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For the light + sweet gang.

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I’ve been trying to drink my coffee black for an eternity now. It’s been a New Years goal for the last few years but I’ve never been able to kick the habit cold. I love the “idea” of drinking my coffee black. I recently read this article and really wanted to become a black coffee drinker. I especially love this paragraph of the text:

Black coffee is a synecdoche for life: when you eliminate the excess—when you deliberately avoid life’s empty calories—what remains is exponentially more delicious, more enjoyable, more worthwhile. It might be a bitter shock at first; but, much like coffee, a meaningful life is an acquired taste. Sip slowly and enjoy.

Coffee used to be something I enjoyed daily. Lately I’ve been skipping the caffeine because I don’t want to load up on the cream and sugar it takes for me to think the coffee is good. I’m trying to kick dairy completely and so I scoped out the internet for healthy alternatives that I could make from home. So how do I still enjoy a morning sip without feeling like the dairy and sugar is zapping my energy?

Spending 4-5 dollars at a coffee shop a day (sometimes even twice!) adds up in my budget. I’m not kicking out the prospect of a good almond milk latte but I enjoy the task of brewing from home. So I’ve discovered an alternative and it’s basically everything to me. It’s the perfect find for anyone who isn’t quite at the “drinking my coffee black” stage of their life but wants to knock out some of their light and sweet raw sugar cravings.

This is my own recipe altered from some recipes I found online to fit my taste buds:

  • 1 cup of Almond Milk
  • 1 banana or 1/2 cup of frozen berries
  • 1 packet of Vista Instant Coffee (I go with the Pike Place for a medium roast)
  • 1 scoop of peanut butter
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder (unsweetened) for extra flavor
  • Add ice if you want more of a frozen coffee drink feel!

You simply throw all the goods in a hand blender and enjoy the mix. I’ve been pouring my mixes into a mason jar, adding a straw, and taking the coffee blend into the office with me. I’m excited about this little drank because I don’t feel the need to chug it down like I do with smoothies. This is a slow sipper that has been lasting me about an hour every morning I’ve made it for myself.

This is the perfect little addition to a summer routine of waking up early, cracking open the journal, and getting in that quiet time.

Looking forward to sharing more of my healthy finds with you!

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falling in love, Uncategorized

Hungry love.

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1.

I’ve been writing a lot about anxiety recently for my book chapters. Without knowing it, anxiety is a bigger character in the story I am telling than I anticipated to be. 

I am writing this story with Lane’s permission. There aren’t many parts of Lane and my’s growing relationship that I’ve shared on the internet. I’ve been a blogger for 5 years now and so I have learned how important it is to separate your life from what is happening on the screen and what is taking place off of it. Relationships can easily be muddied up when two people are invested in the image of their relationship rather than the character of it.

My heart for every reader– as I write my truth– is that you will invest your life in a person who is more of a map to you than a story. Stories are beautiful but maps take you places. Remember to go, and see, and do. Put down your phone and live love out loud, not just through captions and tags. 

2.

I knew really early on that Lane was my person. I wasn’t expecting it to happen that fast but it was our third date that made it clear to me: I was falling in love with this man. He cooked me scallops at his home. He showed up at the door with an easy smile and a flannel. He bought me a bottle of wine with a gold-glinted wrapping because he said the story of the wine, on the back of the bottle, was something I would like. It was all about roots and finding your home. We baked brownies and watched Garden state. It was the first time I knew I could build a life with this man.

It wouldn’t be true if I said it were that easy though. Even with this deep knowing in my gut that I’d found a man to cover my thin places, I had all this anxiety about fourth and fifth dates with Lane. He knows this. He knows that much of his security was met by my insecurity. I’d scripted this untrue story in my brain before I met him that I was never going to be certain when the right one was standing in front of me. I would never have a way of knowing. That story was dangerous because the more I told myself it, the harder it became to undo it. The story gained power. The story had momentum.

3.

Anxiety will have a field day with whatever you feed it. Your anxiety is happy to feed on your love life, your relationships, your career, and your purpose in life. Your anxiety wants to be fed something substantial, something that matters most to you, so it can feel full and still hold a purpose in your brain.

Daily feeding my relationship with Lane to my anxiety was like going to the gym and then eating a number 7 from McDonald’s an hour later (I hope there is a number 7… I’m not so sure!). I would pray in the morning but, by 11am, the anxiety had hold of my brain. I never could have clear thoughts about Lane because I was only looking at our relationship with anxiety brain. I didn’t know at the time that anxiety can be managed.

4.

I felt like I needed to write about this because a lot of us can so easily be governed by our feelings. We want to believe in our feelings but our feelings aren’t always accurate. They trick us. They distort truth. They want you to go on thinking you never need to tame them, fact check them, or test them. Feelings want to be followed. Falling in love is not about following a feeling, it’s about making a daily choice to pick one person and then following through.

I cannot claim to be able to cover all the grey area thats come with relationships. I know it’s not as simple as choosing a person and then never doubting. People choose us and then leave us all the time. It happens and we can’t control that. I never want to belittle those stories or make my story seem like it’s above that. However, the most pivotal point in our relationship was after another spell of doubt and fear that maybe I was making the wrong decision. I would have these doubts all the time. I would let the doubt tell me what it wanted and I would be left anxious and afraid as a result. Love is not about fear. The two don’t coexist. One has to live longer than the other. You decide whether you’re giving the oxygen mask to love or fear.

5.

I had to make the decision, at that point in the relationship, to not feed Lane to the lions of anxiety in my head. I told Lane that yes, I had anxiety but it wasn’t towards him. I denounced the anxiety trying to come at Lane from every angle. I told the anxiety, “After tonight, this is not your home. You don’t get to live inside of this relationship anymore.”

I really said those things. I really kicked out the anxiety from the relationship and spent hours, in the next few weeks, continuing to kick it out. Every time it came back, looking for a home, I turned it away. I wanted Lane’s love for me to finally have the chance to be bigger than the fears I’d let half-love me my whole entire life.

You are allowed to starve out your anxiety and leave it homeless. It’s hard work. It’s constant work. It might not completely release but you can start to make baby steps and micro choices towards choosing what you allow your anxiety to feed off of.

It’s Monday. There are precious things we get each day. We get to the be the stewards of people and things we don’t deserve. You could keep feeding your anxiety or you could look up and see that love is hungry too. Love is hungry to come through the doors and make the comfort food on the stove.

Don’t be afraid to let love in. Don’t be too scared to let love eat.

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Uncategorized

The space to hear you.

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I am a writer. This much I know.

I’ve been told since as early as I can remember that I have wisdom beyond my years. I never knew that wisdom, like most things, must be activated. I spent all this time writing about staying, leaving, and letting go. I wish I knew back then that just because you have an epiphany doesn’t mean you’ve learned the lesson. Just because you have a great thought doesn’t mean you’ve gone out and lived it.

I want to be the kind of person who walks out what she talks about, not the other way around. Especially today, it’s incredibly easy to be unintentionally deceptive with the world.

Last summer I posted all these photos on Instagram of my garden and I. It gave off the illusion that I was watering, weeding, and planting new things all the time. In reality, the garden was suffering from the Georgia heat and dying by the day. I like the idea of glamorizing the garden rather than taking care of it.

Just because you’ve talked about gardening doesn’t actually mean you’ve watered something. Just because you talk about hard work doesn’t mean you’re actually doing it.

So I wrote for a long time about hearing God speak without ever hearing Him speak. I had brief moments of God whispers. I had feelings stirring in my gut that I was making a right decision. But I wrote so much about His voice as if I was hearing it constantly, as if God and I were in a perpetual stream of dialogue. In actuality, I was talking about the voice of God in the morning but listening to lies for the rest of the day.

I remember this one time at the very beginning of the fight with my second depression. I’d taken a trip with my friend Nia and came home exhausted but wired. It wasn’t the road trip we were planning on. She’d tried to give me sleeping pills when we got back to her place because I was in so much pain. I just remember wanting to sleep so badly but nothing would work.

When she drove me home I nearly collapsed on the floor in front of my roommate and her boyfriend.

“I need prayer,” I said to them. “I am sorry to crash into this moment but I need prayer.”

I didn’t know what else to do. I felt like I was fighting a war inside of myself without any weapons. I was getting this serious beating from the depression and prayer was my last option.

My roommate’s boyfriend sat me down on the couch between them. He put one of his hands on my forehead and started to pray.

I just remember him saying, “Come on, Hannah. You know his voice. You know his voice. You are his sheep, you know his voice.”

I didn’t know his voice though. I knew how to listen to lies. I didn’t know how to say, “This voice that tells me I am unworthy of love and goodness is not the voice of God.”

I stood in a sanctuary last night listening to a band that reminds me of warm rooms soaked in twinkle lights and the moment you step out into the California heat. When it hits you, the thick air wraps you in tight, holds you closer, and does not spit you out until the sun rests behind the buildings at the end of the day.

The woman with the guitar on the stage was speaking about God’s voice. She mentioned how in John it says that the sheep know His Voice. They listen. They follow.

I think the biggest problem we face today is that there is no quiet. There is much time to develop a voice for ourselves. There is little time to hear the voice of someone else.

There is no peace. There is no easy way to rip yourself from the folds of culture and just be still. We are on 24/7. We wake up to our phones. We go to sleep to the glow of the screen. We say we want to hear the voice of God but we don’t ever shove our own thoughts into a corner and demand them to be still so that something bigger can come in and wash the dirt away.

“So when you listen, God speaks?”

A friend asked me this question last week and I had to be bold enough to answer. I said yes. You don’t always hear this loud voice. It’s rarely the heavens parting and a booming thunder coming down upon you. It’s more like little fragments. It’s these brief reminders. It’s these nudges to go somewhere in the bible and plant there.

I didn’t know that I would need to entrench myself in the scriptures to understand the way He speaks. That is the thing though, I think God has his own language. I must be dedicated to God’s language if I ever hope to translate.

I didn’t know how to stop moving. I didn’t know how to listen. It was the biggest gap in my own prayer life up until this past year. I always just thought prayer was rattling off a to-do list to God. I thought prayer was about me being vocal and him being, well, God.

I don’t fault myself for this. I actually never was taught to do anything but talk to God. No one ever sat me down and said, “Girl, prayer is just as much about listening as it is about word vomiting. Prayer is your direct line to God. If you want to hear from God then come prepared to listen.”

I told her it took a while for me to listen to the voice of God. Even now, I have to discern whether I am hearing from God or hearing my own voice. I told her the more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them. You understand whether they are good or bad. You can start to predict their reactions.

How is it not the same way for God? How can I want a personal relationship with God but never imagine that He might be personable and good to me?

 

:: A PRAYER YOU CAN STEAL ::

God, move me out of the way and insert yourself in the places I want to take up space in. Push out the lies and infuse me with your voice and your truth. Train me to open up my ears. Train me to push out distractions. Train me to hear you and to know that you are good. 

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Uncategorized

When the first mile isn’t sexy…

Dear readers,

We are getting ready to move. It’s crazy to type that but I’ve outgrown this little blog home and we are in the market for something bigger, with more windows, and a better view. 

I am currently in the process of renovating the house (website) but I want to give you the sneak peek of what blog posts will look like in the future. 

So check out the new blog look & let me know know what you think! 

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I’ve been on a health journey since April 12.

I know the exact date because I opened my laptop that evening and recorded a video of myself talking. It’s a lot of me whining, being somber to the camera, about how I wished I could claim my health back.

I’m not particularly unhealthy. I’ve been a pretty good eater since adulthood. I like clean meals. I’ve always managed to work out consistently. In the last few years it has been harder to stay on track. It’s easier to eat at 10pm when work is finally over and you get a chance to relax. It’s easier to skip a workout because you’re too tired or you can “do it tomorrow.” It’s easier to grab french fries and then script a funny, little tweet about your french fries than to buy groceries and a make a healthy meal.

I’ve started, failed, and restarted this health journey so many times that starting again seemed impossible to me. I didn’t even want to try.

On April 12, Lane took me into the gym. He had a workout planned and he pushed me through it. I did not go through the motions of that workout without causing Lane great pain and agony. I cried. I whimpered. I begged him to let me give up about a thousand times. He dealt with my whining, my anger, my frustrated self.

Every exercise felt more painful than the next. I was pushing against myself and could feel this tangible resistance bundled up inside of me like the cords of the straightener and the curling iron getting tangled in an impossible knot. He kept pushing and cheering me on.

“You wrote about mile 19 today,” he said to me. “How you showed up for Brooke at mile 19.”

It was my Monday Morning email he was referring to. I’d written about showing up for my friend Brooke while she was training for a marathon. During her 20-mile run, in the middle of her training, I promised to meet her at mile 19 and run the last mile with her.

“Push harder,” Lane said to me as we transitioned into mountain climbers on the yoga mat. “This isn’t your mile 19. This is your mile 1.”

I was vividly frustrated. Tears were still coming and I could not control them. I didn’t want to be at mile 1. No one wants to be at mile 1. Mile 1 feels like an eternity; it feels like you are never going to finish mile 1. Nothing about the beginning of a journey feels sexy. There’s nothing to boast over. There’s no testimony post for social media about mile 1.

“Mile 1,” he keeps saying as we lift and row and lunge. “Mile 1. You’re at mile 1.”

It doesn’t even feel sexy to write about mile 1. I feel like I need more adjectives to make this post better than it is. I still feel like I am at the beginning of the journey, though I am technically over a month in. I see little bits of progress but my emotions are still up and down, up and down.

I’m learning progress doesn’t show up over night. Progress looks like learning to mince garlic and sub out sour cream for greek yogurt. Progress looks like those peanut butter energy balls you pinned last week turning crumbly and inconsistent. Progress looks like mornings where you don’t feel like getting to the workout class because you’re already imagining 55 minutes of torture.

5 things to remember about progress:

It’s slow.

And that’s okay! The culture we live in is a bigtime preacher when it comes to things happening “instantly” and in “5 easy steps.” It’s hard to even graze through a Women’s Health Magazine because everything is supposed to happen for you in 2 weeks or less. Truth told: I don’t remember the last time something happened for me in two weeks. But slow progress is still progress. Enjoy the road you’re on. Don’t give up on mile 1.

You’re not alone.

Surrounding yourself with other people who can build you up and make you stronger is key. I don’t think I would be on this health journey if Lane wasn’t constantly pushing me, helping me make meals, and challenging me to go harder. There is community out there for you, even if it is just one person.

Writing it down helps.

I have started keeping notes of my progress since April 12. I don’t do it everyday. It doesn’t always have to be notes on what I ate or how I performed in barre class. Here’s the note I wrote for myself on Day 3:

“I’m realizing the answer will never be on social media. It’s the first thing I noticed when I woke up this morning, that I look to social media to numb me from whatever I need to face. It’s weird… I didn’t realize I was actually using it to numb me. When I first keyed into the problems with social media, I thought I was using it to seek the approval of others. Not the case. I am actually using it to numb something inside of me that is meant for the Lord. It was one of the first feelings today that I didn’t want that for my life. I don’t want this life to be one where I fill my holes with bad habits I have not managed to kick yet.

My prayer for the day is that the Lord would meet me in my issues and my mess. I pray he will lift me up, though I don’t deserve it. I pray I can be productive and not defeated. He can help me train for this marathon called Life. It would be a beautiful day and I would start to understand this journey he is taking me on better and more fully.”

Don’t break something just to fix it again.

One month into the journey, I knew I was dedicated. I knew I would keep going— even if I never saw the progress I wanted. I kept looking at all these online programs— Kayla Itsines, Body by Simone, etc. I knew I loved taking barre classes but I was worried about the price of Pure Barre. I tried to come up with other solutions.

Wise, old Lane reminded me: It’s important to invest in what you want and what you know works.

Within the weekend, I was signed up for barre classes again. I wasted so much energy trying to find a solution to help me become more consistent in working out that I neglected the truth: I already had a solution. I already had a program that worked for my body. Why try to change it?

It’s a lifestyle change (and that takes time).

My initial motivation to get healthy was so that I didn’t feel overly insecure sitting in a bathing suit on a beach in Punta Cana next month. That was the spark but that quickly fell into the background when I realized I wanted this thing to last. I had to find something more to anchor myself into progress if I wanted this to be a lifestyle shift, not a 50-day goal.

What are my greater motivations for health beyond a bikini? Well, I struggle with anxiety and depression. Solutions for lessening those symptoms are rooted in health. I have psoriasis— an autoimmune disorder. Solutions for less inflammation all come back to health. I travel a lot for speaking and I often feel sluggish when I go places. All of that is rooted in… you guessed it… health!

It’s greater than a bikini, friends. It was never about a bikini anyway.

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You should go and love yourself: Part 2.

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One year ago, I became a gardener.

Here’s the thing about me: when I start to become obsessed with something, I give my whole life to it. I vow to love this thing more than any other thing for an eternity. I will devote my whole being to said-thing for approximately two months until the next best thing shows up to steal my attention. This is just the way I am wired. In 27 years I’ve been unable to change it. 

So I dove head first into gardening. It was love at first seed. I bought every plant possible. I got myself a watering can and some rain boots. I even created an Instagram account for my baby plants. I spoke to the veggies like some sort of Kale Whisperer. I debated a whole new blog on gardening alone. My life as a solo, single green-thumbed gardener. It was going to be beautiful.

But you want to know what happened to the garden three months after I planted it? It died a slow, miserable and inhumane death. I murdered my own garden.

It made no sense to me at first how it even managed to happen. I watered the thing regularly. I bought a gardening hat. I went out to talk to the kale in the morning. But then I let a few days slip by… and then a few days more… And, before I knew it, the peppers were wilting and the lavender was shriveling up. My little garden was dying and I felt helpless to save it. 

A few nights after admitting defeat to my green-less thumb,  I was at a birthday party for my neighbor Rachel. Her husband offered to take me outside and show me his garden.

“How is yours going,” he asked me.

“Not so well,” I answered.

“I figured.”

“How did you figure?”

“You haven’t posted a picture of it in a while,” he smirked at me as he unrolled the hose from the side of the house. 

“I just don’t know how to take care of it,” I told him. “Your garden is so much cleaner than mine.” I surveyed his garden as he began hosing down the plants.

“You have to weed the garden,” he told me, as if he already knew the issue at hand. 

I didn’t even know what of my own plants were considered weeds and what were actually flowers or vines or whatever garden things there are.

“If you don’t, the weeds that grow will literally steal nutrients from your plants. Your plants can’t grow because weeds are taking what they need from them.”

I thought about the tiny jungle of weeds sitting in my backyard and how they were strangling the life out of my little garden children without me even realizing it. 

“You think they are harmless,” he continued. “Until you realize your plants could have so much more life, and be much healthier, if you just took the time to uproot the weeds.”

“And this is why I am a writer, not a gardener,” I said.

“Yea,” he said. “I know you’re not going to hear another word I say after this. You’re going to write a blog post about me. It’s okay.” 

My neighbor is right. I barely listened to a thing he said about the garden from that point forward. I was too busy thinking about the weeds.

I got so used to the weeds in my garden, sprawling and growing, that I never thought to pluck them. They looked like plants to me. 

My little garden suffered all because I neglected to put some gloves on and ask myself the simple question, “What here is a weed and what here is a plant? Which of these things belongs? Which of these things have never belonged?”

What stands in the way of loving yourself– a lot of the time– is the lies you tell yourself. You tell yourself a lot of lies, A. You whisper them in sweet voices and yell them in loud tones. You whisper lies so frequently that eventually you can’t tell the difference between a lie and a truth. They start to look the same. Your brain lounges back in the comfort of lies.

 Just like the weeds, I never thought to uproot the lies after they’d dug themselves deep enough into my brain. The lies became crutches. They slowly and sneakily covered up and smothered what truly mattered.

What you feed grows. If you are feeding the lies more than you are feeding yourself truth, the lies are winning and growing bigger.

The lies you are putting up with right now– the things you tell yourself on repeat that you think are harmless or small– are legitimately sucking the life out of you. You are tolerating lies and they are making you grow smaller and smaller.

You aren’t winning. The world isn’t winning. It’s just that sad and true.

A, you are the sole decision maker when it comes to whether you are going to stand around and do nothing or you are going to move forward and beg on the world for direction by making small and steady choices.

We are all afraid to move. We are all afraid to try. We are all a little shaken to the core when think that someone sees us, that someone might be coming in to call our bluff and make us feel known.Whatever the lie you are feeding today– cut it off. Cut it off at the root. It serves no purpose but to strangle you and steal life from you.

We cannot have that. We cannot tolerate that life-sucking any longer.

And another thing, I know it’s not enough to say, “just feed yourself truths instead of lies.” It’s never going to be that easy. For anyone who has ever tried clean eating then you know that the hardest hurdle to get over is retraining your palate.

Retraining your palate is the very first step.

If you eat a ton of processed foods then your body starts to crave those sugary sweets and delicious salts. Even if you wanted kale to be your main bae, it wouldn’t be. You must first retrain your palate and get to the point of craving unprocessed foods before the lifestyle change completely occurs.

In the same way, if you do not start eating some of the truth– spoonful by spoonful– then you’ll never know the taste of it. And if you can never figure out the taste of truth, your palate will only ever be trained to crave the lies. The lies are salty and sweet until the day you feed on something that makes you feel alive.

We are dealing with lies, A. When it comes to loving yourself well, we have a bunch of lies standing in the way like weeds sucking out the goodness from a garden. We must sink our knees into the dirt and start to pluck– weed by weed– until there is no dead life remaining.

It won’t be easy and you are probably wondering how. I’m coming back this week to write more about ingesting truth instead of lies. I hope I’ll find you on the page again soon. This whole thing is just beginning… welcome to the fight.

A PRAYER YOU CAN STEAL

Lord, I need to see the lies in black-and-white. Strip out their fake & concentrated colors and help me see the lies in black-and-white so I can start to do the work of uprooting them. Where are the weeds in my life? Show me, show me, show me. I want to be faithful. I want to be alive.

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Uncategorized

You should go and love yourself: part 1.

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Hello Hannah!

This won’t be too long. I just have a thought that’s been sitting in the back of my mind for a while but I’ve only recently begun to feel its weight. I remember hearing it first on a Christian retreat when I was a senior in high school and I adamantly refused to agree with it. After opening up about a heartbreak (which I had no idea would serve as the first domino in a sea of self-doubt and fear. Yikes.) our group leader said something along the lines of, “You know, you will never be able to love someone fully if you haven’t learned to love yourself.”

And I struggled to believe her. “Can’t some wonderful guy teach me how to love myself?” I thought in high school. In college I moved on to, “Well of course he won’t be THE reason I love myself, be he can love pieces I haven’t learned to love yet. He can teach me what I can’t teach myself. Right?” And today, at age 23, I still wrestle with that so-called truth.

I do not love myself yet. It’s been a pretty rough battle, especially within the past few months. I’m seeing how this emptiness affects my relationships and work and well-being, but I know I won’t be able to reach self-love on my own. I know now, without a doubt, that (true, balanced, pure) love of self happens as I learn to love God and accept His (underserved) love for all of His children, including me. But I have a feeling I’ll struggle with this whole self-love thing for a while. I still think I’ll need people, good and gracious people, to point out the beautiful parts of me I’ve criticized until I can scarcely recognize them. Isn’t that why we’re all here? To breathe love and life into others who struggle to see it for themselves?

I’m really curious what you think about this truth: “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else.”

As always, please take your time. Sending light and love your way,

A.


Sweet A,

When I first moved to Atlanta I wanted to live in a loft. Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted to live in a loft with high ceilings and industrial-like beams standing in the middle of my apartment like inconvenient road work, serving no true purpose but to look chic and edgy.

I triumphantly announced to my best friend that I would in a loft when I got to Atlanta. She proposed that I try out a house instead so that I would not be isolated. After a year spent living in a house with a roommate that had no dishwasher or running washing machine and dryer, I told my friend I would finally move into a loft. She proposed I give a house another try.

At the time I did not understand why she was persistently squelching my lofty dreams (no pun intended). I wanted a loft where everything would be taken care of for me and she kept proposing houses that demanded time, energy, and yard guys. It didn’t add up.

I live in a house where sometimes there are ants. We have a big backyard but it constantly needs moral support in the form of a lawn mower and a weed wacker. I am learning that steam from the shower leaves drippy stains on the wall and the best solution to get rid of the steam stains is a sketchy bottle of concentrated solution they only sell at the dollar store. This stuff gets out any stain. Blood. Wine. Whatever. I call it “clean the crime scene” juice. It’s legit like that.

The washing machine overflows sometimes. Cracks in the ceilings need to be taken care of or else they will turn into a bigger mess. Sometimes I fall asleep to the sound of the house whining like a needy girlfriend, “Take care of me. Please take care of me.”

Houses are unruly. They require constant care and upkeep. Living in a house is process that is never done, never through. One thing gets solved and another problem shows up by morning.

The process of taking care of something— be it a house or a body or a relationship or a thought process— overwhelms me. I would avoid it on every account if I didn’t think the daily upkeep of people and things molds me into a better human, slowly but surely.

My roommate is a few years older me. She is much better at managing the household than I am. She tells me it took her until she was 30 to get her life together and start to become a responsible adult who knew how to clean her own bathroom and own dishes. She gave me lessons on cleaning the bathroom while I bit back the urge to cry into the broom and dustpan.  She tells me this is just life. You learn as you go. I give myself another handful of grace and go back to the dollar store for more “clean the crime scene” juice.

Learning to love yourself is like moving into a house you are forced to take care of for the first time, A.

I think it’s even harder because we are living in loft times, A. I say “loft times” meaning we are living in an age where we get told on the regular that everything worth getting can be gotten quickly. The “bikini body” comes in 8 weeks. The clean house comes in 4 “easy” steps. You snag “the one” in 30 days. It’s all these mathematical solutions that rarely ever work and yet it is all we ever get fed. We are hungry for the instant. It’s like being fed french fries for six months that you never have to wait more than 10 minutes for and then being introduced to the concept of cooking your own food. It’s jarring to step inside of a role where you must use your hands and do the hard work for yourself. It’s easier to watch someone else. It’s easier to expect the french fries than to start peeling the potatoes yourself.

I don’t have to wonder why everyone is so enamored by the show “Fixer Upper.” I’ve never even seen it but I know how much we crave turning something ugly into beautiful. To watch someone else have their ugly turned into beautiful leaves us hopeful our turn is coming soon.

A house— ugly or beautiful— is your responsibility and that is two parts terrifying and one part beautiful. You will learn the good and bad of that house. The fixable and the not-so-fixable. You will know the cracks and the maintenance required. It’s where you keep your suitcases and bobby pins, your love notes and party dresses. It’s where you park your car and cry over your losses and rest your weary body at the end of a day. It’s where you clean the dirt of the day off your skin. It’s where your care packages show up and where eggs get cooked and community happens on the wood floor. It’s where love finds you, where love shows up at the door with flowers.

Most of all, it’s yours. Take off your shoes.

Welcome home.

A, I hope you won’t hate me for doing this but I am going to stop the letter here and come back on Monday. Hold me to coming back on Monday and continuing. I think this idea of “loving yourself” can’t be unpacked in 700 words. It needs time, prayer, discernment and space. I’ll start part two on Monday and we will take the world by storm from there.

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