Mayer, zombies, & honesty.

Seattle broke a 122-year-old record for rain last week (ugh) but all I can think about is wearing sunscreen to prevent any more sun damage from being inflicted on my already-peeling skin.


I spent last weekend in the beautiful, ever-sunny Los Angeles laying by the beach and seeing JOHN MAYER in concert. Emphasis on John and Mayer because if you know me at all, you know that’s a REALLY big deal.

I developed a deep love for Mayer my freshman year of college. I had recently ended things with my boyfriend of four and a half years and all I wanted to do was cry and listen to break up songs. Fun fact: John Mayer has SO MANY good break up songs. I guess relationships don’t last long when you’re rich, famous, and a grade-A jerk.

Anyways, the concert.

It was amazing. So good. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and melt into the floor as I listened to him serenade me with his perfect break up songs forever. As I looked around me though, I saw something different…the dim blue light of screens everywhere. I watched a girl ahead of me record every. single. song. on her phone.

As I watched her, I thought to myself, why? Why would you go to a concert just to end up watching the whole thing through a screen?

Part of me wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. She must really love Mayer and wants to be able to go back and watch all of those videos later on. But I knew better. She wasn’t going to do that.

She wanted proof. Proof that she went to the concert. Evidence that she was cool… that she was out on a Friday night doing something fun. I watched her upload the videos to Snapchat. Those videos would be gone in 24 hours and she’d never watch them again, but she would be content knowing that her followers got to know that she was there.

I feel like I need a quick disclaimer. I took some videos at the concert and I posted one or two of them, so I’m not saying I’m immune to the desire to let people know JUST HOW AMAZING John Mayer was live, but recognizing the sea of iPhones at the concert brought up a valid question; what were we really there for?


I’m a senior communication student at the University of Washington and I’m currently taking a class about inequality in the media. My professor lectured on the new zombie craze in the media recently. Have you noticed it? I mean, it’s pretty hard to miss. Zombie games, zombie movies, zombie 5k runs…apparently we’ve become a bit obsessed with the idea of these insatiable post-apocalyptic crazies and maybe that’s because they’re a lot like us.

Now wait a second, before you tune me out, take a second to think about the first thing you did this morning when you woke up. Or how you spent your lunch break. Or what you consider to be relaxing in your leisure time. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I must resemble a zombie when I spend my break time during class scrolling through my phone.

Like I said, we want distraction. We crave it. We prefer to spend our time thinking about ourselves and what other people think about us because that seems easier to change than our broken health care system or poverty or scarcity of resources.

And sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

This world we live in is brutal. We live in a society where people are enslaved and oppressed, where equality is preached but not practiced, where there is suffering and heartache and pain…and we are only human. Sometimes we need a break from the chaos. We need a moment to tune out and find relief. And that’s okay.

But we can’t stay in that place. We can’t walk away from the pain and suffering of reality and think that it’s acceptable.

Reality demands consciousness. It begs for our full attention. It requires action.

Distraction leads to despair. It offers temporary relief but follows up with empty promises. It tricks us into spending our time and energy on things that don’t matter. It tricks us into believing that making sure that our followers see that we went to the John Mayer concert is important or that having trendy clothes and the newest iPhone is going to make us more likable. It deceives us into thinking that the world revolves around us.

News flash: it doesn’t. The world isn’t about you and it sure as hell isn’t about me.

And praise God for that because we are fallible, fragile human beings.

What is your purpose? What is your why?

In other words- what do you care about? At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what are you willing to place your stake in the ground for?

Is it money? Name brand clothes? Expensive food? More followers? Success? Being cool?

The likelihood is that it’s not. At the end of the day, you’d probably say that lifting people up is what you care about the most. Or loving your family well. Or finding genuine joy. Or maybe you want to reflect the character of Jesus through service and mercy to others.

Whatever it is, spending all of your time thinking about yourself probably isn’t the answer.

Whatever our why, we must look at our actions and determine whether what we care about matches up with what we’re actually doing.

You see, I’ve come to realize recently just how important actions are. We’ve all heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words,” but how often do we use it as a measure for our own lives?

I recently experienced a major life transition that left me asking myself a lot of hard questions. After making the decision to step back from a commitment I’ve had for the past four years, I spent an evening sitting in my bedroom, writing down a list of my priorities arranged by importance. I then did my best to objectively write down another list- this time it was a list of actions. They didn’t match.

We must align our actions with that which we profess as priorities otherwise our souls suffer from dissonance between our deepest desires and our superficial cravings.

It isn’t easy and it requires honesty. Honesty about what we want, what type of person we want to be, and the types of sacrifices we are willing to make to become that person.

So ask yourself: what do you want?

What are you willing to give up to get it?


Letting Go

How? How did this become a familiar feeling?
How did my body come to know what to expect next?

The time between the here and there is excruciating for me, though I know what hurts me most will finally set you free.
You are just seeking a place of peace.

I watch the life leave your eyes,
I watch the breath turn to air.

How? How did this become a familiar feeling?

I find myself frantically searching for answers that aren’t there.
Though the feeling is familiar, it isn’t kind. The sting stays the same as I sit with your body, now cold. It is lifeless, a shell of what used to hold so much abundance.
Where is that abundance now?
I just want to know.

I want answers. Tell me, tell me, do you have any?
I just want to know,
Where is your soul?
Where did you go?

And did you leave a map for me to find you later?

I wish I could have come along if only to know what you feel. If only to have the satisfaction of assurance that the pain is really gone. That the choke hold of death has released you. That you are free now, breathing deep.
Breathe deep, my love. Be free.

But in my hope for your freedom, I am still searching.
Frantically, frantically, where did you put the map?
Doesn’t anyone have any answers? Where do I go from here?

People continue to walk through life all around me, moving forward through the hustle and bustle.
They go to the grocery store, pick up their kids from school, they study for tests.
I look down at my phone. A text from mom.
“Can you pick up some coffee and bring it to the house?”

My stomach turns.
Don’t you know I’m grieving? Don’t you know the world just lost a bit of light?
How do we carry on? How do we move forward back into “normal”?
But what does that even mean? What is normal? No one knows. No one has answers.
There is nothing normal about this…
yet there is.
This, this is the cycle of life. We live. We learn to love people and things more than we even know we could. We find beauty in the way an uncle laughs, the sweetness of a grandmother’s smile, the loyalty and unconditional love of beloved pups.
We lay with them as life leaves their eyes, as breath becomes air.
And though we wish the world would stop and mourn with us, life goes on, and we must too. We learn to enter back in to the hustle and bustle.

But for now, in this moment, there are no answers and there isn’t moving forward.
There isn’t much to do.
Because loss is loss,
and pain is pain,
there aren’t any answers,
and even if there was, the hurt sears through the heart all the same.

Time to fight.

Before you read any more of this post, I have to be honest. I hate New Years resolutions. Please don’t be mistaken, I mean absolutely no offense to you if they’re your thing. They just aren’t mine.

I just can’t support the idea of a new year as a good reason to start making positive life changes. A new day or a new minute seems more valid to me. 365 days seems like a long time to decide to start changing your life. Why wait? Why not just start as soon as you feel discontent?

So, if you are looking to read a post about new years resolutions. This isn’t it. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find one if that’s what you need. Instead, I have taken some time over the past few weeks to reflect on 2016 and write down the lessons I’ve learned through the opportunities I’ve had and the mistakes I’ve made in the last 52 weeks.

I think its important for individuals to be able to point out ways they have stretched and grown. It’s important to be able to celebrate our victories, big and small, and remind ourselves that we are moving in the right direction. My biggest fear would be to come to the end of a year and not be able to point out ways that I grew through the challenges I faced. As human beings, we thrive on growth. Stagnance is one of our greatest enemies in regards to every aspect of our lives: our character, physical health, spiritual life, education (the list goes on forever). In order to avoid stagnancy, we must take time to be deliberately aware of our growth.

My favorite way to unwind after a long day is by writing. I keep a journal by my bed that holds all of my thoughts, feelings, rants and raves from most days of my life. It’s how I unload. It’s how I free my brain up to think about new ideas. As of late, it’s how I’ve been processing 2016 as one of the most immensely challenging and fruitful years of my life.

I have learned a lot in the last year. Way more than a single blog post could convey (hence why I blog throughout the year, duh!). But what sticks out to me as of late is the idea of showing up for people. I talked about it a bit in my last post and it just keeps rooting itself in my heart more and more each day.

I wrote a post on Instagram the other night about it. I was reading a story in the Bible about a paralyzed man who is healed by Jesus in Capernaum. The man is brought to Jesus by his buddies, and the remarkable thing about the story is that Jesus is teaching to a bajillion people at a house that is so packed that the guys aren’t able to carry their paralyzed friend through to get to Jesus. So they turn around, defeated and sad, to go home. FALSE! The guys actually climb onto the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching,  cut a hole into it, and then lower their buddy THROUGH THE ROOF down to where Jesus is. WHAT?!

I just love that story so much because it’s such a beautiful depiction of how we are called to love and show up for the people in our lives. These guys loved their friend so much that no obstacle was going to stop them from showing up for him. They could have said forget it when they realized they weren’t going to be able to squeeze through the crowded room. They could have quit because the easy route was shut down. But they didn’t. They showed up. They stayed, and they fought for the one they loved.

I think we live in a world right now that fails to fight. Our culture seems to be more fearful than ever of confrontation. We have this tendency to hide behind screens and walls we have built around our hearts in order to avoid difficult conversations that require emotional transparency and a willingness to admit that we are fallible.

When things go wrong, we don’t stay. We move on to the next thing. We choose something bigger or better or faster. Or easier. We love to choose what is easier. We gaze at the golden facade of instant gratification with greed in our eyes as we move from thing to thing, desperately seeking a satisfication that arrives on our doorstep with a suitcase never packed for more than a day or two.

We seek happiness instead of contentment and when we don’t find it, we move on immediately. We search and search. We never stay. It’s true of our jobs. I talked to a friend the other day who said that my generation (not-so-lovingly referred to as millennials) is less likely to stick with a single job throughout their lives than any previous generation. It’s true of our friends. The attitude among people nowadays tends to be an “oh well” mentality. So my best friend and I got into a big fight? Oh well. I have 7,854 friends on Facebook who have the potential to be my new best friend. It’s true of our significant others. Have you seen divorce rates lately? It’s true of most everything in our lives. We are professional nomads when it comes to seeking contentment. Our culture doesn’t teach us to fight. Our culture tells us to move on and find something new.

But where…where is the satisfaction in gaining something without effort? There is beauty in the fight. There is sweetness in a steady resolve to remain steadfast despite obstacles. There is joy that comes from staying when stuff isn’t picture perfect. When school isn’t exciting. When work is under-stimulating, or underpaid or under appreciated. When we face loss or heartache or financial barriers. And most of all, there is beauty in choosing to stay and fight for people.

Relationships are hard. We have parents who have neglected us. We have siblings who have hurt us and friends that are easier to avoid than spend time with. We have people who have unintentionally caused us great pain. Choosing someone in the midst of heartache is difficult. But it’s worth it. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it seems easier not to, we should choose to stay and fight for our people. Because at the end of the day, if the people that we have poured our love and time and energy into aren’t worth the fight, than who is? Or what is? What is worth the fight? Ask yourself that.

There are people in your life that are worth showing up for. They are all around you. They are the ones you choose even when life isn’t full of fireworks. They are the ones you show up for even on the worst days. It isn’t easy. It is messy. And like I said in my last post, staying is underrated and seldom celebrated. But it is good. And there are people in your life who are worth it. So show up and stay for them. They are worth it and don’t forget that you are too.

How to be single.

November 1st, 2016.

It was late. I laid on my back with my hands interlocked over my stomach, staring at the ceiling as I talked to God.

This is frustrating. Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, something happens and I realize there is more to learn. More growing to do. More stretching. More healing. I just want to be done. I’m ready to be done.




And then, I understood. The growing, the stretching, the healing…will never be done. It is a process without end.

I am writing this post because I am single and I have been for a little over a year now. And I don’t talk much about my singleness on this blog because I have really struggled with the idea of being single throughout my life. You see, I have spent my whole life buying into the lie that singleness is just an in-between period. I have looked at it as a waiting game. Like if we work hard enough on ourselves and do enough of the whole “growing and healing” thing, Mr. Right will show up at our doorstep and we will finally be able to start living real life.

Society fans the flame with ideas about “becoming the type of person you would want your future spouse to want to be with” as if personal growth is only a journey meant for satisfying another human being. As if one day we will suddenly wake up as a perfect version of ourself and be ready to spend the rest of our life with someone.

Here’s what I know to be true: we are in process. We are always going to be in process. Michelangelo has the most beautiful way of saying it, “ancora imparo.” It means, “Still, I am learning.” If we are doing life the right way, we are always learning. Always growing. And that doesn’t change when we meet someone. Other people can’t “complete” us. We are human beings, not puzzles. We are fallible and broken. Broken plus broken doesn’t equal perfect.

Being single isn’t a cruel waiting game. It is part of the process…and a beautiful one at that. So with that being said, I’ve been reflecting on the last year or so of my life and wanted to share a few lessons this season of singleness has taught me.

#1 Don’t be afraid to be alone.

We live in a world full of individuals who are terrified of being alone. Silence is deafening. Solitude is punishment. We feel bad when we see people eating alone at a restaurant. Society says being alone is weird and sad. Society is wrong. How much of our life will be wasted if we can’t learn to experience joy on our own? We must learn to be present. You don’t need a partner to start living a life you love. Figure out what you want to do and go do it. Climb the mountain. Travel. Buy yourself sunflowers and take yourself out for Thai food. It’s not pathetic. It’s not stupid. It’s standing up on your own two feet and choosing to believe that joy isn’t just for the future. It’s for right now.

#2 The best investment you’ll ever make is in your own personal health.

Cliches are cliches for a reason. They are true. And I have found this one to hold true in my own life: You can’t expect to be able to love someone else well if you can’t even love yourself. Being a human is messy and hard. We make mistakes. We hate it when we make mistakes. We keep making mistakes. We are hurt. We are broken. We are fragile.

We have STUFF. Hard stuff. Really really hard stuff. and oftentimes we avoid it. We tuck it away for a while and hope that if we ignore it long enough it’ll go away and never resurface. We build walls around our hearts and turn off emotions that don’t feel good.

We have to work through it. We have to face the pain. We have to look our monsters in the eyes and slay them, one by one. Do what you have to do to slay your monsters. Go to the counselor. Go to the gym. See the doctor. Take the meds. Take some time off. Get out of the city for a few days. Pick your battles one at a time and fight them. Your capacity to love will increase exponentially when your energy isn’t being sapped by the emotional exhaustion created by suppressing pain from the past.

#3 Two words: I’m sorry.

Who needs makeup when you can just be humble? Humility is beautiful. Admit when you’re wrong. Be the first to apologize. Get good at saying you’re sorry without trying to justify your mistakes. Accept other people’s apologies and learn to forgive. If I haven’t said it enough yet, we are humans. We are inherently fallible. Own up to your mistakes, say you’re sorry, and keep moving forward.

Last but not least: Don’t give up on people.

We live in a world of instant gratification. The minute we want something, we can have it with just the click of a button. If we don’t like something, we can exchange it. It literally takes seconds for us to change the things around us when we feel uncomfortable. And sometimes that becomes our mentality toward people. All of a sudden a friendship gets rocky or a relationship gets hard and our first instinct is to find something else. The world tells us to run to something newer, something better, something more convenient. Staying is underrated and seldom celebrated. But staying is good. Relationships aren’t easy. Love is hard. It isn’t a series of fireworks. It doesn’t just happen. It is a choice. We choose who we love. We choose to stick around and care for people or give up. Don’t give up. Be the one who chooses to stay.

Showing up.

“What does it feel like to have an anxiety attack?” she asked me.

I told her I wasn’t sure that I’d ever really had one. But if I had, it felt heavy and confusing. Like everything is chaos and you are drowning in it.

“Are you having panic attacks?” I asked.

She didn’t know. She didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t know what was happening with her body.

It was sunny outside and we fell into pace with one another along the familiar sidewalks of our normal route. She recounted her week to me. The ability to listen well is a unique characteristic in the realm of humanity, especially in today’s culture. She is someone who listens well, which is why it never surprises me when she describes a week filled with almost a dozen coffee dates. It’s rare and beautiful the way that she can have a conversation with just about anyone. She listens well and people start to divulge without even meaning to. They feel comfortable and the fear of being vulnerable melts away as she sits in silence. So they tell her the sources of their deepest pains and their biggest struggles. And she doesn’t tell them to slap a smile on and deal. She just asks more questions and tries to understand.

But then she comes to me and I know her well enough to sense the heaviness. She is a “feeler” who by nature loves deeply and cares immensely. So their pain becomes hers and their burdens shift to her shoulders.

“We are human beings. We are not life boats. We do not get to save people. We cannot save people.”

I learned that lesson the hard way about a year ago. I had just moved back in with my parents and my mom had been sober for the first time in my life for almost seven months and the day that I moved back in, she started drinking again. The next few months were some of the most difficult months I have faced in my life. I was angry at my mom. I was angry at God. And I was angry at the people around me. Nothing in the world around me seemed to make sense and I remember being so frustrated when a dear friend looked me in the eyes and said, “You can only control yourself. You have to focus on what you can do and forget about everything else. Focus on what you can control.”

You see, for some reason, “Focus on what you can control” felt like a cop out to me. It felt like a weak mentality. Now as I look back, I think it’s because I was so painfully aware of how much was out of my control. I couldn’t stop my mom from drinking. I couldn’t make her take medication. I couldn’t make my parents go to counseling or exercise more or spend their money differently. I couldn’t choose the words that came out of their mouths or the way they spent their time. And the end result was a feeling of helplessness. Of weakness.

A year later, here is what I know to be true: focusing on what we can control is really our only option in this life, and it is a truth that once internalized, we can allow to embolden us or squash us in fear. But as my favorite author puts it, we don’t write fear love songs, we punch it in the face.

We have a choice and in light of the world today, the decision seems obvious.

What do we do when fear shows up for battle?
We suit up and fight back.

Not with fits of rage or jealousy. Our tactics are not that of hatred and disdain. We do not use force. We do not use deceit.
We fight with love that is fierce. We build up. We encourage. We empower.
Our words are not our swords except to cut through the hate with truth and affirmation. Our weapons are our actions fueled by generosity and service to others.

It is easy to say and hard to do.

We cannot control the actions of others, but we are not without power. If ever there was a time for us to show up for the people around us, it is now. We cannot take the pain away. We cannot save people. But we can show up and listen. We can enter in with empathy. We can stand in solidarity. If ever there was a time for us to move forward in grace and mercy, it is now.

Our role is the same today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. To stand up, to show up, to speak up. For the broken, for the marginalized, for the persecuted.

We have a choice. To control what we can control. To do what we can. To speak out against injustice.  We are the peacemakers. We are a generation that can and will lead with love. And we will start by showing up.


I sat in the other room, listening as she sobbed and muttered senseless words of lost hope to herself. This has become routine lately. I come home, sit down, and I listen. Because what else is there to do? What is there to say?

She is lost in herself. Lost in the pain and the confusion. Her mind is clouded by the wine she steals from my room when I’m away. She thinks I don’t notice. The depression has deep roots that grip her soul with dark twisted lies. She needs help. Real help. And I can’t give it to her.

She spends her days taking care of her brother. He has been given six months to live and he is in excruciating pain every day. I can feel the heaviness as she walks into the room after a long day of pushing his wheelchair around from place to place. She is exhausted.

Meanwhile, I spend my days waking up early, grabbing coffee with young girls who are making big decisions about where to spend the next four years of their lives and little decisions like whether they are going to winter formal or not. And then I make small talk with strangers for hours on end as I make almond milk lattes and beloved #PSL’s. And in the evenings I head to school and I learn about the political economy of media and the importance of concise writing. And I come home tired. And to be honest- drained of grace and patience more often than not. So I sit and I listen. And I feel stuck. Because what is there to do? What is there to say?

I walked into a meeting last week with my academic advisor. I have been avoiding scheduling a meeting for a while because when you’ve transferred multiple times and changed your major about a trillion- and then taken almost a year off of school in the time between- the finish line doesn’t really ever feel like it’s in sight. She met me with a smile as I walked in. My palms were sweaty and my heart raced as I prepared for “You have two more years of school left and none of your credits are going to transfer.” She spent a lot of time clicking and typing. I asked her how her day had been and commented on the weather.

“Wow- I can’t believe I am going to say this to you, but it looks like you could graduate this spring if you wanted to.”

Jaw. On. The. Floor

I asked her to clarify, thinking she had misspoke. You mean the Spring of 2018, don’t you?

“No. I mean this Spring. Spring of 2017!” She was smiling.

I squealed. Like a child who gets a puppy for Christmas. My mind started racing. It was really happening. I am going to finish college. I am going to have a four year degree…a whole entire year earlier than I thought I would. All of a sudden the finish line was in sight and I could only feel one thing; proud.

You see, anyone who knows me well knows that my journey through college has been a hard one. Finances have been tight. Classes haven’t transferred smoothly. Meetings with academic advisors have left me in tears. On top of all of that, I am a first generation college student. No one in my family has completed college and gotten a degree.

As thankful as I am to have the opportunity to further my education, I have also become painfully aware that the odds are stacked against me. You see, statistics would say that due to the atmosphere I’ve grown up in and my family’s financial instability, the chances of me being successful in life, or even graduating from college, are slim. It sucks to write that, but it sucks even more that it’s true. I took a social work class my sophomore year of college and I went back to my dorm room crying one day because my professor told us that most kids who grow up in poverty stay in it their whole lives. Combine that with a childhood full of abuse, neglect, and turbulent relationships and according to science, I was bound to be a screw up. I was a statistic and not the good kind. What was there to say? What was there to do? I felt stuck.

As I walked out of my advisor’s office the other day, I started thinking about feeling “stuck.” I think so often we become dissatisfied with our lives and start to believe that we don’t have a fighting chance at becoming unstuck. We start to believe that we don’t have space to move forward. We forget that the world has better and more abundant for us if we choose.

We are our own worst enemies in regards to stagnancy. When we speak the word “stuck” over our lives, we enter into dangerous territory. More often than not, we aren’t stuck, but we must be willing to move ourselves. We must be willing to believe that we are more than casualties leftover from the poundings of a cruel world. We have to rid ourselves of the victim mentality that we so often cling to. Yes, I am a victim of abuse and neglect. My life hasn’t been an easy one.  But I am not destined to repeat the mistakes the people around me have made. We do not need to be held by chains of what used to be and we don’t need to feel confined by the chains of our present circumstances. We have the choice to walk forward. We have the choice for our lives to look different.

Eight months from now, I will step onto a stage wearing a cap and gown and I will hold a diploma in my hand stating that I have a four-year degree from the University of Washington. I will be a first generation college student, not defined by poverty or past abuse, or by the house I live in or how I spend my days, but by my determination and character. I will be the best kind of statistic and I will stand, proud of my life and proud of who I am becoming. I am not a victim. I have freedom to move forward and be different…and I will be. I am not stuck. We are never stuck.


Change and lies of mediocrity.

We sat outside, soaking in the last rays of September sunshine before the gray makes a semi-permanent home in the sky for the next 8 months. Fall is a time of change. The leaves show it. Our hearts feel it. The weather follows suit. We can’t avoid it and we have two choices for how we deal with it; sit in misery with furrowed brows and crossed arms as we attempt to deny the inevitable, or choose to embrace the hope and excitement that comes with change and a new season.

I watched her face closely as I sipped my lavender latte and asked her questions about the upcoming year. Her countenance was heavy with the weight of the season ahead. The season wasn’t the only upcoming change in her life. She was working on applying to college. Trying her best to figure out where she will call “home” for the next four years of her life. The next year will be filled with some of the biggest changes her life has seen yet. Next fall everything will look much, much different. And I wondered how she would choose to wear the change.

“How’s the essay going?” I asked. I had gotten a few texts the night before from girls who had been struggling to put pen to paper.

“Not that great.” There was defeat in her voice. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to make myself stand out in 500 words. I don’t feel like I have done anything extraordinary in my life yet. I kind of feel mediocre.”

I stopped to think about what I said in my college essay and drew a blank. I have no clue what I said,  but I remember the pressure. Such tremendous pressure. To stand out. To have an epic story. To have the longest list of accomplishments. To have survived the most difficult set of circumstances. To be the most unique or the most marginalized.

And I realized just how absolutely ridiculous it is. This terrible pressure to figure out how to make complete strangers magically swoon over you by perfectly crafting a few dozen sentences.

She was circling the rim of her coffee cup with her index finger and waited patiently for her eyes to meet mine. “Your belief in your own mediocrity is a lie. You are unique. You are enough.”

We live in a society where “to conform is the norm.” We are constantly bombarded with messages from the media that convey that the only way to be cool and succeed and win is by following in the footsteps of the “cool kids”- you know, the ones with the right clothes and the good hair and the trendy Instagrams- and this trend is especially magnified among the tweens and teens of the world. I see it every day in the girls that I spend time with. They’re told to dress the same, talk the same, and walk the same. They are fed the twisted lie that in order to stand out, they must first fit in. And then all of a sudden, they start applying to colleges and they don’t know what to say, because they’ve spent more time trying to figure out how to fit in than they’ve spent leaning in to who they really are. It’s no wonder they feel confused and discouraged when it comes time to express themselves as individuals with unique gifts and passions.

Who on Earth really has the room to claim that any of our lives are mediocre? That fact that we are here, living in this big world with breath in our lungs and hearts that are beating and eyes that are reading and brains that are processing makes us anything but ordinary.

Fall is here. Change is inevitable, and as I look forward at the year ahead, I can’t help but pray that change shows up in more than just the colors of the leaves. In the same way that we choose how to react to change, we have the choice to view ourselves as boring and commonplace, or unique and able. To conform is the norm, but it is also a choice that we make. No one is forcing us. We have space and ability to choose to go against the grain and dare to believe that we are individuals with unique and important purposes in this world, and I hope we do.


To run.

It had been a while since I had a day off, but this day had been circled in the calendar for months. August 27th. “Tacoma Narrows Half” was scribbled in my planner. I was supposed to be running 13.1 miles. I had signed up earlier that May, after completing my first half marathon days before my 21st birthday.

But when the day finally came and I woke up confronted by the red circle around August 27th on my calendar, I chose to throw on flip flops instead of lacing up my Nikes. I packed a bag with a blanket and a change of clothes and got into the car with my best friend and Mayer. We sang and talked as cruise control had us headed towards the coast without many plans besides hanging out by the ocean for the day.

Although I haven’t been training for my marathon over the past few months, I haven’t gone without running. Day after day, I have been sprinting from one thing to the next, amazed at how easy it is to fill up every minute of every hour, every day. I’ve been caught up in the idea of growing up, trying to learn how to care of myself while caring for others…something that all of the people I admire most seem to have mastered. I have wrestled with the idea of balance as I have continued to move through life at an unsustainable pace, with more questions than answers on most days.

But after months of sprinting, I needed space to catch my breath. I needed room. To escape. To slow down and breathe in salty air. To dig my toes into the sand and scream as freezing waves crash over my ankles.

We smiled in line for coffee as the barista told us about the beach 20 minutes South where he proposed to his wife. The man in front of us flashed a smile after paying for our Irish cream lattes. We rolled down the windows and turned the heat on high on the way to that very beach, curious to see the sandstone caves where the kind barista had gotten down on one knee. The car doors slammed shut just seconds after I threw the car in park and we were skipping down the big hill to the water. My heart raced when I saw the vast stretch of dark blue ahead. The day was gray, with overcast skies and misty air that made the afternoon feel like it was still morning, but it was beautiful and I remember thinking, “this is my favorite place to be.” Frothy white waves crashed over the blonde sandstone. Trees and plants of a million different shades of green flourished above the dark caves. We walked along the beach laughing at the people taking selfies and the little ones chasing seagulls.

A hundred yards down, we came to a path of sandstone that made a bridge over the water to a secluded beach where no one else was. Neither one of us spoke as we breathed in the beauty of the solitude we had stumbled upon. She walked over to the right and laid down on the sand, but in that moment, in the cold air, with the sound of the waves hitting the shore, I didn’t want to sit and rest. I wanted to run. Really, really run. Not in the exhausting way that I had been sprinting over the past few months. I threw my flip flops behind me and my legs moved quickly beneath me. Faster and faster. The wet sand was cold on the soles of my feet. I couldn’t help but laugh as my stride lengthened, energized by the freedom of the empty shore stretched out before me. I ran. I pumped my arms and closed my eyes and breathed in the saltiness. And when my lungs felt like they could burst, I stopped and sat down.

There was joy in that place where God was so evident, where life made sense not because we could control it, but because it was so grand and epic that we didn’t feel the desire to. Suddenly all of the time I had spent trying to “grow up” and have all the answers seemed silly. That morning, I had been overwhelmed by guilt at the thought of not completing my race. Life had commanded that I continued sprinting to the next thing. To my race. To be all of the things to all of the people, all of the time. But I didn’t want to keep sprinting, bound by the chains of “have-to’s” and the desire to impress others.

I wanted simplicity. I wanted less control. I wanted freedom to run in the way of love and joy. Less “shoulds” and “coulds” and schedules filled with life-suckers. I needed more space. Less white knuckling. More love.

So I ran.




I met her in tears and she met me with a hug. We started our loop and for every step, another drop hit the ground as we moved forward in silence. Neither of us felt the need to fill the quiet. There wasn’t much to say. After a mile of muted moving, the nights events started gushing out between tears.

I had spent the evening having dinner with family and the pain had been tangible in every moment. We had been sitting on the front porch, watching the sunset when I looked over helplessly to see my aunt’s tear-filled eyes as she recalled a multitude of health problems on either side of the family and the stress of her overwhelming job. There was so much pain in those eyes. So much pressure. She was holding the weight of the world on those shoulders and she didn’t even realize it. And there I was, paralyzed. Unable to help. Unable to take the pain away. So I didn’t try. I just sat and listened. I decided to just be. Be there for her. Be present. Present in the pain. Present in the heartache. Present in hope.

We continued to walk forward in renewed silence.

“What are you thinking about?” I asked. She told me she had been praying.

I realized the other day that life won’t always look like this. We were walking early in the evening and the two of us acknowledged that someday this sacred time when the air is warm and we are free to share stories and giggles and tears won’t be so convenient. Life will get in the way. Priorities will change.

But for now we get to stay in this sweet season. And it is very good. So we walk through life together, quite literally. Late, when the sun has gone down and the neighborhood gets quiet, we start our 7 mile loop. And I walk ahead sometimes to get the cobwebs before she does. And we run up hills when we get to them because she would rather that than walk. And late at night we re-enact The Notebook and lay in the middle of the road to look up at the stars.

I tell her my stories and she tells me hers. We talk about our days and laugh about boys. We share in our struggles. We wrestle with our dreams. Sometimes we don’t talk at all and just keep moving forward…one foot in front of the other, because that’s all we really know how to do. But we keep moving forward nonetheless, even on the extra dark nights, when the moon doesn’t light our way and the streetlights are out. Because at the end of the day, we know we’re in it together and that is comforting.

And I thank God for putting someone by my side who listens. And prays when I forget. Someone who is present. Present in the pain. Present in the heartache. Present in hope.



We sat in anxious anticipation, making our way down a bumpy dirt road, sticky from a long bus ride without AC. 60 high school freshmen buzzed with excitement behind me, unaware of the epic demonstration of God’s great love that was in store for them in the coming days…minds tangled with enthusiasm and fear.

As for me, fear had no place. We passed the welcome sign to camp and a tangible sense of peace moved through my body. This was home.

Young Life camp is the one place in the world that feels like home to me. I breathe deeper. I sleep better. My head and heart feel clear. The burdens of the world melt away. Things just seem to make more sense.

I had the privilege of spending the last five days at home. I laughed until my stomach hurt, danced until my feet were sore, and cried all sorts of tears because twenty (TWENTY) high school girls somehow managed to steal my heart in the midst of all of it.

I sat next to one of my dearest friends on the way home tonight and tried to ignore the inevitable… but the heaviness wrapped around me like a cloak. The campers were heading back home, but I was leaving mine. And it hurt.

She looked at me knowingly and asked if I would be okay. I told her I would be, but I think sometimes she knows me better than I know myself. We picked up thai food and found a quiet place outside on the grass to giggle over our inability to use chopsticks correctly and we praised God for a stunning sunset.

She asked questions and the tears flowed from my eyes as I realized that five days at home wasn’t enough and I wasn’t ready to be back in the place where such a huge abundance of past hurt lingers like a thick fog in the air. A mosquito bit her forehead and I laughed so hard that I spit a mouthful of chicken out, so we hopped the fence and made our way back to the car. She asked more questions. The tears continued to fall.

And now I’m back at my house and things haven’t changed since five days ago when I left. And I find myself on my knees, praying. Because it’s hard when the place that you’ve called home all of your life doesn’t feel like home. It’s hard to feel committed to people and things in a place that holds so many reminders of past pain and hurt. It’s hard to leave the comfort and beauty of home.

So I stay. Stay in this place that doesn’t feel like home. Stay vulnerable, without all of the answers. Stay on my knees. Praying to a God whose love is more faithful than the morning.