into glorious light.

That's Pretty Ace

Hi. It's been far too long, little blog. Today is my birthday, and my birthday gift to myself is to write to you. I'm not entirely sure where to begin, so this might be a little rambling. Forgive me. I'd like to tell you a story... 

Almost four years ago, in February of 2012, I got a phone call from my mom that changed our lives forever. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mom, my grandmother, had been taken from us under the same disease years before. It was caught early, but we were so afraid. I was a senior in college. Chris and I had been together for over two years, and we were on the threshold of deciding when to get married. He had decided just a few months before to go to law school, and he had applied at schools all over the nation. He held my hands and told me to look for jobs close to home in Arlington and not to worry about being with him. 

He applied for SMU in Dallas on the last day he could apply. He got in.

I got a dream job in Dallas. We both moved to Dallas that fall as an engaged couple, close enough to home that I could be with my mom at a moment's notice. 

The following summer, we held hands and said our vows—and my mom sat in the front row, cancer free. Hallelujah is a bit of an understatement :)

I begin with this story to remind myself that God's timing is perfect. It may be impossible to understand, especially in our darkest moments, but when He graciously pulls the scales off our eyes to look at what He's done, we can't help but say His timing was better than we could've dreamed. Let's continue...

Chris ended up attending a school he had never really considered attending before. He feared he wouldn't fit in or wouldn't find friends. His first week of school, he sat in a row of young men who had recently graduated from A&M and found common ground in the desires of their hearts. What a blessing! Chris worked hard in his classes, and prayed for the best. He continued to tell me after every final he took that he failed it. This was never the case—in fact, I remember one moment when a professor personally emailed Chris to let him know he had gotten the highest grade on an exam ever recorded for that test. Praise be to God. 

Three years after that fateful move to Dallas, Chris stood at a podium in the SMU Law Quad and gave the valedictorian speech. It had been a windy day, threatening rain at any moment. As he placed his hands upon the podium to begin, the sun shone through for just a moment. I remember closing my eyes and breathing in deep. God had carried us here, cradled in His hands. The salutatorian had a .01 grade point difference from Chris. And yet Chris would be the one who was able to say he was top of his class, and it made a world of difference in who was interested in hiring him. That day, I asked Chris if he wanted to be a judge—a dream that had been growing in Chris that he had never truly vocalized. That day he admitted that he would. He shared with me how he would love to prayerfully put pen to paper in a way that would glorify God in our nation. I told him I would support any wise decision that would help him to do that. 

Chris applied to work for a judge on the Supreme Court of Texas, researching, writing, and collaborating with him. It was a year-long position in Austin. Chris had told me it would be a long shot if he got it. He did. We began to make plans to move to Austin in the fall of 2015. 

This past summer, Chris got an email from SMU's career services team saying there was a judge on the 5th circuit looking specifically for an SMU student to hire. It was a year-long position in Jackson, Mississippi. The 5th circuit is a set of courts that are responsible for several southern states, Texas included. These typically only go to Ivy League students. Chris was shocked this judge wanted someone from SMU—the judge said he had interviewed someone from there and was incredibly impressed. Chris reached out to one of his close friends, his classmate (and often, competition), Bryan, to ask him what he thought. Bryan turned white as a sheet and told Chris he had applied for that judge not long before. But before he heard back about a job offer, Bryan had accepted a position with a judge in Dallas. A judge that Chris had worked for a summer before, who had called Chris and asked him for recommendations of who she could hire from SMU. He had told her Bryan's name. She offered Bryan the job on the spot at his interview. 

So Chris applied to the position in Jackson. It was too much of a coincidence to pass up. Chris and I agreed that if he got it, we knew that was where we were supposed to go. If he didn't get it, he had a job offer waiting at a law firm in Fort Worth. In one hand, we saw another year of restlessness and incredible opportunity. In the other, we saw a chance to settle down and start a family.

We got the job in Jackson. We move again next fall, in 2016. 

When Chris began to tell his friends and mentors that he had gotten the offer to work for the 5th circuit, they immediately asked him if he would apply to work for a Supreme Court judge for the year after Jackson. Having worked for the Supreme Court of Texas and for the 5th circuit would be a huge boost to his resume. Working for a Supreme Court judge in D.C. is the opportunity of a lifetime. It would put Chris's name before the people who would be able to later recommend him for a federal judge position later in his career. We agreed that he should apply.

In the past few weeks here in Austin, Chris has managed to meet up with several people who have connections to Chris and to the Supreme Court. They've been more than encouraging. It's been a beautiful thing watching this unfold... and yet, so terrifying. 

As Chris's career opportunities have unfolded, I began to harbor a deep desire in my heart to have a baby. It began last fall, and I assumed it was out of sympathy for our friends who are expecting; that it was a feeling that would pass. It didn't. When March came, I confessed to Chris what I had been feeling. I told him that I wasn't intending to put pressure on him or on us, but that it had affected me in a way that wasn't too pleasant and asked him to pray for me.

We entered our year of so much change by praying together over the decision to have a baby... and we both felt convinced that Austin was not the place to start trying. When we found out about Mississippi, I felt my heart begin to break. I questioned how long God would ask us to wait. When we realized we should apply to D.C., my heart shattered. I looked ahead at uncertain waters, pushed off of the safety of the shore without paddles, praying God would guide me. I felt Him calling me to put my desire for our baby in a bottle—and to put that bottle in the ocean and let it drift. 

"Trust me to bring this back to you. I know you don't see how that's possible. I know you want to hold onto it, to have it in your control. But this is my doing. I am the Creator. Trust me to bring this back to you at the perfect time." 

I wring my hands and wait. I question where we're going. The past year has been a battle between my head that knows God is good and my heart that isn't quite convinced. Once we moved to Austin, I started working from home, began seminary school, Chris began working, we began to adjust to a new city, and we totaled a car and got a new (to us) one. Depression entered my world quickly, sucking up any light in it's path and plunging me into darkness. 

Depression is an old friend of mine. Growing up, I battled it on and off for years. My sophomore year of college, I hit bottom and began going to counseling. I got better. I changed. Chris and I started dating. And I naively thought I would never walk through depression ever again—that now, I had been cured. 

This time, it came hard and fast. I began to humbly expose my ugliness to Chris, confessing to him my heart's lies. Dragging the lies out of the dark into the light was terrifying but freeing. They began to lose their power, little by little. I called upon my dearest friends and asked them to pray for me, because I couldn't bring my ugliness before the Lord on my own. I started seeing a counselor again. We are working on tangling out the lies to find what is true, especially what is true about my God, who loves me more than I can possibly comprehend. 

I hid from this space online, on the blog. I didn't want you to be afraid. I didn't want you to worry about me, to cause an undue burden on you. I didn't want to expose the fears of my heart in a world that has so much hurt in it, much weightier and more important than my own. But then I look to Jesus. Did he see any person's hurt as an inconvenience? Did he find the most important person in city and work only on them? Did he decide one political "big issue" to tackle during his time on Earth? No. He looked at the heart. He went to people's homes. He healed individual people. He never saw them as an interruption or inconvenience. He came to save our sinful, broken hearts. 

So here's mine. It's not perfect. It's pretty beat up, shattered and in recovery from it's wounds, with an anxious heartbeat. And yet, God sees so much glory in it. He knows the desires of my heart. He asks me to give those to Him, and let Him fill that space with more of Him, with more of the things He loves to love. 

If any of this reminds you of yourself, please know that today I am praying for you. One of the sweetest things for our human ears to hear is "me too." I am fighting beside you. Satan loves to take the things we love and twist them to cause us pain and shame, shame that drives us to hide from God. Please don't hide. Let's stand side-by-side, and prayerfully drag the darkest of lies out into the glorious light of God's love, where they cannot survive.

I would love to hear from you—you can comment here, or find me on social media and send me a private message. I would love to know what I can be praying specifically for you. We have a good, good Father, who claims us as His, and frees us from our slavery under fear. There is no greater joy than this. As always... let's share joy together. Love you.

Have a lovely weekend.

that's pretty ace

One week down. I'm working to get my feet under me as I start seminary, and posts might be a little scarce around here for a week or two. I'll be back! Itching to get writing to you guys again.

In the meantime, here are some links for you:

Psst... the September newsletter goes out tomorrow and it has a special treat in it for you! Not signed up? Just fill out the form in the sidebar. You'll get the newsletter in your inbox at 1:00 tomorrow!

9 Benefits of Praying in Community

9 Benefits of Praying in Community

A few months back, I read a really wonderful article on John Piper's website about the profits of praying with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of his points were ones I've found to be incredibly true in my own life – since starting the dinner club, a few of us have become accountability partners and we meet weekly to pray for one another and be invested in each others' lives. The prayer I've seen move in that group is so different than the prayer I've experienced on my own. The bond we're forming in that is continuing to keep our friendships centered on Christ and not ourselves. And when I'm going through seasons where I'm finding it hard to pray on my own (like now), it's often their prayers on my behalf that bring the communication with God that I need when I can't do it on my own. 

To be honest, prayer is one of the hardest aspects of our walk as a Christian. It's safe to say the majority of us will always feel that our prayer life is "lacking." But isn't it true that the greatest things in life are never easy? When I think of praying on my own versus praying with a group, I'm personally more inclined to pick praying alone. There's too many extra anxieties associated to praying with others, plus, if I commit to praying on my own I don't have to worry about "getting it right" – or even doing it at all. I have no one really keeping me accountable (unless I'm forcing myself to write out my prayers as documentation). But all of the reasons I'm hesitant to pray in a group are so obviously fears that are keeping me from the Lord. So, let's be brave. 

I thought Piper's article was a little theology heavy, so I took his points and made them a little more accessible and added my own experiences to them as well...

1. There's power in numbers.

Matthew 18:19-20 states, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Though there's much mystery in this text (We'll get what we ask for? Does that mean what it literally means?), the overall message is that when we gather and agree, it is pleasing to God. When we gather in His name, seeking Him and doing our best to cast aside our selfish motives, He promises that He is there with us in that. His power is affirmed when we gather together in His name.

2. Multiplied joy.

What if I prayed on my own toward some end – maybe for finding a place to live in Austin. I could research on my own, pray about it, go out and actively look, be discouraged, pray about it, have something work out, then pray praise about it. This is good. But how quickly do I forget? What if instead, I presented my need to my friends and we prayed together that I would find a place. I would instantly feel supported. I would research, update them, and know they're praying for me when we're not together. I would go look – tell them I'm discouraged. We could hop on a call and pray together. I find a place – I let them know we're successful! They would be so excited, and we could pray praise together over this. 

Then, when I'm fretting about the next "big worry" of my life three months later, how sweet would it be for me to be able to turn to these friends and have them remind me of all the ways God has provided before? And especially in truly difficult situations where we're not sure what will happen... and we all see how the Lord provides. It strengthens not just my own faith, but theirs as well. It's not just that I have joy in Christ, but they do as well. 

3. Greater glory.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. When we give thanks to God, we honor Him – and this creates deep gratitude. 2 Corinthians 1:11 says, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Praying together not only adds power to the request, but also gets others involved – bringing more glory to the Giver when he answers.

4. Fruitful ministry and mission.

In his letters, Paul called upon so many churches to pray for him – he could've easily done this himself, and I'm sure he did. But he knew asking others to pray for him would increase the fruit created in his ministry. And don't think of ministry as just "ministry!" What that simply means is how we live our lives to create disciples – and that can happen in anything we do. Prayer increases the opportunity not just for this to happen, but for us to clearly see it happen in our lives.

5. Unity among believers.

Praying together is one of the most powerful things we can do to cultivate unity with and among our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a unity given to us as Christians when we come together centered on Him and not on ourselves (see point 1) and that unity is strengthened as we "do life" together. Acts 1:14 says it was "with one accord" that the first Christians "were devoting themselves to prayer." They did it together and supported each other in being devoted to their prayer lives. We are given "the unity of the Spirit" as a body of believers, and yet we are "eager to maintain" it (Ephesians 4:3). So, praying together effects both the unity we share in Christ among ourselves, and effects that unity to become deeper and richer. It is both a sign that unity already exists among us as brothers and sisters (God has given us that gift, thank goodness!), and is also a catalyst for more of it. 

6. Answers we might not get otherwise.

James 5:14–16 (and many other passages of Scripture) implies that there are some answers to prayer we just wouldn't get without involving others in our prayer:

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

God means for some answers to prayer to wait for others to join with us in the plea. Whoa. Like I noted in the intro to this post, we often pray alone for our personal needs – and God is pleased to answer. But sometimes, His means include others, such as the leaders of the church, our community or small group brothers and sisters, or just the humble prayer of a fellow sinner made righteous in Christ.

7. To learn and grow in our prayers.

The best way to learn to pray is to pray with others... especially those who have had their prayers shaped by Scripture. Listen for people in your life who's prayers draw you personally into more communion with Christ. Listen to how they approach God, the types of things they thank him for and/or ask him for, and how they keep others petitions and praises in mind when you're praying together. And even beyond the things we can study and be conscious of in someone else's prayers, know that we’re being shaped in profound ways for good when we join our hearts with others in prayer.

8. To know each other.

One of the best ways to get to know a fellow believer is to pray together. It's in prayer – in the conscious presence of God – that we’re most likely to let our walls down. We hear others’ hearts in prayer in a way we can't anywhere else.

When we pray together, not only do we reveal what most captures our hearts and what we truly value, but as we pray together, says Jack Miller in Tim Keller's book on prayer, “You can tell if a person is really on speaking terms with God”.

9. To know Jesus more.


This is by far the greatest benefit. When we pray together, in Jesus's name, we grow to know Jesus better. With our personal limited vision, perspective, and experience, there are aspects of Christ we’ll see with more clarity when we're with others. Our own experiences and personalities emphasize some features of His glory and make us blind to others. And so Tim Keller observes, “By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived”.

The point of prayer is not getting things from God – but getting God. This benefit alone outweighs the rest and will be a motivator that consistently provides.

Do you have people in your life that you pray with? What does praying with people look like in your life?

Have a sweet weekend.

that's pretty ace

It's our first weekend in Austin! We're looking forward to exploring more of our new city... and prepping for my first day of school on Monday. I can't believe it's actually here! What are y'all up to this weekend?

+ here are some links for you: 


My favorite puppy products

Our sweet friends are getting a puppy soon (hooray!) and they asked me what our favorite things are that we've gotten for Penny. I sent them a list of a few things, and remembered how much we've bought in the seven months we've had Penny that ended up never getting used. Having a beagle-schnauzer (hound/terrier) mix can be tricky! These may not all apply to your pup, but they've been tried-and-true in our household... their our go-to's! 

Our favorite puppy products - that's pretty ace

1. For collars, we got ours from Up Country – they have durable collars which also happen to be insanely cute. It's hard for me not to buy two more... or ten.

2. As far as treats go, Penny loves her Kong. I know she's not the only pup out there who does! You don't have to use the Kong treats for stuffing – Penny's favorite is peanut butter, but this site is one of many that details several concoctions to stuff your pup's Kong with. It's a "special occasion" treat in our house because it's so indulgent. We toss it in the dishwasher to clean it.

3. We've found the best deals for pet meds on Amazon. Having Prime gets us free two-day shipping, which is great when your pup needs more of something quick!

4. When we visited Austin this summer, we took advantage of DogVacay to get a sitter. We loved the service and I was especially impressed with their app. We heart Stacey!

5. For whatever reason, so many dogs I know are obsessed with this loofa toy. Penny isn't that into toys, but this is one she will happily fetch and munch on. I think it's something about the stuffing.

6. We've had great success with Earthbath's all natural shampoo on Penny's skin. She doesn't shed, so dirt and grime builds up easily and irritates her skin. She's also had a run-in with fleas and this (plus proper medicine) has really helped her out.

7. Lastly, we purchased the Kurgo Quantum leash specifically for running, but it has so many impressive features. It can be used six ways, including to walk multiple dogs.

I haven't been asked to (or paid to) talk about any of these items – they're all things that we love and use regularly in our home and I pray they're useful to you and your pup as well :)