you are enough

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.

When shame visits you at three in the morning

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 7.22.54 PM Shame woke me up at three in the morning. My eyes flew open and I felt as though I hadn't yet slept. Suddenly I was wide awake and acutely aware of the shame wrapped like a blanket around me.

It was late and I felt like the smallest human on earth. I made my way into the fetal position, my white bedspread crumpled beside me, a tangible example of how crumpled I felt within.

"I don't understand," I whispered to Jesus. "I have dealt with my insecurities. I have come to terms that I am enough as I am. Why do I feel so small? So worthless?"

My shame thrives at three in the morning, when the wind is banging my blinds against the wall, when the darkness is at its peak. Like a boa constrictor, she snakes around me, squeezing. Soon I am poured out and exhausted.

Shame tells me I am not enough. Shame tells me my words will not be read. Shame tells me my work, my hands, my life will not produce anything meaningful. But Shame is a good, smooth liar. At three in the morning it's easy to believe her.

I closed my eyes and took a deep, clear breath, all the while silently begging Jesus to unravel me from the tangled mess I had found myself in. I asked myself the following: what is my feeling, and what is my truth? There's a difference, I know, between feelings and truth. My feelings don't dictate what is true. It's just harder to remember that when I'm in the midst of feeling things strongly.

My feeling: I am not enough.

My truth: I am. I am. I am.

My feeling: My words will not be read. Instead they will stay where they are, sitting in the bottom drawer of my white book shelf. I will be on the tireless pursuit of attempting to put my words out into the world for the rest of my life.

My truth: My words are already being read.

My feeling: What I produce is not meaningful.

My truth: My life is meaningful and sacred and significant, and because my work stems from my life, my work is important too (even when it feels like saving the world is the only adequate measure of importance).

Shame does not decide who I am, although that's trickier to declare when your heart is weary and Shame has a good, strong grasp on you.

Shame woke me up at three in the morning and then my alarm woke me up at seven. I looked at my room, now bathed in light instead of the darkness which had accompanied me earlier. I gathered my truths instead of my feelings and held them close against me for the rest of the day.

And I said, "Jesus, teach me what is true, teach me what is true, teach me what is true."

Because even when I don't feel enough, I'll hold on like a mad woman to the truth that I am.

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 turned down a book deal and this is why

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 11.41.45 PM This past October I was offered a book deal. A few days ago, I turned it down.

I hadn't sent out a book proposal because I wasn't even considering writing nonfiction. But a publishing house had somehow discovered my blog, liked what they saw, and wanted me to write a book. It's strange to even type that.

When they first emailed me, I was in the Lima airport in Peru at four in the morning. I think I literally squealed. I was elated, delighted, flattered, exhausted, and shocked. Mostly I couldn't believe it. I read the email over and over again, and I remember feeling like I was still on the plane, like I was flying or hovering, like my backpack didn't weigh a thing. I also distinctly remember feeling like I was on fire.

There was a lot going on inside of me that day.

Over the next few months the publisher, editor, marketer, and I chatted. They were nothing if not kind. We conceptualized ideas, talked about titles, looked over marketing plans, and did a lot of other book-ish things. I was happily overwhelmed through the whole process, until one week when I started having nightmares.

I am slowly learning that when I have anxiety, she often shows her face through dreams. She sneaks into my head at night, and I wake up feeling sad and confused and lonely. That happened for a week and a half. I was so tired, and didn't have much energy. I binge-watched a lot of Grey's. I didn't write.

Since they had offered me the deal, an endless loop had been playing in my mind: I'm going to be published! I'm going to be published! I'm going to be published! 

I thought being published was the epitome of success. I thought I would have something worthwhile to tell people when they asked me what I did for a living. I thought I would write this book, but I was thinking that for all of the wrong reasons.

I made a promise to myself years and years ago, back when I was seventeen-years-old, when I began writing a novel. The promise was this:

I will not write a book solely to get published. I will only write a book if I desperately, relentlessly, urgently need to write the book. I will write because I need to write, not because I hope to be published.

That was a promise I made to my heart, if only to help me come back to the reason why I started writing in the first place.

I can't write a book just to write a book. I mean I could -- but I don't want to. It has to be carved so deep within me that I will do literally anything to see its release. I feel this about other projects, other words. I didn't feel that about this one.

I will be so 100%, blatantly honest with you: for me, this book wouldn't have been about the words. It would have been about the idea that being published somehow would make me enough.

One day after the anxiety was on full blast in my brain, I woke up and started to fervently pray, using Philippians 4:6 and 7 as my lifeline: “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I wanted peace more than anxiety. I wanted my enough-ness to stem from God and not a publishing deal. I wanted Jesus more than anything. So I took my shaky hands and typed an email, clicked send, and didn't have a book deal any longer.

Immediately I wondered if I made a huge mistake. Would this be my only opportunity to be published? I asked God to confirm that I did the right thing. Not even a half hour later, I felt inexplicable peace.

Everything about this was good. The publishing house was kind, the concept was fantastic, the timeline lovely. It was all good. Which is, I think, why I was feeling so confused. If all of it was lovely, why was I anxious?

When the world offers you something gleaming on a shiny silver platter, it seems foolish to say no. It's so pretty, so tantalizing, so easy to pick up and run with. But in the deep recesses of my heart and soul I knew this shiny morsel wasn't right for me yet. I have to believe that what God has for me -- though perhaps not gleaming or shiny or silver -- is so much better.

Writing a book to try and prove your worth is not nearly a good enough reason to write a book.

I thought long and prayed hard about this, and the storyteller inside of me wants to write fiction until my fingers bleed. I thought I needed to be a nonfiction writer because that's what was being offered, but I know now that's not true. I thought I needed to accept a publishing deal, because maybe it will be the only one ever offered. But I want to trust God far more than all of this. I need to instead lean into what God has in store for me -- and quite honestly, I have no idea what that is.

So there we have it. Maybe foolish. Maybe brave. You can decide, because the truth is I don't mind which one you choose.

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.

To the woman who feels she's not enough

12012015_AlizaLatta_BecauseOfJesus To the woman who feels she’s not enough:

You come across confident. Your words, your actions, the way you present yourself, all seem to be carried with a quintessential poise. I know I’m just a girl you think may not know much, but when I look at you — when I really peer in and try to understand who you are — I have this feeling that your confidence is a facade. That your layers are merely that: just layers to hide an engulfing fear of inadequacy. I know this diversion well.

I often use artificial confidence to hide how I feel.

I don’t want you to drown in a sea of decaying self-worth. You have so much to offer this world, so much to give. You’re infinitely valuable. I hope you stretch out your fingers and see the innumerable gifts you could provide.

There are certain nights when I feel most un-enough, and those are the nights I ask Jesus to hold me. Sometimes I feel His arms wrap around mine, and I fall asleep with this feeling of safety. Tonight, I’m asking Him to hold you. Tonight, I’m asking Him to wrap Himself around you so tight that the inadequacy falls away. That you wake up clean and whole and free.

Please don’t rip your worth away.

I have so many scars from all the times I’ve teared open my skin and wrenched out my worth. Every time I convince myself I’m not enough, I rip away the worth Jesus has instilled inside of me. Jesus never ceases to sew me back up, adding value and worth and adequacy.

With Him, I am enough. With Him, I am complete again.

Need a reminder of your worth? Come over with me to (in)courage today...

For all the times you forget your worth


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I see the girl and I know she's forgotten it.

I know this because she reminds me of someone else I know, someone I know well, someone who seems to forget it everyday; most days every hour; somedays every minute.

The girl's forgotten her worth. She's mixed it up with other things that don't nearly matter, believed the lies that it's a quality you must earn.

For that girl, for me, for you, for all the times we forget our worth:

You are brave because you decided to do today. You allowed your feet to hit the floor. You got up. You showed up. You woke up. Or maybe you didn't, but you will. There will be a day where you will, and you are brave now, even before that day comes.

You are loved and I know this because you are here. The gentle hands that carved the ripples in the sea carved the bridge in your nose, and the roundness of your lips, and the arches in your feet -- the same feet which will take you places you can't yet dream of.

You are alive even if life feels like a miserable, pitiful thing. But you have passions welling up inside of you, I know they're there, though they might feel hidden right now. And you will create beautiful things, beautiful stories, because that is who you are: a beautiful, intricate, untold story.

You are filled with courage and I don't care if you're also filled with fear, because when you are courageous you will most likely still be afraid. And that is okay. I believe courage is when you choose to step past that overwrought, frantic place, and even though your heart will still be pounding and your knees might be shaking, you are courageous.

You are mighty because you have made it through hard things. The big hard things, the small ones too, the everyday ones that wear on you so you feel thin and worn out and needing grace. That grace is there for you, outstretched like an open hand, a grace for you, you mighty thing.

You are worthy and may I shout this from the mountain peaks and the roof tops and the hills in Rwanda, I will shout it loud for you to hear, echoing over again: you are worthy, you are worthy, you are worthy, and this will be my anthem for you and for me alike. Because you are, and even when you forget it, may I remind you. You are worthy.

And mighty.

And filled with courage.

And alive.

And loved.

And brave.

I'll say this to the girl, and maybe she won't believe me, but maybe -- just maybe she will -- and even if she doesn't, I'll keep on telling her. I'll keep on telling you too. And perhaps you'll keep on telling me.

Maybe your inadequacy is exactly where you're supposed to be


I haven't posted on here nearly as much as I want to. You know why? Fear.

Of course. (I can hear you chuckling over there.)

I didn't realize when The Year Of No Fear became a thing that ALL of my fears would resurface. Suddenly I feared putting any words on the Internet. Fear of what you might think of me? Perhaps.


I told God the other day that I thought I was the wrong person for this.

"I'm too scared," I told Him. "Why couldn't you have chosen someone who knows what they're doing? Who doesn't constantly feel inadequate? Who plans ahead, and will actually write things on the blog instead of ignoring it?"

I told this to my friend too, and she said this: "Maybe this is how you're supposed to feel. Scared, a little hesitant, not quite sure what you're supposed to do. Maybe your inadequacy is exactly where you're supposed to be."

She's right, of course. When I feel like I "have it all together", I hardly turn to Jesus. I feel confident and on top of the world, not needing Him or anyone.

And yet when I'm frightened and uneasy, the only strength I have to draw from is His. And He is good. And He is greater than all of my fears, and no fear is too great or too measly to bring in front of Him.

Maybe today you feel overwhelmed and afraid and inadequate. But maybe that's where you're supposed to be, as a reminder that you don't need to do this alone,  because there is a good, grace-filled God that wants to do this all with you.

I started The Year of No Fear, and this post is over there today. Feel free to come on over and check it out. The invitation is, and always will be, open to you.

PS. If you have Twitter, you can follow me here. I've been trying to post "no fear" verses everyday. I also post them on Instagram, which you can see here. And on my Facebook page, which you can see here.

this is how I see you


Dear Mom, You're beautiful.

You're the most beautiful person in the world, if you want my opinion.

If I were to write these words large and proud right across your bathroom mirror so you could see them in the morning, or stroke them on a banner and wave it tall and high all stretched out from each corner of the sky, or whisper them quiet in your ear every moment of every day, it still wouldn't be nearly enough. 



You've taught me that when you love someone, you tell them who they are to you. So today I'm telling you - you're beautiful, Mom. And more than that, you're funny and kind and tender and spirited. You're all the best things that there are in a person, really.

But you're absolutely beautiful.

You emit grace with every breath that releases from your lips. Slow, patient, untiring. Grace for me, grace for others, gracefulness in all you do. Because of the immense and extraordinary love you have for me, you've shown me how I should go out and love others.

And yes, I know we've had our days (cough, years), like when you were home schooling me in eighth grade, and I yelled at you almost every day that you were COMPLETELY RUINING MY ENTIRE LIFE. Remember that? Yeah, I'm sure you do.


IMG_1595But we got past that, didn't we? We got past the days of Liv and I fighting over our Ken doll, past the days of us refusing to eat your tuna melts, past the days of not getting my favourite part in my favourite play. We've had good days and bad days and each day we made it through. Together.

You welcomed me into this world, and then you held me close after I fell down all those stairs, and you kissed my fingers when I burned my hand, and you prayed over me more times than I can count, and you cried with me when those girls were cruel, and you waved goodbye when I left to go to Africa, and then, in that airport, you welcomed me right back home.


When you told me Jesus loves me, I believed you, because you love me.

When you told me that I am beautiful, I believed you, because you're beautiful.

And when you told me if I said one more mean word you were going to wash my mouth out with soap, I believed you, because you're honest and you stick to what you say.

When I was little, I wanted to be just like you when I grew up. And the truth is, at twenty, still little in so many ways, I still do. I want to be like you.

So, this is how I see you, Mom.

I see you strong and brave and humble. I see you empathetic and adventurous and kind. I see you classy and smart and creative.  

I see you beautiful. I see you so beautiful - altogether beautiful, beautiful in every way. 

mom and dad.png

Let me ask something of you. Tomorrow when you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, when you're tempted to see you as you've always seen yourself, will you think about this? Will you think about how I see you instead?

Maybe I can't write these words across your bathroom mirror, or hang them on a banner high, but I can scratch them down here for you to come back to.

I see you beautiful. Here, now, always.

I love you forever,

Love me


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I believe that you are altogether beautiful, too. For you, this print is on sale for 25% off for the next week, using the code "altogetherbeautiful" at the checkout of the Choose Brave Shop, 



the freedom of being small


As my feet find their way across the stretch of the airport, I can feel the old insecurities beginning to rise up, awakening from deep inside of me. I want to tell them to gooooooooo awaaaaaaay, but in this foreign new world of writers and blogging and books and reviews, they feel familiar to me, and sometimes in my newness I long for familiarity.

The group of us, all (in)courage writers, were in Arkansas for a retreat - a time to renew, to refresh, to really get to know one another in the quiet. And I'm the youngest of them. I don't have a book, and I don't have a husband, and I don't juggle a full time job while mothering eight tiny children. As I sat there, I hoped that simply by being near them I might learn. I wanted to sponge up their wisdom, to soak in their greatness. Because the deep down truth is, I wanted to be great, too.

It's funny, the things you learn about yourself when you're in a room full of other women.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 3.18.30 PM

You see, in my head, I believed that in order to be accepted, I needed to be equivalent. I wanted to impress these (in)courage writers. I wanted to be their equal. I wanted them to think me so very smart and so utterly talented.

Instead, I felt small and young and vastly inexperienced. And then, on the Sunday evening, I realized something.

I am.

I am each one of these things. I always thought them burdens, that they hindered me from being something more. But then, I finally realized, they're gifts. They're who I am right now.

Emily Freeman teaches me to lean into my smallness. Through her words and her living she tells me: small isn't a flaw - its  freedom. My age isn't a weakness, but a number. My inexperience isn't a limitation, it's an opportunity.

I desperately wanted more: to be older, to be wiser, to be thought of as great. I thought to be enough, I needed to have this checklist of things completed, this idea of grandeur achieved.

I thought all of these women had something I didn't and never would have, and I put them on a pedestal that reached high beyond me. But what I realized, after spending five days laughing and talking and crying alongside them, is that they're just people. Extraordinarily lovely people, yes, but people nonetheless. And they, each with their own little index of insecurities, accepted me fully. Accepted me as I am. Small, and young, and inexperienced.

Where I am now? That's where I'm supposed to be. And maybe you've figured that out about yourself already - that where you are now, is exactly where you're supposed to be. I wouldn't be surprised if you've known that for years.

I've found such freedom when embracing my smallness.

I believe this fully, whole heartedly, 100%: there is freedom that comes with being small. And we can all be small. Emily's teaching me that.

There is freedom here, where I am. Because I am enough - right here, right now, exactly where I'm standing.