The Ultimate Mic Drop

When I graduated from college (many years ago) I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be a public speaker and work for a company whose mission I was passionate about so I could do something that matters; I wanted my job and career to have meaning. You can imagine how discouraging it was to find myself (as most of us do) in a job that didn’t directly make a difference in the world (corporate sales). Somewhere in the process of feeling let down I had a realization—relationships with people at work and integrity in my job could make an impact for Christ. They made meaning of the meaningless.

I oftentimes have the same struggle now. As a mom of young kids the days can be long and monotonous (I’m not out changing the world or solving massive problems), but when I look at the days as an opportunity to help mold the hearts of my kids, there is eternal value. What’s the commonality between my “corporate work” life and my “mom” work life? It’s the idea that relationships are a vessel in which we can share what matters; a way to add value to our lives and grow in our faith. 

The question then becomes: what matters? If relationships are a way to share what’s important, then what is important?

I personally cannot answer that question without looking at Jesus and His role in my life. I believe after an encounter with Jesus (a life-changing, direction-giving, identity-naming encounter), our lives are changed…so I would like to focus this short blog post on Jesus. First, my disclaimer: I’m just a regular, church-going person. The focus of this blog isn’t a bunch of technicalities (because I probably don’t know them); however, it is about Jesus and how He changes our lives, specifically about how He’s changed my life. 

Why does Jesus matter so much in regard to how we relate to people? I don’t think I can answer that question without looking at the Bible as a whole—Old and New Testament. Jesus is the turning point in history. Before him, Old Testament laws and regulations prohibited true freedom. I’ve been reading through Exodus lately, and many of the regulations are, quite frankly, overwhelming and exhausting. I cannot imagine living in a time where every detail of a sacrifice must be perfect, or even that animal sacrifices had to be made to cover my sins. Yet, “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). The Bible is full of people looking for redemption, for hope (think of the Israelites escaping slavery in Egypt, the desire and provision of earthly judges and kings, the exile and return in Nehemiah). They needed a savior. need a Savior. Before Jesus, God still provided, but looking back (like a Monday Morning Quarterback), that era just seems overwhelming.

Then comes Jesus.

He fulfills the Old Testament prophesies. He is the Perfect King. He fulfills the law. He is the ultimate Judge. He’s the ultimate Pardoner and Giver of Mercy. He gives true freedom. Hebrews 10 says “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…” I love this imagery. It’s like the ultimate mic drop. He sacrifices Himself, rises from the grave, reveals Himself as risen to His disciples, sends the Holy Spirit, then sits down next to the Father. Boom. We, as Christians, have an eternal hope (in His steadfast love, in His grace, in forgivingness of sins). Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I don’t have to live in a ritualistic way. This is literally life changing!

I’m a total rule follower (not always in a good way; rules for me can be a way to control and have security). I can easily fall into patterns of trying so hard (on my own) to earn forgiveness, to be “good enough” for grace. This is the largest oxymoron ever. I can never be “good enough” for grace, which is the whole point of grace! How can I not look at His grace and respond with joy? With hope? With a peace and an exhale that lets me rest and stop striving so hard?

Hebrews 10 continues with the idea that, “since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,” we should “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean” and “hold fast the confession of our hope” and “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together…encouraging each other(Hebrews 10: 19-25).” It goes like this: I can enter the presence of Jesus because of what He has done for me, which leads me to be assured of my faith and hope… and then I get to encourage others. This is where relationships come into play. Because of what Jesus has done for me, it changes my life, and should change how I view relating to other people. Every relationship is an opportunity to encourage someone—in the joys and struggles—because what Jesus did changes me. The love Christ has for me should spill over into my relationships with other people. 

As we reflect on the perfect life and work of Jesus, I pray it spurs us onto encouraging each other. I pray that the good news of Jesus changes all of us (I know I need daily reminders) so we can share His hope and joy with others. It’s in the sharing of life’s joys and struggles that we are able to apply and remember the Gospel. It’s within the fabric of relationships that we are able to have context for what Jesus does in and through us. It’s in the gathering together that we share how God is growing and changing us through the circumstances in our lives, and in those circumstances give and receive encouragement. Relationships matter because they are a vessel in which we can share Jesus—the biggest, most important discovery in life—with others.

If Only...

It’s a frequent idea that seeps its way into my mind, my heart. An “if only” that promises a better outcome or more success, yet it’s cloaked in a nobility of wanting to improve or be a “better version of myself.”


As a wife, mother, woman, the struggle is real to compare myself with others. I do it all the time in a variety of contexts. I compare how I look (am I skinny enough?); I compare how my house is decorated (is it nice enough?); I compare how my kids are dressed (are they trendy enough?); I compare my personality to someone else’s (do I talk too much?); I compare what I do (do I have enough personal goals so I’m not lost in the abyss of just being a mother?); I compare my kids’ performance (are they well-enough behaved?); I compare my spiritual walk with others (do I read my Bible enough?).

I am constantly seeking that elusive standard of “enough,” fearful that someone, somewhere will say I’m not enough (there are a lot of issues embedded in this—perfectionism, contentment, resting in grace...the list could go on. But for this blog I am narrowing this specific issue to comparison.   

How can I begin to think biblically on this issue that seems to invade my life? I know comparison can steal the joy God intends for me to ground myself in, but I also see the need to compare myself to Jesus as He is the true standard of holiness. Seeking after varying levels of worldly success gets exhausting, and it starts to feel like I’m a hamster on a wheel—running in circles with no momentum forward. 

I would first like to point out that I don’t have all the answers, but I think there’s something to be said about rooting our identity in Christ. I was talking to a couple of girlfriends this weekend about this, and one commented that “rooting our identity in Christ” (while being true) still rings a bit like a trite comment or cliché answer. She’s right. We throw that phrase around without really applying it. So how do we find our identity in Christ and not let all the other comparisons distract us?

I keep thinking I have to go back to what the Bible says: I’m a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). He’s created good works in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). He will continue the good work He’s started in me (Philippians 1:6). When I think about those truths, I must ask myself, “Why am I striving for anything other than trying to love Jesus more?” Why can’t I be confident that God created me with my personality, gifts, passions, etc.? Why do I think I will feel better about myself if I (fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-standard-I’m-trying-to-meet)?

I think I forget. I forget who God is and what he’s done. I believe the lie that something else will make me feel better about myself. I need to remember, we all need to remember, that God’s grace is sufficient for us in ways that give us purpose that can propel all of our lives forward. He’s given the Holy Spirit to lead, help, and guide us as we walk through life, which directs us all to a place where we need to actively remember. The only way I know how to “remember” is to have a community of people who will remind me. Have conversations that steer me deeper into Christ’s truth and can tell me when I’m looking for some cheap satisfaction. My husband can spot when I’m too obsessed with some direction, and tell me I’m chasing something in the wrong way. I have a handful of friends who can do the same.

I don’t think the comparison game gets any easier as we get older. In fact, it may be more difficult because there’s so much to compare. But soaking our hearts in truth and having a group of people who can support us in that quest may be part of the answer to rooting our identity in Christ.

Rolling in the Deep

What does it mean to have deep relationships—or to have depth in a conversation? Recently I was challenged with this question because I’ve thrown that phrase around—that I like deep conversations or relationships, but putting a definition to this idea is very difficult. Shame on me for saying I like something I can’t even define! In fact, this question of depth has taken me weeks of processing, praying, and seeking God’s guidance. Truthfully, there’s some conviction here, because I’ve defined this my way (a way that works for me), and not necessarily in a way that represents many people.

Being “deep” is a hard topic for me to write about, but in an opposite way than you’d probably assume. I, Kelly, am most comfortable swimming in the “deep end” of the pool. Just this year I had an epiphany: I can do small talk well and deep talk well, but sometimes I’m not great in the middle area…just…talking. I get uncomfortable. For a lot of my life I’ve assumed most people want/desire this “depth.” But do they? Or is it just my comfort zone—a security blanket I wrap around as a way of defining myself?

I asked a bunch of people what it means to them to have depth and what it takes for that to occur. I could regurgitate my opinions, but my thoughts may not be indicative of the general masses. I asked local people, some far away, people I know well, people I don’t know well, men and women (thanks to my friends’ husbands who were my guinea pigs!), and Christians and non-Christians. Obviously this is not a formal survey (George Barna is not going to show up at my house and pay me for my work), but I wanted to see if there were any commonalities in responses despite the different personalities and backgrounds.

Most people defined depth as a shared vulnerability—risking judgement from the other person when sharing thoughts, desires, fears, etc. It’s the idea of sharing beyond the surface to what matters, even if it’s hard. Each person’s “issues” may be different; but the idea is to share more than polite niceties or exchanges about the weather. In other words, depth in a relationship does not mean people need to agree or share on the same topics; however, it means that there’s a two-way street in sharing life struggles and joys, as they relate to each person. There’s a safety and mutual respect for the other person’s opinion. Many people expressed a desire for a relationship with the other person (or the knowledge a conversation would have a follow-up). The men especially required trust, common interests, and/or respect (of the other person) to share.

I talked with a mentor friend about this topic and she reminded me that we are complex humans with a variety of backgrounds, personalities, struggles, and layers. We may not have depth with all people at all times, and that’s okay. (I’m reminded as I write that even Jesus had a smaller group of disciples in His “inner circle”). It takes time to develop depth. In other words, I would be naive to think there’s a formula to develop deep relationships or a magic number of people we should have in our inner circle. This is where I’m convicted. After a recent move to Santa Maria and the need to start all over, I’ve probably sought these relationships or conversations out of a desperation, loneliness, or insecurity (my desire to find community as I define it). However, I heard a definition for trust recently that resonated with me: time plus believable behavior. I like that, because it frames how we get to a place of trust (and therefore relationship).

This topic begs the question: should Christians have deep relationships? Is that a biblical concept? If we look at the early church (in Acts), we see a community of people who modeled teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, and sharing with those who had need. I have to believe struggles were shared in those days—both physical and spiritual. The group of believers banded together to support one another. That takes sharing and vulnerability—not a mask of “having it all together.” 2 Corinthians 1:3 says God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others with the comfort we’ve received in Christ. Again, inherent in this idea is that we are sharing our struggles to lift others and build one another up, encouraging them in Christ. And yet, Colossians talks about bearing with one another, forgiving each other, and putting on love, which binds us in perfect harmony (Col. 3:12-14). This suggests even Christian relationships will have hurts and disappointments as we take the risk of growing together, and that we must forgive and love despite any pain.

Life is full of bumps and turns. It’s not easy. Yet, when we are able to have people who love and support us through these ups and downs, it lightens the load. I recently asked a friend (at Element) to pray for me regarding an area I’m having a hard time trusting and finding peace. This friend has walked this road I’m on, and understands the struggle. She responded with a tear in her eye, a text message the next day, and encouragement to rely on my husband as we seek peace and direction on this topic. I’m so thankful she shared her struggle with me, and can encourage me.

As I write this, I write with conviction. May we all invest in our communities and share our struggles and joys. May we all listen without judgement, and share without fear. May we all pray for one another, comforting each other in Christ (i.e. applying the Gospel) as we journey together. It’s a process of learning and growing, humility and forgiveness, but I believe it’s one that will transform us as individuals and a community at large.

I'm Old...Lessons from the Beach

We went to the beach tonight for dinner (hot dogs and salad), and I had a moment. I saw a group of four teenage girls on the swings next to my kids, perfectly dressed and made up and taking selfies, with the beautiful backdrop of the ocean behind them. Three thoughts went through my mind: 1) I’m old. My selfies are all with my kids now; 2) I’m not dressed like that—like ever, but definitely not tonight (as I look down at my leggings and the sweatshirt that probably should’ve been washed, not worn, hair in a messy ponytail); and 3) I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything (while I’m lugging Luke’s seashells and catching my kids at the bottom of the slide, still with the beautiful backdrop behind me and feet in the sand).

And I also realized today if someone were to take a look at this blog, they’d see the most recent entry, which is a series of “why” questions from the depths of my pain. So I wanted to write an update, to note the story didn’t stop with the pain.

Life is good. It’s sweet, simple, hard, busy, exhausting, fun. But it’s good. We hit a year of living in Santa Maria on New Year’s Eve. 2018 was probably the most difficult year I’ve ever had. Yet, in many ways it was a growing year. Most of all, I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness. Thankful for his grace to endure the good and the bad, the times I’ve succeeded and the times I’ve failed. I have so many things I’m thankful for—my husband and kids, family living near me (both sides of our family now!), friends—new and old, fun trips, a beautiful place to explore and live, and a fantastic holiday season. But I’m reminded circumstances change, and I need to have faith in God, even when I don’t see things unfold the way I plan. He’s faithful. He always has been, always will be.

 As we enter into 2019, I don’t have a word of the year. I don’t really have New Year’s Resolutions. I have goals and plans, dreams and hopes. I’ve been writing fiction again, and loving the life-giving hobby, as well as running in the mornings. And I still don’t have answers for a lot of my “why” questions. The picture at the top of this blog is my real-life Thursday night photo. But I want to enjoy where God has us, trust him in the hard times, and be faithful in the day-to-day.  

A Case of the "Whys"...

As I sat in Colorado this week and looked at the vast and expansive creation all around me, I told my husband I felt like I got dropped in the middle of the mountains with no idea which direction to go. Finally, I found my way out, things started to make sense, and I got plucked up and dropped again, only to start looking for the way out.

It feels like that’s how this year has been. Back in October an unexpected job change prompted a major move, then on New Year’s Eve, we sold our house, packed our entire lives (I lived in the same area for the last 15 years), and started a new adventure. I’ll be honest. I don’t like change very much. Finally, life started to settle. We found a church, started making friends, and I found out I was pregnant. Total surprise, but we figured if God gave us a baby, that answered the “do we have another” question. And after adjusting to that change, life finally felt settled again. I started making plans, preparing for a third baby.

Then last week I miscarried that baby, at 13 weeks. Any loss is difficult, but this one has left me reeling. I feel like I have a case of the “whys?” (My two-year old asks “why?” after everything, which is what I’m doing). Why did we have to move? Why did I have to start over in building community? Why did I get pregnant only to lose the baby? Why is a miscarriage so traumatic physically? And honestly, my “why” questions aren’t even as hard as what some people endure. There’s a lot of horrible stuff people go through, with no easy answer.

The Christian answer is that “all things work together for good.” (Yes, that's only part of the verse, and yes I understand the good is for His glory). But what do you do when you don’t see that good? Sometimes finding the answers seems easy. Maybe we had to move so we could have a better lifestyle, live near family. Maybe we don’t get a job but a better one comes along. And we’re constantly trying to placate ourselves with these lines. If “x” doesn’t happen, “y” must be better. But sometimes these lines seem trite, hopeless, and totally out of place. Because where I’m sitting, I don’t SEE the good in what happened. A life was lost, one I carried for months. And I don’t see the good. So what then? Why did I have to get pregnant in the first place?

I circle this around in my mind, wanting that crystal-clear answer. And I don’t have one. And I’m starting to think, this side of heaven, I never will. My husband said the other day: “I guess we have a choice. We give up (on God), or we trust.” That might be the most simple conclusion, but it’s all I can do. I can either choose to believe there’s a plan—a reason—or there’s not. It’s either true, or it’s not. So I’m going to believe, to trust, that God is good and he does have a plan. That he’s perfect. But I will say I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what it is or why. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe I just have to trust, even when I don’t feel like it. Maybe I’ll never see the answer, but that’s where hard trust comes in. Doing it when you don’t feel like it, putting one foot in front of the other, taking the next right step.

I wish I had answers, but I don’t. I have a lot to be thankful for, though. I’ve had more support than any person could imagine. Family has helped care for my boys, pray with me, and clean my house. My lifetime friends have called and texted, sent a gift card, and offered to drive far distances to visit. My new friends have offered to bring dinner, dropped off flowers, or offered to help in any way they can. My doctor friends have given knowledgeable advice, and just checked in on how I’m feeling. My high school youth pastor showed me a Bible passage to cling to. My husband lets me talk and process for hours, or maybe just cry. I feel loved and supported (even by new friends!), and I get to watch my two boys enjoy life—it’s a gift unlike any other. Today I got to have a beautiful lunch alone with my husband, and celebrate my best friend getting married.

I’m sitting in the mountains, looking at the most beautiful place in the world (currently dealing with a wildfire), and trying to combine the beauty and the broken, the joy and pain, the hope and hopelessness. I used to think I’d be able to smile through life, that things would always be easy because I have Jesus. Reality is that life is hard, and I think it’s manageable because I have Jesus, and cling to eternal hope. I’m not sure I’ll every understand why things happen the way they do, but I’m going to choose to believe there’s a plan and reason, even if I never see it. That’s when true peace and comfort comes, hoping beyond the current circumstances to the bigger picture that’s in God’s control.

And We're Moving...Here's the Story

We’re moving! If you’ve followed my husband’s posts you’ve probably gathered that. We are going to relocate to the Central Coast, where he grew up. I haven’t written a blog post in a while because life has been crazy. Six weeks ago we started a minor remodel on our house so we bounced from a friends’ house to hotel to visiting family to a hotel again. In the midst of the remodel, an unexpected job change for my husband caused us to evaluate where we live and what we want to do with our future. To say it’s been a challenging month would be an understatement.

But this story actually starts this past summer, and it’s interesting how the Lord prepares us for change. We came back from a trip to Durango visiting my family, drove over the Cajon Pass overlooking the Inland Empire, covered with smog. I told Joseph I don’t want to live in this forever. Our lives are crazy busy, we deal with traffic, and we’re hardly away from the insanity. And the conversation started. Where would we go? What do we want? Where could he work that would offer the lifestyle we want? And the decision was made then. The Central Coast. It’s small, quiet, beautiful, and best of all, much of his family is there. Where we live now, we don’t have any family support nearby. So we started dreaming, hoping, praying that one day we could find a way to make a move.

Then life turned crazy. The Lord answers prayers, but to be honest I didn’t like how he answered this one. It wasn’t my timeline, it’s been stressful, and these are big decisions! We’ve been studying the story of Ruth and Boaz (from the Bible) and I told some friends the other day it feels like my life right now—I can see how God works through circumstances but I don’t always like the circumstances. I can see how the big picture is going to be better, but getting there is difficult. But life isn’t promised to be easy. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite. Life is hard and challenging sometimes, but in the midst of those challenges, there’s an opportunity to grow, to trust in the Lord. To hope that something ahead is greater than the here and now. And I believe that. I’m going to cling to that. I’m going to cling to the fact, that when all life gets tossed up, I hope in Jesus, because He’s the solid rock. The One who never changes. And along the way, I’m going to enjoy the small things.

We packed up a bunch of the kids’ toys and covered the floor of our house (because heaven forbid they scratch the perfectly-remodeled-floors that we won’t enjoy after the remodel), and you know what? My kids played and ran around more with the few toys than they did the zillions they had before. I’ve had no real “home” for the last six weeks, but I’ve had my family and there’s a beauty to just having each other without all the other distractions. Simplicity. We have had so much help and support from family and friends who have rallied around us. And as I write this, I’m on a much-needed and wonderful trip with just my husband, exploring Boston (a place I’ve always dreamed of visiting).

So we’re on a journey right now. I’m going to miss our friends and community in Orange County; we’ve lived a lot of our lives there. It’s exciting and challenging, fun and scary, sad and hopeful. But we’re trusting the Lord and hopeful for the next chapter of our lives.

Why Editing is Like Pruning...

I’m knee-deep in edits on my novel right now. I’ve written, re-written, had it critiqued, swapped with another author, and am still editing. It’s a tedious, detail-oriented process. Writing and brainstorming a story is this life-giving, full-of-possibilities process for me. Then I hit editing and just want to have my story be good enough!

But as I was running the other day, I was thinking about how editing my story is such a metaphor for life. Without editing my novel, it’ll never really be good enough for anyone to read, much less published. It’s in the details, the small corrections, that my story can emerge the way I want it to be read.  This past summer has been an interesting season for me. It’s been one of those times in my life that God has done what I call “pruning” me. (Caveat: I am not a theologian, I’m just a regular Bible-believing girl over here, so these are just my experiences). But, I feel like I’ve been editing my life a bit lately. I’ve been introspective, learning how I’m wired and attempting to lean into the Lord through all of my trials, experiences, emotions, and thought-processes. I can’t honestly say I enjoy that process because it’s hard. However, I feel like I’m almost to the other side. I feel like I’ve learned and grown and become stronger. More importantly, I am closer to the Lord as a result of this time of pruning. So I’m thankful for the time of pruning and what the Lord’s show me.

My conclusion? Sometimes I just have to push through—I need to persevere on my edits so my book is all it can be, and I need to keep moving forward as the Lord prunes me and allows me to grow. Lord willing, my life will reflect a better version after the time of pruning, and so will my book!

On Differences

I’ve been thinking about differences between people a lot lately. Sometimes conversations I have make me ponder, other times it’s a church sermon or book I’ve read. But here’s the deal. There are people with differences ALL AROUND ME. It seems like our world is filled with hate and contempt, oftentimes generated out of differences between people. Sometimes these differences cause actions, and that’s a scary thing. These differences could be a belief system, skin color, socioeconomic status, political stance…anything, really.

So how do we deal with that? Do we just find people like us and stick to a world of “sameness” so as not to deal with differences? I’m going to give a caveat here and say these are just my opinions, and this is just a way for me to process some thoughts. So everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here goes:

Sometimes it seems like there’s this assumption we need to agree with people to be able to get past our differences. But I disagree with that. In fact, some of my favorite relationships over the years have been with people I disagree with for one reason or another. I like talking with people who have different opinions, because oftentimes they challenge my way of thinking. I think the key is to be able to love each other despite our differences. But the crucial part is this: it’s okay to disagree with someone and still love them. That seems to be missing from so much of our cultural expectation these days. In fact, as a Christ-follower, there’s something drastically wrong with me if I can’t love people despite any differences we have.

To take this a step further though, I think there’s a lot to be said about finding commonalities with people. Sometimes we focus too much on our differences, and not what we have in common. I’ve found, over and over again, when I can connect with someone over something we have in common, it’s the start of a true conversation. There’s a time and a place to have a conversation about differences, but it helps to find some commonalities.

I think the topic of differences weighs heavy on my heart right now because on a practical level I have to deal with this in my own life. My husband and I are a mixed-race couple. We have two kids, which means they are mixed. They each look different than me, and different than each other.  As my oldest will start school soon, I’m anticipating the questions. But here’s the radical thing: my husband and I have so much in common. In fact, the things we care MOST about, we have in common. We love Jesus, prioritize our family, and we enjoy doing the same things for fun. So, do we have differences? Sure, but we have a whole lot more of the “same” than we do “different.” We rarely notice those types of differences. Usually our differences fall more along the lines of how to load the dishwasher.

For my kids, I want them to find things in common with other kids. I want them to figure out what they have that’s the same. But at the end of the day, I want my kids to know who they are in Christ, to have a strong identity that matters more than any external feature. And as a result, I want my kids to treat people well. I want them to see other kids for their insides, even if they’re “different” in some way. I want them to understand it’s okay to be different, but it doesn’t change how we treat people. In no way am I saying I won’t teach my kids that Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life. On the contrary, I want to teach them BECAUSE he is the Way, Truth, and Life, we need to treat people with respect.

I can honestly say I have to improve in expanding my world. I can live in a little bubble easily. But I am challenged to treat people well—especially people who are different than me. Because I know it’s my example that paves the way for my kids, and that’s a pretty scary challenge.   

Beauty in the Boring

I’ve been dreading today for a long time. It’s the day after vacation. We spent an epic week in Colorado with my family and friends. We were able to see bears, go on ATV rides, do duck races in the backyard creek, hike, feed fish, and the list goes on.

And today? Today’s back to reality. The mound of laundry sitting on my bed to be folded and put away. Tired, cranky kids from too little sleep and too much junk food. A day of handling kids alone because my husband is back at work after several days with us. So yeah, I’ve been anxious about today, knowing I may feel emotional to be away from my family and sad that what I’d anticipated for so long was…over. Every year I struggle leaving Durango because Southern California is not beautiful Colorado (and the welcoming smog on our way in yesterday didn’t help).

We got home yesterday, I started laundry, went on a family bike ride and my almost-four-year-old fell forward and hit his tooth and lip on the concrete. Not the welcome back I’d hoped for.

But then I woke up today. Instead of dread, I actually felt peace. I prayed for the right attitude today, the ability to handle any emotions I’d experience. And, you know what? The Lord has given me grace and peace today. Even more, I feel joy.

I took my son to the dentist, and it turned out to be free and he’s okay. My friend watched my little one while we went to the appointment, an unexpected offer. My house is a disaster (after five minutes of being home it got dirty), but it’s made for messes and nothing is permanently dirty. My run this morning in our neighborhood wasn’t along a gorgeous creek, but there are green trees all around us. My house isn’t as beautiful as where I grew up, but my kids have space to run around.

Sometimes I forget how much I like my normal. There are lots of things I’d change, nothing is perfect, but it feels good to be home. There’s beauty in the ordinary, the boring. I like that I get to stay home with my boys and make memories. I’m glad I get to take them on my runs, chat, and sing silly songs at lunchtime. I get to see my baby’s dimple when he smiles because he threw all his Cheerios on the ground.

Today’s been a boring, normal day. But it’s a good day. One of these days I’m going to learn that I worry for no reason, that I can save myself a lot of anxiety if I just live in the moment. Trust the Lord to equip me with what I need, when I need it. Sometimes the best days are the boring, nothing-planned, messy ones. It’s then that God gives me the downtime to find rest and to recalibrate. Even AFTER vacation (because let’s be real: vacationing with kids is never a real vacation).

My Backup Plan...

For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived my life with a series of contingencies. If a job didn’t work out, I’d find another one. If I didn’t make a theater show in high school, I’d volunteer on the tech team. If I couldn’t study abroad, I’d apply for some other unique program in college. I always had a backup plan.

As I’ve gotten older, the stakes are higher. I can’t have contingencies for certain areas of my life. I get one shot at marriage. One shot at being a mom. And you know what? That causes me a ton of anxiety. (Here’s open and vulnerable for you). What if I can’t be perfect? (News flash, I’m not, can’t be, and never will be, but sometimes I start believing the lie that I can be perfect or should be perfect).

I like to plan every detail of my life. I want to have backup plans if things don’t work out. Then I’m faced with a crazy reminder: I have no guarantee that anything will work out the way I want it to. I can plan, organize, schedule, analyze a calendar and put every backup plan in place, but sometimes life throws me a curveball. Sometimes circumstances outside of my control happen, and I have to figure out a way to adjust. And that’s scary.

So I’ve been learning something. I caught myself in a situation the other day where I didn’t have a backup plan, and I got a little panicky. I felt out of control. But maybe God lets things happen AGAINST my plan, so I lean into him. Maybe I don’t need a backup plan. What would my life look like if I trusted him in every single detail? What would it look like if I said, “I’ve done my best, and the rest is up to you Lord?” That right there is the terrifying place for me to land, because it means I’ve handed control over to God. Am I tempted to take it back? Yep, all the time. Does it help me to worry or control? Nope. It makes things worse.

And the best part of all? There’s a whole lot of grace to cover my imperfections. So that sweet spot of accepting grace and trusting God is where I need to be. I’m 32 years old. I’m tired of creating backup plans and contingencies, because it’s a set of mental gymnastics I don’t need to do. And most of the time, they’re unnecessary, or my plans don’t go like I thought anyway. HE gives perfect peace, his plan is always perfect, and works for my ultimate good. So I’m working on believing that, even when I want to be sure I have a backup plan in place in case things fall through. My new backup plan? To trust God to know even better what I need than I do.