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Monday, June 22, 2015

The one who would've been.

I realized yesterday, as I sat looking at Kaden's picture in my Bible, that I've grown a lot since we lost him.  I've matured in ways I didn't think possible and now have a heart for others that sometimes feels as though it's going to beat out of my chest.  

And as overwhelming as that is at times, it's so good and so sweet.  It's a reminder that I'm still living and I'm still here and I'm still fighting and God is still good.  

I read an article the other day on something called The Semicolon Project.  It's a non-profit that's dedicated to bringing awareness to mental health and the importance of it that awareness.  "A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to."  

I think I've just been afraid all of these years; afraid that the end of his life would be the end of his story.  But I'm realizing more every day that he lives on.  In the ones who choose to love him still, and in the ones I choose to tell about him.  His tiny little self is leaving footprints that I may not even recognize.  

But the pain is often so real.  

His death was not a period, though.  It is not the end.  Just like my struggles are not periods at the end of a sentence.  Instead, they are a movement; a calling to believe better things and to live bigger dreams and to love so much deeper.  

And I choose to to believe and to live and to love because those things are worthy of my time and my offering.  My calling is bigger than my fear.  My joy is bigger than my despair.  And this life is bigger than my wildest imagination.  

Will you join me on the path that matters?  


In loving memory of Kaden Michael Peterson.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The story behind the ink.

I was pretty sure I hadn't done a lengthy post on my tattoos, so I wanted to do one now.

This is partially spurred by a post I saw on Facebook a few weeks ago that frustrated me, so I felt the need to defend mine.  

This is the picture I saw that a friend of mine had posted that said "sexism is gross".  And it struck a major nerve with me.  I like to think I'm not a "typical" girl, and also, I'm a woman, not a girl, but I do have one of those tattoos, and two of those placements.  But those weren't driven by anything society told me.  Those were driven because it's what I wanted.  Me.  No one else.  

So here's the story of my tattoos, not the story of the so called "typical girl".  


#1 - December 2011
This was my very first tattoo.  I'm so proud of the thought and intentional purpose I put behind it.  Identity and my self-worth has always been something I've struggled with.  This passage has been an encouragement and light to my heart since I came across it when I started following Christ.  It's a picture of God's purpose and passion in creation.  


#2 - June 2013
I'm way obsessed with my heart behind this one.  It's a tattoo I share with my sister and mom, and we decided on it for the simplicity of the "eternal love" meaning behind it.  My family is so dear to my heart, and goodness, I love them.  


#3 - January 2014
If I had to choose a favorite verse, it would be the verse this tattoo came from.  It's in James 1, and talks about how we are essentially promised that we will face trials.  But we will not face them without coming out stronger in the end.  This verse helped me through the grief of losing Kaden, and has had a huge impact on my walk with Christ.  


#4 - January 2015
I thought about this one for a long time before I decided to get it.  I wanted something that represented a big part of my heart, but was simple.  I wanted something that people would ask me about, and that I could share Christ's love through.  


#5 - April 2015
The cross was easy for me to decide on.  It know it's cliche, but that's not my heart behind it.  It's so easy for me to remember the love the Lord has for me, but not he sacrifice that Jesus made so that love could be fulfilled.  The cross is a simple reminder for me to be able to look at and remember.


There are the stories.  I'm thankful for these stories.  


Friday, June 12, 2015

A burden worth bearing.

I'm learning to trust the hard things.  To lean into the things that matter and lean away from the things that don't.  It's a battle I've been fighting against.  I've been railing against a God who loves me because I want to know everything He has in store for me.  

I want to know all the pain I'm going to face.  I want to be able to see the hurt I have coming.  I want to be able to prepare myself for the sorrow that I may feel.  

I try to hard to control my future.  I strive so much to fight against the feeling that I'm not really the one who has the control.  I've struggled almost my entire adult life with wanting to be able to determine the path I take.  I want to be able to look into my future, see where I'm going, and be confident that that's where I'll end up.  

But the truth is, that's almost never how it happens.  I constantly go off path.  Things don't go as planned.  Accidents happen.  People let me down.  

It's a fact of life.  One I really really really hate to accept.  I have this ache in my heart when things don't go as planned, when people choose to step aside, or when I think God doesn't come through like I think He should.  I get discouraged and anxious about the things unfulfilled.  

I'm trying to seek more of God's Kingdom and less of my own.  I'm so self-centered and focused on my well-being, without focusing first on what God wants for my life.  

Isn't that what it's all about?  Being committed to the plan He has set before you?  

But man, it's hard.  I struggle with not knowing.  I have a hard time believing that His plan is good when I can't see that plan playing out quite yet.  

Not quite yet.  

That seems to be the symphony of my last few years.  

But I'm stopping to breathe.  I'm stopping to refocus.  I'm stopping to remember the burden of the cross and the burden of my life and how the two are intertwined.  I do not walk alone, I have never walked alone, and I will never walk alone.  That I know is promised.  


Friday, June 5, 2015

This one's for the girls.

I think it’s easy for me to look at a situation, to see what it holds, and to either embrace or dismiss it based on what I perceive it to be offering to me. I choose to judge a book by its cover more often than I give it a chance. And it’s hard for me to be able to trust something that hasn’t been proven trustworthy to me, and this takes place even in my daily life.

When I began my journey through college, community was not a word that I knew very well. I wasn’t used to actually talking to people about things, and I surely didn’t want to tell them about the things that I was dealing with. And let’s be honest, most times I didn’t even know the things I was dealing with.

My walk since then has been a balance of this and that; of hope and pain, of joy and sorrow, of light and dark. But thankfully I haven’t had to walk that path alone.

I chose to take a step when I decided to say yes to the girls who lived on my floor in Goodnow Hall my freshman year of college. They were convinced that I needed to be a part of this thing called a “life group”. I was intrigued, if anything, so I took a leap of faith, a quite literal leap of faith for me at that time, and went to the little basement room on that Tuesday night. I’m fairly certain I spent a majority of that evening just observing. I noticed the women’s movements, voices, smiles, and laughs. I noticed the way they beamed when thinking about the things that brought them joy, and the way they winced when remembering a certain pain.  I was confused. How was it that they could still chose to be there, even though they were obviously facing so much more than we could see?

That’s the first thing that stuck out to me. I realized that it was a choice. Being present is always a choice. Being vulnerable is something we must work at, something we must strive for, and something we must be willing to take that leap of faith in.

So I jumped. I chose to begin revealing parts of my heart to these women that I knew for a matter of weeks because there was just something about them that made them seem like they were the ones I could trust. It’s not something I can explain, still to this day, but it’s something that I am over the moon thankful for.

Since then, I’ve realized even more how it’s a choice. There are still days when I don’t want to go to life group after a day of work. There are mornings I don’t want to get up for church. There are days when I don’t want to spend time with a friend because I am just too exhausted. But those are the days when it’s the most important decision I could make. Those are the days when the hope of the joy set before me is more important than the despair of the pain in my heart.

We need community. We need to be around the ones who know our hearts, who love our hearts, and who will continue pursuing the good of our hearts.

So this one's for the girls that have been there for me when I needed it most.  Who have loved me through the things I've done and said, and the ones who have walked away because they were only there for a season.  I get that.  Some friendships aren't meant to last forever.  Some teach you a lesson and move on.  But then there are some that hold tight, press in and press on, and are still there on the other side when things are still a little grey.  But this is for all of them.  The difference you've made and the life you've placed in my soul is something that's irreplaceable.  Thanks for being my people. 


Friday, May 29, 2015

Treat yo self.

Newsflash: I'm not good at taking compliments.  I get uncomfortable, I avoid eye contact, and I change the subject as soon as possible.  I've never been good at it, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that up until I came to college, I never thought I was worthy of receiving those compliments.

I'm also not good at telling people things I'm good at.  My least favorite question to answer in a job interview is the classic "three strengths that you see in yourself".  I often have them thought up in my mind beforehand so I don't completely freeze when the question ultimately comes up in the course of the interview.

When I was in middle school, I got bullied a lot.  It felt like every possible flaw that my person contained was pointed out and made fun of.  I didn't see myself as someone who was worthy of being loved and cherished.

Going into high school, I chose to attempt to find my worth in the activities I was a part of.  Band, vocal, cheerleading (I know, an odd combination...).  I chose to place my identity in the things I thought that I could control.  But in the end, they ended up letting me down, too, because I realized that my happiness surely wasn't being found there.

Coming to college, I was shown a picture of Who my worth came from.  The One who gave all that He was for all that I am, and chose to prove His love for me on the cross.  In those moments, in that pain, He told me that I am beloved, adored, and chosen.  And in that truth, I find hope.

So, my best friend challenged me to write up a list of things that I'm "here for" -- the things that I see in myself that I possess as qualities that lift others up and encourage them in their time of need, or anytime, really.  I mean, I like encouraging others, so it's likely that it'll happen at any given time.  So here goes nothing.  I thought of this quote as I went to write this, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself.  It's thinking of yourself less", so here's the list of things that I see in my life that are the things that others see in me.

  • Encouraging
    • I don't want someone to go without knowing that I'm on their side.  People need other people.  
  • Compassionate
    • I choose to step into other's sorrows with them, walk through it, and be there on the other side when the skies start to clear.  
  • Empathetic
    •  I don't want to show that my pain has been the same, but just that I've been through pain and know there is hope to be found.  
  • Ability to be real
    • My best friend knows that I'm a realist, and she's definitely more of an optimist, so I tend to think that we balance each other out quite well.  In other relationships, this looks a lot like giving perspective where perspective is needed, but also doing my best to be a light when things may not be so bright.  
  • Intentionality
    • More often than not, I'll choose the betterment of a friend than the betterment of myself.  While this can backfire, I've seen it bloom greatly in the relationships in which I've shown someone that I'm not going anywhere.  It's good to know you've got someone just a phone call away.  
  • Sense of worth
    • I don't want a friend of mine going a day without knowing the beauty they behold, whether or not the people they think are important see that worth or not.  The ones who matter will see it.  
  • Forgiving
    • Holding a grudge is just too much work.  It's hard, it hurts, and it never ends in joy.  I've seen that forgiving, letting go, and making it known that yes, that person may have hurt you, but yes, you forgive them, is so freeing.  
  • Selfless
    • This goes along with intentionality, but I would much rather choose to focus on the good of a friend than something in my life that may not matter in the span of eternity.  I want to be known for my radical love.  
I think I'm done now.  It took a lot for me to write these words, but in a sense, it's a breath of fresh air when I'm reminded of the grace and the gifts that I've been given.  


Friday, May 22, 2015

The art of anticipation.

I have a lot of strange dreams (Kasee, here's the post you were waiting for!).  I know it's said that people dream every night and just don't remember them, but more often than not, I do remember mine.  And more often that not, they are just so weird.  

A couple of weeks ago, I not only didn't get to bed at my normal time due to circumstances beyond my control, but then I also had a really terrible dream that I woke up remembering.  While I don't remember exactly what the dream was about now, I do remember being told that something scary was going to happen in a video I was about to watch in the dream, then watching this video waiting for it to happen...and then I woke up.  

I never saw what was scary.  I was prepared for it, but it never came to be.  

That led me to this post.  

I'm a worried.  To my core.  I worry about what is going to happen with situations on the current day, next week, next month, or even next year.  I often expect that the absolute worst is always going to happen for a given situation, and prepare myself for that ending.  I build up all of this anticipation and anxiety and worry, often for nothing to happen.  

Is this you, too?  Do you fear the worst so much that you don't let yourself focus on the possible good that could come of a situation?  

I know it's hard.  

It's difficult to stay positive when so many things have gone wrong so many times before.  
It's difficult to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when too often, you're faced with such darkness.  
It's difficult to be aware of the beauty in your life when there are people and things and situations that are thrusting the ugly at you.  

But I do like to think there's at least a little bit of good in every day.  As much pain as we're faxed with, as much struggle comes our way, and as much as you feel you "lack", you are never alone.  

Because it is in our lack that we find hope.  It is in our pain that we find strength.  And it is in our loss that we find joy in the One who brings us anything and everything that we could ever imagine.  I don't want to disregard the joy set before me.  I don't want to forget about the hope found in the cross.  And I surely don't want to put to shame the life given by the One who gave His so that I may live.  

I KNOW that life is hard.  
I KNOW that pain is real.  
And I KNOW that good things can be difficult to come by.  

But press on, sweet soul.  Keep moving.  Keep fighting.  And hold on to the things you know to be true.  

Press on, because He is pressing on for you.  


Thursday, May 21, 2015

I have redeemed you...

My sweet friend, Kasee, blogs over at A Reflection of Redemption, and I'm so honored to have her words on my blog today!  Read.  Enjoy.  Breathe it in.  This is Kasee's heart.  

**redeem- to buy back or repurchase; to get or win back; to free from what distresses or harms: as to free from captivity by payment of ransom (Merriam-Webster)**

How many of us reading this right now, can say we have a past? That we contain some sort of history that has shaped or defined certain events in our lives or specific characteristics about ourselves?

I believe it's safe to say all of us.

Now, how many struggle with the idea that our past MUST control the events that take place in our future?

I know that one is me, for sure.

So many times I find myself living in a place of fear or timidity, unwilling to do things I feel God has called me to do simply for the fact that my past just HAS to exclude me from that deal.

I often find myself doing these things without even really noticing it. I decide not to take a leap on a certain area in my life because of fear I will fail like I have before. I allow specific memories of my past to haunt me, teasing me with insecurities, self-doubt, hurt, and regret.
But the truth is, God is good...and one of the reasons He is so good is because He is the God of redemption. The Father who is willing to pay a ransom for my life...
to turn my mourning into joy...

my ashes into beauty...

and trade my weakness for His strength.

I know you may be thinking, "You just don't know what I did, or what my past holds." You're right, I don't. But God does, and He loves you all the same. He possesses the ability to rewrite your history with His love. It's your story, and a testimony He can use to touch the lives of many people if only you are willing to let Him.

Do we have to take responsibility for our actions and things we have done in the past?  Absolutely. But we serve an awesome Father who redeems His children; He calls us by name and turns our mistakes, heartaches, and brokenness...into something so beautiful. He is the perfect reflection of redemption.

What part of your past are you allowing to control things God may have for your future? What are some things you need to let God redeem and restore, to bring you to a place of complete freedom. His ransom breaks the chains of bondage off of your past and your future.
Look into the eyes of the One who loved you to life, and see the true reflection of His redemption.

Friday, May 15, 2015

24 for 24.

I decided to copy what my sweet friend Rachel did over on her blog for her 23rd birthday, and instead and making it 24 because somehow I'm already 24 years old.  Let's be honest, I'm not sure how that happened, but here goes another year of life, love, and passionate pursuit of the things the Lord has in store!  

1.  I avoid walking over any kind of grate or manhole in the ground.  Basically, anything that's not the actual ground.  It's an irrational fear that I have that I've just never been able to shake.  I don't know if it's the feeling that maybe I'll fall through, or that there's something that will grab up and grab my leg, but basically, I'm a child when it comes to walking over them.  I'll avoid it at all costs.  

2.  My favorite color is green, but I really don't like to wear the color green.  

3.  I was born in a hospital that technically no longer exists in Manhattan -- it recently changed it's name!  Most people assume I was born somewhere else because I was raised in small town Kansas.  

4.  I really don't like a lot of vegetables.  Most people only find this out when they go eat at a restaurant with me, but I just never have enjoyed them.  Fruits, however, are one of my true loves.  

5.  I've worn glasses or contacts since I was in first grade.  My first pair were those classic huge round ones, and because I have terrible eyesight, they were also super thick.  Now, I wear contacts mostly.  People should also never ask to try my glasses out, because there's a good chance you'll get a headache from how strong they are.  

6.  I've had braces twice.  My first orthodontist thought it was a good idea to put them on before all of my baby teeth were out, so I had to get them again when my teeth moved after all of my adult teeth had come in.  

7.  I'm just not an athletic person when it comes to anything that requires my hands and a ball.  I love soccer and ultimate frisbee, but make me play volleyball or basketball and I may pretend like I hate you for a day or two.  

8.  I've never seen any of the Star Wars or Star Trek movies.  It's never been something I've been interested in, and while most of my friends look at my like I have 27 eyes when I tell them, it's not something I'm necessarily interested in changing.  

9.  My favorite season is fall, followed closely by winter.  I love football season + pumpkin spice lattes + light jackets + camping + bonfires + changing leaves.  I LOVE the cold and all things to do with it, which makes me wonder why I still live in Kansas, because, well, our summers are just miserable.  

10. If a public bathroom door is closed that I want to use, there's a good chance that I'll just wait to go to the bathroom somewhere else.  One of my biggest irrational fears is that I'll knock on a door, open it, and find someone using the restroom.  Seriously, how hard is it to lock the door?  

11.  I'm 5'5".  I include this fun fact because it's something I always wonder about others that I "meet" via social media, so it's normally something I ask once I've known them for a while!  

12.  Smiles and eyes are the first thing I notice about a person when I meet them.  I've developed a love for the way a person's eyes looks, especially the color, so don't be weirded out if I ask to look at your eyes to see what color they are.  I'm also super intrigued to know what color people's eyes were when they were younger, because mine were definitely just brown when I was younger, but they've changed a lot as I've gotten older.  There's a ring of light brown around my pupil, all green after that, and then a dark green circle lining the outside of my iris.  

13.  I'm a big fan of people's laughs.  I think they can show a lot about the person's personality, and I just really like making people laugh, also.  

14.  Speaking of laughs, I'll laugh at pretty much anything.  I tell people this hesitantly when I meet them, because I don't want them to feel like I'm laughing at them just to make them feel funny, because most times, it's because I'm genuinely laughing at something you said or did.  

15.  I have five tattoos, and they each hold a pretty special meaning for me.  I have Psalm 139 on my left wrist, an infinity symbol with a heart in it on my right forearm, "consider it joy" on my left shoulder, an arrow on my right foot, and a cross on my right wrist.  I'm somewhat OCD about my tattoo placements, so my next one will more than likely be on my left side somewhere.  

16.  I really like counting steps.  When it's a route a frequently take, like the steps of my library when I was in college, I knew how many steps were in each little interval.  Now, I know the number of steps going up to where the paper charts in the office I work at are stored.  You could say I'm a little strange.  

17.  Music has been a part of my life since before I can remember.  Music was the only class I really enjoyed (besides library hour) when I was in elementary school, and I was probably overenthusiastic when I was able to start band in fifth grade.  I ended up doing band and choir through middle and high school and into college, and while I'm not a part of a band or choir now that I'm out of school, music has made one of the biggest influences in my life.  

18.  Reading is by far my favorite alone time activity.  I was the kid who would get in trouble for reading a book when a teacher was lecturing.  My parents can confirm that for you.  I read a lot of fiction when I was younger (my favorite book used to be The Man Who Loved Clowns), but now I read a lot more Christian non-fiction.  

19.  I really don't enjoy wearing socks or shoes of any kind.  It's unfortunate because I have to wear close-toed shoes where I work, so you can bet they come off right when I get home.  My feet are also always cold during the winter because I pretty much refuse to wear socks at night despite how cold they get.  

20.  I've been writing stories since before I can remember.  I laugh at the old journals I find at my parent's house and the things I used to say and talk about to myself, and I like to think my writing has gotten a little better since I've gotten older.  

21.  I hate clowns, dolls, puppets, Barbies, and pretty much anything that's made to resemble a human.  If you show me one, I'll probably pretend like I hate you for a few minutes.  If you stick one in my pillow before I go to bed, I'll probably throw it at you.  My poor future daughters don't have a lot of hope when it comes to those types of toys.  

22.  I am an introvert through and through (INFP).  I find that this explains a lot of who I am for people that don't know me well, as this personality type is often seen as the "dreamer", "healer", or "mediator".  

23.  I spent four months in Botswana, Africa when I was in college through a study abroad program at my university.  I love traveling, mostly domestically, but I foresee more international travels happening when I'm a little older and have a more stable job.  

24.  I LOVE snail mail with all of my being.  I have an excessive collection of notecards and washi tape and pens to use when sending letters to people.  I also prefer making a card for someone rather than buying one.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blog update!

Hello friends! 

I just wanted to give a quick update so those of you who actually read this aren't confused. I've decided to stop my #MondayswithBritt series for the time being. I've been a little overwhelmed by the expectations I've been setting for myself, and have a tendency to get upset when I don't meet them. So I'm giving myself some grace with my writing, and am going to do my best to use this place as more of a creative outlet than and a source of just letting people know what my week consists of. I'm thankful for those who have encouraged me in this, and I'm excited to be able to give you all a little bit more of my heart. 


Friday, May 8, 2015

A piece of peace.

I often think a lot about how I can make things better in my life; whether that be my financial situation, my relationships, or my walk with Christ, it's something I focus on and spend time contemplating on almost a daily basis.  And more often than not, I'm consumed by this tendency to worry more so than just think about the things happening in life.  

But I'm also a combination of a ponderer + worrier.  I like to think about my life; where it's been, where it is currently, and where it's going.  But I have a negative tendency to make myself believe that the poor decisions I may have made in my past have the capacity to affect my present and future in a big way.  

Guess what?  

They don't.  They never have to impact the way I live my life.  Yes, they happened.  Yes, they taught me a lesson that, had I not made them, I would've never learned.  And yes, they may have changed the course of my life.  But they're not a thing to regret, feel shame over, or deny existence of.  

I've been struggling more lately with rest and finding rest and learning more of what that looks like for me.  I want to help others in any way I can, and I find myself doing that over taking time for myself when I need it most.  But it's starting to take a toll on my well-being, and more importantly, my attitude.  Being an introvert, I have to have time spent alone each day, or I just am not a very happy person to be around.  I get grouchy, sassy, and often times, negative.  

I never want to be seen as someone who's negative.  I don't want a person to look at me and automatically think "Oh, I can't ask her anything because she'll just give me some crude response."  How am I living life well if that's what people think when they look at me?  

When I think of Scripture to benefit my walk during this time of weariness, my mind often goes to one of my favorite passages of Scripture, James 1:2-4: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  I find the most comfort when it comes to this verse in that I find a sense of purpose for the things I'm facing.  I find a purpose for pushing forward.  And I find a purpose in the work being done in and through the life that I'm living for Christ.  

So when rest is hard to come by, I seek it more.  And when my heart is a little weary, I don't give in to lesser things.  I find peace in knowing that my life has purpose, my struggle has purpose, and my hope has purpose.  I press on to find more of the Lord in the everyday and I press on because He is pressing on for me.