Welcome, 2018!

What would you like to accomplish in 2018?

How did you do on your 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember what they were? I only had one this year – to marry the man of my dreams – which I accomplished fifteen days into 2017. That’s not really how those things are supposed to work, though, right?

I don’t know your life story but New Year’s resolutions have never been a fit for me. They’re a little like dieting in that if you tell me I can’t do something, it’s more tempting to do it. And usually the things I’m  attempting to resolve to do are so unachievable, I set myself up for failure.

I’ve attempted in the past to schedule new Bible reading regimes or plan out a year of workouts at the gym and all the planning and preparation goes great! It’s the execution that fails every time.

This, inevitably, turns into feelings of guilt, failure, and disappointment and the things I was so excited to accomplish loom over my head in gloomy clouds of self-doubt. So, yeah, resolutions are not my thing.

BUT goals are!

When I start thinking of goals instead of resolutions, the pressure immediately comes off. Goals can be worked toward. Goals can be accomplished or they can be postponed. Goals can be met half way or you can have stretch goals – things you hope to achieve if you meet your other goals, but if you don’t, they’ll be on next year’s list. Goals, to me, are so much easier to wrap my head around. They are a way to reasonably target your time and energy as opposed to trying to check off an over-eager to-do list.

So this year, I’m thinking about the kind of person I want to be in 2018 and setting goals to help me focus my time and energy to becoming that person. Here are a few things I’ll be working towards becoming in the new year:

  1. A Scripture-Knower. I want to get back into memorizing scripture. Knowing what God says is not only how we get to know Him better but how we fight our sin. Working towards this goal will have me in the Bible and reflecting on God’s word all the time which is something I need more of daily.
  2. A Precious Wife. Now that Jake and I are nearly one year in, I feel like I have more of a handle on who he is and what my role as his wife looks like. I want to be the kind of Proverbs 31 woman that lifts him up, works hard, and shows humility and patience regardless of her circumstances.
  3. An Intentional Consumer. I want to be mindful of the things I put in my body as well as the things I put in my mind. 2017 was a big year for me as far as making healthier food choices on a regular basis and I hope to continue that trend in 2018. But even more, I want to be conscious of the other things I consume – TV, movies, books, social media – and their impact in my life. I don’t want to live my life through a screen and the first step in that is being mindful of what/how/when I’m consuming too much of the things I don’t want in my life.
  4. A More Available Friend. I’ll be honest, I have not done a great job being a friend in 2017 and I need to do better. It’s been very difficult to maintain individual friendships now that I’m married but I don’t want that to be an excuse for letting amazing people fall away from my life. I need the support and community of God-fearing women in my life regardless of my marital status and improving those relationships starts with me.
  5. A Gracious Host. Now that we have the space in our new house, I want to put it to good use. We’ll be renting out rooms on Airbnb during festival weekends here in Austin but more than that, I want our house to be a place of refuge for those that need it. I want our house to be a gathering point for friends and family, brothers and sisters – I want to love people with what God’s given us.

That’s the kind of person I hope to become in 2018. Obviously I know it’s not something that can happen over night, but I believe these goals are in line with what God wants for my life and I’ll be praying that He continues to provide opportunities to become more like Him in these areas.

This year, let’s challenge each other to keep these goals in mind as life inevitably starts distracting us. Let’s hold each other accountable to growing as humans together. Because I know I can’t do it alone.

Are you doing resolutions or goals for 2018? What kind of person would you like to see yourself become in the new year?

PSA: Christmas Has Changed

If you haven’t noticed yet, Christmas is different as an adult.

PSA: Christmas Has ChangedSo Friends, I have a confession: I hate surprises. Mostly when I know they’re coming. Christmas has always been a fun challenge of my stealth skills as I’ve always done everything within my power to know my gifts ahead of time. My parents were pretty great at being Santa Claus but the magic didn’t last long because they never anticipated my extreme impatience and ninja skills.

I remember as a kid sneaking down the staircase and watching them set up all my gifts and taking bites from cookies. When they’d go back to bed, I’d walk around and check out some of my new toys and leave them right where my parents had left them so that no one would know I’d gotten up in the middle of the night.

When I got older and my family stopped doing Santa gifts, I would go on hunts through the house to find my presents before they were wrapped. This usually happened right around when school started because my mother is famous for doing Christmas shopping WAY too early.

And when I started working at a toy store in high school and college, I became so great at wrapping presents that I could skillfully and stealthily unwrap whatever was under the tree for me and re-wrap it, making Christmas morning much more fun by getting to act shocked and surprised.

I still don’t like surprises but since I’m a grown-up now, I don’t have the opportunity for stealthy Christmas antics. More than that though, I think I’m losing Christmas spirit as I get older. Maybe I need to sing louder for all to hear but I really do feel like Christmas cheer is harder to generate these days. In school, there were always breaks for holidays but my big girl job isn’t quite so generous. And now that Jake and I are married, figuring out the holidays has gotten a lot more complicated.

I think part of the reason Christmas feels less magical though is that my priorities have changed. I care a whole lot less about the presents under the tree these days and a whole lot more about celebrating Baby Jesus with my family. While I am still a firm believer in holiday traditions, I hold on to them as an adult for the time spent with loved ones rather than for the magic of preparing for Santa. So maybe, the magic isn’t harder to come by, maybe Christmas is just a different kind of magic as an adult.

Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling the magic this year, I hope you hold on to the hope that Jesus’ birth brings and make your own brand of Christmas magic with the people you love.

Merry Christmas, Friends!


Grace and Love For the Holidays

As we prepare to see our families for the holidays, let’s not forget to prepare our hearts to show grace and love.

Adobe Spark (12)Holiday season is quickly approaching and I cannot wait. Cooler weather is coming and with it approaches apple pies, giant feasts, and and the switch from PSLs to Peppermint Mochas! I’m so pumped to get together with my family for Thanksgiving and eat ALL the food. Pretty sure Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I’m here for it.

While I’m stoked to see all of my family together soon, I know that my excitement is not necessarily shared by everyone. For many of my friends, going home for the holidays can be a source of stress and tension. Families are messy collections of broken humans and when brokenness is the center of our family, it’s hard to celebrate and be thankful and show grace.

If this is true for you, I encourage you to read the story of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9.


This story takes place after David is anointed king of Israel. The previous king, Saul, had been trying to kill David for years but instead of killing Saul when he had the chance, David shows mercy to him and agrees to extend grace to Saul’s household once he’s king.

The Summary:

David is coming off of some awesome war victories and is starting to settle in as king when he asks if anyone from the house of Saul is around to show grace and fulfill his promise. He gets in touch with a servant of Saul’s, a dude named Ziba, who has a crapton of kids and servants of his own. Ziba lets David know that Saul’s son Jonathan, who happens to have been David’s bestie when he was alive, has a son who is still alive but he’s lame and lives over in this crap town, basically in disgrace. In fact, the son’s name is Mephibosheth which actually means “seething disgrace.” David is super excited that he found his bestie’s son and asks for Mephibosheth to be brought to him.

One thing to that’s important to understand is that in that time, when a new king took the throne, it was typical for him to kill anyone from the previous king’s household so that there was no chance of rebellion or anyone questioning the rights to the throne. So when Mephibosheth shows up in front of David as someone who technically had a claim to David’s throne, he was probably terrified that this is how he was going to die. And yet he shows honor to King David by paying homage and offering himself to the service of the king.

And David’s response? He stays true to his word to Saul and honors his bestie by calling Mephibosheth by name and offering him a permanent place at his royal dinner table. Not only that, he gives Mephibosheth all the property and resources he acquired from his grandfather Saul when he took the throne and offers Ziba (and his crapton of kids and servants) to work the land.

According to custom, David had every right to kill Mephibosheth on the spot. It would have been easy, the poor guy probably couldn’t run anywhere. David could have done anything he wanted to Mephibosheth and that would have been his right as king.

And because of his parentage, Mephibosheth had every right to try to take back the throne for his family. In fact, Mephibosheth could have totally been awful to David in this whole situation. He could have been bitter and resentful towards David that his whole life had gone to crap, despite his royal blood.

And yet what do we see here? Two men, humbling themselves before each other and showing grace and gratitude.

If you keep reading in 2 Samuel, you’ll find out that David continues to lavish grace and goodness upon Mephibosheth and his family and Mephibosheth’s response is disinterested in worldly possessions and he’s just grateful to be in the presence of David.

Such an awesome foreshadowing of the gospel! As sinners, we don’t deserve God’s grace, we deserve death, just like Mephibosheth. But like David, God just wants to know us and show us grace and bless us beyond what we can even imagine. And when we humbly accept that grace, worldly things become distracting and we find that we just want more of the presence of God.

I hope that as you head into the holiday season with some maybe uncomfortable family situations on the horizon, you remember to give and receive grace humbly. No human on earth will ever be fully deserving of our love and grace; we’re all broken people living this life together until Christ returns. But maybe we can enjoy more of the presence of God right now to make tense and stressful interactions in the future a little less so with a few words of grace and love.

How to Adult: Finding Satisfaction in Any Job

Feeling unfulfilled and/or dissatisfied at work? You don’t have to. Let’s make some lemonade together.

How to Adult: Finding Satisfaction in Any JobOne of the things that I’m most grateful to my parents for is that the raised me to have a good attitude and mindset about the work field. They taught me not only the importance of employment but the importance of being a good employee and what exactly that looks like. My parents also taught me that as Christians, whatever we do, we do it for the Lord, even if that means taking out the trash or cleaning the bathrooms at work.

I’m unbelievably thankful that I am a millennial with a good work ethic and that I’ve been fortunate enough to work at some incredible places with some incredible people. I’m one of the lucky ones who found a job and company that I love and that makes going to work every day easy. But I’ve also had terrible job experiences that I’ve hated, and I know the reality of feeling stuck in those positions, dissatisfied, unfilled, and unappreciated. If that’s you right now, here are some tips to make lemonade and find some satisfaction and fulfillment right where you are.

Focus on what you ROCK at.

Even in my least pleasant jobs, there was always at least one task that I was awesome at, and even if I wasn’t recognized for it, I could have the satisfaction of doing a great job and the knowledge that in some small (or large) way, I was making myself invaluable to my team and company. If you can’t find one task that you get excited about or that you can be proud of, make one up and create a way to play up your strengths. I bet, in the process, you’ll discover some really cool things about yourself and maybe end up developing changes in your position that are a long time coming.

Reflect on Growth and Remember Your Motivation.

Similar to focusing in on your strengths, so much pride and satisfaction can be found in recognizing just how far you’ve come. Think back to your first couple of months in this position and remember the tasks you struggled with. I’d be willing to bet that your day-to-day challenges now are a lot more complicated than they were when you first started. Take some comfort in that. You’ve grown, you’ve faced challenges and come out better from them. And because of that, you know you can continue to face challenges in the workplace with your head held high.

In the same vein, think about your original motivation for taking this job. What were some reasons you accepted it? What did you find most appealing about the position/company/work itself? Sometimes time and negative situations can distract us from how we really feel so remembering how we got where are is a great way to find inspiration.

Hone In on Your Transferable Skills.

I talked about them in a previous post, but in case you missed it, transferable skills are the broader skills you develop in a specific position that can apply to any other position. For instance, a college student who is a summer camp counselor develops specific skills in child care. Child care in and of itself is not necessarily applicable to other jobs they might take, but camp counseling also develops leadership skills such as managing interpersonal conflict, working as part of a team, and problem solving. You can find transferable skills in any position so list out a few you might be developing at your current job, and focus on being excellent in those areas so that wherever you go from here, you will have made the most of this experience.

Be the Force of Change.

If your dissatisfaction and unfulfillment is a result of not feeling appreciated or respected within your company, that sucks and I’m so sorry. No one likes that feeling and because it’s dependent on others around you, there aren’t any practical steps to take to immediately fix it. However, I would challenge you to see this situation as an opportunity to be the force of change in your workplace. A lot of times, if you’re not feeling appreciated or respected at work, it has to do with the culture of your company and, chances are, you are not the only one feeling this way. That being said, company culture changes with the individuals within the company. If you want a more positive, more affirmative company culture, that starts with you. Positivity breeds positivity. By consistently showing honest respect, praise, and admiration to the colleagues around you, you’ll be laying the foundation for creating an environment of respect and support. While it’s easy to sit back and wallow in self pity for feeling unappreciated, the best thing you can do to change your situation is fight back with a positive attitude yourself and watch your environment change around you.

Hold Fast to Your Purpose.

When you are at a place of questioning why you’re in your position at work, remember that God put you there for a reason. When you don’t understand what the point is any more, or you’re frustrated and tired and burnt out, remember that, if you’re a believer, your job is not the thing you do all day from 9-5. Your job is to be an ambassador for Christ to the people around you. Your job is to show your co-workers His love and goodness and patience and peace. Spend some time praying about shifting your focus from the day-to-day practical tasks you face at work to the real reason God put you in that company, on that team, with those people, at this time. I promise, He will be faithful to redirect your thoughts and heart.

The Lies of Happiness

Ever wonder why you’re always wanting more?

The Lies of HappinessI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies of happiness. I know that’s sounds like such a downer but I’m not depressed or unhappy in any way. Let me explain…

I think society/the world/media/culture tells us that happiness is the ultimate goal. Humans spend their lives striving after it, pursuing some ideal dream, some vague thing that dances just outside of their grasp, only to find out that they can never fill that hole in our heart or satiate that longing.

Some people try medicating with money or power or education or material possessions. Some take the path of humility, striving to serve and give and “be good” in hopes that the elusive happy life they’re seeking will naturally come as a reward. The romantics around us would say that happiness can only be found through love, and so we raise that emotion to the highest pedestal possible and dream about our “happily ever afters.” But here’s the kicker: none of these paths lead to happiness, though the world would not have you believe that.

Many of them lead to comfort which we sometimes confuse with happiness. “I’m in a good, comfortable place in a new relationship so I must be happy.” “I have a brand new tv to play this brand new video game on and it’s going to be awesome!” But how long does comfort really last in these situations? What happens when you’re comfortable in a relationship but you realize you don’t actually like each other all that much? Or what happens when the next version of that tv/video game comes out (because let’s be real, they’re just going to keep remaking things over and over again)? We’re no longer “happy.”

And here’s the thing, most of us do experience moments of intense, pure, true happiness, and when we do, we notice. We get married or have a kid or reach a goal, and we think, “I’m going to hold on to this moment forever” because we recognize the moment for what it is and we know how fleeting real happiness is.

So if we know this truth, that happiness is a fleeting, momentary thing that cannot be bought or bribed or earned, why is it the singular goal of so many of our lives?

And then, most humans hide behind a mask of “happiness” because we see everyone else trying to be happy and we think that this is normal. That if we’re not happy, there’s something wrong with us because we should be happy because everyone else is happy. So we lie to each other instead of being real. We lie to ourselves because we don’t want to believe the truth. We fake how we’re really doing instead of admitting that we might be striving after something impossible. No wonder there’s so much anxiety and depression around us, right?

In a lot of ways, real, true happiness in this world has become more of a lie and a myth than a reality. But if it can’t be found through love or possessions or charity or education or money or the things on this planet, what do we do? Because that’s a miserable and terrifying thought.

Well, first I think we can accept that the things society is shoving down our throats to “fulfill” us are lies. I think we can recognize what we’ve been seeking to complete us isn’t working.

If that’s you right now, if you’re able to acknowledge that truth, my next challenge for you is to google “what the Bible says about joy” with an open mind and open heart.

I know. I just hit you with the Bible. But here’s the thing: God created humanity and we ALL have that same insatiable urge for something greater, the urge that the world tells us is for happiness. But why would a good God create people with this longing desire without the means to fulfill it? He wouldn’t. Or He wouldn’t be good.

But what if I told you that not only did God design a way for humans to experience real happiness, He wanted something more for us than fleeting, momentary emotion we feel from the things of this world? What if He wanted us to experience JOY that never ends? What about lasting contentment and peace and hope?

Good news! That’s exactly what God did and what He wants for us! He designed us with this absolutely infuriating conundrum so that we would seek relationship with Him. All God wants is for us to stop trying (and failing) to do things ourselves and let Him lead us to the life He intended us to have, a life filled with never ending joy instead of fleeting happiness.

Disclaimer: joy and peace and contentment and hope cannot be found in a book, church, or religion. They can only be found in God. So if you’re even the least bit curious, I challenge you to read about how there will come a time when “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22), how Jesus delighted in dying to save you (yes, YOU) (Hebrews 12:2) or how we can truly enjoy this life we’re given because God is in control (Ecclesiastes 9:7). God wants so much more for your life but you can only truly discover that by getting to know Him.

There’s so much joy and hope to be had in this life. Don’t chase after what you know down deep is fleeting. Don’t give in to the lies of happiness.

Talking Donkeys and Angels With Swords: A Thought on Responding to God

When God’s trying to get your attention, how do you typically respond?

Adobe Spark (8)So, for those who don’t know, I started working with the ninth grade girls in our church’s high school youth group this year and let me tell you, it’s been super awkward, rewarding, and sanctifying all at once! I have so many stories to tell but for now, I’ll stick to something God has really stuck on my heart lately.

Our sermon series this semester is called “When Pigs Fly” and goes over all the crazy, weird, and generally awesome stories in the Bible that might be hard to believe or understand. Recently, we went over the story of Balaam and the talking donkey found in Numbers 22. Please do actually read it because it’s a mind blowing story.

While most people are focused on the TALKING DONKEY (who wouldn’t be, right?), one of the other youth leaders pointed out how unusual Balaam’s response to God is once he finally understands what’s going on. In verse 34, Balaam responds to the angel of the Lord saying,

“I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”

When you look at other instances in the Bible where people were visited by angels or otherwise encountered the presence of God, their reaction is to fall to their knees, tear their clothing, fall on their face, weep, or express usually very physical outward demonstrations of their remorse over their sin in the face of the Holy God.

But how does Balaam respond?

“Oops, sorry, I screwed up but I didn’t know you were trying to get my attention. I’ll do whatever you want, Bro.”

Or something like that.

Yes, Balaam is a pagan man, a Soothsayer who believed in many gods and not the One True God of Israel. We do need to keep that in mind. But how often as believers do our responses to God resemble Balaam’s?

I’ve been a follower of Jesus since I was 7 years old, basically since I could remember. I can tell you that God has not failed to get my attention when my intentions have been selfish like Balaam’s and I am grateful that He is faithful to intervene when I stray. But how often do I respond to God with excuses instead of genuine remorse? How often is my heart still focused on doing things my way for earthly reward instead of focused on God and His glory?

Too often, I’m sure.

But how awesome is it that we have a God who loves us and forgives us anyways? Who shows unbelievable grace to the undeserving and incredible mercy to the broken?

Our God cares enough to know our hearts and intentions and He cares enough to show us ways in which our hearts still follow our own path instead of His. God cares so much about your heart that He will do whatever it takes to get your attention. Even if that means making a donkey talk. 

So does He have it?