Saturday, April 16, 2016


Being in your 20s is a strange time: you're trying to figure out what this whole "being adult" thing is that you've always heard about, you still feel like a big kid but you're at the point in life when you're seriously considering having your own kids (but you feel completely inadequate as an adult, and ergo, a potential parent), you're struggling to find the balance of being "fun" but mature (Is mature just a fancy word "adults" made up? Has anyone ever attained this illusive status of maturity?), you're possibly panicking that you're not where you imagined you'd be at this phase in your life (I mean, you've always wanted to be a ________ [fill in the blank] since you were 5, but you're nowhere close to achieving it. Sorry, five-year-old me!), and you have these eureka "aha" moments only to slip back into your old patterns of living days later. I may or may not relate to over half of these.

When I turned 25, my birthday felt less spectacular. I was a quarter of a decade old, half-way to 50, and biologically/physically speaking, at the "height" of everything so it would be all down-hill from here (the lies I tell myself sometimes are laughable, but only in retrospect). At 25, I wasn't getting any younger (Fact: you're never getting any younger, but the truth kinda smacks you in the face sometimes). My mom was awesome (as always) and put together a fun birthday box for me to make 25 a special birthday; she knew I was feeling slightly blue about this year's festivities. And then there was my husband, three years older, kindly laughing at me as he adamantly reminded me that "he was almost thirty." It's the oddest feeling when you realize you're older than a lot of celebrities out there, and then you're like, "Hey, I'm older than them. Why am I not famous?" Of course, I rarely say this out-loud, but it still passes through my head.

Now, past 25, I lose track of how old I am. One day at the book store, I told someone I was 25 (Ok, I was only a year off, but it was still strange that I couldn't remember off the top of my head). My exact words to a complete strange: "You should definitely read this [young adult] series. I love it and I'm 25." Today, when I tell people I'll be 27 in a few months, I laugh because I really feel 22 most days (Thank you, T-Swift). I have a few gray hairs making their debut, but I'm no longer upset about it. At this point, I feel like I've earned those gray hairs, and I'd be almost offended if my body didn't think I was "wise" enough to sport them.

My aunt said something really wise to me a few years ago. I was complaining about getting older, and instead of laughing at me and saying something like, "Ha! I'm in my 50s so you have no room to talk!" she gave me some great insight. She didn't deny your 20s are fun, but she said each decade has it's own unique and enjoyable attribute. In your 30s, you're learning more of who you are, in your 40s you care a lot less of what people think about you, and in your 50s...etc. It was a nice sentiment, but it didn't really click at the time.

At 26, I'm finally beginning to understand. Getting older is not a curse, because the parts of me I value are ageless. Yes, I do like having smooth, un-wrinkly skin, and I do get a kick out of looking a decade younger than I really am. But that pales in comparison to things that I'm steadily improving in with age. With each year, I gain new insights and ways of looking at things that make the world a far more interesting and meaningful place to call my home (my temporary home). I've learned so much about myself and my flaws, but also my strengths and how I can use them and bless others. I've learned that my faith HAS to be my own, and that walking with God in holiness is not restrictive but liberating. I've learned that 26 is too old to make excuses about being intentional about my relationships and taking care of my body and thinking about what I feed it. I've learned that 26 is only the beginning, not some sort of mournful end to youth. And the awesome part is that God is going to keep teaching me and showing me new perspectives and eureka moments with each passing year, month, week, and day that will further illuminate my perspective on life. At 26, it's refreshing to finally care less about things that don't matter and embrace the things that do. I'm enjoying life, and I'm enjoying this process of self-discovery alongside my Maker.

Here's to many more birthdays and eureka moments.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What I Learned in Retail

It is with the greatest of delight and pleasure that I can say my last day of retail was Saturday, September 26th, 2015. Up to that point, I had worked in fast food or retail since my senior year of high school. Seven years. I can’t say it’s been grand, but it’s had its golden moments and life lessons along the way. Here’s a list of notable things I’ve gleaned from retail:

1. “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am” or “Yes Sir” and “No Sir” are the most useful and most utilized words you’ll utter.
2. Stranger danger is overrated. Talking to strangers can be pretty awesome.
3. Some strangers are pretty weird and annoying, and you’ll regret talking to them.
4. Networking: Knowing people will get you places, so always be nice and friendly.
5. Introverts CAN fake an extroverted personality, but it’s exhausting.
6. I absolutely hate polo shirts. And I never want to wear khakis ever again.
7. Good attitudes are contagious, and people will be pleasant if you are pleasant.
8. Bad attitudes do no one any good, especially yourself. A bad attitude doesn’t teach anyone else a lesson.
9. People are weird when it comes to money.
10. Always treat workers in retail with respect and don’t be annoying.
11. Holidays are so materialistic. It’s gross.
12. It’s important to keep the team strong. Learn to like and get along with your coworkers, ‘cause customers and retail are crazy. You’ll need them and they’ll need you.
13. Listen. People need someone to talk to.
14. Smile. It breaks down barriers and melts the ice.
15. Small talk is normal and expected in the South. Just go with it.
16. Some people are nasty and rude for no good reason. It’s not your fault. Still be nice.
17. The men’s restrooms are often cleaner.
18. “The customer is always right” is the biggest lie ever.
19. Being able to do basic mental math is exceedingly useful.
20. Some people exude a sense of calm tranquility. They’re beacons of light in a busy world. Be that person for someone else.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


(this poem is the result of a writing prompt that asked "what does bitterness look like?")

Bitterness is a dark, dark cloud
rolling in over the clear plains,
blurring your vision and proper reasoning.

It is foul smelling,
like a dead,
rotting creature.
It is not a living being;
it is the side effect of interacting with a living being.

Its taste is rancid,
like spoiled food left in the fridge long enough it blossoms into beautiful artwork with dazzling colors.
But these colors are not beautiful.
They are frightful and alarming,
warning signs of
Danger Ahead
and ill emotions festering for too long.

Bitterness is stale air.
No movement.
No friendly breeze.
No wind in the sails.
It is like a sea vessel,
once grand and heroic,
now sitting languidly and hopelessly in harbor.

Do not feed bitterness,
for it will morph into a monster and devour its host.

Excavate your heart and soul.
Dig deep
and unearth the evil within
before it takes root and grows into a hideous, thorny weed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Chat between Jonah and The Whale

This was written for my grad class. And I liked it, so I'm posting it here for your reading pleasure:

“This predicament is all your fault, you know,” said the whale matter-of-factly. He didn’t usually consume humans, or other sentient being for that matter.
“How is this my fault? I’m pretty sure you swallowed me,” countered Jonah.
The whale sighed. “I just did what He said. If I had my way, none of my food would talk back to me.”
“What He said? You mean God?” Jonah asked.
“Of course. What other He could convince me to swallow the likes of you? You’re a rather unpleasant fellow.”
“This is a rather unpleasant circumstance!” Jonah whined, trying not to breathe the foul stench of the whale’s digestive system.
“I’m not an optimist, but even I can see the positives in this.”
“Do tell.”
“No one could have survived that storm. We’re far from land. You couldn’t have made it to dry ground even if you were Michael Phelps.”
“Michael Phelps? Who’s that?”
“A really good swimmer. He’s not alive yet.”
Jonah’s curiosity spiked. “Alive yet?”
“Yes. He’s yet to be born. A couple thousand years from now. If you listened to God, He just might tell you some things.”
Jonah sulked. “Are we playing the blame game again? Are you saying if I listened to God, I wouldn’t be here?”
“Something like that,” sighed the whale, growing tired of his talking stomach.
Jonah thought for a minute. Maybe the whale was right. Maybe if he had listened the first time, he wouldn’t have ended up on that boat in the storm, and eventually, in this lecturing whale’s belly.
“Perhaps,” ventured Jonah, “I could have been more obedient and spared us both this awkward encounter.”
“But you didn’t. And now you’re here. Safe.”
“Safe. Safe from drowning, safe from hungry creatures. This could be a blessing in disguise,” suggested the whale.
“Perhaps.” Jonah felt his heart soften. Maybe God was protecting him, even though God had every right to abandon him in the watery depths.
“What is it, most unlikable talking supper?”
“I think God’s still going to use me. He wouldn’t have sent you if He didn’t have plans for me.”
“You’re a smart one, Jonah.”
“And,” Jonah continued, “I think I’m ready to be obedient. And I’m thankful, even though this is the nastiest of circumstances.”
“Hold on,” warned the whale. “Things are about to get a bit nastier.”
Before Jonah could speak, he was violently propelled from the whale’s insides and onto the shore. He tumbled in the sand, covered in seaweed, whale digestive juices, and other equally gross things.
“Dry land,” Jonah chuckled to himself, his hands clutching the sandy beach.
“Whale?” He looked out to sea, but Whale was gone. “That ornery fish. He knew all along. God, you’re pretty amazing. Where to next, God?”


Monday, August 25, 2014

A Stranger Named Earl

(I'm trying to be more consistent with writing, so the writing prompt for today was "write about the kindness of strangers." What follows is a snapshot of an event that actually happened. Here's to Earl. :))

I didn’t know you, and you didn’t know me, but you pulled over when you saw my car stopped on the side of the road. “Do you need help?” you kept asking. No, no, I wanted to say, I’m fine, please go. He parked behind me. My heart started to thud rhythmically like an alarm, the words “stranger danger” throbbing in my ears. Turns out you were harmless. We both looked under the hood with furrowed brows, neither of us really knowing the problem. I doubted your knowledge of vehicles, but gathered it had to be greater than mine. I think our look of serious concentration could have fooled passer-bys into mistaking our confusion for intellect.

You waited with me until AAA came and towed my car, even though you didn’t have to. We made small talk about how nice the weather was in November, how it could have been much colder and much more uncomfortable to wait outside. You told me about your daughter and her schooling. I told you about my long-distance relationship and you murmured knowingly as I shared my love life. We talked about Thanksgiving feasts and good food. I had never heard of half the things you enjoyed eating, but I nodded in cordiality. I was brave enough to share my name with you. “Earl,” you said. “Nice to meet you, and thank you,” I said. I couldn’t thank you enough. Surely you had somewhere to go. No. You wouldn’t leave me waiting alone.

AAA came to tow my car and my ride arrived shortly after. “Thank you, Earl,” I said. I was a few hours behind schedule that day, but the day had pleasantly surprised me despite my car’s disrepair. Every time I pass the gravel shoulder where I pulled off in a panic, thinking my car was going to die any second, I think of Earl and say a prayer for him and his family.

We need more Earls in this world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Silent Masquerade: Unmasking Depression

Depression. It’s a word hardly spoken but a condition deeply felt by many. According to, about 20 million people in the U.S. deal with depression every year, and 25% of young adults will have an episode of depression before age 24. If depression is so common, why don’t we talk about it more? Why do we act as if those who struggle with it are flawed, or carry a contagious virus?

The answer is simple: the topic makes us uncomfortable.

If we haven’t dealt with it, we have no idea how to relate to those who suffer, and even if we have experienced it, we’re reluctant to be transparent with others who could use our words of comfort. We’re afraid. We’re afraid of being uncomfortable and we’re afraid of how others may perceive us when they find out we have struggled with depression, or, even worse, are currently struggling with depression behind a smiling face. We fear rejection, and so the masquerade and silence continue.

The silence must end.

Christians are not spared, nor are they any less “Christian” for having dealt with depression (take David’s pleading Psalms and the life of Job for example). If anything, I would argue that dark times in my life have made me more loving and understanding towards others while deepening my relationship with God. Often pain is required to drive us back to the foot of the cross and remind us that our Savior is all we have and all we need.

I remember when one of my relatives went through a tough time in her life and had to take psychiatric medication. It weirded me out. Would the medication make her act differently? Would she be herself? I’m happy to say, that her trials made her a better person. She grew in God and developed healthy self-esteem and good habits, both spiritual and physical. My apprehension grew into admiration. I admired her for the strong woman she became through her trials.

There’s so much I could say about depression. I could tell you that that you can be biologically inclined towards depression (like a hereditary disorder). I could tell you that not taking care of yourself, such as not getting enough sleep and not eating well, can add to the possibility of depression. I could tell you that not controlling your emotions and letting them control you will lead to dark times. I could even say that God is not punishing you when you’re depressed and He hurts to see you hurt when you’re struggling to make meaning out of sadness.

But none of this helps when depression has taken control of your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit, because depression has a nasty habit of hijacking your life. When the body fights physical pain, the mind is free and able to think above the circumstances. But when the mind is ill, when serotonin levels in the brain dip below normal, the mind flounders like a fish on land. The mind is clouded, and the one organ that controls all other organs and responses (the brain), is spinning out of control.

If you’re facing depression, you have to be open to getting help. You may need to take medication, go to counseling, and through iron will, over-ride your hijacked mind. As soon as you can, you need to start doing the right things, even if you don’t feel like it. You need to exercise, eat healthy foods, make sleep a priority, and embrace relationships and transparency with those you trust. And you need to go to God daily, and moment by moment. You need to embrace His grace, and you need to be gracious and patient with yourself. Be patient with the process. Believe that things will get better, because they will with time. Believe too that you matter and God cares about you immeasurably.

What if you’re not facing depression, but know someone who is? Be patient with them. Pray for them. Let them know you’re always there for them if they need to talk, or just need someone to hang out with, but don’t pressure them. Keep tabs on them, and encourage them to get psychiatric help if necessary. The brain, like any other organ of the body, can get tired and overwhelmed and sometimes needs a little extra tender loving care.

I pray that you seek God’s face wherever you may be right now: in a valley, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between. I also pray that if you’re in the midst of a “mountain-top” experience now, that you not forget those in the valleys. Take time to stop and help your brothers and sisters in Christ as we are all loved by the same Father.

May God’s peace and love calm your hearts and minds,

PS: I like to repeat this verse to myself when I start to feel worried and stressed, to keep myself focused on who I am in Christ: “For God has not given us a spirit of Fear, but of Power, and of Love, and of a Sound Mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, my emphasis added)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Peaceful Surrender: Discerning God's Will

In light of our prayerful journey in re-launching Lift Your Voice ministries, I thought it would be a good time to write on a topic I've been meaning to write about for a long time, namely, God's will.

Confession: I am a perfectionist and am afraid of making mistakes, especially making wrong decisions.

Because of this, I have lived in paralyzing anxiety over how to handle situations in my life. I would pray, but not hear an answer. I would read the Bible, but find no clarity. What if I made the wrong choice? What if I missed something God had for me? What if...? I could question my little life choices until the cows came home. Thankfully, my anxiety has improved along with my faith through, you guessed it, trials and struggles.

I discovered a key component to discerning God's will in a previous relationship. I had been praying before the relationship, and praying during the relationship, but I didn't know if it was "right." By this time, I was in my early 20s and I didn't believe in casual dating. I was dating to found a spouse, a life-time partner and companion. I was greatly conflicted, because my emotions and logic were tangled in a lovely mess. Part of me wanted to tell my brain to chill, while the other part of me wanted to tell my heart to quit interfering. People always say "listen to your heart," as if the heart and emotions are trustworthy. God himself speaks on this in Genesis 8:21, stating that "every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood." I continued to live in doubt, doubting my choices and doubting what God had for me.

Somewhere along in the relationship, I talked to my parents over my dilemma. My father wisely said to give it to God by praying "Lord, if this is your will, bless this relationship. If not, take it away. I give it to you." I was confused, because I thought I had been praying that. I realized my mouth had said the words, but my heart and my soul had not backed those words. When I finally became desperate and no longer cared if I lost the relationship, I prayed, "God, I want your will. Please bless this or take it away. I don't need him God, I need you." True to God's promise that He answers prayer, the relationship ended within the next few days. It hurt, I cried, but I had never been more at peace or more sure that I had made the right decision.

Ok, Jane, you're saying, that's all nice and your love life is fascinating, but what does this have to do with finding God's will, and why are you sharing this now?

Excellent question!

After that relationship ended, my new life motto and prayer was "Bless it or take it away." That simple. And it was liberating. I learned in my single months that God is not an eight ball you shake for answers nor a genie who gives you whatever you want, but a loving Friend and Father who gives you what you need. I learned that God wanted very little from me, that all He desired was a close relationship with me and that I love others as He loves. Love God, love others. Seek to please Him. It wasn't a matter of a checklist, or simple yes and no's. It was a daily walk with God. It was freedom to choose within His will, too. As long as I was in prayer and seeking His face with my hands not grasping onto anything, claiming things as my own, God would not steer me wrong. Things and people could pass in and out of my life without me fearing the outcome, because I was not in control, and that is a wonderful place to be.

In light of Lift Your Voice ministries, my prayer is the same: "Lord, bless this ministry by providing the things you know we need and bringing people into our lives that will help us and encourage us along the way. This ministry is yours. If this ministry is not your will, withhold your blessing, and take it away. Though we feel this is right, we want what you know is right. We trust you, Lord. Amen."

May you live in peace as you seek God through a relationship with Him and allow him to "bless or take away" things in your life.

God's peace be with you,