This is the only life you get: An unoriginal ode to my #Ridiculous26

Do you ever think you’re so much older than you ever thought you’d be? Maybe for you it comes down to working a 9 to 5 you never imagined and compromising the ideals of your youth or maybe it’s just the aches and pains of getting older you didn’t think were real. Perhaps it’s when you realize you won’t be young forever.


As I enter the last year of my mid-20s, this is kind of where I am. I never realized how much I valued my youth and how it played into my identity until it occurred to me I won’t always be young. Revolutionary, right?

But really, think about it for a minute.

From the second we’re born, we’re young. We will spend years and years of saying ‘when I was a kid’ and adults will make some witty retort about how young we are now talking about when we were younger. You know the jokes I’m talking about. At some point, I’m not sure when, we lose our youth.

(seriously taking input now – when does that happen?!)

I spent the last year in a #QuarterLifeChelsea with plans to fully embrace my life instead of settling. This led to a month-long birthday celebration filled with parties and amusement parks and traveling and everything in between. I wanted to live as God called me, not as I saw fit. I felt like I was in the best place with the best people, and I didn’t want to miss a minute. I promised myself I wouldn’t quit my job or dye my hair any strange colors. I was ready.

Spoiler alert: I quit my job, moved to Buffalo, got my nose pierced and my hair is currently magenta. I like to think even if I didn’t adhere to my standards, I’m following God, which is top priority.

I thought I saw where my life was going, especially the next year. This has always been my problem, though. I tend to live in the years ahead of me instead of the right now.

Part of me wants to blame it on being an overachiever. All my life, I’ve been taught to push for more – more education, a better job, more stability, etc. Being here is not a luxury you can afford when you’re trying to make your life happen.

But most of me knows I find safety in plans and looking ahead instead of embracing the mess that is now because the future has to be better, right?

I spent exactly six months in Pittsburgh and six months in Buffalo, which by itself is pretty poetic. In Pittsburgh, I was content with my life. I knew my place. I thought I was growing but really I was just staying and fitting into the same roles. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it wasn’t good for me.

I felt a nagging to go that I ignored and God basically kicked me out of the Steel City which is fine, because like always He took care of me.

Going from everything I had to nothing and realizing I had to rebuild my life was so overwhelming. I didn’t automatically make friends and traveled to the point I felt disconnected. I missed my church and my friends and my life.

Suddenly, everything changed. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment. Maybe it’s when my pastor introduced me to some people and I felt like maybe I could make friends. Maybe it’s when my growth group started and we read Wonderlife and I learned it’s ok to be weird. Maybe it was my other group where I played volleyball and ultimate Frisbee and didn’t sit on the sidelines out of fear. I don’t know, but something definitely changed in me.

I left my 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. sleep schedule and decided some nights, it’s better to go on walks through the woods and swim when it’s way too cold. Even when I’m tired, staying up to text that new friend is totally worth it every minute of sleep you lose. Sometimes you need to drop your Friday night Netflix plans and go to your friend’s brother’s birthday party, even when you’ve never really hung out with this friend before. I think this is where life happens.

Too often I look to my expectations and future and miss the spectacular reality that is happening right now. I fall in love the hardest with my life when I simply live it and allow myself to be here now. When I go from place to place to place and allow new and strange adventures to occur. When I don’t let my fears control my heart.

With this forward thinking though, I fail to let myself develop. Instead of pursuing my dreams and things I want to do, I say ‘in another life’ and just accept, without question, it couldn’t be a part of this life. By the way, if you keep pushing those thoughts aside, you will never see the incredible things waiting for you now.

Why can’t I live the life I want now? I think in society sometimes we belittle these dreams and all assume we need this job, this item, this path, etc. until we forget there isn’t a law that says you have to stay in a job you hate because it’s stable and you have to stay in the same place because it’s settled.


It’s technically wild orchid but you get the idea

That’s why I got my nose pierced and my hair is pink and I will continue to get tattoos. I will never stop writing even if it’s only the same four people who read my posts. I will most likely always linger too long after events, trying to squeeze the last bit of life I can out of every experience.

This brings me to here and now and #Ridiculous26, the theme for my next year of life. You see, I had the crisis, but now it’s time to live boldly. Ridiculous basically has a thousand different definitions, including amusing, absurd, laughable, idiotic, stupid, childish, outrageous, etc. It’s used to describe intense feelings or situations, covering the spectrum from terrible to amazing. You know what it isn’t? Sensible, serious and reasonable.

So now what? Thank you for reading so much about my personal growth, #blessed. Instead of ending on this great note, I am going to leave you with what I’ve learned and how I’m trying to view life now.

All we get in life are moments. So often times are hard and bad things happen or a situation doesn’t work out, but those results don’t invalidate what you felt before the bad news. In the midst of the stress and the chaos, we have incredible moments that remind us why we’re here and how beautiful life can be, even just for an instant.

Each moment of life creates an infinity, capturing a thousand different feelings like beauty and heartbreak and passion and longing and laughter. You realize you were created for moments like this and this is what it means to be fully present. You wish it would never end, that you could always be filled with so much that for a moment, you feel complete.

Don’t ruin a moment by thinking about what happens next. Don’t think about how early you have to wake up or how maybe this isn’t the best life choice. Don’t let your anxiety stop you from experiencing something incredible. We have the promise of God working for us, so all we can do is enjoy every moment between now and then knowing we will never get them back.

Live life for these moments. Forget work and responsibilities. Lose sight of the fact that maybe you’re too old to behave like this. Embrace who God created you to be in every situation because He made you loud/quiet/wise/silly/etc. for an amazing reason. Never lose sight of now for what might never be.

Sometimes you will fail in life and sometimes you will miss the moment because you’re too caught up in your head. This is ok! There will always be more moments asking to be experienced. Embrace them, whether you’re 16, 22 or 75.

Now I only regret the nights I went to bed and the texts I ignored and the situations I overthought until they ended. I can’t regret a moment that maybe led to heartbreak because for a time, it was absolutely perfect.

Sometimes (most of the time) I will say it seemed like a good idea at the time and that’s ok because I’ve had a lot of really good ideas in my life.

I don’t offer this because I’m perfect at living my life, but because like you, I’m not. I’m a miserable failure all the time and that’s 100 percent ok. Every day I’m trying to be better, and I hope you are too.

Be happy right now because right now is all you have. Here’s to #Ridiculous26.


Don’t tell me I’m called to singleness

Being single over 22 in the church is a strange phenomenon known to confuse elders far and wide. We are the welcome lepers, pushed into groups by ourselves where we can mingle and wallow and wonder what we’ve done to be cursed into being alone. Hopefully, our group will lead to connection with another leper and together we will be healed by Holy Matrimony and finally we can join the rest of the church.

I’m mostly kidding.


If you’re raised in the church, there are a few lessons you learn: Jonah and the whale, Noah and the Ark, Jesus feeds the 5,000, good Christian boys and girls find each other and get married, etc. Without really thinking about it, you just kind of expect you will be married young like everyone you know. At least, that was my experience. This notion was exacerbated by attending a Christian college where ‘ring before spring’ was a very real phenomenon.

Don’t get me wrong – I mean zero disrespect to married couples or how the church values marriage. It’s an incredible thing and should be valued. If you want, assume I’m a bitter single girl and take nothing I say seriously.

Moving on.

During sermons, it’s common for pastors to refer to their marriages or relationships in general to illustrate their points. This doesn’t really bother me because I’m an adult and can see what they’re trying to convey. One time, however, I heard a speaker try to tailor a message to the singles and try to reach them where they were. At first I was confused because I’m thinking, well I’m right here with the married people but it’s fine, continue. And then I got over my snarky self and decided to listen.

In complete honesty, I don’t remember much of what he said about it because I kind of zoned out after he generalized being a single Christian under the most offensive thing for me to hear. Yes, more offensive than Johnny’s wonderful aunt trying to hook us up because we would be great together and he’s such a nice boy.

You are called to singleness.

As someone who’s essentially been single her entire life, this really grinds my gears. I’ve heard other Christians say they’ve been called to singleness, and maybe they have, but it’s not right to put that on every Christian person who isn’t married. You know what it looks like to me? You don’t really know what to say about prolonged singleness because you don’t understand. You try to glorify it and soothe our poor, lonely wounds by letting us know we have some wonderful, magnificent purpose and it is being single.

How about this? Sometimes we’re just single.

Famously single person Paul wrote about being single in 1 Corinthians 7, citing married people are more concerned with pleasing their spouses but single people can direct all of their attention to the Lord. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to argue with Paul who was way more than just a single man but isn’t it fun to define someone by one inconsequential label?

This is how the church should focus on singleness – as a gift, not a calling. It is a gift that can lead you to do other really important things you are called to do, just like marriage can. More than just telling us it’s a gift and we should be grateful, the church should want to meet us here and help us get to the whole ‘it’s a gift’ stage.

It’s really frustrating being single at least 20 percent of the time. Even if you’re content and independent, sometimes you really want a significant other. Weddings are a great example, especially when virtually all of your friends are getting married. Netflix bingeing is another solid example. I’m still waiting to watch Stranger Things in the hope I’ll have a boyfriend soon (she says mostly sarcastically).

Personally, I do view being single as an incredible gift. It’s why at 26, I’m not using dating services or going out of my way to meet anyone. My time is mine, which means I can give as much of it to other people as I want. I can go and visit my nieces or hang out with friends without having a big time suck boyfriend who wants to see me because I’m so awesome.

Most importantly (to me), it means I can devote a lot of time to my church. I like to joke that I can volunteer so much because I don’t have a life, but that’s really only half true. I like to give as much as I can now, because I know it won’t always be this way. Someday, maybe next month or in 10 years, I will meet someone and they will need me, too.

Now I say this and you might want to point out that I am representing single guy Paul’s words pretty well, but you have to remember that I’m almost 26. I had my last boyfriend (of three months) at 18. The eight years in between weren’t always easy and filled with enlightenment. Steadily, I grew more comfortable with being alone and allowed God to use it in my life and show me it was a gift. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I didn’t need a man.  


Over the years, I realized a few important things, like if I had married someone from my past, it probably would’ve been a disaster. I’m a different girl than I was at 18, 21, 23 and even 25 and I keep growing into this person. I’m actually happy I became this version of myself before meeting someone. Lately, I’m realizing how much I have to give while I wait.

And yes, I am waiting, mostly patiently. Contrary to what you might think, I am excited to meet someone. But marriage isn’t the ultimate goal of my life and that is a good thing because I’m living for my King and not some random guy out in the world.

I want to add another disclaimer about the churches I’ve attended because it might seem like I paint them pretty negatively. I’ve been a part of several amazing communities and I don’t want to take away from the work they do for the Kingdom. The issue of singleness in the church is bigger than one congregation. It’s literally the Church.

To conclude, we aren’t lepers and we aren’t necessarily called to be alone. Help us develop our gifts and use our time but don’t assume we should magically enjoy being single. You tell me the grass isn’t always greener in relationship land and I expect you to believe it isn’t always better where I live, either.

To other single people: It sucks a lot sometimes, I know. I KNOW. I don’t want to minimize your struggles by discussing where I am now. I have pages and pages of journal entries about boys and crying out to God about why I’m still single. It’s a process. Maybe you’ll meet someone before you get here, maybe not. The best thing I can say is we know God is working for our good, right? We have that promise. So we don’t have missed opportunities. There wasn’t anything else you could’ve said to make something work. It wasn’t you, it was probably God. Enjoy all these moments because they are making you into the person God designed, and he or she is incredible. You are already loved so magnificently you can’t even fathom it. Believe me, I know.

A letter to my father

Hey Dad,

I heard you took our photos off the wall. I meant to open this letter a little more cordially, going through the necessary pleasantries, but that’s all that I can think about. I wanted to ask you how you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, tell you I’ve been fine, but all I can think of is how you seemingly erased us from your life.

Do you miss us? Do you think about the memories captured in those photos and long for our company? I know I do. I stumble upon photos of us, before you were bad, and I can’t help but cry. I see your smiling eyes and remember how fiercely you loved us for a time.

You used to be proud of us. Do you know I have my master’s degree now? I wish you could see your granddaughters. They’re so amazing, Dad. We’ve had so many moments you’ll never be a part of, and it still breaks my heart.

Sometimes I remember summer evenings at your house and the sounds of crickets and frogs by the pond. The drives we took to Butler and the little treats you would buy us. I remember spending every New Years with you and how we ate Twinkies and wore alien party hats for Y2K.

I remember playing softball in the yard and that time you accidentally hit a line drive into my shin. You used to let us drive down the driveway and let me crawl into the back of the Rolling Death Trap. You always gave the best hugs.

The longer we’re separated, the more I see the truth. I notice little dents in my memories I glossed over as a child. These imperfections put a shade over the happier times before I realized everything wasn’t as it seems. I’m starting to understand how much our relationship damaged me and how it now affects my relationships with men.

It’s getting harder to remember the good times. I became so used to your illness and distance that I distanced myself from the best memories to protect myself. I couldn’t separate who you used to be from the person you’d become.

Mostly I remember when you were bad. All the visits when you wouldn’t get out of bed and I sat in your room on the computer in the dark. All the times you made me feel guilty for not loving you enough. All the games you never made it to.

I’m sorry, Dad. I know I’m not innocent in all of this. I was so young and you were so far away from me. It hurt more to see you than to stay away, and I chose what was easier for me. Would you have been better if I stayed?

I don’t think so.

They say you can’t save anyone, but we tried our best. We wanted to show you how much we needed you; how important you were to us. You never believed us. You always thought we were against you. You lashed out online and used your poisonous words as ammunition to turn others against us as well.

I wanted to fight back. You called out my sister and questioned our faith all to prove your point. I wanted to tell you and everyone who sided with you all the pain you put us through. How you would just vanish. How you constantly told us you were worth more dead than alive.

Do you know what it’s like for a child to hear her father say he’s better off dead? It’s basically like getting stabbed in the heart. Long before we understood the implications, we had to process things like this. This is where I first learned I wasn’t enough.

You sent us emails threatening the end. Do you know what that’s like to know your father might kill himself any day? To see him casually talk about it on social media? Probably not, because Grandpap doesn’t even know how to use a computer.

We grew up never knowing if this downswing would be it. Every call I receive from an unknown number still gives me a moment of panic because I wonder if it’s the call about you.

I still pray for you. I don’t want you to kill yourself. I want you to come back and be the dad you used to be. I want you to remember how much you loved us and see how much we love you. I want to tell you I’m sorry for anything I did to hurt you and that I forgive you for everything you’ve done to me.

I remember the last picture I gave you. It was from a softball game and I was just a baby. You’re sitting at a picnic table and I’m beside you in my stroller. Neither of us are paying attention, so it’s one of those candid shots that somehow seems more beautiful than smiling. When you opened it, a big grin spread across your face and I felt like I had done it – I had brought you joy.

And then you said ‘look how young I was’ and starting talking about your glory days of playing church softball. You missed why I loved the photo because in that moment, you only loved yourself.

That was the moment I knew it was truly different now. The spark in your eye began to fade and I felt you slipping away. I wish I could’ve grabbed you, but I don’t think you would’ve held onto me anyway.

For years I carried the weight of what happened with us, but now I don’t. Thankfully, my God took it from me and now I am free to see you through eyes of love. I know you’re sick and I know your brain is against us. I know some of what happened wasn’t because of your sickness. None of it matters to me because you are still my father.

So how are you? What have you been doing? I’m fine and I’m really trying to be more than just fine.

I love you, then, now and forever.