when god’s promises come to pass:

Two years ago this month I came to Starbucks and poured my heart out to God; pen scribbling in diary, tears dripping on table.


I had been asked to take over the college-age program (Passport). My insides screamed no, but my mouth said yes because I knew it was what God had for me. He would have to change my heart to match his.

My heart didn’t change. Even though I prayed, even though I asked. Months passed. I felt trapped. The only thing keeping me going was realizing Kingdom work is not about me, it’s about the Kingdom, and I could suffer for that.

On January 28, 2015 I wrote: “I cried four times today. FOUR TIMES. The first time was triggered by failure, the other three were triggered by the fact I’m not excited about Passport. So why does God have me here? One day I’ll know. In the meantime I will suffer and struggle and push through to the Promised Land.”

The months continued to pass, the tears continued to flow…


And then, somewhere along the way my heart changed.

I often ask married people “when was the moment you knew you wanted to marry your husband/wife?” The answer is always the same. It wasn’t a moment, it was a gradual progression.

A year ago I watched Chris and Katherine compete in the Passport dance-off for the third time. As they flailed around the dance floor to “Don’t Stop Believing” I felt my heart rush with warmth. I wanted to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. That feeling surprised me.

My heart continued to warm up and grow to love what I was doing.


Yesterday concluded my last Passport camp of the year (my 6th since I took on this role.)

Today I came to Starbucks to catch up on alone time, to read and write. As I wrote in my journal I was overcome with gratitude, thanking God for so many things. “Thank you for letting me work with college-age students.” Suddenly I flashed back to September 2014. I continued to write. “Thank you for breaking me and building me up again. Two years ago I sat in this Starbucks and wept over the ‘new’ you had for me. Today, I’m grateful.”

From there I looked up the blog I published two years about this transition, and I was shocked to see what I wrote:

truth: this new role will become my dream job, and I will look back and see how God spared me. Even though it kills me right now.

I was right. This role became my dream job. God came through.

Today I carry the weight of that promise coming to pass.

These kind of moments make it all worth it. The suffering, the questions, the confusion. The journey is messy and the giants are scary, but the milk & honey are that much sweeter because of it.

Whatever you are waiting on God to do, don’t lose heart. He will turn your pain into joy and your tears into laughter. I don’t know when, but I know he will.

I’m still waiting on some promises to be fulfilled, but today this one’s in the books.


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a follow-up to “when god doesn’t fill the hole in your heart”:

Well, I’m glad I posted that last blog. It was worth the risk, because in putting my heart out there I was able to receive some of yours in return. Thanks to all who left a comment or contacted me in one way or another. It shows me I’m not alone; we’re not alone.


Here are a few of my takeaways from comments I received and discussions I had about my last post:

1) We all long for something more. Everyone seems to agree: no matter how close you are to Jesus, there is still a longing, an ache we carry. Paul says in Romans,

“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us, as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”

I think it’s important to identify this idea as part of the gospel. YES, Jesus died for our sins and came back to life, bringing reconciliation between God and people. YES, Jesus offers abundant life here on earth, not just in heaven. YES, we are called to suffer. NO, the story isn’t finished.

Often Western Christianity only paints half the picture… a bunch of animals on an ark, cute! Let’s tell the kids about this one. Oh wait, God regretted making humans and wanted to destroy them all? Let’s just skip to the rainbow, that’s pretty. What about that time Jonah was swallowed by a whale? So fun! (Or was it a whale? Who really cares!) And so on and so forth.


Jesus tells us he has come so we may have abundant life, but he also says “here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” He conquered this world, but we are still waiting for that part of the story to unfold completely… your kingdom come, we pray.

This summer I started teaching evangelism at World Race Training Camps. This, in addition to my current season, has made me think a lot about how to communicate the gospel to someone who is unfamiliar with it. I’m still not sure where I stand entirely, besides the fact I disagree with The Donut Man theology. We need to acknowledge that pain and suffering are still a part of life with Jesus. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies.

This much I know: Jesus is worth it, and our hope in him and the life to come has to be big enough to sustain us during the life we are living now. For hope that is seen is no hope at all…

2) Certain seasons accentuate our longing. After hearing people’s stories (and comparing them to my own), it seems there are seasons or situations where our longing increases more than the average ache. I personally think it has to do with change. With change comes loss, and with loss, longing.

That’s how I view my current state of affairs. This year I went through a massive relational shift that resulted in great loss. I cried about it (again) to one of my mentors this morning. She challenged me to view it as something positive, not negative. I stared at her. Loss, loneliness, longing… are positive things? I needed more convincing.

She gave me the following picture: my life was a full cup of water…Print
Then, because I wanted more of God, my cup was poured into a bigger container…

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 9.49.51 PM

Meaning I’m left with all this extra space in my life. This space feels like lack, which translates to loss and loneliness and longing. But this space is actually a place for God to provide more water than my original cup could ever hold. I’m just waiting on the fullness, the promise, to come to pass.

That does feel a little more positive. Pitcher half empty, yes, but hopeful nonetheless.

To those of you who obeyed God, who risked by getting out of the boat, who moved somewhere new, who chose change (and therefore loss), who are waiting and hoping and praying for more of God to fill your empty spaces… this is also for you.

Our time is coming.

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when god doesn’t fill the hole in your heart…

When I was a young girl I watched a show called The Donut Man. The main characters consist of man in overalls and a talking donut. Together they sing about God’s love.


“Life without God’s love is like a donut, cause there’s a hole in the middle of your heart… only Jesus’ love can fill the missing part,” they sing.

I loved the show when I was younger (hello, donuts), but now I’m left wondering if The Donut Man duped me. The Donut Man and the rest of Western Christian culture, that is.

The older I get the more I’m convinced people are starving for love, worth, acceptance, belonging. Our insides are rattled with fear and insecurity; deep down we’re all awkward middle schoolers wanting the cool kids to notice us.

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Our deepest desire is to be fully known and fully loved.

The only way to be fully known and loved is by God.

But what if his love isn’t enough?

Last year I pulled a Peter; I jumped out of the boat. “Come,” Jesus said. (Matthew 14:29.) I obeyed, leaving everything safe and secure behind me to get closer to Him. I moved out of my house, my place of belonging. I loosened my grip on the relationships I held near.

It was like giving up a drug cold turkey. I felt the gaping hole in my heart, a hole I had stuffed and numbed with people. It ached for love. Oh, how it ached.


It still aches.

I once heard someone say our fears are never as bad as we think they are. I politely disagree. Sometimes they are just as bad, sometimes they are worse.

“Was this loneliness there all along, masked by people and busyness?” I wrote in my journal yesterday.

Had I known how hard this journey would be this past year, how big the waves really are, I doubt I would have left the boat.

I wonder if the disciples ever felt the same way.

I gave up my idols, my everything, to follow Jesus, so shouldn’t my heart be whole? Shouldn’t I be fully satisfied in Him? He did, after all, come to bring life more abundantly. So why do I still feel lack?


This is something I’ve wrestled with for months.

I feel close to him, intimate with him, married to him… yet I feel lonely and unsatisfied. What does The Donut Man have to say about that?

I don’t have the answers, but I know where I stand. For some time now I have accepted the fact that God sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). He does what he wants. We don’t always get to know why.

And just as I believe we’re all insecure middle schoolers desperate for love, I also believe we have fire and grit and stone at the core of who we are. If we dig deep and find that place, that strength, we can stand firm amidst the waves crashing down on us.

The more we activate that place inside us, the more resilient we become. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15). YES.

Maybe I’m in a season of testing, maybe not. Maybe God will fill the hole in my heart, maybe not. Whatever the case may be, I will dig deep and trust in him.


I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should finish this blog and publish it. Mostly because it’s exposing myself deeply and what if people think I’m crazy? Or worse, what if people try to fix me with Christian clichés?

I decided to go ahead and publish it because I have a nagging feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I’m curious, do you feel like you have a hole in your heart Jesus hasn’t satisfied? How do you respond to that? Or if you don’t feel a lack, do you think you’re stuffing yourself with something else? Anyone feel 100% loved 100% of the time?

All vulnerable answers welcome.

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on burnout and being an ENFP:

Hello, old friend. It’s been a while. Summer happened, bringing a blur of work-related events. I love working a job that keeps me on my feet. It can, however, wear me out.

I was burnt out this time last year, having nightmares about work while on vacation. Learning from my past, I began making adjustments earlier this month when I noticed burnout symptoms. Adjustments include saying ‘no’ more than yes, focusing on rest, and being extra kind to myself (aka not expecting too much from myself or pushing myself as hard.)

I pulled an arm muscle recently because I exerted myself too much. In order to heal I need to lay off the push-ups. The same goes for my soul. I exerted myself too much, I need to stop pushing myself so I can recover.

This means less go-go-going and more reading, writing, sleeping.

I gained valuable insight about my personality earlier this year. As an ENFP I’m supposed to ask myself how do I want to feel and make decisions based on that. At first this seemed ludicrous to me. Make a decision based on FEELINGS? That’s so unChristian!

Yet this understanding has significantly increased my quality of life. The more I make decisions based on how I want to feel, the more healthy I become. Asking myself this question forces me to slow down and tap into my inner wisdom, where my core values and convictions are found. If I ignore this process, I can get caught in an extroverted cycle of busyness, productivity, and getting things done, which leads to burnout and a loss of identity.

That’s what happened last year. Buck up and get the job done, I told myself. Who cares how you feel. Cry about it and get back to work. Just press through. Blah blah blah.

I lost my joy. I lost my passion. I was stress and sadness instead.

My job shift a year ago was huge; it helped me come up for air. I could breathe. 

This year has been a lot better, but when you work in a ministry-related field there is always more you can give, there is always more that can be done. It’s hard to say no when the need is high and the passion runs deep.

Because of my previous experience with burnout and my newfound understanding of my personality, I’m learning to pump the brakes when my soul starts to skid out of control.

Do I want to feel spread thin or settled? Overwhelmed or peaceful? Scattered or secure?

I’m grateful to learn this now, at 30. I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new book, Present over Perfect, and it’s showing me a snapshot of what I could be if I didn’t slow down. I’m a big fan of Shauna Niequist, but homegirl is a hot mess at the beginning of her book. She writes, “My regrets: How many years I bruised people with my fragmented, anxious presence. How many moments of connection I missed – too busy, too tired, too frantic and stung out on the drug of efficiency.”


Thankfully, later in the book she states, “The best thing I can offer this world is not my force or energy, but a well-tended spirit, a wise and brave soul.”

You and me both, Shauna.

Here’s to saying no, slow mornings, and tending my soul.


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my 20s: the good, the bad, and the beautiful.

Today is Saturday. I’m sitting in a coffee shop with an earl gray tea and a bunch of old journals by my side.

In less than three weeks I turn 30.

I came to this coffee shop this afternoon to “process my 20s.” Problem is I’ve never processed a decade of my life before. Seasons and years, yes, but never a DECADE. Where do you even begin?


A few days after my 20th birthday I took off for the mountains of California. I landed in the Ontario National Airport and found myself in awe. The West captivated me.

I spent that summer working as a camp counselor — everything was a high. Coworkers became family, camp norms became second nature. On weekends we drove down the mountain to explore the beaches & cities of Southern California.


I’m on the left…

It was during that summer I decided I would get a tattoo one day. (Three years later, I did.)

It was also during that summer my heart began opening up to the oppressed in this world, changing the course of my entire life. Instead of an actress I would become an activist. My friend Erin had something to do with it – she was all about Africa and her call to do something rubbed off on me. I also distinctly remember being in a store, picking up ‘A Child Called It’, reading the back cover, and being forever changed. I called my mom and told her I wanted to go to a missions conference called Urbana later that year. She had been trying to get me to go, but until that point I hadn’t been interested. I went, and it was the first time I bathed out of a bucket. Even though I was staying in a hotel room.

I got my passport when I was 20. The reason? I was applying for The Amazing Race and needed one to apply. I didn’t get on the show, but the passport came in handy when I went on The World Race two and a half years later.

With the exception of my summer out west, I spent the first year of my 20s depressed. It started when I was 19 and lasted until the summer after I turned 21. There were many contributing factors, but the main reason had to do with my view of God. I wrestled with my faith, at times feeling like an atheist trapped in a Christian’s body. It was a dark time, but I’m glad I went through it because it’s how I made my faith my own.

I remember sitting on a blanket in the middle of campus with my BFF Chelsea, smoking cloves, eating chocolate, and talking about the Bible. Donald Miller inspired us; he seemed to really get it. (“I always thought the Bible was more of a salad thing, you know, but it isn’t. It’s a chocolate thing.” – Blue Like Jazz)

Chelsea and I began attending the LGBT group on campus instead of our usual Campus Crusade for Christ meetings. The two groups met at the same time in the Student Union and I didn’t like that we were segregated. The first time we went they asked if we were lesbians. When we told them no they said that’s a shame, you would have made a good looking couple. I took that as a compliment.

I turned 21 and didn’t drink. I was against the idea that people needed alcohol to have fun.


it wouldn’t be college without an 80s party…

A few months later, in July, I got saved. I had been a Christian since childhood, but it wasn’t until I needed saving from something (depression) that I understood what that meant. Being saved felt like coming up for air after being underwater for too long.

In September, during the fall semester of my senior year, I went streaking on my college campus with Chelsea. Less than two years later we went on the World Race together. Clothes included.

To my own embarrassment, during my last semester of college I became a feminist. I was usually the one making sexist jokes. I didn’t want to be a feminist, but I couldn’t not be one after all the things I learned. (It wasn’t until 2014 that Emma Watson made being a feminist sexy.)

I took two of my favorite college classes that spring semester – Writing Fiction and Writing Nonfiction. I looked up to my teachers; I craved their approval. I’ll always remember when Jane Bradley told me I was a good writer in front of everyone. The most brilliant, interesting people were in my classes and we became like family as we shared our stories with each other.

Three weeks before graduation I published a column for the student newspaper about life after college. “Whatever I do, I want it to be an adventure,” I wrote.

I graduated and took off, not yet 22.


First stop: California, to work at that camp again, this time as a head camp counselor. It was another three-month high, filled with mountains & beaches, sunsets & friendships.


Then: a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle and back.

I laughed at the characters in San Francisco and gasped when I saw the mountains in Yosemite.

In Portland I got drunk for the first (and only) time. Three Smirnoffs and a Mike’s Hard Lemonade on an empty stomach will do that to you.

I met Donald Miller and stayed at his house, I camped at Morro Bay, I slept in the car by the beach.

That road trip was my first taste of life outside of camp or college. At the end of it I wrote:

“Here are the truths I learned: my life is, and will remain, a challenge. More so than most of the people around me. It’s a challenge for me to learn, to love, to enjoy, to understand, to experience God, and to hike almost 10 miles. It takes me longer. It takes more effort. It takes all of me. BUT here’s the thing: I’m a fighter. I push through. It may take tears, sweat, and complaints but I won’t stop. At least I hope I never will. I want my life to be an adventure…”

After my road trip I flew halfway across the world by myself. I landed in Delhi, India with no cell phone and no idea what the person meeting me looked like. I remember staring at the massive sea of brown faces and thinking, “Now what?”

I spent nearly two months in India, living in a slum, working at Mother Teresa’s shelter for battered women, and hiking through the Himalayas.



I got lice for the first (and only) time.

After returning from India I went to Vancouver for two weeks of missions training. We lived in a house together, drinking tea and learning about the world. Shane Claiborne came.

Inspired by Jack Kerouac, I took off on another road trip after Christmas – this time across the country.


I saw the Grand Canyon and couch surfed for the first time (“A dream come true,” I wrote.) I fell in love with Santa Fe and cried at the Oklahoma City Bombing memorial. We made it to L.A. by New Year’s Eve; I rolled up my pants and ran into the Pacific at midnight.

By the first week of January I landed in Nashville, my home for the next seven months. I lived with friends from camp and worked 2 part-time jobs. My furniture consisted of a mattress on the floor and a bookcase from the Salvation Army. I made a dresser out of Starbucks boxes. I didn’t have much, but I was full of love. We gave each other rides when cars broke down; we played too many games of Settlers. At one point we turned our living room into a fort. We left it that way for weeks.




the fort


notes we left each other in the bathroom

I’ll always look back on this season with sentiment – we were a bunch of young 20s-something figuring out life on our own. It was beautiful and exciting and sad and messy.

India had messed me up. Whenever I slowed down it hit me. Hard. I couldn’t make sense of the things I had seen. Nothing mattered anymore. “I think I may be a nihilist,” I wrote ten days after settling in Nashville.

A month later I sat on a counselor’s couch and cried, asking her what the meaning of life was. (She didn’t tell me.)

Winter faded into spring, melting my existential angst. Those months were full of surprises – new friendships and late night walks. Concerts, coffee shops and dollar movies. Death Cab for Cutie constantly on my iPod.

May came, and I turned 23 the last day of World Race Training Camp.

My Nashville community rallied around me as I prepared for the World Race, helping me with yard sales and car washes and trips to R.E.I. – I can’t imagine this time without their support.

On July 4th I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, the next day I had my first kiss in six years (the first of my 20s.) He was a boy I had a crush on in college and when he found out I liked him he leaned in.

I left for the World Race in August. It was a wild year – full of adventure and heartbreak, brokenness and breakthrough. I will never forget that day I cried by the squatty potties in Kenya. The next day I wrote, “The thing that scares me is how I’m getting serious with God. I’m actually sacrificing and obeying – even when it hurts. And if this hurts as much as it does I can only imagine the other things God will ask of me and the incredible pain that will come with it.”

I was right to be afraid. There has been a lot of pain since then. But each time I press through it only makes me stronger.

baby goats always make life better

baby goats make everything better

I spent the first half of my 24th birthday in Cambodia, the second half in Thailand. On the plane ride between the two countries my squadmate Dan got on the intercom and had everyone on the airplane sing happy birthday to me. An ENFP dream come true.

A few weeks later, in Thailand, I prayed for a dead body to come to life. It didn’t. I really thought it would.

We landed in LAX on June 29th. I stayed in Cali for 10 days before flying to Ohio. My home away from home.

r.i.p. michael jackson

r.i.p. michael jackson

I spent 6 months in Ohio — a hard, lonely, six months. I had no friends, fought with my mom, went to family counseling, got rejected from my dream job, nurtured my World Race heartbreak, suffered horrible side effects from an antibiotic (trying to get rid of a parasite), experienced anxiety, felt purposeless, and had bad dreams. To name a few.

I read a lot of books and wrote a lot of blogs. I spent a lot of time on my knees.

In January 2011 I took off to Nicaragua for four months to lead a college-age mission trip. All girls. While so many of my friends were getting jobs, getting married, having babies, I wore cut-off jean shorts during the day and slept on a bunk bed at night. I wondered if I was ‘behind’ in life, but deep down I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My team climbed volcanoes and swam in lagoons. We fasted and gave each other feedback. We spent time with the poor, the elderly, the orphaned.


I came back to life after those hard months at home.

At the end of March, two months before my 25th birthday, I started desiring marriage. It was as if a light was switched on inside me.

Then I fell for a guy. Naturally.

He was on the World Race, spending a month in Nicaragua. I tried to avoid him but he always seemed to find me, and I couldn’t resist from there. We talked for hours.

I waited 7 months for him to finish the World Race. I came back from Nicaragua in May, moved to Gainesville in June. In December I discovered he was kissing someone else. I remember the feeling of my heart shattering on the floor when I found out. I was with people (one of them being the girl he was kissing), so I kept a straight face as my insides crumbled. As soon as I could I excused myself and went to my bedroom. “I feel like a fool,” I wrote in my diary, followed by profanity. On the next page I wrote: “DON’T LIKE BOYS. It’s dumb.”

This incident changed me. Because of it, I started asking guys how they felt about me when I was uncertain. I didn’t want to wait another 7 months only to find out they were making out with someone else. I would be a fool no longer.

I tried this approach out a month later, pulling one of my guy friends aside and asking if he was interested.

He wasn’t.

The next day I left the country for four months. (Perfect timing if you ask me.)

It was January 2012 and I led a group of World Racers from Central America to Eastern Europe.

It wasn’t easy to leave. I had been terrified to move to Gainesville the previous summer, but it quickly became home while I was there. I finally found a rhythm in life and didn’t want to disturb it. I had a bed!

I knew I was called to go, but what if it was never this good again?


yes, that’s me

I asked Adventures in Missions if they had a job for me when I came back from squad leading. They said, “we can’t promise you anything, but probably not” and left it at that.

I found myself again in cut-off jean shorts and living out of a backpack. I walked the cobblestone streets in Guatemala and ate pupusas in El Salvador. In April we made it to Romania, trading sunny skies for snowflakes. I visited castles and rode lots of trains.



I loved the people I was leading and the people I was leading with. Betsy & Randy entered my life as World Race coaches and have became like family since then. “They are an answer to prayers I never prayed,” I wrote in 2012. I am a different person because of their love, their care, and their influence in my life.

Halfway through squad leading, Adventures offered me three jobs (funny how that happens.) I took the recruiting position. If they hadn’t offered me work, I was going to be an au pair in Italy, save up money, and travel Europe.

Because I had a job waiting for me, I settled for two weeks in Italy. It was my honeymoon with God. I had been told that when you get married, your relationship with God is never the same, because it is you+God+spouse instead of just you and God and no one else. I thought I was going to get married soon (famous last words), so I wanted one last hoorah with God before that special someone came into the picture.

I traveled from Venice to Cinque Terre to Pisa to Florence to Siena to Rome to Naples to Pompeii to Capri. I stayed in hostels, wandered into churches, walked in the rain, got lost on trains, ate too much gelato, and had the best pizza in the entire world (thanks, Naples). I read Eat Pray Love and Pride & Prejudice. I got mad at God and felt wooed by him.

img_2253 (1)


I came home and turned 26.

Less than two weeks later I moved back to Georgia, where Bethany planned a surprise welcome home/ birthday party for me. I felt SO loved.

A difficult six months followed. Adventures was going through a split and it wasn’t pretty. People I looked up to let me down. Friends left town or were in their own funk. On top of that, my job wasn’t a good fit. It made me cry.

All I wanted to do was squad lead again, but I knew I was supposed to stay.

In August I went on a last minute road trip to New Mexico for a wedding. It reminded me of my love for road trips.


In September Chris and Holli moved in with me and Bethany. The four of us shared an apartment for five months before we moved into The House with the Yellow Door.

That fall Hannah and I went for prayer walks by the lake at sunset.

In November they created a new position at Adventures: World Race Squad Mentor. I wanted it as soon as I found out. I emailed Steve Basden, the World Race Director, and told him I wanted to talk with him about the job opening. I was hired on the spot.

It has been my favorite job in life.

2013 was a whirlwind. I was meeting hundreds of people, jet-setting around the globe, teaching, preaching, and living the dream. Things like my suitcase being stolen in Guatemala or dogs biting me in Uganda didn’t get me down because I loved what I was doing.

I celebrated my 27th birthday in Malaysia. Two weeks later I got Lasik. No more contacts or dorky glasses for me!

moments before surgery...

moments before surgery…

moments after surgery... gross

post surgery… gross

That summer was spent playing volleyball, swimming in the lake, and grilling out.

When I wasn’t traveling or at training camps, The House with the Yellow Door was a place of nonstop fun. We shared food and stories, we hosted people and parties.

The last day in August I had a major breakdown/breakthrough with Rozy in an African hut. So much snot. So much freedom.

In September Chris & Holli told us they were pregnant.

That fall I dated a friend, but I was really weird about it. I regret not going for it more.

By the end of the year I was burnt out on people. The day after Thanksgiving I booked myself a B&B in Northern Atlanta. While I was there I put my phone on airplane mode, went for a walk in the woods, dined at a quaint Italian restaurant, took a bath, read a book. I also looked up counselors in Gainesville. Issues had been surfacing and it was time to go again.

Less than a week later I cried during my first session with Lynda.

On New Year’s Eve I went dancing in Atlanta with a few girlfriends. I rang in 2014 with a kiss, the second of my 20s. It was magical.


NOT my new year’s eve kiss…🙂

At the beginning of January 2014, I met with Lynda a fourth and final time before I took off for a stint of traveling. I cried during that session as well – this time it was because I hated that I had a desire for marriage and it wasn’t being fulfilled. I would rather not have the desire at all. She told me it was normal, biological. No one had said that to me before. It made me feel less crazy.

She also told me I was angry at God. I disagreed and said I was disappointed by him. “You say disappointed, I say angry,” she said. (I still think I was disappointed.) She also told me she thought I was a little bit depressed. She was right, but winter always makes me a little depressed (Seasonal Affective Disorder, anyone??)

I took off for two weeks in Vietnam followed by a week in Guatemala.



When I came back I got one of those haircuts that make you cry. Life felt cruel and unfair. I stopped journaling.

A few months later I turned 28 and had one of the best birthdays of my life. Everything was right that day.


It was a good summer that followed. In August a group of us went on vacation in Florida. We kayaked during the day and cooked amazing dinners at night.

Back in Gainesville, a boy kissed me under a pavilion in the rain. It was electric.

A few weeks later Steve sat me down in his office and asked me to be the director of the high school and college-age program. I didn’t want to, but I knew it was what God had for me. So I said yes.

I’ll always remember that time I went to Starbucks and poured my heart into my journal as my tears dripped onto the table. I was letting go of my dream job for something I wasn’t excited about.

Cue the beginning of the hardest year of my 20s (if not my life.) There were so many factors that made it this way. I was under-supported, overworked, overwhelmed, and unhappy. I was a mess and everyone knew it.

But I fought hard. I didn’t give up. I dug deep. What I said about myself at 22 rang true at 28: I’m a fighter. I push through. It may take tears, sweat, and complaints but I won’t stop… 

A few months before I turned 29 I was in Zambia. I never had a desire to bungee jump, but I wanted to express physically what I was going through spiritually. So I jumped. Everything leading up to the jump was terrifying, but after my feet left the platform it was exhilarating. I was so proud of myself I nearly cried.



I had a big party for my 29th birthday. The only problem is because it was such a big party everyone thought I was turning 30.


In July, I broke. It had been 11 months of struggle and I couldn’t take it anymore. I began to crack when I was supposed to have one day off after two weeks of nonstop work, but instead spent the day on a phone with an upset parent, followed by a call about a participant having a severe allergic reaction to peaches.

My breaking point came a few weeks later.

Feelings of bitterness began to rise to the surface as things continued to stack on top of each other, so I decided to fast in order to cleanse my soul. On the second day of that fast someone at work triggered all the pain I had been holding for those 11 months. As soon as I was able to leave the office I pulled over in a church parking lot and bawled to Bethany until my phone died. The next day wasn’t any better. More tears. The fast was working; I was being gutted.

Looking back on those 11 miserable months, I’m glad I stuck it out as long as I did; I’m also glad I broke down as soon as I did. I know other people who take much, much longer to burn out. I’d rather hit my breaking point quickly so I can recover and never do that again.

In August Tiffany and I took a hard-earned vacation to Colorado. We rode bikes and flew a plane (thanks Ed!), hiked a 14er, saw a concert at Red Rocks and stayed at a friend’s hostel in a charming mountain town.

IMG_5880 (1).jpg


I came back and things began to change with my job. Responsibility was leveled out; I was given more help. That feeling of being saved, of coming up for water, hit me once again. I wept and began memorizing Psalm 40.

In September, after two and a half years, I moved out of The House with the Yellow Door. It was time.

It was hard. I was lonely. Many tears were shed over the course of many months. I thought about seeing Lynda again.

In March of this year I went to Nepal, where I did a 5-day trek through the Himalayas. The mountains filled me with wonder and awe, they made me and all my problems feel small. I wanted to remember that feeling when I was back in everyday life, so I decided to take the mountains with me; I got them tattooed on my arm.



When my car broke down on I-85 less than month later I looked at my tattoo and remembered.

May rolled around, bringing a wedding, a funeral, a few birthday parties, and my last debrief as a squad mentor.


Today is Saturday. I’m sitting on an airplane en route from South Africa to England. There is a bulky man by my side.

In less than two days I turn 30.

It’s taken me 3 weeks and 3,500+ words to process my 20s and I’ve still only scraped the surface. I have more than 25 journals from this decade; I barely made it through half before I had to leave for South Africa a week ago.

There were nights these past few weeks I stayed up too late because I couldn’t put my journals down. I forgot how much shame I carried after I got wasted in Portland (Seattle was nearly ruined because of it.) I forgot how exhilarating that summer in Nashville really was – I could feel my heart beat faster as I read about it. I forgot about my journey toward unconditional love in 2011 after a shattering moment in which I realized I knew nothing of God’s love.

I forgot how afraid I was. I was afraid of so many things. I was afraid of depression. I was afraid of fundraising. I was afraid I wouldn’t get a job in Nashville, I was afraid to move to Gainesville, I was afraid to leave Gainesville. The list goes on and on.

I laugh now because I know everything worked out. It makes me wonder: what am I afraid of now that I will laugh at later?

I laugh at myself, but I’m also proud of myself because I never let fear stop me; I went through with everything that scared me. I may have dragged things out at times, or allowed unnecessary worry & stress in my life, but in the end I always choose to risk.

I do have regrets though.

I regret my chubby phase (*shakes fist at the freshman 15… er, 20) and my horrible fashion phase that included but is not limited to: thrift store t-shirts, sweatpants, jean jackets, skirts with Chuck Taylors, bandanas, and too many layers. I thought I was cool. I wasn’t.

I regret falling for a guy on my World Race team and letting my heart get as involved as it did. I caused myself a lot of useless pain.

I regret not giving more guys a chance. I don’t necessarily think the story would have ended differently with any of them, but I didn’t need to be so uptight about it all. (John, I’m sorry I never went on a date with you in college. I should have.)

I regret the way I treated people at times, my lack of boundaries in life (a weakness I’m still working on), not larping in college when I had the chance, and getting stuck with a middle seat on a plane (aka right now.)

For the most part, however, I love the way I lived my 20s. I didn’t just write about my dreams, I went after them. I let myself fail. I learned to forgive. I faced rejection. I risked time and time again. I discovered a heart can be broken in many ways. I wrestled with God and ran to him.

I fell in love with Jane Austen.

I dyed my hair pink, purple, black, blonde, and ombré.

I went bungee jumping, paragliding, scuba diving, sand surfing, snorkeling, canyoning, kayaking, camping, trekking, and road tripping.

I went from 2 countries (Canada and Mexico) to 35 countries (sneaking in the last one TOMORROW, the last day of my 20s.)

They say your 20s are for exploring life and figuring out who you are. I agree with what they say…

And I don’t intend to let 30 stop the adventure.

Bring on the next ten years!



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on spending my 30th birthday ALONE:

I love birthdays. Cake and balloons and presents and parties and people. What’s not to love?


When it comes to my own birthday I tend to have high expectations. I usually have to talk myself down from my anticipation during the weeks leading up to my birthday. Life is life; it’s just another day. I may convince myself of that on the surface level, but deep down my excitement remains. What can I say, I’m an idealist.

I’ve had great and not-so-great birthdays. 23 was meh. It was the last day of World Race Training Camp and no one remembered. I realized halfway through the morning if I didn’t say anything I would be living my own version of Sixteen Candles. How do you happen to drop the fact it’s your birthday? Awkwardly, that’s how.

“Say, what day is it today?” I asked the group of people I was sitting with.
“Saturday,” they answered.
“I mean what’s the date?”
“The 30th.”
“Oh really? Hmmm… I guess it’s my birthday then.”
Blank stares.

(Yes, that’s actually how it happened.)

24 wasn’t that much better (though I did get to spend the first half in one country and the second half in another), 25 was better than I thought it would be, 26 wasn’t epic but it wasn’t bad, 27 was interesting, 28 and 29 were AWESOME.

Last July I knew I would be traveling for work around my 30th birthday, so naturally I began dreaming about having my birthday abroad. I loved the idea of beginning a new decade in a new country. In March I found out I had a layover in England.


The only problem was I knew I would probably be alone. I tried to recruit friends to join me, but time and money. You know how it goes.

A month before my birthday I celebrated another friend’s 30th birthday. Four of us went out to a fancy dinner in Atlanta. We talked and laughed and had a fabulous time. It made me wonder, did I make a mistake? Is spending your 30th birthday by yourself terrible idea? Would I be lonely? Or worse… would it be 23 all over again?

A few days later my enthusiasm returned when I booked my hostels. To me, the travel bug is more like a travel drug. It makes me high.



I still wondered what spending my birthday alone would be like. This wasn’t just any birthday either – this was THIRTY. Was I playing it cool, or was I pathetic?



13 Going on 30…

(Bridget Jones's Diary, anyone?)

or Bridget Jones’s Diary??


The day before I left for South Africa (my first stop) one of my favorite bloggers published a post about her friend who went to Paris to celebrate her 30th birthday by herself. Other women commented about taking solo trips for their birthdays.

I took it as a sign.

I woke up on my birthday in a hostel in London. I thought about how no one in the entire UK knew it was my birthday. It was my little secret. I got up, got dressed, and had breakfast (tea, chocolate croissant, and a hard-boiled egg). I took the tube to the London Tower Bridge and walked across toward the London Tower.


At the London Tower I looked at the crown jewels and the torture chamber (because nothing says happy birthday like a torture chamber, lol.)

After that I took the tube to a highly rated Indian restaurant called Dishoom. The wait was 50 minutes, so I ordered takeaway and ate it at Parliament Square. With Westminster Abbey in front of me and Big Ben on my left, I scooped up chicken ruby with garlic naan and made a mess of myself. I used someone else’s leftover water bottle to wash my hands. I was grateful there wasn’t anyone there to witness that moment. (At least anyone I know.)

One of my birthday wishes was to get a picture of myself in front of something London-esque. I can be quite shy when it comes to asking someone to take a picture of JUST ME, so I tried snapping a selfie. It didn’t do justice. I gave up and walked closer to Westminster to get a picture of it. Out of nowhere a man asked, “do you want me to take your picture?”


I’m convinced he was an angel.

I went back to my hostel for a bit to charge my phone and rest my feet. On the tube I saw a girl with a birthday button that said “I’m 8!” or something like that. “Is today your birthday?” I asked. She said yes. “It’s mine too!” She was the first person I told that day. Then the woman sitting next to me said it was also her birthday. What are the odds?

After my stint at the hostel I went to Buckingham Palace.


I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, so I decided to get on one of those double-decker hop on/hop off busses and ride it around (I already had a ticket.) One of the bus company workers chatted with me while I waited at the stop. On a whim I told him it was my birthday. “Really??” he said, immediately extending his hand to shake mine. I thought that was funny. “How old?” he asked. “30!” I said. He was surprised and told me he turns 30 in August. We bonded over that. He has a birthday trip to Croatia planned with his family and a few friends.

I rode the bus and got off after a few stops. I was still aimless and also a little tired, so I went to a coffee shop, ordered a chai and sat by the window. I read and responded to the birthday texts I was receiving. Also: Facebook.


After that I wandered toward Queen’s Theater, where I was seeing Les Mis at 7:30. Inspired by a poster I saw at the tube station, I bought tickets online the night before. I’m glad I did because it gave me something to look forward to all day.

Chinatown was right around the corner, so I bought some takeaway Chinese food and ate it on a bench across the street from the theater.

Then: the show.

I had to ask someone to take this...

I had to ask someone to take this…

I knew it would be good — I didn’t know it would be a slice of heaven on stage. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard voices so striking, so magnificent. It wasn’t just me — the entire audience felt it. We were overcome.

It was the perfect way to end my 30th birthday.



The next morning I took off for Scotland.

Now that it’s over, I would do it all again. It would have been nice to have someone with me, but I also like that I did something new, something different, something adventurous; I faced the big 3-0 in another country, alone. As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”

P.S. Don’t think I’m not having a big birthday bash though. June 25 and you’re all invited.

P.P.S. THANK YOU to everyone who made me feel so loved from afar!!

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on getting another tattoo…

I have NEVER been someone to get a spur of the moment tattoo. I got my first tattoo seven years ago and haven’t been inked since. There were times I considered getting another tat, but never felt right about it in the end.

Then I went to Nepal. While hiking through the Himalayas I thought, “This is what life is about. I need to remember this.” As we trekked uphill I spent my time focusing on my breath and each step I took. It was all so simple. On top of that, the mountains were relentless in reminding me how small I truly am (and consequently how big God is.)

Sometimes (…a lot of times) I forget.


Last year was one of the hardest years of my life; I was stretched in ways that left me beat up and sore all over. I lost perspective. Things have improved since then, though this year has brought its fair share of challenges as well.

Like many people, I can get stuck in my head.

All that washed away on the mountain. I felt myself changing the higher we climbed. Some people get baptized in water as a symbol of new life; for me, in this season, I climbed a mountain.

And so, when my trekking buddy Drea and I threw around the idea of getting a tattoo of the Annapurna mountain range, my spirit didn’t brush it off. This surprised me and I took note.

Four days later I found myself in a tattoo parlor in Kathmandu, going back and forth with an artist about my potential tattoo. I was nervous because this was so out of the ordinary for me (getting a tattoo so quickly and in another country), but I was also aware of the settledness in my spirit underneath all my nerves.


In Deuteronomy, God tells his people some really good stuff  (“love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,” etc etc) and then he tells them to “fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” as a reminder.

This is why I get tattoos; to mark myself with the truth I need to remember.


do i want it here??


or here??

Finally it came to a point in the tattoo parlor where I had to decide if I was actually going to do this or not. I could walk away and leave it as a nice idea… or I could risk. I felt similar to the way I felt before bungee jumping. I needed to dig deep beneath my fears to that place in my spirit that said go and trust the end result would be worth it.

And so I did.

My thoughts were something like this: Am I really doing this? Yes I’m doing this. Oh my gosh I can’t believe I’m doing this!!

Even though I liked the placement on the outside of my arm better than the inside, I got the tattoo on the inside because I could see it better. That was the main point of me getting this tattoo – so I could see it and remember.


Yup… that happened.

I will have it on my wedding day and when I have babies and when I’m old and gray. As the ups and downs of life continue it will serve me as a reminder of what really matters in life and how to get by…

Just breathe and take the next step.

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