Tuesday, October 10, 2017


I woke up this morning to frosty grass and meat-freezer air. Each morning the green leaves are less green and more red or yellow or orange. And I am reminded that everything must keep moving forward and changing and unfolding. 

Nothing is intended to stop. But interference is reality. When things stop, they die; they begin to wither. We need movement and progression and change to live, to be nurtured. The unfolding movement allows us to keep unfolding. 
At the beginning of this semester I said yes to the invitation to contribute to the unfolding of creation.

I have thousands upon thousands of words dammed up inside me, making every effort to burst forth, but horribly blocked and unable to contribute. 

The way I express myself has been taken away from me. 

I was about to launch something big, but I have been attacked on every front. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I have been so run down in every regard and ultimately, prevented from writing. My words are stuck. 
My words are the way in which I worship. My words are my contribution to the Kingdom. Naturally, Satan would want to suppress them.

I have been trying to write for weeks and weeks. I have so much in me that I long to share, to communicate.

So, friends, I am calling on you. I need help. I need prayer.

Pray for protection from the enemy. Pray for health, pray for mental alertness, pray for strength, pray for the ability to write to be restored. These days have not been easy and I fear I have a long road ahead of me. My battle is overwhelming and at times consuming. I know my calling. I know I am supposed to write, and so I must continue to fight. 

Through all this, I have been very aware of God’s sustaining power. I feel Him carrying me through each day and into the next. Most days I am completely unable to do anything; it is only by His grace and care that I am still moving. 
Also, readers, I need help gathering a larger audience. I am launching my new project on October 23rd. Please look for the announcement and make the transition with me! You can help me out by sharing my posts over the next thirteen days (and going forward!) and you can pray for perseverance and pray specifically for the date October 23rd

I am excited to continue to write. To share my stories and inspirations and thoughts with you. I am stepping into something bigger and bending my knee to the Creator, and humbly accepting my role to unfold with creation.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


For all of you faithful readers who excitedly smiled with me when I moved to Africa at age 16 and journaled incomplete thoughts for the world to see. To the readers who furrowed their brow with concern as I tumbled for a couple years trying to make sense of my life. To the readers who gave me a quizzical look when I announced my move to Minnesota. To the readers who have been with me since the beginning and those who have joined along the way. 

This is to tell you, the blue-skies-green-grass-dandelion-blowing Grace is moving forward.

At one point we all slept with a guardrail to keep us from falling out of bed at night, or we drank from a sippy-cup to prevent spills, or we used pull-ups for easier cleaning after accidents. Eventually it's time to grow up and graduate to the next thing. I'm approaching the end of college and beginning to think about which direction I'd like to take my writing, and I'm realizing eventually it's time to grow up and graduate to the next thing. Turns Out You Do Need Grace has neared it's natural end.  

However, my writing and blogging and learning and sharing is certainly far from over. I have some very exciting ideas and big dreams simmering on the back burner, and I cannot wait to share them with you!

Stay tuned. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Brokenness as an Idol

The school year is barely in flight and already my hand is propping my head and smooshing my check upwards. I’m not stressed or overwhelmed or tired. I’m just bored. For a lot of people the start of a school year means new. New classes, new schedule, new activities to try. However, I have (roughly) the same schedule that I had all summer and last semester. I haven’t seen change in a good long while. And as much as I love a good routine, I can’t stand it for very long. I need something new.

The other night in tears I sat on the swing with Ty and unloaded woes from the past couple weeks, some more worthy of tears than others, but all significant. Frustrated by my lack of change, upset about my tears, disappointed that I don’t feel like I have my life figured out. And Ty listened and validated and kindly offered Grace, no one knows who they are. This (meaning college) is the season of life when we are supposed to learn who we are.

I didn’t like those words very much. I don’t know what I expected him to say exactly. But seasons of life aren’t determined by age. I learned plenty of things as a 19 and 20 year old that people don’t learn until they are 35 or 47 years old. And there are things I have yet to learn that a 19 or 20 year old may know quite well.

The thing is, a lot of the things I learned as a 19/20 year old I learned independently. I spent time figuring out myself by myself. As a result, I am quite bad at being dependent. And now I am in a place of learning dependency and it is uncomfortable. I now have a community and close friends and a boyfriend who care about me and want to care for me. And instead of happily engaging in deeper relationships, I find myself habitually retreating to old ways and sour wounds.

At church last Sunday Micah preached about cutting off foreskin, and somehow out of those confusing and slightly offsetting verses he got this:

Help often comes from unexpected places in unexpected ways and A life of faith requires leaving things behind.

And that got me thinking, often when we think about “living a life of faith” we assume that means leaving something good and comfortable and moving into something hard and unsettling. Like, leaving a high-paying job to serve in an impoverished village. But what if the “things” we are “leaving behind” are actually bad things? Do we have to leave good for it to be an act of faith?

Lately I have been frustrated that my past wounds and brokenness seem to be too present. I thought I had worked through things and gotten rid of it, but it’s still here. There is an element of needing to remember our brokenness so that the Cross becomes all the more beautiful. But there is a time when holding onto our wounds becomes too much of a focal point. My wounds are familiar to me, and even though painful, there is a level of comfort. But in holding onto my past hurts, I am denying Jesus’ sacrifice.

Is it possible for something as distasteful and painful as a broken heart to become an idol?

So when Micah said in order to live in faith I needed to leave things behind, I thought about the feather inked on my left arm and the process birds go through to remove their broken wings so that they can fly again. And maybe, just maybe, I need to step out in faith and leave my brokenness behind. Maybe, just maybe, I need to stop living my life so independently and start tearing down some of the walls and depending on other people. This is a scary thought. This would be an act of faith.

It’s easier said than done. And I acknowledge that there is a fine line. We are all broken and we will continue to be broken as long as we live on earth. But we don’t need to dwell in our brokenness. Healing means I have the ability to move on and move away from the past. Healing enables me to live in faith.

When you break a leg, you spend time in a cast, then you go to physical therapy so that you can relearn how to walk. You tend to the leg and treat it with extra care. But eventually your leg heals and you regain muscle and you start running again and it’s almost as if the accident never happened. Emotional wounds aren’t as straight forward, but there is still healing and the ability to move away from them.

In one of my classes this week my professor shared a fascinating fact that the Hebrew language only consist of verbs, no nouns. Everything is always moving and unfolding and performing as God intended. There is no present tense, only past and future. My professor said:

Because we are always verb-ing, we can’t be noun-ed by our past. The noun will impact and affect us but because we are always unfolding it doesn’t stick to us.

It’s almost too profound for me to grasp. As long as we are living in faith, we are continually moving forward. Satan would love for us to stay in our past because that is where things get muddied. We have to keep being, we have to keep verb-ing, we have to keep healing and flying.

So back to last Sunday with Pastor Micah, he ended with this: We need to lay it down so that something else can be born in us.

In order to grow, in order to fly again, I’ve got to lay down my brokenness and move forward in faith into a life of freedom, so that something new can be born in me. Something new. Exactly what I am looking for. And oddly, right now (at this season of my life), that “life of freedom” may very well be a life of dependency.

And as far as the help coming from unexpected places  that would be my good man, Ty Schroeder. He is quite possibly the most surprising aspect of my life thus far. Unanticipated yet exactly who I need. God is allowing and equipping Ty to show me how to acknowledge hurt – even little hurts and minor scrapes from the week; not just the gaping wounds from years gone by– but then to release it, and fly forward in freedom.

So, as the birds fly south toward freedom from the winter, I will stay in the cold and figure out how to fly in freedom. I will discover ways to implement new and thoughtfully release old

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Watermelon and Wind

Today’s weather calls for wide open windows, causing the breeze to dance through the house. And I keep taking deep breaths in through my nose and smiling.

I stood at the kitchen counter and carefully hacked watermelon into uneven cubes. I have a bad habit of eating half of a fruit while I’m cutting it. But when the cold juicy cubes are sweeter than candy, how can I not devour it?

I don’t really have anything profound or significant to say today, other than that I was so overcome by the beauty of the aforementioned things that I felt compelled to write it down. I could have easily grabbed my journal and taken note, but I wanted to share the beauty with you.

And perhaps this is to say, if we don’t have time to sink a kitchen knife into colorful fruits and vegetables, then what are we doing with our lives?  

How differently our day would look  if we spent three minutes thoughtfully slicing produce, as if we were creating a work of art, or rather, marveling at a work of art. The alternative would be to haphazardly chop produce for a quick dinner and that doesn’t sound relaxing or enjoyable.

God has taken the time to give us beautiful food to eat, fresh from the ground or the tree or the bush. I think we should take time to cut it up and let the flavor overwhelm our tongue, and allow our hearts to be overwhelmed by His goodness. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Learning Lessons

When I opened my eyes this morning I was slapped in the face with the reality that summer is almost over. I knew it was going to speed by, but I did not heed my own warning. My list of goals for the summer had slid itself under the other stacks of paper, long forgotten about. I discovered it the other day when I was moving into my new room for the upcoming school year. Turns out I completed all of zero things on that list. I stared at it wondering what on earth happened to my 115 days of freedom.

Summer setting like the sun
I'm trying to convince myself that it's okay I didn't do anything on my list because I was able to do a whole lot of other things I never considered prior to summer. I traveled a lot, almost every weekend. I was able to do a lot of writing. And I have spent a few too many hours with my mostly adorable nanny-girls. (Can you tell I am ready for them to go back to school?)

At the beginning of the summer I thought about learning the importance of rest but decided I didn't have enough time for that. I ended the school year in May and walked right into a full-time job. I took a couple classes and kept my summer very disciplined and scheduled. And while I do not regret not completing my list, I do wish I had taken more time to rest.

Friends have started to move back to campus and I must admit I am a little sad that my quiet campus is bustling again. (Do I sound like an introvert, or what? Yikes.) The presence of people has sparked this unpleasant reminder that summer is almost over and it is time for me to reenter into discipline and schedule and I am realizing I never had a break from either of those things.

And with this rude awakening comes stress, my nemesis. I thought I had kicked that thing a long time ago, yet here it is again. And I know I am not the only one feeling this way; loads of other students are coming to terms with this sad reality that we suddenly have a lot to do. But starting the school year in a stressed state of mind doesn't seem like a very smart move.

I think stress is a choice. When we get dressed in the morning we can choose to accessorize with stress of we can hand that one over to God and allow Him to clothe us with peace instead. For some reason it is not easy to relinquish stress, even though I know Jesus wants to carry my burdens and stress. I can't seem to get it through my thick head that I don't have to pile on the weight of the world and grin and bear it all on my own.

A couple close friends have encouraged me to let this upcoming school year be my year of No! because I don't say no, ever. So I have decided to say yes to saying no. However I am already being bombarded with people who need me and tasks that need to be completed. And here I am, shaking my head yes. It is hard to implement change.

I thought I was really good at time management, but I'm starting to think that part of time management is saying no. And part of time management is blocking out time to rest. And even as I type this I am turning up my nose in disdain and thinking But I don't have time to rest. Not only that, I don't want to rest. I just want to say yes, even though I know the consequences of always saying yes.

So, if you encounter me this year and ask me to do something or be something or say something and I respond with a No just smile at me and know that two-letter word was harder for me to utter than actually doing the thing you want me to do.

Part of growing and becoming more of who God intended us to be is making mistakes and learning lessons. I know I have not fully learned this lesson; in fact, I am pretty certain I am going to keep making this mistake for a while. But I would like to go ahead and encourage you, in my hypocrisy, to learn from my mistake; don't make this one for yourself. Release the stress, take time to rest, and don't be afraid to say no.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Looking Through Windows

This morning I woke up eye-level to bright-white cumulus cotton balls in the sky. I pressed my face against the too small 9x12.5 inch frame, captivated by the view and desiring to get even closer to the beauty.

I love the sky. I tend to spend a good part of my day on the ground with my neck craned upward noticing the way in which God chose to paint the sky that day. As much as I love the sky from the ground, I think it’s even more beautiful when I fly. The clouds bolder, the sky bluer, the sunsets grander. The problem is I can only view a very limited portion because I’m stuffed into a tiny seat and only offered a tiny window.

In general, I really enjoy windows. They are like picture frames. Each window provides a different perspective to see what lies beyond it because each one is shaped differently. The view that a large wide-open window presents is very different from one that an oval shaped window with wooden panes would give.

In every event or circumstance or occasion we each have our own window – our own perspective – to look through. We can be crammed into an airplane, straining our neck in all sorts of directions, hoping to catch a glimpse. Or, we can fling the enormous rectangle window open wide, soaking in all it has to offer.

Regardless, of the size of the window, we are still looking through a window. Our perspective is still limited. We can only perceive so much as long as we are standing inside looking out.

Rapunzel is a classic example of one who peers out the window, stuck perceiving the world through a crude hole. Thankfully we are not Rapunzel. We are not trapped in our tower waiting for our prince to climb our outrageously long locks. We get to make a choice.

This past week I have been in Germany visiting one of my dearest friends. The trip has been fun and relaxing and replenishing. I used to love to travel because I wanted to experience new cultures and I wanted to be anywhere but America. I used to travel because I didn’t have a home and traveling was the most comforting option. But now I have a home and I have a window I can look out of, and I feel content to not hop on a plane every couple months.

I could have easily let Bekka tell me all sorts of stories about Germany. I could have stayed at home and allowed her to show me picture after picture and give detailed descriptions of the country. But then I would only be looking through a window. I would be playing the part of Rapunzel.

But instead I went. I made the choice to get up and go and broaden my view. I wanted to see more than what a window-view could offer.

Strangely, (or maybe not so strangely) I think it all comes back to love. I didn't come to Germany for my own benefit. (I mean, yes, of course I wanted to have a fun, relaxing, and replenishing week in a foreign country; who doesn’t?) but ultimately I came because I love this friend of mine. I wanted to come to spend time with her and allow her to show me more of who she is.

When you make the choice to love, when you make the choice to step out to the other side of the window, suddenly people are what matter. Time and money and any other obstacle fade in comparison to the love you have for people.

Yes, relationships can certainly be cultivated through a window, but you can only go so far with them. You can only listen to so many stories and see so many pictures. Besides, communication through a window is a bit rough what with the hand gestures and the muffled words and the sad attempt to read lips. Eventually you have to get out and start doing with her (or him or them) instead of looking at her through the window picture frame.

It is taking me a long time to grasp this whole concept of love, but I'm starting realize that Bob Goff was on to something: love actually does. We’ve got to take action to love and to get on the other side of the window and experience more. I don’t think this means everyone needs to board the next plane to Germany, but I think we should be open to the idea of performing radical acts of love on any scale. This will look different for each person. But when you make the choice to love, when you make the choice to stop looking through the window and instead venture to the other side, suddenly the options and ways in which you can love are endless. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Feathers and True Love

I woke up to a completely gorgeous 59-degree morning. I must be turning into a good little Minnesotan because I am tired of wearing shorts and t-shirts. I’m ready to break out the jeans and cooler weather clothes. (Notice I didn’t say “cold weather” just “cooler weather.” I’m not that Minnesotan.)

Sometimes I am struck with the realization that God gives us everything we need exactly when we need it. The warm sun, the brief gust of wind or the gentle breeze, the 59-degree morning, the friendships and relationships in our lives, the rough days, the beautiful days. He is in control of it all. And He knows what we need better than we do.

I think that’s why we pray. There is more than one reason why we pray, but I think we pray because we are acknowledging that God holds all things in His hands. In praying, we are giving God full control and full credit. We present our requests to God, meaning we hand them over to Him. Here are my desires Lord; here are my requests. But I’m giving them to You because I trust You, because You know better than I do. And You have the best in mind. Even in praying for something as simple as a safe drive or healing from an illness, it’s completely out of our hands, so we hand it over to God because it is completely in His hands.

A couple months ago I got a feather tattoo on my left arm. It has several different meanings, but the simplest explanation of the image is that it represents freedom. A bird cannot hang onto its old and broken feathers if it expects to fly to the best of its ability. There is a season for acknowledging our brokenness and taking the time to heal, but then there comes a time to molt, to remove our broken feathers so that we can fly again.

In May I felt like I had finally arrived at this place of freedom, like my healing was complete for this season of my life. So I got the reminder permanently inked onto my body, and somehow that action resulted in: cue Satan, stage right. The joy-stealer. The one who makes you question everything you thought true. The one who intentionally drags you through the mud.

And so I looked at my feather tattoo and thought Was I wrong to think I was done healing from these particular wounds? Was I premature in displaying my freedom so blatantly? Satan would like me to think so. And even though I’ve made a permanent choice to be free from my past, Satan will throw doubts at me to get me to think otherwise.

But my freedom is permanent because Jesus died for it. And yes I have hurts, and yes I have healed, and yes I will have more hurts and more seasons of healing. But Jesus died for all that.

And it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around, because it is the most ultimate act of love. And love, true love, is puzzling and challenging and even uncomfortable because it’s foreign.

I sheepishly admit to you that the other day I was watching an episode of the Flash. The supposed villain of the episode turned out not to be a villain after all. Plot twist. Anyway, at the end he said, 
“Love is about letting yourself be saved, it’s not just about saving other people.”

I tend to think the opposite. I often think love is a one-way street. I think love is about doing for others. I expect others to receive love, but I don’t accpet it for myself. I struggle to receive love from other humans. I struggle to receive love from Jesus. I struggle to accept that He died for my freedom because of love.

Love is scary. It’s daring. It’s an adventure. It’s unlike anything else we have or will experience. And as long as I am in Christ, abiding in Him, I have every reason to ink my freedom onto my arm. And that inking doesn’t mean the past is gone. I can look at my feather and remember the past, because in remembering the past I become more aware, more humbled, more grateful for the love that Jesus is.