A Season

Dad tells us it’s going to be funny. “Father of the Bride is hilarious! Steve Martin is so awesome. Let’s have a family movie night!”

We gather in the family room all together. Except for Christian. He is at home sleeping. Oh, and Chelsea. She is sleeping too.

Megan cozies up next to me. Dad stretches out on the carpet. Mom and Lauren take the small couch. The family room is mostly dark except for the odd tea-kettle lamp in the corner throwing light and creating shadows on our faces. Blankets are passed around. Pillows are tossed to the less-fortunate. The movie is started.

The first half of the movie is super hilarious. Dad is rolling on the floor laughing at times (yeah, literally) and that makes the rest of us laugh even harder.

The scene where Steve Martin is so stressed out from paying for the wedding that he is arrested for getting into a fight with a store worker over the price and packaging of hot-dog buns has us dying.

The part he is snooping around his in-laws house and gets attacked by their HUGE dog causes my dad to do the “laughing-so-hard-your-laugh-goes-silent” laugh.

When the in-laws tell Steve Martin and his wife that they are relieved they look “so normal” and his wife answers, “Well, I am anyways,” makes us all turn to look at Mom and grin because it’s something she would say. And then it makes us turn and look at Dad because it would be true.

But towards the end of the movie, things started to change. We aren’t laughing anymore. Because the bride is walking down the aisle and her family is saying goodbye.

Megan scoots closer to me. I feel something wet on my arm. I look down and tears are cascading over her still-baby-like cheeks. “I don’t want you to go, Nay Nay…I’m going to miss you too much.”

I look over to see mom’s eyes all wet too.

And seriously. How am I not supposed to lose it?

I hold Megan close in my arms and keep watching. Steve Martin’s character has changed from the crazy, overwhelmed, hilarious father, to a father who suddenly realizes his daughter is grown-up and starting a new life of her own.

“Do you give this woman….?” the preacher asks. But all Steve Martin hears is “this woman…

this woman.”

When did she grow up? When did she become a woman? I can read the question in my father’s face as he glances over at me. His own usually humorous eyes looking so serious.

“Look, Renee. I sent your dad a picture of you in your wedding dress… this is what he wrote back:

‘Who is that beautiful woman?’”

I can see my parents’ confusion. I can almost read my mom’s mind. “Dad and I only got married yesterday. How can we have a child old enough to get married herself?”

And I sit there clutching my five-year-old-twin-child-sister feeling at a loss for words. Fortunately no one is asking me to say anything. So I just stroke Megan’s hair and wipe her tears with my sleeve and avoid looking at my mom’s face.

Is it right to feel sad? Part of me feels like I’m betraying Christian if I let myself cry. Is it okay to be so happy to marry him but so sad to leave this place? How can I love him so dearly, and yet sit here and hold back sobs?

He is truly an answered prayer, exactly what God knows I need. He’s the patience that I never learned. He’s the steadiness that I never possessed myself. He’s the kind heart I never imagined I would get to call my own. He’s the light-hearted tease I love. He’s the serious conversation that I crave.

But change can still be so scary. Even when it’s the best change you could imagine or ask for.

Is it okay to feel sad and happy all at once? Is it okay for me to grow up and move on? Do I have permission? Do I need it? Am I ready? I know I am…

I remember a verse.

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace…

He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

He has made everything beautiful in its time…

I’m hardly watching the movie. I’m thinking. Right now I’m in between times. I’m laughing while I cry. I’m dancing while I mourn. I’m being planted while I’m being uprooted.

And that’s okay. In fact, it’s normal.

So when the movie ends and Dad says something to Megan about not letting me go, I let myself cry. I sob even as my heart is happy. I tell them how much I love them and how much I care, even as I know I wouldn’t change a thing. And Mom hugs me and gets my shoulder wet. And Dad plots a way for me to stay or a way for him to come with. But I know that they wouldn’t change a thing.

Life is change.

But life is a beautiful state of change.

That night Megan tearfully asks me to sleep with her. I crawl into bed and tell her a story.

“In a land far away, Neverland to be exact, which anyone can get to if they fly towards the second star to the right straight on til morning… there lived a little boy who always wore green and who never grew up. No matter how many years passed. And his name was Peter Pan.”

She breathes steady beside me in the dark and listens close.

“Peter Pan didn’t like change. He wanted everything to stay the same forever. He didn’t realize that sometimes, change means better things, new friends, more to love, happy memories, and big adventures…”

I finish the story and she whisper-prays. It’s not actually meant for my ears to hear, but her whispers are louder than she thinks. So God and I listen together.

“Dear Jesus, please help me to have good dreams…”

I smile because I used to pray that every night as a child.

“… and please help Renee to have good, happy times being married.”

my heart…


There is a time for everything… so be grateful for every moment of the time you are given. And hold on to the moments that have passed. And look forward to the moments that are yet to come. 


A Reminder

(while I was sick the last two or so weeks, I "doodled" my heart down on paper from time to time. this was the end collage of those thoughts...)

I’ve been told that as Christians, we are to long for heaven and the day that we see our Savior face to face. But most days, I don’t long for it like I should. Most days, I am quite happy here.

Today, however, is one of those days where I am tired. A pilgrim with a heavy pack and a long face. Out of breath. Sick.

I so want to be over me.

I’m always getting in my way.

I want to love God, but I want to love myself first. I want to do what’s right, but I want to do what’s convenient first. I want to think I’m not prideful, but oh… that sort of shows I am.

I tell myself that I am wise. But then my own folly strikes me in the face. I tell myself that I know all the answers. But then I trip and look around and realize I am lost.

The only comfort today is that He is still holding my hand. why is He still holding my hand?

The sun is flaring through my bedroom window. I’ve been sick the past few days. The biggest problem with being sick is that I have plenty of time to think. And the more I think, the more I remember that I am running a race. More like crawling a race. And the more I remember I am running a race, the more I realize how little I try. How often I fail. How quickly I forget, I’m Yours.

I think I can take matters into my own hands and fix them. I’ve spent my whole life thinking that. And God has spent my whole life showing me that I can’t. That I am completely in His hands.

When will I learn that His ways are better? When will I be rid of my silliness?

This journey seems so long. Mostly because it isn’t measured by days. But by minutes. Seconds. I can’t just make the daily choice to sacrifice myself to God. I have to make the minutely choice. And in the moment, it’s so much easier to cave into myself.

Especially in the shadows of the week. When I'm in the light and everyone can see me, it's easier to choose to be good. But when it's just me, I don't try as hard. When it's just my family, I don't want to be as nice. And I know it to be wrong. But I am in the shadows at that moment, and I don't seem to mind disappointing God as much as I mind disappointing others. And yet I do. I constantly shake off the dark and ask God, why do You put up with me? Don't give up on me.

Thankfully, God is patient. Thankfully, God is still holding my hand.

He doesn’t tell me I have to walk alone. And when I feel the most pain over myself, it is because He is slowly peeling the old me away.

Today I am not strong enough. Today I am not wise enough. Today I am not good enough. But God is.

Today I am limping down the track. But God is walking beside me, and not even noticing my slow pace.

I read this verse for the millionth time recently. And it came to life. He who is strong, gives me strength.

“Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:28-31)


A friend reminded me of something amazing... God loves me with an everlasting, promised love.

Sounds crazy to have to be reminded, but yet, isn’t it easy to forget? Those times when you sit there staring at your reflection thinking about all your failures. Or the times you find yourself repenting yet again and wondering if it’s even possible to be forgiven anymore. Or even when you’re just sad… deeply sad. Or scared. Or lonely. Or confused. And you start to wonder if you’re loved. Or you start to worry that you’ve lost His love somehow.

Stop yourself at that moment. Just stop. Because thinking that your little self could keep the God of the Universe (the God who formed you in your mother’s womb and knows every hair on your head) from loving you… is silly. It’s actually ridiculous. Prideful almost. As if we could hinder God in any way.

Those who are His children, God sees through His Son. He sees us as His sons and daughters. And He promises that NOTHING will separate us from His love. In fact, He promises that NOBODY (not even ourselves) will separate us from His love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation,
or distress,
or persecution,
or famine,
or nakedness,
or danger,
or sword?

in all these things
we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.
For I am sure that
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present
nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height nor depth,
nor anything else
will be able to separate us
from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8:35, 37-39)

God’s love is bigger than my failures. God’s love casts my sin “as far as the east is from the west.” God’s love doesn’t keep telling me that I’m worthless… it keeps telling me that my worth is in Christ. That my purpose is in Him. That my song is His Gospel. And my life is His worship. That my thoughts are to be turned to the goal. And my feet as well. That my heart is for loving Him. For loving my neighbor. My hands are for building His Kingdom. My eyes are to be set on Him.

God’s love is everlasting. God’s love will see me through this life, and into the next. It doesn’t disappear. It doesn’t quiver. It doesn't give up on me. It doesn’t end.

My prayer today: “Make me more like You, Father. Let my reflection be Your love.”


A Ring

You were absolutely perfect when you asked me to marry you.

We sat up high in the trees, so you couldn’t exactly kneel, but you softened your voice, cocked your head a little, and let the secret you had been keeping for the past few weeks shine through your eyes even as you asked with your mouth.

Would I marry you?

You were perfect, but I was sadly disappointed in myself. Being that I am somewhat of a romantic at heart, I was expecting myself to burst out crying. But I didn’t. I didn’t even shed a tear. I sat there completely stunned. Surprised into silence. Looking at the ring that had magically appeared in your hand.

And then I giggled. And looked up at your face. And giggled again. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t think of what to say.

Was this really happening?

“Where did you get that?” was the first thing I managed to say.

Why I asked that, I have absolutely no idea. My brain must have turned to scrambled eggs. You laughed, but sat there patiently.

“Oh! I forgot to say yes! YES!”

Then it was your turn to giggle.

“Aren’t you supposed to put it on?” I asked.

“Oh right!"

You carefully slipped it over my finger and we both stared at it. It was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. And you were giving it to me. As a way to remind me that I was going to be your wife.

I was going to marry my best friend.
You wrapped your arm around me.

“Do you like it?”

“It’s perfect. So perfect.”

“Will you marry me?"

“I think you already asked that."

"Oh yeah. But will you?"

"Yes! Are you sure this is for real?”

“Yes. You’re going to be Renee Higgins."

I don’t know how long we sat there and talked. But by “talked” I mean that we mostly giggled and kept asking the same questions over and over again. I agreed to marry you a couple more times. And you kept telling me that yes, this was for real.

The sun was setting through the woods before us. I kept wondering if it would set and I would wake up. But I didn’t wake up. The dream was real life.

It was the sweetest moment of my life. You explained where we will live. We talked about what needs to be done. What needs to be planned. We stared at the diamond on my finger. We stared at the sky. We stared at each other and giggled. We practiced saying fiancé and laughed at each other for it. We were corny. We were serious. We were little kids. We were suddenly old.

"I'll be eighty-seven, you'll be eighty-nine... I'll still look at you like the stars that shine..."

We laughed a lot. And smiled a lot.

I silently thanked God for His goodness. Then, I thanked Him out loud, and you hugged me tight.

You had this boyish pleasure in hearing me admit how surprised I was.

So I admitted it over and over again.

You driving up to my grandparents' cabin to see me had seemed normal.

Asking to go for a walk after dinner was simply routine. And you loved walks in the country as much as I did.

Even when you asked if I wanted to talk up in the tree stand, I followed without any suspicion.

You asked me to talk to you, so I did. And even though I could tell you weren’t paying attention, I thought maybe it was because you were tired.

So when you suddenly turned to face me and asked when we were going to get married, I just smiled. You had talked to me about it before. In fact, I think I had refused you eight times in the past two weeks. And countless times in the last eleven months. It had turned into a game we played. You would ask, and I would ask where the ring was. I thought this was just another game.

“Why don’t you tell me?” I teased.

“Well I keep waiting for you to ask,” you teased back.

“That’s your job, silly."

“But you keep saying no to me.”

“You never have a ring,” I reminded you.

“Will you marry me now?”

“Where’s the ring?” I asked and laughed. Because I expected your hands to come up sheepishly empty-handed as usual. Because I didn’t expect you to take your hand out of your pocket and open it to show a sparkling diamond.

But you did.

“Will you marry me, Renee?”


I can’t wait for our life together. And I’m thankful for how much of life we’ve already been able to share.

Are we really the same little kids who used to play in the sandbox together?

Are you the same wiry, quiet boy I used to follow down to the fishing bridge and make faces at from across church? The boy I begged to jump off the pontoon with me?

Am I the same wild-haired, curious thirteen-year-old you noticed sitting by the campfire with a pile of little kids on my lap? As you thought to yourself that you wanted to marry someone like that one day, could you have any idea that it would be that exact someone?

For all the camping trips, the Sunday afternoon shenanigans at each others’ houses, the church get-togethers, the field trips, the homeschool co-ops, the days when we became best friends… I am thankful.

For the eleven months we have had going on sunset walks, watching Psych and Downtown Abbey, driving out for icecream dates, singing country songs on the radio to each other in corny voices, adventuring around the forest preserve, pretending like we know how to dance, sitting quietly together, dreaming together, texting until we are asleep, trying new things and going new places together, and wanting to do old things and go old places with the other one for the first time… I am thankful.

For everything that lies ahead… I am thankful.

God has truly been good to us. In the hard times, and in the best times. I’m grateful we can trust Him with our future. I know it won't always be easy. But I'd rather face life with you than anyone else.

Thanks for asking me to marry you a hundred times. And thanks for having a ring on the hundred and first. ;)

I love you.


A Beginning

Stories. They’re absolutely everywhere.

Look out your window. You’ll see them. Walking. Talking. Breathing. Shaking hands. Sipping tea. Smiling. Driving. Surviving. Weeping. Living. Taking every day as it comes. Never knowing what the next day will bring. But always knowing what the last day has brought.

Some stories are quiet. The little woman sitting on the park bench over to your right. Do you know what her chapters are? Of course not. But you can observe her. She’s quiet. Sitting with perfect posture. Pale and perhaps a little delicate. Nibbling on a ham sandwich. Staring at the pigeons sharing her crumbs. Humming a lullaby to herself.

Who is she?

"Oh yeah, I know her! ... She's uhhh that face from the park."

But what if you actually knew her? Would it shock you to know that she was abandoned by her husband? Would you care if you discovered she had gotten her sandwich from a nearby homeless shelter? What would you say if you knew she hummed to the pigeons while thinking about the children she never got to have?

There are loud stories too. The girl with cropped bright purple hair, black lipstick, dressed entirely in skin-tight leather clothes. She’s standing outside a dark, smoky pub, laughing loudly while cussing up a storm.

“Poor girl must’ve had a rough life for her to end up in such a joint,” we may find ourselves saying. “It’s a good reminder that so many parents these days just aren’t qualified to be raising kids.”

But what if we asked purple-haired girl about those irresponsible parents she must have?

“Oh them?” she let’s out her breath and smoke from her cigarette fills your face. “Mom and Pops are one of those goody-two-shoes church going folks. Can’t stand them. Always asked me to recite Bible verses and prayers and such nonsense before bed. Sure they meant well, but dang. They were close-minded folks when it came to having fun. I got out of there the moment I could.”

Meanwhile, she can’t see her mom crying in the kitchen over her baby gone astray. She can’t see the bruises on her father’s knees that he got as a result of kneeling in hours of prayer for her, asking God that she would just come home. They didn’t ever suspect she felt the way she did. They didn’t know they were going to lose something they treasured above any other earthly thing.

But as you’re driving home, do you really have time to care about the woman in the car next to you who has mascara running down her face marking the recent tears of a broken heart? Or do you even notice the man and wife sitting on their front porch crying tears of joy because at last they are expecting the baby they’ve been hoping would come for years?

Is life just a rush of passing stories filled with heartbreaks and tears and first words and giggles and progress and singing and challenges and waiting and grief and joy and promises? Does it give you a headache? Does it overwhelm you? Do you even notice it? Does it make you excited? Or does it make you want to crawl in a dark hole and pretend you don’t even notice? Maybe you decide that it would just be easier to focus on your own story?

You see, the problem with noticing that other people are more than just extras in a movie featuring yourself, is that you usually feel compelled to DO something about that observation.

Noticing that life is beautiful because of the One who made it beautiful can be uncomfortable. If He cares about each living, breathing story…. shouldn’t you?

Suddenly you’ll find yourself putting others first.

Or maybe you won’t. And then you’ll feel awkward. Because honestly, who REALLY believes the entire world revolves around them alone? I mean really.

Or maybe you'll suddenly find yourself in a chapter of your own story that makes you feel miserable or happy or angry or worried or desperate. And you’ll realize you aren’t the only one who has ever hurt or lived or loved or lost. You aren’t the first one or the only one who feels the way you do. And well, selfishly, that’s kind of disappointing sometimes. Don’t I deserve to be the happiest person in the history of the world? Don’t try to tell me other people have been just as happy.

Or maybe you are at complete rock bottom, sitting on the floor, rocking in shame and misery, and drowning in your own tears and fears. Surely NO ONE could possibly understand how you are feeling. Because you are the only one who has ever hurt that bad. Other people’s pain is obviously nothing compared to what you are feeling. And you sit there praying solely for yourself hours upon hours. “Please God! If only You would heal this pain I am feeling.”

Meanwhile there is an entire world that is hurting and in need of prayer.


Have you ever stood in an icy cold stream in the middle of the Rocky Mountains? Without a human in sight? Surrounded by endless miles of evergreens? With only the sky and mountain peaks separating you from God? In that moment you will feel small. In fact, you may feel so small that you forget to even think about yourself. For a moment, you are just a pebble in the stream. Maybe not even that. You are a speck of dust. Smaller than a speck of dust. The dust molecules around you are actually boulder sized compared to you.

Steady now. Feeling this small can make it hard to breathe. Because suddenly you realize it: you’re nobody. Absolutely nobody. That stupid fight you had with your little sister yesterday over who was taking up more room in the car… did that happen on a different planet? Was I thinking straight? Why would I fight over something as stupid as that.

Would you look at the size of that dust?

And then God looks you in the face. Yes, you. He speaks your name. Your name! He knows it. And He cares. And He loves you. And He forgives you. Because you aren’t really a nobody. You are a somebody. A somebody that the God of the Universe died for. But that doesn’t mean you should think you are a somebody. That doesn’t mean you need to walk out of the stream, jump back in the car, and demand to be worshipped. I mean, if God became a nobody and died for you, then maybe you should consider giving up your life as a somebody to live for God and others too. Maybe you should choose to be a nobody.

Is it getting hard to breathe again, or is it just me?


This is your life. Are you who you want to be?

I know I’m not. And that’s why I’m sitting here typing feverishly. It’s because I’m sick of myself. I’m ready for a new chapter. A chapter with a big, fat, bolded, Caps-locked title called “Make Me Like Christ” and the first paragraph beginning with “I’m done with the old me.”

Because to the rest of you, I’m just a story many of you don’t know the half of. I’m that blonde girl who comes to church every Sunday with a smile on her face and a funny remark up her sleeve. But would you believe me if I said I was terribly shy? Would you ever guess that the shower is where I so often cry uncontrollably? Can you see me kneeling on my bed after everyone in my family is asleep asking God once again to forgive my stupid self? Have you seen my past and can you know my secrets and can you guess my dreams?

How could you know?

You can’t.

And how could I guess what it is you might be dealing with?

I can’t.

I guess this is also why I find myself sitting here writing. I want to use this space and my thoughts and my typing fingers to tell you a long story. It’s a story about life. Not just about my life. But about yours. And about that stranger down the street. And about that perfect man who died for us two thousand years ago.

Not everything I write will be deep. Because sometimes, things are absolutely perfect without having to over-think them. I like simple stories with simple people and simple messages.

But sometimes I may get carried away with my thoughts, and I hope that you won’t mind.

Every day we are surrounded by stories. We meet one at the grocery store. See one on the news. Get annoyed by the one driving too slow in front of us. Read about one in the Bible. And all the while, we are learning what our own stories are.

It’s overwhelming. But yet it’s not.

Because each of our stories is written by an Author. The same Author who built a universe using His words alone.

So let's trust our stories to Him, shall we?