cinnamon & belly rolls.

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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.

 

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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.

 

ending well & other things I’m bad at.

Featuring that one planner everyone owns by Rifle Paper Co, that one bedspread everyone owns from Ikea, and my favorite wool socks.

There are few things as satisfying as finishing a great book. Knowing that I spent weeks (albeit sometimes days, or even hours, depending on the story and my schedule) devoted to finishing one thing and finally reaching the empty pages at the back is a unique form of relief. The definition of closure is flipping the last page and reaching “The End.”

I grow attached to characters and the message; often I’ll write my favorite quotes down on pieces of paper and stick them around my room to find later to help me through the post-book depression that starts to settle in soon after I’m finished. For awhile I’ll mope around and refuse to read anything ever again because I’m convinced it just won’t measure up. I’ll tell all of my friends that they have to read this book because I feel some sort of strange loyalty to it. One day I’ll go to the library to find another piece of fiction to tide me over and the cycle starts all over again: read, fall in love, finish, mope, move on.

That’s what ending well looks like to me.

Sometimes I wish life’s seasons were divided into chapters and bound by hard covers. That way  ending well would look like living the story, falling in love with it, finishing the season, mourning about the good times in memorandum, and eventually moving on a little wiser and stronger than before.

This time though, I’m eager to shut 2016’s cover. Screw the process. I want to duct tape this year shut, shove it away in a box marked “NO” and never look back. It’s easy. It’s quick. It allows me to ignore the tough stuff instead of doing the gritty work of sorting through this year. During a couch talk – aka the slightly less dramatic equivalent of a driveway car talk – with my sister, I realized that in order to move forward we have to decide what to bring with us from 2016.

Here’s an unpopular opinion: 2016 wasn’t actually the worst year ever.

Life really sucked when the Black Plague hit Europe in 1346. I’m also going to give a HARD PASS on going back in time to 1861 when the Civil War was taking place. I lived in North Carolina for a month this year, and even though that was less than ideal I would gladly take Charlotte in 2016 over 1861. Just saying. And I’m going there: World Wars. Hitler. Genocides. Even though you can make valid comparisons of these past crises to current world problems, the list for “The World’s Worst Year” is pretty thick.

I don’t want to invalidate the pain that has scarred this year for individuals and people groups. People made choices that left others hurt and confused about where they belong, if they belong. That’s devastating and shouldn’t be made small. But this year hasn’t had more or less letdowns than others. We have always been living in a world that is bleeding from the inside out, it just became more obvious this year. If anything, 2016 was the year that left me feeling a little less naïve than before because of this realization.

Surreal is the best way to summarize how I felt looking at the state of the world and my life after this year. It was hard to believe I was actually seeing and hearing things. Most things I held as true and safe were challenged. I kept saying that I felt older after reading the news of another worldview shattered. A lot of my good friends have expressed feeling frustrated by this constant second-guessing of what is real in their lives as well.

Life never gets clearer, you just get more sure of yourself.

I wrote this quote down on a sticky note and kept it on my work computer. It’s been acting as a subtle reminder that I need to rip the 2016 box open and sort through it. Otherwise it’s going to sit on my shelf for years taking up valuable space in my heart. So I’m holding the triumphs and trials of 2016 in my hands and choosing to keep close the moments – good and bad – that made me feel more sure of who I am. Kind of like a weird, mental version of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. I’m in my mid-twenties and these are the kinds of books you read when you’re trying to pretend to have your life together.

Moments like standing next to my best friends when they got married are the ones that show me that this year mattered. Or times when I took a risk and learned something new. Or where I was when I found out about Brexit or the US election results. And how I felt when I looked at the picture of the little Syrian boy in the ambulance. This highlight reel of living 2016 out to my edges is what I’m able to point to as experience, wisdom, and has revealed more of God’s heart to me.

I mention God a lot in these blogs but I don’t really address the fact that yes, I am a Christian, and yes, my life has been completely changed by following Jesus. Maybe that’s because I’m afraid that somebody will assume things about me that aren’t true based off of what they read. So here it is: I’m passionate about loving God and His people (that’s you, that’s everyone). I still drink far too many margaritas and say things I shouldn’t and that’s ok. It doesn’t change the fact that I am completely sure that God has called me His daughter, even if I’m not sure about a lot anymore. That’s big for 2017.

I’m bad at making resolutions. It’s hard to set measurable goals when you only have a sliver of an idea of what you want or how God is working in and through you. But I want to give 2016 credit where credit is due: it made me more into the Emily that I want to be in 2017.

In 2017 and for the rest of my little existence here, I want to see people and run toward them rather than running away because I’m uncomfortable. I want to celebrate well and dance hard and often, because some things – like love, hope, and forever promises – deserve to have a bottle of champagne popped and a killer playlist. I want to freely forgive. I want to travel because I can and pet dogs because I can and vote because I can and love because I can. I want to be bold and say the things I mean and hug people a little closer because no one gives good hugs anymore. And I want to ride my bike more.

So as much as I want to ignore 2016, it mattered. And 2017 will matter, too. And one day all of the years will add up and matter a whole lot. Then everything that happened won’t matter at all because I’ll be way too focused on praising God for who He is and has been all this time.

Here’s to becoming more of who we already are.

the key to resilience

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“When Life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”

Why is Life giving me lemons? It’s February and lemonade doesn’t make sense, making that saying null. Sometimes I want to throw those lemons right back at Life. Life, take back your lemons, I don’t want them! You can’t even do much with lemons anyway!

Then Life is all “No take-backs!” and I’m stuck with these freaking lemons.

This season has been a doozy for me. Nothing particularly heartbreaking or life-altering has happened, but little things that didn’t go the way I wanted them to have been piling up and eating my insides. It’s easy to let this spill over into 90% of conversations I have:

“I just need to vent for a second.”

At every little defeat I have been throwing myself a pity party and I wanted everyone else to join in with me. I’m all for lending a listening ear, but I received an attitude check the other day when I was “venting” to a friend. I realized that I was not speaking life-giving words. My heart was bitter, my joy was diminished, and I didn’t feel any better after my vent-sesh because nothing was actually different. All of this whining left a gross aftertaste in my mouth, which usually means I should start praying.

And get my hands on some Orbit.

My generation has this stigma where everyone is allowed to whine about their life on social media if any part of it is not what the world told us we should expect. Humor is sarcastic and opinions are critical instead of constructive. All of this hostility is not becoming of us, Millennials. We look like a bunch of Pig Pens from the Peanuts walking around with a dusty cloud of negativity that infects everything we touch. Posting on social media about how much your day sucks over mine doesn’t change the situation we’re in, it just makes us look grimy.

Whether I vent to a friend or on social media, asking others to validate my problems is just another form of complaining.

And complainers are annoying. We all know them, too – they’re the people where when you ask “How are you?” they  respond with everything going wrong in their life. Complainers are joy-suckers. They magnify their own life’s little tragedies over seeking joy in ALL circumstances. It’s selfish, really. Complaining isn’t something we were made to do, and yet we default to it so easily whenever things go wrong.

This doesn’t mean that we are not allowed to feel sad or frustrated by life’s circumstances. I also think it’s important for healthy, honest sharing to happen within communities about where people are at spiritually – and that might include some parts that aren’t all shiny and happy. But there is a way to still be resilient by recognizing that things don’t always go the way we want them to and still choosing to walk forward.

Resilience has much less to do with my feelings and much more to do with my choices. Resilience is choosing joy, despite circumstance.

Choosing joy in a sucky circumstance is simple: you create it.

God is a fixer. A redeemer. A healer. A re-arranger of sorts. God is making – it’s a process, people! – ALL things new.

Creating is the exact opposite of complaining. When someone creates, they are proactively not being ok with the present state of things and have chosen to change it into something different. Creating ushers in newness and wipes away the grimy layer of negativity, defeat, and even apathy about the way things currently are. When I create, I feel satisfied and full because that’s what I am made to do: to make and fill and subdue this earth.

You don’t have to be an artist or a musician to create. You can enjoy the process of making anything – whether that’s writing a poem, arranging flowers, coding something fun, forging a new trail on a run, or cooking really bomb enchiladas. Exercising your creative muscle is less about the outcome and more about the healing process of making something new out of what you have now.

For the past two weeks, every time I felt that little swell of “woe is me” rising up, I chose differently. I cooked a meal. I tried a new hair style. I lettered a verse for a friend. I learned a new dance and sang a new song and I haven’t once felt like moping, even on the especially gray days.

It’s hard to throw a pity party when you’re in the process of creating something different. So next time if Life hands me lemons, I could whine about how annoying they are and how I can’t even do much with lemons… or I could squeeze the crap out of them make something useful. If I don’t have sugar for lemonade, the least I could do is make a salad dressing.

 

go to Alaska & feel really small.

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I read once that great writers have daily writing rituals. They write in the same spot, at the same time, with the same cup of coffee in their favorite mug and are able to create deliberate and meaningful stories.

I’m writing this blog post from airport rocking chairs, airplanes, and charter busses. It is not stationary. It is not methodical or disciplined. But it is on purpose. So I’ll sit here and frantically thumb (I would say pen, but that’s not the reality of typing 1200 words on your iPhone) out what I think needs to be said before it disappears.


I used to hate feeling small.

All throughout elementary school, all I ever wanted was to be in the second row of the bleachers for school picture day. But every year I was always the third shortest in my class and my dreams of being in the second row were postponed until the next growth spurt. Being small meant I was seen as cute instead of capable. It was a constant fight to be seen, heard, and taken seriously. Maybe that’s because I was a girl rather than just small and often passed over, but that’s a whole different conversation. Basically, I have spent the majority of my life trying to never be small, because being small is scary. It meant I didn’t have power or safety or control.

Now, the word small takes on a different connotation. It means beautiful, desirable, and feminine. There’s a different kind of frustration wrapped up in the word because this kind of small is so darn relative. One day, average Emily will feel quite small and dainty and wanted. The next day, average Emily will feel like a clunky, repulsive giant who drags her knuckles and bumps into every corner in her living room. Real graceful, I know.

I don’t think I’m the only woman who struggles with desiring to be “small” in our culture. So many women I know expend countless hours of time and energy making themselves smaller in an effort to feel beautiful. I could go on and on about women’s equality (one of my absolute favorite topics) in the home, in the church, and in the workplace but I’ll just end this discussion of the word small with this thought:

Women have tried for many years to gain the same respect and opportunities as men and yet we still feel we have to diminish ourselves – whether that is physically or with what types of words we use and say.

We are still under the stigma to be small, and I don’t like it.

I hated the word small, and then I visited a place where the only logical feeling that made sense was “small”.

Juneau, Alaska is described as America’s most beautiful capital city, and that’s being modest. All throughout university I had friends travel here for the summer to drive tour busses or fish, each one of them raving about Juneau’s amazing views but me never fully believing them. People tend to embellish. Recently, I had a friend move to Juneau and we always joked about how I should take a mini-vacation away sometime. I guess this just shows that I have no shame in accepting these kinds of offers, but I bought myself a ticket and flew out to Alaska shortly afterward. I mean, who goes to Alaska in November? This gal! I could pretend that I went because I wanted to find answers or whatever, but really I went because I love traveling, I missed my friend, and I wanted to see snow.

I did need a weekend away though. One if the reasons I left is because Bellingham started to feel small, and we all know how much I despise that feeling. It felt constricting and it made me sad that it’s so cold and there’s no snow. So I bought a plane ticket.

The minute the plane landed my breath was taken away. If Juneau is beautiful in the summer, imagine how stunning this little town nestled in the mountains is with snow falling. My heart exploded from the beauty and grace that surrounded me. It was the most gorgeous image of solitude and so I did what any introvert would do – I cozied up in my friend’s apartment with a book and I fell asleep shortly after, content to just sit and stare out the window until I fell asleep.

I pretty much did this all weekend and it was the best.

God knows what we need. A few days later, we needed the sun to come out and glory! It did. Those mountains were practically begging us to spend time with them and this PNW girl was not complaining about it.

On Sunday during a break in the weather we hopped in the car and took off to discover. Everything was beautiful and clean and wild. Juneau is full of colors – bright turquoise and soft purples and sturdy browns. I had no words for Mendenhall glacier or the little island-shine we visited, only squeals of delight and the occasional “Oh my gosh just look at it!”

Being surrounded by the grandeur of Juneau’s mountains made me feel small again, but this was a new kind of small. I had only experienced a fraction of this kind of smallness before, often in solitary places when I pray. This sense of smallness was safe and seen. It was as if only God knew exactly where I was at that point in time. That kind of seclusion helped me silence the loud opinions this world chokes me with and to hear the small voice of Truth. That kind of small put me in right relation with a God whose majesty goes far beyond Alaskan mountains. It was gentle and humble and good.

For so long I fought smallness because it felt vulnerable and weak. I came at life on the offense, arms swinging in a desperate attempt to be bigger and be seen saying “Look at what I can do! Look at what I can achieve despite my smallness! Don’t I have worth? Am I valuable yet?”

God kneeled down to me in those mountains in an intimate, unseen, small moment and told me to stand down. To put my blazing guns away and stop letting the world name me anything else than what He already established at the beginning. God looked at me and called me “Beloved”.

“Here is My servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved, in whom My soul delights.” // Matthew 12:18

So now here I am, sitting small on a charter bus repeating my name to myself over and over until it sounds true – Beloved, Beloved, Beloved. Now I’m forever searching for the places that make me feel small.

hurry up and wait.

hurry up and wait

One of my favorite jobs in college was working on my university’s catering team as a server for one summer. Not only did my coworkers rock, but in catering you got to go to all of the fancy alumni parties off campus and when those fancy alumni parties were over you got to eat the leftover fancy food. For a cheap college student, this translated into lunch for the next week which was a miracle in and of itself.

Serving teaches you a lot. For example, it’s true that the best test of a good judge of character is how well the person treats their wait staff. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a starting point: 1) tip them well, 2) call them by their name, and 3) be a kind person. Seriously, if you want to know if you’re dating a keeper, take them out to dinner and see if they are nice to their waiter/waitress. You can thank me later.

Other things I learned catering/serving are how to work on a team, the importance of making friends in your workplace – shoutout to the cooks who would sneak me snacks when I worked weird hours and had been starving since 7am – and how to be humble, gracious, and smile even though your feet are killing you. All essential life skills.

One of the sayings we used to encompass what we did on the catering team was “Hurry up and wait.” It means exactly what it says: hustle to get all of your preparation for the next thing done but don’t do anything too hastily, because Table 7 is still working on their appetizer and you don’t want to ruin their experience by rushing them.

Right now, I’m hurrying up and waiting.

Life post-grad speeds up and slows down all at once. I graduated in June 2015, I blinked, and Christmas decorations are being put up in the supermarkets. Time seems to be moving at an exponential rate with every year gone by (cue Keith Urban here). Life doesn’t move at 3-month or 4-year intervals anymore, and routine can make the days seem less like an adventure. There hasn’t been much change in my life since June, when normally by September there would be a completely different daily routine for me to navigate. For a change-junkie like myself, this was really rough to adjust to.

I believe that if you don’t like where you are, then you should change it (just another example of my change addiction). I once chopped off 9-inches off my hair just because I didn’t like where my life was headed and I somehow felt like this would fix it, but that’s a good story for another time.

Feeling stagnant and lame made me crave newness. I didn’t know what that meant, but I just felt in my heart of hearts that I should seek a new season whatever that may be.

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” // Revelation 21:5

I’m hurrying up because I know that God’s promises are true. The things that He has coming for me – a hope and a future – seem so near, like they’re right around the corner I just can’t touch them yet. It feels like there are so many preparations that need to get done before those things happen.

There is hurry in my life because I know that time moves faster and faster every day and I have a glimpse of what is to come. My natural tendency is to work work work until all of the details are figured out, but that’s not how God works. God works patiently and meticulously, not knowing the exact steps but knowing where He’s going. He is painfully patient and waits for me to catch on. So I will wait, too.

I know that has been promised to me will come faster than I ever anticipated and I want to be grateful for where God has me today. He has me here in my little college town, living with the best roommates a gal could ask for, and is telling me to just breathe for a bit. Rushing to the next season only takes away from experiencing the moments happening right now. Rest is such a gift and even though this season seems stagnant, there are so many things to be thankful for and find peace in.

Patience is hard for me, but I’m learning to stop and hold on to the “now” rather than trying to see the “almost”.

here’s to the dreamers.

daniel sermon writing

It is common knowledge that if you want to get better at something, you should do that something more often. It’s the whole “10,o00 Hours” theory. The funny thing about most things is that the more often you do it, the better you become at it.

Unless we’re talking about eating kale, because the more kale I eat the less I like that stuff.

I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. Journals were my constant companion growing up and I wrote about everything from pre-teen crushes to the deep, philosophical thoughts a suburban middle child can have at the ripe age of fourteen. The first time I realized I was actually addicted to writing was in the seventh grade. Our teacher assigned my class to write a suspenseful short story that was required to be *gasp* 5 PAGES LONG, double-spaced of course. My story was about a middle school mystery where the suspect used a laser pointer to strike fear into the hero of our tale as he solved the crimes committed and tried to impress his best friend that was a girl (definitely different than a girlfriend) in hopes that she would “like him back”. It was 17-pages long and had chapters.

I’ve also always liked words because they make the impossible possible. Words strung together create stories and stories make people dream. That’s why I like writing so much: it makes me shed my comfortable layers of reason and allow me to dream a little.

Now that I’m older, slightly wiser, and college-educated I am very much aware that an excellent short story can have character development, struggle, redemption and conclusion well within a 5-page limit. But something happened during those beginning years of growing up: instead of writing every day I would write when it was convenient. I quickly dismissed my English professors when they told me to consider majoring in Literature or Creative Writing because it was impractical. What do you do with that?

Later I would learn that 90% of the time, your major doesn’t matter in the “real world” and if I spent half of the energy I used discovering my major, I could’ve ran a marathon. Or two. Or knit a blanket or done something useful.

I never fully quit writing, to this day I still keep a journal, but I let it take a backseat to more logical uses of free time for an undergrad student – such as learning how to cook a meal without noodles or binge watching Netflix until I forgot about that one assignment due tomorrow. The older I became, the more I traded dreaming for practicality. It felt like there wasn’t a space for my lofty goals among the daily stressors of passing classes, maintaining healthy relationships and ultimately trying to become a stably employed adult in the world. There were plenty of people I could talk to about my career. There were very few people who seemed to care about cultivating my dreams with me.

All of this brings us to now: post-graduate, working full-time, living my life in a perfectly “normal” way that left me feeling comfortable and unsatisfied all at once. That is until I woke up one day this summer and decided that I was going to do something that challenges me because I never want to wake up 10 years later, look back and say, “What just happened?”

It makes me uncomfortable to publish my thoughts for the world to see and judge, especially with the amount of run-on sentences I’m prone to use and the slang that’s likely to emerge over time as I get used to writing like this. It makes me nervous to think that maybe only one person besides me will ever read this or that what I’m experiencing no one else may relate with or care to read about. It’s scary to be vulnerable enough to write down the things that actually matter, but it’s a good kind of scary. It’s the kind of scary I want my story to be about.

This blog exists because I want to develop my dreaming muscle. My desire to create, to make, and to inspire hope through publishing my thoughts is what powered this blog. My hope is that it will encourage just one person to see their story as something worth living well and will create a space where you feel like you belong, Dreamer.  So here’s to the Dreamers: this is for you.