Still here, II. Better late than never…right?


Found while hiking with Jason on the Greenbelt in Austin. So. Cool.! 

Oh hey, I guess I’ll blog again. It’s been a year.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I work at a book store, so that means I am always coming home with new books to read. I’ve decided to focus on the books I already own and actually read them. I’m not really going to provide a huge in-depth summary, but rather a commentary/reflection while I read. So, here’s a blog/book “review”/how this book applies to my life currently.

If you’ve read Lamott/have any book suggestions/have thoughts about what I wrote, please feel free to leave a comment!

Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

I’ve heard wonderful things about Lamott (I feel a little late to this party, but whatever), so I decided to give her a try. I often refer to Goodreads to know the best book I should start with for a new author, and this one was highly suggested. (Check out my Goodreads account here if you’d like to know what I’m reading/friend me/whatever!)

What it is: a memoir/reflection of Anne’s life. Snippets of childhood, adulthood, motherhood. Struggles with addiction, grief from loss of friends and family, moments of clarity about God.

Lamott often turns to prayer in times of need, stress, fear, but also for comfort and in praise. Two significant prayers for her are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Feeling inspired, I decided to consider what my current “prayer” would be right now. While working at Mercy, Pastor Maggie would often incorporate breath prayer into our daily meditations. I found it relaxing to focus on a certain phrase while inhaling, and then while exhaling, a different but related phrase.

Lately, I’ve been breathing in “I accept” and exhaling “Let go.”

I went to yoga a few weeks ago, and it was specifically a session for grief. I learned about the “ocean breath” and the guttural sound your throat can make while using this practice. In fancy yoga terms, it is called ujjayi. Click here to try it yourself, if you like.

I’ve lost a lot of things close to me the past year, which honestly makes it feel like I have lost bits of who I am. With the flood, the loss of my Granddaddy and my cat, and even coming back from my year of service, I have been mourning who and what I have lost.

With my own simplified Serenity prayer, I’ve found myself able to focus on the moment and how I feel. When my thoughts get overwhelming, when regret and fear and guilt kick in, I have been using this practice to calm and relax and focus on the moment. I can’t change what has happened, but I can certainly pray for God to help me accept this current state of my life and to help grow and move on. Not to rush through grief, but to recognize and experience it.

A common theme that comes up in Anne’s book is that you can’t fix someone’s problems or grief. You have to let someone sit with it because if you don’t, you are doing more harm than good. I am fortunate to live with my sister and brother-in-law, and that they have been with me through the grief. While I know they would love to do anything and everything to fix it, they can’t. But, they have been with me through it all, hearing me out, and reflecting with me in my pain and sadness.

So if I had to give a rating for this book, I’d give it a 5/5. Definitely worth a read, and I read it at a perfect point in my life.

Favorite quotes
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

“All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it… I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed – which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.”

“God isn’t there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with his or her presence.”


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Still here!

Well, here I am. It has been a long time since the last blog post, but I’m still here. 

It has been a hard and challenging year so far, but I’m still here. It isn’t always easy living in community, but we are all still here. It isn’t a walk in the park when I am confronted with genderism every day at work and outside of work, but I’m still here, working and living. 

I’m not going to lie…the past few weeks/this year has been the toughest time of my YAV experience. I find myself coming home and drinking a cup of tea to savor the comfortable taste of home, family, and familiarity. After a long time of feeling complacent about reading, simple YA books have helped me dive into new fantasy worlds, a reminder that I use to love reading for fun. Watching episodes of This is Us reminds me of the beauty of stories and how we crave a good story, a reminder that as we watch these dramatic and yet beautiful tales, God is writing our own stories. I have been so emotional lately and so full of sadness that I am getting frustrated and drained. My reservoir is being depleted, and I am doing all I can to restore and be fully *me*. 

At this point in my story, I am unsure of what is next. I see how I am overwhelmed, I am fighting against the desire to zone out and numb myself to my ways of coping with stress. I see how I have changed. I stare at the guitar, unmoved from its case, and I know that I am healing from the stress, pain, and chaos of the week. 

Even though I use to have energy to do a lot of the things I love, I see how I am quick to turn to other things. But, it is ok. It is easy for my to feel guilty that I don’t play the guitar like I use to and my callouses soften over the week, but it is ok. They can be restored, just as my desire to play can be restored. It is important to recognize what I use to do that gave me great joy, but I also see ways in which I am revisiting old things that gave me joy. 

I must remind myself that while I do feel overloaded with stress, there are always good things. It is up to me to delight in them or brush them off as unimportant. 

Here are some of the good things lately: becoming friends with my bus driver. Her smile and greeting gives me joy when I see her at 6:55AM. Watching Supergirl with one of my roommates every week is a delight to share together, especially since the show is so good. Catching up with old friends and hearing how God is moving in their lives. Bible studies at church where I feel connected and encouraged by the community. Singing “Brother, Sister,” a reminder that when we look into the faces of our enemies, we see our brothers and sisters in Christ. Standing up for myself and saying “no,” even though it is out of love. Redefining boundaries and being ok with loving myself, rather than loving how or how much others love me.

This is but a small list of things, but I’m certain there is more. My challenge is to remember that God is present in the little and big things. He is present in the chaos and the stress. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite show ever, Firefly, goes like this:

“When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl- when you can’t do that, you find someone to carry you.”

I am being carried through all of this chaos; by my friends, family, and especially by God. Even though I am not at the point of crawling on my own, I am not alone. Thank God we don’t have to do life alone, whether we are running, crawling, or being carried by one another.  

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Leaving Home to go Home

Well, my two week break from work has almost come to a close. I’ve been able to rest, adjust back to sleeping in until 8 vs. 5:40AM, spend time with family, and eat all sorts of food. I’m blessed to have spent time with my family and friends. Here are a few pictures from my vacation!


Christmas Eve at the Harrell’s house. A tradition in our family!


Jenny and I helped my sister Laura and her husband Jason move into their new house. We also hit up some tourist locations in Waco!


Playing with my new cat friend, Daisy. Yes, that is a piece of tape stuck to a string, her favorite toy! Also, note the shorts… winter in Texas!


Then and now with my favorite Merry cat!

During this time, I’ve reflected on what it means for me to be home. As I type this, I am sitting in my living room, the place where I’ve experienced a lot! I’ve been blessed to live in this house my whole life. Memories I’ve had as a child come and go as I pass through this house. The walls, furniture, floors, and the sounds may have changed, but the people who live in this house are still the same. My sisters and I may come and go, but my parents are here, and so is my cat Merry. This is my safe place, my haven. Memories of my grandparents visiting, late night sleepovers, and times of despair and pain are present, but I have grown and changed as I come back to this place.

I was able to recently visit one of my “homes” in Bristol, TN, and I had those same flashback moments as I spent time in a place I had been to almost every summer. I know that one day I won’t be able to come back here to my home in Houston, or even to the one in Bristol, but for the time being, I can soak it all in and enjoy the history of these houses and have new memories with my family.

Even though I am about to leave home for Atlanta tomorrow, in my mind, I am going back “home.” Home to my roommates, my job, my church community. It is the place I’ve been able to call “home” for the past few months. I miss my instruments and my paint chip walls of my room in the Blurple house, and (I can’t believe I would ever say this) I actually miss my early morning bus commute! I miss the endearing qualities of the Blurple house and even though it can be freezing, I still love it. I am ready to get back to experiencing things in community, like having tea with my roommates from the stove kettle, making dinner together, movie nights, and Tuesday community nights.

I am also ready to get back to work and see all of my Mercy friends. Although I experienced quite a few Terrible Thursdays and emotional times at work before I left, I feel rested and ready to be doing meaningful things. I am ready to worship, make coffee and soup, pray, and love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have found my “homes” to be places where there is love, family, and experiences. Family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood related. I find myself at home here in my Houston house, but I now have a new home in Waco. I have a home in Atlanta with a community of sisters and I have a home at work in community of my Mercy family. Overall, I am grateful that God has blessed me with many places of comfort, many “homes,” and they don’t all have to be in the form of a house or an apartment.

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Lord, Help Us


Can I just retreat back to one of my favorite places ever?

**Blog post to come later about our Fall Retreat in Bristol!!**

I started this blog post on Monday, November the 7th. I have added more thoughts after spending a week in a world with President-elect Trump.

This morning, like any other morning, I went to the bus stop near my house and rode to Five Points. I got off and walked to another bus stop that is right in front of the station.

In order to get to the 16 bus stop, I have two options. I can either get off where the bus drops off and everyone piles off. I then have to walk around a corner in front of two convenience stores. Typically, there are a lot of men chilling outside of these stores. Without fail, I will either be catcalled, yelled at, offered a cigarette or weed, or greeted nicely by the men. I usually walk fast, don’t make eye contact, and ignore the comments made about me. Generally, the men are all black, and I notice how people notice me. Perhaps they are questioning why this white girl is in this part of town. I generally feel safe because there are always cop cars parked out on the street outside the station, but I’m sure the men outside do not look at those cars the same way.

So, I’ve learned to get off the bus a few stops earlier. I can walk to the bus stop from the other side of the street. I avoid the large groups of people and encounter only one or two people walking away from the bus stop. So far, no one has talked to me until today.

I was already feeling a little high strung, and my sense of awareness immediately sets in when I step off my first bus. I start heading towards the bus stop and I spot two guys who are about to pass by me. One is shorter than the other and they are walking at a fast pace and are about to pass me.

I hear the shorter person say something in a high pitched voice, which reveals to me that he is actually a young kid, but I don’t hear what he says. I am so focused on getting to the stop, making sure I am ok, that I can’t distinguish what he says. So, I give them a small smile and keep walking.

But the comment the older person says shows me the response they wanted to hear back… he said, “that’s fucked up that she didn’t say good morning to us. What a bitch.”

I get what it must have looked like to them. I looked like a racist white girl who didn’t say good morning to these two guys. I didn’t have the courtesy to say hello, good morning, like a normal, respectable human being. By ignoring them and not responding, they were feeling a snapshot of oppression they face on a daily basis from other members of the white race.

But I had my reasons, and I did not ignore them because they were black. I ignored them because of the fear they would want to talk to me. Often, if I respond back to the men on the corner, they will want to keep talking and pester me. I’ve even had an experience with my roommate Melacia where a guy walked besides us and wouldn’t stop pestering us. I did not want that attention. I did not want to give fuel to the catcalls, gestures, and crude language that could continue for other women.

Yes, I learned that what they said was simply a “good morning,” but my brain assumed it wasn’t a positive comment. I assumed it was a gross statement, a belittling and degrading comment. I assumed the worst.

This week has felt like I’ve been walking through a haze. After spending more time in this President-elect Trump nation, I am disgusted by what I have seen on a daily basis. Not only do I notice what I have experienced first hand, but I am hyper aware of how people are treating others with disrespect, dehumanization, and belittlement because of race, gender, religion, and so much more. It is not ok that the nation elected a man who condones such behavior. Certainly, racism, sexism (or as we like to call it at Mercy Church, genderism), discrimination and more has been around before Trump. But, because of his treatment towards the borderlands, the marginalized, the non-White man, his behavior has been voted acceptable.

Over these past few months, Mercy Church has become my home and my refuge. I have found it to be a safe space where I can expect to be treated with love and care, and I know that goes across the board with everyone. Despite our addictions and our patterns, we strive for balance, respect, and love in a world where we are cast aside because of society’s dictations. We worship, pray, study, break bread, and praise God for our differences and the ability to gather at a shared table because we are all sinners.

Yet,  Mercy is not a perfect community, and I experienced a moment where my “home,” my safe space, was violated. One of the members of Mercy Church cat-called me this past week. I wasn’t doing anything to warrant such a reaction. There is no excuse for why he hollered at me like an animal. I felt belittled and frustrated that he demanded my attention in such an unnerving and assertive way.

In most cases, I typically would ignore such an action. I would keep walking, not make eye contact, and move on with my boiling anger. But I had nowhere to go. Instead, I addressed why he whistled at me and that I did not want that attention. I’m not sure he fully understood why I responded this way, but it is a start.

I think back to the two people who called me demeaning words when I didn’t talk to them. In no way can I understand what they felt, but I think we could both agree we didn’t feel respected. They did not feel respected because they felt I was being rude and racist in ignoring them, whereas I did not feel respected because of my sense of vulnerability as a woman and my expectations that I would be belittled because of my gender. Perhaps I need to reconcile that not every man who wants to talk to me intends to harm with his words, but I have a long way to go to change my attitude and calm my anxieties.

I think we could agree that we would both fight for the same shared respect, and I do believe this can happen, but it will take time, patience, and courage to stand up for justice. I do believe that despite this election’s turn of events, we can fight even harder and be united in our efforts to stand up for love and trump any and all hate. I see hope in Mercy, in my roommates, and in my sisters. I see hope in the refugee children that delight in God, play tag, and continue living life despite their fears. I see hope in this seemingly dark nation. God is sovereign, y’all.

Psalm 146.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,

in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord their God,

who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,

your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

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I am Joy


For Halloween, the Blurple House has decided to dress up as the emotions from Inside Out. There are five of us and five emotions, so it works out perfectly. There is Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Joy. I happened to be chosen/picked/volunteered to be Joy.

For the past few days, I’ve told several people that I was dressing up as one of the emotions. Every time, they’d say, “Oh, it is so obvious. You’re going to be Joy.” I didn’t understand why, but each time someone guessed correctly, I felt shocked. People think I am joyful? People think I am happy?


I guess it is so shocking to me because I haven’t felt pure joy in a long time. College was a wonderful experience. It was so worth it. I would have never met some of my closest friends, learned so much about myself and the world around me… but it was also incredibly difficult. Life built around papers, studying, and late nights was not a fulfilling or joyful time for me. Certainly, hanging out with friends and exploring the town were ways I survived anxiety and stress…but four years of college changed me.

Freshman year was a year where I experienced joy. I flourished my first time ever away from my home town, Houston. I loved that Austin was just far enough to where I wouldn’t feel tempted to go home every weekend. It forced me to form friendships and step outside of my comfort zone. I spent so many nights hanging out with friends until the crack of dawn, whether we were eating Kerbey pancakes or playing Smash in the Roberts TV room. I didn’t feel homesick. Sure, I missed my family, but the opportunities present in college were exciting. I was so excited to live life.

Then, my sophomore slump began. I had such an awful year living in a different and less appealing dorm, taking extremely hard Spanish classes, and having very little down time. I felt so drained by class and by the commitments I made to the Wesley. I was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. I gorged myself on Amy’s mac and cheese from Kins Market. I drank so much tea in hopes that I would feel a little happier. I became so good at sleeping. I also binge watched so much Netflix. I based my time calculating how many minutes I had left to watch another episode. My attachment to TV show characters became unhealthy, and so I would try to stop watching, but it would never work. I didn’t know I had depression, but I certainly was aware, afraid, and unsure how to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing.


At least it was organic pasta, right?

Things got better. My memories of being numb, checking out of life my sophomore year in Kinsolving are vivid, but the memories of my summer after that disastrous year are also vivid. I went back to staying up late, adventuring with Andres and Rowena, and living life. My heart slowly healed from the loneliness, lack of purpose, and pain. Despite working at a difficult job, God healed me through friends and community. I was able to experience joy and who God made me to be: a happy person!

The past two years have been hard. The pressures of doing the right things to be successful and making the right choices to land a job definitely caused extreme anxiety and stress. I was *suppose* to graduate and find a job and have a sense of something, anything! There is still a giant question mark for my future…but here is the cool thing:

I feel joy again.

Praise the Lord I am no longer in college. There is so much relief to come home and not have to study or do homework. Sunday afternoons are actually peaceful! I no longer have that sense of dread to finish all the work before Monday morning. Having the time to play the guitar and read books in the park is so rewarding and wonderful.

I feel like I am *me* again, and people can recognize joy in me. Even though I go to bed between 9-10:30pm every night, I have so much joy to wake up at 6AM and be at Mercy Church to make the soup, wash dishes, and sing songs about a revolution of love. Yes, there are long and hard days that I want to just throw my hands up in the air and say “nope,” but I go back the next morning with a smile on my face, ready to do whatever needs to be done.

I am grateful for the experience I’ve had in the seasons of pain and lonliness. I am reminded of God’s unwavering love and that He knows me, understands me, and has a great plan for me. I am grateful and so relieved to experience this season of joy and of self-discovery.

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Miss and don’t miss; love and don’t love

Things I miss:

The sound of the bus going by my house. Riding the 7.

The empty sink and lack of dishes.

Everything Marvel, ice cream, and chocolate chip banana bread.

Memories of friends in my Hyde Park house.

Long nights of Catan and Escape.

Burnt orange, everywhere.

Texas. The tower. The capitol.

My 15 minute commute from my house to the capital.

Having tea with family.

Rachael’s office. Discipleship group. Wesley worship.

My family, my cat.

Staying up late and reading a book.

Texas gas prices.

Church family. Youth group.

Mangonadas, elotes, pineapple tamales, and nopales with my other family.

Spicy food.

Late night trips to HEB. Man, do I miss HEB.

Learning in a classroom setting. Questioning.

Things I do not miss:

12 page essays.

Wrist cramps from typing too much.

Being alone in an empty house and knowing no one else is coming home.

Fear of the future.

Thinking this program was a bad idea.

Anxiety about leaving my home for this adventure.

Questioning everything.

Things I love:

Nerdy coworkers. Teamwork.

Seeing people how God sees people.

Playing, making, sharing music.

The smiles of the community. The tears and the heartache. Shared emotions and feelings.

Riding the bus with a companion.

Riding the bus and watching the sun rise.

There’s always someone around at the house.

God’s sense of humor.

Having keys to a church.

Working at a church.

Waking up early. Enjoying the morning.

Feelings of accomplishment when I make it home via MARTA.

The weather. Fall is a thing.

Things I do not love:

Random strangers calling me beautiful. Ugh.

Waiting for the bus to go home at Five Points.

The stares that ask, “Why are you here? You don’t belong here.”

Being so tired by 8:30pm.

The weather. It’s going to be so cold. I’m such a wimp.














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First Week of Work


One week has seriously felt like a month, but I’ve had such a fantastic time! I love my placement, the community, and ATL in general.

Here is what a typical day is like for me working at Mercy Church:

I go to bed really early now! It is terrifying. I have gone to bed the earliest in years, not including being sick- 9:15pm. I wake up most days at 5:50-6AM to catch the 6:40 bus, hitch a ride on the train at 6:50ish and then hop on another bus at 7. I get to work at 7:20ish and wait for Pastor Chad to open up the church. In total, it can take me about an hour to commute to work.

We fix coffee, serve breakfast, and get ready for the day. Chad throws various ingredients into a pot for soup. Then we have worship, prayer/meditation, and varied activities depending on the week. Introverted Sarah really enjoys washing the dishes! At exactly 12:30, we use rolling carts to take water, soup, sandwiches and snacks out to the streets. We stop at two places along Ponce. The walk back (uphill!) is a workout. Then we clean up and prep for the next time we are open.

So far, I love it. The people I have met are fantastic. Pastors Maggie and Chad are incredible individuals and work well together. They do so much for the church and it is amazing to see so much love and care in the community. I am excited to get to know them more and learn from them.

Things aren’t perfect. There have been arguments, uncomfortable moments, and lots of conflict. The 9/Peacemaker in me feels out of place at times, but it is OK. It is good to be uncomfortable and to learn how to deal with conflict. I experienced my first moment yesterday and had to check in with both parties. It was heartbreaking, but it was also a reminder of how difficult it is to have an open community with many different personalities, personal struggles, and various physical, mental, and emotional states. At times I feel ignorant, but it will be a great learning experience. Ultimately, I know God wants me to learn more about how to work with different people, and I definitely will learn a lot this year.

Despite the difficult times, the community at Mercy is beautiful and wonderful, so I am happy this week has felt like a month. God has done and will do great things!

General thoughts about this week:


It takes an hour to get to work. Yes, it does suck! It also takes me a long time to get home, at most 2 hours. It would probably take me 15-20 minutes if I drove to work and back.

But when I look at it, the people at Mercy may not even have a bus pass. Many of us walk where we need to go, and fortunately I am good health and can get around easily. I hit more than 10,000 steps every day. I feel like a freshman in college. I had no other option but to walk around UT campus, sweating up that hill.

Most of all, I meet and talk to people. Cars are so individualized, which can be nice and convenient, but there is something about using public transportation that grounds you to the city’s community. I feel a lot of freedom to explore, meet, and see more of Atlanta because of public transportation. Even if it takes me 5ever, I can do it!

Free Time

No more school, homework, 10 page papers! I have time to do the things I want, like learn guitar (new hobby!), read books, and explore. I can navigate my way to Target and purchase a book in my favorite series and read all I want! Reading for fun is so delightful after years of required reading. I also want to take advantage of all the free things/events in Atlanta. Becca, Hannah, and I ventured to the Lantern Festival last weekend. It was super Austin-y but very cool! Since I don’t see myself settling down in Atlanta, my perspective is to do all the things I can this year.

Time Difference

Since my family, boyfriend, and friends are all in Texas, talking to them is harder than I expected! When I’m ready to go to bed around 9:30-10ish, boyfriend is still at work (restaurant life!) and sometimes doesn’t get off until 11-midnight, even 12:30 AM. I can’t possibly stay up super late to talk to him, but it means we have to be intentional and plan when we can talk to each other.

Thanks for reading!



Such a hipster/snooty place. It is very jarring how this is right across the street from where Mercy serves a free meal.


After a long trek to the Target, I was delighted to see this wonderful piece of art!


Hiking at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Nature is so cool!

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