Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top 10

This year I decided it would be best to mark tomorrow's holiday with the top 10 things I'm thankful for. It's hard for us to not be with family tomorrow (nor on Christmas Day this year), so I've found myself complaining about that instead of being thankful. I need help. Ha.

Bree's Top 10 for Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for…

- this crazy, amazing, beautiful, real group of college gals I get to do life with on Thursday nights and beyond.

- Maggie - the sweetest golden retriever that we somehow are lucky enough to have in our little family.

- my grandpas - I know that may seem strange, but I think being pregnant makes you think about the relationships you treasured growing up - my grandpas were great men. I miss them.

- my friends & family - if you know me at all, you know I love my people. I am so rich in relationships it's ridiculous and I'm crazy grateful.

- my health - I had a bit of a strange summer with my health and I can tell you I've never been more thankful for it than I have this year.

- new friendships in SLO - it's hard to be "new in town" and we really made some awesome friends this year, I don't take that for granted.

- my new job - I LOVED working for IMPACT. It challenged me and grew me beyond my imagination, but I am equally as thankful for my new job with Students International that allows me to do something I'm passionate about, but gives me the flexibility to be home much of the time with my family.

- God's grace - I've learned this year that He is so gracious with us to let us be where we are, where we need to be, His expectations of us are often different than our expectations of ourselves, so glad about that.

- Jarred - he is a loyal, faithful, hard-working, tender-hearted, loving, care-taking, delightful husband and I'm so thankful for the gift it is to be his wife. Crazy how much we've become a family these last few years.

- the life growing inside of me - wow. This is the #1 thing we are crazy grateful for this year. We see God's handprint all over this little life - the timing, how it's changed us, how loved this kid will be - and we could not be more excited or thankful… for life and for this next season.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seven: Food - Day 18

Welp, we're almost there - 20 days will be here in 48 hours. Before you get excited and think that we did it, I have (yet again) to confess. There were a few days last week - say maybe days 15-16 that I didn't give a rip about the fast we were doing. You may ask me to define "I didn't give a rip," okay - 2 sugar cookies with buttercream frosting (breaking more than one rule, maybe 3), a piece of apple raspberry pie (also multiple rule-breakers), pizza and tortilla chips - all in 2 days. Wow. I mean if you're gonna cheat, go all in, right? That's my philosophy - make it good. And boy I did.

Of course that night, Jarred and I are sitting on the couch talking about our day and he asks, "How you doing with Seven this week?" Why? Why when there's something to confess does someone always ask the hard question?!?!?! Ugh… The ugly truth came spilling out. I told him I'd stopped caring. He asked me if I'd be willing to jump back on the bandwagon for the last few days and pony up. Maybe? was my reply. People, something is wrong with me! I've lost all self-control. So I thought about it and saw how much he didn't want to do it alone and I agreed.

So until Monday, we are back in the saddle - making good choices and doing our dang best to stick with the program. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - it's birthday celebration time and I don't give a rip - with GREAT reason. No rules on birthdays people.

We will do our best to be really spiritual on Monday and give you some great grand finale to what we've learned this month. Wish us luck :)

A little glimpse of something I've been really convicted about this month is inviting Jesus into my challenges. I have found over and over again this month that I forget to ask for help. I think I can do it on my own so I try and I try and I try and I fail, every stinkin' time. I still haven't quite mastered the art of stopping before I start my day and asking Jesus to give me the strength to fast that day, the strength to do what's best that day, the discipline to say no that day. Maybe I've got 2 days left to practice… sweet Jesus, give me grace.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Seven: Food - Day 10

Here I am again to tell you that we're failing at Food Month ;)

This month is really hard (even after we fell off the bandwagon and changed it up) - it's really, really hard. It's been amazing to me how much our society and our friend groups revolve around food and drinks. I mean, I guess that's been true for hundreds of years in many cultures - food and gathering around the table are a defining piece of the culture. When you deny yourself seven categories of food, you learn much about your dependence on those things. It's so good and so bad all in the same breath.

You know what I want? Lemonade... and wine... and some cookie dough... and a loaf of sourdough bread. The sad part is I can't stop thinking about it. The phrase, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" has been ringing through my head the last 10 days.

But our bodies are truly amazing creations. They are built to survive, built to find an alternative, built to work together with all their oodles of parts and figure out what to tell you to substitute when you can't have lemonade or bread or wine. It's unreal how lemonade has turned into afternoon cantaloupe snacking and cookie dough has found it's supplement in energy balls made of peanut butter, oats, coconut and honey. And wine? Well, let's get real - there's really no substitute for a good glass of wine... It's been awesome to see my body "figure it out" and give my brain the signal to tell me what to substitute.
Some of our not-so-finest moments this month you'll catch us arguing over whether certain cereal has too much sweetness in it to be qualified as consuming sugar or whether or not it's okay to eat bread with mostly wheat flour. But some of our finer moments have been the look across the table when all we want is a bite of homemade pie and we tell each other without words that it's worth it.

My evil temptress college gals tried to convince me to sneak a glass of wine with them after Jarred went to bed... it's those moments where I say "no" and then I feel like I'd pay them $100 to open the wine and pour it in my mouth like I've won the battle. :) But seriously, it's been cool to do this for something bigger than ourselves - to be an example to college students, medical professionals, our friends and family of people who are willing to sacrifice so that we might learn something. We want this to somehow bring us closer to the God who created food as nourishment... and not to be an idol. And somehow I think that's working.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Seven: Food Day 3 (Spoiler Alert: We Fell Off the Bandwagon)

I'm sitting at the table eating some whole wheat pasta with pesto and chicken for lunch. People, we couldn't do it. For a variety of reasons and the season we're in, we just couldn't do a small amount of foods. Our excuses are many and I'll spare them, but the hardest thing is Jarred's 13 hour work days and me starting a new job in 3 days and being gone for that next week. The transition and long days are hard when your options are limited - as is travel.

We didn't fail, we modified. I like to think of it as a Day 2 restart, that works right? :) Instead of only eating seven things, we decided to give up seven things. I know it's no NEAR the sacrifice that Jen made, but we've decided we're not quite up to par with the Hatmaker crew yet. Baby steps. But the things we decided to quit are still a sacrifice.

So here's our confession: we are at this point in time incapable of eating only seven foods for 3 weeks. But here's what you can keep us accountable to giving up...

1) coffee
2) sweets/sugar
3) alcohol
4) white flour (or anything containing it)
5) chips
6) full-fat dairy (we can only eat low fat or fat-free)
7) hummus (SADDDDDD)

We recognize that some of you may not eat these things regularly and BRAVO for you. None of these are bad things to sacrifice, but these are things that we regularly sometimes consume and they're hard things for us to give up.

A few examples of the torture the last few days: at lunch with some friends at a Mexican restaurant - they bring out chips and salsa - BUMMER, a friend has a bowl of Halloween candy and I naturally pull out a mini Hershey's bar and then put it back - BUMMER, we are celebrating some friends' birthdays tonight and I've been nominated to go pick up apple and boysenberry pie (apple pie is my love language) - HUGE BUMMER! See, not as easy as it sounds. I also have a husband suffering from caffeine withdrawal headaches. Now that's a bummer - for both of us.

What are we learning? Nothing yet, just that deprivation makes us both more crabby. We'll keep you posted as the weeks go on. Do we feel like we failed? No, we just feel like this time around, that wasn't the best solution and we're good with that and a teensy bit happier. Thanks for joining us on the journey. If you see us right now, you may encounter some crazies - sorry bout it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Seven: Food - Day 1

People, we're doing this. This month is scary. Media month seems daunting, but when you mess with my food choices - oh watch the heck out. It's day one at 6:30pm and I am hangry (hungry + angry = hangry). For serious though, this one will mess with me to the core, I can already tell.

I got this text from the hubs at 3pm: "I just ate my last meal I brought to work and I'm still so hungry." On a global scale, we are clearly overfed because with what we've eaten today, any kid in Haiti or Africa would be stuffed to the brim and praising Jesus for so much food... and we're both hungry and can't stop talking/thinking about it. Wow. Reality check #1.

Jen picked seven foods and ate them for the entire month (minus the tortillas she categorized as bread, don't blame her one bit). We are trying 10 foods because 7 seemed mentally insane to us, but trust me - it's very different from what we normally do (tortilla chips, ice cream, wine, cookie dough, etc). All I can say is the amount of chicken, beans avocados and sweet potatoes we're about to consume is intense. Our bodies will be oh-so-clean by October 30 - just in time to ruin all we worked for by celebrating the heck out of my birthday :)

Here's been my epiphany with food month while preparing for it: we have friends that live in other countries, lots of them. They eat differently than us, particularly our friends who live in Haiti. Sweet Kelsea was here visiting us 2 weeks ago and she and I were sitting at the kitchen table over breakfast talking about Seven, about the monthly sacrifices and we got stuck on food. We got stuck because Kelsea started thinking about she and her husband's life in Haiti and told me that she thinks they really truly eat no more than seven foods in their house, give or take a few. She has no running water right now, no electricity and the outdoor market is a 30 minute walk down the hill. Kelsea is American - she's lived in Colorado and California and since her move to Haiti, she's literally paired down her eating to about seven things. Things that can be purchased at a low price and cooked on the stove. That and fruit are really their only options. Holy smokes... But you know what? She may have never put that together had I not mentioned it - she's content, she's satisfied and she's the healthiest I've ever seen her, minus a recent bout with dengue fever.

This was so convicting for me. What makes me think that I can't live on seven(ish) foods for one month if Kelsea, who grew up just as privileged as I did can live on seven foods everyday of her life. Not to mention the kids who live down the street from her who eat three - porridge, beans and rice. And they're all alive, happy and completely satisfied. This want versus need thing is really ripping me apart these days. God is stripping us down to the basics of humanity and we've already learned that we don't need media and we only need a very minimal amount of food. But sweet Jesus, I'd give my right pinky toe for a Chipotle burrito right now. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Seven: Media Day 28 - We Did It!

Someone asked me recently, “What is God teaching you right now?” My almost-immediate response surprised me as I usually think through answers to those types of questions – maybe wanting to sound pious or mature. My answer exited my mouth before I even had time to think about it: “God has been working on teaching me what is important – loving Him and loving people and not worrying so much about my to-do list.”

I tell you this because I think that media month had EVERYTHING to do with this. Headed into media month, I was coming off some of the worst weeks of my life with intense stroke-like atypical migraines… every 4 days. During the “down days” we’ll call them, I had much time to spend with God. He showed up and reminded me of words that I needed to turn into action – like “be” and “abide,” like “grace” and “rest.” As much as my type A personality pushes against that, it was exactly the season I needed. Enter the inspiration to FINALLY read and do “Seven.” I knew this was what my life needed in this season.

During my “down days” I spent much time on Facebook and allowing movie stars to entertain me while I laid on the couch recovering, most faithful golden retriever by my side. When Jarred and I had to choose which month of “Seven” to begin with, media month was a no brainer for the girl who was so over screen time.

So it began… 28 days ago. It’s been a journey – one of peace, quiet, reconnecting, being, abiding, relating and praying. In so many ways, it’s changed us. We may be more present, more likely to pick up the phone, more apt to want to hang out, more excited about going for walks and more in touch. A $12 book can’t buy you that, but a sacrificial experience in your faith journey can do that. We are so grateful – so much so that we want the remnants media month to be ingrained into the fabric of our home.

We have decided that our family will celebrate Sabbath once a week – probably on Mondays – our Sabbath will be media-free. So no media Mondays will be happening in our house. We will laugh, we will talk, we will cry if we need to, we will be together. One night a week will also be media-free. We don’t like the habit of coming home from work just to open computers and not be present. While we learned that sometimes we need to decompress by reading blogs, news, etc., it does not need to happen every night. So one night a week will be set aside for quiet, for connecting, for family. We want this to be a pattern in our house so that when kids come they know that’s just what “we do” and we want them to value it as well.

Jen says this: “Perhaps this is why Scripture calls us to the practice of fasting – from food, from greed, from selfishness, from luxuries. It isn’t just the experience; it’s the discipline. It changes us. Fasting helps us develop mastery over the competing voices in our heads that urge us toward more, toward indulgence, toward emotional volatility.” - pg. 219

Media month did just that for us –it taught us discipline and it has changed us. We recognized that being unplugged warred against the competing voices in our heads saying, “Go read this blog. You HAVE to see what so and so posted on Instagram today. You have 17 Facebook notifications and 30 emails – they must be attended to immediately, especially the ones about Farmville and Male Enhancement ;).” But seriously, it’s so good for your soul, your marriage, your friendships and your busy mind to shut down and just “be.” God asks that of us a few times and the more you practice it, the easier it gets. Discipline changes us.

We love “Seven” – we want more. We are coming to believe that sacrificial living for the purpose of teaching ourselves what we don’t need and learning to depend on Jesus is important. Not only that; it’s scriptural and it’s transforming. We are stoked for month two, which will be… FOOD MONTH! More details to come with a start date of October 9. Thanks for joining us on the journey.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Seven: Media Fast Day 26

Holy smokes, the closer we get to the end, the more I'd like to just cheat and say I did it. It's just two days early, right? I've learned through this experience that my husband is a rule follower of all rule followers. Therefore, cheating is not worth it if I feel the need to confess, which I usually do.

So here's my confession for today... I looked on Facebook, but only for like 5 seconds after looking up what I needed to (one of my friends from Haiti is in the hospital and the best updates on how she's doing are on Facebook - merited...). But after I saw how she's doing, I just browsed like the top 5 posts on my news feed today. Like I said, I'm over it. And I don't really feel guilty - I only will when I have to confess tonight.

Something great I'm learning through this - there's no way in heck I could do this without community. Jen said it in the book and I thought I could do it alone, no problem, but people - a month is a LONG time. For real. And having Jarred do this with me has been a game changer because it reminds me that People magazines are media and YouTube links in a text message are media and it's worth it to power through the last two days. So very worth it. I've needed him. Without him I would totally have cheated more than once or twice by now. He's been my person and it's made us more of a team; for that I'm incredibly thankful. Truly.

A sad thing that's happened during media month? I COMPLETELY forgot to call not one, but BOTH of my grandmas on their birthdays. I blame Facebook, but seriously I do. Facebook reminds me of those things and my iPhone update didn't transfer all of my birthdays and then my grandma's felt unloved and forgotten. Yuck. So ready for those reminders to be back in my world. And it's ended up costing a pretty penny to send something nice with an "I'm sorry" card to make up for my brain fart(s). This part made me really sad and even maybe made me say, "It's not worth it." But I can't blame media month - only myself.

One of the greatest things we've learned is what Jen's husband Brandon says in the book about their experience:
"The dangerous part of our social media and technologically saturated world is not it's existence, but what it distracts us from." pg. 116
We are loving learning things we've never known about each other - going for walks, talking more, watching each other's personalities, spending time with our pup - all because the distractions have been removed.

This is decidedly good for us - more distraction free lives and more time with people we love. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Stay tuned for the grand finale post for media month. I'll talk about our plan to implement this beyond one month as well as what challenge we've chosen for October. This whole Seven thing is really hard. And good. And hard. But we love it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seven: Media Fast Day 12

Tell the truth Thursday night...

I'm getting tired of it, I cheated to watch a football game today and I could never be a nun. There, I said it.

It's funny how the silence (something we all long for in the chaos) will drive you batty after a while. I do fine on days when we're both off work - the chatter, mindless and/or meaningful, continues throughout the day, we have a to-do list to keep each other motivated with and we will go find something to do together if we're bored. But sweet Jesus, when he's working 13 hour days and I have no human interaction, no radio, no blogs, Facebook or Instagram, I. GO. NUTS. Straight nuts. And then I know I drive him CRAZY as soon as he gets home. It's not fair - he's been around people all day and I've been stuck in this house.

So this week, while he works 7 days in a row, I will be more intentional about time away with friends, making phone calls, being present with humans. It will benefit everyone, I promise.

This is getting difficult, I tell you. I think the hardest thing about it is finding another outlet. It's not that we want to fill our time with media ish, but the problem is that it's how we wind down. We read blogs or yahoo stories or watch YouTube videos to wind down. And now we exchange antsy glances and wonder how to kill that time.

So we had a come to Jesus Day-12 conversation tonight (where one of us got defensive, I'll let you guess who) and we made some decisions about the next 16 days and how we'd like to make media month really worth our sacrifice.

So here are some goals for the next 16 days:

- We'd like to spend more of that unstructured antsy time with Jesus instead of knocking more things off of our to-do lists. While we love productivity, we're pretty sure that's not what this month is about.

- We are not going to TV cheat anymore - even for really important college football games where our alma maters are playing each other for the only time this year.

- One of us needs to use a little less sarcastic banter and useless verbage in text conversations (I'll also let you guess which one that is)

- We want to be more intentional about our time together and how we spend that while we have extra space.

- We want to come up with a plan for a less media rhythm once we are done with this month.

So these are the things you can ask us about if you see us. Feel free. I'm still over it and I still could never be a nun, but I'm attempting to jump back on the bandwagon and be more hard core these next 16 days... pray for our 5 days in Chicago at a REALLY amazing wedding where I'll want to Instagram everything. Self control. That's what to pray for.

This is good for me. This is good for me. This is good for me...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Seven: Media Fast Day 5 Bullets

It's Day 5 without media in our house. Here are some things we're learning:

- I love facebook, instagram and blogs

- Jarred loves yahoo news and this new money mustache blog(?!?!?)

- our house is typically pretty quiet, so the no tv thing isn't really affecting us

- we are SO productive without our computers in front of our faces! we got SO much done this weekend - like so much

- I am a more present friend - I had three solid long catch-up phone calls yesterday and I felt like I was being a good friend

- when we're productive & distraction-free, we actually have time to go for walks on the beach!

- we have NO IDEA what's going on in the world. Jarred went to work today to hopefully someone will tell him and he can relay to me what's happening out there

- most of the time, we don't care what's going on in the world :)

- I actually only left laundry unfolded for one day instead of 8!

- I enjoy reading books - I had forgotten about that hobby, nice to see you again paper pages

- a month feels like forever

- I miss seeing people's pictures, so I can't help but cheat and have people show me the pictures they've been posting when they come over. I see it as them personally sharing their lives...nothing wrong with that.

- Facebook is a TEASE - this just wrong and I WILL NOT click the button

- I miss sharing the celebratory and funny moments of my life via instagram and Jarred is sick of hearing what I would have posted

Overall, we're LOVING this media fast thing. In some ways, I think it's turned us into hermits - we feel like because we can't see what everyone is doing, they must be doing nothing, so we'll just stay home and make homemade bread, fold laundry and count coins. Kidding...kind of. But it's been a gift - we've given each other more time and attention, we've made phone calls, played with the dog, been less rushed, been more productive and been so much less distracted by "urgent" status updates and blog posts. We've found lots of freedom these last 5 days - freedom from what America says is important and freedom to do with our time what we think is important. We are genuinely excited about the rest of the month and already anticipating some changes in our daily rhythm following this media fast. So good. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Seven: Month 1 - Media

As I mentioned in this post, we are embarking on a journey called "Seven" - a book by Jen Hatmaker who is real, honest, messy, awesome and determined to live a life worthy of the gospel. I try to resonate with all of those things and so I brought the idea up to my husband. I was SHOCKED when he said he wanted to do it with me. He said, "If you're going to do it, then I should do - we need to do this as a family." Well, all I have to say to that is that it's a darned good thing we don't have kids because I would not want to be 7-month depriving them of things while doing the same myself - disaster.

Needless to say - here we go. I will try to blog every few days about the experience because I don't want to forget how desperate I am for facebook and insta how much Jesus is teaching me. :)

But really... the first thing I do every morning when I wake up (way earlier than I'd like - still adjusting to this "husband with a real job" thing), I look at Facebook and Instagram. Literally, I'll sit there for 30 minutes and just see what in the world happened while I was sleeping. It's glorious. This morning I was sad. I went so far last night as to delete those two apps from my phone so I would not be tempted when I woke up and I literally sat up and thought, "(GASP) Someone deleted my apps!" Yes, I'm that special. Then I remembered it was September 1st and I'd made a commitment.

It's Day 1, I. CAN. DO. THIS. This is where it gets good.

I actually went to the bookshelf (!) and pulled out a book we're reading for a leadership team called, Leading Kingdom Movements - good stuff in there, better than Instagram even. And what happened next was really incredible. I started reading and came across a page or two that literally spoke straight to where I am right now in some leadership stuff and some Jesus stuff. Over and over again, the phrase "Pray that you will have the grace to respond with faith," kept popping up when they were talking about failures and frustrations and breakthroughs. It was a FLOODGATE people, a floodgate that led me to stay in bed with that book and a journal for an hour. So sweet.

And you know what, I went to church after that and I even forgot my phone because without FB and Insta, my iphone is a waste - who needs it?!?!

Day 1 and I already feel more free. I feel like God was really gracious this morning and gave me a huge nugget right away which makes me a little nervous about the next 29, but hey, I'll take it.

P.S. Something I wished and begged for just ONE teensy insta post was this - I backed out of the garage. The garage door decided to stop about 5/6 of the way open, I didn't notice and literally ejected my antenna from the top of my car - garage door took it out, no problem. Sweet Jesus, I so wish for the opportunity to have shared that with the rest of humanity - the pictures, my husband's reaction, the laughter... October is too far away for those of you who enjoy a good shitshow. Onward...

Saturday, August 31, 2013


As single people and as a married couple, we have spent a good amount of the last few years with people who live on less than $2 a day. We feel in alot of ways that we have too much, we live too extravagantly, we are wasteful and do and have so much that isn't necessary. It's the American way - we know that it's all we know and it's what we've grown up it. But we don't necessarily want to live the American dream, we want to live globally; to consume less and give more. We have to live counter-culturally and that won't be easy, but we want to try. We feel compelled to do some fasting so that God will meet us here, teach us, grow us and reveal to us more of his globe and how we can be part of that story.

Here we go... Jarred and I have decided to embark on this journey - we're scared, we want to curse, we want to laugh at the thought of us actually being able to do this for seven months, but we're in.

This is basically the gig:
"A seven-month experimental mutiny against excess, tackling seven areas of overconsumption in the spirit of a fast; a fast from greed, irresponsibility, apathy, and insatiability. Each area boiled down to just seven choices for a month:


read the rest here -

Jen Hatmaker wrote this book called Seven. When she talks about herself, I see myself in her and I think that maybe, just maybe, we can do this. So we'll do our best. Ask us how we're doing, keep us accountable, basically what I'm saying is HELP! Ha.

I'll be blogging about it (and other things) here (yes, even during media month - I can write blogs but not read them). So follow along on our journey! It'll be a shitshow to be sure, nothing new around here, but we can't wait to see how God changes us.

For Posterity...

I don't have children, but I hope someday we will. And if we have them and there happens to be a boy or two in there, they will read this letter. I'm posting it so you'll read it too, but more than that, so that I have it kept in place where I'll remember to have my sons read it when they need to. Good gracious, that's good stuff.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Friends, there is a milestone here this week... these are the last few days of this job I've had for almost four years. Four long years where I've learned more than a blog post could ever summarize. I will do my best to debrief it here later so that you can have the gift of seeing all that God has done and is doing in my life. It's been ugly and beautiful, frustrating and gratifying, convicting and redeeming, but one of the biggest things this job has been for me is healing. A healing that began in my years on Young Life staff when I was young and fresh out of Texas. A healing that continued in graduate school where the most incredible professors spoke amazing truth over my life and told me I could... A healing that has continued to grow and plopped me in a place of confidence I never thought I'd have - one that's still growing, but one that I definitely didn't think was possible for me.

It's best described here... thank you Jen for speaking my feelings so well:

Thank you to the pastors I've interacted with, the friends I've made and mostly the incredible boss I've been given the chance to work under - you have all changed me for the better and given me a gift no one can ever take back from me... confidence to know that I can be used and I have a voice. Thank you, from the bottom of this Texas girl's heart.

Bravo, Jesus, Bravo.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Small... FMF

Picture this: a 32 year old professional woman with a graduate level education not being able to speak not even a word, losing feeling in her extremities and being so dizzy she falls over.

This is something that's happening to me during migraine episodes as of late. You know how it makes me feel? Small. Incapable. Scared. Frustrated. Anxious.

But here's the thing I'm learning. I think that's exactly where God wants me. By nature I am a Type A, take on loads of projects, fill my schedule, got it all under control kind of gal. I get it from both of my parents. It's all I've ever seen or known. These last few weeks, I think my stress level and my life's circumstances are demanding that I learn to slow down. But to me, that feels weak - like I need help (and I do), like I need to let go of my work responsibilities (and I do), like I am back in a place of dependency and in turn like I'm not contributing to society.

In all of this I feel like God is calling me back to him. He is jealous for his time with me. He knows what will fill me back up. This has sunk me on my butt on the couch, dependent on the community around me in this new little town we live in. And I think he's smiling - he's healing me while I rest.

He's making me whole again starting with the inside of me. His word has become the air I breathe in and out; I'm living on these words, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." - Exodus 14:14. I've needed his presence to calm my soul and remember to be thankful for each moment I don't have a migraine with whacky symptoms and to ask for more.

I feel so small, so useless, so over it, but then I look at who God likes to use - he used the tiniest soldier to defeat a giant, he used nimrod disciples to spread his name, he used harlots and liars and cheaters and murderers to bring people to him. And then I'm thankful that even in this yucky season where I feel useless, I am not a misfit, I belong to him and Jesus is using my life, possibly even more so because I'm small and broken.

Five Minute Friday

Friday, August 9, 2013


As I woke her up at 1:00 am to tell her that my Opa had just breathed is last in the living room, I saw the anguish on her face. The anguish of knowing what her life now was - lonely.

I helped her out of bed, put her robe on her and we walked into the living room where the hospice nurses, my sister-in-law, my aunt and uncle were standing around him, secretly hoping he'd start breathing again. My Oma calmly walked over to his bed side and sat next to him the chair, holding his hand as other family members that were staying down the street walked in the door. Soon after, she crawled onto the bed with him and started weeping softly. We all knew without a doubt that this was the most horrific day of her life. As we all wept, I sat in the corner and wept for her because I knew that the next week, all of us would go home with spouses, siblings, parents, significant others and she would be left in that house alone - with just 58 years of memories.

But in some strange way, I knew I could feel it deeper than anyone else in the room - I had just gotten out of a relationship that did not end well. I was 30 and so ready to be married, because I too (on a much smaller scale) had my fair share of lonely years. Of the 32 family members there, I was the only one with no one to go home to that night, my single cousins had yet to get to town. So after we finished having a family toast with buttermilk (gross, I know, but it was Opa's favorite), singing worship songs, reading scripture, recounting memories and praying for this beautiful widowed woman, I decided to stay with Oma. We laid there and held hands and wept. Neither of us slept much.

For the next 5 nights, I stayed with Oma - we found a way to peace and at least a bit of companionship, even if we still felt alone. Because of those hard weeks: my night in the hospital with Opa where I prayed with him, sang with him and listened to him cry out for Jesus to take him home while I sobbed on my little hospital couch and my hard nights with Oma, my eyes have been opened to what lonely really means. My compassion for the suffering, the broken and the lonely has been a gift.

Love someone who's lonely this week - bless them with the gift of your presence and a listening ear.

Five Minute Friday

Friday, July 26, 2013

Broken... FMF

We watch the commercials on the tv - you know, the ones with the kids who are malnourished and literally starving to death. Those commercials are designed to break our hearts for those in need - to get off our entitled, over-fed American booties and at the very least right a check. But to me what that communicates is, "See these kids? They're broken. They need help. Since you've got it together, why don't you fix their problem with just a little bit of money?"

But you know what? I've met those kids. I've seen their faces and heard their laughter. I've also seen their tears and watched them be in the middle of a field all alone, with literally no one who cares if they live or die. It's there, in our world and it's very very broken.

But you know what else? So am I. I am broken. My poverty may not look like theirs - I may not need clothes, food or a job, but I am also in need. My brokenness is just all covered up in a pretty layer of American pride, self-reliance and entitlement. As much as I try to not be these things and think this way, it's true... and it's ugly.

Today I'm reminded that being broken is beautiful. It's beautiful because it's something that unites all humans - our imperfection makes us one. Our need for each other makes us one. Our ability be with someone else in their brokenness and let someone enter into ours is what makes ashes turn to beauty. Embracing brokenness today...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Present - FMF

The greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of being present.

Life is hard, we need each other. Gifts, flowers, cards - those things are not needs, they are extras. What we need is someone's presence. When I am truly present with someone, there's nowhere else in the world I would rather be than with that person.

Here's a secret... I never, ever regret being present with someone. Ever.
I can't help today but think of one of girls in my first Bible study; this week she got diagnosed with inoperable cancer. The doctors are doing everything they can, but they're quickly realizing it's too late to save her life. She has weeks to months left in her short 27-year-old life. ALL THAT MATTERS to her, in these last weeks and months is the presence of those she loves... and the presence of God. That's it. There is nothing that matters more.

During hard seasons of my own life, you know what I remember now? I remember who was there, who sat and cried with me, prayed with me, asked me questions, tried to cheer me up. I remember Cecilia walking in my room with a glass of wine for each of us, plopping herself on my bed and asking how I was today. I remember Lizzy faithfully texting me every single day asking how I was and how she could pray. I remember Alisha helping me do the simple things - like get groceries and tie my shoes and get dressed when my body was in too much pain to do those things. I remember Emily showing up at my house uninvited, with food, knowing that if she didn't, I probably wouldn't have eaten that night. I remember my husband walking in, long before I expected him because he knew his presence mattered.

The "things" we buy for those we love are great, but they will be soon forgotten. The hours you give, the tears you cry, the hugging, the showing up - that's what sticks. That's what's worth it. So this weekend, I challenge you to think of someone who needs your presence and grab a latte or a glass of wine and go be present.

Five Minute Friday

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beautiful - FMF

I spend a significant amount of my time overseas - in communities all over the globe. I'm grateful for a job that takes me to places where I see more of Jesus, where the Gospel gets bigger and the world gets smaller. It's changed me. It's made me see how God makes beautiful things out of messy places and messy people and messy communities.

The thing I think is the most beautiful is the community found in other countries that we, as Americans don't have or value. We live for ourselves - we rarely open up our homes, our wallets, our lives to our own families, let alone those who are different than us. We live such independent, self-focused lives and it makes me sad. I want to be in a community that's a beautiful mess like the ones I see in Haiti - where people feed their kids, their sister's kids and their neighbor's kids because if they don't, then who else will? They live in one big house, love each other and get on each other's nerves, but they provide real, genuine community for one another and they understand what it's like to "have each other's back." They would give anything for someone they love to have food, shelter, education and a future...anything. And that's beautiful.
While we sit in our houses with more than we could ever want or need, may we remember today that messy is beautiful, community is beautiful, living for something other than ourselves is beautiful.

Five Minute Friday

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I've decided to jump on an a new bandwagon. I'm trying out Lisa-Jo Baker's "five minute friday" business. (I know, it's Saturday, better late than never... don't tell). There's a prompt, you have five minutes, you just write and then you post. Done. Fun huh? Come play!


Lately we've gotten a little lazy with listening skills in our house. We've gotten good at talking, defending, explaining and waiting until the other person's done so that we can speak our piece. When this happens, we go in circles.

We all need to be heard, but more than that to be understood - to know that the people who love us most know where we're coming from and why we feel that way. We need empathy and grace, we need to have them ask questions instead of give opinions, suggestions or answers. We lose so much when we stop listening.

This weekend, I will set my alarm for 5 minutes and just listen to my husband - hear what he has to say and say nothing back. I will then set my alarm for 3 more minutes and think before I formulate a response. I want to be more intentional about my tone, my questions but more than anything - my listening skills.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Gem

It's been too long... I know... let's not talk about it. Instead we'll talk about a book that I can't shake.

I just finished reading a gem - a literal gem. "Bread and Wine" is a gem because:
1) it's by Shauna Niequist which automatically equals gem status
2) it's got real-life, honest raw stories in it
3) the side dish to those stories are BOMB recipes
4) it has to do with Jesus, building community, food and wine

So really, what's not to like?!?!

Here's the thing I can't shake about this book: Shauna is my people - she writes from such an honest perspective that it just tugs at the little places in my heart that people usually can't get to - you know - the depth you feel when the community around you is real, vulnerable and beautiful, the body image, bathing suit season stuff, the Jesus is in our breaking bread and being around the table stuff, the trying to find balance in life stuff. These are topics that tug at my heart strings and stuff that makes my soul come alive (okay maybe not the bathing suit season part, but the rest of it).

Pinky promise that I'm not related to or friends with Shauna and getting paid to rave about her. I truly just think she's that great and if I could write a book, it would be similar to all three of hers - or maybe an intricately weaved combination of the three. I just feel like she speaks to my soul, she understands women, community, the important things in life and she's honest about the hard stuff.

Here's something she blogged recently that I seriously could not get over because it's exactly what I needed to hear and something that is the perfect picture of why I love her writing.

Below is the recipe for Flourless Brownies - holy smokes these are STUPID GOOD. Let's just say I made them three times in a 24 hour period. They are gluten free, delightful, so not healthy, but so delicious with fresh raspberries - nothing better and I am not even a chocolate lover. Sweet Jesus, just make them. And then go buy the book because there's way more goodness where that came from. You'll thank me later - probably just for the book suggestion and not for what will happen to your jeans after you read it. :)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract (the secret weapon)
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups almod meal (or finely ground almonds)
1 cup walnuts (optional, I make them without because of my potential to end up in the hospital)

- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Melt the chocolate and butter over low heat in a saucepan, stirring until glossy and smooth
- Take the pan off heat, mix in the vanilla, sugar and almond extract, and let it cool for just a few minutes
- Stir the eggs into the saucepan, then add the ground almonds and optional nuts and stir again. The batter will be a little grainy at this point because of the almonds, but don't worry a bit.
- Pour batter into an 8x8 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top has set but the brownies are still a little wiggly. Let cool completely and then cut.

You're welcome!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tension: Hope & Redemption

Click here - to read a post about our journey to Haiti last week. There will be more where this came from but didn't want you to feel left out :)

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bullets - Part 1

Well friends, it's been a little while or a long while. While I'm discovering that marriage + a full-time job + doing ministry = awesome, it also equals not much free time (you know, with someone living in your ish constantly - in your bed, in your used to be but not anymore clean house, your time - you know). Because of these things and other things you'll read in the bullets, you're getting just that for a little while - bullets. They're effective for a busy life, right? Maybe I'll elaborate on them when I have a moment to myself, speaking of, there are days when I'd like to be a stay at home wife. Key word, wife - not mom. When I have kids, I'll need the heck out for a minute, you know what I mean? But as a wife - plenty to do around here, quiet house, I think I could dig on that for little bit. Maybe if we lived in Delaware or Oklahoma or something... I digress.

Bullets of things I dig right now:

- my husband's 30th birthday weekend, promise to give you a full post on this, but man - it was delightful - friends, wine, country music, surprises, the whole bit

- hikes in this stupidly gorgeous place

- this girl, enough said

- this crazy thing called Young Life and the 80 college leaders that come with it - the love I have for these people is so deep and so fantastic and the way they love high school, junior high and special needs kids is phenomenal

- a weekend in Napa with my dearest friend and her husband - soul food, I tell ya

- this guy... still totally into him, I got a good one - also loving our weekend getaways while we have them - sonoma for a work conference? i kinda love that.

- friend visits - totally into friend visits (shameless plug)

- cuisine-themed girls night once a month - this is the only picture I have from it - sorry I'm not sorry

- this house we bought, no big - i dig that and the droves of paperwork we're drowning in

in other news... still working on our wedding photo album, and a post about our wedding. just feeling guilty so I thought I'd say it outloud.