For your sad and tired day.

Are you with me?? We all have them. Sometimes for no good reason. Lucky for me, I'm on the up and up and making my way to clearer skies, so I have a hearty dose of advice and know-how to shell out. Strap your seatbelt on, and grab your Diet Coke. You're going to be okay. Now, I'm well aware (and you probably are too) that being tired makes everything seem a bit darker: a little more terrible, a little too emotional. I'm not a mom, so I probably have very little idea how deep the rabbit hole goes when it comes to sleep deprivation, but for heaven's sake, I got teary-eyed a few days ago reading a BuzzFeed article recapping "the best of 2015," and then during my lunch break, I cried in my car over cauliflower soup when I got to the part in my audiobook where Amber C. Haines has her third baby. You think I'm overemotional?? Well I'm not! I was just tired.

When my guard is down, it's easy to allow an emotional hostage situation--I'll feel uncomfortable, sad, anxious about this or that--and then a niggling voice in the shadowy basement corner of my mind will start seething lies: You shouldn't feel this way. Look around. No one else has these emotions right now. People don't talk about their feelings all the time. Pull it together! After you try fixing the way you feel, you should know that feeling sad about your feelings is reason for some more sadness. So let's start feeling emotions about your emotions. So meta, right?!

In the tender minutes of my day, I'll wholeheartedly submit to this misleading input. I'll allow myself to be swept along the river of deception (catered by culture, sin, and the world), and my emotions--which are perfectly healthy, beautiful things--will grow monster heads and gather wretched murky skies until I'm so many layers deep that I'll just lie down in front of anyone who comes my way.

For whatever reason, American culture has a stiff upper lip when it comes to feeling the feels. We applaud the stoic, and we bow low to the overly unruffled. There's not a lot of room to shed a tear without the world labeling you as sensitive or weepy. It's unfortunate that the masses lay claim on something that's so deeply and definitely a part of our makeup--we allow a hijack of the internal alert system that lets us know something inside our hearts may need attention.

But let me tell you, those sad, suffering feelings are never for nothing. They aren't meaningless. At the very least, they're birthing empathy. In the dark, despairing moments, something new is assembling within you, and when the time is right, you'll be able to hold the hand of someone else and help them through that dark alley. From wearying shame to despondent heartbreak, you have the beautiful tool of emotion to help you manage the helm of another's ship.

It goes the same for the other places we've wandered. Experience in conquering shame can help us draw vulnerability from those who are afraid. Anger can breed courage if handled responsibly. No matter how confusing, no matter how wild and far your limbic system is leading you today, it's part of your story, and if you allow it to, it can be a sweet breath of peace for someone else traveling the same road someday.

Whoever you are, I know you got them feelings. Whether you're self aware or not, there down in there and they happen to you, and I just want you to know that it's okay. It's okay to take care of yourself, and there's nothing wrong with how you are. You're majestic, you emotional creature, you. Yes, I know you still have to cope with what you feel--good thing there's a God to pray to, people to talk with, sidewalks to run on, and pens to write with--but removing the complexity of judging yourself for what you feel will make everything a little less terrible.

So, chin up, friend. There's a God who cares, and it won't always be like this. It really won't. Remember that! In the meantime, go to bed at 8:00pm. Go for a brisk walk, or write a nice note to a friend. Clean something weird, or pen a poem (they're better if you're moody, anyhow). There's stuff you can do. Don't minimize your pain, but instead, work it. Till it like soil, and let stuff grow.

Photo: Birdcage Walk

It's the Weekend!

eb2061eee6ae5eb755f96a143168387fDo you have fun plans this weekend? I'm taking a writing class at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and hoping to try my hand at some poem and essay-writing later in the evening. Also headed to a sweet, little gift exchange at a cozy restaurant in Uptown with the Tapestry Magazine team. We're celebrating months of work on the flagship print issue, Eden, to be released in January. Exciting! Enjoy all these links, and have a sweet weekend. 1. A merry guide to an imperfect holiday.

2.Appetites: Is fine dining dead in Minnesota?

3. The best ways to fake a clean house. (via)

4. Are you holding yourself back?

5. Drew and I think we need a few sacrificial items lolz.

6. Fill in the awkward lapses of conversation with this or this. (via)

7. I've always wondered which rolling pin is best.

8. A much better way to board a plane. (via)

9. "So far, this December is not just warm. It's creepy warm."

10. I'm all for inspirational notes. This could be a nice gift. (via)

11. Eeep!! So excited for this. Could be great, could be terrible. No middle ground.


Photo: Chickadee Nest



Weekend Favorites

a8c2ab087792cfabfdfea71e6424e15d It's almost the weekend! What are you up to? Drew and I are maybe/hopefully/fingers crossed purchasing a car tonight! It's waiting for us in Rochester, and we just have to give it a good test drive before we make things official. The rest of the weekend I'm hoping to straight up chill with my family (they're coming for dinner tomorrow!) and cozy up next to the fireplace with a warm drink. Have a wonderful rest of your Friday!

1. Do you get stumped by some of the more obscure emojis on your iPhone keyboard? Look them up in Emojipedia.

2. One of my favorite annual gift guides.

3. Babies named after Instagram filters. (via)

4. This tea makes our office smell good so say my coworkers.

5. A little Nick Offerman for the frigid nights when all seems lost.

6. Oh, this is good for us directionally challenged ones! (via)

7. Struggling with forgiveness? I've been working through this concept the past couple weeks. I like these quotes from the article: "If I forgive someone, it feels like I’m also saying that the other person had the right to do me wrong. That doesn’t feel right. But it’s a real feeling." and "When you don’t forgive, you draw the curtains in your soul and your life gets dark."

8. Kids draw monsters, and artists recreate them in their own styles. So fun! Makes me think of Monsters, Inc. (via)

9. Pretty gifts for foodies for under $30.

10. Reeses cleverly defends their Christmas tree blobs. (via)

11. Not only does this movie look great, but my friend Ashley wrote a great essay on it.


Photo: A / Journal & Collection

(Thanksgiving) Weekend Favorites

coffee Happy Thanksgiving! We're headed down to Iowa to spend the long weekend with the Elrick clan. I'm excited for some cozy holiday time with everyone and lots of rest and relaxation. And some potential early-morning shopping with my mother- and seesters-in-law too!

Have fun with these links, and enjoy the glorious feast this weekend!

1. Are you traveling this season? Why your body feels strange on a plane. (via)

2. Potentially the healthiest pumpkin dessert around. Hoping to try this one in the next few days.

3. Is your life in transition in any way right now right now? Mine is (ahem, marriage). I liked this article on adjusting.

4. Practical ways you can help refugees here in Minnesota, including mentoring.

5. The ultimate guide to packing your toiletries. (via)

6. Are you watching Jessica Jones? Drew and I watched the first episode the other night, and I'm hooked.

7. This interactive map helped me understand which European countries are taking in refugees and which countries they're coming from.

8. This pizza place is hands down my new favorite in the Twin Cities. Make sure to get the melt-in-your-mouth cookies and ice cream for dessert!

9. Hey! It's okay to have big feelings.

10. Cute socks.


Photo via coffee shop | Tumblr

Weekend Bits

9b0d866bbd3def34761dc73f47ce2228 Happy Friday! What are your plans for the weekend? I'm getting brunch with some friends on Saturday, and then Drew and I are headed out of the Cities to pick up a mid-century modern dresser we snagged off of Craigslist. We're quite excited about it (me because I think it's beautiful, and Drew because he'll finally have space for his folded clothes). Sunday is a dear friend's birthday celebration and a wedding in southern MN! It's a packed weekend, but we're excited for quality time with loved ones.

Here are some bits and pieces from around the internet for your perusing pleasure.

1. The best lip tint I've found yet. A bit of color, plus it moisturizes at the same time. I prefer the shade Zinnia.

2. Grain-free, sugar-free spiced pumpkin muffins from Against All Grain! I added Lily's dairy-free, sugar-free chocolate chips to sweeten things up.

3. Do you often find yourself saying "sorry" for unnecessary things? Let's stop. (via)

4. Can't wait to see this movie! Especially since Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rare 99%.

5. Do you like hosting dinner parties? Here are some stellar tips and tricks.

6. Been giving Digit a try. They text me clever things, which makes saving more fun.

7.  This candle in English Pine.

8. Why was it so warm this year? El Niño.

9. This sweet book for middle schoolers is up for a Goodreads award. Sort of heart wrenching but a good study for young ones on dealing with grief and bullying.

10. More books! This book was dreamy and abstract. Gets a little trippy toward the end, watch out. Also this book is incredible. This one too.

11. Just got a notification that ThredUp received my bag of clothes! Waiting to find out how much $$$ I made.

12. Lady Gaga on saying NO. Inspiring and encouraging. (via)



Photo via Melody Hansen

A Bit on Home

ded2b37041fe537ef85b7649482072f1As late autumn waxes and wanes, occasionally sidling up to fog the windows and frost the shrubbery out front, I can't help but feel excited about the upcoming holiday revelry that always means celebratory feasts and community. I've never been too irked by winter because it means fresh activities, new foods, and much togetherness. Not only that, but I'll have my husband by my side this holiday, which will be the dearest part yet.

The last two months have been the sweetest gift I've ever received. Marriage is better than I could have ever guessed, and also a lot different than I thought it would be. But in the best of ways. I like living with this man, and I feel almost tearfully blessed by the community we have here in Saint Paul and Minneapolis--so many that helped us get up and off the ground and into our new home. I'm seeping it in--taking great lungfuls of this thing that is our life currently.

With marriage comes moving, and we're (almost) unpacked into our apartment on the third floor of a big Victorian-era house that was refurbished into four separate apartments. Nancy, our neighbor in the apartment below us, lives alone with her two little dogs, and most nights, we can hear the Antiques Roadshow blasting from behind her door, which she never completely latches. We take this to mean that she's trying to communicate nonverbally that she trusts us implicitly and that we will stand together as neighbors, borrowing cups of flour to one another and leaving notes one each other's doors when we leave on trips, as neighbors do. One time, she left us a note and signed her name and cell number, along with her dogs' names as well. She mentioned in her P.S. that they don't have cell phones, which disappointed us greatly because we were hoping to hook them up with Joseph.

Jeff, the maintenance man, is the friendliest soul and is always around fixing this or that around the older parts of the house. He's currently redoing all the flooring in the apartment below us, and sometimes we can hear him faintly as we're falling asleep and then again at the crack of dawn when we wake up. He must work all night! It's comforting when he lights a bonfire out back in the evening, and we can hear it crackling outside the little elf door that leads out to our fire escape.

Speaking of fire escapes, that's the only way we can get furniture into our place because of the narrow, curving stairwells and the fact that the door to our apartment is tucked into this curved nook in the wall. We happily embrace the exercise that climbing up to our door requires, but we're having to get creative in how we bring things up. When we got our couch, Elsie and I just left and went for a walk, while Chris, Drew, and Max hauled the sofa up the twisting metal stairs out back. I didn't want to watch that, and I didn't focus too much on the fact that they had to heave and yank it through the tiny elf door and over our entire bed to reach the living room. They were hearty about it, and we came home to find them enjoying some pumpkin muffins and libations and regaling their moving expedition.12231314_10205346971455404_877219292_n

On another note! Have you heard of Tapestry Magazine? It's a community of women writing to tell the truth and say how it really is. To speak out about feeling alone or anxious or the struggle of warring against your own heart and thoughts. It's about getting out of the way and letting God write your story and make it the beautiful woven thing that He is crafting. Tapestry sheds light in dark places, and rallies women to join together and fight the dark side by side.

To me, it's a dream come true that I get to work alongside deep, soul-searching women who really care but also love words and crafting beauty. Head on over to the Tapestry website to get the third and final online preview issue, CULTIVATE, and keep an eye out for our very first print issue, coming in January!

Photo 1 via k-aleidoscope eyes Photo 2 via Lydia Toll

Midwest is best

Drew and I got to spend some time up north at the farm and North Folk Winery with my Aunt Molly and Uncle Ron a few weeks ago and had the best time watching how wine is made, taste testing whites, reds, and cider, chatting on the porch, and indulging in the most delicious appetizers: our favorite was the rosemary crackers drizzled with blue cheese and honey butter. We also got to capture some photos of the family farm that's up for sale--first my grandparents' home while I was growing up, now Molly and Ron's, and now someone else will get to enjoy its beauty! The best part was seeing where my aunt and uncle are planning to build their new "tiny" house--a beautiful, wide-open area of land, prairie-like but with trees and a lake in the distance--we're excited to see it all come together. Other highlights this month: dinners on the summery porches of some of our favorite St. Paul joints (Sweeney's, Happy Gnome, and the Muddy Pig), the last few bonfires at the White House with our dear small group before Drew moves, and a camping trip with my family to Savanna Portage. Tomorrow, we'll pack everything up, and Drew will move to St. Paul (finally!), and we'll begin the long-anticipated, joyful task of combining all our physical belongings into one home. Lucky for me, I get two extra months of time to leisurely move all my things over to the apartment. Plus I now get the added bonus of my fiance as my neighbor.



27ffac42615a99a9af8deb5a93c2f063I am a master secret keeper.

You probably didn't know that about me. Probably because I'm so good at keeping secrets. Secretive about my secrets.

Not in a bad way, but sometimes, I just don't like to share. I've felt it coming on more lately, as I've gotten older. Like an inner vacuum, I can close it up inside, or as most probably know me, I can talk small bits and pieces of it out while we walk on the sidewalk or drive in rush hour or sit across from each other over a gin and tonic on the rooftop of some downtown bar.

Some of it's good because, as a millennial born and raised, I've grown up comfortable sharing parts of my life with anyone who will take the time to read a few paragraphs or scroll a few photos. Perhaps too comfortable, so I think its worthwhile to take breaks and assess and just work on living life. Sometimes it's okay to only tell your one friend that one thing that happened yesterday. The other side of keeping secrets is bad because it keeps me from writing, lets me believe lies about things that aren't real, and it dampens my courage to be vulnerable. It also prevents other people from speaking into my life or learning from where I've trekked.

The more people I talk to, the more I realize everyone feels the pull to keep quiet---the suction to pull the shades and stop sharing. To watch the dust float through a shaft of light---slow, listless and beautiful---and still remain hemmed in. You probably have a couple secrets you're holding on to right now, and that squirmy, uncomfortable feeling that's edging in is good because it means you're trying to break out of something called fear that will forever keep you backed into a corner if you let it. There's a garden inside your heart and mind---lying amidst your secrets, and there's people who will grow from walking through parts of it with you.

Remember, there cannot be darkness where there is light.

Photo cred: The Liner Notes

The Tint of Sounds


Thunder, iron-hued, while a collection of dancing turns in field clearings. Alabaster breath, leaves pull west and fill.

A look, melic. Morning billowing like sea smoke, the universe reflected in your bearing. I see who I will become by the way you favor talking with your eyes. By the heaving of bark and twig.

We tear hue over electric strain, depth dripping silver, while I cradle my spirit, among other things, brush thudding around us.

And rain, clinking as it blues across

my cheek.

Superb Midsummer Day



It's one of those mornings that are far and few between. No outer coercion to get me out of bed before necessary. Quiet light filtering through the pale curtain hanging from my window. A cup of coffee at my side, and the knowledge that I get to be with people I love later on.

On the way home from a jaunt to Surly Brewing Co. the other night, some friends and I were discussing what our perfect days would look like. Mine would start just like this day is starting: leisurely and uninterrupted. I'd have some time to read or write in the morning as I sip my drink. Then I would go to brunch with my fiancé or a friend--preferably a place I've never been before--and we would order their most interesting menu items. This has become a bit of a hobby for Drew and I, and we love compiling lists of restaurants that people tell us about. May I recommend the meat waffle during the weekend brunch at Hazel's Northeast, just about anything from the brunch menu at Tilia, or the Creme Brulee French Toast from the Wilde Roast Cafe. Next on our list to try for brunch is this restaurant and this restaurant.

After a splendid meal, we would have a little time to scout out the area and explore the stores near the restaurant. We might roam into a coffee shop and get a drink to go as we continue on. The weather would be, approximately, between 75 and 80 degrees, and there would be the slightest of breezes. We'd find a street festival we didn't know was happening or a secret shop we had never heard of before--something with a curvy winding staircase above another shop, with loads of old books and maps and a cat that sunbathes by a window.


We wouldn't wander for too long, of course. Just the proper amount because traipsing through kiosks and shops full of knick knacks can get old after about thirty minutes. The most excellent of days leaves no room for feelings like these. Next, we'd get geared up to go do something outdoors: hiking by the Mississippi River Gorge or at Afton State Park, or we'd bike to the beach by Lake Calhoun. We'd pack a picnic lunch of sandwiches and delicious snacks and meet some friends at our destination.

In the late afternoon, we'd go home and have some down time. Naps or books or the porch or a hammock. People would be around, but I would be by myself amongst them. Drew would be woodworking in the garage with someone, or I could hear people in the kitchen while I let myself be introverted and read a book. After an hour or so, a few more friends would start arriving to join us for a meal. We'd cook over the grill or have a bonfire in the backyard as the sky turned purple and then slowly began to fade. The night would end with our spreading out loads of blankets and pillows in the backyard and projecting a film on the side of the house.

Doesn't that sound beautiful? I have different versions of this day--a camping version and a winter version. The winter version includes time to cook a nice meal and also have a bit of time with my family. There's so much goodness in the to fit it all in one day?

What's your most glorious day look like? Leave a comment below!

Photo credit: Media Cache

I Have A Question For You

bb9820951d7acdac04c3661b2ca590e4I am a lover of spring. I don't mind the waiting. I don't mind the slush and the mud in the road or the grey skies or the sidewalks caked with last fall's decaying, paper-thin leaves. The rot turned compost. It smells like new life to me. Now we can all sweep off our porches, buy wildflower seeds, and visit the farmer's market for rhubarb or herbs or honey. We're all softer in the month of March--more open and considerate. Right now, the week's meal is simmering in the crock pot on the other side of the wall, and while I wait, I'm considering picking up this book, which has been reviewed all over as the next Gone Girl. I'm about halfway through, and I like it so far. Such a unique plot with really pretty character development. Some things about this month of March that I wanted to tell you. 1. I'm engaged! This actually happened in January, but somehow I feel even more engaged now than I was before. We're in the thick of everything from premarital class (which is AWESOME) to meetings about pies to looking for a place to live. It's really exciting and all so different than I thought it would be. September 5th can't come soon enough because then I get to stand next to my best friend every morning while we brush our teeth together.

2. Dear all women who feel skittish about dating/engagement, come talk to me because IT IS THE BEST THING, and I want to encourage you.

3. This website has been a lifesaver. Bookmark it in your browser bar, and click it every morning.

4. I'm also reading this book, want to read this book and this book, and am almost done with this book.

A question that I have for you. Comment back? 1. What are your favorite blogs to follow?

It rained a bit today. The leaves are coming!

Photo cred: Ana Rosa

Why I Write


Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetMom's homemade chili is simmering languidly on the stove downstairs. Scents of cinnamon, garlic, and cumin drift up through the rough wood planks of the railing separating the loft from the downstairs living room and kitchen of the cabin. Drew is working on updating our joint calendar on his computer, and Dad is halfway through a Bobby Orr biography as I type away and watch out the window. There are men ice fishing on the frozen lake, even now that the light is fading and the bright grey sky is slipping into itself, the smoky branches of raw trees militantly standing watch on the shore. I covet time to write like this. I wish I could sit and describe landscapes and skies and people to you for hours. There is nothing more restful to my soul than lying back and unraveling the words coiled and stacked inside my head. Sometimes when I drive, I think about how to describe streets or buildings or how I would describe the way a man is walking on the sidewalk. I carefully fold, pleat, and collect these thoughts and quietly put them away for another day, when there's more time.

Drew just came to spy over my shoulder, and when I told him I was writing about writing, he goes: "You're so meta."

I wanted to write about writing because it's what's been on my heart the last couple of months. The reason I write is to bring beauty and depth into the world and to let people know that they're not alone. We are human: brilliant and thundering souls with capacity to affect other souls, create things, discover why we are on earth, and make life more than a 6am coffee, angry commute, desk chair backache, and after-work drink.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetIt's easy for me to believe that writing is just a hobby--that I could just as easily play chess in a park or darn socks or climb trees. What's not easy for me to believe is that I am supposed to write for a reason. That someone intentionally gave me the ability to string words into sentences and put them somewhere so that the world can see and digest my paragraphs. I am undisciplined, easily annoyed, wholly a sinner, full of warring emotion, and daily unsure about why there is a struggling.

But I can tell you about it. I can write to make sense of life, and I can try and be courageous and process what I think and feel for others to see, so that, maybe, God will strain it all so it falls on your ears in a way most specific to you. Sometimes, I feel scared to write what's inside of me because, maybe then, I will be the one who is alone, and someone will think I'm ridiculous or strange. But I think that is the risk. It's becoming more and more worth it to me to reach across the digital world to hold your hand and know that we're in it together.

The sky has darkened now, and instead of seeing the lake, I can only see the warm smudges of lamps reflected in the window. The fire moves silently behind the grate, and Dad steps over to turn down the thermostat as we take off our socks because of the heat. The dog is small enough that she's merely an indentation in the fleece blanket, and she suddenly jumps down to investigate the carpet, and then, delicately, the corner of the rock hearth.

Water runs from the sink, and bowls clank against each other as the table is set and cups are filled.

It's time for dinner.

- L

January Bright

98052306b299329510aab5eb53a405d2“It is growing cold. Winter is putting footsteps in the meadow. What whiteness boasts that sun that comes into this wood! ...How coldly burns our sun! One would say its rays of light are shards of snow, one imagines the sun lives upon a snow crested peak on this day. One would say she is a woman who wears a gown of winter frost that blinds the eyes. Helplessness has weakened me.Wandering has wearied my legs.” - Roman Payne

“I am in no mood to fulminate on paper--I wish the two of us were in a room together talking of what matters most, the air thick with affinity. In January a man crawls into a cave of hopelessness; he hallucinates sympathies catching fire. Letters are glaciers, null frigates, trapping us where we are in the moment, unable to carry us on toward truth.” - Carlene Bauer

Lately, I've settled into a dichotomy. Sole solitude beneath my quilt on a quiet, snowy day--the lamplight glowing outside as the sky darkens with cold or sleet. The comforting rush of heat and water in the radiator, it's occasional clank, and my herbal tea, steeping slowly and quietly in the low light on the side table, the leaf and flower properties billowing into the hot water. I've felt alarmingly private lately, and that's always something I want to push back against.

The other side of the spectrum is my delight in the meaningful, intentional conversation of another, mugs of cider in our hands or breakfast on our plates. Cooking dinner with dear friends in the kitchen. Talking future, talking past, and all the things in our hearts that we've kept hidden in fear or haven't talked through yet. I crave depth and beauty and honesty.

I am both of these, and they struggle against each other. There is so much turning in my heart right now that it feels a bit overwhelming but, also, acceptable. So much is coming! So much is moving and changing and growing! I think intentional conversation or the quiet is the best way I can process it and relish in the profundity.

If you feel vague or unfocused, stuck in a January rut, take heart. There are bright things ahead. Keep pressing in.

Some links that foster change and ideas:

Create Your Life Plan. At least read the pdf.

Trying this with Elizabeth and cooking up a storm.

Restless. If you actually do the journaling, it's really affecting.

I started washing my face with this in December, and it's working really well.

How does he always know just what to say??

Do you ever listen to books on tape? I love to when I run or drive. This book is a good one for that.

This Chrome app has already saved me money.

How to carry your bulky Macbook charger + extension cord around.

The best kind of love.

Photo cred: Aisha Yusaf

Morning Space


I am not a morning person. Last summer, I tried running a couple times before work, and it was terrible. All the neighborhoods were still dark and the streets were abandoned (pretty similar to a scary recurring dream I've had for years). I ate a rice cake with peanut butter on it and half a banana but still felt sick after a couple of miles. While I'm pretty good at not repeatedly snoozing the alarm, I just find that I am most productive at night, when my eyes are not heavy and itchy from sleep and I'm not trudging around from lack of breakfast and coffee. Mornings are hard, which will sound strange when I suggest...

...that you should get up twenty minutes earlier than you usually do.

For the last few weeks, I've been waking up 20-30 minutes earlier than I normally do to go sit on my porch with a mug of coffee and bowl of granola to write and read. And it's been wonderful. The sun is rising and the early morning steam is lifting off the streets as couples walk their dogs and climb in their cars to go to work. I can take a moment to look at the leaves rustling in the great trees overhead and consider how I'm going to take on the day. I can pray and read and set my course instead of existing off pure emotion. Hearts are tender in the early morning, and it's easy to get lost in the feeling of a bad dream or a stressful thought.

It's made it easier, setting my alarm at night, to know there's more to look forward to in the morning than getting ready for work. It's a sacred and saved piece of space that I can call mine and has only made each day better. Even if you dislike mornings, I encourage you to give it a try.


How Do You Think of People?


6f49e2d4fafe4d97e2ad359bf40facdb What do people look like in your mind? Whether consciously or unconsciously, when you think of someone, you call to mind an abstract image: a place, objects, an action that specific person is doing. Sometimes when I think of people, it's several actions layered on top of each other: the compilation of their essence.

For instance, when I think of Amy, I see her at her home in the country. I see her cooking, offering wine and hospitality, the horses munching slowly as the light of day fades, and the food simmering easily in a pan. She has straight hair that's always flattering no matter how she wears it and a killer sense of style. When she starts a fashion blog someday, I'll be following it. She's always the one who just gets it, who will tell it to me straight, and will always be there. She's unpredictable yet consistent which is a paradox I love about her, and she takes time for the beautiful things in life. I see her playing cards with her family, the field by her house, the pictures of her in England, and the instrumental music in the morning.

And Drew, when I think of him, I see him making things. He's a creator at heart, an artist and a woodworker. I see him in the garage he's turned into a makeshift workshop or drawing in his sketchbook or arranging shapes and lines in his design programs. I see how he looks at people when he's considering them and hoping to know them more deeply, and the quiet decidedness in his eyes. I think about how he fixes things, both material and immaterial, how he asks the questions that need to be asked, his love of knowledge and happenings. I see him outside by the fire, cinnamon whiskey in cups and steak grilling, the wood in the garage, and the sky darkening beyond the trees.

When I think about Elsie, I see her wide eyes and gracefulness. She's fluid in how she moves because of her years dancing with the Minnesota Ballet company. I see her hair in a short ponytail and her Mary-Jane walking shoes. She has insight pooled in a place deep inside her, and I'm always startled but glad when we think differently from one another. I see the humor we share, her intense empathy and intuitiveness. I think of brushing our teeth in the same bathroom together, day after day, and how we both take joy in everyday moments of togetherness like those. I see us eating breakfast on the floor in our old apartment and praying in the middle of hard nights. I see her loving her husband and family, her fervent journaling, and the explanation of a lovely and extraordinary dream she had over breakfast.

How to describe these three in just a paragraph each? All the times we've loved each other and hurt each other and cared for one another. How to bottle up their essence and layers in just a few, short sentences? And then there are the other people I'd like to write out and describe.

When I think about it, I'm always surprised and happy that each person is so intensely complicated and profound. I think it's a beautiful gift that we get the years that we do on this earth to know people and be known.

Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart, courage to make love known? William Shakespeare

Photo by: Thomas Dworzak


Rainy in DC

527fa2096a4908d7d9b7a4c3f7e7e7d6 After a lot of hunting, I finally found a place to plug in my phone and computer in the DC airport. It's at a standing table overlooking ramp 25 and the dark airport and its blinking lights. It's thunderstorming powerfully outside, and the rain is pushing great pools of water in heaps across the concrete. Lightening cracks straight out from the gate, and I can see the fissures and ruptures the strike makes in the sky. Even though I know it's what's delaying our flight, I can't help but enjoy the storm and enjoy the time to stand and stretch my legs.

I've been reading a moody book the last several days and was pretty absorbed in it on my flight from Burlington. It's good, but a little overdramatic and heavy. To lighten things up a bit, here are some links to check out. See you soon Minneapolis!

Yoga and dance classes outside in the park? Uh, yes.

Yes, I did sign up to test this new app.

My favorite lip tint. My lips get dry a lot, so I often avoid lipstick or anything that might dry in clumps of color. The best part of this one is that no matter your skin tone, it pulls just a bit of color from your natural lip color and moisturizes at the same time.

Looking for a job? Check this out. (via)

If you're into fashion blogs, this one's a good one.

Because why wouldn't you build this?

Coolest water bottle ever.

I'm all for well-designed websites. And this one tells you if your browser needs to be updated. (via)

I couldn't agree with this more.

I also love this website and how it keeps track of all the books I've read and all the ones I want to read.

Speaking of, I stopped myself three different times from buying this book from an airport bookstore. It's easy to forget about libraries in the moment.

So lame, but made me laugh.

This looks like a really interesting documentary. This does too. And this.

iOS 8! All the new perks.

The ultimate shower. This would make showering the greatest of all things.


Photo: Stylesight




Place of Rest (Day 8 - 14)


Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset I'm in a small coffee shop called The Wake-Up Call in a little town in northern Wisconsin. An Americano steams in my cup, and two teenage girls chatter passionately about two different boys and then more slowly and cautiously about someone who had a miscarriage. It's grey and windy out, a smattering of rain dotting the window occasionally.

I'm taking some time to be alone in a cabin up north for a few days---to get away by myself for a while. So far it's been peaceful and filling, like the feeling you get after you wake up from a ten-hour sleep. When I pulled in on Friday, and after I got my things settled inside the small one-room structure, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. It had been a while since I had had this much alone time. I spread out my sleeping bag up in the loft, explored the cupboards, and tested light switches. I noticed a water jug but wasn't quite sure where to fill it up. After some more rearranging, I decided I'd take a hike and come back to the rest later. There was a map that was courteously placed on the small kitchen table, so I picked it up, studied it a bit, and put it in my backpack.

The trail led into the woods and past a wide open field spotted with small flowers. As it wound farther into the forest, the air grew thick with mosquitoes, and if I stopped to take a picture or look out over the scenery, the insects loomed. At one point, I heard a horrendous crash in the trees to my right, and I jumped, startled, my heart hammering. I remembered the camp owner mentioning bear sightings at the camp over the last couple of years when we had talked earlier on the phone. Whipping my head around, I caught the last-minute glimpse of a deer's tail, flicking up and off into the distance, brush crashing beneath the animal. After that, I decided to head back to my little cabin, my heart still a bit surprised and thumping.

A long sleep, lots of reading, and a good amount of walks have filled the last several hours. I feel rested and warm and thankful for time to just be and observe and look out the window. Also, it's fascinating to me, but when you ask the Lord to speak, and listen---really listen---He does speak. This surprises and astounds me every time it happens (although it shouldn't). He is such a pure embodiment of faithfulness and truth.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

As far as bike-hike-running goes, I will tell you some of the highlights. Biking the Midtown Greenway, a 5.7 mile rail trail in Minneapolis, is quickly becoming a new favorite. Actually biking in general is becoming a new favorite (who would've thought!). Not only does the Greenway make it easy to get from St. Paul to Minneapolis, but it's fun to share the trail with all the other bikers and see all the life happening in the city. Biking feels more participatory than driving for some reason, and while I still have a lot to learn when it comes to street riding, it feels like something I could truly grow to love. Next steps: purchase a road bike? Possibly. Purchase bike shorts? Kidding! Another highlight was hiking Minnehaha Falls after seafood tacos at Sea Salt Eatery with some friends. We watched the sun set over the Mississippi River from a large cement wall while some youths spray-painted the cement steps to our right. Always a good time.

Well, I hear there's a dairy co-op down the street that makes and sells stellar cheese and ice cream. The owner of the cabin I'm staying at mentioned they process literally millions of pounds of cheese a day. Is that possible?

Happy trails!

Day 1 - Day 7


If the following blog post is confusing to you, read this, and it will no longer be. Day 1: Hike. There's a pretty little trail in the woods in Roseville that we hiked tonight. Mostly, I have two words to describe that trek, and they are mosquitoes and darkness. I guess it makes things more adventurous if you can't even tell if you're on the trail or not. We thought we had only gone for 20 minutes after we reached the end of the trail, so we hoofed it up a few steep neighborhood streets. We realized later that we had looked at the wrong time, so we actually ended up hiking for about 40 minutes. It was a good first run of things, I'd say.



Day 2: Run. It was boiling hot outside today. At least 90 degrees and the first time I've run in a two weeks. I tried to put mind over matter and remember that the first run in a while always hurts, and 30 minutes is not that long. There's a stretch of large lilac bushes that have grown up over a running trail in the middle of Summit Avenue, and now the leaves and flowers are fully bloomed. This is always my favorite stretch of the trail because it's like running through a tunnel of foliage. Made it back and stood in front of the air conditioner for a good ten minutes after the fact.

run flowers

Day 3: Bike. Well, I ordered a helmet from Amazon so I could road bike and not feel like I was going to die. I have to say, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be to aimlessly pedal for 30 minutes. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. My bike clanked a lot over the cracks in the road, and I was convinced something was loose or about to fall off my bike. However, when I got home and searched it, there was nothing to be found. I forgot to take a picture because my biking skills are minimal, and I was mostly focused on stopping and starting and not getting run over. You'll just have to take my word for it today.

Here's the James J. Hill house for you to look at instead. I bike by it.


Day 4: Run. Such a lovely night for a run. Dusky and cool, and I had a lot on my mind so it felt good to blow off some steam and think through some things. At the end of my run, I stopped under a very large tree with ancient branches that grew up over the house it stood in front of and canopied over the street. Struck by how resounding and heroic it seemed, blowing powerfully and slowly, it's leaves rippling in slow, rustling waves, I had to stop and watch it for a bit. I won't explain the detail of how or why here, but it stood as a reminder of God's faithfulness to me on a day where steadfastness and constancy seemed far.


Day 5: Hike. EXTREME HIKE! Dramatic, I know. But it was extreme because we (accidentally) ended up hiking on the side of a very slippery and steep bluff. In the rain. In the mud. In the dark. We biked down to the gorge at dusk and decided to take one of the lower trails alongside the river. Normally, runners take the sidewalk or high dirt trail, and trail runners and hikers go for the lower trail as there are more inclines and the path isn't as even. Somehow, though, we ended up on a third mystery trail that skirted along the outside of the bluff, and after fifteen minutes of slow going---clinging to trees so we wouldn't fall down the steep ledge, crawling over the parts that were steep and slippery with mud, stopping and staring at steep dips in the path that we couldn't figure out how to cross for a minute or so---we started feeling a little stuck. Climb the rock face? No, too slippery. Butt slide down to the river? Too steep and too many trees. We decided to keep poking along and eventually came to a place where we could hands-and-knees crawl to the bottom path. It was terrifying and absolutely awesome. Kudos to Drew for doing it with a large backpack with two helmets and shoes dangling from the outside.

extreme hike


Day 6: Rest day. Woop woop. And rest I did. Day 7: Bike. I got home from work and left right away to bike straight up Lexington to meet some friends for the evening. I wish all streets were bike friendly as it's easy to feel like you're going to get run over when biking on narrow roads during rush hour. Confession: I biked on the sidewalk for a stretch of the road that was narrow and packed with traffic and I was scolded by a late-twenties woman with a backpack who pointed her finger at me and told me vehemently "Bikers are supposed to be on the road!" I think I just stared at her blankly, and by the time what she had said registered, I had already passed her. After the street widened out, I ventured out and had a great ride the rest of the way. Plus of riding your bike during rush hour? Skipping all the long lines at traffic lights.

I just want to say that while I took this picture from Google, there were no such signs as this one on the sidewalk I was riding on. That is all.

40 Days of Moving

I hear laughter from a group of people drift out of a cracked window from the house across the street. Someone's radio is switched on to the talk station on a porch somewhere, and I can just barely catch the murmur of a man as he talks insistently about something. We did some spring cleaning: our porch is freshly swept, and Liz planted new seedlings in fresh soil in pots on the ledges. I sit on the rocking bench with a blanket to catch the last of the light before ending the day. Today Liz and I biked to the gorge and hiked down to a sandy part by the Mississippi to lie in the sun and read. While we sat there, a team of rowers rowed right by us during one of their practices as their coach shouted directions to them through her bullhorn. It was simultaneously entertaining and inspiring. Side note: A man with a blue helmet just rode by on a bicycle making howling noises like a dog. Not sure what that was about.


In the last week or so, I've been thinking a lot about physical activity and how people were created to move every day. Because Drew and I sometimes get bored with the sameness of exercise, and because we like to amuse ourselves with challenges and diversions that make it more fun, we have decided to test ourselves with something we are naming (just to make it official) 40 Days of Moving. Inspired by a camping trip, the hot weather, our declining motivation to keep up the exercise in the rising heat, and a whim, we are pushing our limits a little bit and working 40 days of hiking, biking, and running into our daily schedules.

The rules we decided on are these:

  • You must either hike, bike, or run every day for the next 40 days.
  • You must do one of the above for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.
  • You can mix up the days (hike one day, bike the next) or you can do everything right in a row--so long as you work in 12 days of each.
  • You get 1 day off a week.
  • So really it's 36 days of moving, but you get the idea.
  • You must take a picture of where you go each day.
  • I will blog about it each day and post once a week so we can't get away with skipping.
  • We haven't thought of a good penalty for skipping, so if you have one, let us know.

Easy enough right? The obstacles we think we'll run into are finding good places that are nearby with inclines to hike--because hiking is basically walking unless there are hills and the path isn't paved with cement---and for me, finding fun places to bike to. My confession is that I've never particularly enjoyed biking simply for the sake of biking. If there's a destination, then I'm in. No destination: why are we doing this? So biking, watching for traffic, all the stopping and starting, and having bugs blown in my eyes for 30 minutes sounds incessantly boring and pesky to me, but maybe at the end of this, I will actually be a fan.

If you're interested, join us! We will text you encouraging messages. If not, read about our escapades here. I'm hoping for lots of good think time, and I know that when I exercise consistently I don't feel as emotional or tired, so I'm looking forward to that also.

Well, it's officially dark now, and all the streetlights have flickered on and are glowing a comforting and foggy orange. The party across the street is definitely a surprise party because everyone just yelled "Surprise!" and a girl keeps saying "Oh my gosh, guys. Oh my gosh." Air conditioners are buzzing quietly throughout the neighborhood, and I feel tired. What a Wednesday this was.





The last few months, I've had the pleasure of collaborating over some art with Chris Behnen (check out more of his films over at Pinstripe Productions). Take a look at his latest film below, titled "You and I," which circles around the conceptual exploration of relationships. "Gather," a poem I wrote to pair with the film, also centers around this concept. If you're not familiar with abstract art, one of its major points is to evoke ideas and questions. We want you to push deeper. We want you to ponder, and we encourage any conversation or wonderings you might have.


Gather by Lauren Bernhagen

Constellation of face—what holiness is this? White sky, four birds left, layer skin on skin on breath on lake on that small organ pumping in your hand.

Morning loch fog-caked, and you, glass for eyes, leaking a glare all over the harbor. Ice chipping communion across drift.

A crack and this deepening. Snow—careful sink. I look, note one thousand portraits hang on the walls of your mind.

Lionheart ache. Doesn’t everyone want to walk off, holding hands with the fiercely gentle?

You small thing. Smoking shard, distance blurred. With soul growing toward water bottom in a rush, you hide to shatter the deep.

We curious people, nervous, filling with grace.