what leah learned

"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is today," Hebrews 3:13. Adventure in progress…



Romance is (not) the solution to loneliness

sunset-hands-love-woman.jpgRomantic relationships are the solution to loneliness

I live in a small apartment with 1 roommate who is almost never home (love you Sarah!) when I am home. As a teacher, I don’t go out after dark. That’s just a fact. (Teachers, you know what I mean.) This leaves me many evenings at home by myself.

For the better part of this last year, it left me wishing I had someone to share in the wonderful awesomeness that is my life.

It left me lonely.

For a while, I sat on my love-seat just soaking in the sound of it…nothing.

It was just me. (And Netflix.)

There was something missing from my life.

I had a car I loved.

A job I was whole-heartedly in love with.

A church that felt like home.

I was even admiring the length my hair had recently achieved.

But there was still an emptiness…a twinge of loneliness.

I need a husband. 

Or do I?

As Christians, we like to tell one another that God is sufficient.

Then we tell ourselves we need this and that and him and her…

The truth is, God is sufficient. The truth is also that God made us to be in relationship with other human beings. All the time. In fact, your humanity binds you in a permanent relationship with everyone on this planet whether you like it or not.

God will never leave his people. I also believe that his plans for our lives include constant relationship with one another.

His plan for us is to be unified in Him.

Marriage is good.

God might have marriage in His plans for me. However, it is not the solution to my loneliness or your loneliness.

Beautifully, I was blessed to learn this while still single.

What does that even mean? What did it look like?

As the year turned the corner into 2018, I turned a corner, got off my tiny couch, and pushed into the amazing friendships God has given me.

Through my church community I have a family of brothers and sisters who are always there for me, ready to do life.

They were right there all along.

I am very much not alone.

God has already given me relationship that the lonely heart pangs for-both with him and his people. The kind of relationship that lasts and deepens over time-whether on earth or in heaven.

Whether it’s last-minute movie nights, after-church ice cream runs, or emergency moving help, my church family is there for me.

I have God-fearing brothers and sisters who want to do life with me-and want me to do life with them in return.

So why did I feel lonely?

Just like a present that cannot be enjoyed unless opened, I have to press into that. I have to invest in these friendships to enjoy the fruit of them-to enjoy not being alone. To cure loneliness.

Marriage is not the same as friendship.

But loneliness is also not the symptom of a need for romance.

It’s not cured by “getting” something (or someone) you want.


Now, when I’m sitting at home alone and I wish it otherwise, I reach out. I call. I text. I invite one friend over to watch a movie or I invite myself over for a grading party. I ask questions. I share prayer requests. As a group, we exchange stories about what God has been doing in our lives. We meet in nice work clothes and in sweat pants.

I am no longer lonely.

act like someone who is in constant relationship-and you know what? it finally feels like I am.

I had friendships before, but I too was distracted thinking I needed something I didn’t have to appreciate and enjoy what I did.

I’m learning.

It takes work, but so does everything worthwhile.


“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” -Jeremiah 29:11

Whether that time and blessing of marriage comes, I will rest in thankfulness that God has given me a whole family to share my life with. In Christ, I have millions of brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers! While He will never leave me, he has also made me to be in relationship, and I will rest in that too.


I don’t know where you’re at with people in your life-or even people in general.

But I do know that God has made you for relationship with others. Ask, seek, keep taking a step forward. I’m not saying its easy or even promising a great group of friends to play the part of a warm-hearted sitcom in your life. But I am saying it’s worth it.

(And if you are married-good for you! Keep investing in both that relationship and the others in your life. Remember that you are still needed in the lives of those around you-especially us single people!)

You might find that you are surrounded by people who also want to do life with others, who are just looking for a friend. You might be that friend.

Dear Jesus, I pray those who are reading this and feeling lonely right now. I pray you would give them the courage to seek comfort and relationship in you. I also pray that you would bless them with good, true friendships and teach them how to be a better friend themselves. Thank you! Amen


I was Cinderella

“My dream has come true!” the little blonde 8th grade boy exclaimed with joy at the sight of me interrupting his English class in a bright blue ball gown, my neck elaborately embellished with a black ribbon necklace, a Cinderella bun atop my own blonde head.

My neighbor, Mrs. Panabaker, had adorned herself in red lipstick and fur (which was actually feathers, but who needs to know the minor details) as Cruella De Vil for Spirit Week and as Cinderella, I just had to stop in an visit my unlikely friend.

It brightened my day to hear my favorite student in Mrs. P’s 8th grade class (we are allowed to choose favorites if they’re not in our class-it’s in the unwritten imaginary bylaws). More importantly, it made not being able to take a full breath for a solid 8 hours absolutely worth it.

THE FIRST moment I experienced the fruit of being a teacher this year (my first year!) happened during English class, where a lot of things happen because that is the subject I happen to teach; my 7th grade Classic Lit. class to be specific. It was Cornell notes. Not the notes themselves, even as Cinderella I wasn’t luny enough to believe inanimate nouns could benefit from my teaching ability; it was the note-taker. His name was…

This is where I must choose to change the names of my students in order to protect their identity…

Harry, his name was Harry.

As Harry settled into his desk and chair, he looked at me with the same intensity he displayed every day beneath his spikey hair and he said the 7 (9?) words that would forever change the way I felt about teaching up until that point which had only been a mere 3-4 weeks but was life-changing nonetheless:

“I used Cornell notes in real life this weekend.”

What joy I experienced as he relayed to me the (rather short) story of how he used what I taught him, Cornell style note taking, to jot down the highlights of a town council meeting he attended for a Boy Scout event that Saturday. I was so proud, and thoroughly filled with purpose. I had taught something that mattered in real life. I, had taught something, so someone.

THAT’S why we work for 8 hours a day so that we can stay at work and put in another 2-4 hours before we stay at work and spend another 2-3 hours watching our students perform in choir or softball or football. It’s why we pack a ridiculous amount of food and joke about bringing our pillows as we settle in to spend the ENTIRE day at school, giving up our lunches for tutoring sessions. It’s that feeling that you just impacted the world.

It’s that sound of the drop falling into a bucket.

But it’s more than that, because they have our hearts in their grubby little hands.

IT HURTS to watch your kid lie on the painted astroturf with his head in his hands, helmet hiding the details from your sight. I imagine it must be even harder when he’s your own child.

These are our students, our kids in many ways. We think about them as we write their tests, talk to them as we hand back their homework; then we worry about them on the drive home and dream about them when we can’t sleep at night because we’re too busy worrying about their tests and the homework that they only pretended to do.

But we can’t go down to the green and give them a big hug, congratulating them on a win against our rival team or consoling them after a big loss. We’re they’re teachers. We’re only their teachers.

LAST WEEK at the end of our first quarter, one of my fiery 10th graders turned to me as he walked out the door and said, “Thank you for making me get my stuff together.”

It’s been an honor.

That was another big moment for me.

As a middle school and high school English teacher, I have a total of about 140 students that I strive to impact with more than lessons on grammar, literature and writing.

I don’t even like grammar and I’m currently in rebellion against the Oxford comma despite the fact that I teach it to my students.

I would wake up at 5am every day, make the 30minute drive, and spend the next 10-15 hours at school if English didn’t exist at all. I do it for them. Oddly enough, I love them.

WHEN I STARTED working at this school, actually from the first interview, God gave me a special love for them.

I grew to adore the principals upon which the staff stood as well as the staff themselves. I developed a soft spot for the families that came to cheer on their students in the spring musical with more heart than I had ever witnessed before a stage. I even felt that warm sunshiny tingle that whispered “home” as I walked through the blue and gold hallways for the first time. It was a calling that pulled at my whole heart and soul.

And no, it’s not perfect. That’s the beauty of it. They seem to need, or want me at the very least. I matter. I impact their lives. My students go home and they tell their parents about me. They talk about me with their lab partners in science class. But I’m not just here for the students. They would be fine without me, I’m sure. English is just English; I know anyone could fill these shoes. What’s beautiful is that in this light and shining place there is still darkness, and I am a light.


While I pretend this is so not my first year of teaching and I don’t know what I’m doing as I hide my dislike for the Oxford comma and avoid answering plot line questions on the reading because I am chapters behind my students, God is working.

He is working as I relay with joy to my coworkers how pulling up to the gas station on fumes 20minutes before I was due to teach actually set my day up wonderfully, giving me a renewed thankful attitude and fervor in faith as I dwelled on God’s provision shaped like a Shell.

He’s present when a bubbly 9th grader sings Hamilton with me after school while we both grade my 10th grade literature tests.

He is there when my entire 4th hour starts an unofficial gang called the “Geek Police” to find the alias maker who posted a mean comment on my class website last week.

I am loved.

THAT’S the other beautiful thing about this job, they seem to love me too.

I AM THANKFUL that I get to call this place home in many ways. I am also thankful that for the first time in my life I know what it’s like to love with absolutely no agenda, no expectations, and needing nothing in return. I’m still a selfish sinful human being but I know this is just a small taste of what good is to come.

Knowing that, I can only attempt to imagine what good lies farther down the road and into my eternal future.


Go to the river


There once was this little girl who was lost in the woods. Surrounded by thick dark trees and complete stillness, not a creature moved past her eyes in the dimness of day hidden from the full light of the sun. She was alone.
Photo from Pinterest

The girl found a soft place to camp beneath a hard oak tree. Each morning she awoke from her mossy bed and left the protection of the branches in search of food and water.

One day she found a river.

Cold, refreshing, inviting waters that danced on the tip of her tongue as she eagerly filled her smile with life sustaining drink.

From her side pocket she pulled a small vessel of tin and filled it with water from the river. Eagerly she held the container in her hands and protected it from spilling the treasure inside. She walked back into the woods with her hands cupped, careful not to trip on a root.

Several times a nearby brightly flowered bush or gathering of (possibly poison-she was unskilled at telling the difference) berries distracted her for moments long enough to cause a few tear sized drops to spill over the edges of her cup.

When she reached the camp she had made by the tree she sat next to her hovel in meager triumph, the vessel of water in hand and admiration for its contents in her eyes.

Over the next few days she stared at the precious beaker half-filled with water as she lay on her bed. She thought about it while she was thirsty. At night she dreamed about the sparkling water within. Each day she longed to feel the cool stream run down her throat.

But she did not drink it. Nor did she ever return to the river.


What does this story mean to you? Was the girl a hopeful or a fool? Did she live long? What would you have done if you had found a river while you were lost in the woods alone? 



Maybe you wonder why she didn’t drink the water she had rather than letting herself die of thirst, idly admiring instead of using it for its purpose. Perhaps you would have told her to get a larger container or return to the river as needed?

The girl allowed her surroundings to distract her. She failed to understand the purpose of the river she found when she was in need. I personally wonder why she did not move her entire estate to the riverbank and never leave it’s side?

The river was her source of life. What kept her away?

I think this story can illustrate the type of interaction we often have with God’s word.

We take a verse or two, maybe even memorize one of them. Or at least we write it down on a post-it note and put it neatly scripted in a visible place to admire. But we don’t let it penetrate our heart.

How often to we camp in the word and drink our fill? Even when we do we like to wander off with plans to return later, maybe. Or we think we have enough not to make another trip.

Why don’t we start coming to the river with bigger glasses and thirsty hearts?

Better yet, let’s go to the river and plant ourselves in deeply to stay.


“They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:3

Studying Tips-

Cross-referencing: I just discovered this great tool for studying verses with the original Hebrew. Use it to find the deeper meaning of each verse and meditate on how it applies to you.

Start with this prayer from John Piper when you open your Bible:
Incline my heart to your word, Open my eyes to behold your word, Unite my heart (unscattered) to fear your name, Satisfy me with your steadfast love. Amen.

Write in a journal: You can go back and read what He has spoken to you in the past for encouragement.

Share with other believers: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

A Letter to My Present Self


Dear Present Self,

I want fire and passion, and I don’t want you to settle for anything less. In life, in love, and in your dreams. Remember when God told you to dream bigger? Why was that? Because He made your biggest dream come true, (He was the one who gave it to you!), and after that you had to learn how to fly through that shattered ceiling and reach for greater. That was beautiful, I loved that time.

Now you’re at that moment just before you turn 25 and life is changing. You are changing. Can you feel it? You’re about to pursue the dreams God has given you and run wild under His grace. I want you to know that you’re already doing it, the calling. You have said, “Yes!” to God every time He’s called you, and this is no exception. You are a writer, an encourager, an inspirer, and a teacher in progress. You have a lot to learn but don’t sell yourself short. This life you have is amazing.

You are going to pursue your dreams and live your callings with passion and creativity.

That’s it. You can’t afford to take your eyes off the prize (Christ) and worry about the other stuff. A guy, men, the right one. That’s not your business. That’s your Father’s business. Have faith that God can and will do the same thing He did in the stories you read that inspire you. Don’t stop and certainly don’t accept less then what God has placed in your heart to ask for. A man who is worthy of your heart will win it, and He will have to go through God first. Don’t settle for less and don’t lose your focus, let him worry about spotting you. Better yet, let Him. Just live, run, be passionate and do what you’re called to do.

Set fire to this world, for Jesus, and don’t stop running.

He’s worth it.


Your Lovely Self

1 Corinthians 9:24 “Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Check out: Stephanie May Wilson‘s blog post on finding the right person and “what to do in the meantime.”



Trusting God…ellipses

photo by J.K. Photography

I am in a moment of trusting God, of how many seconds or years or decades it will last, I don’t know. Every day that I seek his promises or ask him to speak, I am encouraged. I started out desperately asking for the answers to my questions. Then I started to pray around all of the outcomes I personally deemed acceptable. God was patient with me. He never told me what I wanted to hear, he told me what I needed to hear.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Promises Promises

God wants us to lean on him daily, to go to His word day and night and seek his presence continually, (Ps. 1:2, 1 Chron. 16:11).

These past few months I’ve been through days and sometimes weeks where I needed to hear God’s promises minute by minute. I’ve felt so thirsty that a firehose fixed to my mouth would have done little more than keep me from drying out. A lie crept up in this struggle, telling me that once God spoke I should be satisfied. Believing him should be enough.

I must not be drinking in his promises correctly if I couldn’t get my fill, right? I thought maybe something was wrong with my uptake. Shouldn’t I trust God enough to let it be and take him at His word?

Trusting God isn’t a transaction, it’s a state of being.

He said I want you to depend on me daily. I want you to seek me continually.

It’s right there in His word! The Bible tells us to pray in all situations, (1 Thes. 5:17, Eph. 6:18, Luke 18:1, Phil. 4:6, Col. 4:2, 1 Tim. 2:1…).

“Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.” Psalm 105:4

We were made to seek His presence continually. He will never tire of repeating himself because that’s part of who he is and the loving relationship he created us for. We need to hear his promises again, every day. He made us to depend on him. It’s a good thing.

*Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, but replace the word “love” with “God.”

His patience does not run out. Rather, he tells us to keep talking with him. Always.

Waiting on the world to change…

Once upon a time ago, I was 10 years old sitting in a rented vacation motorhome watching the second season of the Amazing Race while my family waited to check in to the airport so we could fly home from Alaska just days after 9/11. I made a promise in my journal that I would be on that show if it was still running when I was old enough. No matter what.

I waited for 11 years. I didn’t end up going on the Amazing Race after all, I did something bigger and better.

I had the privilege of traveling to 11 countries on 3 continents all over the world with 55 strangers (now family) who loved Jesus so we could serve in His name for a crazy life-changing 11 months.

It was worth the wait. More importantly, the waiting was essential to preparing me for those plans.

Sunday a random devotional popped into my email inbox. Guess what the topic was?

Trusting God.

The main point was this, that God uses the waiting to prepare us for his plans for us.

It went straight to my heart when I read the line, “he wants us to trust him.”

Think about that. What place is a heart in when someone who loves us asks us to trust them?

They are offering their help, their confidence, their best. They are for you.

It’s clear if you read the Old Testament (go ahead and skip to the New Testament for even more proof) that God always keeps his promises. There are whole books on it.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God  who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9

When God asks us to trust him, we can be assured it’s because he is trustworthy.


Do you ever have those season where you feel like God is speaking directly to you through a particular verse, story, or passage? It’s been like that for me with the story of the Israelites.

God keeps telling me through other people, sermons, prayer, reading the Bible-even random places-how I’m like Israel in her different seasons.

Our promises are the same. I don’t understand it all, but when my wisdom and foresight isn’t deep I still know that this is significant.


He told me he was taking me the long way around.

Remember when the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years after finally being set free from the hand of Pharaoh? That wasn’t just because God got tired and decided to stick his kids in time out for a while so he didn’t have to deal with their whining. It had purpose.

Part of that purpose was to prepare them for the promised land he was taking them too. They weren’t ready, according to his own standards (key).

So he took them the long way around.

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Occasion after occasion I have found myself fighting within my heart to control an outcome or avoid an unfavorable one when God speaks this verse, telling me to be still.

He is fighting for me.

Imagine The Avengers; Thor with his hammer, Captain America with his shield, Iron Man fully suited up, Hulk-well, as Hulk. All of them. Throw in the Justice League too if your imagination can take it (Superman, the Flash..). All of them standing around you, fighting for you. This team, shielding and protecting you from the enemy.

Would you grab a plastic sword and anxiously swing it around just to be extra sure you’ll make it out of this battle okay?

No, because that’s ridiculous.

When you have Thor and Captain America defending you, you sit back with a milkshake and relish placing your confidence in such warriors. You know you are going to win. It might not be easy to watch, but you just know it.

God is bigger than Thor. He is stronger than Hulk. He is braver than Captain America. He is faster than the Flash. He is more bullet proof than Superman. He has better aim than Hawkeye and Arrow combined. Iron Man’s suit has nothing on him. He is even cooler than Vision. Yeah, I said it.

(I really hope you now have this awesome picture of God surrounded by angels that look like Thor with wings.)


How often do we trust like this? I trust you God, ellipses…

I’m waiting. I’m taking a chance on you. This is a risk. I really just want what you’ve got planned at the end of this.

I woke up this morning, got into my car, turned my heart to prayer and immediately God flipped the angle of my heart.

I wanted to pray things centered around myself and fixing this discomfort of waiting. Another day, more promises, I could do this. Refuel. That was the plan.

Instead, he gave me prayers of blessing for someone else.

It’s funny how becoming a blessing can minister to us in powerful ways.

The Holy Spirit filled my heart with thankfulness and praise.

Then I realized, the joy and peace that comes from simply trusting God, obeying Him, reading his word, being with him, was in and of itself the reward.


We read about crowns as a reward for faithfulness in the Bible (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

At times the thought of earning those crowns to throw at Jesus feet (because he deserves them all) has been the motivation and encouragement I needed to get through a moment of waiting.

A good thing, but not as it turns out, the cake.

This morning I finally get it.

Trusting God isn’t about what he has promised or the results of your waiting-it is about trusting God. The very state of being in God’s presence, trusting him, is worth it for the state of being in that moment of trusting Him.

Trusting Him is worth trusting him because he is so good, so loving, that Himself is worth it. He is the prize for our trust.

Trusting him means giving him your whole heart, and getting all of him.

He continues to make you bigger on the inside so you can receive more and more of his fullness. Trusting him is about knowing him. It’s about relationship. It’s not about the future, it’s about the two of you. The condition of your soul. What you were made for.

The rest is frosting.

I want to challenge you with this question; is trusting God enough for you?

This should be our ultimate aim. Not the answer to our questions (and believe me, I have plenty of them too…limitless Leah they probably call me in heaven), not the future we imagine, nor the dreams we asked for. Our worries gone. Our troubles ceased. The good things that He has planned for us. Those are real-but they are not the aim.

The questions may never be answered. Keep asking anyway. Remember to listen for what God is actually saying, not just the answers to your questions. Trust is meant to bring us closer to him and to glorify him. Not to get you what you think you want or need.

What you need is to trust Him.

Trusting Him is the greatest gift.




Thunder Blizzards

I cannot remember the last time I sat down to write a blog post. I feel like I’ve been exhaustively busy without reprieve. Work, classes, church, holidays. I know I’ve had time off. So where is all it going? Weekends are bleeding into work days. Rest seems to be slipping through my fingers like eel tears. I have thunder blizzards in my head.

I am working full time, in college full time, and I’m trying to keep up with the holidays as well as my own hobbies. My brain draws and quarters itself on a daily basis just to keep up with everything I’ve obligated myself to. I am weary.

The answer is Jesus.

I am sitting down before you to pen a confession as a reminder to myself, an accountability clause, that prayer is 100% effective. It doesn’t mean I always get the answer I want, it means I always get the answer I need. That’s how much God loves me.

Instead of pulling inside myself to figure out how I’m feeling, burning out on new ideas as a scour the internet, or hastily organizing my apartment, I just need Jesus.

A quiet moment in prayer. A breath of fresh air outside while I tell Him thank you. Memorize a Bible verse. Read a devotion from a favorite pastor. Or just sit on my favorite little green hill and talk to Him. He already knows.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write, I’ve had too much to write. Too much to say a word. But maybe some of you have thunder blizzards in your minds too, and thinking about someone other than yourself is often the bet place to start when you’re struggling. So I’m sharing this moment with you.

Don’t try to fix it like the world, it’s not in your hands. There’s no standard you’re trying to meet that can be met without grace.

We don’t have to have it all together; we just have to have Jesus.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

Pray Right Now

“I’ll be praying for you.”

How often do we forget to lift up the causes of our neighbors after making this promise? More often than we’d like to admit.

I want you to start a revolution. Don’t worry, it’s just a little one.

Next time you see a friend in need or a stranger ask for prayer stop and pray with them in that moment. There’s power when two or more of God’s people come together, we should be taking advantage of those opportunities. You might even find that the very act of stopping to pray with someone, serving them with your words and heart and time, will do some of the mending itself.

Last week I followed my own advice-okay that’s a lie, the advice actually came from a wise woman in my Bible study who decided to stop and pray with people as needs came up. She started to do it, praying for me with me, and it inspired me to follow her example. The sweetest moments of my week have come out of that stopping to pray alongside others.

Try it.

You don’t need fancy words. Just be honest, God knows what’s in your heart. You don’t need many words. Just say what you mean, he already knows what you need.


This story is not mine, but it was told by one of the speakers at a World Race debrief I was on in 2013.

Our speaker, Shawn, talked about a former Navy SEAL who had gone into the mountains in Burma to save refugees. This man went from the world’s most elite military service to dodging bullets in the Burmese mountains-literally living on a prayer. Shawn spent a few days with him as a journalist, after a rigorous audition to ensure he could survive the journey, and this is what he said the prayers of this warrior looked like:

“God, keep us safe. Amen.”


Time after time I’ve placed a hand on a shoulder and dug into my soul for prayers, from healing to encouragement to restoration of relationships or hope. Sometimes God is really specific and I pray for a long time, until I run out of words and promises and truth. Other times I simply bring my neighbor’s plea before our awesome God and say thank you. We all have different gifts meant to bless others, but every single one of us has time. Time is all that is required to bless another person through prayer. I can’t count how many times I’ve opened my eyes to see tears in my neighbor’s gaze simply because someone took the time to love them by praying for them. That is life giving.

And it’s unlimited.

Next time you meet a stranger, talk to a friend, or listen to a neighbor, I encourage you to do one thing:

Pray right now.

You are what you eat.


You are what you eat.

It’s true.

Did you know that flamingos get their vibrant coloring from a diet of pink shrimp?

The idea of consuming grace has me thinking this morning as I contemplate what Thanksgiving Day will mean to those celebrating this week. Turkey, mostly, but also family, feasting, Friday shopping preparation and maybe the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We play card games at every holiday gathering in my family.

What about not food? We are constantly eating ideas, beliefs and messages from the world while we spit out expectations, lists and opinions. This season in America we are particularly aware of “controversial” global issues, one look at a Facebook feed proves that. Pictures, memes, videos, news, testimonies, advice… What are we taking in this holiday season that needs a second look?

I realized that I waste a lot of time trying to keep up with what comes at me. I take in and chew and digest and process the events and needs and theories and opinions that the people around me throw my direction without pause. I feel like I have to take advantage of every good opportunity. I want to do as much as I can, while I can. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to let anyone down. I don’t want to pass up an chance to learn something. But am I really getting anywhere trying to feast on life like a buffet table? Or am I just mixing in a lot of empty carbs?

If you had a table before you adorned with roasted meats, savory casseroles and fresh pies, would you fill up on cold rolls and dry fruit cake because you could? Even if we don’t have to choose between good things in our lives this winter, maybe we should. Do you want to say yes to as much good as possible, go to all the holiday parties and cookie exchanges and school craft bizarres and gift wrapping sessions…or, do you want to say yes to the best?

What if the best is that quiet moment helping your 12 year-old ice some scary looking faces on homemade snowmen cookies? What if choosing the best leads to more memories and laughter over the crazy wrapping job you did on your best friend’s gift?

What if you let go?


When we receive grace we are then grace filled in the way we love others. Have you thought about your capability to accept grace from others for your mistakes? What about giving yourself grace when you aren’t perfect or far from it? How does your ability to receive God’s gift of grace through Christ Jesus look?

How does grace effect you in regards to all that the holidays mean in your life?

As you are making choices and sorting your priorities this year consider what color you are turning.

As you consider what you have to be thankful for and move on to what you and others think you desperately need for Christmas this year, consume grace and let it transform your input and output. Let grace turn you into a flamingo.

Brothers….Thank you

Men of God who love the women around you, Thank You. Whether that means speaking well of your mom in the presence of others, serving your wife in front of your small group Bible study, lifting up your sisters in prayer, or taking extra effort to show appreciation and encouragement to the people God placed in your life. Thank you.

Some of us do not have good brothers. Lot’s of us do not have fathers. Maybe we have lost them in tragic ways or they have walked out of our lives on their own. Maybe our fathers and brothers have been lost all along. When we look at the men in our lives we inevitably replace our picture of fatherhood or brothership with what we see. We are filled with either hope or the affirmation of lies the enemy likes to spin when we don’t have men filling the roles in our lives meant to be there. What you do and what you say makes an impact and I don’t think we realize how much so.

In honor of the men in my life who go out of their way to love people and for those who are reading who would say the same, we need you and you are making a difference. Every sincere compliment, act of vulnerability, or pursuit of integrity is an example to us which raises the standards of how we will hold other men accountable to treating us.

Just trying to live the way God has called you to live, doing what you think is nothing at all, it matters. You’re valued.

Bring your date flowers. Work extra long at your mom’s store so she can take a day off. Tell your wife thank you for making dinner. These are the little things that can shine light into corners you are not aware exist; so I am letting you know.

On behalf of the men and women whose family comes from unconventional places,

Thank you.

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