All Good Things Are Less Than Jesus

Here are a few of my favorite things:

  1. Taco Tuesday (and Taco Everyday) — because one day a week is simply not enough for tacos.
  2. Puppies — particularly Bear, my good friends’ new pup, who is vicious but precious and the light of my life.
  3. A good book — I recently hopped back on the reading train, and it’s quite peaceful for me to get lost in a novel.
  4. Deep conversations — as an extroverted introvert, I love to get to know people. I don’t care to talk about the weather, tell me about your soul.
  5. Mountains — I used to be a beach girl, but as I grew older and wiser(ish), the mountains called me home.

Yet these all good things less than Jesus.

I can have a wonderful day in the mountains eating tacos, playing with Bear, reading a book, diving deep with a friend — and yet, feel empty if I don’t spend any time with my Savior.

The more I do and see and read and talk and eat, the more I realize nothing fills and satisfies me like a relationship with Christ.

There are wonderful and delightful things on this earth: falling in love, living out a dream, reaching an accomplishment — but they are not Jesus. They are not the Son of God living and dying and raising to life for you, for me, for all of us.

As this Easter season just passed, I pray you find the satisfaction of your soul is rooted in Jesus Christ. I pray Christ will rid me of all restlessness and discontentment with my earthly favorite things, and remember all longing in my heart is longing to be with him in Heaven.

I Love You & I Mean It

“I love you.”

I’m not sure how or why, but these words have always been particularly difficult for me to say. Perhaps it is because it requires some sense of humility, an admission that you need another person. Perhaps it is because it requires some sense of vulnerability, an admission of feelings.

I have never been a mushy gushy person, it’s taken 20+ years on earth and two years of counseling for me to even acknowledge my own feelings. I’m still learning to approach and value and process them. Perhaps this is why it’s a challenge to speak these three words.

I hope you love someone.

I hope you love your mother, father, sister or brother. I hope you love a close friend, a neighbor, a barista, a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I hope you even love something. I hope you love tacos, the sunrise, airports, or puppies.

Each of us has the capability to love and be loved. Each of us has a unique vacancy in our hearts for unique people, places and things to feel.

I vow to say “I love you and I mean it.”

More often to more people on more occasions. To say it when I hang up with my mother, Sweet Denise. To say it when my roomie Lauren brings home dinner. To say it to my home group after our Tuesday nights spent with life-giving community.

I vow to say “I love you” because it matters, because people should say and hear it more often.

Dear Reader, I love you and I mean it.

The Best Is Yet To Come: On The Resurrection

I tend to live in the glory days.

Though I try to be rooted and present-minded, it’s easy for me to flash back and dwell on fond memories of living minutes away from my very best friends at Baylor, floating in the Mediterranean sea in Capri, visiting dear friends in NYC.

It’s natural to stay stuck in the past, thinking those were the glory days and the best has already passed. Saying to myself, “My life peaked. Surely there are not better things to come.”

But the best is yet to come.

We cannot sit and dwell on past moments, but we are called to live in the present and to also hope for the future. We are called to be thankful for what has been done, cherish moments that are happening and believe good things are also headed our way.

When I consider the best is yet to come, I remember the disciples and think of what anguish and heartbreak they must have felt when Christ died. Surely they were devastated when their Savior was nailed to the cross and breathed his last breath. Surely they thought all hope was lost and reminisced on seemingly better times when Christ walked this earth.

But the best was yet to come.

The disciples and Christ’s followers were foretold of his resurrection, yet they were still in despair. Though I believe they knew in their minds, their hearts couldn’t wrap around the idea of his return.

But lo and behold! He arose from the grave, triumphing over death itself. And lo and behold! They got to see their Savior face-to-face again.

What glorious moments, what wonderful times. And before Christ left this earth again, he told them to walk with the Holy Spirit, to go and make disciples.

God prepares good things for those who love them.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him” — 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV)

Not only does God want what is good for us, He prepares good things for us. Inconceivably good and wonderful things.

So here’s to the past staying in the past, us living in the present and preparation of good things for the future. Here’s to knowing the best is yet to come!

Is It OK That I’m (Still) Single?

Let me shoot ya straight: yes.

In the course of the past two years, I’ve witnessed my friends falling in and out — but mostly in — of love. I’ve stood by my friends’ sides in six weddings, jumped for the bouquet and eaten copious amounts of wedding cake.

All the while being asked regularly, “Are you seeing anyone?” I reply, “No.” Then receive a sympathetic, “Oh honey, that’s OK…”

Yeah. I know it’s OK.

Here are some — of many — reasons it’s OK:

  1. I’m 23. I eat popcorn for dinner and refuse to do my laundry until I’m down to my last pair of underwear. I’m simply not done being young and dumb and careless, and I don’t think I’ll grow out of this phase for quite some time.
  2. I fall in love with puppies more than men. My friends Rosie & Nate just got the cutest Golden Retriever Bear, we are madly in love and I’m very excited where we’re headed.
  3. I can’t sit still. I often become restless with the life I live. I crave to be more and do more, and the idea of settling down frightens me.
  4. I like to be selfish — with my time, opportunities and friendships. I like that singleness allows me to do whatever whenever I want, and that I don’t have to consult someone else who may have a differing opinion.
  5. I’m over waiting. Not in a promiscuous, I chase after men way. In a why wait-for-a-guy-when-I-can-fully-live-in-the-moment way.

There are moments of weakness.

I want a guy to bring me tacos and make me laugh. It would be nice to meet someone to spend the rest of my life with.

But I can’t dwell in these moments, in this single period God has blessed me with. I can’t live in regret of the guys who have passed nor live in the future for a guy who will come.

There is a season for everything: a season for singleness and a season for dating. Both seasons are made to refine me into a better, more wonderful version of myself. So I’m going to thank God for this season He’s chosen to give.

Promises & Prayers For 2018

I promise these things to myself for the new year:

  1. I promise to spend time with people who make me a better person. These are the prayer warriors, cheerleaders, encouragers, make-me-laughers. These are the people who leave me wanting more when we say goodbye.
  2. I promise to work hard even when I don’t want to. Even when I feel like my effort goes unnoticed or even when I’m simply worn out, I promise to give my all in all things.
  3. I promise to prioritize my wellness first. Instead of wearing myself out trying to make everyone feel better/healthier/newer/happier, I promise to assess and care for me first.
  4. I promise to laugh at least once a day. Because I believe joy is at the root of goodness, because I believe at laughing in the days to come.
  5. I promise to look onward and upward. Though my default is to look backward and downward, I promise to not live in my past, dwell in God’s presence and anticipate future goodness.

I pray these things for the new year:

  1. I pray my heart will be open to others wonderfully and recklessly. To love in a way that says, “You can hurt me but I will cherish you with all that I am, because Christ cherished me first.”
  2. I pray my eyes see more than the external. Because we are more than brand clothing and white teeth, because we are more than fake smiles and pity laughter. Because we each have a story to tell, because we each carry heartaches and hopes.
  3. I pray to be more patient, humble and kind. Lord knows I struggle with all three — I can be short-tempered and prideful and rude. The world needs less of that.
  4. I pray to hate less and love more. To hate less cats and love more dogs. To hate running less and to love exercise more. To hate less humans and love more strangers.
  5. I pray to live well, love deeply and savor the moments in-between.

It’s OK To Be A Lone Wolf: On Me-Dates

Florence made me a lone wolf.

Living in a foreign place with only eight other friends really pushed me to go off on my own. Not that I didn’t love them, but I desired to break from the group.

Florence exposed me to the idea that I actually need my space, something I couldn’t fathom in Waco surrounded by all of my friends who all lived a 5 min. drive from me.

So after learning “spazio” (space) is good for me, I acted on it: I took myself out on my very first me-date.

I went to an American diner and ordered a hot dog, it was a desperate and terrible decision. I sat in my favorite piazza and listened to an Italian man sing in broken English. I watched the sun set over the Arno river as I ate the best gelato in the whole wide world.

It was amazing.

I hadn’t ever basked in my own presence before, broke down my thoughts and actions and dreams and passions in my mind. I had never been bold or secure enough to be seen in public alone, and it was so utterly freeing.

Now I date myself all the time.

Last week I had an incredibly stressful day at work, it forced me to wear many hats and speak to many people about many things. It was exhausting all across the board, and it made me fed up with the entire human race.

So I left work 5 minutes early, went to a random Thai restaurant down the road from The Bitty Burrow, and requested a table for “ONE.”

I sat in a booth. In a corner. Alone. I spoke only to order my meal and thank the server who refilled my water. It was a moment of much-needed solitude and peace.

Me-dates are crucial to my self-care.

They make me calmer, quieter, more zen. They center my being on what matters most: who I am, how I love and what gives me life. They let me re-set my mind, body and spirit in a way when the chaos of this world bogs me down.

I wish I took myself on dates more often, that I had the time and money to do so. Unfortunately, those are luxuries I simply do not have often. But when they happen once in a blue moon, they make a happier, better me.

“Yes And Amen.”

TVC Dallas’ head pastor often says.

Steve Hardin is a man marked by the fruit of the Spirit, I have never met someone kinder or more genuine than him.

Though he doesn’t speak from the pulpit often, even in casual conversation, he goes, “And what do we say? Yes and amen.”

I don’t say “yes” much anymore.

After a lifetime struggle with perfectionism and pleasing people, I learned how to say “no.” I rejected plans I didn’t desire to keep, I even rejected friends who were hateful and selfish and rude.

Somewhere on the corner of healthy and saying “no,” I started to say “no” to Jesus Man, too.

I said “no” to finding a church where I could grow. It took over a year for me to muster up the courage and leave my home church.

I said “no” to serving because I simply didn’t have the time — or at least, I didn’t prioritize giving.

I said “no” to reading my Bible daily. Isn’t sleep more important than waking early to bask in God’s presence? Doesn’t God want me to physically rest?

I do say “amen” quite often.

My favorite car rides are my trips to work in the morning. I shut off the radio and tune out my worries, and let prayers pour from my mouth.

Often times, I do not even know what to pray for, and let the Spirit speak in my place. The Spirit sends groans and sufferings to God, who sent His Son Jesus Man to die for me. How wonderful is He to do that?!

Can I get an AMEN?!

I vow to say “yes and amen” more.

I vow to say “yes” to Jesus Man, to Jesus’ plans, to Jesus’ love. I say “yes” to God’s calling on my life, to wherever and whomever and whatever.

I vow to say “amen” to Jesus Man, to accredit him for his daily goodness, grace and mercy. I say “amen” to ending my morning drives, closing out my periodic prayers and to letting The Spirit work in my heart, mind and strength.

I vow to say “yes and amen” often and with hopeful expectation. I vow to say it and mean it and live it. Yes and amen.

Do It For The People: A Recap On Dallas Blogger Brunch

It’s easy to romanticize blogging.

It’s words and pictures and beauty and Instagram likes. It’s getting free stuff and making connections and hanging out with the coolest people in the coolest spots in the coolest city.

In some aspects and to some degree, it is that: sharing stories and engaging audiences and receiving perks and making friends.

But it’s so much more than that.

It’s carving hours out of my day to create, draft and schedule social media posts. It’s making a long-running (or at times short-running) list of blog ideas on my phone when they pop into my head. It’s obsessing over analytics, including likes, visits, views, engagements, shares, re-tweets.

It’s reaching out to local shops and to fellow bloggers and facing rejection or not hearing back from them at all. It’s putting my hurts and hopes and hang-ups on a screen for the world to see, and praying at least one person will receive my words well.

Blogging can be a place of insecurity for me.

Why don’t I get that many shares? Why did this post do better than my other? Why do her photos get more likes? What am I doing that’s not enough? Am I enough?

This weekend, I gathered with a group of other bloggers at Magnolia Sous Le Pont, a coffee shop in the Harwood District. Rhonda, the mastermind behind Dallas Blogger Brunch, led us in a delightful conversation of how to’s and learned mistakes and growing dreams.

It was exquisite and fun and challenging. It was an afternoon of letting time slip away and humbling ourselves into a place of vulnerability as we admitted, “I have no clue what I’m doing or how I’m going to make it as a blogger…but at least I have you ladies.”

As we sat there, huddled around three marble tables, mugs nestled in our hands, I found peace. I found rest. I found the heart of why I do what I do.

I do it for the people.

I don’t blog for the likes or the re-tweets or the site visitors. I don’t blog for the subscribers or the Facebook followers.

I blog because I am a born storyteller, always looking for someone or something significant, memorable or even wonderfully mundane. I blog because stories can turn strangers into friends, friends into family, family into a community.

I blog because I get an opportunity to meet amazing women who have amazing passions who aren’t afraid to dream and do, and to fail in the process.

It’s easy for me to lose vision, to lose faith in myself and my gifts and my creativity. It’s easy for me to covet what others have: their followers or talent or sponsors.

But then I remember why I do this: for the people. I remember why I love it: for the people. I remember why I’ll never leave it: for the people.

Mae’s Guide On How To Be Single

I watched this movie recently with my roomie.

As a young, single, Christian woman who has never been in a serious relationship, I was able to take a lot from it. At times, it seemed like I even wrote the script.

Except maybe, just maybe, I can do it better. Challenge accepted.

Mae’s Guide On How To Be Single:

  1. Embrace it. I’m not sure you can get very far without this first step. Embrace it. Be OK with being single. It might not be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, but I’m certain it isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to you either.
  2. Enjoy it. Similar to embrace, but even more so: enjoy it. Drink, laugh & be merry. Think of all the single perks: you can be in your PJs by 8 p.m. on Fridays, you can spend all of your money on brunch with friends, you can mother the cutest puppy in the world!! The opportunities are endless.
  3. Let yourself be envious. I know this sounds like it contradicts #1 and #2. Bear with me. I think you’re allowed to be envious to a degree. Not in this self-pitying, self-deprecating, covetous way. In a, “I see my friends who are couples and cherish what they have,” way. In a, “I like my life as it is, but see there is more to come,” way.
  4. End it. You’re allowed to be afraid of commitment, you’re allowed to say “no” to the third date. But eventually, if you do want more, you must let there be more. You’ll need to be confident in who you are and letting yourself be someone’s someone.

There. that’s the best i can do.

Those are my big four tips for surviving singleness as a millennial in this crazy, messed up world. Those are the four I currently live by. And so far, so good — for the most part.

There are moments I cry as I watch music videos about salt & pepper shakers who fall in love and get separated. (It’s true, ask my roomie Sweet Lauren).

There are moments I tear up at weddings not only because I’m excited, but there’s also a tiny, vicious thought that whispers, “You might never have one of these.”

But among all of these tiny, fleeting, “I’m sad” moments, I can’t help but be overjoyed by doing life with the people I love and the people who love me in return.

I can’t help but leap when I make new friends and giggle when I make them laugh. I can’t help but thank Jesus Man for these blessings, these good and bad and in between moments.

So here’s to you, reader:

Regardless of your relationship status, I declare this to you:

You are loved. You are known. Go in peace.

When God’s Not Good

What do we do?

When God diagnoses you with a mental illness, who do you call? When He strips you of your loved one due to cancer, how do you cope? When the worst that was yet to come has finally hit, what do you have now?

One of my most recent entries in my prayer journal read:

“Dear god. i am pissed.”

It was this honest, bold and outright declaration that my King and Creator angered me by intruding my rights (or at least so I perceived).

It was this outpouring of rage and envy and fear and anxiety and hurt and shame and guilt. It was this vocal, ugly cry as I yelled, “I BELIEVE. HELP MY UNBELIEF.”

sometimes, I think god hates me.

Paulina lives in Germany. Colin kicks ass in New York. Sarah slays in Burbank. Hysell is getting married, Hunter is working on a med degree, Rachel was promoted.

Here I am, stuck in my personal Nineveh, sitting in my bitter barn, counting a lack of hearts on my Gram pics because I don’t live and flourish in some young, hip, thriving metropolis.

The other day, I just about had it. I was moments from trashing my Bible and saying, “Yeah. I’m done with those whole God thing.”

But I phoned my friend Kelsy instead. She said this:

“Take everything you feel, and speak what you know.”

Who even says that?! Who filled her with that wisdom and knowledge and power?

OH YEAH. Jesus Man. Hate that guy.

I felt beaten and bruised and betrayed. It’s like Jesus didn’t invite me with the other little kids to sit on his lap as he talked about his Dad.

I know Jesus Man is good *eye roll.* I know he promises to stay the same. I know he fights for good things to come my way.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

It’s OK to wrestle with unbelief, especially when God just doesn’t seem good. Especially when you knock on the door and the lights are on, and yet He doesn’t answer.

It’s OK to say, “Jesus Man. You are pissing me off.” Because he can and does and will if he hasn’t already done so. Because he will be the very best and very hardest thing you have ever chosen to love and commit to.

When God’s not working, we have faith He is. When God’s not talking, we remember His voice. When God’s not good, we believe He is. And He helps our unbelief.