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Life Lately: thoughts on failure, shame, marriage, and Jesus.

So as many of you are aware by now, I withdrew quickly and quietly from school at ACU this past semester with no plans to return and finish my degree. It was simultaneously a really hard and really easy decision. Hard because I'd wanted to attend ACU almost my whole life and never thought I'd leave without graduating. Easy because I'd become tired, fed-up, depressed, and ready for something different.

And here I am. A college dropout. Not forever, but for now. I'm taking a gap year before I go to Bergin in California to complete a Bachelor's degree.

Allow me to be honest: I have felt and currently feel like a failure for dropping out of school. I have felt ashamed of my decision to leave school. I have felt sad about missing out. I have felt depressed about moving to another city and starting over.

As I've been trying to meet people in the church I'm going to now, I find it hard to even explain where I am in life right now, much less how I'm feeling abo…

Public Private Letters, Part 7: Dear Evan.

Dear Evan,

You're a Soul Friend. It's kind of like a best friend, except you can have many more than just one. You're one of mine.

As I'm writing this, you're sitting across from me at Starbucks, getting started studying. You just finished telling me how stressed you are about a bunch of things. I'm here to tell you I believe in you! I always I have. I believe you can do it. You always do!

It's been such a joy to see you grow up over the last 6 years or so. From a camper on my first hall at camp to an almost-graduate of college, you've come a long way--and so have I (although it often feels like I'm stuck in the same place!). You've been a constant encouragement to me, even when you probably didn't realize it. I loved being your Big in club, but I honestly felt like you encouraged me more often than I encouraged you!

Here's a few memories I have of you and some ways you have impacted me that you may not be aware of, and I'm fairly c…

Public Private Letters, Part 6: Dear (Hopeful) Husband.

Dear (Hopeful) Future Husband,

I don't know where you are, or if you even exist. Perhaps God is calling me to a life of singleness. I'd probably go down that route kicking and screaming though. (If I'm being honest, I already have been kicking and screaming while wondering where you are!)

It's always been part of my life dream to be married and have a family. So, I'm truly waiting for you, Husband. I am. But you are not a guarantee or a promise by any means. I know that God has promised me many things, and you, Husband, are not one of those things. This is the reason why I will treasure you all the more if you do enter into my life.

So far, in my 25 years, I've been perpetually single. This has been a blessing and a frustration. I fully believe God has protected my very tender heart from being broken time and time again. You see, I love freely and I love hard. Because of this, I am prone to falling in love (or infatuation at the very least) easily. The Lord my …

Public Private Letters, Part 5: Dear Colby.

Dear Colby,

I know I said my last letter to you would be the one in your casket, but I can't help it. Today would have been your 21st birthday and I've been thinking about you a lot over the past few months--especially today. I've thought about more and more how short your life was. Beautiful, but short. You seemed like you were only just beginning. We were growing closer over the months before you died. I feel as though so much has been stolen from me. But, then again, life IS a gift, one that we are not guaranteed, so how could that gift have been stolen if it wasn't ours yet? It was a gift I absolutely took for granted. I would like to say I'll never do that again, but that would be foolish. I take life for granted daily, even after your death.

Can I be really honest? Some days I do not want to be alive--to be breathing and hurting. I'm not suicidal, I promise. I would NEVER hurt myself. But some days I wish for an escape. I wish for pain-free. I long for He…

Public Private Letters, Part 4: Dear Merritt.

Dear Merritt,

Have I told you lately that I'm proud of you? Well, I am. I'm proud of how strong you are, how hard you work, how much you care about others, and so much more! Even though you're physically shorter than me, I always have and always will look up to you!

I was sad to learn you couldn't make it to my birthday celebration this weekend, but I hope all goes well with beginning the process of planning/writing your thesis! I have realized more and more that graduate school is not for me (at least not right now), and I have more and more respect for those who are able to succeed and do well in graduate school. You're one of those, of course! And you're going on to get your doctorate! I couldn't be more proud.

Merritt, you're one of those friends who can tell me the truth. You're a true friend because you are capable of being really honest with me about things that truly matter, and you handle that truth with grace. I trust you with knowing abou…

Public Private Letters, Part 3: Dear Brooke.

Dear Brooke,

It's your birthday! Hooray! You're 25 on the 25th. Happy Golden Birthday! I wanted to wish you a happy birthday by writing you this public private letter today.

Well, as you know, my birthday is in 5 days--just 5 days after you were born, so was I! Hooray for being born! But really, it's a blessing to be alive. The older I get, the more I realize this. I mean, living hasn't always been easy--for you or for me. There's been three times when my world sort of got turned upside down, and I know you've had a few of those as well. For me, the first was when I had cancer at age 10. The second time was the dark days of my hospitalization in 2013 and the following months of recover. The third time was when my cousin Colby and then my Aunt Jan died. You've stuck by my side through all of these and more. Through thick and thin, we've been pals. Since 4th grade we've been buddies. But more than buddies or pals, our friendship has grown into somethi…

Public Private Letters, Part 2: Dear Kayla.

Dear Kayla,

I have some news, perhaps. I think I have decided to get my hair cut. It's time for a change. I don't know how drastic of a change just yet, but I'm just saying...it may be pretty short by the end of this!

Yes, it's time for a change. I'll start from the outside and make my way into my mind and my heart. Starting with some physical changes, I'll make my way to spiritual, emotional, and mental changes. You see, the last few weeks things haven't been working. I've spent far too much time in bed, sleeping my life away. I'm done with that. Starting right now, I'm done with sleeping away my life. Although I am fed up with feeling "stuck" here in Abilene, I want more than anything to participate and be fully present. So...I'm doing what it takes to make some changes. Starting with my hair!

You're the first person I've told about my decision to get my hair cut. Granted, I just decided tonight, and I'm also posting …