the RVA post…

So, you remember that one time when I decided to pick up everything I’ve ever known and move clear across the country? And when I decided to do so in only about 30 days?

Yeah, well, I figure it’s time that I put the whole story down in writing as best that I can. Seeing as how I miss home terribly right now and am having a hard time not being there to walk through this trial with everyone, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to a) distract myself by writing, and b) finally write out the story of coming to Richmond. After all, I know that as I write and reflect on the journey God has had me on in the last couple of months, I will be able to remember again just how much my coming here was ordained by Him.

Well – here goes.
I’ve learned a lot over the recent weeks. The first one I will share is perhaps the funniest and yet the most poignant and telling for where I’m at these days… I first flew out to Richmond on a Monday, 10/7. It was a long and lonely week, so when church came the following Sunday I was thrilled to finally start meeting some new people. Sitting at lunch after church, I said to myself and to my housemates/hosts/long lost neighbors (more on that later!), “Remind me next time I leave everything I’ve ever known and move across the country to NOT do so on a Monday!” We laugh, but it’s true… that first Sunday could not come soon enough. And now that I’ve had three Sundays here, I could not be more thrilled to have found such a wonderful family of faith.

Now let’s back up a little bit, back to why I ended up moving in the first place. Sometime in August it became official that my parents would be moving to Idaho. My dad had accepted the call to serve as pastor at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Boise, ID. And, well, what that meant for me is that my free rent was leaving my Northern California hometown of Santa Rosa. My health had greatly improved earlier in the year thanks to God’s miracles in my life, and so lots of options were realistic possibilities. I looked into everything… work transfer, finding new work somewhere else, finding something in Boise (but still living on my own), and even staying put in Santa Rosa. For the first time I would have been thrilled to stay local for a little while longer. But God had other plans, and I had no idea just how much they would blow my mind. (Side note – I’m still laughing at God’s irony, and I don’t think that will ever go away.)

One possibility on the list that I mentioned? A work transfer. I was constantly checking out my company’s website for new listings of available positions. I had decided that I wasn’t going to apply to another city unless I had a specific reason – a friend local, some kind of connection with the area… that kind of thing. Richmond was on my radar due to the fact that I was here last October for my dear friend’s wedding, so when I saw the post, knowing she and her husband are still local here… I applied. I was hoping to transfer somewhere and continue working customer service, but I guess I was open to anything.

Fast forward a bit, and my manager in Santa Rosa got word that they needed lead agents in Richmond. I emailed the manager here almost immediately, but when I heard back I learned that they didn’t need anyone for customer service… they really just needed some lead agents to work ramp. She told me right away that if I was willing to work ramp that we could talk, but that they didn’t have anything available upstairs. I was hesitant at first, but then thought to myself that this could be the perfect opportunity if I want to start moving towards a career in this industry.

Shortly after that I applied with a “sure, let’s talk…” well… that was maybe September 5. I had a video interview with management the following Wednesday (9/11), and then Sunday the 15th I flew to RIC to see the airport and meet everyone. By Tuesday the 17th I had an official transfer date of Monday, October 7th.

Woah… that all happened fast. Like – really, REALLY fast. Especially since a) I’ve never really moved, b) I was moving over 2500 miles away, and c) my parents were simultaneously trying to sell their home and move to Idaho. I mean, the term logistical nightmare? It’s the understatement of the century.

But… we did it. Actually, God did it. We’ve just all been along for the ride. But before I go any further, I need to share how God provided for what is perhaps one of the biggest needs with a move – initial/immediate housing. And not only that, but through the circumstances surrounding my accommodations He revealed to me just how much this move is NOT just about me and NOT just about my job at the airport.

Backing up to Tuesday, September 10th. I had just gotten home from a Disneyland trip, and within minutes of being home my mom kicked me out due to an afternoon showing. I went to St. Mark and spent some time upstairs just relaxing and killing time. Little did I know, though, that my random idea to check out the LCMS national directory for the churches in Richmond would lead me to a housing arrangement, my parents to a beautiful reconnection of some former friendships, and ultimately to me seeing that God is up to SO much in this whole moving across the country thing.

See… as I went through the list of churches in the greater RVA (Richmond) area, all of the sudden a name looked familiar. Like, really REALLY familiar. I was vaguely remembering my mother asking me sometime recently “hey, is North Chesterfield near Richmond?” knowing my other connection already here. But I didn’t fully remember, so I started calling my parents. I called my mom’s cell… no answer. I called my dad’s cell… no answer. (I still laugh at that one because I was at church upstairs and he was there downstairs.) Then I called the home phone, and my mom picked up. I told her what I had been doing and then asked, is this who I think it is…? She confirmed, and I pretty much immediately began the process of getting in touch.

Who are these people, exactly?
My dad went to seminary from 1996-1998 in St. Louis.
The pastor of a church here in Richmond, who’s been at the church since he left the seminary in 2000, two years after my dad… he and his family were our next door neighbors both years in seminary. OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO.

A mere month and a half later, here we are. And God is STILL proving Himself faithful – over and over again. I still remember when I went out to lunch with him (long lost neighbor) on my visit here to RVA mid September. I was admittedly anxious that morning, having to find a church in a new place and a new city, interacting with new people. I knew this family years ago, yes, but it had been over 20 years. And then on top of all of that to be facing the fact that this may be home for me in the near future…? It was a lot.

Back to that Tuesday lunch meeting. We didn’t have a whole lot of time that day, but I didn’t need much time at all to start sensing that God was up to so much more than I could have imagined. I had a chance to hear about his heart for ministry along with some of the heartbeat that this church has for its surrounding communities. I was able to tell almost immediately that these people get it, and that they get it in a very big and very real way. I knew then and there that I was going to be surrounded by like minded people, not only in this family but in this whole church.

I left lunch that day and was nearly in tears as I drove back to my friend’s house. I was actually rather exhausted the rest of the day – you know, God had basically knocked the wind out of me! Though I couldn’t tell you why in that moment, I just knew that I was meant to move. I knew that God would have amazing opportunities waiting for me here in RVA, opportunities both to learn but also to give back to the people here in a variety of ways.

Only three weeks removed from California, that could not be more true. God is already teaching me so much, and I am honored to be in such a position. I am excited to see what is to come. And though I know it will not be easy, I know that the Lord will be with me through all of it and that He will provide in the ways He feels best.

The last three weeks have been some of the hardest three weeks I’ve ever had to face. And yet, it is already such a beautiful season and I cannot wait to watch as things continue to unfold. As I write this, my hometown and home county is in crisis mode due to devastating wildfires. I lived through it there in Santa Rosa two years ago, and now that they’re all walking through it again… and I’m not there. I’m here, in Virginia, about as far away from California as you could get. I’m not going to lie, that’s been really hard the last couple of days. But as I finally am writing out the story of God bringing me here, I am reminded that His direction and timing pointing me to RVA was so abundantly clear.

Ending up in Richmond, with the people and community that I have begun to find, is such an answer to prayer. It’s an exciting opportunity, and it’s a chance to start fresh now that I’m learning how to live free and how to live fully known and fully loved. My heart is constantly so full of gratitude for the people that I have already met here, but most importantly for my God and my Father for His love and grace and guidance as I take this next step on my journey.

Happy Reformation Sunday, dear brothers and sisters. May we always remember that Jesus came for you and He came for me, and that He came to rescue us from the darkest of nights and to set us free from the most impossible chains.

So… what brought me to Richmond?
I mean, work was the catalyst.
But God brought me to Richmond, and I could not be more grateful.

reflections from a girl who wanted to die (but no longer does)

It’s no secret that mental illness is becoming more and more common. We are being told new statistics all the time, high schools are becoming more and more active in the fight against teen anxiety and depression, and some days it seems as though everywhere you go there is some evidence of this darkness – this demon – called mental illness.

So there’s a lot of awareness, yes. But as someone who walked the road for so long and who still does in many ways… awareness does not always equal the support and the community that we need. Sometimes it does, yes. But depression in its very nature seeks to isolate you. It seeks to take away all the things you hold dear and it seeks to truly terrorize you. I’ve had to learn so much about reaching out and communicating my needs, and much of that has come just in the last few months.

It’s interesting, though. Because when you live nearly your entire life with one normal, one constant battle, one thought and demon that seeks to destroy you – the thought of wanting to end your own life – when that’s all you ever really know, what happens when one day you wake up and everything is different? Granted, mine was maybe a two month process (from realizing what needed to happen until the day it all started to make sense). But still – when you’re comparing that time frame to seven years, if not closer to fifteen years – it seems like no time at all.

So, back to the question – what happens when you wake up one day and everything is different? Well, first of all, you learn even MORE just how important it is to rest and to take care of yourself. You learn to be gentle with yourself and to appreciate that your body, for the first time in probably close to fifteen years, can finally relax and leave that constant state of hyper-vigilance behind.

Then as you begin to move forward… you realize that the phrase “nothing will ever be the same” could not ring more true. I mean, just looking at my symptoms – they haven’t gone completely away. Not even close. But it HAS been vastly different because now I feel worthy of using the coping skills that I do have. The symptoms have been here… I’ve been exhausted and experienced depression and this last weekend even started to feel a pull to some old negative coping skills… but yet, things are different – because I didn’t give in, because I’m still here. Because I let God help me through it.

And the biggest difference? Yes all of the same shit still happens. It does – that’s just life. But the biggest difference that is still present? I no longer have the desire to die.


Yeah… you heard me. I don’t want to die anymore. It’s crazy, because in all honesty I never thought I would be able to say that – just ask those who are closest to me. But I mean, not only can I say that… I’ve been able to say that now for almost five months. And if that’s not a miracle of God, I don’t know what is.

September is national suicide prevention month, and for the first time I have walked through this month with an entirely different perspective. For once in my life I can say and truly believe that it can and it will get better. Even looking back, knowing what I know now… I don’t know if I would ever say that to someone in exactly those words. Because it was those same words that had me bitter and angry and resigned and that would honestly leave me more and more hopeless every time I heard them.

I want to come back to the question… what happens when you wake up one day and everything is different, when for the first time in fifteen years you don’t want to die? Well, one result is that you’re now walking through life with a different kind of burden. You’re walking through life with a burden that is hard to describe and that is so hard for others to understand. For myself, I have found that since that Monday morning in May I just view the world so very differently. I mean, when you have a near death experience that lasts that long (on and off, but still), it leaves you scarred. So when I say “nothing will ever be the same”… I don’t just mean the changes that have come from realizing and being able to internalize that I am fully known AND fully loved by our God of the universe. That is a big change and that is life changing, yes.

But I will also never see people the same. I will never not hurt for someone who is hurting. I will never be able to look at my own life without getting overwhelmed with gratitude, with “what ifs”, with the “almosts”… And, coming back to a point from earlier in this post, that can leave someone incredibly isolated and lonely. It’s a different kind of loneliness, yes… I no longer want to die, and being able to say that gives me so much joy. But I am walking through each day with a different kind of burden. Life is a process, and so I will forever be working on giving this burden over to the Lord. But it still just blows my mind that I was so close so many times. I tell people all the time that more than likely, per statistics, I shouldn’t be here. Plain and simple. I should not be alive.

So tonight, I close out suicide awareness month having walked through it with a completely different perspective. I am preparing for the move out to Virginia (another post to come soon), and God in His just absolute awesomeness has orchestrated it all so that there is a community “Out of the Darkness Walk” through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Richmond in just a few weeks. But not only that… It’s on my birthday. You guys, it’s on my birthday. I get to celebrate all that God has done by bringing me out from the darkness of a life colored by suicide ON MY FREAKING BIRTHDAY.

God is good. There’s just no other way around it. Life hurts, yes. Sometimes it really sucks and even starts to hurt like hell. But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t good or that He doesn’t love us.

And being able to proclaim those truths over our lives – God is good, loving, kind, so many others – in no way negates the realness of our pain or the fact that life this side of heaven is just plain hard.

All it means is that He is here… with us, in the muck, and in the pain.

What a paradox, yes. But what a beautiful, life changing, and life SAVING truth.

if I told you my story…

The song came out about four years ago. I was working at Family Christian bookstores at the time, and I remember that I really liked the song at the time. I bought the CD, it played a whole lot in my car. It spoke to me then… it speaks to me now. Little did I know, though, just how much it would speak to me four years later – August 2019.

The song in question? “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave. It’s off their album “Beautiful Offerings”, released in September 2015. As I mentioned, I was working at Family Christian at the time, so the song was on our store soundtrack for a while. My life until that point had been difficult, and I had already faced some incredibly dark moments. When I think about the seven years after high school, I mentally divide it into three loose sections… 2012-2014 was the first hard section, 2015-2016 was the “middle” section – still dealing with the dark demons of mental illness but making it through okay – and then 2017-2019 was my never ending hell that, praise Jesus, ended with His miraculous intervention in my life.

So, operating off of that, the song came out when things were relatively… okay. I mean, that Christmas season was difficult. I remember that on more than one occasion I had to ask my manager at Family Christian to lock up the box cutters, but she was such a gift… she would do so without asking any questions, and I always knew that she was praying for me on those days that were especially hard. Over the last few years I have remained aware of the song, but when I heard it again today on the radio (and mind you I hardly EVER have the radio on in the car anymore!)… it hit me. In a new way, in a beautiful way. In a way like never before.

2019 has brought about a turn in my story that I never expected. I never even thought it was possible, so why even think about it? But, as a result of God’s incredible intervention this year, so many doors of opportunity have opened for both myself and for my parents. And, not to say that those doors weren’t there at all before, but… with all that has happened this year, let’s just say some of the doors that were there before are now FAR more realistic. For instance? The door that leads to my parents and myself no longer being a household of three.

See… my whole life is about to change. And this is probably going to be the hardest and most significant change I have ever walked through. My parents are moving to Idaho, and I am hoping to stay here in Santa Rosa. That, or I am hoping to transfer somewhere with my company… but we don’t have any availability in Idaho. So, even if I left Santa Rosa, I more than likely will not be following my parents up to Boise. I’ve lived with my parents as just the household of us three for thirteen years now… that’s about half my life. Six years of school and then the seven years after high school. And not only have I lived with them by myself for so long (older sisters moved out), but we are all very close. The three of us have walked through some hell together, mostly surrounding my battle with depression and mental illness. We haven’t always gotten along, no, but they have always had my back. They have always supported me in ways I never could have imagined. They have always been my own personal rockstars.

Back to my story… actually, well, HIS story. Him being Jesus. Since my plane landed in May, and since things have continued to unfold and show that there might be something to this plane landing, I have wanted nothing more than to share with others and to love others as He has loved me. I have begun having maybe even LESS direction about my career and my future, less tangible direction. I know now more than ever that it is my heart’s desire to do something with my life that brings glory to Him in a beautiful way and allows me to love and support others with the wisdom He has blessed me with. I want to be His vessel of grace, His instrument of peace.

So… what exactly does the future hold? I honestly have no idea. I’ve never had less of an idea! But at the same time… I’ve never had a peace like this. An excited, “I cannot WAIT to see what God does because even though it’s going to be hard it’s going to be beautiful” kind of peace. And if my parents had planned to move even nine months ago? I would have felt so differently. So as I still sometimes get anxious about my future or what’s going to happen, all I have to do is look again at my story. HIS story. The story of His beautiful rescue and relentless pursuit of a daughter who was hurting and lost.

If I look at the lyrics of the song, so many phrases and words convey so beautifully what my heart wants to share. “If I told you my story, you would here hope that wouldn’t let go… love that never gave up… victory over the enemy…” WOW. All of those things have shown up in my life this year, and they have shown up in some big ways. Because we have a big God. Two of my favorite words, two words that appear in scripture at least once… “but God.” BUT GOD! Ladies and gentlemen, just when we think all hope is lost, God shows up. And more often than not, He shows up in some pretty incredible and miraculous ways.

I could go on and on and ON about the small ways that I have seen God just this year, but for now I will just say this… my story is HIS story, and it is His now more than ever before.

I knew I wanted to close this post with a scripture, and given the subject of my post and the timing and all that is happening in my life… there is really only one option. It is a verse I have grown up hearing my dad say from the pulpit – actually a prayer I have heard him pray from the pulpit – as he begins every single sermon. And given that, more than likely, I am drawing towards the end of having pastor dad in my every day life… I felt it was an obvious choice. Psalm 19:14…

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

It is so.
It is so yesterday, it is so today, and it will be so forevermore.

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… it’s a fishbowl?

I’ve wanted to write this particular blog post for quite a long time. In fact, I came up with my creative title nearly a month ago – on the night I hit a deer in Wisconsin. Don’t ask me why; don’t ask me how I remember all of that. But the reality? Even long before I had my title, I had been wanting to write this post and share this piece of my heart. In very recent days, though, I’ve come to realize that there has been a lot of fear involved for me in putting this out there. I’m not entirely sure how some people might respond, and the LAST thing I ever want to do is hurt someone. But when a lesson, a truth, a lightbulb moment… when it’s burned and ingrained into your heart in a very deep and passionate way, there comes a point when you decide that, enough is enough, and you take that step of faith knowing that the Lord will be with you.

So, now you’re probably pretty curious. A random, albeit creative, title… talking about fear behind finally sharing this piece… what on earth could this be about? Well, dear friends, today I’m going to address what is commonly known in the church as the “PK fishbowl effect”. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this term, the first thing to know is that PK refers to “pastor’s kid”. So, yes, my dad is a pastor. And while he became a pastor after I was born, I was so young at the time that I hardly remember any different. The fishbowl effect then is basically referencing how, very often in a church, the pastor’s family is known very well by pretty much the entire congregation. Sometimes TOO well. In some cases it can become an extremely negative thing… bringing with it large doses of legalism and forgetting the true heart of the gospel, the grace of Jesus Christ.

But in my story, thankfully I did not have to endure growing up in such an environment. My home church (St. Mark) has been nothing but wonderful and supportive to me and my parents over the years, even in the years after high school when I slowly began attending the church that I am now at every Sunday. People have been and still are offering so much support by way of prayer and encouragement. So when thinking about St. Mark, legalism is the LAST word that comes to mind.

However, when I graduated high school and began to experience the extreme darkness and intense struggle with mental illness, I also began to feel uncomfortable worshipping and being around St. Mark. I can’t tell you why – as I said, everyone there has been so amazing over the years. But as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t do it. Since I’m the kind of person who will do whatever it takes to be in church one way or another, I began attending another church in town (not my other current one) with some family friends from high school. They helped to provide me with a safe space to worship and just be and to ask God about why this was all happening. Eventually, though, I got more and more connected with what is now my regular church – Spring Hills.

Time kept moving, and over the years I went back and forth. Slowly, more and more, Spring Hills has become my “home away from home” church. I’ve been very involved there and I have met some amazing people there. For the longest time I thought the primary reason for my church shift had to do with the music and the worship style. Last November, however, that all changed. And as that all changed, I began to ask myself some questions, and eventually that led to a lightbulb moment that played a critical role in landing my plane… yes, a lightbulb moment about that PK fishbowl effect.

When I was in South Dakota last November, I decided that I would attend a nearby Lutheran Church for my weekend worship. There were a variety of reasons, one of which being the small world and homey feeling that the LCMS has provided over the years. (At this particular church I didn’t manage to find a personal connection, but had I been there long enough, I have no doubt something would have turned up!) The first Saturday night I attended, I was a bit caught off guard by the traditional worship. I’m not sure what I was thinking… after all, this is a Lutheran Church in South Dakota. Traditional worship is probably the norm there. Regardless, though, that first night really struck me. I actually enjoyed the hymns and traditional worship, and maybe even in a way like never before. I even felt like that church could be home if I ended up moving. My time in South Dakota ended up being very abruptly cut short due to my health, so I was only at this church one other time. But even in such a short amount of time, it left its impact on me. It left me wondering and questioning, is the music truly the biggest and main reason for my migration to attend regularly at Spring Hills? Or was there something else?

Fast forward, and we’re gearing up for Easter this year (2019). Having realized in South Dakota that I was actually missing the hymns and traditional worship, as soon as I saw on Facebook that a local ELCA (Lutheran) church was putting on a beautiful cantata with traditional music on Good Friday… I knew I wanted to go. I knew I needed to go. I talked about it with a few people ahead of time – including my high school choir director who would be singing that night – but I didn’t make a definitive decision to go until that night. More specifically, I didn’t tell my parents until that night. The thought of going to another church on Good Friday, a church that is NOT Spring Hills AND a different Lutheran Church??! … as weird as this sounds, part of it just felt wrong. Like I was somehow being dishonest, or that I shouldn’t. Or to go to the extreme that my mind was trying to tell me… that doing so would be a betrayal to my heritage.

But as I said… I knew I NEEDED to go. So I did. And about an hour before service times at both St. Mark and this other church, I finally told my mom what I was planning for the evening. I tried to be honest with the feelings of uneasiness, and she reassured me that it was fine. She also threw out the “fishbowl” word, and fairly nonchalantly at that. But as soon as she did so, it stuck with me. And it got me thinking. Both in dialogue with her for the next minute or two before I left as well as on my drive over to the church. And what it helped me realize that night is something that has freed my heart and spirit perhaps more than anything else next to finally believing that God’s radical love and forgiveness is actually for me.

Basically, I started to think more and more about that PK fishbowl effect. See, as I have slowly transitioned to Spring Hills and have continued to struggle making St. Mark a place of worship for me, I have always assumed that because everyone there has always been so loving and wonderful… well, with the disconnect more and more apparent, the blame has to fall somewhere… right?

The short answer? Yes. But not in the way one might think, especially in a situation like this. That night, Good Friday 2019, I slowly began to realize just how much I was internalizing the disconnect, and I slowly began to realize just how much I believed that the disconnect was a result of something I had done wrong. That it was yet another result of the failure of a person that is Mary Rachel, and that I was letting everyone down because I wasn’t able to respond and make it work in the way that I have wanted to.

As this was all running through my brain, I began to wonder something else. What if – what if sometimes the fishbowl effect still happens, even when the church is healthy and filled with wonderful people. What if just the reality of being a PK really is difficult and that no matter how amazing the home church is, there might always be an element of the fishbowl. This is a fallen world that we live in, and sometimes these frustrating things just happen… not as a result of anything that one person has done wrong, but because we live in a world that is not perfect.

Woah. My life was changed, I kid you not. I remember one distinct thought I had that night, something that I wrote down. Basically, I spoke to the crazy feeling that comes when you’re finally free of a burden that you never even knew you were carrying. It was crazy. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me or expressed concern about growing up as a PK and I have responded by simply dismissing any negative effects because my home church is totally amazing. Well, yes, St. Mark IS totally amazing. And while that is true and will always be true, it can ALSO be true that there have been times where I have just needed space. Where, particularly because of my depression, I have needed to be somewhere separate where I can blend in if needed. The possibility of BOTH things being true and okay simultaneously had never occurred to me. But as soon as it did? Like I said, my life was changed.

As time has moved forward from Easter and from my plane landing a couple of weeks later, I have continued to see God work in the craziest and most beautiful ways. I am learning and growing and healing in ways I never thought possible. This particular lesson that I learned has continued to peel back layer after layer of the chains and shame surrounding the issue that held my heart captive for so long. And between this lesson and so many other things, I have never felt more free than I do now.

So… that PK fishbowl effect. I’ve always had an empathetic and compassionate heart, but with all the events of this year, that has only grown more and more. With what I’ve learned in regards to this, then, is something that speaks straight to the depths of my heart for people. If I had the opportunity to sit down with a fellow PK, particularly with one who is struggling or hurting in some way, I would want to hug them and tell them that it is OKAY to need space from their home church. And it is STILL okay even if the church is healthy and wonderful and lovely. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with them as a person, it just means that sometimes life is messy and complicated and that we have to work a little harder to have grace with ourselves.

But it’s going to be okay. Because Jesus is Jesus, and it doesn’t matter which church we’re in or when we worship Him or even what songs we sing. What matters is that He loves us with a love that we can’t even begin to comprehend. What matters is that we are free to live life messy because we can rest in His grace to carry us through life’s darkest moments. And what matters in such a big deal and joyful way? He has won. He has overcome.

… it is finished.
Now and forevermore.

So, dear fellow PKs, if you need to step outside the fishbowl? It’s okay. I promise. No matter what. Jesus will be at a different church, too, and He will meet you right where you are and will carry you fully and perfectly to where you need to be.

freedom… and not just the political kind.

liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

It’s the 4th of July today, so naturally the subject of freedom has been on my mind most of the day. Most people speak of freedom today in the context of the freedom we have here in the United States. Some people have no idea the gravity of the religious freedom upon which this country was founded, but I think some people do still truly appreciate the religious freedom that men and women have fought to gain and keep for the last 200+ years – and that they still fight for today.

Continue reading “freedom… and not just the political kind.”

coming to you from 36,000 feet

Well… to say that it’s been a week would be quite the understatement. After changing my plans on Sunday to not only fly to Chicago through a small airport (instead of direct) but ALSO to rent a car and make the five hour drive up to Minocqua… I thought THAT was a wrench in my plans for this vacation. Now, though… oh my goodness. That was nothing.

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giving anger its rightful purpose

Emotions. We all know that no emotion is bad (at least I hope we do), that it’s just more about what you do with them. But for so many raised in a conservative and faith based house, like… I know for me at least, it took YEARS of work to begin to let myself feel angry. For so long, the emotion of anger in and of itself felt sinful. In reality, though? That could not be farther from the truth! This is a perfect example to lean into that phrase, as cliche as it is… no emotion is bad, it’s all in how you respond.

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fully known & fully loved

If I could thank Dr. Jillian for just one of the many things she left me with? One lesson, one gift? It would be the gift of a life living fully known AND fully loved. She was only able to give me that in human form, emphasis on the temporary part of human form. But… as a result, she has impacted and touched my life in a way that no one else has.

“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever….”

I found that quote credited to JK Rowling tonight as I was looking up quotes on grief on Pinterest. Some reading this may find it odd that I start a post with this title by sharing a quote about grief. However, anyone who knows my story well knows that an experience with grief ties in very closely with the idea of being fully known AND fully loved.

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Yes, dear friend. He really has overcome.

As I have moved into my adult years and begun to understand life more and more, I have observed how sometimes God gives different people different specific – and unique – messages that they have on their hearts to share with the world. For example, one amazing author/speaker that I know has the most incredible and beautiful message that he shares about the grace of God. He can speak about God’s forgiveness and grace in a way that I have never heard before, and it is his heart’s desire to share this with the world. Another amazing author/speaker that I know has started a nonprofit that helps Christians learn and become more equipped to witness and live as missionaries in their everyday lives, and having had the privilege to hear him speak on this subject multiple times – he gets it. He gets what it’s like to live everyday as if God is going to use us to witness in a mighty way, and he is excellent at communicating this message.

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Talk the talk, walk the walk… AND walk the walk?

By now it’s no secret that my life has drastically changed for the better in recent months, but my mind is continually spinning day after day after day because all of these changes are ones that I never EVER dreamed possible. I mean, Ephesians 3:20 has become my life verse for a reason. I’m finding myself in a place that just a few short months ago I never even dreamed attainable, and now? Now anything is possible. I have now seen firsthand how God can do absolutely anything, even things that we think are so impossible that we never even think to ask.

Continue reading “Talk the talk, walk the walk… AND walk the walk?”