A Heart Full Of Thanks: My 10 Top Blessings Of 2020

Thanksgiving is here!

My favorite food, my favorite people, my favorite holiday all wrapped up into one day and given to me in a pretty little bow! This Thanksgiving will look drastically different, smaller, and quieter than years’ past, but that doesn’t mean it will be a bad one–just different.

This has been a hard year for everyone, but I know we can still give thanks. We can count our blessings, we can remember the good things, we can share the highs and lows and in-betweens. We can be glad for what we have, sad for what we don’t, and still feel blessed.

I’m full of thanks this year.

Here is my list of my top 10 things I am thankful for:

  1. A well mind– I haven’t struggled with depression in over two years, and I cannot express just how huge of a blessing this is. It is a gift to pursue dreams, be happy, and laugh genuinely.
  2. A healthy body– A body that can stretch and dance and move and bounce and CLIMB.
  3. My climbing community– Truly the most welcome and inspiring community, I am thankful for strangers who turn into friends so quickly. They are kind and inclusive and just plain fun!
  4. My church community– The ones who keep me rooted in Christ and point me to what matters, the ones who love me deeply and fiercely and wonderfully.
  5. My family– My new roommates! They have welcomed me into their home, given me reason to laugh, and supported me every step of the way of my law school journey.
  6. Taylor Swift’s Folklore album– It’s a bop! The end.
  7. My pup Jack– The light of my life, the center of my world: he is small and cute and fluffy and scruffy and scrappy and the best thing that happened to me in 2020.
  8. Coffee– The fuel that gives me life!
  9. My job– I get paid to welcome people into the climbing community! I get paid to love people! I get paid to climb! (Ok, not really, but kind of).
  10. My education– Perhaps the most concrete evidence of God’s faithfulness in 2020, I am so thankful that I was able to return to school this year to pursue a law degree. Virtual learning has not been easy (and neither is law school in general), but it has been such a gift.

I encourage you to consider what you are thankful for this year.

Maybe you can’t come up with ten or even five things, but I bet you could find at least a few: maybe it is your health, your family, maybe it is your community, or favorite hobby.

And come Thanksgiving day, you can share what you are thankful for with whomever you may be celebrating the holiday with. You can sit around the table, eat, drink, and be merry, and remember the good things, remember the blessings.

The Monthly Update: September

September highlights:

  • One of the last Saturday’s in September I spent participating in Summit’s 12-Hour competition. The all-day comp involves hopping around the DFW locations, and plenty of sweating and grunting and fist bumping. It was SO fun, but also exhausting.
  • One of the last Sunday’s in September I attended church with my parents, but this service was special because they relocated to the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. My brother and his family also came. It was great participating in corporate worship again, and also spending quality time with my sweet nephews. Plus the weather was gorgeous!

September lowlights:

I honestly cannot think of a single lowlight during the month of September. What a blessing!

This month, I was filled by:

I hosted a dinner party with a few near and dear friends. We ate Chinese food, drank wine, and devoured delicious Crumbl cookies. We engaged in kind and uplifting conversation, and shared plenty of laughs. It was an evening of pure delight!

This month, I was emptied by:

Law school is starting to get real, and it’s hitting me hard. The stress of assignments and looming midterms started piling up at the end of the month.

In October, I’m looking forward to:

  • Seeing as I am posting this a bit late, some of the things I was looking forward to have already passed, including a weekend getaway to Broken Bow, OK with my gal pal Tink and my pup Jack. More to come on that later!
  • I’m going to my sweet friend McKae’s wedding in Colorado toward the end of the month. I am excited to 1) get out of Texas and experience some cooler weather, but mostly 2) to celebrate McKae & Creed’s love with some great friends of mine!

It Takes A Village: On The Value Of Deeply-Rooted Community

I used to feel awfully alone.

When I first returned to Dallas from Nashville, I felt awfully alone. Not the kind of loneliness that comes and goes with varying moods or circumstances, but the kind of isolation and desertion that leaves you feeling empty and saddened.

Only a handful of my hometown and college friends were also living in Dallas at the time. As I struggled with severe depression and anxiety, the symptoms of shame and false guilt caused me to withdraw even further away from people who loved me.

But these days, I feel awfully loved.

After three+ years of living in Dallas, I feel awfully loved. Not the kind of vague kindness between civil acquaintances, but the kind of radical and reckless and over-the-moon compassion that makes you feel full and thrilled.

Today I am overwhelmingly cherished by a community of family, friends, churchgoers, climbers, baristas, and more. These are people who show me kindness when I am anything but. These are people who sit and weep with me when I am down. These are people who jump and scream with me when I am up.

It takes a village.

They say, “It takes a village.” I don’t know exactly who “they” are, but it’s a common saying I have heard time and time again, and now I know it to be true.

It takes a village to make me feel loved and supported and welcomed and accepted. It takes a village to make others feel needed and cherished and wanted and treasured. It takes a village for each of us to do this thing called life, and to do it well.

Here are some thoughts on the value of a deeply-rooted village:

  1. Community is worth it. It’s worth the trouble, it’s worth the search. Community is important and it may be hard to find, but I promise if you try hard enough and do discover one, your life will be better.
  2. Community is hard. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and transparent, which are two keys to building a deeply-rooted community. It’s not easy to see someone you love hurting or in need, but I promise if you stick with your community, when your hurts eventually heal, you will have a body of cheerleaders to celebrate with you!
  3.  Community is life changing. When you find people who love you, with heart and soul and in every possible way, your world is entirely rocked. You will never be the same — and I mean this is the best way!

No Man Is An Island: On Community

I isolated myself as a child.

Struggling with perfectionism, I feared if people saw the real me, the flawed me, they would no longer love me. So I didn’t bring friends over because I worried they would judge my family or our dynamics. I didn’t reach out because I was timid and anxious.

Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because I was overwhelmed by false shame. I was afraid others would see who I was, what my thoughts were, how I acted, and leave.

Today, I seek community.

After spending so many years as an island, I broke away from an only-me-mindset and started accepting others’ kindness toward me. I became receptive to invitations from the devoted.

Now I’m the one who chases community and basks in knowing others deeply and fully and radically. Now I can’t help but giggle to as I hopefully expect so many years to gain with wonderful people and wonderful stories.

I can’t imagine life without my community.

I have dear, old Baylor friends scattered here and there, I have homecoming heroes returning to Dallas, I have new friends from new places and new paths.

Breaking bread is one of the fastest ways to my heart — sit with me, eat with me and share good things. Let’s laugh and cry and giggle and mourn.

Let’s do life together because as humans, we crave community, we crave to be known. Let me serve you, let me be with you, let me love you. Wonderfully and unconditionally and unexpectantly. Absolutely and passionately and joyfully.

I’ll let you be my community. Let me be yours.

Mae Meets Dallas: On My Hometown

Dallas will always be home to me.

Home to familiar faces — my family, childhood friends — home to familiar places — Frankie’s, a delicious Mexican restaurant run by locals; Pearl Cup, with a pearl latte straight from heaven.

It’s home to my elementary, middle and high school. It’s home to the church I was raised in, where I learned who this Jesus guy is and how he never abandons his children. It’s home to my first crush, my first heartbreak, my first date.

But I don’t love to call this place home.

It’s normal for me to turn random coffee shop strangers into quality, long-time friends (shout-out @Micah). I can strike up a conversation and discover kindred souls.

Each home presents a new community, a new way of life, a new version of myself. Each home draws me out of a comfort zone only to enter into a bizarrely welcoming, unfamiliar one. Each home makes me feel accepted, cherished, welcomed regardless of challenging circumstances or people.

I can’t call a place home if I don’t make it so.

I can’t call a place home if I have to knock before I enter, wear shoes in all rooms, walk around pant-less. I can’t call a place home if I have to ask to have people over, make my bed every morning, leave a tiny mess in the kitchen.

When I first came back to Dallas, I refused to make it home. My stubborn self protested this unexpected, unwanted move. I stayed in my comfort zone– my house — often isolating myself from friends and opportunities.

But then 2017 hit and I decided to stay. Even better, I decided to root myself here in the present — where I’m called, where my childhood was created, where I can be.

Now I have a new job at a law firm, and I’m slowly but surely impacting others’ lives by helping them receive social security and veterans disability benefits.

Now I attend a new church, and I’m diving deep into a new community filled with like-minded believers who dare to convict and challenge me.

Now I live in a new house, where I throw open the door, rip off my pants and kick my bare feet up on the couch. I come home to a dear friend who loves me like a sister, serves me like a mother and walks with me like Jesus.

It took me practically a year of humbling myself to suck it up and call my hometown my home. It took getting over dreams I planned and succumbing to the life I was given. It took walking out my front door, finding friends and seeking hope for the future to say, “Hey, I’m where I want to be.”