Cooking Class

“It’s called a ‘chiffonade,’ the French word for ‘curl,'” he said.

Our instructor carefully rolled a fragrant bunch of mint leaves in his fingers while 18 of us gathered in close, clad with crisp, white aprons and attentive expressions. The greens surrendered to his skilled hands.

Fluidly, he took a big, sharp knife and began moving it over the herbs and across the cutting board like a see-saw. And out from under his fingers fell beautiful, bright green curls of mint.

He threw them into the Mediterranean Israel Couscous salad that we were assembling, next to some raisins and pine nuts and lemon zest.

“Okay,” he said. “Now you try!”

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This was the rhythm of my first cooking class.

Our instructor would gather us around one of the three cooking stations for a demonstration of each dish. Hands buzzing, pan sizzling, knife dancing.

“Cut your vegetables into big pieces for grilling. That brings out the best flavor,” he’d say.

Or: “Here’s how to cut out the seedy core of a bell pepper in one swift motion.”

And: “Don’t flip your meat too soon. Let the heat do its work.”

He’d show us a tip, crack a joke, and then set us free to experience the process with our own hands.

I loved every moment of it.

I love to cook and bake, and this class was an expression of all the beauty that’s found in that process. There’s something about experiencing the rawness of hunger and appetite while working hard to fulfill that need with your own two hands. It feels ancient, somehow. It’s a practice as old as our species, a challenge every human has faced: Take the earth – the created, growing world – and find nourishment there.

Our class was a portrait of that process. Sensory, engaging, challenging, satisfying.

Wine was poured, and community was almost instantly formed. We tied our aprons and got familiar with the fancy utensils at our disposal.

My friend and I met our table of fellow chefs and got to know each other as we began to dice and mix.

One gal was the manager of ticket sales for the Denver Broncos. Another, a business analyst from Miami. Directly across the butcher block counter from us was a Lakewood couple – a lawyer, Ken, and a teacher, Beth – who were on a date night to celebrate their 33 years of marriage. We shook hands and then raised our glasses, toasting a night of cooking and eating.

Together, dancing between learning and trying, passing and stirring, we assembled baba ghanoush with warm, buttery pita, grilled vegetable salad, and a Mediterranean herb vinaigrette that tasted good with everything. The star of the show was the feta and spinach stuffed lamb burgers with lemon garlic aioli.

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We pan-seared chicken breasts and chopped fresh herbs and zested at least half-a-dozen lemons. We sipped our wine and snacked on popcorn, saving our big appetites for all the beautiful dishes we’d get to eat when we were done cooking.

Since our menu was Mediterranean, olive oil and lemon zest went into absolutely everything. We tossed generous amounts of salt and pepper from little carafes into our pans. We crushed garlic and crumbled Feta cheese in our fingers. We tucked our tasters spoons into the bowls as often as we could.

A playlist of classic love songs from The Beach Boys and Natalie Cole and The Supremes played from speakers in the high ceilings. At one point, our whole class was singing and dancing at our stations: “Sugar pie honey bunch! You know that I love youuuuu…

The beat continued. Sip, stir, flip, pass.

My favorite dish we made was the chicken: pan-seared, finished in the oven, and topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta and toasted pistachios. Bright and tangy, it reminded me of the ocean, even though we were miles from it.

When we were getting ready to top the chicken with the pistachios, our instructor spoke up over a Barry Manalow song:

“When you’re toasting pistachios, or any nut, there is a very short window when you’ll achieve the perfect result. As soon as you can smell the nuts in the oven – as soon as they become fragrant – they’re ready to come out. Even 30 seconds more, and they can burn.”

A general nod of agreement and expressions of “good to know” circled the room, and then we were back to watching our chicken brown in the pan. Meanwhile, Ken was sneaking olives into his mouth as he chopped them and I went a little crazy on the olive oil (if that’s even a thing).

“More salt! More pepper! More lemon zest!”

Don’t mind if I do.

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Over the course of a single evening, with classics crooning in the background, we all experienced the magic that happens when people and plates gather around a table.

When food and wine and learning and good music come together, strangers turn to friends almost automatically. We were so shy when we first assembled, but by the end of the night, we were talking about our families, our homes, our jobs, and the benefits of buying a nice lemon zester and a set of sharp knives. The gal that works for the Broncos was asking my friend for her favorite hiking trails and Denver restaurants. All of us insisted that Beth and Ken visit Little Man Ice Cream as part of their anniversary celebrations.

I think that’s really why I loved cooking class so much. The community of it.

The feeling that good people and good conversation are waiting to be found everywhere. The knowledge that everyone is seeking nourishment, seeking to feed their loved ones and their friends beautiful and healthy food, desiring more than anything to create space to be filled, body and soul.

These are the things that bring us together in kitchens and around tables.

It’s an ancient, beautiful practice; a new verse in the age-old song of hunger-meets-dinner. The ingredients are different each time, but the recipe is the same.

Meat. Vegetables. Herbs. Spices. A hot pan. A whirring oven.

A smile. A handshake. A shared space and shared joy. Space to rest and be fed.


At the end of our class, our team of instructors and sous chefs gathered all of our created dishes into a colorful buffet line and we all grabbed plates. We walked upstairs to the loft dining room above the kitchen school.

By candle light, we savored every lemony, herb-filled bite of our meal and chatted quietly, celebrating our hard work and just how delicious even simple foods can be. It was one of those meals I wanted to last forever. Every bite was somehow more delicious than the last.

The table – this particular table of chefs at my cooking class – reminded me that we’re all together in the pursuit of being filled. Our hunger brings us together. And the best thing is, we’ve been given the tools to meet that need for ourselves, and for one another. 

A pot. A table. A bottle of wine.

Shared space. And time to savor the gifts of the ordinary.

Thank you, cooking class, for every bite. You were a gem.

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Just Right

For almost two years, I’ve had the honor of being a part of something remarkable. Something that God formed in beauty, and something that He continues to sculpt, revealing new joy and depth and loveliness with every passing season.

It’s a circle, if you will. Small group. Life group. Community Group. A weekly gathering where we come as a group of 20-something women to share our lives, our hearts, and our pursuit of Jesus.

We sit reclined on couches and cross-legged on the floor, leaning against one another literally and figuratively for shelter from life’s busyness and stormy days.

We snack and laugh and listen to 90’s music. We celebrate birthdays and ordinary days. We hold hands and catch tears.

Our group has seen friends come and go, our circle changing size with the seasons. We have known hardship and heartbreak, together and individually. We’ve fought and disagreed and waded the uncomfortable but crucial waters of conflict, always coming out on the other side closer to each other and to God, albeit a little weary from the challenge.

We practice being imperfect and letting each other know that imperfect is okay. And that it might even be where God does some amazing and beautiful things.

There is a constant and consistent nature about this circle of hearts that has brought such wonderful peace to me and to each of us, especially during this time of life when just about everything else can and will change. Jobs. Relationships. Zip Codes.

In the change, this place remains.

In this place, the darkness of difficulty doesn’t last long without someone speaking hope, someone bringing light to a scary place.

A few weeks ago during group, circled in our familiar way around someone’s living room, I was reminded of the truth in a very real and sweet way.

We were talking about weakness, and I shared a scary piece of my heart.

I’m afraid of being too much and not enough, all at the same time.

My statement was so real I was surprised I voiced it.

I harbor a quiet but deep fear that my personality, my zeal, my quirks, and my words are either too overpowering or not powerful enough, and that either my dominance or lack thereof will cause friends to walk away. I fear that my efforts and dreams are either too in-your-face, or too weak. I fear that, when I walk into a room, my presence changes the atmosphere either too much, or not enough. 

I think that this is a pressure felt by many of us, especially when our culture constantly tells us how to either deflate or elevate ourselves to gain acceptance.

But I think I feel this pretty acutely. Stings from the past get a little sore again when this topic comes up.

What mercy though. That this circle of women – my church, my community – was a place where I could speak my fear, and still feel safe.

I’m afraid of being too much and not enough, all at the same time.

There was a minute of silence, of acceptance, as my words sank in around the circle.

And then, one of my dear, sweet friends spoke up, with a raw honesty and authenticity that I have come to know and love in her.

Each week at work…” she said, referring to her job at an after school program for young women, “…we have the girls fill out reading logs. Next to each book they’ve read, they have a choice of three descriptors – they can indicate whether the book was too easy, too hard, or just right.

She looked at me and, in a single moment, broke into my harbor of fear with waves of bravery and truth.

I think the same is true for you,” she said.
What if you’re not too much or not enough, but just right?

Cue the tears, you guys.

What if you are just right.

Her words carried light to my dark place. Her words fought my anxiety with audacious peace.

Her words actively walked up to my fear, acknowledged its realness, heard what it had to say…but then pushed it out of that secret corner in my heart and straight into the middle of our circle.

See, when fear is revealed, when it’s thrust into the spotlight, it looses its power.

When my fear was thrust into the center of our Wednesday night circle, it lost power.

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Something vital happened in my heart in that moment. A vital and beautiful pattern that has become a norm for our group. Yes, my friend and my circle of support helped me work through something by listening to my shaky words. My community helped me feel accepted and whole and just right. And that was incredibly beautiful.

But you know what was even cooler?

In that moment, my circle reminded me of a crucial truth: It isn’t about me. 

In that moment, I went from being self-focused to community-focused. In that moment, I realized how much my fear of being too much/not enough is actually fueled by my pride. My fear of what others think.

When my friend spoke the words ‘just right’ over me, I was freed from the need to focus on myself. Instead, I could focus outwardly.

This, friends, is what Jesus makes possible for you and for me.

On a stormy day oh so many years ago, He walked the devastating walk to Calvary to face fear and death for us. To acknowledge the realness of our struggles in this world, but then to speak them gone in His truth and life.

And He’s still speaking, still moving. With increasing speed and beauty.

He declares that you are just right.

You are just right because the work of Jesus is your perfection, freeing you from the need to perform or please or earn approval. 

You are just right because Christ is alive in you and has equipped you with gifts to bless and encourage a weary world. He is using you. Stay the course. Run with endurance.

You are just right because God declared it so on Calvary. Do not worry whether you are enough. Do not worry about being replaced with something or someone better. What God has given you, nothing can take away. Rest in the knowledge that the sacrifice of your Savior is enough, and that you are free to live abundantly in service to others and God’s kingdom. 

In being just right, we are free.

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A recent Life Group outing to Casa Bonita. We lived to tell the tale 😀 

To my life group ladies:

It’s been an honor to fight fear with faith alongside you, each of you so beautiful and unique, as different as different can be.

Thank you for being my place of belonging. Thank you for being my church on Wednesday nights, on your couches, in your homes. Thank you for teaching me new wisdom, new depth and new zeal for this life. Thank you for loving me well.

Thanks for reminding me how very real and possible it is for each and every thing to be redeemed in the presence of our Savior.

Never too much, nor too little.

But just right.

3: His Love is Enough

This post is a continuation of Tuesday and Wednesday, reflecting on the LOVE of our Creator in a time when we often search for love elsewhere. 

One of my friends has been on this journey with me this month, and. I am excited to get to share some of her reflections with you today!

What February taught me: His Love is Enough.

I remember 2014 pretty vividly.

It was one of my toughest years of life so far. I made big, scary choices and really ached for some solidarity and consistency. Thus, it was a year when I was constantly and ravenously searching for beauty. For hope. For light.

I don’t remember when I met Susanna, but I remember her light.

In the spring of that tough year, during a walk across our college campus, I remember seeing Susanna in front of McCormick Hall. We stopped for a short conversation, swapped “How are you?”s, and experienced that shy exchange of early friendship.

I remember feeling rest as I encountered her gentle spirit and kind smile. There was a joy in her that I saw and that I admired.

These were the beginnings of a friendship that has continued to bring me hope, light, laughter and joy from day one.

And the coolest part?

Susanna and I didn’t get to know each other all that much in person. We have gotten to know each other through handwritten letters.

She’s my pen pal.

When I asked Susanna if she would join me on my search for God’s love during the month of February, she was quick to encourage me and come alongside me. She sent me many emails, texts, Snapchats and notes of encouragement throughout the journey.

I’m so excited that you guys get to meet her here today…


This month has been so wonderful. It has been so refreshing and life giving to turn my attention from the things of this world and focus on God’s amazing love for his children.

At the beginning of February I heard a quote that really impacted me:

“God doesn’t love the future perfect version of me, he loves me right here in the mess.”

I think that I’m always trying to become better, more loving, skinnier, more outgoing, more devoted to the Lord, more of a servant, have more devotions. I never feel satisfied with where I am. I’m always working towards something better. I have that future perfect me in my head and think that when I get there everything will be better – I’ll be able to receive God’s love then.

When I heard that quote, I realized that I had been believing that lie. I had let that lie seep into my life.

When God looks at me, He doesn’t see me as a work in progress. He doesn’t see my imperfect, messy, sinful life, but He sees the righteousness and perfection of Christ.

I do not deserve God’s love at all. I am not enough on my own.

Instead of focusing on my worthiness or unworthiness, I need to turn my attention to God alone. Instead of trying to accept myself, I need to accept Christ’s sacrifice and love. Instead of feeling like enough and desiring recognition, I should give all of the praise and glory and recognition and honor to the Only One who is worthy to be praised.

He alone is righteous and perfect. He alone is holy and mighty. His works are marvelous and beyond compare. He is truth and life and love. His grace is greater than we can imagine.

Instead of standing entitled before the Lord, I want to bow humbled before the King of the Universe.

I am nothing without Him. He makes me new. He lifts me up. He gives me a new name. He calls me his beloved daughter. This life is not about me at all, but about Him. All of my significance and worth is found in Jesus Christ and Him alone.

Thinking on the gospel in a fresh way this month was so impactful. Some days I forget the wonderful gift that God has given to us, so it was such a life-giving experience. As I reflected on all of the truths in the gospel, I felt God moving in my heart. He was whispering to me…

“Hey, I love you just as you are. Your brokenness and mess don’t make me love you any less, and they don’t define you. I sacrificed my life for you. I am redeeming you. I created you and formed you beautifully – don’t ever doubt that. Accept my love. Let it pour into your heart and life. You are so worth loving because you are mine. You are my beloved daughter. Come to me, just as you are.”

How marvelous is His love for us. I cannot fathom it!


Isn’t that beautiful?

Susanna, thanks for sharing in this journey with me, and for reminding me of how truly miraculous and holy our Father’s love is.

Friends: thanks for joining with us in this. It’s humbling and so sweet to see God at work.

Here’s to the continuous discovery of His love in the months to come, and throughout this life together!


2: His Love is Reflected

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s, reflecting on the LOVE of our Creator in a time when we often search for love elsewhere. 

What February taught me: God’s love is reflected in His people. 

It was a clear, windy Sunday morning. You could see the mountains perfectly from where we gathered on the plains out east by the airport.

Families and couples slowly made their way into a building that reminded me of my high school. Lockers, posters, a combined gym and cafeteria.

God’s love was tangible on this ordinary, windy day.

One of my dear friends was part of the launch of a new church this month, and this was launch day. Plans and meetings and months and months of dreaming had become suddenly tangible. People were walking in the door. The stage was beautifully set.

This would be the first of many Sundays. The beginning of many relationships. The catalyst for life change. 

My friend took a huge leap of obedience and faith last summer, quitting her job and moving out by the airport (if you live in Denver, you know how out there that is). She and her team planned and prayed, ordered supplies and tried to imagine how God’s dream would come together.

And man, did it come together beautifully. It was a stunning and faith-building thing to witness.

God’s love showed up BIG. And He showed up big through these faithful people.

His people took the time and took the risks. His people rallied around this budding church and prayed for its growth and donated money. His people used their passions to create a space for others to hear good news and sweet grace.

And as I looked around that crowded room and saw hands lift to heaven, I saw God on display. The faithfulness, obedience, big heart and passion of my friend and her team showed me the heart of my Father.

Friends, I believe that God’s love shows itself in His people.

People love is imperfect, but people love was originally designed after God’s love. And it still can’t help but echo. It still can’t help but mirror. It still can’t help but reflect.

“It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us.” – C.S. Lewis

In this season, I see God’s love in my friends. I see how well these human hearts love me and care for me, and it helps me trust just a little bit more every day that God’s heart is exponentially this way. How sweet that my friends are the glittering, echoing, mirroring factor that hearkens back to the love of my heavenly Father.

In this season, I also see God’s love in the passions and gifts of others. Like on that windy Sunday as my friend greeted new faces and shared her excitement about youth ministry. Like when I watch my dedicated, hardworking roommates grade tests late into the evenings. Like when I see my mom’s handiwork in a homemade gift.

Like when I attended IF: Gathering earlier this month and I heard passionate women share about God’s love from a webcast held across the county. I also saw bright, unmistakable glimpses of the Father in my friends that I shared that conference with.

One day of the conference, my friend came over to me in the dim sanctuary during worship. I had recently confessed some feelings of inadequacy. 

She grabbed my hand and said: “Laura, I hear you saying that you’re afraid you’re not enough. That you’re afraid that friends will leave. So I just want to tell you the truth about how I see you.”

Tears streamed as I read her words to me, typed onto a small phone screen, and she held my hand. She was unafraid and unhindered as she told me how much she loves me and enjoys my company and sees my gifts.

And all at once, my friend’s voice became my Father’s voice, and I believed that I was treasured.

God equipped my friend with the perfect encouragement for my weary heart. And God has equipped each of us for the reflecting of his glory into this world.

As people made in God’s image, we are people wired in His love.

We create, because God created. We care, because God cares. We serve, because God served. 

We love, because He loved first. 

Oh, what evidence of glorious grace, detailed care and intimate relationship. This, friends, is the love of the Father.

It’s big. It’s communal. It’s creative and it comes close. 

Tomorrow: I can’t wait to share some thoughts from a special guest writer. 



1: His Love is Waiting to be Found

Well, dear friends, we’ve reached the end of February, and the conclusion of what I coined #FearfullyFebruary – a search for and focus on the LOVE of our Creator in a month when we often search for love elsewhere.

Look at some of our beautiful discoveries & celebrations this month:

#FearfullyFebruary on Instagram. Thank you to everyone who joined me!

I think that when I started this project 30 days ago, I expected February to be filled with big milestones and revelations and flashing signs from the Lord.

Instead, my good Father revealed Himself to me in small moments, in sweet times of quiet, and in the simple, messy, beautiful love of my community.

I was craving BIG. He, as always, worked in the small.

I was thinking NEW. He, gentle and kind, showed me the greatness in what is already in front of me.

It’s an honor to see everything that He has done in one month alone, and an honor to share in the glorious mystery of His affection with each of you.

I started out writing one post to encompass what we’ve learned together this month, but there. was. just. SO. MUCH! So, I decided to break it up into easy-to-digest pieces. Plus, my penpal and dear friend has been on this journey with me this month, and I am excited to get to share some of her reflections with you later this week!

I hope you’ll grab some coffee or snuggle in your bed and find some comfort and joy here. I am expectant that, together, we will know the goodness of the Father further and deeper than before as we reflect and celebrate.

So, to begin…

What February taught me:  His love wants to be found.

This discovery – this beautiful invitation – began this month with an alarm on my phone.

You know how you can title your alarms on your iPhone? Like “WAKE UP!” or “Time for a Snack” (just me?)

My 7:00 am alarm is titled: “His Love is waiting to be found everywhere.”

I think I created that alarm almost five years ago in college, and I’ve often glanced at that phrase when I’ve sleepily turned over to hit snooze.

But I found this sweet phrase to be totally true this month. When I started to look for His Love, I found it. Easily and everywhere.

Isn’t this beautiful? I felt like looking for God’s love was like playing hide-and-seek with a four-year-old. He is so excited to be discovered by me that He hides in the most obvious of places. He doesn’t tease me. He is just so excited to be with me again, so excited for me to find Him and experience the delight of discovery.

True, we still have to choose to seek. But the finding is a joint effort between the Good Father and His children. When we pursue, He pursues us right back. What a beautiful picture of God’s relentless heart!

Here were some of the obvious hiding places God hid his love in my life this month:

  • In long, tearful hugs, because God’s embrace is tender, vulnerable and trustworthy.
  • At my corporate office, because God authored work as an exercise in our fulfillment and sanctification. And its cool to be a part of that, even when it feels like I’m just answering lots and lots of emails.
  • In the purples and reds and oranges of sunrises and sunsets, because God’s handwriting is in those watercolors and wispy clouds.
  • In the strength of my body, as I went for a long run early on a Sunday morning, because He is the breath in my lungs and the strength of my heart.
  • In kind gestures, because He wrote the book on kindness.
  • In colors, because those are the hues he imagined, he invented, he named. All for us to see and delight in.
  • In the warmth of the walls of my little home, because he welcomes me home to the threshold of his grace each new day.
  • In the faces on my dear friends, because he created them to be the strong and smart and kind women that they are.
  • In my own hard heart, because God helped me release some lingering unforgiveness that was intoxicating for my spirit. Because He wants to lead me to flourishing.

What a beautiful, full and joyful month it has been.


Hands-down, the most beautiful place I found God’s Love this month was in other people.
More on that tomorrow!


My friends and I have been reading through the book of Genesis this January – a celebration and marking of beginnings in many ways.

The book is full of births, celebrations, and the start of God’s family tree. It’s ancient and raw and earthy. It’s the book that people of faith refer to with reverence. It’s the pages of the patriarchs. It’s the start of the human journey, the fall, and the subsequent journey of every human heart back to the God of love.

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 dusty, war-torn stories that stretch miles across the desert.

In our time in Genesis this month, we have read about Joseph – the boy who was sold into slavery by his envious older brothers.

We have read about Tamar sleeping with her father-in-law in order to extend their family line.

We have read about the heartbreaking, competitive battles between Rachel and Leah, clamoring for the attention and affection of the same husband.

We have read about the tragic darkness that seemed to follow Jacob, Esau and their family like a shadow.

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I confess that, as I’ve been reading, I’ve wanted to skip over the mess.

I’ve been tempted to keep these ancient stories in their tidy, Sunday school versions. Where Jacob’s coat is technicolor and Sarah laughed in her old age. Where the stories feel old enough that they don’t hit too close to home.

I’ve wanted to skip over the mess. But it hasn’t worked.

Here’s the thing you guys: I’ve started to see myself in the pages of Genesis.

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when that probably wouldn’t have been true. When my life was full of adventure and comfort, in equal doses. When life was hopeful and not hurtful.

But then life got messy. I battled anxiety and depression. I failed at things. I got disappointed and scared. I both felt hurt and dealt hurt.

This, friends, is when the gospel got really real for me. And this is when I realized that I was messy. That I was human, despite my attempts to cover that up. This, friends, was the start of my Genesis story.

When I opened the book of Genesis at the start of this new year, that messy person wandering in the desert was no longer someone else. That person looked just like me.

Here’s what I think.

I think that you’re convinced that you’re a mess.

A dirt-under-your-nails, mascara-smearing, unshowered, unhinged mess.

Yeah, I’m talking to YOU. You who are scrolling through Facebook on your cell phone at the end of another hard week. You who want to live a big story but feel like your stuck in a small one. You who feel like you’re not where you thought you would be in 2016.

I think we’re STILL believing those lies that we. are. not. enough. That because of our mistakes and flaws, we’re unattractive to both human beings and God. We want to cover up the mess. We believe that the mess disqualifies us for service in God’s kingdom.

Here’s the thing: I think God wants to use the mess.

The stories of Genesis have told me that His purpose isn’t intimidated by my mess. Seemingly isolated incidents – hard, weird, painful, confusing incidents – hurt and depression and wandering stories 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.

Mistakes. Mondays. Bad dreams. Hard lessons. Hard goodbyes. Start-overs.

God is using the stuff of our days, friends.

Want proof? Let’s look back at Genesis.

Joseph – the boy who was sold into slavery by his envious older brothers – become a trusted officer in the Egyptian guard and saved the lives of thousands of people during a devastating famine. He kept alive the sons that would usher in the next generation of Israel.

Tamar slept with her father-in-law in order to extend her family line. And her family line would turn out to be the family line of Jesus.

Rachel and Leah fought and felt less-than for most of their lives, clamoring for the attention and affection of the same husband. Little did they know that their sons would become the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.

These are both ordinary and extraordinary days, just like yours and mine, when God was steadfastly keeping His covenant with His people.

God redeems the stories of messy, imperfect people with a messy, perfect love. A love that comes close. A love that wins.

Here’s what I think.

I think that you’re convinced that you’re a mess.

And here’s what I also think: You need to cut it out. Don’t let your mess take you out of the game.

OUR FATHER GOD IS SUPER CRAZY ABOUT YOU. You are TREASURED. You have IMESURABLE FREEDOM and UNMATCHABLE LOVE that is fully yours, every day, every second. Every good and hard and excruciating second.

People like you are the kind of people that God uses for his big, beautiful story.

God wants to write us into His redemption story. And I want us to let Him. I want us to welcome Him.

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Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to work on my understanding of God’s messy, perfect love during the month of February. While the world munches candy hearts and buys Hallmark cards, I’m going to focus on the love of God for me and for us.

A love that the mess can’t match.

A love that a Hallmark card just can’t handle.

A love that declares the fearfully, wonderfully made truth that God spoke into being with the creation of each and every one of us.

And, if you want to, I want you to come with me.

Together, let’s think about God’s messy,  close, unafraid, unashamed love for His kids. And then remember how true this is over our lives.

Let’s think about the deep love we have for our friends and loved ones and the truth we would speak over their lives. And then lets speak those truths aloud, affirming and encouraging each other, rather than competing or shying away.

As my friend, I want you to believe that when you know God’s love for you, you’ll fall more in love back.

I want you to believe that the mess doesn’t disqualify you.

I want you to believe what God says over you through the ancient, winding stories of His Word: That you are fearfully & wonderfully made.

Friends, here’s to a February unlike any other.

Throughout this month, I’m going to share the messy + beautiful stuff we walk through on social media with the hashtag #FearfullyFebruary. (Aren’t I just so trendy? LOL). I’d love for you to join me. 

Coffee On My Dress Pants (Or: Practicing Self-Love)

I’m really excited about this year.

I want to drink dry, fruity red wine out of big, delicate glasses and toast birthdays and ordinary days alike, always cultivating a heart of celebration.

I want to linger around kitchen tables for hours and hours with my girlfriends, filling our homes with delicious food and memories and hard questions and affirmation.

I want to make lots and lots of meals with my hands, flour getting under my fingernails and the skillet sizzling and my knife moving and the oven humming.

I want to fly on lots of airplanes, looking down in wonder at the world and reflecting on the largeness of our God.

I always want to be in the business of discovering, learning, and growing. Making myself better and stronger and more humble. Leaning closer to the Savior in curiosity and awe.

And in the year ahead – in the best way – I want to take better care of myself. I want to be more kind to me.


The other night, I was gathered with a group of friends around our cozy living room and we were talking about what we learned in 2015. It was a banner year. We made big leaps of faith and prayed bold prayers. We created beautiful artwork and writing work, together and individually. We traveled and moved and reached milestones in our jobs and relationships.

But after everyone had shared, my roommate spoke up and said: “You know, I think the overall theme is that we’re just really hard on ourselves.”

A general “mmhmm” echoed around the room.

Even when we reflect on our milestones and our treasured memories and our accomplishments, we are rarely enough for ourselves. As soon as we share what we’re proud of, we feel the immediate need to apologize or downplay. I know I do.

I did a lot, but I could have done more. I wish I would have been a better friend. I should have taken that job or that trip. I should have seen that mistake coming. I should have learned from that same bad habit I keep backing into. 

In the past, I’ve felt like these statements were coming from a place of humility. I didn’t want to boast about my accomplishments, so I tacked “should have” and “could have” and “no big deal” onto the end of them.

But that isn’t humility talking. That’s fear talking. Fear of how I will be perceived, rather than humility in the spotlight.

Here’s what I think. I think that the way I value myself is a direct reflection of how I believe God values me. What I believe about myself is a direct reflection of what I believe about God.

When I see God as a harsh, grey-bearded attorney in the sky who is disappointed in what He sees, I degrade myself and feel the hopeless creep of shame.

But. When I read the Bible and worship with my friends and rest in prayer and play with the four-year-olds in Sunday school, I remember that Jesus’s love and sacrifice for me righteously took care of the just wrath of God, making way for glorious grace. I remember that God is my good, gracious father.

When I know that God’s attitude toward me is kind, adoring, peaceful and gentle, I am thus more graceful and kind with myself. I even start to love myself.

I also think that the way I value myself is exactly how I tend to value others. When I am critical and unforgiving of myself, I am critical and unforgiving of others. 

When I look in my own mirror and say: Ugh, I look so tired today. Why can’t I look like a model when I roll out of bed? I then tend to look at the lady next to me in the elevator and say:  Wow, she looks tired today. Definitely not a model, that one.

A little harsh, Laura.

Hear this, friends (and I am 100% preaching to myself): The harsh truths we repeat to ourselves are not the truths that matter most.

Sure, I am an imperfect, sometimes unthinking, somewhat reckless person who sometimes spills coffee on her dress pants.

But that doesn’t mean I am not worthy of love. Self-love included.

This is where we have to begin our practice of self-love: Out of the knowledge of our Creator’s love.

As one of my amazing friends said in the car the other day: “The finding of our true selves is not the adding on of more things, but more like stripping the lies and the false beliefs and the things that don’t matter. It’s like gently chipping away at a sculpture to find the true, original, beautiful you that God created from the beginning.”

My Christian celebrity crush, Shauna Niequist, said it like this on the Proverbs31 blog yesterday: “So many of us twist ourselves up in knots trying desperately to be something or someone else. Trying to fulfill some endless list of qualities and capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or safe or happy. That’s an exhausting way to live, and I know because I’ve done it.

Hear this: You don’t need to add anything to your resume or your wardrobe or your agenda. You don’t need those dress pants or the diploma or the diet to earn the adoration of our Father God. Rather, the pursuit of Him leads you to strip away the roughness and critique and discover the treasure within.

Friends, what if we really believed in the treasure within?

This year, I want to trust that The King is wild for me (Psalm 45:10, The Message).

I want to turn off the tape of self-analysis and instead be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

I want to practice self-love and self care, not as a practice in selfishness, but as a practice in knowing more of my true self. The self that God has known and adored from day one.

I want to trust that the true, important and good change that I desire is happening at God’s perfect pace. Even if I feel like I’m not enough some days, I want to trust in the “enough” that Jesus embodied in his sacrifice for me.

Let’s do this, friends. Let’s cultivate celebration around our tables and in our homes. Let’s get our butts out of bed and go to church, knowing that its always worth it. Let’s get some sleep and study the Bible together and start eating something other than Ramen (again, preaching to myself).

Let’s sit with Him. Let’s ask Him to show us how He truly feels about us. And let’s allow that truth to release us into the knowledge of our treasure in Christ.

My 4-Letter Word for 2016

I’m picking a common denominator for 2016.

A word that I pray will underline my goals and my work and how I spend my time and energy. A theme to purposefully infuse my day-to-day with joy and wonder and anticipation.

It’s a four-letter word, you guys. And most four-letter words have power, one way or another.

It’s hope.

Romans 15-13-01

I want to abound in hope this year.

I’ve always considered myself an optimistic person, but I think hope goes further than optimism. I think God is challenging me to take optimism a step further.

Check this out.

Google is a stalker and also a genius and it tracks the usage of many English words over time, drawing from books and newspapers through the ages. As of about 1827, hope was a buzzword in our language. It slowly became less and less popular throughout the 20th century.

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BUT. Check this. As of 2010? Hope is on the rise again. It’s back in style.

This graph got me thinking about my own vocabulary, and what it would mean for hope to be on the rise in my words and my work and my relationships this year.

I think hope is actually serious business. It isn’t fluffy or hypothetical, and it isn’t easy.

Here are a few ways I’m defining hope as I enter the new year.

Hope implies trust. 

Hope implies trust in God for the outcomes that I can’t see and the circumstances I’m skeptical about. “Hope that is seen is not hope,” Romans 8:24 tells us.

I pray I’ll increase my trust in Him this year. Like, for real. Not in the pretty, idealogical way that I’m prone to. But in the messy way.

Like, God I’m trusting you to hold me up when I wanna give up. God I’m trusting that my relationships will thrive, rather than nose-dive. God, I’m trusting that you will take care of my family in the midst of loss and change. 

If I re-write each of those sentences using hope in place of trust, the meaning stays much the same.

God, I’m placing my hope solely in you to hold me up. I have hope that my relationships will thrive through your love and leadership. I’m hoping and believing that you will care for my family.

Trust and hope are hand-in-hand.

I think, if I’m honest, I don’t often trust God’s gifts for me. I feel like I don’t deserve the beauty around me. A job that challenges and fits me. Friends that love me deep. Warmth and comfort and security. I often live like these gifts are accidental, or that they will soon be snatched away when God realizes what a ragamuffin I am.

This year, I pray I will TRUST and HOPE more in God’s goodness and gifts. Hope implies that I will trust that His gifts are good, and that they are purposeful for me.

Ultimately, I pray I will grow in my knowledge of God’s trustworthiness. He is the God of hope. He is the God of trust.

Hope requires action. 

According to Webster’s dictionary, hope implies a high degree of certainty, to the point of preparing for and envisioning something. Hope is active. What a beautiful thought…that I might trust in God so fluidly that I might actively be preparing for the the things that I hope for. That I would remain suspicious that God is up to something good.

Like: I’m hoping and praying for breakthrough in this project, so I’m going to work hard and prepare for success. I’m hoping that the care I’m giving to this friend is crucial and life-giving, even if I can’t see it now. So I’m going to keep showing up. I’m hoping that the simple act of creating with my hands is beautiful and worthwhile, pointing me to the beauty and thoughtfulness of my creator. So I’m going to keep on creating. 

This year, I want to act on my hope.

Hope isn’t passive. It is not ignorant of the hardships or the odds or the harsh realities. Hope knows, but it hopes anyway. Hope is kind of a rebel, which is why I like it.

Hope requires hard work. 

It’s easy to see the cracks in everything and despair.

It’s hard – and holy, I believe – to see the cracks and to hope anyway.

That’s the belief that I want to practice this year. I pray that in 2016, I will do the hard work of hope. I will not give in to the easy grumbling of cynicism.

I’m going to hope and believe that God has given me my gifts with exact purpose, so I’m going to work hard to keep writing and creating, despite discouragement. I’m incredibly hopeful that God has given me great work to do, so I’m going to work hard to serve my clients and coworkers with integrity and selflessness. 

I’m filled with hope that God reveals himself to me through relationships, so I’m going to work hard to be a great friend. To give and serve and delight the people in my life and cherish them like the gifts they are. And, in return, to accept the love of my friends for me in gratitude and wholeness. 

When crappy things happen, I’m going to do the hard work of looking for the light and trusting that God is the very heartbeat of hope. 




2016 is going to be the best year yet, you guys.

Why? Because, as God’s chosen people, our hope is always here, and it is always coming, all at the same time. The finished work of Jesus Christ and the simultaneous promise of His return means that our God is ever-present and ever-on the move. Every passing moment is another chapter written in the story.

2016 is going to be the best year yet.

If you’re reading this, will you take a deep, soul breath and believe that over yourself? 

I hope it’s true. I trust it’s true. I’m going to live my life like it’s true.

“In a fallen world, how profound is it to see the cracks? The radicals and the reflective, the Ruths and the revolutionaries – they are the ones on the road, in the fields, pointing to the dawn of the new kingdom coming, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising and the Advent coming again. Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for His light in everything. ”   – Ann Voskamp


Last night, the Denver Broncos – lead by 25-year-old, quarterback-legend-in-the-making Brock Osweiler – beat the (formerly) undefeated New England Patriots in overtime for a 30-24 victory that left all of Broncos Country speechless with glee.

And they did it all in a snowstorm.

(How do you guys think I’d do as a sports caster??)

I, for one, was squealing and jumping around my tiny living room like a fool, listening to the announcers declare “ITS ALL OVER” and watching the guys in orange grin with elation at the roaring crowds.

What a fun game.

There’s just something about football that makes you feel like a part of a big ‘ol family, isn’t there? The colors, the crowds, the stadium lights. The trill of the announcer’s voice deafened by the screaming of thousands of fans.

In no other situation in life would I profess love for people I have never met, strike up conversations with strangers who are simply wearing the same colors as me, or wish and pray for the outcome of an event over which I have absolutely zero control or influence.

As my roommate wisely pointed out, none of the starting players for the Broncos last night were even from Denver. But who cares?! We call them brothers and pledge our allegiance and give them the Mile High Salute.

It’s somewhat silly. But it’s thrilling.

It’s the timeless story of the underdog facing the giant, told over and over on an AstroTurf stage on national television with only the names and the jersey colors differentiating one David from the next Goliath.

It’s a story I love.

Brock Osweiler – a kid who is basically my age – was pulled off the bench to fill in for veteran QB Peyton Manning for his first NFL start on Sunday, November 22 against the Chicago Bears, making last night’s game only his second time on what you might call the “varsity” squad for the Broncos.

But he didn’t look like a new kid.

From where I sat on my couch, he looked calm and confident, even when surrounded by flurries of snow and angry-looking Patriot defenders.

He looked like a Goliath.

A commentator on the radio put it this way: “No one can call him second-string anymore.

To that I say a loud-and-proud AMEN.

And to you, friends – I say the same. 

How often do we use this “second-string” label on athletes…and on ourselves?

We feel under qualified, stretched for time, not cool enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not ____ enough.

We feel like we will never measure up to our peers or our friends. Like we will never be enough to please our boss or our parents or our in-laws.

We feel like our dreams won’t start and our call won’t come until we’re dating someone. Or until we’re married. Or until we have kids. Or until we buy the house.

Friends, I see this all too often in my own heart and in those of my peers. We’re putting ourselves on the bench. And I’m telling you right now it’s a move that’s motivated by fear, not humility.

We feel like, because we are not Peyton Manning, we’re not worthy to lead our team. Like we’re an unlikely candidate for victory.

This, friends, is not the ending of the story. Nor is it the heart of it.

Anything that makes you feel less-than-qualified to do God’s work for the Kingdom is something fishy, in my opinion. Anything that makes you feel like a second-class citizen of God’s kingdom is something to be questioned and investigated.

Of course, there are very real fears and challenges in this lifetime. Weird circumstances and timing. Seasons of doubt and depression. Sin. Financial worry. Relationship hurts.

But why do these things make us think we have to sit out of the arena of grace and let the “first-stringers” play? I don’t think that’s how God operates.

In the NFL, the only thing separating the first string from the second string is a couple of missteps or an injury or a referee’s call.

Like Brock, you could be called up to first-string any minute. Maybe, just maybe, you’re being called right now.


Your call is to love the Lord and to build his church. To encourage and shepherd and love His people. To serve the way the Son showed us to serve. 

And this can and should be done right where we are, with what we have, whatever that may be. 

The world wants to define you by your capabilities. But this Lord we follow? He says you’re already qualified simply because of who He made you to be. Simply because of who He is.

In the eyes of your Creator, you’re already in the game. You’re already first-string.

So, I’m calling us out friends (I am including myself in this). I’m talking to the underdogs.

For heaven’s sake, don’t wait until you’re dating. Don’t wait until the perfect job comes along. Don’t wait until your degree is finished. Don’t wait until 2016.

Prayerfully take the leap. Interview for as many jobs as it takes, and wow each and every person you meet with kindness. Volunteer. Get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Write a letter of encouragement to someone who is hurting. Make things. Get some exercise.

Even if you’re waiting on an answer or a position or a call, keep moving. Keep making. Keep seeking God.

Who knows? When you dare to step out on to the AstroTurf, you might just deflate those enemies that once loomed so large (I’m looking at you, Brady) and conquer those fears that used to immobilize you.

This is your game day. Your mission field. Your very life.

Love and lead your team with all the love and guts and passion you can muster, all for the glory of the God who loves to see you play.


“Your love is a fury all its own //
Sweeping the dust and turning feet towards home //
Carrying the orphans and resetting broken bones //
Your love is a fury all its own.”
– ‘Kind,’ Amanda Cook

The pages of my calendar are turning quickly. My journal is water-marked and gently warped with use. My duffle bag is getting lots of good workouts. My gas light seems to come on with increasing frequency.

Life, these days, is full.

Full of plane rides and car rides, full of soul food and breakfast food and lots of snacks in between. Full of friendship and family and community. Full of worship – because, as my wise pastor once said, all of life is worship.

I love the traveling and the go-go-going, and I confess that I try to fill my schedule with as many experiences and parties and outings as possible.

Someone asked me yesterday: “But do you miss home?”

Well, dear friend, I’m so glad you asked.

Although I adore my childhood house and my own bed and my home city, I’m learning that home – the place of peace and comfort and familiarity –  isn’t on the map. It isn’t my address or my mailbox or the place that my iPhone magically takes me to.

Because homeward isn’t a direction on the GPS but a direction of the spirit. And home isn’t the location of my body but the state of my soul.

In the midst of life’s biggest adventures, I am finding that the compass within is what is most important for me.

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Two weekends ago, I got to visit one of my dearest friends from college in Seattle.

Seattle is one of my favorite cities in the country, for a myriad of reasons. It’s humid and the air is thick and cool for much of the year, casting everything in a muted light that makes colors sing and lights dance.

There are bodies of water practically everywhere, which makes traffic a nightmare, but the views spectacular. Big cargo ships sail silently across the Puget Sound with a majestic, gentle glide, making it seem almost beautiful to be transporting giant boxes of cargo back and forth to Asia. Coffee shops and book stores, which are inherently cozy, seem even cozier against this backdrop of rain and low clouds and fog.

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Throughout my time spent with my dear friend – in the slow, unwinding conversation that comes from deep friendship – I felt a sense of home-ness. Thousands of miles away from my own pillow, it was there. Tucked in the corner of a German restaurant. In the window seat at the book shop. Atop a ledge near North Bend, staring out onto the most spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and lakes, clouds hanging just over our heads and skirting just below our feet.

Home. That feeling in my gut that’s akin to electricity and reverie all at once.

This, I thought to myself, is where my compass sings. Regardless of GPS coordinates.

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This past weekend, it came again.

I was in the mountains for a getaway with my roommate and my parents and my roommate’s parents and a bunch of family friends.

And while we drove a couple of hours away from our usual address, I felt a little bit like I was coming home when I walked into those cozy cabin doors.


I woke up Saturday morning to the sparkle of frost outside my window, the bubbling sound of coffee brewing, and the whispers of our moms in the kitchen. I breathed deep into my pillow in thankfulness, trying to soak up every possible moment and every feeling, like a piece of bread soaking up the bottom of a soup bowl.

It was the most perfect day. Everybody woke up one-by-one, the volume in the kitchen growing and growing as the breakfast casserole baked. We drank buckets of coffee and orange juice while admiring the bright, sparkling mountain views. We reclined in the cozy living room chairs to read and journal.

Then, we set out for a hike around Monarch Lake. The sky was a piercing blue and the sun shone through the trees, making the snow fall like glitter from the high branches each time the wind blew. Every turn revealed a new, beautiful mountain view, and everybody’s colorful coats made us look like an ad for REI.


Those are our parents (mine are on the far left). Aren’t they just the most fun??


And here are all of us 20-somethings! I think we had to keep up with the parents as much as they had to keep up with us.


After a full morning of hiking in the sun and snow, we went back to the cabin for piles and piles of snacks – guacamole, cheese and crackers, chips and popcorn, M&Ms. We watched movies and played games. We ate and talked and the high ceilings of the cabin brimmed over with the sounds of laughter and happy community.

And I felt it. The sense of being at home.

So, to answer your question, no. I haven’t been missing home.

Because my home goes with me.

Home is sitting close to my best friends and confidants and soul sisters and loved ones as often as I possibly can. It’s about gathering around the table for coffee and egg casserole or cheese and crackers or sloppy joes. It’s about people watching at the airport and feeling a sense of gratitude for adventure and all of the stories that fill this world.

Home is there in the cozy cabin, the window seat, and the skyscraper view. In the office and on the comfy couch. On the plane and the train and the ferry. In the mountains and by the beach. In my hometown and in a new town. With my loved ones and with friends old and new.

And it doesn’t have anything to do with the where. It has everything to do with the who.

And not only the who that surrounds me, but the who that lives within me.

The people that anchor me, not the crowd that jeers me. A Heavenly Father that calls me, not the emotions that disorient me.

In my ordinary, day-to-day, working-and-coming-home-and-making-lunch life, my true compass is no less active than when I’m on the mountaintop. It’s no less active in the hard times than in the happy season. I have found it in the biggest of American cities and in the smallest Haitian villages. In the waiting room and on the dorm room floor.

It’s an echo of the true home that awaits me at the end of my life. That day when my heart will step over the final threshold of grace into the forever family of God. When my little feet will find that eternal place of community and joy and connection and belonging that my soul longs for.

On that day, as my fingertips retrace the map of life, the feeling will still be there.

It was always with me. Even here, even now.

Day by day, my little feet turning more and more towards home.