Hey, you.


I think I know how you’re feeling.


You’ve been through the ringer this past year. You’re in the thick of a new season of life or you’ve just entered one; maybe it’s finally getting easier but maybe it’s not.


You’ve had your heart broken, maybe more than once.


You’ve learned how to be alone and maybe you’re content with that, but it’s cost you more than you’d like to admit.


You’re not so sure about this new year, either. There’s been a lot of heaviness all over the news, and it creeps into your mind. It whispers doubt into your heart about what’s true. It makes you wonder if people can really be good.


You’ve been betrayed - at the very least, let down - by people you thought were trustworthy. It makes you question your own judgment and it makes you wonder if hope is worth it.


At times, you feel a little invisible, a little swallowed up by this big world. You have all these dreams for your life and for what you want to see the people and the world around you become, but you don’t even know how to take another step. What’s the point? Nothing’s gonna change in the end.


Those tender childhood dreams about saving the world and saving people and making things brighter start to die out, like a star that’s actually been dead for a couple thousand years but is just now flickering out in the black sky above your head.


Were those dreams ever really reflective of reality?


Or were they more like delusions?


You look around at all the things that strive to keep evil at bay and promote good in the world and you wonder if they’re making even a dent in the epidemic of our human condition.


You’re even wondering about things that you never questioned for a second - your faith, your parents, your identity, the purpose of your life, if the way you always drive to the grocery store is actually the most efficient route, whether eggs and milk are really so good for you after all.


You’re confused. You’ve never been particularly directionally gifted but you don’t know which way is up anymore.


It is so overwhelming and somehow underwhelming at the same time to live this life because is anything we do even worth it if in the end we all just end up in the same dirt we came from?


I get it. You’re so tired.


And you know what? It’s okay.


Because it means you’re paying attention.

Humor me for just a moment while I get a little "systems theory" on you.


Childhood can be such a beautiful thing. If we’re lucky, we had parents who cherished and championed us as little humans with our big grizzly bear dreams, those dreams too big for us to even shake a stick at.


If we’re lucky, things were simple and good and we felt safe.


If we’re lucky, we made it out fairly unscathed.


Not only are many of us unlucky by these standards, but things changed for us once we graduated from those tender years.


We slowly began to see more and more of the reality around us and in us, and we wondered if this life thing is all it’s cracked up to be.


We even realized that hindsight is 20/20 and the clarity with which we saw our lives as little ones was maybe 20/30.


Some gunk comes up that we may not even remember being so sticky back then. But something’s a little off with the way we think about the world or interact with people now that makes us realize life has never really been quite as right as we thought it was.


But it all just means we’re paying attention now. And that is so important.


I am learning these days, dear friend, that maybe the world is worse off than I thought, but maybe it’s not.


Maybe I’m just seeing things more clearly.


Maybe we all have struggles and we all have some darkness in us but maybe there’s a whole lot of good, too.

Maybe we all have struggles and we all have some darkness in us but maybe there’s a whole lot of good, too.


I just watched Love, Actually for the first time in awhile and most of that movie is just silly. But I think the part about people hugging each other in airports is just so, so good. I think love is all around, we just have to have eyes for it.


Here are some reminders for you when you start to feel like your eyes might lose some of that lightness or when you are tempted to let that tender, raw heart of yours callous up in all the places where it should be soft and pulsing bright red, thumping hard for the things in life that are good. For when your mind can’t absorb one more story of hate and pain and hopelessness without coming unraveled.

Keep it simple. Simplicity is found wherever Jesus is.


Any other conclusion is a lie of confusion straight from the devil’s mouth.


At the end of the day, if you struggle to lay your head down in peace, ask yourself this question:


Am I trusting that the one who literally created goodness will continue to be good?


Am I trusting that the one who literally created goodness will continue to be good?

Fear is a g-dang liar. Even in the face of harsh reality, we can be confident that the devil’s gonna hang in his own gallows someday. Jesus always wins. Period. The end. The gospel is simply that he came down to save us.


So he will.


Keep your hands open. When we are walking in step and hand-in-hand with the Savior, we are experiencing true freedom as we surrender to wherever he has chosen to lead us.


I choose my words here deliberately: he has chosen where we will go. It is past tense. He has already been there.


But then there is the idea of holding his hand as we walk. We have some choice in where we will go. He does not drag us along. We have to move our own feet. But he will never leave us. Where we go, there he is.


And there he has been.


It is one of the greatest mysteries of new life in Christ - we can never walk where he has not been, and yet we have a million paths lying ahead of us and we may choose any of them freely.


But those who walk closely with Jesus know with confidence unshakeable that he has planted his plans like a rich and bountiful harvest deep in their hearts, and they will never stray too far from his good guidance.


But those who walk closely with Jesus know with confidence unshakeable that he has planted his plans like a rich and bountiful harvest deep in their hearts, and they will never stray too far from his good guidance.

So they freely give themselves daily to whatever he sets in front of them, whether a dirt path to a neighbor’s place down the road or a paved freeway to a brand-new shiny city, because they know he has planted those grizzly bear dreams in their hearts after all.


They receive goodness from him because they believe he wants to give it.


I cannot say this enough: We cannot give what we have not first received. Think about the places in your life where you feel dry or leathered or worn thin. Ask Jesus to meet you there and help you believe that he wants to smooth the healing balm of his peace over those places.


Keep your eyes on others. If we are to truly live at the feet of Jesus, our lives will begin to tangibly look as if they don’t belong to us, as if we are totally and foolishly given over to the desires and needs of others.


This is the miracle of giving - it seriously boomerangs.


Some of the fullest days of my life have started as days where I felt like I had nothing to offer the world. I’ve had those days where I’ve felt so wounded by the hits - malicious or not - of another human that I was hesitant to even walk my booty outside because what if it gets kicked again?


I’ve just had to remember on those tough mornings that that the only thing I’m responsible for is loving whoever’s in front of me. And I was reminded recently that even that responsibility is one that I can lean fully on God’s strength to fulfill.


One person causing turmoil and heartache does not equal all people or even all people who seem similar to that person being untrustworthy.


And I can’t let the devil win by choosing not to love based on how I’ve been hurt.


I can’t let him convince me that it’s me that has to conjure up that kind of radical love, because then the gospel is empty and meaningless to me.


Look at Jesus’ life. He was hurt by the people who were closest to him. Really, really, soul-deep, heart-pulping pain was inflicted.


Over and over again.


But his ministry was not just preaching to great crowds and pretending that his pain didn’t exist.


His most profound moments of ministry were also his most intimate and self-sacrificial: meeting broken and ragged and bone-tired human beings wherever they trod along, no matter how dirty his feet got walking down their paths.


And then he got alone with the Father and got honest about how tired he was.

A friend said something to me a while back that I have wrestled with ever since:


“Jesus said to love people, not to love people so that they came to know him.”


“Jesus said to love people, not to love people so that they came to know him.”

I think she was really onto something, and it comes back full circle to the part about how life should be simple.


Our job is to ask for help to love everyone and his job is to help us do that and to do the saving.


Jesus never met a person in need of healing and said, “Sure, I’ll help you. Are you free on Tuesday at 3:30 for coffee? I’d really like to know where you stand on hot button issues before I decide whether you’re worthy of what you say you need.”


No.


He already knew them.


He knew that God had been loving them since the first atom of anything came into existence. He didn’t worry about them understanding him or knowing a bunch of Bible verses or being able to sing the song about the books of the Bible in order (although I am always very impressed when people know that whole song).


He didn’t ask where they stood on the political spectrum or whether they had done a good deed lately. He simply got down on his knees, looked into their eyes, and gave freely.


He trusted that the Father’s work through him would be enough evidence for them to believe in who he was.


Side note: I am not saying that we never need to verbalize the gospel. We aren’t Jesus, so we need to talk about who he is so that people can decide whether to believe in him.


Simply, I think the best way to pave the way for Jesus to do his thing is to be a living, breathing, walking, feeding, giving reflection of who he is.


This is how we give hope to the world.


And in turn, we receive that hope back tenfold.


So, listen. I know that the days are hard and the sun goes down too early in the winter and the news is just too much.


I know being a person today is just hard.


I know you feel lonely and overwhelmed and you’re not sure who to turn to.


But I know something else.


Jesus is so good and his heart for you beats so strong.


Plop down for a little while on a couch somewhere where you can bump shoulders and elbows with him.


Let him rub the knots out of your tired back and let him crumble the walls you’ve built around your tired heart.


Remember who you are but even more so, remember who he is.


Remember that he came down to this tired, crooked planet and made himself small, allowed himself to grow taller, and gave himself over to a ferociously cruel death and ultimate abandonment by his own Father so that we could spend eternity calling him our sweetest friend.


Remember that he came down to this tired, crooked planet and made himself small, allowed himself to grow taller, and gave himself over to a ferociously cruel death and ultimate abandonment by his own Father so that we could spend eternity calling him our sweetest friend.

Lean into him because he’s got stuff to say to you.


And I am so glad you are paying attention now, because that means when your sweetest friend says stuff to you and calls you to someplace or someone, you’re not gonna miss it.


You’re gonna be right there next to him when he brings those grizzly bear dreams to life and opens you right up to change something about this wild world.


With all his love and a big ol' squeeze,


wheels

I wrap up these words on day 364 of living in San Diego, California.

My 20-year-old self would laugh out loud at the sheer ridiculousness. If only she knew.

I want to share with you just a few things that my faithful One has whispered to me this past year. In the midst of what felt like the desert, He was a River of living water. Jesus said -

“You received without paying; give without pay."

All that we have is His first - money, time, experience, relationship, whatever water he pours out - each page of our story belongs to Him, just as the author's work is always her own first, no matter how many pages fall into the hands of others.

These are literally words I've written down in my journals, belted out in the car, cried out in the middle of the night. 

Throughout this post, I have linked to some of those Words of life and some of those songs that have kept me going. Maybe you need them today, maybe you will tomorrow.

I hope that this chapter of my story will remind you that He is still writing yours. His still small voice is still speaking.

"Where is the peace?"

This is the big kahuna.

If I'm being honest, I'm a little nervous about what you might think. But forward I go.

If you know me, you know that I am a self-proclaimed “worrier”. That is an identity I have carried around proudly since I first learned how to overthink. I have always just seen it as a personality trait. But graciously, gradually, and gently, the Lord has taught me about this and helped me to bring it into the light - I am not a “worrier”. I am not just an “anxious person,” not just Type A.

I have had to confess something, to Him and to myself. It has taken a long time to be able to verbalize it, time that has cost me much energy and joy. But I am confessing loudly now.

​I have anxiety.

I have worn it around every day like it was something made just for me, like I was doing the right thing by worrying.

It makes me responsible. It makes me the good kid.

It makes perfection seem achievable.

And then sometimes, it doesn't make any sense.

I’ve had friends tell me to relax before I even realized my shoulders were up to my ears because something was gnawing at my insides.

There have been Tuesdays and Sundays and 7ams and 4pms where a nameless, heavy sense of urgency settles over me and it takes me three days to understand why, if I ever do.

You don’t need an unchecked to-do list to feel anxious.

Sometimes all it takes is…

...nothing.

Anxiety at its root is fear, and fear is sinister as all get out.

I know that sinister “nothing” by the name of Satan.

Our culture today literally mocks anxiety and depression. I see dozens of "memes" and funny Instagram posts every day that have pictures of probably one of the Kardashians throwing a hissy fit and compare them to having a mental breakdown.

I laugh at them. It's all in good fun.

But there is a level of honesty in every joke.

Mental illness is being called a public health crisis by some. 

There is a pervasive sense of emptiness among humanity that is overwhelming and depressive. Read about what's really going on and you'll feel it.

And the only person who can take on that emptiness is Jesus. But we have to learn how to admit our problem to Him first.

Even now, as I reflect to write this post, I see light being shed on past moments of intense anxiety and heaviness and dark voices that seemed to come out of nowhere. A few of them were really important moments. ​Sitting across a table from a friend with a latte hearing her story for the first time.

“You’re alone here.”

Preparing a Bible study for a group of loving brothers and sisters.

“No one wants to listen to what you have to say.”

Finally getting to ride shotgun next to someone who had become very important to me.

“He’s going to reject you.”

Sometimes there is no specific voice, no spoken lie. It just feels like everything is pressing on me all at once: future, past, present, every person I've ever known, everything I've ever done and everything I've failed to do.

And I have to carry it all at once.

Looking back to these moments, I see clearly that I gave into that anxiety. I looked for peace in changing or fixing my circumstances. I was constantly asking myself, "where is the peace?" And then one day a friend told me that I should ask God that question instead.

Jesus said - 

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”

The best peace there is to be found is only with Him. He will be our peace.

It has been a long road of healing and there is still quite the highway stretched out in front of me, but through His grace I have finally learned, as soon as that urgency pops up, to say His name and ask Him to remind me what my place is in this great big world - in His opinion. 

I've learned to get outside under the open sky and run alongside the Pacific until all I can hear is the crash of the waves and His tender voice.

That sound silences those thoughts, whisks them away and whispers in my ear - 

“You are loved.” 

Funny how that’s completely enough when we allow it the space to be.

"You are not alone; I promise you're not alone."

There were valleys in the beginning of this chapter where I was thoroughly convinced that I was facing everything alone and that I was alone in facing it.

I was convinced that I would be without support and guidance, without people to just do life and have fun with, and without people to reap wisdom from. 

I can genuinely look back on that and laugh now, because I have all that and then some.

Sometimes, though, I don’t remember that I have all that and fear takes over again and I isolate. 

It’s destructive and it hurts the people around me and it hurts me. 

But Jesus is the sweetest and He reminds me that He’s chipping away at my walls and He uses people to do it and yes, it hurts sometimes but it’s going to be worth it once I see all that blessing on the other side, darn it.

So if you've been in my life in any capacity this year, you are the Lord's tangible provision.

I am satisfied in You.

Honestly folks, this may seem like an oversimplification if you don’t take your coat off and stay awhile. Because life with Jesus is NOT a walk in the park. Let me just tell you. (Seriously, I can give you a play-by-play of this past year if you want proof of that.) 

But in spite of it all, never have I been so convinced of the fact that He is completely enough. 

I have been in some of the lowest places this past year - emotionally, relationally, mentally, circumstantially, financially.

Seriously, there have been days where I have cried out and I have yelled and screamed and doubted out loud and in my head and over and over again in circles and I have questioned if God even exists.

I have been so angry or worked up that the only thing that calms me down is running till I can't run anymore.

Y’all. I have never really been there until this year. 

But Jesus has NEVER changed. 

Even when I have failed Him, He has provided in abundance. 

He has gone out of His way to prove Himself to me when I honestly should know better by now. 

He never wags a finger.  Never shrugs my feelings away. Never invalidates my anxiety, even as He takes it on Himself. 

He never gets tired of hearing about the same heartache over and over again.

He is not disappointed in me when I have a really hard day and it takes everything in me not to melt down at the sight of my own inadequacies and that day’s fears and doubts.

He has chased me down on those runs, the mornings and afternoons and evenings when I'm not running towards Him but as far away from Him as my feet will take me

He is so much more gracious than I can put into words. I imagine I have failed to even recognize countless signs of His grace every day.

That’s the thing about Him - He is not a God of “scraping by.” Sometimes by the world’s standards we are digging for scraps at the bottom of the barrel, but our Father has promised to give us even more than we could ever dream up ourselves.

And how could He possibly give us even more than He already has in Jesus? But He still does. 

He gives more grace.

But to get grace, you've got to make room. You've got to let go of your own weakness.

Admitting to weakness can feel like peeling off the armor you've had on for years.

It leaves you completely exposed.

My simple encouragement is this:

He is worthy of your trust.

He has really been chasing you down, waiting for you to admit your need for Him so that He can give you exactly what you need...and more. 

Take heart. 

His love will lead you through the night.

The season will change.

​He has given you all that you need.

Just ask Him to lift your chin and confess your weakness when you don’t have the strength. 

Don't be so buried in the noise of life, no matter what it looks like for you, that you miss out on His still small voice in the next 364 days. 

Get before Him every day and ask Him to speak. 

Get mad if you need to. Get gritty and get honest. He wants to hear it. He can take it. 

Run off the heaviness of whatever weight you're carrying. Run till your feet ache and your knees give out. Do whatever it takes so that you can sit quietly before Him and receive. He is a good Giver. 

After all, He gave you these last 364 days too, and He's giving you and me this moment right now - a moment that He is in.

I think that's all we need.

With His grace unmeasured,

Wheeler

Romans 8:28 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

How do you put these words up against death? Pain? Darkness? Injustice? Grief?

How can it still stand when precious life is cut short? I know it stands. Somehow, it always does.

I know it as truth, and death can’t even hold a match to I AM’s truth, to His fail-proof, fool-proof promises to us.

But today, though my mind knows, my heart doubts.

It's unsure. Of everything, really.

All I know to do is declare over my own heart and the hearts of those grieving that He is sovereign and that he holds us close, even with our arms out and stiff against His chest.

Grief. What a word. 

​It steals your breath. Steals the rhythm of your beating heart.

It is a vast sadness that makes everything seem dimmer, darker somehow.

And it can make you spitting mad, too. Steeped in anger that burns more bright and hot than you know how to express. Thrown off-balance because how can sadness and anger coexist so completely?

This is where I land today.

The injustice and unfairness and evil that seems to saturate this world - this life, this era, some peoples' minds - leaves me stunned and confused and reeling and reaching out for something to grab onto.

Where’s the steady ground to stand on? Where's the arm rail that keeps us from tumbling?

I know it’s Him. Know it as a fact. But today I am still not sure.

Not sure how to hold all the truth and reality in two weak and trembling hands. So I’ll simply let it all fall out of mine and into His.

And I think He’s okay with that, because somedays all we have to give Him is what we’re not strong enough to carry ourselves.

Why on God's green earth do we say good grief? What kind of grief could possibly be good?

I'm thinking about this today, chewing slowly.

I think that maybe it's the kind of grief that reels freely and weeps for our lost beloveds as Jesus did for Lazarus but knows there is finality and justice and completion and perfection and righteousness within God's sight, within His reach, even if it's not within our own.

Today, I am reeling freely. All I know to do is try to get it all written down.

If you know me, you know my time at Homestead Ministries this past spring was filled to the brim with beautiful, strong women: warriors, to say the least.

We’ve lost one, and it’s unbearable.

Our sweet Ashley - you had so much goodness ahead of you still. You walked through such a deep darkness and somehow came out radiating such light as I have rarely seen. The kind that everyone wants to bask in.

I know it’s all because your love for our Jesus was a flame that burned brightly deep within you and leaked light out of your whole being. He carried you through the darkest years and you gave back to Him all the rest the best way you knew how: loving the people He gave you.

And oh, how He used that love. You had an unmistakeable impact that began echoing into Eternity far before you made it there. Your willingness to share your story, to tell of how He rescued you out of the depths of darkness and despair...it had a ripple effect that leaves us speechless in gratitude, in wonder. 

I remember the first time I met you at the Homestead - you were the first to come out and greet me with all your sweetness - and we found out we graduated high school together. I knew by your bright eyes and eagerness to connect with me that we would be fast friends. I instantly wished we had been that way sooner, for those years we walked the same halls.

We are less whole without you. We feel darkness and we sit in it and we wonder how we will smile or laugh or carry on.

Jeremiah 8:18 - My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.

We are reeling mad. Hungry for justice where there is none yet. Spitting-blood-angry at whoever would have the gall to steal your precious life from you, from the two of you. Sick-and-dizzy furious. The kind that burns behind our eyes.

Job 19:7 - Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.

And yet, there is a glimmer of light somewhere in the distance. We can't tell how far out, it might even be farther for some of us than others. It's a light nonetheless, a spark that burns away all the dross and all the despair and makes all this grief somehow good.

It's there. Oh, it's there.

It's there because we know your heart was always ready to meet Him. Though you faithfully walked out His call on your life, you looked forward to Paradise with the pure innocence of a child. I know this with confidence unshakable because it was evident in every breath you took, every smile and laugh you shared with the people you loved.

John 4:14 - but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

It's there because you’re with Him right now; He’s holding you and your precious child you were so overjoyed to one day meet. Now He’s overjoyed to welcome you both into Eternity with him.

It's there because the Lord has capital-p Promised justice to his beloved. He has Promised not to forget.

Job 37:23 - The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.

I know it. It's there, the light. Maybe we have to squint for a few weeks, months even. Maybe we can only see it when we focus all our sight on that spark in the distance.

But it's there.

It's there, and I know it because I reaped so much encouragement, so much Holy knowledge, so much hope-saturated perspective from the posture you took as you walked your path, my girl. I am so grateful that my time at the Homestead was marked so clearly by your friendship, support, and love.

We love you forever, sweet Ash. The world is much less bright without you in it, but we carry on towards that light. One day we'll be close enough for it to fill our whole lives again, and then the grief will have burned away and only good will remain.

2 Corinthians 2:6-10 - Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything."

Soon and very soon My King is coming Robed in righteousness and crowned with love When I see Him I shall be made like Him Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon I’ll be going To the place He has prepared for me There my sin erased My shame forgotten Soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I’ll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon See the procession The angels and the elders 'round the throne At His feet I’ll lay my crowns My worship Soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I’ll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon

Though I have not seen Him My heart knows Him well Jesus Christ the Lamb The Lord of heaven

I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I’ll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon Soon and very soon

Soon - Hillsong UNITED

  • Instagram - Grey Circle
  • Spotify - Grey Circle
Let's get social.
YOU'VE GOT mail.
chat.