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Community, Faith, God, Relationships

Let’s Talk About Boys

November 11, 2015



This might be the post that you have been waiting for all this time. What is a community series without talking about boys?!

This is not Top 10 Ways to Attract a Perfect Mate or How to Find a Godly Man or even How Nina Met Brendon (YET!). There are countless resources for believers on the topics of marriage and dating relationships, but what about plain ole’ male-female friendships?

Not only do I believe that it’s possible to be “just friends” with a guy, but I believe God designed that kind of friendship to grow us in a unique way. Aside from overgeneralized stereotypes, guys just operate differently than we do- in communication, in emotions, in probably more ways than we can understand.  Whether or not you are in a relationship, the only way that a friendship with a dude will work is mutual respect.

Talking about community with guys is simply just that… community with guys. Pretty sure half the planet is the male gender, so it will serve us well to learn how to be in healthy relationships with dudes.

Let’s leave out the romantic intentions, the let’s-just-be-friends-but-just-kidding-I-actually-want-you-to-like-me, because let’s be real, we’ve all been there. WHO’S WITH ME? Errrrrrrr, maybe I was the only high schooler who thought that?


How do we as women have appropriate, normal, awesome friendships with dudes?

How can we love them well?

How should I treat my “brothers in Christ”?


Although God has consistently blessed me with solid girlfriends and female mentors, I’ve always been surrounded by boys too. All of my mom’s best friends had sons, I grew up in a church where there were more guys than girls, played in a band in high school that was mostly guys, and now live on a bus with a bunch of dudes.

When I was an intern at my church in high school, there were pretty helpful expectations for the kind of time and space guys and girls spent together. To protect each other out of love, the staff and interns all abided by the standard of not being alone in a room with a person of the opposite sex with the door closed. A lot of the staff was married and there were a few of us that were single at the time, me included. This took away any potential awkwardness or weird situations between us. I honestly can’t remember any drama. Being a youth leader for middle school girls, I remember our youth pastor asking me to join when one of the girls needed prayer from him. When my band traveled to play a show while I was the only girl, our worship leader’s fiance would come so we could share a room. We functioned so well as a team and it was all deeply rooted in respect, not fear. I had Godly men as a healthy, secure part of my life. We could encourage each other openly.


I’m probably asking more questions than I am giving answers. This post is not a list of things that are allowed and not allowed between guys and girls. The church culture that I grew up around was helpful for my heart in understanding healthy guy/girl relationships and it made being on the road with a bunch of guys feel pretty normal. Throughout the course of our lives, different levels of intimacy with guys will change. When I had really close friendships with guys in high school, I didn’t have Brendon. Now that I have complete intimacy in marriage, I don’t have the same depth of relationship with other guys. It’s a natural ebb and flow in the river of time. Praying for wisdom on how to handle friendships with guys no matter what season we are in is the most mature thing we can do.

I am happily married to my forever guy. I am SO conscious of my friendships with guys- of intentionally never being in a situation emotionally, physically, and mentally that would compromise the integrity of my relationship with my husband. This will be important for our whole lives together. I also never want to unknowingly threaten another girls relationship with her guy. That would be weird/bad/ew.


We can honor the guys in our lives.

We can honestly encourage them.

We can celebrate the men we are in community with.

We can respect them.

Younger. Older. Whoever.


To wrap up our community series, it’s worth noting that as humans, as women, we want to know and be known by God and people. God intended to deeply satisfy our desire for community in Him because He IS community in the trinity. We are made in His image. Community on earth, with our best friends and those who are hard to love, community face-to-face and with the help of technology, community in the church and through transitions, is purely a gift. It’s dang hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. Here’s a tidbit from a book by Tim Keller that sums it up pretty well:

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

We love you girls! Thank you for sticking with us through this series as we navigated some unknown waters. As always, keep an eye out for what is next!

Community, Faith, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life

I’m the Only One

October 28, 2015

kels (134 of 165)

I was in high school. I just got my heart broken by the guy I “thought” I was in love with. My mom was going through intensive chemotherapy to fight breast cancer. If I did go to anyone to talk about my problems, it would be her…but there’s something that doesn’t quite feel right when you’re venting about your little problems to a loved one who is fighting for her life. (I know now, though, that my mom would never want me to think that way). I was on a traveling team for volleyball and gone almost every weekend. Naturally that meant I missed church, small group, and hanging out with any friends I had at school quite often. And lastly, I would straight up tell you that I wanted to live in any other country than America. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a missionary and my heart always seemed to be somewhere else…in a hut or tribe that I had never even been to. I felt depressed because, well, I was stuck in high school doing “worthless high school things” and thought there was no one else like me.

Flash forward to a conversation with a pastor who had always been like a father to me: I was glad to finally be talking to someone, and as I wept I spilled out these words: ”I’m the only one…

That day I learned that those four words are among the most dangerous that can come out of our mouths, let alone enter into our minds. Those four words are what Satan, our enemy, wants you to believe, and not AT ALL what Christ promises or wants for us.

Yes, there are incredibly hard circumstances that we all go through in our lives, but the exact thing that the enemy wants us to feel in those downcast, burdened times is that:


1. You are the only one who has ever on the face of the earth gone through this and felt these emotions.

2. You are alone in your struggle.

3. There is no hope.


The only thing to do in addressing this state of mind of self-centeredness (yes, it took me a while to admit to and call it what it was) that we are so prone to wander into, is to be washed over and cleansed by TRUTH. We have to learn how to address the enemy’s lies about being lonely and outcasts, and proclaim God’s truth over them. I have laid out a few for you below and challenge you to ask God to help set your mind on HIS words rather than the enemy’s.

We may be tempted to say “I’m the only one…” but God says, “I AM THE ONE” that you need. God knows us and loves us. We are never alone because God is ALWAYS with us. He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.

The point is not to have another person who you can perfectly relate to. The point is that God did not intend for us to do life alone. You have to be intentional about reaching out not only for the sake of yourself but also for the goal to glorify God in whatever you’re going through. His strength is made perfect in us, sharing in our weaknesses.  God is bigger than your present problems and if we are open to it, He WILL teach and transform us into more mature, godly women.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


“You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you.”

Psalm 139



FullSizeRender-1-1Ashton lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband, Hank Murphy. They work and serve at the Summit Church in Durham, NC. Ashton is originally from northern California and moved here 2 years ago. She loves traveling the world on mission for the gospel, getting coffee with Allison, painting and creating beauty in spaces, cooking delicious food, nannying a lot of cute kids, and spending time with Hank.

P.S. Allison wrote this on behalf of Ashton as they were once roommates before they married their husbands :-)

Community, Faith, Family, God

As we face transitions

September 30, 2015
fair traveler with vintage suitcase at the station

fair traveler with vintage suitcase at the station

I want to take a second before this post to say, I have missed you ladies! 

This summer held All. The. Things.  The first week of June my older sister had her third baby, making me the happiest aunt to three you ever did see.  Immediately after, I was forehead deep in sports camp and vacation bible school and sleep-away camp and “water olympics”… all the joys of working in full-time Children’s Ministry. 

Then, in August, my sister and brother-in- law filed for divorce.  There have been so many tears and late nights as my family figures out what comes next.  We are living in the “just take the next right step” season, and if I’m being honest… it’s not my favorite.  

I haven’t written about it, in fact, I haven’t written about anything lately.  So while I am so excited to get back into this blog, I am also nervous.  Sharing about community hits close to home.  Community has both kept me near the cross and discouraged me tremendously the past few months.  

I hope you will find grace in these words, and if you’re going through a season of hardship I pray you are surrounded by a community of believers who keep you near the cross.  


The number of times I’ve moved in my life. Two were byproducts of my dad changing jobs and transferring locations.  The others were my choice, like going to college or moving to Nashville, or leaving for the World Race.  You might remember from this post, I love change and newness.  No one signs up for a mission trip to eleven countries in eleven months if you cringe at the word change.

Life is full of ending and beginnings and community is no different.

Some are planned and calculated, some are abrupt, and some are the natural progression of life.

Each move and transition brings with it incredible opportunities for community.

Each season also boasts the incredibly difficult tasks of re-defining community and the frightening reality of being honest, vulnerable and transparent with yet another group.

I will be the first to admit that at times I am paralyzed by the thought of new community.

In fact, I actually had a conversation with a teammate month three of The World Race, that went something like this::

ME: I’m not really here for “community” I have my community back home in Nashville.

TEAMMATE:  Are you kidding??! why would you come on something like this if you didn’t want to build community?

ME:  I’m just good, I’ve got “my people” already, I’m not on this thing to make friends, I’m here to help people.


It is nearly impossible, and guaranteed destructive, to travel the world with a group of amazing people and insist on not creating community with them.

Obviously, my stance on community changed.
Lovelies- God did a work in my heart, allowing for community.

He allowed for honesty and vulnerability to tether us together.

The women I traveled with were His provision and portion.
They were my sounding boards and accountability and advocates.

They were my strength some days and pains in the neck others.

I would not trade them for anything!

Today, we live forever away from one another.

We will most likely never all be in the same room again.

But every memory, and prayer, and tear, and joke from that season, intricately holds the seven of us together.

You have women in your life who will be there forever.

Sisters, mothers, cousins, BFFs…

and you have women in your life who will be there for a season.

Community will look different as you go to school, and travel, and date, and get married.

Teams and clubs and groups are fluid and it takes a whole lot of grace to navigate community well.

My prayer for us this morning is that we will look at the community in our life as daily bread.  I pray we will be the body of Christ to those in our life TODAY.  I pray for the courage to be vulnerable one more time, with one more person.

And I pray especially, for those of us in the middle of turmoil, help us to ponder in our hearts the many ways you show your love in our lives. Open our eyes and our hearts to the community keeping us near the cross during this time.

Community, Faith, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Theology

Community In Us

September 23, 2015


This morning, the sunrise was radical.

The way the clouds stretched across the dark sky felt like the red velvet curtain in a theater was about to bust open.

The surface waters of the Atlantic reflected every speck of light that began to break over the horizon.


I could see it all.

The land stirring with dawn’s creatures under my feet.

The waters full of life only feet away.

The sky full of stars that seemed to be so close.


Dolphins searching, birds in formation, my family close, track of turles that had come up the beach where their mother’s had laid their eggs decades earlier- community was all around.


God created community.

God loves community.

God is community.


When we are unsure of what community looks like for ourselves, we have the perfect example in God Himself- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


God is the perfect image of community, and you may have heard the radical grace in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image…” Right from the start, we see that we are created BY community FOR community.


So we can’t talk about being in relationship with other people without being clear of the relationship within us. We can’t try and figure out community between us and other people without knowing how we are wired.


The need for community around us is fed by the Community within us.


Dear believer in Jesus, dear girl who has admitted your need for a Savior, the Holy Spirit is inside you. The Holy Spirit, God in community, lives in all believers of Jesus.


“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14


At the end of Jesus’ life and ministry, he gifts us with the Holy Spirit to guide and counsel us. He even says that for now, we are “better off without Jesus”.


So how are we to be in community with God the Holy Spirit? Maybe I should have written a disclaimer at the top that said that this is not a Buzzfeed ‘Top 5’ list of ways to be closer to God or to know the Holy Spirit. I like simple and let’s be real—it’s Wednesday morning and you’re probably either reading this at work or on your phone under your desk at school (girrrllll I do it too!). There are a lot of other things that need your attention right now. So one thing to know better who the Holy Spirit is in us:


The holy, perfect, relevant, comprehensive word of God, the Bible, is the premier way of being in community with God. We can study Scripture. Meditate on it. Pray it. Read it out loud alone. Read it with other people. Check out Acts 2 for the picture of the Holy Spirit coming to Earth after Jesus ascended to heaven.


Ask God to help you understand how to engage in the community that He has already put around you. After all, God has community in Himself and we have community with God. The only way we can have true community and deep relationship with other people is because of the Holy Spirit living in us.


The Fellowship of the Believers

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Community, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Worth Fighting For

September 9, 2015

IMG_5479 copy

“Hi, my name is Chelsea and I’m a people-loving, complete-opposite-of-shy, social butterfly and expert conversationalist.”

A year ago, that big mouthful is exactly how I would have described myself. I’d call myself an extreme extrovert who can talk for days and make friends with strangers. I would have confidently stated that large crowds don’t intimidate me, and new people and places are what make me come alive. And I fully believed this to be true.

That is, while I was living in my comfort zone and community was handed to me.

I grew up in a small town, small church, small school…everyone knew everyone, and friends were always easy to find and close by. As I moved on to college and then working with a ministry, my community was chosen for me – roommates, classmates, co-workers.

You see, I’ve never known what lonely feels like. Community was easy for me. It was something I never had to work for or be intentional about. It was always just there. At my disposal. Someone else cultivated community for me and I was just a pawn with a success story.

Then I moved. All by myself. To a brand new city. Where I knew only a few people. I’ve come to realize that now that I have to work for community, I’m more shy than I ever thought. I don’t want to visit churches by myself. I get too nervous to strike up a conversation with the girl sitting next to me at a coffee shop. I hesitate to share too much of my life with new people because I’m suddenly insecure.

So for a while I just kept to myself, hoping that the next time I walked into the grocery store I would randomly meet someone who would randomly invite me to go do some random thing somewhere sometime. I didn’t know how to build community, so I was kind of just hoping that it would find me.

But here’s the thing – sitting at home watching Netflix and waiting for new friends and weekend plans to appear out of nowhere will not satisfy our innate need for relationship anytime soon. The truth is, you are never going to find true community if you’re not actively looking for it.

…Ok. So maybe the Biebs was onto something when he said, “never say never”…I guess it is possible for community to come to you, for you to be in the right place at the right time, or for a complete stranger to reach out. Possible…sure. But likely? No. That’s not quite a reliable community-building plan.

So what do we do? How do we create community?

  • Church is probably the best place you can start – There’s something about a church family that just doesn’t compare to any other community. If you don’t have a church, find one! Ask a friend if you can join them some Sunday, or ask another friend who doesn’t have a church home either to start trying out churches together! Whatever it takes, make it a priority to find a place to get plugged in, and then get involved in the groups, events and activities your church offers!
  • Embrace the community right in front of you – You’re surrounded by people at school, the gym, your favorite coffee shop, work, your neighborhood…talk to them! Take time to get to know the stories behind the faces you see every day.
  • Remember to do life with people – Because that’s the point of community, right? To do life. Side by side. As Heather explained, we were never meant to do it all alone.
  • Invest in the relationships you have – We don’t deserve friendships; they are a gift. And gifts aren’t meant to be neglected, they’re meant to be cherished and enjoyed, cared for and well-loved.
  • Spend quality time with friends – I don’t mean texting each other from across the room or going to a movie and not talking. Take time to pay attention to the souls in front of you and love them well. Make the effort. They’re worth you’re time.
  • Get real – Let your walls fall, and fight every urge to build them back up. Dig deep. Bear your heart. Share your highs and lows, hopes and dreams, struggles and fears, the good, bad and ugly…laugh from your belly, let out a good ugly cry, and pray together. Remember, to have a friend, you have to be friend! Take the time to hear what’s on their heart, too.

And if you remember nothing else, remember this: Community isn’t about you. The focus shouldn’t be on what you’re going to get out of it. It’s about becoming more like Christ through serving and loving those around us.

Philippians 2:1-11 tells us the point is to be selfless and humble, valuing others above ourselves. Why? Because that’s exactly what Jesus did when he “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (v. 7). He didn’t have to reach out to us. He didn’t have to serve us. And he certainly didn’t have to die for us. But he did. Not because he was getting anything out of it. Not because we deserved it. But because he believes our hearts are worth fighting for.

So let’s join the fight. Let’s fight for community and serve our friends. One way we’ve started doing that on the AGLM team is with Friend Fridays! You may have noticed on some of our posts on social media we’ve hashtagged #FridaysAreForFriends. On Fridays we try to serve a friend in some way. Maybe that means bringing them coffee. Maybe we help a friend with a project. It could be anything! It just helps us remember to take the focus off of us and devote that day (or some part of it!) to someone we care about and show them they’re loved.

Now we want you to join in! As we go through this community series, be thinking of ways you can reach out to friends, old and new, and serve them. Show them you want to be in community with them! Invite them to go on an adventure with you. Bake them a special surprise and drop it off at their house or work with a note to encourage them. Get creative! Fridays are for Friends…but they can also be so much fun for you, too. And make sure to share you’re Friend Fridays with us! Post a picture or story, tag us and hashtag #FridaysAreForFriends. If you have an encouraging story once you try out our challenge, email us! You may see it on the blog!

”And so, my fellow AGLMers: ask not what your community can do for you – ask what you can do for your community.” (In the words of JFK…loosely adapted, of course 😉 )

God, Redemption, Relationships, Spiritual Life


September 2, 2015

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” 

           -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you know me by now, you know one thing to be true: I love relationship and community. I love the life that comes from broken people coming together in their brokenness and standing with one another right where they are at. There is nothing more life-giving nor more humbling than the act of friendship.

For some of you community and relationships come easy. You’ve always been THE friend-the one getting asked to hang out and never the one sitting alone binge watching Netflix on a Friday night. Then there are those of you who are like me where building community is work. You’re not a difficult friend necessarily but you often feel like no one would hang out with you if you didn’t ask them to. Then there are others of you who feel like you have no community at all and you’re left wondering if God and society has decided your just not friend material. Whoever you are and where ever you land on the spectrum, this series is for you.

In looking back through scripture we can see that the overarching theme God weaves is one of relationship. God with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God with us, and us with one another. We were made to be in relationship. It is essential to our lives and no matter how stubborn or resilient you think you are, everyone needs friends. The issue that we often find ourselves in, is that when it comes to nurturing or developing a relationship, we often fall short or mishandle it.

There is a great irony about living in community. To live in true community is to allow ourselves to be known by another. Being known is something that each of us desperately wants, yet something we are also incredibly terrified of. There is where our problem exists. How do we free ourselves from the fear of being known so that we can embrace the joy of being known. This is something that we hope the next few months will help to clear up for you.

So how about we make a deal with one another, ok? Let’s promise right now that we are going to toss out the playbook we’ve made on friendship and start fresh. That means casting aside our expectations, our past hurts, our pride and what we think we know it means to love others well. Instead, how about we open our hearts and minds to a new way of thinking. A way that’s going to mean dying to our selfish entitlements and need for rightness or validation and humbling ourselves to the idea that just like most things, we have no clue what we are doing.

No man is an island girls. Good or bad, life is meant to be lived with one another. So let’s do just that. My hope is that by the end of this series you’ll know not only just how loved you are by us and others, but just how much Jesus loves you as well. Strap on your seat belts girlfriends, it’s about to get crazy up in here.

Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life


August 26, 2015

Good morning, girls!

I hope you are, like me, no longer mourning that summer is over because I know it’s a hard reality to accept after summer! But good news! September is almost here. That means football, fall, scarves, everything pumpkin, beautiful trees, and also AGLM new series begins! We have been planning, praying, and really preparing for our series on Community this fall. Next week we will officially begin, but I wanted to give you a week to prepare your hearts as well for what you will be hearing from us as we lean on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I am challenging you during your #AGLMmorning to read the passage below over and over. Highlight, look it up in commentaries and different translations, ask God to enlighten these words to you in a deeper way than ever before, and pray that he will speak to you personally in our series on Community!

And as always, we would love to hear from you!

All our love,

Allison, Heather, Kelsey, Steph, Nina, and Chelsea

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11


Faith, Family, Fear, God, Spiritual Life

Trail to Lake Louise

August 12, 2015

IMG_0951Lake Louise is a dream.

It’s a collection of glacial runoff in British Colombia that seems to glow a blue light. When I stood on the shore to take it in for the first time, my little eyeballs couldn’t quite process the beauty. It looked like an enhanced, 2D postcard.

About a year ago, my parents decided to spend part of last summer in Canada exploring as a family. My brother and I knew my mom had been set on seeing Lake Louise in her lifetime ever since she saw it in a magazine YEARS ago. So we packed hiking boots and Clif bars galore. Our days were filled with early morning walks around the lake, hikes through the woods, rock climbing, and trying to find local pubs for dinner to escape the other tourists.

And then came the Alpine Hut. Along the ridge of the Canadian Rockies, there are a series of huts and only the most serious mountaineers make the ascent to the huts to stay overnight. No electricity, plumbing, or food access because they’re on ancient glaciers. So naturally, my mom signed us up.

Kyle was our guide.

He lived in a cabin in the forest and didn’t have a cell phone.

He wore the same clothes for three days and smelled like the earth.

His main occupation was repelling out of helicopters to rescue hikers that were stranded in the mountains.

We felt taken care of.

We met in a parking lot one morning, stuffed warm clothes, sausage, and water bottles into our packs, and started walking. There was a general direction that everyone took to get to the hut, but no obvious trail. Hours and miles and hours and miles later, we see the sandy colored shell of a shelter stand out against the white ice surrounding it. That night we collected water from the glacier to drink, pooped in a bucket for a helicopter to eventually pick up, slid around on the ice as the sun went down, and sat around the wood stove after dark. We wore all the clothes we brought and huddled together on the plywood shelf that was our bed to stay warm at night.

There was something about the silence that made the cold night feel like home.

There was something about how the starlight came through the window of the shelter that taught me about the ever-presence of God.

Also, Kyle snored like a beast from somewhere across the room.


When the morning came, I was intimidated.

From how freezing my body was.

From how the others staying in the hut were gathering ice picks to continue their journey.

From how my muscles were sore from the day before.

From how this trip with my family was the last before I became a wife.

I wished for a shortcut to the parking lot where the car was parked and was dreading the trail down the mountain. The sky felt only feet away because the haze was thick and the snow was coming down. We sat looking out the window waiting for a break in the weather. It never came so we started anyway. Kyle went first.

Where the rocks were slippery from the snow, he gave each of us a hand to where conditions were safe. Where we had to cross the river that had risen overnight, he built up a few stones so we could cross.

Where there were gaps between the boulders that were too wide to jump, he went before us and would grab each of our arms when we stumbled across. Even my strong Colombian dad had to rely on someone else’s strength at different times.

It was so much easier to cross the risen river and take a step a bit too far for comfort from rock to rock knowing that someone was going to make sure I didn’t fall.

As we descended from the high altitudes and our bodies warmed up, God informed my heart that in the same way Kyle helped me, He was there. After that trip, I was about to step into a year of transition and was asking God for sure-footedness for the trail ahead. I didn’t know if I was “ready” to be married, or “qualified” enough to graduate college, or “sure” about where He was calling me to work.

He told me to step intentionally with Him, but keep stepping, to know that He was there and His glory was in the present and future. In life with Jesus, the confidence that He always goes before us is enough to take a step. He knows the trail ahead. He has been there day and night and says it’s okay to continue when we are unsure.

…if God is for us, who can be against us?

[romans 8:31]

So many of my interactions online and in person with girlfriends, obviously including AGLM ladies, are about how you’re not sure what’s ahead. What is God going to do with your life? Where does he want you to go to school? What job should you work? Who should you marry? I’ve asked Him EVERY single one of those questions and a million more. This is what the Bible says:

rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you

[1 thessolonians 5:16-18]

But wait?! That’s so simple! God knows that when we stop rejoicing, forget to communicate with Him, and quit being thankful, our eyes wander and our hearts grow weary. May we be courageous women to take a step and know that He is there.

There is nowhere that God hasn’t already been.

To the most extreme, He willing took the cross to defeat death.

And offer us life with Him.

In the striving. In the pressure. In the steps that feel too far, He is there holding out a hand.

I’ll take any risk when I know God is the firm foundation on which I stand.


Faith, God, Spiritual Life

Making the Audition

August 5, 2015

aglm (1 of 1)

I stood there waiting to walk in, willing my nerves to calm themselves so the nervous trembling I felt on the inside wouldn’t be visible outwardly. I watched as other girls bounced around confidently, clearly not worried one bit about what we were walking into. The number pinned to my back was scratchy and stiff and my unruly hair threatened to popped out of it’s confining bun, despite the pack of bobby pins and can of hair spray used to contain it. I felt out of place.

Here I was, walking in to audition for the Nutcracker. When I was five my parents took me to see the show for the first time and to this day I remember exactly what I was wearing and how excited I was.  Here I was about five years later watching it again, but this time it was my own studio performing one of the most attended Nutcrackers in Colorado. I sat in the audience in awe, watching the dancers tell one of my favorite Christmas stories, all dressed in beautiful costumes, and dancing without a flaw. There was sense of pride and ownership that welled up in me, knowing I was a part of something so excellent and I wondered if maybe someday, I too would have a chance to be on that stage.

As we were beckoned into the studio, all matching in our black leotards, pink tights, and high buns I glanced back at my mom who gave me a comforting, “you’ve got this” smile and I felt a little more confidence begin to rise.

I danced with all my might that day, half the time feeling totally lost and behind in the choreography, feeling like I must look like the awkward duckling trying to keep up.  I couldn’t believe it when I received the news that I had been put through and given a part. I was ecstatic…..until I found out what part. It was a part I knew well, because it was one of my favorite scenes, I loved how light hearted and fun it was….but I couldn’t figure out why in the world I was chosen. There was one thing I absolutely could not do during the audition that this piece required…..I couldn’t cartwheel. Not even a little. It was not a pretty site. I went to my first rehearsal stressed and confused as to how and why I was there, maybe they had mixed up my number with someone else and I would show up only to be embarrassingly dismissed. But no, there was no mistake. We jumped right in and before I knew it we were being told to all cartwheel, together, in a line, without kicking each other and land in the splits. BAHA. yeah right. After my first attempt and unfortunately almost injuring the girl next to me, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was humiliated. I was frustrated. This was not what I had dreamed. This wasn’t the beautiful experience I wanted. I was going to ruin the show because I was the only kid I knew who never learned how to cartwheel.  The ballet school’s director had been making the rounds to check on everyone and happened to witness the situation. I managed to make it through class and as soon as it was over and my mom asked how it went I lost it. The tears flowed and I felt like a failure. The director, who was your typical Ballet director (older, wise, rigid posture, strict) approached us. It’s one of those moments that will always hold an important place in my life’s journey. She looked me in the eye and with the kindest, but strongest confidence told me that she knew what she was doing when she placed me in that part. She knew I was not ready or fully trained for the position, but chose me because she knew I could battle through the challenges and come out a stronger, better dancer at the end. She explained that the performance only becomes beautiful, because of the passion and blood, sweat, and tears to create the raw emotion and skill which results in a beautiful, flowing, performance.  It was the journey that gets us there….the months and months of rehearsing every weekend, of sacrificing our social lives, facing injury and physical pain, and becoming more well rounded individuals both on and off the stage. She knew for me a silly thing like a cartwheel would be one of those challenges, especially when I was the only one unable to perform the task.

Knowing that someone believed in me, saw potential in me, trusted me to not totally screw up their beautiful end performance; someone who valued the journey and saw that a phenomenal piece of art wasn’t possible without the emotions leading up to it, was beyond humbling and motivational. It gave me the confidence to take on the challenge. You better believe I spent that whole summer practicing….I cartwheeled until I was covered in bumps and bruises and until I could cartwheel and land in splits perfectly every time.

It was one of the first tangible glimpses for me of what it means for God to use us despite ourselves. It was the first time the pain and trials in life seemed to have a purpose and didn’t feel so much like doomsday.  So often we are called to things we are unqualified for. Moses was not a speaker or leader, but God called him to be just that. So often I find myself wondering why God is calling me to do certain things, why me when there are so many others who are more prepared, better trained and able to face the challenges? Why is He allowing the challenges, trials, bumps and bruises along the way?  Knowing that God chooses to create us to be a bigger part of His beautiful story, chooses to use us despite ourselves and our lacking qualifications, should gives us that motivational nudge to push through, face the battles and strive to be the best us we can be…to transform our hearts. Instead of blaming God for our grievances and sorrows, to be at peace knowing He grieves with our hurts, but sees the bigger picture and knows our coming joys as well. Without the pains and trials, we don’t have the beautiful vulnerability and emotion to relate with each other, the pains that lead to a heart wanting to serve the broken hearted…it should be an honor and held with great responsibility to be a part of such a stunning journey, part of such a huge story, to be entrusted with facing such important challenges.


Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

When I Grow Up

July 15, 2015

kels (63 of 165)When you’re little, everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

You say things like…
A vet.
A gymnast.
A princess.
Or whatever mommy does because she’s the coolest person ever.

Now everyone knows what kind of toys to buy you for Christmas and what the theme of your birthday party will most likely be. Because that’s all that matters when you’re 5.

Then you reach high school, and you’re expected to be more specific and realistic and map out life after graduation, even though that’s so. far. away.

So you say things like…
A journalist.
A marine biologist.
A chef.
Or a reality tv star, because if Snooki can get rich quick that way, so can you.

Now you’re going to change your mind 37 times because no one seems to understand that you can’t decide what you want to eat for lunch, much less what you want to do with the rest of your life.

Then one day you wake up, and all of a sudden you’re 22 and you have no idea where your life is headed.

That’s exactly where I found myself a few months ago. The day I thought would never come…came.

Adulthood sprung up on me, and despite all the preparation, I wasn’t ready for it.

I was living with my parents with no rent and no real responsibilities. I was settling for a part-time job and putting my dreams and goals on hold. I knew I wanted to be in ministry. But when it came down to picking a path, I realized that’s a very broad area of interest, and I didn’t know how to narrow it down. So I stayed stuck.

Until God said, “Move to Nashville.”


On one hand, I was STOKED. I love Nashville. There’s just something about the area that has always made me feel (dare I say) at home. And I’m all for adventure and travel, so in theory, it sounded like a great idea to me!

But on the other hand, I was extremely confused. Because that’s all God gave me. Just a destination. He left the rest of the details completely unknown. Like where I would live, how I would support myself, and what my purpose there would be.

Despite my confusion and questions, though, I had this insane amount of peace and confidence that one way or another, Nashville was where I was supposed to be.

So I did it. Less than a week ago, I packed up my life and I made the long one-way trip to Tennessee. God provided temporary living arrangements…but I still need a place of my own. He provided a part-time job…but now I’m going to have bills and just a few hours a week isn’t going to cut it anymore.

So now I’m apartment hunting.
And job searching.
Trying to meet people.
Looking for a church.
Making a life of my own.
As an adult.
And I don’t have a CLUE what I’m doing.

It’s scary.
It’s intimidating.
It’s overwhelming.

Man, if you only knew the amount of tears I’ve cried this week, over goodbyes and finances and confusing circumstances and just not knowing.

And in all of that the only thing I can do is run to Jesus.

It’s in these weak, vulnerable moments with Him that I hear His truth so loud and clear.

So I want to invite you into the pages of my journal, into a conversation I had with God recently that started with questions and doubts and ended with a renewed confidence:

It’s times like these, when You’ve taken me out of my comfort zone, when I have to decide…do I still trust You? Do I still believe You are who You say You are – Provider, Protector, Comforter, Father? Can I still cling to Your promises? Are You still bigger than my problems?

Yes. The answer to all of that is Yes. I know You have brought me here for a reason. You will never leave me or fail me (Deut. 31:6). Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). I don’t understand any of this right now, and it scares me. I hate not knowing. I’m so uncomfortable with not knowing. But I’m not supposed to know everything. All I need to know is that You are good. And that You have plans to prosper me, not to harm me – to give me a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). You have promised me this. You never promised me an easy transition or all of the answers. You only promised to love me, and that is enough.

I’m 22 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And that’s okay. I don’t need to know. My calling right now is just to be obedient one day at a time. And I know I’m not the only one. Whether you’ve just entered high school, graduated college, or are in between jobs, you’re probably faced with a lot of the same questions, and maybe a lot is still unknown. But remember who is in control of it all. He has a purpose for the season He has you in. There are lessons to be learned and preparations to be made before we can enter into new, bigger, more exciting seasons. It’s a process. But the journey is important and worth it. The journey thus far has made you who you are right now. And the journey ahead will make you who you’re meant to be.