Photostory: Always a Reason to Seek

Wave after wave of emotion washed over me as I immersed myself in the culture for three weeks; I felt sadness, incredible joy, heaviness, elation, awe, and hope (to name a few). My experience in Kenya challenged me in innumerable ways and broadened my perspective of what it means to have a relationship with God.

I saw God move and I saw people respond.

Visiting churches, staying at an orphanage/school, and interacting with locals opened my eyes to the kindness and deep hurt of the people here. However, it is because of this hurt, poverty, longing, destruction, and brokenness that they have such admirably firm faith. They rely on God for their next meal, they rely on God for a roof over their head, they rely on God for income, they rely on God for medical attention — and miracles happen.

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To All the (Best Friends) I Loved Before

Now, I’m no Laura Jean Covey (she's way cooler than I am), but sometimes it sounds really amazing to write a letter to all of my ex-best friends. Maybe to rehash how we ended our sweet sisterhoods, maybe to rewrite old wounds into little bruises to keep them in my favorites, or maybe to just say, “Wow I miss you and I'm so thankful for you.”

I don’t think we give enough credit to the hurt a dear friend leaves when you or they leave.

It hurts. And it's a deep hurt.

I started listing their names, starting in kindergarten and I got to mid-high school when it really hurt. And my eyes started swelling. I couldn’t type past my best friend from high school’s name because honestly, I never really mourned that it ended. Can you think of friendships that sounds like that? Did you lock those feelings in a box and slide them under the bed? Yeah, me too.

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Whispers and Storms

As night neared in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the sky melted into a display of vibrant purple, pinks, and orange. A fishing boat appeared to be chasing it, finishing up the summer season as August bleeds into September. The vessel broke through the water gently and became a silhouette on a greater canvas. Classic Alaska, showing off again.

This view became my daily view for a precious week this summer when I traded triple digit temperatures for sweatshirt weather, sand in Chacos for Xtra-Tuff rain boots on the rocky coastline. I had spent all of 2018 preparing for the Harvester Island Wilderness Writing Workshop. After encouragement from friends and family, I finally took the leap. I would return to my roots in Alaska to participate in a week long writing workshop.

I came knowing that regardless of what I learned at the workshop, it would be life changing. Yes, I might not leave with a fully drawn out book plan, but I felt it inside me–– I must go.

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Painfully Human

I think sometimes we have this notion, even if we think we don't, that our pastors or mentors or teachers or parents or idols don't struggle ... that they never fail. They have a limit to the wrong they can commit because, well ... they're better than we are, right? At least they were supposed to be. It's easier to see where they've fallen, now that they've picked themselves back up. We love to hear their testimonies of past failures, of how God pieced together a broken drunkard's life. We feed on stories of rock bottom epiphanies and jail cell redemption. And then we use those to put them on a very high, and very small pedestal and tell them never to fall again. 

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My Church is Better

I fell in love with my first Christian church.

When I became a Christian it was at the largest church in my hometown. I was raised in a stale version of Catholicism that left me hungry for more than unexplained traditions. 

I loved it so hard that in my spiritual infancy I thought to love it meant to dislike other churches that fell in the same genre as my church: Nondenominational.

Nondenominational churches have been compared to, by one of my favorite college professors, the Hometown Buffets of denominations. Denominations of the religion of Christianity are served to unite folks that believe and prioritize specifics of theology or religious rituals versus others who may have different priorities. 

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Hope in Heartbreak

December 19, 2015, was supposed to be my wedding day. Then, with just 6 weeks to go, it wasn't. The impending significance of that day disappeared and I was left with tearful eyes, unsteady feet, and a broken heart.

Most of my life, I’ve been the girl who always has a smile on her face and finds the greatest joy in the smallest things like puppies, warm coffee, and having friends to binge watch Gilmore Girls with. I make terrible dad jokes, am way too competitive at card games, and always want to hug and be hugged … unless you’re a creepy stranger ... but if you’re a creepy stranger holding a puppy … we might still hug.

But in that time of pain, it felt like there was a severe lack of puppies and warm mugs of coffee in my life. While I sat and cried over the shattered pieces of what I thought my future would be, I felt like those little things that used to make me so happy didn’t matter anymore. I couldn’t fool anyone with my new fake smile because I didn’t even have the willpower to fool myself. I couldn't talk myself into thinking I was okay and I couldn’t control my frequent breakdowns into ugly, painful, silent sobs in my little office cubicle.  

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Forgiving Myself

More and more I’m aware of how our constant inner narratives influence our ability to be in the world. The messages we tell ourselves are the ones we both benefit and suffer from most. So how do we ensure that those messages are true? And how can we respond if we realize they aren't?

I’ve been traveling for much of the past month; mostly for work, but also a bit for myself. In the middle of August, I spent a weekend in Lausanne, a small French-speaking city on the rim of Lake Geneva. I’d picked the location on a bit of a whim. What’s not to like about water and wine and the French part of Switzerland late in the summer? But from the moment I boarded the train Friday morning to the hour it arrived back in Zurich on Sunday, I found myself fighting one prominent message: You are continually messing things up.

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Walking with Van Gogh

I navigated up the three floors of the expansive building drawing in my breath at each new beautiful work of art and new piece of information about the man behind the brush. From the beginning, I knew I would be changed as the gallery of his self-portraiture threatened to move me to tears. As I read the start of his story, I met a friend in Vincent Van Gogh.

What I didn’t know about my newfound friend is that after his start as a pastor, he decided to become an artist. However, this career change made him late to the game by artist standards.

So he grabbed a pencil.

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Prayers over Plates: Week Five: Lesotho

For the month of September we are sharing a recipe from a friend serving the kingdom of God in different parts over the world. The idea is while you are making the recipe you are also covering the individual or team in prayer. We are practicing BEING the Church and eating some amazing food.

Week Five is featuring the Michele in Lesotho in Southern Africa.

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Enough is Enough

Stepping off the plane and into the Tokyo Haneda airport was a reality check I wasn't quite prepared for. I walked right into a world of consumerism I thought I'd left behind in the States when I moved to Kathmandu. Starbucks and H&M were right across from each other. Women walking to and from terminals were doing so dressed so stylishly, I looked down at my Chaco’s and ketchup-stained pants shamefully. I rarely think twice about such things in Kathmandu. In a way, living in such a place has done wonders for my comparison-prone heart. In the Southern California though, the land of tanned legs and sundresses, I was in a constant state of comparison. Billboards and movies constantly told me which ways I wasn't measuring up. Every person was a measuring stick: I look better than her, she looks better than me. I needed to look the best to feel worthy. Which, by the way ... I never did. Someone, in your own mind, will always look better than you if looking the best is your goal. And it was mine. 

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