tonight was a great night. typically my monday’s consist of cooking my favorite dinner with some of my favorite people and watching one of my (shamefully admitted) favorite tv shows. but we moved that to wednesday.

all so i could go to a class about rose wine with one of my other favorite people.

i have lots of favorites.

so we went and tasted and learned and enjoyed some of the most lovely rose’s i’ve ever tasted at wine + market here in lexington. if you haven’t been, you’re missing out. and then after, we went and had snacks and got to catch up on life and all that is. on our way back to our car we saw a rainbow, which is always a good way to end a night. it seems to translate to me as “everything is going to be alright” and who doesn’t need to hear that every once and a while? am i right?

but then, as i was driving home it was almost as if the sky was pink. i love when this happens! and, conveniently, i had been drinking pink wine for most of the night so it went well with the theme. BUT i pulled into my driveway and looked to the west to see the actual sunset and it was pretty incredible. i’ve always said that sunsets are one of the small ways that God has me wrapped around his finger because they typically stop me in my tracks…and tonight was no exception.

you see, for my entire life my family has lived in the same house, which i now have the privilege of calling my home. and for those *almost* 30 years we’ve sat three houses from the end of a street with a growing tree line that opened up into a huge field which is quite idillic to watch the sunset. but you see, about a year and a half ago they started to develop that land which includes, but is not limited to: dust, blasting, spotlights, dust, incessant beeping, cranes, dust, early morning incessant beeping, dust, lots of construction traffic…and a little more dust. let’s just say i’ve given up on washing my car for the summer because it’s POINTLESS. but tonight, even with all of that, i walked to the end of the street, just to see the sky.


so as i sat and just watched colors change and snapped a couple of pictures, and i kept wishing that the cranes weren’t there. and the red caution fence wasn’t there. and that the giant concrete cylinders that apparently take an entire day to move or do anything with, weren’t there, because they were ruining my picture that i wanted to look a certain way. but then the more i thought about it, nothing ever is going to look the certain way that i think it should [i’m noticing a theme, see previous post, to my 19 year old self.].

there’s always something being built. or, in what seems to be the recent theme in my days, rebuilt. structures and systems and relationships and expectations that were supposed to look a specific way, don’t.

God is continually wrecking my specifics.

my planning tendencies are being chipped away. and i wish that i could say that i was all in, and i’ll grow where i’m planted and all of the things that we should say when life is just flat out hard. BUT — it’s not always that easy. i’m learning. and in learning there are struggles and hard work and tears and tests, but with all that comes knowledge and wisdom and i do know that one day i’ll be grateful for all of the construction.


to my 19 year old self.

Let me just say this, who you think you will be in ten years is quite different from the idea that you have in your mind. And that’s ok. Most of them will look absolutely nothing like you imagine, in the worst ways and in the best.

Take as much time as you can over the next ten years, but REALLY the next three years, and love your family. Spend time with them. Especially your dad. Have conversations that are hard and uncomfortable, but that bring clarity to questions you’ve always had.

Don’t be afraid of your dad’s illness. Don’t be afraid of depression and anxiety and to get close to it. And to pray against it. It is the loneliest path that anyone can walk. You will encounter it too, and when you do, LEAN into Jesus and people who are like Him. They can act like big giant pillows. Seek out truth about yourself and about the promises that God has for you. He loves you SO much you can’t even dream.

But go ahead and dream a little, because He will likely blow any expectation that you have out of the water.

Let people love you and try and not to put up walls to “protect” yourself. You know what I’m talking about. Know that there is a difference between boundaries and a wall. Boundaries are healthy and wise. Walls are hard and sturdy, and while they will keep things (i.e. relationships) out that will hurt you, they might also keep things out that will help you. Not all hurt is horrible. Some of it will break you within what you think is an inch of your life…and then you’ll see a little light in the cracks…and you’ll start to come back together. God will build you back and he’ll make you more ready than you were before the breaking. He is stronger and steadier than any man that will ever walk into or out of your life.

And carry that truth into every potential dating relationship that you go through. And just for the record, there will be less of those than you think, but don’t let yourself be discouraged by that. It’s a gift…which I realize sounds like a total load of bull. But it’s not. From 29 year old single (*gasp* I know)  you, I PROMISE IT’S A GIFT. You will think around you’re junior year of college that since you aren’t married that you’ve failed at something. And then at graduation. And then when you’re 25. And then finally a few years later once most of your friends are married and having their [second] children, it will kind of start to slightly sink in that it is ok. In the words of Bob, “Every little thing, is gonna be alright.”

Ok, back to it. Seriously, don’t ever put the expectation of perfect love on a man (or any person for that matter) because he will let you down. Every time. And not because he wants to, but because he’s human. There’s grace for that. You’re mom will talk to you about a million and twelve times over the next ten years about expectations and how you shouldn’t have many and it will drive you absolutely crazy. She says this all in love and because she will do anything and everything she can to protect her girl. And while there’s a lot of truth to what she says, you can ALWAYS have expectations of God. And they can be good ones. BELIEVE Him for the good ones. You always told people in high school that “God is sitting on the edge of His seat waiting for a chance to prove Himself faithful”. Don’t forget that that doesn’t just apply to the people you’ve told that too. It goes for you too, sweet girl. He is not a father that punishes His kids. He wants to hold your face in the palm of His hands and tell you that He only wants GOOD for you, for all of your days. And then to wipe your tears on the days when you have a hard time believing that because you live in a really broken world, with broken people, just like you. He welcomes your unbelief and your authenticity. When you come across emotions that feel gross, sometimes it’s a gift to sit in them for a little. Because do you know what happens when you sit still? God shows up. He will meet you in you in your hurt and your grief, in all your pain and discomfort and anger and unbelief. Don’t be afraid of those.

Frankly, say no to fear as often as you possibly can. The enemy has a funny way of disguising fear as so many different things. But do not be fooled. It is so easy to give into it and it has the ability to RULE your decisions. Do not let it. Stand with wise people who can recognize it in your life and who will call you on it. Those are the best people. Say no to the critics and yes to people who cheer you on and challenge you in ways that will push you to grow. Keep growing. Always be a student. There is always something more to learn.

names and trees.

This weekend. Goodness. It was so good. Nashville will always have this place in my heart that’s bittersweet. I loved that city when I lived there in a way that I didn’t even love my hometown…and I LOVE my hometown. That’s a whole different post. But it had my heart. It won me over. I had found a new home that was my own. Then everything changed. So when I go back it’s always such a two sided coin. Heads and tails. Good and bad. Actually, no, not bad…just hard. And that doesn’t always have to mean bad. Anyways, I digress. There was Nashville for NEEDTOBREATHE with some of the greatest people I know, and then there was a trip to Louisville to see the INCOMPARABLE Johnnyswim with a few other of the greatest.

But in between Nashville and Louisville there was a car ride with one of my favorite people. And he was telling me about one of his kids that he helps sponsor in Africa. His name’s Gideon. He wasn’t always Gideon but a couple of years ago a pastor said that God had a new name for him and that was it. So as my friend was telling me about him and his story he told me that at one point he used to hide in trees to escape harm and ridicule from the town and people that he lived around. So much so that when they were on a trip one time his friends encouraged the boy to climb a decent sized tree and the kid was up it in no time flat. I’m picturing the crazy guys in Jamaica that I saw in high school that you could pay them increasingly more money to climb to a higher and higher branch and frankly, could have probably done it in their sleep…all the while, I’m having a panic attack trying to jump of the 8 foot cliff. But as he is telling me this story we start talking about what names mean. Therefore, google. Right?!

So check this out. The first definition we come across says that Gideon means “Destroyer”, “Mighty Warrior”, AND THEN “Feller of Trees”. Now in Kentucky when you call someone a “feller” it’s just a short version of fellow. (i.e. “That feller over there is a Louisville fan…he musta lost his mind.”). But the ACTUAL definition of “feller” for people not from Kentucky is “a person who cuts down trees”.

So as I’m listening to my friend tell me about Gideon it’s clicking to me that God gave a new name to this sweet boy that means to CUT DOWN the the very things that he used to hide in. He doesn’t have to hide anymore. His past no longer defines him. He belongs to and is chosen by a God that is stronger than the trees. He is a destroyer and mighty warrior of all things that could inhibit the kingdom of God because he is apart of it.

That all makes me think…what do I hide in? What’s my tree? What keeps me trapped? In the words of Jon Foreman “Is it fear that you’re afraid of?”. I don’t know yet, I’m working on it. But what I do know is that I serve a God that is bigger than my fear and my anxiety and the things that day in a day out keep me from loving people like Jesus would, so it’s worth figuring out.

Also, I hope I get to meet Gideon one day and see him cut down a tree.

About addiction and wishes and new days.

So I was talking to a sweet friend of mine about addiction and grief and all that makes life hard and beautiful at the same time. You see, she has struggled with addiction and it’s not my job to tell her story, so I won’t. But it did make me think of addiction in my life. My dad struggled. Hard. And consequently I’ve been around a lot of other souls growing up that did too. So I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to not be addicted to anything because I didn’t want to be addicted. And perhaps, deep down, I thought I didn’t want to be them. Even though “they” are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

As I’ve walked through my menial 28 years on this earth I have determined that people who have walked through a 12 step program and things like it are my favorite. They live day by day. They embrace freedom. They embrace struggle and they embrace those who have struggled which is really what we are all here to do, right? Embrace the hard things. Together.

Every addict that I have met is “brutiful”, as my friend Glennon Melton would say. Ok, she’s not my friend, but I’m on a big metal bird flying through the sky from Kentucky to California, so right now I feel that wishing is appropriate. Someone wished for this and here I sit, flying, so I shall wish for that. Anyways, their lives are brutal AND beautiful. Each and both. And I think that most of them would agree to that as well.

So I think that while I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to NOT be something, but then when I really sit down and look at my current state and the last few years of my life I’m pretty sure that I ended up that way anyways. At least for part of it.

You see when my dad chose to take his own life, I grieved. Hard. And no one expected me to do any different. And I’ve spent the last 6 and half years doing it in some way. Don’t get me wrong, my life has carried on seemingly normal. I have a full time job and a part time job and incredible friends and a wonderfully dysfunctional family. I have traveled and lived and learned and healed. I’m a completely different woman than I was on August 21, 2008. Thank God.

But do you ever have those moments when a light just gets turned on and all of a sudden you have that “AH HA!” moment?? I had one the other day when I was at the gym. I would partially like to thank the friend that I spoke about at the beginning of this essay and then I would also like to thank my primary care doctor and the wonderful inventors of Paxil, you beautiful little anti-depressant, you. So as we were at the gym the other day I was asking about my friend’s recovery process. She began telling me how it’s hard and it’s changing her and all of these steps she takes and then it happened.

My light came on.

I had been what I didn’t want to be. I had been addicted to my grief. I had held on so tightly to grieving my dad that it had become part of my identity. Anytime I was sad and didn’t know why, my dad was why. His choice. His absence. I always resulted back to it. It could have been money or depression or rejection or rain or a bad hair day. But I always went back to losing him because that grief was totally justified. I have always said since losing my dad that I feel the closest to him when I am sad about him. So I think that in not REALLY processing that, those tears and those “bad dad days” as I liked to call them, were always me seeking just to feel a little bit closer to the man that I miss with my whole heart who will miss so many firsts in my life. And that hurts. And it will always hurt. But I think that in returning to that grief every time that I felt a small tinge made me attached to it like you get when you keep going back to a relationship that hurts you but you just can’t seem to move on because even if the pain is painful, you know the pain. You’re friends with the pain. You’ve wrapped a bow around the pain and tried to make it pretty so that people don’t think it’s weird.

My grief had a really pretty bow and looked all hand made and like I’d pulled it off of Pinterest. No one ever told me it was weird because when I told them what it was, no one said a thing about it because I had been through hard things to get my bow. That bow was earned and would forever be ok to anyone that I gave reason for my bow.

So now, while I have had this great realization, I’m still trying to figure out where to go from here. I’m learning because I hope and pray to always be learning. I have a lot of firsts ahead in the next few months and I hope the hard days are difficult for their own reasons. And I know that I have plenty of days ahead that I will desperately miss my dad, and I hope that those days are hard for that reason. And that I can grieve and celebrate and miss him in those moments. Until then, here’s to freedom and change and hard things.

Keep on keepin’ on. Read More

what i wish you knew when you joked about suicide.

I need to write today. Sometimes I have days when I want to write. Some days I don’t want to write, and I have to make myself. But today, I need it. (and thankful for friends who remind me to do so.)
Today started out with skipping a 6am yoga class that I really DID want to attend, but my bed begged to differ. [next time, I will win.] I mustered up all of the courage and energy I could to get out of bed and get myself together to get to work. Put on my best face, literally and figuratively. It was a normal morning in the office until one of my coworkers decided to show me a video after we all had a debate on how to pronounce certain words (crayons is not pronounced crowns – no matter how you spin it. phonetics people.). It was a video by Julian Smith where three guys debate on how to say the work “milk”. At the end of the video the debate gets pretty heated and in what is supposed to be a comical fit of rage one of the guys pulls out a gun and puts it to his head threatening to kill himself if they don’t pronounce the word correctly. And then the other two do the same thing. It was then that I turned around and walked away. 
After August 22, 2008 all of those jokes ceased to be funny for me. They hurt. And I remembered all the times I had made mention of a horrible day and made a joke of it around people. Had any of them been affected by suicide? Did their mind race back to someone they loved that had ACTUALLY done what I was so casually joking about because I was having a “bad” day? I hope and pray that if that was the case that they completely forget that I ever said those words or have exponential amounts of grace for what fell out of my mouth then.
Those days are done for me now. Suicide will never be funny, regardless of the context. We do not realize how many people are affected by what words come out of our mouths and how they can make and break their days. Words carry weight. Be careful who you start throwing those heavy weights on. Over the last few years my grace has grown for people who have no idea, and for people who do. A slip here and there, I get, but a video that has over 22 million views?! 22 million. I am fully aware that my story is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind, much less Julian Smith’s, and therefore their words are not going to be tailored in order to not step on my toes. It’s not all about me. But riddle me this, is your joke about wanting to shoot yourself or jumping off a cliff going to build anyone up around you? At all? Or what in the world was trying to be accomplished with that video? I really would like to know because perhaps I’m missing something. I want to do what Hemingway advised and “write hard and clear about what hurts” and this falls in that genre. 
May we all be with our words as we should be with our time. Aware and intentional. May we be intentionally encouraging and hopeful and sensitive and gracious. I say this for myself as much as for anyone else. Especially this time of year when we can get so caught up in the stress of our own lives. Make use of your words. It doesn’t cost you a thing but it just might change someone’s day. 

on purpose.

I have come to believe that Pinterest can be a.) a total time suck or b.) a source of wisdom. More often than not am I sourcing my “mane idea” board on how to fix my hair in the morning in the attempt to avoid just one more wash. Or seeking out some new dinner idea to bait my friends over to my house to feed them. Or to find things like this…

Every dog owner has came home to this and thought what was he thinking lol now we know

Productive, right?

But then every once and a while I run along some words of wisdom that hit me like a ton of bricks. Earlier this week I found a little nugget that read “that was the day that she made herself the promise to live more from intention and less from habit.”

woah. hello conviction.

Going into the holiday season for the last six years I get busy. Literally. On purpose. I attempt to fill my time with any and every event and dinner and workout and date that I possibly can. This year, though, I am looking back and realizing that these last years have been spent “busy” because of fear. That stupid thing that has controlled more decisions in my life than I would care to admit or even begin to recollect. I have been afraid to feel all the feelings that come with holidays and remembering who and what is missing. And I think I’ve been afraid of grief because, like I said before, grieving just flat out sucks sometimes. It hurts.

It was kind of like my little relationship with running that I had right after I lost my dad. I always hated running, but for about a year and a half I tried real real hard to like it. It was the only thing I could do during which I could not cry, mainly because I had to focus so hard on breathing…and not dying. Mostly the latter. I ran two half marathons, which were full of epic lessons and relationships and injuries that all taught me so much. But once I came to terms with the fact that I am NOT a runner and never will be [note: I have very short legs and that’s A LOT of steps for us short legged people], I was able to appreciate the other ways that I took care of my self. With training for a half marathon, I printed out a schedule and marked off my training runs for 3 months and then when I got to race day, I ran my race and was done. Lots of check marks were involved and I loved that part. Me and lists work really well together. But once that period in my life came to a close I had to be incredibly deliberate on how I took care of my body. I wasn’t burning calories and training every single day. I didn’t have 15 miles to just check off in a week. I had to think about it. I had to plan it. I had to ask people what to do and then after that, why I was doing it.

Such as I am going to attempt to treat this holiday season. And I’m not saying that I will slow down, because I don’t really ever do that anyways. But I do want to make sure that as I am going through this part of the year that mentally and spiritually I am filtering my time through the “what and why” (and who) filter. What am I doing? What is this going to accomplish? What long term effect (mentally, emotionally, spiritually) is this going to have? Why (in the heck) am I doing it? And most importantly, who is this going to impact? And then, take all those answers and have the courage to say yes to the things that matter and that even may be a little out of my comfort zone. OR – more importantly, say no to the things that are just “fillers” or a distraction.

I desperately want to live life on purpose everyday and not continue to do the exact same things just because they are comfortable or a habit. But I especially want that this holiday season. I want to be thankful, on purpose, not just because someone asks me what I am thankful for. I was to spread peace and joy and give gifts and love people like Jesus did, on purpose, not just because that’s what people do at Christmas. And I really want to celebrate 2014 and ring in a new fresh 2015, on purpose [with champagne in a sparkly dress], not just because that’s what people are supposed to do, but because I am truly grateful for what the last year has brought. Good and bad. Pretty and ugly. I am a better person for it.

painful redemption. it’s happening.


So, here we go. I’ve had this whole thing that I’ve been through that people knew about, but it was still kind of a hidden part of me that I never really wanted to own. Something that I just wanted to push to the side because it wasn’t some grand adventure that belonged on my instagram. Or blog. Or frankly, in public in my eyes. But then Robin Williams died. Did I know him? Nope. But I knew my dad. And with that, I leave you with my story that I shared with a few people in September.

The brilliant Bob Goff once said, ” People don’t choose to be courageous, the just decide to not be afraid anymore.” So with that said, I have this story. Just like everyone else has a story, but only until the last few months did I really come to realize the immense amount of shame that I carried with it.

You see one morning my mom and brother showed up on the doorstep of my new home in Nashville with some news that immediately changed the course of my life. After years of battling a few health issues, bi-polar disorder and addiction, and struggling to keep a steady job, on August 22nd of 2008 my dad made the decision to end his own life. My world dramatically changed. I had settled into a new town with a new job and an internship in the music industry and new friends and was beyond thrilled for what I thought God was going to do in my life there. Minutes after my mom and brother told me what had happened I told my roommates, packed a bag of what I thought was clothes (turns out it was a lot of towels and t-shirts) and got in my car and drove what felt like the longest three hours of my life back to Lexington. I told who I could think to tell, but spent the majority of that time in the car asking my mom if what they had said REALLY ACTUALLY HAPPENED. And it had.

The days that followed were full of lots of family and friends and food and tears and food and tears. Have you noticed that everyone always brings food? I guess that when you’re that deep in grief you either feel absolutely nothing or every single possible emotion at one time, but either way you can still taste good things. We got to see a lot of different people who loved Jesus really well, come together over our family. I had friends on the other side of the world asking how they could pray and it honestly was the most beautiful picture of how I really think Jesus intends for us to carry each other.

I had always heard people talk about funerals potentially being a joyful thing, a celebration of a life. And walking into my own father’s I [SO] was not expecting that because I was really sad, but people showed up in droves. Like lines out the door droves. It was some outrageous number who came to tell my family over and over how amazing my dad was and how funny he was and how he had changed their life. And how much they loved us. During the service we had an opportunity for people to stand up and talk about how he had impacted them or just tell a funny story. You know that feeling when you’re talking to someone who’s gone through something that you can’t even begin to identify with and your mind just goes blank? Yeah. That one that makes you feel really uncomfortable – I had this anxiety in me that when the floor was left open with an invitation to speak that there would be that awkward moment where everyone looked at each other (or at the floor) and there would be the biggest awkward silence I’d ever experienced. But yet again, my anxiety was proven to be completely unwarranted. So many people stood up telling the same stories we had heard throughout the visitation. I remember sitting there, with emotions from pride to frustration to hurt to “Dad, what in the hell were you thinking?! Do you hear how loved you are?!

The first year was full of so many firsts…Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, football season. You see, Super Bowl was like Christmas in my family and my dad’s birthday happens to fall on February 1st, which always tends to be right around Super Bowl. Double whammy. And then there was my last semester of college and graduation. There were just so many things he should have been there for and he wasn’t. Year two I felt like I had a tight grip. Reality was settling in and I was having a hard time letting go. The second time around with all the holidays was weird and sobering. The first year my mantra was, “I just have to get through this.” And the second year I just kept thinking, “This really is how it is. He is actually gone.”

But after a couple years of therapy, having a mom that I’m genuinely convinced is a saint, a brother that could be a stand up comedian and some ridiculously amazing friends and family, those sobering moments still were happening (I mean, let’s be real, they still happen today), but their frequency was less and therefore my sanity was more. YAY! Finally. My new normal was becoming my reality. And I say new normal because I have come to learn that when you walk through something like this…such a sudden loss that comes completely out of left field…you are never the same. Things never really go back to “normal”. Whatever that is anyways.

Then in March of 2012 I got a call at work that one of my best friends dads had made the same decision as my dad. Cue: ALL OF MY EMOTIONS + a little sense of going into battle. I knew what was ahead of her. I knew there was anger and hurt and “why’s” and “where do I go from here’s” and so many other things. I will never forget seeing her that night and hugging her and thinking that God 110% knew what he was doing when he made us friends our freshman year of high school. For such a time as this.

As I’ve walked through the last year and a half with her, she has taught me so much. I have learned so much more about grief. Denial/Isolation-Anger-Bargaining-Depression and Acceptance. Those five steps, right? At least that’s how I’d gauged it before with my therapist. Sometimes I would go through all 5 in a month. Sometimes I go through all 5 in 60 seconds flat. Grief really knows no boundaries. But only after my dear friend’s loss did I realize that suicide grief was a whole different ball game. There were those steps, but those steps came with a lot of other questions that would not likely ever be answered this side of heaven.

Only was it a little over a month ago that I realized there was one emotion that had been silencing my story for the last six years. And that was that shame. That ugly little lie that what I was going through was unworthy of being known. That this experience that was changing the core of who I was and what I believed, was something that I needed to carry alone.

I have never had an issue talking about my dad since he passed away. I love it actually. Usually it’s stories that come with a lot of laughter. And sometimes tears too. But never did I ever want to talk about the fact that my dad died by suicide. For some reason, I carried so much shame in his decision. Perhaps it was because in the beginning I took his choice personally. Even though I knew in my head that it wasn’t my fault and he even confirmed this in the letter he left, there was still part of my broken up daughter-heart that didn’t get why we weren’t worth sticking around for. My head and my heart weren’t agreeing with each other. AGAIN – SO. MANY. EMOTIONS. I couldn’t organize them all.

And also, suicide just isn’t pleasant. No death is pleasant, for that matter. But suicide seems especially ugly. No one knows what to say. No one wants to talk about it. Or at least I had convinced myself of that. It seemed like a burden to share with people. Like I was laying something heavy on them when I told them the way my dad had died. I had bought into the lie and stigma that our society (and the church, for that matter) had put on to suicide and mental health. You see, I didn’t feel like anyone else should have to carry my burden. But you know who else believed that lie, my dad, Tom Herb. And I really do think, had he shared that burden, that my family’s story and mine would look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.


So now, I am refusing that lie and that stigma. People’s lives literally depend on it. I could feed you a million statistics right now about suicide and mental health that you’ve heard before and would likely forget the minute you finished reading this. But what I don’t want you to forget is that there is no shame in your story, just like there is no shame in mine. Don’t write the wrong one, I beg you. I was writing a story shadowed by shame and embarrassment. And God has no intent for you or I to walk in any shadows. There is hope. Even in the darkest of places where it feels so empty, there is hope. I literally got it tattooed on my wrist, as to not forget it. Because sometimes there are days when it’s really easy to. God can and will redeem you. He is taking my shame and giving me purpose. So, Whether you are sitting in that inconvenient grief of loss or you are struggling yourself – You are never too far.


He can and will redeem your story. He will restore dignity and strength in places that you thought were dead. “Do not be afraid” he says to us over and over again. “I have made you. I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” [Isaiah 46:4] He will take your hurt and turn it into something you could never imagine. Something that is actually beautiful. When he says he will give beauty for ashes, He’s not kidding.