Thankful for the Thorns

No one imagined our Thanksgiving table talk would end in tears. As we went around the table sharing what we were each thankful for, we couldn’t have anticipated my sister and I would soon be standing in the kitchen, sobbing, holding each other close.

And yet, that’s exactly how this year’s Thanksgiving meal ended. With only scraps of turkey and stuffing and lingering bits of glazed carrots and mashed potatoes left on our plates, we all went around the table sharing the things, the people, the moments we were most grateful for.

We all had similar sentiments. We were grateful for family, for each other, for the new baby sleeping peacefully by my sister’s side – my beautiful nephew. And, in some ways, we were even grateful for the pain that had brought us this beauty. We recognized that the discomfort of the unknown was also bringing us exciting new challenges and opportunities we hadn’t even discovered yet. Continue reading

Ready or Not: Embracing the Changing Seasons

For the past couple weeks, I’ve stepped out of my apartment onto the streets of the Inner Sunset, and it looks like fall.

Even in the midst of our heat wave – in San Francisco, where no one has A/C, 85 degrees feels sweltering – it was still clear that summer was gone and fall was coming.

It’s something about the light. The sun casts longer shadows across the ground, and the sunsets are tinged with a distinctly pink and gold hue, causing the clouds to look like great big puffs of cotton candy. One last hurrah for the season that’s behind us.

At the farmer’s market, stone fruits are slowly being replaced by apples and figs and pomegranates, and the berries have lost their peak-of-summer sweetness.

PSL’s are popping up at every coffee shop, and Trader Joe’s is well-stocked with all things pumpkin.

Fall is normally my favorite season. And yet, this year, I didn’t feel ready. I wasn’t rushing to my closet for sweaters and boots. Partly because we wear them year-round in the city, but also because I didn’t want the seasons to change. Not yet.

We didn’t get much of an Indian summer this year, and that could account for some of my hesitance. But I know the real reason I’ve been digging in my heels on the other side of the equinox and trying to keep myself in summer: I no longer have my person by my side.

Hundreds of Miles to Go

As I wrote last week, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that James is now in LA Monday through Friday, while I’m still in SF. But acceptance is coming in fits and starts.

Some moments I embrace the fact that we’re long-distance and try to “look on the bright side,” as so many well-meaning people have encouraged me to do lately. After all, this is my last season of being unmarried. So, I want to fully take advantage of the fact that I have more time right now – more than I probably ever will – to meet up with my girlfriends, pour into my community, dedicate myself to my work. Not that those things should stop with marriage, but I know they will look quite different, and that will be its own challenge and blessing.

I also sense that this time is an important one of preparation for James and me. As a dear friend prayed over me recently, this season of long-distance is like the washing and chopping and prepping and cooking that must come before a great meal. We’re (quite literally) setting the table before sitting down to the marriage feast. And I want to receive this gift for what it is instead of just fighting against it.

But, of course, I all too often question God’s best for me. I am human, after all. And like the very first humans in the garden, I often think I know what would be better, sweeter, and easier than whatever it is God’s asked me to do. I want the fruit that’s just out of my reach instead of enjoying the abundance God has placed in front of me.

Because, in all honesty, this doesn’t feel like abundance. This feels painful and lonely and confusing. This feels like a bitter pill to swallow, and I’m not fully convinced the medicine is going to help. I’m looking for a way out instead of through. 

The Invitation to a New Season

But God, in his graciousness, keeps pursuing me. And, because I’ve experienced enough of his goodness over the years, I keep leaving the door open a crack for him.

I hide out in my room (sometimes literally) and try to think my way through this season – as though I can just rationalize my way through the long-distance, the loneliness, the hundreds of miles that remain. But that approach is always a dead-end, and pretty soon I have to quiet my mind so I can hear the quiet knock at the door and let him in. 

God has brought me the same invitation again and again over the years: Taste and see.

Taste and see that I am good. Lean on me, learn to trust me, be quiet and still and discover – again – just how sweet that is.

Truthfully, I am never disappointed. I am never let down when I spend time with Jesus. When I step back from my inbox and shut off the TV and just get quiet and rest. When I write, when I pour out my heart to him, he always always fills me back up. He invites me into newness instead of just staying in my sameness – no matter how comfortable that may feel to me.

Ready or Not

It almost hurts to look back and see just how foolish I can be. Even today, sitting in the airport, waiting for mechanics to service our plane, I was tempted to look at the delay through the lens of how I thought things should have gone.

I should have been in the air by now. What a waste of time.

Waste, or rather the perception of it, is one of my triggers for anxiety and worry. I am so afraid of wasting time, money, relationships, experiences – as though I think they are somehow mine? – that I often white-knuckle-grip the life out of them.

Thankfully, instead of spiraling down into deeper anxiety and worry, I put on my headphones, grabbed an apple from my carry-on, and just chilled out for a minute. I took a deep breath, prayed, and settled in. Much like my experience at the dog park last week, I realized there was really no rush. I had time. Why not enjoy it?

In fact, I needed that time. With seasons of change, there always seems to be a period of waiting that helps us come to terms with the new and let go of the old. Airports are quite literally a transitional space: You’re headed somewhere, but you have to wait, you have to submit to the process before you can go on your way.

That was certainly true for me today. And this – this post – is the result. A reflection, a reminder, an invitation. For me, and for you. Wherever you are, whatever season you’re in, whatever challenges you’re navigating, whatever open doors are before you, I hope you can embrace each moment. Find stillness, find Jesus. Bring the mess. Bring the confusion. Bring all the hopes that you’re afraid to even speak out loud. And accept the invitation to taste and see.

Getting Back to the Foundation

It was far too crowded on the train today. Between the hours of 5 and 6PM, Montgomery station is a mass of people, and today was exceptionally packed. As the N pulled up to the platform, I let the flow of the crowd carry me on to the train. I didn’t really have anywhere to be. I just wanted to get home. So, I thought skinny thoughts and squeezed myself between one very tall man and a shorter woman and her oversized bag.

I couldn’t reach one of the poles to hang onto, but there was no need. We were all so smashed together that no one was moving anyway. We just leaned against each other as the car continued on down the tunnel, jostling us and forcing us to get uncomfortably familiar with each others’ bodies.

An Invitation

When we finally came up for air and exited the tunnel, the dog park came into view. The same one I pass every day on my commute back and forth from downtown San Francisco. But this time, I heard an invitation. Continue reading

Why We Need to Wake Up to Injustice

For years, I’ve avoided the news. I grew up in a home where the news was on multiple times a day. There was the morning report with the all-important weather and traffic segments, the 5 o’clock broadcast which (before the days of DVR and Apple TV) took precedence over anything else you might be watching at the time, and more in-depth shows like 20/20 and 60 Minutes that revealed stories of injustice – the telltale ticking sound in the opening credits was there to tell me that I wouldn’t be watching Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel anytime soon.

As a child, the news was boring to me. As an adult, it simply saddens me. In the years that I’ve been on my own, I’ve been able to choose to not watch the news, to not read the paper, to avoid the grisly images and disheartening stories that seem to permeate this medium.

But I’m coming to realize that my choice to not watch the news and to avoid talking about politics or current events might just be New York Timesa sign that something is wrong. Perhaps, my ability to turn off the news points to an imbalance. I can shut it off because I feel like it doesn’t affect me as much. But what if the person I saw on the news was my sister, or my dad, or someone else that felt really close to me? What if the issues presented in the political arena seemed more critical to my day-to-day life?

It’s not as though I think politics aren’t important or that the news is totally irrelevant. On the contrary, I know it matters. But I’m starting to see that it should matter more to me – that I have an obligation to listen to and engage in these stories. Because these stories? They’re the narratives of people. People with souls. People with brothers and sisters and moms and dads. People created and loved by God. Continue reading

One Thing I Know at 30

The eve of my 30th birthday was relatively quiet. I chopped rainbow carrots and kale in my little San Francisco kitchen. I did not turn on the TV or listen to music. I resisted the urge to fill the space with noise. Instead, I washed the kale and peeled the carrots. I minced garlic and stirred it around with olive oil and cumin and coriander.

I listened to the sound of the knife on the cutting board, and savored the aromas filling the room.

IMG_0658I reflected back on my day – how busy it felt, like I was moving too fast and yet not getting enough done. How I kept having to remind myself to slow down. As my boss would say wisely, “This is PR. Not the ER.”

I carried that purposeful slowness into my evening. Letting my body and mind rest after a day of post-vacation email pile-up. Not avoiding it, but not worrying about it too much either. Sometimes you just have to hug the slog.

Much like excelling in the workplace, cooking from scratch requires patience and a methodical commitment. It requires focus and time. And if you’re going to enjoy the process, it requires slowing down and being present.

This is the greatest truth I’ve discovered in my 20s. Slowness. Savoring. It’s the truth I want to carry into my 30s. The gift I want to give to others. Continue reading

10 Life-Changing Effects of Yoga (Part 2)

This Part 2 in a two-part series on what practicing yoga has taught me. If you missed it, catch Part 1 here.


6. Let go. Being present on the mat requires letting go of anything outside of your mat for that hour. Your posture is not one of control and striving, but rather openness and malleability.

So often, I find myself having a breakthrough during class. My mind relaxes, and I receive an answer to a question I’ve been pondering or a conflict I’ve been working through.

Isn’t this so often how God works? When we let go of our preconceived notions of what He can do – or what we can do with Him – we allow Him to enter the spaces where we feel most weak and strengthen us. He always surprises me with His goodness.

But this first requires opening up to Him. Continue reading

10 Life-Changing Effects of Yoga (Part 1)

Friends, I’m writing a book on what I’ve learned while recovering from perfectionism. If you’d like to join in on the journey, subscribe here for sneak peeks and personal encouragement I only share over email.


Back when I was working for RELEVANT Magazine, I wrote a piece about how yoga had helped me become more comfortable in my own skin. How it had helped me embrace my body’s strength instead of hyper-focusing on the bits I wished I could change – the chicken pox scars, the stretch marks, the knobby knees.

The article resonated with other people who saw themselves in my story. They were on their own journeys toward self-acceptance, and they appreciated that I was offering an honest look into my struggles. But here’s the thing about being vulnerable – especially in a public forum – it opens you up to scrutiny and often to resulting criticism. On this particular piece, a handful of critics posted strongly-worded comments – mostly expressing dismay at my references to yoga.

They claimed that yoga is “the devil’s tool.” That it’s the equivalent of witchcraft.

On the one hand, I can see where these people are coming from. Anything can be destructive if it takes God’s place as the Ultimate Provider, Savior, Comforter, and Redeemer of our lives. Anything can be the “devil’s tool” – even really good things like food and music and marriage and family and, yes, yoga.

But those things can also be really really good – as long as they play a supporting role in our lives. They’re good gifts from a good father, not The Gift (James 1:17).

Continue reading

That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles

There he was. The evidence of this morning’s #kitchenfail. The sesame seed. Just sitting there, between the “x” and the “c” keys, taunting me as I sat down to write.

He’d won out this morning. He’d gotten the best of me. But this afternoon, his presence only made me smile. The last lingering remnant of a cookie recipe gone awry, he reminded me that there was grace for my mistakes. That the whole day didn’t have to go in the garbage just because that seemed to be the destiny of my cookies. That my kitchen failure was an integral part of this sunny Saturday.

I’d woken early. The sun streaming through my windows at 6:30am. My blackout curtains no match for the bright beams.

Rather than reach for my eye mask and attempt to sleep a bit longer, I decided to rise early and get a head start on the day.

Inspired by the food magazine I’d been reading before bed the night before, I somehow got it in my head that tahini honey cookies were the exact right dessert to bring to the dinner party we’d be going to later that evening. That and a Napa Valley Zinfandel.

As I got to work on the cookies, I quickly realized that the coconut flour I had thought would be a fine substitute for almond flour was not working out as well as I’d hoped. The aroma was heavenly. Vanilla and cinnamon. A slightly savory touch from the tahini and sweetness from the honey. And who can say no to the creamy quality of coconut?

Continue reading

Protect Your Margins

I’ve been staring out the window of this coffee shop for more time than I’d like to admit. Watching the train go by every 10 or 15 minutes, looking up to see a dad walk by with his curly-haired daughter in his arms, seeing people pop open their umbrellas as the rain starts coming down harder.

Woman in rain

I had every intention to write today – excited to finally have an afternoon with a few free hours. Between brunch at a new French restaurant in Hayes Valley and cooking dinner for a few of my girlfriends at my apartment in the Inner Sunset, I planned to hole up at my favorite coffee shop in the Haight and open my laptop to type out the words that had been floating in my head all week. To pull together the thoughts that I’ve jotted down in the notes app of my phone, waiting to come to life in a blog post or a new addition to Enough.

But once I actually got the white space I craved – the margins to write and process – I got stuck. I’d gotten so used to the running-around, back-to-back meetings lifestyle that it took me a while to settle down, calm my mind, and allow the words to come out.

The older I get, the more it feels like life is getting pushed up into the margins. Like there’s very little white space left.

Instead, my calendar is a mosaic of meetings and birthday parties and church events with a handful of dates with James and family gatherings thrown in to keep me sane.

But I don’t feel especially sane. I feel a little frenzied.

If my life were a book, the words would be bleeding across each page, no room for my eye to rest or to simply pause for a minute to make sense of what’s happening. If it weren’t for moments of connection with my dear friends and family, I’d lose it for sure.

Although, I have lost something. Something I long to get back. Something I cultivated over the last year – especially during my month-long sabbatical – that I know I need. And that’s the practice of silence and solitude. Continue reading

This Is The Joy

“This is the joy for me. I love bread.”

You may recognize those words as Oprah’s opening lines from a Weight Watchers commercial that’s getting a lot of play these days. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that Oprah is thrilled she can eat bread and still lose weight. While people are poking fun at the commercial a bit (I’ll admit, James and I chuckle every time it comes on Hulu), Oprah’s joy is inspiring.

I’ve been longing for this kind of joy lately. The kind of joy that makes you say: “I love life!”

But it hasn’t been coming.

Instead, I’ve been feeling an overwhelming sense of pointlessness – in my work, my writing, and just life in general. I’m trying hard to make things happen, but I’m left feeling ineffectual and unsatisfied, and that’s been leading me to despair.

Maybe you can relate.

My thoughts often go like this: Nothing I do helps this situation. This project isn’t going anywhere. If I can’t change the outcome, if I can’t make things happen, then why bother trying? Continue reading