Category Archives: encouragement

home for christmas

it’s the little things.

we don’t need the list of who gets to hang the special ornament or put the angel on the tree anymore.

we don’t check the little red ornament for the hershey kiss, knowing that it won’t be there.

we don’t watch our dad open yet another pack of tube socks and underwear while exclaiming, “socks and undies! just what i always wanted!”

we don’t watch our mom giggle anxiously to see if she finally got dad the right beard trimmer.

we don’t listen to “john denver & the muppets” while decorating the tree.

it’s the little things.

even at 30 years old, it’s hard to forget the traditions you’ve had for most of your life. it’s hard to stumble through the holidays successfully when so many things have changed. i’ve been thinking a lot lately about traditions. thinking about when something major happens to upset the little things. and i’m always thinking about change.

some change you expect. you expect to grow up, you expect your taste in clothing and movies to change with age, so you see child movies when you’re little, and different movies as an adult with a better TV and a full motion tv mount as well. but those changes are gradual and you don’t really notice a difference until you look back at your middle school photos and are horrified by that crazy silk shirt and huge neon scrunchie you rocked in the 90’s.

some change you are able to prepare for, like college or starting a new job, buying a house. you plan for those things. you make arrangements, you adjust daily life or spending to accommodate those changes.

but the most uncomfortable kind of change is the one that happens fast, without warning, and forces you to leave behind important things, people, memories. sudden changes often force you to adapt in painful ways. because the longer you do something, the harder it is to let go. that’s why traditions are so easily started, but so difficult to let go of.

it’s accurate to say that the change i hate the most is the change that i don’t see coming, the kind i can’t control. i think that would resonate with a lot of people. the kind of change that hurts the most is the kind you don’t plan on, the kind you don’t choose.

so here i sit to remember the little things about Christmas’ past, the things i’ll never get back and the moments that will have to remain as memories.

but I am also thinking of the current little things. thankful for the new Christmas memories i have made as an adult and am still making.

spend some time reflecting this Christmas. appreciate your past. accept it, treasure the good parts and learn from the challenging ones. lock up those memories in your heart, not to be used as self pity in the present or future, but to hold dear as a part of your story. we don’t get to choose everything that happens to us, good or bad. but we can choose to make it all count for something.

we can’t plan everything in life. in fact, we can plan very little. so today i choose to cherish what i have now. i choose to treasure my good memories in my heart and love the best that i can this season.

because Christmas will always be about the little things. it’s just up to us to see the new ones every year, and make new ones to treasure later.

(Christmas memories, 2008-2012)

(Kim Gannon- I’ll be home for Christmas)

Could it be that I am finally learnin’


They say that age is nothing but a number.

Today I want to believe that. And I want to live that.

Today, on my 30th birthday, I’m asking myself to stop being limited by a number.

Today I am 30. Today I have been breathing for 3 full decades. I’ve voted in 3 presidential elections. I’ve had my drivers license for 14 years. I’ve gotten 3 speeding tickets and when I was in college I gracefully nudged a pedestrian with a car. I’ve been to 43 states and 11 foreign countries. I’ve driven across the country 3 times and I met Leonard from Salvation Mountain. I’ve spread someone’s ashes and I’ve run a 10k. I’ve photographed hundreds of beautiful faces and old churches around the world. I’ve fought battles with teenage girls and i’ve celebrated their victories. I’ve taught numerous people how to drive a stick shift. I’ve played every position on the baseball field. I’ve taught more Bible studies than i can remember and eaten duck. Accidentally. I’ve seen more live music than I can count and I’ve invented dozens of pancake flavors. I’ve made my own clothing and my own peanut butter. I’ve painted artwork for nurseries and offices and tried to save a civil war era split rail fence.

I’ve cried a lot of tears but I’ve laughed a lot of laughs.

I want to slow down and fight harder.

I want to dream bigger and quit more permanently.

I want to listen more intently and open my eyes wider.

I want to live more fiercely and play more frequently.

I want to read more books and rely less on technology.

I want to love more intentionally and breathe deeper.

I want to take more risks and choose more wisely.

I want to study more maps and learn another language fluently.

I want to stop making excuses and wishing for a different fate.

I want to write more stories and talk less about myself.

I want to sing louder and walk taller.

I want to give even more of myself away.

I want to look at myself in the mirror and believe it when I say “your life has been fruitful.”

I want to be all used up. And I want to start again, now.

Could it be that I’m finally learnin’?
Learnin’ I’m deservin’ of love and the peaceful heart.
I’m tired of lyin’ to myself, tryin’ to buy what can’t be bought.

(ray lamontagne- old before your time)

And if I stumble

Unbelief. Desperation.

When I read this chapter of Mark, I always relate to one person in the story, and it’s not Jesus.

I’m the father begging Jesus to save his son. I’m the father who says to Jesus “if you can…” I’m the father who pleads with Jesus to help his unbelief.

“O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:19-24 ESV)

I believe. I do. I believe that Jesus is who He says He is. But I need Him to help the unbelief I have that He is still working in my life. That’s the cynic in me. That’s the visual learner in me. The hard proof I have, the things I can see and touch and hear, have left me feeling desperate, unbelieving.

I want to believe that Jesus knows what He is doing with my life. I want to believe that He knows better than I do. I want to believe in His promises to make my paths straight. Too often I stay focused on the physical evidence instead of Jesus’ promise that He is faithful. Too often I choose to look at my circumstances and slip into an unbelief that keeps me from fully trusting Jesus.

Thankfully, I am not alone. Thankfully, God thought it a common enough human problem that He decided to show me a biblical example of my cynical self.

Through this father I am able to see that what I need to do is continually ask Jesus to help my unbelief. He gave the control of his unbelief to Jesus. And not only did he surrender control to Jesus, he was able to see his son healed. He was a recipient of Jesus’ grace and mercy and power.

But first he asked Jesus to help his unbelief.

My personal prayer is that I will always be able to turn to Jesus to be the one to help my unbelief. That I won’t turn to the people who cannot help me with my unbelief. That I will always speak out loud my unbelief, not because Jesus doesn’t already know, but because my cynical self needs to humbly approach Him in everything.

Feel I’m on the verge of some great truth
Where I’m finally in my place
But I’m fumbling still full proof
And it’s cluttering my space
Casting shadows on my face

And If I stumble, and if I stall
And if I slip now, and if I should fall
And if I can’t be, all that I could be
Will you? Will you wait for me?

Jesus, I believe. But when I stumble, will You wait for me? Will You help my unbelief? Will You be my belief when I can’t see it? Will You be all that I will never be?

(Alexi Murdoch-wait)

if you want His kingdom

in need of some good words?

yeah, me too 🙂

‘overcome the notion that you must be regular. it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary.’ -uta hagen

‘she decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. and birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” in the sky.’

‘what you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. it will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you. fall in love. stay in love. and it will decide everything.’ -pedro arrupe

‘this is a space for dream words. love words. made up words. flying words. fall down and get up words. get to know the sound of your own inner voice. be creative. be generous. be bold.’

‘it is without question our duty to honor the love of every human heart as we would our very own.’

‘greater are those who are with love than all who are against.’

‘any given moment can change your life. you just have to be there.’

‘the only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. all that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.’

‘men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.’ -john steinbeck

‘look, i don’t want to wax philosophic, but i will say that if you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you’re not alive.’ -mel brooks

“trust is quicksand, claiming everything i have. all to give me life, all to give me life.’ -sleeping at last, quicksand

‘and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’ -anais nin

‘Jesus is on that mainline, tell Him what you want. call Him up and tell Him what you want. well, the line ain’t never busy. well, if you want His kingdom, tell Him what you want’ -Jesus on the mainline

‘the miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit. -mark twain



(Jesus on the mainline)

contagious and spreading quick

it’s been some time…

but i have something i need to say. enjoy.

i’ve been praying recently for us to be able to see each other not as we normally would. but to see each other as Jesus sees us. we get really concerned with appearance, both physical and spiritual, emotional and relational… and so i’ve been thinking about the word transparent. which can be one of those words that people throw around but hardly ever aspire to.

if you think about the word as it is defined: ‘allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen; easy to perceive or detect; having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily perceived.’ then it sounds scary. “having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily perceived. this means ALL our thoughts, feelings and motives. and if we’re being really honest, i’m not sure i want everyone to know all my thoughts, feelings and motives. they are not good all the time. in fact, i would say a majority of the time my thoughts, feelings and motives are selfish. unflattering. spiteful. terribly monster-like.

but if there is anything that i have learned recently, it’s this.

i’m not alone.

we all have terribly monster-like thoughts, feelings, motives. and i expect people to love me in spite of being monster-like. so. i think it’s time for me to start loving monsters.

and i think i should start by being a bit transparent myself. yikes… ripping off the band-aid.

– i like to control most situations. i’m working on not controlling you.

– i like to be right all the time. at the expense of others. i do not like looking dumb. i’m working on admitting when i don’t know something.

– i like things to stay somewhat the same. don’t mess with my traditions. only i can change them. this weekend i enjoyed misfit christmas. because i let go.

– i like to make things better. right away. i don’t like people to be mad. especially not at me.  last week i had to learn to let people have space. not everyone works out their issues like i do. some people need time.

– i like to be involved in everything. i’m working on stepping back. the world does not revolve around me. in fact it moves really well on its own.

upon review, this is a mild case of transparency. thin. veiled. shallow.

see, even my first attempt needs some revision. i’m not really sure i want to do that just yet.


i’m working on it.

this all started because i had this thought. this simple thought that we just need to be able to see through the thick coat of monster we sometimes wear. Jesus does. He knows the cracks we have in our hearts. but He knows why they’re there. how they got there. and He accepts us with those cracks, in our monster suits.

can you accept me in my monster suit? i’m not always wearing it. but when i do, i need for you to know that it’s temporary. and i’m going to love you as a monster, too. because i know there’s more to you than that.

i know it.



(sleeping at last- heaven breaks)

His law is Love

my house.
a car with heat.
a full-time job.
the ability to buy groceries.
and a jacket.
friends & family who love the heck out of me.
gifts &talents i’ve been given.
Forgiveness. Grace. Savior.

as i walked from my car into my house yesterday, i had one thought. and one thought only.
in this current time, i have everything i need. should have no want for anything more.

in this current time, i have no right to feel i need anything more. not when i see & feel how this current time is.

(o, holy night)

our ears were trained

have you ever had one of those moments where you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your life was shaping up to be exactly what it was supposed to be? a moment when you realize you don’t have everything you want, you have everything you need. a moment when you realize that you are in the thick of God’s will for your life, without knowing exactly how you got there?

the past week has been just that for me.

i’m talking earth shattering, God knocking on my skull, taking His finger and pointing my nose in one direction, speaking directly into my ears and my heart. i’m not going to share the dirty details. not because they are boring. but because some things are so ridiculously amazing that you want to hold onto them for a little while before unleashing it to the public.

i will say this. God is revealing, in many little moments what my purpose is. to be honest, He’s revealing it as a puzzle. and i’ve definitely not received all the pieces yet. but i think because God deals with me in a way that my brain loves and comprehends most, this puzzle is going to be glorious.


does this all sound crazy? i hope it does. because crazy is how i know it’s God and not me. i am genuinely out of control right now. in the best, most organic way possible. i can’t wait to tell you about it. and you. and you. and you.

but i’m going to take this moment to let you revel in the bliss that i am in. the knowing little bits and pieces. little moments. that are soon to take a larger shape. i want you to be exited. because all of my excitement means something much bigger for you. don’t believe me? that’s fine. i’m here to show you.

so be excited for me. but more than that, be excited for you.

because i have big things to tell you. and show you. and inspire in you.

and i’m just getting started.

(sleeping at last-side by side)

we long for concrete things

the moment your whole life changed.

do you have one of those? maybe you can’t think of one moment. maybe it was a period in your life. now, i’m not talking about the moment you accepted the Lord, clearly that moment actually saved your life.

i’m talking about the moment when you started realizing your purpose. what you were made to do. when you stopped going through the motions of life and started living every day to pursue what you were put here to do.

i was talking to 2 of my most favorite people yesterday and i ended up reliving the summer that my whole life changed. because that summer snuck up on me. i didn’t know it was coming, and even while it was happening i didn’t know how life-altering it would be.

i’m talking about the summer of 2008. i’m talking about the summer i made a jacket. i made a jacket and my entire life changed.


this is ricky. i met ricky in the summer of 2008. along with a crew of people who became part of a bigger purpose in my life. at the time, i just thought i was having fun and doing camp with a team of fun people.

i was wrong. i had no idea that what was happening was going to inspire and shape the rest of my life.

here’s the short story. ricky was turning 21. i had known him for 2 weeks. but i wanted to make him something he really wanted. which was a jacket chris martin wore on the cover of rolling stone that month, and would continue to wear during the release and touring of the album ‘viva la vida.’

so i made that jacket. i made it how i would make it. original? no. clearly it was made as a replica. but of my own sorts. after i made that jacket, i made a lot of other things. i mean, i didn’t stop creating that summer. and it just kept going.

i emailed this to ricky about a year after i gave him that jacket. because a lot had happened in my life.

i was born a creative, dreamer kind of person. i’ve always created art of some kind as long as i can remember. the problem is when i stopped making costumes for theatre class and went to college and majored in history? i stopped surrounding myself with things to inspire me. instead, i only used my creative energy rarely and sporadically.

then i started working at skycroft and i was able to be a little creative but in weird ways.

and then it started getting really monotonous and old. and then i started to feel dead and useless inside.

and then, strangely and unexpectedly, my inspiration to create and design came back. in the form of a jacket.

you may think that sounds silly. but you need to know since i made that jacket, i haven’t stopped making things. and creating art.

obviously one jacket doesn’t have the power to change my career course. but it reminded me of how much i love art and creating. so, coupled with all the other things i started making, my trip to europe, doors God has been opening in weird ways, that jacket you have feels like a beginning for me.

that’s it. that jacket changed my whole life. because it’s not just a jacket. it’s the representation of a time where God woke me up from my death in the monotony of a useless life. and He showed me a small glimpse of what i was made for. He set the stage with some incredible people who inadvertently helped to direct the course of my life. and it hasn’t stopped moving forward since then. i’ve struggled, i’ve cried, i’ve had some pretty rotten and lonely times since then. but it’s been when i’ve veered off the path He had set me on. it was when i started letting other things take over again.

so, i ask you. have you ever thought of the moment that your whole life changed? have you experienced that moment yet? have you seen that moment pass you by?

i can promise you that looking back and being able to see the steps He took to get you to where you are could possibly shock you. because it’s weird to say that your life change is tied to a jacket.

but mine is.

what’s yours tied to?

(sleeping at last- next to me)

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after all it was a great big world

the other night i was having dinner with shannon. and i told her about a recent thought i had.

at the age of 25 i spent three weeks traveling through europe. i’ve been to 9 european countries, 17 european cities and 3 different island groups.

i’m 27 now, almost 28, and last month i spent three weeks traveling the united states. i saw 19 total states and because of this trip only have 9 more states to visit before i’ve seen all 50.

people don’t get to do that every day. most people will never do that in a lifetime.

sometimes i forget that i don’t live a normal life. sometimes i forget that i have been blessed beyond belief by the things i’ve done, the places i’ve been able go, the experiences i’ve been able to have.

i forget that normal people don’t get to traipse around the world on a semi-regular basis.

i needed to remind myself of that.

looking back over the past few years, i feel very overwhelmed and can only thank Jesus for giving me passion, desire and above all the ability and freedom to do the things that i do.

just know that i do not take any of it for granted.

blessed doesn’t seem to cover it.

(tom petty- american girl)

this is my mind

some things i know about this life of mine:

– i will have a home, not a house

– i will probably never settle with one ‘career’ for my whole life

– i will always love encouraging people

– i will always have a current soundtrack to my life

– i will always read 4-7 books at the same time

– i will often love people in the ways i want to be loved

– i will always like making people feel special & worthy

– i will often find it hard to love people unconditionally

– i will always push you but will often fight it if you try to push me

– i will always have a hard time letting people see my heart

– i will always have a list of 20 songs that pierce my heart every time i hear them

– i will always love paris

– i will sing forever. but i won’t always need to be onstage

– i will always share my opinion and will often forget to ask first

– i will always accept you where you are. but will always encourage you to be a better you

– art and music will forever inspire my heart

– i will always have more than 4 projects i’m working on simultaneously

– i will always doubt myself at first

– i will always be proud of you for being brave and bold

– i will often need to be reminded to be brave and bold myself

– i will often have a hard time admitting when i’m wrong

– i will always use lyrics to explain how i’m feeling


– i will always use lyrics to relate to how you’re feeling

– i will always make up stories and daydream in color

– i will often forget that encouraging people is not about me

– i will always be messier than i want to be

– i will always have a lot of things to do

– i will always want to do more

– i will always feel like i have too much

– i will always dress any way i feel like, and will probably never match

– i will often be afraid of truth but always seeking it

– i will always live in a sweet, sweet chaos

– i will have a home, not a house


(kate nash- mouthwash)