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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, Forgiveness, Identity, Redemption, Relationships


October 14, 2015


It may come as a shocker to you, but I am a hard friend to love. I’ll let you all take a moment to gasp a little at that thought. 😉 But seriously, I’m not always the easy friend in a group of people.

Naturally a little stand-offish and pretty opinionated, oftentimes I can come across as rude and unapproachable. My filter isn’t always very strong and sometimes even my most loving and gracious “encouragement” can come across as more of a lecture than a pep-talk. Know the type? Yeah, that’s me.

We’ve all got someone in our lives who’s “that friend.” The exhausting one. The Debbie-downer. The one who it feels more like work than a joy to to be around. The one who if you didn’t think it would be a total jerk move to do, you’d totally unfriend and unfollow them on social media. We all have them, and in truth, we might even be that friend ourselves.

What do we do when someone is difficult to love? Is every friendship worth the work? I know we don’t have to be friends with everyone, but how do we handle relationships with people who God has put in our path? Are some people just a lost cause?

About three years ago I would’ve said that some people just aren’t worth the work. Phrases like, “This is about as close as we’ll ever get” and “They just don’t want to know me or be friends with me” or “Forget them, I have other friends anyway” were common coming out of my mouth. I was very quick to dismiss anyone who wasn’t willing to put forth the effort I was and wrote it off as them just being stand offish and not friend material. Then I came out of the “I’ve been sexually abused” closet and everything changed.

For the first time in my life, I hungered for people to know me. I wanted people to see my pain and not only stand with me in it, but walk with me to see beyond it and find a new way of living. At the same time I was dealing with my crap, one of my dear friends was walking through the loss of a child. Her pain was far worse than my own, but her desire of being known was the same. Together we discovered something amazing.

To love well and to be loved well in return means to pursue the heart of another.

You see, I wanted so bad for people to see how I was hurting on the inside, but I was never going to show it on the outside. I needed to know that they were safe enough to entrust my fragile heart to. I needed to know that they cared for me not just when it was easy, but when I was at my most difficult to love. The only way I could know that was by them seeking out to know me and meet me where I was at.

Friends, we all carry secrets that create fortresses in our hearts. Wounds that build steel doors, keeping anyone at bay who may come too close. Yet it’s those very places that we want people most. Because those places of weakness, the places we hurt most, those are the places we need others. We just need someone willing to fight through.

That friend, the difficult one, she’s fighting a battle too. Her pain may run so deep that she has no idea just how fortified her heart has really become, and sadly, no one has ever tried to get in. So she keeps herself guarded, mean, and unapproachable not because she doesn’t want you as a friend, but because she doesn’t know how.

To be like Jesus to those around us means to press in, push harder, and love stronger even when there is never any return of the affection.

I’ve had a friend I’ve known for several years. She’s quiet and guarded. She’s so private with her emotions that I’ve only seen her cry once in the entire time I’ve known her. For many years I thought we’d never be more than casual friends, only discussing things like our kids and marriage. She was impenetrable and the only way we’d become closer was for her to change, or so I thought.

Last year I began to implement this idea of pursuing the hearts of my friends. She was my particular goal. I started slowly, just a simple text here and there letting her know I was thinking of her and praying for her. When we were together in groups, I’d make sure to invite her places and then let her know she was missed when she didn’t come. All the while on my own I kept asking God for an opportunity to let her know I loved her and wanted to love her well. He granted that prayer six months later over a cup of coffee.

While talking about a recent mission trip she had been on, I felt God give me a nudge to say something. I began by telling her how much I valued her as a friend. How I really was wanting God to use me to love my friends well and she was one of those. I told her how each of my friends needed love differently and so I asked her how I could love her better. What happened next was amazing.

We began to talk, I mean really talk, for the first time. She told me how I could love her better and what ways of approaching her or helping her would embarrass or make her uncomfortable and which ways would help. Then she said something that floored me. She said, “Heather, I really want to be known by people, I’m just not good at it. I need someone to help me.”

Ladies, that girl you find so frustrating, she wants to be known. That girl who you feel sucks the life out of you or never returns your kindness, she aches for friendship too. But maybe, like my friend, these girls aren’t good at it and they need someone who is willing to walk with them and help them break down those barriers to let someone in.

If Jesus Christ was willing to walk right into the depths of hell to claim our hearts, don’t you think we should be willing to do a fraction of the same for another?

Loving the unlovable is hard. It means loving simply because and not out of our desire to be loved back. It’s remembering that sometimes love means fighting for the heart of another, even if it doesn’t look like they want you to. It means drawing close when your instincts tell you to walk away. It means laying down your life, your needs, your wants, and loving simply because we are called to. I can say with full honesty that what comes out of that kind of love is something so wonderful and pure and holy that it is mind blowing. But you have to be willing to change yourself first.

How about today you put on those boxing gloves and go fight for the hearts of the unlovable. In time, you’ll set both your hearts free and discover the beauty of redeeming love.

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.

Faith, Identity, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

He Picked The Wrong House

August 19, 2015


Ever since I was a little girl I always fantasized about one day living in a red brick house with a fireplace and a staircase. Coming from Arizona where every house was brown and stucco and the seventy degree winters made fireplaces seem irrelevant, my little heart longed for the cozy homes I saw on TV.

The day I saw the house is one I’ll never forget it. We pulled up into the driveway, a beautiful summer day, and there it was. Strong, proud, and a brilliant shade of red brick. My heart was already racing at what we would find once we opened the door and looked inside. I was overjoyed as I walked through this beauty to see a perfect staircase and a glistening fireplace. It was my dream home. It was perfect. It was mine.

After we bought the house and moved in, we were rifling through a bunch of paperwork the previous owners had left behind when we found them. Pictures.

You see, our house was built in 1938 and we were only the fourth people to ever live there. The people who we bought it from had purchased the house from a woman who had called it home for over twenty years. But when they bought it, the house was, well, let’s say, in need of a facelift.

We flipped through the pictures, seeing the house as it once was, and were overcome. We couldn’t believe that the beautiful home we were standing in had once been so hideous….so hopeless looking. But here it was today, remade and so stunning.

As I sat in my counselor Al’s office last year, tears spilling out of my eyes, I kept telling him how I felt so hopeless…so broken. I couldn’t see how the abuse I had suffered and all the horrible life events that came from that could make me anything less than a mess of a lost cause. Sure, maybe I’d find a way to cope with the pain. Maybe I’d even find a way to forgive and heal a little. But I’d always be broken. I’d always be the girl who was molested.

He told me of a book called The Prince Of Tides. The book was the story of a man who had suffered terrible abuse in his youth and how as a man he was finally able to start dealing with the pain. In one particularly graphic part of the book there is a scene where the main character is getting raped by his abusers inside of his home. As it’s happening, he looks out the window to see his older brother standing outside with their pet tiger. He goes on to say, “In that moment, I knew that they had picked the wrong house.” The older brother then proceeds to bust into the house with tiger and kill all the abusers. End scene.

Maybe like I did, you’re feeling a little bit like an old, broke-down house. Time and pain has worn you down, and you feel like merely a shell of the person you once knew. You want so badly to be remade. To feel beautiful, hope-filled, loved, and even useful again. But the scars are too deep and you cant imagine how you’d ever arrive at that place.

When heartache comes to us, the enemy, he thinks he’s won. He thinks he’s finally found the thing that beat you. But listen in real close sweet friends because I have something to tell you:

He picked the wrong house.

Hearing those words, for me, was like taking breath for the first time in forever. He picked the wrong house. I was not the defeated one, he was.

Ladies, I know the days can seem dark. I know and have felt the consuming feeling that our sin and shame and hurt can have over us. I know how it clouds everything we see, making day seem impossible and night our constant. But I also know this: you and I, we are not lost causes.

Much like my house, we are empty and broken shells in need of someone to come in, clean us up and make us beautiful again. Yes, there will be work to be done. Walls will be knocked down, things will be cut and removed, but there will also be rebuilding. Because we have Christ, and if He is with us then no amount of chaos or harm or abuse the enemy could ever throw our way will knock us down. We are a house on a firm foundation.

My lovely friends, you are not hopeless. Do you hear me? That weight you’re carrying that seems so heavy will not take you down. That light at the end of the tunnel that feels dimmer and dimmer….it WILL come. Because you, yes YOU, are a daughter of God and that means no abuser or mistake or death or break up or self-harm or addiction can ever defeat you.


“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of theLord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

My house, much like myself, was once a lost cause. A place of desolation. But today, we both stand tall, stronger than we were before. The scars of the past still remain, but only as faded remnants against a colorful canvas. Do not give up dear sister. The Lord is with you and you will overcome.


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.

Faith, Identity

Who I Want To Be Or Who I’m Gonna Be

April 29, 2015



When I was five, we were asked to share what we wanted to be when we grew up at our kindergarten graduation. Me, with frizzy big hair and my semi-toothless grin proudly stated that I was going to be an artist. The confidence in which I conveyed this dream would have left anyone feeling certain I was about to be the next Picasso.

In fourth grade, I was once again asked to write an essay about who I wanted to be when I grew up. This time, I said an archeologist. I wrote of my vision to travel around the world discovering and naming new dinosaurs and foreign tribes, putting myself into the history books of tomorrow. It was quite the inspirational essay if I do say so myself.

In high school we were encouraged to select electives that would prepare us for hat we wanted to study in college. Seeing as I now wanted to be a nurse, I took anatomy and physical science. I was going to work with babies, maybe even do medical missions. I was a woman with a dream.

Here I am at age 33 and I am neither an artist, archeologist or a nurse. I never became the teacher, missionary, massage therapist, or counselor that I had also thought I’d be either. Life has a funny way of not taking us the places we had envisioned ourselves going.

Sometimes I look back at my life and wonder what would have happened if I had lived overseas for a year as a missionary or gone to get my masters degree after college instead of working. Would I have been happy? Would I have ever met Jeff or even been married at all?  The rabbit hole of what ifs is endless and one I’d rather not dive deeply into.

For two months this question of who am I has been swirling around in our little AGLM world. We’ve pointed out the significant and insignificant, allowing ourselves to see something deeper to the labels we give ourselves. Something other. Something that some might even say is holy.

But what’s the meaning of it all? What does it matter if I’m average or a storyteller or a bad dancer or dreamer or memory maker? Sure, it’s a part of me, but so are a lot of other things. So why the big flippin deal?

I was recently in Phoenix visiting my family and was out having coffee with my brother one day. We’re pretty close he and I, and often can turn the most stupid conversations into something deep and spiritual. I really like that about us because it allows me to know that God is in and a part of everything….even the small and the silly.

It was during one of these conversations that my brother said something incredibly profound to me. He said, “I’ve come to the place of realizing that there’s a big difference between who I want to be and who I’m gonna be. In order for me to become who I want to be, I have to be willing to take big and radical, sometimes even crazy steps with God.” 

If I had really wanted to, I could have been all those things I dreamed of becoming as a little girl. I could have taken art classes or studied science or gone to nursing school or taken a short term mission trip. But I didn’t. I went another way. Not necessarily the wrong way, just another way.

From the moment our lives are given over to God, they no longer become our lives. We are now a part of a bigger story- given a bigger purpose. The little quirks and personality traits that make us up are not just there to make us happy and fulfilled, they are meant to draw us further from ourselves and closer to the cross. In doing that, we meet a crossroads of who we want to become and who are going to become.

I think for a while I lived with delusion that if I just obeyed God and read my Bible and went to church, God was going to give me all I wanted and a life full of happiness. That every answer and season of growth would just be handed over to me on a golden platter from heaven with a note from God saying: “Here’s your future Heather, hope you like it. Love, The Big G.” Boy was I stupid.

In thinking about the things I am these last two months, it’s really helped me to see who I am not, but who I’d like to be. Sure, I’m a dreamer….but am I a dreamer willing to risk it all to follow the dream? Yep, I’m a navigator, but am I willing to let go of the reins and let someone else direct my course? If these things are meant to give me more of Jesus, what am I doing to help me achieve that? Or am I so caught up in me, that I miss Him completely?

I’m not sure where you’re at in life. Maybe, like me, you find yourself staring at that crossroad between want and gonna. Between the easy path of just going with what’s safe and secure or the radical one with great potential but a ton of risk. Maybe God is asking you to quit that job or ministry. Maybe you are meant to dump that boyfriend or stop hanging out with those toxic friends. It could be you’re feeling led to move away from home, go to a different college, confess that sin, get counseling, and simply just let go of the death grip of control you’re placing on your life and future. And my question to you, my sweet friend, would be…”Which way are you going to choose?”

I want to look back another thirty-three years from now with a smile on my face. I want to know that instead of choosing my comfort, I chose Jesus. I chose to do the work, even the painful ones, if it meant allowing my heart to be molded into Christ’s likeness. I want to say I did the nonsensical, the radical, the unsure and the unsafe. I want to feel with confidence that I did everything I could to move towards Christ in becoming not just who I want to be, but who HE wants me to be. Because any other life outside of that doesn’t seem like a life I’d want to have.

So, my beautiful AGLMers, what’s it going to be? Are you going to stay the girl you’re gonna be, or are you ready to become the girl you want to be. The choice is up to you.


Identity, Uncategorized

I am a Memory Maker

April 15, 2015

aglmblog3 (7 of 1)I am a photographer, journaler, doodler, sentimental keepsake keeper.

I have a box of journals dating back to my childhood, the pages filled with all the little and big life moments I deemed important. I kept notes and letters from friends and family, I have loads of photos and each one has a story I could tell to go with it. My childhood best friend and I went on a little getaway while I was in Colorado and spent the evening reminiscing over old notes to each other (written with gel pens of course), giggling over our KidPix obsession, and going through old photos. They were all filled with stories and memories that were evidence of a God breathed friendship that even 10 years apart couldn’t sever. I’m just sentimental to the point of probably keeping way more than I should, but I love stories. My stories and other’s stories.  I love remembering. Not dwelling on things but remembering how important this story is that God is writing.

I love to capture moments.

I am a reminiscer.

Oftentimes I wonder if my passions and love for these things is bad. I hang out with my minimalist friends and fight the panic in the back of my mind that I need to go throw all of my keepsake boxes away right now, because I have too much. I find myself wondering what they will think if they see my non-minimalsit house someday filled with walls of photos and bookshelves of memories. I read all these blogs and articles about how we should put down our cameras and I fight the guilt of knowing I constantly have either my camera or my phone camera in hand. I question if I am missing out on life because I am trying so hard to capture it. I wonder if what my natural desire is is wrong because society is telling me so.  I try to stop and remind myself that neither is right or wrong. I can learn a lot from my less sentimental friends, my more minimalist friends, but God has created me to love stories. It overflows to how I relate with people, how I desire to serve people and how I experience life fully.  I do understand that we need to be present in the here and now, we need to set aside distractions, however…when something is a natural passion and desire, the thing that makes you come alive, pursue it.  Capturing memories is a natural part of me. Even in those crazy times when things don’t go as planned I love to make a memory of it, to laugh through it and capture it, so it can be reminisced about later.  I love instagram not because it is social media but because in this season of my life I have been just too tired to journal (which is so sad), but it allows me to capture snippets and memories of everyday. I can capture those silly moments when things don’t go as planned, travel gets crazy and laughter takes over.  It allows me to look back and read through the short captions and remember where we were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago. Matt and I love looking through and being reminded of just how blessed we are, how God has brought us through so many ups and downs. Plus I love scrolling through other people’s stories.

Taking my camera out to capture nature, architecture and people on the street is a form of worship for me. It requires me to slow down and often stop to take time to look at what is in front me and capture the moment. It forces me to take everything in and acknowledge that I serve a great God.  Plus, most of the moments end up becoming fun memories. When we were wandering Paris my sweet husband was so patient, we would set up the tripod at night to capture the City of Lights and since each photo takes several seconds to shoot we could end up sitting there for an hour or more. Those moments forced us to slow down from our usual rushing to each site and just sit and really soak in where we were. Be present with each other and take in with wide eyes what an amazing setting God had brought us to.

Maybe for you it’s not capturing photos or journaling memories. Maybe it’s cooking. Mixing the ingredients together to create something that smells and tastes incredible. Maybe it’s building something, creating something, playing an instrument, organizing, etc. Sometimes God gives us gifts for us to enjoy and to use to give back worship to Him. He created us unique and individual to offer service and gifts to the world around us. So if you cook…take the time to do so, enjoy it fully, cook simply because it brings you joy, do it for yourself and do it to serve others. If you are gifted at playing an instrument, play. Play for yourself in a quiet room, enjoy it, do it as worship, serve other people with your gift. Whatever your gift may be instead of feeling like you should adjust to be more like so and so or fit into such and such group….use those gifts. Don’t allow them to become idols or distractions…instead use them as worship to the One who blessed you with them, use them to serve and bring joy to others. Those gifts and things that make you feel alive are part of you. They play a part in your identity.

Be you.

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am Average

April 8, 2015

kels (144 of 165)

As I was preparing what to write for our “Who Am I” series, to be really honest with you (which my goal is to always be honest with you), I really struggled to tell you who I am. I know that I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a student, a chocolate lover, a social butterfly, a coffee drinker,

But as I looked at my life I thought, I have nothing to catch people’s attention.

It seemed easier for me to write what I’m not than what I am. I am not the girl who gets asked to model or be in their fashion blog. I am not the girl to ask for cooking tips. I haven’t started a creative or successful business. I am not a great writer. I don’t have fancy handwriting (and the calligraphy classes won’t help me). I am not athletic. I wasn’t popular in high school. I have nothing “spectacular” to put on my resume. And I definitely don’t have any secret or hidden talents.

I am what the world would say is “average.”

And again, as I am really honest with you, I can tell you that I have always struggled with being okay with this.

Growing up to this day, I am always quick to admire a skill, talent, or job and I immediately start racking my brain on how I can get there too. When I was little and went to the ballet, I immediately thought, I can be that some day. When I heard a beautiful female vocalist at church, I immediately thought, I can do that and be like her! When I see a successful business, my first thoughts are, “What do I have to do to get there?!”

These hopeful and aspiring thoughts can last up to a good 24 hours and then they vanish when my brain starts kicking in and brings me back to reality.

As I was asking God to help me write this post, I asked him to give me transparency and his truth to encourage whoever reads this, but at the same time, I asked him to encourage me and help me to look past my “average”-ness and see who he wants me to be.

He said, “Be Faithful.”

I want to do BIG things. I want to change the world. I dream. I see opportunity, but right now, I have no idea what to do or who to be in this world. I ask myself, “How can I do BIG things when the world sees me as average and when I feel like right now I have nothing to offer?”

I just pray and wait. I am almost finished with 20 years of school and will have a master’s degree. The world tells me to run after success, gain status, and accumulate more and more money. But that doesn’t make my heart jump. That doesn’t seem satisfying. To say, “I am a successful woman,” may be what the world sees as above average, but that’s not who I want to be. I am not living for this world.

As I spend more time with the Lord, my heart changes.

I want to be faithful to my God.

When I read the Bible more, I learn that the women who God chose to use in big ways were by the world’s standards average, or maybe even below average.

  • Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was a very ordinary girl like us! Nothing special by the world’s standards, but God chose her to be the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ. (Luke 1)
  • Look at Esther, who also was just a very average girl, nothing special about her family except that her parents weren’t around, no successful career or path, but God chose to use her to save an entire nation! (Esther 2)
  • Look at Ruth, who lost her family, had no one to provide for her, no career path, yet God used her in a scandalous, remarkable way to be a part of the his plan for salvation, in the lineage of Jesus. (Ruth 1)
  • Look at Sarah, who doubted God when he told her his plan. She actually laughed at God because she thought, who am I that God could and would want to use, and God still used her despite her initial response to be the mother of the lineage of Jesus! (Genesis 18)

Do you see that these women who God chose to put in the Bible and to use as a part of his plan for salvation were just average, ordinary women?

They weren’t the popular, successful, talented-blogger type.

They sinned, doubted, feared, and questioned God. But they also listened to God and then were faithful to what God was calling them to do out of their ordinary lives. And God used them in His for story for eternity.

Whatever you think would make you “above-average”, whether it be a better body, more money, a popular blog or business, being accepted into a certain school, having a boyfriend or husband… all those things are very temporary and will never satisfy you, but being faithful to the task God has for you, wherever you are, is an eternal investment.

I am praying for you and myself that we can confidently say to the Lord while embracing our average-ness and during our ordinary days,

“I am faithful.”

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am A Navigator

April 1, 2015



I’m a terrible driver. I know it’s a total cliche to say that, but seriously, I suck. I can’t parallel park, back up, or drive a stick shift. I drive way too fast, and I get distracted way too easily. (More often than not it’s by my phone which is a massive no, no I know) I’m the girl that could potentially be so lost in my own world that I’ll get home and have no idea how I even drove myself there. Let’s just say, I’m not going to be winning any awards in this category for, well, like ever. However, in the world of driving there is one thing I am excellent at: navigation.

I am on point when it comes to directions. I can usually use directions once to get to a place, and from then on I’ll remember how to get there. I can read a map, and very rarely do I ever get lost. I am not one of those girls (cough, like my mom, cough) who somehow can only find her way by the landmarks around her. You know, like, turn left at the Burger King and then it’ll be just past the rock that looks like an elephant type of directions. I actually know where north, south, east and west are thank you very much.  I think in another life, I could have totally been some awesome sailor, getting my ship across the seas by only looking at the stars. Ahhhhhh…wouldn’t that be nice?!?

If I’m being totally honest with you though, sometimes my arrogance of being so good with directions turns me into a bit of nagging brat. I can’t tell you how many times Jeff and I have been driving somewhere and we’ll get into a tiff because I keep trying to tell him where to go.

“You need to get over.”

“You’re going to miss our exit.”

“Why are you going so slow?”

“You know, this way would be a lot faster.” 

I kind of get in this know-it-all mode- almost as though there is no other way to reach our ending point than the one I’ve laid out. So often, I find myself stressing about the path to our destination that I fail to enjoy the ride.

Isn’t this just like our journeys with Christ? It’s funny…I feel like I’m letting God be in control. I’ve given him the car keys, put him in the drivers seat, and even let Him start to drive the car. But as soon as we get on the road, my controlling navigator ways takes over and I begin barking orders.

“No, that’s not the way to my happy ending.” 

“Hey, you’re going way too slow. You really need to speed things up.”

“Umm…why are you going that way?”

“You know, this way would really make me a lot happier.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to navigate my journey. Grabbing the map of my life and redirecting it’s course. Funny thing is, much like in real life, I end up being more stressed and worried about the process that I simply am not able to sit and enjoy my life as it’s happening.

Maybe the path and life you have envisioned for yourself isn’t the road you find God taking you down. Maybe, like me, you find yourself looking at your GPS and trying to reroute and navigate yourself a shortcut. Maybe God is driving you away from that job or boy or college or friendship and you just cant help but think He’s got it all wrong. That his way is too long, too slow, and way too hard for you to go down. So we grip our maps tighter, scream a little louder into His ear and begin to demand that we are the navigator, so listen to us!

Friends, put down your maps. Turn off the GPS, shut off the google maps, and in the words of Elsa… LET.IT.GO. Yeah, His way may be longer. His way may not look as easy or pretty or full of all the things we think will make us happy and fulfilled. His way may be none of those things, but you know what it is? His way is better.

His way is the way to true life. You can’t just let God drive your car, you have to also let Him captain it.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve tried to steer things in my own course. Sure, there were happy moments. Moments I thought were some of the greatest I’d ever have. But they weren’t life-giving moments. The paths I navigated may have left me happy, but they never left me feeling alive. And when push comes to shove, I’d rather feel alive.

So let’s agree, shall we, to unclench our death grip to the outline we’ve made for our lives. Let’s instead, roll down the windows, put our feet up on the dash and enjoy the ride. Let’s get a little wild and embrace the excitement that can (trust me, it can) come from not knowing where the next turn will be. Because who knows, what’s waiting around that unknown corner might just be the best thing that’s happened to you. All you have to do is go.

God, Identity

I Am a Storyteller

March 25, 2015

kels (145 of 165)For as long as I can remember I have had an affinity for words.

Not just individual words, like, “Today I discovered the word splendiferous and now I want to use it all the time in everyday conversation.” (Though I really did come across that recently and have since tried to use it every opportunity I get.)

I’m more fascinated by what words can do when they are strategically ordered to form a song, a poem, a script, a prayer…heck, even a grocery list! But the power when those words become a story…now we’re talkin’.

I used to be obsessed with reading. I could get lost in a good book for hours on end. When I was younger I could be very persuasive in having my bedtime extended because I simply couldn’t stop at chapter 25 when Harry was just about to face Voldemort in chapter 26! And if I had a dollar for every time I got caught in bed with my book light under the covers at midnight…let’s just say I wouldn’t have college debt to pay off right now. As I got older, my dad would always tell me I was going to be a horrible navigator once I started driving – I couldn’t learn directions if I always had my nose in a book while in the car. He was right.

But I couldn’t help myself! My vivid imagination ran wild as I flipped each page. Each word came together to create a world that I could see and step right into. I valued the details. The big ones that built up the important parts of the story…and the little ones scattered throughout that just brought it all to life.

It didn’t take long for me to become quite the storyteller myself. Everything was a story. I’ve always joked that the biggest difference between my sister and I is that when asked, “How was school?” her answer was always, “Good,” – short and sweet – while I spent the next hour diving into what I ate for lunch, the hilarious thing my friend said in the hall, which teachers were actually cool and why, and how many times I got in trouble for talking in class (shocker). Every single mundane detail of my day was important to me.

Sadly, not everyone saw it that way.

For a while, any time I would start to talk to my friends, I would get things like, “How long is this going to take?”, “Is this the Reader’s Digest version?” or, “Ok, skip to the point.” There was eye rolling and laughter, all inserted under the safe bubble of sarcasm. But it wasn’t safe. It hurt. And it conveyed to me the message that there was something wrong with my attention to detail.

I let this get to me for a while. I tried desperately to change. I stayed silent a lot and wouldn’t contribute much to conversation.

But guess what?

I was miserable.

Details are a part of who I am. Storytelling is both a quirk and a gift. Sure, there are times when it’s a bit excessive. I realize that. And I do still try to reign it in when necessary 😉 But at the end of the day, I truly believe that the Lord made me a detail-oriented Chatty Kathy for a reason. I notice and appreciate the little things more than most people. And I value the intricate stories of others – I love to listen and discover what makes people who they are.

I’ve grown to understand the heart of God in such a unique way. He is the master storyteller. Maybe He could have summed up the Bible into a short article, but He didn’t. He gave us 66 books of very specific words, each word having a purpose. Sometimes the details seem irrelevant and we want to skim over them to “get to the point.” But think of your own story. He wrote that, too. How unexciting would our lives be if God didn’t include the little things?

Everyone has a story. It’s your testimony. And it’s still being written. There are big, climactic moments, and there are the “fillers,” the seemingly insignificant memories and happenings. All of which God is using for His Glory.

So let’s embrace the details! Because there’s nothing wrong with being a splendiferous storyteller 😉