Thursday, January 27, 2011


right now i can't pray, go to church, listen to music, read the Bible or think about anything serious.

"the tears need some space and my heart needs a rest." - there's this girl i've never met but whose blog i read and these words she wrote from scotland yesterday are EXACTLY where i am. exactly.

don't judge me for where i am. it's my journey and right now i'm in a "not so pretty" patch of it. so i am taking space, as much as i need and i'm giving my heart and my brain a rest and i'm giving the tears the space they need to fall - as often and as long as they need to.

i feel grateful that we each get our own journey and that because God loves us he allows us to wrestle and struggle with him and he allows us to be where we are.

these song lyrics by justin mcroberts are the only thing sticking in my mind these days:

"What Love is This"
How long? How long to wait when my heart’s ready to break?
How long? How long to stand when I don’t know who I am?

Would you be my lover if I had no love
And no beauty to speak of?
Would you still be faithful if I had no faith
And I questioned everything?

What then if I turned away and in darkness hid my face?
Would you leave me then?
Or would you draw me to yourself again?

Would you be my lover if I had no love
And no beauty to speak of?
Would you still be faithful if I had no faith
And I questioned everything?

What love is this? What love is this,
That will never change? That could never change?
What love is this? What love is this,
That remains the same? It remains the same.

and this... from a sweet friend just blessed my heart more than words can describe...

May the LORD totally bless you this weekend with His presence and love. May Jesus fill those places that are really tough. We pray, in the name of Jesus and in the power of the cross and resurrection, that the enemy will have no power to use what is really hard to pull you away from God. Lord, we bless and care for Bree as she walks this road that You have given her.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


so the alba east crew? they moved to peru. about a week ago. it is their story, their dream, their reality, but i just get to tell about it... and visit of course :)

blake and sarah goodfellow are some of the most authentic, genuine and loving friends i've ever had. they have four kids, yes four, all of whom i adore and would gladly take as my own :)

we've been through years of ministry on young life staff together, went off staff together and experienced what it was like to lose yourself... and then become yourself without young life. we've been brutally honest with each other about life, dreams, relationships, family and anything else you can think of. we've already been through one very minor move 2 hours up the coast and last week we endured a much larger one... to peru.

i can honestly tell you i think God was being so gracious by allowing me to move to santa barbara one year before their overseas move because i'm not sure i could have handled going from a few days a week to a few days a year. these are my people. they know my life, they know my stuff, they truly know me... and they were called to peru.

so i showed up & we piled all 7 of us into my car for 3 days and we packed till the wee hours of the morning
and we ran errands and we did last american things like the movies & california pizza kitchen. we cleaned house & we cried tears & we tried to shove 7 and a half years of life and california memories into 24 bags and 3 days of packing. it was awesome and brutal all at the same time. these people heard a call, they responded to that call and they didn't hesitate, they didn't look back, the just obeyed. they are going to live out the gospel to a community of women who are known as society's rejects and offer hope to broken people. it is absolutely beautiful. it's bold. it's courageous. to take your 4 small children and realize the "american dream" is empty and go live a better story is ridiculously life-giving, for everyone involved.

there aren't many people i admire more than these. despite the flood of tears and "you can do this" pep talks at LAX, a beautiful story is beginning to unfold in lima, peru. and let me tell you, my march visit can't come soon enough.

goodfellows, i could not be more proud to call you "my bests". let's do this thing.

Monday, January 24, 2011


there's this house on alba east that closed it's doors this week to was probably its most well-lived years. this place belonged to some of my best friends.

on monday, they moved to peru (more on this later). what made this place on alba so special?

- 4 kids living and loving every square inch of this place, each with their own kind of love (tears, puke, laughter, sword fights, snuggles, music, head injuries, birthday parties, imagination)

- 2 parents who learned a heck of a lot in the 4 and a half years they lived on alba, that's their story to tell but i can tell you there were ups, downs, love and competition, fights and forgiveness, questions and resolution.

- many "tell the truth tuesday nights" where we would sit on the couch and be brutally honest with each other about what was going on in our lives, no judgement, no criticism, just pure "doing life" together in the most authentic way i've ever done life

- a "shirtless spaghetti dinner" or two involving only the men de-shirting as to teach toddler boys how to eat spaghetti without staining perfectly good shirts, that's solid parenting

- many "catan nights" where a group of us would gather to drink margaritas, eat mexican food & play the game we all love the most - settlers of catan. these nights were filled with fierce competition, laughter & great conversation... and of course catan themed cupcakes

- days spent playing the wii and watching football & basketball (i'm still convinced there's not many better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon)

- parties, parties & more parties - birthdays, super bowl, baby showers, game nights... this was the place to be

- countless books read and whispered giggles with those 4 precious kiddos as i tucked them in at night

- gallons of chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and boxes of powdered donuts consumed by the lady of the house... and yogurt by the girls of the house, i see a trend :)

- tears were shed during hard seasons of life, hard seasons of ministry and the crappy stuff that happens, but the house on alba east? it was safe. we could cry there, we could grieve there, we could be honest there

- it became the "study spot" for the week i finished grad school, probably the only week that house was quiet. literally, but it got me through finals & allowed me to graduate.

- friendships were formed on that street that will last a lifetime, seeds were planted in that neighborhood that we trust God will continue to grow despite the departure of the ones he called there for that season

- dreams were formed in that house. mission trips were planned in that house. mission trips that started with a simple weekend adventure we embarked on in mexico... followed by their week in guatemala... followed by the journey they are now a part of - peru (stay tuned for that story)

so alba - we thank you. for your open door and cozy couch, for allowing us the space to be honest, for embracing each kid and adult and giving us the space to become who we needed to be, for teaching us that the american dream is not all it's cracked up to be & being gracious enough to be left behind when a small apartment in peru or a small duplex in santa barbara beckoned our next calling and in so many ways allowed more "space" for us to be who we're called to be.

and goodfellows, thanks for being willing to open those doors & let others into your lives there. may that have only been preparation for what He has next in peru.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

.#30 - epic birthday bash!!!!!

i turned 30. about two months ago was the big day. for years i’ve been dreading it - not wanting it to be here, pushing it out of my mind and out of my conversations, as far away as possible. and then about a year ago i read a book that changed me. probably forever. i read donald miller’s “a million miles in a thousand years.” life changing? really bree? yes, and here’s why.

before reading this book i would say things like, “i LOVE going horseback riding” or “i really want to give away 10% more of my income” or “ya, i’d totally do the 10k mudrun with you.” i said all of those things but wasn’t living them. this book pushed me out from the saying and reading and dreaming into the living. out of this birthed the “30 before 30 list.” this book and this way of living for a year also made me view my 30th birthday differently. i started thinking that maybe it’s not so bad. maybe all my friends in their early to mid 30’s aren’t crazy after all and it really is better than your 20’s in some ways. and maybe, just maybe life itself was worth celebrating in an epic way instead of feeling sorry for myself.

and epic it was. 30 people plus myself boarded a boat in long beach on the 30th of october to celebrate my 30th birthday. ridiculous. we had a theme for each night, i had t-shirts printed up and it was an a-list cast. some best friends from all the way back in junior high, my entire immediate family, my college roommate, my orange county roommates, my current roommate, my boyfriend and all of his roommates, friends i worked at church with, a friend who somehow always ends up on epic adventures with me, the santa barbara crew and some orange county hooligans. honestly, i can’t tell you how blessed i am by the people who were willing to take off work and pay to come play for my birthday. my heart overflows with thankfulness.

from waterslides to sushi bars, from champion hairy-chest contest winners to the champion of the blackjack tournament, from friends that snuck tequila on from mexico to friends that wore red lipstick just for me, from a blowhole in mexico to hole in the wall cantinas, we lived it up. we danced late into the night, ate multiple meals per day, laughed harder than i had in a long time and just loved being together. it was the perfect way to depart my 20’s. literally perfect. what i am learning from donald miller and his life and writings is this: life is meant to be lived - at any age, at every moment. we honor God with the way we choose to live our lives in each given season and dang it, i have the freedom and flexibility to do so much right now, so i’m committed to it.

i did the mud run, i went horseback riding, i gave 10% more, i spent 3 days in solitude with Jesus, i booked my next epic international adventure. and i did almost all 30 things. i did things that scare me and things that make me tick. i did things that weren’t possible and things i’ve always said i wanted to do. and i “cruised” into this next decade in the best way i could think of - spending 3 days with some of the people i love the most, celebrating, laughing, remembering and creating new memories. and i loved every stinkin’ minute of it. moving forward is no longer scary, it’s just the next adventure in this crazy thing called life. i believe that God’s got me in the palm of his hand and that he directs my every step - my job is to be obedient and to live by faith, so let’s do this thing. next up? 40 before 40 (with 10 years to accomplish it this time)!

.#29 - read a book per month.

so the motivation behind this little ditty was that i finished grad school and realized that one of two things was happening. either 1) i felt guilty for reading anything except for really intense theology books or 2) i stopped reading altogether. the latter was happening more often than i liked, so i decided to do something about it. i decided to commit to reading one book per month for an entire year. it didn’t matter what book i read as long as i read something. so worth it. so doing it again next year.

so here you go - the books and one thing they taught me:

october ’09 - “a million miles in a thousand years” by donald miller.
this book is what partially inspired my 30 before 30 list. this book pushed me out from the saying and reading and dreaming into the living. so i resolved this year to become someone who does hard things, challenges myself and is who i say i am. it’s truly been revolutionary for me.

november - “guernsey literary & potato peel society” by mary ann shaffer
i’ve always wanted to be in a book club so i started one... and then i moved. but this was our second book. it was a novel and a quick read. one of those “make you feel good” books that entertains you and makes your heart happy. i liked it but am not sure it was worth purchasing being that i read it in a day. i need a library card.

december - “mere discipleship” by lee camp
one word: challenging. if you’ve read “the cost of discipleship,” this is similar. the urgency to truly become a disciple of Christ and not just a follower of a religion is prominent in this book and is still convicting my own heart and life. this is my favorite quote from the book: “ is not our task to make things turn out right, but instead to be faithful witnesses. We will have to trust that God will be God, and do what God has promised.” read it and be changed.

january - “say you’re one of them” by uwem akpan
i went to africa last summer. this book is about, about poverty, about kids, about brokenness, about the reality that’s happening around the world that we often choose to ignore. it hit pretty close to home and reminded me of my responsibility to do something about what i’ve seen and heard.

february - “gracias” by henri nouwen
pure gold. this book was in my top 3 of the year. it’s nouwen’s journal from his time in south america that they published. it’s real and raw and truth-telling and phenomenal. i had all of my leaders read it for leader training before mission trips. it changed us - as individuals and as a community. i think about it and refer to quotes from it often.

march - “life of the beloved” by henri nouwen
this was a beautiful reminder of something i so often forget: i am His beloved, i have already been chosen, His favor rests on me. i so badly needed to hear the truth in this book (so badly, in fact that a year and a half ago, i tattooed the world “beloved” on my body because i so often forget!). nouwen graciously reminds us that we love because He first loved us and because we are His beloved, we have the confidence to go and be love to the world because that’s what we’ve been sent to do.

april - “cross-cultural servanthood” by duane elmer
i read this for work. i learned alot about Jesus and life as a result. sweet that i get to do that for work. it reminded me of the difficulties and challenges we face when we cross cultures in the name of Jesus. so much is lost in translation and so often we think we have something to offer. we are to go into that culture and serve, not to be served or to bring anything we thing is of value. This is my take home: “Jesus came to show us what life in the kingdom looked like, not to modify how the world did things.” - Gene Wilkes.

may - “strengths based leadership” by
this is the leadership version of “strengths finder” - a personality tool used by teams everywhere to analyze your giftings as and individual and then to combine them as a team and see how God knit everyone together for his beautiful purpose. This leadership book points to qualities in a leader that are most serving to those you lead and also give practical tools on how to lead people with certain strengths.

june - “weight of glory” by c.s. lewis
a pastor i greatly respect from our church was leading a study on this book. when i heard about the combination of mike plus c.s. lewis, i jumped on it. it’s an amazing book by one of the most brilliant authors of all time. it taught me about relationships, about heaven and about how relationships are all that truly matter this side of heaven and we have a responsibility to treat people well and to point them to Jesus.

july - “the paradox of choice” by tom rath
a pastor friend from rock harbor recommended this book long ago and the reason i chose to pick it up is that the whole premise is speaking to the reality happening in the upcoming generations that they are given way too many choices and so they choose nothing, which spirals into adolescence lasting until their late 20’s and them never being able to commit to anything. interesting stuff.

august - “the queen of the road” by doreen orion
so i thought it was time for a novel after months of intense reading. bad idea. this was my least favorite book. at first i found her funny and endearing, but soon, annoying and repetitive. i know it seems harsh but i was over it. and august was busy. there wasn’t time for nonsense and it was nonsense... with great cocktail recipes.

september - “bittersweet” by shauna niequist
unbelievable. it’s in the top two on my list for this year. she, donald miller & c.s. lewis blew my mind. truly. i’d read her first book, “cold tangerines” a few years back and found myself changed by it, profoundly. and then i picked up “bittersweet” as soon as it came out. oh my soul. it challenged me to live and to love differently. she writes so conversationally and makes you understand more both God and reality. shauna is a brilliant writer whom i had the privilege of briefly meeting this year. rad.

october - “radical” by david platt
i loved and hated this book. is that okay to say? i loved it because there was so much truth in it and it did compel me to do more for the kingdom. i’m grateful for that. however, i felt his approach was pretty harsh and almost “guilting” you into becoming a Christian that does more for the kingdom. i very much prefer the humble inspiration of the book below when i’m thinking about how to change the world for Jesus :)

*november - “the hole in our gospel” by richard stearns
my mind is currently being blown. i was in europe and this was my reading material of choice for my journey after 4 recommendations . i’m not even kidding when i tell you that this book is life-changing. it the humble inspiration of one man’s life that is opening my eyes and turning me into a person who values what God values and sees nothing as mine, but all as HIS instead. i’m being wrecked & encouraged all at the same time. it’s legit. read it. #1 on the book list for 2010.

*i know i said a year & my year was up in october, but i could resist adding this book because it quickly crept all the way up to #1 on the list. just do it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

.five years.

time seems to pass so quickly. all of a sudden we wake up and we’re putting up Christmas trees again and scrambling to find that perfect festive dish to bring to ugly sweater party number seven. each Christmas creates new memories and retrieves old ones from the recesses of our minds. they’re all different, but in some ways the same. there’s one that stands out to me - one that changed how Christmases will be for our family from that one forward. it was Christmas 2005. you see, a few weeks before Christmas, my phone rang in California. i was at a friend’s house watching a movie and my brother called from Texas and told me to he needed to talk. it was late in Texas. i knew something was amiss. so i walked outside and listened as he told me the sad news - he was getting divorced... at 26 years old.

my niece was 6 months old. this is what would forever change Christmas for our family. i remember that Christmas being a sad one. one filled with mixed emotions for all of us - deep sadness for my brother and my niece, anxiety about the future, frustration and a tinge of anger for the broken relationship, questions and prayer... lots of questions and prayer. and i’m sure my emotions pale in comparison to those of my brother - now a 26-year-old single dad with a new job, in a new town, all alone. i remember picking up my 6-month old niece from her mom and sitting in the back seat with her while my mom drove. she wrapped her chubby little hand around my finger and fell asleep in her car seat on the drive. uncontrollable tears started pouring down my cheeks for the innocent baby whose life was now in two different homes. they’re starting to come again even as i write this. i remember that Christmas being hard - watching my precious girl try to adjust to being without her mom, traveling with her to California and hearing her scream when we tried to put her to bed in her port-a-crib. she was so out of sorts and so sad. it broke my heart. i can’t imagine what it did to her dad who was doing a heck of a job loving and caring for her. i remember thinking, “i hope we never have a Christmas like this again” but yet that time with her was treasured.

every Christmas, my brother gets that sweet girl for a little more than a week, sometimes before Christmas, sometimes after. and every Christmas it’s gotten better, easier, less tears, more just a part of life. i remember the joy of that next Christmas...

that little girl was now one and a half. she was walking and doing her best to say Bree - “Bee” and all she wanted to do was laugh and play. that has been typical, every Christmas since then. she is probably the biggest joy in my life, that girl. and every time i say goodbye to her after being with her for a few days at Christmas, i close the car door and as soon as she’s out of sight, the tears fall. i think partly because i love her so stinkin’ much and it’s hard to not see her whenever i want to. i think partly because i remember that first Christmas of her life and how hard it was. i think mostly because of God’s sweet redemptive power and the fact that this well-adjusted kid has a loving step-dad and a loving step-mom now and has two in-tact homes with an infant sister in one and a baby on the way in the other. the tears are bittersweet.

and someday... someday i’ll tell Cameron these stories and we’ll laugh and we’ll cry. but for now, me and that awesome 5-year-old get to crimp our hair for ugly sweater parties and experience the joy of Christmas. i stand amazed at the healing, restoration and grace that God has given us in just five years.