// dear friends: it’s okay to take it slow. //

Yesterday, my family and I went hiking.

There are no extraordinary events of this hiking trip I need to share or anything; no, I’m talking more about the things I was thinking about as we hiked.

You see, for the past year or so, I’ve developed a slight anxiety over downward slopes. Particularly those of the rocky, tree-root variety. Even if they aren’t actually steep, they look so to me, and as a result I am extremely cautious about where I step. I’m not entirely sure where this anxiety originates– maybe vision problems that alter my distance perception somewhat, maybe one too many falls over the years– but it’s there, and while it doesn’t (usually) make me back down from hikes, it makes me very, very slow when it comes to those downward paths.

So yesterday, as we hiked and I carefully, slowly, made my way down rocks and roots, I was thinking:

I am going very slow, yes. It’s a little frustrating, yes. But you know what? As long as I get to where I need to be, and as long as I don’t fall, it’s okay. Right now, I just need to focus on the next steps.

Matt and Dad were in front of me, hurrying down the sloping path as if it was nothing. And to them, it wasn’t. The fast pace suited them. Rocks and roots weren’t a challenge for them like they were for me. At first, I was looking ahead at them and wishing I could keep up. I was apologizing constantly for going slower than they did– and then I realized that I didn’t have to.

They were encouraging me, but not insisting that I hurry up and match their pace. I had Mom behind me, trusting that she’d have my back if I were to fall. I was careful, and slow, and maybe that wasn’t a bad thing.

I think that we often get it into our heads that we need to always be rushing through life, trying our best to keep up with where everyone else is. It’s our generation’s mindset: get to the Next Thing as fast as you possibly can.

The thing is, life isn’t that simple or easy. Each person’s story is different, and each person faces different obstacles at different points of their journey– and responds to them differently. What might be hard and anxiety-inducing for me might not hinder you at all– and that is okay. If you’re the first to reach a milestone, that’s wonderful and I am happy for you! If you’re the last to reach that milestone, don’t be discouraged, because you still had the courage to get there in your own time, and that’s wonderful too!

Yes, there are times when it is necessary to do certain things by a specific age or time. There are times when we need to step up and recognize that we simply can’t do this on our own timing. God makes it pretty clear when this is the case.

But He also tells us that we need to be still and know that He is God. He also tells us that we will find rest in Him. He never tells us to always be rushing ahead, to always be first, to always keep up with everyone else– no, He tells us to simply walk with Him. To follow where He leads. And walking down the path that He has for us looks different for everyone.

The key is to focus more on when God is telling you to move than on how quickly– or slowly!– everyone around you is moving.

If you’re facing daunting downward slopes filled with rocks and roots– take a deep breath, fix your eyes on Jesus, and focus on taking the next step. Take the time you have in moving at the pace He leads you to appreciate beautiful things like sunlight on dust and tree-lined paths and cloudless blue skies up above. (People who are moving too fast often miss those things.) Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be brave and keep moving forward, and with people who’ve got your back if you slip and fall. And trust that the One who guides your steps will see you through until the end of the path– and beyond.

It’s okay to run ahead without fear.

It’s also okay to step cautiously and to admit that you’re afraid.

As long as you’re following God, you’ll get there just fine, friend.

Take heart, pray for courage and guidance, and then take the next step.


{love always, Em}

// ordinary. //

That’s a word that I’ve been struggling with this summer. Ordinary.

I’m not saying that it hasn’t been a wonderful summer, because it has! I’ve had my fair share of trips and adventures, gotten to spend a lot of time with family and a few dear home-friends, made money where I can, and read quite a few books. It’s been restful and it’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed the break.

But… I can’t help but notice what everyone else is doing this summer. (And really, isn’t that where half our problems begin, when we start comparing?)

Camps, ministries, creative projects, jobs– all these great and wonderful things that are productive and impactful uses of time.

And then there’s me: unable to gain real work experience this summer, no church home to get involved in, haven’t written more than tiny snippets of stories and character notes in an embarrassingly long time, worried that I’ve wasted my summer and done nothing of worth.

These worries all crashed down at once on the Fourth of July, and I was something of a mess.

But, it’s when I am at my lowest and messiest that God begins to teach me some of the most important lessons.

My parents lovingly convicted me of things, reminding me that if I was feeling purposeless, I could change that by actively seeking out things to get involved in, both at home and at Liberty. They also reminded me that God has a purpose for every season of our lives, and that perhaps this summer of freedom and rest was meant to prepare me for the future and to teach me an important lesson.

It’s no surprise, of course, that they were right.

While we were at the beach last week, I was going through a YouVersion Bible study plan called “The Blessing of Ordinary.” Fitting, no?

It wasn’t the greatest Bible study I have ever done, but it did leave me with this:

Acts of great faith and impact only come after we learn to be faithful to the Lord in the ordinary– the daily– the mundane.

And perhaps this seems like common knowledge to everyone; on its own, it’s not that profound. But it struck me last week, in the best of ways.

See, I am a dreamer. For years I’ve been asking God to use me for His glory; for years I’ve wanted to do something wonderful and impactful and brave. I still do– a life of complacency isn’t a real life.

But see, while I’m asking God to do mighty things in and through my life, He is asking me to just be faithful to Him.

If I’m not faithful when life is easy and rosy, how on earth will I be faithful when the time comes for me to act on faith and make an impact? (Answer: I won’t. And that is a saddening and sobering thought.)

So… yes, it’s important to live a life of purpose. Yes, it’s important to seek the Lord and go after the opportunities He wants you to. Yes, it’s important to get up off your rear and act.

But I am also learning that ordinary is okay. Ordinary can be beautiful. And ordinary is the time when I ought to be fixing my eyes on Jesus and forming habits of daily prayer and reading the Word. Confession: I have never been great at consistently spending time in prayer and the Bible every single day. I am better than I was, but not where I want to be– and Jesus is bringing me to that place in this seemingly-ordinary season that I had been so frustrated with two weeks ago.

I think that this summer has really been about one thing: drawing me closer to Jesus. Teaching me to talk with Him more and to cut out all the stuff of earth that “competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things” (Rich Mullins, “If I Stand”). To rest in His grace and His never-wavering faithfulness to us even when we’re struggling to be faithful to Him (2 Tim. 2:13).

If you’re in a season that feels impact-less: I feel you. It’s frustrating. But please don’t get so wrapped up in self-pity and worry and frustration and comparison that you miss out on what God’s trying to teach you through this. And don’t forget to spend time with Him daily, to be faithful in the daily steps He wants you to take, no matter how small they seem. If you’re in an ordinary season– make the most of it. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking you have no impact just because you’re not doing what everyone else is doing right now. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It accomplishes nothing.

Instead, take a deep breath, fix your eyes on Jesus, and look for the beauty and the growth within the ordinary. It’s there, I promise. And this season, frustrating though it may be, can and will be used by the Lord to grow and reshape you into someone who is stronger and ready to do kingdom work. Just be faithful, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, and soon you’ll begin to see the change.

As for today? Here’s your to-do list (and mine as well):

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God?”

{Micah 6:8, ESV}

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God.

The rest is all detail.

{love always, Em}

// Also: Here’s a playlist of songs of praise to be listened to when your heart just needs to be still and know that He is God. //

“you were b o r n for this.” // or, freshman year ~ Liberty ~ part two.

{In which I share some of the many lessons that the Lord has taught me throughout the year.

I’ve already shared a few of these, but wanted to bring them all together in one place.

It’s been quite a year, and I am thankful for the growth and change it has brought (and continues to bring even during a summer spent at home).}


“There’s a time to hold your tongue, time to keep your head down
There’s a time but it’s not now

Sometimes you gotta go, uninvited
Sometimes you gotta speak when you don’t have the floor
Sometimes you gotta move, when everybody else says you should stay
No way, no, not today
You gotta ask, if you want an answer
Sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crowd
Long before your heart could run the risk
You were born for this

// Born For This (Esther), by Mandisa //


“And even though you’re scared

You’re stronger than you know…
If you’re lost out where the lights are blinding
Caught in all, the stars are hiding
That’s when something wild calls you home, home
If you face the fear that keeps you frozen
Chase the sky into the ocean
That’s when something wild calls you home, home”

// Something Wild, from Pete’s Dragon //


-Everyone tells you that it gets easier, the goodbyes. Well, that’s frankly not true. The goodbyes themselves don’t get any easier– to your home-family as you leave, or to your school-family as you return home. The goodbyes are still hard, and they still make your heart ache, but they become routine. What gets easier is your ability to live two lives in two different worlds but still remain authentically yourself in both. What gets easier is looking forward to new adventures with the people you’re with instead of focusing too much on those who are absent. What gets easier is focusing on the sunshine ahead of you instead of the clouds in the past. What gets easier is telling yourself not to look back, but to look forward to when you will be reunited with your people again.

-Doing homework directly after you get back from school/classes is not necessarily a given anymore. When opportunities arise– take them. Be more willing to go on spontaneous adventures. Don’t be so caught up in your schedule that you miss out on something that is far more important than your work. Jesus, cultivating deep friendships and mentor-relationships, being involved on campus, growing in the Lord, bravely going forth to try new things– they’re all worth more than a paper or an exam.

-On that note: school does not define you. (Can I get an amen?) Your identity is not in your GPA or in an exam grade. Your worth is not in how well or how poorly you perform. That grade is not the most important thing in your life. It is not the true reason why God has led you to the school where He wants you. He’s got so much more planned than that score you’re looking at right now. I struggled a lot with that this semester, while taking a biology course in which my grade was solely comprised of five 200-point exams; I was so terrified of what my grade would be. I often left those biology exams thoroughly overwhelmed and in tears. I made the equivalent of a 73 on the second exam, and was convinced that I was going to do terribly in the class. I just knew that I had lost my A, my 4.0 GPA. Through much encouragement from my parents and friends, and from the Lord’s own conviction, I slowly but surely came to the point where I would be okay with a B in the class. For a recovering academic perfectionist, this is kind of a huge deal. Surrendering your academics to the Lord is easy to say when things are going well, but living it out when there is uncertainty and disappointment is much harder– and honestly, quite freeing. More of my thoughts on the subject are in this Odyssey article I wrote in March: A Letter From A Recovering Perfectionist.

-Be brave. (I know, this is a lesson that I’ve been learning for several years now and still don’t have fully grasped, but I have learned much about bravery this year.) This semester in particular has challenged me to live out the truth that following Christ, sharing His love with a broken and lost world, bravely speaking up about the hope that I have in Him– all of these things matter so much more than my fears. No more using my personality as an excuse to not share Jesus. No more being afraid to approach people, afraid to talk about the only things that truly matter. No more talking about my faith without taking action. No more sitting comfortably in my comfort zone when my Jesus is calling me to walk in faith towards Him. Some of you may remember my blog post from spring break on the subject, when I was first convicted through my evangelism class– you can find it here.

“Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.” {Psalm 27:14, NIV}

Because sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is to keep waiting for the Lord’s timing. Some battles are harder than others to fight and to wait for a victory in; sometimes, the battle seems endless and pointless. But… it is at that point when you realize that you cannot win this on your own that you begin to truly depend on the Lord. When the acne doesn’t go away and the lies in your head are screaming at you that you’re not beautiful– when you’re the only one without a roommate and are discouraged and worried about the year to come– when things aren’t happening the way you’d hoped they would– take heart. God will grow you in your brokenness– where you are weak on your own, He will give you strength. God is glorified in brokenness; He is good in the midst of brokenness, not in spite of it. He is enough, always, even if the affliction never goes away and the circumstances don’t get any better. I learned this deeply back in November, with my acne struggles of last semester, and again in January with part two of the acne journey, and it’s not a lesson I’ll soon forget.

-Let go. Because things are going to happen that are simply not within your control. Because friends will sometimes not be as sensitive to your feelings as you would like (and anyway, the heart is deceitful, so you’ve gotta be careful with putting too much stock into feelings). Because living in the same space with another human can be tricky at times (as much as you love them). Because, as was mentioned, your identity is not in your circumstances or performance. Because life is too short and too beautiful to be constantly focusing on negative things. Because not letting go is not conducting yourself in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel to which you have been called. (Admittedly, I am a work in progress on this one. In all of these lessons, really.)

-Enjoy every bit of free time and relaxation you can. Take hold of the moments of sunshine and tuck them close to your heart. A cup of tea. The very, very rare times in which you get to read something that’s not for a class. Walks around campus. The beauty of changing seasons. Meals with friends. Hall gatherings and events. Times of prayer. Movie nights. Netflix study breaks while eating dinner in the dorm. Going to the gym. The times in which you get to venture off-campus. The aforementioned spontaneous adventures. Free time is a precious and valuable gift, one that should not be taken lightly.  This summer, I intend to make the most of it, filling it with all the writing and books I neglected during the year.

-I’ve had many anthems throughout the year. “Born For This” (see above) and “I See Fire” from the Hobbit are the Liberty theme songs of my friend group. “Something Wild” (also above), “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”, and “Pocketful of Poetry” (see below) are the ones that reminded me that I am still very much a dreamer. “Enough” by BarlowGirl was the one that was on replay in my mind throughout my acne struggles. The La La Land soundtrack, the Downton Abbey soundtracks, the Star Wars soundtracks, and my piano playlist all got me through hours upon hours of reading and studying for classes. There are so many more, of course, but these songs will forever bring me back to my freshman year at Liberty.


“I don’t do well if I’m kept behind
An office desk inside
It makes me loose my mind
Which wanders endlessly
Where all the birds fly freely
With their silhouettes
In perfect symmetry

I’ve got a pocketful of poetry
I’ve got a head full of songs
A heart with wings
You couldn’t tie me down to anything
And that’s enough for me

I draw doodles of eccentric faces
In the margin spaces
Of important papers
Then I hand them in
With a comedic grin
They ask if I need help
Oh, where do I begin?

I’ve got a pocketful of poetry
I’ve got a head full of songs
A heart with wings
You couldn’t tie me down to anything
And that’s enough for me

People are good, loving, they tell me
Do as you should, all will be well, they say
Life is a test, please give the best answer
A or B or C, pick one instantly
What if there’s so much more to me?

I’ve got a pocketful of poetry
I’ve got a head full of songs
A heart with wings
You couldn’t tie me down to anything
And that’s enough for me”

// Pocketful of Poetry, by Mindy Gledhill //


{And thus, the first chapter ends, the interlude begins, and chapter two is waiting for me on the distant horizon.}

love always, Em

“look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!” // or, freshman year ~ Liberty ~ part one.

Where do I even begin when it comes to sharing all that’s happened and all the ways I have grown this year?

Most of my adventures and musings have been documented very briefly via pictures and social media; I only blog on breaks, and whenever journaling does happen, it’s at a time when my heart is crying out to the Lord and I’d rather not share.

That being said, there are some things that need to be shared here. Both the loveliness and the lessons learned. Both the days of sunshine and the rain. Both the ways in which I’ve grown and the ways in which I am not yet the person I am meant to become.

But… that is not for this post. 😉 (That will come in part two.) This is a mere compilation of snapshots of life at Liberty, from the day I left home to my last weekend there with my dear friends. It’s been so fun to go through these, and to relive the memories and the adventures. So thankful for the new experiences I’ve had, for the friends whom I’ve only known since September or later who have become like family, and for the beauty both large-scale and minuscule that God so carefully crafted within each day.

This year was a good one for sure, and I can’t wait for what is to come.

IMG_4290IMG_4377IMG_4297IMG_4295IMG_4750Processed with VSCO with c1 presetIMG_4477IMG_4557IMG_4488IMG_4497IMG_0795IMG_4508IMG_4389IMG_4546IMG_4667IMG_4707IMG_4741IMG_4310IMG_4400IMG_4410unnamedIMG_5024IMG_5029unnamedIMG_4905IMG_4907IMG_4908IMG_4912IMG_4913IMG_4915IMG_4923IMG_4984IMG_4991IMG_5046IMG_5073IMG_5083IMG_5233IMG_5286IMG_5404IMG_5134IMG_5360IMG_5427IMG_5432IMG_5439IMG_5816IMG_5869IMG_5870IMG_5871IMG_5888IMG_5891IMG_5935IMG_6083IMG_6019IMG_5989Version 2IMG_6205Version 2Version 2IMG_6419IMG_6098IMG_6099IMG_6109IMG_6104IMG_6206IMG_6228IMG_6424IMG_6547IMG_6512IMG_6457IMG_6456IMG_6554IMG_6638IMG_6643IMG_6668IMG_6704IMG_6740IMG_6758IMG_6785IMG_6788IMG_6836IMG_6849IMG_6893IMG_6902IMG_6907

(…Congrats for making it this far. xD *gives you cookies + tea as a reward*)

// take courage. //

You know those posts that are just hard to write, hard to organize that whirlwind of thoughts and emotions into coherent sentences, hard to open up and share with the world– and yet, demand to be written anyway?

Yep. This is one of those posts.

(And it’s the highest form of irony that I’m scared to even post this. Ugh.)

Something I have learned in the past few years is that there are certain spiritual themes of each season of my life– lessons that God has specifically placed on my heart for that specific time, in order to grow me.

When I chose my word of the year for 2017, I was drawn towards the word “intentional”. Living each day, loving each person, and spending time with the Lord with intention.

This semester, God has also seen fit to place another word on my heart: action.

Confession: I am not exactly what people would call a take-action kind of girl. (I know this shocks you all.)

I’m rather slow to act. Cautious. Hesitant to try brave new things.

And more than that, I like my comfort zone. A lot. It’s quite comfortable, after all.

Comfort zones come in several forms for me– my places and my people. My routines. My personality. (Ohh, especially that. It’s so easy to limit myself to the confines of who I perceive and want myself to be, and that is a dangerous path to walk, friends. I use my INFJness as an excuse far too often, and this is something that I’m working on stopping.)

Going up to people and sharing the Gospel with them face-to-face? That is not in my comfort zone at all. Honestly, knowing I need to do this for my evangelism class this semester (which is an entirely different matter that I won’t comment on for now), and that I haven’t done so yet and will need to in the next week or two, is giving me more anxiety than it probably should, especially considering how long I’ve been a follower of Christ.

There are other things in my life that I’m having to step up and act upon that scare me, but right now I would say that’s close to the top of the list.

And everyone around me is encouraging me to be more bold. To step up. To be assertive.

And God is convicting me– why am I so scared to present the Gospel to others? Why am I making all sorts of excuses (I don’t know any nonbelievers well enough to do that, I share Him in other ways, I find myself encouraging believers in their walks and that should count for something right?, etc.) to justify why I don’t want to take so bold an action? Why is it so hard for me to take courage and act? To face the things I’ve never done before with confidence?

So I guess this is what I’m learning– not just to listen to the Lord, but to do what He says.

Not just to take in His words and His love, but to take that truth and actively share it with the lost.

Not to cower behind my personality, but to be so focused on Him that I don’t even consider my own inhibitions as I approach people.

Not to be comfortable in my comfort zone, but to take intentional steps out of it in bravery.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear (or timidity, dear Em), but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.

Intentionality is rather pointless without action.

The things that I’m facing are still new and daunting, but I will not do my usual thing and tentatively approach them with dread. God has called me to bravery and to action, to intentionally share His love with a dying world, and I cannot ignore His calling.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage, dear heart.”

Let’s do this.


“And even though you’re scared
You’re stronger than you know…
If you’re lost out where the lights are blinding
Caught in all, the stars are hiding
That’s when something wild calls you home, home
If you face the fear that keeps you frozen
Chase the sky into the ocean
That’s when something wild calls you home, home”

// Something Wild, from Pete’s Dragon //


“No one ever told me this would be easy
But I never knew that it could be this hard
Oh the worry the worry the worry
Is weighing on me
Could you help me break down
All these question marks
And make me brave

I’ll fight like a soldier
(Brave) rise like a warrior
(Brave) won’t stop till the final day
(Brave) I want to be stronger
(Brave) gonna be bolder
(Brave) look up and I see the way
You make me brave

I know I know I’m no superwoman
But impossible is possible with you
So no, no, no more running, no more hiding
Strike the fire so I’ll be fearless too
And make me brave

I’ll fight like a soldier
(Brave) rise like a warrior
(Brave) won’t stop till the final day
(Brave) I want to be stronger
(Brave) gonna be bolder
(Brave) look up and I see the way
You make me brave

None go with me
Still I’ll follow
Through the joy
And through the sorrow
Cross before me
World behind me
There’s no turning back…”

// Brave, by Moriah Peters //

// musings + unexpected waiting. //

*dusts off personal blog*

Hello, dear friends!

I’m home for Tennessee’s first snowfall of the year, and though much of it has melted away already, the rooftops are still snow-covered, the sky is still grey, and it’s that time of afternoon where the sun is golden, peeking through the clouds and shining on snow-dusted grass.

I’m sitting here at the kitchen island with a cup of dark-hot-chocolate (highly recommended, y’all), and it just seems like the perfect time to do some writing that isn’t 1.) for school 2.) for my corner of The Odyssey or 3.) a story (which is currently something of a struggle for me to set my mind to, this writing-fiction thing).

Therefore, the blog, which has been quite shamefully neglected over this break in light of the holidays and moving houses and seeing friends and Netflix and reading fiction again.

So… hello again.

Y’know, sometimes I feel that lately, I only ever write on here when I’m disgruntled about something.

Well, disgruntled may not be the right word here– unsettled, perhaps? Yes. My heart is rather unsettled.

And perhaps that’s true, that I only ever share my writings when they spring from unsettledness, but that’s because that disquiet prompts me to think deep thoughts and ask big questions that don’t come up when life is rosy or too busy for much reflection.

So here I am, drinking dark-hot-chocolate and thinking of things.

Like the way that God sometimes says wait, even when we thought we’d been given the go-ahead and the plans were progressing smoothly.

That’s perhaps the hardest kind of waiting. It’s one thing to wait when you’re on board with it and your heart is contented in that waiting (such as the purity-waiting that He has called me to), but it’s an entirely different situation when you’re dancing through life and then suddenly– you’re brought to a screeching halt that you didn’t see coming.

And it’s not even that the thing you’ve been waiting and planning for isn’t happening at all– it’s just that certain circumstances are out of your control, and suddenly you’re transported (by evil spiders, probably) from Making Progress™ to Back To Square One™.

Initially, it’s very frustrating and upsetting, to say the least.

But after tears are shed, God reminds me that His timing is better than my own.

I’m not the most patient human on the planet (I know this is very shocking news to all of you), and perhaps this is one way of Him reminding me that I am not the one who’s writing this story.

The heroine doesn’t write her own story, after all. That’s the Author’s job. Hers is to live out the life He’s writing for her.

I say that quite often.

I also have to remind myself of that quite often, notably when Important Plans™ don’t go my way.

Everything is going to be okay, even if it doesn’t feel like it initially. Even if resolution doesn’t come as quickly as I’d prefer. Even if I have unanswered questions, even if the fair and just solution isn’t what happens, even if I’ve simply got to let go and endure a bit longer.

One of my favorite verses:


Light. Momentary. That’s all that this affliction is, really. Perspective helps, especially if it’s an eternal one.

And this affliction, this season of waiting that’s going to be longer than planned, it’s preparing me for the weight of eternal glory. If more waiting is part of God’s plan for me, then so be it.

The situation itself is by no means resolved, and at the moment I don’t know what the necessarily-revised plan is yet (which, yes, is unsettling for my Type-A-ish self), but even so… Even so, it is well with my soul.

Because God is still very much on His throne, and life is still so good, and circumstances cannot and should not determine my joy or peace.

“Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.”

{love always, Em}

(Here’s hoping I come back to write some more before I head back to Liberty next weekend. xx)

// and all I have in You is more than enough. //

Honestly, I shouldn’t be writing this right now.

I should be sleeping, because it’s 1 am, and I have an 8:15 class that I need to be awake for.

That’s what my logical side is telling me.

But my heart refuses to budge, nudging me and whispering that the thoughts I’ve been having lately need to be processed and written and shared, and what better place to do so than the blog? (I’m long overdue for a life-update, I suppose.)

And what better time than now, when conviction is fresh and I’ve just drank a cup of Earl Grey so I’ll be awake (as in, awake but not awake enough to work on my philosophy paper) for a little while longer anyway?

So… here we go. Here’s where I’ve been lately.

Ever since I’ve arrived here at Liberty, I’ve been struggling with acne.

I know, I know. It seems so trivial compared to what others are struggling with. (I’m cringing even writing this, to be honest.)

Only it doesn’t feel so trivial when my whole face is blotchy and bumpy, and the acne is beginning to itch and hurt in a way it never has before, and makeup can no longer hide it all away, and no matter what I try nothing seems to work anymore, and insecurities that I thought I’d long-ago buried flare up every single time I happen to glance at a mirror.

And that’s the thing– I hate that I’m so insecure about this.

Because I know the truth. I have it hidden in my heart. I am a beautiful daughter of the King, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, true beauty does not come from outward adornment but from a heart after His own, and I know my worth is not defined by how I look or what I do, but in Christ alone.

I know the truth. I’ve moved beyond this, I’m more spiritually mature than this, right?

Except… I don’t like to leave my dorm room without makeup on anymore. I’ve never been like that. But then, the acne has never been this bad before.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s that my belief in the truth that my beauty is in Christ hasn’t been truly tested until now, and maybe that’s why this is so hard.

Because it is hard. It’s exhausting, fighting a battle and using all the strategies available to you and yet nothing changes, nothing gets better– if anything, it’s getting worse.

My parents have been so, so wonderful in standing beside me as we face this– together, as a family. I’m not fighting alone. Even though we’re a day’s drive away from each other, they’ve always been there to encourage, to suggest wise courses of action, to help in looking into dermatologist appointments and what treatment combinations we haven’t tried yet, to remind me that I am beautiful and loved in the moments where I am overcome and 100% done with this whole mess.

I had one of those moments last night (Tuesday); I stood in the shower and cried over this, frustrated that even the dermatologist-advised course of action wasn’t working, and growing afraid that the acne was getting so terrible that it would begin to scar my face. Permanently.

I whispered angrily that I hated this, hated myself.

And I know, I know that was wrong of me, that this broke the heart of the God who made me and who knows me by name.

I calmed down and silently apologized to my Father, because I don’t hate myself, not really– but I did hate the acne, and the fact that I was still in this situation.

And that’s why campus community tonight was so convicting.

Our campus pastor David Nasser asked us if, for us, God was not only good (for of course we as Christians readily admit that), but good enough— meaning that if we lost everything else, if we were called to count everything as loss, would we still cling to Him and His goodness?

“If your physical affliction doesn’t go away, do you still say God is good? Is He enough for you?”

I’d been scanning the Scriptures used in the sermon, but with that line, I looked up in surprise as the words hit me like a punch in the gut.

“We like to say ‘I want God! …and [fill in the blank]. God… and a husband. God… and money. God… and popularity.’ But what if you had only Him? He ought to be good enough.”

Unshed tears sprang to my eyes. I’d been viewing this whole thing the wrong way.

“I want You, God! …and I want clear skin. Or at the very least, clearer skin. I want this struggle to be over with already. I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

This was how I’d been thinking just last night. Now, a new thought came to me:

If I end up struggling with acne for the rest of my life, if it never gets better, will I still praise the Lord? Will I still trust in His goodness?

The answer is yes. But the question is a sobering one, a hard one to contemplate.

If He doesn’t remove my physical affliction? Yes, yes I will still praise Him.

I’ve been setting aside a bit of time every day to read one chapter of The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, and though I’m only two chapters in, I’m already learning.

Namely, that He is glorified in brokenness.

Which gets me thinking– maybe it’s not that He is good in spite of our afflictions, our brokenness.

Maybe it’s that He is good in the midst of the affliction and the broken.

And maybe, I am not beautiful in spite of acne.

Maybe I am beautiful, acne included, because this acne is pushing me closer to the Lord, and I am depending more on Him in an otherwise lovely season where I would be tempted to say, “I’ve got this”. Acne is apparently part of my life’s-story, a plot twist that, though unwelcome, is growing my character.

And maybe beauty is not diminished by brokenness. God’s goodness and glory certainly isn’t.

So maybe… maybe instead of begging God to take this away from me, I can instead thank Him for the acne and ask that He be glorified through it, that He’ll show me the beauty in the brokenness, that He will continue to reshape me so that I may be content with Him alone?

My dad recently shared with me the passage that he clung to in his own struggles with cystic acne and the insecurities that accompanied it:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

–2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Delight in weaknesses and hardships.

Consider it pure joy.

Not that I’m giving up– I’m still going to pursue treatment in every avenue I can.

But my heart, my attitude, is changing.

All of You is more than enough for
All of me for every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You
Is more than enough

“Enough” // written by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio, performed by BarlowGirl

This is my heart’s song now.

No matter what happens– He is more than enough to satisfy my soul.

He is good, and He is faithful, and I am forever grateful.

…and it is almost 2 am so I really, really need to use the sleep now.

Goodnight, friends. xx

{love always, Em}

// “i’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” / fall break 2016 //

Taking a quick break from catching up on assignments and studies to stop by the blog and share some of the loveliness of the past few days, because it’s been far too long since I’ve written here; all my writings have gone towards school and The Odyssey, which is an online community that I write for weekly now.

I haven’t even had time to write stories, or to read full-length books; that’s how crazy college life has been. Crazy-beautiful, but crazy nonetheless.

This craziness has made me that much more grateful for the four days I got to spend with my family for fall break, adventuring around Virginia. Jamestown and Busch Gardens and Williamsburg are all lovely places, and being with my people made it that much more fun. (Six weeks, y’all. Six weeks without seeing my family. It was tragic, but we survived, and now we have only a two-and-a-half week interlude until family weekend, which I’m sure we can manage.)

You all know by now that I like to look for lovely in everything, and fall break definitely had some lovely to be found, so I wanted to share it with you.

**Please note: All photos are mine.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
city lights, pretty lights
Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
Williamsburg at night
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Williamsburg or Narnia?
Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
a lovely sort of Friday evening
Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
and the streets are filled with light
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
walking with my people
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
dreaming of times when these streets were busy
Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
what a lovely hat, Miss
Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
hats & ribbons
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
crowds watching the world turned upside down
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
father & son
Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset
Jamestown: guns and ships?
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
flags for each and every state
Processed with VSCO with m5 preset
impressed by the fact that everything still color-matches
Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
where prayers and praises were lifted
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
perhaps my favorite photo
Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
the boys found the candy shop
Processed with VSCO with m5 preset
in the square
Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset
at the candy counter
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work.

I’m so thankful for these days of rest and adventuring and Em-things and, most of all, family.

I love you all, and shall return soon– likely during/after the next break!

{love always, Em}

// creating home. //

I actually have time to kill here in the library, between dinner and a pro-life club meeting! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

In all seriousness, it’s been a crazy almost-two weeks since I’ve arrived here at Liberty. Crazy– but beautiful. Busy– but productive. New– but memorable.

It hasn’t been completely sunshine-y; I miss my family. I miss my home. I miss wandering downstairs to hang out with Matt, going on walks around the neighborhood with Mom, and going on grocery runs with Dad. I miss my blue room and piano and the Hendersonville library and being able to drive places. The homesickness comes and goes. I’m proud of myself when I can make it through a phone call with Mom without either of us crying. (We’re still working on that.) It’s been getting better, but I want to be honest with where I am: there are moments when it is so hard and I long for home and family.

But there is so much beauty here. Here there are huge trees and four-story-libraries and fairy lights and new friends and almost everything within walking distance. Here there are worship songs playing through speakers as you walk to class, and here there are professors who pray before classes (I will never ever get over the awesomeness of that as a former public schooler). Here there are upperclassmen girls who pour into us and make us feel comfortable and safe. Here there are 10-pm smoothies and four-hour conversations with new friends and meals with any friends who happen to be at the dining hall at the same time as you. Here there are adventures and prayers and opportunities to grow.

Slowly but surely, I’m creating a home for myself here at Liberty.

It doesn’t feel like home yet. It may not for awhile.

But I’m beginning to know how it feels, having your heart caught between two places.

It isn’t entirely bad.

Thank you, to everyone who has prayed and encouraged and loved me, and continues to do so as I journey forth on this new adventure.

Tennessee– my family– that will forever be my heart’s home.

But this new home I’m creating is going to be just as lovely and full of joy and memories.

I’m off to my meeting now; I just wanted to pop in and give you a life update.

I love you all, always!

{love, Em}

// “it’s not goodbye, it’s au revoir” //

{a favorite childhood memory with some of my favorite people}


-when Dad drove me to middle school in the mornings, and we would rock out to Thousand Foot Krutch and Disciple and Skillet and all those bands, and talk about everything under the sun, and it was the perfect way to start my days.

-the year that I was homeschooled, and Mom was my third grade teacher, and the two of us going to co-op stuff and her teaching my Old Testament Geography class, and reading about all sorts of fascinating historical figures like William Penn, Louisa May Alcott, and Clara Barton, to name a few. (Mom is by far my favorite teacher I’ve ever had.) Also, around that same time: riding in the car with her and Matt and singing along to our favorite music (ranging from TobyMac to that VeggieTales rock album).

-when Matt was tiny and he and I would come up with all sorts of games to play, and he’d laugh his adorable toddler-laugh, and then we’d watch PraiseBabies or VeggieTales together and it was such a nice way to spend the afternoon.

-when I would go to Grandmommy’s house and we’d sit on her back porch swing in front of the rose trellis, making up songs and stories as we rocked back and forth, and playing dolls in the living room with her until her oven timer went off, and the one time (or maybe few times) when we walked to the grove of trees in her backyard and found her flower garden.

-sitting with PawPaw in his office, and him teaching me how to use a typewriter and some sort of cool huge calculator-ish thing that I can’t remember the name of, and my leaving little notes and doodles in his memo pad, and eating breakfast with him while he drank his coffee early on peaceful mornings, and dancing together at Uncle John and Aunt Christina’s wedding.

-playing the drums at Aunt Laine’s house, and her teaching me all the words and dance moves to Proud Mary when I was just a tiny thing, and her giving me guitar lessons, and all our “you-know-what and you-know-where” days, always.

-walking around Opryland Hotel at Christmastime with Uncle John and Aunt Christina (and him getting me to try a Monster drink, which I shall never do again), with all the fairy lights and warm conversations and laughter, and going with Aunt Christina for ice cream right before school started one year, and when they came to visit over one Thanksgiving and C.J. was content to sit in my lap at Culver’s.

-going to my cousins’ house back when we all lived in Memphis– playing Pokemon with Brianna even though I had no idea what they were, and talking with Danielle about all sorts of things and feeling very grown up, and every time I get to FaceTime them now.


I love you all so much. Thank you for these moments, and for so many more! I treasure them all, and always will.


{I’m rather nostalgic today as I prepare to fly tomorrow}


{love always, Em}