Happy News

I’ve been keeping this little piece of information a secret from the social media world for about..well, 26 weeks.  I’m not sure why, other than it’s just felt so special to be able to keep it close.  I really had every intention of not sharing until after I gave birth, but with the current state of things, it feels important to share now.  I thought I’d be out in public and able to share the news in person.  I thought people would be able to infer the news from seeing my growing belly.  I thought a lot of things before this pandemic started.

I remember whispering to Adam in the middle of a church service that I thought it was time for us to start trying.  It just felt like the right time.  It took him a few weeks to feel the same way.  But once he did, it was all over.  We felt so lucky that we did not have to try very hard.  (Add to that feeling – shocked, confused, overwhelmed.)

That was early December, and we were able to share with our families over Christmas.  It was still a bit early, but with living far away, we wanted to tell them in person when we could.

But I guess I could have started this story a little earlier, in October, when we had decided that we’d like to plan to move back to Virginia.  Adam was ready to start a business, and I was starting to think about launching a non-profit similar to the one I was at (which is a blog post for another time).

With a baby on the way, we decided that the end of March would be a good time to move home.  We wanted plenty of time to be able to settle in and prepare for this new season.  Little did we know all the things that would happen between then and now.

I had expected to get proper goodbyes with all our friends in TN.  With church being cancelled the week we had planned as our last Sunday, and with social distancing as an expectation, there were a lot of things left unsaid.  We ended up leaving a bit early because we just weren’t sure what those next few days would hold.  We did get to have a quick prayer together (in a group of less than 10) as a packed trailer left our driveway.  Such a mix of emotions as we said goodbye to our friends and goodbye to our first place together.

I had expected to get settled in Virginia and find a full-time job fairly quickly.  This has not been the case.  Turns out that getting a job during a pandemic while you’re pregnant is not so easy.  However, it has given us a chance to slow down and reevaluate what we want in the next few years.  I did finally accept a job, and though it’s not what I had envisioned, it’s exactly right for this season.  I’m so glad God allowed us to dream a little.

I had expected to get plugged in at church and find a life group.  I’ve enjoyed joining online, but it’s not quite the same.  Though we still wouldn’t be able to be in church or connect with people in person if we were in TN, the level of isolation feels a bit different here.

I had expected to be reunited with family and friends.  I’m not sure when we’ll get to do this.  We are grateful for the people we are getting to see – mainly our families.  I am settling for FaceTimes and phone calls and the occasional outdoor visit from a distance.  Though everyone else is in this same boat, it feels extra strange to have moved states but to be trapped in our house.

While I have many reasons to mourn, I have many reasons to practice gratitude.  This baby is strong and healthy.  We are spending lots of time together and with our family.  We live in a long driveway with plenty of space to walk and get outside.  Our families are in good health.  Smiley’s Ice Cream is still open for business.  God is still moving and speaking.

I can find myself getting caught up in the whys and the doubts and the fears.  But over and over, God is steadying me, reassuring me, giving me the truth I need to hear in these days.  He knows all my days, and all the days of this baby.  He will keep making a way.

Baby Hayslett is due August 8, 2020.  We are waiting to find out the gender, so I don’t have much else to tell you!  We are so excited to meet this little one and start this new chapter of life.  I have been feeling lots of kicks and enjoying this time with Adam and baby so much.

I know we are all experiencing this in different ways.  I know this pandemic will come to an end at some point.  It is not forever.  I hope I am able to look back and see the ways God was at work.

Untold Joy

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to pain lately.  About all the ways this life brings pain and how it is hard, but so necessary.  I have experienced pain in lots of ways during this season of life.

I’ve lost sweet women back into the throes of addiction and prostitution.  I’ve lost a grandma that I wish I knew better.  I’ve struggled with facing some hard issues in my marriage.  I’ve started going to counseling to deal with some of my own personal pain.  Pain is all around, for everyone.  It’s part of life.

It strikes me as I write this that there are people dealing with these issues everywhere, but you might not ever know it.  We tend to focus on the happy things.  Pain is an uncomfortable, maybe even taboo topic.  We don’t sit with it very well.  (Speaking for myself here.)

BUT I’m realizing how important it is to pay attention to the pain.  To sit with it.  Invite God to sit in it with you.  To really feel it.  This is where we find real healing.  When we pay attention to the things that cause us pain, we notice what we care about.  We notice where we need work.  Sometimes that work looks like feeling our grief, sometimes it looks like forgiveness.  Sometimes it looks like being honest with ourselves.

When we let God into it, He can show us the way out.  I have been re-reading The Pilgrimage of a Soul by Phileena Heuertz and this phrase has stayed with me, “The pain and trial we experienced carved out space in us for untold joy.”  Man, that gives me hope.  That He will use all this pain for joy.  He can use this mess for His glory and our good.

On this Good Friday, let us remember that.  As his friends sealed up the tomb, as Peter heard the third crow, as Mary wept, there was pain.  But they didn’t know about the untold joy ahead.  When all was dark, God was still making a way.  All that heartache was making space for what was coming – new life and new hope.

And please don’t read what I’m not saying – life is good for me.  This season has had pain, sure, but it has also brought so much healing and so much connection for me.  Counseling is a GIFT to me.  My husband is a gift to me.  This work is a gift to me.  But good things aren’t always easy and perfect.  There is pain.  We wouldn’t know joy without it.  So as I work through the pain and the trials, I am expectant that He will bring untold joy.

In Between

There is so much floating around in my brain.  And yet, seemingly so little to write about.  I think because this season feels “in between.”  I’m feeling like I’m in the middle  of everything, and not quite to the other side of anything.  But not in a trapped, panic kind of way.  More in a slow, deliberate kind of way.  I feel like God is teaching me the discipline of staying.  The discipline of sticking it out.  The discipline of working through the tough stuff.

There is the most obvious “in between” – our current state of residence.  We are loving TN and the people we have met.  But we are missing our people in VA.  And I think that is just part of being in a new place.  But this thing I’ve been doing – pining for the Blue Ridge, dreaming of the valley – it’s not helpful.  It shifts my focus from the here and now, to the maybe, what if, when.  And it makes the “in between” even more divisive.  I want to be all in where He has me.  I don’t want to do the easy thing of moving back just because we could.  I want to practice this discipline of staying.  I know He is not finished with us here.  (And I don’t want any family or friends to read into this too much.  We still don’t know the future.  Cool your jets.)

In relation to our location (ha), our actual home is a bit of an “in between.”  For those that don’t know – we live at my job.  If that’s confusing – I work for a residential program, and we live here on property.  We have our own space, a detached apartment.  And honestly, we love our little home.  So grateful for the opportunity to start out here as husband and wife.  And I’ve got a GREAT commute.  But, we know this is not permanent.  And we can feel that.  Feel the unavoidable transition.  Still a bit off, but there all the same.  I can do all I want to fix it up and decorate, but ultimately it will not feel like our forever home.  And I am working on being okay with that.  with leaving the weird round coffee table that I mostly hate, because it’s not forever.  I’m working on loving this space we’ve so graciously been given for this season.  Working on sticking it out.

Finally, I feel “in between” darkness and light right now.  I have this thing I’ve been working through, and I’m not quite to the other side yet.   I’m taking little steps, working my way through the mess.  It’s too close and too tender to share with the world, but I’ve been working on it with the ones I trust.  And I’m almost ready to celebrate the freedom, but for now, I just need to sit with it for a bit.  I need to work through it bit by bit.  And it’s that discipline of working through tough stuff.  Facing the hard things.

There are other “in betweens.”  The normal ones we all anticipate at some point – in between seasons, in between acquaintance and friend, in between loads of laundry, in between newlyweds and old married couple.  And then there are unexpected ones that we all encounter at another point.  I know you have your own “in betweens.”

So some things I’ve learned from all this?

A big thing I’ve learned is the importance of prayer.  More specifically – the importance of persevering prayer.  I write my prayers out in a journal.  And for awhile I felt so annoyed with myself and almost embarrassed that I was praying for the same things everyday.  I could look back and see how my prayers have said a lot of the same things.  But I’m learning that the discipline of being consistent and persistent is so important.  And it IS a discipline.  The act of praying for the same thing over and over can be exhausting and frustrating.  But our God is not usually Johnny-on-the-spot.  He usually takes the slower route.  And His timing is always perfect.  I think persevering prayer can change something in our impatient hearts.  We learn to slow it down.  We learn to maybe listen a little more.

I’ve also learned how to engage in hard things.  I’ve done this thing recently – the Enneagram.  (I’m a Type 9, if you’re curious.  I know you were.)  If you don’t know it, you should.  Through it, I’ve learned (or rather been reminded of) how much I like to avoid conflict.  For most of my life, I’ve breezed past hard things.  I’ve avoided dealing with them.  But now, I’m learning to confront the hard things – to deal with them head on.  So instead of ignoring this feeling of “in between,” I’ve decided to feel the tension and embrace it.  I’m deciding that more and more, even as I write these words.

I’ve learned that even in the “in between,” I can feel sure.  Sure that He is going to take care of me.  He makes a way in the mess.  He lights the path with hope – in many forms.  In friends, in Sunday afternoon walks, in cups of coffee, in a passing thought, in long distance phone calls and in evening prayers together.

He is the God of presence.  He is with us wherever we are on the journey.  And I’m so grateful.


Our Wedding

This is not the typical content around here, but Adam and I are celebrating 6 months of marriage today – so I thought it was about time I talked about our wedding!  This day was so meaningful and special, and I am so happy to share it with you.  Looking back through these memories makes me want to rewind and do it all again.


Firstly, I just have to show you this gorgeous house.  It is owned by my dear friend, Sally.  The house was built around 1900 and has been in her family for decades.  It is rich with history and beauty, and so much of my and Adam’s story has happened inside these walls.  It was absolutely the perfect place for us to get married.


Isn’t he the most handsome?  I love these pictures so much.


I can already tell that I’m going to include way too many pictures, but I care not.  The boys got ready in our friend Jacks house, just a mile or so down the road.  It was the perfect man cave, filled with treasures from Jacks overseas adventures in the military.


I love the way these outfits came together.  These boys looked so sharp!


Meanwhile, the ladies got ready in Sally’s house.  And her space is so beautiful and elegant – it was equally as perfect as Jacks house was for the boys.


I wanted to get something really special for my mom, sister, and Sally because they all worked tirelessly to make sure this day went off without a hitch.  Sally spent endless hours gardening and cleaning and making sure her home was perfect.  My sister worked so hard on my bridal shower and bachelorette party and helping me with all the details of the day.  And my sweet mom helped me with decor AND rounded up all her friends to be there and help with the reception.  They all helped so much, especially since I wasn’t able to actually be in Virginia – and I could not have done it without them.  So I got them each a necklace (and myself too), to remind them of how much I appreciate each of them.

1-941-971-98Jack’s house was the perfect place to get pictures together without seeing each other beforehand!  I loved the second story porch and just knew it would make a beautiful picture.  A friend drove by and said it looked straight out of Gone With the Wind.


This may have been one of my favorite things.  Instead of a guestbook, we had guests highlight a passage or verse, or just sign our Bible.  It’s been fun to read through and see what people shared.  Now we have a family bible to read for years to come.


Another sweet moment – a first look with my dad.  I did not include all the crying pics because he would put me in a chokehold until I cried uncle.  But also..aren’t my parents the cutest??


We had the ceremony in her front yard, and the trees made the perfect backdrop!  My florist also put together the beautiful floral curtain in the center.  (Getting that puppy down was quite the job…I fell off a ladder and almost stabbed my new husband.)


I loved that my cousins (and Will) were able to be a part of the ceremony!  They sang “Carrying Your Love with Me” as my parents walked me down the aisle.  My dad was still so emotional…I had to tell him a joke to get him to loosen up right before we walked outside!  And I loved that both my parents were with me – they mean so much to me.


Apparently Adrian had some pretty good lines during the ceremony…I’m mostly laughing in all the pictures!  It was so sweet to have him marry us – he has been such a big part in both of our lives.


Another part I loved was taking communion together.  Our first act as husband and wife.  The wash stand was actually built by my grandad as a wedding gift – which made it all the more special.


The final piece was having Sally pray over and bless our marriage.  Like I mentioned, she has been a huge part of our story and just a sweet friend to us.  We were so honored that she was able to take part in the ceremony.


After the ceremony we had some time to get pictures together and a few of just me and my girls!  These turned out so fun, and I love them!  I wanted to keep us coordinated, but not matching.  All I asked was two piece dresses – white top and neutral/pink skirt.  I love how they all came together!


Adam and I are seriously not photogenic people and also just forget how to be normal in front of a camera.  In spite of that, we got some pretty wonderful pictures!  All these were taken on Sally’s property…so beautiful!  This black and white is probably my favorite from the whole day.


While we were having all of these pictures taken, our guests were playing yard games, drinking coffee, or checking out the beautiful scenery.  I was so grateful for the wonderful weather we had…it was something we prayed about for MONTHS ahead of time.  We could not have asked for a better day!  Also, I have to brag on Adam a bit – he and Josh built this coffee bar like, the week of the wedding.  I am lucky to have lots of handy men in my life!


Where to even begin with the reception?  Even though it felt like planning was so hectic, everything just came together so beautifully that day.  All the plates were mismatched china borrowed from friends, family, and Rocky’s Gold and Silver (technically also a friend).  The gold flatware was my DREAM and was a bit of a splurge, but very worth it.  All of the centerpieces and other decor were purchases from a magical place called Bargain Hunt.  Lots of Target overstock for CHEAP.  I pretty much went there weekly on the prowl for wedding items!  And once again, my handyman delivered on this beautiful table – he intended it for our kitchen, but I thought it was also very fitting for our first meal as husband and wife.


Next was the first dance!  We honestly had no clue what we were doing UNTIL our sweet friends Sally and Jack gave us 2 hours of dance lessons in Sally’s kitchen.  They were so good and taught us A LOT.  And you can see in the second picture here, they got seats close to the dance floor to watch and encourage us!  We danced to “First Try” by Johnnyswim because I am obsessed with them and I can’t help myself.


I am also lucky to have such great cooks in my family!  Eber and Gloria run Mountain Spring BBQ and did an amazing job with the food.  She even catered to my love of brussels sprouts!


I also loved our first dance with our parents.  We danced to “Deeper Than the Holler,” which sounds so country and it totally is.  But I love it.  We started our dancing – me with my dad, Adam with his mom, and then called on our other parents to join.  So all three couples were dancing at the same time.  And right off the bat, my dad stepped on my foot…we obviously did not practice.  But we had fun!


Our cake was gf chocolate + peanut butter.  That is definitely our favorite..we are Reeses people.  Funny story – Adam didn’t realize that we were supposed to feed each other…so he immediately started to eat his own piece!  Me and everyone else started yelling at him.  But we got a good laugh out of it!


Dessert for everyone else was waffles + ice cream!   We made a TON of ice cream the week of the wedding – vanilla and banana grapenut (my fave)!


This is a bit out of order – but here are some lovely details the photographers caught during the reception.  The flowers, the rings, the programs.  I get A LOT of questions about my ring.  It is by Heidi Gibson..she’s a designer in CA that I stumbled across on Instagram.  And she is amazing!


Our final event was the shoe game!  Someone asks questions about the couple, like “Who was the first to say I love you?” or “Who is a better cook?” and we have to hold up the shoe of the person who we think is the answer.  Now, you see us holding up some old Nikes?  Yes, those are mine.  No, I did not wear them under my dress.  I actually was barefoot.  And my TN roommate brought my tennis shoes because I had forgotten to pack them!  And so, that’s all we had available for the shoe game.  Lovely.


We did a sparkler exit, and it was so fun!  I did end up putting on my birks, because -gravel.


Isn’t this the cutest?!?!  My grandpa gave my grandma this for her birthday in the 70’s and they have kept it up so well.  I loved being able to drive away in it that night!  But right before we drove off, I realized that I hadn’t really said bye to my parents..so I made Adam stop the car so I could give them a big hug.


This day was so beautiful and so perfect and I am so proud of it.  And y’all, these past 6 months have been so much fun.  I wouldn’t have any of it any other way.


I want to give all our vendors some credit, especially our wonderful photographers, so I’ll link them all here for you.

Photographers – Holden and Jessie Photography

Flowers – The Weekend Florist (Joy Coakley)

Food – Mountain Springs BBQ

Music – Spencer Wenger Music

Cake – Bazzles Bakery

Linens/Flatware – MS Events

Tent/Lighting/Tables/Chairs/Bathrooms – Virginia Tent Rental

Ring – Heidi Gibson

Learning Eucharisteo

It’s been a bit over a year since I packed my life into my Subaru and moved the 504 miles from Virginia to Tennessee.  In this year, I have learned much about myself and about transition, but mostly, about joy.  I learned about the practice of gratitude and how that can run a cup right over.

But before I tell you what I’ve learned, I want to share where I was just about a year ago.

This fear is a new thing for me.  Have I been scared before?  Yes.  Do I worry occasionally? Yes.  But this new fear, this stuff eats at me.  Creates knots in my stomach, tightens my chest, keeps me up at night.

But this hasn’t been my story until now.  I’ve never had trouble sleeping – it’s actually one of my favorite things.  Growing up, our doors were always unlocked.  And now, I’m in a new place, with different circumstances.  I’m living with women who come from all sorts of places, and bring in all sorts of things.  This work I’ve been called to is messy.  It’s weighty.  It’s kingdom work.  And that lies heavy on me.  The responsibility for these precious lives.  The enemy whispers worry in the darkness.

See, this cause for justice, this work for His kingdom, it’s not an easy thing.  It’s not all rainbows and healing and happy.  And this is not just about the work at Rest Stop.  This is about all people working for the cause of justice.  It is messy work.  And fear comes to us in all shapes and sizes.  This past year it seems fear has been an ever-present reality in our country especially.  And I’ve seen us seeking justice for all as a people.  And it’s cost us some things. And it’s been scary, to be honest.

Actually this excerpt is from a post I saved on January 17, 2017, almost exactly a year ago.  But I never shared it…I think because I didn’t quite know how to finish it.

The fear, the anxiety, how to fight it?  How to loosen a grip?  How to drop this need for control and find joy and freedom?

For me the answer came through a book – One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I won’t lie, it took me the better part of a year to read it.  Ann is a poetic writer, full of beauty and wisdom; you need time to really breathe in and digest what she is saying.

One of the most impactful parts of the book is about this word, “eucharisteo.”  This is from the devotional version.  I love all of it, but I’ll try to spare you and just give you the necessary parts here –

“”And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them” (Luke 22:19).

In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.” […] The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning ‘grace.’  Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks.  He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.  […]

Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis.  But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” […]

Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo — the table of thanksgiving. […]

So then as long as thanks is possible — I think this through — as long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.  Joy is always possible.”

Is this not life changing?  Maybe not at first.  Let me tell you what I was living this time last year.   I was living literally inside my workplace in a master suite.  When I was off work, I was at work.  Living with women who were residents, but also my roommates?  It was a hard time y’all.  I had just moved here and knew absolutely no one except my poor co-workers who I probably annoyed to no end because I actually had no other human interaction.  (hi britt)  I mean, how do you make friends after college?  (SERIOUS QUESTION.)  Also, I had just gotten engaged, but was living 500 miles away.  AND I was dealing with this new anxiety thing you read about earlier.  I was a bit of a mess.

At first, my thoughts were..what am I even grateful for?  What blessings are there to count here?  But it takes intentionality.  It actually became a discipline for me.  The act of literally writing down the graces and the gifts of my life.  Here are a peek at some of mine from January of last year –

water colors, webcams, singing loud, brewing coffee, white sheets, noise machines, solitude, cold crisp air, sisters, mason jars, lamp light, worn-in books

Seemingly insignificant.  But as I continued to count the ways He was giving me gifts, the insignificant began to overwhelm.  He is good.  Even in the hard and messy seasons.  He shows us His love – we may just have to look for it.  Even the things I had come to despise turned into ways He was blessing me.

One more thing that helped me to battle an anxious heart – a good friend left this note lying around (not sure if she meant it for me or herself, but I haven’t forgotten it).

The answer to anxiety is to exalt Christ.

When we choose to praise Him, He gives us what we need.  When we give thanks, even when it seems like theres no thanks to be had, we are filled to the brim.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even want to take the time to sit down and write this post today.  (Real life – I wanted to catch up on this weeks episode of The Bachelor.)  But the Lord knew I needed a little healing for my soul today.

Ugly + Lovely

This Christmas season has been a weird one for me – in a few ways.  Most obviously, it is my first Christmas with my husband.  Also, my first Christmas with his dog (now our dog), Charlie – the beagle in the photo!  Did you know that when you get married, you buy twice the gifts?!  And you have double the dinners?  And you spend A LOT of time with your spouse?  But these things are not really why this season was weird – I actually really enjoyed these things.

The weird thing was this sadness I carried.  About a week before Christmas, I experienced heart-wrenching disappointment and loss.  Not death in the physical sense, but death all the same.  Some of you know the field in which I work – anti-trafficking.  And the week before Christmas – it was a doozy.  All the drama and the brokenness and the despair.  The pain and the suffering and the reality of addiction.  How to celebrate this birth when there is dying right beside?

All the while, my sweet, sweet sister and cousin were here in Tennessee for a visit.  And I went to see my favorite in concert – Johnnyswim!  There was so much fun and so much good, but so much darkness just next door.  The weight of it weighing on me all the time.

And after a long, tumultuous week, we headed home to Virginia.  To be with our families, to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.  To light candles, be around the table, laugh together, give gifts, watch movies.  Not to mention the matching denim vests for the dogs.

And then a visit to my grandparents.  She is quite sick and he is his usual quiet.  The next day, the rescue squad is called and she is admitted for pneumonia – the very thing the doctor said could take her.

How to live in this in between?  How to hold the hard and ugly in one hand, while holding easy and lovely in the other?

And through all this mess, I felt myself put off the anticipation of Christmas.  How to celebrate here, now?  I didn’t feel I could honor advent and I suffered.  I was too busy keeping up and keeping it together to let Him in.  Didn’t make room, much like the Innkeeper.  Maybe he was grieving too. He could’t fit another single thing on his plate.  I get it.  I think that’s where I was.  Giving too much space to heartache and brokenness.  Gripping the grief instead of just holding it.  I gripped onto death and forgot about the life and joy in my other hand.

But maybe in the wake of hard things, we don’t have to ignore the good?

Shauna Niequist said, “Christmas is about sacred light cutting through the darkness—not about pretending the darkness isn’t there.”

It’s okay to hold both the ugly and the lovely.  I heard someone say that sometimes this season can seem like a Christ’mess’.  And for me this year, that is probably true.  (Will I ever be good at balance?)  The beauty of Christmas is that Christ came and will come again.  How can I miss it?  And so often?  He came to bring hope and light to this weary world.  He is here even now, willing us to invite Him in.  Let him fix the ugly.  Let Him mend all the mess.

Do the Thing

It’s been awhile friends.  One of these days, maybe I’ll show up with some consistency in blogging.  I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately.  But every time I think about it, I put it off.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing.  But I think it’s that there are so many voices saying so many things out there.  Does mine matter?  Will anyone hear it?  Not to mention the countless number of other millennials starting up blogs and fighting to be heard.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much my insta feed has exploded recently.  People posting pretty pictures, linking to their blogs, selling their prints and oils and shakes and face creams and using so. many. hashtags.  (Which is great, I love y’all.)

But maybe I’ve overcomplicated this.

Can’t I just write to write?  Who said I have to compete with all these others?  I’ve let this voice come in and reside and tell me that I can’t compete.  That my voice does not matter.  That I have nothing new to say.  So I’ve procrastinated, put this blog to the side.  I’ve made excuses and I’ve prioritized other things.  I’ve let feelings of inadequacy and intimidation guide my decisions.

But recently, my perspective has changed.  I wish I could remember where I saw this quote, so I could actually quote it for you here..but I can’t.  The spirit of it went something like this – Don’t not do what you love only because other people are already doing it.  While there are lots of creative types doing lots of similar creative things, there is plenty of love to go around.  Let’s build each other up and support each other instead of competing with each other.

And I LOVE this!  Just because other people are already blogging and making their own space out there doesn’t mean there is no room for me.  How ridiculous I feel for putting this off for an entire year!

But I have to say, even that quote didn’t spur me on right away.  It was actually this past weekend when I was with a group of friends. Somehow we got on the topic of dreams, and everyone went around and shared that thing that’s on our heart.  You know the thing.  That little God-breathed dream that sits in the back of your mind.  It comes out in your daydreams and maybe when you had a bad day at work?

While this blog isn’t necessarily that dream, it is something that I think about often.  Creating my little corner of space on here to share and dream with you.   And if you’re lucky, I’ll share my other dreams with you here soon.

If theres something you’re dreaming about, take the leap.  Don’t compare yourself to others who are already doing the same thing.  Because comparing can knock you down real quick.  You’ve probably heard that little quote “comparison is the thief of joy.”  And friends, that is so true.  Especially these days, with so much social media just flooding our senses.  We have images scrolling past us all day long.  Can’t sleep?  Instagram to the rescue.  Standing in a long line?  Let’s see what’s up on Snapchat.  We see pretty filters on the good parts of everybody’s life and then feel like we fall short.  This is not truth.  The truth is that you are enough.  Chase that dream, start that new idea, create some space for yourself.

If that’s not enough for you, take it from my friend, Kevin G –




Caught Up

choosing a new truth

These past few weeks have been chock-full of emotions.  So many and so evolving that I can hardly differentiate or articulate.  The heaviness of it all weighs on me.

Moving 500 miles from my home – grief.

Wedding planning far from a fiancé – stress.

Working + living with strong women who have survived unthinkable – unqualified.

Starting over in a new place with new people – lonely.

New home, new responsibility – fear + anxiety.

They’re all mixed and it’s all messy and half the time I don’t know how to feel.  And for a while, I was caught up in that.  In all the feeling.  But then I remembered sweet words from a backyard campfire in Upstate New York, “It is better to live not according to how you feel, but according to His truth.”  (Thanks Edie!)  Because His truth is much better than our truth.

It’s so easy to get lost in lies from the enemy.  I found myself there.  Listening to words of incompetence and inadequacy and weakness.  And he thrives on that.  On feeding that vulnerable part of us.  I found that the more I dwelt on the lies, the more real they became to me.  It was only after voicing them that I realized how caught up I was – how far I’d gotten from the truth.

All those lies – they take away the joy.  I get so caught up in the hard stuff and the messy stuff that I can’t appreciate all the goodness.  All of those negative emotions overshadow.  I lose sight.  I lose sight of the gift that is now.  This season is new and it’s hard, but oh so incredibly good too.  I don’t want to miss that.

And I don’t want anyone to mishear what I’m saying – I am in a GOOD place.  I am excited about the work God is doing.  But I let those lies in and I let them permeate.

And so now I choose to let His truth take over.

He created me – known.

He calls me out – confident.

He keeps His promises – grateful.

He is steadfast – secure.

He holds the future – hopeful.

It is only when I focus on His truth that the enemy fades.  So I choose to dig into His Word and let it sink in deep.  Let those words guide and direct.  Live according to His truth.

Like the Leaves

beauty + grief in the change

I’m really into seasons.  I love the rhythm of summer, fall, winter, spring.  I love how they echo the patterns of life.  Transformation of old to new, death to life, young to old.

Though my absolute favorite is fall.  The change in temperature – perfect for light jackets, scarves, and soy lattes.  I could stare at the changing leaves ALL DAY.  So beautiful.  Fall is just full of the good stuff.

I write this because I’m in my own season of fall.  The change is real and a little overwhelming to be honest.  But full of the good stuff all the same.

Last week, I moved to Lebanon, TN to be on the residential team at Rest Stop Ministries. And folks, this is exactly what I have been waiting for.  This work – the work of freedom and restoration for trafficking survivors – is where my heart has been for the last few years.  And I have waited (not always so patiently) for Him to open the door. I had been keeping my eyes and options open – but also trying to be faithful in the places He had me.  Then in August, the director of Rest Stop reached out to tell me about this position. And if the Lord did not push me right through that door!  Within a month I’d applied, flown to TN, and accepted the job.

Whew, talk about some change!  (Does this remind anyone of, I don’t know – August 2011 when I decided to go to college in a matter of about two weeks?)  I know without a doubt that this is where He has called me to.  I am so incredibly excited and grateful to be here, to be doing this work.  He has been so faithful to provide for me.

But let’s look at the other side of this fall scenario.  There is beauty in the foliage, but the changing color means the leaves are DYING.  With the beauty comes the dying.  And that is a little part of my fall too.

I’m going somewhere new, but I am leaving somewhere familiar.  I have the most wonderful family at home.  My boyfriend (though some may know him as my “special friend”) is at home.  My favorite taco salad is at home.  (The Sub Station if you’re curious.) My chickens are there too!  All of the people I’ve come to love so much in the past year and a half are in Virginia.  I had just started to build this community of people, and now I’m starting over.  And guys, I am just SAD. It has been so hard to leave, to make the journey here.  It’s involved a lot of goodbyes, hugs, and ugly cries.

And maybe a little bit of dying to self.  Dying to His plans.  I could stay in VA and life would be sweet, but it would not be at all what He has for me.  This change means surrendering all the things that the self desires – and pursuing His heart.  And though this is hard, this is it!  This is what He asks of us.

I know that this change is good.  His plans are good.  He has brought me here and He will continue to provide for me. Even in the distance and the messiness and the grief there is beauty.

Heres the thing about fall (and all other seasons really) – they’re temporary.  Fall means winter is just around the corner.  Even though honestly that is my absolute least favorite season.  It’s cold, it’s dark, and also shoveling.  You feel me?

Even if the autumn is hard, or the winter is long and cold, and spring seems far away – He is constant.  He creates the seasons, but he does not mimic them.  He is never changing.  I hang on to that truth.