I wrote a novel and thought it was time to tell you

I wrote a novel. Three years ago I started writing it. Two years ago I finished. Today I decided to tell you. 

I've been meaning to tell you for awhile. But I was waiting... waiting for something bigger, for something more exciting. I wanted to tell you I had a huge publishing deal in New York City, a fancy literary agent, and a good shot at making it on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

My goal was to be twenty-years-old and utterly established. I had dreams and goals and a 5-step plan. I told God I would never self-publish. I told God I would only release my book if I made it to the top. Shooting for excellence, you know? I decided anything aside from the best would be simply considered as mediocrity. 

It took me two years to realize otherwise. The past few years I have been relentlessly querying literary agents in New York City. I would find the most popular young adult authors in the bookstore, then trace their literary agent's name and publisher who was listed on the back cover. I'd go home and query them, silently begging them to validate me as a writer and human being. I thought if someone well-known accepted my writing, then I must be worth something, too.

I was rejected over 50 times. Rejection letter after rejection letter landed in my inbox. Each one was kind, offering encouragement to try again at another time, or informing me that my story just didn't fit what they were looking for.

In the beginning, I used the rejection as fuel to send more letters, to tighten my writing, to take the time to pray about the right agent—who would surely send my novel to the top of the publisher's list.

But no matter what I did, I continued to be rejected.

Was I a bad writer? Should I not pursue writing fiction? Should I stick to journalism, or hand-lettering, or maybe move on to working at McDonald's?  

I thought I was only worth something as a writer if I was on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

God was slowly, kindly, tenderly teaching me something else. It took me two years to learn that the validity of my writing and the definition of my worth are not tied to a fancy literary agent or a publishing house in New York. 

So now, after years of telling God otherwise, I have decided to self-publish my novel. 

I had to get to the point where publishing it myself didn't feel like settling. It doesn't feel like settling anymore. It feels like the most exciting prospect of my life. 

My book used to be about becoming known. I can sincerely tell you it's not about that anymore. I'd like to start small, taking the hours and days and months and years I have spent on this story, and quietly offering it out into the world. 

Maybe it'll just be my mom and my sister and my best friend who read it. But that's okay. Because the lessons I have learned these past three years—that my worth and my writing are not determined by what anyone says or thinks—well, those lessons mean far more to me than getting on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

I haven't given up hope on that, though. But it's certainly not the driving force for why I write. It used to be. Not anymore.

Soon my novel will be released into the world. I'm petrified and elated and grateful that God has been so kind to me, quietly molding me into someone who recognizes her worth. 

I don't have a hard release date for the book yet. This is all very new to me, but I'll make sure to keep you informed as I continue in this process. This is what I can tell you for now: my book is titled Come Find Me, Sage Parker, and is a contemporary young adult novel. 

I cannot wait to share my words with you. I've been waiting three years. I'll try my best to wait a little longer. 

This is how you'll feel when you decide to go to college


Nobody tells you how you’ll feel when you enter college for the first time. Nobody tells you how overwhelming it is when you stare at your course outlines, trying to remember how to write an essay or -- even worse -- take an exam.

Instead they say, “These will be the best days of your life!” or “You are going to enjoy this so much!” and you stare at them, thinking they must have forgotten.

They’ve forgotten the beginning. You can’t blame them: it’s easy to forget the beginning when you’re deep in the middle of something else.

Because nobody tells you that suddenly you’ll feel like the new girl again, trying to find a spot at the table. Is there room for me? You wonder. Instead of rational thinking, you curse the day you thought going to college was a good idea. It seems too hard. It feels too vulnerable. It looks too overwhelming. And quite honestly, it’s far too expensive.

These, you tell yourself, are solid reasons to quit.

And then you remind yourself that when you get a little stressed, you rarely make good decisions.

The part that scares you most is how you can literally feel all of your old wounds beginning to unravel, the stitches falling out. You can’t believe how you still don’t feel enough, how you still feel like you want to prove yourself.

Fear doesn’t get to win, you decide. Inadequacy and fear are finished setting up shop within you. They’re not permitted any longer. You choose to be brave, even when you hate how you’re feeling: loose and like you could fall apart at any moment, like the strings that are holding you together aren’t pulled quite tight enough.

Maybe in a few years you won’t remember how you felt when you decided to go to college. Maybe you’ll think the same thing they did: that these will be the best days of someone’s life. But right now that’s not the case.

So let me tell you how you feel: terrified and excited and severely confused by how emotional you are.

That’s okay. It’s alright to be at the beginning again. 

Someday, when you’re back in your middle, when you understand that college might actually be good, you can look at someone else who is just starting off, and you’ll see how scary the beginning is. You’ll take a deep breath and remember the terror, and instead of affirming how wonderful their time will be, you’ll hold their hand and say, “It’s okay. It’s okay to be at the beginning. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel this way.”

Sooner or later, they’ll understand how good it is. They’ll laugh at their fear and think about how they probably didn’t need to feel that way.

Later, when it’s their turn to look at someone who is just starting off, they’ll hold that someone’s hand and remind them what we all need reminders of: it’s okay to be at the beginning.

In a few days you’ll enter college for the first time, and everything will be new. The people, the parking lots, the classes, the course outlines.

You are not inadequate.

You are not fearful.

You are, quite simply, at your beginning.

Dear girl who thinks she's not enough

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 9.54.27 AM Dear girl who thinks she’s not enough,

My best friend's sister just had a baby girl, and already I'm praying that her baby girl will grow up feeling confident in her worth and enough-ness. But I'm not that naive. I know when you're a person trying to find your place in this world, your inadequacy shouts far louder than your gifts.

Each day I wake up and try to choose that I am enough, and still there are days where I am crippled by my insecurities. I used to think I could get to the point where I would always feel enough. Now I'm realizing that enough is not a feeling, but a choice.

I could tell you a million times over that your worth is far greater than all the stars gathered up together in the sky.

I could tell you that I'd pour your worth into the sea, only to hear it clang like a tambourine and come crashing back upon me, its tidal wave astronomical in strength, gushing across the plains and hills and valleys, cresting along the barriers of the Earth.

I could tell you that I'd like to take a measuring tape and wrap your worth around the circumference of the globe, only to see it wrap around a thousand times, immeasurable, a never ending ruler of your worth.

We could do these things together; I could show you your strength and dazzling significance, but still, if you haven't chosen to see that you're worth far more than all of these, you'll stay weary and crippled and believing you're not enough. You and I both know that you have a great deal more to offer the world than a weary and crippled girl.

Sometimes I like to dream about what the world would look like if we all chose to believe that how God made us is entirely good enough. And then I go one step further and start to dream about what the world would look like if we not only believed we were enough, but believed that who we are is just plain good.

When I am feeling most afraid and un-enough, I go back to God's words in the beginning where he calls you and me and the flowers and the birds and the trees and the ocean and the thousands of stars and the millions of grains of sand good. And then I think, "If I am good in God's eyes -- eyes that see beauty far more detailed and intricate and stunning than I could ever see -- why am I not good in my own?"

This is who I am:

I am a sinner -- elaborately flawed by my own self. I screw up consistently, so much so that somedays I don't even realize how much I have sinned.

But I am saved and forgiven and enough. I am worthy and valuable and significant -- not because of anything I did, but because Jesus has deemed me his.

You are all of this, too.

All of the people of the world could affirm your worth and value and enough-ness, and yet if you don't choose to believe it for yourself, you'll never believe it. 

Dear girl who thinks she's not enough -- you are.

But enough is a choice and not a feeling. It's a daily, sometimes minutely in my case, decision to retrain your thoughts: I am enough as I am. I am enough as I am. I am enough as I am. 

You have so much to offer the world: beauty and art and rare gifts that can only come from your hands, your voice, your beautiful brain. But ultimately you have to choose to believe that.

I hope you do. And I hope you know this: the world is a much, much lovelier place with you in it.

I accept

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 10.39.25 AM I begin a thirty day yoga practice eleven days late. I clear out a spot in the chaos of my room, patting myself on the back for undoing my mat on my hardwood floor. It's a start, I think. Showing up. I place my feet on the squishy purple, roll my body into myself and breathe.

Another breath.

The girl in the video congratulates me for arriving on my mat. "Thank you for showing up today," she says. I inhale slow, trying to remember the last time I thanked someone for showing up. If I ever have. I can't remember.

The girl's skinny, she's smiling -- she reminds me of all the things we seem to long for come January.

"I accept." She continues. "That's our mantra for today."

I accept, I say quietly, taking another long, slow breath. But I'm not sure if I actually do.

I cross my legs and close my eyes -- and I think I'm not supposed to be thinking, just breathing -- but I keep thinking anyway. Do I accept myself as I am?

Shauna Niequist said, "With people you can connect and you can compare, but you can't do both."

A cycle of comparison hurts me far more than it could ever heal me. Do I accept this life God has given me -- these hands, these gifts, these exhilarating adventures, these terrifying prospects, these boring days?

I stare at the girl on the video who is pretty and skinny and smiling  -- and do I accept myself as I am?

I think of my goals scratched down on paper -- dreams I desperately long for -- and do I accept myself as I am?

I think of a God of whom I'm called his beloved -- and do I accept myself as I am?

I would like to be tender and honest and a tiny bit gritty. I would like to congratulate someone on showing up because sometimes that's the bravest thing a person can do. I would like to connect instead of compare, and I would really like to accept myself as I am. Not in a few years, but now, in this moment.

I accept. I squeeze my eyes tighter and take another breath. I accept. Maybe not yet. But at least I'll keep trying.

Wholly yourself

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.24.34 PM I'm such a sucker for personality tests. I see a quiz online and I immediately drop everything and take it. I love getting to know myself better. I'm a huge fan of debriefing, of highlighting my lows and highs, of figuring out what's working for me and what's not.

I'm an ENFP, if you're wondering. (And if you have no sweet clue what I'm talking about, you can take a mini Meyers Briggs test here.)

So I've realized I'm a verbal processor -- when I talk to someone I trust explicitly I manage to understand my feelings and thoughts a whole lot better than I would if I kept them inside my head. I've realized many other things too -- my strong independence, my need for affirmation, my never ending list of dreams.

And even though these things (and so much more) make up who I am, I still find myself looking at other people and longing for parts of them.

If only I could write like... 

If only I could look like... 

If only I could paint like... 

Shauna Niequist once said, "With people, you can connect or you can compare but you can’t do both." When I compare myself to others, I give into my fears. Instead of celebrating who God created me to be, I choose to compare myself, allowing envy and fear to determine who I am.

But when I choose to be wholly myself, a girl Jesus instilled with dreams and gifts and hopes and plans, I'm choosing brave.

We all have something to offer the world. Each of us, uniquely designed and intricately formed, with purposes I believe are beyond our imaginations.

May we choose brave, choosing to celebrate who God created us to be, choosing to be wholly ourselves.



This is day fifteen of 31 days of choosing brave. You can click here if you'd like a list of all the posts in this series. If you would like these posts directly delivered to your email inbox, subscribe below.line1