Getting Away

Sometimes, all we really need is to just get away.

We just need to drive up to the mountains with a friend. Sit in a cozy cabin, dunking coffee bags into mugs, while talking about how beautiful life really is. We need to laugh at all the ways we’ve changed in the last year. Sometimes, we need to feel that slight sting of pain that comes with realizing how nothing ever really stays the same.

You’re going to need to learn to embrace the moments of burying your head in the blankets as a friend asks the hard questions about love and about letting go.

While the cabin settles in and braces itself for what feels like a coming storm, just breathe and watch the leaves swirl outside the windows. When you do, I hope you have a moment when you realize that all you needed was just one second of that Still Small Voice. Even though it may not be a booming-voice-from-Heaven experience, that the three hour drive is worth hearing just one sentence that soothes the heart.

One beautiful word is worth all the miles, the money and the mess.

And you know, driving up that mountain is a lot like life. One minute, it’s smooth sailing and the next thing you know, you’re slamming on your breaks face-to-face with the side of a cliff. In that moment, you grab that wheel with both hands, take a deep breath. Go on and take that curve like you own it; ’cause baby, it’s too late to turn back now.

Meet some characters along the way. If you’re like me, you’ll find out some strange things like how “men are deer” and learn some lessons about “patience, patience, patience” and you will love every single second of it.

But don’t be afraid to come back home.

It’s easy to fall in love with the silent and simple life that is hidden in the rust colored leaves. In a place like that, you’re always going to consider just settling in for the long haul and forgetting what’s waiting for you 157 miles away in a town that never lets you forget the past.

You have to remind yourself that you need to come home. 

When you start your journey back, drink in the shades of blue that paint the evening sky and find yourself thinking about tacos and snow and how brave and yet clumsy you’ve spent the last year being.

Stop at the McDonalds that is a faithful staple in all of your past mountain road trips and order chicken nuggets while you cry about the things are far too big for your tiny hands to change.

You need some time to sort out the things you can change and to let go of the things you never could.

Close your eyes and count to one-two-three and say, one curve at a time. 

And when you get home and life kicks you in the gut again (and it will), plant those little feet on some solid ground.

Hold on just a longer, love.

Because hope is going to come again. All the things that make you feel alive and that symphony of laughter that’s being caged by your weary bones is going to return with a fierceness.

You will come home from your weekend in the woods and will look for more answers. You will start wondering how God expects you to keep going when things seem so dry and mundane here at home.

And then He will surprise you with a phone call from a complete stranger on a Tuesday night to let you know that He’s still got a plan.

When He does and hope starts to return, you’ll slowly begin forgetting all the lies you’ve been tangled in. All the voices that told you and all the reasons why can’t ran away with never could. All the ways you thought you failed and all the people you felt you lost will begin to only strengthen you because you’ll know in your core:

It wasn’t all for nothing.

There’s a gift waiting if you’ll just take some time to get away. Maybe you can’t go to the mountains right now. Maybe it will just be a few minutes on your back porch with the sunset. Perhaps you can wake up a few minutes early tomorrow and enjoy some time on your couch, listening for the voice you were made to hear.

Whatever the case and no matter the circumstance, I hope you get some time to get away soon. Because there’s hope hanging from the mundane and routine clouds above your head.

And Hope has got a smile on His face and some words for your heavy heart.

It Really Is Okay To Walk Away

Your bones were made to bear the weight of the hearts you hold.

Though they seem to be crushing you and you feel absolutely broken. Though sometimes you feel as though you’ve always been unworthy to hold them–you were made to hold the big things, things like hearts, hands & history.

I know you keep looking back at those closed doors. You keep asking if there’s more you could have done.

You’ve been so weighed down by the words they said, the words you didn’t say, and by the words you so desperately needed to hear.

Life is funny that way, the most pain usually comes from the words that were never said.

And I’m sorry to say it, but you might never hear them.

If I am being honest, they’re probably never going to knock on your door in Nicholas Sparks fashion and say all those delicately strung together apologies and promises.

I need you to be okay with that.

Because it’s time that you realize deeply in your core, that sometimes, it really is okay to walk away.

It doesn’t make you weak. It does not mean you don’t love them with all of your heart & all the way down to your toes.

It simply means that you gave that person their freedom.

It means that you realize you can’t hold on to someone who refuses to be held.

It also means that you decided you don’t have to live by that list of rules. That you get to cut all those little strings that were attached to you.

And you know what else? All the things that they did to completely rip your heart out, all those little phrases they taunted you with to make you feel inferior? Well, all of that says more about them than it does about you.

People can make their assumptions, they can have their beliefs about you & the path you’re on.

These are hard times for dreamers.

You know? The ones who draw outside the lines. The world changers. The people who refuse anything less than a life that brands itself on this earth.

As for you? You’re going to be a legend.

And it’s NOT because you’re better than them and not because they couldn’t be. But because you learned a long time ago that you CAN walk away. Because you realized that your happiness, your future, your dreams, your laughter doesn’t depend on another human being.

You’re going to make the history books because you’re not too busy clenching all the small things, all the little worries & arguments. You put down your fists down a long time ago. 

So throw off the weights. Untangle the strings.

I know they told you that you weren’t enough.

I know someone came in and tried to poison those dreams in your heart. Using their words and glances to make you feel like all of your worst fears about yourself are actually true.

They found all the right buttons to push. They made you believe in the worst version of yourself.

But they were dead wrong. 

I know how you found your knees on the kitchen floor and your face buried in your hands. All those prayers you prayed, those sobs that were drowned out by the sound of your music screaming from your speakers. I know all the drives on back roads, silence seeming to be your only companion.

But life is more than what people do to you, more than what they take from you, more than the words they use to tie you up and box you in.

It’s a chance for you to take all of that, all of those little things that have tried to gut you, and use them for greatness. It’s a chance for you to take the words I love you and wear them out on people who will never say them back. Because you can bear that kind of weight. You can love and love and love until you’re ruined and wrecked. 

Because the brave ones were born to love until they’re empty. Because the idea of never loving in the first place is far worse than being crushed. They know the ache of heartbreak is much better than the agony of solitude.

So, get up. Dust yourself off. Pour yourself a cup of coffee (with peppermint mocha creamer). Take a shower. Breathe. Open the windows.

Decide to love them anyway.

But walk on. 

For Those Who Think I’m Perfect.

Sometimes, I’m absolutely terrified to tell my own stories.

The funny ones were never difficult, I’ve always been able to easily spin and weave those into any and every conversation. Nothing brings me joy like making a room full of people ache with laughter.

But the ones that require me pulling off layers of skin, cracking open my rib cage and letting you peek at the cracks and crevices of my core?

These are the stories I have always been afraid of.

I have driven to the places that haunt me so many times, that I know each tree that lines those gravel streets.

I used stockpile restaurant napkins to keep in the glove box of my little blue Nissan, for all the times I would sit in grocery store parking lots, legs crossed, tears pouring down my face.

I’ve worn out the words “I love you” to people who will never and can never say them back to me.

All by myself, I have stumbled up to houses, hands shaking & stomach churning to apologize to people who probably didn’t deserve it.

I have given out hand-written letters with splatters of my own heart painting the page. I have said words that made me cringe, words that left me feeling bare and exposed because I really believed those people needed to hear the absolute truth.

I lost myself in fears that threatened to swallow me whole. I gave room to a series of imaginations that paralyzed me and barricaded me. I let myself forget the feeling of sunshine on my face and fresh wind filling my lungs.

I’ve lost best friends. People who have seen the best in me, the worst in me, who let me fall into their embrace and told me “it’s all going to be okay”.

Those people left me and it nearly killed me.

I told myself that I needed to hide these parts from the world; that strangers and friends alike didn’t deserve to hear about these scars, they didn’t earn the right to know the pieces that aren’t so pretty. They are not ready for the i’m-not-so-perfect-after-all confessions of a preacher’s kid.

I prided myself on my ability to lock up my disfigured limbs and the unlovely layers of my heart.

But I’m starting to think people need to read and hear the stories that make another person human. They need to know that they’re not alone in their despair, that they aren’t the only ones who have been kicked and thrown dirt at.

They need to know that they weren’t the only kids who trusted someone who took advantage of them.

They need to know that they are not alone in their questions about the God of their childhood, who looks nothing like everyone said He did.

You’re not the only person who is angry at someone for breaking every single promise they ever made to you. You are not the only one who came limping home, head in their hands, feeling like they’d been kicked in the gut because someone should have protected you, but didn’t.

I used to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming into my pillow from the nightmares that plastered themselves to the walls of my unconscious.

I’ve been broken by memories that are stuck on repeat. Nights of trust and truth that were erased by ones of betrayal and misery.

I have beat my steering wheel. I have used words that, if she had heard them, would have caused my mother to wash my mouth out with bars of white Ivory soap.

Because I am human and that is glorious and chaotic.

I am often broken and sometimes smothered by harsh realities, unanswerable questions and heartbreaking losses.

But I am beautiful. I am so absolutely, unmistakably, breathtakingly stunning. With all of my flaws and blemishes and imperfections, I am still worthy of love.

I have wrestled with the emptiness that weighs heavily on my chest, I know well the pain of having something and someone you love deeply taken away from you.

But I am learning to be open about that.

All the parts I try to cover up, the wounds I try to sew up that seem to keep cracking open at the first signs of disappointment:

I am done with trying to erase them.

I am so done with the idea that our bruises and our scars are not marks of beauty. I am finished with refusing to look at them. When the truth is, they are my marks of redemption and grace.

Those things that I have called ugly are reminders of His unfailing affection and His immovable desire to come for me, even when I hated Him.

I don’t want to push it all away. I don’t want to clean up and look pretty. I want to show the world the marks I bear on my heart and my body that scream HE LOVES ME! HE LOVES ME!

The ones that I don’t have to hide any longer because on His own body he wore the scars that brought healing to mine.

I am not ashamed of who I am, where I’ve been, the brokenness I’ve felt and that He came down and pulled me out. I will not hide those stories that make you wince and cause you to see my grief.

Because I am not ashamed of the power of God to take what is absolutely hideous and make it the perfect picture of freedom and redemption.

Not only did Jesus let his friends see his scars, He let them put their dirty hands on the places where he had once been ripped apart.

He is not ashamed of suffering.

So, I refuse to cover my wounds. I refuse to hide my marks of past suffering. Because He has redeemed them. He has carried them and He put pain on display so that I could have the right as his child to display His grace, His healing and His forgiveness.

But I cannot show you how He heals, unless I show you what was first broken. I cannot give proof of how He washes, if I will not show what was dirty before He came. I cannot convince you of the greatness of His love, if I do not first show you how He took away the shame of all the things I think are unlovable about me.

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry if the church has made you feel like you can’t show your scars. If they made you feel ashamed of all that you have done or have carried.

I’m sorry if we seem perfect, with our pressed church clothes and words like modest, pure, and consecrated and have made you feel like that we were always clean and tidy; born with a Bible in our hands.

I’m sorry we have been afraid to tell our stories.

That somewhere along the way we forgot that they are what make us relatable, human and displays of infinite grace.

I’m sorry if I haven’t let you see the parts that sometimes still bleed, the limbs that are still a little crooked. I’m sorry that I sometimes still cover the insecure places with my fancy words and deeds.

But I am human and I am flawed. I have known the feeling of weeping on the cold tile floor. I have done things that dulled the life in my eyes. I’ve been the girl who has felt used and worthless.

But I am loved. I know it when I read of how He continuously rolls up His sleeves and lets people remember Him naked, hanging on a tree, mocked and rejected.

He doesn’t let us forget His pain. He doesn’t try to cover it up. He reminds us over and over again of all that He endured.

But He also doesn’t let us forget His resurrection and that He overcame that so that we could also overcome.

So, I will not be ashamed of my stories. My stories tell the world of His ability to love the unlovable and find worth in the unworthy.


I Was Born Wearing a Red Polyester Cape

“You can’t make everybody happy.”

She said it in such a matter-of-fact tone. I thought those words were just the scraps from her years of practiced indifference.

“And one day, you’ll get tired of trying.”

I didn’t believe her. It didn’t seem that a day would ever come when I wouldn’t want everyone in my life to be blissfully happy. When I wouldn’t want to do everything in my power to make it so.

But that wasn’t what she said, was it? She never said I wouldn’t want it. She said I’d get tired of trying to make it happen.

I wish she had been wrong.

There are only so many speeches, letters, gifts, and heartbeats you can offer a person before you realize you can’t and won’t and might never make them happy.

I want so badly to wrap my arms around every single person I’ve ever known and every stranger I meet. I want to buy them cups of coffee and read them bedtime stories and whisper words like, “every little thing is going to be alright”.

And I could do that. But it doesn’t mean I could make them happy.

You can offer them everything you are, you can look into their muddy brown eyes and tell them they are enough. You can do the hard things, the brave things. You can break your own bones for the strength of another’s aching limbs.

But you can’t make everybody happy. And that’s perfectly alright. 

What she didn’t tell me was that it’s okay to be completely exhausted from love.

No one ever told me it was okay to take a drive to the mountains for a date with the trees and the sky. No one ever told me to let the wind sing me a lullaby as I watch the leaves change. Oh, I wish she had told me that It’s okay to admit you’re broken and to take a sick day every once in a while.

Sometimes, I think I was born wearing a red, polyester cape. Because I’ve spent my life trying to live up to the task of saving people.

It took me seeing a photograph taken in the city on a summer night before I finally knew why I’ve been feeling so weighed down. I knew immediately that I was going to have to untie this layer of superhero attire and realize this:

I can’t save you. I can’t make you happy.

I used to see bright eyes that resembled the watercolor paintings from my childhood, but now I see that they’ve faded through the months.

Because you were born wearing a polyester cape and like me, you’ve been trying to save the world.

But the world already has a savior and He’s not on leave. He didn’t ask us to take over while he vacations on the beach. Like a child following their Daddy to work, trying to carry his hammer, his nails, his bag. We want to save the world.

But we can’t.

We can only tell people Daddy’s on the way. And that he loves them. And that he says they’re beautiful, wonderful, funny, handsome, mighty, fierce.

But we can’t make them live the life that bleeds the things that God painted on their hearts long before the earth had a speck of light. But we can tell them that He is on the way. We can tell them that they are enough. That they are worthy to be loved.

And we can love them.

But we will get tired. These feeble bodies that will someday expire, can’t always hold the weights that our hearts and souls carry. Sometimes our bones grow weary from lugging around the kind of love that changes the world.

But you’ve got to keep going. You have to keep telling them all the words they never got to hear. All the words that never came to the little boy or the little girl who wondered if they were enough.

But you can’t do that without some days by the sea or moments under the stars. You can’t do that without untying the ropes of unyielding and immovable devotion for just a little while. You can’t keep going if you don’t stop and let yourself breathe for just a minute. And in your breathing, you must keep reminding yourself:

You can’t save the world. 

Not for lack of trying, or because you don’t want it with every single cell inside of you. But because you too need saving.

And the only one who can save us is the one who made us. We are not Him. 

We could never bear the weight that it takes to have that kind of love; the kind of love that saves. The kind of love that causes flesh and bone to cling to a tree. We could not hold in these mortal bodies the kind of love that does not grow tired. Not yet.

So, it’s okay to take an adventure to watch the sunrise and to remove your red polyester cape. To remind yourself that you too need saving. To remind yourself that Daddy’s on the way. And to remind yourself that your only job is to tell everyone else the same.

You’re Not a “Plan B” Kind of Girl

You deserve better than someone who is afraid to commit to you. It may seem like enough for now. You’re just taking things slow. Oh, how I know those little phrases of “one day” and we just need time.

You believe them.
And I’ve believed them.

But you’re not a “Plan B” kind of girl.

You need to know that you’re not the invisible one standing in the back who gets chosen last.

You’re the girl who the team captain will be frantically hoping doesn’t get picked by someone else before he gets a turn. You’re a first-pick kind of girl, and no one worth having sits back and lets those girls wait around. Because every good man knows that the good ones get gone fast.

He should be jumping out of his skin in anticipation to call out your name and say “I pick you.”

But he’s scared…and I’ve got commitment issues…and we don’t like labels.

And.  And.  And.

Like a fool, I’ve stood there picking at the fabric of my sweater and spinning excuses. I’ve heard them all. I’ve used them all.

He’s been hurt. He’s busy. He’s in school. He doesn’t have a good car. He has Momma issues. His Dad left. His Great Aunt’s second cousin’s puppy just died.

You’re not the kind of girl who needs to make excuses for him.

Good girls shouldn’t and don’t have to finish last.

Honey, you must be at the wrong game and with the wrong players, because you’re not a substitute, average, or second string.

You’re a catch. You are beautiful and funny and fabulous. Rooms light up when you walk in. Heads turn when you giggle and the earth itself adores the kiss of your feet.

You are worthy to be chosen, pursued, adored, loved, respected and informed. This whole “Do we really have to define this thing?” is almost always a delicate way of asking “Will you fill this lonely spot until I decide nothing better is coming along?”

Stop being afraid that you are not worthy enough to be claimed. Stop thinking “I’ll take what I can get. Maybe I will be enough for him one day. Maybe he will be enough for me.”

Don’t even consider the lie that says I can’t set my standards too high, because if I do, I might end up alone.”

Better to be alone than taken for granted. Better to be alone than to be a placeholder.

The one that loves you isn’t afraid to say it. If he cares about you, he won’t even blink because the idea of giving another man the chance to swoop in is just unacceptable.

He will fight and use labels or poems or the Goodyear blimp to show you that you’re just the right fit for that open place in his heart, that no other piece will do.

You should be nobody’s second choice.

He will lose his pride to tell you that you make him nervous and he will spend his heart to find what makes you laugh. He will tell you that you’re worth words and flowers and promises.

And you will believe him, because you’ll see it in the way he watches you walk across a room. You won’t have to question it by analyzing a text message or deciphering the tone of an e-mail. He will drive over on a Tuesday to bring you coffee and you’ll see it in his face and hear it in the way he asks about your day.

Your answer will lie in the memories of nervous beginnings and awkward introductions. You’ll know because the questions didn’t take long to fade. Because he said what he meant and meant what he said. And even when he messed up, he made up.

You’re not his back pocket plan, fill-in girl, or multiple choice answer. You are fierce and a force to be reckoned with and the kind of girl whose beauty calls for hand-written notes, words like “wow” and car rides to the ocean.

Take nothing else and be nothing less.

Be the kind of girl who treats him with kindness. Who laughs at his jokes and thanks him when he opens your door. Leave the head games behind you. Encourage him and wear the kinds of dresses that make him respect you. Be the kind of girl who gasps at his surprises and hugs him for his compliments. You are worthy of the kind of man that he was born to be.

Stop waiting for the guy who isn’t sure you’re enough and respect yourself enough to wait for the one that knows you are.