breaking up with sadness

You’re a jealous one, Sadness.


Dear Sadness,

I didn’t expect to see you again. You have a different name and you cut your hair. I almost didn’t recognize you this time.

When you introduced yourself as Shame I tried to hide our affair. I needed your protection from the world, so I kept us quiet and tucked you close. Telling people about you would ruin the excitement of it all – no one understood me like you did and no one knew you like I had. But life with you meant a life edited through your expectations and filters for my being. I thought you were safe when in reality you were isolating and intoxicating.

Your name changes but we do not. As soon as you leave you come back — you always come back — with a different name like Grief or Heartache or Lonely you will convince me that it’s different this time. For a season I flirt with the idea of letting you into my space, giving you a drawer to keep your clean shirts when you stay too late.

Days turn into nights and nights blend into weeks spent tangled up trying to make sense of each other. I speak of you lightly to my friends although they can see I am exhausted by you. You’re a jealous one, Sadness.

Enough of my time has been spent thinking that if I finally own you and wear you like a badge that I would be the ringleader of the Lonely Hearts Club. As if you give me credibility in this world. You told me I needed you. Somehow I convinced myself I did, too.

You made me believe that without you I am empty. That you make me more complex and worthy if you are mine. My friend, we have a long history of late nights and car rides spent talking in circles. We know each other too well for me to deny that you will always be a part of life. But I can’t tie myself to you anymore. I am not branded by you.

Sadness, my Daddy warned me about the ones like you and He’s always prayed for more for me. Because a life forever with you is a life limited to that routine: running to you for cover only to be left doing the hard work to build me back after your inevitable exit.

I am grateful because you taught me I have a choice. Today I am no longer running to you. Today I choose Joy. Joy never held me to an impossible standard of perfection. Joy doesn’t want more from me but wants more for me. I’ve traded my Saturday nights for Sunday mornings. I’m free.

It’s cliche to say that boundaries are love but the only good cliches are the ones that are true. Sadness, I need some time apart but I hope one day, when we meet again, we can greet each other like old friends. And if the life circumstance calls for you to stay for awhile, Joy and I will welcome you in. We have a room for you and ice cream in the freezer ready to go. I hope we can all grab a cup of coffee and you and Joy can swap stories about me; I think you guys will get along well. But know that a friendship with me is a life stitched to Joy. You get both of us or none of me from here until forever.

I wish you the best and I hope you find what you’re looking for.


take what you need.


The “un’s” in life shake up a feeler like me. What is the main source of the “un’s” you ask? That’s a great question. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

New seasons. Change. Being hungry. Too much routine. Politics. Lack of control. Lack of freedom. Dreams. Injustice. A good movie. New opportunities. Things ending. Naps.

So basically anything.

Without fail, every January I’m faced with a new set of “un’s” and a whole lot of processing. Uncertainty and unpredictability and unknown and eat me up on the inside until they steal my words and my focus. I can’t quite get my footing and when I finally do, it takes some time to stomp my way back to stable to get a hang of living in this new year. The “un’s” can make their way down into my guts and become part of me if I don’t get ahead of them. Luckily I’ve developed a fool proof prevention system with a visit to my local Target.

Some people sit in a quiet room and journal. Some go for a hike and marvel at creation or whatever. I walk every aisle in Target with my Cartwheel app ready to go and save me 30%. It’s the Christian thing to do.

So about a week ago after chasing my turtles all the way down I grabbed my keys and went to Target to wander. There’s something about it’s familiar layout and clean aesthetic that help me to separate my voice from God’s, as if in the Dollar Section I’ll find all of my insecurities piled onto each other but once I get to Aisle 17 truth and wisdom are expertly merchandised and waiting for me to take home.

If you don’t believe in a god then the idea of hearing from one is probably super weird. And even if you do believe in God, then the idea is still super weird because how many times has the audible voice of God actually interrupted your totally normal day to terrify you and make you near certain that all of your worst fears are true and you are actually crazy? For me, only once.

But if you find yourself here on this little platform then you know I am fully convinced there’s a string of holy that runs through every human. It can unexpectedly tug and pull you to apply for that job or move on or speak up. It points you to the goodest of things that you never would have dreamed up on your own if you let it. It helps you put language to things that you’ve been carrying thinking that you need them and asks you to leave them behind so you can pick up something better instead.

That red bulls-eye did point to my own “un’s”, and then all of the sudden I found myself buying shampoo and thinking about my roommates and family and everyone else who might need the same words I received right there in the organic beauty section.

I don’t know what kind of “un’s” January placed on your plate, but here’s what happened in each aisle for me. Like one of those little tear off pieces on a poster, take what you need.

Cleaning Supplies

You know when you take sheets out of the washing machine and they’re all twisted up and bundled in a large knot? That’s what my heart was this last year. I could get my hands cold and wet trying to pull it apart and straighten it out or I could trust the process. Without fail, every three years I need a permanent press cycle to rinse and clean out the gunk in my heart that I pick up from daily use. But now I’m just waiting for it to finish the cycle and come out of the dryer all safe and warm, sooner versus later. Sometimes it takes a fabric softener and a full tumble dry to get us back to where we need to be. Just remember that before you were ever useful you were loved.

Kitchen Items (But like, the cute ones.)

I do not need more coffee mugs. I want more coffee mugs. I like coffee mugs, I use them daily. But I do not need more coffee mugs. Whatever your mug is, you already have enough. You may even have more than you need and they are just using space. Decide what you’re going to hold onto and let the rest go.


Here is where I could spend hours. Loneliness is so funny because no matter how many thriving relationships you have, you can still feel like you’re stuck on an island. These cards and their quips make me look up and around at my tribe. I have people near and far who are celebrating, in need of a laugh, healing, preparing for little humans and mourning losses. But my selfish little heart likes to think that only I matter and that if I am not being sought out then I therefore am unwanted and not important. HA. How middle child of me.  

The remedy to complaining is to create. When you feel unseen or lonely or hidden, send a card. Tell someone you love them and be the first one to reach out. Sometimes you have to be the invitation to engage and that’s okay. Your Lonely Self will thank you later.

Home Decor (More specifically, Hearth & Home because it is perfection.)

I have a self-protective need to retreat when I see change of any type on the horizon, even if I’ve dreamed it up myself. I say “no” out of fear of failure or being uncomfortable. I run away from people and responsibility. I control what I can – my surroundings, my relationships, my schedule – because the world sometimes is scary and dreaming too hard is risky.

When change happens I crave Home. I want forever in a place where all of my people can find me and it probably smells really good all of the time and there’s cinnamon rolls and no Celiac disease. I don’t want to have to do the exhausting work of rebuilding the things that made my life seem like it was ever mine.

Change doesn’t have to be a wrecking ball if your foundation is solid and dreaming is teaching you how to trust.

If you see me in Target, say hi and tell me what you need. Walk with me for a bit. Welcome to my church.

five more minutes.


Four kids are on the bounce house. Three are coloring at a table. Two buddies are building the World’s Tallest Block Tower in the corner and one tiny child is staring daggers at me with puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks. The clip-on bow that once held back her bangs is stuck in the middle of her blonde tangles after her completion of a short tantrum routine on the ground. I was actually pretty impressed with her coordination and flexibility despite the fact that she was coughing and screaming the whole time.

I help out in my church’s Sunday School program every now and then. Me, a few other adults and a handful of 4-5 year olds kick it for an hour and a half. If you’ve met me in person, this is a hilarious image because I am not your go-to Sunday School gal. My humor is dry which doesn’t easily translate into “I’m trying to be funny to get you to like me” in kid language. I’m also constantly aware of the worst case scenario (fellow Enneagram 6’s get it), so usually I keep to myself around kids because I am preoccupied with the idea that one of them is going to inevitably break their leg under my watch and it’s on me to fashion a splint with Legos and my scarf to tide them over until we can page their parent and they’re safely returned to be held by their mothers until it’s all better. Welcome to my brain, dear readers.

But anxieties aside, I really love these kids! First of all they’re so cute. And they’re trying their hardest to figure out the world and be brave. Kind of like how I’m trying to do this too, except they haven’t failed as much yet so they’re a lot more fearless about it all.

Which brings us back to the little, tear-stained face staring at me from under a table. Homegirl was having a rough day. Okay.. rough is an understatement. She had 3 meltdowns in the course of 20 minutes, proving that kids can actually bounce back better than Big Sean.

After trying to coax her out of the table, she reached up and wanted me to hold her so I did. I wouldn’t say I’m a super comforting human but I’m not an animal. And I understand that sometimes you just need to be held. Having someone safe hold you is one of the Top 5 most underrated feelings right next to finding something you were missing.

We left the room to get a drink of water and afterwards she and I sat on the mats for a good 10 minutes. Her in my lap, me talking to her and us sharing a little moment of calm away from the beautiful, controlled chaos around us. I asked her if she was ready to go back inside the classroom when she looked up and wiped away the rest of her tears and asked, ‘How about 5 more minutes?”

Cue my heart swelling. Ok. Let’s sit here for 5 more minutes.

I shut off my computer, grabbed my jacket and rode the elevator down to the second floor of the building I work at. I paid for my Pumpkin Spiced Latte, because it is October and there isn’t another drink you purchase from cafes when the leaves are orange and there’s frost in the mornings, and I headed upstairs.

There’s this fancy furniture store that makes you feel like you pay for everything in rubies and gold bars when you walk in. It’s Tuesday morning at 10am and no one is shopping for throw pillows here at this time. and I was the only one in the store, or so I thought. My heart was set on a green velvet couch that I pass by every morning. It is equal parts boujee and beautiful and if I owned a multi-million dollar home you bet I would put this gorgeous, olive couch in my living room. I put my feet up on the gold encrusted coffee table, sunk back and let myself cry for a bit.

Right as I was mid-wallow a store employee popped up and asked if I needed anything. A young, 20-something who clearly can’t afford anything walks into your shop crying clutching a PSL in one hand and a napkin as a tissue in the other and sits on the couch that probably costs at least 6 months’ rent. What do you think I need? If I knew that answer, I wouldn’t be sitting here. I looked at him with my misty eyes and said, “I just need to sit here and drink this coffee for 5 minutes.”

To which he replied, “Great, let me know if you need anything. Also please take your feet off of the coffee table.”

Sometimes you just have those days.

Homegirl was too young to verbalize that she has big feelings and a lot of things going on at once makes her feel overwhelmed. So we got away from it all for a minute. And I had spent the last month doing my best to try to solve a problem and I still didn’t feel like it was enough. My tank was empty and I needed to get out. I needed to sit on a green velvet couch and let myself feel like it was going to be okay if I got away from all of the noise.

We weren’t made for a 24-hour news cycle. Years ago people read the newspaper in the morning and turned on the evening news at night for an hour. They chose when and how they wanted to engage with the world’s problems. Now we have to figure out how to immediately process Google alerts and Twitter feeds for everything that happens in the world before the next big tragedy comes along. I feel hard things deeply and I also easily forget the wins; 2017 is a hard year for feelers like me. We need 5 more minutes.

It’s an act of active patience to get away for even 5 minutes. To get a glass of water. To breathe. To kiss the ones we love and to remind ourselves that immediate is not always better, even if the notifications tell us it is.

The holidays are going to be here and gone before you know it. Remember to take 5 more minutes to be present where you are.

You can conquer the world when you get back.

to the people who want to see the world burn.

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Dear you,

My family doesn’t have a lot of traditions, so when I went to college I made a lot of my own with  friends. For Easter, there’s this church in my college town that always used to have a Sunrise Service by Bellingham Bay. Everyone woke up freezing and tired and groggy, but after reading scripture we waited in expectation for the sun to break over Mt. Baker. It’s stunning. One time there was a gospel choir singing “This Little Light of Mine” across the bay and it was one of my most favorite Easter moments.

This year I spent Easter at home in Vancouver, WA. It’s a suburb that’s close enough to Portland, OR and the wilderness to spark a dangerous curiosity. It’s home to a place called the Gorge – you remember it –  not the one that Dave Matthews visits every summer, but the place where Multnomah Falls inspires tourists and the walls of Oneonta Falls make you feel like a true explorer. If you know someone from here, you know that hiking in the Gorge is part of our culture. It was our first taste of freedom as a teen. It was likely our biggest adventures as a kid. And it never, ever gets old to turn a corner and find a new waterfall. (No matter what TLC says…)

In keeping to new tradition, I got it stuck in my head this year that I would drive to Angel’s Rest for my own version of a Sunrise Service on the Saturday before Easter. I’ve done this hike too many times to count and I knew the familiar switchbacks and the rocky field just before the near 360 degree view of the Columbia River. I knew that the sun would break over the hills in the East. My hope was that I would be struck down to my knees in a moment of clarity in the familiarity of it all. All of my post-grad questions that I had been carrying would be answered and then God would come down and gift me with two stone tablets entitled “The 10 Commandments of Following Me in a World Where Everyone Follows Everyone”.

The drive out was beautiful and solemn because no one is on the road at 4:30AM. I made French-pressed Case Study coffee which is a very important detail because it was so good and so special. I stopped by the Vista House for a sunrise, watched the fog clear and then made it out to Angel’s Rest for a quick 6-miler all before noon. I didn’t receive stone tablets outlining my life’s mission but I did remember feeling extremely alive and seen even though I was hidden on a trail. This solo morning hike would be the last time I would experience the Gorge as I knew it.

You see, I go to church but I’m not one of those who believe that church is a place. I believe church is when two people meet, anytime and anywhere and about anything. Church creates holy spaces that teach us more about the stuff that makes up a soul.

The Gorge is our church. If you only knew that my holy place would teach you respect for people and the land by having the mantra “leave no trace” etched into our memories like a prayer. It would teach you how to have the humility to slow your speed in order to walk alongside your tribe rather than pushing your own limits to prove yourself as capable. It taught intangible lessons like perseverance and curiosity and wonder and discretion. Part of our PNW liturgy is hiking here and you took that away without knowing what you were losing out on.

I get it. I was a kid once and we do stupid things to show the world that we’re okay. You probably didn’t even know at the time what kind of destruction you were causing for the sake of a Go-Pro video. You figured someone else would deal with the smoke and it would be nothing; later you would laugh about it.

Being a grown up isn’t an act of being flashy and hoping someone cleans up your mess. It’s owning your own actions. It isn’t creating chaos to distract from your own hurts and it isn’t using people/living things for your own gain. If you had spent time in the Gorge, you would have learned all of this. But you didn’t. Some people never do.

I know with the hundreds of other natural disasters and strife happening in the world, the Eagle Creek fire seems like a drop in the bucket, but this article does a great job explaining why it matters to me. We’re all grieving this place. This letter isn’t just to those who light the fireworks that lead to wildfires. It’s also to those who signed legislation that steals away someone’s right to work & live in a country they’ve grown up in and call home. It’s to those who think that by taking away someone else’s power that they will somehow amass more of their own.

Despite your actions that result in only hurt and destruction, I feel sorry for you. I don’t know why you make decisions out of fear. Maybe you’re afraid because you’ve never known how freeing it is to experience grace and mercy from someone when you know you don’t deserve it. So you throw fireworks to gain enough street cred to make you feel adequate. Or maybe it’s because if you boast and show off then you can distract people from your deep insecurities that you will never be good enough. You tweet and stoke fear because you think it all covers up the truth: you’re small and scared. But I’m just speculating here.

The earth is created to be reborn. Time heals a lot. The trees will come back and the soil will regenerate nutrients and life. Even though it will be different, there will be new growth. There are new leaders who are learning what true courage is right now. There are movements that are disrupting your systems that have been trying to divert power away from people. There’s a new generation finding their voices and lifting others up with them.

You stole parts of our home, but you didn’t destroy our hope.

Xoxo Em

cinnamon & belly rolls.


It was their ritual: the women would stand around the kitchen counter and talk about what they were and were not eating for the next few weeks. Last month they were on a Weight Watchers kick and passed around a recipe for a casserole that was only 8 points per serving. Glorious.

The older one – silver-haired and stunning, her skin soft and pillowy and everything you hope your skin feels like when you’re 65 – has recently discovered Atkins. She declares that bread is a sin now.

She slides me and my sister each a plate of cinnamon rolls that she made by hand. I stare at them calculating my next move. I love that I can expect to devour no less than five of these every time I come to her house, feeling no shame about my sticky fingers and hazy, post-binge nap that will happen once I turn on Nickelodeon. My family doesn’t have a lot of traditions, but these cinnamon rolls are sacred to me. Holy, even, for their consistency in my life. Now they’re dangerous.

So I decide to eat four and then go to the bathroom. I kneel by the toilet for a good 20 minutes, experimenting with the different ways to stick two fingers down my throat in just the right way to trigger the system my body was wired with for stuff that didn’t belong. It looks like I’m praying and I think I probably was, in my own way. Except nothing happened. No matter what angle I tried it just didn’t work. I failed for saying yes to temptation and now I wouldn’t even be allowed to join the sacred circle of stopping calories from setting up camp on my body.

I watched women I admired restrict, exercise, count, and wear themselves out trying to one day be smaller. This was around the time that I poked at my own thighs, wondering why others looked different in the destroyed, low-rise jeans that were the status symbol of every suburban girl in the mid-2000s. They gained all the bumps of early womanhood and yet it’s like their limbs still didn’t know what fat was, all twig legs and knobby knees. Later I learned that the secret was cocaine and eating disorders, but I still envied the figures I saw in the magazines. I was shaped more like a piece of Playdough that, with a creative mind, could be a great mermaid one day if it was stretched and rolled out in the proper places.

I saw first-hand how the disappointment of cheating on a diet could far outweigh the triumph of losing 5 pounds when I watched the women of the kitchen counter “fail” every few months or so. I remember looking at the dimpled parts of my own thighs, thinking that if I just spent more time on the elliptical or skipped breakfast then this “ugly” part of me would disappear and I would be one step closer to acceptable. I may even be wanted one day, if my calves had more definition and my hot dog legs began to look like my sister’s soccer-player toned extremities.

But I chose swimming over soccer. I was active but never an athlete. I ate fruits and veggies and participated in the occasional Taco Bell run after practice. I’ve had cellulite since I was 17 and spent years trying to hide my body from being seen up close and unfiltered.

Today I am textbook healthy – eating whole foods, exercising regularly and enjoying the occasional (and appreciated) pint of Ben & Jerry’s or glass (or 3…) of wine. You wouldn’t look at me and think that I have the body of a supermodel which is fine because I don’t. And I likely never will due to the culture we live in and given that my love affair with carbs will not die until a doctor medically pronounces me allergic to gluten and I risk certain death every time I eat it. Plus, I have thighs. They bring me places and help me run and have a lot of surface area to snuggle dogs. But they don't look like the majority of thighs seen on Instagram.

Summer is tough for me. Sunshine brings shorts, skin and exposure. I often feel insecure. Remnants of what I learned at the kitchen counter like to be loud. They convince me that I’m not good enough until I am 10 pounds lighter and I shouldn’t even think of myself as beautiful until my stomach is flatter. I’m learning to identify those voices and knock out their front teeth. (Metaphorically, of course.) But my insecurities don’t have the same diminishing power over me when I speak openly about them.

So here we are and it scares me. I want to speak light into the spaces that don’t get dusted off very often. I want to help others experience the lost-and-found feeling of “Me too.” This means I have to be honest, even about things like body image, and that’s really hard.  Chances are you’ve probably felt the same kinds of shame and embarrassment around your own skin. Whether it was too big or too small or too brown or too pale or had hair in weird places, it is a freaking journey to learn how to love all parts of yourself.

The body positivity movement has been growing in popularity, which I think is great because we need more diversity in media FOR SURE, but it seems to focus a lot on becoming confident by exposing your skin in any state. Which is fine, but to me this doesn’t encompass all of what a healthy body image is. I don’t want to feel like I have to put myself on display in order to change the narrative.

There’s this word in the Bible called shalom that Jesus used throughout his ministry which dates back to the O.G. Jewish days and I’m obsessed with it. Basically it means peace, but as a concept of ultimate balance and wholeness. When you spoke shalom over peoples’ lives, you were saying that you hope every aspect of their life is complete and no part is upstaging the other. It’s a powerful image of what humans were always created to be – enough by existing, resting in the fact that they have no reason to want because everything they need is just as it is: holy and good and loved. This also means you don’t have to PROVE yourself as valuable either. You just are.

Theologians, if I’ve gotten shalom all wrong please by all means correct me. And same for BoPo folks – I would love to learn if there’s an aspect of this movement that I’m not educated about! But even if I totally messed up the Hebrew or hashtag, I’m still sure that either way tells us we are created worthy enough for love at any state of being your body is in.

People shouldn’t have to feel like whispering to their inner circle if they want to make changes to their diets or their bodies – especially for the sake of physical or mental health. We all could benefit from the “good for you, not for me” mindset. But I also pray that your participation in another round of Whole 30 is a pursuit of wellness rather than an attempt to feel validated through something as trivial as a dress size.

Don’t diminish yourself and waste your life chasing an image that is anything less than what is true: that bodies are weird and different and beautiful, the media is the absolute worst measuring tape, and the sexiest quality a person can possess is their unapologetic willingness to be themselves.

Our existence is not measured by a number on a pair of jeans whether it’s on one side of the chart or another. You were made to occupy the place in the world that your body fills. Stretch out, breathe into the white space and fill it with gratitude. What’s really beautiful is what you do with the life you were given. I hope mine is marked more by how I loved rather than how much I was able to lose or show.

I’m speaking shalom over you – over the parts you worked hard for and the parts that someone told you aren’t there yet. My advice is to buy the dress. You know the one. Wear it out instead of letting it hang in your closet waiting for “good enough”. All of you is golden, even the hidden parts, and that dress is one little step into making your whole life a victory march. So wear the dress. And eat a damn cinnamon roll.


maintenance required.

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This light keeps flashing on my dashboard when I start my car. Even though I know it’s going to be there, I feel my stomach flip each time “Maint Req’d” clicks on & off. It’s a little less alarming than when “Check Engine” indefinitely lights up and makes you rethink skipping that last oil change, lest you want to shell out $500 to a man named Steve who apparently found eight other things wrong with your vehicle. Warning signs are never a fun surprise.

I’ve turned the key and watched this light blink a few times before turning off again. I tell myself everything is fine. It comes and it goes away and the car keeps running and I keep moving along. I’ve done my due diligence of Googling “Maintenance Required light on a 2005 CRV” and it’s not detrimental. Maybe a mileage trigger took place or an engine code is making this little light blink. Everything is Okay and yet I know that eventually I’m going to have to take this car in, get it checked out and shell out some dollars to fix whatever is going on. Otherwise Steve might be getting a more serious visit.

Isn’t it funny how we see all the warning signs and reminders of a breakdown but we keep going until it’s necessary? Until life literally can’t go on without some greasy hands working to clean out and rewire what’s under our hood?

Nostalgia is one of my favorite feelings. I love looking back and reminiscing on good times. Buzzfeed articles about toys & bands from the 90’s/early 2000’s are food for my soul and I will never get tired of a good Throwback playlist, especially if it has “Shoop” on there. Whenever a major anniversary comes up I want to celebrate it with Memory Lane and rainbow sprinkles. Looking back shows us where we came from and it’s always been an encouragement to me to keep the hope that there’s even more to come.

But sometimes a year goes by and I want to fast forward to the good part.

My personal “Maintenance Required” light has been blinking for twelve months. It blinked once in July 2016. It blinked a few times the following September. It came back on for awhile in November & December and really started to stick around in February. I ignored it and kept going. I drove around yelling the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album to drown out the light’s clicky reminder that my insides need to be checked out. And I thought I was doing a good job of faking Okay until this month when my “Check Engine” light signaled the Breakdown.

You know the Breakdown – your insides feel all spinny and for some reason you can’t quite point to what’s out of balance. You watch an episode of The Office and it makes you cry because you forgot how freaking EMOTIONAL this show is. You brave a new community alone for the 2nd month in a row and even though your brain rationalizes that all the good ones take time, your heart just wants to be known and it makes you a little sad. You try to keep your routine and find your footing but even all of the encouraging texts & love letters in the world can only point you to truth. They can’t force you to grab onto it.

For some reason I’ve felt more like a failure in almost every area of my life because of my choices throughout this year, especially in the areas that I hold closest like my faith and my relationships.

I don’t know where I got this measuring stick. I’m not failing – far from it – and according to a couple of my people I seem to be handling new pressures and challenges with grace. Maybe that’s because all of the midnight 1989 yell-sing sessions have lead me to perfect the art of Taylor Swifting it – appearing like you have it all together but secretly knowing that you’re probably unstable and a little psychotic due to your own self-destructive habits but it’s chill because at least I don’t sound insane (right?). Such is the life of an mid-20’s-year-old.

There’s a brand of Christianity who are pros at Swifting their way through life. Our sins stay on the surface and usually revolve around how prideful we are or how we could have done better by really being present with our camp cabin instead of sneaking away for a nap. They rarely circle around our love of sex or alcohol or anything that makes us feel a little less chaotic inside but still allow us to show up on Sunday with our collared shirts on & our hands held high. It’s a way to keep people at a distance so we don’t risk being found out: that we aren’t Okay, we constantly do what we know isn’t the best for us, and our favorite bands aren’t actually from Hillsong.

My prodigal heart is embarrassed to look my Jesus in the eye and say I tried and admit that I was given the world and I blew it on one too many shiny things that made me feel seen.  Honestly, my pride still doesn’t really want to do the long walk back home. I used to say I would never be “that person” because I suck and really just wanted to belong to some exclusive club where try-hards were rewarded for being the most liked and compared their holy merit badges. I want to point to great successes in the past and cover up the ways I messed up in the last year to justify my place at the table. But that person would just be a fictional character of who I am today. I’m invited to the party as long as I’m honest about which name is on the guest list.

Life with Jesus is more than a game of Simon Says to make you feel like you know what you’re doing. It’s not the feel of belonging in community, it doesn’t just happen on Sundays. It’s not choosing an occupation in ministry because having “pastor” in your title keeps you in check. It’s not raising your hands at the right times or tweeting out a bible verse or saying yes/no to things because you want to appear clean. It’s a Maintenance Required light reminding me that I’m in a constant process of breaking and being made whole again. Thank God, I’m still in process.

I’m still hopeful for what’s next. I’m still learning how much I need grace. I’m still thankful for the little community I have near and far who remind me who I am. I’m still standing and singing and I’m still so prone to wander. I feel it.

If you feel like you’re on the outside looking in, just know I’m there too. You’re not alone, but I think it’s time we come inside. Rumor has it there’s a party waiting for us and they even have rainbow sprinkles. Let’s go home.


everyone told me life was gonna be this way.

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Two years ago I was taking pictures in front of the fountain next to the friends who became family. We had just sat in rows of identical square hats, shook hands, and received an empty folder with a gold embossed logo on it. We hugged our people and thanked our professors. Later that evening we would all go to a concert in the park that our friends’ band was singing at. We danced and ate chips & salsa and no one mentioned the fact that everything was going to be different because in that moment, everything was good.

People kept warning me that the post-grad season is really hard as I prepared for my leap into the elusive “real world” two years ago. I hated that they were ruining my bright-eyed view of endless possibilities without a syllabus weighing me down. Post-grad might have been hard for them, but not for me. I belonged to community. I was a leader that people looked to for direction. I could do anything and the world was my oyster!

“During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists.”Rising Strong, my gal Brené (Brené Brown, that is. We’re not on a first name basis but I would like to think maybe someday we will be. We both were swimmers and have a tendency to cuss when we get riled up.) wrote this down and it has never hit closer to home than in these last two years.

During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists. – Brené Brown

It took me one year post-grad to realize that things were different after being homesick for the way things were, and just like everyone said – it was really hard. It took me two years later to realize that life is still good. It will probably take me a lifetime to figure out how to keep standing when the tide comes back in or the winds change.

I’m trying not to use the word “season” because it feels too temporary. And honestly, I’m trying my best to not refer to my life stage now as “post-grad” because it keeps my eyes fixed on the rearview mirror rather than on the road ahead. But one of the hardest things about this post-grad season is the undoing of what was sure. I went from being someone who saw myself as an example to look to – who was decisive and knew exactly what she was doing and why – to being relatively anonymous, having little to no direction at any given point in time and having to rebuild who I am from the ground up.

This might say more about me and my self-absorbed tendencies to view myself as way cooler than I actually am than it does about life after graduation. But if someone knows when the label “post-grad” has an expiration date, let me know, because two years later I’m still feeling like I’m in my freshman year of life.

I wanted to be able to follow a formula for success: get a credible job, move to an actual city, move in with friends to the same apartment and live across the hall from one another, meet in a coffee house every day at lunch, yell “WE WERE ON A BREAK” when you mess up and your heart gets broken, watch Monica & Chandler get married… you know, the typical 20-something lifestyle.

My formula for moving on was a gap year lived in my college town and then plans to move home with my parents to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a barista in Portland. I kid you not, this was my big life plan for after college. Four years of tears and student loans and I am still so grateful that God dreams way bigger than I do. Today, my life looks completely different than how I would ever have imagined.

It’s like someone pulled all of the yarn out of my favorite sweater and handed it over for me to recreate without a pattern or directions. Granted, I’ve never knit anything in my life (sorry Grammie, I know you tried so hard to teach me but let’s be honest, I was never a crafting prodigy) and I don’t know why I’m starting with a sweater, but it’s a ton of guesswork. Maybe this long piece here will turn into a sleeve and the part up top kind of looks like a turtleneck and those are hip now so that’s good… but I’ve got a whole load of tangled yarn yet and I don’t know how to make it fit. It’s still good material, I just might end up with a scarf instead.

There isn’t a pattern for how to move on to what’s next after the undoing. The undoing isn’t a sequential step-by-step process but instead it’s more like poetry or jazz, having some kind of form but is punctuated with unexpected twists and new melodies that you have to learn to adapt to. You can’t mix and measure your way to a perfect transition, that would take all of the living out of it because transitions have to start with an end.

Grads, your life as you know it is ruined – which sounds extreme but is actually the most wonderful place to start. There’s this quote in the Bible of when Isaiah sees God for the first time. He falls down and yells “I am ruined!” because he has seen something so beautiful and OTHER THAN that he can never live life the same way as before he witnessed it.

That’s what the undoing is like: a holy destruction of life as you know it, then making something beautiful out of all of it’s parts and pieces.

I hope you grieve the end because of how sweet those late nights and long weekends were. I hope you remember the magic of making your own community for the first time. I hope you bring with you the lessons learned and that you don’t forget how special of an opportunity it was to participate in higher education. And I hope that you always laugh at movies like Nacho Libre and never grow tired of finding a new taco truck on a street corner.

I also hope that you don’t try to shove these unique experiences into wherever you are next. The last 4-5 years were one of a kind. Any attempt at replicating them is just a cheap knock-off of the real thing that will leave you frustrated that you can’t recreate the original. Except for the Nacho Libre part because that movie is hilarious no matter what.

So be patient with yourself. Let yourself feel all of the emotions – the relief of being done with something you worked so hard for, the excitement of new possibility, the worry of not having a next step, the sadness of watching your people move to new places, the anger that happens when things don’t go your way, the loneliness that comes during the process of building new community, and the hope that comes from knowing that tomorrow will be better.

Welcome to the world, I can’t wait to see what you make.