Hey, y’all. Let’s catch up.

Hello friends. It’s been a while. It feels great to be writing again. The last post I published was written over a month ago. Since then, I’ve been feeling stuck – frustrated – overwhelmed – angry – insert literally any negative emotion here.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was ordered to shelter in place, I was thriving. Yes, I was thriving. At that moment, the overwhelming and neck-breaking pace of my life halted. For the first time, I was able to truly rest. I don’t mean spending copious amounts of time watching Netflix or napping half of each day away. I mean spiritual, mental, and emotional rest. The jam-packed calendar that dictated my every move suddenly emptied and lost its power over me. I felt amazing all around. I was able to spend more time in the Word and in prayer everyday. Exercising became my mental outlet at the end of each day. I was a cleaning MACHINE. My house was literally spotless, and I was loving every minute of it. Those first 2 months of isolation felt like a desperately needed reprieve, a refreshing of my soul, a lifting of the weight of the world off my shoulders.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago… fatigue set in – hard and fast. With it came fear, anger and sadness. I found myself consumed by news and social media, more attached and addicted to my phone than ever before. At the same time, I was spiraling and feeling a loss of control that I can’t adequately explain. Instead of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by all of my time at home, I started feeling caged, like I was drowning. I stopped opening my Bible. I became numb. I am a process-driven, logical thinker, and my brain couldn’t make sense out of the chaos going on around me.

But my God is faithful.  A few days ago I was finally able to meet up with a friend and sister in the faith whose words of encouragement were a salve to my confused brain and hurting heart. As quickly as it took over me, that dark hopelessness was replaced by a breathtaking sense of peace. Through conversations with my friend, the Lord reminded me of His faithfulness. It never changes. We don’t have to earn it by checking off the “Bible reading” box on our to-do list or by being “good” enough. We can’t earn it. In fact, there is nothing I (or you) can do or fail to do that will change God’s love and faithfulness. 

I sat down countless times over the last month to write, but no words would come to me. As he brought me out of the fog, God helped me understand why, which reminded me why I was led to writing in the first place. As long as I can remember, journaling has been a go-to outlet for me. I love to write. It’s such a life-giving exercise for me, to get thoughts from my brain onto paper. I especially enjoy writing about who God is and truths we see in His Word. I get excited as I learn from Him, and I want to share what I’m learning.

During this season of stillness and isolation, God continues to show me what my priorities actually are and what about them needs to change. One thing I felt an urgency to begin doing was to share what I was writing on this platform. Yes, sharing my heart and being vulnerable is scary. My hands still shake at the thought of clicking “Publish” on everything I post. When I remember why I do this, though, that fear doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t want to write to gain followers. I don’t want to be consumed by how many clicks, likes, shares, comments each post gets. The Holy Spirit gives every follower of Christ at least one (if not many) gifts that are meant to edify and build up the church. For me, one gift I have is teaching, and this is one way God allows me to use that gift. What I quickly forgot during the past month, though, is that no one is here for my words. Things that come from Emily are not edifying or helpful. Only through the Spirit can my gifts be worked out according to His purpose. My purpose in creating this blog is to be a light in the darkness, a place of rest and encouragement among the confusion and noise of the internet. My intention is to share with you what God is teaching me in my own life, share the truths He reveals in Scripture and share the love of Jesus with every word I type onto the page.

Today I am reminded of the faithfulness of my God. He is Healer, Bridegroom, LORD, Lawgiver… He keeps His promises. I am weak, but He is strong. I am small, but He is infinite. I am fickle, but He is steadfast. My heart is deceptive, but His is true. My love is conditional, but He welcomes the prodigal son/daughter – time and time again.In the midst of this chaotic life, the Lord provides an ever-present refuge from the storm. He is our source of true comfort and peace, no matter what is happening around us.

I’m excited to be back at it and able to share with you how God is teaching me to love Him more. There are exciting things ahead – stay tuned!

Cleaning Out the Clutter

I recently sorted through all of my clothes and shoes to remove items that I no longer wear or use. As I was rifling through the mountain (yes, a mountain) of clothes that came from my closet and dresser, I started thinking about my dad.

My dad is a very neat and organized person. He hates clutter, and he does not attach sentiment to items. Growing up, I would get so frustrated with him because of this! Admittedly, my bedroom was often a disaster, with clutter piled all around. I distinctly remember one day when Deddy walked in with an empty trash can and scraped the mountain of junk off of my dresser into the can, in one smooth and dramatic motion. He immediately took the trash can to the barrel and lit it up. I was furious. Now, I think back and know I probably would do the same thing if I was in his shoes. What I failed to acknowledge in that moment of tragedy (or what felt like tragedy to my preteen self) was that my dad gave me ample opportunities to clean up. He told me multiple times to do so. He told me if I didn’t, then he would come in and throw it all away. Obviously, I didn’t believe him. Instead of obeying my dad and heeding his warnings, I chose to avoid the piles of mess strewn all around. In the end, I paid the price for it. I watched as my dad carried a trash can filled with my possessions out to burn. Let me add a note here to tell you that I honestly never missed one of those things that was burned that day. I can’t name even a single item that was consumed by the fire. Clearly, these things were treasures .

As I grew, I became a tidy person. I hate clutter, and I love when things are organized. Sometimes all I want to do is purge the excess from my home. I begin to feel overwhelmed by how much stuff I have, especially when I realize how unnecessary most of it is for our life. It was in one of those moments I found myself last week, clearing out huge trash bags full of clothes and shoes that I don’t use or need. It makes me laugh to think about how frustrated I used to get with my dad about it, and now I do the same thing.

One thing that struck me, as I picked up and examined each item, was that everything was still in great condition. Everything I packed up to donate was still good and useful – just not for me. Because these things were still in great condition, I held onto them far too long. Once I packed everything up to donate and reorganized my closet and dresser drawers, I was able to clearly see the items I truly treasure, those things I feel good wearing or I use regularly. I had so much excess that many of these items I love and value were being neglected, buried in the overwhelming mountain.

In the past several months, my life has undergone a similar purge. This year our lives have drastically changed. At the end of 2019, Daniel graduated from PA school, and I was gearing up for a busy year of traveling and work for 2020. As we all know, by mid-March any plans were upended. Travel was removed from the agenda. Daniel started working in a local hospital here in the city.

While all of this change has been jolting and overwhelming, the new routine created by the pandemic created space in my life that has never been there before. So much has been stripped away in this season of sheltering at home. We went from hectic lives, with quiet moments scarce at best to time at home all day every day. Although I didn’t choose it, the current circumstances of our world cleared out the clutter in my life.

The pandemic snatched so many things away from us all. Today, the Lord reminds me to praise Him and thank Him for it – not in spite of the loss inflicted but because of it. Being forced into solitude has given me time and opportunity to learn more about the character and will of God than ever before. As a result, I’m learning more about myself too. Without this season of quiet in my daily schedule, this time of clutter being forced out, my heart would not be in a posture of listening to hear God speak. I would have missed out on abundant blessings that come from drawing closer to Christ. It’s not easy. Some days I want to ignore it all and lose myself in a busy schedule again. In some ways, that way of life is easier for me because it is familiar. I am tempted to love my sin more than I love the God who saved me from that sin.

As life starts getting back to normal in many ways, I long to love God more each day. When He is our first and deepest love, we keep our eyes upon Him. What we fill our time with is our priority. Oftentimes, what we say are our priorities are not what we actually spend our time doing. In this moment of quiet, a time of reflection, a purging of things filling my every waking minute, I can see more clearly where my priorities lie – what I actually love the most. I pray for God to align my priorities with his.

I challenge you to cut the clutter – for good! For me, clutter in my life usually looks like over-committing myself to other people and things. For you, it may be something else. Is it social media? Is it news media? Do you ever have moments of silence in your life? If not, evaluate what noise you consistently choose to fill the silence. Do you seek solitude and stillness to worship God, to listen to Him speaking? Or is it something else?

The enemy does not want us to have quiet moments. When we are lost in a schedule, in a social media feed, in a black hole of political rhetoric – we fail to rest in the One who saved us. We forget to worship the true God and instead worship gods of our own making.

What is cluttering up your life? What is taking up space that is meant for something else?

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He [Jesus] said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Matthew 22:36-40, CSB

Oh Christ, Please Come Quickly

When we fail to see anyone first and foremost as an image-bearer of God, we fail to see that person as fully human.

I am desperately longing for heaven. I anxiously wait for the full realization of my salvation, as I wait in the “already but not yet.” Jesus, please come quickly!

This is very difficult for me to write. I’ve been processing and thinking, praying and wrestling, and attempting to put these thoughts into words for days. My heart is broken, and my emotions are all over the map. The Lord has made me painfully aware of sin and prejudice in my own heart that I was completely oblivious to in myself.

I resisted as the Lord pushed me to share on this topic, not because I think it’s unimportant. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of my own inadequacy and ignorance. I pray for God to speak clearly through me, despite my feeble ability to communicate. The discomfort I feel, the hurt and brokenness I am experiencing is important, it is from the Lord, and it refuses to be brushed under the rug.

My heart hurts, and it’s impossible to find the right words to express my thoughts. I hate racism. I will never understand the hardships that ignorant and contemptuous prejudices inflict upon people of color. I feel ashamed of my complacency and willingness to turn a blind eye in the past.

My husband and I live in the heart of Atlanta. I watch the news and see restaurants I enjoy broken and looted. I see the Target I shop at destroyed. I feel a visceral anger and fear when I see those images splashed across my TV screen and flooding my social media feed.

God, please soften my heart! Please give me eyes to see from another’s perspective. More than ever before, he is breaking my heart, shattering me, keeping me up at night over all that is going on around us right now. But far above that I am finally opening my eyes to the pain – a deep-seeded, systemic pain that drives people to protest. Since I learned of the death of Ahmaud Arbery, God has been shining light into some of the darkest corners of my heart, chipping away at some twisted values and ideas hiding in there. When I saw the horrible video of George Floyd pleading for his life, I wept. It is painful to realize my own shortcomings, but I thank God for showing them to me. I never want to be a contributor to systemic racism, a fellow oppressor. For the first time in my life I am intentionally working to learn how to help, instead of add to the hurt.

Until recently, I am ashamed to admit, I brushed racism under the rug. I would see news reports or videos of people being mistreated and feel outraged. Soon, that anger would fade and disappear into the back of my mind. Like many others, I never thought of myself as racist. I genuinely have never seen someone as less than myself because of the color of his/her skin. That being said, I never spoke up. I never did anything to try and stop it. It did not personally effect me, so it was easy to push it to the back of my mind.

Lord, I repent! Please continue to show me prejudice and racism that is hiding in my heart. Lord, please forgive my complacency and willing ignorance. Please forgive my neglect in praying for, standing with and loving people who look different than me.

So, what?

Racism is a disgusting and reflection of human sin and depravity. Sin is the root of the problem, so there is no lasting solution apart from the gospel. This is above all a sin issue, so it is ultimately a gospel issue.

Yeah, so what does this mean? It means it is time for the church, for the body of Christ, to step up and fight for our brothers and sisters of color. It is time for we, the body of Christ, to defend and honor our fellow image-bearers. The hope of the gospel is for every person on earth, not a select nationality or ethnicity.

When we fail to see anyone first and foremost as an image-bearer of God, we fail to see that person as fully human.

What is the gospel?

Every person to ever walk this earth, other than Jesus Christ, was born a sinner. We were born in rebellion against the God who created us and loves us. Because he loves us so much, Christ came to live a perfect, sinless life on earth. Despite his lack of sin, Christ died a sinner’s death, so that I – we – you could be reconciled to God the Father. Friend, if you have not already, pray and ask God to forgive your sins. Surrender your life to Christ the Lord. Only in HIM is there true peace.

Lord, I am eager for your return. I am angered by my own sin and by the sin of the world around me. Lord, I long for heaven, where sin and suffering, death and pain will be no more. Oh, Christ, please come quickly!

Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.”

Revelation 5:9: “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.” [Speaking of Christ]

Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” [Speaking of the scene in heaven, believers surrounding the throne of God]

Lord Willing

Photo by Claire Morgan on Pexels.com

Reflections on James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring – what your life will be! For you are like a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is sin to know the good and yet not to do it.”

James 4:13-17, CSB

I recently studied through the book of James. This short epistle has been one of my favorite books of the Bible for years. I am a practical thinker by nature, and it is chock-full of practical applications teaching us how to live out our Christian faith. It was penned by a man named James, who was the half-brother of Jesus. James also led the church in Jerusalem at the time this was written. He wrote to Jewish Christians. That’s why it is written with the assumption that the reader is a follower of Christ. He primarily addresses the question of what it means to live in the world as a believer. Many in his original audience, like many of us today, attempted to keep one foot in the world, while halfway acknowledging Christ as Lord. They were believers, saved by faith in Christ, but they clung to their ways of life before submitting to the Savior.

While I could write a book about how God has used the book of James to shape and teach me, I am going to focus on James 4:13-17. During this last reading of the book, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and convicted me deeply, especially regarding this passage.

How often do we say “Lord-Willing?” Why do we think it’s ok to say “Lord-willing” in the same way we say things like “Knock on wood?” Reading this passage of Scripture leads me to ask – Do I really desire the will of the Lord above my own? Or do I say this, thinking that if I don’t, my plans may not come about? Why do I feel the need to “throw God a bone” when I’ve already decided what is going to happen and how? Is this a genuine prayer of my heart or a superstitious mantra I say, fingers crossed, wishing my desired plans will come to fruition?

Making plans and preparations is not sinful. It is important to be mindful of the future and be faithful stewards of what God gives us. However, putting our assurance and confidence in those plans becomes our downfall.

I love plans. I like making the plan and seeing it through to the end. I like to be in control of the plan. When plans are not concrete, or they change constantly, it makes me crazy. During stress-filled seasons of my life, being forced to change the slightest detail of a plan (especially one I created) can send me into a tailspin.

I know I am not alone in feeling this way. What is the real problem here? So what? I like things to be organized, and I like plans to be made in advance and honored in the moment. My problem is that, far too often, my hope rests in that. The sense of control I desire is not control I will ever have or need. When I feel my perceived control slipping through my fingers, I hate it. This visceral, instinctual reaction reveals the true state of my heart. I can say that I truly desire the will of God over my own. I can say this to others and even to myself, over and over again until I start to believe it. Then, when things aren’t going as I expected, my heart shows itself. It is exposed for the deceitful, fickle thing that it is.


How do I fix it? I can’t. You can’t. BUT GOD. In Christ, we have blessed assurance. We can rest in the grace of God, who saves us. I don’t need control because my God is SOVEREIGN. He is good and perfect. He is love. He never changes or wavers. He always has been and always will be. Thinking about the character of God makes me realize that He is everything that I am not. I am sinful. Pride and arrogance drive me when I’m left to my own devices. My heart is deceptive, wavering and falling every single day. My life is just a vapor, a brief moment in time. I don’t need control. God in His grace, His kindness, His mercy, His LOVE, is in full control of everything.

I struggle every single day, with this need for control. I’m sure I will until I go to heaven. I pray to the Lord to help me, to forgive me for my arrogance. May I never boast in myself, but only in what Christ did for me!

Our hope is not in ourselves, and for that I am eternally grateful. It’s a deep joy and inexplicable peace knowing that I could never save myself. God saved me, and there is nothing or no one that can change that, including me. I was born a sinner, just like every other person in this world. Through his infinite grace and mercy, God saved me from the death I deserve. Only in Christ do we have true security and peace. Only in Him can we put our unwavering trust, knowing He will NEVER let go.

For everything was created by him [Christ], in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones of dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:16-17, CSB

You Don’t Actually Know It All: A Letter to Myself

5 years ago today, I graduated from college. It was such an exciting and joy-filled day, with the sense of relief that it was over tangible in the air. As I reflect back over the last 5 years, I am amazed at the grace and mercy of our great God. In many ways, the person I am today and the person I was when I crossed that stage are two very different individuals.

Reminiscing on my college years feels like looking back on someone else’s life.

When I think back over my college experience, like everyone, I feel some nostalgia. I think fondly of fun times and making new friends. In many ways, though, college was a difficult time for me. Like most people who go away to college, I was suddenly away from home, learning some very difficult (but extremely valuable) lessons.

It all came to a head my senior year, 2014-2015.

I was lost. In my own selfish pride, though, I was completely blind to it. I was in a state of constant stress. I barely slept, and when I did sleep I didn’t rest. (My poor roommate didn’t sleep much either, unfortunately.) I had fits in my sleep and night terrors that would rival the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen. I was constantly exhausted and riddled with stress, and the people around me had to endure it. I was consumed with myself and having control over everything. I sought comfort in making the world around me, and the people around me, fit into my very specific expectations.  If anything was out of place in my apartment, I couldn’t handle it. If people didn’t respond to me like I expected them to, I came unglued. I blamed everyone around me for my problems. I was completely unaware of myself and unwilling to look too closely. I knew something was not right, but I didn’t want to face it. Instead, I carried on that way, trying to keep up a façade, and be someone I was not. I hated myself. I would lash out at someone I cared for, someone who was a good friend to me, then later when I was alone, cry my eyes out. I felt so overwhelmed with guilt. I felt guilt about things that were not even about me. That’s insane, right? Yes, it is. Instead of apologizing, I pushed those people further away, attempting to soothe my self-inflicted wounds by clinging to my pride and perceived control.

I was so consumed with myself and the image I portrayed to others that I didn’t recognize the root of the issues. Satan whispered terrible things to me constantly, about myself and the people around me who tried to encourage me. He tickled my pride, convincing me that I was right, and everyone else was wrong. It didn’t matter about what, just that I was right. I chose to believe those things instead of believing God when HE tells me who I am, and WHOSE I am.

Now, 5 years later…

I could not have dreamed up this life I now get to live on that day 5 years ago. In these 5 short years, God’s grace brought me more than I could have asked or imagined. A few months after I graduated, I started working as a ministry assistant at Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, GA. I worked there for 2 years, and I will always think back on those years with fondness. The Lord used the people I met there and the work I got to do to help shape me into the person I am today. I learned so much about myself, the character of God, and the amazing grace we have in Christ. I met my husband Daniel at Ingleside.

November 2017 – I got to marry the best man in the world. He started school in August 2017, studying to be a PA at Emory University in Atlanta. After our wedding, I moved to Atlanta with him, where we still live now. We live in the heart of the city, and we get to serve at an amazing church – M28 Church. I work at the North American Mission Board, and Daniel works as a Physician Assistant at a local hospital.

If you described my current life to me 5 years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I greatly underestimated the peace and joy that comes from deeply trusting my Father and resting in His grace. Darkness and sin had a serious hold on me. I was convinced that I had to figure it all out, convinced that I knew better than anyone, including the God who created me. (Can I insert an eye-roll at myself here?)

Today, I am exactly where God wants me to be, and that feeling is indescribable. I am far from perfect, but I can rest in the salvation I have in Christ. I don’t often look back on that girl, walking around campus in 2014-15, stomach in knots, head full of doubts and fears, anger driving everything she did and said. It’s painful, and part of me wishes that part of my life was different. On the other hand, though, I’m thankful for the trials of this life. I certainly do not enjoy them, but God uses those seasons of life, those moments of darkness and pain, to shape me more into the image of my Savior. Friend, if you are in a valley season, lift your eyes to Heaven and praise God for it. Thank God for His sovereign grace.

I thank the Lord that His plans are infinitely better than mine.