Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Do you ever feel trapped?

Stuck somewhere you don't want to be, in a relationship you don't want to be in, or just stuck inside your own skin? Do you ever look around and want things to be different but aren't sure how to change them?

The past week, I have felt trapped - trapped inside my own head, trapped in a mess of city noise and iron, trapped in a routine that I want to spice up but am not sure how. Just trapped. One night this week, I was rehashing a load of memories, once again feeling trapped when I begin to think of places I love and times I have felt free.

My brother plays football at a college three hours away from where I went to college in West Texas. To go to his games, I drove the loneliest stretch of earth with nothing visible but cows, windmills, and cotton fields. Driving home from the games, that stretch of road was my haven. I would roll down the windows and watch the sun set in array of reds, pinks, and oranges and then fade into deeper purples and navy's before dropping off the curve of the earth. Each time, the sky was different patterns and shades. I imagined God sitting at an easel in heaven with his paint brush and streaking these fiery colors across the sky. No painting could be like the last and each one was a masterpiece. On that lonely stretch of road where I watched the sun sink below the curve of the earth for miles, wind blowing in my hair, and music blaring, I felt free.

During college, I spent three spring breaks in California working on local, underprivileged churches. I worked from sun up to sun down and then crashed before doing it all over again. I loved working with these churches, meeting the pastors, hearing their stories. I especially loved the day set aside to spend on the beach. Each of those trips, I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. The crash of the waves on the sand and the open space made me feel free. I knew at any moment, the sky could turn a deep black and the ocean rage but I never worried. It was peaceful.

Two summers ago, I spent my summer in the mountains of Colorado Springs. I don't think I ever truly appreciated their beauty until living in them. They are harsh, unwavering, difficult to thrive in, yet they are beautiful, peaceful, and serene. Hiking the trails, pushing my body to a breaking point, spreading out under the stars on a cold night made me feel free.

As I began to think about why each of these places and instances are so significant to me, I came to one solid conclusion - these places denote the bigness and greatness of my God. Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God." Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." My lit professors would say that this sentence is too generic, too broad, too unbelievable. So the Bible goes on to list what God created and when He created it. I think that this statement is perfect. There is nothing finite or generic about a different sunset every evening, or the mountains, or the  waves crashing against the beach. The are big, bigger than anything science can explain. They stand for a BIG, GREAT GOD. When I think about the One who spoke these big miracles into being and remember that I belong to Him, I no longer feel trapped

 I know I'm free.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

'Generation Y' R U Here?

Why are you here? In all reality, this a question argued by the greatest philosophers from every religion, belief system, culture, and background. It is asked during every life stage by many, but this is especially the classic question for those of us reaching adolescence or early adulthood. We are constantly experiencing transitions that kick us from one city to the next or one school or job to another. We find friends, move, and are forced to find friends again. We exist in a culture tied by the Internet rather than personal bonds. In the midst of all this transitioning, greater opportunities, and a desire to find our place, this question is common:


I AM a Gen Yer. There are varying years characterizing those in Generation Y, but most experts agree that this generation is characterized by those born in the 1980s and 90s. According to studies, Gen Yers are marked by a desire for worth and purpose. They are idealistic with a 'conquer the world' mentality. One of my mentors told me recently that the Christians in this generation are marked by a desire to "be the church" rather than simply "do church." While this mentality is great on some fronts, we have a lot to learn from those before us and are eager to do so from those who will listen and support our dreaming.

We have all these dreams and many of us take steps to make them a reality but still there is the question "Why am I here and what do I exist for?" A google search reveals that this question is addressed by 137 million articles. What is my purpose? Who am I? Why am I here?

Psalm 8:4 says, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Even those in ancient Israel wondered why they existed. But in the following verses we see an answer..

Psalm 8:5-9 says, "You (God) made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

We are created and designed uniquely for a purpose, to have dominion over the earth, and ultimately...we exist to bring God glory. We have our dreams, ambitions, goals, and hopes because He created us that way. Being an overseer of the earth is a big job. Why would a BIG GOD who created us uniquely to fulfill a BIG JOB give us anything less than BIG DREAMS? We fall short when we twist those dreams into pursuits for our own glory instead of His.

So, why are you here?
You are created uniquely for a PURPOSE to bring God glory.

It's really that simple.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Listen to this song by Nichole Nordeman as you read the post. Copyright belongs to her.

I am the product of a legacy. Growing up, I attended First Baptist Dallas. For those who grew up there, we are FBD children. It is our heritage. It is something special. This past week I returned to this church, no longer a member of the children's or youth group, but as a young adult and counselor over what I was once a part of. It was an interesting balance. Several of the teachers who once had me in youth group were counselors, as well. I found myself continually going to them for advice and seeking the wise counsel of these weathered veterans who have stuck through multiple youth pastors, teenage attitudes, and apathetic hearts. All because they love this ministry and they love the kids.

After spending this week with them, I realized something: I am a product of their legacy. My eighth grade Sunday school teacher, Mrs. White, was one of the counselors I continually went to. After the first day, I was feeling particularly drained. I went up to Mrs. White, hugged her neck, and thanked her for her patience and love for students despite their disrespect and attitudes.

Mrs. White and Ms. Darwin - my teachers since 8th grade.
She looked at me and one of the other counselors  (also an FBD kid) and said, "Y'all make it worth it. When you come back to serve these kids and the lessons you have been taught stick, you remind me why I do what I do."

I am part of her legacy.

One of the camp pastors asked the students one night, "When you get to heaven, will there be people waiting for you thanking you for the impact and influence you had in getting them there?" I began to wonder what my legacy will be. Am I putting time and effort into things of eternal significance? 

 Matthew 6:19-20 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Will there be people when I get to heaven that thank me as I thanked Mrs. White for pouring into them and not giving up regardless of the circumstances?

I'm 23 and I want to leave a legacy, not for my glory but so that it brings glory to the One who made me...Jesus Christ. The things I invest in now are building an eternal legacy.

What will your legacy be?

Monday, June 13, 2011


I spent this past week in Panama City, Florida with 200 teenagers for a beach camp. The theme of the week was connection. While the word got REALLY OLD by Friday, I loved watching the teenagers connect with a Kenyan child who they wrote and sent virtual pictures to throughout the week. The kids learned they have a voice and the ability to make an impact.


These words define this generation. They want to make a difference. They want purpose. They want to connect and make relationships with those around them. They want to see success and experience dreams coming true. And they need to be told they can do it. They need to be told that they are not too young or inexperienced or incapable. They need to be equipped and trained and encouraged. An older woman told me that I could not write or make an impact because I am too young. Her words crushed me. I struggled to motivate myself each time I sat down to write because her words rang in my ears. Our words impact these kids for better or worse.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

I am not far removed from the experiences of these teens but I learned about life and love and desire and need for relationships and encouragement from them this week. I love what Jeremiah 1 says to those who are young and feeling inexperienced. The chapter is a conversation between this young prophet and the Lord...

“Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” 

 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.  Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.  

The Lord called Jeremiah to go and speak truth to Israel and Jeremiah told the Lord he was scared because of His youth. The Lord equipped him to do BIG THINGS and then promised to NEVER LEAVE HIM. I pray that the youth on this trip claim who they are in Christ and allow Him to do big things through them as they grow to love Him more. I pray for you as you do the same, no matter your stage of life. He didn't call us to sit on the sidelines but to live abundantly and follow wherever He leads.

Seeking to do big things with you,

Friday, June 3, 2011


I spent three weeks in England with my cousin Shanna and her husband Logan. They helped me research for a character who is an air force pilot. I enjoyed getting to know all their friends, exploring their village and different cities in England, as well as spending several days each in Ireland and Scotland. Enjoy pictures from my trip!
Shanna and I took a day trip to Brinkley to do a photo shoot for my head shots for my book. It was beautiful and picturesque.
Beautiful path back into a glade in Brinkley.
Because of how cold it is, we had tea breaks A LOT. I learned the hard way that tea time is not a time to pull out your lap top and work. Tea time is taken very seriously. So good.

Loved Oxford University! And loved Oxford City.

Christ Church in Oxford.
Christ Church in Oxford

We ate lunch at the Eagle and Child's pub, known by locals as the Hawk and Babe.

The Eagle and Childs pub was once the meeting place of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. The inside is full of quotes from Lord of the Rings and Narnia. I felt inspired.

An old quaint building in Oxford. I was convinced it was about to fall over.
Traditional telephone booth shot. And it was such a bright, pretty color.
Christ Church and Oxford dorms. Some students were playing croquet in suits...on a Saturday. Very different way of life.
I spent a day wandering around Bury St. Edmunds. I loved the Abbey Gardens in the town center. I read a book and listened to the elderly as they chatted about the friendly squirrels. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the flowers were colorful and in fool bloom in the middle of the ruins.
The ruins are well preserved and popular place for locals on lunch break. I enjoyed exploring.
Abbey Gardens. I stopped and had tea at Harriets and then headed back to Logan and Shanna's when I got lost in the city center on market day for 30 minutes. Once again, always an adventure.


We spent three days in Scotland in Inverness area. It was beautiful and green. We were on an excursion to study our family history. Our grandmother's family, the Chisholms, are from Inverness are. Enjoy a few of the snap shots from the trip.

Scotland is a huge producer of beautiful wool. Sheep are everywhere in this country! This was the wool mill in Inverness that we stopped at on our bus tour of the city. I bought three scarves that I am very excited to wear next summer.
Shanna and Logan in front of the part of the Inverness city scape.

Inverness castle is now part of the government system. It sits on a hill overlooking the River Ness. The core of the city is built around the river.
Scots are big on family names and history. Loyalty and identity are paramount. This is the Chisholm family tartan and the family motto...Feros Ferio - I am fierce with the fierce.
The city line along the river is made up of several churches from different eras, all with beautiful steeples. The city is a perfect combination of the new and old in Scotland.
Welcome to Erchless Castle, once home to the Chisholm clan. At one point the castle sat on over 250,000 acres. Now it sits on 12,000 acres. We met the man who owns when we trespassed on the land accidentally. He invited us in for a cup of tea and took us on a tour of the entire castle. It was amazing! Then we sat in the old Chiholm sitting room and drank tea and chatted with the owner for two and a half hours. It was the perfect ending to our first day in Scotland.
Erchless Castle grounds still host tons of sheep and cows. This is the back side of our property. We spent most of the trip driving the scenic countryside of Scotland.
Sunset on the beach on our way back to Inverness. Not quite as pretty as Texas but we were just happy to see the sun after a cold, rainy day.
Day 2 we took a river cruise on Loch Ness. We didn't see Nessie and no one was eaten but the Loch is beautiful, even when it rained...again.

Our boat for our Loch excursion.
On the boat
Our first glimpse of Urquhart castle on the banks of Loch Ness and the only stop on our tour. I loved the rainbow created by the spray and rain.

The castle is now in ruins but we explored a little anyway. In the tourist center, we discovered that this was once a home to the Chisholm clan, too, before a warring clan seized the castle from the family.
We also went to the Culloden Battlefields. The Scots love their history. Culloden is the site of a bloody battle between the Scottish clans led by Bonny Prince Charlie and the British. The Scots were fighting for freedom from England, something they have yet to win. The concrete print is from the Chisholm Clan Society in honor of those who died in the battle. 150 Chisholm clansmen fought on the front lines of the Scottish offensive.
A memorial in honor of those who died stands in front of the Battlefields. "Our blood is still our fathers, and ours the valour of their hearts."
This marked the turn of the battle. As soon as this clan chief fell, the clansmen were pushed back. Those from local clans braved the fields and buried the dead in mass graves for each clan, marking the place with a stone like this. The British remained unburied and their resting place unmarked until the 1800s when the Scots placed another stone that simply reads, "Here fell the English."
Part of the beautiful countryside. An ocean inlet, fields of flowers, pastures and fields, woods and hills. Definitely Scotland.
We spent our last day at Spey Bay watching several pods of dolphins feeding and playing in the surf. I researched dolphins in college and I was fascinated to see them so near. The beaches in Scotland and Ireland are mostly rock and are not warm, so no bare feet and swim suits, but it didn't rain and the sky was a beautiful blue.


I visited Ireland last week and fell in love. It's been my dream to visit since childhood and it was everything I'd imagined...with a little more rain than I like. Green is truly in my blood. Here are some of the memories from the trip. England and Scotland updates to follow soon!
The trip got off to a rough start. The GPS wouldn't work. Our phone was about to shut off when we traveled from England to Ireland. Shanna forgot her license and they almost didn't let us rent our car. We were those Americans at the Ireland airport and provided entertaining dinner conversation for the Irish employees at the car rental place who told us a GPS was pointless anyway because none of the roads are marked or have signs. It was a fun adventure.

It rained the WHOLE time we were in Ireland. Truly the Emerald Isle. But we rolled with it and had a great time. In Galway, we were caught in a sudden downpour on the beach and were completely soaked to the bone by the time we found our way back to our Bed and Breakfast.

 Our first stop on our tour through the Irish countryside was Galway, a coastal town and the ancestral home of the Lynch's. Galway is known as the City of the Tribes. Back in the day, the Lynch family was one of the top 3 most prominent families and and over 40 Lynch's were mayors in this town. Lynch is Gaelic for "mariner" or "seafarer" and the family motto is Semper Fidelus...always faithful.

Welcome to Lynch castle, located in the heart of Galway town center. It was actually the townhouse and the family castles were located outside the city. It is now a bank.

We decided it was only appropriate to eat lunch and warm up with some tea at Lynch's cafe. Both were delicious.

There is nothing dreary about Ireland. They live life in vibrant color, especially on the seaside. These are shops in the Galway city center.

This is Lynch's window. Apparently one of my ancestors way back in the day, a mayor at the time, hung his guilty son on this spot and the town commemorated his courage and justice with this memorial. Can't seem to get away from that hanging connection.

This was on the beach in Galway Bay right before the torrential downpour.  We were told by our tour guide (an old Irish man who told us our whole family history and sang "The Yellow Rose of Texas" when he found out where we were from) that in October the sky turns a crimson color at sunset and the water is a deep turquoise. Beautiful!

Bunratty Castle. We loved our time in the village around the castle. They remodeled the cottages to symbolize the homes of the serfs who once lived and worked there. 

Once again, they were bright colors and set in deep green woods. Each house symbolized a different trade. This was the fisherman's cottage. I LOVED the thatched rooms and the earthy smell of the fire place.

The beautiful Cliffs of Moher. Cows grazed on the hills and the water was a deep turquoise color before it smashed against the rocks. It was REALLY windy but I enjoyed exploring the hills.

I loved this place!

King John's castle in Limerick.
Blarney Castle. Home of the famous Blarney Stone. It is said that if you hang upside down and kiss the stone then you will forever be blessed with the gift of blarney, or insulting someone in a round about, unoffensive way. We decided not to kiss the stone that has had millions of lips on its surface. Kinda gross.

So instead of kissing the Blarney Stone, we explored the Wishing Steps. The grounds of Blarney Castle are said to be magical. The Wishing Steps are bewitched. If you walk up and down the steps backwards with your eyes closed and don't fall while thinking of a single wish, your wish will come true within a year. We had fun trying to do this on uneven steps that go into a tunnel. Always an adventure.