Post Grad Life


Making friends post grad is a heck of a lot harder than it was in college. In college, I had roommates who listened to my bleeding heart with kind ears, who held up my heart every night even if that meant simply sitting together in silence, the glow of our phones in our faces. Encouragement felt like the tin overhang that framed our window when it rained. In those four walls of our living room it was a comforting kind of loud. The kind you curl up next to. College was together, hair unwashed, sweatpants on. It was safe. No one had to know who they were, they just were or they were figuring it out. Safe. 


Now, starting friendships feels a lot like pulling teeth. It's a consistent reminder that you’re growing up and moving on. They don’t just happen anymore. You aren’t thrown into a room with scared written on your face and finding out that everyone else is just as scared, the scared a sort of glue that holds college students together. 


Now you don’t run into friends on the sidewalk on the way home from class. You have to schedule time. And scheduling time has this kind of formal attachment to it that translates into dressing up, sipping tentitive coffee. Now you deal with the fact that people may just not want to be your friend, they may just not want to make commitments, they may just not seem to need it which only makes you feel needier. You may not be in the same life stage and the common ground feels forced.


And we don’t support each other anymore. There’s this barrier between you and her that no one talks about. Chalk it up to comparison, but vulnerability feels forced and scarce. Like it doesn’t exist anymore. Like it’s a threat.


I’m lacking in friends who show up. And it hits at my self-confidence like a hammer slowly chipping away at my definition. I put my worth into a construction zone to be deconstructed by strangers. And I’m finding myself handing over power. Letting something else reshape me. And when people don’t show up. I don’t show up.


This week I spent time with one of my friends from high school. We sat in the car, with the car turned off, and talked. And we were honest. Deeply honest. The kind of honest where "how's your relationship with God" doesn't feel like a challenge, it feels like an open page in a journal, it feels like safety. And it felt right. It reminded me that this season called twenty-something is the wildest and very best and I want to show up for it. Because that’s what makes life. Showing up. 


Because it’s a brave thing to be you. It’s a brave thing to stand there, in that spot and look directly into the world. It’s a brave thing to take it all in, the mess and the broken, to put yourself somewhere you will get hurt, to give someone the power to make you doubt. It's a brave thing to speak up, to fill your space, to let yourself be seen.


And I’ve always longed to heal hurts. To press flowers into the rips of the world. I’ve always wanted to stand up and scream that we can all just stop hurting each other.  

Rest like a Backbone


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I think I have always copy and pasted my Sunday school, dressed up, hand raised answer to the question of rest. But lately I've starting thinking about a different kind of rest. A rest that feels more like a backbone, strong and unmoving, propping me up. A rest that pulls me out of the the depth of my head when I get a little lost there in anxiety. A rest that works a little like wire-rimmed glasses, a nostalgic, focused, old but good kind of rest. 

I have spent much of my life broken and picking up the pieces. And the side effects look an awful lot like distraction. A lot like dropping the pencil I'm holding, forgetting the poem on the tip of my tongue, dropping to the ground and frantically gathering the fractured bits littering the floor, ashamed and glancing over my shoulder to make sure I get all the pieces before someone sees. I want to fix the pieces together in a kind of sloppy disguise, instead of letting them all sit there and stare unblinkingly into the faces of strangers, instead of letting me be me with my broken parts exposed.

It's constant, this running from one problem to the next, trying to solve each, spending and spinning myself into exhaustion. Gathering pieces and gathering pieces. Panicking over what someone thinks of me, what they meant when they said, what they posted. 

I've been spending the limited time I have, wanting what I don't. And it's not fulfilling. The more I live this distracted kind of half life, the more I catch myself waking up to grey skies, the more I slip into this melancholy kind of living, the kind where I want to sleep an extra hour, not because I'm tired, but because I'm not ready to drag myself into the world. 

Writing has always saved me. It's always pulled me out of depression, driven me to leave the pieces where they fell. But distraction has kept me too busy. It's kept me purposeless, wasting time. I've been wallowing in consuming and never creating. I'm been forgetting what freedom tastes like. 

I declared 2018 to be a year of rooting out the things that have me distracted. Saying no to the exhaustion that comes from spending my life picking up pieces. I'm declaring it to be a year where I let my broken display itself on the floor. A year where I leave it. I’m pulling back the curtain and pushing back lies. Easy and light. Gentle and humble. Rest for the weary and burdened.

It's only a distraction, what they said, what they wrote, what they posted, or even what they thought. All that's lifegiving is that I listen to the voice calling me into healing, into laying it all down at his feet, into a settled kind of adventure where I am exhausted by the good things: the wildness, the abundance, the freedom. I want to be exhausted by that poem, that art, that passion.  And I'm learning that rest and exhaustion go hand in hand. Exhaustion from pouring out and letting go feels a little like rest. Somehow it's filling and focused. Somehow it's freedom. 

And I feel it. I feel the discipline, the purpose. It's been productive and good. Something like rest, like gentle, like humble, easy, light. 

Confessions of an Enneagram Type Six


I drifted through last year a girl who never knew herself, a stranger in my own body. I was unsteady, shaky, upset and undone by whispers, bewildered by choices. I would hear my own words passing over my lips like they didn't belong to me. I became a disappointment, I took up too much space. So I withdrew often, self-preserved, got smaller.

I stumbled through the wilderness. But I'm here now and I know myself. I can stand at a welcome mat, hand raised to knock and feel welcome. I feel unafraid to take up space. I know the ugly and messy parts of me. I know that my fingerprints are my opposites, tough and tender, courageous and timid, strong and weak. I sit often alone in suspicion and self-doubt. I let those things mute me still sometimes. But I'm also learning to mute them instead. I am reactive, defiant and rebellious. A go down with the ship girl. Sometimes to a fault. Sometimes to a saving grace. 

Anxiety is the wallpaper of my home. More often than not I am walking around with unease, with worst case scenario on repeat. I don't trust and I'm overtly sensitive. Abandonment causes my heart to beat in my throat. My bones ache for security. My backbone is defense and indecision. But I'm grateful to know these things now. Because I now know how to resist the anxiety that buzzes behind every closed door I lift my fingertips to open. I can push pause on the repetition because I know what's on repeat.

So now I create because I know who I am. I create because I'm comfortable in tension. I'm present in them. I welcome the self-doubts but I don't give them a say. They make me stronger, the wilderness only ever doing just that. 

I'm standing in the guardianship that is my personality. My wildly sensitive heart that bleeds for injustice, for cruelty, for the broken world I can't seem to look away from. It's tearful eyes. I come undone and long to cup the world's face with my hands, stick a bandaid across it's bloody knee. 

I am standing out from under rejection. Taking the risk. Stirring up fear. Daring to trust. Facing worst case scenario. And I've found faith on the other side. A fierce faith. 

I welcome the loyalty that has marked my life because it has protected me in seasons of wandering. Because it's what I want to live. A life of Your kingdom come. A life of not my will. A life of His renown and His renown and His renown. 

Maybe you've felt it too. That pang whispering you are unknowable. It might just take the wilderness to get you there. But you'll get there. And you'll find out just how loved you are. Mess and all. 

That's how I'm running into this year. Full of childlike wonder at the way the Lord answers the cries that my heart didn't know to breathe. I'm filling up my skin in a new way, like a new home, still hanging up pictures and moving furniture, but settled. I know who I am. I know my rebellion, my anxiety, my tenderness, the way my heart beats a little crooked and I know my own bravery. It’s me. I’m me. The whole me. And it’s good. It’s gonna be a good new year.


Settle My Heart


The night of Charlottesville, I wept before my head hit the pillow. And again before my head lifted the next morning. As I sat in church I felt numb, my heart unbearably heavy and my bones aching, a skeleton in the pew.


The task seems daunting, and a bit hopeless. And my heart quivers under the thought of the genocide bubbling up under the skin of this country. Because I never thought I would see the day when it happened in my own lifetime, in such proximity to me, so unopposed.


And I never thought that a vast majority of American churches would be as silent as they have been. We’re afraid to make waves. Afraid to lose followers. Afraid to be too political. 


I don’t know where my voice is, where it is not, where it ends and where it begins. But I cannot be silent. It’s been silent for too long. And I’ve watched silence, heard the voice of a Rwandan genocide survivor attest to it,  story after story of the slavery and oppression happening now, right now through trafficking.


But I heard something that stirred my soul, and I am clinging to it today.


Fear kills dreams.


I guess I am mostly frail and afraid.


But “do not be afraid" is the anthem God has spoken to countless hearts over and over and over again because He uses mostly frail and afraid people. He has overcome the world and we can take courage, nestled there in that fact. And because of that, we can wrap ourselves in light and run straight into what is hurting and broken. We can charge the darkness as servants in the battlefield.


We are but servants here in the battlefield. 


So until I figure out where my voice has been and where it is going, I want to serve well, the bloodied, battered, beating hearts that are under vicious, racist attack. I want to find my place there. Which means, I must stay. I must stay here, and hear the cries of the crucified. I must place myself close to the suffering. I must stay in the bloody soil. And I must serve.


God, settle my heart for the task at hand. And let your kingdom come.

Somewhere Along the Way


I have always loved storms, the ones that raise the hair on my arms and crack the sky wide open, my heart along with it.  I have always loved storms but recently I was caught in one alone on a dark, foggy, mountain road with a panicking heart and furious windshield wipers as a scared kind of pleading passed breathlessly over my lips to a God who terrified me in that moment.


Somewhere along the way, somewhere amongst a community whose heart beat legalism, I lost sight of the warm, twinkling-eyed God I knew when I was younger.  I grew distant from the God with the belly-laugh.  I forgot that God is good.  The idea of God as friend became sacrilegious and like a game of "tag, you're it," my broken conclusion became fear. 


So when I was asked to describe who God was to me now in this season, post-college, I struggled to answer the truth.  


I don’t know why I have separated the Lion-God from the Friend-God. Because even lions can have kind eyes.


And I’m learning that God holds more paradoxes, more depth than makes me comfortable but walking on water was never supposed to feel comfortable.  Even there, in the uncomfortable, He is the friend who is beckoning me the way He beckons children, with kindness peeking out from behind brown eyes, sitting at an old weather-beaten table, breaking bread with His friends.


He doesn’t have to use us, but He wants to anyway.  He doesn’t have to hear from us, but I know He wants to and I think it puts a big ol’ “that’s my daughter” smile on His face when we pour out our hearts to Him like He is a friend, a kind of pride in our confidence to boldly approach the throne.  I think of myself marching in as a child with knobby knees, a wispy, brown pony-tail and a million freckles and I feel that deep in my soul.


And I know that God is putting out a welcome mat for me, every time I come over for coffee.  Because He is and forever will be, my dearest friend.  And I still love storms as I realize that we can sit together, under that tin roof and point out the lightening and count for the thunder.

Eyes like Wildflowers


I sat across from her and looked down at my lap before beginning. “I started counseling today.” I don’t know if I have ever spoken harder words. I don’t know what it is about women and why it is so difficult to be vulnerable with them. But in that moment I felt every guard I had so carefully built up around my heart come crashing to the ground. And the tears that sprang to my eyes came not from the pain of retelling my past but from the sheer relief of trusting someone again.


One season it seems I have my worst self beat and the next I find myself pinned to the floor under the weight of an insecurity that has no mercy. And a year ago I started this blog and I struggled with the same thing. Deliverance feels far away. Maybe this is my thorn to carry in my side.  I have this fear of being too much and altogether too little, a fear of taking up too much space and at the same time not enough space. I look back over my writings and see the theme of a girl who is trying to pour out from a place of not having been poured into. I see a girl who is afraid of her own shadow. I see a girl who has no idea who she really is and who is small and fragile. But I also see a girl who is trying her hardest to be brave in the face of untiring, relentless waves.


Maybe the purpose of my thorn is that it’s the incomplete and broken that creates some kind of perfect imperfection, which could be the very best way for Him to receive the glory from my life. Maybe perfection is the truly crippling thing and my imperfection is the invitation for the One who is whole to rescue and redeem, to do what He does best. Maybe being brave means being imperfect and being okay there in that hope. Maybe being brave actually means finding your voice when the world tells you can’t, not by having the perfect voice but by trying it out in all of its imperfection.


I have spent way too much time allowing comparison to hinder my ability to support my friends and my ability to maintain joy. Because somewhere amidst the pain of insecurity, the joy of the Lord is my strength. And somewhere amidst the sea of distrust is a sharpening and a growing and a multiplying and a harvest. And somewhere amidst it all, the pain and the sea, He holds the future, my future, your future, and her future. Then I can lean into my friends, I can trust their tales of wild faith and add my own wild faith stories, watch them dance like fire without feeling less. I can sow with them, compliments and prayers alike.


I have this vision of the women we can be, women who give life through words, who breathe healing, who bend down with quick fingers to stitch up the bursting seams of broken hearts, who work with both humility and gentle confidence, unashamed to be loud when necessary, when bringing voice to the voiceless. I want us to find ourselves, to be the kind of women who scramble to our feet in defense of each other. I want us to be the kind of women who hold open our arms when the women around us are growing, because growing is tender. I want us to be the kind of women who see life as messy, who are okay with ourselves, who are friends with ourselves and who are building houses of forgiveness over ourselves and inviting those around us in for dinner.


And this is true freedom: to be at peace, to be both plenty and enough, both safe and wild. And we are meant to be free by the One who sings steady, unfaltering sweetness over our bones. Yes, we are loved and seen and plenty and enough and known and safe and wild and a wildflower.



An Open Letter to Refugees


Dear Refugee,

I don’t know if you can hear me.

I am one voice in a sea of screaming voices.

I don’t know if my words will dare to launch themselves from page to heart, your heart, but that’s where I want them to land.

The world is a mess of war, of hatred, of pointing fingers and wagging tongues.

The violent voices, scream too loudly to give way to simple understanding, wisdom so desperate to seep into their bones.

I don’t know why they scream that way.

I guess they are afraid.

But I want to tell you something.

I am not afraid.

I am not afraid of you.

In fact, I have been taught to lay down my life for my friends.

And I think you and I could be very good friends.

And even if we were not, I would still value your life, just as much if not more than my own.

I don’t consider my own safety, not at the cost of yours.

I think loving you is more important.

And oh, how I want to love you well.

I ache to grasp your tear-stained face in my hands and look into your eyes.

You are my equal.

And as I envision your trembling and weary frame, my heart breaks.

I want my life to be a welcome mat.

I want you to feel at home with me, to find grace with me, to laugh loud with me.

I want to be a warm, home-cooked meal and a hot cup of coffee on a bitter, negative-four-degree day.

Because when I counted the cost and gave Him my very life, I gave up the right to demand my own comfort.

I gave up entitlements.

I gave up demands.

And I cannot understand the horrors you are facing right now, but I am sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am sorry that pride paralyzes.

I don’t deserve freedom any more than you do.

And, I know that this letter doesn’t change anything, but I pray that this would provide even just one small degree of comfort to your heart, that you would feel loved by one small person.

My friend, come on in, you’re very, very much welcome.


"You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:34

"'For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brother, you did it to me.'" Matthew 25:35-40

Wide Open Spaces


I brushed my hair behind my ear and placed my hands on my hips, surveying the closet full of old childhood memories.  And as I began to envision the kind of house I want to have after my wedding in December, compulsion wrecked me.  I don’t want anything that doesn’t have purpose.  I want minimalism.  The whole closet needed to be gone through and I couldn’t sleep until it was sorted and tidied.  I looked at the clock on the wall, 2:30 in the morning and my bed was still made.  I don’t know why it is so hard for me to just be, to accept the messy closets, to close the doors and rest, except that maybe it has to do with what is in those quiet, blank moments.  That’s when my mind races, fills up with all the “what ifs,” imperfections and out-of-control moments.  I guess I am seeking to control what little I can in the face of a life that is so outside of my control.


And I’m tired.  I want to be comfortable with the still moments, the empty page before the first chapter begins, the little inhale before the plunge.  I want to be comfortable with those places, the places the sky meets the ocean on one of those cloudy days when the entire horizon is one mess of steely grey.  I want to be okay with the days where I don’t feel anything, where I don’t feel mountaintop but I don’t feel valley, when I’m not quite sad but not exactly happy, the days where I just am.  The days where my writing feels dry and dusty, mundane and human.


I wonder what it would look like to embrace the wildness of wide open spaces, the spaces where I cannot touch or taste, the spaces where I feel lost and vulnerable, where I am half in and half out, where I cannot quite make the connection, the spaces where tension seems to hold me, the still spaces, the spaces where imagination fails, the sweet moments, the human moments, when I hesitate to talk and to come out of that weird place, to break the magic, the limit-filled spaces, the beyond spaces where everything must be handled with grave delicacy, the strange spaces between word and thing, the spaces where art fails to see and shape, the misery and splendor of those spaces, those places, those blank pages.


Those are the blank pages I want to embrace, bones and all.  I want to embrace the wide open, exposed, transparent places where the stirring up inside of me makes me want to make it, the intoxication of trying.  Those are the places I want to go into, to go deep with, to see through and to lean on.  I want to come undone, to stall out, to find the charged awareness of what it is like to be human, to feel that vibrant vertigo.


Because it’s those places where I am fearless if I am prayerful, if I meet those empty moments with the continuous voice of the One who crafted it.  It’s in those places where prayer is the default posture and worry is not, where prayer banishes fear and the need to be in control, where even the question of identity, the question I have heavily wrestled with in the last year flees because it is simply trusted, with open hands, to the God who ordains all.  It’s those places where I have to keep pressing, keep writing despite the fear holding me back.  It’s those places where I must press into my calling.  Because it’s those places where I feel newly alive.  It’s those places where God meets me, where He whispers into my soul, “now, watch for the good stuff.”


(Image from our engagement photos taken by Sarah Boller)



I haven’t found my niche yet.  I haven’t found the space where my fingers bleed more than they write.  I wander, sometimes aimlessly, many times lost, listening to an ever-persistent whisper from the lips of perfection.


Perfection has always run rampant throughout my life.  Control and perfection, contentment and security, all wrapped up in a tight little bundle I've deemed fit to label "identity" which threatens and looms over the whispers from the Father, whose gentle voice does not threaten or loom, does not clamber and only shouts in sovereignty.  Perfection itself is a whisper that threatens to quench the fire burning within my heart, the fire spreading through my veins and into my fingertips, the fire that brings blood onto the page, realness.


And I'm not perfect. Somewhere, embedded in the very core of me, is the constant tension between who I am and who I am becoming.  Deep in my bones, I know that I have been made new and yet that identity is forever challenged by the fact that I also know that I am in the process of being made new, that I will never be truly perfect until I am resurrected with Him.  I am desperate to resist the old me while trying to reconcile my unavoidable imperfection.


Like Jacob, in my wrestling with God my hip has been touched and my name has been changed.  And also like Jacob, He sees the new me yet sometimes I believe He chooses to call me by my old name to remind me that He is the God of both.  He is the God of who I am.  He is the God of who I am becoming.  And He is the God of my process.  He reminds me that there is no shame in that process.


So, this morning, I have decided to wrench my head in a different direction.  I will listen, not to the whisper of perfection, but to the whisper of grace.  Because in Him, I find the grace to be human.  In Him, I will find the grace to dance a little and to stumble often.  I find the grace to be somewhere in the middle of being made new and new, messy and a little bit awkward.  I find the grace to be myself.  I find the grace to tread water in the middle of the sea, having jumped ship without the shore in sight quite yet, the grace to be in transition, to be crafted by transition.  I find the grace to build on that strange tension with passion, with strength and discipline growing in my shoulders with every stroke, knowing that when I am carried to shore, when I wash up with the waves, I will roll the tension out of my shoulders and leave room for only the passion, strength and discipline built up during those past times of deep insecurity.  


This morning, I’m not sitting down with perfection.  In fact, I’m showing perfection up.  I’m choosing to spend my day with contentment instead.  I’m choosing to walk through the rain and enjoy it anyway.  So no, perfection, you can’t steal my joy.  It’s not yours and it never was. 


I've been finding that sometimes this means that I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the stranger I see there.  But I am learning that it’s okay to not completely know myself.  Because living in the tension of who I am and who I am becoming is a process and as I grow, I change.  I am becoming who I was made to be.  And while it once terrified me, I’ve decided that it really isn’t all that scary in its uncertainty.  It’s actually a tender and beautiful thing because I have found that I can and will trust the Author of my story.


So I continue to hold my life out to Him with open palms and continue to flip to the end of my story, taking little peaks at the last chapter of the last page to remind myself that He is indeed making all things new.  

When You Just Feel Different


I’m sitting wide-awake tonight, cozied up under a blanket as the house grows silent. Lately I have started to feel discontentment slowly working on the corners of my mind. It’s the week after Christmas and I ache to enter the new year with contentment and security but I feel pressure, pressure to gather up the broken, messy pieces of my life for the new year, to be the woman I want to be now at the very beginning so that I can just hold onto her for the year. If I am honest with myself, I am frightened of this next year. I’m graduating in the spring and I find myself clinging to the holidays with a selfishly tight fist because I know that next year won’t look the way that it has for years.


And while I want to look at the new year with fierce hope and rejoicing, I struggle to look past the exhaustion in my heart. There is little left in these dry bones. It’s much more than an uncertain year ahead. I feel different. And I know it comes from a deep foundation tremble. It comes from facing an uncertain year with an uncertain self. I feel as though I’ve grown a new set of bones. It’s a different that makes me feel the weight of gravity push it’s fingers into the weak chinks in my armor, a different that is brittle, one that feels more fragile than I ever thought possible in my extroverted and wild self.


That’s just it. Until recently, I was an overflowing, giddy extrovert. I thrived on people and I never felt awkward or embarrassed. I was wholeheartedly, unapologetically me. Yet as college has gone by, I have started to feel my very bones shift. Right now, awkward and misplaced words cause me to meditate deeply on my imperfections, cause me to shy away from the social. I walk away from hard conversations doubting everything about myself. I label myself, hanging lanterns on my insecurities to avoid the fear of being labeled by others. I forget that it’s okay to mess up, to show the cracks in my mask of perfection and give the world a glimpse of the realness underneath. I hold myself to unobtainable standards as if I were not entirely human, flawed and imperfect, stumbling about in uncharted waters of muddy humanity.


Lately I'm a stranger in my own skin. I don’t know myself. I stretch out a hand and I don’t recognize it. I look in the mirror and I don’t understand the girl I see there. I wake up and I feel sadder, more realistic, more doubt-filled. And yet, while this change is painful, I have found a quiet boldness inside these bones. It's not all bad. I no longer feel like I have to scream to be heard. I can rest in gentle grace. I can sit quietly and listen. I can hear people.  I think the frantic fear inside of me that makes me feel so uneasy with the changes stems from the lie that I have to be a certain type of person, the person I have been told my whole life that I am, instead of just being who I am. It comes from the fear that I am somehow made up of all the things I hate. But I'm not.


And so this is my hope for the new year, that this is where my faith will grow the most, that this is where the wilderness will test me, that this where my faith becomes truly wild and free. And I can find a quiet contentment in that. I can be happy. Not a happy that demands to be heard or parade around on a platform, not even a happy that appeases my obsession with perfection. Instead, I can find a deep seated, soft contentment with my messy and imperfect life, a sweet joy that holds back discontentment. Because then, I am free to accept the new year and all that it brings, not as a perfect person but as a real person. 

Cold and Broken Hallelujah


Silence crawled across the earth like a dark shadow.  It climbed and slithered into every crack, every hollow on the surface of ocean and dust.  The voice of the One who knew Earth’s frame uttered not a word.  Heavy was the air and thick.  She heaved a sigh, her brittle bones ached with thirst.  Life ebbed yet it did not flow, skeletons drank in dry sand, a spiral unto death itself.


Humanity without hope.  A flame, flickering in the reckless moments before sheer darkness.  Each human shoulder burned with the weight of mourning, until a whisper, in the form of a shivering babe pierced the darkness, an arrow shot into the heart of the dry earth herself.  Her breath caught.  Humanity’s shoulders twitched and stretched, awakening from deep slumber.  Hope rode the currents of the wind, swiftly perhaps more purposefully than ever before, a hope to echo through the ages.  God with us.  Emmanuel.  A hope that uncoiled like a tendril in the midst of the deepest despair.  The ear-straining silence that had spanned hundreds of years broke in an instant with the wail of a newborn.  Lonely exile torn like the veil to come.  God, Himself, entered into humanity's ugly mess to rescue His people and put to death night’s dark shadow.  To speak tenderly and call out,


“Comfort my people.”


And with that, He sends words of balm and peace to His children.  God, Himself, coming to earth to bring good news to the poor, to the ones with a cold, broken hallelujah, to the hopeless ones, the despairing ones, the ones who can barely put pain soaked steps to earth.  He came to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to those bound, to comfort those mourning, even this Christmas.  He came to give those broken ones strength and grace.  He came to snatch away their faint spirits.  And this, this is the beauty of that cold and broken night, the reason that we hold Christmas so near to our hearts and the reason we feel glimmering giddiness sparked deep within our souls when the word Christmas is breathed.  That this babe would utter the words the world had so longed to hear whispered into their ears and curled around their hearts.  He would unroll the scroll and find the place where these prophesies were written, read them aloud and say,


“Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


The elegant, reigning beauty of this cold and broken night is that the One who whispered life into being chose to step into mess, chose to step into awkward and exhausted brokenness, to face cold and rejection for the sake of those whose shoulders were and still are bruised by the weight they are carrying.  And so, this night, find your happiness in the gentle contentment that comes from the whisper gently floating through the snow studded trees from nail scarred hands that left royalty for dirty earth.  Rest your cheek against those hands and sigh with a peace that doesn’t need to demand or perform.  Rest your cheek against those hands and feel the quiet joy, let it overwhelm you because this night, redemption and reconciliation have been born and Emmanuel has come and God is with us.


It's a New Year


It's a new year for me and want this year to be different.

I want to stand on my back porch and tilt my face to catch the beginning drops of rain from a summer storm while lightening races across the sky and my hair stands up on my arms as electricity dances and thunder echoes through my heart and the walls of my house.  And then when I am soaked, I want to still stand, listening to the wind whispering to my soul despite my shivering frame, laden with goosebumps.

I don’t want to become cold, calloused or bitter.  I never want to give up.  I want to be supple, a living plant, green and stringy when snapped, bendable by the Father.  I want Him to always be able to work on me and shape me.  I want to be alive.  I want to feel hurt and pain as proof of my existence, proof of my thriving instead of further bricks on a foundation of numbness.

I want to climb into bed at night, free, bones light and free from expectation.  I want to fall asleep with a smile on my face and close my eyes at night, resting assured in the One who carries me through paths worn in nightmarish meditation.  I want to open my eyes in the morning and feel my soul quivering in the light of His glory, streaming through the cracks in my blinds. 

I want to be joyful and to give compliments as a testament to the battle against insecurity won after many years of fighting with tears streaming down my checks as He lifts my head from the dust to set eternity in my heart, remind me that I am His and settle a blanket of victory around my dirty shoulders.

I want to walk faithfully on rocky crags even when the sun has blistered me, the wind has chaffed me and my feet are worn to the point of bleeding.  When my head is bent, my shoulders hunched, I want to keep on trudging with my heart beating to the sound of the One who makes it beat.  I want to wear my identity boldly, fiercely and securely.  Undeniably.  I want to scream my identity from the roof tops into an indigo sky studded with stars framed by mountains until my throat is raw.

I want to get to the bare, honest, gritty place where I am willing to give everything, to truly give everything, to give my life without a second thought.  I want to walk confidently, one foot steadily after the other steadily in who I have been created to be, head held high, heart centered. I want grace to fall from me, gentle waves kissing the shore.

I want to be a nomad, a wanderer, knowing that my true home isn’t on this earth and it never will be.  I want to hope wildly and fiercely, to be a lion.  I want to believe in that hope so assuredly that my words help to heal the gashes wounded into the hearts of those around me.  I want to paint pictures with my words, pictures that swallow me whole as I grab the gilded frame and peer into it.  I want to take after my Father and speak life into death.  I want to create sentences in the image of the One who creates life.

I want to glorify Him.  


North Africa


I was in North Africa last spring, a witness to their bewilderment. 

Their questioning, pain-filled, hijab-framed eyes peered into mine searching for an answer, a defense, a reason behind the madness that is hatred in my country.

I could give them none.

I assured them that we did not all feel that way, that many in my country looked past stereotypes and loved, that there was no way hatred would be given more power, more influence.

I was wrong and now I can't rest.

Haunted by those eyes.

I meditate on the desperate hands that clutched my arm in giddy trust masking trembling fear.

I remember the bathhouse, being stripped naked and scrubbed down, stereotypes like dead skin shed and scraped off leaving red rawness yet smooth vulnerability.

And as I stood naked with these African women my heart was infected, infected with love and adoration, empathy and pain.

I was humbled and as the woman washing me slopped shampoo into my hair and dragged her fingers through my scalp I broke.

Tears mingling with filthy water from dirtiness, from hatred, from ignorance and pride.

These people are precious,

not their stereotype.

Oh, how they love and extend open arms.

They kiss on both cheeks the white foreigner, the traveling stranger.

After their questioning, affirmed by the hope they saw in our faces, they broke out in joyous dance.

One boy drummed on a table while we all danced together, twirling around on the dusty floor entwining culture and community, sweat and sweetness.

Oh, that this would be our response.

Oh, that we would dance together and shake off the hatred and the unwillingness to press fingers into our own hurting places so that we may love without hindrance or brokenness. 





As I sit cross-legged on my bed, the rain hitting my windows with the softest patterings, the thunder rolling in the distance, the word “brave” echoes through the caverns of my heart.  The word has been my anthem this summer and now this fall in the face of fears and lies.  It has been painted, like war paint on my cheeks and a battle cry in my throat.  It has been the challenge to start writing again and it has been on repeat, turning over and over in my mind as I lay down to sleep at night.


In the face of learning who I have been created to be in Christ, I have had to face who I once was.  The most raw and painful of these times: losing a soul sister over who I used to be and my past.  And while that caused my heart to stand out in the rain, shivering and weeping, knocking on a heart that wouldn’t open, I have had to be brave in realizing that who I used to be was ugly but that it is not who I am anymore.  I have had to be brave in the understanding that I am fully known and still fully loved to the One who crafted my days.  Not despite my past but with my past.  And when my flesh wants to rage and hate and scream out to the sky, I have to claim bravery in loving hard as the Spirit whispers into my heart and deep into my soul,


choose. choose to love hard.


And I know, love doesn’t come naturally to me and it may not come naturally to you.  Bitterness lies deep, deep within me.  Yet, Jesus tenderly reminds me that love is more than smiles and laughter.  Love is full of sweat and tears.  It is full of standing in the rain, knocking on hard-fast, shut doors with eternal perpetual hope.  Love requires sacrifice and a willingness to put control into the Father’s hands.  Love demands that I go outside of the walls I have built to protect myself and it means that I may get stung, hurt or broken.


And when pettiness and pain threaten to appear, there is something about that whisper that makes it easier to just love hard because I want to be a woman who gives Jesus glory.  Jesus, the One who abounds in grace, can surely overflow my parched cup.


I have had to claim bravery in the light of my past because there is something about bringing shame into the light that hurts.  Shame has to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the light and sometimes I step back, chest heaving, with fresh cuts and bruises from that struggle.  My flesh fights because of my pride.  Pride that keeps me from wanting to admit the undesirable and seemingly unredeemable aspects of me.  Pride that keeps me wanting to keep up the perfect reputation.  Pride that hates being misunderstood.  Pride that wants to defend and to be heard.  Pride that wants to resolve conflict simply because it can’t handle the thought of not being able to control how someone views it.  Yet I have to be brave enough to throw it off.  I have to be brave enough to give grace, despite reputation, despite wanting to cling to how I feel I have been wronged.  When it hurts beyond all else, I have to listen to that still, small whisper from a God whose ear catches the faintest murmur from my heart, a God who prepares me for the path ahead and a God who comes after wind, earthquake and fire in a low whisper to remind me of His power, His tenderness and His ability to instill the bravery to give grace.  


And let me tell you, the months of seeking and searching for bravery have not been in vain.  Sometimes the Lord shows us our answered prayers in ways that cause us to fall on our faces in awe.  This last weekend I shared my testimony at my campus ministry’s fall retreat.  Before I stepped out onto the stage, my heart was beating more wildly than I have ever felt it beat before.  I have never in my life been so terrified.  And as I walked out from behind the curtain, I felt as though I was Peter, clambering over the side of the boat, stepping into churning waves with trembling hands.  But as I stepped out onto the stage, I didn’t feel as though I was walking on water.  I felt as though I was walking on the hands of Jesus himself.  He carried me.  He never left me.  And as I started sharing my story, my heart’s racing slowed, everything became clear and I knew exactly what I needed to say.  He stayed right beside me on that stage and in that moment, every second of suffering was worth it.  


He made me brave.


j. k. walker


Thank you, Zed for being the one to give me the key and start me on a path of pursing bravery in Jesus Christ.

Unhidden and Beloved


Parables, classics to parents with Christian home-grown children, read by candlelight while snuggled under blankets during a power-outage or as bed-time stories to scare away the monsters in the closet.  The Parable of the Talents, specifically, has had my heart for years yearning to know and to understand and to grasp.  Even now, I don’t think I will ever fully understand, but I do understand more than before and what I understand I ache to share.  It was in the middle of a summer college fellowship, during a rainy and muggy night, that I was hit with a question,


Can you fathom, being Adam and Eve and hiding from the Lord when He called your name?


I looked around the circle and saw heads shaking, unfathomable.  Yet, as I peered into my own heart I knew it was not unfathomable.  I knew that there was a time when if I had heard the Lord walking in the garden and calling out to me that I would have run and hid.  I would have felt naked and ashamed.  I would have fought to hurriedly clothe myself with whatever I could find.  My natural instinct would have been cover because I wanted to sit in my pain and become the lies I believed about myself.  I believed that I was worthless and that there was no way that I could look into the eyes of the One who was so holy, so mighty, so righteous and live.  Worse even still was actually admitting this to those sitting on that red, oriental rug around me.  Vulnerability with Jesus was terrifying, but vulnerability with His children, shook me to the very core of who I thought I was.  This, after a season of my life where the Lord allowed me to be stripped of every relationship and every security I owned.  Emerging from that season left me weak and shaky.  I was unsteady on my feet, as though I had spent forty days in the desert, as though I had fled, heart in throat through the middle of the sea from armies fast approaching, as though my crutch had been ripped away and I was learning to walk for the very first time without it.  I finally had to make my faith my own.  Rebirth. The sense that my entire life had been drowned and I had come up from the water a wailing, helpless child. Suddenly, the confidence I had once known was gone.  Once very bold, I found myself very scared.  I found myself questioning every “skill” I thought I once had.  I completely abandoned my writing because I had sunk so deeply into comparison that my own writing repulsed me.  I fell short without fail, every single time.  I set the highest standards, ones that left me cripplingly dissatisfied with any accomplishment.


But the man with one talent replied to the master,


“I was AFRAID, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”


Afraid.  He was afraid to use his talent.  I think he was afraid to use his talent because he knew it would force him to be vulnerable.  He would have to be vulnerable in showing the world that he only received one talent, after his own fellow servants had received five and two talents “according to their abilities.”  He would have to be vulnerable in confessing that his ability was the least.  He would have to be brave and he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.  I couldn’t either, but the beautiful thing is that Jesus covers the unlovable things in me.  The things that I am ashamed of, the talents that I think are worthless.  Even and especially in the light of what others have, He covers me in the blood of the Lamb who is greater and stronger and mightier.  I can be brave enough to be vulnerable because that’s what I have been called to be.  I do not face condemnation from the Father because of my ability.  I face pure love, the purest the world has ever known, the Author and Creator of love itself.  I have been called to use my talent, though it may be one and not five.  In the end, the only thing that matters is going to be the fact that I used my talent.  And in the end, the only thing that is going to matter is that I stepped out in faith and I did not hide it.  In bringing my one talent to the light, I can only imagine the other one-talent servant’s hearts as they too grow bold and allow their walls to come down and their one talent out into the world.  Imagine a body of believers, each bringing their talent into the light.  Imagine the beautiful and freeing community that would emerge.  Shame over one talent disappears in the light of vulnerability.  God the precious Father does not change His reaction from the five-talent servant to the two-talent servant.  He will call the one talent servant who chooses to uncover that one talent by name and look deeply into her eyes with joy and pride.


He will call the one-talent servant by her true name,




He tells the one-talent servant that she belongs.  He inspires the one-talent servant to reach out with love to those around her with one talent and those with five alike because comparison stemming from insecurity has no place in His scarred hands.


j. k. walker

Surrendering to Vulnerability


Most Sunday mornings, when I find myself driving alone to church, I sit in my car for a few minutes to gather my thoughts and try to clear my head.  I try to clear my heart.  The week winds down and often leaves me exhausted and burdened, yet Sunday mornings are for savoring.   Sunday mornings are for refreshing and precious time with the sweetest Savior.   Something about the church itself is a refuge and a hiding place, a sacred place to meet with God the Father.  And as I sat in my car last Sunday morning, it was a struggle to clear my head and my heart.  The grey skies felt like a reflection of the churning deep in my soul.  Each cloud, a different thought looming over me and preventing my soul from lifting its face to the bronzing sun.  My heart held up sorrow on top of its already weary frame.  The week was full of difficult conversations and difficult relationships, which always weigh especially heavy on my heart. I walked slowly into church because I felt uneasy.  I felt insecure and vulnerable and I was hurting, yet I couldn’t place a finger on what sparked the pain.  My head felt chalked full of lies.  Insecurities I thought I had long since beaten overwhelmed me.  It wasn't until we started singing “I Surrender All,” that I started to hear my heart beat a little stronger.  It was then that the Lord spoke to me about what I was truly surrendering.  It's easy for me to say I'm surrendering the flesh.  It's easy for me to say I’m surrendering my past and my future.  


But the Lord was calling me to surrender more than the clichés.  


Surrendering all means the really ugly, messy things too.  It means surrendering anger, bitterness, grudges.  It means surrendering rights and reputation.  It means surrendering defenses and hurts, guard walls and protection.  I cannot stand before the Lord, palms upward and sing about surrendering all while holding on to the feeling that I have been wronged in some way.


Last Sunday morning, surrendering all meant surrendering any rights I felt entitled to, including how I was treated and how I felt I deserved to be treated.  It meant surrendering my reputation and being okay with being misunderstood.  It meant surrendering my longing to control others opinions of me.  It meant literally stripping my heart of every desire that was tied to my name, every wrong, every identity, every hurt and the apology I thought I deserved.  When I stood there, stripped of it all, I was truly vulnerable. 


I realized that I have nothing to lose by loving those who  have hurt me.  


Forsaking the rights and entitlements I think I am owed remove the built-up dam in my heart that hinders a river of grace from pouring from the Father through me.  It hit me then, standing there, that vulnerability doesn’t always mean exposing dark secrets, sinful pasts or present struggles.  Sometimes for me, vulnerability means choosing to open my heart to love in hard places.  It requires pushing back the safe walls behind which I try to keep my heart and lowering guards meant to keep my heart well.  It means placing myself in places where pain has the opportunity to creep into my heart, places where I’ve been rejected, places where I’ve been shown I’m unloved.  Sometimes vulnerability calls me to dive into the places where I can’t quite manage to fit in or feel accepted.  Vulnerability means choosing to pursue friendships with some of the most difficult people.  It means purposefully charging into loving hard.  It means laying down my life, physically but also emotionally.  


And in that, there can be no "giving up" just to protect my heart, because I want to be completely spent for the glory of Jesus even if that means that I become an emotional sacrifice. 


j. k. walker

Freedom from Comparison




The word feels like an accusation.


We are the generation who, upon being presented with the image of perfection over and over and over again, are the ones swept away by a current of crippling dissatisfaction.


I was there.  Crippling dissatisfaction consumed me.  I would wake up in the morning with dread pitted deep in my stomach because I felt that I could never measure up.  I could never achieve the impossibly high standards of perfection that I set for myself and I was chained by it.  And some days I'm still there. I still wonder if I have ever been good enough, if I will ever be good enough. 


At the bottom of the very dark pit of comparison, hopelessness creeps into my bones.  And I am always tempted to stay.  I think a lot of us are.  We remain trapped and victimized by comparison and unhealthy goals forgetting all too often that truly, we can never be satisfied with our own work.  We can never be satisfied with anything on this earth and we can never be satisfied with the image we try to portray.  No matter how ceaselessly we strive for perfection we will never obtain it.  But what if this design was crafted for us? What if we were never supposed to obtain perfection on this earth?


Jesus tells us that we can do no good thing apart from Him and it's because of this that I can tell you, there is radiant, beautiful, powerful and wild hope, even in the inability to obtain perfection.  There is beauty in realizing that those standards cannot be obtained and that there is a love that shatters comparison and dissatisfaction.  It is magnificent because it is unconditional.  No matter what we do, or do not do, no matter what we do well or do not do well, that love remains the same.  We are called to have eyes set on eternity because in the broad scheme of things, our millennial identity is not going to impact our Kingdom identity.  But right now, we can use our millennial identity to further glorify our Father.  The urgency is this, that this opportunity will only exist on this earth.  So, let’s let that free us to do what we have been called to do now, while we have the opportunity.  Let’s see His unconditional love as the freedom from the fear of what others think and freedom from the fear of failing.


Let’s see His unconditional love as freedom to try hard, to love well, and to shirk off the heavy weight of comparison because we serve a God who came to break chains and to set captives free.


j. k. walker