nesting dolls.

We’re all walking around like nesting dolls, holding the older versions of ourselves inside us. Some we hold fondly: our bravest moments and our eighth grade angst and our fearful dreams. Some we hate: the times when we were less than our best-- rude or selfish or shortsighted.
But regardless.

We hold each car we drove and each person we dated and each song that was “so us” for that season inside of us like little bright bubbles.

Our seasons are never what we think they’ll be, must like New Year’s Eve always feels like a sort-of let down. It’s not until that year’s end, that (often) we are able to love the beginning.

Maybe it’s the holidays or maybe it’s the Hattie (probably a little of both), but I’m feeling sentimental about myself lately. And I know that seems silly and probably a little self-absorbed to say, but it’s a real feeling.

There is a feeling after winter, while running, that your skin feels like it’s meeting the sun for the first time. Usually in March -- I can’t truly explain -- but the air is warm and the sun is bright -- it hits your skin (in shorts for maybe the first time) and you feel exposed, fresh, raw. You drink it in like an old friend.

That is what life feels like right now-- a re-awakening of myself. A re-appreciation of the ability to be an individual-- which sounds so simple-- but I had stopped appreciating it. Maybe I never knew I was supposed to.


I want to always feel a skin-tingling joy about who I am. Because I’ll change. And grow. Like the seasons. Or with them. But it is truly an honor to able to “be”. To be yourself. To be weak growing strong. To be growing patient. To be growing kind. To be growing into something better, but not forgetting the beauty about each road you’ve walked.


And so we’ll keep stacking, those nesting dolls of experiences and personality changes and life stages, piling on to make up a story that only you can hold.

It’s just how life goes. It’s not magic.  But it sure would be better to look at it like the latter.

hattie: two month update.

It's been two whole months of knowing and loving Hattie Elizabeth. While I was pregnant, people told me over and over about the euphoric moment when she was born and my heart would grow ten sizes. But the thing is, it wasn't until a few weeks in that I felt that heart swell. Sure, I loved her the instant she was born. But that love was mixed with wariness and a feeling of, "what the heck do I do?". As we hit the two month mark, I can't imagine life without this sweet nug and buddy of mine. But it wasn't instantaneous. So first-- some encouragement: nothing in pregnancy or newborn life has been exactly like anyone said. If you don't feel the same way as others-- who cares?! This is your life. You were meant to see through your own individual lens. 

We go for her two-month appointment next week, so I don't know exactly how much Hattie weighs-- but it's definitely over 10 lbs. Little girl has chubbed up this month and we love her chunky cheeks. I never want to forget who she is at this stage of life. 



Hattie loves...
- Sleeping! She is a champion sleeper. As in last night, she slept for 9 hours. Her average is 7 or 8 as of the past two weeks. 
- Eating. Hence the giant cheeks. 
- Standing up and trying to jump or climb up whoever is holding her. 
- Gilmore Girls. Just kidding, but she has watched a lot as I usually have it playing while we nurse. Maybe she'll grow up with rocket fast speech and a love of coffee?
- This past week I went back to school, so Hattie gets to stay with either her grandmas or her new friend, Ms. Ann. Lots of love for this girl!
- Looking at herself in the mirror.
- Being outside
- Ceiling fans. Because who doesn't?
- Going on runs in her stroller- especially going fast.
- Smiling. And we love it right back!


 

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twenty-seven.

Some roads are exciting to drive down. Open highways. Days where the leaves are changing and you fly against the magic of yellows and oranges. Going somewhere.

Some roads feel like a trap. The ones from your house to the grocery store. With red lights that long forever. The mundane. The mandatory.

This year has been a lot of feeling stuck. At one point, on one of those drives where the red lights trap you and you feel like you’re going nowhere, again, a voice on the radio said, “sometimes you have to grieve the death of a dream before you can accept what’s next”. And that was it. Tears. I don’t know who was talking or even what station was on-- it was hum-drum background to a blank stare-- until, yes, this is me. I need to grieve the year I didn’t expect to be able to accept the year that I have, in order to start seeing color in the ordinary again.

Twenty-six started by the seashore. I was going to run a marathon this year. I was going to do burpees until my abs were made of others envy. I was going to be the best version of myself. I was in my mid-twenties- ew- but I was going to start crossing off bucket list dreams.

And then, on February 3rd of my 26th year, I found out I was pregnant. And 26 was the year I never expected. It got weird. I learned a lot about my body I didn’t know. My runs got slower and slower until they were a one-mile shuffle. My identity shifted tremendously. It’s still shifting.

And none of that was bad. But it still was the end of something. It needed to be grieved to finally be able to move on.

So here I am, at the end of 26, the end of the year that went 180 degrees from the way I expected it to go. This year felt refining. This year felt lonely. This year felt like a gift some days and a punishment others.


Here’s to 27 with arms open and no expectations. To running hard again. To motherhood. To new goals and dreams as I re-friend the old ones as well. To grieving what has changed and rejoicing in all that happened and all that 27 will bring. To loose ends. To untied endings. To rejection of an idealized life. To messiness. To family. To 365 days of whatever tomorrow will bring.

27, I’m here for you. Open roads. Let's go somewhere.

taking the home and heart to the beach.

Right when school ended, Andrew and I decided to take a mini-vacation... and we wanted to attempt to take Chief. Now Chief, photogenic as all get out, is not alwaaaaaays the best dog. So we were nervous as we checked into dog-friendly hotel Tides at Folly Beach. 

But it was the best three days. Chief did so well on the beach early mornings and at night and sat sweetly at the breweries and restaurants of Charleston. 

And so we got our sweet little mini-family vacation. The best part-- greater than the beauty of the waves and sunsets-- was that my whole heart was there beside me. There is a whole lot of love with the three of us-- and we know that little bird coming in September is walking into a bundle of heart for the life we are creating together.

P.S. If you are looking for a dog-friendly beach-- Folly Beach near Charleston is the place to go! Almost every place we wanted to eat had a porch where Chief was welcome. For this overly-emotional girl, it was simply the best!

 

running out of control.

There are 140 calories in 16 Wheat Thins, which is the serving size on the side of the box.

I still remember this from freshman year of high school. I counted calories and then would do the math-- how many miles or minutes of running would burn off that handful of M&M’s. And then I would run. Somehow, in the midst of a mess of self-sabotage, I fell in love with running and somehow it saved me-- but not from calories. First, I had to learn to stop counting those. And while it only took about a year and a half for me to hit the bottom and realize that no matter how much weight you lose, the frame of your body remains the same-- one aspect of running stayed with me-- control.

Exactly four years later, another freshman year, I ran too much and cracked a bone-- fractured my femoral neck, which connects your femur to your hip. I couldn’t run for months-- spent weeks on crutches and the same amount of time being an absolute nightmare to the people around me.

And again-- my favorite activity proved a mirror to show me that the real issue was with myself-- and a need for control-- specifically over my body.

It’s always been about my body-- and while I know it’s ridiculous and shallow and horrible-- I’ve always been afraid of being fat. I hate that about myself, but it’s true.

And so when I thought about pregnancy-- I always thought- no way, you just get fat. (Yes, I know it's not actually fat! It's a baby! But it's still getting bigger!) You lose control over your body and get bigger and bigger and bigger.

And you do.

People have asked me what the hardest part about being pregnant and it’s exactly what I've always, always, always come back to-- I have no control. And I hate it. Running gets harder and so my runs grow shorter and slower every single day. I have to pee every mile and I can feel the heaviness in my legs. My once diligent workout routine, still there, but simpler, modified. And my body-- bigger and bigger and bigger.

I expected all of this. I knew this would be what I hated the most and it is--
But what I didn’t expect (because my heart is still learning to be less self-absorbed) is that the lack of control would start to turn away from me-- and start to be about her.

Where I didn’t want a stomach, I want growth to know she’s okay.
Where I didn’t want to stop running, I want to slow down to make sure she’s okay.
Where I didn’t want to eat for my own sake, I want to make sure she has enough, that she’s okay.

The Lord is refining me and teaching me what it looks like to let go-- to lose a little control. My body, yes of course, but it’s really just a metaphor for the control I’m having to cede and will continue to hand over for the rest of her life.

But if you could still not tell me I’m “huge” or look “so pregnant”, that would be nice. I’m working on it, but you don’t just change overnight and think it’s cool when someone calls your stomach your “pooch”, please and thank you. 

I’m really excited to meet my daughter, a feeling that grows week by week. But heck, I’d be lying if I wasn’t also stoked to hit the pavement hard and fast again. I'm not the mess I was at 15 and 19, but I'll sure be glad to gain one aspect of control back in a new life that will have plenty of new lessons about "letting go" come along with it.

silence killer.

It’s been 11 weeks since I found out I was pregnant and the words have been stuck inside me like peanut butter. I need to break my silence, for my sanity's sake. I feel like I’ve “lost writing” the past few months when I’ve only been too chicken to sit down and wrestle with my emotions, the way writing makes you do.

But now-- no more silence.

 

I wish I could think of a good beginning, as any good story would have. That’s what this still feels like: a story, not my life. And while I’ve certainly grown to be excited about all the new on the horizon, I don’t exactly mean that in a “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” intonation.

I’m caught in a crossroads of honesty and understanding. I’ve been given a gift-- put in a position-- that so many women, including friends of mine, have spent time on their knees in prayer for. And here I am. Walking around like a zombie of indifference-- everyone who has known me growing up knew that I did not want to get pregnant. I still feel that way. I really don’t want to be pregnant. I think it’s gross and weird looking. That has never meant that I didn’t want to be a mom. I can’t wait to be a mom! I can’t wait to meet this sweet little girl inside me. But it doesn’t mean overnight I’m going to be stoked about the way it’s happening.

But I guess this is really everyone’s story and it’s just something we wrestle with: this isn’t the way I thought my life would look.

I’ll just start this during the first week of February. Call it whatever you want-- but I knew something (someone?) was growing inside me. I could feel it. After about a week of suppressing these thoughts, I was working out on a Friday afternoon and I broke down crying because “Oops, I Did It Again” came on Shuffle. And I knew I had to just do it- face reality- pee on the stick- figure it all out. And so I did. And of course, I was right. And I wish I could have reacted the way you do when your prayers are answered. But I froze, threw the stick away, and continued with my workout. I didn’t even tell Andrew until almost 24 hours later. A week later, I got blood drawn and a week later the doctor called me and laughed because I was about eight weeks pregnant. A week after that, we saw our kid for the first time through the lens of an ultrasound machine and found out that actually, we were already eleven weeks into this adventure.


It’s a lot to go from not thinking about pregnancy to thinking you have nine months til motherhood to realizing you actually have six months in only a matter of weeks.


And so, silence.

Pregnancy is a hard thing to talk about. People are all up in your body’s business and walking on eggshells around you for no reason at all. It’s hard because again-- I know this is the miracle so many people are praying for-- and so to say anything negative feels like throwing rocks. But I can’t fake thinking it’s sweet that my stomach is expanding. I don’t. I’m learning to stop being selfish about my body. I'm learning. But I’m still in a drag out fight with myself over these feelings-- ones that do not make me love the child growing inside me any less.

 

For weeks, my go-to mode of life has been to not think about pregnancy. Hey, from the moment I saw those plus marks, rational mindset went into overdrive. This is happening. You can’t change it. You can’t back out. You might as well accept it and move on.

But I know there has got to be more than walking through this with a half hearted grin as people ask me if I’m “okay” for the 10th time in a day. There is more that God wants to teach me in this weird season. My sister said to me, “you won’t be the same person at the end of this”. And that has stuck with me. I’m glad. I don’t want to be the same person. I’m ready to be refined and challenged and stretched. I’m ready to be a different person and to be the mom God intended me to be.

But it doesn’t mean I’m ready to take bump pictures or talk to strangers (read: anyone?) about breastfeeding. It doesn’t mean I have to “glow” or love being pregnant. Will it be worth it? Yes, abundantly yes. But I still want to be a person. A person with goals and hopes and ideas. A person that is more than just pregnant.


So I give you this poorly written piece to break the seal: I have to write.
It’s who I am. I’m back to the keyboard and i’m ready to wade through the messiness of life again: of pregnancy and of all that life encompasses beyond.

walking alone in bookstores.

It’s easy to fall in love in a bookstore. Maybe not with a person, per say, but with the atmosphere that surrounds you: the walls that lend themselves to adventure and dreams, the way stories line up one by one politely waiting to break down barriers inside you.

I like to walk around bookstores alone. When I met Andrew in high school, we would sometimes meet at our local Barnes and Noble and walk around. Seperately. We did the same when we started dating a few years later in college. Go together, explore by ourselves.We still do this today and it still fuels that same joy today: together, but separate.

We’ve been married three years and there have been times that walking our own directions has hurt us. We’ve spent too much time apart or let our minds wander into a dangerous form of selfishness that leaves us wondering what our lives would have looked like living wild and off on our own.

But the truth is, part of the joy of wandering through the aisles of a bookstore alone is heightened by the meeting of another hand as you finish and walk out into the world.
We are humans and thus dreamers, after all, but to dream alone is a lonely task. To take your vulnerable dreams and say, “I don’t know if we can do it all- the you dreams and the me dreams- but it’s definitely worth it to try”-- that is my favorite thing about marriage.

We are not the same people we were at 18 when we met and definitely not the same people who said “forever” at 23. We are new versions of ourselves and will continue to shed these selves as the years fade on. And I like that. We are continuously getting to know the friend we have chosen to walk beside into our future-- to see the good and the bad-- and to grab onto the vulnerability of their deepest dreams and desires too.

Thanks for letting me walk alone in bookstores, Andrew. You’re the best friend a girl could ask for. Here’s to year four and the adventure we weren’t expecting-- I’m glad I get to walk beside you as you become the better versions of ourselves.


 

contradictions.

It is cold and I’m inside wearing knit socks and waiting for night to fall so I can pour myself a glass of wine. School let out early and I’ve been home for many, many hours. I should clean. But I don’t want to. I so badly want to be the type of person who can’t stand to live in a mess. But really I just can’t stand to clean. And so the mess lives on.

It is 2017 and I want to reinvent myself and my life-- I know my life is full, but there is something about being unsure of which boxes to check when you self-identify that makes you want to throw away everything you know and just pick up somewhere, something new.

But I’m also afraid of change. Even though I can live with messes.

You see, now, don’t you.

Humans are walking contradictions and I’m actually quite fond of that fact. You don’t have to be one thing and I like that as you grow up and you can be as many messes of “things” and labels as you so desire. Being a contradiction can, of course, be freeing. But also confusing.

No change. Everything change. Clean. But I don’t think I can move. Wine?

I feel like I’ve been dancing on a wobbly stone in the middle of a creek for some time. That’s a strange visual. It may look like you’re tottering or falling at one moment and dancing voraciously the next. Contradictions.

I want blonde hair and I want black hair and you can’t have both. You can’t stay somewhere with the good job and the cute house and also go out and live new and fresh. You have to pick one-- I don’t want to choose. I want a package wrapped in ribbon on my door delivered straight from God telling me exactly what to do. Telling me exactly who I am. Telling me that I’ll be someone new, someday, too.

But I don’t have a package wrapped neatly. And I have no ending eloquence for this, my scrambled words. So quietly, I must listen. Wisely, I must stop overthinking-- just breathe in and out and and give and cry and write and live, live, live.

I’m going for the wine now.

a year in review / 2016.

I love the ends. I love the way "end" breathes out, exhales, and gives you a chance for something new. 

 

This year was broken and it was beautiful. 

 

I fell in love with Jhumpa Lahiri's stories and Hamilton. I drank La Croix and chardonnay and Super Matcha smoothies. I watched hours of The O.C. , West Wing, and Gilmore Girls. I walked through four seasons and made new friends and had friends move away and leave and come and go. I learned more about Andrew and conveniently like him more. I accepted the fact that Chief has made me into an obsessive dog-mom (I love it). 

 

I got to be in three of my best friend's weddings and celebrate with others!!! I got to travel to California and dance in a wine vineyard. I got to travel overseas and see London and Paris and have my eyes let light into my soul. I got to expand what I thought I knew about the world. I got to see streets I had only dreamed of and learned (once again) that traveling does not complete you, but grow you to be a better you in the home that you get to have.

I ate cheese and pasta and looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. I did millions of burpees and jump squats and ran lots of miles. I have hopes for more, but I'm learning to be a process and not a product of my failures. 

 

I read more than ever and stayed up to date on the news and voted for Hillary Clinton. Even if my views change in the future, I felt (and feel) strongly about what I believe is important. I felt angry about the state of the environment and the hatred towards refugees. This year confirmed that I want to make the world better through education.

 

My heart broke for my students andI laughed with them and I thanked my lucky stars that I get to teach literature as my job!!! I spent hours at cross country meets, track practices, and basketball games. I often felt overwhelmed and I cried a lot but the Lord washed me in grace this year. I believe in myself more now than I did. I felt stretched but sustained. I let (some) of the restlessness fall away. 

 

But the restlessness was still there. And I'm still praying for what's next. 

 

But this year, I was here. 

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should have's and seasons.

I should have been at the funeral.

 

Yeah, you should have.

 

I didn’t even know. And I’m sorry.


There are conversations you have in your head that haunt you. The thing you didn’t say, the place you didn’t go-- you feel non-existent disappointment tangibly in your own mind.

2016 was a year full of funerals. And I don’t mean literal, although yes, a lot of celebrities died, but so did a lot of other people, as in any other given year and I refuse to believe that celebrity deaths hold any more importance than my neighbor losing their parent. Death is death. Funerals are funerals.

In the midst of a year of tragedies, it’s easy to for the “should have”’s the creep in and destroy joy. The “should have” is full of good intention-- I should have said this. I should have done more. I should have been kinder. I should have been bolder. But the “should have”’s hold no value-- we didn’t. Should having is not important.

What is important is what you WILL. What will we do this next year? What will we say? How will we be kind? How will we be love?

This year, beyond the stream of literal funerals, there were funerals in the form of cracks. Like splinters in a china vase, the church has cracks (it always has!), but this election, this year-- they’re exposed more than ever.

These words from Ann Voskamp in her book The Broken Way spoke to me--

“When the church isn’t for the broken and suffering, then the church isn't for Christ. Because Jesus, with his pierced side, is always on the side of the broken. Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Jesus always seeks out where the suffering is, and that’s where Jesus stays.The wound in His side proves that Jesus is always on the side of the suffering, the wounded, the busted, and the broken”

This year broke a lot of people. But God shows up in brokenness. Healing comes only when something has first been smashed.  Nothing is new and bright through walls of materialism or false security-- we always have to break. We will always break to become something better. Nothing a should-have can change.

As I look back at this year, I see skinned knees and hands. I see broken lightbulbs of ideas I once held. And I cherish it all-- dear God, yes, please break my selfish heart and life so I can get it, can get YOU and not the manufactured version of you the world wants to sell me, not the rules you that people want to prop up and fight over.

The warrior you-- the one that BINDS UP THE BROKEN HEARTED-- but also knows that for the binding, there must first be the breaking. The one that fights the mediocrity in the lies of organized religion-- the one that is our only dose of HOPE in a broken world.

Broken-- again and again. Broken that light can creep in. Broken that change can be made. Broken that history can walk forward into something new.

This was our year-- broken-- a funeral march-- (and don’t forget that even at funerals there is sweetness and softness and laughter)-- broken to be better.

Here’s to 2017. Bring on the breaking.

something political.

It’s so nice that you have an opinion.
I have one too.
There have been dozens of opinions passed as facts and hard evidence in the year.
Almost everywhere you look, an opinion piece about the election-- about the moral character of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump— is being shoved down your throat.
If you’re fiery, you throw your opinion back—maybe kindly, but most often full of disgust that someone could have a varying opinion on “who is worse” in a very, very losing game.

That’s cool. The election will come and pass and more hateful, disparaging opinion articles will surface about whoever wins. It's a blur to understand which fact is true and which is stretched—all mingled with this incandescent need to share opinion, opinion, opinion. 

I have an opinion too- a political one- but I’ll save that for November.

Here is what I do know that this election has taught us—we need to be better humans.

And your vote is not going to fix humanity. Your opinion isn’t either.

Discussions of sexual assault, racial profiling, the ridiculous need to throw rocks at the other side of the aisle, the war in Syria, the refugee crisis, police shootings, deportation forces, fraud—these are the things that immerse our brains—and all of this does not need a person in political power—it needs Jesus.

If we have learned anything from this horrifying year, it’s that humanity sucks. It’s that we have got to do better. We have got to be better.

When I walk into my high school classroom- I have an opinion. But I don’t share it. Because I have kids whose parents are here illegally sitting in my class. Because I have girls wearing hijabs who have been partial to Islamaphobia sitting in my class. Because I have kids whose parents have taught them to be racist through discussions at the dining room table sitting in my class. Because I have kids whose only form of news is Twitter sitting in my class. Because I have African-American boys who are freaking smart but have been labeled as a trouble maker their whole lives sitting in my class. They see hate. They know hate. They do not need an opinion.

They need a hope of a better world.

As we sit, a mixture of modern America, we read The Crucible and talk about the ways in which McCarthyism of the 1950’s resembles today.


As we sit, a mixture of modern America, we read Civil Disobedience and talk about the ways in which we agree and disagree with our own government. We talk about non-violent protests as a student sits in the back of my class with a piece of tape over his mouth to protest silently for Black Lives Matter.

As we sit, a mixture of modern America, we read The Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers and talk about the failings and successes of the Founding Fathers of this country—what changes we have made since these famous words were written and what changes still need to be made.

Gain something from this political mess—a reassurance that this is not our home. That we do not put our hope in a government—filled with both corrupt people and ones who would die for this land.

So put down your loaded opinion. Vote if you want—but know you’re not going to be voting for a “good person” no matter what—but that’s not the end of this country.

If we want to fix this country, heck, this world—it’s not about voting for a “good person”—it’s about being a good person. Fight for justice, not a majority in Congress. Strive to be kind, not right.

At the end of the day, I’m not simply a citizen of America. I’m a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven: a child of a God who does not know hate because in His very nature, is love.

Care about something beyond politics—care about the issues that have emerged in this disparaging race—pick one and do something about it—with your finances, your time, your words. Just do something.

We have got to be better humans.
And that right there is the only opinion I’ll be sharing with the Internet. 

on injustice.

I will never try and pretend that I know anything about injustice or cruelty or hatred. I have lived a life of privilege and I know that. I'm not going to pretend that people should listen to me based on my experiences with mistreatment. 

But. 

It's really important to speak out.  

Take one look at social media and you will see people hating each other really well. 

Scroll through the comments on celebrity and politicians Instagrams and Twitter posts and you will find hatred screaming at you.

Don't read the comments, they say. They're just internet trolls, they say. 

Yes, some.  

But thousands? No. These are real people who use the "freedom to have an opinion" as an excuse to blast anger and hate into the world.  

And those are just words. 

We're currently reading The Crucible in my 11th graders class and it's so freaking important. While it was written to mirror the 1950's McCarthyism, it's a vivid picture of what hate and fear can do to tear apart a community.  

Fear holding power leads to hate. It always has, it always will. 

People in 2016 are afraid. And so again, as throughout history, we hate.  

When you do live a privileged life, it's easy to just avoid what happens outside of your life and just be "a positive light". But those of us sitting on the sidelines have got to do more. We've got to be the one person in Salem (John Proctor) who is willing to call out the bullshit. We've got to fight hate with more than just positivity.  

What are you going to do to fight injustice?  

For me, it's all about teaching. I really think that education and schools are the backbone for fixing so many other societal downfalls. And you might disagree. But don't turn on me. This is my way of fighting injustice, little by little. Fight to increase literacy and life skills in all my kids. Because I actually think the baby steps can help. 

Maybe you're cynical and don't believe the power of education. 

That's cool.  

What do you believe in? What do you do, even? Because whatever you're doing, you can foster intelligence and empathy there. 

What are you doing to rid this world of injustice today, tomorrow, this week, this month.

Because shaking your head and saying "what a shame" or "I hate that" is nice. But at some point, it's gotta be more.  

 

 

on highways that you cried on.

Skies dimming into greys and purples and pinks over lines on the road-- a view that brings awe and glee and makes you glad you’re alive.

Bright twinkle lights as darkness sets in and the car moves forward-- a different type of beauty, but still holds onto you.

Crying on highways has become a habit of mine. I used to cry handling long-distance love poorly, as I let tears roll down to over-dramatic country songs up highway 75.

Then came jobs and commutes and long days learning how to be a good teacher while simultaneously learning to be myself. Then came Christmas with those same commutes and tears for Christmas stories. More years and more commutes and all different stories and songs.

Crying on highways has become a habit of force.

But now I cry at a lot of things.

Those sunsets from before. Wind blowing through the car window onto my face. A hard day. A really good day. A killer song from the 70’s. The freaking beauty of full circles and all the grace of a good God in a broken world.

Highways are the perfect place to hold your tears of joy and sorrow. They stretch out in front of you lined with yellow and possibility. I love them. I love them surrounded by trees and mountains and less when surrounded by big buildings, but I guess there is beauty for some people in those kinds of highways too.

Sometimes I like to think about all the highways that will hold me in the future, that I will drive down day after day and lay the memories of a day or week or year out as the wheels turn quickly.

I’m excited for the highways that are yet to be held, and thankful for the one’s that have made up the years that I’ve lived.

Yellow lines and melting skies-- thanks for holding all the good and bad kinds of tears and days and lives.

on the year that made you.

I think there are some years that make you-- that hold onto you and where you always feel a pull to hold onto those lessons you learned.


There are years that change you-- that rock you-- that flip you upside down.


For me-- 2010 built me.

It’s still building me.


Really, it was my freshman year of college. I lived with the embodiment of true and real friendship. We laughed and ate too much sugar and danced to dumb songs and laughed about boys that loved us and met each other at our darkest places.


I learned what it’s like to physically break. I learned this the same week I learned what sobbing into your steering wheel on the side of the road feels like -- the kind of pain that accompanies the death of a friend.


The best year of my life rolled miraculously into the worst year of my life.


It’s a year that still haunts me-- still holds me. That I still cry over-- how good and sweet and pure all mixed with the feelings of growing up and raw brokenness.


Later that year, I would run laps around a grass soccer field and laugh into the sky with the freedom of a healed bone. I would make different friends and fall in love with a boy.


Years later-- that year will still make me sigh.


There are years that make you.

And all that’s left is you holding onto the sweetness that growing pains show in retrospect.


And you’ll always know-- that was the year that made you who you are today.

on not being defeated.

 “When defeated, don’t be defeated”-- my college cross country coach once told me.

 

It’s not that easy, I thought.

But I’m learning that it is.

I don't know where you are this week, but maybe you're overwhelmedand pushing aside the prayers bigger than you because they feel laughable. But then you remember that God is NOT you, NOT selfish, NOT scared-- NOT human at all. He put those dreams in your heart. Maybe you're at a place where you feel like overshadowed or marginalized-- like every right thing you do is brought crumbling by the single wrong.

 

It’s easy to feel overshadowed-- to feel like your mistakes or even simply your lack of momentum casts shadows over the dreams that pulse in your heart.

 

It may seem dark in this world sometimes. But you can’t forget to adjust your eyes and burn vibrantly on.

 

And just,

 

When defeated, don’t be defeated.

on growing up beside you.

I still remember how you were when I was eighteen. You came to my birthday party-- a scavenger hunt-- even though I barely knew you. Just a kid in my math class, but you were there anyway.


I still remember how you turned your car around on a warm May night to drive to my house and tell me the truth. I was driving down the street and we stared through car windows (going different ways) at our future.


I still remember that August night as we left for college-- and I said “No, this won’t work” and you told me you’d never date anyone else and I laughed. Still eighteen, but slowly growing up.


I still remember when you told me all the things you hated about me at almost twenty. We were on a coffeeshop porch in Athens and I broke your heart and kissed a different boy. For two whole weeks, we stopped being friends.


I still remember kissing you at Christmas the year we weren’t friends and then we were. And you said you loved me. And then you were my boyfriend-- as we turned twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two-- Ben Rector and Rocket Summer and long highway drives in between.


I still remember crying at twenty-three-- moving to different cities and wondering if you really wanted to marry me anyway. We learned how to deal with conflict and more miles and career decisions good and bad.


I still remember promising my life to you the year we turned twenty-four. And what followed were the pieces of laundry and arguments about dinner and backroads and windows down-- new jobs and a puppy and more kissing and fighting and being bad at cleaning and those same life decisions.


And then we were twenty-five, soon (too soon) to be twenty-six. And I remember all the bits and pieces of you and me at eighteen and twenty and today-- you growing up beside me. You becoming who you are and me the same. We grew up beside each other and you invade my memories of becoming. And all I know is that I’m so glad you were there.

on learning who you are.

It’s freeing to understand who you are.


If you’ve ever taken a personality test (like Meyers-Briggs)-- you know the insatiable satisfaction in reading a description of you. You nod-- yes, yes, yes-- to scenarios and traits that you thought made you crazy only to be deeply realized.


If you know Meyers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ-- an introvert often misinterpreted as an extrovert. Creative and emotional- living in a world in my head. My childhood obsession with planning out of my life on sheets of notebook paper now aligned with a personality trait that is future oriented, one that craves to plan and know the future, that feels anxiety with uncertainty, that craves to plan and know the future instead of resting in the Lord.


It’s freeing to understand who you are.


The last day of summer break I wanted to go sit by the lake and finish my book (and cry about it) all by myself. So that’s what I did. You’re allowed to do the weird thing that brings light to your soul. It’s a relief to realize I don’t have to go to festivals or bars or parties to have fun-- that solitude and sunshine are all that my own self needs to find joy sometimes.


It’s freeing to understand who you are.


And doubly beautiful to have friends that understand how you work as well. True, loyal friends have been the best part of twenty-five-- having raw conversations with friends of ten years that have seen you at your worst and still see you for your best potential. That are still along on the ride of becoming the better version of yourself-- and you for them.


It’s freeing to understand who you are.


If you haven’t found that freedom, fight for it. You deserve to stand boldly in the personality you’ve been bestowed upon by a God who giggles at the variances in humankind’s desires and loves the way we delight in a field of bright wildflowers.


Find that freedom and find yourself, you deserve it.

on blowing whistles. (2/30)


When I was sixteen, I was a lifeguard during the summer at a neighborhood pool. It was then that I was taught to prevent the things you wanted to avoid by watching with a vigilant eye. Stop the problems before they could happen. Blow your whistle. I knew CPR and how to strap a body to a stretcher and what how to pull someone out of the deep end properly. But I never once used those skills. Never once rescued anyone or jumped in the case of an emergency. Instead, I watched, waiting, daring something to stop out of place so I could stop it. Blow your whistle. Don’t let anything out of your watch, out of your control.

This is an extremely valuable skill as a lifeguard.

It is not as useful in real time, in real life.

You can’t blow your whistle at life and make the things you don’t want to happen around you stop. You can’t always be in control. I’m still learning this lesson-- slowly, painfully, but learning.

Four years out of college and life is nothing like I expected it to be. I’ve found myself in a constant battle between feeling content and caught. Wanting to change everything and settle into a rhythm at the same time. Often I feel like I’m treading water while seasons change around me. I want so badly to know what’s next-- and then to know if that will be “it”-- if I’ll move and buy a house and have a family in another city in another state. Or maybe I’ll stay here-- either way-- I’m watching vigilantly once again. Waiting to knock any unknowns off their course, while simultaneously waiting for something interesting to happen.

You can’t ask for adventure and fun while blowing your whistle at the first sign that you’re losing control. Step back in line. Head back to the shoreline.

The truth is-- I want to get rocked. I want a curveball thrown my way. I want to jump in the deep end of life and prove that I can handle it-- whatever the big, bold, and new is. But I just keep making sure everything is safe, blocking my own chance of adventure.

Maybe you’re doing the same thing. And maybe it’s time to learn that while learning to save others is important, you’re not the world’s lifeguard. You’re not your own lifeguard.

Honestly-- you just might not drown if you dropped the whistle.
And while it’s hard for you-- control loving child that you are-- that chance is worth the risk.