Tag Archives: Growing Up

26 to 26: There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously goodlooking.

I believe that it was the great philosopher, Derek Zoolander, who once said:

“There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking…and I plan to find out what that is.”

So much wisdom, so much truth.

If we’re honest, this is a lie that we whisper to ourselves in front of mirrors and our peers.

Life would be better if __________________.

We fill it in with dreams of higher cheekbones, thinner waists, fatter paychecks, broader influence. We fill it in with things far off and fleeting.

We stuff these Photoshopped ideals chock full of promises of easier, better, fuller living.

But the storms still come when you’re beautiful. Relationships still strain when you’re thin. Loss still hits when you’re rich. Failure still comes when you’re famous.

And just because they have rock hard abs and stunning features, doesn’t mean that they [male models] can’t not too die in a freak gasoline fight accident.

We can spend our lives chasing after thoughts of how we should look, how our lives should look. We can and often times do. But I wager that it is those who are concerned little with physical beauty or worldly wealth or hoarding power who are indeed the most beautiful, affluent, and influential.

I wager that those living life-fullest are fleeing from better and clinging to now.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33


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26 to 26: Finish the things you start

Finish the things that you start.

It’s the things that you finish, not the things that you begin, that will define you, shape you, strengthen you.

The beautiful, lasting things are the laborious ones.

Don’t give up.

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26 to 26: Family is a funny thing.

Das my dad.

Das my dad.

Family is a funny thing.

Me:   “Hey mom. Did you know that this yogurt has agave in it?”

My dad:  “AGAVIA!” sung to the tune of the Activia yogurt commercials

My family is a funny thing because they’re funny.

The older I get, even just by the day, the more I appreciate each of them.

Jamie’s dry humor.

Dad’s tight hugs.

Mom’s constant nurturing.

I spend Sunday’s, after church, with my family. I pick Olive up from my house and bring her to “grammy and grampy’s” to play with Shilah, their persistently naughty lab.

I bake apple crisp for my dad and use baby-talk to make attempts at communicating with my 23 year-old brother. I do laundry and watch movies and lounge in front of their pellet stoves.

I soak up all of the love and the home that is in that house.

Since I’ve moved out and as I live life on my own, I’m learning more and more how deeply the roots and bonds of family run. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The work of family is messy. There are shouts and tears and bruised egos. Yet as messy as it gets, it always ends up all that more lovely. And there are hugs and kisses and laughs and bound-up hearts.

Family is a funny, funny thing, but it may be the most important thing.

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26 to 26: It’s okay to ask for help.

creative commons: VinothChandar

creative commons: VinothChandar

Sometimes I think that I’ll be able to muscle the strength, the stamina, the courage to do something on my own.

Sometimes I think that I can try harder, push myself further.

Sometimes I think that I can bite my lip a little harder, grit my teeth a little tighter, lock my elbows and my knees and pull this life-load alone. My lips bleed and my jaw aches and my joints buckle.

Sometimes I tell myself lies so that I don’t let others know that I need help. They always echo: You’re alone in this.

Sometimes you can’t lift a weight yourself. Sometimes you can’t bear a load as one. Sometimes you need to ask for help.

And that’s alright.

We were built for community and relationship and life-load sharing. We’re wired to need and be needed by other people.

We weren’t meant to carry breaking burdens, secrets alone.

It’s okay to ask for help.



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26 to 26: It’s not your responsibility to make everyone happy

I often say that I am a people-pleaser both by nature and profession. My natural tendency, impulse to make people happy makes me pretty good at my job and pretty hard on myself.

This next one is a hard lesson to learn:

It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.

creative commons; efleming

creative commons; efleming

I’ve been seeking other people’s approval for just about 26 years but I’ve been doing it as my full time gig for just over two. I’ve had some frustrating interactions with ministry leaders, parents, and group members but they don’t usually shake me.

Until a few months ago.

Until a Hispanic woman berated me in the lunch line in her broken English and made me cry. All over a few baked potatoes. I didn’t cry in front of her, of course. I’m too proud, too stoic for that. No. I waited until she had said her peace and I had nodded and I’m sorry-ed myself out. Then I went to the basement and bawled.

Her group leader saw the whole thing and tried to intervene. She had consoled me with Don’t listen to her. She’s crazy.

But they didn’t matter. Again, I nodded and smiled and said that it was fine, fine, fine.

This woman’s words shook me not because she upset with the situation but because she was upset with me. She made it clear how she felt about me. I was unqualified, immature, and impolite.

And the haunting fear: I’m not enough, I’m not enough, I’m not enough.

There will be people to whom you cannot say yes and you will have to say no.

There will be people who don’t like the things that you say, the jokes you crack, the stances you hold, the questions you ask, the answers you give.

There will be people who whisper about you behind your back.

There will be people who say hard things to your face.

There will be people who do not like you.

And that’s okay. That’s actually kind of normal. That’s actually kind of good.

Your life’s purpose isn’t to make people happy. Don’t let that scare you. Your life’s purpose is way bigger than that.

Keep your eyes up and your heart open.


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26 to 26: Rest

It’s okay to rest. I mean, rest is good.

Sometimes rest is hard. Sometimes rest means facing the facts and looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Sometimes rest means quieting yourself from to-do lists and overbooked schedules to listen. Rest is hard when you just want to run.

But sometimes, rest comes easy. Like today.

Like a day when you woke up at 4:30 am and spent 5 hours in the car and then proceeded to spend six hours awkwardly chatting with strangers and sitting through a lecture on youth ministry in the church even when you don’t work in a church or often in youth ministry.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to rest. It is good to rest. It is gift to rest.

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26 to 26: Growing up & knowing that you’ll never be grown up.

creative commons; veganbaking.net

creative commons; veganbaking.net

Your mid-twenties are weird. I’m only half way through but I’ll tell you what I know.

At some point you start talking to your best friend about cutting sodium of your diet because you feel bloated.

You start putting flax seed on your oatmeal.

You realize that your parents’ actually know what they’re talking about and this prompts you to listen to their advice.

You start finding gray hairs. Not just one hair. Several.

You lose your ability to stay up late, wake up early, and still function normally.

You use clichés like, “That’s for the birds!” And find yourself wondering, “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! AND WHO AM I, MY GRANDFATHER?!”

You begin to refer to college freshman as “babies” because 18 is sooooo young and they’re so naïve and don’t they know how good they have it?!

You start worrying about health insurance and how many cavities you probably have.

You start saying things like, “I really need to start saving for retirement,” and, “I need to establish some credit.”

You start watching HGTV and thinking, “I should buy a fixer-upper while the mortgage rates are still low!”

And then, at some point, you stop saying things like, “When I grow up…” because it hits you—like  a brick to the face, like a kick to the gut, like a —that you are indeed “grown up.” You have a job and people actually trust you enough to give you responsibility over things, important things and you’re buying your own toilet paper and probiotics and coconut oil because it’s supposed to be good for you, right? and you just adopted a dog and what were you thinking, embracing this growing up thing?!

It’s just a really weird place to be. You’re only 10 years from 16 but you feel like you’re 46 pushing 106.

But then again, being grown up, you start to realize that you’re never really fully “grown up.” You’re still uncertain of the future, still unsure of yourself.  You’re still a little scared of the dark and all of the scary things out there at night. You still long for adventure and passion and love. You still want to laugh and be silly and shed all of that responsibility on a Friday night.

You still spend time thinking, “What if, when I grow up…”

But, you know, it’s actually better. It’s actually nice to know your credit score and buy yourself something nice with the money you’ve earned at the job where you’ve proven you’re responsibility. Or just to sit in the home that you’ve made for yourself with your little dog and your hand-me-down furniture and that coat rack that you hung yourself. I don’t think I’d trade it. I don’t think I’d go back to the simpler, naïve.

There’s some peace in the process of wisdom. There’s some strange beauty in the knowing. There’s something charming about growing up and knowing that you’ll never be grown up.

Ah, the mystery, the intrigue, the flax seed. You’ve just got to go with it.

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26 to 26: No one is thinking about you in your bathing suit.

creative commons; jonny2love

creative commons; jonny2love

I’ll be honest. This is not a post about my bathing suit.

In fact, I’ll be doubly honest: I haven’t shaved my legs since some time in late September. I am definitely not thinking about swim suit season.

Truthfully, this has nothing to do with my bathing suit and everything to do with the fact that I live my whole life as if people are staring at me, judging eyes wide open.

We all think that people are looking at us, when really we’re just looking too hard at ourselves.

I read a book this summer, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I loved it for so many reasons. I loved it because I am a person of Bread & Wine—a Believer in a Jesus that offered up broken bread and broken body; poured out wine and poured out blood. I’m also a person of bread & wine—a lover of food and table-side community. But mostly, I loved it because Shauna was bold and honest and funny and raw. She was ruthless with herself and transparent with her readers.

She shared this story about spending summers on the beach and missing out on memories and moments because she’s consumed by what people might think of her in her swim suit.

She said:

“But my friend Sara always reminds me, on one’s actually thinking about me often as I think they are. Probably my friends are not actually counting the days till summer to see if I’ve finally turned into a supermodel. Probably they’re thinking about their own lives or current events or any number of things that have nothing to do with my chins.”

I have to laugh because we all think this way. I think this way. Too often, I think that all eyes are on me.

All the critical eyes gaping open, refusing to blink lest they miss it—my failure.

“Shame whispers to us that everyone is as obsessed with our failings as we are.” –S. Niequist

The truth is that no one is paying that close of attention. No one is as critical of you as you are of yourself. It’s time that you stop projecting that onto other people. It’s time that you stop desperately clawing at approval and recognition.

Everything is not about you. The world is not spinning in motion around you, orbiting around the circumference of your fears and failures.

Trust me, no one is thinking about you in your bathing suit.

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26 to 26: This is not the end.

I’m already a day behind on this. Figures. Such is my life. Always one step behind.

I’m fast approaching my 26th birthday—25 days out to be exact.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with November 29th. I love it because cake is my favorite food. I hate it because I can feel the minutes, years slipping away, ticking by so quickly this cold, dark month of fading fall. Every hour, closer to the wrecking day when my age expands another notch larger.

Birthdays, for me as a critical-cynical-pessimistic-realist, are really more about looking back than they are about looking forward.

Sometimes this looking back is a time of seeing God’s hand at work. Sometimes everything seems bright and clear, beaming with life and promise. Sometimes everything feels beautiful and right. And then again, sometimes not.

Sometimes, times like now, things seem dark and unfamiliar and downright terrifying. Sometimes it seems like the dawn isn’t breaking, the dark isn’t fleeing, the spring isn’t coming, the fear isn’t ebbing.

Sometimes, it feels like the end. Of something. Of nothing.

Of so much yet so little that I can’t fight to tie it down, pull its mask off, and finally see what it is. The mystery haunts me.

It’s days, months, years like this the need a little hope. Sometimes we can only see that hope when we gaze back, even if it is into utter darkness.

Because this is not the end.

Some friends and I made the trek to Quincy to see Gungor perform last Friday. Miranda always used to say that their music made her too emotional. For the first time, on Friday, I understood it. As they sang, I mumbled along and felt as if I needed this. I needed to believe it.

This is not the end, this is not the end of this.

Eyes are opening wide. Lungs are breathing in. Chapters are closing. Pages are turning but it isn’t over. Whatever it is, it isn’t over.

And even if it was, even if this was it, it would have been enough.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?” –Ecclesiastes 7:8-13, ESV

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Growing Up at 25

Today I am 25 years, 3 months, and 22 days old.

Today, on my way out the door, I locked my keys in my house. Luckily, I had a spare car key in my wallet because, well, I’ve locked myself out of my car before. On said occasions, I’ve had to call my parents to come bring me my spare key and why my parents have my spare key when I haven’t lived at home in two years is beyond me. And luckily I live at camp and the key to my house is also the key to three other buildings so I knew I’d find another one laying around somewhere.

Foolish things like that always remind me how far I am from grown-up-ness.

I’ve been learning a lot lately. It’s weird because I’m 25 and I’m going on a solid two years of living on my own so you’d think that I would have grown up by now. I feel like I’m just starting.

Growing up isn’t just something that happens. Growing up is lessons. Growing up is messing up. Growing up is disappointing yourself, other people. Growing up is hard. Growing up means making some bad decisions and it also means admitting when you’ve made them. Growing up means conflict and discomfort. Growing up means trying new things. Growing up means learning independence. Continue reading


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