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Lighten Burdens.

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Advent has always been a pretty enjoyable time of year for me. It has served as a reminder to spend extra time with my family. As an invitation to hope even more than usual. And as a chance to imagine what it was like to anticipate the arrival of the Christ Baby all those years ago.But this year….well, it’s different. This year, Advent has not brought joy, hope, and anticipation to mind in quite the same way.On JoyI had a dream on Saturday that my Uncle JR was with us for Christmas. In the dream, he was walking around the house as my extended family gathered around for pictures. He claimed he was helping us stay on task, but in reality he was distracting us with a myriad of crazy jokes. It was silly and perfect, as many of my memories of him are.I realized I was dreaming when my mom leaned over and asked, “Can you see him, too?” His death was so unexpected. So unfair.This Advent season is not one of joy. On HopeThe other day, I told Jacob that I feel like nothing I’m doing matters. I am…

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Lighten Burdens.

Pushing On Without a Plan.

On April 29th, I graduated from college. After four years of stress, frustration, joy, excitement, inquiry, and much, much more, I – along with 178 of my peers – completed my undergraduate degree. Together, we put a period (okay, maybe it was more like exclamation point) at the end of one chapter of our lives and began another. Some, like Brian, had a job in their field waiting for them on the other side.A few, like Donna, prepared to begin grad school almost immediately.Maybe others, like me, walked across the stage feeling like they were already letting people down. Let me explain . . . For four years, I was the only woman in my major. I am one of the few women who have received an award at Johnson specifically for excellent preaching. I received encouragement that many women in my field at other universities never hear. Just a week before graduation, I was voted “Most Likely to Take Over the World” by my fellow seniors.At nearly every step along the way, I was told big things are expected from me. But when I walked across the stage on April 29th, I knew that exactly zero percent of the job I…

Lighten Burdens., Values.

Lighten Burdens.

This post is the third in a series about the five core valuesthat form the foundation of everything I do at Pure & Simple.If you missed the first two posts, read them here and here!When I think about what it means to be successful as a blogger, it’s incredibly tempting to say that success means reaching a certain number of views or having a lot of people know my name. It’s tempting to become wrapped up in shallow versions of success that don’t really matter.I want to be about so much more than shallow success here, because I know it will never matter if people know my name but do not know that I am for them.I want my success to be based on being one of your biggest fans – each and every one of you. I want you to hear my voice yelling in the bleachers for YOU as loudly as I can, encouraging you to keep going, to finish strong, and to never give up on what matters.Part of that includes being willing to have honest conversations, like I talked about last week. Another part is doing what I…

Lighten Burdens.

Unhealed Hurts and Becoming Whole.

The friends and mentors I had throughout high school were the people who showed me how to actively choose Jesus. They were the people who made sure I was eating, who held me when our friend, Lincoln, died, and who cheered me on as I slowly started piecing together my identity. A lot of their actions led me to where I am today, and I always assumed they would be in my life for a long time.Then things changed during my senior year. I learned that some of these people only paid attention to me because of who I had been dating, and others were only my friends because we saw each other often. When I changed my priorities, my list of friends seemed to change in response. One day, I looked around and realized my whole social sphere had changed. In a lot of ways, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.Some days, I can feel leftover hurt hiding deep down in my bones. Some days, I feel freshly rejected all over again and I long for closure. Other days, I find myself defiantly declaring, “FINE. I never wanted you to tell…

Lighten Burdens.

Teach Me to Rest.

This semester, I have been a full time student, a supervisor at work, an RA, the student liaison for the Presidential Ambassadors, a soccer player, a volunteer, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a writer, and a human being. Oh, and I have also been really, really tired.Yesterday, a friend of mine said that she doesn’t know how I do what I do.I told her that I’m not sure how I do it, either.Overall, I think it involves a lot of faking it. My plant biology class this semester? Faking it. The research paper I just wrote? Faking it. This cool, calm, and collected exterior? Faking it. You all already know I don’t have my life together any more than you do, so it’s pretty clear I don’t fake it for the sake of those around me. No, I’m faking it for myself. I tell myself it’s fine, I’ll make it through. I tell myself “This paper TOTALLY makes sense! It’s fine, just turn it in.” In reality, I’m not necessarily sure how I’m doing, but I know I’m not failing, so that…

Lighten Burdens.

This is My Well.

Last week, WordPress congratulated me on my 4th anniversary of having a blog. I’ve gotten these anniversary notifications every year and have never really thought much about them. Until this year, when the notification came with impeccable timing.Just a couple of days earlier, I had listened to a podcast in which a well-known blogger was asked about her road to success. Turns out, her road was short and sweet. She started blogging, people loved it right away, and 6 months later she had already gained over 100,000 followers. (She now has over 1 million.)”So thanks, WordPress,” I thought, “but I’d rather not be reminded about my inability to gain the same amount of followers in 4 years as other people have in 6 months.”You may not be a writer, but I bet there is some area in life that you wish would hurry up and produce some results already. We all have things like that – long and hard roads that we grow tired of walking.Keeping a house in order, finding a job that combines your skills with what you’re passionate about, dating, getting in shape, completing school, saving money, paying off…

Lighten Burdens.

Be Seen.

On March 24th, I spoke to a group of girls in Germany about how their YWAM Discipleship Training School leaders (my sister, Jenn, being one of them) want them to grow together as a community in their 6 months together, but how shame gets in the way of that. This post is an abridged version of what I shared.When I was in high school, I constantly feared not being good enough. I worried that people only pretended to like me because they felt sorry for me. I spent my nights running through the day in my mind and scolding myself for the stupid things I did and said.My day-to-day life was filled with shame – the fear that something about me made me unworthy of connection. So I hid from the world around me in hopes that no one would get close enough to see that I wasn’t worth their time. The first thing we do when we feel shame is hide. This has always been the case. Look at the following couple of verses from Genesis with me, and you’ll see what I mean.Genesis 2:25 is pre-shame and says, “Both the…