coffee date // vol. 3

Well hey friend, it’s been a little while since we’ve caught up so I’m thrilled that we were able to carve out some time for a coffee date today. When we last did this, I was on the cusp of a new season of life [read more here], so it’s only natural that the first question that rolls off your tongue as we cozy up is regarding that.

You ask what I’ve been up to and how I’m enjoying staying at home right now. And while it’s truly been good, it also has felt slightly complicated. In the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t felt like I’ve been up to much, and yet I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. I’ve spent the last few months figuring out new routines so I can continue to be productive and live my days intentionally, especially when it comes to blogging – which I’ll get to in a minute – but I still feel like I’m finding my footing with it, and figuring out the most successful rhythms. I’ve been trying to capitalize on this time and space that I’ve got by taking the best possible care of myself and setting up a good structure to build off of in whatever season is to come next. But I can’t help but feel that everything I’m doing is very basic, because I was maintaining many of the same areas of life while I was still working. And I’d be lying if I said that being unemployed hasn’t rocked my identity a bit. But I keep finding myself overly grateful for the extra time to invest more into these valuable areas of life. I’ve had the space to figure things out amidst the changes, to process all that is happening in my life, and to prepare for whatever might be next. And the timing of it all has proven to be graciously not-so-coincidental.

You see, I recently recognized that we’re in the midst of a limbo season, and it primarily hinges on our timeline with the Air Force. In short, we were due to move on to our next base this fall, but there’s now a good probability that we could be extended here longer and would then expect to move next summer. But, in true military fashion, we don’t have a definitive answer one way or the other yet. And even if we’ve been told that the odds are high that we will be staying put a little longer, I’ve learned to not let myself believe that something is certain with the Air Force until we have it in writing, or until it actually happens. So that leaves us still waiting on a final answer.

I’m not necessarily stressed about the outcome – there are positives to each option for us, so I don’t think I’ll be disappointed either way. But what I have been finding to be a bit more weighty is that every other life decision feels like it is on hold while we wait. Our travel plans, our involvement in our church and other activities, home improvement ideas, my employment status, purchasing a new car, and just overall decisions for our family – they all feel dependent on when we will be moving. Because there is a big difference between moving in seven months, and moving in fifteen. And so at this point I’m coping by not making any further big decisions until we know the answer to that. Hence, our limbo season.

But we seem to be doing okay with it. We’re hoping to know more by the end of the month (maybe…), but until then, I’m trying to just lean into the tension of the in-between by taking whatever next right steps I can. I might not know the exact destination or timeline we’re headed towards, but that doesn’t mean I should stop living.

And one way I’ve been trying to lean in is by figuring out my blog. You might remember that as a result of my strong sense of calling to invest into this space, one of my 2020 goals is to treat blogging like it’s my job – AKA I’m trying to take it seriously, devote time and attention to it, and give myself some structure to work on it. And I’m still very much figuring this out. I came out the gate in January full speed ahead with pumping out two posts a week, which was my goal, but as I continued that pace into February, I felt myself burning out quickly by the middle of the month. While some things were going well, it was evident that other things weren’t working on the back end, so that led me to reassess my tactics. And in doing so, I came to the epiphany that it is okay for my blog to be a work in progress. It is okay for me to experiment with different tactics until I land on what works best for me. While I benefit from resources and wisdom from successful bloggers, I’m accepting that I can pave my own path and write my own story – especially because my measure of success is likely a bit different than the norm.

So I’ve recently felt a bit freed up to figure out what works for ME. And in doing so I have given myself permission to embrace experimentation; to allow myself to trial and error; to let go of my fear of failure because the only way I’m going to figure out what works for me is to actually put things to work. I recently read the quote “Be brave enough to suck at something new.” And while blogging in itself isn’t entirely new to me, growing it into what I want it to be is. And so it is okay for me to flail and get scrappy and get a bit roughed up if in the end it leads to me knowing exactly how I want to continue with it. The only person that is demanding anything of me and my blog right now, is me. So it’s time I take the pressure off and allow myself to figure out how I can sustainably enjoy it. And oh, let me tell ya, what a sense of relief that’s been.

As we continue to chat and sip on our coffees, I exhaust the topics of my life, and start asking about you. I want to hear all about what you’ve been up to lately. What’s been bringing you joy? What’s been hard? It’s always so rejuvenating for me to connect over the realness of life, and I’m so glad to have a friend like you to do that with.

We finish our drinks, wrap up our conversation, and give each other a big hug, agreeing (like we always do) that we really should do this more often.

Until next time friend,

the one practice that has benefitted my faith & my mental health most

A few days ago I filled up the last page of another prayer journal. As I did, I looked back to the first page, back to September 12th – almost exactly five months ago. I scanned over the words I wrote to God when I asked Him to meet me within the pages of this journal. I had asked with anticipation for Him to lead me and guide me through whatever would come my way. Little did I know what those five months would hold. I considered how much has changed since I wrote that prayer on the first page. And then I considered how much of that change was processed and recorded within the pages that followed. The processing of decisions about our future, the downward spiral of the gym I worked for, the uncertainty of my next steps after job loss, finding and settling into new routines, further establishing our sense of community where we live – all of this and much, much more were processed at length. And while the processing wasn’t always pretty, and the outcomes of some situations weren’t always tied up with a neat bow, I was still able to fill the last lines of this journal with thanksgiving towards God for the way He has helped me through it all. I was able to say with certainty and with joy that the Lord is faithful.

While journaling my prayers has become a life altering habit in my faith and life, there’s a specific practice within it that has been the ultimate game changer for me. It’s what prayer journaling allows me the space to do. It’s what led me from the first page to the last page of this journal with an ever increasing trust in the Lord, despite a rollercoaster of circumstances. And it’s what has ultimately allowed about the greatest transformation in my heart. What I want to share about with you today is the concept of getting real with God.

What do I mean by that? Well, I mean sharing your whole and complete self with God. I mean opening up and letting Him into the lightest and brightest, as well as the deepest and darkest crevices of your soul. I mean putting it all out on the table – mess and all. I believe that prayer is a gift we’ve been given as a means to communicate with our Father and Creator, Redeemer and Savior. And if we don’t utilize it, we are the ones missing out. If all we do is say fluffy or repetitive or extravagant or forced words that we don’t even really mean, then are we actually communicating? Or, if all we do is have surface level conversations with God, constantly asking Him for things, but we hide our real hurts or wicked thoughts, are we really allowing God to change our hearts?

So I’ve learned to bare it all out there and confess who I am, exactly as I am. I say learned, because it’s often not easy. I don’t enjoy being vulnerable. As an enneagram 1, I don’t like facing my mistakes. I don’t like revealing the messy sides of me. I’d much rather talk about the neat and tidy parts of life. But I started to accept that if I can’t bring my full, whole self before God, who loves me unconditionally and more than anyone else, then I’m never going to be able to share my full, whole self with anyone. We used to attend a church that often said, “Bring the mess, Jesus can handle it.” And while we didn’t stick around that church long for unrelated reasons, that idea has stuck with me. If anyone can handle the worst parts of me, it’s Jesus. And so there is no safer place for me to be real. He already knows my heart and my thoughts anyways – and more deeply than I do at that. He’s not shocked by my sins and secrets. And He already went to the cross on behalf of them. So why not lay them before Him and ask Him to help me deal with them, rather than be consumed with worry that I’m going to be found out?

So I do that by being raw and honest with God when we chat. Sometimes that means I’m overjoyed and full of gratitude, so I pour out my thanksgiving and praise. But other times I boil over in anger, I cry out in sorrow, I dump out my overwhelm, I own up to my failures, I wrestle with my disappointment, I confess my fears, I demand change in what I deem unjust situations, I ask Him “why?”, I beg for miracles. Most emotions humans are capable of, I’ve probably hashed out with God at some point. And if you look back through that list, you can probably guess that it doesn’t always look pretty.

But the more I’ve opened up about the real stuff, the more He has cleared out the crud and transformed my heart. And the more He’s done that, the more I’ve seen His gentleness, and faithfulness, and patience, and grace. I’ve gotten to experience God’s love and mercy for me amidst my harshest moments. And as a result, my faith has grown exponentially as I’ve experienced what feels like His miracle work in my life. There is no specific method to it. There are no magic words to say. There’s no right or wrong strategy. It’s just me laying myself bare and coming before the throne of my Savior and King to seek His guidance.

I firmly believe that by inviting God in, He more easily brings deep change in my heart and life, because I’m no longer resisting. It has given me an incredibly fresh and real meaning to Jesus as my Wonderful Counselor. Because there have been times that I’ve walked away from journaling feeling like I just came straight out of a therapy session.

It’s through this practice and allowing the Holy Spirit to really have His way with me that I’ve realized how much I have a fear of failure. I’ve had my eyes opened to how much of an idol I’ve made of comfort in my life. I’ve recognized my shortcomings in communicating in my marriage and found ways to strengthen it. I’ve found hope and direction in the face of unknown. I’ve gained better understanding of other people in my life, and I’ve definitely gained better understanding of myself. I’ve had the opportunity to see God pull all of the loose threads together in so many situations to complete the fuller picture. I’ve also had the opportunity of finding peace while the threads are all still loose.

By offering up the junk and the mess and the mire within me, God has taken it and used it to teach me, grow me, change me, transform me, and ultimately bring me into His freedom. He knows that there are times I’ve needed gentle correction, and other times that have required a not-so-subtle kick in the pants. Of course there are messy feelings and words that come out that aren’t so honoring to God, but by giving it all over to Him, I have a safe place to sort through them, rather than let them bubble over in even greater sin, and possibly making it worse. By acknowledging that my heart isn’t always in the place it’s “supposed” to be, I’m able to give God the room to mold it and shape it to make it new. THIS is how I become more like Jesus – not by striving to obtain a certain character trait through practice (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). But by handing over the deepest, darkest parts of myself and letting God do His redeeming work – letting Him get to be the hero that He is. Sometimes that means He eradicates the tough stuff, and sometimes that means He shines through it.

So however you pray, I urge you to be completely and wholly honest with God. Give Him it all. Each and every emotion. Each and every light and heavy thought. Each and every shortcoming and failure. I promise you, He wants to hear from you. He wants to shine light in those dark corners you’ve been working so hard to hide – not to embarrass you or to hurt you, but to set you free. It might still feel uncomfortable to be exposed, but there is no safer place than in the shadow of God’s wings. He is the most wonderful counselor I’ve ever known. I hope you can know Him as that too.

What about you? How do you best connect with God? Do you feel like you could get a little more real with Him when you talk to Him? Or have you experienced His work in your heart because of a time you were real with Him? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Until next time,

coffee date // vol. 2

Hi friends! It’s been awhile since we have really caught up, so I thought it’d be nice to carve out some time for a hypothetical coffee date today. Will you join me?

As we order our warm drinks and find a cozy spot in the coffee shop we catch up on what’s been going on in your life. Afterwards, the conversation turns and you ask what’s new with me.

I pause.

For awhile now, whenever I’ve been asked this question my go-to response is “honestly not too much, just living life.” I never say that to withhold anything. I’ve said it simply because it’s true. But today, I chuckle on the inside because for once, that response isn’t fitting. Because the last two months have been a bit of a rollercoaster.

I fumble with my words as I find the best way to portray what has been going on, but it comes out plainly that the gym I worked for went out of business at the beginning of December, and I am currently unemployed. As the words come out of my mouth, the questions that everyone has asked me quickly come out of yours. Did I know? How am I doing? What am I going to do next? And so we dive into the depths of where my head and heart are at.

In regards to the end of the gym, it was quick, but not sudden, if that makes sense. We hit a tough year with the fitness market in our area, and people just weren’t coming in the door like they used to. All year we had been digging our heels in and fighting as best we could to help the business stay alive, and hopefully thrive again. Unfortunately, in the end, our efforts came up short, and due to a combination of circumstances the decision was made to close up shop the first week of December.

Obviously the ending of a business isn’t easy for anyone involved – the owners, the staff, or the clients – so the final days felt a bit subdued. It’s certainly been sad to experience the end of this chapter. But at the same time, I’m surprisingly doing really okay with it all. For one, our last week of business was full of reminiscing on the highs and lows of the journey, giving us the opportunity to end with gratefulness for all we had done. But more significantly for me, in the last month or so of business – when it was still being determined if we were going to remain open or call it good – I spent a lot of time at the feet of Jesus in prayer about the entire situation. And in many different ways, bit by bit, God gave me overwhelming feelings of peace, hope, and faith.

The root of it stems from when God’s living and active Word seemed to speak directly to my circumstances. The Bible study I was going through happened to lead me to John 15 when Jesus is telling his disciples about how he is the true vine, and instructing them to abide in him. Amidst this conversation, he says “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit [God] takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). Even though this wasn’t the focal point of my study, these words stood out in a way I couldn’t shake.

You see, this job has been incredibly fruitful in my life. I still firmly believe it was all in God’s perfect plan that I landed where I was (which may be a story for another day). My entire experience there brought so much to my personal and professional life: refinement and growth, new physical and mental strength, and new knowledge and new skills. Plus, I hope and believe that I had a positive impact on the people I interacted with on a daily basis. Even as the office manager, I had the opportunity to come alongside our clients within the challenges of their own health journeys and cheer them on. In the two years I worked at this gym, God streamlined some major refinement on areas of my heart and life that were long time struggles, and I don’t believe they could have been worked out as effectively in any other way. So with all of that being said, as I read verse 2, I viewed this job as a fruit bearing part of my life, and with it at risk of being stripped away, I asked myself, “could it be because God wants me to bear more fruit?” Perhaps everything that God has been doing within me in the last two years (both in this job, and outside of it) would now give way for such a time as this.

And what is “this” exactly? Well, despite my continued insecurity of how lame it may sound, I remind you of my firm belief that God has called me, and keeps calling me, to blog, but I haven’t found the footing to fully commit to it as much as I’d like to. So, what if God is removing this piece of my life so that I can once and for all not have any valid excuse standing in my way of being obedient to Him? Not even a job that consumes time and energy that I could be using to blog, or to invest in some relationships in deeper ways. At first, it just felt like a hopeful wish. I had a brief season of being a “stay-at-home-wife” years ago when Adam was in his job training, and I loved it. In fact, that’s when I took my first steps of obedience in starting my blog. But is it really practical and wise for me to stay at home when I’m perfectly capable of working? It feels like a selfish desire, and can I be completely honest with you? I’m worried it could make me appear like a lazy, freeloader. But the details seemed to keep leaving the door open. With adjustment we can survive off of Adam’s income, we will only be living in Cheyenne so much longer so I could be limited on time, etc. And my greatest affirmation has come in the form of my sweet husband’s support. In fact, he has been more forward about me taking this time to follow God’s call than I have been. So I’ve been swallowing my pride, and trying to accept that while some people may not understand this decision, God has been intently calling me to this for so long that I can’t doubt that He has greater plans than I can imagine. And if He takes what feels like an extreme measure to remove my job title, then I should really start taking this seriously.

And so, since the first week of December I’ve slowly been determining what this new season is going to look like. I took a bit of time to recoup, recover, and do what felt like grieve after the dust finally settled. And now I’m seeking to establish new rhythms and routines to set up a healthy structure in this seemingly unstructured season of life. But I’m also really heading into this season with open hands; trying to remain attentive to what God is leading me towards, and trying to become more fervent in obediently following Him, wherever that might be.

I’m hopeful. I’m apprehensive. I’m excited. I’m still insecure at times. In some ways this decision feels like it doesn’t make sense. But then again, both in Scripture and in life I have witnessed God move in the biggest ways through the nonsensical (I mean, for crying out loud, we did just celebrate a holiday centered on Jesus’ virgin birth). I’ve had fear that people may question these choices, but the Holy Spirit keeps reminding me that it could raise the opportunity for me to proclaim my belief that God is on the move and that He is faithful through it all.

I finally pause to take the last sip of my coffee. You smile at me, and express your happiness for me in this new season and for what God has already started doing in me. I thank you for your listening ear, your understanding, and your encouragement. It helps affirm me even more on the path I feel God leading me on. And I look forward to hopefully having more time for get-togethers like this in this season.

We grab our coats, toss our cups, give each other a big hug, and head our separate ways. Until next time, friend…

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the girl for the job

Hi friends! I know it’s been a bit quiet around here over the summer and the past months. And rather than just pick up where I left off and pretend like it never happened – which trust me, I kind of wanted to do – I feel compelled to share with you why.

I’ve been in a confusing spot when it comes to this blog. It’s been on my mind consistently – whether I’m thinking of ideas for posts, or I’m just thinking about how I haven’t produced much for it. It’s something I truly want to be investing in. And yet, I haven’t been making time for it.

One reason why comes down to distraction. The biggest culprits of time fillers in my life lately are scrolling on my phone or binge watching Survivor, making my schedule feel deceptively more “busy” than it actually is.

A similar reason why comes down to procrastination. Putting it off until the time feels right. Until I’m in the mood. Until everything else on my never ending to-do list is done first so that all of my distractions are diminished. Until I have more time and more focus.

But truthfully, what it really comes down to is fear.

What if no one reads what I write? I put so much thought and attention into what I put on here, so if no one really engages with what I share, that can be really disappointing.

What if people do read it and don’t like it? All the more disappointing.

What if I’m a fool for thinking that I have anything original or unique to share?

What if people think I’m being “extra” for being a blogger? I mean, I already feel silly enough mentioning to someone that I have a blog. Extra is one of the last things I want to be.

Or what if it people do read it? What if what I share from my heart and about my life is put out there and complete strangers know too much? What if I don’t set good enough boundaries and I find myself too vulnerable? I mean, the internet is a scary place these days.

And what if I make it about me? I know the Lord has called me to write for this blog, but what if instead of Him getting the glory, I miss the point and become a distraction from the gospel?

And the biggest whopper of them all – the one that encompasses them all – what if I fail?

Whether those “what ifs” are reasonable or not, they have been real thoughts and fears in my mind. They are thoughts and fears that I have had to wrestle with. They are still thoughts and fears that I have to fight with.

My general fear of failure came to light in my life in big ways last year, but it has shape-shifted a bit when it comes to blogging. As strange as it feels sometimes, I truly believe this blog is something God has called me to. I don’t think it’s coincidental that after all these years, whether I have been posting or not, that this space is regularly on my mind. Through many prayers about it, I have felt nothing but affirmation that this is an open door God has placed before me. It feels like a natural way for me to utilize some of my God given gifts. It’s felt like that since the conception of this space.

With that in mind, this blog is not something I want to take lightly. I don’t want to treat it passively, but very intentionally. If it’s meant to be for the glory of God, then I want to do it well (a perspective that I hope one day reflects all capacities of my life). But with that perspective I unintentionally put pressure on myself when I rely on my own strength, and it gives way to my fear of doing it wrong, because I feel like there’s more on the line.

Towards the end of the summer, amidst wrestling with some of these lingering fears, I joined in on the launch team for Jess Connolly‘s latest book “You Are The Girl For The Job.” If you are unfamiliar with Jess, she is one of my favorite authors and truth speakers (I highly recommend following her on instagram for a daily dose of truth and encouragement). But I digress…To be honest, I was excited for this book simply because it was written by Jess, and I liked what I saw of the build up for what it was about, but I didn’t realize just how much it was for me. It ended up exposing some of these fears I had been facing, and it spoke straight to them – or against them, I should say. It unveiled a lot of deep rooted reasons I was holding myself back from truly running on mission for Jesus, and it equipped and spurred me on to choose obedience in all capacities of life, INCLUDING this blog, so I could glorify God, benefit others, and in the process experience the Lord’s abundance.

I could share quote after quote from this book (trust me, I have literally half of the pages underlined), but in correlation with what I’m sharing here, this was one excerpt that literally took my breath away and almost left me in tears:

“I need the gentle reminder that I can’t fail God because He never put me on a pedestal. Not once has God gotten our relationship confused and expected me to be the perfect one. Not once has God put pressure on me to produce something worthy of His affection. Not once in my entire existence has He forgotten that I am the workmanship and He is the creator. I often forget that, but He never does…Jesus cannot be disappointed by your failure, because (A) He is all-knowing and chose you anyhow, seeing all your wins and all your losses, and (B) He has never put pressure on you to produce. You are HIS workmanship, and the rest is worship.”

These words cut me to my core in the most disarming and freeing ways. I think because they speak against so many of my natural thought processes (I’m a 1 on the enneagram if that helps explain anything). I’m still working to let these words, and so many others from YATGFTJ, change me, and a step in that for me is through choosing obedience when it comes to this blog.

I’m fighting to believe that this is something the Lord has called me to and equipped me for. And because that belief has carried on from the day I started thinking about starting a blog, I’m fighting to believe that He has abundance in store through it. The truth is, I’m doing it wrong if I don’t even try. God isn’t going to be glorified by this blog if I sit back and shirk away from an opportunity He has given to me specifically. He will certainly go on and continue to be glorified in other ways, but then I miss out on the abundance I could experience by joining in.

I’m tired of missing out. I’m tired of having fun ideas to post about and letting too much time pass and it’s no longer relevant. I’m tired of getting excited about sharing something the Lord’s put on my heart and talking myself out of doing so. I’m tired of thinking, and not doing.

So I’m stepping out. Stepping out from the fear because I won’t let it be king anymore, and instead stepping out in faith, because if the Lord has called me to this, then whom (or what) shall I fear? Stepping out because I am the girl for the job. There will certainly be failure and setbacks and flops along the way, but “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

I’ll leave you all with this, in case you need the encouragement to fight your own fears as well:

“Let’s…not be limited by what might come our way. Let’s be…defined by action and activated faith, trusting God and His Word over how things look, how we feel, or what we fear.” -Jess Connolly

Until next time,

P.S. I cannot recommend You Are The Girl For The Job enough for you ladies. You can find out more about the book and order a copy for yourself here.

my 28th year

This weekend marked the completion of my 28th trip around the sun. As I reflected on this past year, I took into consideration all that I experienced and learned. I am of the opinion that no matter what age we are, as every year goes by we will always have more to learn in life. So here’s a look at ten of the standout things that made an impact on me in my 28th year:

The pursuit of health is about the journey, not the destination. I can easily default into the thinking that once I lose X amount of weight, or once I tone up X area of my body, THEN I will have “arrived” and I can just maintain from there. But I’ve come to find that, for one, those X factors are easily capable of endlessly changing; and for another, once those X factors are achieved, it takes just as much, if not more, work to maintain. Pursuing physical health is a winding road that looks different through all the seasons of life, so I’m really working to shift my perspective for the long haul, rather than trying to “arrive” and be done with it.

Approaching my health in a worshipful way rather than as a vain pursuit is an ongoing mental battle, but it is a battle worth fighting. I have been trying my darnedest for the last two-three years to approach my health it in a way that glorifies God, rather than simply trying to look a certain way. This past year has specifically been filled with many victories in this area, but at times it has felt like an all out war on my mind as I try to rewire my reasonings and approaches. As I continue to journey on this path, I know there is still more fighting to come. And I’m here for it.

Days spent away from my phone are always good days. Always.

Justice is the Lord’s. It is not mine to deliver. His providence is present in all of life’s circumstances, so I can, and should, trust Him to carry out His good and perfect will, even if it is not what I think is most fair in the moment.

Comfort is a huge idol in my life that majorly holds me back from obediently following Jesus. And it’s taking a lot of prayer to re-wire my brain and uproot it.

Take it ALL to the Lord in prayer. Like, everything. Joy, sorrow, gratitude, praise, disappointment, frustration, pain, confusion – all of it. There is no greater counselor to work through my “ish” with. He is a safe place and a refuge – even and especially when all around me feels unsteady. He can handle the messiest and ugliest parts of me. And he does so with grace, mercy, love, and gentleness.

Work from approval. Not for it. It’s so easy for me to seek to please or seek praise from others. But I was not made to work for approval – especially from people. I have already been considered approved by God through the blood of Jesus Christ, and therefore I will turn around and work with confidence in, and gratitude of, that.

Communication is a (if not THE) key to abundant relationships. And I am not as good at it as I thought I was. The only way for me to get better, is to practice. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of opportunity for it this year, most significantly in my marriage. I am really trying to remember that no one is a mind reader, so the best way to make my feelings known, resolve conflict, create unity, or establish understanding is to kindly speak up and use my words. It’s proven to be better than avoidance or bottling up (my defaults) 100% of the time.

Have gracious assumptions of others. There is much more going on in someone’s mind and intentions than I ever let myself believe. I need to give others the grace to be as beautifully complicated as I am.

I have spent so much time striving to be my Ideal Self rather than embracing my Actual Self. And while my Actual Self is full of brokenness, messiness, and sinfulness, that is the part of me that God has equipped to take on my specific life circumstances. This is just another area of myself that I need to cool it with the striving and embrace the grace.


Well there you have it – ten major things that God has been teaching me and giving me the grace to implement in my life in the last year. A significant thing for me to point out is that these are not things I have mastered. But they are all lessons that have stopped me in my tracks at least a time or two, and shifted the way I think or the way I approach life. I can guarantee you that I’ll be carrying all of this with me over into my 29th year, and all the years after.

What about you? What has stood out as a life lesson in your latest year of life? Maybe there’s something I learned in year 28 that already comes easy to you, but maybe there’s also something that you could benefit from learning too. If there is, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Until next time friends!

a letter to my 17 year old self

I kind of can’t believe I’m typing this, but I graduated high school 10 years ago today. It’s a bit baffling. But rather than diving into a long rant about how time is wild and I just don’t understand it, I thought it’d be fun to write a letter to my 17 year old self (because I was a youngin’ and didn’t turn 18 until the week before I left for college) as a form of reflection. So here it goes…

Dear 17-year-old Kelly,

Congratulations! You finally made it. You finished high school and get to move on from this place that you’ve been looking forward to leaving for the last 3 years. Since I’ve gone ahead and taken on the next ten years of your life already, I figured I’d give you some insight to ease your mind about what is ahead – or at least prepare your heart for what is to come – without giving you too many spoilers. So here’s what I have for you:

First things first, get ready for a roller coaster ride. And not the kind that you ride over and over again because you love it so much. But the kind that you can only ride once and you have no idea what is going to come next. Because honestly, that’s what life is. It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns. There are high highs ahead, and there are also low lows. But don’t be afraid of them. They all piece together to make you the person that is writing this letter to you now. And while she’s perfectly imperfect, she’s grown significantly more in the last 10 years than you could ever expect.

While we’re kind of on the topic of it, I know you don’t like to consider yourself a perfectionist, but we both know that you’re chasing perfection in pretty much every area of life…and to be honest, you’re going to keep chasing it, and you’re going to keep coming up empty handed. Don’t let that statement discourage you. Honestly, the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll feel freed up by it. Life isn’t meant to be perfect. YOU are not meant to be perfect. And even though you’ll come to learn that your desire for it is just how you’re wired, it doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in an endless chase. There are far better things to chase after. So take the pressure of yourself, do your best, and most importantly give yourself GRACE.

I know you’re going to overlook that last word, because it just sounds like a simple church word to you. But I’ll warn you now that through some hard and heavy failures, you’re going to truly learn what God’s amazing grace is and it’s going to be a game changer. It won’t be until you experience these hardships that you truly understand your need for Jesus, and that up to this point you’ve still been trying to save yourself. The sooner you surrender, the sooner you can rest in your freedom in Christ, and the sooner God can really use you for His glory.

I know you feel like you’re “behind” in some way for only knowing Jesus for a few years, but girl, He is just getting started with you and that is a beautiful thing. He’s going to wreck your heart and build you back up so much stronger – which might not sound appealing, but trust me, it truly is for your good. He’s going to use you in the quiet moments – some you’ll be aware of, and many of them you won’t. Just be open and willing to be used for His glory and be ready to be amazed of all that God is capable of. Following Him truly leads to a more abundant life.

I remember now that you’ve been trying for awhile to fully believe it is ok that you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life. You’ve been told it many times from other people as well. I’m here to confirm for you, it really is ok. Even when it feels like you’re doing something wrong because everyone else seems to have it figured out, you’re not. The fact that you accept this will only make it easier for you to find your path when the time is right. Because God’s not leaving you hanging. He’s just waiting for the right time. He’ll let you in on what you need to know when you need to know it. And that means you’ll figure things out piece by piece. (Heck, I’m still figuring it out. And don’t worry, I’m so okay with it). Until then, I know you’ll come to this verse on your own eventually before you head off to college, but I’ll throw it out there to emphasize it’s importance for you: “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Life is never again going to look like it does right now for you. It’ll weird you out, and confuse you, and create some tension within you at times, because I know your tradition loving self likes to cling to the way things are when you are happy with them. But trust me when I say it’s okay to accept change and step out into the unknown. Your best memories will happen because of it. Your most significant growth will happen because of it. And it’s true that in order to experience the greatest abundance you have to let go of some things in the process. I’ll affirm with you, though, that there won’t be a day that goes by that you look back and want to return to high school. You’re going to love college. You’re going to love what comes after it. Good days and good things are ahead.

Now let’s be real, I think there’s some temptation for you right now to think you have it all figured out. I mean you’re about to turn 18. You’ve experienced a lot of life so far and you’ve already learned so much. But please let me do you a favor and lovingly tell you that you don’t. And that’s a good thing. Embrace humility in accepting that. And more importantly, embrace humility in admitting that. This will especially come into play as you navigate friendships. I know you’ve had your fair share of trials when it comes to friends (be encouraged that you do learn from them), but there’s still so much room for you to learn and grow here. There’s still some hurts ahead of you, and there’s certainly still some hurts that you’re going to inflict on others. Know that there is beauty in redemption, even when the road to it is painful. And there is also peace in letting go at the right times, even when the road to do so is painful. The friendships that endure through it all in the end become all the more worthwhile because of it.

Speaking of relationships…now I probably shouldn’t spoil this surprise for you, but it’s just too good not to…that boy you’re dating…you’re going to marry him. I know, I know. It’s wild. You’ll defy the odds of the statistics and marry your high school sweet heart. But your journey together is just getting started and your path won’t be without trials, heartaches, and pain, so don’t get too far ahead of yourself. But you’re also going to experience redemption and forgiveness and restoration in ways you’ve never known. Everything you’ve ever expected out of your relationship with him probably won’t go as planned, but it turns out better because of it. (And I’ll let you in on a secret, he only get’s more handsome).

On a different note, I’m going to be the bearer of bad news in saying that what everyone told you about your metabolism catching up with you is true. You’ve had it easy up to now. There will come a day when your health is going to require much more effort and intentional work than it ever has. It’ll rock your world for awhile, and it’ll hit you in waves and seasons, but I tell you this so that maybe you’ll handle it better than I have. Don’t take for granted your walks to class and your intramural sports. And when it does hit you, don’t be afraid to confess it like I was. You are not alone in the insecurities you’ll face, and you are not less than for feeling them. The more that God’s truth can be spoken against the lies you’ll believe, the sooner you’ll likely snap out of them and embrace the truth that you are loved and valued no matter what the shape of your body is.

Now I recognize that this has been quite a lot (yep, your wordiness doesn’t change one bit as you get older), and there’s so much more I could say, but let me finish off with this: It’s nothing but an adventure ahead of you, sweet girl. So buckle up and hang on for the ride (maybe throw your hands in the air for the thrill of it every once in awhile too)…it’s a good one ahead.

Sincerely,

27-year-old Kelly

five things i have learned from being a military spouse

This month marks five years since my husband commissioned into the US Air Force and we started on this wild and wonderful journey of military life. We have since lived in three (very different) states, gotten more familiar with the way the Air Force works, spent countless days apart due to his job (although we haven’t experienced a “traditional” deployment), and met some fantastic people along the way. The experiences we have had as a result of this career path have shaped us in ways we couldn’t have expected, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned from my experience as an Air Force wife so far.

But first, I’d like to preface with this: everyone’s military experience is a bit different. The branch of the military, the job, the places lived, family dynamics, and more, can all affect what someone’s “military life” looks like. Therefore, while there are many unique and connecting factors about the military, it is not lost on me that every single military spouse might not relate to everything I have been through or learned. What I am sharing is what I have learned from our experience with the Air Force. And hopefully it sheds some light on how being a military wife has affected me.

How To Let Go Of Control And Trust In God
This is absolutely the number one thing I have learned over and over again as a result of this particular path of life. In the military, you can put in preference of what you’d like to do with your career and where you’d like to go, but ultimately it is up to the powers-that-be to decide what you end up doing and where you end up going. And even when things seem like a done deal, there’s always a chance that something can change. As someone who naturally finds comfort in control and likes to know what’s going on, God has done a miracle work by helping me to become much more flexible and accepting of the lack of control I have in determining any part of our future. This way of life has established my trust in Him probably more than anything in life so far. Because whether our path has led us to what we’ve wanted or expected, or not, God has been ahead us and beside us. He has been faithful in the good seasons, and in the hard ones. He has led us to exactly where He’s wanted us, regardless of if it has made sense to us in the moment, or later down the road.

A truth I clung to when we first began this journey was that God would work all things together for our good, and for His glory. Sometimes our “good” hasn’t felt very good because it has meant hard things that have sharpened us or caused us to grow. Other times we have felt the good come to fruition in the sweetest of ways. But regardless, five years later, I can confidently proclaim that this belief has been unwaveringly true in our lives. And that has helped me to relax and loosen my grip on our future. There’s often a lot of unknown with the military life, as well as a lot of unexpected changes. But by the Lord’s grace I’ve become a lot more comfortable with going with the flow.

Where You Live Is What You Make It
In many people’s opinions we have lived in the worst of the worst places when it comes to the Air Force: Minot, ND. Quite frankly, I wasn’t thrilled at all when I found out we were moving there years ago due to the reputation of cold weather. But after learning quite quickly what I already mentioned in my first point, God helped us to see that we had a choice of how we approached our time in Minot. We could either choose to be miserable and hate every moment of it, or we could make the most of it and find the good. Thankfully, there was a lot of good to find. While the winters could be a bit brutal, we look back on our time in Minot with fondness for the friends we made there that became family in a season that we really needed fellowship (plus I’ll still rave about how fantastic the summers were). No matter where you travel to or live in life, everywhere is going to have pros and cons. So no matter where you go, if you choose to accept that a place is horrible, you will easily find all the reasons why it is so. But if you make conscious choices to make the most of it and see the good in it, you might just find yourself appreciating it for exactly what it is.

How To Make Friends As An Adult
Due to the transient nature of the military life, either our moves, or our friends’ moves, have caused us to start over with friendships time and time again. It certainly has its challenges, but it has forced us to recognize the intention that relationships take, and the value of having a community – especially as we’ve had seasons with and without it. While sometimes you can fall into relationships quickly and naturally, establishing new ones as an adult oftentimes takes putting yourself out there – and we all know how terrifying that can feel. I’ve recognized that different seasons require different kinds of efforts to make friends. But I think the acceptance of that fact has helped me learn to make friends better – knowing that it isn’t a cookie cutter approach. Sometimes it has looked like joining a Bible study; sometimes it has looked like meeting my husband’s co-workers and hanging out with them and their spouses; other times it has looked like getting plugged in at a local church; and even other times it has looked like taking a risk and asking the girl I just met if she wants to grab coffee sometime. There are many ways to meet and start a friendship with someone, and sometimes it takes waiting to meet the right person for things to really click. So going in with a flexible approach and embracing all the differences has helped make me more adaptable to it.

Long Distance Relationships Are Hard
Now I could have spoken to this years prior to our military life, as we spent a majority of our dating years long distance, but we’re in a whole new ball game now. The more we have moved around, the more relationships we’ve established; therefore the more people we’ve connected with; and therefore the more people there is to stay in touch with. And when a majority of your friends and family live in completely different states than you, it can be a lot harder to maintain those relationships well. It’s hard enough to handle one long distance relationship, let alone thirty. Especially when you are trying to establish a life and community where you are at. I have oftentimes felt like I am being pulled in multiple different directions. I’ve also gone through many seasons of disappointment over relationships no longer being what they were before. But I have had to come to accept that it’s impossible for a friendship to look the same when you go from living next door to each other to living hundreds of miles away from each other. Mix in marriage and children and jobs and all the other aspects of growing up and it gets even more complicated. All of this to say, I’ve come to learn that I’m pretty terrible at long distance relationships because I get easily overwhelmed at the amount of people I have to stay in touch with now. So then I try to simplify and fall back on doing what I can and giving myself grace, but that could also mean disappointing someone as my efforts towards a relationship might slacken. It’s challenging. Especially for someone who often has high expectations of herself. And I’m still figuring it out. In fact, I’ve felt like I’ve been in the depths of it for years now. It kind of seems like the nature of the game with this life. So I’ll keep doing what I can, and giving myself grace for the rest. (Hopefully my loved ones can offer the same).

The Church Search Process Is Not For The Faint Of Heart
As Christians, we understand the extreme importance and value of being a part of a body of believers to navigate through life with. So with every move, one of my first priorities is to find a church to call home. But I can sum up our last five years of church experiences by saying it’s hard starting over again and again. It’s hard taking the time to find the right fit, only to have to prepare to leave once you finally feel at home. And then in the next place, it’s hard not to feel reserved and hesitant to dive in when you know how much it hurts to have to leave once you do. It’s hard to weigh out your options of which church to attend when none of them seem to fully fit what you were hoping for, or they don’t compare to what you’ve had in the past. It’s hard to find the balance between being discerning and being critical when trying out somewhere new. And it’s hard to feel motivated to find, or even attend, a church when you’re carrying some hurt from the last one you were a part of. It just feels a little exhausting to navigate the process sometimes. But the positive experiences we’ve had in the past, in combination with our trust in God’s Truth, lead us to believe that it is valuable and worth it to get involved and connect with other believers. To be honest, going through this process over and over again every few years is probably the hardest part of the military life for me. I would love to put down roots in a church that we feel at home at. Quite frankly, I’d love to return to one or two of the churches we’ve been a part of in the past. But that’s just not our reality. So I keep trying to hold this part of our life with open hands and trust that God will continue to lead us to where we are meant to be – for our good, and for His glory.


This Air Force life has led us down some amazing paths already in the last five years. It’s been thrilling, challenging, exciting, and stretching, in all the best and hardest ways. It’s taught me so much about life, myself, and my faith. And while these are things I have learned already, they are also things that I am continually being reminded of through every step of our journey. And I know I have so much more to learn. So here’s to wherever the Air Force wind blows us next...