There are some things that just shouldn’t be put on a blog.

I haven’t blogged in almost a year because I needed to intentionally process with people, to glean their wisdom learned from mistakes and triumphs. I needed to feel wet tears and let mine be touched, I needed to see furrowed eyebrows and know that mine were being seen. I needed celebratory hugs and crooked smiles all around me. Its been a big year. I love family, both blood and the other kind, more than I ever have before. Not more than I ever will though.

I am convinced that sharing life will gain greater importance as I go on.

I turned 27 this year. We have a birthday tradition where we list our top 3 most memorable events of the year at a meal shared with family and friends. They aren’t necessarily the best events… but ones that will mark the last year of life.

My top 3 of my 27th year:

My Pappaw passed away August 19, 2011.

I got to witness my newest nephew, Graham Kristian, come into this world September 2, 2011.

The third was actually 3 events so I kinda stretched the rules.. the breakup, reconciliation process and then Engagement with Karley Neil (who is  now my husband!!)

My top 3 can be summed up by Loss, Gain and Redemption.

My life was filled with.. life this year. It was beautiful. It may not have always looked beautiful, but entering with the assurance that God is actively redeeming the world and being able to hope in more than mere circumstance gave me the freedom to love, be healed, be still, and know that he is God.

Some of us have to persevere longer in the hoping and waiting. Some of us do not get to see the pieces of redemption we are desiring with our whole hearts. Some of us will have incredible disappointment. My heart aches over those and with those, knowing that I cannot ever fully know their grief. Although it may not seem like it in the midst of sorrow, we have attainable to us something that will never disappoint, something real and tangible that we can always rest on.

We can be reconciled to the one who made us and then become new. The old hurts caused us and that we have caused others can be put away. We no longer have to be defined by the grievances, but by who we were originally intended to be. There is one who took all the crap who didn’t deserve any of it, so that we could live without it and have hope for when our bodies ultimately fail us. I am thankful for being able to hope in something greater than a world that continues to bring pain. Having experienced redemption firsthand, I recognize it is my honor and responsibility to share the message of reconciliation and to actively be a part of the restoration process.

So, this is what I will strive to do.

This is the story of redemption that we put on our wedding blog.

My midwestern man moved to Hume Lake in 2006. He created lots of things and invested himself fully in the people and the programs so that kids will be drawn into the story of the gospel. Meanwhile, I was following a big dream of teaching people to live full lives which lead me to work at Hume in 2008 and found myself just down the street from this talented, goodlooking, people serving manly man.A few trips around the lake, down the hill, games of cribbage and cups of coffee later… and we had to face the facts: we liked each other. alot.
We spent the next many months living and serving and playing and falling in love. We adventured whenever we could and lived life and grew together.
Along the way we learned each other and about ourselves. The Lord refined us and shaped us… which wasn’t always the most pleasant.After a couple years we figured out each other’s shortcomings, that communication is difficult and that vulnerability is terrifying. We finally released each other and Jesus held us both.
In that time the Lord reminded both of us who he made us to be. He grew us and loved us and guided us. And then, he taught us grace, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption.
He gave us each new hearts. He redeemed our lives and made us whole so that we could fully love each other and best reflect HIS love.We are so thankful for the road we have traveled together–for the uphills and the scenic routes, the cruise controls and the stop lights. Our thriving relationship is proof that God redeems and changes people for his purposes. Now we understand his grace and have seen firsthand what he can do. We are SO excited to extend this same grace and love to those around us.
On our own accord and with our best attempt we are nothing… with his hope and grace… we are beautiful.My man moved to Santa Barbara to be near me in Decemember and asked me to be his wife on the 29th. We celebrated with family and best friends for a few days and have hit the ground running with wedding planning and house remodeling!

So stoked out of our minds to begin life together!!

Thanks to each of you for sharing in all of this with us. We hope that you are each encouraged by our story and through our redemption. God is so stinkin good!!

Karley was redeemed. I was redeemed. We were both made new. And we have stories for days. We are also the first to admit that we are continually being made new… It is not a one and done and all perfect now kind of thing.
I am looking forward to viewing the world through a lens of redemption. I aim to share those things more with the people around me and here, in this little blog.
See things redeemed.

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Filed under family, forgiveness, Grace, Thankfulness

sarah tappen.

“I heard a plain sermon from these words, ‘What shall it profit a man tho’ he gain the whole world and lose his own soul.’ I recollected I had often heard sermons from that text, but never the truth as it was enforced. The impression was deep and lasting… From this time, without anyone to assist me, the truths contained in the Bible opened more fully to my mind, and I read and heard with a great astonishment at my past willful ignorance. I was indeed as one new born, and God’s glorious character was visible in all his works to that degree that I thought it wonderful the stones did not upbraid man with his ingratitude, for all else that had breath or life seemed to utter forth his praise…And through many temptations and much weakness, I have been enabled to persevere and to receive light more abundantly. I am waiting in hope for my great change, when I shall be freed from sin, and prayer shall cease to be a delightful privilege, all, all, all shall be turned to praise… but here my heart must have continued sorrow for those who will not believe.”

-a portion of a letter from Sarah Tappen found in The Night Cometh by Rebecca Winter

This woman is my hero. I think this is my first real hero. Dominique Moceanu and Mia Hamm don’t really count. And saying Jesus, although he is in the greatest sense of what a hero is… is kinda a cop-out. and same goes for Paul. But this Sarah chick. Her story… rocked my socks right off.


Filed under on mission, Politically Incorrect

for my mustache loving friend :{

I have a beautiful friend who is living and learning in China for a year.

I miss her.

Kate- these are the artists that have been on my playlists:

The Way Much

Josh Garrels


Mat Kearney

Bethel Live

The Head and the Heart

the song Beautiful Things by Gungor

All Sons & Daughters

Brendan James

Bon Iver

Katie Herzig

The Temper Trap


Ps Katie. I dig your wakeboard.

when you come home to me, we will have this:

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I slowly open my eyes but I am not in a rush to see. I look around without taking much in, waiting for them to capture something to process. I close them again and I savor the light, what I can see without sight. I inhale as a imagine this life without deception, without death. I breath out knowing what I have to face. I look down at my hands, my calloused palms, cracked cuticles and infinite fine lines and nics that haven’t healed. I rub my thumb over my callouses back and forth. I get lost in the song and find myself moving to the rhythm while rubbing my hands, releasing the tension. I look down and pick at the imperfections. As I bring it in for a closer look I narrow in on a nailbed to manicure. I get over it and twist my hair around my pointer finger. I let myself remember what has been done and all that has happened. I tug my hair as if a gentle pull will make it grow. I become aware of the headphones pushing on my ears and aware of my furrowed brow. I reach up and press my finger and my thumb along my brows to make them relax. Am I tugging on my heart to make it grow?

Not by might or power or by the strength of swords… only through your love my Lord, all we’ve lost will be restored. (Josh Garrels)

I feel my heart pick up pace as a I consider the relinquish of control. My lips purse without me thinking about it. I quickly shake it off once I realize.

I have a lot of options. Satan tempts me to despair. But the truth, the Truth that is good doesn’t sting like the other truth I’ve heard. It takes the truths, the realities and covers them in a balm that is like a soothing mint, citrus and sweet. I close my eyes and feel the life being breathed back into me.  I feel the thump in my chest like I have so many times before. It beats the same in fear, in euphoria, in depression and in hope. I cannot understand peace and hope in the midst of turmoil and confusion any more than I can make my heart pump the blood, the life, through my veins. I never did have control anyway, so there is nothing to relinquish.

Its the death to illusions that my heart beats for. The scales are coming off.

Truth. Truth is setting me free.

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Filed under forgiveness, Life Ponderings


Disclaimer: Reading this may cause extreme dizziness and confusion. If you find your way through to the end I hope that your nausea will have settled. Good luck!

Today I opened my journal and just stared at it for awhile. I’ve been pushing it aside and trying to ignore it because I haven’t known where to begin with trying to wring all the thoughts out of my head without it being a sopping mess.

It was pretty cool morning on the beach and I wasn’t wearing a hoodie, so I only got 3 pages in before my arm froze up and made my handwriting nearly illegible. I succumbed to thinking. As much as I want my journal to be coherent, and my blogs for that matter, its this confuzingly awkward life of mine that I have been aiming to straighten for awhile. Today on the beach, surrounded by seagulls, I asked myself, ‘why?’

God has brought me to this place in life where I feel blindfolded… and like I am in one of those times when someone is driving you and you are trying to guess where you are going and make sense of your surroundings without really knowing anything. Its like ohh… we went left and then right and you said this… so we are probably going… And they just laugh because they know its good… but you just want to know, so its kinda irritating. Ya know? Well. I have found freedom and beauty in it.

He has shown me that the love that he has given me for adventures, for people, for reading and writing and discussing, for photography, and all different kinds of food, and for running, and for seeking him. For a long time I have felt spread too thin. I like too many things. I have wanted to be channeled.

Excuse me, Mr. Painter, you put too many colors on this canvas and they don’t complement each other. 

Sometimes I do feel like abstract art. I don’t really like abstract art.

I have been looking and analyzing myself to the death trying to figure out these pieces he has given me so I can go ahead and put the puzzle together already. But now I see. He never gave me any pieces. He never gave me hints. He made me whole. If I am looking for something in the future, its not what he has for me.  What he has for me, I already have. I am complete as I am, because of what he has done in me.

My love of being around a lot of people. and for being alone.

My love for adrenaline and crazy sports. and for laying on the beach.

My love for healthy food. and a fresh donut.

My love for reading challenging books. and for people’s witty fb status updates.

My love for working out. and for taking naps on the couch.

I have a hard time making decisions because I like too many things. I have too many favorites. I am too optimistic.

Focus. Purpose. Intention. Even typing those words make my heart race.

If I focus on one… what about the rest?

In the past 2 weeks I have surfed, paddleboarded, started learning to kite board, sea kayaked and swam in the ocean. I could focus on one and maybe even get kinda good at it. But then I wouldn’t get to experience the others… and they are stinkin fun! This is who I am.

My focus, my purpose, my intention is Jesus. Today. Whether that is through eating donuts with friends or taking photos of insects, he gets the glory as I enjoy him and what he has made. After all, this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. He will shape and lead and guide, most likely without me realizing it, as I pursue him and what he has set right before me.

So, for transparency part of this post…

Because I enjoy so much, I am in danger of getting distracted. I am in danger of living life in a really full way, soaking up all that it has “to offer me,” and then tanking. As I look back through cycles of my life, there have been periods of darkness that overcome me. I haven’t understood them. They have clouded all that has been good and all that I have enjoyed with feelings of pointlessness and despair and drudgery.

When I get in the habit of living life because it is good, I am on unsteady ground. When I allow myself to be distracted from the only real and steady and consistent thing in life, from the only thing that gives life… and instead focus on “life,” all that is sweet and good and what makes me, me, becomes tainted. The good in life stings bitter.

I write this knowing that not many people will read it, but knowing that some will encourages this confession and profession of what he has done. This is part of my testimony of what God is doing in my life. I am convicted that I have been asking: Where am I going?, instead of: Here I am, send me.

I am sure it will be a lifelong wrestle of enjoying life because I think it is good… and knowing that the perspective I should have is to enjoy life because God is good. Because really, life isn’t that good. Sorry. But there is a lot of pain and crappy situations that I would rather avoid. But I pursue this life, these people, this town because this is where I am and because he is good. He is always good.

God has always been so gentle in his teaching and patient with me as I struggle to unlearn all that life and culture and society has taught me. He has much more grace than I have for myself and loves me much more than I love myself as well. Instead of wallowing in my own self-condemnation ranging from not reaching certain standards to deliberate sin that would horrify most people, I will go to him because he immerses me in forgiveness and mercy, makes my heart new and sends me out to love.

Gosh, he is so good.

That freedom cannot be found anywhere else.


Filed under Grace, Life Ponderings, Thankfulness

macro fun

butterfly at roche harborluke and his caterpillarbumblebee buttbee

macro fun, a set on Flickr.

i love this lens.

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as i watched this.. my first thought in my head was unreal… but then i quickly realized just how very real it is. Lord… have mercy. help.

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Filed under Life Ponderings


the gospel, the good news, should permeate everything that we do.

if it does not change

the way we look at people

how we work

what we say

what we dream

what we hope

how we handle trials

how we treat strangers

what we do when we are alone

how our time is spent

if it does not change our life, the daily details of our life, then we are slave to something else.

we are a slave to something smaller, to something that has no power, to something that is full of deception… a slave to ourselves. if i am my greatest hope and what i put my trust into, that will not be good news at all, that is not the gospel.

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Filed under Bible Thoughts

more utmost.

It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires. Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide. You may be more prosperous and successful from the word’s perspective, and will have more leisure time, if you never acknowledge the call of God. But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will. You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.

What do I count in my life as “dear to myself”? If I have not been seized by Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decide to give God and my own ideas of service as “dear to myself.” But Paul said he considered his life dear so that he might fulfill the ministry he had received, and he refused to put his energy on anything else. This verse shows an almost noble annoyance by Paul at being asked to consider himself. He was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against our total surrender to Him. Our reasonable work is based on the following argument which we say to ourselves, ‘Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.’ That attitude chooses our own judgment, instead of Jesus Christ, to be our guide as to where we should go and where we could be used the most. Never consider whether or not you are of use–but always consider that ‘you are not your own’ (1 Corinthians 6:19). You are His.

This one is almost overwhelming. It comes with the piecing question of Jesus–How much do you love me? Enough to give me some? Enough to give me most? Enough to give me all?

Jesus is not here for us, we are here for him. He is not (although he is often treated this way) a nice addition to our lives so that we can be happy and saved. He IS so that we may have new life. Am I still trying to fit him in the life that I had, or am I living the new life I have been given, the life called, the life equipped, the life full, the life to bring his kingdom here. Today.

I must listen. Please… ears to hear.

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Filed under Bible Thoughts, Life Ponderings

luke william

luke william by elle.schakett
luke william a photo by elle.schakett on Flickr.


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Filed under family