still i rise | no. 9

dear september —

i. hi i love your pfp that is all… which became a “why are you up” and “you alright?” and exchanges of assurance of His peace when thoughts wage war. even when lies come, you are altogether worthy and loved and understood by the Father and that’s most important. He understands your hurt and replaces it with peace. 

i. memories… my eyes glue to the huge movie right in front, as familiar scenes and familiar accents play before me. a part of me, a part of my heart still belongs in that little corner of asia.

ii. chubby wubbies and little miss sunshines fill my heart to the brim.

ii. driving lesson number one in the books… grateful for a patient instructor and opening this thrilling season with prayers of safety.

iii. seeking wisdom… we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. you don’t hide yourself to tease us… the spiritual person judges all things. we have the mind of Christ.

iv. thank you for the grateful and blessed. ❤

iv. more decisions… i want so badly to stay. i don’t want to move on, to walk away from where i’ve belonged. but now i don’t know… things just don’t sit right and though part of me says seasons change and this is a changing season i just don’t want it to be this way. why do i grow up and grow old…being an alumni is just awkward and weird and new and i don’t particularly like this churning of feelings that has been pulling me to wayward directions. help me to move, help me to see, help me to do whatever you would ask of me, help me to go… God help me to stay

v. i won’t be there… all these exciting things seem to be happening and i won’t be here. all these things are changing before me and i am still here. but also my shoes being filled, my place replaced… and i am still here.

vi. questions… they overwhelm. dreams and spirits and gifts and He beckons me to 1 Corinthians and i devour it and spit out questions on end. the spirit of God never leaves us, never abandons us, always fighting on our behalf… the spirit given to us is a spirit of wisdom, that we may understand the things freely given by Him. 

vi. attack… fear knocked at my door today and i didn’t dare let him in but somehow he started getting the best of me. she said don’t be scared, there’s nothing to be afraid of but here i am heart pounding, chest hurting. fear got the best of me. trouble won’t throw me, won’t break me, won’t scare me no more. fear must have thought i was faithless when it came for my heart ‘cause I got a song that will never die… tell the devil no not today

vii. our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You… in the middle of the confusion You are here with me. for God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

vii. dinner date… thank you for you. thank you for being someone i can trust to share things with. thank you for prayer huddles and chats in the car, for tender hugs, for transparency and strength. for reminding me there isn’t the presence of shadows unless there is light, so even in the moments that feel dark as can be, even there there is Light if we seek.

vii. i want to flee… somehow with the fact that i’m graduated all these things fill my brain with frustration and annoyance and exhaustion and i want nothing to do with all this anymore. maybe i don’t want to feel the hurt of leaving so i am doing this to myself or maybe this is part of the hurt of leaving but these transitions are hard, man. why am i resisting the very place and people i’ve grown to cherish?

vii. yesterday’s a closing door… that i don’t want to close.

ix. fighting warfare through worship… when it may look like i am surrounded, i’m surrounded by you… you go before i know that you’ve even gone to win my war.

ix. prayers before i leave… thank you for the encouragement, care, and love. for being family who supports and uplifts. and thank you, for the big red umbrella.

x. when you walked into the room… it was good to share with you. thank you for listening and not judging, and bringing me to next steps. grateful.

xi. i paid $1.88 for lunch today thanks to you but better yet was spending rare time with you and getting to catch up before i go.

xii. emotional and moody… i want my last days home to be full of happiness and lovely lasting last memories and yet they have been full of me keeping the house in order.

xiv. He gives what we truly need… lies were pulled like stubborn roots that had made their home too comfortable deep into the ground. i go in with one agenda in mind, yet He reveals so much more. she plays, i write, the tears flow, and the healing begins. sometimes the mark of wholeness needs to be made with a little pain. our hearts need to burst and break open to make way for all that needs to be made whole. it’s paradoxical, it’s painful, but it is mystically beautiful at the same time.

xv. #1 (move-in)… i start a new journal just as i start this new season. grateful for all the little things that make my heart start to settle and make its home — little fairy lights that light the dim, mason jar bouquet of flowers that fill me with happy, and first of many expected gorgeous sunsets that swell the soul.

xvi. goodbye… all moved in, and you all gathered around on my bed in my newly furnished and decorated room, joining hands and lifting prayers. parting words were few, emotions were many.

xvi. should we take the shuttle idk should we or not i’m glad we didn’t… oh Sam. starting off the year with friends made on a whim and staying up till 3am.

xvii. take me out to the ball game… out of the eight of us, only a couple of us even knew the game. truth be told, we went for the free food. and i enjoyed the shared experience that made for bonding.

xvii. Anjel… you are a dear. tonight as i hunker down i think of the day spent with you and feel so blessed as i scroll. i am so glad i found you. i am so glad He brought me to you.

xviii. testify… i shared with you my journey and how i got here. grateful for times of sharing.

xix. missing people… i wanna go home. then realizing home is in a million places because my heart has made its home in so many people.

xx. super uno and bible study… we toiled all night and took nothing! but at your word i will let down the nets. thankful for spiritual insights anew.

xx. feeling overwhelmed and out of place… and things back at home are insensitive and i want to run away from it all.

xxi. breakfast with em… talking psychology of people, personalities, relational intricacies, transitions, an actual conversation with a newfound friend.

xxi. campus wide worship… the first song is surrounded and i am low-key shook. i turn around mid-way during worship and see a fellow floormate. yes, i am surrounded.

xxii. chinatown with you all was filled with such joy and fun. it feels like i’ve known you all forever but it’s merely been a week.

xxiii. church visit and i see you ❤

xxiv. i feel like i should miss things more… but i don’t.

xxiv. first day of classes… isaiah 43.1_5 brings His word close to my side and reminds me i have Him as my shepherd and my guide.

xxv. bumping into billy from Philly… you made my day. sometimes i shake my head in wonder how i only meet a person once or twice and they are able to remember my name and greet me with such enthusiasm.

xxv. mail from mama. if we were face to face i’d tell you just what you mean to me, i’d tell you these simple truths. be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. you’re going to do great things, I already know. God’s got his hand on you so don’t live life in fear, forgive and forget, but don’t forget why you’re here. 

xxvi. hope… cling to it, never let it go. i sort of question why hope came to mind, but it brings such a new fragrant reminder echoing in my soul this season.

xxvii. divine meetings with strangers continually remind me that i am surrounded by a Family here.

xxvii. random love and encouragement notes make my heart glad.

xxviii. faith or friends?… i wrestle within myself but feel peace about spending time with friends. we paint a skyline against a sunset sky and it was a fun night.

xxviii. we call, and memories flood. i am worthy of love. i am loved. i am accepted. i am enough. even here i am blooming. 

xxix. oh how He loves… it’s amazing how my deepest heart cried for love just the night before and then the prayer vigil today claimed His love as the focus. i sit in my bay window as i soak in truth once again and tears stream forth.

xxx. every. single. day. i’ve met/talked with a believer since coming here. oh, He is good. so good. worship sings of do it again and holy ground and my heart brims of Motion memories and how His faithfulness reigns again and again.

xxx. are my rules keeping me away from people?… i don’t have to go to His house to seek His presence so i need not be guilty about faith over friends for His presence is omnipresent. thankful for reassurance over my struggles from this week.

you go before i know that you’ve even gone to win my war. you come back with the head of my enemy, you come back and You call it my victory. your love becomes my greatest defense, it leads me from the dry wilderness

and all i did was praise and all i did was worship, and all i did was bow down and all I did was stay still

and hallelujah, you have saved me. so much better your way
and hallelujah, Great Defender so much better this way

you know before i do where my heart can seek to find your truth
your mercy is the shade i’m living in, you restore my faith and hope again

when i thought i lost me, you knew where i left me. you reintroduced me to your love
and you picked up all my pieces, put me back together. you are the defender of my heart


still i rise | no. 8

dear august —

i. i can’t get enough… oh, He is faithful and good. ps. 145

i. Lord, help me to live with a will that is bent towards integrity and wholeness in all areas of my life.

ii. you’re the bomb dot comb… you are an awesome and amazing hooman bean.

iii. as Your love, in wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me… ’cause you make me brave. grateful for deep thoughts amidst searching for sea shells, sifting through sand, singing in the eye of the storm, and then seeing a rainbow stretched across the sky.

iv. huggie huggos and blessedness. ❤

iv. pain seared and anxiety bubbled as words met memories that i had tucked away. i love too much.

v. ms… i enjoy every moment i spend with you. the conversations as we discuss the realizations of us growing old and out, and all the feels of that, as well as the times we sit and talk about just anything. and laughing together and holding hands together… knowing though we part ways we are not far apart. miss much. but so grateful for today in so many ways. ❤

v. You say i am loved when i can’t feel a thing / You say i am strong when i think i am weak / You say i am held when i am falling short / when I don’t belong, oh You say that i am Yours

vii. spontaneous calls… love my tower girls.

viii. prayer in the hall… fear + anxiety bow at the feet of jesus. thank you for your kind, caring, and sincere heart.

ix. emotional doubt… doubting God’s goodness. God, i don’t ever want to doubt your goodness anymore. 

ix. sports time and small world… i sit myself down, back to a tree. you come and sit right by me. it is neat how connections spur conversation. and you, i don’t think you know how much value you bring into the world. thank you for emojis, text in caps, and the way you are able to encourage and empathize yet bring joy at the same time. and lastly… it was so dang fun to look up and see you tonight. a friend from home.

x. over tea and coffee… again – i thank you. i needed this. as you shared your story tonight, one thought rang clear in my mind — i want to be like you. i want the strength i see in you. i want to be known and seen for shining beauty through all the brokenness like you do. i want to seek the face of Jesus like you do instead of falling into tasks, and routines, and legalism. i want to love and favor and treasure people just like you do too.

x. how do you connect with God? talking deeper in conversation over dinner and grateful to hear some of your story.

x. you’ve been quiet… tell me about yourself. hey, thanks for that. you are so sweet. though i wish more became of that ten-minute hallway chat, i do think of you. i noticed the faraway look in your eyes, strewn across your face. of pain, of hurt, of longing. i pray you know there is healing in the process and we have a redeemer on our side.

xii. rafting along the river bend… He guides us along the waves, He warns us of the bumps, and leads us safe to shore. when the waves are crashing over me… rescue me. 

xiii. and henceforth starts the elbow bumping.

xiv. happy mail and northern lights. </3

xv. sitting and watching the sun rise and standing surrounded by the glory and majesty of His creation. baby, the sun will rise… 

xv. liberating sisterhood and one-thousand gifts. ❤

xv. breaking down barriers to break through with Him… fear and fearlessness. you hit the nail right on the spot. and thank you, thank you, for putting yourself out – real, honest, and vulnerable. i don’t know what happened tonight but the Spirit was here. 

xvi. talking and singing together… we talked of life, you and me, beside that tree. we talked of worship, of a million reasons and how he rescues me. we talked of oh how he loves… wasn’t it amazing how when the worship set opened and the intro started it was the song and we turned to each other, wide smiles stretched across our face?

xvi. pre-conference prayers… my heart brims. He knew. it was good to come here.

xvii. a broken hallelujah… last-night hall traditions. dancing and talking with you. i admire how you worship. that means a lot and it is good to share His goodness. i could have danced all night. it feels like a faraway dream now.

xix. cascading colors streaming through glass windows that make my heart dance in delight

xx. five minutes from erie… oh, what a joy. grateful for belly laughs over good food and good fellowship.

xxi. high on high altitude… and coming down and seeing you, em. then there was the, i was thinking of you… love my people. ❤

xxii. rainbow promises in the sky… a reminder of the significance of perspective and endurance and living in the moment. the ones who go ahead point the hope to those behind, and those behind look to the ones who go before.

xxii. wonder in the wild… running up the trails, breathing in the crisp mountain air, taking in all the splendor. gazing at views in the middle of the wild, through the mist and the fog and overgrown brush. there is always always something bigger and grander if you only keep breathing, keep climbing, keep looking. have you ever seen the wonder. 

xxiii. bird in a cage… the fearless and liberated me flying back into my cage of fear. my heart brims. heading home should feel safe and secure. yet it feels exactly the opposite.

xxv. qt on the porch… in the morning when i rise, give me Jesus. 

xxv. quality time with one of the best… catching up over quality conversations and quality food equals quality time well spent. thank you for you.

xxvi. now my soul cries out hallelujah praise and honor onto thee… oh, the memories.

xxvii. this is my fight song and believer… and i sink into sleep.

this month brought me to places i never thought i’d go. my heart settled with people i never thought i’d find connection with. my soul soared free and took on heights i never thought i’d reach. and my eyes and ears took in beauty i never thought existed.

still i rise | no. 6

dear june —

i. no more night… daybreak has come. grateful for technology that allowed for grieving, celebrating in spirit, and joining in heaven’s song.

ii. 1/2… graduation. did it, done it. walked up, walked out, stood among, stood tall, stood proud. yet inside still denying whether this is all real. it will hit soon, i’m sure. here i am, send me. 

iii. to share or not to share…there was that burning nudge that morning, and it must have come from Him. with knots in my stomach and pitter patter at idea, i asked for the platform. insecurity engulfed me as i shared the raw parts of the grace that had carried me through and continues to carry me still. though eyes were casted, questions poked, and stigma lingers, i stand strong knowing i rose in courage and believing i did make an impact. to my, fp, dm, and rm, thank you ever so much for you. you have been my supporters, my mentors, and spiritual fighters on my behalf. and more fondly, probably the most caring, wise, praying, Jesus-filled people in my life. thank you for helping me see truth and see the light when i don’t see it myself.

iv. acceptance… feeling love not because of accomplishments or the joys of the evening, but because whatever i went through brought me to who i am now. standing at my bedside, though i still don’t know what you thought of it all, you looked beyond and spoke in the name of love. and my little heart’s craving felt ever so satisfied, in an ever-hungry sort of way.

v. surrounded by magnificent skies of magnificent beauty… oh, Lord, you’re beautiful. 2/2 is going to be a bittersweet one, but really good all the same. i can feel it in my bones.

vii. 2/2…congratulations, class of 2018 – on a job well done. this is it. it’s all real now. thank you and you and you for coming. to the one whose call to move to the country i grew to love, thank you. i will always remember the smiles we shared as the easipeacc made its appearance. to the one whom i only see every year on this day, thank you for bear hugs and cheering me on in whatever sights my eyes were set on. thank you for your comment on never lose your wonder. thank you to you, whom i tried but failed to pull a fun prank. thank you for the laughs and good conversation we enjoyed after. and to the one who spoke of six o’clock mornings and gorgeous sunsets each weekend, thank you for memories and reminders and encouragement and for you. thank you and broad smiles flow freely out of my made-up and glossy lips. and then over and over again we fling our tasseled caps into the moonlit night. thank you, and more.

vii. not there… i gazed into the audience that night. you said you would make it yet you never did. and she did instead. of course. the night was void of a few. a select few that i thought was always there. every year. but i guess just not this year. my year. my heart dips in the midst of the high and joyous evening as i lay in bed with the feeling like i looked and looked and you had gone.

viii. mornings spent with you… i poised the question, not expecting such a positive response. so that jumpstarted our frazzled and changed plans into motion. and oh i’m so excited.

viii. a little bit of salt, a little hint of bitterness… maybe i haven’t healed. but what is healing anyway? as time passes i know it’s not forgetting. a little but still-present piece of me still wants to be with you. and other pieces wish you away, recalling what went on merely one year prior.

viii. grace abounds… grace is who you are, grace is what you’ve been given, grace is what you’ll become when it’s all done and dusted. thank you for speaking truth, for shining light, and giganticest bear hugs from your beautiful self. ❤

xii. day one… good to be back yet wary of memories and challenges i’ll face.

xiii. changed perception on changing perception… an experience creates a belief that creates expectation that leads to behavior. and now i know this decision was a good one, this community is a great one, and this time will be a sweet one. because after all that is said and done, positive experiences coupled with the negative, i can be one who creates new experiences instead of being trapped in fear of the repeated old.

xiii. how i got to be here… we talked after small group in the listening room. and you listened. not only that, you spurred me on in a godly way. not to mention i got to meet your fun and bubbly self, the one i had heard about but didn’t get to meet until this day. and now i say, the second night here — it does feel good to be here in this place.

xiv. can i go on the store run today instead? we weaved through the aisles, gazed at big quantities, and tried fruit roll ups for the first time ever. it was a fun time. i am so happy we got to experience it together.

xiv. campfire conversations..there’s something about gazing into a crackling bonfire with sparks flying in mid-air and your eyes becoming hazy that somehow stir up deeper conversation. grateful for you and me together, sitting facing the fire and getting deep. thank you for you. for talks of trust as well as transitions. for existing while still trying to be present and a peek into your heart.

xv. teabag truths… he who wants a rose must respect the thorn.

xvi. pulled aside advice… you asked me for input and i was humbled that you would view me as one of you. yet i do so want to know your heart. will you let me?

xxviii. ba gua night… the infamous, the crazy, a highlight for sure. moments in the tower closet talking about everything from mid-shift concerns to relationships and sharing funny stories.

xx. we renew our mind… and in doing so, we are able to test what is good, pleasing, and perfect.

xx. serenity… just a year before, the prayer was said, and oh my heart clung to the words, desperately needing it at that time. and now, tonight, i see that prayer typed and laying on a chair in that very same room. and all i can think of now is God is good. imagine my heart leaping with excitement when i see the same prayer painted across those wooden planks outside the tc.

xxi. caffeine crash… i’m overwhelmed, burned out, anxious. the sugar strikes and my mental, emotional, and physical state goes bezerk. there, in the hallway of no return, i bite away tears as physically i explode and inwardly crumble, not knowing what to do. for a community who loves and cares i had wanted someone. and lo, after changed and ready for the night, you came to my corner in the closet. and as i sat there breaking down, your presence built me up. oh, your heart is kind. i love you, my little mei mei. ❤

xxii. there is no fear in love… grateful for reminders in devotions, for daily assurances of His love that is not in pieces.

xxiii. sleepovers… i loved sleeping over with the both of you. there is something different and amazing about seeing each other again a second time. our friendship is a fast one and a fun one. even in the midst of sleepover slip-ups, i loved it. thank you both for sharing your floor with me.

xxiv. dear mrs. freeman… what a sweet, sweet time with the whole team together at the same time celebrating the servanthood and leadership of an incredible woman. precious moments indeed.

xxiv. calls from my Care Bear… you told me the hard truth, and i was distant on the other line. you felt it, i’m sure. you spoke of fixing my eyes beyond, not getting caught up in all of the little things that were going wrong. and oh how i appreciate you. even thousands of miles away, as hard as it is, you’re here, influencing many, influencing me. ❤

xxv. meaningful conversations… sharing about faith over fear, big decisions, and His work through it all. i see tears well up in your eyes as my story intersects with your daughter’s, and feel His spirit guide and move our hearts and minds as we listen and share.

xxv. can we talk real quick?… which stretched into a couple hours, but that didn’t matter because being there in the hallway with you was such a blessing to me. i hope you know that – no matter what. you’re strong. thank you for trusting me. thank you for you. ❤

xxv. back rubs and going back to truth… i love how you tell others they’re amazing. and tonight i saw the amazingness that is wrapped up in you. thank you for asking the hard questions, for being open to honest answers, for giving me space, for speaking truth over me, over my past, and into my future. and hugs from behind and back scratches in the silence. the silence that hurt, the silence that stung, where i didn’t know what to let out and how much to share, but at the end the silence gave me space and gave me breath and was a lovely place.

xxvii. i love you more than more… opening the thin, folded paper to your beautifully written handwriting screaming babeeee and filled to the edges of sweet encouragement, heart words, and so much more filled me to the brim and over. it hurts not being together but here you are all the same. ❤

xxviii. empowering adults… honey and lily, thank you for being those kinds of people to me today. because at the end of our chats, i felt full of life and empowered.

xxviii. i was thinking of you when i was reading and thinking of freedom from our fears… little did you know that i had just started being filled with those queasy, uneasy feelings i label anxiety that is tied to this thing called fear. thank you for reaching out. Jesus, you are the keeper of peace, the liberator of fear.

xxix. once in icc always in icc… my heart breaks as i see you all stand on the platform and become commissioned. you – my people. you – my family. you – my community. and i’m not “in.” but i rejoice for the times and memories and experiences shared. and you and i, with hand in hand under the tablecloth, holding each other tight. shedding tears with aching hearts, then rising and dancing together to one more what makes you beautiful. 

God of Your promise, You don’t speak in vain, no syllable empty or void [so will i]



still i rise | no. 5

dear may —

i. decision day… glorious weather, beautiful blooms, unexplainable peace, bubbling excitement. phone calls with mrs. h in the thrill of the outdoors, imexcitedimexcitedimexcited imexcitedforyouimexcitedforyou

i. i’m sorry you don’t see the beauty in the night. i’m sorry for the darkness that seems to separate us, sending us in our little corners. i don’t like it either.

ii. surprises in the mail… omg i love you. this made my day. you are so full of God’s love, passionate to live for Him and serve the people around you even when you aren’t sparkling. oh, you put a smile on my face that sparkled wide… but not as much as the one stretched across my heart from your words, your friendship, and the way you sparkle to me. ❤

iii. worship night in america… turn your worry into worship. on the mountains i will bow my life to the one who set me there in the valley i will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there

iv. imagine how free we’d feel if we learned to truly believe that in every situation, trust was the antidote to fear, that consciously trusting God would cause our moments of anxiety to be diminished

iv. sun bathing on the driveway, moments reading with my baby, and helping her super-clean. spontaneous visits and joyful reunions, carside chats and making Lazzy laugh. heart-to-hearts half a world away with aa, exchanging encouragement and prayer, all full of love.

iv. if you could pick a song… i love how our hearts are joined in such harmony.  ❤

vi. it all feels so right right now.

vi. backs turned and secluded kisses… leaving glum feelings in my gut. did you know i saw you? you seem distant since that day.

vii. why did you doubt? He said as He reached his arm. So He will do the same for me… reaching into the now-doubtful crevices after commitments and decisions and saying yes that make me feel weak and insecure and replacing with peace.

vii. good things can’t happen without change… oh how true.

vii. Cheshire grins and kaya dates makes up for this dark before dawn day that it was.

viii. finally done with finals… three essays in one night, boo yea.

ix. i had a feeling that would be the one… thank you for being in communication with the Father on my behalf and being someone i always look forward to giving you updates.

x. i felt so exposed, and so ashamed… but i braved it. i thought for sure no one would pick such an artist like this one. and i was right. my artist… so different. but there was something that took place in exposing and raising corners of secret places that led to satisfying peace. peace. a peace because i said yes to being open and transparent and giving more of myself for a homework assignment, a peace because each and everyday He redeems my story. a peace because i didn’t just give more of myself, i gave myself. i used to think i was the strangest person in the world, but then i thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways i do. i would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too…

x. her kidneys are shutting down and she doesn’t have much longer… till we meet, till we meet, till we meet at Jesus’ feet… God be with you till we meet again. 

x. the greatest showman as i lift into the skies and soar among the clouds. this is the greatest show. 

xi. i will never ride a coach the same again… opening my eyes in wonder in the land of Budapest and sitting in cushioned seats, with air-conditioner blowing my hair rapidly. i cannot help but muse on the last time i entered a new land and sat in a now-familiar coach like this.

xii. sea billows roll and dwelling in the river… sorrows can come like how sea billows roll yet peace like a river comes my way. the same God who made the currents in the waves has the power to still it. reflections on the river danube.

xiii. art art art and architecture, coffeeshops, and confluence of the danube bringing me back to memories from the city of muddy confluence.

xiv. sunning on the deck… just me, music, and the expanse of nature and landmarks and Europe around me. being excited and full of glee over the mention of the city of willendorf.

xv. walking the color painted cobble-lined streets of passau… laughing over our (lack of) german and running up and down and through the halls of the glass museum like a bunch of happy six year olds.

xvi. spontaneous shopping yayayayayay.

xvi. stained glass sights… their breathtaking and majestic sky-towering beauty. there is beauty in the “stained,” the tarnished, the broken.

xviii. mrt station vibes, fisherman’s friend, and you bundled up with only your little eyes peeping through your jacket… oh take me back.

xx. it is well… thank you a million times for doing that. my heart bubbles over. He is good today, and everyday.

xxi. last happy dance, last time in my chapter as a chapter member, last of a season of the chapter crew that i know. will we see you again? i realize so much now how much i love these people. this family. this community. this is my story, this is my song…

xxiv. skyline against the golden sunset… thank you for saying yes, for enjoying the night together, and being old knocked-out ladies slumped over together too. your head with mine, and my head with yours, and all the feels.

xxv. return, return, return… to me. signed, fear not. oh what a sweet blessing you are to me.

xxv. bring me back — bring me back to the place where i felt warm and at rest. bring me back to the people, the people who know and love me the best. bring me back to the time when doubts didn’t evade, when there was not a slight glimpse to question my security, my acceptance, my belonging. comparison snatches away hearts and souls, mind and spirit. it cranes your neck, puts hunger in the eyes of one’s heart. that hunger and drive should crave instead for the only Love that satisfies — the One who says this is my child, whom i love and of whom i am well pleased.

xxvii. you understood, you didn’t ask why… and didn’t bring condemnation either. and you, of all people. thank you.

xxvii. strip me, bruise me, wreck me. i want You, i miss You, i need You… so i will chase You, find You, hold You. even here You chase me, find me, hold me. i am Yours, Yours, Yours and you are Mine, Mine, Mine.

xxvii. oh the treasure of those you love… to hear heaven gained a faithful servant today swashes the grief with joy that you are home. death is real, death is real, death is a real deal yet on this i will hope and on this i will cling — God will be with me till we meet again. 

xxx. another last… but oh, worship was on fire as much as ever tonight. so thankful i get to part of this community. never forget where you started.

grateful for people and places… and places with the people i love.

still i rise | no. 4

dear april —

i. you are a pastor’s dream and you have a servant’s heart… it is not just what i do, it is who i am. thank you for placing value and worth on me and reminding me of my gifts. more often than not i am quietly at work in the shadows. and today you reminded me, in the presence of others, that even there i am seen.

i. thank you, you said… i returned the hug and asked, for what? maybe my short memory had no remembrance of anything in particular because after a bit you replied, oh then it’s all God, my dear. you speak of God just by being you. 

i. the day’s happenings brought a swirling, a myriad of hard feelings and i can’t help but ask why. what good has come out of this and what more good will come? i sat in the cushioned-lined seat today thinking of what would have happened if it weren’t her by my side but you instead. would things be different? i can only wonder. i can only imagine. what are you running from? …stop running from it. let that pain become your inspiration. 

ii. chats with the former… i can’t say that i am surprised to hear you step away. but i will say that you will be missed. your praise and support have made me enjoy the work i did with you. grateful for emojis and prayer exchanges and the blessing of you.

ii-iii. chats with the new… you, my sweet mrs. – you fill me with such joy. you are so fun and i love you so. i savor our chats about life and our texts peppered with love.

iii. throw out your old, preconceived ideas about what a successful life should look like and restart with a new perspective. grieve your losses and look for a new path as you accept the things you never expected or wanted.

iii. hello cat… yes, you. 🙂 thank you for you. this made my day. i love our more frequent check-ins and going deep in pursuits together.

iii. what is your heart telling you?… i cringe as you pull me closer. what is my heart saying? i don’t know. and my silence in reply does not warrant silence in response.

iv. are you free now?… treasured connecting and hearing your voice again. you mentioned a fog and oh what a beautiful picture. love thinking how fog doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining. somewhere on the other side of this veiled view, light is breaking through. love you, Care Bear. ❤

iv. hearts and congrats and prayers… aside from my momma, i would give you #1 teacher. getting to text you, even for a bit, made me so happy.

v. unpleasant dreams… i made us late. you got mad at me, and i felt shame. i cried and apologized over and over, and you admonished me.

vi. fear is the name of the game today… yet i cling to hope. i’m no longer a slave to fear. i am a child of God. 

vi. you made us late… they called to make sure we were on the way. we pulled in and were received with smiles and hugs. we just wanted to make sure you didn’t change your mind. oh the comparisons between today and the previous night. i felt like a prodigal. did you?

vi. expectations… and with great expectation we await the Promise to come. everything that You have spoken will come to pass, let it be done.

vii. prayer walk… being content in sitting in the stillness of His presence and opening myself to what He says to me. He makes me new, and it is a continual and ongoing process. for all that i am, worship Me, He said. did He not start a good work in me? am i going to be bothered by the thorns on roses or see the beauty that is there? He redeems my story. i am strong and full of life. i am steadfast, no compromise. 

vii. bathroom side talks… hey – i’ve only known you for less than a year and i wish now that i’ve known you longer. you sprung a question, a simple question, and i took a plunge to answer honestly. you replied in frank, but now looking back frank is what i need sometimes. you know, do it for you. 

vii. free time… spending free time with you and you made me happy. you – in the midst all the trembling and worry somehow i can say, by grace, i enjoyed your company. nothing really changed, but peace ushered in. and that somehow makes everything else fall away. and you – i slipped away and went to find you (the others thought they lost me… whoops). we talked and laughed and snatched some spoons. i think back to the youth we once were, the cliques and the non-cliques, the popular and the lonely. i remember you coming to me and the sorry that you uttered. i always had thought of you as the other – belonging to the one where i felt no belonging. and yet there we were, talking and laughing and having fun. you probably don’t know what it meant but thank you. next comes prom… then graduation.

vii. love and expectations… God doesn’t expect us to take what He gives, He simply invites us to receive. He brought it all to mind, and i realize where i was and where He was and is. i expected and did not get. He doesn’t expect us and loves us anyway, no matter what.  here is all my love, it’s Yours, no conditions. 

vii. saturday night… they said the saturday night session is always where it’s at. the climax. it’s where the deep stuff gets laid out and open, and the emotions come. i don’t know what i was expecting. perhaps a slight shed of tears and some profound revelation. but then everything came together and hit. saturday night. the band came and the floodgates opened, a mighty rush breaking chains. one by one we cried, wept, sobbed. my mind thought back and i fought the crowd and walked up to find you. you opened your arms, pulled me close. i searched your eyes, and you searched mine. i am sure deep inside you could tell there was more to tell. i confide in you, whisper to you, plea with you, tears squeezing out the corners of my eyes. and you say yes. head nods and head shakes, you assure me that i am beautiful and redeemed and forgiven. oh my soul how incredibly healing it is to hear that from you. you carry the Spirit in you like a vessel and all i want to do is have you hold me tight as i sob into your chest the whole night long. i leave your embrace and the room is empty. i step into the night, heading to find the others. the sky is clear and the air is crisp. i feel free. oh the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God. 

viii. learning to love yourself first… i open to the day’s reading and am wowed by His timing. once we get ahold of the truth of the grace, not only does it empower us to forgive and love ourselves, but also do the same for others. you can’t love much until you understand the depth of His love and the depth of which you have been forgiven. surrender to me, and don’t pick it up until you can view it with the right view of love. this may mean filling your own void of love first. 

x. starbucks debriefing… we each went around sharing our stories and our experiences. you said you came home not knowing the nagging feeling, and then identifying as missing us when we leave. my heart swells as i remember the journey i’ve been on and still tread, and how much of a part you’ve played in that. oh how far i’ve come. sipping coffee next to you all filled me with such belonging. how good and beautiful it is to share our stories. oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.

xi. Phil. 1:6… we sat on the couch and shared with the jh. we closed in prayer and the verse came to mind right before you said it aloud. God is pretty cool, i should say.

xiii. birthday wishes and warm encouragement… i am blessed by your caring spirit, inner strength, deep-rooted wisdom, and beautiful words and artistry. thank you for words exchanged and well wishes.

xiii. 4:13 day… after the 4.12, it’s been reminders to rise and rely on His strength.

xiv. grace upon grace… in spite of it all, today reminded me yet again that life doesn’t always go how we expect. i am humbled. here’s to cheerwine and making memories.

xiv. first place… you told me you secretly wished i would have the honor of receiving it. i am so wowed hearing that from you.

xv. you are trustworthy… those are the words you tell me with such sincerity as i tell you of school and life and worries. grateful and thankful.

xviii. great job… you whispered. thank you for those two words, after all these months of what went on. your random text after coming home was random but thank you for reaching out and checking up on me. it means a lot. you are quite something. quite special.

xix. thanks for checking in and reminding me of what is really important, despite the longing to be together.

xix. overcoming obstacles… it is through overcoming obstacles where our true beauty emerges. i went over and asked if you needed anything, and your deep gratitude was so heartwarming.

xix. you have a voice… oh, how i gushed at your words. i’d love to join you on stage one day. i admire your voice and your gift, your strength and deliverance.

xxi. i went hoping the deciding would be easier… but it is only harder. will this be my home the next four years? idkkkkkkkkkkk.

xxiii. dear apple… i shared of the school search and the deciding and the woes. you shared encouragement, tips, support. i miss your family. you all make me smile.

xxiii – xxvi. emotional wreck… every time someone turns to me they wear a blank question mark across their face. i am literally crying on and off all day. why is this so hard?

xxvi. there goes the bell… and behold, it’s you! isn’t it like you to be spontaneous. ugg, i love you.

xxvii. another no… i go for a visit, and jokingly wonder if i will fall in love. nevertheless, this one is a sure no. yay.

xxvii. adventure or safety… those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. those who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the safety they attain. closer and closer, this brings the answer. will i go for adventure out of faith, or safety out of fear? i am beginning to be at peace.

xxviii. falling into place… decision in mind, and potential roommate just after. God is good and overwhelming me with peace.

xxix. you have a nice voice… oh you sweet child, you are a sweetheart.

xxix. unexpected – leave fear behind, move forward in faith, embrace the adventure… trials don’t mean we are out of the will of God. they often mean we are exactly in the will of God — right where we’re supposed to be, doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. 

xxix. daddy’s heart… my heart melted and ahh i don’t want to grow up. can i not?

xxx. i became a dragon… or a unicorn. taking a leap, saying yes by faith, this is me.

still i rise | no. 3

dear march —

i. why does healing take so much time? and this thing called time — will it ever come?

i. big yellow umbrellas and northern lights… i’ll just sit with you in the dark and hold a big yellow umbrella over your head until the sun can shine again and we can see the best yellows. thank you for you a million times over.

i. joy is there, trust me… we are walking in it in spite of the storm in our life. we are taking our thoughts captive, trusting Christ, staying in prayer, and in His word… that secret place — joy can be found there.

ii. don’t wait it out… pray it out. prayer is the force that makes all hell quiver in fear and causes heaven to stand to its feet with joyful applause.

iii. nián gāo and dòu fu flan… safe from the storm.

iv. limited power doesn’t limit the power of the Holy Spirit… candlelit worship center, huddled in the cold; communion in huddled coats. overflow in this place… the spirit of the Lord is here. and indeed — where there was alarm and loss of power, He poured blessing and peace. loss of power became the Father’s great gain.

iv. you saw me sitting there, wrapped up in my coat. you beckoned me — bid me — to move towards the fireplace. and though i was okay where i was, i shed my coat and moved myself closer. i sat there on the floor, the warmth of the fire dancing against my back and giving heat to my cheeks. sometimes shedding and moving out of what did provide warmth is necessary for experiencing the next level of the warmth of His goodness. thank you for inviting me to draw closer… draw nearer.

iv. the paints won’t behave, the shading doesn’t look right, the gradients are simply awful… and yet what matters is the progress, not perfection. and reminders to give myself grace, to admire the beauty that is there, and not be too hard on myself. oh, the journey of an artist. this is what makes artistry — not so much as to perfect as it is to understand and grow — from within.

v. invigorated by the power of the Holy spirit… we’ve got the Holy Spirit and all of His power in us. in Him we have peace, joy, and hope and He will finish what He starts. confidently flawed. 

vi. learning the secret of being content… striving to give the glory due His name, for i deserve none of this.

vi. out of the heart the mouth speaks. so though my brain wanted to say one thing, You took it away and replaced it with my heart. don’t let what you don’t know about God hinder you from believing what you do know about Him. rejoice in hope, be patient in trials, constant in prayer.

vi. it started with a cat… and then the crazies came out and then we fell off the floor… and i became a laughing bobbly head. (falling rn, actually… rereading texts again)

viii. heaving all my cares away with each heave and agonizing shovelful. hot dogs in the cold, and blasting praises all the day long. the snow never bothered me anyway. 

x. in pursuit of becoming fearless… maybe God is letting all this happen so i may experience a breakthrough of all that is tying me down. maybe this is a year of fearing more so that i can be fear-less.

x. marks of the true christian… share with the Lord’s people who are in need. practice hospitality. a wake up to love — i need a change of heart.

xi. the power and influence of prayer, and the awe-inspiring hand of God in even the littlest of angels. pray, pray, pray. trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey. 

x. have you ever seen the wonder and spending time with little sunshines. Zay-Zay and Phyllis — thank you for allowing me to squeeze you tight, peck cheeks, make silly faces, and stand in the cold for you in such a love-doing way.

xii. from the journal: “the gentleman seated on the plane in front of us chewing his gum with such vigoration (yes idek if that is a word but it is now) made me laugh so much and i wanted to just swing a bat around at life because hey everyone should do the simplest of things like chewing a piece of gum with such satisfaction that all who watches them just can’t help but smile. kinda like the lollipop effect. wow… i’m deep. thanks, gum-man.”

xiii. more trust, less fear. and may purity line the spaces of my heart and mind.

xiv. random texts, gifs that say you’re rooting for me, and reminders to take courage. ❤

xiv. what if i didn’t complain but stuck through it? what if i didn’t question it as a sign of weakness but knew that God must think i’m strong enough through Him to come out of it? what if i didn’t mumble saying this is the worst, but changed my perspective, knowing God only gives me His best?

xiv. 2/4 now and i put this one aside with barely a second thought.

xv. mid-day spontaneity brings joy and laughter to my day. milkshakes and strolling with you leave me feely but mixed.

xviii. nothing i hold onto… heaviness in my heart but not knowing why and “feeling weird.” i walked out of the room, needing some space. you said it’s okay to let it out. oh God, it’s so hard to surrender. i lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven. 

xix. God-given brain lapses remind me to fix my eyes ahead and remain steadfast. i need to trust His heart with all my heart.

xix. not everything in life has to show a rose in bloom, or a light at the end of the tunnel. sometimes the greatest ministry is to establish connection, showing the darkness in the tunnel or the thorns on the rose, sitting by someone in the dark.

xix. desktop wallpaper reflecting, “i will climb this mountain with my arms wide open…” and amazed at His way in nudging this theme to me over and over.

xxii. 3/4… oh happy day. plus two jars of kaya.

xxii. feeling cingulomania for you, kalon. 

xxiv. even after so much, you never stop loving… oh thank you for you.

xxiv. even here, there’s still grace… thank you for your warm hug that made me melt in your embrace.

xxv. seeing the early morning sun rise… a canvas of Your grace.

xxv. God you are sovereign… in sickness and in death. grateful for soulful anthems that we are not alone even in deep waters, and chats of wisdom and guidance. brokenness cracks open a soul so the power of God can crack the darkness in the world. 

xxv. broken seashell… along the edge of the shore; with the tide lapping in and out over it. even in the low and high tides of life, the waves don’t overtake me – there are people speaking into me, praying for me, and thinking of me. through emptiness and brokenness, celebrating life that comes after death while also taking time to grieve… through it all it will be alright. He makes use of the broken pieces of our shells and makes us vessels for Him.

xxvii. i will trust here in the mystery… i will trust in you completely.

xxvii. love — a continuing debt we owe others. may we love as You love. 

xxviii. people and places and all the like… things are changing, and it’s all so bittersweet.

xxviii. convictions… figuring out what it means to love as He loves and follow through. grant us the courage to give as You are calling.

xxx. seeing you after i had dreamed about you last night filled my heart with so much joy. God is good.

xxx. our lives a tapestry of Your grace… it is finished… yahweh. so humbled and blessed to serve You with such amazing artists before a packed house and an audience of One.

xxxi. following through with convictions… let’s love in that crazy love He’s shown us, one that He gives so extravagantly and freely. 

xxxi. when God’s children obey, the enemy preys… thankful for that recognition. this. this comes through following through.

i will climb this mountain with my arms wide open… there’s nothing i hold on to. [nothing i hold on to]

may your love cause us to open up, cause us to open up our hearts. may your light cause us to shine so bright that we bring hope into the dark. all that we do without love, it means nothing. grant us the courage to give as you’re calling. make me an instrument of your peace. where there is hatred let me show love. where there is darkness let me shine light [open up]

11:23 p.m.

over clouded emotions and looming worries, she lifts her sights.
she speaks in faith and thinks in faith and chooses faith.

faith – above the mountains of fear that stand in her way.
for she’s come to realize this very thing:

fear – it enables her to tread on higher heights.
for it is in the process of fearing more that she becomes fear-less.

so though the climb is hard, she keeps going.
keeps choosing. keeps pushing through.

some days she stands tall – determined, emboldened, and full of life.
other days, her journey is but a crawl.

and that’s okay. she’ll be alright.
she has His strength —
all the way.