The other day I woke up feeling ugly.

You know the days. Those days where you question whether you really look like that and wonder how you still have friends and why they didn't let you in on the secret they've all been holding.

Everything about my face felt wrong and my hair had seemingly conspired with my pores over night to declare mutiny over my self esteem. I didn't shower, partly out of laziness and partly out of spite...which you know, likely really helped in this matter, and my little scowled face and I drove the whole way to work comparing my ugly to everyone else's pretty. 

Halfway through the day I posted this photo of myself to Instagram. The photo was one I took that morning in an attempt to convince myself I didn't look that bad in natural light. My post was strategically cropped, heavily filtered and given a cute witty caption.

Because you see. In order for me to feel okay with my reality that day, I felt like I needed to crop out what I didn't like and dress up what was left. 

How often do we do this? How often do we share only smidgens of the truth because we think it looks better in "Valencia" or sounds more inspiring outlined by a rectangle?

See that white background? Yeah. He took that photo in his creepy basement using a desk light and a piece of computer paper. Those perfectly clear blue waves crashing along the shoreline and against the toes of a that canoodling couple? Yeah. They just had a huge fight about how much their vacation cost.

What we see is not always what is real. It is not always the true, full, all-things-considered story.

More often than not, we aren't even comparing ourselves to the truth.

Because the truth of the matter is that truth is only found in Him...and not in the cropped (or full) versions of others' stories.

We were not created to sit around and compare ourselves; we were created to live in the freedom of knowing who we are as loved, chosen and accepted despite all our flaws and mishaps along the way.

Who are you comparing yourself to? What are you trying to crop, cut, hide or doll up in your life?



Bring those things into the light. Let others see. Share what is real. Accept your whole story for it is what has made you, you.

We all have pain. We all suffer. None of us are perfect.

But that's the thing. We were designed to need one another. Despite our imperfections we were created to spur one another on through our weaknesses and our strengths. Our world needs your good, bad and yes, even your ugly. Let yourself be you. You're the only YOU that ever was and ever will be.


But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  Galatians 6:4

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Valentine's Day Posts are the Worst...

As I was driving home from grad school tonight I couldn't help but notice all the other cars on the road. Our class gets out at 10pm, but tonight by God's good graces we were let out early. Typically,  my half hour drive home on Monday nights is sparse of other drivers and provides a peaceful opportunity to decompress.

Not tonight.

Red break lights glared everywhere. They were everywhere! Weaving in and out of lanes, going much too slow or too fast and all in my way.

After being cut off, and between belted Steffany Gretzinger lyrics, I let it out.

"Who ARE these people!?!"

This was the second time in 24 hours I'd muttered (shouted) such a phrase. With angst.

You see, yesterday at 10pm I made a horrible mistake. I scrolled my social media all their chocolate dipped strawberry, red rosed, smiling coupled, engagement rings the size of my face glory.

People were coming out of the woodwork with significant others I didn't even know existed! And not just "people" was the people you secretly think "oh yeah, them, they don't have a person yet, they're not dating yet, they're too _____ to date...I'm good...I'm solid...I'm going to be okay because they are in my boat" kind of people. 

Turns out that when you're a recovering morose broken heart, prone-to-pity-party, jealous-but-won't-admit-it-because-it's-not-Jesus-like single person, Valentine's Day posts are the worst and people don't ask your permission to get out of your boat.

I promise I'm not a least all the time. I think many would be first to say that I tend to be overly excitable and passionate and much too loud in my outgoing encouragement of others' happiness, accomplishments and life-things on a day-to-day basis. But last was just too hard not to compare and wish and covet and be a bit sad.

I know I'm not alone here. I also know that coveting doesn't stop. 

Regardless of our life stage, we all at times fall victim to the trap of wanting something we don't currently have. We go about life with the false thinking that once we have this thing or that person or that job or this pregnancy or that house, everything will be happy and fulfilling and fall into place.

Not so.

Our desires may be good ones, but unless they are submitted to Christ as our one and only source of fulfillment and happiness, they will bring nothing but destruction to our souls.

I've spent countless nights crying myself to sleep asking why questions. I've listened and encouraged and walked alongside others as they processed their own seasons of "why" and "why not now" and "why her or him and not me" but I have to tell you something, although God is right there ready to take our spiritual flipping of the bird and punches into our pillows and naughty words and tears of pain and suffering, all He wants is our hearts wholly devoted and trusted to Him. His faithfulness and love is all we could ever need...something I'm still learning.

Maybe you're not looking for a spouse. Maybe dating is the absolute last thing on your list right now. That's fine. Power to you. But I can guarantee you want something.

Promise me (promise yourself) that that thing you covet, that thing you want so badly it hurts. That thing that keeps you up at night wondering and dreaming and planning and worrying. That thing that you think will change your life forever...promise me you'll release it. Let it go. It's not yours to be had.

Let God be your one thing, let him fulfill you. Because, in the end, nothing else will.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—
Whom shall I dread?

2 When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
Even in this I am confident.

4 One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life,To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

5 For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock. 
6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
In His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.  (Psalm 27)

Letting go isn't easy. I definitely don't have it figured out. I'm learning every day what it means to live loved and trust when all I want to do is take things into my own hands and run far, far away all Jonah style. But. I think that's the beauty of a weird, totally Myers-Briggs type P way that deep down frustrates me beyond belief. I'm getting there, you will too.

Peace to you,

It Needs to Continue

You know when you're on a roller coaster and the train starts to climb that first big hill and you can't yet see the entire course of the ride and with every little clicking sound you begin to question why you got on and how you could potentially still get off but then you see those little flags marking the top and you know it's too late? that it is needs to continue. 

That's how I feel right now, I'm metaphorically waiting at the top of the hill next to those darn flags questioning what it is I have done.

Can I really do this?

More than six of you read my last post. A lot more than six. I'm astonished and honored and terrified all in one. Over the last two days I've questioned myself a lot. What will I write next? Will it be good enough, funny enough, deep enough, real enough? Was posting my guts online really that good of an idea? Maybe...and maybe not.

And, down deeper...What if miss out on "potential" Mr. Right because he enters my life within the next 350 some days? What if in a year there are LITERALLY NO SINGLE MEN LEFT on the entire planet? What if this year ends up being a waste? A waste of precious time in my twenties before I suddenly stop looking 12 and my hair turns grey over night and I'm not changed and God doesn't seem closer?

The truth is, saying yes to God (or really anything) is easy until you have to labor through the process and say it again. 

Imagine the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years. Even though they literally had God leading their path with a supernatural pillar of fire, they still complained...because the process is hard and we want what we want now.

Think of Abraham and Sarah, they waited YEARS to see God's promise fulfilled for Sarah to become pregnant and even took matters into their own hands in order to fulfill their promise in their own way.

Waiting is disorienting, it makes us do desperate and disobedient things. 

And then, I think of Jesus. Jesus knew full well who he was. Even after preaching in the temple with the bigwigs at the young age of twelve, he labored alongside his father as a regular 'ole carpenter for 18 MORE YEARS before his ministry (his promise and calling) even began!

Jesus could have rushed it. He could of said, "Here, here friends, I am the Christ...and yes, I not only look 12 but I am 12...listen to me! I am your messiah! Come, let us heal people and save the world" but he didn't.

Jesus waited. 

The scripture doesn't tell us what those 18 years looked like, nor do we get an insiders look as to when Jesus knew the timing was right for him to leave his family and begin his journey towards Jerusalem, but we do know he did not start when he was 12...and we can surmise that His Father in heaven prepared the way for that perfect time, refining and growing up His Son in order to prepare Him for what laid ahead.

The same is true for us. We are not called to say yes once, but continuously. And a lot of times that means we wait.

It wasn't easy for me to say yes to this year of saying no. It wasn't easy to tell someone I liked a lot that the timing didn't feel right and I couldn't commit to dating them in this season and hear their broken spirit through the phone. It wasn't easy to take the cotton balls out of my ears and listen to what I did not want to hear. It wasn't easy to obey what I've felt the Lord speaking to me for a long time...but I can tell you that the Lord was with me through the process and gave me the strength and courage to do it.

Continuously choosing to trust God and say yes to him, obey him, and ride the roller coaster of our lives through the ups and downs and waiting plateaus can be excruciating. But, God is faithful and promises to be near to us.

At the end of this, I am not guaranteed anything, much less Prince Charming with a bouquet of peonies and a pink pony asking for my hand in marriage. And yet, one thing is for sure: the Lord's love for me (and you) is unwavering and unchangeable and ever present and faithful.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deut. 7:9) 

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:13) 

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Ps 86:15) 

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6) 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Where do you need to continue to say yes to God in your life? Where is He asking you to wait out His process? What gives you hope and what causes you to stumble and clammer for control? What is one thing you can daringly choose to do, or loose or add to your life in order to follow Him instead of yourself? least for me...when that roller coaster train returns to the station where it started, I always want to get back in line and ride again.

In love,

Desperate: Where the story begins

Well. Here I am.

It's taken 4 days, but I'm here. And so are you, so thanks for joining me.

Over the past four days I've scoured the internet for blog name ideas and the perfect template. Did you know "minimalist" is in? I do now, and so do you.

I wanted this blog to "feel right" and embody both my story and personality as I share it with the world...or you know, all six of you.

I've texted many a friend for advice on choosing a catchy tagline and debated font choices more times than I'd like to admit. And yet, here I am with the same story I'd planned to share before any of this started.

Because, in reality, we can paint ourselves however we like, but our stories and our souls speak for themselves. 

No chic but rustic background with the perfect fading Instagram feed scrolling across the bottom of this page drizzled with hand-painted watercolor flowers changes anything. It just doesn't matter.

So I chose white, and you'll see why.

A month ago I had a dream unlike any I'd ever had before. The fact that I remember it is miracle in an of itself, not to mention that it wasn't a teaching-terror (all you former teachers know exactly what I mean!)

In the dream I found myself walking through a field along a grassy path. The sky was bright white, covered in a thick homogeneous cloud. Neutral colors surrounded me, the field glimmered with white flowers and dry grasses the color of everything Restoration Hardware. It was simple, but perfect.

As I walked I noticed others around me, many taking photos of the breathtaking landscape. Along the path I noticed two people talking, facing one another. I couldn't see their faces but I knew they were a man and a woman and the woman's back was to me. As I passed them, I noticed she had a bright green leaf sitting on the back of her head accompanied by a bug thing sitting dead center on the leaf. Thinking this to be strange, I questioned why someone would want a leaf and a bug on their head and kept walking toward the awe-inspiring white blooms in the distance.

These flowers were unlike any I'd ever seen. Simple, yet tantalizing, and pure, sparkling white. As I neared them I got excited. I love flowers and find their intricate design baffling; God is so talented. Leaning in to marvel I noticed right away that among these beautifully perfect flowers were those very same bright green leaves and bugs! They startled me, but I studied them. The bugs were not bugs at all but little demon bat-looking animals the size of one's thumb and oh so ugly. They were silent, but the moment they saw me they'd reach out their little claws clammering to take hold.

I jumped back, reminiscent of times when my flower-doting is disrupted by a bee in real life, and kept walking. Soon, these demon-bugs followed, I could sense them flying around my head like you do when it's the middle of summer and the horse flies have found you and although they won't touch you until they know they can have you, you know that they're there. I swatted and quickened my pace, turning around to come back the way I came.

I passed the same couple I had noticed before, still talking and focused solely on one another. As I walked by I noticed the leaf and bug were still happily perched upon the nape of her neck. It was as if she was completely unaware they were even there. More demon bugs dive bombed my head and I began to freak out, swatting the air like crazy. I was distraught. These stupid bug demon things had ruined what I found to be so perfect and beautiful! I suddenly didn't care about the field or staying longer to take it all in, I wanted out. As another hit my head I woke up, still pondering the demon bugs' demise...and in that moment I felt God say, "Steph, you'd have to burn the field."

BURN the field?! What? NO! Burning the field destroys everything, not just the stupid bugs! Try again.

Then I heard, "To kill them, you have to destroy them...and that happens at their root."

Oh. Huh. Hmmm.

Symbols and images started to swirl in my head.

Sin and the enemy's lies taint what was made to be pure and good and beautiful, rendering it less than desirable and stripping it of it's intended purpose. Sin quietly and simultaneously tempts us into its clutches and doesn't let go. 

I continued in prayer, asking God for wisdom and what it was he was wanting me to "burn" and give over to him.

And it was clear. Unfortunately.

Dating. Broken heartedness. Lies I was believing about myself, others and relationships.

2015 was a hard year for me. Marked by two broken hearts, these last 12 months produced within me a whole lot of strength with equal dose of secret desperation.

I'm 28. I know, I know...that's not old. I know I look like I'm 12. I know I still have "so much life ahead of me" closest girlfriends from college and beyond are ALL married. They've all found someone. And they are now making babies. They feel thousands of leagues ahead of me in the sea of life...a sea seemingly lacking in "other fish" by the way.

I wrestle with feeling forgotten and unlovable. Why me? Why not me? Why am I still in this place? What am I doing wrong? What is wrong with me? Am I being punished?

I may deny it, but deep down at the bottom of my soul, I desire to be chosen like all my friends... and every other girl on my Facebook feed having mason jar weddings in the deep woods wearing plaid.

I want it. I am desperate for it. So desperate, subconsciously, that I've ignored red flags and mistreatment and the "he's just not really all that into you" signs...and maybe worse...the "I'm just not that into him either but I don't have hope I'll meet someone better" thoughts. I've eaten the enemy's lies regarding my self worth instead of feeding on God's truth of who I am and who me made me to be. For too long I've allowed relationships and others to define me, to tell me things about myself that just are not true. I curtailed myself to fit in others' lives and needs and ignored my own and I've stifled God's voice when it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

And so. Here I am. Realizing I've been desperate for the wrong things and desperate to change.

I am desperate to know God more. I am desperate to destroy the areas of my life that keep me from him, areas that keep me from fully trusting, fully loving and fully accepting his grace.

And so...I'm choosing to obey...and it terrifies me. I'm not sure why trusting God in this area of my life proves to be so difficult but it is...even though my white knuckling hasn't proved fruitful.

I don't believe God has asked me to do anything more than come to him and rest. To curl up next to him, lay my head upon his chest, look up and accept his love. But, I needed a tangible goal and I don't think that's a bad thing. So over the next year, all 365 days, I am daring to be dateless. I am daring to believe that God will burn my field of pain, heart break, and lies and make all things new if I let him.

Because you know what? When a field is burned, it comes back stronger and healthier.

The burning was intended all along. 

A burned field is refined, healed and restored to new... and filled with possibility and hope.  

The Lord desires to make things new. He desires to return our metaphorical fields filled with weeds and thorns and nasty demon bugs to the "fields" he intended in the beginning.
Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Is there something the Lord wants you to give over to him? Is redemption needed somewhere in your life? What areas of your character need refinement? What lies are you allowing to buzz around and dive bomb your head? Loose your grip and give it over.

My hope in writing over the next year is that others will be encouraged by truth and see that they are not alone. We're all waiting for something. We're all desperate for things that won't bring fullness or contentedness or everlasting joy. Over the next year, my prayer is that I'll grow to be more desperate for Him...and that you will too.

With love,
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14 NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
Be still and know that I am God. (Ps 46:10 NIV)
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; Be gracious and compassionate to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].” (Psalm 27:7-8 AMP)