When Change is Hard

Picture this.

You’ve been working hard on something for a while. You found your rhythm. It all makes sense. God’s faithfulness is proving true.

Then you feel a stirring of the Spirit. You really want to ignore it. You want to label it as something else, something less disheartening. But the Spirit comes to help and discern, not pacify and coddle. That’s a hard one to swallow.

I’ve been reading through the Bible this year and recently finished Deuteronomy. The final chapter brought me to tears. The Israelites spent a long forty years in the wilderness. God was faithful to them even through their outright rebellion. Moses was faithful too. He wasn’t perfect but followed without abandon. Deuteronomy 34 tells us “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt…”

Joshua was the new leader appointed by God to secede Moses. But the people loved and trusted Moses, he had brought them through SO MUCH. They lived a whole life together but now it was time to move on. Who wants that? Nobody. We want status quo and comfort. But Moses couldn’t live forever and God would not let his people become complacent.

So, Moses died. The people could not move forward to the promised land if Moses was still alive. It was a somber but necessary transition. Joshua was ready to lead, but Moses had to give it up and the people had to move on. Seasons change, people die. The Lord and His covenant will always remain.

We also read that God himself buried Moses in the land of Moab, but no one knows the place of his burial. It is widely believed that God did this to keep the Israelites from building a shrine to worship Moses at his burial ground. Let that sink in: our Father knows our tendency to place our trust in things of the world, and although they may be good things, they are not to be worshiped. There’s a difference between proper mourning and prideful pouting.

“And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.” // Deut. 34:8

And there you have it. God encouraged the people to honor the loss and legacy of Moses. They had a really good run. But then we read it plainly: the days of weeping and mourning were ended.

The book of Joshua picks up next. I sense the people of Israel were still struggling with the loss of their great leader and trying reconcile their new reality. The very next thing that God speaks after the death of Moses is this, “Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.” 

God is telling Joshua to GO. Finally, go get the land with milk and honey. This place that was promised to your fathers, it’s yours now. Trust me, cross the Jordan, be strong and courageous. I’m telling you it’s time. That’s the beauty of change. Every story we read in the Bible proves that death doesn’t mean death. It will always lead to life. Old made new… rages to riches. We just have to trust and go. 

We have a duty to follow regardless of emotion. Change is hard. We mourn and remember, but we must move on. God has something for us and although we may not be able to see it through our tears we have to believe it’s there. He uses every bit of grief to solidify growth and bring about the promise.

Let’s listen and follow, let’s get up and go.


Crying in the Drive Thru

Today the lady at Chick-Fil-A handed me my food and then said, “Are you ok?”

I faked a smile, said “Yes, thank you” and drove away. The second I pulled away from that window, I was sobbing.

She had heard my baby crying in the backseat and must have noticed my tired expression through the oversized sunglasses. My ordering a coffee at 12:30 in the afternoon probably gave it away too. When she asked if I was ok, I should have said No.

I should have let it out. Been a little vulnerable, even with a stranger. That would have served me better. But I tried to mask my crazy with waffles fries. I should have said:

No, I’m not ok. My baby has been crying for an hour and I can’t soothe her. I’m starving. None of my clothes fit the way they used to. I snapped at my husband today for no reason. I’m just trying to get home, but as soon as I walk through the door I’ll be met by the mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen and a broken toilet. I’d love to be OK, but right now I’m just not.

Maybe that is a little too much for the cheerful lady at the drive thru. But after my cryfest in the car and some comfort food, I felt better. I talked out loud to myself (I think we’ve already established I’m a tad unstable) and finally took a deep breath. I needed someone to see me and in that moment, she saw me.

I’m learning it’s OK to not be OK. When you try to do everything, you end up succeeding at exactly zero things. This is merely a season. Today I’m just trying to brush my teeth and shower. Tomorrow I might do the dishes or I might not. I might check emails or I might take a nap. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, whether it’s school or work or a crying baby – you’re not alone. I felt alone but my Jesus chicken guardian angel reminded me I am not.

Right this moment my baby girl is finally sleeping and I’m watching Netflix while finishing my coffee. I didn’t think we would make it to this peaceful moment today but here we are. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe not, but at least there’s coffee and waffle fries.

The Idol of Me

Lately every time I sit down to pray, the only words that have been flooding my heart are these: Jesus, take me out of it.

I sit down for dinner with my husband and he asks, “Babe, would you like to pray?”  Well, of course I would.  So I start to give thanks for the food before us and suddenly realize there are 874 other things I’d like to pray about.  I find myself tearing up and saying “I just need less of me, I’m sick of me.”  Poor Matt did not sign up for this.  He just wants to eat his hamburger and sweet potato fries.  Meanwhile I’m holding revival at our dinner table.  Bless him.

My point: this idol is sneaking up on me every single day.  It creeps in to my work, my worship, my marriage, my friendships, and my prayers.  It is the most difficult idol I have ever faced. It’s me.

I find it when my friend is trying to talk about something she is struggling with and my only response is to talk about what I would do if it were me.

Or maybe when I see someone doing something I realllllly want to do – something I have worked hard for – and just cannot be happy for them.  That is supposed to be me up there.

Or maybe, in it’s most sobering expression, I find it in failure.  I could have been better. This is all my fault.

I opened up my bible this afternoon and landed in Isaiah.  I found this verse in chapter 40:

All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grassThe grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Surely the people are grass. Surely we will wither and fade, and leave nothing of ourselves behind when we’re gone. Not a thing I do of the flesh will outlast eternity. Say it louder for the people in the back.

I underlined that verse from Isaiah. I wrote in the margin, “What am I doing to make sure people see you God, and not me?” I’m not sure how to answer that yet, but it’s a start.


The pressure I place on myself is unwavering and self-serving. I begin seeking a Me-centered gospel rather than a Christ-centered gospel. What can grace do for me? And how can I use what it does for me to show others I am qualified to talk about grace? I cannot withstand a simple prayer over dinner so, for the love, I can’t work through this life on my own. Surrender is sweetest when you’ve reached the end of yourself.

I wanted to share this because 1) transparency is a really good way to encourage personal growth, and 2) I have a feeling I’m not alone here. I think a lot of us, women especially, get caught up in making sure we are worth it rather than resting in the worth we’ve already received. Thank goodness for a God who continually pursues and refines us, sanctifying us in time.

Will you pray with me?

Jesus, be close to me. Fill my thoughts and heart with your word, not my own agenda. Erase the idea of a self-serving gospel from my mind. Remind me, daily, of my dependence on you and your grace. Forgive me for neglecting my friends, family, husband, and church family by seeking my own interests and not savoring their successes. Thank you for your abundance, your overflowing gifts of mercy and love. Help me to use the lessons I’ve learned to help others.  A m e n. 

The Gift of Marriage | Year Two

This post is written by Matthew. You can read Olivia’s post from last year, “The Gift of Marriage | Year One” by clicking here.

Google is a very handy tool.

Having instant access to any and all sorts of information simultaneously makes you smarter and dumber. Doing a google search of “the second year of marriage” is like navigating a minefield: You may make it out alive but the experience changes you. It’s all so negative. It basically boils down to “if you can make it past the second year together in-tact, then you’re good to go.” As if the other possible 50-60 years together are inconsequential.

If the first year of marriage is the honeymoon, then the second year of marriage is the daily struggle – or so they say. I admit, it’s daunting at times. The warm, fuzzy feelings for each other are still strong, but now there are things like finances, keeping the house clean, and working late hours with limited leisure that can wear on any couple. You start to come off that first-year-high and settle in for the long haul. Daily routine and habit are not bad, per se, but they’re often the enemy of spontaneity and creativity. And yes, it’s true single people, keeping things fresh and exciting is hard but important in a marriage.

Year two of marriage is full of quotes like these:

“Why do you slurp when you eat your cereal?”

“Really? Another episode of Real Housewives?”

“Are you picking your nose?”

“Babe, do you think we can get another episode of Friends in before we fall asleep?”

Basically, it’s a mix of the banal with the annoying.

And yes, arguments do become more frequent. The “exciting” and “new” feeling of marriage wears off. You find yourself actually having to put forth effort to keep the relationship strong. Then you get nervous because you’ve heard all your life that “if it’s the right person, it shouldn’t feel like you have to work for it.” I think Olivia and I are starting to realize that love is just a piece of the marriage puzzle. Other important pieces are friendship, trust, communication, honesty, and playfulness. Make no mistake about it, though. God is pulling my wife and I closer together just as he is pulling us closer to Himself.


God created marriage as a way to reflect his Gospel, His love for His bride – the church. In biblical marriage, the spouses are equal but different, and find joy in serving one another. This reflects the triumvirate God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit – separate but equal parts of God, loving and serving one another. The husband sacrifices himself for his wife, and the wife submits to her husband. I remember washing each other’s feet during our wedding ceremony and the impact that still has on me. It reminds me of God’s true intention for us.

What God has shown me in our second year of marriage is perfectly summarized in Ecclesiastes 4:9:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

You know the part I mentioned above, about sacrificing and submitting? Yeah, I suck at that a lot. Olivia will admit she does, too. I am constantly failing, but she is there to pick me back up. Y’all, I can be stubborn. Let me tell you something about Liv. She is getting really good at knowing when to scold me and when to be patient with me. Men, if you’re like me, you have tunnel-vision with life sometimes. I think men tend to be task-oriented and can get sucked into accomplishing things, without stopping to appreciate, cultivate and nourish what they have.

The beauty of having a wife that loves the Lord with all her heart, mind and soul means she has your best interests in mind because she wants you maturing in Christ alongside her. In fact, she wants you leading her to Christ daily. If I’m painfully honest, I fail at this the most. I rarely lead devotion with her, and we don’t pray together as much as we should. Men, how often do we just pray for our wives when we talk to Jesus? How often do we ask God to keep her safe, to pray for her witness, to pray for her relationship with Him to be strengthened? It’s not nearly enough in my household. What’s great, though, is she loves me the same. She knows all this about me, knows that I struggle in leading her and still loves me the same. A great wife forgives and believes in equal measure.

I am made better daily because my wife exhibits Proverbs 3:3-4 in her life.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Year two of marriage has taught me that love alone won’t make a marriage last. However, it’s also reminded me that love is the reason for everything. God created Adam and Eve out of love. Jesus went to the cross because of love. Paul writes in the New Testament that he can have all the greatest attributes one can have, but if he doesn’t have love it’s all crap (literally).

To quote the great theologian, Huey Lewis, in “The Power of Love”:

“Don’t need money, don’t take fame / Don’t need no credit card to ride this train / It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes / But it might just save your life”

To my best friend, my bride, and the person I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with:

Olivia Jean,

Our second year married is even better than the first. It’s so easy to be with you, even when it’s hard. Yes, it requires effort and yes, we struggle together. But you will forever be the person that I admire, the person that reminds me to care and sacrifice my time for others like you do. You are a mother for the way you care for and love children. You are a caregiver for putting down everything at the drop of a pin to be there for someone when they desperately need it.

You are the person that weeps with those who weep and rejoices with those who rejoice, the person that acts goofy to cheer me up. Most importantly, you are an example to me and those closest to you because you lead a life that points to Jesus.

Here’s to two years together (and hopefully at least two more *wink face*).

Happy Anniversary, darling. I love you.

My City, My Home

I’m a transplant, I’ll admit it.

I never really visited Huntington as a kid.  Although my family lived only 35 minutes away it was not a trip we made often. Huntington is home to Marshall University and two major hospitals – that was the extent of my knowledge as a child.

But in late summer of 2010, at 17 years old, I moved to this city for college.  Since then I have proudly proclaimed Huntington as my home.  When my husband and I were looking to purchase a house, we considered surrounding areas but nothing felt quite as right as the 1950s brick house with a bright red door we found inside city limits.  We knew that for this season of life we had found our place.

A strong sense of community is something I’ve always held at high regard.  Just this morning I was talking to my Mom and she told me her plans for the day – she and my Dad are helping facilitate a park dedication in my hometown.  My dad was there bright and early to set out chairs while my mom was on her way to pick up hotdogs.  This is what I grew up knowing; you help your neighbors and always strive for growth.

It saddens me that not all share my admiration for Huntington.  I am not naive to the complex issues that face our city.  It is no secret that many of our people are hurting and plagued by a disgusting drug epidemic.  An epidemic that ruins families and is a breeding ground for crime.  But what did hate ever accomplish?  In a city I love dearly, one that welcomed me and watched me grow – what else is there to do?

I see it one of two ways:

You can run from a problem, or run towards it.   

Many are running from it and I cannot completely blame them. That may be right for them.  What is not right are statements like these: “I can’t wait to move out of this sh*t hole.”  “Really, America’s Best Community? Is this a joke?” and the cruelest of all: “Just let them die” (referencing those abusing drugs).

That is the PG-13 version.  You can read the rest floating around on social media.  I am truly sad for those who feel this way.

Here’s the silver lining when it comes to Huntington – there are folks running towards it.

Photo cred: White Heart Photography

What does it look like to lean in to a problem?  You see the writing on the wall, feel the uncertainty it brings, and decide to stay anyway.  You seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.  I have said it one million times and I’ll say it again:  At the end of my life I want to be known as a woman who fiercely loved God and loved people.  That’s it.  We must start there.

I see a group of people who are choosing to do just that.  They’re facing the sin and destruction challenging our city and running right towards it.  I am honored and grateful for each and every one you.

I want to share a few of my favorite organizations and shops.  This is not a complete list but rather a collection of places taking up space in my life right now.  Want to know how to be a part of the revitalization of your city?  Pray for the people around you.  Spend your time and money locally.

Faith + Fitness

New Heights Church – my faith community.  My nearest and dearest people, serving Jesus and their city in the most beautiful way.  I would love to meet you there.  Sundays | 10:30 AM | Huntington High School | Find us at http://www.NewHeightsWV.com.

Brown Dog Yoga – my wellness + fitness community.  I fell in love with yoga two years ago and have been encouraged by BDY ever since.  Truly grateful for all the time I spend each week on the mat, at the barre, and on the bike.  Visit http://www.browndogyoga.com for more information.


The Wild Ramp – you’ll find me here every Saturday morning. If I didn’t grow it in my garden, I bought it here. I love their commitment to local farmers and sustainable growth. And they host a weekly farmer’s market in the summer!  Visit them on Facebook or http://www.thewildramp.com.

River and Rail Bakery – incredible breakfast, lunch, and coffee.  Always friendly staff. Plus they have a suspended coffee fund – money reserved for those less fortunate who want to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee. Buy a cup, give a cup. http://www.facebook.com/riverandrailbakery

The Red Caboose – home to so many local artist’s work. Books, candles, greeting cards, jewelry… you name it, they’ve probably got it.  I love browsing with a latte in hand from River and Rail.  www.facebook.com/theredcaboosewv

Robert’s Running – where I purchase my running shoes.  Locally owned and great customer service. They have shirts that say “Will run for beer” so, you know I’m on board. http://www.robertsrunning.com

Grindstone Coffeeology – espresso truck for the win! We love the drink and snack options and are always greeted by a friendly face.  They recently opened a brick and mortar inside The Wild Ramp *insert praise hands here*.  Follow them on Instagram @grindstonecoffeology.


Black Sheep Burrito & Brews – tacos for everyone!!!  One of our favorite brunch and date night spots.  We had our rehearsal dinner here in their reception area upstairs.  Easy, fun, local, and usually host to some live music. http://www.blacksheepwv.com

Backyard Pizza & Raw Bar – pizza and beer and fried calamari?  Yes, all of it.  One of our go-to places to visit with friends.  Local vibes and decor. http://www.facebook.com/BackyardPizzaandRawBar/

La Famiglia – sometimes we eat pizza three days a week and I’m not mad about it.  Incredible Italian food and great wine options. Locally + family owned. http://www.lafamigliadeli.com


Huntington City Mission – always needing donations and volunteers. Loving your city should start with loving the people in it. Find more information at http://www.huntingtoncitymission.org.

Dress for Success River Cities – donate clothes, money, or time to empower women in our community.  www.rivercities.dressforsuccess.org

Lily’s Place – did you know 1 in 10 babies born in Huntington suffer from NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome)? That’s an alarming statistic. You can have a tangible impact on this epidemic by donating supplies, money, or volunteering. For more, visit http://www.lilysplace.org/get-involved.

Necco – we have so many friends involved with Necco and fostering. Orphan care is crucial in our city and state. Whether you welcome children in your home, volunteer to babysit, or take dinner to a foster family – you have something to offer.  Learn more at http://www.necco.com/locations/huntington.

For more insight on orphan care, listen here.



Let’s run towards it, not from it.  Own your city and all of its problems – seek justice for the people and destruction around you.  There is no other way to create community than to engage in community.  Show up for your people and one day, when you need it, they’ll show up for you.

This does not even scratch the surface of all the amazing shops, organizations, and dining options in Huntington.  I would love to hear your thoughts and favorites!  Leave a comment below!

Learning to Grow Slow

I am destined to be a gardener.

My grandmother (affectionately known as Granny) can grow absolutely anything.  One year, she threw a rotten potato in an old wheelbarrow – added a little dirt – and from it grew a load of potatoes!  Granny grows everything from tomatoes to rhubarb to asparagus to wild gooseberries.  Many of the plants around my home have originated from her.  She learned to garden because she had to; it was and is an important part of life when you’re feeding a large family on a budget.

My dad is also a grower.  Every spring he has bags full of fresh peas – so much so that he will freeze them and have fresh peas all winter.  In the heat of summer, his garden will produce juicy red tomatoes and tons of cucumbers.  He and my mom stock the abundance of their harvest on the picnic table behind their house – this is a message to friends + family passing by to stop and grab some extra goods.

Green makes me happy!

So with genetics and optimism on my side, I tried a garden last year in my little backyard.  I enlisted my dear husband to build a raised garden box and fill it with dirt.  Bless him.  I called my dad and Granny often to ask questions and get advice.  I diligently studied my Farmer’s Almanac.  It was so fun for me, the whole experience of doing this on my own.

In this garden, I planted the following:

  1. Tomatoes – 6 different varieties
  2. Broccoli
  3. Brussels sprouts
  4. Carrots
  5. Arugula
  6. Jalapeno peppers
  7. Beets
  8. Rhubarb

Of the items above, the following actually made it:

  1. Carrots
  2. Arugula
  3. Beets

For the love.  My family is so good at this but me?  I barely grew enough for a salad.  One salad.

I didn’t think I could fail at this but I did.

Then, somewhere along the way, I found this gem and got a reality check:

While the rest of the world is tidying up and trying to achieve perfection, you and I will be on a different path.

A much richer, simpler, more rooted path.

That is a quote from Lara Casey’s upcoming book, Cultivate.  In not so many words, God spoke to me just as he did Lara and reminded me that sometimes, good things are hard.  Good things are not always instant and are usually never what we expected.

Back to the garden.  I’ve learned a lot and spent a good amount of time with my green-thumb gifted loved ones in the process.  I am so thankful for this bond and their unmatched wisdom. Granny’s expert tip:  Mix one gallon of warm water with one tbsp Epsom salt and water your plants with it once a month.  

I look back now and see things so clearly:  My failed attempt at growing veggies last year taught me the importance of the process and not the product.

Growth doesn’t happen overnight.  Not fruitful growth, at least.  In gardening and in life there’s this process that requires diligence and patience and just plain faith.

  • You start by cultivating your ground.  If you plant in bad dirt, you’re fixin’ to fail (another expert tip from Gran).
  • Next you dig.  You do the hard stuff and get your hands dirty.  You prepare a place for good things to grow.
  • Then you plant.  This can be an anticlimactic step but there is so much to learn here.  A tiny seed with so much potential – its beautiful, really.
  • Now you nurture.  You water your seeds, you eliminate those life-sucking weeds, and you let the sun do it’s job.

This year I have an entirely new perspective on my garden growth.  I am planting less in hopes of harvesting more.  Growing slow is so rewarding.  If you enjoy the process, the product is an added bonus.

Cultivating a joyful garden experience is important to me because I love to be outside and I feel close to my Granny when I am planting things in the dirt.  That is what matters most to me.  Although it took a failed garden attempt to prove it – I am grateful.

Here’s to a fun 2017 garden adventure and (hopefully) one more salad than last year!

Seedlings are started for this year’s garden!

P.S. – I am honored to be on the Book Launch Team for Lara Casey’s upcoming book Cultivate (mentioned above)!  Click here to learn more and order your copy!

Becoming Esther

I have heard this call – this whisper – for a while.  It has been an ongoing monologue that breaks in to my mind when things get hard.  I walked through a time where I could not quite quantify its depths.  I did not understand why I felt such a Holy discomfort.  This week God has made clear what he is asking.  He has been telling, directing, anointing and leading behind the scenes for a while.  Just as He sovereignly does.

I am reminded of Esther and her coincidental call to speak up.  In an odd turn of events, Esther found herself as queen by winning the Old Testament version of The Bachelor.  Seriously, read Esther 1-3.  She eventually faced a decision that put her life in sincere danger.  Should she stand up to the king on behalf of her friends + family and jeopardize her life?  We read in Esther 4:11 that she was fearful.  But her people needed her.

Esther’s moment of fear was eradicated by the words of her uncle, Mordecai:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

One thing I have learned throughout my life is that it is hard to be heard if you are not loud.  This hurt me for so long because I took loud at surface value and qualified it by volume.  If you aren’t loud, people won’t listen… and if people don’t listen, your thoughts are invalid.  Right?

I have been afraid to be vulnerable with my words.  Words are powerful for me.  I am not the loudest or most commanding voice when I enter a room but I still have something to say.  I use my words with caution because I understand the deep importance of rhetoric.  In so many ways the Lord has told me this is worth it.  This is time.

But as I sit down to write, I still find myself wavering… wondering if instead I should remain quiet.  Remain in my own selfish place of comfort that doesn’t appear as disruptive.


Last week I read a post by Jess Connolly and was shaken.  She spoke of vulnerability and discontent and standing up for those who are marginalized.  Her words are sobering:

“We are ambassadors. Sent not just to speak life and encouragement, but also to comfort and rescue and fight for redemption. The Spirit is gentle and patient, but also impatient. May we love all of Him – all of the Lord. I won’t blindly find comfort in the fact that my kids are ok when so many kids are NOT ok. I’ll thank God for His grace and let it spur me on to use my hands, my heart, my words, and my time to love my neighbors and my enemies: all of them.”

This weekend I was able to listen to some incredible teaching from the ladies at IF:Gathering.  Each speaker echoed a common motif:  Our time is now.  We are not to wait for others to step up.  Use your voice.  Tell your story.  We have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.  

We are the Esther generation.

This is a unique opportunity.  We are so connected, so digital.  I have Facebook friends in Jamaica and Ukraine and the great state of West by God.  Who would have ever imagined?  It took Paul months to travel to his people but with two clicks, we can talk to ours.  We can fly across the country in a matter of hours.  That’s not just a coincidence.  It’s a gift and needs to be stewarded for God’s glory.

I shared some intentional time with a group of women this weekend and one thing was clear:  We are not afraid of the hard work of discipleship.  We are not afraid to ask friends to coffee and look them in the eyes and tell them they are not alone.  We are ready to turn our stories of shame into stories of redemption.  God has placed us here – in our cities, in our homes, in our work place – for such a time as this.

The words of Ann Voskamp are ringing in my ears today.  She proclaims, “We are in a crisis of discipleship because we are in a crisis of worship.  Are we formed by the world or the word; the news or the good news; the culture or the cross?”

Sisters, I exhort you to let your voice be heard.  Use your words and your gifts with intention and leave your fears at the feet of Jesus.  Not only can you do this, you are called to do this.  Listen to the words of Mordecai as he reminds Esther her life is not her own.

Go on the mission trip.  Talk to the young mom at daycare.  Pay for that man’s groceries.  Start a Bible study.  Pray out loud (yes, out loud) over your friends.  There is no reason to be afraid of the world because you are not of the world.

Stand up.  Speak truth.  Feel the freedom of the cross and lead with grace.


All Who Are Weary

Sometimes when we read the words of Jesus we think he must be speaking to someone else. Our ego tells us there is no way we could possibly struggle with some of the things other people struggle with.  We begin to categorize our faults and fears and before we know it we are obsessed with religion and lacking relationship.

Jesus had many things to say to many different types of people, all of which had one essential message – Come, follow me, lay it all down, all of you.

If you have ears, listen.  If you have eyes, watch.  The coming of the Lord is upon us and we are missing it.

We have been instructed precisely how not to miss it – listen and watch.  Believe and trust.  Lay down your burdens and follow.  We have been promised grace upon grace but instead we long for recognition and praise and rest.  I say we, but I really mean Me.  I am guilty beyond measure of missing the blessing.

Serving Jesus through the local church is not always easy.  Building gospel-centered relationships with people who have wronged you is not easy.  Taking care of 10 children under the age of five in a cold gym on Sunday mornings is not easy.  But we were not promised easy.

Did the early church have it easy?  Did Jesus have it easy?  We all know the answer.
The truth is I am weary.  I think I always have been.  It just flares up a little more than usual at times.  I have known Jesus more than half of my life.  Even in seasons of distance and drift, the Spirit has always lingered close.  God invites me back to his table every time, regardless of my poor manners.
Grace and mercy are not new on me.  I feel that everyday.  So why am I weary?  Why do I complain?  Why can’t I suck it up and be thankful I have the opportunity to practice my faith freely?
I may be saved by grace but I am not free of sin.  That hurts sometimes.  No matter how much I serve in my church or community, I will never serve enough to satisfy my soul.  I will never work my way to salvation.  The entire point of redemption is that I could not pay my own debt – not now, not ever.  Someone had to pay it for me.  Someone did pay it for me.  Bless it.

When we lose sight of that redemptive vision, doubt and deceit begin to invade.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:29

I have a very dear friend who has exemplified true community in my life.  At a time that I was weary and burdened, she offered to walk through the weariness with me.  She understood my angst and hurt and burnout.  She had similar struggles.  It would have been easy to spend our time in gossip, adding fuel to the misplaced anger.  Instead she challenged me to lay down my cynicism and pick up grace.  Grace wins every time.
Dear friends – if you have not felt the weight of a weary soul, you will eventually.  You will reach a breaking point and be faced with a choice.  You can hold fast to what is good (Jesus! His promises!) or you can sulk in your strife and fight grace with every last breath.
Jesus paid it all so we wouldn’t have to.  It’s time to stop trying and start trusting.  Do not be fooled by your sin and tired spirit.  Cling to the good. Cling to Jesus.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

The Gift of Marriage | Year One

I still remember four years ago kneeling on the hard wood of my bedroom, praying diligently for my future.  I was learning to love and accept myself as a true daughter of Christ, a woman who was fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe.

I prayed for my husband.  I felt his presence as I talked with God.  I wondered what he was doing that very second.  I wondered what his name was.

I do not believe that Matt and I were made solely for one another.  I believe we were made to crave a Savior, to proclaim the glory of our God and make disciples of our friends.  I believe that God crossed our paths and set us aside for one another so that we could work together toward a goal and stand firm as a unit in a world so full of disasters aiming to tear us down.

We are coming up on one year of marriage.  Time has flown.  We have grown in so many ways; I can’t begin to describe them all.  We have found that life moves fast and life goes on.  That we are carnal beings and will let our loved ones down.  That we will never meet the deep soul needs of our partner, or anyone, for that matter.  Our anchor is Jesus Christ, we have a hope in him that stabilizes our souls.  We fail but our Father forgives us.  We fail each other but we forgive each other.

When Matt and I decided to get married we took it seriously.  We wanted to know the hard stuff and asked for realistic advice.  Sometimes I regretted it – engagement is such a happy time in a woman’s life and you don’t want it stained by words like marriage is a lot of work or call me in 10 years and we’ll see if you’re happy.  (These are real things I heard on a consistent basis.  I am very surprised I made it the alter.  Must have been the promise of cake and champagne).

I learned so much about Matt during the time of our engagement.  We had been together for over two years but as we prepared for marriage I viewed him in a completely different light.  He was vulnerable.  He was becoming a leader.  He was scared and strong and handsome all in one.  I remember having so many thoughts that I had to write them down.  I have never shared them with anyone until now.

January 26, 2015
I get to know him in a way no other person does

I am learning firsthand about grace and mercy.  I need to be Jesus to him — show him I love him despite his sin.  His sin does not define him just as mine does not define me.  His trust in Jesus defines his life and his relationship with me

I am his closest asset on Earth. His person. The one he can trust with anything. Thankful I am privileged to be that

Let go and allow him to lead me. Point him to the cross in the way I treat him, respect him, and honor him. Build him up the way Jesus builds us.  
(Y’all, this one is still tough for me… letting go is hard but so necessary).  

Support the work the Lord is doing in his life. Have insight in recognizing divine appointments in his life.

LOVE him. Always. No grudges. Let go of it all. This will be a daily, monthly, yearly struggle. I can’t do it alone. Remember why we are together — to get closer to God and make Him known to the world. Use the gift of marriage to do this.

First priority is to use our marriage as a tool in worship and glorifying the Lord. He blesses us THROUGH that. We shouldn’t seek out blessing simply because we’re married. It comes through service to one another and to God. 

I penned those thoughts 7 months before our wedding.  I still read them frequently and remember how eloquently the Lord was speaking to me then.  How He was shaping me for now.

When I prayed for my husband four years ago, my husband did not know the Lord. He and I had never formally met. He was longing for answers and struggling with so many questions that made him feel more lost than ever.  I was alone in a college town living out a lukewarm faith and wearing very thin.  Something had to give.  God was preparing my heart for more.  Jesus saved my husband on July 28th, 2012. Two weeks later we met and a month later I was his girlfriend.

Matt and I were given the gift of marriage.  We are better together, truly.  I have had to sacrifice many selfish desires in order to make our relationship work and I know that is God teaching me to let go.  He uses Matt to show me my depravity but also uses Matt to echo my salvation.  Our Father has a funny way of working things out.  I don’t know why I’m ever surprised.  God reminds us so many times of his sovereignty yet we somehow keep forgetting.

I say all of this not as a testament to our relationship.  Much of our life is just a story.  It will all be forgotten and filed away some day with a few pictures attached. I write these things for myself, to honor my growth.  I write these things for you, so that you can learn to honor your season as well. The story of the Meades is just beginning.


Matthew Luke, you are my best friend.  My helper, my love, my spell checker, my running partner, my taste tester, my handyman, my favorite DJ. There is no other person on this planet I would rather do life with.  Thank you for leading me to the cross and washing my feet along the way. I promise to always be your biggest fan and to never watch our Netflix shows alone.

Happy Anniversary, I love you.


“Two are better than one, because they have good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10