hurt hurts

woman staring at sunset "When I asked you how you were feeling, you said it was a high-pain day. But you looked to be having such a great time — talking, laughing, mingling with the group. So it just doesn't add up."

I couldn't believe a friend — one of the few I'd candidly opened up to about my chronic health issues at that point — had written this to me. And had already spoken to other mutual friends about it me. Out of "concern," of course.

She was calling my integrity into account. For my health issues to be as severe as they are, she decided I should always be forlorn. Quiet. Listless.

And all at once, my back was up against the wall, with me defending what shouldn't need to be defended.

:: :: ::

If you endure chronic illness, fatigue, or pain—or love someone who does—would you click over to A Deeper Story to read the rest of my post?


R E A D    M O R E »


September 11 We Remember Every year, my heart struggles to find somewhere to land in this sea of remembrance.

I always eventually drop anchor in deep gratitude for those who ran into harm's way when tragedy and terror struck. Even in the face of horror, fear, pain, and uncertainty, love runs toward, not away.

And despite everything else I'm feeling today, this anchor holds.

//  In memory of Michael Vernon Kiefer  //

depression is real



I began and abandoned this post a month ago. I couldn't find the words—or the courage—to finish it. For so many reasons.

Then came the heartbreaking news of Robin Williams.

Which was quickly followed by a tsunami wave of God-awful responses from Christians, flooding the internet with harmful, ignorant, and abusive bullshit in the name of Christ.

So, it's time to find my words and use them.



I think I was in seventh grade when he took his life. I didn't even know the much-older boy in my school, but I remember being deeply shaken. I remember everything growing eerily silent when we were told the news.

I had questions I didn't even know how to ask—or who to take them to even if I did.

"Join hands. Let's pray."

My Christian school didn't know how to handle all the questions. The fears. The grief. The heartache.


How could they? How could anyone?

But for the first time, I heard the cruel whisperings that would echo the halls of my Christian culture-bubble for years.

And they echo even still.



The ones who say "suicide is selfish" and "if only he'd turned to Jesus" and "depression is a choice"... They simply don't get it. They just don't.

I know, because I used to be one of those ignorant people.

I grew up with a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps-of-faith kind of theology. We hid our realities behind platitudes and trite clichés and Scripture-quoting smiles.

We lived in denial, and called it faith.

We named it and claimed it, clinging to a Prosperity Gospel that of course covered even our mental and emotional health. Doctors, counselors, and antidepressants were for those who didn't believe enough...



But we were never promised health, wealth, or emotional well-being in this fallen world.

All He promised was that He'd be with us.



What I know now is this:

Depression is real. Mental illness is real.

They don't signify weak faith. Or distance from God. Or unresolved sin.

They can't be willed away by words of faith, hours in prayer, deliverance, repentance, prayer lines, or praise songs.

In no way am I saying God never uses those things to bring healing. But the conclusion that He only uses those things is so unbelievably damaging.

God also uses doctors, and skilled therapists, and treatment centers, and supportive community, and medication to bring balance to instability and hopeful illumination into darkness.

He made light from nothing; He can certainly make it from Prozac.



I know what it's like to want out...

I've been there.

I understand those feelings of hopelessness that suck all the air right out of the room.

The darkness that presses in close.

The nights that are so bleak it seems as though the sun will never rise.

The depression that sits so heavily on your chest, your lungs imagine they'll never expand again.



I sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the empty bottle, tears staining my cheeks.

It was only my second year on the mission field, and life had suddenly grown impossibly hard. Inescapably dark. Everything caved in, and I saw no way out. No way through.

So handful after handful, I'd swallowed, wondering to myself exactly what a full bottle of ibuprofen would do.

I spent several days vomiting relentlessly.

Everyone thought I had the flu.

I didn't correct them.



A decade later, I found myself in an even darker night of the soul. One that mercilessly persisted for years.

Clinical depression, the doctor said. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Weighty words.

I wanted to resist them—I could hear the echoes of righteous disapproval, reminding me that I should be able to praise my way out of my funk. But I didn't have enough fight left in me to resist.

So I learned to swallow my pride each morning along with my Prozac.

And my eyes slowly began to see the abusiveness of some of the tenets I'd held onto for so long.



It is devastating to me when I realize again how many still see a conflict between faith and therapy/treatment. They are not at odds with one another, but when we imagine them to be, it doesn't eradicate depression or mental illness. It only shames us into hiding behind a mask.

When we imagine them to be at odds, it keeps us from seeking help when we need it.

And it keeps those around us from seeking the help they need too.

The Church should be an arms-wide-open safe place for the broken (and by "the broken", I mean all of us). Instead, all too often, the Church holds stones in her hands, ready and eager to cast them at those already wounded.



Reaching out, getting help, taking medication, seeing a therapist... Those are not signs of weakness.

They are enormous steps of bravery. Of strength. Of courage. Of—dare I say it—faith.

Yes. Faith.

Faith that acknowledges God can work through anything.

Let's start being known for championing these brave, faith-filled steps. We need to shake off the stigma by speaking of them more often, more boldly.

Let's begin being more honest about our own experiences and struggles and journeys. Let's be people and communities who are safe for masks to be dropped and brokenness to be revealed.

Let's be those who generously lend faith and courage to our fellow comrades who might need to borrow some. In our empathy, humility, and love, let's shine the light on the next brave step someone can take.

God made light from nothing; He can certainly make it from us.

on becoming brave

link window brave How different would things be if I approached each situation, each person, with bravery?

That's the question that scratched away at my heart and made me choose brave as my OneWord365. I really wrestled with committing to a word like that, for—well—lots of reasons.

At least for me, brave is a big, scary, monstrous word. I have never felt brave. Ever. It's not a word I would ever use to describe myself. I've done brave things at times, sure. I've taken some risks. I've made some choices others have deemed courageous. But deep down, I would never categorize myself as a brave person.

But I want to.

I want to be someone who's life is marked by bravery.

Don't hear me wrong... I don't want to be known for living an adventurous life. I'm not trying to be edgy, or reckless, or thrill-seeking.

I don't want to do brave things. I want to be brave.

And, I'm discovering, there's a big difference.

It's more about the posture of my heart than about my actions. It's about changing my internal dialogue—the words I say to myself, about myself. It's a willingness to lean into who I really am... and live it out wholeheartedly.

Six full months into the year, I paused to take stock. And I have to admit—I'm a little surprised by all the ways I've seen bravery come to bear in my life so far this year. It's probably not been in ways that others might expect (or that they'd even call brave), but it's usually the smallest steps of bravery which are the most difficult. For me, anyway.

I've opened my heart to possibilities. I've let myself enjoy the present without knowing what the future holds. I've let my guard down. I've let others in. I've leaned into relationships. I've used my words more. I've embraced hard truths. I've taken steps towards healthier boundaries. I've put myself first in areas I'd always put myself last. I've started going to church again. I've stuck my neck out work-wise. I've resumed regular writing commitments. I've made big financial decisions. I've intentionally dug into enjoying my now-life. I've faced a huge loss and didn't fall apart like I once thought I would.

I don't expect to feel like I've crossed some huge finish line in December, having arrived-at-last at being brave. But I do sense that I am already becoming brave. And that is what I want to feel every day for the rest of my life.

The process of becoming holds more value than the being, and I don't want to lose the wonder and vulnerability of the journey. 

So I take a deep breath, and I close my eyes, and I ask for an extra dose of courage for everyone and everything I will face.

And I choose to become braver today than I was yesterday...

:: :: ::

I'd love to hear about your OneWord365 journey at this halfway point. If you blog about it, please share the link.  Otherwise, would you share a few thoughts in the comments? 

Originally posted on Velvet Ashes >

band of brothers

Traveling Wall Last night I stumbled upon The Traveling Wall. This half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC is in Nashville for the week. I slowly walked the full length of it, overwhelmed by the sacrifices of so many.

"Did you find all the names you were looking for?"

I couldn't see him, but I followed his voice across the wet grass. As soon as the four older gentlemen came into view, I knew...

I shook their hands, looked them in the eyes, and told each one how grateful I am for their service.

Traveling wall

They invited me to join them, so I sat down between John and Wendell and listened as they reminisced. John had been a medic in the war, and grew emotional as he described some of the things he'd witnessed. "I will never forget those children's faces..." His voice trailed off as he looked away and just stared at The Wall.

There was a lot of solemn silence in our 30 minutes together.

But there was also sweet laughter, talks of fishing trips, jokes about the helicopter overhead, and the kind of adorable flirting only grandpas can get away with. ("Come to the fair in August, and I'll treat you to a plate of concession food on me!")

It was moving and wonderful and such a gift...

When I finally said goodnight, I walked away humbled and grateful for my short time with this band of brothers.

Traveling Wall

you still somehow love Jesus


You were every bit thirteen: skinny as a rail, brace-face smile, unbelievably shy, uncomfortable in your own skin. But from the first moment you learned what a mission trip was, you wanted to go on one. As soon as you hit the minimum-required age, you signed up for a trip to Central America.

Funds needed to be raised, of course, and you got to the hard work of raising them. You baked. Babysat. Washed cars. Wrote letters. Your small, zealous church was puzzled, but supportive. You remember that church, don't you? The one that met in the American Legion Hall, with children's church in the hallway and nursery in the coat closet? They readily celebrated the gifts of the Spirit, but didn't really have much concern about "going into all the nations." But now, one of their own was wanting to "go." And this—this—they could get behind.

You made a poster board map masterpiece with a movable airplane to track your progress as you raised support that would get you to Managua, Nicaragua. With sweaty palms and a shaky voice, you got up in front of the church and shared your desire to serve in a foreign land. Your nervousness was met with happy cheering, a side hug from your pastor, and encouragement from those who saw what a big step this was.

Your pastor took up a "love offering" for you. (You still laugh at that phrase.) And he did that every week for a month, with the church collecting all the funds to pass along before your financial deadline. You were blown away by the generosity of your tiny church family of tongue-talking misfits. Then when the time came for the funds to be sent to the missions organization, you made a painful discovery.

Your pastor decided to spend the money himself. There was nothing left for you. Nothing left for Nicaragua.

You were thirteen.


You were every bit nineteen: no longer skinny as a rail, curves had finally begun to find you. You laughed loudly and often, with a flannel shirt perpetually tied around your waist. Fresh out of a year-long missions internship, you had your sights set on Africa. You had six months to work, save, and raise money to move overseas.

Having graduated from the tiny Christian school at your church (a very different church from your previous one), your pastor knew you well—after all, he'd doubled as your Bible and pre-Calculus teacher. You loved him and the way he made you (and everyone else in the church) feel like family. And you knew he loved you too. He would beam with pride when he'd spontaneously pull you up on stage during a service to brag on something you'd done or said. You hated it and loved it all at the same time.

So when he said you were making a bad decision by pursuing missions, you were caught off guard. He told you that doing mission work was a waste of your time and skills, that you "could do so much better," and that you "could do anything you wanted." Of course you cried (as you always do when speaking about things of the heart) when you told him that contrary to his perception, you weren't resigning yourself to missions out of some strange sense that it's all you could do—but that it was, in fact, exactly what you wanted to give your life for.

Many tears and conversations later, your pastor agreed in the value of going to Africa "for a year, and then we'll see...." He went so far as to commit to covering your monthly support in exchange for you volunteering full-time in the church office until you left for Africa. (You can't help but roll your eyes at your 19-year-old self, stressed over raising $400 a month. You'd eventually be raising half a million dollars.)

So you spent those six months working as his assistant. It was a rocky road, that season of church work—like the time you had to challenge his integrity and stand up for your own when he asked you to write his thesis paper—but you worked hard, and kept your eyes on Africa.

And then came your last week in the office, when he told you he'd changed his mind. "I decided we'll only cover half of your support. The church will give you $200 a month." Amid tears, confusion, and disappointment, you reminded him that this whole arrangement had been based on them supporting your full amount.

"Well, it'll be your word against mine, so..."

You were nineteen.


You are every bit thirty-five: still pretty uncomfortable in your own skin (which now curves in all the wrong places), but you also still laugh loudly and often. And, by the grace of God, you still somehow love Jesus, despite a lifetime of being taken advantage of by those who carry His name.

And that has to count for something on the Sundays you can't bring yourself to step foot inside a church.

Originally posted on A Deeper Story >

He gave me permission

valley of the shdow

I've walked through the Valley of the Shadow. Many times over.

So have you. This I know.

Your Valleys look different than mine. Or maybe it's just the Shadows that are different. Either way, we all experience the same-yet-different sorrows, pains, and troubles that come in this life. We are all human. Our bones break. Our hearts hurt. Our loved ones die. We face illnesses, rejections, addictions, losses.

Yet the faith culture I was raised in didn't leave room for acknowledgment of the Valleys. Emotions were indirectly declared evil—the kind of theology that emphasized that Jesus is all we need, so whatever we might be feeling is invalid.

Because to grieve a loved one's death is to disbelieve that they're in a better place. To be disappointed in your now is to doubt that, in Romans 8:28 fashion, it really is for your good and His glory. To express sadness means you distrust that He is in control. To feel hurt by the doors slamming in your face is to disbelieve that He has something else better for you. To be frustrated by your financial position is to forget Jehovah Jireh, God your provider. To question, to doubt, to say "I don't know" is equivalent to not believing at all.

The end result of this sort of theology wasn't a faith community that didn't feel negative emotions. The end result was a faith community that hid them. We wore masks that plastered artificial smiles on our faces. We spouted out platitudes and trite answers instead of being honest.

I finally realized, as I traversed the Valley of the Shadow yet again:

That's not faith. That's denial.

Faith is most genuine and true when it acknowledges the current reality and still says, "Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief."

I'm struck by the story of Jesus when He visits the grave of His friend Lazarus, four days after he'd passed away. He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but right then, right in that moment, Jesus still felt, acknowledged, and expressed deep grief over His loss.

Grief doesn't negate faith.

Even though He knew that in just a few minutes He would hug his friend again, Jesus wept.

Just as they did for those with Him that day, His tears give me permission to not only feel what I'm feeling, but also to express it. He validated my emotions. All of them.

He's the One who gave me them to begin with—even the ones that are all mixed up and "negative" and un-faith-filled. He put inside me a heart that feels, and He handcrafted me eyes that cry...

So right here, right this moment, right in your Valley, He gives you permission to feel what you're feeling.

It's okay...

Face it. Feel it.

He's right there, weeping with you.

(photo credit: jayRaz)

feeling home


There is something so healing and redemptive about spending an evening surrounded by South Africans... The languages, the laughter, the easy fireside conversations, the familiar sights/sounds/tastes/smells, the sense of camaraderie, and of course the abundance of meat on the grill, makes me feel home. Makes me feel hope.

There is also something about it that stirs up old demons—insecurities, failures, hurts—and leaves my heart feeling raw and exposed. I am reminded of all that I miss, of all that I lost, of all that (and those) I failed, of all that was but will never be again. I am reminded of a life gone by, a life that I loved deeply.

Bittersweet, yes, but I'm thankful for the vulnerability my heart feels in those moments. Because it's proof of life. And it makes the contrasted sense of redemption that much more beautiful.

Much has been lost, but much has been redeemed. Tears and all, my heart feels at home. Thankful for my newfound South African community here in Nashville...

me vs. the proverbs 31 woman

medium_6148929793.jpg I'm sure this isn't something I'm supposed to admit. At least not out loud. I'm sure some would even consider it sacrilegious or something. But nonetheless, it's true.

I hate the Proverbs 31 woman.

:: looks around for lightning bolts ::

But seriously. What's not to hate?

She wakes up early. Every single day. She makes things from scratch—clothes, bedding, meals, everything. She gardens and farms and seems to rather enjoy getting dirt under her fingernails. She's a successful businesswoman, wife, mother, and leader. She despises idleness (which, I'd imagine, includes Netflix-viewing marathons). She's wise and tactful. Always. She's a domestic goddess. She laughs in the face of adversity. She's in great shape. Ugh.

And she's been held up as the bar of godly womanhood my entire life.

Maybe I would have actually tried to live up to the standard she'd set, if it weren't so laughable. Instead I've just quietly resented her, stuffing down my hostility and attempting to mask my eye rolls.

But I realize my disdain is misplaced. Because she doesn't really exist.

She's a figment of the Church's imagination—poetic symbolism transformed into a mirage of the woman that we should all strive to be. The beauty of the character traits she displays—loyalty, wisdom, diligence, servanthood, faithfulness, compassion—got lost as I measured myself against the yardstick held out for me.

I could never measure up.

Never have. Never will.

The yardstick became a weapon of shame, telling me again and again and again: You are not enough. It echoed the message I already had on repeat in my heart—one that was reiterated with each rejection, each abandonment, each failure.

My journey of the past few years has been one of moving toward understanding and accepting my enoughness, simply because God says I'm enough.

Whole. Complete. Nothing missing, nothing broken.

So it shouldn't matter what the measuring stick of this fictitious chick says about me.  It shouldn't even matter what the Church thinks of me.

He says I'm enough— even though I like to sleep in, would eat out every meal if I could, don't really enjoy the outdoors, love lazy Saturdays, and have jiggly arms.

He says I'm enough— even though I say stupid things, fail at loving others well, doubt, question, curse, don't pray or read the Bible very often, and make mistakes (big and small).

He sees me and knows me and still declares me enough. Actually, He declares me good. "God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!" (Genesis 1:31)

So it's time to let go of this grudge I've held against the Proverbs 31 woman.

I'm good just as I am...

photo credit: fiddleoak via photopin cc

enough for now

benches He asked if I could explain my swirling thoughts.

"I'm waiting to find the words... and the courage to say them."

And then I sat in silence a good long while. He didn't seem to mind. His shared silence gave me a dose of bravery. I took a deep breath, and shook my head, and words clumsily stumbled out of my mouth. I rambled for a few minutes, covering my face at times, wiping away tears at others. My stammerings weren't eloquent or even complete sentences, but he said they made sense.

"I'm really scared actually."

Just saying those words out loud made me, somehow, feel a tiny bit less afraid. Maybe because what's named can no longer lurk in the shadows, like a coat rack impersonating a monster. 

"I don't know what to do with all of this..."

His words, full of grace and patience and wisdom: "Maybe you don't have to do anything with it all just yet. Maybe all that's needed is to name what you're feeling, and just let yourself feel those things. Maybe simply acknowledging it, like you just did, is enough for now. "

Maybe it is.

Maybe it is.

icarus wings


I can barely remember that season when words came easily. It seems like ancient history—those mornings when I couldn't start my day without scribbling some heart thoughts... those nights when I'd gladly stay up way-too-late to clothe my wandering wonderings in letters and words and paragraph breaks...

I like to think that season of willful writing was because of the context of my life. I only half joke that there wasn't anything else to do in Africa, so my free time was effortlessly spent blogging—and now I have restaurants and city streets and front porches to enjoy. But I know that's really only a fraction of it...

My life was also bursting with experiences imploring to be expressed, thoughts demanding to be declared, and heart stirrings begging to be shared. My gritty life in glorious Africa was so much larger than myself that I couldn't contain it if I tried. It pressed and prodded until it broke free. In inadequate syllables, it gave my heart wings to see and to say and to listen and to learn...

Inspiration doesn't seem as readily available anymore. I have to forcibly seek it out. Make time for it. Create space and even, more often than not, the desire for it. I have to shake the tree until inspiration falls like ripe apples to the ground, waiting only to be collected and enjoyed and shared.

But I'm realizing how much I crave it—both the inspiration and the writing—regardless of how much effort and exertion and force it requires. The free therapy of "thinking out loud" through written words might be just what my broken Icarus wings need...

And so, I write.

Even when it's only about my difficulty to find words...


the fellowship of the unashamed


I can't bring myself to part with the Bible I've had since I was a teenager. Every time I try to start over with a new one, it just feels... wrong. Sterile. Clean, fresh, and new in all the worst ways. So I inevitably return to my old faithful, held together with duct tape, glue, and rubber bands. It smells uniquely like a combination of the 29 countries it's traveled to. Sprawled throughout it are notes, photos, stickers, quotes, memories... And all together, they make the words on the pages that much more alive and rich and full.

Written in the back of my Bible is this note, found written in the office of a young pastor in Zimbabwe after he was martyred. And it still stirs my heart just like it did twenty years ago...

:: :: ::

"I'm a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me—my banner will be clear!"

proof of life


My calendar tells me it's the first day of spring. The winter temps that keep creeping back in beg to differ.

So does my heart.

The past few months? They've been crazy hard. For a long list of reasons.

And when I look ahead to the next few months? The horizon gives me no reason to think the hard is gonna let up.

The other day I stumbled on some of Elizabeth Gilbert's words... "I'm making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises." And when I read those words, I couldn't help but wish I could say them with honesty and earnest. But I can't. Not really.

Most of the time, the "unknown future" takes up plenty of space all on its own. The fog is thick and heavy and makes it hard to breathe.

Most of the time, the "unknown future" looks daunting. It's scary to no longer see the picture of where I'm headed. I used to—and it was wonderful!—and I loved the image of what lied ahead. And then when I had to grieve the loss of what was, I also had to grieve the loss of what would be.

I'm learning (maybe more than I ever have before) to enjoy the now, to live in the present. But I want also to learn to "make space for the unknown future"—recognizing that it could very well bring with it "yet-to-come surprises" that are—it's possible—good.

So I'm working hard to lift my eyes, lift my heart, lift my hopes to see the wonder, mystery, grace, and whimsy in the uncharted future. To make space for possibility. To embrace ambiguity. To lean in, even when I don't know where it's going.

It might not seem like much from the outside looking in, but I assure you—from the inside looking out—it's demanding an enormous amount of courage for this tattered heart of mine.

And so on this first day of spring, I am celebrating even the tiniest signs of new life.

Even when they look like small brave steps toward the unknown future...

may i carry her heart along with her name...


Cancer may have taken my incredible namesake, but it never beat her.

One of the strongest, most faithful, joyful, and steadfast women I've ever known, she fought to the end and finished well. If along with her name, I can bear even half her strength, a fraction of her courage, and a healthy dose of her laughter in the course of my lifetime, I will count my journey a success...

Alicia, thank you for leaving me such enormously huge shoes to fill and such a beautiful life of bravery and strength to aspire to.


i'm terrified of being brave


How different would things be if I approached each situation, each person, with bravery?

That's the question that's been bumping around my head since last autumn. It's gnawed at me — challenging me to make hard choices, nudging me to open my mouth, inspiring me to move past the constraints others have placed on me. So as this new year began (six weeks ago already — woah!), I knew there was only one thing I could do. My OneWord365 simply had to be...

B • R • A • V • E

I wrestled with it at first. After all, risk was my original OneWord365 that began this whole incredible now-global movement. And brave is basically the same as risk, right?

The more I mulled it over, the more I came to discover that, at least for me, in this season, brave looks very different from risk. My year of risk led me to do so many things I would likely never have been willing to attempt on my own without that extra nudge. Taking brave to heart isn't so much about doing adventurous and challenging things — although I'm sure those elements will still come into play.

Choosing to be brave is more a choice to embrace who I am, value my own voice, and walk in confidence. 

Last year, my OneWord365 was enough, and I worked hard for my heart to start grasping more than ever before that I am enough because He is enough. And I know now that being brave can only come from that fuller sense of enoughness.

(I am always amazed to see, when looking back, how God weaves the tapestry of my journey. What seems random and messy while I'm in the middle of it, ends up being purposefully beautiful when He's done with it. But I digress...)

If I truly believe I am enough, I will approach every situation, every person, with bravery.

And that will change everything

I have to be honest. I'm terrified of being brave.

It feels vulnerable and exposing. It stirs up hard questions with even harder answers. It challenges the very foundation of who I am and the breed of Christianity I was raised in. It flies in the face of some deep-seated beliefs that have been instilled in me (and at times forced on me). How can I be brave while also being quiet... supportive... humble... modest... gentle... submissive... selfless...? Now, before you start soapboxing to me about each of those, please know that I can soapbox with the best of you. But if I'm being Velveteenly vulnerable, the voices of my past still plague me at times, and knowing the truth isn't the same as knowing the truth...

It takes a healthy dose of bravery to choose to be brave.

But I'm choosing it. Or at least I'm choosing to choose it, which is really how anything truly starts. And I'm already seeing that choice play out in significant ways...

I'm leaning into the joys of my new life. I'm putting myself in uncomfortable situations to find and foster community. I'm facing the question marks of health concerns head on. I'm letting go of my need to belong in circles where I used to fit but no longer do. I'm extending grace to others and to myself. I'm planning for the future in ways I'd never imagined. I'm speaking up. I'm getting to know who I really am now, rather than simply pining for who I used to be. I'm leaning away from toxic relationships and environments. I'm tackling things I've always said I didn't have the skill set to do. I'm living more open-handedly and open-heartedly. I'm giving myself permission to embrace my now, even when I don't have all the answers.


I'm still terrified, but that's okay.

I know that being brave doesn't mean there's no fear... It simply means doing it afraid. 

So that's what I'm doing.

Right here... right now... with everything and everyone I face today... I will approach it all with bravery.

And it will make all the difference in the world.

in the news

NBC local news in Nashville ran a story about OneWord365 last night.

(Yes, I'm still freaking out a little bit.)

(Okay, a lotta bit.)

 It was exciting and nerve-wracking and more fun than I expected it to be. But mostly I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for this incredible community... I definitely don't see this as a "me" thing, but a "we" thing.

Thank you for linking arms with me and with each other, and choosing to live with intentionality in the context of this amazing community. 

View the video on the WSMV Channel 4 site

OneWord365 :: Growing Pains


OneWord365 is going on its 6th year running (Happy Birthday to us!), so it was time to do some spring cleaning. Thus, the amazing new website (thanks to the incredible work of Cross & Crown!) and the tools that allow you to find others who’ve chosen the same word as you or who live in your area. (Seriously. Have you checked out the Find Your Tribe page? It blows my mind.

And now it’s time for one more change.

I want this journey to be accessible to as many people as possible, not to gain numbers but because I believe strongly in the value of intentional living in the context of community. Being able to journey together with others all year is, in my opinion, one of the best things about OneWord365.

So, in an effort to make that easier for people, you no longer need to have a blog in order to join. 

:: Cue loud cheering :: 

If you are a blogger, I still hope you will take time to write about the word you’ve chosen—not just now, but throughout the year. Same for those of you who use Facebook—being intentional to unpack your OneWord365 in a status update will make it more real (and will invite others into the process with you). There is so much power in saying our words out loud. 

But if you don’t want to write about it anywhere, that’s okay. Still join. Because the point of all this isn’t to gain blog followers or Facebook likes. It’s to determine right now who you are going to be this year. It’s about committing to live with purpose every single day. And you don’t need to write your word publicly in order to do that.

I’d still encourage you to tell someone what your OneWord365 is and why you chose it. Even if it’s only your spouse, your family, or your closest friends. Don’t miss the value that comes in sharing honestly with those you care about (and who care about you). Growth is multiplied within the context of safe and trusting community.

I know there were a lot of people who couldn’t sign up because they didn’t have a blog link to include. I want to get the word out there that we’ve made this significant change so that all of them know they can come back and join! Will you help me spread the word by sharing this on your social media streams? 

You guys are amazing, and I feel so honored to be on this journey with you. Thank you!

: : : :

PS — I know I still need to post about my own OneWord365 for 2014! I haven't forgotten, I promise!

PSS — What's your word?

enough: not less than, not more than


I've spent my entire life on a seesaw, teetering back and forth between feeling like I am too much and feeling like I am too little.

My insecurities keep me convinced that I'm "too little"—that I'm simply not enough. I'm not old enough, married enough, mother enough. I'm not spiritual enough, experienced enough, educated enough. I'm not the right gender, the right personality, the right fit. My skills are too few and my flaws are too many. I simply don't measure up. I'm too little.

My fears keep me convinced that I'm "too much"—that I'm a burden, an inconvenience. I'm tolerated, rather than desired. I'm accepted, not chosen. I'm a project, an obligation, a responsibility. My baggage is too heavy, my laugh is too loud, my diving-all-in is too fast. I'm a challenge to be endured, not a friend to be sought after. I'm simply more than anyone bargained for. I'm too much.

My One Word for 2013 was enough. While I didn't end the year conquering this lifelong achilles heel of mine, I did learn to embrace my enoughness more than I ever have before. I feel oddly more comfortable in my own skin, and though I still care far too much about what other people think, I'm learning to let it go much quicker.

Embracing my enoughness means learning to silence my insecurities, fears, and expectations. It requires extending more grace to myself—and trusting others enough to take them at their word. It is also a journey of gratitude, recognizing that what I have—and who I have—is enough.

I am not too little or too much. I am not less than or more than. I am simply enough. And that's all I need to be.

photo credit


Farewell, Mandela


It is the same with Mandela as it is with pretty much everything:

There is always more to the story than most of us want to acknowledge.

There is much that can be said about Mandela's past (and while we're at it, much can be said about mine and yours as well). His life wasn't one that always stood for peace, yet that is what he is most known for now. He is an undeniable example of the power we each have to change our own story. A life surrendered and transformed has unrivaled potential in the hands of our Creator.

Brené Brown said it perfectly:

“Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. If we own the story, then we can write the ending.”

Yesterday we mourned the loss of a great man who rewrote not only his own story, but that of the entire nation of South Africa. Mandela drew a line in the sand that forever changed the trajectory of a continent and inspired hope around the globe.

His life makes it impossible to deny the far-reaching ripple effect of even one solitary life, and his legacy reminds us that no one is ever too far gone for a second chance.

Farewell, Mandela. The world stands grateful...

I stand grateful...

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