31 People(s): Final Thoughts

WE MADE IT! You made it through reading my WAY too many words (41,500 words, 63 pages single spaced). I made it through this challenge I was determined to complete, even if it wasn’t in the 31 days originally planned.

Good grief this was an amazing journey completely and totally orchestrated by God. I knew the moment He put it on my heart that it was Him. I didn’t know what all it would mean and do for my life, but I KNEW it was Him.

So what did it do? What happened in my heart? Everything!

Firstly, It’s surprisingly terrifying to write about the people you love, to say things about them you’ve rarely been brave or intentional enough to say to their faces, to be scared they won’t read it, to be scared they will, to be humbled when they do. TERRIFYING! Worth it every single time though.

Writing about people and the way they have impacted your story and about HUGE moments in your story, is so raw and exposing. Every time I pressed submit I felt like I was turning a magnifying glass on my heart for the world to see. Any reservation I had about what I was sharing was usually immediately squashed by the overwhelming feeling that it just felt right. Scary or not, it was right.

Pretty early into this journey, I felt God speaking some major things to my heart. #1. I’m a writer. I’m not “just” a blogger. I can’t keep discrediting the call He’s given me and ability He’s given me to do it by saying silly things like, “I’m not a ‘real’ writer. I’m ‘just’ a blogger.” It’s in my soul. I can’t let go of it. I recently read in Annie Down’s book that, “it’s said to be a writer is to have homework every day for the rest of your life.” My work is never done and I don’t want it to be! I never stop wanting to tell a story. #2. The realization made me brave enough to actually pursue things to further my writing journey. I took some online writing seminars. I contacted MANY magazines and publications about freelance writing. I did my first feature article interview and will HOPEFULLY have a feature posted in a magazine soon! I hope to at least have a few published pieces over the next year. #3. I really do believe that I’ll write a book one day. I don’t know how or when or where or what, but I know it’s something I’ve been called to do and that I don’t have to be scared of it.

The moral of this three+ month long story is – LOVE YOURSELF AND YOUR PEOPLE. Believe in you and the calls God places on your life. Believe in them and see the best in every one of them. THANK YOU for reading all of these words. Thank you for encouraging me along the way. Thank you for affirmation that will last a lifetime. You words and willingness to read mine mean so much more to me than you can ever know! Tears are streaming down my face as I say goodbye to this project. It was a labor of love and I’m forever changed by it – the awareness of the wonderful people in my life, the beauty of the God in my life who has given me these people, and the amazing feeling of knowing you’ve been called to and equipped for something. I really do love you!


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Et Cetera

Here’s the thing about life and the people in our lives – they never stop coming! Though my 31 People(s) list has come to an end, I know there are so many people I have cherished from all the seasons of life I’ve lived, so many people I have yet to meet and will love, more neighbors to be had, more coworkers to live my days with, and beyond.

To the people of my past who may not be in my present – I’m thankful for the moments I had with you, for the lessons you taught me.

To the friends of my future – I can’t wait to meet you and know your story and figure out all the ways to love you well!

To the people in traffic that I yell at – I’m sorry. I don’t know what comes over me! You really aren’t an idiot and I’m working on that.

To the strangers I pass everyday – I pray that I’ll always be interruptible and ready to meet you and see your heart.

To my neighbors, present and future – I want to know you! It’s really scary to knock on your door, but I really hope that it happens one day. I hope you can eat a meal in my house and that we can look out for each other.

I love you all! I really do. I know I toss around the word love like it doesn’t carry the power it does, but I mean it. I think we’re called to love the people in our lives, our neighbors, strangers, and even our enemies with the love that we’ve been shown – the love of Jesus.


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Future Husband

Dear Future Husband,

Here’s a few things you’ll need to know if you wanna be my one and only all of my life…

JK. I hate that song. (In case you don’t know what song I’m talking about, listen at your own risk.) It’s annoyingly catchy and flawed and not the song I want to sing to my future husband. Or the words I want to speak to him since I don’t plan on ever singing a song to him, or anyone, other than our future children when no one else is listening and/or my car steering wheel…

Not that it doesn’t have some decent points (feel free to read the lyrics before you read my commentary on them):

You can take me on dates and buy me flowers. I’ll buy groceries, I actually like doing that, but if you’d like to be in charge of the budget I’m totally okay with that because I hate math and will always spend too much if left to my own devices (but I’m working on that – 2016 goal sneak peek). I actually did learn to cook and I’m pretty dang good at it. It would be nice if you’d treat me, and all ladies, like ladies. When I’m acting crazy you can tell me everything’s alright if you want to, but you can also gently remind me that I’m being crazy. You can – and I hope you will – tell me I’m beautiful whenever you want to. After fights we should probably both apologize, not just you, and I am wrong often. We can disagree. Making time for me is also cool since my love language is quality time and since we’ll be, you know, married. We can see your family more than mine, but I’d like to claim Thanksgiving with mine at least every other year. We do Thanksgiving well and fairly drama free. I’m flexible on which side of the bed is mine, but I’d like you to be on the side closest to the door in case anyone breaks in so you can punch and/or shoot/stab them or something. I’m not good at those things. You can open doors for me if it’s convenient and you aren’t carrying things or I am carrying things, but I’m probably going to kiss you whether you do or not. Classy is good. And I honestly don’t care too much about rings and carats or even real diamonds, but rose gold is good, and/or a tattoo because that’d be cool, but rose gold something please (I’ve already instructed a couple of people to give you the rose gold specification when the time comes, but just in case they forget, it’s here now, forever, so make good choices, unless I change my mind, which is possible).

Okay we’re done with that song. DONE!!

But for real, here are the things I want to say to you/about you in no particular order with no sort of organization.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’re near (in proximity and timing) or far. If I’m honest, some days I don’t even know if you exist. I don’t know if I’ve already met you once or twice or several times or if our paths have even crossed yet. I don’t know if I met you in a coffee shop, if we met at a wedding once, if we went to college together and will reconnect someday, if our mutual friends think we’d be perfect for each other, if you have a beard, how you like your coffee, IF you like coffee, or ANYTHING.

I know nothing.

Well… I do know what our wedding will be like and what we’ll name our kids. Too soon?

I don’t know if you’ll actually meet the three Q “requirements” that one of my RAs made me come up with (she had three Ds) – quirky, quizzical (wise), and quixotic (the only q word that could summarize my “huggable” preference, some of the definitions are negative but I chose to go with the “extravagantly chivalrous or romantic” one, hugs are chivalrous and romantic, it’s a stretch, but just let me have it!). I don’t know if you will be any of the things I wrote on “The List” in the back of the future husband journal that I started my freshman year of college in 2002 that I haven’t written in since Valentine’s Day 2007 when I penned that I hoped I’d meet you before the next Valentine’s Day (spoiler alert – that didn’t happen). I haven’t been able to bring myself to dispose of that ridiculous journal. I like going back and seeing how much I’ve learned about life since than, cringing and laughing at the ridiculousness, AND noticing how much my writing skills have improved, but seriously, you’re never reading it. Ever. Literally almost everything my naive younger self wrote in there is ridiculous and I take most of it back. In particular, I would like to say loud and clear that I DID NOT mean it when I said on April 3, 2002 that I wanted us to date for a year and then be engaged for a year before we get married. We’re 30-ish something now, let’s get this show on the road!

Seriously though, my April 3, 2002 self was crazy and clearly didn’t know that 14-ish years of additional life lived would have a major impact on the appeal of dating. I kind of hate dating and the idea of dating you scares the heck out of me. If there was a reality show about arranged marriages set up by friends, I’d be on board. Some parts of dating are fun and I wouldn’t want to miss out on them, but some parts? Let’s just skip it and get married okay? Okay whatever, I know that’s not feasible. But if we have to do this dating thing, please have people that are going to coach you through dating me and make sure I have those people too. I don’t want to mess things up with you, but I’m absolutely terrified that I will. Dating is hard! There’s the whole uncertainty thing EVERYWHERE. Not knowing who likes who or officially or how much or blah blah blah that is enough to drive even the sanest person crazy (and due to my flair for the dramatic I’ve never held that title). And then all the rest – the formalities and pressure of trying to be impressive and your quirky self at the same time and saying things too soon or not soon enough and the fact that we’re 30-ish and have lived enough life to make enough mistakes we’ll have to talk about at some point. And then the risks of potential heartache and rejection. There’s a lot! I know it’s worth it, but I’m just scared. When you like me, just tell me. If we’re dating but it’s ambiguous because no one has said that word, just tell me. If I’m your girlfriend or you want me to be, just tell me. JUST SAY THINGS! Don’t leave me to guess and be confused because I promise I’ll probably guess wrong. Convince me that we can do this dating thing and do it well, okay?

We have to work out. I’m a really good cook and I’ve been waiting to cook for you my whole life, or at least since I got my first Easy Bake Oven circa 1992. Picture proof below. Also, I still make this face when people make me take pictures with the gifts they got me, but I really was excited.


But really, I’ll cook healthy things most of the time, but I’m going to want to blow you away with my cooking skills so that you’ll brag about how your wife is the best cook ever. That means I’m gonna use butter sometimes. And desserts. So we have to work out. Together, separate, I don’t care. There just has to be some accountability and push there or we’re both gonna gain weight.

I apologize in advance for rearranging the dishes you put in the dishwasher. I want you to load the dishwasher, and I promise I don’t think you’re doing it wrong. It’s just a puzzle I have to figure out and make pretty and I can’t stop myself. I have to make it pretty (and filled to the maximum capacity). And the fridge. And the cabinets. And maybe your side of the closet. I’ve never shared a closet (other than college when I hadn’t discovered my love for organization yet, don’t talk to my college roommates about my cleanliness back then, especially Brownhair), so I don’t know my limits.

I cry a lot. Happy. Sad. Mad. Confused. Traffic. Hanger. Tired. TV shows. TV commercials. Radio commercials. Adele songs. Babies. At the gym. At work. Because I don’t like my hair. Because I don’t like my outfit. Because I spilled my coffee. Baby animals. Any military reunion video. Any movie about sports (or if I’m forced to watch real sports and not movies about them). You can laugh at me, I don’t mind. Unless it’s a mad or sad cry then maybe just laugh WITH me afterwards when I’m experiencing the after cry happy high after you’ve hugged me. Just embrace it and don’t be scared of it. I’m a cryer. Just let it happen.

Waiting is and has been pretty dang hard. I know you know this too. But it really is! I love love. I have been loving love as far back as I can remember. I’m not one of those Singles Awareness Day/let’s wear black on Valentine’s Day/over love and couples kind of girls. I love couples, marriage, hearts, hanging out with couples, watching movies and shows about love, and even Valentine’s Day. I celebrate it for others and think it’s beautiful. I’m not obsessed with having it or finding it, I’m not bitter towards others who have it, I’m not full of angst about not having it, but I’ve never been opposed to it. I confess that many times I’ve felt sinfully entitled to feeling like I deserve you so we can be each other’s family and create our own family to redeem broken family stuff. I also confess that in those hard counseling days, one of the biggest lies I clung to was believing that if God didn’t give me you, it meant He lied about the abundantly full life promise. Week after week my counselor tried to get me to say that my life could and would be great with or without a husband. I wouldn’t say it. I’d say back over and over, “I like my life now, and I’ve had a great life, but I don’t think I can keep loving life forever without a husband and family.”

With the utmost sincerity, I really do believe now and forever that my life will continue to be abundantly full and beautiful with or without you. Thanks to a lot of hard counseling work freeing me up from shame and feelings of unworthiness, I was in a place where I was able to be forever changed in the way I think about sin and unbelief by what I learned from my Gospel community and other wise people. The past year or so of life, I’ve been on a forever journey of realizing that sin and clinging to lies is less about behaviors and more about an inability to believe fundamental truths about God – that He’s good, great, glorious, and gracious. When we believe He’s good, we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. When we don’t, our idol becomes comfort. When we believe He’s great, we don’t have to be in control. When we don’t, our idol becomes control. When we believe He’s gracious, we don’t have to prove ourselves. When we don’t, our idol becomes power. When we believe He’s glorious, we don’t have to fear others. When we don’t, our idol becomes approval. (These are called the 4 Gs and they are from Tim Chester’s book You Can Change.)

I struggle with all of those things at different moments, but there was one that was a blaringly obvious idol in my life. I didn’t believe God was good. I really, really didn’t. Satisfaction was found elsewhere, mainly in the idea of you and a future family. If I didn’t get those things, I couldn’t believe life would continue being good. I feel free from that now. I absolutely hope you exist. I miss you even though I’ve never met you. I wish you could hug me. I wish I could hold your hand. I wish I wish I got to pick out Christmas presents for you and use all the lovey dovey stationary I’m hoarding from my stationery subscription to write you cute notes. I wish you would have gotten to meet my dad. I wish I could pack your lunch. I miss you on holidays and when I have to move heavy furniture or fix things. And with 100% confidence I already know I’m going to love you (hence why you’re worthy of one of these 31 people(s) I love posts). But, I also know that even if I keep hoping forever that you’ll come and you don’t, God is still good and so is my life.

To wrap this ridiculously long letter/post up: I say a lot of things (good grief I just wrote 2500 about a person that I don’t know yet…), I make a lot of lists, I think and overthink almost everything, I have a lot of ideas, but here’s what really matters more than anything else – I need you to love Jesus more than you will ever love me. God is love. And I don’t want any sort of version of love that exists without God. We need the Holy Spirit in our corner fighting our battles, keeping us holy, interceding for us, and doing the changing of our insides (hearts, brains, souls, habits, etc) – work that we can’t do ourselves. Jesus has to be the center – the everything. You can’t lead and love me like Christ loves the Church and I can’t submit to your leadership and love without Jesus. We can’t forgive 70 times 7 without remembering the depths of our wretchedness that Jesus died to forgive and redeem. I am certain that it will be impossible for you to love me forever without the Holy Spirit on your team (and vice versa, we’re flawed humans!). Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we simply can’t do it without being wrecked every day in all of our moments by the power of the Gospel. Love Jesus and let’s always push each other to Him. ALWAYS.

PS. I like beards and hugs and I’m not getting rid of all of my pink decor.

Can’t wait to hug you forever,

Your Really Awesome Future Wife

Note: Should I ever start dating someone, can everyone remind me to revert this post to a draft??


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Daddy

If you’ve been around here any amount of time and/or know me in real life (hi, thanks for reading friends!), you know I lost my dad three+ years ago. I’ve written things about him a few times – Fathers Day for the Fatherless, How to Help Those Who Have Lost, etc. I loved and will always love my dad! With every passing year the grief wound heals a little, but I’ll never not miss him. The first year after he was gone, the monthly anniversary of his death felt like it was ripping the wound back open every single month. On the three month anniversary, one of my best friends encouraged me to make a list of reasons I was thankful for his life. I wrote about it in this post, and I will forever be thankful that I did! He was an amazing man who loved me and my brother FIERCELY and taught me so many things. Things weren’t always great, and I’ll talk about that in a minute because it’s part of my story and his and majorly brings glory to God, but first I want to talk about the great things!

He had the kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. He helped so many people get jobs and get back on their feet. He literally would have given someone the shirt off his back or boots off his feet if it would have helped them. For most of the years of my life, he provided a major sense of security for me. Even if he wasn’t physically there, I knew he was there. His work ethic was ridiculously committed. He always tried to pass that down to me and my brother. I don’t think I’ll ever be as hard-working and dedicated as he was! But I am a hard worker and dedicated, because he taught me that was important. I’m thankful for the things he taught me about money. I’m bad at money! He knew it. But he was so good at it and some things stuck with me. I still won’t apply for credit cards when people ask and my reason still is, “my dad would kill me.” And I’m constantly attempting to be a better saver and manager of money. He modeled forgiveness in a beautiful way. He was one of the most forgiving people I’ve ever met and gave so many chances, over and over and over again. He believed in me like no other! He would always ask me how my cookbook writing was going (he called this blog my cookbook). In his eyes, I was a famous cookbook writer. One day there will be a cookbook, or a book, and his belief in me will be one of the many reasons that happens!

And now, because I think the bad parts of our stories magnify the good, allow God’s glory to shine through, and tell miraculous stories of redemption that lead others to Him – I’m going to share the harder stuff. These are segments of MY story, my literal typed out story that I copied and pasted. For the moments that I get to share the story of what God’s done in my life (my testimony), these are parts of what I share. And duh, I’m a writer and a story-teller so of course I have a typed out version. I even have chapter titles. I’m cheesy like that. I’ve shared my full story several times and parts of my story many times with different groups of people. And though I’m not going to share it ALL here today, I’m not ashamed of it. I think the time will come that I’ll share it for the world to see, maybe even this year, but that time isn’t now. 🙂

From Chapter 1: Crazyland

I affectionately refer to my childhood, adolescence, and family life as Crazyland – characterized by chaos, dysfunction, and addiction. My dad was an alcoholic and a drug addict for all of my childhood and adolescent years. I won’t go into all the chaos I encountered, but I’ll give you a brief summary: parents usually high and/or drunk, constant fighting, life below poverty line, neglect, spent a lot of time scared, cried myself to sleep many nights, saw my dad point a gun at my mom the night he left for good when I was 11 (I knew even then that he wouldn’t shoot her and that he was being drunk and careless, but traumatic nonetheless), divorce, single mom, dad disappeared for a couple of years, more drugs, more neglect, another failed marriage, abuse, more damage, more fear, dad came back in the picture for occasional custody visits, more drugs, more fear, no peace or stability, EVER. Like I said, CRAZYLAND.

From Chapter Five: My Dad

On November 18th, 2012 my dad died. The same man from Crazyland previously mentioned, but a COMPLETELY different man than the aforementioned one. When I was in college my dad met Jesus. I had prayed for him since I was 13 and given up hope many times that Jesus could ever change him. But He did. The life change was undeniable by anyone who knew him. Our relationship was beyond restored. My dad became my rock and constant. He worked mill shut downs, so I wasn’t was able to spend all holidays with him. But, if he was close enough he’d always make a way for my brother and I to be with him. He loved me and took care of me. He answered my car questions and wanted to hear about my life. If I hadn’t called him, he called me every Sunday. He called me every birthday and holiday, even silly ones like St. Patrick’s Day, and wanted to be the first one (waking me up most times) to wish me a happy fill in the blank. He was from a different generation and place, dropped out of school in 9th grade and could barely read. Reading the bible was something he struggled with, but he learned to pray. He prayed for me and my brother everyday. He made us hold hands at dinner and prayed over the meal. He truly was a new man. Unfortunately, the decisions of his past had already started to ruin his body. He had Hepatitis C. Coupled with so many years of alcohol abuse, it lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

My world was shattered. The one sense of family I had left was gone. November to the end of December that year was complete and utter painful misery. I tried to handle grief in my own strength and failed. In desperation, I gave in. I told Jesus I didn’t know what else to do but go to Him and that I didn’t really believe that even He could make it better. I told myself I’d spend time with Jesus every day for two weeks and see if it helped. A this point, I was willing to try anything to escape the collapsing pain I felt. I learned how to make my time with Jesus sacred and special for me and my temperaments and learning styles (I wrote about this once too). My entire life, spending time with Jesus was a struggle, an obligation I rarely had time for. But I gave him the most feeble attempt at an inch that I could, and he relentlessly pursued my back miles and miles. Spending time with Him became something I needed and wanted to do because He loved me and I loved Him, not an obligation. God also used my dad’s death to reconcile some other relationships in my family. I still miss my dad EVERY day and wish he was here, but I fully know God used his death and sickness to draw me back to Him.

From Chapter Six: Here and Now

I’m closer to God now than I’ve ever been. I have a need for Jesus every day. I had the need before, but I was never able to fully surrender. I thought I was strong enough to do life with my own strength and abilities. Jesus makes me loving, Jesus heals my heart, Jesus gives me hope. Any of my former faking it to appear to have it all together abilities were ripped away when my dad died and left me in a raw surrendered form that the Holy Spirit could actually change.

I’m thankful for every bit of the life I’ve lived – even the loss and hurt. I’m thankful for how it echoes God’s presence throughout. I’m thankful for who I am because of what I’ve been through. I’m also thankful that it doesn’t define me. I’m thankful for redemption and that God makes beautiful things out of brokenness. I’m thankful that God released me and healed me from living in the lies and shadows of my past. I’m thankful that he freed me from feeling like I have to hide behind the shame of baggage, the past, or sin. I’m thankful that vulnerability breeds vulnerability and that He allows the sharing of our stories to break down walls and transform lives.

My life verse used to be Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you,” because so much of my life was characterized by chaos and I needed God’s protection. Since my dad’s death my new verse is Romans 4:18, “In hope he believed against hope.” I still need God’s protection, but instead of waiting for the next chaotic thing, I choose to believe in “hope against hope” and His relentless redemption of our lives and stories.

I know these last three posts haven’t been as warm and fuzzy as posts about my imaginary TV friends, SBC, or my beautiful, hilarious, and wonderful friends (and are probably all collectively what held me up from finishing this project), but they all point to/end with the warmest and fuzziest thing of all – hope. The bad and sad are harder to talk about, but so necessary! The Gospel changes EVERYTHING! It heals hurt, it redeems the bad and sad, it changes lives. Let’s not be afraid to share the hard things so that God’s glory can shine through them!


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): More Family

You’ve heard about my brother, Aunt Sandy, and my cousin Marissa, but I want to tell you a little about some of the rest of my family now (except for my dad, he gets his own post right after this one!). We don’t get to pick our families. And not everyone comes from a healthy family, but I think we are all born (or adopted) into the families we’re meant to be kin to. The good, bad, ugly, dysfunction, great memories, not so great memories, triumphs, tragedies, victories, and trauma all shape the humans we become. Families are one of those things I’m convinced Paul is talking about in scripture when he says that all things work together for good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28

Let me pause a moment to say that I really don’t think you should ever quote that scripture to anyone going through anything bad (I’m certain I’ve been guilty of that at least once or twelve times). In the midst of bad – abuse, neglect, tragedy, trauma, depression, grief, loss, etc., quoting that scripture can easily be misinterpreted to the hurting heart that what is happening is good. None of those things are good. I do think it’s important to remember and believe something my friend Amanda Taylor said months ago that hasn’t left my thoughts, “God’s definition of good and our definition of good aren’t always the same.” BUT, bad is real and really does happen in this fallen broken world we live in. I just think (know) that God can and wants to redeem the bad in our lives. He uses our brokenness in beautiful ways. Broken people find broken people and experience healing from one another’s stories and hurts. The scars remain (see yesterday’s post), but God uses it for His glory and leads us to healing. We can love our families even if they’re broken and have hurt us. We can also be the ones who break generational sin and shame.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore, Goblet of Fire (book)

I just don’t think there is any “supposed to” we can apply to family relationships. All of our situations are different and there just isn’t a set of rules we can generically follow. I think family stuff is hard whether you have a great one or a broken one or a great one that’s also broken. I think it’s GREAT to love your family and be proud of them and loyal to them, but the only worthy, lasting, unshakable thing that we can put our hope in is Jesus. I also know that reconciliation is real. It doesn’t always happen, but it can. I think God speaks to us and leads us to where wants to go in regards to family relationships. Just listen and ask! Maybe you’re supposed to seek reconciliation. Maybe you’re not. Either road is hard! We can pray for them and love them. We can set boundaries if we need to. We can spend time with them if we want to or need to. We can laugh hysterically while we re-tell old stories and make new memories. We can cry hysterically about it all when we need to. We can have good moments and bad moments. We can forgive and still protect ourselves in the ways we need to. We CAN heal and let go of bitterness and resentment. Good or bad, our families don’t define us. They are part of us and our stories, but the don’t define us. We can celebrate our similarities AND our differences.

“It isn’t how you are alike. It’s how you are not.” -Albus Dumbledore, Order of the Phoenix (movie)

So all that to say, my family isn’t perfect. I didn’t get to chose them, but I wouldn’t wish any of them away. I desire to be in the balance of Albus Dumbledore’s words and the apostle Paul’s words when I think about them – aware of the good ways in which we’re alike, thankful for some of our differences, proud of who I’ve grown to be, and reminded of God’s redeeming hand amidst it all.

I know how to feed cows, work in a garden, and that no tomato is as good as garden-grown tomato because of my Papaw (mom’s dad) whose work ethic is unmatched by any I’ve ever known. I know that I was supposed to be a red-head because of my German Mamaw (mom’s mom). I got my freckles (which I love) from both sides – the German Mamaw and my Nanny (dad’s mom). From my mom I got good calves, craftiness, and an adventurous cooking side (I’m told she made homemade egg rolls once way back in the day before Pinterest). My cousin Jacob (Marissa’s brother, Aunt Sandy’s son) is one of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met. He leads worship with his lovely wife and I’m a super proud big cousin. My cousin Zack (Marissa and Jacob’s brother, Aunt Sandy’s son) and I have identically freckled arms, it’s weird. He got the red hair I was suppose to get. He’s hilarious too and a ridiculously talented musician. I’m certain he’s going to be a famous drummer one day (#proudcousinstatus). My Uncle Jeff (Aunt Sandy’s husband) is also hilarious and is an INCREDIBLE carpenter that makes amazing woodworking things (and also a musician, I didn’t inherit this gene that they all possess). My Uncle Charles (mom and Aunt Sandy’s brother) is another one of the hard-working men of my family and an excellent huntsman; I wish I had access to just a fraction of the deer meat he acquires each year. My Aunt Ellen (Uncle Charles’s wife) is quiet, kind, gentle, and loving. My cousin Nick (Charles and Ellen’s son) is super smart, loves theology and ministry, and is a new dad to a precious baby boy. My cousin Josh (Nick’s brother) has two of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen that he loves dearly and has an extremely talented artistic wife who’s an amazing mom to those little boys. My Nanny (dad’s mom) is an incredible woman that I’ve gotten closer to as an adult. We’re so much alike and I value everything she says! My Aunt Debbie (dad’s sister) is kind, smart, and beautiful. I am envious of her world travels! My cousin April (Aunt Debbie’s daughter) lives an amazing life in FRANCE with her beautiful family. She inspires me to not be scared of adventure and change. My cousin Ian (April’s brother) lives a hard life and has a family that loves him and thinks about him and prays for him constantly! My other Mamaw (dad’s stepmom) is a lovely little southern belle of a lady who’s an amazing cook and as sweet as tea (the southern kind, duh). My Papaw (dad’s dad) loves the Lord so much and also loves golf more than anyone I know. My Uncle Bob (dad’s brother) is forever hardworking and loves his family fiercely. My Aunt Kim (Uncle Bob’s wife) is one of the sassiest people I’ve ever met, an AMAZING cook, and a sacrificially loving wife, mom, and grandmother. My cousin Jeret (Kim and Bob’s son) has two adorable little girls and is one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. And last but not least, my stepmom. I will forever and always be thankful for how she always took care of and loved my dad, but especially in his last days. She was by his side every minute and had to watch him live all of his last, final, and hard moments and continues to love and remember him no matter how much time passes.

These are the people who were meant to be my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Their genetics, characteristics, personalities, skills, talents, and stories have shaped me. I am thankful for their lives! You know I love to google things. A google image search for “family quotes” produced this gem, “Family: They drive you crazy. They drive you nuts. They drive you loony. But – they drive you.” I’m genuinely thankful for the ways they’ve driven me, the love they’ve shown me and each other, and the me they’ve directly and indirectly helped me become. And above all I’m thankful for a God who has adopted me and made me part of the only perfect family that will ever exist – His.


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Lifesavers

This is probably THE post that has subconsciously held me up from finishing this stupid challenge. And by stupid I mean great and wonderful. But you know, feeling like calling it stupid right now since it’s three months after I meant to finish it and haven’t yet. It’s the darkest one. The hardest one. The one that I can’t really tie up with a pretty bow like I do all the others. I’ve thought a million times about just eliminating it and picking something random like the 35 crushes I had in college to write about instead (that’s a real number), but I knew I needed to write it. So I’m going to. And then we’re just gonna move on and wear sparkles, okay? Okay.

In reality, all the people I’ve written about, especially Jesus over and over and over again, but all of these other amazing people that I get to call mine, have been lifesaving forces. But above and beyond, Jesus put two people in my life in the darkest season I’ve ever walked through to save and change my life. So many people I’ve known, watched, and heard of, myself majorly included, go through life all the way into adulthood thinking they’re 100% totally okay and have this thing called life figured out regardless of the things they’ve been through.

Facts are facts and science is science and there are a whole lot of people out there a lot smarter than me who by studying the human brain and body figured out that humans simply can’t just compartmentalize all our baggage and hurts and scars and move on. Things have to be dealt with, worked through, healed from. Healing doesn’t happen by simply picking ourselves up by our boot straps and moving on. Surviving is necessary at times, many times, especially in trauma and tragedy, but eventually we have to deal with it all. When we don’t deal with it, it manifests itself and spills over into all sorts of things until we’re forced to deal with it. Until I was 26, I WAS OKAY. I had been through a lot, a lot of things no child, teenager, or adult should have to deal with, but I was okay, okay?!

But I wasn’t. Once upon a time (back in 2009) when I started this blog as one of many efforts to battle that dark season, I wrote this post. I was vague, and for the sake of not writing a book in this single post, I won’t divulge every detail of my story now. However, because I think it’s important, because I want to be real when I say I’m passionate about vulnerability and transparency, and because I think Satan is squashed and God is glorified when we talk about the hard things, I’m going to dig a little deeper. During that season of life when everything bubbled up and demanded to be dealt with, I started seeing a counselor. I had been to a counselor once before in college, but I was convinced I was okay, and told her I was too. I thought she believed me; in hindsight I think she knew I wasn’t, but knew I had to realize that myself first.

The trigger that finally broke me was some new and hard stuff that happened with my family. It can most easily be summed up as rejection. As a result, I started having nightmares. Because I didn’t want to have those nightmares, I stopped sleeping. I was in grad school at the time and decided to see the school nurse because not sleeping seemed unhealthy. She encouraged me to see a counselor and put me on sleeping medication. Counseling was a free resource since I was a student and she knew I needed it. I started going because I knew I needed to, but I didn’t want to. Having to deal with the new stuff and delve into the old stuff HURT! It was a necessary kind of hurt; healing doesn’t come without pain. Lack of sleep and trying to work through hard stuff while simultaneous continuing to try and avoid dealing with the hard stuff lead to a pretty bad case of clinical depression. I was on sleeping medicine, depression medicine, and then also developed social anxiety. I’d drive or walk to my class and not be able to force myself to go in. I was down to only one class and it was an online class. I just couldn’t do it.

I really do believe the thing that kept me wanting to wake up every morning was my job. I was a nanny to a precious little girl name Addie. Addie is one of my lifesavers. I experienced some suicidal thoughts when I was a teenager, but even through a terrible season of depression and hopelessness as an adult, my thoughts didn’t go there and I think one of the many reasons for that was Addie. I really think baby cuddles have healing powers. Soon I couldn’t even hang on to my one class and therefore had to leave. No apartment, no school, no job, no Addie, and no counselor. A friend and her parents took me in until I got back on my feet. People from my Slidell church were able to get me connected with a new counselor that graciously agreed to see me for free since I didn’t have a job at the moment.

Enter into the picture lifesaver number 2. My counselor before was necessary, but I was avoidant and not fully ready. Desperation was the kick in the pants I needed to make some things happen. I eventually got a social work job, a place to live, and was back in Slidell with the people that I wasn’t ready to let go of yet. For almost a year and a half I met with that wonderful lady once a week. Counseling days were hard, a good kind of hard, but hard nonetheless. I’m a healthy human on the inside now because of her. Friends are great, WONDERFUL gifts from the Lord, but so are counselors. God gifts and calls people to this career and some of us (maybe most of us) really need them!

The difference in a friend and a counselor is that when your friend tries to argue with you and tell you that God loves you (insert any other truth you don’t want to believe) and you argue back and are convinced He doesn’t, you usually win because you’re pretty dang good at arguing and fighting to believe the lies you cling to. Because your friend loves you, they probably get frustrated and hurt and sad AS THEY SHOULD, because they care. Counselors care too, but it’s different. You can tell your counselor over and over again that you can’t and don’t and won’t believe that, and they’ll let you say those things. They won’t get frustrated, but they also don’t let you win. They know how to get to the root of the lies. They know how to teach you how to fight the lies and how to really stop believing them (cognitive behavior therapy). They know, and studied for MANY hours and days and years, how your brain works and how the things that have happened to you shaped you beyond your power or knowledge.

I BELIEVE IN COUNSELORS! Mine saved my life. Not just in a literal since of the word in that if I didn’t learn all of that I probably would have ended up wondering if life was worth living again or coping in unhealthy ways that likely lead to a quicker death. But also, because of her I learned how to have a full and happy life despite my circumstances. THAT IS LIFESAVING! I will add this little tidbit that is subjective, but I’m passionate about it. I think Christian counselors are the way to go. I’ve been to both. There is a difference. I think ALL counselors are great. I am an advocate. Go! But if you’re a believer, go with a Christian counselor. Cognitive behavior therapy is cognitive behavior therapy, Christian or not, BUT, if you’re a believer, counseling and cognitive behavior therapy through a Gospel lens is vital and life-changing.

To sum up all these jumbled words, a sweet little girl named Addie unintentionally poured into my life in a  way that made me love that part of my life and made me want to fight to love more parts of my life. My amazing counselor intentionally poured into my life in a way that changed me forever and taught me how to never stop fighting for the abundant life promised me (and all believers). Because of counseling and God’s hand in it I learned A LOT of things and overcame A LOT of things. But the biggest most life-changing thing I learned is this: Shame is one of the biggest obstacles that prevents healing from actually taking place and it doesn’t belong anywhere. Shame is not the same thing as guilt and it simply DOES NOT BELONG in our hearts and heads.

I learned that children of dysfunctional families, children of addicts, and those who have experienced abuse and neglect whether it was seeing their loved ones suffer those things and/or personally experiencing those things (both in my case) survive because they have to, but their insides are changed in ways beyond their control and they don’t even know! Many of those children become adults who unknowingly have an identity defined by shame. When your identity becomes shame-based, you simply can’t get rid of that without retraining your brain. Guilt is an emotion felt over a behavior or action (or failure to act). Even guilty feelings sometimes lie and have to be evaluated against truth. But shame? Shame is an ugly word! Shame is self-condemnation. Shame doesn’t feel bad about a behavior or action, it feels bad (worthless, small, defective) about the person who committed the action – you. Shame is always a lie.

Cognitive behavior therapy retrains your thoughts. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It takes a LONG time and a LOT of effort. But it works. Most of us probably struggle with believing lies. Some are surface, some are deeply rooted. Deeply rooted lies that have become part of how you define yourself and are second nature to think and believe, require HARD work to get rid of. It’s worth it. It’s SO SO worth it. Shame and living an abundant life don’t coexist. I think and hope you probably know that when I say abundant life I don’t mean a life full of wealth or things. It is possible to materialistically live an abundant life and cling to shame, BUT not the kind of abundant life Jesus promised. For kicks I googled “define abundant life” just to see what the internets said. Even Wikipedia, the most reliable source for information (sarcasm) gets it! “Abundant life refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul. Abundant life signifies a contrast to feelings of lack, emptiness, and dissatisfaction.”

Shame doesn’t belong! My life is abundantly full now despite my circumstances, a life that was always mine (and yours) to have, because shame no longer exists. I love myself – my face, my body, my mind, my quirks. I love my life – my people, my story, my scars. I love my Jesus – more than life and no longer want to hide from Him even when I mess up (and I do OFTEN). And I know He fiercely loves me, chose me, and came to “take sin and bear shame” – my sin, my shame – on the cross. FOREVER. I couldn’t say any of those things for myself before and in the thick of counseling. I believed God loved you, but not me. I believed I loved Jesus, but not enough and didn’t deserve to. Finding and replacing those lies freed me up to live an abundant life. Being able to live that kind of life saved my life because that kind of life is worth living. SHAME DOESN’T BELONG!

(Note: I still have bad days and lies still rear their ugly heads! Like my 2009 self said: “Acceptance is the end. And I personally think the last stage is lifelong. Like a cool scar. A story to be told. And in the case of these life scars, a God’s glory scar.”) 


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Roe and The Ogeas

More Slidell family! Some of my best and worst years were lived in Slidell and New Orleans (more about the worst in the next post). I think God was very purposeful to allow me to live some of the worst years in Slidell. Never in the years that I’ve lived yet did I have so many wiser adults, couples, and families taking me under their wings and inviting me into their families. God knew I would need them to be my family. He knew there was no better group of people for me to lean on as I learned how to allow the Church to be my family and fill in all the gaps of broken family relationships. He knew these people needed to be surrounding me as I finally understood that someone loving you even when they don’t have to (chosen family) is as equally (and sometimes more) valuable as someone loving you because they are supposed to (blood family). In addition to so many of the other Slidell people mentioned (TWU, The Palmers) and more, Rosemary and The Ogeas are irreplaceable parts of my chosen family.


Rosemary, known by Roe to many of those who love her, is another one of those incredible spiritual mothers I’ve been blessed to know. This beautiful lady loved/loves me and so many others so fiercely. She is gentle, kind, compassionate, loving, funny, talented, wise, giving, and so many other things. She’s an amazing cook. She’s a savvy business woman. She’s incredibly healthy in all aspects of her life. She’s an amazing wife and mother. She displays so many characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman – more precious than jewels, a trustworthy heart, strong, opens her hand to the poor, reaches out to the needy, strength and dignity are her clothing, she opens her mouth with wisdom, the teaching of kindness is on her tongue, she looks well to the ways of her household, she doesn’t eat the bread of idleness, and she reverently fears the Lord. She has such an incredible testimony and her love for Jesus is so real.

She took me in like I was her very own daughter! When I didn’t have a place to go for Christmas, she insisted I stay with her, bought me undeserving gifts, and showered me with love. She loved me in my brokenness and heartache. When I needed something, whether it was a counselor or a place to live or a bed and furniture for the places she helped me find to live, she did everything in her power to help me find everything I needed! She prayed for me and every need I have and then watched God provide just like she knew He would. She has an amazing ability to connect with broken people and I watched her do it over and over again. As I watched her live her life with abandon, I wanted to be like her. She spent time with Jesus everyday, rising many hours before the sun came up to pour her heart out in prayer and cling to God’s written word (and though I don’t see her daily life anymore I have no doubt that she still does this). She went to bed early and frequently couldn’t make it past 9. I loved that about her, and I knew she experienced Jesus in a way I didn’t. Frequently in those days I stayed up way later than anyone should, therefore clinging to every extra minute of sleep I could, and had many a conversation with her where I told her I wished I could be a morning person like her. She always told me I could, but I never believed her.

I now know that her ability to rise early and go to bed early had nothing to do with what I assumed it did. I do think as humans we lean more towards a time of day that we’re at our best, but I also think many of us night people use not being a morning person as an excuse. I now know, like she does, that there is absolutely nothing in life that is better than intimacy with Jesus. I now know there is obedience in giving our first fruits, the first part of our day, our first thoughts and affections and time, to our Heavenly Father before the rest of the world and it’s busy moments have time to distract us. I now know that rising early and going to bed early has far more to do with discipline and desperation for time with the Creator of the universe than it does being a morning person. Spiritual disciplines aren’t called DISCIPLINES because they are easy. Discipline is an ugly word. It’s a hard word. But the beauty of discipline is that before you even know it, even if the good thing you’re trying to obediently add to you life feels forced at first, it soon feels normal, necessary, life-giving, sustaining, and like you never want to live without it again. If spiritual disciplines came naturally then they wouldn’t be something every believer struggles with! But I now know, because I’ve watched people like Rosemary live it, and personally experienced it, that it’s worth it! It’s worth more than anything else. Spending time with your God, studying His word, praying, meditation, etc, is more valuable than anything you can have or experience. It doesn’t change God or our circumstances, it invites the Holy Spirit into our lives and changes us.


And the Ogeas! Andrew and Amy were two of the first people I met at our church other than Jason and Christie. Andrew is one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most amazing worship leaders and vocalists I’ve ever been lead by! And Amy is my sister! She’s beautiful, hilarious, an amazing mom, and will forever be one of my best friends. When I first met them none of the above pictured adorable kiddos were even in the picture yet. Amy and Andrew were (and still are) my people. Their spare bedroom was basically my room. We chaperoned youth trips together, we ate LOTS of meals together, we laughed endlessly together, and we watched a lot of Drake and Josh and Jonas Brothers together (okay that part was just me and Amy). And you know you’re really friends with someone when you can spend the night at their house on Christmas Eve. Not just any friend can do that! Around the time that I moved from New Orleans to Slidell, they moved from Slidell to New Orleans to serve at another church. Even though it was just a short lake (well, it’s actually a pretty big lake) away, I was so sad! I cried so much the day they told me. I quickly learned though that Amy and Andrew were on the list of forever friends. Forever friends aren’t thrown off course by distance, long gaps between talking, or anything life throws at them. I never doubt the love and loyalty of a forever friend.


I rejoiced when I found out Amy, Andrew, and Macy were moving back to Slidell! My forever friends got to be my every day friends again. I was literally at their apartment almost every day after work. We got to walk with each other and love each other through some of the hardest seasons we each had to walk through. They loved me in the midst of depression, anxiety, intense and hard counseling days, and more. I got to see them love each other amazingly and show me what a Godly marriage looks like  as they walked through a really hard season. I got to see the incredible power of redemption, freedom, accountability, and transparency displayed in their lives. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be free of a sin stronghold because of their story. My hope was restored in the power and freedom of Christ. And then… God called me to move. And not just across the lake, but back to Mississippi! Amy, Andrew, Macy, and Rosemary were all a major part of the sole reason I didn’t want to leave Slidell – the people. Obviously you know from previous posts that I moved and that I was absolutely supposed to. My possessions have lived in Mississippi for 5 years now this month, but my heart has continued to live in Slidell and Mississippi.

These people (and all the others) are my forever friends, my chosen family, my people. They are in my heart forever along with the many things I have learned from them. I know that the the sweetest intimacy with Jesus comes from a life of discipline because of Roe. I’m a better minister to women and mentor to girls because of her. I know what forgiveness and unconditional love looks like because of Amy. One day I’ll be a better mom and wife because of the way I saw her live in those roles. I know what transparency, redemption, and authenticity looks like because of Andrew. I took the hard road of fighting through an entangling sin and inviting others to fight with me and found true freedom because I found hope in seeing him do it first. I’m a better version of myself because I get to call these people my friends.


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): The Palmers

The Palmers are such a special family to me! They now live elsewhere (as do I), but they were part of the group of people I met in Slidell and went to church with there. They are the reason I went to church in Slidell to begin with! Jason was in a class with two of the aforementioned WACOHs, Amanda and Cheryl. He invited them to his church and they invited me (I think that’s how it went at least). I don’t even know if we visited another church after our first time at Northshore, it instantly felt like home and the Palmers had a lot to do with that! Christie and Jason took the three of us under their wings and became our home away from home. They invited us over for Sunday lunch almost every Sunday, had us over often during the week, and trusted us with their kids. We also got to be in their small group! There were several couples in different stages of life and the three of us – me, Amanda, and Cheryl, single seminary girls. Because of my time in that small group, the things I valued about small groups was forever changed. Being part of an intergenerational/life stage small group was SO life giving. I think segregated small groups can for sure serve so many great purposes (you know I love my college girls!). But I think so much happens when we all just do life together regardless of age, marital status, number and ages of kids and/or grandkids.

Jason and Christie live for the gospel in such a beautiful way. God truly is the center of everything they do. They are amazing parents and I hope and pray if I ever have kids that watching them parent rubbed off on me a little. They are so giving, so caring, and so open to everything God has for them and everywhere He takes them. And they give their all in everything they do! They both served, and I’m sure continue to serve, the Church in SO many ways. From worship team, to women’s ministry, to kids ministry, to set up team and leadership team, to everything in between, they served! And they weren’t just committee member, Sunday and Wednesday Jesus followers, they really lived it out every day in every way and invited people into their lives and to be part of their family. They prayed for us endlessly! And they really cared about every little and big thing we concerned ourselves with and were never too busy to make time for us. One semester they even let Amanda and I live in their house for a month or so. And oh the things they taught me!

They are the most organized people I’ve ever met, and if you know me, that’s saying a lot! My organization is minuscule in comparison to theirs. Jason has (or at least had) a spreadsheet where he kept up with his workouts for YEARS! Jason sat us all down one night and taught us how to budget. He created a template for us and showed us how to use it. I’m pretty sure I’d be homeless right now if it wasn’t for Jason teaching me how to budget. With a little shame I admit that prior to this valuable life lesson with Jason, my bank account was accustomed to seeing red and overdraft fees. I can count the number of times on ONE hand that I’ve overdrafted since then (7+ years ago!). I’ve also gotten to share different versions of that budget template with more friends than I can count! And Christie is the reason I meal plan. Yes, that thing I’m obsessed with now that I try to convince everyone to do. It all started with Christie. As passionate as Jason was about instilling in us the value of a budget, Christie was equally as passionate about how valuable meal planning is. I wrote a post a while back that summed up many of her reasons, and now my reasons – you can read it here (and some here too). She planned for a month at a time and taught me all the ends and outs of meal planning and grocery shopping on a budget. She’s saved me, and many of the others I’ve convinced to meal plan, so much money.

I read this on She Reads Truth last year and was overwhelmed to tears for all the spiritual mothers I’ve been blessed to know, and instantly had to send it to Christie, one of my many spiritual mothers.

“Technically, it was a Bible study. But we didn’t just study God’s word. She taught us how to study God’s word. And not only did she serve us good food. She set aside time at the end of each study to teach basic feed-a-family kitchen skills: how to plan and plant a garden, and that lilacs in bloom are for clipping and sharing, even if it means wrapping the cut stems in wet paper towels and driving them into town for a friend.

Karen was my spiritual mother.

She knew what Paul told Titus about older women training the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). She had nothing to gain, but gave several hours a week to teach us with her words and actions how to keep home, love our husbands and children, and honor the Lord with our words and actions.

No shame. Just kindness.

We are afraid to reach out—afraid to be rejected. Asking for and offering help can feel super vulnerable. You never know how someone is going to respond.

But Sisters, godly women-training-women is absolutely a risk worth taking, whether it looks like roasted chickens and gardening, or coffee dates and spin class. Expect that blessings will follow!”

My life was blessed because of the way Jason and Christie poured in to me. They poured into me spiritually and with all kinds of life-bettering skills. I’m a better human being and WAY more responsible because of the ways they loved me. Christie is still at the top of the list of the people I go to when I am burdened to invite my village to pray with me (something I know I should do more), and I KNOW when I ask without a doubt that her and Jason really do pray. Pouring into a younger generation isn’t as scary to me as I imagine it would be if I hadn’t seen it modeled so beautifully with no complicated frills or titles, just life on life, by Christie and Jason and so many others. I will forever be thankful for the things they taught me, prayers they prayed (and continue to pray) over me, and for the ways they loved me and showed me how to love others and give myself away.


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Bloggers

Today I’m going to talk about my blogger friends! Clearly the blogging community has had an impact on me. Aside from Jesus, nothing inspires my writing like fellow bloggers/writers. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me want to buy things, they make me hungry, they influence my fashion choices, cooking choices, meal planning, and more. Some of them know me, most of them don’t, but dear blogging friends, I see you. You are real writers whether you think you are or not. Your words matter whether they are few or many. You are brave and you do big things. I know how scary (and exhilarating) it is to press that publish button and have your words and heart out there for the world to see. You inspire me and I’m glad you share your words and thoughts and recipes and outfits with us.


Pic from Oh So Lovely Blog

Joy at Joy the Baker is my all time fav. I LOVE HER! I’m convinced we’re kindreds and would be friends in real life. She writes with humor that I get and love. She perfectly mixes real life and food into every post.

Annie at AnnieFDowns.com is also my kindred. We’d totes be friends. I have a DEEP love for women in their late 20s and beyond who are single, long for marriage, but know their lives are good and will be good whether marriage comes or not. Annie is on that list. And she loves Tim Riggins as much as I do.

Ree at The Pioneer Woman is everyone’s fav, but seriously she’s fantastic! Her show is great, but her blog and ability with words far surpass her show! She’s funny, witty, and does the real life food balance as magically as Joy does.

Jess at Meet the Magnolias really is my kindred, not just a wanna be kindred. She’s my real friend and she’s fantastic. She knows more about pop culture than anyone I know and has SO much love for life! We bond over our love for blogging, nail polish, fictional characters, and so much more.

EB at Benchpressing Buicks. You already heard about her in my RA post and know all the great things I think about her. Seriously, we’re gonna write a book together one day.

Brittany at Coffee, Puppies, and More Spiritual Things. I’ve given Brittany her own post and shout outs everywhere (see OWLs, RDs, and Starbucks Lovers). I won’t say more, but she’s hilarious, candid, and real.

Sam at Our Journey is another real life friend! She lives in Texas now and I live in Mississippi. She might not even know that I read her blog, but I do, every time, and I LOVE her story and heart.

Jess at Life on Lawson is a real life person too. She’s a fantastic writer, has a beautiful heart, and an amazing story.

Kendi at Kendi Everyday is my go-to fashion blog! I can’t afford any of the stuff she actually wears, BUT she gives me outfit inspiration often (made up of much cheaper pieces of course).

Katie at A Place to Dwell is on the list of women who balance singleness and longing for marriage with such grace. Her bravery and love for life inspire me.

Nadine at Nadine Would Say is also on the aforementioned list! She’s so full of wisdom and depth and I love reading her posts.

Callie at From the Corners of the Curve is my favorite plus size fashion blogger! She’s British and super fun to follow on Snapchat.

Bronie at Team Victory is one of my TWU ladies! Team Victory is her former blog, no longer active but the posts are still there and worthy of reading! I started reading her blog right around the time I started my own. Her wit and the way she learned lessons from all the happenings of real life inspired me so much! She’s an amazing writer and I’m convinced one day I’ll get to read her book (and maybe even get to write a book with her).

G at Nouveau Cheap is the ultimate/best beauty on a budget blogger! She posts sales on beauty products and has made me spend lots of money/saved me lots of money.

Kristin at The Beauty Department is my forever hair crush! She’s a celebrity hair stylist and helps run a fantastic beauty blog.

JJ at Always in Joy is a another real life friend! She previously had another blog I LOVED as well and talked about crafty things. Her new blog chronicles her current journey in life and it’s so beautifully transparent and encouraging.

Jenny at Jenny Bakes is a social media friend turned real friend! She’s my go-to person for cooking tips and recipes. I always joke that I wish I had an “Ask Jenny” app. She’s also one of the smartest people I know and her intelligence inspires me!

Gina at Skinnytaste is my go-to blog for healthy recipes! I make most of my recipes “skinny” based on tips and tricks I’ve learned from her. Every recipe I’ve cooked from her blog has been fantastic and fail proof.

I could go on and on with lists of the people I love and follow (for real, I follow 200+ blogs on Feedly). But seriously blogging friends, you inspire me. You motivate me. You impress me. Believe in your abilities and talents! Believe that your words matter. Believe that you have the ability to influence others positivity. Believe that it’s okay to write just for you and because you like doing it. Stop comparing yourself to other writers. We’re all in this together! No one else’s success threatens our own. Write YOUR words. Don’t hold back. Don’t put yourself in a box. If you want to have a food blog and spend 31+ days not talking about food, do it! Don’t worry about your pictures not being perfect enough or your words not being witty enough. YOU (and your words) ARE ENOUGH! Comparison is the thief of joy. Writing should bring you joy! Don’t let the nasty comparison beast still your joy and your words. Obviously don’t write mean things about people or anything like that, BUT WRITE! Make time for the thing you love. Believe you deserve that! I see you. I get you. I appreciate you.


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): OWLs

This group of people gathered together for a shorter time in my life than most, but had a big impact and filled a big void at the time! Once Britt and I finally became friends, she realized she had several girls in her life who were all in similar life stages and of similar age that were frequently surrounded by students 8-10 years younger than them. In some way or another we all got paid to hang out with students who frequently compared their life stages to our own, and there really is a big difference! We all had other adult friends, but we all lived in a world of being mistaken for and compared to students. She realized we all had a need to feel like someone understood us and our lives. She decided we should all be friends and made us hang out once a week. 
We called ourselves/our group the OWLs – Older Wiser Ladies. I was instantly in based on the name alone, but I’m super glad I said yes to potentially awkward social interactions that ended up not being awkward at all! We’d plan random potluck style meals each week that frequently stressed me out because I plan in advance and Britt plans the day of, but it was good for me and always came together somehow. We ate and talked and gathered together to feel understood. We’d talk about what we were struggling with and what things we needed to believe and be reminded of. We’d speak truth over one another and into our struggles. And then we prayed, really prayed for each other and our needs and struggles and confusion. It was genuinely beautiful and something I so desperately needed in that season of life! We’ve dispersed now and most of us live in other places, but they all hold a special place in my heart as we continue to embark on similar journeys.

You know plenty about Britt already so I won’t talk more about her, but there was also Christy, Chaeli, and Tina. Tina was an equestrian coach at MC, daily surrounded by students, and a California transplant. She was always positive, brought a unique perspective, and inspired us all in how she really did love her job and students so much! Chaeli worked in the international office and taught English to students from other countries. She was always full of wisdom when we talked, always searching for depth in everything, and had an unmatchable gift with international students. I also got to live with her for a couple of months and now live in her old house! She taught me SO much about paying attention to where food comes from, gardening, farmer’s markets, and I have so much more knowledge about what’s in the food we eat because of her. Christy still lives in Clinton! She works at the coffee shop frequented my college students galore. She is a free spirit, loves Harry Potter as much as I do, has the brightest smile, a huge heart, enormous love for the Church, and I just love being around her. We really are going to start being better soon about hanging out!

I will forever be thankful for my time with the O.W.L.s and a season filled with the intentionality to pray boldly and specifically and watch God answer those prayers and guide my steps and the steps of those around me.


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.