Unexpected twists.

Some days it’s a lot. But one thing I wake up and learn a little more every day is that this wild and crazy story God is writing for us has a lot of incredible depth, a lot of incredible, unexpected twists … if we will just hand it all to Him … and hang on. Not to the stuff. To Him. To His story.


I wasn’t there. So I didn’t get a name tag.

But Elizabeth tells me that if I would’ve been there, I wouldn’t have been allowed to write something normal on it. Like family. Friends. God. I’d have to write something ridiculous. Because everybody’s thankful for that stuff. And whatever it was needed to have a dinner-table story.

What did hers say?


It wasn’t her best material, but she said it’d do, because long story short, Publix saved Friendsgiving last Sunday night. So all our people got to eat. And write name tags.

Name tags that said what they’re thankful for.

Things like … 10-minute breaks.

I stood outside on mine that night and let the cold hit my arms, my breath curling in the air that night while Friendsgiving was going on. I hated missing it. I love my friends. Our lives are messy. But they’re hilarious. I hated to not be there.

But I was making coffee that night.

And that … that I didn’t hate.

And there are all kinds of reasons why. This season has been an interesting one. I joked with someone the other day that I’ve found myself in charge of coffee, people and money, three things I’ve never wanted to be in charge of. My life used to be a lot of words. These days it’s a lot of steaming milk. A lot of doing the whip and nae nae while shaking whipped cream canisters. A lot of being really, really stretched. A lot of people … and a lot of stories.

And those people and stories are etching themselves on my heart, just like the coffee smell that’s permanently written on my clothes.

And that I love.

God is pretty cool.

It’s funny. This is a part of my story that I never would’ve expected at 35. Wow, it’s different from everything I ever planned to do. And wow, some days it’s a lot.

But one thing I wake up and learn a little more every day … is that this wild and crazy story God is writing for us has a lot of incredible depth, a lot of incredible, unexpected twists … if we will just hand it all to Him … and hang on. Not to the stuff. To Him. To His story.

Because His story is pretty great.

It has been for a long time.

And there’s a still left to go.

I want a piece of that.

And it starts and ends in the Bible. And my coffeehouse is right there in the middle.

Not literally, of course. But all of the parts of God’s story go together into a living, breathing whole. All the parts, messy as they are, are a seamless story of redemption with Jesus at the center, and a life without night, without tears still to come.

Every night when I lock the café doors, God sees me. He sees me just as much as He saw Ruth in that wheat field even though she was a foreigner, as much as He saw the prostitute who saved His spies’ lives, as much as He saw the man born blind.

And the people He saw back then … the stories of who He is and how He saw them … are changing me.

Like a friend said the other day, reading the Bible really is kind of like reading a story … it’s just that the story is true and can change your life … unlike Harry Potter or To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is. It can.

It does.

It makes your heart pound. It wakes your soul up.

It gives you an ending to wait for.

And it makes your today come alive.

I love it.

And that’s what I would’ve written on my name tag, what I’m thankful for.

Unexpected twists … and the God who writes them.

I know where they’re headed.

And that’s the best thing of all.



(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)


It feels heavy today.

I thought that as the fog piled up around me in the wee morning hours, clogging the headlight beams, tossing itself over my car like one of those dense blankets you throw over a fire to smother the flames.

And inside I felt a little bit smothered.

Life unleashed a lot this week.

And I wasn’t ready.

Do you ever have those days or weeks when you feel like in a breath you become the worst version of yourself, like one big walking weakness? At first, you’re okay. Got a lot going on, but holding it together.

And then out of the fog, Satan sucker-punches you.

And it’s like the stars that fly around people’s heads in the cartoons, like he’s out of the blue walked into your house under the cover of night and kicked open that box that holds all the stuff that you’d like to never see the light of day again — your deepest hurts, your deepest grief, the things you struggle with.

And he’s like that bully kid who doesn’t care how sacred that particular stuff is. He’s just dumping it all out like cheap toys to be played with, throwing them all over the floor, breaking them, messing with them, and you watch in horror, powerless as everything broken is horrifically on display.

That was my week this week.

And I spent all seven days on hands and knees crawling around, trying to pick it up as he just reached into the box and threw out more.

For the love, just make it stop.

But that’s just not how our enemy rolls … not once he has his crosshairs trained on you. He just goes harder. (I mean, just look at Job 1.)

This week was hardly like Job. But in one particular moment, after trying for days to catch up to Satan’s pace and overtake him, I cried mercy. I was in a conference, and the worship leaders started playing a song that yanks my heart back to a moment I’d love to never revisit again. What are the chances they’d play that. Right now. This week. Two friends saw it happen, and they reached over from both sides and grabbed my hands. I squeezed them like I was holding on for dear life.

I found myself wishing I’d worked a lot harder to keep a tighter squeeze on the lid of that box. To not leave my vulnerable spots wide open.

But as I squeezed their hands, I remembered that I’d released my grip on that box a while back, on purpose.


Because I can’t control it even if I try.

And because the pain itself isn’t the problem. Weakness itself isn’t the problem. Neither are the struggles.

It’s going to come out sometimes. It’s going to hurt sometimes. I’m going to wrestle sometimes. I’m going to ugly cry on friends kind enough to let me in the middle of a worship service, and I’m going to do it sometimes by myself in a bathroom stall, or my car, or in my bed at night.

It happens.

That song, for instance. It’s not the first time it’s been played. It’s played a thousand times (or ten thousand, one might say) in the past two and a half years since the day I sang it as the guys carried my friend Clare’s wicker casket down the aisle. Sometimes I’ve switched it off the radio. Sometimes I’ve been able to sing it. Others I’ve been able to just let myself cry and tell God how much it hurts.

The box gets opened.

But the difference is this — I don’t have to hit the mat when the punches come.

Because when I’m buried in God’s Word on a daily basis … when His truth is filling up the corners of my heart … and the box opens, I filter it through His truth. When I’m not going from strength to strength in the power of His presence and Word, I’m just Grace. Grace who means well and wants to hold it all together but who has a well of emotions that runs from Alabama clear through to China.

But because of Jesus … even that Grace can see her pain through the lens of His love and truth and greater purpose and in light of the highway to Zion that’s getting me to the place I want to be more than anywhere else.

When I’m weak, He’s strong.

But only when I saturate myself in His strength.


One night, as tears ran down my face, I texted one of those hand-squeezing friends and told her how I much I hate it when weaknesses smother you.

And she said this: Sometimes I wonder if God lets our emotions overtake us to remind us that we can’t control everything. I don’t love it.

I don’t love it either.

But the fact is … it’s better for that box to get opened and remind me why it’s important I not try to life on my own. It’s better for it to drive me into Jesus. It’s better for it to end up in His hands than stay locked up in that box. It’s better for me to remember that it’s Him I want, and that He cares for me, and that all this is temporary.

And that grounds me. It hurts, yes. But hurt feels different when it’s grounded in His heart for me.

And that … that part I love.



(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)


I’m up early this morning. Extra early. The kind of early that hurts.

My eyes are full of sandpaper, but my mind is running all-out sprints, like it’s on an episode of Supermarket Sweep and trying to get to the diapers and “grind your own coffee” aisle faster than anyone else.

It’s like those moments in college when you wake up and on the way to the bathroom bump into a friend who never went to bed the night before. It feels like my mind’s been up drinking Mountain Dew and eating Whatchamacallits and writing Analysis of Lit papers all night, just waiting for morning to crack open the sky so the rest of the world would wake up and join it.

Not cool.

But it can’t be reasoned with. So I go ahead, get on up and make a cup of tea.

When I’m not exhausted, I love the early hours. Jesus is there. His Word is loud in the mornings when the house is quiet and my soul is quiet.

But it’s still hard to hear if my brain is causing a ruckus all its own.

I switch on the lamp and sink into the chair. I need this. I do every day, but especially today. I’m in a season of crazy. Work’s been so busy this month that carving out time to sit with Jesus has taken incredible effort and discipline. Some days, even with effort, it doesn’t happen. Some days it costs sleep when sleep is small and precious. Some weeks it means I’m sleeping next to an unfolded pile of clean laundry for nights on end.

But that laundry not getting folded doesn’t cause my soul to fray at the edges.

Not getting enough Jesus does.

So in that regard, I’m grateful I’m up early.

But even wide awake in the 4 a.m. silence, getting my soul to quiet down today is like wrestling a toddler to sit still in church. It doesn’t need to be running up and down the pews, drawing on things, making noise. It doesn’t need to be running over grocery lists and scheduled meetings and stories that need writing and espresso beverages that need making in the next 18 hours.

What it needs is to be still.

But in that moment, it won’t listen when I tell it that that’s for later — right now it’s time to be quiet. Because you won’t make it through the day without it.

I rub my gritty eyes and sit in the silence, staring at the words I want to soak past the cloud of thoughts and into my heart. I read the words of 1 Peter aloud, over and over to my wildly running mind.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Action is definitely a concept my brain gets. It’s had its running shoes on all night. All month. Like a boss, if it can say so. Commute to work, commute to second job, buy groceries, get gas, make lunch, lay out clothes, pack bags, sleep, repeat insanity.

But I’m not sure that’s what Peter’s talking about. The Word is loud on that point.

Prepared for action. Sober-minded, not just cranking out thoughts. My mind is to be disciplined just like my schedule — a weapon locked and loaded to make every moment count, but not running wildly in the moments where preparation is more important than action.

Like I make my schedule sit still, I have to make my mind sit still, too.

I have to trade the chaos of a toddler for the discipline of a soldier, a mind hopped up on Mountain Dew for a mind locked on the hope of Christ.

That’s not easy.

But Jesus never said it would be easy.

He just told us He would give us all of Himself if we give Him all of ourselves — our mind, our soul, our strength.

Our heart.

So practically that means I have to call upon His strength to sit my heart still. I have to do what it takes to settle my spirit on God. I read verses over and over aloud, soaking them in, emphasizing their words to my heart. I journal out what those words are asking me to do when I get up in a few minutes, put on my shoes and let my mind start running.


And as I sit in the car in the parking lot of my job preparing myself for the next thing, I pray for God to instill those words in my heart, in my day. That, as Peter said, I would honor others more than myself. That I would show love to everyone. That I would be prepared to give an answer for the hope that I have. That with my conduct, I could win those I live among even without a word.

And that more than anything, I would live with a mind set on the One who gave everything so that I could live as those who are free.

I think sometimes we have a tendency to live like having a mind set on God makes everything weighty and serious. And in a way, that’s true. It’s eternal hope we’re dealing with.

But in reality, fixing our minds soberly on God in every detail of our day releases our anxieties into His hands and gives us freedom.

Freedom from being ruled by the tasks of the day.

Freedom from living like I’m in survival mode.

Freedom from the world.

Freedom, because what can man do to me when I have everything in God?


So this morning, I breathe.

Be sober, Grace.

Know where your hope is fully found.

Think like it. Live like it.

And carry that still certainty in your heart all day long.






(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,234 other followers