the good, the bad, and the instagram…

October was a wild month. Debriefs, weddings, reunions. I was gone more than I was home. I packed, and unpacked, and packed again. I flew 6 times and slept in 5 different beds.

I loved every minute of it.

I went from a chilly, rainy debrief in Ecuador to a hot, sweaty debrief in Guatemala. I went from one wedding dance floor to another. I road-tripped, repelled down waterfalls, played volleyball on a black sand beach. I ate mayonnaise on corn (…when in Ecuador) and had the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

more, please?

more, please?

I laughed harder than I have in a long time.

There was the time a group of us girls visited a natural hot springs in Ecuador. We didn’t have bathing suits, so we rented some (…apparently it’s a thing.) The lady tossed us bikinis that were way, way too small. Like, inappropriately small. “Um, más grande?” I said with an accompanying gesture. She motioned back at me that it was fine.

It was not fine.

But that didn’t stop us. We squeezed into the itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis, put on the required swim caps and laughed our way into the crowded hot springs.

We didn’t last long… it was too hot.

There were the nights in Guatemala I spent having “retainer talk” with my squad leaders before we fell asleep. We laughed so loudly I wondered if we would get in trouble.

There was Texas, where I ate one of the best meals of my life and then felt sick from laughing so hard afterward.

October was full of belly laughs, good food, travel and adventure.

That’s what you would see on Instagram (if I had one.)


oh la la

But as we all know, that’s not the full story.

This month was also filled with hurt, pain, and grief.

I anticipated moving out of the house where I lived for the last few years would be hard, but actually living out that hardship is a different story. Letting go of safety, security, comfort and familiarity is easier said than done.

It makes you feel raw and vulnerable. Exposed and uncomfortable.

I know I’ve had things to process these past few weeks, but the weight of it felt too much. Especially amidst the coming and going. “I’m avoiding.” I wrote one of the few times I cracked open my journal. I worried that if I opened up my heart on paper, my hand wouldn’t be able to keep up. So why even try?

I knew I would have to face my feelings sooner or later. Tonight, I sat on a friend’s bed and let the words and tears spill out. The hurt, the pain, the grief.

“What’s confusing is I feel both joy and sorrow,” I told her. “It would be easier to just feel one thing.”

I came home to more tears and more words (6 pages on a Google Doc so my hands could keep up with my heart) and now this blog.

It’s good to process, to release tears and fears and feelings. But processing doesn’t shortcut the journey. I still need to wake up and face the day and figure out life in this new context. It will take time. It won’t be easy.

Tears and laughter, joy and sorrow… and so the story goes.


Bring it on, November…

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on moving, memories, feelings, etc.

By the time I post this, I will no longer be a resident at The House with the Yellow Door.

I moved here two and a half years ago, when spring was just beginning to wake up in 2013. I was in Cambodia when the move took place, so I left the country with my room packed up in boxes and came back to them scattered around this house.

It’s been a wild ride ever since.


Out of the original 6 of us that moved in, only Chris, Holli and I remain (…until tomorrow, when I move out.) The others are now in Washington, Arizona, South Carolina. I’m not going to another state – I’m only going 5 minutes down the road. But it still feels like everything is about to change.

I don’t know how to wrap words around the last 2.5 years. This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I moved out of my parents house at 18. I truly thought the next time I moved would be when I got married.

I was wrong.

The decision to move out was made in April. There were a lot of factors that played into it. My roommates and I sat in the living room and discussed all the moving pieces. It was tense. I wept.

I also knew it was from God.

After the decision was made, I put on my tennis shoes and went for a run. I wanted to exhaust my body to match my emotions.

I came back and wrote in my diary, “Tonight, my heart is broken. Again. How many times can a heart be broken? One day I’ll count and let you know.”

Life continues to perplex me. And amaze me. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a feeler because I can hardly handle all the feelings, all the time. Fear, hope, grief, joy… they drive me crazy.


It’s my last night in this house and I’m flooded with memories…

Sleeping in Hannah’s room the first week I lived here because my bed wasn’t set up yet. Sitting on the kitchen floor with Greg and Bethany because we didn’t have a kitchen table yet. Showing up from a debrief in Guatemala empty-handed because my suitcase had been stolen – Holli immediately went downstairs to grab a Target gift card for me. “I’ve been saving this for a rainy day,” she told me. It had $60 on it.

Watching Chris cook in his Starbucks apron. Sitting on my bed, listening to Renee talk about Jeff and how she was falling for him. Opening my Christmas present from Miles. Cheering when Chris and Holli told us they were pregnant. Seeing Aisli in her highchair every Saturday and Sunday morning when I open my bedroom door. Breaking bread together on Sundays (aka pancakes.) Watching movies on snow days. Dressing up for the Hunger Games.


The list, of course, could go on and on. There has been laughter and tears and oh-so many meals shared together under this roof. So many of the moments I cherish are those after-work, in-between, everyday, almost mundane moments that make up such a big chunk of life.


Tomorrow I leave The House with the Yellow Door and all those in-between moments. It’s time for something new.

I’m scared.

And expectant.

I feel similarly to the way I felt before I moved to Gainesville – kind of like oh SHOOT what is about to happen!?!?!?!? That feeling you get right before you jump off a cliff or waterfall into deep water. Your breath catches in your chest. You want to freeze, but you know you have to jump. There’s no turning back…


It’s time to risk again.

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on seasons and getting saved…

The anticipation of fall is in the air. People buzzing about scarves, flannels, and pumpkin spice lattes. Air conditioning is replaced by open windows. All the fall people talk about how much they love fall, while summer people weep silently in a dark corner.


I am a summer person through and through. I needn’t make my arguments – they speak for themselves (ICE CREAM. SWIMMING. SUNNY DAYS. LATE NIGHTS.)

This year, however, I don’t exactly hate the onset of fall. At least as much.

The reason? As the sun sets sooner and the nights get cooler, my season of life is changing as well. Not only is it changing, it’s improving.

At the beginning of May I wrote a post about how I was coming out of a difficult 7 months. I said things like “I no longer feel like I’m drowning” and “I’m expectant for the coming season” and “I have a feeling it’s only going to get better.”

Little did I know the storm I had experienced was not yet over. Things didn’t get better; they got worse. The storm raged on.


In July, I cracked. I parked in the ‘expectant mothers’ spot at work because I just didn’t care. I didn’t do my hair or makeup. When people asked how I was I said “bad” and walked away. I took melatonin to help me sleep. I felt like I was going through a bad breakup. Nothing mattered.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.54.09 PM

Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In essence, that is what I did for a year… and it drove me insane. I tried and tried and tried, and failed and failed and failed. The results were always the same, yet I kept trying. I was like a hamster on a wheel.

I had too much work on my plate and not enough help. For nearly an entire year I put my head down and powered through. I forget what it felt like to breathe. On July 24 I wrote in my diary: I just want to feel like I’m “home.” I haven’t felt that for a year. I have felt mostly isolated and out of my element, like a fish out of water.

I felt like roadkill.


And then, God saved me.

Do you want to know what being saved feels like? It feels like getting pierced in your hands, your feet, your hip. It feels like pain flooding your entire body and soul. It feels like so many tears you might actually choke on them. It feels like weakness, and hunger, and hopelessness.

And then it feels like: Release. Relief. Resurrection. Redemption.


Hard conversations were had. Tears were shed. Forgiveness was extended. Changes were made. People came through.

On August 24, exactly one month after I wrote that fish-out-of-water diary entry, I was lying in bed when I burst into tears. I grabbed my iPhone and typed out the following:

I feel like myself again after a year of being out of my element.
I feel hope after a year of being let down.
I feel like I can accomplish things after a year of failing.
I feel like I can breathe after a year of drowning.
I feel humbled because God is saving me. He is lifting me out of the muck and mire. 

Three weeks later, all those feelings remain and continue to increase. I have been saved all over again. I feel like a baby Christian, in complete awe of Jesus and his miracles.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

Being saved is humbling. And euphoric. I have cried more than once because of it this time around.

Summer is fading. Fall is sneaking in, ready to transform greens into yellows and oranges and reds and purples. I have less work. I have more help. I can breathe. And just like that, my heart is beginning to beat again…

I am saved.


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on life and stress and seeing a movie by myself…

I have lots to say, but I don’t even know where to begin. I’m home alone, which rarely happens, and I have a cup of earl grey tea by my side… which usually happens.


Everything has been a little crazy lately. I’ve been going for two straight weeks with high school training camp. On Friday I was dealing with moldy shower curtains; today I was dealing with a participant who had an allergic reaction to peach juice. Last week we had a group of 18-year-olds stranded in Kenya. All in a day’s work.

On top of everything, my car was in the shop and I’m starting to look for a new place to live.

I’ve been trying to take care of myself, but my efforts have slowly dwindled. I’ve had one too many green tea lattes and I’m starting to feel like a hunchback. Because my back is where my stress likes to settle. Anyone else??

On Monday I had the afternoon and evening to do WHATEVER I WANTED. Originally I thought about meeting up with people who live in Atlanta, or tackling my personal to-to list (clean room, make doctor appointment, boring stuff like that), but I decided the best thing for me would be to have no plans. My life has been too planned lately – what I need is some spontaneity. It’s good for the soul.


On the way to lunch I asked my friend Daniel if there were any good movies out. He said Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was supposed to be good. I had never heard of it, but I decided to go. Usually I watch trailers or read reviews or do some kind of background check before I see a movie, but in the spirit of spontaneity I decided to risk it and go completely uninformed. Call me crazy.

My phone wouldn’t load to show me movie times (first world probs), so I drove by the theater like a creeper to find out what time it was playing. I had a few hours to kill before the next showing, so of course I went to Target and Starbucks. My happy places. (Me and every other girl my age.)

Like I said, I’m burnt out on green tea lattes (though if you offer to bring me one I won’t say no), so I was going to order the cheapest thing on the menu just so I could sit in Starbucks. The problem is coffee is the cheapest. I don’t drink coffee so I don’t even know how to order it. Like… do I just say, “I’ll have a black coffee”? Do I pick a flavor? I really don’t know how it works, so I paid 20 cents more for a sweet tea and my sanity.

unnamed (1)

Not posed…

After scribbling in my diary and reading a prayer by Flannery O’Connor, I went back to the theater. I snuck in my sweet tea and an airline blanket and made myself at home. There were two people a few rows behind me, I think, but besides that the theater was empty. I originally thought about inviting my roommate Miles, but decided a date with myself was the way to go.

As soon as the movie started I could tell I was going to like it. And boy, did I like it.


The dying girl is on the left and Earl is on the right..

The dialogue was witty, the characters were relatable and the story was beautiful. I laughed, I cried. I stayed through the end of the credits, until the lights came on and the cleanup guy stood behind me with a broom. I was kind of embarrassed because I had been crying, but I could tell he was nice. We chatted about the movie and I told him he needed to see it ASAP.

I came home and took my 1-year-old roommate, Aisli, for a walk. I wondered how many people thought I was her mother. I thought about how I’m going to be a cool mom one day… like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls.

Then I ate frozen, organic vegetable lasagna that I baked in the oven instead of the microwave. I was really proud of myself for that (it takes like 300 times longer, okay?)

I hung out with my roommates (and other guests) and eventually went to bed. I didn’t set my alarm, which always makes me feel rebellious. I figured I’d wake up at 9 or 10.

I woke up at 11:48.

That surprised me… and worried me. It showed me I’m more exhausted than I realize. For months I have thought, “it will get better in August.” Which is true… it will. But I don’t think quoting that to myself is going to get me through July. Hopefully I’ll figure something out this week. (First step = MASSAGE.)

While I do that, you should do yourself a favor and see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by yourself. It’s the best way to go.


Til next time…

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lessons learned since being promoted…

Nearly a year ago I was promoted. I typically avoid using that word (promoted) because who cares. I’m using it in this post because there is a higher level of responsibility and a wider range of working with people that comes with a promotion.

I remember my boss telling me that my ‘peripheral vision’ was going to be opened up in this new position. I didn’t know exactly what he meant, but now I do. Some things shocked me.

When I was a squad mentor, I had a lot of control over all the moving parts. I could pretty easily navigate the outcome or experience I was aiming toward (with the help of a good team, of course.)

As a program director, I’ve found I can only control so much (though some disagree with this idea.) Many of the moving parts are run by other people, and they are much more complicated.

I’ve been through a fair amount of stretching and growing the last year – emotionally, spiritually and professionally. I’ve had more bad days than good. But it’s all been worth it for the lessons I’ve learned along the way…

Humility comes from leaving something you’re good at for something that is over your head.

Sometimes it’s not about me and what makes me feel good – sometimes it’s just about the kingdom and what God wants to use me for. This is also humbling. 

Being stretched and uncomfortable can either make me A) brokenhearted and dependent on God or B) hard-hearted and numb. The choice is up to me. (Note: the former has more tears.)

Failing [frequently] has given me more grace for other people when they mess up.

People make mistakes all the time.

Even if I can do something well, it’s worth empowering other people and letting them mess up. Everything will be okay in the end. (That one came from my former boss, Steve.)

Some people play the blame game, others just try to fix the problem. 

When I’m really stressed I keep working, but internally I shut down and want to quit. 

My response to immense stress is crying and exercising (though not at the same time.) Also: green tea frappes. 

Everyone can tell when I’m stressed / not functioning at my best. (Aka the curse of being someone who is happy most of the time.) If I can conjure up the energy, it’s worth it to put on a fake face. 

Managing a large amount of details drains me. I can do it, but it slowly kills me.

I was made to lead people.

I developed Tiffany (the person who reports to me) informally, even though my intent was to do so officially. She learned by observing me, by the way I live and talk and ask questions. Leadership is truly about example.

Many people are willing to help. I just need to ask.

When people serve in a way that is inconvenient for them, it challenges me to do the same. Servant-hearted people are truly the backbone to Christ and his love. (Note to self: the next time someone needs a ride to/from the airport, do it.)

I can do more than I think I can.


I’m curious, what have you learned since being in whatever job/role you’re in?

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29 and oh-so fine.

I turned 29 a few days ago.

When I turned 25 I decided I was going to embrace aging. Instead of complaining about it I would celebrate it.


That worked out well for 25, 26, 27 and 28… but a few weeks before turning 29 I was like OMG. 29 is practically 30. I started thinking about wrinkles. And cats. And how young 20’s-somethings will scrunch their nose and think, “she’s thirty?” when they find out. Just like I used to do.

28 felt sexy… 29 sounded scary.

But then I realized a few things. 1) My friends are aging with me – aka nobody is getting any younger! 2) I’m still me. 29 doesn’t make me any less cool. Nothing can stop that!


So 29 it was. But how would I celebrate?

Last year I had an epic birthday. I was worried this year wouldn’t compare – especially since I had to work most of the day (it was a Saturday but I had training camp.)

Thankfully, I had the night off.

At first I thought about doing a small-ish dinner party, similar to what I did last year. Or did I want a big birthday blowout?

Birthday blowout, hands down.

I asked my girl Kelly (pictured above) to plan it for me. And then I shamelessly put flyers all over the office… on bathroom doors, in bathroom stalls, the usual. There was a Facebook invite as well as an update in our Gainesville Facebook group.

The day of my birthday one of my friends jokingly posted the following:

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.16.45 PM

Har har.

Before I jump to the party, I need to tell you how my day started!

I woke up and opened my door to this…



…is that not the best way to start off your birthday? My roommate Brian was the mastermind.

THEN I walked outside to this…


My friend / coworker Tiffany did this one. (Shoutout to Katelyn for the photo!)

Needless to say, there was confetti falling out of my hair / shirt / shorts the rest of the day.


The morning consisted of Tiffany asking me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding! Followed by breakfast at a local restaurant on the square.




Goat cheese veggie omelette? Yes pleaseeeee.

After breakfast Tiffany and I trained our trip leaders from 9-5. We had a picnic lunch – the weather was perfect!

Before dropping me off at my house, Tiff treated me to a green tea frappe. My favorite.


Kelly and her party planning team came over to get the house ready for the evening festivities. Ribbon! Flowers! Sparklers! Snacks!

I got ready (dress, hair, makeup, etc) – Kate curled my hair while my roommate Miles cooked me steak.


I love people. Especially people I know… even if only a little bit.

I love people from different groups coming together.

So many people came together at my party!

My heart was so full.


It was a night of food and music and friends. Oh and everyone dressed up. Just the way I like it.

My goal was to stay up til 1am… I ended up crashing at 12:30. Hey, I’m 29 now. Need mah sleep.

The funny thing is this: most people thought I was turning 30! I received so many cards that said something about 3o and new decades and yadda yadda yadda. Even one of my closer friends was like, “so how does it feel to be 30 now?” (Jeremy Cearbaugh cough cough.)

Not sure where people got that crazy idea. When I turn 30 I’m going to throw more than just a party. (Destination birthday, anyone?)

In the meantime, 29 is where it’s at. Yes, I’m single. No, I don’t know where I’m living come September. Sure, things are up in the air with relationships and work.


I’m alive and loved. What more can a girl ask for?


photo cred: johnfrank.


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Confessions of a traveler….

I’m sitting in the Qatar airport and I’m FREEZING. Seriously, why do airports always have to be so cold? I’m wearing a hoody and yoga pants and socks. IT’S NOT ENOUGH. I should have brought my down comforter.

I have a sleep mask around my forehead (like a gangsta) and I’m surrounded by a dozen women in hijabs. Sometimes we smile at each other.

I landed at 5pm Qatar time, 10am Atlanta time. My biggest dilemma was trying to decide if I should eat breakfast or dinner. I wandered around the food court, too tired to make a decision. Instead I ate a Lara bar and Cheddar Bunnies (kinda like Cheez-Its… but they’re bunnies. And made with organic wheat flour, so obvs they’re good for you.)

When I was dropped off at the Atlanta airport over 24 hours ago, I felt like a sexy traveler, ready to take on the world. 2 flights and 24 hours later, my hair is a mess, my makeup is rubbed off and my ankles are triple the size they usually are.

Cankles, they’re a serious problem.

The first thing I did when I connected to WiFi here in Qatar was order a pair of compression socks. They’re being shipped to my house, aka they won’t help me at all on this trip… but I couldn’t just stare at my fat ankles and do nothing. They hurt!!

I have 7 1/2 more hours before my next flight… and I’ve already been here for five. I’m too cold to sleep. I’m too tired to read or work. My computer is dying. I already ate half the bag of Cheddar Bunnies.

My only options are to do yoga in the corner and maybe some pushups to warm myself up. Not sure what to do about the cankles besides cry about ’em.

Here’s the thing – travel is amazing. And I’m blessed to have it as part of my lifestyle. But everyone needs to know about the in between moments. If I posted a selfie at the airport 24 hours ago people would’ve been like, “aw. she has a plane ticket and passport in hand. that’s so fun!” If I posted one right now people would be like GAHHHHHH MAKE IT STOP. Sometimes travel is sexy, sometimes it’s ugly. Right now I’m cold and bored and tired and hungry for breakfast or dinner, I still don’t know.

That’s all I have to say about that. It’s time to do some pushups…

Over and out.


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