Tag Archives: grace

#31Days: Day Fourteen (or, the day of reckoning)

Yesterday, I went on a slight rant while talking to Kate. I was angry, there were tears. I won’t replay the entire conversation but I do know I said this:

“I’m just so tired of having something wrong in every season. There is always a thing I have to get over, embrace, be stronger or better than. I know everyone has struggles, I know there’s no such thing as a perfect life. But I just want one season where things are okay without trying so hard.”

To which she said, “Well maybe you don’t have to be strong, maybe you don’t have to wear that mask.” Which is when I realized: this isn’t about a season, or about being lonely or scared of the future. This isn’t even about hurt feelings or bad days.

This isn’t me wearing a mask. This is about accepting who I am. This is about how much I struggle against the very core of myself. It doesn’t matter what season it is, or how life looks – I will always try to find the lesson. I will always try to write it down. I will always try to make it important. I will always be strong. This is the soul of me.

And I have to stop fighting it. I have stop believing it is wrong or I’m too much or not enough. And I don’t know how.

Or, I didn’t think I knew how until I realized I’ve been giving myself a roadmap, leaving crumbs. I know I need to pray, to breathe. To have perspective, patience, dreams. But saying words, writing sentences is easy. Living out the peace and grace I want so desperately to be, to give – whole different story.

For anyone reading this on this rainy, average day and feeling inadequate, alone, or numb: you are not alone. I am saying this more to me than I am to you, which typically is true of all of these posts. But I am glad you are reading, and I appreciate your friendship.

“Learning how to think like this is like discovering halfway through your life as a flightless bird that you have wings and can fly. And once you discover it, there is no going back. It’s addictive and powerful. It ruins your ability to be a worker bee, because you’ve tasted blood: you become a killer bee, intent on understanding why things are the way they are, finding their flaws, and pushing the universe forward by fixing them.” –Dustin Curtis, dcurt.is

Tomorrow is a new morning.



This is the fourteenth post in a series, 31 Days of 6 a.m. To see a list of all posts from the month of October, click here. If you would like to have these posts delivered directly to you, enter your email address in the form located at the top right of the home page.



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#31Days: Day Eleven (or, the day of paradox)

Yesterday, I had a rough day. Nothing majorly terrible happened but through a series of tiny missteps, emails, words and all around fussiness I got sucked into a vortex of bad day blues.

It happens, you know. Maybe especially on days you wake up and dance for an hour first. I talked about this last year, but I believe when you start to focus on something, really hone in on it, the world rises up to challenge you so that you get through the thing you wanted to do. I want to wake up with intention, carry grace and peace through my day. So naturally my days aren’t like, as you wish Chelsie here’s everything you want.

All day I did my best to cease the complaining, to do the thing anyway. I’ve talked about this before, too, the concept of anyway. It’s a core truth, one I hang on to in the bad days or the good days – just do it anyway, smile anyway. I like the idea of living well, regardless of the circumastances.

The below ‘commandments’ were written in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders, and as far as 40 year old advice goes – I appreciate it. In light of yesterday, and even today’s, crazy level of busy at work, I wanted to share with you all today.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

-Kent M. Keith

Happy Friday.



This is the eleventh post in a series, 31 Days of 6 a.m. To see a list of all posts from the month of October, click here. If you would like to have these posts delivered directly to you, enter your email address in the form located at the top right of the home page.



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#31Days: Day Nine (or, the day I lay in the dark)

A lot of discussion centers around the evils of the Internet these days. Kids have too much access to content they otherwise wouldn’t have seen – be it violence, sex, drugs, etc. You can google how to make meth and bombs? I mean, I get it. Things are a little out of control.

But were they ever in control?

A very common pattern in humans is to think we’ve got it figured out – or at the very least, can definitely find the answer if only we do enough research and try harder. Which is true, if you’re studying for your first final in Philosophy 1113, but maybe not true if you’re trying to help the world be less…yucky.

I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it a hundred more times – little things. Little things help cover the nasty gaping wounds in our society. Saying hi to the janitor in your office building, letting someone else go before you when merging (ugh), not taking someone’s head off for not knowing what you meant to say in a meeting – LITTLE moments, tiny movements. But they ripple. I think one of the smallest things with the biggest ripple effect in this world is to offer prayer on someone else’s behalf.

Preschool taught me the Lord’s prayer and the Lutheran common table prayer which, to this day, my entire family says at dinner. High school, I clung tightly to the serenity prayer. In college, my prayers turned into more of a question format: where are you; what do you want me to do; how do I get through this? A few years ago, I had the incredible luck of finding a kind of surrogate family when I moved to Dallas. They were a fantastic example of what faith and prayer look like in real life, in the dirty mess of a family who truly loves each other and is willing to get deep and hold tight. They taught me the common Catholic table blessing, which we said before eating every Sunday. I now find myself saying the first part when I see something beautiful in life – especially sunsets. Anne Lamott says the three biggest prayers in her life are HELP, THANKS, and WOW, which I find amazingly simple enough to repeat daily.

I do not believe there is one right way to pray, no set formula unlocking the beauty of grace. I think, truly, grace enters as soon as you open yourself to her. I love the old prayers, the reciting of words written before you were here, words which will be here when you are gone. But just as important are the words you offer up to the world in times of joy, peace and gratitude. Just as important are when you have a best friend who is in labor with her first baby, another who is looking for a new job, another in a big city with a lonely heart and you offer it up, asking for help, peace or love. Asking for an answer, or just a next step. Saying thanks.

This morning, I didn’t really feel like getting out of my bed at 6. Instead, I lay in the dark and said prayers for as many people as I could remember. And when I ran out of people who specifically I could speak to, I just prayed for groups of people in my life, in my city. Obviously, for the government because it is clearly broken. I spent 30 minutes sending these thoughts up, out of my head and into the dark. Am I changing circumstances for any of these people? Not immediately, maybe not where I can see. But I believe, with my whole heart, it does make a difference.

I don’t know what you believe and what you don’t, and that’s ok. You have to figure out what works for you in this world. I don’t think prayer is limited to those who believe in Jesus, though I do certainly think it helps to have an idea of who is on the other end of the line. Prayer is for everybody, so is grace. This is the fun part of this gift. Ask and you shall receive. 



PS: In case you wanted to know these

  • Lutheran common table prayer: Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen 
  • Catholic common table prayer: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen 
  • Serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
  • Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):
    Our Father who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name.
    Thy kingdom come.
    Thy will be done
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us,
    and lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
    For thine is the kingdom,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever.

    This is the ninth post in a series, 31 Days of 6 a.m. To see a list of all posts, updated everyday in the month of October, click here. If you would like to have these posts delivered directly to you, enter your email address in the form located at the top right of the home page.


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#31 Days: Day One (or, the day I realized I was crazy)

Yesterday, as I typed my initial post for the link-up I thought “this is just going to be so great.” What fantastic intentions I have, how peaceful and tranquil this month will be.

At 5:55, when my alarm went off for the third time, I thought “this is insane.” Then, I looked at my phone, realized it was only October 1 which means there are in fact 30 straight days ahead of me, swung my legs out of bed and groaned out loud. As I moved from the bedroom to my cozy chair with the blanket on it, Jackson looked at me, sighed audibly, moved into the warm spot in the bed I just left and proceeded to go right back to sleep. He’s clearly not on the crazy train with me.

So, I got a glass of water, washed my face and read Anne Lamott for 45 minutes. Around 6:30, I thought “wait, yes, this is why I am doing this. This is peaceful and good.” And so at least we’ve identified early on how my pattern of thoughts will go every morning for 30 days. I should have named this 31 Days of Bipolar Thoughts Hour.

Around 6:40, Jackson awoke but since he could see me in the living room decided rather than jumping off the bed per usual, he would whine until I got up and lifted him down.

Me: Jackson, you know how to jump. Get down if you want to.
Dog: eeeerhhhhhghhhh 
Me: Hey, do it or don’t. But don’t whine about it, kid.
Dog: woof woof, low growl to insinuate how angry he is at me
Me: OK, I’m going outside
Dog: immediately jumps to the ground, waggling with excitement and happiness

Then I thought, I wonder if this is how God sees me. Perfectly capable of the next step, the dance move, the decision but low growling, asking for someone – anyone – to lift me off the bed for fear of the jump. So today, here is my lesson: there is something to be said for asking for help, but there is also a need to jump when you are capable. Do it, or don’t, but don’t whine about it. If you’ve asked for help – wait for the help to arrive. This, as Anne Lamott told me this morning, is a slow moving process where grace doesn’t arrive announcing herself. Instead, “it’s clog and slog and scootch, on the floor” to the next step.

Morning one brought to you by a stubborn dog with a stumbling, bumbling owner. Good morning, world.



This is the first post in a series, 31 Days of 6 a.m. To see a list of all posts, updated everyday in the month of October, click here. If you would like to have these posts delivered directly to your email, enter your email address in the form, located at the top right of the home page.



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day one: patience in the waiting

In my prayer life with my friend Jesus, I’ve discovered a tricky thing. If you ask for something (like grace) you get something (like annoyances). So, as I prepared to write for 31 days (!!) on patience, I hesitated in asking for His help with being patient. I know that’s a terrible thing to say, but I was afraid of what obstacles would be placed down to hurdle. I consider myself a writer, but I’ve never challenged myself to stick to a regular schedule on the blog. Or really, with any thing I write. This month will be hard, but I know that as my eyes open to the little graces around me, the areas where I can have more patience, I’ll grow and even learn to appreciate the moments of hardships.

Today’s patience? Patience in the waiting. 

We wait for a lot of things in this world. We beg or bargain for faster time, we tick days and minutes off the calendar, we see others who have what we want and we think HEY that’s for me, that’s what I need now. Very Veruca Salt-esque. I have friends who are getting married, getting promoted, getting homes that actually have more than one room involved. I have peers who are succeeding in their own business, or creating something useful in this world. Looking around at what they all have creates the tendency to hold a very broken mirror up to your own life.

Yes, all of these things are something I want but God makes everything beautiful in his time. His time, not mine. And lately, every morning I have to wake up and say “Yes, I know. Not mine to plan, not mine to solve. Remind me it’s Yours.” On one hand, it’s nice to relinquish the feeling of control. On the other, it’s sometimes defeating to realize you don’t get what you want when you want it. Maybe we never grow up. We are His children after all, and very often I find myself in a 6-year-old-level tantrum.

Naturally, as I have been involved in my best friend’s wedding this weekend my lack of patience in my own life sharpened. And naturally, God placed a few signs in front of me before the day came to say “slow. down. look at the beauty in this day. none of the others.”  The wedding this weekend was one of the more beautiful things I’ve witnessed on this earth. Not only were the flowers, dresses and vows beautiful and enchanting, the sunset was hand-painted with clouds, and reds, purples, oranges, blacks and greys. Trust me, everyone stopped to look at it. Especially me.

Another thing that spoke to me, both personally and in light of the 31 days series, was this prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing 
     that his hand is leading you,
     and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
         in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

So, as I continue on this 31-day journey in the world of patience, I am anxious to see what I uncover. October is usually my very favorite month. I’m excited for this challenge!

How do you sharpen your patience in times of hardship? Leave a comment and let me know.

See you tomorrow.




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the favorite month

October is coming soon, sneaking around the corner and presenting itself next week. You’d never know it if you were in Dallas with me – sitting pretty (sweaty) at a breezy 98 degrees on this last week of September. I beg for Fall, look longingly at my boots and scarf and think “someday…” Speaking of longing….

This year, in an effort to dedicate more time to my blogging and writing, I’ll be linking up with The Nester on the “31 Days of…” series. The topic? Patience.

Join me, actually, in laughing at myself on this one. But hey – we all need a challenge and apparently, I’m up for another one. Jesus and I have this tug-of-war where I ask for something and it presents itself as a challenge. Matter of fact, I think that’s the whole gimmick with this living life thing. So I’m going to spend 31 days writing about patience – encompassing all sorts of ways in which we’re challenged to slow down in this life. I want to uncover the beauty in the waiting, the frustration in not getting what you want. We’ll find out just how far we can go before we become Verruca Salt and  I want it now. 

So, come read what I have to say in October. I’m sure, by asking for this, I’ll have quite a few stories to tell. Also, notice the very blank button below. I’m currently working on my blog skills to create a beautiful custom one. For now, you get blank guy. (See? Patience….)




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the letter to 17 year old Chelsie


Hey Chels,

I’m writing to you from not too far ahead, but far enough to know a few things. Far enough to know better but somehow still know a little less.

I wish I could tell you to take a breath. I’m constantly telling myself that now but I don’t think I learned that lesson until approximately three years after I needed to. You do not actually have to do all the activities, events, lessons, extra credits, clubs or offices that are available. People will like you anyway. You won’t learn this until close to the year 2012, but hold on, I promise you do get there.

You are going to love more boys than the boy you love right now. (Here, this is a good time to practice that deep breath we discussed.) I know you’re panicking. I know you think that love is not real if it goes away. I know you think that you must be everything or nothing. The world is not black and white, Chelsie, and love lost was still love. You will doubt, in the coming years, what it means to be truly loved back but the glorious thing of it is that you will always know how to love. You are a giver. I know you think this a curse (and I may still some days as well), but know that you will one day get it all back tenfold.

You will find someone who says I love you and honestly, truly, long conversations, bad jokes, constant questions, across 300 miles loves you. I won’t tell you when or who because I can’t ruin every surprise.

You do win the arguments with your dad, eventually. You do move out of state to college, you do make a 4.0 your second semester and you also begin to find yourself along the way. You will fight when you come home, your whole family will. You will think there is something wrong with you, that you think you know too much and you are too bossy. You are wrong. You are very, very wrong and right now I wish I could hug you and tell you that you are made this way for a fierce, beautiful and amazing reason.

More than fighting your dad, you are going to fight big battles. Battles far bigger than your small self can handle alone. Start praying more, now. Please start talking to Jesus and telling him what you love in addition to what you hate. Start saying thanks, not just help. You’ll figure this out in 2011, with a year long gratitude journal, but grace comes from thankfulness.

And there’s that word. Grace. Your #1 goal, your aspiration, your frenemy. Funny enough, I know that you currently think you are very far away from Grace, and in the coming years you will definitely feel yourself slipping further and further from being filled with Grace as you desire — but I (older and wiser, as usual) see this a little differently. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess, but the truth is you are much more graceful than you give yourself credit.

Please give yourself more credit. Please calm down. Your life is so good, Chelsie. You make good friends, you make amazing choices and you make bad choices. You also make some bad friends. But you will live. Oh! I know you’re worried because Audrey has decided not to go away to college, too. Don’t sweat it. She never leaves you and you never leave her. You won’t live in the same city again for many years, but you won’t ever feel like that. You will also have to give a speech at her wedding (in two weeks) – start practicing now because I’m currently panicked.

Be nice to your family. Don’t go to that party in April 2007. Or go, but make sure you email your grandmother back first. She’ll be gone after that night and you’ll email her with no return for awhile. Don’t be mean to Natalie. She’s just a little baby tween right now, and soon she will be 17 (and you will cry at every dance recital) and she won’t think about you the way she does now. Let her be her age. You always try to make her grow up.

Keep writing, keep reading. Embrace who you are. Like I said before (worth repeating) people will like you. And they do.

You do a good job, kid. You’re going to have fun.



PS: your sophomore year of college, you will want to get bangs like Reese Witherspoon. DO NOT DO THAT.

PPS: you do turn into your mother. you’ll thank her for it. you will also think your dad is actually funny. (I know, I know but you will.)






The inspiration from this letter came from Emily at Chatting at the Sky. Emily’s new book Graceful came out this month and she’s asked her readers to write a letter to their high school selves in tribute. I bought this book for sister’s senior year of school present and I highly recommend it for any young girl (or you, if you’re a girl).


What would you tell yourself? Leave a comment and let me know.

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