about YOU

things about me

My 100 things post inspired a few friends to write lists of their own. So now it's your turn!

Post a list of things about yourself that many of us might not already know. You don't have to make it a full 100—you could do 50 things, or 25, or however many you want.

Then come back and link up so we can all get to know you better! 

Tag, you're it.

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if i could

tree line

If I could find big enough words, I would tell you how grateful I am for the big-hearted, generous, and faithful loved ones who’ve walked with me, supported me, and strengthened me since I left African soil.

If I could find deep enough words, I would describe for you how unbelievably amazing it feels to be this settled after so many years of transitional limbo—and how good for my heart it has been.

If I could find strong enough words, I would explain my newfound understanding and awareness of grace.

If I could find clear enough words, I would recount for you my daily journey of learning to acknowledge and own that I am enough, and I have enough, because of the enoughness of Christ in me.

If I could find impactful enough words, I would articulate for you the ways I’m embracing a lack of plans, and my discovery that it really is okay.

If I could find weighty enough words, I would convey to you the matchless, anchoring, and freeing sense of home I’m discovering once again.

If I could... I would.

But I can’t...


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Brené Brown says it best:

"Faith isn't an epidural. It's a midwife who stands next to me saying, 'Push. It's supposed to hurt.'"


This is what I wish I'd learned in church growing up. This is what I now know the faith-journey to be. And yet this flies in the face of the breed of Christianity I was raised in.

Faith was a balm. Salvation was a rescue plan. Jesus was a Savior from all things hard and uncomfortable and icky.

And then life happened.

And I discovered none of that was true.

Jesus didn't come to immunize me against pain or grief or heartache.

He didn't wrap me in bubble wrap and send me on my holy way, safe from harm and hurt. He didn't say I wouldn't (or—gasp!—shouldn't) grieve, be uncomfortable, battle illness, or face insurmountable hardship. He didn't promise that things would be easy or fair or fun.

What He did was assure me that I would never be alone.

God came down to the messy hell-hole that this life can be and chose to sit in it with me. He's right here, sitting cross-legged beside me in the dirt.

He's not trying to fix anything. He's not spouting platitudes—"Let go, and let Me. I'll work all things together for good."{GAH!}or even trying to make sense out of the senseless. He's just being present with me. Holding my hand and my heart. And assuring me I don't have to do this alone.

I'm not spared. I'm held. 

When I stop looking for Him to deliver a wonderdrug or bippity-boppity-boo me into a blessed life, I'm able to recognize the gift of His simple presence. His simple, powerful, heart-strengthening, more-than-enough presence right here with me.


It's supposed to hurt.

And then I realize what it means to love like He does. What it means to be Christ to you as you face your own darkness and grief.

It doesn't mean pretending to have answers or presuming I can fix things. It certainly doesn't mean telling you what you should or shouldn't be doing.

It means simply being willing to sit in the pain and discomfort with you. And just be.

What I can do is assure you that you won't be alone while you push.

chasing community

When I chose to move to Nashville, I said it was "to chase down community". A year later, I'm still chasing it. From a young age, my closest friends lived far from me. I grew up attending a Christian school, but most of the time my morals, standards, and choices were very different than those of my classmates. (I'm pretty sure the fact I received the "Best Christian Witness" award every year says more about the student body as a whole than it does of me.)

So when I went on my first mission trip at 15, teaming up with teenagers from across the country to serve in Nicaragua for a month, I was blown away to discover others my age who strived to live with conviction and character. For the first time, I was surrounded by people who were passionate about following God, serving others, and pursuing a purpose greater than ourselves. I had found my tribe.

This was long before email and cell phones were commonplace, so we kept in touch by writing letters. We exchanged novel-length scribblings, sharing the mundane and the significant, and we did whatever we could to keep our friendship close despite the miles between us. We sent care packages, we made long-distance phone calls, we planned reunions.

Every summer, my next mission trip only further increased my amazing friendships all around the nation. There's something about the mission trip environment that fosters closeness quickly. We shared intense circumstances in close quarters in a short amount of time, and the friendships that were produced have spanned decades.

Then I moved to Africa at 19, again keeping in touch long-distance with those I was closest to. So in this new season of my life, having returned Stateside and, in every way possible, starting over, I knew I wanted to be somewhere I could be physically surrounded by friends. So I came to Nashville. To chase down community.

It's been beautifully rewarding in so many ways, but it's also been hard.

Community doesn't just happen. Friendships don't just forge (even when there's an immediate connection). It takes effort. It takes intentionality. It takes time, and heart, and risk, and trust. It takes chasing.

And sometimes, to be honest, I grow weary of the chase. At times it feels like an uphill climb — a fight, a struggle — to find where I belong. To discover where I fit. To figure out how to meld my life into a church and friendship community that existed long before I showed up. To integrate into already busy lives and full schedules. To feel part of a tribe again.

Even coming to a place where I already knew people (to some degree), it's still been just plain hard. And while at times my heart has felt disappointed or sad, ultimately I know it's okay. That the struggle is part of the process. I know friendships aren't just bippity-boppity-boo'd into existence. I know the investment — of time, of heart, of the chase — is so worth it.

And so I'll keep chasing, whatever that may look like on any given day. And I'll keep choosing to trust, no matter how hard it gets. The journey, even when long or difficult or unclear, is what matters most.

What's been your own experience with chasing down community?

going to church together

Sounds a bit strange to say this, but one of the very few constants I've had over the past 4 years is my online community. The other day, my friend Tracee described my blog as being my "one consistent home." I love the imagery of that because it perfectly describes how my heart feels with my friends around the world, even if I may only get to connect with them through a computer screen.

For years while living overseas, my lifeline was found in emails, blogs, podcasts, & downloadable sermons.

It's how I stayed connected to people and found ways to keep my heart and spirit filled up. I never really had internet reliable or fast enough to stream a live church service, but dang I would have loved that!

As I've moved around America over the past couple years, my online friends were the only ones who moved with me everywhere I went.

Having known what it's like to rely on the internet for community---due to location, circumstances, whatever---I believe strongly in social media and online church. I just appreciate and value the impact it can make in someone's life, because I know the impact it's had in mine.

So even though I attend church on Sunday mornings, I'm also involved in Cross Point's Internet Campus in the evenings. And I love it.

We watch the same message that is shared at all Cross Point campuses that day, and there is always great discussion in the chat. People share their thoughts, ask questions, pray for one another... It's insightful and, honestly, a lot of fun.

My favorite element is that after the message, Pete Wilson (or whoever spoke that day) makes himself available for a live Q&A with those watching online.

I love that!

I have never before known a pastor who openly invites people to ask him questions about his message and his own faith journey. I've seen Pete get asked some difficult questions, and he always responds with honesty and humility.

So... If you're craving some more community, aren't able to make it out to church, or just want to hear some solid teaching... then you should join us at the Internet Campus.

Let's go to church together this Sunday night!

Sundays at 6:00 PM Central Time

Have you ever done church online? What are your thoughts?

on friendships

I moved to Nashville to chase down community. With everything I've gone through in the past few years, I knew I needed a strong group of people around me as I get settled back into life in America and embark on Me 2.0. Through social media, I'd gotten to know quite a few people in and around Nashville. I'd found friends. I'd found an amazing church. I'd found community. So this is where I decided to land.

And there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

Though since I've gotten here, community hasn't taken shape like I fairy-tale-hoped it would. Like everything in life, it doesn't just happen. It takes hard work. I've been seeking it out as I've been able, and learning to trust God with all of it.

Friendships don't always pan out the way you'd like them to. People move away; seasons change; life is busy. So my community looks very different than I'd anticipated. Not in a bad way... just different. I love the unexpected new friends God has brought into my life, and at times still mourn the loss of others.

Finding out who your friends are -- and who they aren't -- is sometimes a painful lesson. Ultimately good, but hard nonetheless.

So I'm on a journey of discovering what it means to hold people and relationships loosely while still investing deeply and authentically. (I'm pretty sure I've been on this journey my whole life...)

I don't know where the line is. Or if there even is a line.

How do I maintain a soft heart and tough skin? I honestly don't know.

As usual, I have more questions than answers here at The Grit. There's no red bow to wrap this up neatly, because these are lessons I'm still learning. A path I'm still navigating. Things I'm still just Forrest-Gumping my way through.

But this much I know is true: I am so very grateful for the incredible people God has placed in my life, near and far. My friends truly make my life richer. I owe so much to the grace, generosity, faithfulness, and love of friends.

On friendships... What's something you struggle with? What's something you know for sure?

a living, breathing canvas

I don't even know how to find words right now. I honestly don't. I've left this blog abandoned because I simply don't know how to say everything that needs to be said. My beautiful friend Sara -- known so affectionately online as Gitzen Girl -- is dying. There is no easier way to say that. I wish there was...

Sara has been sick -- very sick -- for a very long time. And from the confines of her tiny condo in Iowa, where she's lived completely homebound for 3 years, she has changed my life.

I can't even begin to find words to explain THAT right now... so that will need to wait. But I've had the gift -- the sheer treasure -- of visiting with her twice. Of spending several weeks as her roommate. And that is a gift I will cherish always and always.

And now my beautiful Sara is in the final leg of her race. The finish line is in sight, and she is about to cross it. And even in dying -- just as she did her whole life -- she shows me Christ. She infuses me with courage and strength. And she teaches me how to love well and choose joy.

Choose joy.

It's been her life mantra. It has defined who she is and how she lives. Despite her pain. Despite the challenges. Despite her limitations. Choose joy. She has shown me what that truly means.

She has lived well and chosen joy right up to the end...

And the mark she has left on my life? I want it visible to the world.

I am going to get "choose joy" as a tattoo on my left forearm. In Sara's handwriting.

I want it as a visible, permanent reminder of who Sara is and how she lived. And how I want to live out the rest of my days.

Sara is known literally around the world for her beautiful painted canvases. They are works of art that reflect her steadfast faith and point our eyes Homeward.

And now her words, her art, will be painted on the canvas of ME. A living, breathing Gitzen Girl canvas...

Oh my heart...

I know many of you have been impacted by Sara, either in years of knowing her or even in just recently learning of her amazing story. Maybe you want to get inked as well.

Tam and I had my amazing friend Trevor at Cross & Crown put together some designs using Sara's own handwriting. (So. Frickin. Amazing.) He also designed some more block-font options that aren't as scripty... Maybe you'd like one of these as a permanent reminder to Choose Joy... Or maybe these will spark an idea in your mind of a unique design you want to run with.

I'd love to hear if you're gonna get a Choose Joy tattoo. And when you do, take pictures and blog/tweet about it so we can all celebrate Sara's life and legacy together.

We are also working on some other things we can do as a tribute to our Sara (like a custom line of jewelry), and I'll share details as soon as they come together.

What an amazing community of people who Sara loved so well!

Today... as you go about your day... please pray for Sara. Pray for her family and all those who love her so dearly. And remember to...

Choose joy.

Choose Joy - Gitz's Handwriting