The Cost of Being Weird

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Guerneville, CA


Wow, it has been a couple minutes since we’ve chatted, hasn’t it?  Indeed, I have taken a few months hiatus from the blog (forgive me for the lack of warning).  I would love to use the excuse that I have been busy, but anyone who knows me knows that there never really is a non-busy season in my life.  I suppose the real reason is simply that after writing the initial post about hope I realized that it was a trickier topic than I had anticipated.  I have attempted writing this post for a few months on and off, but finally allowed it to rest for a bit.

However, I have at long last returned! Lucky for you, you have had more time to let this concept sink in and spread through your intellectual veins…!  And though my fingers feel a bit stiff upon the keyboard, I am still overflowing with thoughts to share with all of your lovely brains out there.

So, let’s get back to it!  The last post I sent forward was about HOPE!

We discussed how when hope is genuine, hope looks weird.  Hope gives you a security that allows you to stop living so much for yourself.  It puts your perspective in a better place.  It takes you out of survival mode and into a state of enlightenment.

Now, having hope sounds like a mystical, magical lifestyle, does it not?  It is.  But with every blessing comes a curse, and the truth is that there is a cost to being hopeful.

On a practical level, aspiring to be more hopeful is hard!

Our culture has a tendency to look at hopefulness and deem it naive.  If a person is hopeful, we tend to conclude that they simply are not grounded in reality.  And while its true that some people have a looser grasp on reality than others, not every hopeful person is naive.  The two words are not synonymous.  In fact, true hope is seeing a dismal reality, and seeing beyond it to a potentially brighter future, and accepting when that future indeed does not turn out as they had hoped.  Your brain is a muscle; it takes great discipline to do an overhaul on your outlook.  And as we’ve discussed before, these are cynical times.  It is far easier to sink into the ocean of despair than it is to rise out of it.

So, there is a start-up cost of simply deciding to be hopeful.

Another cost of being hopeful is that you will likely be perceived as weird, naive, or possibly even unstable.  And for most of us, that will be the most costly fee.

As people first get to know me, I think I come off as naive.  And I will admit to being so about some things.  But don’t forget – I’m a writer.  I see and hear everything, though I voice things selectively.  It is why writers write; there must be an outlet for the flood of daily observations!

As usual, I digress…The point is, you are not naive or unstable simply for having genuine hope.

Although it is important to have your hope grounded in something stable.  Having hope that is loosely rooted is like believing in the Universe.  At first, it is easy to believe in a vague higher power because there are no hard lines and nothing to be accountable to.  Yet, over time it becomes harder to believe in such a vague concept.  As humans, we are hardwired to relate.  If there is no personality to relate to, than why bother?  And yet, I think as humans we yearn for something greater than ourselves.

Ahhh, more intriguing subconcepts!

Again, I will pause the conversation for now.  We will discuss the foundation of hope in my next post!  I promise you it will not be as long a wait as last time!  For now, ponder how you personally have (or would) handle the costs of being weird (hopeful!).  What is the foundation for your hope? Do you consider yourself hopeful?

We will talk soon!

Peace to you!



Let’s Begin…


You know that feeling of sunlight sinking into your skin in the late afternoon?  That magical hour when everything around you has turned to gold, right before the sun dips below the horizon for it’s nightly slumber.  For a rare moment of solitude have you stolen away from all of life’s responsibilities simply to soak in this present stillness.

If you are anything like me, you recognize the calming effects nature can have on the mind.  You step outside, maybe to fetch the mail, or maybe to run around the block. Before plugging in those headphones, you take a minute and simply breathe in, then out.  You find yourself taking a few steps; it’s just you and the world around you. Suddenly, your heart starts beating a little slower.  That nagging headache floats away on the breeze.  Your ears tingle from that almost forgotten sound of leaves thrashing together as the wind picks up.

I have painted a simple scene that is likely a common one in the (semi?) average American’s daily life.  What is so special about stepping outside and breathing in fresh air once a day?  Key word: once.  Sure, the average person leaves their house and gets in and out of their car multiple times throughout the day.  Some of you probably even go for a run on a regular basis.  And that is fantastic (seriously, you should receive a medal!  I loathe running with a passion…I digress…)!  However, what I am here to spread the word about is a connection back to nature.

Hmmm…that sounds pretty mystical…I know, but stay with me!  I promise this blog is not about magic or wizardry!

I am simply an anything outdoors fanatic who holds firmly to the belief that nature was designed by the Creator to give everything that humanity would need to live – and live abundantly!  Nature surrounds us, freely offering health and joy for the body, mind, and spirit, yet we rarely utilize it – what is worse, we often destroy it.

This truth is too often suffocated by the negativity in our world, but I believe that connecting people back to nature is an important step toward the balanced, healthy life God intended for us to live!

Creation being therapy is a huge topic with many aspects.  That’s why I have started this blog! In a culture of cynicism, I hope to inspire people to connect with nature and the simple joys of life!

So, take a break from the news, the gossip, the music, and get outside!

Stay tuned for more in-depth posts to come!

Peace to you!

‘Tis the Season to be Hopeful!

Wow.  It’s been a while since we’ve chatted! I apologize for the silence (take it while you can, it doesn’t happen often), but I do not apologize for taking a holiday hiatus.  Hopefully you were all able to fully immerse yourselves into the season as well!

So, let’s get rollin’!  A new year means new topics – yay!CDB47B92-14A3-455F-8A7B-27FCC457FEDA

I love every season, they all hold a different kind of beauty to me (except for Spring.  Spring is a tease.  You think it will be warmer because it isn’t winter anymore, but really its just a muddier winter).

And of course part of the reason I get excited for new seasons is that I get to mix up my outdoor playtime!

You know what I don’t get excited about though?

You probably won’t guess.  It’s kind of strange.

New Years Day.

I don’t not like New Years.  I don’t get depressed or anything.  But this time of year has never felt like a fresh start to me.   I’m always that oddball in the conversation that when asked about a New Year’s resolution answers with an oh-so-eloquent  “Ummmm…”

Don’t get me wrong, resolutions are great!  I think you’re only really living if you think through how your life is going and if it’s working and whats important and whats not and what you believe (all the questions)…etc.

I guess its just that I do that like…all the time already.  Why we gotta celebrate that?

In high school I got asked all the time why I went to church (Do your parents make you go?). As an adult I get asked essentially the same thing fairly often as well.  Along with questions like “Why do you say “Oh my gosh”?  Or “You read  your Bible…Doesn’t it say some messed up stuff in there?”

In other words: why are you so…weird?

Great question!  I too have always been drawn to the outliers, the rebels, the weirdos.

The answer is pretty simple.

I’m weird because I have hope.

Having unshakable hope makes you weird.  Because frankly, you stop caring what people think.  You also stop relying so heavily on your circumstances to bring you happiness.  Instead, you’re just plain, ole’ happy to be holding onto hope.  And that’s pretty weird to a jaded world.

Right about now I have no real reason to be this happy.  To most people I probably don’t seem all that impressive (mostly because they’re right – I’m not).  I’ve been a vagabond, moving in and out of family and friend’s houses.  Working odd jobs.  Changing my major every other year.  The works, right?

But you know what?

I’m really happy!

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel emotions like anger, depression, loneliness, and all the other bad ones.  I am very aware of my many, ugly flaws.  I get sick like everyone else (actually probably more than most people, ask anyone, I get sick ALL THE TIME.  Last winter I got Scarlett Fever.  Who gets Scarlett Fever anymore?).  I cry (sometimes).  I am constantly getting hurt or dehydrated or way too close to hypothermia while hiking.  I have bills.  I have to make hard, adulty decisions.  I don’t always feel pretty.  I get scared.  I get lonely.  Things rarely go the way I expect. And that list just scratches the surface.  There are plenty of other issues that run as deep as my veins.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.  We all have baggage.  I have a past just like you.

Still, I have hope.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”  Philippians 3:8.

What am I  saying?

I’m saying that I’ve counted up the cost of being weird.

And it’s worth it.

What exactly is the cost?

I think I’ll have to leave you on a nifty little cliffhanger, my friends.

We’ll stop here for today.  I want to allow the concept of hope to roll around in your domes for a bit.  Reflect on what you’ve always perceived hope to be.  Where does it come from?  What is your hope in?  Why?

These are important questions and I can’t answer them for you. All I can do is share my hope with anyone who will listen.

But please, keep reading!  It is always the season for hope and life is too hard to live without it!

Peace, all!






Featured Post: The Other Half of the Furcalo

So, I think it is high time that I introduce to you one of my best friends of all time (or as she would say, “part of the inner circle”) – the one and only – Kelsinator!

But before I go any further, a few general words…

As I mentioned in my last post, humans are intrinsically valuable because of their Creator; they are complicated in the most positive ways possible (intellectually, emotionally, philosophically, etc.).  How on earth am I supposed to share the HEART of someone without writing a book?

I guess all I am trying to say is that I will never be able to completely capture another  human being’s essence; nothing replaces knowing someone personally.  But I will do my best to give you the best introduction possible to each featured individual!

Now, back to Kelsinator!

Although I have known Kelsey since high school, our friendship got REAL within the dimly-lit, oh-so-cozy Furcalo.

The Furcalo is the affectionate term we have given to our living space.  And by “living space” I mean more than an apartment. The term Furcalo encompasses the warm bond between Kels and I; the sense of community we strive to offer to those around us; the action of opening up our home for others to come, feel welcome, and recharge.

I should also mention that we stole the Furcalo.  

Not our apartment, but the word.

One night, Kelsey, her brother, and I were driving through Amherst and I happened to notice a sign mentioning the building.  Me being me, I thought the name was hysterical and should be placed into public circulation where it rightfully belongs.  We began joking that we should start throwing the word into casual conversation and see if it would catch.

It didn’t.

It did however start a legacy in Kelsey’s and my life.  We are likely the only two people on God’s good earth who use this word frequently and as more than a name.  But that’s more than fine with us because it’s the principle that matters!

Now that you know where Kels and I are coming from, let’s shed some light on the other half of the Furcalo!

I have shared an apartment with this lovely gal’ for only nine months, but we continue to share much more than a living space; we share a soul space, if you will.23ED4B15-B9E8-4245-8BBC-B05360AB1BFFBefore I delve into some of her wonderful attributes, let’s talk about how Kelsey and I ended up going from acquaintance/co-workers to roommate/besties (important note: I use the term besties mockingly).

Kels and I worked at the same market together, but our shifts didn’t usually cross over.  But a few years ago, they finally did – for an hour, once a week.  In that short amount of time we ended up having in-depth conversations about a wide range of topics from wellness to faith to relationships.  Around this time I decided it was time for me to find my own place to live.  That’s when it hit me: Kelsey!

Kelsey is the kind of person who you meet and immediately sense is a reliable person.  So one day at work I broached the subject.  Kelsey’s response was basically “That sounds like it could probably work perfectly!”

That was sometime in the spring.  At the end of the summer we had found an apartment that was just as quirky and charming as we are (think no central lighting in the living room, wood paneling from the seventies, and a neighbor who never remembered who we were until the day we moved out).  Now, keep in mind that up until about a week before moving in, we still had not spent time together outside of that one hour of work a week.

So, how did we remedy that?  We drove out to the White Mountains in the middle of the night, all the while munching on banana chips, searching for an empty campsite for hours, attempting to relocate someone’s lawn gnome before getting caught, until finally deciding to sleep in the car.  Then we spent the entire next day hiking!

A week later we found an apartment and moved in!  And we’ve been friends ever since.

That’s just one story of Kelsey, but it is informative nonetheless.  It speaks volumes of who she is.

This girl has seen me at my best and worst, respectively celebrating my joys and inspiring me to the moon and back in my lows.  She is up for any and all adventures (like, seriously, nothing is beyond her capabilities).  She possesses a reserve of compassion for others that I strive to also bestow.  Somehow, she is able to balance spontaneity and caution; calmness and passion; logic and abstract.  Brilliant in mind, warm in spirit, and inspiring to watch, simply put, this girl is unstoppable!  I am honored to be within her “inner circle”.

There has not been one conversation that Kels and I have had that we don’t walk away from hearing exactly what we needed to hear from the other.  No matter what season of life or mental space I am in, she always has insight that I am lacking and encouragement that I need.  Through her example she has taught me resilience of spirit.  I have never met someone so (not annoyingly) positive in the face of adversity (like to any degree).

Now, Kelsey is pursuing her dreams in Philly and I am here in Western Mass (at least for the time being…who knows what God has in store for me down the road?).  But we still share that unique soul space that only sprouts from certain relationships.  The kind that spans distances and time, always picking up where you last left off, and is felt consistently even when one or the other is not in themselves consistent.

I will see her soon enough though – New Years in Philly!  In fact, she just texted me saying that we’ll have to keep up our tradition of a New Year’s hike.  I’m sure I’ll have something to say about that afterward!

Like I said earlier, I could write a book on probably every person I’ve ever met in my life.  But for now, a pamphlet will have to do.

I hope that after reading this post, you too will be inspired by this phenomenal gal’!

You’ll certainly hear more about her in future posts, so stay tuned!

Peace, all!



Make Sure You Read Between the Series!

Before we roll into a new series (I know you’re all just frothing at the mouth to know what that will be), I have an announcement!

It’s a small one, so take a deep breathe!

(Not really, it’s actually pretty significant becasue 1) all of my announcements are significant, and 2) because it has to do with real, live people that I know personally!  In other words, keep your ears perked!)cb00685e-ddbd-4b8a-bc6c-63730a01e2d2.jpeg

Between series I have decided to write a post featuring someone who has significantly impacted my life.  I have met so many diverse souls in my short time on earth thus far and what else would I do but write about them?

Some things to keep in mind while reading these Featured Posts…

These posts will be just a snapshot of the featured individual.  I believe that each person is created by God, and because of that fact alone, hold intrinsic value.  No matter how close or far this person and I may stand on the spectrum of likeness, they are a created being and I count it a privilege to have encountered them.

So try to read my Featured Posts with that mindset!  Read them not merely as an entertaining anecdote, but as if they are a biography of a fellow human being.  Because well, they are.

I hope that you derive much joy from “meeting” the individuals I feature, as I certainly look forward to introducing them to you!

With that said, stay tuned for the next post where you’ll meet the one, the only – Kelsinator!

Peace to you!

Future Me Will Be Much Cooler

I admire my mom a whole lot.  She is literally the coolest woman I know and I am happy to watch my personality take on some of her traits.

Growing up, I always thought that I would be just like her in the future: get married young, have kids young, finish school before I was a quarter of a century old.

Then the future came about and I now find myself at 25 years old, single (again), still in school, aaaand still working the job I have worked at since high school…

It would be easy to look at these “stills” and become depressed.  And honestly, I have my moments.  But all in all, I have been blessed with a beautiful life.  And I’m not just throwing the word “blessed” around because I’m a Christian (in fact, I actually struggle to use that word because of how casually it is thrown around in Christian circles.  So when I use it, I mean it.).

The beauty and the blessing lie in that God has used this path to show me something invaluable…

There is a reason that you are right where you are right now.

 As intelligent as I am (which is not very), at 25 I am totally sold on the fact that the Creator of the universe knows me inside and out.  He knows what I need and, most importantly, knows who best I can serve and love in this life.

God designed me with particular strengths, but He also created me with certain weaknesses.  Why?  So that His character can be showcased to the world. Even on my best day, God’s compassion, patience, and kindness far surpasses mine!

I’ve transferred four times, once to a college in north Georgia, one in Florida, and two in Massachusetts. There were plenty of good and bad experiences that arose out of each of these moves, but by God’s continual restoration, I am living free of regret or bitterness.

I have met people who have wrecked me, built me, taught me, shaped me, loved me, and healed me – just to name a few!

I have had countless  unique privileges to share the heart of God with people I would not otherwise have met if my life had stayed a little more “in between the lines”.  Like sharing meals in a halfway house with one of my closest friends.  Or helping strangers slaughter a pig for their project launch party because of a chance meeting at a coffee shop.

Then there are those experiences that “build character”, as my dad would say.  Like driving out to the Whites in the middle of the night with someone I had never spent time with outside of work…and then sleeping in my car on the side of the highway…and then waking up bright and early to hike all day.  Or like braving through the cold when the oil ran out a week before Christmas because roomie and I didn’t want to pay the fee for an emergency refill.  Or getting insanely dehydrated while hiking the Whites (on a separate occasion), barely making it off the mountain before dark, and hitchhiking back to our car.

So, while it can be easy to wish away the time for “better days” (you know, the ones where you will be a transformed being, eating more kale and practicing less road rage), it would behoove us to instead channel our wishing for the future into motivation and our view of the past into contentment.

Let me stick it to you this way…

While I know that Future Me will be much cooler, I can also remain content in knowing that God has brought me this far and used everything – my stupid mistakes, my pain, my trials – to grow me and influence others.  And that is something to celebrate!

But the celebrating doesn’t stop there!

Future Me and Future You will be cooler because we will have gained even more wisdom and reached even more people with God’s love.  We should be jazzed about that!

Growth is just plain ole’ a part of life, folks.

So breathe in every experience, encounter, and emotion.  Be okay with God using you where you are right now to grow you and to be in the lives of those around you and love on them!  And be excited about where you’ll be 3, 7, and 12 years from now!  Because you can trust that it is and will be exactly where you’re meant to be, serving who you’re meant to serve.

I think that’s a wrap for the Contentment Series, all!  Stay tuned for what is coming next…!

Peace to you!

Rainy Days Are For Seizing!

Hi all!  How is everybody fairing in all of this precipitation??

I for one, love the rain!  But even I am starting to feel a little soggy.  Especially after the epic camping trip my friend and I took this weekend.  We decided that October 26th (weather expected to produce high winds and rain, and possibly even snow) would be the perfect weekend for camping!  And it was a surreal experience, no doubt.  But long story short, I am pretty ready to just be and stay DRY for a few days.

Most people I have talked to are not fans of the rain.  So, I thought since we have been discussing the importance of contentment, I would share an excerpt I wrote about a rainy day.  Perhaps this little snapshot will shed some sunlight on your soggy souls and inspire you to seize these rainy days!


Rainy Days Are For Seizing


 I let the surface of my skin sink into the windowpane.  

Rain pelts the glass.  It is a most gratifying sound.  I draw my hand up to the widow as well, drumming my fingers on the cool glass, silently training them to mimic the beat of the rain.

What’s out there?  And what am I looking for?

As if to answer my question, the rain drills harder through the air into the already-soaked earth.  I squint, trying desperately to see through the precipitation, between it, within it. As if one of these droplets of water harbors a message for me personally.

Before recognizing the urge itself, I find my fingers so recently drumming out an orchestra, now wrapped around the door handle.

The handle turns!

The door swings open in all of the grandeur it has earned in its old age – a metallic screech of rusty hinges.  It slams back into place behind me while I run forward.

The sensation of cold wet concrete shocks my feet when they hit the steps running down off the porch.  Just as quickly, concrete is replaced by grass. Grass, wet and slippery, that momentarily warms under my feet. That is, until these feet again float upward and forward, bounding down the hill.


Stay dry, all!





Happiness is Fragile & I Break Things Easily

The number of times I have heard the words “This is why we can’t have nice things, Amber” is…well, I haven’t counted and I don’t really want to.

Bottom line: I am more reckless than I am careful.  Sadly, this reckless nature does not only pertain to objects (insert frowny face).  My recklessness reaches even the shores of emotional energy output, words, and boundaries.

I recognize this weakness in my character all too clearly.  I have prayed since I was a teenager that God would reveal to me the things in my heart that need to be burned down in order that He might rebuild them into something useful.

Be careful what you pray for, my friends, because God is One who answers prayers!

All joking aside, God not only hears us when we come to Him, He answers us.  Little by little over the years, God has broken me down in different ways.  But it is in those broken places where epiphany abounds!  Realization of our weaknesses is what creates space in our hearts for God to work.  Only when I realize how emotionally weak I am can I then ask for strength.  If I know not what is missing, I know not what to ask for.

Now, hold up.  What do all of these words have to do with contentment?

In my last post, I talked about how contentment comes from letting go of the idea that as humans we possess what it takes to survive this life.  I discussed that we have hope not in ourselves, but in a personal Creator who gives us the strength to be content.  I hope that you are still celebrating that wonderful news!  Or, perhaps you are still grappling with that concept.

Wherever you are at in this journey of finding contentment, I’d like to take us a smidge deeper into the ocean of revelation.  If that sentence scares you, I completely understand; oceans scared me quite a bit until very recently, so you’re not alone in your fear!  But please trust me, there is nothing more freeing than overcoming your fears, so dive in with me!DC934EFE-0545-4593-B92B-80C41471A402

My personal theory is that a big part of why we humans stray so far from contentment is that we are failures in life wayyyy more than we are victors.  Yes, even the girl who teaches Sunday school every week at church.  We hurt, disappoint, forget, use, abuse, and neglect ourselves and each other to different degrees.  And because of that I think we tend to get locked up in our guilt.  And then (and this is the worst part of all!), instead of letting ourselves get uncomfortable and humbled, we try everything under the sun to alleviate said guilt. Which in all honesty, usually only perpetuates this cycle of failure.

Wow.  This is wicked depressing.

Or is it?!

Today, I was listening to one of my favorite pastors, Matt Chandler.  Chandler was discussing the difference between knowing about God and knowing God.  Knowing about God is no different than knowing that Tom Brady has a model wife, doesn’t need an alarm to wake up, and rarely lifts weights as a part of his workout routine.  Knowing God means more than knowing a list of facts about Him.

Psalms 51: 17 declares that “a broken And contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Chandler explicated this verse saying “The thing that God will never despise is the honest prayers of a man or a woman who might not be where they know they should be, but are crying out: I want more!  And He never responds with ‘Get to work, then!’  Ever.”

That is a powerful realization.  But again – what do these words have to do with contentment?

I think this is an excellent place to make the distinction between happiness and contentment.  I think we all know that there is a difference, but what that difference is is where things break down.

So what is the difference?

First of all, happiness is very fragile.  Happiness has many factors: time of day, time of year, financial security, relationship status, social status, personality…the list could go on.  Basically, happiness is an emotion.

Contentment on the other hand is more of a decision.  Now, I am aware that according to Dictionary.com, the definition for contentment does not include making decisions.  This is my own personal definition, so feel free to take it or leave it.

But think about it.  Being content does not come naturally to us as we discussed in the last post.  Contentment is a decisive act to let go of our frustrations and cynicism, and embrace all that God has freely given us, from the creative glory of nature all the way to what He did on the cross.

If we merely know about God, we know the story of redemption: God’s only Son came to earth to take our penalty of sin in the form of a brutal death on a cross.  But if we know God, we understand that Christ did not die on a cross for you and I to be happy.  Christ died on the cross that we might find true contentment in knowing Him.  All of our guilt and failures no longer have a home in our hearts.  Christ’s death on the cross has created a sacred place in our hearts for His powerful acts of grace to now dwell.  Take that in.  Dwell upon it.  Let it clean out your heart.  Allow it to be the powerful force that flows out of you to others!

Happiness is fragile, and I don’t know about you, but I break things easily.  Contentment however, is durable.  Contentment walks with you through the sleepless nights, long days, crappy jobs, friends who bail, plants that die, empty coffee mugs, and small bank accounts.

So instead of watching happiness shatter in front of you again and again, try holding onto something else: contentment.  Ask the One who created contentment to give you the strength needed to thrive.  He listens and He will answer you.

I hope that this post resonates in your heart!  Until next time!

Peace to you!e981ce7a-e6ca-4802-9449-c3d6228b4d12.jpeg