pastor read from The Beatitudes, found in Matthew 5.

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.”
– Matthew 5:7-9

He talked about the contradiction between the call of the Christian life and the way that the world preaches. He spoke on the tough and ambiguous road of Christianity.

He let me off the hook by acknowledging that change can be good, but also hard. And that’s ok.

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered,” he quoted. “People will forget the good you’ve done to them and the ways you’ve served them.”

Love them anyway.”

I sat there, one of the young people that this church had helped to grow, and I realized that those words were what I learned from that place:

Love people anyway.

This church, and it’s people, have taught me that loving people and walking with them through the years isn’t easy or clean-cut. But you should do it anyway.

In this church, we have lost many members, some very unexpectedly and much too young. In this church, people have felt the sting of conflict and the peace of forgiveness. In this church, people have worked selflessly to see programs and people flourish. In this church, we’ve had many pastors come and go, some to new positions, and others to new phases of life.

But in the change, the love has remained. This church – my church – has taught me that.

Children will grow and families will evolve. People might get hurt and leave. There will be redecorating, remodeling, and relocating.

But the heartbeat of the place will endure. In memories and bread broken together. In the stories still shared. In the friendships that persevere and extend past generational lines.

Love people anyway.”

In the end, I guess they were right. The building didn’t matter. The building isn’t what brings comfort or community.

The church is not a place, but people.

The people that look you in the eye and shake your hand. The people that sing with you, shoulder-to-shoulder. The people that remember you and give you a place to belong.

Imperfect, yes.

But also warm and familiar, in the way that only well-worn paths can be.

What My Cars Teach Me

It was six years ago, going on seven.

College classes had wrapped up for Thanksgiving break. Me and two friends met outside the dorms and loaded into my tiny, red, 1991, four-door Honda Accord. We headed west toward Denver.

We were so young and insecure and slightly wild. We had summer clothes and winter coats packed side-by-side in the trunk. We were listening to the Relient K album that came out that fall…the one that sings “Forget and not slow down.”

I was in the driver’s seat.

I wasn’t slowing down.

I remember crossing the Colorado border just an hour previously. I remember the setting sun, brilliant in my eyes.

And then, I remember bending over to adjust the stereo. I remember that silver volume button turning once, twice, three times.

Gravel. A screech. A jerk of the steering wheel. And then, a roller coaster ride as the car veered into the deep, grassy median.

We were crashing.

I held on to that steering wheel with a white-knuckled grip and a fervent prayer right behind my lips.

Please, Lord. 

Please, Lord, keep us safe. Lord, please, steer for me. Lord, please keep my friends in your care. 

Lord, please.

It was one of those emergency prayers. One of those miracle prayers.

And as the prayer echoed from my very skin, we continued to spin. I was held securely, my seat belt tight over my breastbone. The car rolled once, twice, three times. I lost count.

And then, after what felt like forever, there was stillness. The car stopped. It was quiet.

I kept my eyes squeezed shut, thinking it was going to be dream. This was something that only happened to other people in those videos that they show you in driver’s ed class.

I opened my eyes and my ears. I tested out my legs and arms for pain, pried my fingers off the steering wheel. I was okay.

“Are you guys okay?” I begged my friends to answer.

They were. Their voices sounded like the sweetest of mercies.

Cars pulled off the highway around us and people spoke with panicked tones into their cell phones. The ambulance was coming with the State Patrol.

It was the only time in my life I’ve ever heard sirens that were headed straight for me.

– – – – – –

On that day, I became a believer in miracle.

On that day, my first car – that little red Honda  Accord – saved my life. It kept me and my friends safe with its secure, metal frame.

In that frame, we went from 80 miles an hour to 0 in mere seconds.

What I know from experience is that God can and does use people and circumstances and even objects to accomplish His miracles in our world today. Yes, even this broken world that seems to constantly buckle with tumult and discord.

Even here, and even in your life. Miracle is real.

Cars, like anything, can be God’s agents for these miracles. I believe that cars go with us on the journey more than any other object we own in our lives. And I think God knows our cars. I believe He might even commission them to care for us.

I took my first Little Red Honda to my first job interview, the first day I drove myself to high school, and my first day of college.

After the crash, I took a break from cars, bumming rides from friends and borrowing my parents’ vehicles too. People cared for me really well during that season, offering me grace for what had happened.

So, when  it came time to purchase my next new car – also a Red Honda – it really felt like a new chapter.

That Honda went with me on first dates, road trips, and trips to Sonic in the sticky, Midwestern summer heat. That car held me in the confusion of post-college life as I wrestled with who I was and who I wanted to be. On particularly lonely Sunday afternoons in that season, me and Red Honda would drive the dirt roads of rural Adams County, chasing the sunset and listening to Relient K sing through the stereo.

Second Red Honda accompanied me on my drive when I moved back to Colorado two summers ago. It was the most brave and crucial move of my life. And no one went with me accept my Red Honda.

Aren’t these everyday moments as beautiful as the miracles when we look back on them?

Could it be, friends, that they are one and the same?

– – – – – –

A few months ago, I was driving down Colorado Boulevard when the car in front of me slammed on its brakes. And red Honda and I slammed into him. Crunch. 

The panic flooded back, drowned out only by adrenaline. Everyone was OK, but there’s nothing like a close call to make you believe in miracle all over again.

After many phone calls to the body shop and the insurance company, I had to say farewell to my second Red Honda this summer.

I went to the body shop to clean out the car and say goodbye, and it was a weirdly emotional experience. I sat in the driver’s seat and cleaned out the glove box and remembered all the hours red Honda and I  had spent together. The tears, the laughter, and the spilled ice cream. The moments when I prayed bold prayers and gripped the steering wheel in frustration.

I called my parents in a weird state of tears and said “I feel sad. I don’t want to tell him goodbye.

And dad, in his wisdom, said, “I understand, Laura. Cars become a part of the family.

And so they do.

– – – – – –

Here’s the thing, friends – the thing that my cars are teaching me.

Miracle isn’t reserved for the near-miss and the scraping by.

It is, of course, present in those moments. Every single moment we are breathing on this Earth is one step from heaven if not for the Lord’s hand around us.

The Lord did a miracle on that day almost seven years ago when my friends and I survived the crash.

But he also did a number of miracles in the aftermath of the crash. When people forgave me. When friends listened. When my family spoke new life out of the hurt of it all. Because of their grace, I accepted what had happened and chose to move forward.

Because miracle isn’t reserved for the dramatic, life-altering moments.

Miracle isn’t one singular moment, but a series of extraordinary moments, strung together like beads on a necklace, or like days on our seasonal calendar. 

Because we are new in Christ, God’s miracles, just like his mercies, come to us anew each morning.

When you get the news just in time. When you are spared the pain by inches. When the plane crashes and you find out that your dad got off another plane just moments before. When the diagnosis takes a turn for the better. When you’re riding your bike with deftness and speed until, all at once, you’re thrown over the handlebars and sent soaring. And your ego is shattered, but not your vertebrae.

On this side of heaven, we will never know all the miracles that our God has orchestrated on our behalf. But oh, isn’t it just incredible to consider?

God and miracle go hand-in-hand. He is with us, and so are His mercies and His miracles.

In the messy, in the everyday, and in the seemingly routine.

Even and especially in the driver’s seat.

– – – – – –

A few weeks ago, I bought my third car. A used-but-new-to-me Honda. This one is white.

And she’s a beauty. I love this car, you guys.

This time, I signed the papers all by myself and felt very grown up about the whole thing.

When the nice dealership guys let me drive White Honda home for the first time, I paused on the way to pull off onto a dirt road. I put the shiny new thing in park.

And I thanked God for the miracle of normal, everyday life. For the miracle of breath each day. For the miracle of safety when injury was so close at hand.

For the miracle of newness from the old.

For the miracle it is that I get to travel into this next chapter with the Maker of Miracles ever as my advocate, my protector and my Father. There is a certain courage that comes from being His. And I felt it in the driver’s seat on that day, as I had so many days before.

As I sat in new White Honda, my miracle prayer came back with ease, with newness and with hope.

Thank you, Lord, for keeping me safe.

Lord, please, steer for me. Lord, please keep my friends and me in your care. 

Lord, go before me into this next chapter. Lord, keep me ever in awe of your everyday miracles. 

Welcome, new White Honda.

Welcome to the family.


I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a ‘law man’ so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with Him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not mine, but is lived by faith in the Son of God who loves me & gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:19-21, The Message

This past Sunday evening, I was baptized.

It has been 24 years since my tiny head was first sprinkled with the lukewarm tap water that represents new life. Back then, I was a wide-eyed baby in front of the sanctuary where my parents were married, unknowingly participating in an ancient sacrament.

My infant baptism is a tradition that is a part of my story, and it shows a beautiful commitment on behalf of my parents to their God and the full life they desired for me. I am grateful for it.

But I don’t remember that day.

And baptism, I decided recently, is something I want to remember.

So, a few weeks ago, with all sorts of nerves and questions in my head, but a strong leading in my heart, I signed up to be baptized again as an adult.

I battled doubt and insecurity.

Why now?” I asked myself. “I’ve been following God, albeit imperfectly, for years now.

Why Red Rocks Church, and not somewhere else? It’s a big church, where lots of people will be watching. Surely a lake or a beach somewhere would be more poetic and meaningful for this baptism thing?”

What will my parents think of the service? Will they feel like their choice to baptize me as a baby is not being honored?

I battled, but God’s voice was steady.

I knew I didn’t have to get baptized to secure good standing with Him. Rather, I felt the Lord inviting me to participate, as a way of participating in the life Jesus modeled.

The word that I kept coming back to – the word that centered me back on Christ amid the nervousness – was fullness.

I want to be a person that believes Jesus at His word when he says, “I came that they may have life, and life to the full” (John 10:10). I don’t want anything – no obstacle or fear or insecurity, no critique or cowardice, no scheduling conflict or small excuse – to hold me back from knowing and experiencing that fullness.

I want to take seriously the instruction Jesus gave, the disciplines He practiced, the meals He shared, the people He saw, the justice He fought for, the discomfort He willingly walked into, and the radical love He embodied, believing that all of those things leap off the pages of my Bible and into my life, showing me the way to the fullness of life Jesus came to give me.

Baptism, for me, is one of those things.

Jesus started it. He practiced it. He encouraged it. And I believe that He meant for me to see and feel and remember it, as a way of participating in His life and His freedom. I believe that He created Baptism for my fullness of life in Him.

Just as there is deep symbolism and participation in the sacrament of communion – the tasting of the bread and wine, the meditating, the remembering – there is a tangible experience with Jesus that happens when we are baptized. Something ancient and unexplainable occurs, allowing our fragile human hearts to experience the heavenly.

And on Sunday, I got to experience a glimpse of the heavenly.

I drove to church in my swim suit, checked in, and found my seat.

I hugged my sweet friend, who agreed to baptize me. Her presence with me throughout the day was so wonderful, and it celebrated the many important truths she has spoken into my life in the last couple of years.

We joined the other participants and our pastor in prayer before the service. Everyone buzzed with nervous energy and excitement.

And before I knew it, I was shuffling out to a warm pool under warm stage lights.

I went into the water fully me, and came out somehow still my full self, but with a refreshment that I know to be only from God.  I felt my deficit of imperfection before the Lord be instantly and beautifully defeated by love, affirmation, and Christ’s promises for my life.

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Baptism, for me, wasn’t one day or one moment or one choice, but the culmination of many days and moments and choices, God’s story continuously unfolding in my life, each step taking me closer to my calling and true identity in Him.

I let everyone see my vulnerability, trusting that my risk would not shake my fullness, but contribute to it. And it was awesome. Sweet, celebratory and JOY-full in every way. Full, indeed.

One of my dear friends wrote a benediction for the day that is absolutely beautiful, and a perfect summary of my hopes for my baptism ceremony, and every day to come.

Thank you to everyone who celebrated the day with me. And thank you, Lord, for the story you’re writing in and through my life. Thank you for giving me your courage, and for meeting me in the water.

A Baptism Benediction

May you walk forth in this life with bravery, resting in the knowledge of the father’s love for you. May God’s spirit season your days with courage and joy and peace. And may this day serve as a reminder of God’s faithful provision in your life.


To My Dear Friend, On Your Wedding Day

I am a single lady, and I am loving it. I love my freedom and my independence. I love my lazy Saturdays and my ability to buy plane tickets on a whim. But most of all, I am blessed daily by my many close friends who are also single. We go on adventures together. We play and laugh and get milkshakes together. We do brunch and happy hour. We fly across the country to visit each other. Life is overflowingly full and beautiful. This is a sweet season, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

If and when a man joins me in life’s journey, that, too, will come with sweetness. But I’m not there yet. Neither are many of my friends. And, if I’m honest, there are many times when I look on those future days with fear. I worry about losing closeness with my dear friends when they get married and start families. I’m scared that as my friends get married, I will somehow lose them. And – equally – I’m scared that I’ll be the first in my group to marry someone, and thus miss out on the single fun. 

I’m confessing to you guys that this is where I am, and that this is something I’ve really struggled with in the past as well. 

But. I don’t want to remain here. I don’t want to live in fear of change. 

Rather, I want to hold my dear friends with open hands, ready to love and champion them into whatever the future holds. I want to celebrate each and every milestone with reverence and joy. And I want to dance at each and every wedding with crazy abandon, fully and wholly walking in grace and love with my friends as they enter into their love stories. 

So. Today, I’m writing a letter to my dear friend. Whoever she is. Past and future. My dear friend who is getting married. Whoever you are, and whenever that happens – when this day comes, you will know that my heart has been long preparing to celebrate with you. 

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Dear friend,

As I write this, we are in the middle of a season of deep friendship. We hang out a lot. We eat popcorn and watch our favorite TV shows at every opportunity. We work together in coffee shops, letting moments turn to hours, because we don’t have anywhere to be. We share late night talks, whispering our fears and our dreams in sacred, safe spaces. We have been on mission trips and plane trips and trips to the grocery store together. I can text you as I leave work today and, within the hour, we can be on our way to cocktails or Charming Charlie or the craft store.

I confess that I love this season very, very much. Because I don’t have to share you. Or if I do, I am sharing you with other awesome girlfriends who, by the way, also want to go get margaritas with us on Friday! Great! Let’s all go!

I haven’t yet had to share you with a boy.

I know this sounds very toddler-like of me. I like my play dates! She’s mine! 

But today is the day that I’m allowing that lesson of sharing to sink in. Throughout our friendship, you have showed me the beauty of sharing in life, love, heartache and healing with another human. And today, you are showing me that beauty all over again. In a beautiful, sweet, nostalgic day dressed in white.

Today, I wholeheartedly, joyfully and fully share you.

You are so loved, my friend.

First, by God, who has formed you perfectly and purposefully. I have long been in awe of the way your personality and your charm is suited to your passions in this life. God made no mistakes and used no blueprints when He created you. In Christ, you are worthy of every good thing.

You are so loved by the man that’s gonna wait for you at the altar today.

He isn’t just a boy. I see that now.

He isn’t just an adorable person with glasses who buys you dinner and brings you flowers and rides his bike to visit you. He is a gentleman, a genius, a kind heart, and a portrait of Christ’s love for His church in the way he loves you. He is the most real version of that metaphor that you’ll ever encounter in your life, and this is a beautiful thing. I am in awe of it. It has been an honor to watch this love unfold.

You are so loved by me. I am who I am because I’ve gotten to share your memories and your talents and your clothes. You’ve shown me the love of Jesus in the moments you’ve cried with me and walked with me and sacrificed your schedule to comfort me. The love in my life is fuller thanks to you.

So. It’s time to go. This day is here!

Today, do not worry. Allow someone else to care for the details. Allow the weather to do what it’s gonna do. Allow the fullness of the present fill you with joy and awe of God’s perfect plan and wonderful gifts. The past and the future are meeting in the most breathtaking of settings.

Today, do not regret. God has used every part of your story – including our blessed single lady days – to prepare you for this day and this man. You are courageous for letting another person come so close and see you for your whole, beautiful self.

Today, do not fear. You are capable and strong and wise. You are joining the club with millions of others who have declared – before the world and before their communities – that the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down for another. I admire you so much for declaring this truth over your life as you marry that sweet guy.

Friend, you look stunning. Everything about you is just perfection. Pinterest ain’t got nothin on this incredible ceremony. I can’t wait to dance like crazy with you and your new HUSBAND in a few hours.

I’m with you and I’m for you. Go get him.



I’d love to hear from you, friends. If you are single, is this something you think about? If you are married, how have your friendships evolved?