A Pursued Heart

a pursued heart Good morning, girls.

I am reaching back into the archives of my life, remembering my middle and high school years. I wanted so badly to be married and pursued so passionately, that I was willing to sacrifice very parts of myself in order to experience the shallow pleasures this earth offers. I had a feeling that I would not be actually marrying any of these boys that so 'passionately pursued' me; but I would throw those thoughts into the trash and command they leave. They were crashing the party I was trying to throw. Desperately, I wanted to feel pursued and radiant and worth while.  I wanted to know that I was beautiful.

Oh the emptiness that ensued each failed attempt to feel these things.

My girls, from the very beginning of our relationship I was so vulnerably honest with you about these things. I have shared with you time and time again how I crave to protect you from the aches and pains that come with heart break and broken relationships. And time and time again, I have to hold my hands open to Jesus himself and trust that He will be with you on your own journey. He was with me, He let me do my thing just as He will let you do yours...and He grieved while I put myself through suffering. And He is here with me now, as I continue to discover healing and strength and hope. His love covers all mistakes and cheapened romances that I (and you) once fell for; He can redeem anything. Don't believe the lie that once you've given part of yourself away, you are now worthless and forever lost. He can always redeem and restore brokenness. Always. Hear that, dear ones.

He is always here and always willing to comfort us with His grace. He is always pursuing me, I just have to slow down to see it.

We think you'll find that every woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That's what makes a woman come alive. -John Eldredge, Captivating

I didn't need to wait to be passionately pursued. I also didn't need to seek cheap pursuits that were not passionate, and instead purely selfishly driven, to pass the time. You don't have to wait to be pursued and you also don't have to pass the time with cheapened romance.

We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil. -Stasi Eldredge, Captivating

When I say that Jesus is passionately pursuing you, I am not making it up. This is not some cheap saying that I resort to, but the very Truth that has rocked me to my core and revealed to me my very beauty. This Truth that Jesus, King of kings, deems me beautiful and sees me as beloved...it has stolen my heart time and time again. The Creator of this beautiful and stunning world; the God who created the beautiful ice storms and the breath taking sunrises. He is captivated by you, by me, by us. When we long and crave to share life with another, to be pursued and taken on a great adventure...we are longing the same things that God longs for. He created this longing and we are made in His image. He longs to take us on an adventure, to pursue us, to be pursued by us. God does not want to be a tag along or an appendage; neither do I. I don't want to be a tag along or an annoying option that someone cannot get rid of. I want to be essential. He, Christ, craves to be essential. These desires to be passionately pursued are of Him and from Him and He carries them too.

We, women, are created in His image. We, ladies, are created with fierce devotion. We, girls, have an ability to suffer great hardships and also carry a dream of making this world a better place.

The intimacy you crave, dear one, is not something to be shunned or condemned. The intimacy that you crave is God given and beautiful. It is also not to be cheapened or given away without a cost. The intimacy and romance and pursuit that your heart yearns for is a high price, is costly, is precious. This deep desire reveals God's capacity of intimacy. He is trustworthy with the longings of your heart.

I am married. I am pursued by a man, a human. He is faulty and imperfect, just as any human. He is wonderful and I adore and cherish him and would never trade him for another. He purchases flowers and kisses my forehead. A true charmer. But he cannot possibly fill my soul to its brim with pleasures and the deep intimacy my heart truly longs for. I cannot put that pressure on him; how unfair. But my girls, Jesus can handle it and He welcomes it. He invites me to pursue Him for all of my deepest needs - loneliness, despair, feeling ugly and unworthy. Jesus reminds us that beauty is an essence given to us the moment we were created  -  it is not something we purchase or create..it is our essence, dear girls. I grieve when I hear your wails of concern, feeling unworth and unbeautiful. I grieve because you yourself are Beauty. You matter. Life was not supposed to strip you of your beauty, but actually validate it.

My girls. Your beauty is the essence of you. Remember that today: you are Beauty. You are created in His image. You do not need to deny the passionate pursuit your heart longs for. Chase Jesus with it, while He chases you - spend time with Him, open His word and fall in love with His love letter. There is no shame, no condemnation, for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). You are enough. You are beautiful, to your core. And He is waiting.

Learning to fall in love with Him,


Homosexuality & Jesus

homosexuality and jesus My dearest guys and gals!

This letter is to all of you, as you are facing these same trials in your schools.

You are something else, something different, something special. Last week at youth group you shared a bit about how difficult school is. You shared that even your friends do what I would classify as bullying. You are pushed around and harassed for beliefs that you may or may not carry  -  either way, people assume they know you, they believe the worst, and let you know they think that you are quick to judge, quick to condemn, quick to hate. They have a false picture of who Christ is and they then cast it on you, because you wear the name Christian. And to be fair, we have not done a very good job of representing Christ - but we imperfect humans are working on that. (Well, He is working on that in us.)

Those hot topics bring you fear and anxiety: abortion, marijuana, homosexuality.

Your peers throw into your face what they think you believe - you are fully expect to hate, judge, criticize. And you are left without a voice, without a stand, knocked down feeling unheard. Worst of all, they don't have an accurate picture of Jesus. My Dears, the fact that this breaks your heart is what makes you so different, so special, so...radiant. The fact that you care about how far they are missing Jesus. The mark has been missed, and we are left wondering if it can ever be right again.

*Before I get into the meat of this letter, I want to recognize that this is heavy stuff. This is touchy, this is a road of sharp edged egg shells, and this is one hot topic. You know what? It is okay if you are still finding solid ground on what you believe. It is okay if you are unsure of what you are supposed to believe versus what you are told you already do believe versus what your heart is shouting. I am hoping this letter may bring you a little closer to Jesus's heart. And remember: I am hereby stating that I don't think I have all of the answers. I by no means am a genius on this, in fact, I am far from it. I love you and I want to explore these tough things with you - I don't want to shun or push away your questioning hearts. Though I am no genius on this topic, I know a few things: I have had two close friends fall into the category of "homosexual." I know many who fall into that category, and I know that I love them and cherish them as I cherish you: as a human that is part of my life. I know that Christ is all about freedom - not criticism.

Can I remind you of a few things? Here we go:

1. Err on the side of grace. This does not mean you compromise Truth. I never mean to suggest that, ever. Truth is Truth and we can firmly stand on it. Truth says that we are each created and each loved dearly by Jesus. He sees us as His children; some of us just don't know that yet. So when being bullied, harassed, or teased about being a Christian, remember to walk in grace. Remember to stand firm in Jesus's Truth, that He loves all, He cherishes all, He covers us with GRACE. Grace says, "You don't know how badly you're hurting me, but I am going to forgive you and continue to love you." Grace says, "I don't have all the answers, neither do you, can we explore them together?" Grace says, "I see you as human, and I am human, and I know how badly I need grace (and patience), therefore I will also give you grace."

Remember: Why would we hold a standard or belief over someone who does not believe in it themselves? Rules and laws don't win people to Christ, His love does. His invitation to a life of freedom, where peace and joy are always accessible.

**2. Don't limit people's value, worth, identity to who they are attracted to. This is a big one: this society as a whole tends to place identities on people based on who they are attracted to. How cruel, how inhumane, how unlike Jesus is that? Jesus strips down the walls and barriers, removes the labels and stereotypes; He sees people as human, regardless of anything.

Love never fails - patience and kindness towards others, selflessness and hoping for the best of others...those things will never fail you. View people as people; not as objects or labels.

Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image.     In the image of God he created them;     male and female he created them.

1 Peter 2:9 -- our identity: But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

3.You don't go unseen. While being harassed and bullied and seen completely wrong...He sees you and He loves you and He knows your heart. He knows the amount of love and grace you crave to pour out over all people. He is storing treasures in Heaven for you with each insult and false accusation thrown.

Matthew 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."


It's not about right and wrong or them and we or you and me. It's about our hearts. We, we are humans: a team seeing each other with eyes of Grace.

In conclusion, I want to point to Colossians chapter 3. We, as Christians, get to put on a NEW self. With this new self we are invited to avoid lying, put aside anger, wrath, slander and malice and abusive speech. All of these are important, beautiful and freeing. But, ABOVE ALL OF THAT we [as Christians] are to put on love that binds us together in perfect harmony.

And remember: we are not defined by who we are attracted to, but defined by Who created us.

Learning what grace & truth really mean,


You are enough.

you are enough Dearest Girls-

Good morning & good day. Another week has already passed and my soul can hardly believe it.

As I prayed through what this letter would contain for you, I felt pressure behind the wings of my thumbs to type what I am constantly reminding myself:

you are enough.

you are not expected to be perfect.

you are allowed to be human.

you are beautiful.

you are beloved.

you are in made in the image of God himself.

So often I place a measuring stick above my head and it is impossible to reach it's height. I may place a standard that I believe I should live up to, but not put it on others. I may place a standard that I believe others have placed on me. I wonder if you do this too. Do you place an impossibly tall measuring stick above your very own head, whether it be your standard or someone else's, and live life with this impossible standard looming and taunting you?

Whatever the standard is, it is crap. It is false. It is a lie.

You are not called to live out perfection, and instead you are invited to pursue a life of freedom. Freedom where Jesus gives you value because you exist and for no other reason. Freedom where the Truth is our friend, and offers Hope, even when we are awake during the darkest nights. Freedom where your identity belongs to Him, as His child, as His image bearer. Yes you will mess up, hurt others and yourself, reflect Him poorly...but there is grace and this grace will drive you to want more of Him. This grace will inspire you to love others deeper, to offer forgiveness more often, to share this grace that has been showered upon you.

This grace is life saving.

And you are okay.

Messed up, selfish, wholly-unincredible and all. You are okay. And your neighbor, your friend, your sister, your cousin, your mom? They're okay too. They're messed up, wholly unincredible, and broken as well...but He still loves them. He still made them in His image. And in your failings and in their weaknesses, He is stronger - His power is revealed through our misgivings. As we begin to see ourselves the way He sees us, we will also begin to see others in that way.

My girls, this is where redemption for the world plays in. This is where hope is birthed. When we see one another as He sees us, so we go and we offer grace and we invite others into this miraculous way of life that only Jesus offers.

And remember: you are okay. You are enough, right now.

Go about your day in a way that reflects the Truth that you are wholly beloved. With joy, Natalie Brenner

You are worth believing in.

you are worth believing in My dear girls and guys,

I had the unending honor of spending the evening with some of you last night. You never fail to amaze me.

Night of Prayer was last night and in all honesty, the prep for it was quite frantic feeling. But girls, and guys, as soon as our evening together began, I was flushed with this deep sense of awe. As Jake led us into worship with two intimate songs, you all gathered and sang songs of praise to our Father. And what a magnificent sight you each are! Whether you decide to sing or simply sit is up to you and I love watching you.

We then moved into a time of prayer stations, as you may very well recall. Things like writing our favorite verses on a poster board, planting seeds in soil, praying for people in our life who don't know the freedom-life Christ offers, writing out how He sees us.. and many more. Oh my soul, you kids.

prayer stations at youth group

As you may also remember, I had the complete privilege of taking over the foot washing station. I was really looking forward to this, but what I did not anticipate was the deep emotion that would actually overtake me as a whole. I was not prepared for Jesus to dig even deeper wells of love for you within my very soul. It began with my first contestant, Brenden. I could not help but tell him of Loren and my deep and real love for him. That we ache to reveal Jesus to him and that we are here on this earth to serve him as long as we are in this city. Have you ever experienced your eyes burning, trying to not open the floodgates of tear drops? That is what was happening every 2 seconds. I was ready to unleash Multnomah Falls upon your feet. As each of you allowed me to wash your beautiful feet, my heart exploded with joy and honor. I felt as though I was in the seat of honor. You may not even realize the depths of thanksgiving I experienced. It could have been selfish, the amount of joy I was being overtaken with. As each of you came, spent a moment with me at this station, and left to the next, I prayed for you. I prayed for your now, for your current life and for your future. I asked Jesus to love you so radically (which He already does) that you have no other choice but to fall madly in love with Him.

foot washing station

My kids, that are not kids and are not even mine, I believe in you. I care for you. I believe in each of you in very individual ways. My heart seems to be hallowed out and filled with love for you.

It hit me, as it usually does, that my heart for you does not even compare to Christ's love for you. That the only reason and the only way I am able to see you with these eyes is because of Jesus Himself. That His heart and His love for you is much deeper, much wider, much more. His love is sacrificial, selfless, saving, and offers freedom. This freedom-life He offers doesn't promise to be painless, but He promises to be with us IN the pain. And that is where the peace and joy is found, while we are broken, while we ache, while we cry ourselves to sleep. Because He is there and He defines us and He places an identity of Beautiful Belovedness on us.

I love you, students. But He loves you greater. His love for you surpasses anything any human could attempt to muster.

Your hearts and prayers are inspiring.


I pray that your day is well, while you are not at school. I pray that you spend time with Him in the quiet. Praying, reading, falling madly in love with Him because He is madly in love with you. Just as you are: imperfect and beautiful.

It is an honor to be in your life. You are so worth believing in.

With all of the love this human can currently muster, with the help of Jesus, your servant leader,

Natalie Brenner

My girls, your value stems from Him, not him.

letters to my girls - value My Dear Girls-

Wednesday has not arrived yet. But Tuesday has! I have the unending gift, the truest pleasure, of spending time with some of you tonight. My goodness do you shed so much hope and light into this world. He is radiating through you, more than you could possible know.

Did you wake up this morning, and remember His heart for you? It is okay if you didn't - I forget too often, too. But we miss out so much when we do not listen to His call for us. His call to place our true identity on: His Beloved Daughter. Oh how much worth He brings us.

As I was in Canada last week, I spent many moments shedding tears. Tears that had been hidden for years, pain that I had buried because it is just that: painful. Pain and aches and memories from the very years you are in: teenage years. As I lay in bed, I prayed for you. I prayed protection over your sweet and precious hearts, your beautiful bodies. Girls, you are so much more than you think. If there is one thing I want to share with you today, it is this truth:

your value stems from Jesus Christ alone.

Your worth and dignity comes from Him, and no one else. Not "him": not your dad, not your brother, not the boy you are begging for attention. So often "he" strips us of our value and dignity - maybe because dad is absent, maybe because you feel forced to do something, maybe because you feel so darn ugly, unwanted. Whether "he" is giving you no attention or a lot of attention, his attention does not define you. Sweet human being, you are so much more and you are valuable because of the precious and perfect blood that was shed for you on the cross. He erases the (de)value "(s)he" gives and places a stamp on you: a stamp of freedom, of unending worth, and of belovedness.

Today, I pray that you walk in that Truth: that He is yours and you are His and He smiles upon you and claims you as valuable.

With so much love and a big heart of hugs,


isaiah 6015

I hope you'll hippity-hop on over to Light The Lie's post: A (not so) Love Story.

To My Girls: Your Tongue...use it with care

letters-to-my-girls1 My dearest girls,

YOU ARE SO STUNNING! I can hardly believe how beautiful you are. Though, that is silly, because the Creator God Himself made you. He makes nothing but beauty.

I am praying for you today. Praying that you start this day off right: recognizing that you are deeply loved by your Father in heaven. I pray that when you looked in the mirror this morning you saw what He sees: a beautiful and beloved masterpiece.

As you go to school today, I pray that you would see others with these same eyes. As you know that you yourself are beautiful and beloved, that you would see others with eyes of grace. Girls, do not be fooled by the way of gossip and slander. It is not fulfilling, it is not satisfying. I give you my word that it will leave you feeling dry. The adrenaline rush in the moment may feel great, but I assure you, dear girl, that it is not worth the emptiness and hurt that follows. I have hurt so many with the words from my mouth. How I desperately want to encourage you away from that. It is not worth it. I want to pound that into your souls.

Your peers face (relatively) the same battles that you do. The battle of not feeling good enough. The battle of feeling unworthy. The battle of being self conscious in their own beautiful skin. The truth is, we all battle that. It is the way of the enemy. So don't join the enemy's side and slander others, proving to them that the lies they believe are true. Because they are not true, they are lies.

I pray that today you will go to school and you will see others with eyes of grace. And that when the opportunity to gossip arises, you would snip it in the bud. You would not allow it to go forth into its sly and evil ways. I pray that you would be built up and know that it is more satisfying to talk highly of others, to build them up. That is what you were created to do.

I'm praying for you today dear girls.

Look in the mirror and see what he sees: a beautiful and beloved masterpiece.

Always sincerely, Natalie

Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. James 4:11

- - -

Visit Light The Lie. I recommend: What They Really Taught Us In School

Letters To My Girls

letters to my girls I am so excited to be writing letters to my girls each week. Wednesdays usually. I have a number of them in middle and high school. They weigh heavy on my heart and I love them deeply. I will write them letters on my blog, and email them the link each week. My hope is that they would be encouraged, and maybe you would find encouragement too.

Cheers to the beginning of letters to my girls.

What's with the pig? Right. One of the girls has a pet pig, Jo-Boo. How can you not love these girls?!

My Dear Girls,

How are you today? Wait, I mean really, how are you? I don't want the, "I'm great, fine, good." I want you to pause and ask yourself how you are. Flustered? Tired? Overwhelmed? Bummed? Super over joyed and excited for life? Jumping off walls?

Did you know that you are loved? I don't say that in a vague way. I mean that you, your humor or lack of, your hair crazy or straight,  your quirks, your smile, and even your obnoxious laughs. Wholly, you are loved. As in, Jesus likes to just hang out with you. Thought I would remind you of that.

I know that often the weight of this world bogs you down. You carry more weight than us adults seem to recognize. The weight of school, the pressure from your peers, unending pushing for better grades, better sports, better better better. Everything feels like a competition. A competition to be the best and measure up and somehow all at once never make a single mistake. You must not disappoint your parents with your grade or performance, and your friends can't have any reason to think you're anything less-than. Even though you feel their jealousy.

Oh my sweet girls, you are already enough. You are already so loved, so perfectly cherished. The weight of this world is heavy and you are not called to carry it. So my girls, today, release the need to compete, release the pressure to measure up, and pick up the freedom to simply exist. To exist and view the world, your school, as a place to offer Love. The Love of Jesus, the Love of the One who gives you the freedom to be who you are and exist imperfectly. You. Are. Beautiful.

I'm praying for you today dear girls. I'm praying that you would see that you are enough. You are more than what you wear, more than how your hair frizzes or doesn't, more than the obnoxious laughs that escape your mouth. I am praying that you would know deep down that you are so wonderfully loved. And like I said earlier, not loved in this vague out-of-reach sense. But loved as a whole, right now. That your entire self is loved, and is brought value, because of Jesus Christ.  He sees you, and He likes you.

I am praying for you today, dear girls.

With so much love, Natalie

1 peter 29


Had to take a picture in front of these amazing purple flowers! #grandmasgarden #summerinoctober #pnwblogger #thesimplethings #Heisgood #beautyfromashes #love



Visit Light The Lie's post "What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?"

You Are More.

You Are More; Newport Beach A {long} letter to all girls: whatever your circumstances are, you are more.

Dear 13 year old who desperately needs to be loved...

You crave people's approval and you so desperately want people to like you. You are afraid of their opinions and what they really think of you. You base your value off of what others say or think of you.

you are already worth more

O sweet girl, although a parent is quite absent, don't see it as a rejection of you. I need you to hear this: this is not a reflection of who you are, nor is it your fault. You cannot see this, but your parents are both hurting too. You will experience your first panic-anxiety attacks. You will think there is something wrong with you. You will be very tempted to physically scar yourself, attempting to escape the very skin that keeps you where you are. But all that will do is create more pain, so please take my word for it and don't. You are so much more loved than you can imagine! Soon, your fear of someday being a parent will begin to form : you fear hurting innocent children without even knowing it. Sweet girl, rebuke that fear for children are from the Lord. You can choose how to parent.

Dear sweet girl, one of your parents will leave for months because of a job. You will be at home to clean and cook, as well as attempt to care for your sweet little sister. You will begin to believe the lie that life might be better if they were divorced...oh sweet girl, rebuke that. Your heart will ache and you will smile to cover it up. But I want to encourage you to lean into the One who loves you most.

Don't being kissing tons of boys and pursuing the most superficial "love" ever known. You do not need to measure up to other girls, to what these boys think is "worth." You do not need to lower yourself to dirt by letting people think of you as a body. Pursue real love: Jesus; He loves you and wants so badly to hold your heart. You are so much more than you see yourself.  You. Are. More.

Dear freshman girl, you will meet a boy who pursues you; he is 17. That should be your first flag. He will treat you with no respect, and for a very sad reason, you will do almost anything he asks of you. For months. I wish you would listen when your heart tells you to stay away from him.  You are loved and beautiful and precious in the eyes of Jesus, and this is not what He wants for you. Flee.

Dear sweet 17 year old, it is 2009 and you will spend countless hours praying for your future husband. I commend that! How marvelous! 3 months into those heart felt prayers, you will begin dating a man-boy: he will not be your husband, despite both of your beliefs. He will hurt you and, listen up: you will hurt him. You both will turn inward and be so selfish that you believe you're selfless. You will both believe that someday you'll be married, so someday your bodies will belong to one another...and that lie only leads into mistakes. Sweet girl, you are more. Your body is sacred, and so is his. You do not belong to one another, in fact the very opposite. I want to tell you, scream at you, that you are creating deep wounds. I mean, deep canyon-like wounds that hallow out parts of your heart. Sweet girl, run from the pleasure of your flesh, run from the temptations that scream at you. I promise there is One who will and can make you whole, but it is not any boy that walks this earth today.


Sweet 17 year old, your home has become a hell of it's own. You are struggling to believe what is normal and what is not. The alcohol and absences have increased. When the people are present, the arguments are thundering. The darkest-possible-failure in your parents marriage is known by you and your sibling, but not the other parent. You will awkwardly sleep in different friends' homes, and think so lowly of yourself, that you will end up spending countless, uncomfortable, sleepless nights in your car. But sweet girl, I want to encourage you to go home more. Your little sister is trying to survive too, and you should not abandon her. Go home, pray with her, cry with her. Tell her she is beautiful and loved. Lean into Jesus instead of withdrawing from what's happening. Stop pretending and wishing that life is "perfect", because no one's is. Pretending to smile through struggle doesn't make you a good person or a good Christian. Be more honest with yourself and look outside of your circumstances. See the gifts, look at the calm forest that surrounds your chaotic home. Turn your face towards Jesus and He will give you strength.

Dear sweet 18 year old, you're still in high school and you will completely total your Honda Civic. You will be driving your baby sister and she will break her arm because of the wreck. You will stay in the wrecked car, while vehicles line up for miles behind you. You will beg God to take your life, dramatically but very truly dreading the moment you face your parents. You will be pried from your car, and watch it smoke to it's death. Please, instead of craving your own death, praise God for saving your life. Note the variety of people who have stopped to help: see the gift and know you're loved. Two people in your life will tell you for months, even years, how dumb you are because of this accident: don't let those lies hide in your heart. Reject and rebuke them. See those two people with love and grace, noting that they don't know how loved they are. You are more, sweet girl. You are more than your mistakes and people's hurtful words. You are loved and Jesus holds your heart safely, if you'll let Him.

Dear sweet girl, off to college and still dating that man-boy! You're going to miss out on so much, and while you're clueless about this, a good number of roommates are praying that you and this man-boy break up. You will hide in your room at House of Charis, crying yourself to sleep because he hasn't lived up to being your savior that you so desperately want him to be {although, you would never admit that is what you want}. You will ignore the constancy of roommates telling you that you are more: don't. Listen to their words, for they are from a King's heart. You are more and He brings you worth. He is in every corner of that house, His grace is in the walls itself; stop ignoring His beckoning love.

you are more and he brings you worth What is so sad is that you will be running from Him but you won't believe that fact for a second. Stop running from Him. Sweet girl off to college, your nightmares will begin to venture into a newer and deeper level: you will begin thrashing at night and screaming, you will wake up crying. Oh sweet girl, He is still with you, if only you'll look in His eyes and ask Him for His presence.

Dear sweet college girl, you will gain a roommate who will constantly illustrate what friendship is and what love is. She will wake you up for your night shift when you feel depressed, she will pray with you during your nightmares, and she will always encourage you towards Jesus. Within a week of knowing her, she will save your life when you are suddenly attacked with bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Wake up! Let this life-threat wake you up, precious girl. You are so asleep. Don't continue life in this miserable pattern, believing these wretched lies. Jesus has so much more than you're willing to accept! If only you would open your eyes wide, open your hands to receive.

Believe me when I say your roommate wants the best for your life and that someday you will consider her one of your closest friends. Be ready for the day she moves away and you feel as though your heart is ripped out. You will still see one another, after all. Don't let the lie dig its roots, the lie that you have just lost one more dear one. No, have confidence that your friendship will only strengthen.

Oh dear sweet, precious girl. It is the summer after your first year at college and the summer the depth-of-mess in your parents marriage comes to light. The reality is devastating for so many reasons and too hurtful of details. You honestly think you might die from a broken heart, and part of you wants to. You are going to spend countless nights walking in the dark, weeping your little blue eyes out. You will feel hopeless and helpless. The one you believe to be your future husband will only add to the pain. You have battled with wanting them to divorce, believing it must be better on the other side - but from where I stand, now that it has happened, I want to tell you that it really is no better. And as you begin to grow a hatred for both of them, I want to beg you not to. I want to ask you to be stronger than that, to lean into Strength Himself (Jesus) and patiently love your parents.  Your heart is going to tell you to read a book: Captivating. I know you've tried it before, but this time, read it for what it is. Listen to the message that Jesus has been trying to tell you. Let Him listen to you. Let Him hold you while you cry.

let jesus listen to you

Dear 19 year old: you will go to camp to volunteer for two weeks. Before going, {you're not going to believe this, but its true} you will write to man-boy telling him it is time to stop talking & that you each need to seek Jesus's heart separately. You will explain that you're unhealthy for him and he for you. You will begin praying for his heart, that he would also seek the love that Jesus has for him.  To this, I applaud you. I applaud you for leaning heavily into Jesus and His strength. Finally, you are realizing humans are not your saviors and you cannot be theirs. I commend you for begging Jesus, for the first honest time, to let His will be done in your life. The ashes will soon be shed and beauty will rise. Sweet girl, it is because you see! You see who you are, for the very first time, the silt has been removed from your eyes and you know you are precious! You know you are loved! You know you are accepted in the arms of a King who is mightier than anything you can dream! Oh sweet girl, in this moment when you stand on the sand dunes shouting praise to God for freedom, soak in the moment. For, you are free.

Dear sweet girl, you will soon (as in 3 days!) meet people who will drastically change your life. You will meet the Millers, the Petersons, the Evans, and your true to-be husband. The man you spent countless hours praying for in 2009. You will know the moment you talk with him, that you are marrying him, and it is going to frighten you, shake you to your core. The man you have been waiting for is here and for the first time, you feel like you need more time. But sweet girl, just like all of the moments before, Jesus is right here with you. I promise you that He is faithful. I give you my word that He is holding your heart and that His will is perfect. Believe me when I say that you will be more blessed in the next three months than your entire precious 19 years combined.

Oh sweet precious girl, you will enter into something you always told yourself you wouldn't: a long distance relationship. I know, I know, it doesn't sound like you - you like to watch every move of the person you're dating, you like to control the life and the moments and the memories, you like to make sure there is no possible way for them to cheat on you. But guess what, sweet girl? You gave Jesus your heart to do with it what He wants, and He is going to stretch you and strengthen you. He is going to show you that He is trustworthy. That you can lean into His arms when doubt rises and fear threatens. He is going to do miracles over the next year. Jesus is going to prove to you how special you are to Him, even though He doesn't have to.

- - -

Dear sweet girl, there is so much more that I wish I could share with you. This letter barely scratches the surface of the life you will live. But before I write a novel, I want to be sure you hear some things: The people in your life that hurt you, your family and friends, you cannot hate them. You cannot disown them. And please, for the love of humanity, do not hurt them with your words! Everyone gets hurt; that is part of living in this broken world. They are people too, and they are just as loved as you are. You must love them without fear. There are so many ways you will be hurt and one way you can always count on being healed: by leaning into Jesus and calling upon His mighty name. He is constant and He is perfectly loving you. He is your refuge and safe place - not humans of this world, but Jesus Christ. He is your King and He is your Creator.Do not fear when your life {feels like it} is crumbling. Do not believe the lies, sweet girl, that tells you that your value and worth come from ANYTHING except Jesus and His heart for you! Not your friends, not boys or men, not your parents, nor your youth leaders, not even your grades or your job! None of these things bring you worth. Hold tightly to His promises instead of looking at what is going wrong. Cling to His promises and share with others the confident hope you have.


In all circumstances, look for the gifts that Jesus is showering upon you. If you do not see them, look deeper at the details surrounding you. You. Are. More.

- - -

If you know someone who doesn't know who she/he is, please share this with them. We all have circumstances and situations - no matter what they are, if they are causing us pain, they HURT. I cannot experience someone else's hurt nor can they experience mine - but together, we can remind one another who we are. And that we are more than we tend to define ourselves.