Live it all. Live it well.

It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago I had just returned from the adventure of my life getting to spend a whole summer in Spain, England and Italy. I thought at the end of it I would be this well-experienced, wise traveler with complete revelation and vigor of what I would be doing with my life.

Reality? My life had been rocked and turned upside-down. I had a major identity crisis and had no idea what to do with my life. I was broke, jobless, displaced, vision-less and single. Dreams really do come true!

Yeah, not exactly the expectation I had upon graduating from 6 years of school and traveling the world. I thought I had to have things figured out before I could move forward. That I had to want something before I pursued it. That I had to make sure it would work out before I committed.


The truth is we will never know tomorrow’s plans but we live in faith of promises to be fulfilled in ways that our dreams can’t ever comprehend.

You may be a recent grad and wanna smack every person in the face that asks you either what you want to do with your life or what your plans are. Chill out. It’s just a question. Possibly one of the most natural ones to ask after you just spent $70,000 and the past 4 years of your life on a college education.

You may have just lost your job, had a career change, became an empty nester, got married, got divorced, moved across country, had major health set-backs, started a business, or ended one.

You can’t see the next step. You don’t know what will work out. Your fears from the past seem to be guiding you more than the desires if your heart.

Here’s what I’ve learned: just start. Somewhere. Move forward. Have courage. Pray to change your corner of the world and then go do just that to the person’s life in front of you.

Because you never have security of tomorrow. Today is the only chance you have to live today and then it’s over.

Last weekend a tragic accident happened while a church youth group was returning from a week of camp. Just a mile from church the bus overturned and 3 people were killed. The husband and wife that were killed were not only the youth leaders of the church, but they were also 8 months pregnant with a 2 year old left behind. I went to college with them. The other woman killed was the mom of one of my campers I counseled at a camp a few years back. Mrs. Weindorf went to give her young child with disabilities a chance to experience and enjoy camp. She has 5 children.

I am secure about a lot of things. I have a lot of promises I believe whole-heartedly in. However, I will never have the security and promise of another day physically on this earth. And this tragedy has been a huge reminder to do one thing:


Live life. Live it all. Live it well. Live my desires. Live without regrets. Live out love. Live for relationships and not for stuff. Live because my rock and love is Jesus. Live in the joy that is my reality no matter the circumstances.

2 years ago I could in no way imagined where my life would be today. God is fulfilling so many of my heart’s desires right now that back then I didn’t even know how to verbalize, much less intentionally pursue.

But that’s ok. And maybe that’s the whole point. Faith steps forward seeing realities that are beyond the physical.

Faith declares courage. And that’s our calling.

Take the first step. Live your “today desires.” Love the people in front of you right now. Because they could be the very ones that will be the movers and shakers in your life.

I just realized something: if I had given up on 9Round and stopped working out after my 6 month contract ended, if I had given up on being faithful in taking care of my physical body, if I had walked away after major change happened when our initial owners sold the store to corporate, then I never would’ve met Justin, the regional manager, and he wouldn’t ever have called me out about becoming a trainer during my 10th month. I wouldn’t have become a trainer and then a manager and an integral part of our corporate team and growth.

There’s something to be said for faithfulness and living well in the current circumstance. Tomorrow could change your life.

Chad and Courtney Phelps and Mrs. Weindorf were actively giving of themselves for the sake of others. You and I do the same by living love and faithfulness in our jobs, businesses, schools and homes. Don’t think your faithfulness is any less great just because it’s not “church” related. Because to live well in love is to spread the kingdom and change the world one moment at a time.


Use Your Dishwasher

I’ve now lived in my cozy little townhouse for a year and a half now. And for that first year I was very proud of one fact.

I never used my dishwasher.

Yep, it was the old-fashioned scrub-with-your-bare-hands, drip-and-dry-in-the-dish-rack method.

You see, when you start living on your own, your living expenses coming into stark reality as you realize that you have very little money to cover all these ridiculous expenses you have now to pay. And when it came to my house and utility bills, I eyed every little detail like a hawk. It became like this sick version of a Price Is Right game.

The bathroom light. the bathroom fan. the bedside lamp. the heat. the air. the shower water. the sink water. the outside light. the oven.

and then the dishwasher. It didn’t even stand a chance. If I could hand-wash my dishes for free, why would I PAY to use the dishwasher??!!

Unfortunately, I had overlooked one really important detail. In reality, it was easy to toss out the dishwasher because I never really needed to use my dishwasher. All my meals could easily be cleaned up with a quick, 3 minute hand-wash. Because all my meals were made for 1 person.

Which means that I never made meals for more than 1 person. which means no one ever ate at my house. which means I probably prized my low water bill above my community.


6-7 months ago I clearly remember telling someone that I never used my dishwasher. And then the Spirit of God was like, “Hey, you really need to start using your dishwasher.”

And then he continued to clarify.

Open your door. Turn on the lights. Crank up the air conditioning. Buy some good food. Make a great meal. Get a lot of dishes dirty. Let dirty shoes walk over your clean floors. Stay up past your bedtime for a good conversation.

and then when it’s all said and done, when the party’s over, when the last guest has left,

use your dishwasher.

You see, it took some time for me to realize that while everything I have is to be managed well, part of that also means what I have is to be given away. These words from 2 Corinthians 9 have rocked my world again and again in the past few months:

A giving man throws caution to the wind, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. And so God gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way.

So opening my home and allowing my food bill, water bill, utility bill and who-knows-what-else bill to increase can actually be this amazing act of trust and worship, that I’m going to recklessly give trusting that God’s going to take care of me and keep giving me enough so that I can provide for myself and others.

And you know what? It’s pretty cool when you see God increase your standard of living as you have already increased your level of giving. He just likes to bless his kids like that.

So manage your house well. But remember that your dishwasher’s purpose may not simply be to quickly clean up your life, but may also be an tool to help you love and give well to your community.


Love is weird

I’d like to take the beautiful text of I Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, and add another phrase.

Inspired? Probably not. So we’ll just stick with AUV (Angela’s Uninspired Version).

Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

Love does not demand its own way.

Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 

Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 

Love never gives up, never loses faith.  

Love is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love is weird.

Such a nice ring to it. So real. cultural. trendy.

Why “weird”? Well, basically, take a good hard look at the definitions and actions of true love, flesh it out, and then imagine following a person around all day that actually practiced these phrases in real time. You’d have to come to the conclusion, “They are CRAZY!”.

To choose love. self-sacrificing love. kind hands. forgiving words. genuine smiles.

when that guy steals your iPhone right after group contra-dancing with him.

when your brother daily leaves cheese slice wrappers all over the kitchen.

when day after day your teenager openly disrespects you and refuses to talk.

when your vindictive relative stirs up animosity against you within your family.

when a new coworker is handed the job and pay raise you rightfully deserve.

when the guy you gave so much self-sacrificing love to decides to date another girl.

when your housemate breaks contract and walks away, leaving you with a monthly payment you can’t make.

when these incidents happen again. and again. and again.

and yet true love doesn’t allow you to walk away with bitterness and resentment.

And the craziness is not just about having these intentions; it’s when you practice them in front of others and speak the heart behind your decision. That’s the part I don’t like; I don’t like to stand out, to be exceptional. It draws too much attention to something so …different.

Quite frankly, love is offensive. Oh, I like to be all cute about it, share great quotes, tweet meaningful insights, buy P.S. I Love You off the $5 stack at Walmart and place it meaningfully on my shelf next to Fireproof.

But what you don’t see is that moment when every feeling and emotion and logic is screaming inside me, “I can’t stand you anymore!” And that, my friends, is when the test of true love shows up and says, “So what will you do? How far can you go?”

Because love never ends. never fails. never runs out.

And then in order to really love, a choice is made. A choice to lay down myself, my rights, my reason, my deservings, and to actually die. Then I, in that posture of sacrifice with weak, struggling, almost unwilling hands, lift that person above myself.

I typically don’t “feel” loving in that position. Actually, it’s really uncomfortable. It hurts being there. It doesn’t make sense and often I’m in an argument with myself about whether or not this is the best choice, if it’s actually helpful in the longrun.

And then God spoke this to me tonight: Mercy and love break chains.

Arguments don’t break chains. Cold, hard truth doesn’t break chains.

But love does.

And that feeling of love? Well, that will come. Emotions tend to be a bit delayed at times. But it’s coming. The joy and passion and happiness– it’s totally on it’s way. But don’t wait for it in order to act. cause you might not ever end up loving anyone in your life. not cool.

So it’s not all fluff; there’s proof and reality to true love.

And proof is in the pudding.

Actually I don’t even know what that means. and I don’t even like pudding.


Have you ever met someone that loves like that?

Yeah, it’s probably weird.

But actually…

…now I’d like to retract that word.

When you meet someone like that

it’s beautiful. 

and true beauty is love.

love never fails

I got a love letter!

Have you ever received a love letter?

Like, a real one. a genuine, hand-written, college-ruled, snail mailed, cologne scented love letter?

Let me tell you– It’s quite an experience.

I open the mailbox. the initial rush of personally picking it up with my own hands and realizing what it is and who it’s from. Smiling stupidly is my specialty, so thus the side glance to see if anyone else notices my odd reaction. and the fact that it’s gotten really warm in here all of a sudden. awkward yawn. ok relaxed and safe to move on.

First things first, I don’t open it right away. No, something like this waits for solace and full attention. I could rip it open and feverishly read it immediately, but… that’s just not me. so I wait. but obviously not too long. really people.

I love to read outside so I search out a destination. Random rock, patch of grass, rusted bench- whatever. Just get there.

Letter in hand, heading to my “spot,” can’t get it off my mind. What’s he going to say? Of course, you know, I’ve already anticipated in my mind of what he’s going to tell me. I know him pretty well so I already have a good idea what kind of stuff he will say. But, what if he says something new? What about that “next level” thing I keep hearing about? Every time I think I’ve figured him out, there he goes surprising me yet again with another crazy awesome attribute. And is it possible he’s been thinking about me as much as I’ve been thinking about him? highly unlikely. but we’ll see.

At my spot. Looking at the envelope- yep, addressed to me. to ME! I still can’t believe he actually loves me. Even saying the word “love” just causes awe and wonder. goosebumps. undeserving.

Attempt to open slowly. Proceed to shred the envelope (because that’s the only way to open an envelope– why so difficult?!).

Dear Angela. Actually he addresses me differently, but that’s a little too personal to share here.

And then I read.

The first time through I read rather quickly, catching the highlights, just overjoyed that I actually get to hear from him! Whenever I read a letter from him, it really is almost like he’s here. with me.

And then the second read-through. A little slower, a little more methodical. And a third time. and a fourth time. It’s like each time I see something different. And because I’m weirdly analytical, I begin imagining about what he really meant with that sentence. What’s he actually saying when he writes that phrase? A special meaning just for me?? From what I hear though, typically guys mean what they say (ie, “I’m fine” actually really does mean “I’m fine.” Mind blown!). But still, I think he might be trying to lead somewhere deeper with this…hm, need to chew on this more.

Of course I have to reread my favorite parts. The ones that to me are the most endearing, truthful, beautiful words. Sure, I’d prefer for him to be here RIGHT NOW, but the next best thing are his words.

So then I sit back. stare aimlessly into space. and think about the letter. and him. I can’t stop smiling. I can’t stop longing. hoping. And anyone that walks by has no doubts: she’s in love.

What happens next? Well of course the letter is in an easily accessible and often-viewed place. Dashboard, bathroom mirror, desk drawer. And almost without thought the words of this love letter tend to spill over into conversations. You know what I mean. You’re at lunch with friends, in the middle of the the organic foods discussion, and “that person” keeps talking about the random non-topic related foods he likes to eat. “He totally loves tomato soup and grilled cheese and that’s what I’m making tonight– good recipes anyone?” Yeah, the day of the letter, I’m “that person.”

If you talk with me at any point during the day I read that letter, it’s inevitable– somehow a part of him will rub off on you. He’s just that awesome. and I can’t hide it because someone this amazing has stolen my heart, and honestly the only downfall is that he isn’t here next to me right now for me to introduce you to him. But the words of the love letter will do just fine for now. But trust me, meeting him is TEN TIMES more awesome!


So that’s my love letter story.

Ridiculous, huh? C’mon, I know you’ve been there. little smile?

And I’m smiling because, well, this really well-developed, thought-provoking, borderline embarrassing story may very well have been from my own imagination. yep, I’ve never actually gotten a hand-written love letter from someone. Was that a major letdown? do you still respect me? (Oh, and I’m not married yet though, so there’s still time bro!)

But, actually, this is a world rocking moment for me.

have experienced this.

I have a love letter.

like, for real. and it’s from God.

Use your imagination. I think you can connect the dots.

What he’s been teaching me the past several years? The reality of what this “love letter” connection means and the depths of it. This is an illustration I’ve often used with my teen girls at camp, in random talks with friends about God’s words, and it came up in 2 separate conversations one day this week. I’ve been mulling over it. Been rebuked by it.

Do something- go back and reread this post and imagine Jesus as the “he” I refer to and make the setting one of personal time with Jesus. Why would the God that created us give us different love experiences, expectations and emotions on earth with another human than what he intended us to have with himself? Radical, I know, but really. think about it. God came up with Song of Solomon stuff. And it’s pretty radical and free and without fear. (and if you haven’t read the Song of Solomon story, you really should. It’s off the chain.)

Honestly, I don’t get it. This is so far from my reality I don’t even know why I’m writing this. I don’t understand this “love letter” connection stuff much right now, maybe somewhat attributing to being single, which is probably why marriage is attractive to me. But one way or another, on heaven or earth, I’m gonna experience that kind of love. There’s a wedding waiting for me.

So I’m thinking, if you’re not of the mind of a bride getting ready to walk down and meet her groom, maybe you don’t really know Jesus. Because he’s just that awesome. and he’s stolen my heart. and once I read his words to me, I can’t help but smile. and tell everyone about him. And I hope that some day people will walk by when I’m reading His words and say, “No doubt about it– she’s in love.”