Thanksgiving morning I outlined the first things on my thankful list. I thought no one really cared about it just as I did not care for the thanksgiving of others. But I did know God was anxious to hear each blessing mentioned. I knew there were many blessings too. Some were stuffed under rocks and hidden in darkness. But they were present, if only I was willing to seek them out.

Concluding three paragraphs of gratitude in my journal, I wrote a simple phrase: “Thank you for being so close.” And although it was I who penned the words, I felt a scoffing laugh well within my heart. In expressing thanks for his presence, I suppose I was trying to convince myself he had indeed been present with me through the past three months. Contrarily, I had so often felt God was distant.

I thought about the contents of my journal as the day progressed. For a Thanksgiving feast, eight of us gathered around the dinner table. My dad started by saying we needed to each name something for which we were thankful. My family is emotional; therefore, tears accumulated on the dark tabletop as our collective thankful list was made. My grandparents were thankful for this country and the freedom we had because of it and Jesus Christ. A typical reply. My brothers thanked God for their siblings. I guess they couldn’t think of much else. My sister gave gratitude for all the people she had been able to contact through her online school.

Finally it was my turn. I knew what I was going to say; it had been burning in me after writing that morning. It hurt, in a quiet way, to set free. Because this blessing was not wrapped in unblemished white paper; it was scarred by darkness and fear. Most days, I perceived it as a curse rather than a blessing. But that Thanksgiving Day, I had to release the thanks; I knew that I needed to set the gratitude free for all the growth that had occurred in me.

Through tears I whimpered words which my heart struggled to relate. “Thank you. Thank you, God, for my school–the public school I have attended these past three months. It’s not been easy to return there each weekday. But I know you have grown me because of this experience. So thank you,” I choked on those last words. “Thank you for being close to me, for being present. Thank you for walking with me into my high school each day of this school year.

There was a fire in these words. Because declaring them made me a certain kind of brave; the words were produced out of a handful of faith. And this faith allowed me to believe he was present–even when his presence wasn’t evident.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” -Hebrews 11:1, 6



I have stalled because of fear.

Although it should have been an adventure, this ever-ongoing transition into public school has been dark, in all honesty. Depression has trailed behind the stress of this frontier. There have been good days, and I don’t hate life altogether. But it has been difficult, mostly because of my lack of strength and bravery—and my tendency to give into fear; I let it dictate my movements and it keeps me from moving.

But I learned this week that worrying isn’t worth my time.

Because I took a beast of a test on Tuesday. Slinking from Room 258, each of us fifteen students felt as if we had failed it. And unlike past exams, the results were slow in coming. Everyday we returned to that same room with knots in our stomachs.

By Thursday, my lab partner decided he could take it no longer; he up and asked our teacher how he had scored on the multiple choice portion. What he discovered surprised us both. Rumor had it the lowest score was below thirty percent—and the highest was a mere seventy-three.

After receiving that information, I let anxiety get the best of me; it reduced me to a hot mess manifested in tears Thursday night. Fear crawled into my heart. Because I knew I had worked hard. I had studied. I had done what was needed, and tried my best. What if none of this would make a difference in the results? What if my best wasn’t good enough? I was afraid I couldn’t do or be what was required of me. My parents tried to tell me I shouldn’t be concerned over something I didn’t know. Maybe I had a passing score. Even so, I cried.

On Friday morning, we quietly asked if we could view our results for the multiple choice portion, just as my lab partner had done. Our teacher agreed. She passed back the papers, and faces fell. The best comment I heard was, “Well, I didn’t fail.”

After all the stress I experienced, my teacher finally handed my scantron sheet to me. I peered at the paper with a thudding heart. And my jaw fell to the table top below. I had received an eighty-three—the highest score in all of the class.

My parents had been right; giving into fear was not the solution when facing an unknown. Faith was better–faith in believing trying my best was the only thing required.

All I could really think that day–accompanied by extreme relief–was my response to any good thing: “Gloria a Dios.

Glory to God.

Glory to God for continually walking with me. Glory to God for not leaving me in a mess of doubts and giving up on my weak faith. Glory to God for slowly ridding my heart of fears.

Glory to God for making me brave.

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” Psalm 31:24

You’ve Got This


Dear College-Bound Christianna,

Don’t miss the things which matter.

I’m getting right down to the purpose, because time isn’t a thing to waste. Don’t miss the things which matter in life. Don’t miss them. Listen, because I know too well how awful it feels to pursue the worthless things. My high school GPA won’t matter ten years from today. Your college grades won’t affect your future living either. Learn what you must, but don’t waste time on the temporary things.

Discover what it is that does really matter.

Look around you. Are you living with Mom and Dad? Are those two friends from our homeschool days still the close people to you? How about those which I just met this year? Don’t lose those people just because you fail to realize you’ve got them. Hold them close with every opportunity presented to you. Of all the people, you should know how quickly life can morph into something unexpected–something new.

Speaking of the new things, this college deal is huge.

I know it’s got to be full of wonder, excitement and all those things newly-graduated folks experience. But I know you too. I know you can’t inhale those once-in-a-lifetime feelings and let them saturate your lungs. No, you are much too worried for that. Worried and fearful and afraid of all these new things at your feet. New professors. New people. New places. And I bet, with everything on the inside, you could run away right now. You could give up and forget about college just because of the tidal wave it appears to be. But stop for a moment and take a breath; remember me. I faced public school for the first time this year. It was new. New and difficult and horrible and so many other indescribable things. But think of the growth which occurred in me because of the change–the newness of seven hours away from home each day. (Wouldn’t that be nice for you right now?) Remember this wasteland of mine and when you do, make sure you search for all the cracks in the door filled with light. Because those scraps of light are present–even if they aren’t obvious.

And so it is for you. There will be light to fill the dark days if you dig deep enough–if you dig deep into the heart of the Father. Because of the digging and the seeking, you are going to grow in depth and in width and in height until you become the tree God intended in you. And when you reach that point, you aren’t going to stop. So keep your branches–and your smile–raised to the sky. Make sure you chose to keep joy in your heart even if there is no light to warm your leaves.

Girl, just don’t fear.

Please learn this from me–at the very least. You can do so much better than fear. Because joy and love and grace are each waiting for you. Chose them instead.

I don’t know if you’re headed to that university of my dreams. I don’t know what major you choose to pursue or if you ever managed to do something–for better or worse–with that boy I’ve liked for so long. But I do know this: God has a plan and a purpose for each day on the calendar of your life. It really is okay to give him permission to pencil in all the things he wants for each square box.

Don’t be afraid; rather, have faith, and trust he’s got the best of dreams intended for your beautiful life. Chose to be brave. And chose to be full of joy.

You’ve got this.

The Junior You


Dear God,

Although I’ve always possessed big dreams for my life, none of them entailed a bachelor’s degree–and so they didn’t included public school. My dreams were simple. They were plain. And they were within my capabilities. Maybe that’s why you had other things in mind–things that required your strength to overcome.

Maybe that’s why you wrecked my little plans for high school.

Because I had always imagined myself all comfortable and content. I thought I would stretch out beneath my home-hearth, reading books and learning new things–like young and lanky Lincoln in the wilderness of Illinois. I had unconsciously planned and plotted each point along the number line of my youth, and each point was wrapped around homeschooling.

After I began this school year, these dreams I had for me were dangling between my fingers like broken threads. And until this week, I had kept my knuckles curled around them so they couldn’t be taken from me–even though they no longer possessed any potential.

Because I realized something this week: to take a step forward, I’ve got to let you weave the threads. These broken pieces of dreams to which I cling are selfish… So I’ve got to let you work. I’ve got to give up each small part and put it in to your large hand. Then you can expertly weave something beautiful out of these broken threads–out of my broken, self-centered dreams.

Who was I to ever think I could create my life–and produce something good? Who was I? Master of my fate… captain of my soul?

No, God.

It was you.

All along, it was you and this is why I am here now–because you have plans for me. You have hopes and dreams for my life just as I did, but better. Your dreams are selfless and long-lasting. Yours are you; they are wrapped around yourself and you are the center. And when you are the center, all things are good.

So maybe not everything is easy. Maybe not everything is desirable or comfortable. But these days are good.They are good because you created them and they are yours. You spoke them into motion and since it was you, they are going to be full of wonderful things.

In the beginning of time, you also spoke the world into motion. It was good. But then sin contaminated the circumference of it all because we stuck our fingers into the things you created. By playing god, we broke it all–ourselves and everything else inside this world. The threads were left in shreds.

But this is love–and this is life and the gospel and you–that while we were still sinners, and while we were broken, Christ died for us so that you could reshape us. You could weave our brokenness into something good again.

So this is me: one of the broken, clinging to my broken-thread dreams.

And. This. Is. You: mender and redeemer and healer of the broken things in this world.

Because of this week, I have come to understand you take the broken people, the broken dreams, the broken words, and you weave them into new masterpieces.

The shredded threads of my life are in your hands, and you are turning them into gold.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. –Ephesians 2:8-10


This story, of my going to public school, is not about me at all. Rather, it’s about one little girl and a great big God, a God who surrounded the little girl with his people, sustained her with his vast love, and covered the her with his rich grace.

Before the sun came up each weekday, the little girl rose from her pillow already afraid; she lived shaking in her shoes. The great big God saw the anxiety wrapped around that small heart. In the dark of the early morning, the great big God met the little girl. He made her stand on his two feet, and her short arms reached up to his open hands, and they would dance.

In a white-and-yellow kitchen with old wooden floors, the great big God smiled, swaying and spinning real slow while the little girl held tight to him. Though they both enjoyed the quiet space resting between them, the little girl grew tired–even as the great big God remained steady and able. So the great big God lifted the little girl off his two feet and slid his arms underneath her legs; he carried the little girl in his strong arms. And they would dance and dance and dance some more, as she rested in him.

So the great big God became the little girl’s strength. Through the infinite might of the great big God, they never had a reason to quit dancing, and the little girl never, ever gave up.

This was God–this was me. And this was usdancing, dancing, dancing through each day of life. His strength–his people, his love, and his grace–sustained me in these past three months. Without him, I never could have overcome–I never could have made it this far. Some days, I couldn’t see him–he, the strength of my heart. But as I look back, I know he was walking beside me every step of the way. He was close to me from the time I woke up each morning till the time I rested my head, and he sustained me. He was there and he was close and he was real. 

This is my story. And this is my great big God, who showed up for me, day after day after day.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.

Psalm 68:19