Welcome to Midnight.

What a year it’s been y’all. 2016 has been an interesting but equally incredible year. There have been countless tears shed but also countless laughs. I’ve hit rock bottom but I’ve also found redemption. I have learned that the people God has placed in my life are the most beautiful and genuine people in the world.

Like most years, 2016 started out on such a positive note. I walked into the new year with some new friends and the possibilities were endless. Doing life and ministry with the people you love is such an incredible thing. But life quickly took a turn in the opposite direction when I could no longer ignore my depression or anxiety and they both began to get the best of me and almost cost me the very people I love.

And when I was certain that I had lost those people for good, to my surprise they stuck around. They got in the trenches and walked through hell and back with me. It was a hard road. But somehow, we made it.

I rediscovered my heart this year and the song that lives inside it. I have laughed and cried and everything in between. I have lost some people but have gained so much more than I lost.

I’ve learned that there is always beauty to be found in life and it’s usually in people. And I’m so thankful for the people I get to do life with.

In 2016 I will leave behind the mistakes that I made and realize that I’ve been made new in the eyes of the Father. In 2017 I will walk in the freedom that I have and in the hope that this will be an incredible year.

What will you leave behind in 2016 and what do you hope to find in this new year?

The ball will drop in a few hours and with it comes endless possibilities. There will be fireworks and confetti. What will you celebrate? What will you let go of? What will you welcome in?

Heavy and light. It’s a fine line. But one cannot exist without the other.

Welcome to midnight my friends. May you find the beauty that already lives inside you. May you fill the empty pages of this coming year with love and laughter. May you realize that those things have always been there.

Much love to you.

Sprinkling Hope Series: Be Radiant

Radiant: sending out light; shining or glowing brightly.

I think this word epitomizes what it means to not only be a follower of Jesus, but to be a carrier of hope. I’ve focused a lot on hope lately because honestly, it’s one of the only things that has gotten me through this last bump in the road that I’ve walked through. And I think at the root of it all, hope is the constant motivator to press through the difficult moments.

So how does being radiant sprinkle hope around? How does it bring hope to those who need it?

In Hebrews 1, we read that Jesus was the radiance of God’s glory. That he was the exact representation of his being. And if we are called to be like Jesus in all that we do, are we doing all we can to be radiant?

We are called to be light in a dark world. To bind up the wounds of a broken and hurting world. To bring hope to the hopeless.

So what better way to sprinkle hope than by being radiant?

For me, there have been several people lately that have been that light and that hope that I have desperately needed. For others, I have been their hope and light. And really I think that’s what it’s all about.

There will be moments in life where you need someone to bring the hope and light you need to make it through. And then there will be moments in life where you are the one bringing the hope and light. It’s a balance. Heavy and light.

In a world where hope is so hard to come by, be radiant. Shine bright. Change lives through hope. Give hope away freely. Throw it around like confetti. You’ll quickly learn that in the moments when we feel hopeless, throwing it around to others brings it right back to you.

Light is winning friends. Rest in that.

Sprinkling Hope Series: Own Your Story

We all have a story to tell. Regardless of if you think that you don’t, you do. And it’s up to you to not only share that story, but to also own that story. Where you begin to do those things is up to you. I know that for some of you, there may be parts that are difficult and painful to share. I encourage you to share anyways.

Life can be really really ugly sometimes. But it can also be really really beautiful. And sometimes we have to fight for those beautiful moments, but it’s so worth the fight. When we begin to own our stories, even the really painful parts of it, we begin to find a sense of freedom and healing. When we own the things that have happened to us instead of letting them own us, we save ourselves from a lot of heartache.

But sometimes we do let what happened to us own us. And it’s so important to remember that there is still good to be found in that. The good news is that we don’t have to stay that way. We don’t have to stay stuck in the moments that have brought us heartache and pain. We can stare that junk in the face and begin to own it. We can begin to walk in the freedom that is ours through Jesus.

And once you’ve owned your story, you get to do the most exciting and empowering and life changing thing ever: you get to share it! People need to hear your story. Each of our stories have such a unique role to play in others lives and their stories.

There will still be days that living your story will be painful and difficult. In those moments it’s important to have people in your life that are willing and able to pick up that pen and write for you on the days that you can’t. Because ultimately all of our stories are interconnected and co-written by the people we’ve chosen to walk through life with. And let me tell you, I’ve got some of the greatest in my corner.

Writing our stories is a lifelong process. Filled with light and with darkness. But remember friends, light is winning. Rest in that.

M1A Students Seniors: Here’s to You.

Once again graduation season is among us and like in any youth ministry, we have a handful of seniors that are graduating or have already graduated.

And while they aren’t kids anymore, they all have a very special place in this heart of mine. Six in particular who I have counted it an honor to do life with and watch them grow.

So Gabi, Kelsey, Peyton, Michael, Paul, and Grant, this post is for you. I’m so incredibly proud of each and every one of you and can’t wait to see you change this world.

This life will surely offer you it’s fair share of good and bad. Easy choices and difficult ones. For some of you, you’re moving off and will be living independently for the first time. And while that comes with a lot of positives, it also opens the door for negatives. I challenge each of you, whether you’re two hours away or 20 minutes away, to strive for greatness. Because you are greatness. Your steps have been ordained and your lives have a unique purpose that only you can play. And we need you. This world needs you.

I challenge you to do good. This world can be a dark place at times. You are the light that will break through those dark moments. You are world changers. You will move mountains. Be radiant. Be the hopeful. And throw that hope around like confetti.

You were made to know and be known. To love and be loved. So love fiercely dear ones. Even when that love isn’t returned, love anyways.

When everything in this world screams for you to give up, keep your eyes focused upward and know that you have a family with M1A Students that is cheering you on.

Some of you I’ve only known for a short time. Others I’ve known your entire high school career. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, know that I am so unbelievably and infinitely proud of each of you.  This world is a better place because of each of you. Our lives are better because of each of you.

As you look back on this closing chapter, I hope you look at it with a sense of victory and accomplishment. And as you look ahead to this new chapter that you have begun to write in, I hope you look at it with excitement, wonder, and anticipation. And on the days that you feel like you can’t write anything, know that we are here for this new journey with you.

Congratulations you guys. Here’s to the beautiful road ahead. I love you always.

Laughter is the Best Medicine.

Today I’m starting a new series that in some ways could be the second part of my Reclaiming Hope series, but explores hope in a whole new direction.

I’ve talked about reclaiming the hope that I had lost and was so desperately searching for, and now I want to shift gears and talk about sprinkling that hope. I think that both can be done at the same time – reclaiming hope and also sprinkling it. I think that reclaiming hope is something that we’ll always be doing.

Much like this journey of recovery that I’m on, I don’t believe that one day I’ll wake up and be like “Oh I’m all better now and I’ll never struggle again because I’ve reach x amount of days,” I think the same is true for hope. There’s not some magical number or amount that we reach and can say that we no longer need hope. We will always need hope.

And I think that sprinkling that hope can be done in a lot of different ways. But laughing is by far my favorite way.

If I hear other people laughing, there’s a 99% chance that I will join in on that laughter. Why? Because laughter is contagious. Especially late night laughter. You know the kind I’m talking about. Where one person slowly starts to lose control and everything becomes funny. And before you know it, everyone is joining in. Moments like these can turn an otherwise ordinary day into an extraordinary one. And those days become my favorite days.

But have you ever had the perfect combination of people in your inner circle that you spend the majority of your time in tears with because you’re all laughing so hard? I’m so incredibly fortunate to have people like that in my life. These precious souls are not only the best people in my life, but have essentially become my family. And we’ve gone through some tough things together, but have always managed to make it through victorious. And laughing together is one of the best things there is.

I can’t even count how many hours we’ve spent laughing so hard that we hurt and some of us have tears in our eyes. These moments are usually take place in public and come with it’s fair share of looks from others, but we continue to laugh regardless.

I’m thankful for the moments that I can be silly with my favorite people and laugh for hours about the most ridiculous things. I’m also thankful for Snapchat for making most of those moments possible.

I think what it really comes down to in the end is that there is healing in laughter. And maybe that’s a new concept for you, it was for me. But in these past few weeks of self discovery and rediscovering who I am in the Father, I’ve learned a lot of things.

Laughter leads to joy. I just don’t think it’s possible to be upset anymore when you’re in the middle of a laughing fit.

And that same joy eliminates darkness. Heaviness and darkness can’t exist where there is joy and where there is light.

So ultimately, laughter equals light. And friends, light is winning. We have the final victory. Rest in that friends.

Reclaiming Hope Series: Tell Your Heart to Beat Again

This is the final entry of my series Reclaiming Hope. Next week I’ll be starting a new series also about hope, but taking it in a new direction.

I am infinitely thankful for those of you who have inspired a lot of these words and the words to come. You are precious souls in my life. Thanks for being a part of this incredible journey.

If you aren’t familiar with or have yet to hear Danny Gokey’s song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again, I highly, highly encourage you to stop what you’re doing and go listen to it. Right now. And then come back and read this. Or read it while you listen. But seriously, go listen to it. You’ll thank me later.

I’ve never found a song that has resonated more with a season of life than this one has. I think we’ve all come across those songs that we could swear were written about our lives specifically. And if I’m being honest, it sometimes makes me chuckle at how even in the simplest things, God is moving on our behalf. Like how crazy good is he to us??

These last few months have been some of the hardest ones I’ve walked in quite some time. In an instant, everything I knew, everything I thought I knew, and everything I thought I was laid broken in more pieces than I thought I could ever pick up. And there were plenty of days that I wondered what the point was in even trying to pick them all up and if I could ever put them back together.

And the answer to that second question was no. At least not by myself.

Trying to do things on my own was a large part of why things had become so terribly broken in the first place. I had pushed away those closest to me and pushed God away as well.

And then in traditional fashion, He graced me with one of the many “Shoulda had a V8 moments” that I think have become one of His favorite ways of communicating with me. Only this time, He used a song to do the talking.

I have learned more about myself in this past month than I have in quite some time. It’s almost like a new beginning. And in a way it is.

These past few months have brought a lot of tears and a lot of questions. And there were days when I wondered if those questions would ever be answered. Most have been. Some haven’t. But I’m learning to be content with the silence.

Leaving the darkness can be hard sometimes. I think we get so used to it that we’re almost afraid to feel the light again. But friends there is so much more freedom in the light than there ever could be in the dark.

Every fall, every tear, every difficult moment has prepared me for this new season of life that I’m entering. The time for looking behind me is over because looking ahead has never had a better view than it does now.

The heart is a remarkably strong thing. I can be broken but also has the ability to be repaired and can beat stronger than ever afterwards. But only if you allow it by allowing Him to work on your behalf.

Light is winning my friends.

Hope is winning.

Rest in that.

Reclaiming Hope Series: The Beauty of Vulnerability

If I’m being honest, the thought of being completely vulnerable sometimes terrifies me. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. We all have different faces that we put on at times and I feel like more often than not we don’t always show the real us to those around us.

It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that it’s become so ingrained in our society that if we show who we really are, even the painful parts, people are less likely to want to stick around for the journey. So we hide. We only show so much. And sometimes, as I’ve shared in some previous blogs, we end up pushing people away as a result.

But I propose something different. That instead of hiding our vulnerability and hiding who we are to those around us, we embrace it. We own it. We walk in it. I think those are the moments when we realize that there is so much beauty in vulnerability and in being transparent.

I’m a firm believer that transparency can bring about some much needed healing in our lives. When we walk through life with others, there will no doubt be seasons of life that come around that can really knock us off our feet. And I think that for me at least, my first reaction when those difficult seasons come is to hide how I’m really feeling in the moment.

But the more and more that I spend time with those around me and with Jesus, the more and more I realize that we weren’t meant to do life alone. That the people in our life are there for a reason and have chosen to be a part of our lives, both the good and the bad. And when you’re lucky enough to be surrounded with people who genuinely care about you, being transparent with them can be the thing that not only strengthens those relationships, but bring about a sense of peace that you might have never felt before.

Trust the people in your life. Trust that they will love you regardless. Trust them when they tell you those things.

I’ve also learned that being transparent can bring about healing for others in your life. I believe that each one of us has a unique role to play, not only in life in general, but in the lives of those around us. And while no two stories are the same, the more that we reach out and the more we open up to others, the more we realize that there are a lot of similarities between our pages.

You may come across someone who is at the beginning of a journey you’ve been on for years and see so much of yourself in them. And chances are they probably aren’t ready to be completely transparent about what they are struggling with. But by you investing in their life and sharing your story with them, the walls they have built around them will eventually begin to crumble and you will begin to see a new life spring forth in them.

People need other people.

I’m also learning that being vulnerable and transparent with people doesn’t equal being weak. I’ve spent so much time thinking that if people really knew some of the things that I’ve spent so much time hiding that they wouldn’t love me the same way or that I would lose them completely. But what I’ve learned in my own discoveries in being transparent it’s that these are the moments when true friendship is born.

So often we underestimate what people are capable of handling and I think that’s because maybe we don’t want them to see all those broken moments. We think that we’re doing them a favor by keeping them at bay when in reality we only end up hurting ourselves.

Being vulnerable is hard. And if I’m being honest, there are a lot of days that I would rather do anything else. But it’s in these moments, as difficult as they’ve been, that I’ve found the most healing.

Hope is winning friends.
It won’t be kept silent.
We have the final victory.

Rest in that friends.