When there’s a burning in your heart, an endless fury in your heart
Build it bigger than the sun, let it grow, let it grow.
—Death Cab For Cutie
Thank you, 2016, for reminding me to be a dreamer. For reminding me of the grandeur and glory of having a hope and clinging to it with every musical cell in my trembling body. Thank you for sending me through trials and aching of heart, for this has tested my hope—my faith—but this fire has refined. What a freedom there is in being so excited to write and create and serve and worship that I stop thinking about what I look like or what I weigh and I just live. This is a truth I have learned this year: that I am wild and free, that I am a daughter of the One who created the stars, and I don’t need to mold into society’s artificial standards to prove I am beautiful and loved.
My 18th year was heavy and unstable and full of doubt. It was by far the most stressful, crazy, uncertain, sad, and confusing year of my life; but because it was hard, the joy, when it came in waves, was abundant. The summer before leaving for college felt like a desert, a soul-drained barrenness, a numbness following cold restlessness. I was lost and lonely and unsure of who I was as those sweaty days dripped along. The loneliness and detachment I felt in my own hometown made me feel like a ghost—not really alive, but still breathing. Moving to California was the best decision I ever made. The sight of palm trees and pink skies makes me dream, and the waves that keep on crashing are a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. These past few months have been the best of my entire life. And for that, my heart overflows, and I am immersed in the beauty of change—that sweet, untranslatable song.
Lord Jesus, as I head into 2017, help me to listen. Listen for you and listen to my inner self. Keep my heart and mind wide open in all circumstances. I pray for humility and desire for You alone, no matter the cost. Instill in me a willingness to go through trials of every kind in Your name. When my heart has no home, when I am lifeless, restore me like You always do. You always call me back home—back to Yourself. I need never be lost in hopelessness. I know, Lord, that heartbreak is real, that adventure is alive, and that I am capable of commitment and seeing my dreams come true. You know all my dreams for the future, and You are in control of them all. Let me take risks this year. Let me fail, but oh, Lord, I pray I will love the failures as much as the successes. You are weaning me off of the drug of perfectionism, and I am tasting freedom. My tummy rolls show I’m not perfect, but I’m learning to love them. I pray for a healthy year, not an obsessive one. I pray for passion and creativity, for humility and gratitude. For more You and less world. I love You Lord with all that I am, in all my frailty and craziness. I praise You today with all the joy in my flower heart.
My only “resolution” this year is to become addicted to writing and music and life and beating hearts, and begin the process of becoming “un-addicted” to negative body image and comparisons and constant social media use. My new friends have helped me see the beauty in having an addiction to laughing and being myself. What a beautiful, messy life this is. I am alive.
What College Is (inspired by my professor, Katie Manning’s, What To Expect poem)
College is acai bowls, almonds, airports, art, and awkward family photos. College is Bibles and burritos. It is bike rides, books, brunch, and boats. College is caf food, cliffs, cameras, and cats. It is care packages, Coaster trains, and Catholic mass. College is discussions and dancing. It is Dante and Death Cab for Cutie. College is earl grey tea, ellipticles, essays, and elections. College is flannels and flash cards and frozen yogurt. It is film class and farmers markets. College is Google, Greek literature, and Garbage Beach. College is harp playing and hugs. College is Hendricks 125 and homeless ministries. It is Hodad’s and Hydroflasks. College is inside jokes, ice cream, and Instagram. College is Jesus and journalism. It is Kings of Leon, Kit-Kats, and kelp. College is late nights, laughs, letters from Juju, Living Room coffeehouse, libraries, and lectures. College is mornings. College is Mexican food, megachurches, and mangos. It is naps. It is Naval Base exploring and Newport Avenue. College is oceans, oatmeal, and Old Town. College is palm trees and piercings. College is phone calls and poems and peanut butter and prayers. It is quarters for laundry and quizzes. College is running, ropes, roomies, and reusable bags. College is stars and sushi. It is shuttles, singing, Switchfoot, saltwater, snorkeling, and skateboards. It is shells, seagulls, surfboards, and sand. College is sunsets. College is Trader Joe’s, Toms, tans, and taking out trash. It is tears. It is tea and tide pools. College is Ubers, ukuleles, and ugly sweaters. College is Vitamin C, voting, and Vons. It is walking and wetsuits and worship and writing and weight gain. College is xmas-time fun. College is yoga, zits, and zen.
~ 2016 recap ~
~Continuing to play my harp
~Seeing a real-life starfish (which I named Edward) at the beach and having deep life talks with new best friends
~Homeless Ministries. Being a part of the Bread of Life homeless ministry at PLNU has been a incredibly eye-opening and humbling. Every Tuesday night I help make pb&j sandwiches and go with a small group of students downtown to serve and engage in conversations with our homeless friends. The homeless situation is San Diego is vastly different (and worse) than it is in Denver, and seeing so many people (children, too) on the streets long-term has been very emotionally impactful. Please keep our homeless brothers and sisters, in SD and all over America, in your prayers.
Favorite places to visit:
~New York City!!! I knew I would love NYC even before ever visiting it, but going this past February practically made my heart explode. I promise you, I will live in that city someday. Read more about my romance with New York here.
~Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. “On earth as it is in heaven” comes alive at the sight of those breathtaking, snowy cathedrals. I loved the bizarre natural beauty and other-worldliness of our own world, plus the experience was shared with my whole family, so even better. Read more here.
~San Diego. I know I’ve only lived here a few months, but I consider sandy eggo my home. Exploring it with my new friends has been a thrilling daily adventure.
~Surviving my first semester of college! Read more here.
~Receiving my Gold Award and giving a speech in front of a thousand people (eep) and getting to tour the state capital. But better than that was the project itself: reading books with the kiddos at Joshua Station and learning to love all kinds of people.
~Pretty much everything in California. The sushi is to-die-for good, Little Italy has the greatest focaccia bread you. will. ever. eat. But… the discovery of the California Burrito takes the grand prize. It consists of carne asada, french fries, cheese, guac, and everything else delicious wrapped in a homemade tortilla. You have not tasted pure bliss if you haven’t scarfed down a Cali burrito while watching a Point Loma sunset ❤
Favorite albums: (among many others)
~Kings of Leon WALLS
~Anchor & Braille Songs For the Late Night Drive Home
~Band of Horses Why Are You OK
~Audrey Assad Inheritance
~Andrew Bird Are You Serious
~Lacey Sturm Life Screams
~Upstream by Mary Oliver. I am almost at a loss for words to accurately describe how this book, and Mary Oliver herself, have influenced me as a writer. Upstream is a collection of Mary Oliver’s vitalizing essays. One of which is about the artist’s task, in which one of my favorite quotes lives: “The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame… My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive.”
~A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Immediately upon reading this book, I became best friends with the main character, Francie Nolan, because she is every girl who has ever dreamt of making a better life for herself. She tries to find beauty in her every-day, poverty-stricken life at the turn of the century, and the descriptive and beautiful way emotions and scenes are depicted from her perspective make this book a rare treasure.
~Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. There are not many books that have the ability to reach into your soul on a personal level and break your heart wide open, but Everything is Illuminated is one of those books. It’s about many things; but mainly, Jews in Ukraine for the few hundred years leading up to WWII, a modern-day Ukrainian tour guide who loves all things America, and an American Jew searching for his roots in Europe. Plus it is beautifully and humorously written. I can’t wait until I have time to read it again and soak in the magic a second time.
~Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos. So, technically this book comes out this month, but I got to read it early because I’m cool and happen to be friends with the author, no biggie. This is a great YA novel about Jackie Stone, who’s father is dying of a brain tumor, all while her family becomes the stars of the most popular reality tv show. If you’re looking for a quick and humorous read, I definitely recommend this book. And the author (and his wife) are pretty cool too, and they own a pretty awesome bookstore called Tattered Cover. So yes. Read this book.
~Kiss Every Step by Dora Szpringer. Okay, there is a pretty incredible story behind this one. When I spent the weekend at my sweet friend Cynthia’s house in Escondido this past September, she took me to some adorable little antique stores in town, and in one of them, a precious 90-year-old woman with an accent happened to be selling copies of her own memoir about surviving the Holocaust—surviving Auschwitz much less. And not only did she survive, but all seven of her family members survived. We had a beautiful and tear-jerking conversation with her, and she even signed a book for me and wrote on the front page, “let there be love and peace in the world.” My heart smiles and cries when I think about it. Her memoir is fascinating and proves that miracles do happen. Highly, highly recommend if you need a true story about raw human hope and courage.
Time, rolling like thunder
Brace for the explosion
Wild blissfully open