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keep running those hills.

on my birthday, a friend of mine texted me and said, "happy birthday. keep running those hills."

and as i thought more about it, i realized that hills and running have been a big theme in my life- both literally and figuratively.

when i was younger and training for cross country, my dad and i would run the same loop around our neighborhood. it was pretty short 2ish mile loop but the real kicker came at the end... a quick, swiftly and steep incline. it was always so terrible to remember that big hill at the end of an otherwise flat route, but then the victory was sweet at the end, running to the top of the hill with every last drop of strength always resulted in a sweet victory walk home. and let's be honest, i really enjoyed making sure that i beat my dad to the top of hill and would win all bragging rights for that day. 

10th grade sammi runs to the finish

10th grade sammi runs to the finish

 

during my cross country years, there was this one school that we always raced at with the most insane hill. 

actual footage of said hill... 

actual footage of said hill... 

i remember always wanting to attend this meet because 1. you had to qualify for the meet and i always wanted to feel "good enough" to qualify for special events/meets/everything because i was insecure and 2. it was on a saturday and the moms always brought the best snacks. but i also remember dreading this meet because of the hill. but, the hill was the beginning of the race, you were still strong and i always remember running up the hill and thinking, "good! i did that! now it's downhill!" however, that hill is forever etched in my mind and i really have no desire to ever run it again. 

the good ol days- 2011

the good ol days- 2011

in honduras, the hotel our team stays in sits at the bottom of a long, winding hill right on a beautiful lake. it is seriously breathtaking. last winter, when i was there with a team a bunch of guys way fitter than myself were getting up every morning and running from the hotel to the top of the main road, about 1.5 miles, slow incline the whole way. at this point, i had not been running much (read: at all) and decided to join in one morning. and it was really hard. but, it is one of my favorite memories from that trip. the early morning cool air. the intentional conversation on the walk back down. the way it feels to breathe in when it's really hard and feel really, really alive. and realizing that even though i had not been running, maybe running was just a part of who i was. 

 

beautiful lake yojoa in honduras 

beautiful lake yojoa in honduras 

just last week, after a short little trip to south america, i went for a run. i have been trying to ease myself back into the running game with a couple short runs throughout the week. nice and slow, my only goal to run the whole time and remind myself that i am so much stronger than i think. last week instead of opting for my usual 2 mile loop, i decided to push it. i found myself desiring to run right towards the biggest hill in our little town. i found myself confidently believing that not only could i run up that hill and be just fine, i wanted to do it! i wanted to prove to myself that i really believe that i am strong and able and i can do hard things... i can keep running hills. so i ran the hill. twice. and my lungs were on fire, my feet felt like lead weights, but i ran home. head high and heart soaring. i can do hard things. 

and this past year? there have been some hills. hilly days. hilly months. hilly moments. but God! in His infinite grace and knowledge of me... i have seen it. when i commit to do the hard thing and lock eyes with the Author of my story, i can keep running those hills. and i want to. oh how i want to! i want to be that person that sees a challenge, looks it in the eye, reminds myself whose i am, and runs. the hills, they are going to keep coming. but my eyes are fixed and my heart determined. i can do hard things. i will keep running. 

shooting star.

Most memorable night of my life. 

Most memorable night of my life. 

I think if you would have asked me last year, if I would find myself in the same exact place, one year later, but this time, serving as a full-time missionary, hands open to whatever and wherever He leads? I probably would have laughed. It would have been my nervous/awkward type of laughter, the kind I use only when someone actually exposes one of my deepest desires or wishes, that I wish to not be revealed. Because laughter is a great way to cover up just how terrified you actually are, right? But times like this I am reminded. 

Sometimes I am tempted to think God is out to get me, doesn't actually have the best plan, and cannot hear my pleads or is choosing to ignore them. But all it takes is one quick glance in the rearview mirror, to see what He has done and be reminded that He is always faithful. always and only faithful. 

Last night, I felt the weight of the day on my shoulders. I was weary but not tired. I just felt depleted, hollow, and exhausted from fighting the lies of the Enemy all.stinkin. day. I crawled into bed far too early but was determined to watch Netflix until my brain was numb enough to rest without struggle (#healthy). 

I had been searching for something to watch (for about 20 minutes) that was the perfect mix of sad and happy when the gritty blink of my eyes reminded me that my contacts were still in my eyes. Trying to be a responsible adult, I climbed out of my warm bed and stepped my tender bare feet on the icy tile floor, while simultaneously shaming myself for not being more responsible and taking these stinkers out earlier in the evening. 

As I turned to climb back into my warm bed, I saw the stars out of my large bedroom window. They could not be ignored. I froze. I placed my hands on the window and the tears started flowing. Suddenly, I found myself sobbing and simply saying, "Father, I know you are here..." again and again. and then. 

The biggest, longest, most brilliant shooting star shot across the sky. 

In the blink of an eye, I crumbled. All of my hearts sadness, all of my uncertainty, all of my doubts, and all of my questioning was answered and wrapped up in that shooting star. God was surely with me. He was near to me. He heard me. 

He did not instantaneously remove or miraculously end what hurts ... and I think I often times mistake God's presence as the removal of whatever hurts or aches. But I saw and realized that in the middle of my own desperation, He may not take it away but He is most certainly listening. He is most certainly with me. and I am most definitely not forgotten by Him.  I stood there almost numb looking at the stars for a long while. I prayed, I emptied my heart out. I was angry, then sad. I was happy, then hurt. I was thankful and overwhelmed. 

Stars in Uyuni, Bolivia 

Stars in Uyuni, Bolivia 

As a crawled back into my bed, I thought about the many moments the stars of Bolivia have been etched in my heart and how God has used stars to show me more of His heart. Two years ago, I saw the stars here and knew I would be back again. I had never seen stars so clear and so brilliant in my life and as certain that God was most assuredly in this place. Last year, I would lay out on the sports court and watch the stars with my friends and we would sing worship songs, talk about big dreams, and recount stories of the Lord's faithfulness. It was one of those nights that I, as silly as it sounds, prayed and asked to see a shooting star. I had never seen one before and I was just really excited about the chance that maybe, just maybe I would see one. That night, I will never forget. I lost count of how many shooting stars I saw after counting 6. Who is my God? So kind, so whimsical, so generous. At the end of last summer, I went to the Uyuni Salt Flats and have never in my life been so blown away by the creativity of our Creator. One night, in particular, I remember laying on top of the car with my friend singing "Nothing is Impossible" and marveling at the majesty and grandness of our God. Another night on that trip, I was standing on the rooftop view area of our hotel and as far as I could see it was pitch dark. But the stars illuminated the sky with such brilliance, I was overwhelmed (and also freezing cold). Then earlier this month, I sat on the same court here at the Life Center, this time alone, and through steaming hot tears angrily questioned and wrestled with God (as it turns out, He can handle it) and begged for clarity and comfort. 

And last night just gets added to the stories of the stars in Bolivia. 

So in the middle of sadness, struggles of sinful tendencies, and trials, God continues to use the smallest things to show me more of Himself. I am humbled. I realized what a gift this life is and I pray against the lies... whatever they are. My God is creative, kind, and greater and when I start to question, all I have to do is look at the stars. 


dusting off & a rather bold confession.

Sometimes, I wish there was a manual to navigating love life.

Such as but not limited to:

  •  Follow these three steps for a successful first date
  •  10 things not to say to someone you want to marry
  •  Find love in a week- Here’s how!

Or my personal favorite:

“How to NOT be the other woman…A step by step guide”

except, that one would have to be written by someone else. Because unfortunately, that is my story. Three (4 if you want to get super technical…) times I have been the other woman. True to my overdramatic ways, I do not want you to think I have been the cause of an affair or ruined marriages. Rather, men (boys, children, dudes, whatever)  I have chosen to spend time with, get to know, and enjoy being around, have seemed to feel the same way until after the perfect amount of time has passed and they feel comfortable letting me know that actually, there is someone else.

What is this so-called “perfect time”?

glad you asked!  It’s a period of time that is enough to make you feel seen, enough to make you feel happy, and just enough that when these words are spoken or written, you feel a pit in your stomach and fight back tears. Of course, not actually crying because that would convey that you care, which you don’t, right? (Asked every time, “ but you understand, right?”)

Actually, no. I don’t understand.

I hate talking about this area of my life. Unlike most stories, I like to talk about or tell, this one is generally sad with notes of happiness mixed in. And very unlike me, I have searched and searched for a silver lining, desperately seeking a “but you know, it’s all good because…” or something positive to cling onto. And time after time, I come up empty handed. And have since decided to keep my mouth shut and not talk about this area of my life much.

So I find myself approaching age 23, and all I really have is a heart that is patching itself back up, a weird feeling that maybe, just maybe, I am not as charming as I see myself, and the promise that God sees it all and is not done writing my story. I mean, I have not even had what I would consider a boyfriend. And I can count on my fingers…on one hand… the number of times I have been kissed.

I believe God. I know Jesus. I have seen my Father provide in the smallest and biggest ways in my life. The older I get, I see His hand even more and remain even more assured that nothing slips by Him. But for me, this is an area that is really hard for me to hand over to the One who holds it all. The One who’s very voice can MOVE MOUNTAINS. That knowledge always puts me in my place and puts everything into perspective… sometimes, I am just a bit more stubborn.

So in this season of Instagram posts of beautiful rings, wedding invitations in my mailbox, and wrestling with intense pangs of loneliness and sadness, I keep my mouth quiet. I attend said weddings and jest about being the #singlelady. I leave nice comments on pictures with sufficient emoji use and I fight the loneliness with super strong coffee and the occasional piece of birthday cake. And I do all of these things JOYFULLY. My heart is happy for those who have found forever. I try my hardest to live a genuine life with no room for hypocrisy. I am happy for each and every one of my friends who have found their person, who look to the future with expectancy and joy, and the way their face lights up when their person’s name is mentioned.

But can I get super transparent for a minute?

I am sad. My feelings are hurt and I do not know what to do.

I mean, I dare not share whole stories about events that have passed, what people have said to me, or boys who have been less than men towards me for fear of hearing, “I told you!” or “You deserve so much better!” or better yet, “He was just a jerk, God has someone SOOOOO better!!”

I trust that all of these statements come from a place of deep love and caring for me! From those who love me, however, these words?

They sting. Because, keeping it real, I don’t know. I don’t know if you could have told me this 7 months ago and it would have changed anything. I don’t know if I deserve better (a whole different post…) and I really do not believe that he is a jerk, I mean goodness! We are talking about someone that I genuinely enjoyed being around. Yes, I got my feelings hurt. No, I do not want to belittle, speak poorly of, or degrade him in what I say or do.

I am getting tired of saying, “goodness. It’s complicated. I just do not know.” But the truth is, I really do not know.  I do not know why this happens. Repeatedly. I do not know why I am not someone’s first choice. I do not know why our culture puts so much pressure on this element of life. I do not know why it can feel so right, but I can still be so wrong in my thinking or assuming. I do not know. But I know I want it. I want someone to exchange those glances with, laugh at stupid jokes with, cry on, fight with, and do ministry with.  

And that leaves me right here.

Mostly ok. Mostly happy. And mostly really thankful for the million ways God has given me such a full, rich life apart from a romance. I have more people who are praying for me, investing in me, making memories with me, leading me, sharing with me, giving to me, and loving me than most people dream of having. What a gift! And one I recognize fully and embrace with joy.

My previous view has always been to remain SO positive and SO joyful that I simply did not have time to be sad or lonely. I have found that this is simply just not working anymore.  I want to embrace all the emotions that life throws. I think that God has maybe given me this season of sadness, of longing and of unsettledness to prepare me for something different. So many times, I have seen how these seasons of weight and darkness when I felt the weakest and unable, are the very times that I would lean into and rely on for something so differently challenging.  I am believing that to be true again.

I usually like to write until my heart comes to a solution. It almost always happens. As I sit and my fingers fly across the keyboard, my heart comes to an answer. I arrive at Peace. But this time, I don’t. I haven’t. and I don’t think I need to.  I am still searching and wandering. But I think that sometimes is all I need to hear. I don’t need to hear a solid answer. Or even have that step by step guide I so desperately desire. Rather, I can sit in the messy and waiting and know that really, He has got it. He has not failed me for even a minute. How could I even question His intentional GOODNESS? And yet, still chase after Peace.

And until then? I will keep on taking leaps, refusing to let my heart get hard and cold. I will live fully. I will embrace each twist and turn. I will remain sassy and silly. I will not apologize for what makes me, me. And I most assuredly will not question the One who made me in His image. And I guess, I will start to be more honest about the places my heart is hurting.

 'll be back soon sweet blog, with a life on the mission field update! 

the brick sidewalk.

i tried to completely forget about this space. the blog phase was cute, i thought. but my life is not really exactly screaming, cute Pinterest blog material right now and besides, who would possibly want to read another rant about being a somewhat clueless 20 something, trusting that God has a plan and distinct purpose for your life, but floundering around in the chaos that surrounds the only true Hope and Anchor?

and then i remembered. i remembered what it feels like to write. to simply write. just for me.  not for a specific purpose or person, not passive aggressively, and not to preach, just to write. to hear the clack of the keys as my heart's song becomes materialized and i leave feeling lighter and more hopeful. just for me. writing is release for me... as if, somehow hitting the big blue publish button wipes the slate clean and inspires fresh grace and endless possibility for my soul.

and so, i find myself here.


ive walked down the same brick sidewalk in my hometown for years. from riding scooters to parallel parking cars, the same sidewalk. the little main street, with all the darling little shops, perfect hanging flower arrangements spaced evenly between doors, ratty posters announcing local events in all the windows, and familiar stops along the brick laid course... my feet know the way to the coffee shop before my head even registers where we are headed.

today as i was furiously walking towards my favorite lunch spot, to order my beloved americano and sit on the stool by the window that faces the beautiful brick wall and try to rest my brain and head before scurrying back to reality, i felt it.

actually i heard it.

as my sassy little boots hit the bricks the familiar click-clack awoke something furious within me. i felt the anger rise and with each step heard:

"you are so annoying."

"why can't you say no to anything?"

"why do you feel the need to prove your worth?"

"what are you actually doing with your life?"

"everyone you engage with ends up mad and frustrated with you."

"you are going to be alone forever."

"when are you going to learn to just keep your big mouth shut?"

but at the same time *insert eyeroll here*,

"why are you never honest about how you actually feel? or what you actually want?"

and usually i think, i would turn to this little blog and state some colossal christian cliche about lies and my power through Jesus to overcome those lies... but today?

today, i just want to sit and acknowledge that i think, it is ok to be sad. it is ok to have a heavy heart and no immediate cliche to salve the wounds. to wave to white flag. to text dear sweet friends and say, i know this sounds crazy but.... and just go with the gut instinct.  it is ok to feel the weightiness of this broken world and anxiously await the King of kings return. it is ok to say sorry i messed up, no excuse just that. and it is ok to say help me. and maybe, just maybe there is a certain shade of beauty in being willing to say, right now i am not ok. right now, i am sad and i am hurt and life is a little gray. but i trust. i believe. the pain will lessen as i begin as i untangle myself from the grips of the lies and whispers.

and so thats where i am. untangling.

 

 

22.

twenty two. that number has eluded me for months. it seems scary and speaks of having your stuff together and being a real adult, both things that scare the mess out of me. i feel like 20 and 21 offer grace for figuring life out, but by 22 its time to have a game plan and be getting your life in order. which i am. because i bought a day planner and painted my chipped nails. TAKE THAT 22. (boom) *read sarcasm here*

my twenty second year started out differently. i was not really spending the day focused on me which is every birthday divas dream HAHA, but rather on two sweet little girls who were playing the role of flower girls in a wedding. the alarm went off early, the day was long (albeit, C U T E!) and i ended the night drinking a glass of wine alone. the weirdest thing about my birthday was that  all day long, i felt alone.

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i realized that i was allowing the Enemy to take SUCH ground on my feelings of inadequacy. you see, Jesus loves me and knows me more fully than anyone. but that Enemy... he knows me too. and he knows where i feel small, weak, and hurt. and he can weasel lies into the center of my heart and mind super fast. so i guess, he knew that i have been feeling lonely. he knew that i have been feeling like not enough to anyone or anything. and what better day to make those lies loud than my birthday.

but thank God for friends who speak LIFE. and truth. with grace and pointed wisdom. my sweet sister reminded me,

"okay here is some truth: you are never alone. you are dearly loved by SO many. you are perfectly loved by Jesus. and regardless of how terrible this day is, we WILL redeem it by celebrating YOU in our favorite place in the world (the mountains!). you're in a haaaaard season. but don't let that season define you! you're more than that, and the good is much strong than the bad...but it is okay to admit it's hard..."

everyone needs a hollins in their life. everyone needs that friend who in a singular text can pick you up by the scruff of your neck, look you in the eyes, declare freedom and life over you, and spur you on.

those words changed it all for me. they allowed me to for the 5869075857 time in my life, look beyond myself, remind myself that i am everything Jesus tells me i am and nothing the enemy says, and that i am just super lucky to have such amazing friends in my life.

looking beyond the lies and the ugly and desperately seeking truth and J O Y- for the love!  i am so ready for some happy in my life. so i made a list. 22 things to do and focus in on in my twenty second year. 22 things to use to soak up life and look back on this year as a golden year. not just some 365 days that i shuffled through half heartedly.

here is the list-

  1. more handstands. every day. handstand!
  2. quit something.
  3. save money. less stuff in the buggy at target, more money in the bank account.
  4. golden no's. say no and mean it. no guilt.
  5. back to bolivia.
  6. buy something that is real leather.
  7. stop biting nails.
  8.  big trips, big adventures.
  9. monthly mountain escapes.
  10. stop apologizing for things i am not actually sorry for.
  11. soft heart, tear down those walls.
  12. give grace like its my job.
  13. go out west.
  14. intentional words of life to those close to me
  15. give time, not junk.
  16. dye my hair pink.
  17. learn something new.
  18. become fluent in spanish. fluent.
  19.  sky dive.
  20. make cinnamon rolls from scratch.
  21. read the old testament.
  22. learn how to make the perfect espresso.
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somethings are silly. some are serious. but all of them encourage me to make each day count, hold nothing back and embrace life. life is messy. life is not linear and on this side of heaven, it is sure not easy. but i know Who holds my life. nothing is a mistake. everything is intentional. the tears, the laughter, the heartbreak, the smiles. what a gift. to be able to feel, learn and simply live.  what a gift. the best gift. 

22. here i am! lets do this.