Embracing Grace

Sharing your life hurts. Not sharing your highlight reel on social media, but sharing it all. Truly bearing your soul hurts a little, because it forces you to be seen just as you are.

The author Donald Miller once said, “Vulnerability is like handing a loaded gun to somebody.”

Not everyone will turn your vulnerability into a weapon, but some will. However, the risk of pain cannot withhold us from the opportunity of intimacy and abundant life.

For me, this is a season of inconvenience, healing, and shaking off comfortable masks that I’ve used to keep myself from being totally seen in all my humanity.

This generation is all about authenticity. Yet, it is ironic because we polish this authenticity up with slight honesty and filters to hide what really lies within. I especially tend to pride myself on being authentic. I have adopted this adjective in the way I write, ask theological questions, and act. But our attempts at authenticity can be a mask too. We can “be authentic” without actually bearing our full heart and soul for a minute in real life.

I want my heart to know what it feels like to be seen again. I want to know that I didn’t walk around this earth with a lock, barbed wire gate, and plastic bubble over my heart not letting anyone in that had the potential to damage it.

We are called to guard our hearts well, but not puppy dog guard them in a way that gives no one an opportunity to see what’s on the inside–even God.

If we shut others out, we will eventually section parts of our hearts off and away from God. We can adopt cultural authenticity and good ministerial tweets/sayings but have soul wounds tucked away like dirty laundry for no one to help us with. This does not work in the Kingdom of God… at least not for long.

God is our Father and not a distant one at that. When He comes in close, He comes in closer than you thought. He inspects and knows every area–good or bad. And guess what? He signed up for it all. And He stays through it all.

When God created this universe and humanity foreknowing the mess we would make, He chose to do it anyway for the sake of loving us with all He’s got (and He’s God, so He’s got the force of everything we could ever think of and more to wildly love the heck out of us). With that being said, you are safe being seen by the God of all who chose your mess before you made it. Best of all, He doesn’t just focus on where we have fallen. He is bent on staying in awe of who He has made us to be. What a reckless kind of grace and love.

Allowing ourselves to love and be loved hurts a lot less than a lifetime of fear and regret. When we allow ourselves to be seen, we open ourselves up to the chance of grace and love of Christ.

Romans 5:8 states that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Before we were clean. Before we acknowledged His love. Before we even felt a conviction of how we chose death over abundant life, He completely set His heart on us.

When we step into that love and anchor our whole hearts on the island of unconditional grace, we are free to be seen by others and to overcome the fear of potential hurts because we are secure already in being so loved–John 3:16 so loved.

Embracing grace fully, not just the idea of it, but holding it closely in our hearts as truth is dangerous. It means coming to terms with the flaws in your life and accepting that God the Father has loved you in spite of that. When we embrace grace, we are free to embrace others in their lacking of perfection. When we allow ourselves to be seen, we grant people the gift of being seen and loved, just as Jesus does for us.


You are not stuck.

You are not stuck. That phrase was in my drafts section, and I thought it was time to publish it on the internet for you, myself, and even the devil to read.

You, my friend, are not stuck. I know there are these little chunks of time in our lives that seem super mundane and are nowhere near where we think we should be. I know, because that’s me right now… for the thousandth time. It’s weird, because I know this season too well, but I also recall past seasons where I felt like I was doing something meaningful and the presence of the Lord was so evident.

Yet despite my knowing, here I am still sitting in what seems like a desert of waiting on callings to be fulfilled, desires to be granted, and yearning for God to speak something into my life. It’s like a revolving door that the devil uses to keep me stuck in one place, moving but not improving, making me think that there’s no way out. If only I would stop going through the motions to realize there’s been a clear exit all along.

You are not stuck.

I’ve learned when these seasons come, that I’m not supposed to be that girl whining about why He hasn’t called me back yet. I am not just stuck on read and waiting for God to come back and show me blessing and affection. God didn’t just decide to leave me hanging. That’s not Him. If we trust scripture and believe that God is our Father, we’ve got to know deep down in our core underneath all complacency and moody feelings that God loves us with an everlasting love. Last time I checked, you don’t ignore someone you love with an everlasting love.

Remember the most famous break up line in all of history? “It’s not you, it’s me.” Yeah, that rings true for once in this scenario. It’s not God, it’s me. Whenever I’m sitting and feeling stuck in the whirlwind of my frustration, disappointment, and complacency, I am lacking a heart overflowing with the spirit of contentment.

Truthfully, I haven’t been content at all. I often describe this season in my life as a waiting season to people. But really, every season is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest and has specific assignments in the midst of waiting. Jesus himself said that He came for us to have “life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Meanwhile, here I am wishing I already had a big girl ministry job and a husband. Missing sweet moments and opportunities. Just throwing them away and looking up to God like, “This isn’t good enough. This isn’t the abundance I want.”

What would happen if we turned each complaint, each disappointment, and each hope for the next thing into thoughts of thanksgiving for what we have now? 

Philippians 4:11-13 says, ” I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Over Thanksgiving break, the Lord subtly showed me how abundant my life is at this very moment. I was given more responsibility at work, which led to extra pay that will allow me to live more abundantly than my normal broke college budget. I also ran out of hangers when trying to put all of my clothes up in my closet. So much so that I had to leave stacks of clothes on my closet floor and buy more hangers to put them up. That sounds silly to call that abundance, maybe a little materialistic. But majority of the overlow in my closet came from the generosity of others, not my own bank account.

Where I see the weight of more responsibilites and a lack of the latest trend, God sees provision. Where I feel abandonment by my Father, God promises in His word to never leave me (Matthew 28:20).

 It’s not that He’s not here, it’s that I’m unaware.  

So while I wish this year of being 21 looked a lot different, I’m convinced that if I got my way, it wouldn’t really be enough to keep me satisfied. You can’t have Jesus at an arms distance thinking that what He gives you could ever replace relationship with Him. I’ve learned that all too well. Here’s to being content in this chapter of my life. Being purposefully content depsite every flawed and fickle emotion I feel.

That’s why when my photographer friend took this pic, I smiled. Because I could spend every waking minute upset with where I’m at and miss out, or I could consciously make the effort to truly enjoy the people I’m around and the task at hand in this season.

You’re not stuck. You just need a shift in perspective. Same life, same responsibilities, but living it through the lens of contentment. Because, God has lavished upon you abundant blessings for such a time as this.


Reckless Love

So today on this little blog of mine, I’m going to share with you a story that has framed my life. One that’s told often, but has been missing details for the past twenty years of my life. Isn’t it always true that there is always more to the story. 

This story starts before I even came into existence, or even thought of by good ole Tom & Patti (my parents, also the stunning 90s couple you see in the picture). Everyone loves a good story about how a couple got together. Exhibit A: the hit show How I Met Your Mother. But, this one is a little less glamorous, more human, and a lot messy. 

My parents met at Harvey Lumber Company in Columbus. But before they met, they both already had their own set of baggage and wounds that could fill up a book. They had pretty rough lives before they became man and wife. Lives that were still stained with regret, hurt, abuse, and loss. But to cope, they both ran far from God who seemed to be the one that caused all of this.

So this good looking couple met, dated, and got married, while still carrying the weight of years of hurt and running from God. They started a family, and that’s where I come in. Four kids later, they were living in a trailer in Cusseta, GA  with an unhealthy marriage. They were two hurt people, without God, that ended up hurting each other. I was about two when they divorced, so naturally I don’t remember the days before the papers were signed, but all I know is that they were bad.

So by the age of almost two, my parents were divorced. My oldest sister and I moved in with my mom in Columbus, while my other sister and brother stayed with my dad. We all still got to see each other, just now it was scheduled out and not everyday like normal. I remember living on this schedule for a while.

After starting the routine of bouncing between parent to parent is where my memory gets hazy, and I just know what was told to me.

Not long after the divorce, my dad felt the urgent need to turn his life around and started going to church. And not long after that, he gave up running away from God and started running towards Him. As he carried me down the aisle with him when he gave his life to Jesus, everything began to change for me and our family. 

My dad began taking us to church as the divorced years went on. As we began to love it and became heavily involved, my dad asked my mom to start picking us up from church. She did, and God met her there. She started picking us up, and shortly after she started attending herself. She gave her life to Jesus, and our divorced little family found some form of home and consistency at church. As my mom stayed in church, she began to hear more from the Lord. One night, He told her to get back together with my dad. And so after being divorced for four years, they got remarried to each other. 

Now here is where the blurry house in the background comes into play.

I always thought my dad built our house when they decided to get back together, because I remember my mom spending the night in our rooms the week before they got remarried. But for all of these years, I thought wrong. A couple of weeks ago, my mom corrected me and told me that he built it before. That she had visited the house at a party he had after it was finished, and they were no where near getting back together.

So on the night of my 21st birthday, I asked my dad why he built our house.

And his answer changed the way I looked at him, and how I now look at God. 

He said, “I knew she hated the trailer and always wanted a house. I was giving my life for my kids and never stopped loving her, even though I had lost hope that someday it would workout again.”

So if you’re still with me by now, I told this long story to land here.

If you haven’t heard the song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury, you should go listen now or right after. This song declares, “When I was your foe, still your love fought for me.” The blurry house in the picture was how the Lord and my dad fought for us. My dad built this house for us before the option of remarrying my mom was on the table. Each brick in the background was my dad fighting for my mom and us. Each brick was God fighting for my family to be restored and my heart to be His.

That’s the promise of the Gospel. The Good News that Jesus fights for us. He leaves the ninety-nine to run after the one, because He loves us. He so recklessly loves us that He will build a house for a little girl, like me, to have a loving home that would one day show her who Jesus is. Whatever obstacle you have in your life, He will recklessly knock it down. And when I say reckless, I mean there will be a mess and it may not look pretty for a while. But it will be cleaned up in the midst of the mess.

My parents’ story was one big mess! And it wasn’t perfect after they got remarried either. There was still a mess. But it’s in that mess that His love meets us there and makes room for a miracle. 

Remember that the next time you’re sitting in your mess feeling alone and unseen. Remember that the next time you’re wanting a love story like The Notebook. Remember that His reckless love always comes through at the right moment, and maybe even in the messy moments. Trust me, He’s really good at taking what looks dead and breathing new life into it again, just like my parents’ marriage and my life after meeting Him.


(Also, shoutout to Tom for being the real life Noah from The Notebook before the movie was thought of!! He built my mom and us a house!!! Nicholas Sparks, you’re welcome)


Tired “Hallelujahs”

Ever had a day, week, or even month where you get a little worn down with what seems like everything?

That sounds like a teenage angst thought, but really….do you ever just feel like nothing is working?

These past couple of weeks, it seems as if every prayer has gone unanswered. It seems like I have been banging on Heaven’s door, and it stays perfectly shut. Isn’t that the worst, when you feel like you’re doing all that you can, and God isn’t saying a peep?

After that phase happens, I usually move into the mood of “Okay God, if you aren’t talking to me, then I’m not talking to you. What’s the point if you aren’t listening.” That sounds really childish to admit. It looks even worse typed out and admitted on the internet, but it’s true.

And when I have these thoughts, I transition into two mindsets.

Mindset 1: “God isn’t listening anyway, so I’m just going to slack on my quiet time and reading my Bible, because I’m a little hurt right now by you God.”

Mindset 2: “I can’t even try to approach God again, because what kind of Christain would have thought that? No one gets fed up with God like that if they really love Him. No one who is really saved asks ‘God are you even there?'”

Both of these leave me outside of the Word and God’s presence. The first one leaves me feeling tapped out and fed up, and the second condemns me for feeling it. Isn’t that just what the devil wants?

This week, I started a new session of classes after fall break. I’m in church accounting (yay), my ministry practicum, and Psalms. One of these requires me to actually read the Bible at the very moment I don’t feel like it. With that being said, this Tuesday, I picked up my Bible and started reading again. Wednesday morning, I ugly cried at Focused Prayer for school and read Psalms 22. And that’s where the Word of God met me in my mess.

We all know Psalm 23, the one where it talks about God being a good shepherd. But Psalm 22 sings a much different tune. David begins it with, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

That doesn’t sound so hopeful, does it? In fact, it even sounds like some of Jesus’s famous last words.

I realized here in this Psalm, that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. David and others cry out in frustration all throughout the book. Jesus even did on the Cross. But after each voiced hurt, David and Jesus always follow with praise, even if it is a tired hallelujah.

David says right after his cry, in verse 3, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.”

So, I write all of this to say, if you’re feeling like you’ve got nothing left to give God and fed up with the lack of faithfulness you see…flip your Bible to any old Psalm, give it a read, and look again. Even if it isn’t 100% better after reading, give Him one more tired hallelujah and await the encouragement to come. You are not alone in this mess of emotion. David, Jesus,the other unnamed Psalmist, and a billion other people are there, too. Including this gal writing.

God is good, even when it doesn’t feel good. Trust in the letters He gave to you, before you even saw this emotional current coming. I promise, Jesus will fix this.


I choose Jesus over my past.

Tonight, I went through all of my old pictures from high school. While looking through these memories, I started to think that my life was way easier pre-Jesus. That I had a lot more fun and had a larger life before Jesus came on the scene and started cutting away those parts of my heart. As I looked through two years of prom pictures, old messages, and videos of sleep overs with past friend groups, I found myself really wondering if I was happy with where I’m at today, and maybe just maybe if I was missing out on the future that my past could have been. But after fifteen minutes and three haircut mistakes into the time spent on memory lane, I remembered the reality of my past and how much I would have missed if I would have settled for an average lifestyle.

I choose Jesus over my past.

Jesus met me where I didn’t even think I needed His help. Jesus met me in the middle of a life that was so close to being in the right direction that it was miles away from a life of righteousness.

What a good God I have. That He meets me in a place of settling to lift me to a place of living abundantly with Him. I say it a lot, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Jesus. I would’ve missed out on my calling and lived a life filled with a misconception of God and the kind of love that we deserve.

I sound pretty grateful in these last two paragraphs. But the last two hours, and even these past two days, I have been feeling like I don’t know where I’m going in life and if I’m in the right place. I’ve fought with the lie that life with Jesus is just too much work and it’s too hard. That if I would have never gotten saved or gotten saved and just coasted, then life would be much easier and maybe even happier. But, happiness is fleeting based on circumstances. Joy withstands everything. And that’s what I have with Jesus–unshakeable joy.

I may be a junior in college working towards a ministry degree, helping lead a summer internship of kids when I have no idea what I’m doing, broker than a broke college student, and looking at the perfect plan I had for my life when I was sixteen and seeing none of it adding up. I may not know where I’m going or what I’m doing. But I know who I’m doing it with, and I know that He’s got good good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

I would rather run this race with Jesus, feeling tired and worn out at times, than walking in life always searching for completion but instead coming up empty and finding love in all the wrong places.

I choose Jesus over my past every day for the rest of my days.





The God that redeems.

Tonight, I thumbed through an old journal of mine. The leather book was filled with two years of my life. Two impactful, life-changing, and raw years of my life. So, I sat in my bed and read today’s date from last year and the year before. Two years ago today, I was not a Christian. I had yet to have my Damascus Way experience. One year ago today, I began to step out into the unknown with the Lord as I walked with Him by myself. I began to notice that the entirety of those two years bound in leather were a picture painted with grace and redemption.

Sometimes we don’t see redemption in the process. We lose sight of God’s mercy that is poured over us in the midst of the planting season. March 21, 2015 was a day that I was asking for more of God, but not sensing anything real. Day after day I would journal something similar, until June 14, 2015. I couldn’t see the redemption of my soul that day, but the soil and the seed had been planted.

March 21, 2016 was a day that I began to step out of the last chapter of my life and step into the grace and community Jesus was calling me to. I began to step out of bitterness towards failed things and people, even when I felt like things still weren’t looking like what I had pictured for this season. I couldn’t see the journey that would radically change my walk with the Lord then. I didn’t see myself boldly praying outloud, going to ministry school, going on missions to Peru, and running my race with a community so dear to my heart. All I saw was a girl who was insecure about the water God was calling her to walk on.

March 21, 2018 will be a day that I see the fruit of the seeds I have been planting in prayer. It will be the day where I see what this current process is for. But instead of being stuck in today where I am struggling to seek Jesus, I will declare the goodness of the Lord in my tomorrows. The Bible proclaims, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). If the Bible says it, then I declare and claim it for my own life.

Because, my God is a god that redeems!! Redemption was done and sealed when His blood spilled out at Calvary, but it also continues to happen as His Spirit moves into every room of my soul. Our Jesus is too kind and loving to leave us where we are. Live expectant of your redemption.


Let’s be honest.

A lot of times in my Christian walk, it gets so easy to put on this perfect Christian demeanor. To say the right things, but not mean them all of the time. To judge others instead of dealing with the fact that I have my own sin and the fact that I’m not their judge.

So, I’m deciding to get honest. I’m really not the perfect Christian girl.

I don’t cuss, drink, or smoke. I don’t do a lot of the things that are on the “NO” list of Christianity. It’s perfectly fine that I check off all of the good things I do and the bad things that I don’t, but at the end of the day that doesn’t preach the gospel. It preaches religion.

On my blog, I can honestly say I write a lot of truth. But time and time again, the Lord reveals more to me. Like peeling an onion. After each day, there’s more layers, more revelation, and more conviction. I tend to write a lot about girl power, identity, how I’ve been hurt, and words that Jesus has laid on my heart. But, I don’t think I ever write about how I hurt people.

Tonight, I was listening to this amazing podcast about dating. The man who was preaching gave such a rich word. He spoke about how there are two types of relationships between man and woman in the Bible. Brother and sister in Christ and married. That there is no inbetween and one does not get to cross the line of the other. So when you’re dating, you are brother and sister in Christ. You are not married and you do not have ownership over the person, or privileges of a marriage. That when you date someone and it doesn’t work out, you should be able to meet their future spouse one day and be able to say, “I honored him/her.” As I listened to this message, I realized that one day… I won’t be able to say that to someone’s wife. After months of knowing I was wrong in some parts of a past relationship, but really throwing 99% of the blame on him…. It hit me tonight. I’m not this perfect Christian girl.

I think when breakups happen, we end up blaming one person more for the outcome. But really in hindsight, no one is purely innocent. So neither am I. From this situation and this sermon, I’ve learned the lesson that it is wrong to demand that someone text you 24/7. It is wrong to dishonor that person’s purity. It is wrong to hold someone to the responsibilty of completing you, when no one on this earth could possibly ever do that. It is wrong to treat someone as less than a son or daughter of God. And it is a shame that I will not be able to tell his wife that I truly honored him.

But that’s the honest truth. One time, I hurt somebody whether they felt it or not and I’m truly sorry for that. One time, I messed up and I did some things that wouldn’t go well with my “I’m the perfect Christian girl” mask.

I’m not saying that trying to become more like Christ everyday is wrong by any means. In fact, that’s the goal. To look more like Jesus. But there’s a difference in walking in truth and being good at hiding our own faults whilst picking at others. So, here’s to being honest. Here’s to being more authentic, more honoring, and more humble. Here’s to preaching that I am not perfect… that I have done horrible things, but the grace and radical unconditional love that Jesus offers says, “I still love you and I’ve covered that.”

That is the gospel.