The expectation for being in love is tainted. Growing up, every romantic comedy I saw painted a disastrous picture of romance in such a seemingly beautiful way. Love was cheating on your husband with an old friend and realizing that your passion for this old friend was so much more life-giving than your pathetic husband, so you move across the country to be with him.  Love was screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain, and at 2 am and you're cursing his name. Name-calling and monstrous fights and heartbreak were all fair because that's the price you had to pay. In my impressionable little eyes, love was nothing if it wasn't passionate and gut-wrenching and involved hysterical tears and maybe even throwing rocks at a window.

Here are some REAL LIFE examples of what youth considers tru luv...

This is a huge problem.

If love is war, if love is only mad passion and nothing else, if true love means screaming and fighting, then I don't want that. I don't want to lock myself into some twisted relationship that's "us against the world". I don't want to be with someone who thinks that breaking my heart every day is okay simply because it's supposed to hurt.

I refuse to accept pop culture's definition of love. I refuse to love a boy who only shows me respect when he likes me, and I hope that I can be better than allowing my current mood or my current feelings toward someone affect my promise to love them. Now, I'm not oblivious to the inevitable hurt that will come after two people link arms and decide that they're in this together. There will be mean words spoken, patience tested, and disagreements. However, this shouldn't define their relationship by any means. How dare we belittle something as wonderful as love to something so shallow, superficial, and ludicrous.

The truth is, Love came down and showed us who He is. Love healed the blind, the lepers, and the lame. Love restored life to the dead. Love wept with those who were mourning. Love turned the dirtiest water into the tastiest wine. Love watched His friend deny Him three times, and then hung on a cross to save him from eternal despair.

Love is a lot bigger than a feeling. Love is precious and holy and gentle and kind. Love is patient and beautiful. We shouldn't settle for a relationship that mimics the kind we hear about in Taylor Swift's songs. Let us be the people who love without bounds. Let us define love by its selflessness and devotion rather than its passionate fights and temporary highs.

*disclaimer: I love Taylor Swift.


End of Summer Ramblings

I know that Jesus is everywhere, but sometimes it seems like He's in Austin just a little bit more than everywhere else.

Here are some really random things that I've learned this summer:

1. Discipline is necessary.
I am the kind of person who claims to be spontaneous and wild and free as a bird, but at the end of the day, I love my routines. I love having a plan and all of my produce cut up and an rough idea of what my meals will be for the next few days. With that being said, if I want anything to be in my life at all, there has to be a time for it. Whether it's a friend, yoga, relaxing, or Friday Night Lights, I need to set apart time for the things that are important to me. This summer I learned that spending time with Jesus isn't something that I can just do when I'm in my car or walking around or find free time. It's an activity. Prayer is something that can easily be neglected if I don't make time for it, and I have learned that setting aside time for Jesus is so important and necessary. I need to be reminded of this daily (like right now when my flesh would much rather sleep in a little bit), but life runs better when I stop running it and let Jesus do His thing.

2. Jesus talks back.
I pray for God to audibly speak to me quite a bit. It hasn't happened, but when I hear His voice, I will tell everyone I know. I hope it's deep and it echoes and He says something extremely profound. But, this summer I learned that God actually jumps at the chance to reveal Himself to us. He's working hard for his children and He doesn't want that to go unnoticed. He wants to shower us with bouquets and songs and beautiful people. Our prayers are not unheard, even if we don't hear a booming voice immediately after our Amen.

3. Jesus loves surprising us.
I have so many prayers that I feel like aren't heard at all. But, I was humbly reminded that these prayers are not only heard, but cherished. These prayers are hung up on a giant bulletin board and written on beautiful paper with calligraphy pens. Jesus doesn't want to just answer our meek requests, but He wants to one-up every expectation we have set before Him. He doesn't just make the sun disappear at night, He gives us sunsets. He doesn't just fill our bellies with mush. He gives us colorful berries and delicious food. God isn't a repairman checking off boxes. He is our perfecter, life decorator, and redeemer.


Young Life Beach Trip

For those of you who have spoken to me for more than 10 minutes, you probably know that I am a Young Life leader in South Austin. I didn't ever intend to be part of Young Life coming into college, but thanks to some divine appointments and Kendra Harrison, I got involved with UT Young Life during my freshman year of college. Becoming a leader at Travis High School has been my favorite thing that I've ever done in my entire life.

The role of a Young Life leader is to build relationships with kids and tell them about Jesus. We are not a group of people who try to "fix", convert, or change kids. Young Life exists to love people and share the Gospel. It's a very simple ministry and I like it that way because it gives Jesus a whole lot of room to work in a whole lot of lives. The kids at Travis are some of my favorite humans that have been born. They are beautiful and wise and hilarious and they've taught me so much about the character of God. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to know them!!

Just last week, Young Life went to Port Aransas with a group of freshmen in South Austin! The trip was exhausting and busy and joyful. Here are some of the girls who went on the trip with me!

Elizabeth- You are fiercely loyal with a heart of gold.

Krishonna- You are a strong leader with so much wisdom.

Desirae- You are sweet and charming and your dimples are precious.

Azzy- Your humor and honesty make my heart overflow. 

Clarissa- Your wisdom and your courage make me feel braver than I am.

They're the absolute best! We have so many wonderful memories from the trip, but I think my favorite was from the first night we got there.

We were tired and antsy from the bus and everyone was getting a little cranky. The luggage was hard to carry and cell phones had just been taken up, so everything was a little bit more tragic than usual. I was frustrated because I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect so everyone could be in the best possible mood, and honestly, I started to worry that this trip was going to be a disaster. I tried my hardest to pep up my girls and that ended up being more annoying than peppy (a common theme), so I felt discouraged and inadequate. We finally decided to put down our swimsuits and see what the beach was like before our first official activity, so after some hair straightening and make-up touch ups, we headed down to the ocean. The walk was long and tensions were rising. Some girls were talking about sharks and how the notoriously "dirty" Texas beaches scared them too much to actually get into the water so they didn't know what they would do when we got to the beach. The girls were realizing that they were stuck with me for three days and were doubting all the hype they heard about the trip. But, as we got closer to sound of ocean waves, the walking turned into jogging and the jogging turned into running. Before I knew it, my girls were sprinting to the ocean and screaming with joy as they caught the first glimpse of the ocean. The waves were huge and the sand was warm and all was right in the world again. They ran at top speeds into the huge and scary ocean with complete assurance that all the fuss and doubts could not touch the appeal of the joy that the ocean brought.

What a perfect picture of our relationship with Jesus. God could not have chosen more beautiful people to show me the pure joy that comes from running at full speed into His arms. 

I went from feeling down and fearful to feeling absolutely ridiculous for ever doubting the Lord. Our God, who worked absolute miracles to get these incredible girls on the trip was not going to let us down. Letting us down isn't in His nature. No, no. I was laughing with God on that beach at the fact that He chose me to be a Young Life leader at Travis. In spite of my reluctance and over-bearing nature, He chose me. I felt broken and silly and thankful that God chooses people like me to take kids to the beach in hopes of them knowing Jesus better. 

Jesus, thank you for hand picking the kids who went to beach trip and teaching me more about you than I ever imagined. Thank you for being a Father who loves to embrace us and splash us with waves and make us laugh and cry and laugh until wee hours of the morning. Thank you for loving us more than we can comprehend.



Austin, Jesus is Near


Summer is here, and Austin is beautiful. Hear the prayers of this city and the people you call "loved".

May our conversations exist to glorify You. Even though our flesh fails, enable us to use our words to draw others near to you in times of trouble and in joy. May we build each other up and push one another closer and closer to You.
May those impacted by the flood depend on You more than they ever have, and may this city come together to give time and money generously to those who need it most.
May the rainbows remind us of your covenant with us. Let the sun shine down on us until we are filled with vitamin D and smiles.
May those visiting Austin feel the overwhelming peace that only Your presence can bring. When others see this city as a dark place, shine through our messy souls. Use the flawed humans that you recklessly love to light up this city. 
May music bring people closer to you. Allow profound lyrics and emotional instrumentals to move people to catch a glimpse of your deep love for them.
May the students throughout Austin pursue knowledge wholeheartedly, but may we learn to see success as you do. Inspire us, motivate us, and enchant us with the beautiful world You have made. But, remind us that this world is temporary and success can mean many things.
May the careers we pursue bring others to know You. Jesus, guide us and push us in the direction of Your will. Help us trust you when it's hard to know which path we should take.
May we learn more about your character through salsa, queso, guacamole, and jalapeno ranch.
Mostly, give us courage to love. Without love, we are nothing. Challenge us to love one another deeply and ferociously. Remind us what radical love looks like. Expose beautifully broken pieces of us to one another, so that we may use those pieces to point back to you.


Austin, Jesus is near.


Chiseled Hearts

I am baffled when I think about all of the accommodations I have made to make myself more comfortable in this world.

Society teaches us that looking a certain way is beautiful. You must be thin enough to wear the same size as a toddler, but then you risk being too skinny which must obviously mean you have some sort of insecurity or eating disorder which is absolutely not okay since any sign of being vulnerable is frowned upon. Then you must be "curvy" enough to turn the heads of pubescent boys - and if you're lucky - you may even make it on to one of their SnapChat stories with a flattering caption such as, "bunz 4 dayz". You also must have all the right clothes. No more high-waisted shorts because (for the last time!) boys HATE those. A skirt short enough to show off your long, recently tanned legs, but not short enough to upset your jealous boyfriend is ideal. Your hair should be long and if it's naturally straight - curl it. If it's naturally curly- straighten it. Do everything you can to hide all the blemishes on your face, because that may lead people to believe they were caused by stress, and beautiful people do not stress. Cover up all the scars from the battles you have overcome, hide the wrinkles from long nights of laughter, and for the love of all that is good and decent, pluck your eyebrows.

Now this is a simple an possibly overused example of how society alters our mindset. I'm not saying that being beautiful according to society's standards is bad. My point is that because of how easily accessible and overly advertised the prototype for physical beauty is, we are prone to deem our passions "silly" or "irrelevant" for the sake of what is considered normal. It makes sense, as ridiculous as it is. For us, being normal is comfortable.

As we have seen, beauty can all too easily morph from an all-encompassing definition to a specific and exact type. It's easy to recognize this with our physical features, but what I'm concerned about is what our hearts find beautiful. Society can teach us that loving certain types of people is ridiculous, just as easily as it can convince us that wrinkles from smiles are ugly. A prototypical body is pretty awful, but a prototypical heart is absolutely vile.

While every person looks naturally unique from the outside, our souls are simply inimitable. We are each born with different passions than our neighbor and that is a truth we should take such delight in. Because of this, we should never, no matter what this world says, oppress that little voice inside of us that says, "Hey this matters.". We should never tailor our hearts to this world's teaching that things and security and temporary happiness trump that brave little voice.

There is another voice in our head, unfortunately. This one is pestering and sometimes much louder than anything else we hear. The one that says, "Don't be silly. Don't worry about them. If you spend too much time caring about them, you may not be able to have all of this." When that voice gets louder, it's because it knows how powerful the human heart can be when it doesn't conform to this world's selfish requests. When you feel defeated by that voice and are ready to give up on that burning desire to make a difference in the lives you feel drawn to touch, choose love.

When you find something that makes your heart beat faster, whether it is giving food to the homeless or being there for an abused child, don't let the hideousness of this world tell you it doesn't matter. Don't believe the lie that "someone else will take care of it" or that "you'll have time later in life". You were made as an extraordinary human with unmatched interests. There is no one else in the world who looks at the world like you do. Let us not chisel our hearts as society has tried to make us chisel our bodies, and let the voice that screams about love be heard over all else. Let us make accommodations for our souls rather than the desperate cry of the society.


Glorifying Busy

It's been almost two months since I updated my blog. Whoops.

The reason I haven't been writing is dumb. I've been busy. So, I have been presented with such an opportunity to talk about how absolutely terrifying it is to become less busy.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is this:

How simply beautiful is that command?! When I first saw that, I was in major denial that I ever glorified busy. I didn't even think that was possible. I didn't understand how one could glorify busy... as if "Busy" was an idol. As if "Busy" had any control over the direction of our thoughts. And then, reality hit me as I was making a to-do list and barely squeezing in time to cut my produce. Yes, I seriously put that on my to-do list... was I crazy? Or just that Busy?

I struggle with glorifying Busy. I struggle with feeling accomplished if I achieved a lot of things that day. Throughout the day, my mind is usually on the next task I need to cross off. I've found myself making schedules by the minute so that I can control how much I actually get done. I don't trust that it will all get done if I don't make a Plan A, B, C. But this quote doesn't demand that we just trust that it will get done, and that's why I love it.

Stopping the glorification of Busy means to stop finding success in how many things you accomplish. Being Busy does not mean you are being productive, worthy, or important. You are those things without a single task crossed off of your to-do list. Letting things go and un-busying yourself is one of the harder things that I'm learning to do right now. I'm learning that sometimes you have to say yes to the more important things, like spending time with your Creator or walking a little bit slower on the way home to talk to your mom. Saying yes to these things will take all the power away from Busy. We can only serve one master, and Busy is not one of them.

Society demands that we fill every second of our time. This demand will make us fail and become miserably attached to the hollow promises that Busy tries to fulfill. Life is meant to be lived fully, without to-do lists that are only out to destroy and phones that are constantly buzzing. Life is meant to be shared and enjoyed. Life should be filled with long conversations and deep relationships. Busy has no power over us when we realize what truly matters.

In Chapter 10 of Luke, there is a story about how Jesus addresses busyness. (Spoiler alert: He doesn't like it)
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." 
Luke 10: 38-42

Let's stop being like Martha for a little bit and see what the good portion has to offer.


Small Person, Big God

Today is a simple one. I am thankful to be fully loved and reminded of that truth in all the valleys. Thank you, Jesus, for telling me to come home when I start to wander, and beckoning me in with a full feast and a promising glance into eternity. Thank you for creating me and never leaving me. Thanks for knowing every corner of my heart, even the darkest parts. Thank you for giving me things that the world promised and failed to deliver. Thank you for being so bright that ignoring you would be impossible. Thank you, Lord!!