In the Trenches

I think I’ve been in the trenches for awhile, and I was driving to work this morning thinking about how maybe this is where the renewal happens. When I think of trenches, I think of warfare, of despondence, of suffering. This is not a place I would choose to be. However, I began to think today that maybe I’m in the trenches so that God can renew my mind and spirit. This might be the space I need to be in to experience breakthrough.

For me, at least, the focus is usually on asking God to pull me up out of the trenches and deliver me from whatever trials I’m facing. In the midst of the trials, though, we can look to God for comfort, for peace, for hope, and for continued growth while we endure and suffer. It’s natural to want to be removed from the trenches and put into a more comfortable situation. However, I want to focus on what God is teaching me and how he is growing me while I sit in the trenches.

When we ask to be delivered from the trenches, we may be missing out on important lessons that God wants us to learn. We may not be growing to the full potential God has planned for us.

When we look to the Bible, we see strong examples of people who spent time in the trenches and came out stronger and closer to God. Joseph was sold into slavery and imprisoned, but remained faithful to God throughout his time. Job is one of the cornerstone examples of how to endure affliction and suffering as a Christian. Paul endured persecution and imprisonment, but he continued to share Christ with those around him even in prison.

So what do we do when we pray for something, believing that God can and will do it, and it doesn’t happen? Why doesn’t God always come through like we ask him to? Why do bad things continue to happen in our lives when we are faithful and we serve a faithful God?

Our faith needs to be focused on a Savior, not on an outcome. If our faith depends on an outcome, we will often be let down. There will continue to be times that we face less than desirable outcomes, but we will NEVER serve a less than desirable God. We will never serve a God without a plan. We will never serve a God who is less than faithful.

We do need to come to terms with the fact that we are on the hook for some of our brokenness. While there are bad things that happen outside of our control, we need to acknowledge our own culpability in our winding up in the trenches.

Perhaps God wants to use this time in the trenches to tear you down and build you back up in ways you can’t even imagine. Perhaps we will have new opportunities as a direct result of our time spent suffering and sitting in our trenches. Can we see it as a revealing of God’s plan to work through us?

I can’t remember where I heard this, but I heard someone on a Podcast or something say “If you knew what God knows, you would be at peace with your circumstances.” We can’t see what lies ahead, and we can’t see the whole picture that God is unfolding before us. What we can do is trust in an omnipotent God who promises repeatedly to restore us, to renew us in Him, and who sent His Son to be sacrificed for each and every one of us. He didn’t do these things alongside a promise that life would be easy and comfortable, but He did these things alongside a promise to walk through our pain and suffering with us.

What good news that God loves us and cherishes us even when we are struggling, even when we are dirty and muddy and stuck in a trench. God doesn’t wait to love us until we are cleaned up and on His level.

God is in your trench. Sit with Him, speak to Him, ask Him for guidance and comfort, and praise Him in that trench.

Be Still and Know

I’m currently in a really tough season of life. This season has pushed me more than any other season I’ve gone through. At the same time, this season has revealed more of God’s goodness and His love and mercy that any of my other seasons as well.

I’m learning to be still and even moreso, to know. I’m learning to rest in the sovereignty of my Savior when all else fails.

In the past, I’ve let fear, anxiety, and depression overtake me and keep me from experiencing all that God has for me. I found myself saying no to opportunities because of my fear, saying no to God when asked to step out in faith, and panicking about most everything instead of leaning into His promises and His plan for my life. I have spent years being complacent and trying to do what I can to feel secure. While avoiding my fears and new opportunities has made me feel somewhat secure, I also haven’t grown much.

God calls us out of our spirit of timidity and into a spirit of BOLDNESS and CONFIDENCE that He is directing our paths and walking with us on those paths. God tells us time and time again that He will be with us, and that we are not to fear. We worship the same God who walked with the Israelites during their exile. We worship the same God who parted the seas. We worship the same God who led His Son to the cross for our redemption. We can move forward in faith and put our fear behind us because God has proven time and time again who He is and to what lengths He will go for His people.

As I mentioned above, I have learned more about who God is and how He is working in my life in these moments I’ve been forced to lean into the fear and anxiety. Through these difficult and terrifying experiences, God is teaching me that His plan for my life is pre-ordained and will come to fruition in His perfect timing. He is teaching me that even when I struggle to take that step in faith, He is right there with open arms ready to welcome me into His goodness when I get there. While I am looking out into situations that give me anxiety and make me afraid, God is both right here with me, and right there in those deep waters.

When the world feels heavy, God wants to carry your burden. We can come to Him for rest. When we are weary and burdened, God doesn’t just take part of the burden, He takes it all. Jesus carried the burden of our sin on His shoulders and brought us into relationship with Him through His sacrifice.

I’m still working on both the BE STILL and the KNOWING, but I’m making progress.

Finding yourself

This concept of “finding yourself” is so widely discussed on social media, in self-help books, and amongst young adult friends…but do we really know what it means to “find ourselves”? I thought I checked this off my to-do list when I was in college, but BOY was I wrong.

Now, I wonder if we ever FINISH find ourselves. Will I ever just know exactly who I am, what I want out of life, and what my dreams and goals are? Or are they always changing? I guess I hope the latter.

Anyway, this is me going on the record to say that this process is messy. It is beautiful, it is challenging, it is both disheartening and rewarding as heck, and it is exhausting. Figuring out who I am is something I was pretty sure I’d be done with by the time I turned 30 (I’m not QUITE there yet, but not far off either). Instead, I am redefining my goals and expectations, my career, my relationship status, and all the things I thought I had figured out until just recently.

While this feels like it should be a setback, I no longer think it is. I am choosing to wake up (most days) and see it as an opportunity to continue growing and evolving into the person I am meant to be. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for me each day. My life has done a complete 180 in the past few months, and it felt really awful at first. Now, however, it is exciting. It is exhilarating. Sometimes it’s lonely. At the end of each day, though, I am so grateful for the place that I’m in. I get to learn from my mistakes. I get to redefine who I am as often as I feel I need to. I get to set new goals and priorities.

There is freedom in not knowing exactly who you are. Instead of feeling weighed down by these unknowns, I’m choosing to press ahead with confidence that I am heading in the right direction.


How do you view rest?

I often view rest as that inevitable step that follows me running myself into the ground. I sometimes view rest as an inconvenience (“I could be doing x, y, and z, but instead I’m tired and my body is forcing me to rest”).

Maybe you view rest as a solace, a recharge, a regular part of your routine. Jesus invites us to rest and not as a “you are weak–take a break” sort of thing. Why is it so hard for me and maybe some of you to grasp that rest does not equal weakness, failure, or wasted time?

Even my devotionals are often done “on the go” during my commute to work. I find that I “fit” prayer into my day. When it comes to sitting still, I’m often distracted and frustrated because of all of the other things I “SHOULD” be doing with those moments.

I’m going through Beth Guckenberger’s Reckless Faith: A 40 Day Journey to Saying Yes with my small group right now, and her first devotional day has so many good things to say about saying yes to STILL. I want to make it a goal to find more stillness, more acceptance of my need to rest, and more restful moments with Jesus. I would love to hear how you are able to find rest and stillness throughout your day! Have you been able to move from judgement of your need to rest into making time for this each day?

A Letter to My Students

A letter to my students:

Thank you for who you are. Thank you for pushing me to be better Every. Single. Day. You challenge me, you encourage me, and you teach me something every day. Thank you for showing up for me on the days I struggle to show up for you. The way you put aside yourselves to rally around one another inspires me.

This week has been a tough week for my students and for me. We have cried together and fought with one another…but we have also laughed together and lifted one another up. I never thought I would work with students who made me FEEL as much as you do. In the moments that I want to completely give up, you remind me why I’m here in the first place.

Thank you for being honest with me when something I do hurts you. Thank you for forgiving me when I admit my mistakes. Thank you for advocating for yourself and pushing me to work harder to help you succeed. Thank you for understanding my mistakes and encouraging me to try again.

I love you with my whole heart and want nothing more than for you to succeed.


I was walking my dog tonight after my second day of teaching in my own classroom. While I have been through student teaching, and I served as the Director of Christian Education for a small church for a year, having my own classroom and being with the kiddos all day is extremely different.

So while walking my dog around a local park, I watched a little girl trying to learn how to ride a bike with her dad in tow. She must have fallen at least a dozen times while I walked around the trail at the park. Every time she fell, her dad smiled at her and didn’t even have to say anything to her before she got back up, grabbed her bike, and tried again. She took some really rough falls, but with her dad there to cheer her on, she believed none of those falls should stop her from trying again.

The last two days have been a roller coaster of well-behaved kids and extremely squirrely kids, proud moments and frustrated moments, and feelings of confidence alongside feelings of doubt and failure. Tonight, though, as I watched this little girl refuse to let anything stop her from achieving a goal, I thought about how lucky I am to have the opportunity to show up every day to work alongside and learn with my students.

This year, I hope to be resilient. I hope to be excited to try new things, gracious with myself and my students when things may fail, and willing to get back up and try again the next opportunity. I hope to be unafraid to fall and fall hard. I know not every moment will feel like a success, and I know not every lesson will go as planned; but I hope that people like my mentor teacher, colleagues, and friends and family will smile at me without having to say a word as I dust myself off and prepare to give it my all once again.

Ice Cubes

My dog loves ice cubes. This is probably not a novel concept if you own a dog, however, it’s something that has recently been at the forefront of my thought. What a weird thing to ruminate on, right? Maybe. If I started introducing myself to people by telling them that I LOVE ice cubes, they would probably have some judgments and maybe even some reservations. (I don’t LOVE ice cubes by the way, but if I sat here long enough I’m sure I could think of something I do love but am ashamed or embarrassed to talk about with other people.)


I want to start this year off with an intentionality to love the little things and to put forth an image of myself that is honest and authentic. Instead of painting a picture of myself and my life that I’m “okay” with people seeing, I want to be transparent and authentic in a way I haven’t been able to do before.

Sure, people know that I love the color purple, a good baby laugh (meaning an infant, not a tiny giggle emitted in the presence of sophisticated company), every dog I’ve ever seen, South Dakota, and so on and so forth. People know these things about me after spending mere hours with me, but how many people know the real me? How many people know that I am terrified to drive in the snow because of a car accident that broke my collar bone and gave me a concussion that kept me out of school for two weeks? How many people know that stepping outside of my comfort zone and letting my nail tech paint my nails purple gives me REAL anxiety? How many people know that I am terrified I’m doing all of this work and taking out all of these loans to become a teacher only to find out that I’m not “cut out for it” or that I may not like it?

I’m not saying it’s necessarily someone else’s fault that they wouldn’t know these things about me, as I certainly could discuss all of this with someone and choose not to. However, as a teacher, a woman, or just a human in the society in which I live etc., I feel a real double standard in the expectations people have of the way I present myself to the world. As teachers, we’re taught to be authentic but not TOO authentic with our students. As in, we should definitely be approachable and friendly, but we need to be careful to not allow our students to take advantage of us, get too close to us, or think of us as a friend instead of *insert the hundreds of ways we might define teachers here*. As a woman/human in the society in which I live, I have people telling me to live authentically and unashamedly be who I am, but at the same times there are some serious undertones that we all need to acknowledge. I.e. We should share how we feel and not be afraid to disclose personal information as long as it doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable. Feelings such as joy and excitement are totally fine and acceptable, but don’t make people feel weird by confronting them with anxiety or anger. Even sadness.

Anyway, I don’t have a perfect ending to this post, other than to say that I want to start living as authentically me. Unashamed, broken, flawed, and beautiful me.

Thanks for following along on this weird, hard, and awesome journey with me.

These moments.

We live in a constant state of preparation. Preparing for the next thing. The next paper due in school. The next deadline at work. The next meeting on the calendar. The next event to shuttle the kids to. The next vacation. The next holiday. The next gift we have to buy. The next, the next, the next…

What about now? Image result for moments

This has been heavy on my heart lately as I’ve started my first full time, real life, real world adult job. I would now be considered, by most peoples’ standards, a fully functioning adult. I’m making car payments, paying off my student loans, going to my office every day, looking to buy a house, walking my dog at night, setting up retirement accounts…but I’m still looking to the next thing.

In a way, I think this can be good. This gives us hope when we feel stagnant. When days blur together, I can look forward a few months and think about that exciting life event. I can think about that wedding I’m in this summer, or my friend’s upcoming due date. If we feel complacent in our relationship with God or with a friend, we can remind ourselves that relationships have ups and downs.

At the same time, though, I feel like I’m losing out on the now. I feel as if my parents, teachers, friends, and self have conditioned me to never be content and to constantly strive for more. This is not to say that I place blame on them or fault them for my current stress or lack of ability to enjoy or fully experience my current situation, however, I see myself and so many people around me so busy and ready for the next thing that we completely forget to stop and take a moment. I personally forget to take a moment to look up at the shapes of the clouds, or to hear the way the leaves rustle gently in the wind. I forget to take a moment to look over at the wide-eyed infant currently sitting in a car seat at the table next to mine, where I’m buried in lesson plans and children’s Bibles. While I’m anxiously looking toward my next deadline, this rosy-cheeked, joyful little boy is sniffing the air as the door opens and the smell of slightly charred coffee grounds wafts toward us. He’s looking up as birds fly past enjoying the sunlight and happily communicating with one another. He’s noticing the napkin floating gently across the pavement with the breeze. He’s kicking his feet and observing the way the car seat rocks with his movement.

I wish I could go back to this.

I’d love to tie this all together and put a nice little bow on it. I would love to make a perfect plan (or a list because if you’ve ever read one of my posts, you know I love a good list). I would love to understand exactly how I got here, brainstorm how I can continue to strive for excellence yet begin again to appreciate the current moment, write it all down, and then do it. I’d like a perfect equation (but in words because I’m not a math person). I’m not there yet. I think this, though, is the perfect place. Sitting right here at the coffee shop, surrounded by lesson planning material, thinking about the students I’m privileged to talk about God with each week, and at the same time being reminded by this bright-eyed innocent little human that the little things matter and it’s important to notice them. Right now, I’m going to take a moment to appreciate the smells, the sounds, the anticipation, the frustration…and the current moment. This moment in its fullness is so beautiful.

Thanks, God.

 Image obtained from Greater Good Science Center (University of Berkeley, CA)


Confession: It’s been too long since I posted (over a year…). I don’t think this because I believe that anyone really relies on these posts for anything, or even that I really need to be blogging. However, I currently have 9 drafted blog posts just sitting idle. Most of them are nearly finished, with a few being in beginning stages. The problem lies in my desire to achieve perfection before I share with anyone.

For anyone who knows me, it’s fairly obvious that I am very much a “Type A” personality, I strive for success, I am very determined once I have made a decision about what I want, etc. However, my definition of success is so elevated that it is often unattainable. Back a few posts, I wrote about how much I hate to be vulnerable. Wow. How true. I don’t want anyone to see me fall apart, I don’t want anyone to know when I have not done my best work on an assignment or exam, and I certainly don’t want anyone reading anything that I don’t deem “perfect.”

This yearning for perfection is often praised by others as a positive character trait. I.e. “You’re so motivated!” “You’re so driven!” “You work so hard!” Right. This can be true, but my desire for perfection and unwillingness to be authentic with others has been crippling this year. In the past 12 months, I’ve applied for dozens of jobs, graduated from college, started graduate school, took a break from graduate school, began pursuing my teaching license (5 more classes! Let’s go!), and went back to applying for more jobs. This year has been full of what I would generally deem as “failures,” meaning I didn’t finish something I started or I changed my mind. This is not the picture perfect image I want people to see when they look at me…however, this is me. I change my mind. I take chances and start things I may not finish immediately (or ever).

These last 12 months have without a doubt been the most challenging of my life. I’ve cried more, laughed more, and learned more than ever before. I’m learning about myself and about others. About authenticity and small ways in which I can let go of crippling perfectionism.

You didn’t think I could return to blogging without my infamous lists, did you? Here are some of the ways in which I am currently working to let go:

  1. HONESTY. I’ve begun responding honestly when someone asks me how I’m doing. I think one of the worst trends in communication is this exchange: “Hey! How are you?” “Good! How are you?” “Good! See ya around.” “See ya.”
    ………….generally this entire exchange is uttered in a matter of seconds as two people pass one another on the sidewalk, in the hallway, on the way out of the restroom…and this encourages us to continue on in the facade that everything is fine (neither good nor bad, really) and discourages genuine communication and relationship-building. Instead, let’s pause for a second and take the opportunity to self-assess and consider how we are actually doing, giving the other person the same opportunity as well.
  2. CRYING. Ugh. I hate crying. So much. The red face, the snotty nose, the “crying hangover (i.e. post-cry headache),” the vulnerability…it’s all bad.
    Unless it’s not all bad. I used to roll my eyes when someone tried to tell me how cathartic crying could be. I’m still working on this, but I’m getting somewhere. I feel authentic, genuine, and human when I cry.
  3. BLOGGING. I used to keep a great journal, but in the midst of all of these crazy life changes and transitions, it’s fallen by the wayside completely. As much as I love sitting down and writing pen-and-paper, typing is so much faster. I’ve decided to make a conscious decision to return to blogging as a way of sharing my experiences, thoughts, etc. and pushing myself to actually sit down occasionally and consider where I’m coming from, where I am currently, and where I’d like to head.

I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with the perfect concluding paragraph. So now seems like a good time to practice this whole “letting go of perfection” thing and just end here. Be blessed, friends. And be imperfect. It’s

Image obtained from



Technology is such an awesome gift! SOMETIMES.

If you know me, you know that I wish it were realistic for me to throw away my Smartphone and quit being “on call” for the hundreds of people who have my phone number. Many people have heard me rant MANY TIMES about how much I wish I could go back to a time before technology and live there. Over the past few weeks, no surprise at all, I have had some incredibly irritating experiences with technology. Not by way of me fighting to understand something (although that happens, too), but rather by way of me competing with a Smartphone or computer for someone’s attention during a conversation. This is by no means a new experience for me, but for the first time, I’m thinking about how this affects God.

Despite the fact that I so often become irritated by something those around me do, I rarely take the time to be introspective and consider the ways I mirror their behavior in my relationship with God. Yesterday I began to think about the fact that, if I am angered enough to end a conversation with someone due to their attention being on a text message or a *insert social media here* post, I should probably quit doing the same to God. How often do I turn on the TV or scroll through my Facebook timeline when I haven’t taken the time to say anything to God yet that day? Far more often than I’d like to admit to myself or to you.

If I am this irritated, frustrated, hurt, etc. by someone dividing their attention between me and a piece of technology, I cannot imagine how much this hurts God. God knows the number of hairs I have on my head. He cares about the things I don’t want to bother my roommate or my dad or my grandma with. His heart breaks for me. Yet I constantly divide my attention between Him and a plethora of other meaningless things. How important is it, really, that I see this Instagram post or that tweet? Do I really need to watch that episode of that show I couldn’t really care much less about? How are these things really feeding me in any way? I sometimes convince myself that it’s important to keep up with my friends through social media and that God wants us to have good relationships with others, etc. However, shouldn’t I hear about my best friend getting engaged or my cousin getting a new job in some platform beyond social media? Instead, I should probably spend those “wasted” 60 minutes each day talking to God, turning my eyes to Him, and listening to what He has to say.

I’m not sure how much technology really hinders your ability to engage in meaningful relationships with others, but I’m finding it encroaching on my relationships more each day. I think for me, it’s important that I use this frustration to remind me to spend more time with my creator, my Father, my Savior. After all, that’s probably far more productive than continuing to be angry at those I love, right?