Tuesday, December 27, 2016

stuck on Christmas

"a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices"

   It's December 27th, but I am still stuck on these words from "O Holy Night." My goal for this season was to really focus on the gift that God gave me, the reason for that thrill of hope. The more I focus on it, the more overwhelmed I am by it. The more I am overwhelmed by it, the more my weary soul rejoices. 
   Now, I know, I know, I know, that most of you have heard everything there is to hear and know everything there is to know about the Christmas story. When I was four I corrected my grandma's pastor because he got the timeline wrong, so believe me, I feel you. And I don't have anything new or different to say about Christmas. In fact, I'm just gonna repeat a lot of what you've probably heard before. (Now is a good time to casually slip out the back if redundancy really irks you.) I feel very strongly, though, that some of us need to take a moment to listen to what we already we know. We need to take a moment, a pause, a timeout, to focus in on what we already know. 
   I mean, think about it. The king of the universe - the literal king of the literal universe - left Heaven to become a baby - a literal human baby. The one true God, the God who knows no bounds and who created and maintains everything - literally everything - took leave of His throne and the incessant worship given Him there. The king of the universe - the literal king of the literal universe - humbled Himself and came down to our level. He came to our puny little Earth, and He took on puny little human flesh. He dwelt among us. He grew up with parents and siblings, he experienced hunger and temptation and sadness, and he put up with our ignorance.
   The king of the universe - the literal king of the literal universe - walked around for 33 years and never once threw a fit when He wasn't given the respect He deserved. He didn't demand a throne. He never forced anyone to serve Him or to worship Him. He healed people, taught people, and was in relationship with people. Everything He did was for our benefit. Everything He did was out of His crazy, ridiculous love for us.
   Out of the His love for us, the king of the universe - I'm sorry, but we are literally talking about the literal King of the literal universe here - allowed Himself to be scorned, rejected, and mocked. He was beaten and bruised and torn. He died - He literally died. Not in a nice way, either. He was nailed to a cross designed for torture, and He hung there until He suffocated.
   He didn't have to. He could've changed His mind at any moment. He could have chosen to transport Himself back to Heaven. He could have chosen to have a legion of angels come fight an epic battle with the Romans. He could have done whatever He wanted.
   But He wanted us. He chose us. At the beginning of time, He chose us. 2,000 years ago, at that first Christmas, He chose us. Over and over and over again, He chose us and is choosing us, and for the rest of eternity He will choose us.
   He chose me. And that's why I'm kind of stuck on Christmas. That is why I feel this thrill of hope. That is why my weary soul rejoices.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


   I made it. I survived the first leg(s) of my trip, and I am with my family in Missouri for Christmas and the foreseeable future. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings I need to work through, but I'm not sure I'm ready for all that just yet. It's coming, I promise, but until then, here are some lovely lists to hold you over and further enlighten you about my time at Naomi House.

names and titles I responded to at Naomi House:
  • Charlotte
  • Sarah
  • Genevieve
  • Mom
  • Matilda
  • Mckenzie
  • the intern
  • Multiplication
  • Hey, what's your name again? 
  • Ma
  • Michaela
  • (also various grunts, yells, and sobs)
shows and movies I watched a lot of at Naomi House:
  • PJ Masks
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
  • Leap Frog 
  • The Lion Guard
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  • Teen Titans Go (recommend)
  • Friends (on my own time)
games I played a lot at Naomi House:
  • Knockout
  • Jelly (the kids had to teach me)
  • Foursquare (I had to teach the kids)
  • Mock Everything Ivan Says and Does
  • Push Summer On the Swing Until My Arms Fall Off
  • Try To Decipher What In the Heck Ferrah Is Saying
  • Monkey In the Middle
actual things I said at Naomi House:
  • Stop eating your brother.
  • Put the chair down. This is not the WWE.
  • I live at Naomi House. I don't actually have a life.
  • You're an unrealistic whale.
  • Yes, you are very cute, but that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want.
  • I miss corn.
  • I broke your shower this morning.
  • It's okay to say it if zombies are chasing you.
  • Holy cannoli
  • Please stop saying "booty."
  • Be chill. (approximately 29 times a day)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

let's go on an adventure

   I hear a lot of people complaining that their life is boring, or that they're so tired of doing the same things over and over, or that they need someone to spice up their life. More recently, they've been telling me they wish their life was as exciting as mine, or they wish they could go on an adventure like mine.
   I want to encourage these people. There many parts of our live we cannot control, but this is one that we can. They say "life is what you make it," and this is one way it's true. If we choose to have an adventurous life, we will. If we refuse to live in monotony, we won't. If we insist upon learning and growing and laughing pushing the limits, that's what we're gonna do.
   You don't have to drive across the country to make your life an adventure. You don't have to have lots of money to make your life an adventure. You don't have to quit your job or stop going to school or abandon all your responsibilities. Making one's life an adventure does require a bit of spontaneity and a dash of courage, but it is so, so doable. It doesn't even require any huge or drastic actions. Small choices, small actions lead to small adventures, and a series of small adventures will turn your week - month - year - life into one big adventure.
   Anyway. If you want to make your life more of an adventure but are not sure how to start, read the following list. It has at least a month's worth of small adventures.

  1. Try a new food
  2. Watch the sunset
  3. Mail a hand-written letter
  4. Do something different with your hair 
  5. Pick a road and drive down it as far as you can
  6. Visit someone in the nursing home
  7. Go on a picnic
  8. Stargaze
  9. Make prints of the photos on your phone
  10. Play at the park 
  11. Wave at people
  12. Bake cookies or brownies or cake or something 
  13. Throw a party
  14. Walk or bike instead of drive
  15. Bring food to someone at work or school
  16. Learn - and use - a new word 
  17. Celebrate a holiday you've never celebrated or maybe never heard of before
  18. Make a new friend - or at least a new acquaintance 
  19. Share your testimony
  20. Play hide and seek in Walmart
  21. Listen to classical music for a week
  22. Invite someone over for dinner
  23. Pay for the person behind you at Taco Bell (or wherever you spend your money I guess)
  24. Give lots of compliments 
  25. Blow bubbles
  26. Wear fuzzy socks in public 
  27. Sing and dance whenever and wherever a good song comes on the radio
  28. Go for a run - as long as you can
  29. Read a novel
  30. Watch "try not laugh" videos on YouTube 
  31. Call someone - just to talk
  32. Play in the snow
  33. Listen to the Holy Spirit
   That last one will get you every time, y'all. Good luck and have fun! Let me know all about your adventures on Facebook or in the comments. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

land of the living

   I have made it to the land of the living (AKA the land of wifi)! I have two hours, people. Two hours. Living in isolation is hard for an extrovert, but I have escaped to civilization for the afternoon, and I am making the most of each lovely moment.
   While I'm here I'll try to share a few things that may or may not be of interest to y'all.

  • This job is hard. It is so so so good, but it is hard. Any and all prayers for the staff, the kids, and myself are appreciated and so valuable.
  • I'm growing plants! I have rosemary, snapdragons, a pansy, and some weird cactus thing growing in pots right outside the door to my apartment. They bring me joy every day.
  • I have set an official departure date. On December 13th I will be getting my car and heading back to good ole Missouri.
  • I adore mail. Shoutout to everyone who has sent me notes and letters. Special shoutout to Pastor Brad, who sent me flat, plastic flowers in an effort to "give Arizona some life and color, for goodness sake!" They are beautiful. 
  • For privacy reasons, I cannot post any pictures of the children anywhere on  the web. I can, however, send pictures directly to people. If you would to see the faces of these beautiful people I am spending my time with, please contact me directly.
  • The other day, I found out that Sarah, a new house parent at Naomi House, was at Onething last year! We spent the best part of four days in the same room together, and we never would have known. This story is not exactly relevant, but we did squeal and scream like little girls when we made the connection. Just so you know. Also, this is my personal plug for the Onething conference, which is coming up in less than two months! I would strongly encourage you to look it up and consider buying tickets.
  • I have been here for three weeks, and the kids still fight over who gets to sit by me at dinner.
  • I wish I had time to tell you all the stories, to describe every child's personality, to go on and on about the fabulous things God is doing here. I do not have adequate time right now, but I would love to talk to anyone who is interested in hearing me ramble. Please contact me directly via email, Facebook messenger, or a phone call or text if you are one of those people. 
  • For all you Midwesterners - there is a Naomi House in Kansas City! This is a recent development, but they have jumped right and are doing God's work in Missouri. Read more about what they are doing and how to help on the Naomi House website.
  • I am attached. So very attached to each of the 21 kids and everyone else who is here. I am praising God for this opportunity.
  • If you want to know more about Naomi House and what we do here, check out the website at thenaomihouse.org. There is also an email update that you can read and sign up for under the "News" tab.
   Thank you so much for reading, praying, and being involved in this adventure! God bless y'all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


   Hey, y'all. The craziness of the last week or two has made it nearly impossible to post anything on here, but today I found a library, and here I am! I promise I have some deep shiz to say, but today is all about updating the lovely people who would like to know where in the world I am and what the heck I'm doing there.
   For three weeks, I was at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Oregon. If you would like to know more about who they are and what their purpose is, check out crystalpeaksyouthranch.org, find them on Facebook, or look for Hope Rising by Kim Meeder at the library or bookstore. Anyway, these three weeks were absolutely fabulous. I hiked a lot of trails, scooped a lot of poop, ate a lot of smores, formed a lot of priceless friendships, took in a lot of mountain views, met a lot of horses, and had a lot of encouraging conversations. I am so glad I made Oregon one of the first stops on my adventure this year.
   From Oregon, I drove to Arizona. That is where I am right now. I am living in the middle of nowhere at a place called Naomi House. Please look them up at thenaomihouse.org. Naomi House provides a safe and loving home for Native American children. It is ministry run on compassion and the Holy Spirit, and I am beyond excited to be here. I am planning to stay here until early December, at which point I will come home to Missouri. At Naomi House, I am "the helper." Most of my time is spent babysitting and simply spending time with the kids. If you would like a more detailed description of Noami House and how I am spending my days here, feel free to contact me. I would love to talk about it.
   I will admit the desert terrain and the high elevation of Arizona are not my favorite. Also it's mid-October and still eighty degrees outside every day - I guess Fall is not a thing here? My cell phone provider is not a thing here either, so service is sketchy at best, and we don't really have wifi. 
   Even with all these things I could complain about, I think I could stay here forever. I love the staff, and I love the kids. My mom asked on my third day here if I was growing attached to any of the kids. I think it's more like I took a bath in superglue and then gave them all a hug.
   My time here is short, but I am determined to make the most of it. This means wiping snotty noses and playing "just one more" game of Jelly. This means being flexible and willing. This means watching the same Leap Frog movie 9,264 times. Making the most of the time means getting up early to spend time in prayer and waiting half an hour for a snapchat to load. It means nap time and diapers and patience and swingsets and smiles and wagon rides and not being offended when an 8-year-old tells me I should wear my hat forever and never take it off because I look much better with it on. Making the most of the time means loving like Jesus loves.
   It also means investing in some containers, soil, and plants. If you're interested in donating to the "give Arizona some color and life, for goodness' sake" fund, hit me up.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


   It's true. God doesn't need you. He didn't have to create you. Nothing required Him to form you and mold you and make you the person you are, but He did. He chose to. You exist by a deliberate decision by God.
   It's true. God doesn't need you to love Him. He doesn't need your approval. He doesn't need you to boost His self-esteem, not does He need the validation of your affection. Yet He chose to make the ultimate sacrifice so that you would be saved, so that you could spend eternity with Him. He chooses to pursue you wherever you go and to wait for you however long it takes. He chooses to bless you no matter how many times you deny Him or ignore Him or dishonor Him. He loves to spend time with you. He desires a deep relationship with you.
   It's true. God doesn't need your help to accomplish His plans. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. Whatever He wants done, He could do it for Himself in a heartbeat. Yet He chooses to incorporate you in His plans, and He chooses to use you to accomplish them. He chooses, in spite of your bad habits, your ineloquence, your laziness, your fear, and all of your flaws, to use you.
   God has chosen you.
   Over and over again God chooses you.
   What choice will you make?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

lessons from the ranch and lessons from Jesus

   Two different people in the past week have wanted to know about the greatest lesson I have learned from my time at His Ranch. Having been at the ranch for five Summer's now, I have learned lots and lots of lessons. I have learned the value of Popsicles, how to communicate with (boss around) a thousand-pound animal using just body language, and that kids are always looking for an example. I have learned dozens and dozens of lessons at His Ranch. 
   The biggest, most important lesson I have learned though, is the relevance of love. Love is always relevant, and it is absolutely vital. As Christians, our entire identity is caught up in love. Our purpose revolves around love. Our destiny is love. 
   Without Christ's love for us, we are nothing. Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love those around us. He said the world would know we were his disciples by the way we love each other. In John 15, he directs us to love one another even as he loves  us. He commanded us to love even our enemies. The names of Christ's love was sacrificial love. 
   Paul takes a whole chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians to talk about love. His point? Love is the greatest gift we have, and without it, anything we do is pointless. Romans 13:8 tells us that love is the fulfillment of all the law. Proverbs says that love covers all offenses, and 1 Peter implores us to love one another deeply, citing the fact that love covers a multitude of sins. 
   These things are not true only for those in ministry. They are not true only on Sunday morning or when we spend time with our Christian friends. They are not true only when loving someone includes warm, fuzzy feelings and sweet smiles. 
   These things are true when someone cuts you off on the freeway without even using their blinker. They are true when you have to remind a student for the ninth time in one lesson how to safely walk behind a horse. They are true when you encounter someone who doesn't look like you, talk like you, dress like you, or smell as nice as you. They are true when the kid manning the worship lyrics slideshow is behind a verse or two. They are true at Tuesday night Bible study and at Friday night football games. They are true when it comes to your boss, your mom, your friend who drinks too much, the guy on the stairs in front of you who walks too slowly, the cashier at the grocery store, your kids, your coworkers, your profs, and the neighbor kid whose name you can never remember. These things are true in every environment, and they are relevant in every situation. 
   I am learning that to God, love is a big deal. This means that to me, love should be a big deal. I am learning that the answer to most of my questions is love. I am learning that love is powerful, and it is special, but it is not reserved to special occasions. I am learning that whatever I end up doing, as long as I am doing it with love, I will be serving God. 
   I am learning that my entire purpose on this earth is to love God and love people. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, however many years in my life, my purpose is love. I am learning to love like Jesus loves. And I love it. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

it's the little things

   Last night at McDonald's I held the door open for a lady. You would not believe the smile that lit up this woman's face when she saw what I was doing. She thanked me three times.
   God is giving us opportunities to show his love all the time. So often I miss these opportunities because I think they're too small to make a difference, or I think people will think I'm weird, or I'm too scared, or I'm too lazy.
   This would have been an easy opportunity to miss. This lady was several steps behind me. I could've kept walking and let the door close behind without anyone noticing. She was obviously able-bodied and capable of opening the door herself. I could've assumed she didn't need me.
   Probably nothing terrible would've happened if I hadn't have held the door. But her smile wouldn't have happened either.
   It's crazy what an impact our actions have on those around us. So give compliments. Help a friend when they drop something. Smile when you pass people in the hallway. Hold the door for a stranger at McDonald's. Never pass up an opportunity to make someone smile. Take every chance you get to show someone love. You'll make someone's day - you might even change their life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


   Hey, fam. I know it's been a while since I've been here. It's been over a year, actually. To be honest, I was planning on letting this blog die. I had moved on to other ways of sharing my writing, this blog was too reminiscent of my younger days, I was planning to go to journalism school this fall and learn how to be a better writer, blogging is a time commitment I didn't want to make - I had lots of reasons (excuses) for leaving this blog in the long-forgotten past.
   Now though, I have entered a new and different phase of my life. I am on an adventure, and many people whom I love and respect have told me I need to share the story of this adventure with the rest of everyone. I can't promise every post will be fabulously written or even mildly interesting. I will probably mess with the format and give the blog a new name. I will need people to bug me about posting so that I will stick with it. But here I am. I'm headed on an adventure, and I'm willing to take y'all with me. Through my written words I mean. Not physically. I don't think everyone could fit in my car.