Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Prayer For Grace-Morgan Harper Nichols

If I could make just one request,
I would mark all the days I had left
I'd rather not be known for treasures and fame or trophies I know will fade
Instead I would rather be known,
by the kindness and love that I've shown
to be known for patience and long suffering, 
a giver of life by the words that I speak

So with every breath You give to breathe
I pray it's Your glory that they see
and of all the words this world could say
may they say I was full of grace

I'll be the first to confess
I'm not always found at my best,
but Lord be my strength in those moments I'm weak,
and I'll keep on giving the grace I've received

So with every breath You give to breathe
I pray it's Your glory that they see
and of all the words this world could say
may they say I am full of grace

And finally when I see your face
and I've reached the end of my race
I don't want to be known for finishing strong,
but as someone that your grace carried all along

So with every breath You give to breathe
I pray it's Your glory that they see
and of all the words this world could say
may they say I was full of grace

{Grace only sticks to our imperfections}

Oh Jesus, may grace reign over me.
May I live it and breathe it.
May I never take your grace for granted.
Without it, I am nothing.
Grace for my soul, 
today, tomorrow, forever.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I obviously need help!

Romans 7:14-25

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.


My heart has been heavy lately due to conversations with friends who are making not-so-smart life choices.
Mostly young people who are where I was just a few years ago.
Chained to the "college life" filling up their God shaped hole with anything and everything else.
I vented about this to a friend last night and have felt so convicted about my words ever since.

Have I forgotten how to love people?
Have I forgotten how to be a leader or a follower of Christ?
Have I started believing that my friends souls are up to ME to save?

Again, YIKES.

It's been almost a year since I stopped being involved in YL and I seem to have turned into a Pharisee.
I've always been bent towards perfection and earning God's love, but Jesus really changed that about me.
I guess being out of direct ministry has caused me to slip back into that world.
Well that and living at home where judgement readily resides.

Last night, my friend looked earnestly at me and took in everything I said because she too is carrying around the weight of loving these friends.
But I think 
I lead her in the wrong direction (probably not for the first time, because I too am a broken human).
I think I was whiny and little.
I poured out my heart about my friends who are making destructive choices without ever saying "just run to Jesus. Stop trying to be better and just run into His open arms".

We have sin!

We have a disease that is incurable apart from Christ.
I can't fix you, you can't fix you, only Jesus can!
Which, honestly, should lift an enormous weight off our shoulders.
He did the hard part (perfect human/crucifixion/separation from God).
We simply have to offer him out hearts and then...nope, no "and thens".

Something good did happen last night.
Thanks to grace we walked away with one redeeming idea.
We set reminders on our phones to go off at the same time each morning to remind us to take our heavy hearts to Jesus and ask him to free our friends and free ourselves.

I am running this race.
I'm running it hard.
But, I obviously need help

{Enter Jesus}

Friday, May 15, 2015

To Live is to Love

Y'all, my phone does something so awesome.
Yes, iPhones do LOTS of awesome things, but this may be my favorite thing it does.

Sometimes when I intend to type the word "live" my phone auto-corrects the word to "love" and vice versa.
If I don't catch it before hitting send, I end up with phrases like this:

Tell me where you love.
Where are you going to love next year at school?
I live you!
You love so far away!!
How long have you loved there?
I found a place to love!

And I could go on. But you get the gist, life is an opportunity to love.
No matter where you call home, you get to love people and be loved.

Jesus would agree on this point.
In fact, Jesus said that if you follow all his commandments but don't love others, then you're faith is no good.
Because that's the point of all this.
This thing called life that is.
To Christ, and apparently my iPhone, to live and to love are one in the same!

Think about the people that you love the deepest. You live them too don't do?
Your heart and soul share in their joys, sorrows, celebrations, and defeat.
You pray over them, pour into them, and give more than you have.
My phone is right.
I live the people that I love.


It's a pretty word that conjures up happy thoughts.
My mind goes to fields of flowers and sunshine, running through the openness towards a mighty mountain. Matthew is there with me all smiley and, as Usher would say, "caught up" in the beauty of love.
I think of my parents who loved me and Daniel so sacrificially.
And I think of the McMinn's who have so intertwined the words live and love that they have absolutely been welded into one powerful word.
But, most importantly, love to me is the image of Christ on the cross, bleeding and suffering for me, and of the veil in the temple splitting from top to bottom signifying that we are no longer separate from the God who created us.

To live is not to judge or condemn or gossip or slander.
To live is not to abandon or tear down or exclude or abuse.

To live is to love.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Matthew bought me tickets to the Tour de Compadres concert in Knoxville for my birthday (which is in March) & last night it finally happened!
Matthew & I, along with a couple thousand other fans, were treated to one spectacular show.
There are few things that made last night awesome beyond words:

1. My man gave me a present that was meaningful and so intentional. He loves me and he knows me. Live music is one of my favorite things about life and even though he isn't a huge fan of crowds/isn't super familiar with these bands other than DH&tN, he knew it would make me ecstatically happy so he bought us tickets and took me! On a WEEK NIGHT! And we stayed up past 10! Which is not something we do cause we have jobs that require us to be up at 5am. We are making memories and strengthening the foundation of our relationship and that's beautiful.

2. I kept running into friends that I haven't seen for weeks, or months or even years! How cool is that?! It's so awesome that music creates community like that. It blows my mind and warms my heart to share experiences like that with others. It makes the world seem smaller and makes people seem more united. Music is such a powerful force y'all. I can't stop scrolling through the #TourdeCompares pics on Instagram!! So much joy and fun and faces of people I love!

3. Finally! I got to see Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors play live! How I've never been at YL camp while they are there astounds me. I was sad that Ellie wasn't with them on this tour stop, but it was still great. I hope they continue to grow and get to headline their own tour one day!

4. NEEDTOBREATHE is the shit. Sorry to put it that way, but damn. What a show!!! Matthew asked me what their music was like and I couldn't really nail it down except to say "It's like the Avett Bros meets KOL meets the Black Keys". Afterwards, he told me that was a pretty good description. I have always loved their music and now that I've heard them live, I love them even more. It took 30 minutes to reset the stage between Ben Rector and NEEDTOBREATHE. We were a little frustrated, but then it all made sense. They rocked it. Such energy and enthusiasm. I was shocked and thrilled. I could have stayed till the wee hours of the morning.

5. I doubt I'm the only Christian who detests most Christian music. It falls short in so many ways. Some is great, but most is cheesy or un-relatable, or just misses the mark even with the best intentions. But NEEDTOBREATHE has created an genre that people who really love music and really love Jesus have longed after for some time. Soulful lyrics that are relate-able and honest make their songs so heavy, so meaningful. They rocked the house last night, but they also led us in worship. Y'all we worshiped, all 2,000+ of us. With a rock band. I hope we worship like that in heaven for at least 1,000 years. It was breathtaking.

Last night was just a really good night for my soul. I need more encounters like that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Power to Redeem by Lauren Daigle

You take what is
And you make it beautiful
When love floods in,
We're resorted forever more

With breath that brings the dead to life,
With words that pierce the dark with light
Only by the blood are we set free.
With mercy strong to carry shame
and nail it to a tree You alone
hold the power to redeem.

No guilt competes
with innocence crucified.
No grave can hold what your grace has justified.
With breath that brings the dead to life,
With words that pierce the dark with light
Only by the blood are we set free.
With mercy strong to carry shame
and nail it to a tree You alone
hold the power to redeem.

Rejoice oh child of God
Lift your eyes to see
With every morning light,
Again we are redeemed

With breath it brings the dead to life,
With words that pierce the dark with light
Only by the blood are we set free.
With mercy strong to carry shame
and nail it to a tree You alone
hold the power to redeem.

Oh you alone, hold the power to redeem

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Katie, My Bright Hope

Meet Katie. 

She is my GREAT friend.

In his book, Love Does, Bob Goff says, 
"Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It's about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That's what I want my life to be all about - full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.” 

He must have met Katie.

Look at that face! That smile alone expresses the bright hope that life offers.
Want to know what's so beautiful about Katie?
That bright hope radiates off Katie at every moment of every day.
Even the not so happy days.
I've been with her through some of those but even through tears her soul cries Jesus.

Katie helps me be brave.
Whether it's hiking to the tops of waterfalls or facing my scarier soul fears, Katie is there to say "You're doing great Ann."
Oh yeh, Katie calls me Ann. It's my real name, yes, but I don't let just anyone use it.
I've always thought it was plain and dull, but it's a term of endearment coming from her.
She calls me Ann and I hear "I know you. And I love you. Just as you are". 
Which is what Jesus whispers to us when we are still enough to actually listen.

Katie spends every day expelling darkness in the world.
Not just in my life or our friends lives, but in the lives of high school kids in Loudon Co.
She's on YL staff and she's kicking ass.
Katie's spirit is magnetic.
Anyone who is that brave, that joyful, that confident in herself and Jesus, can't help it!
People just want to be around her. 
I sure do.

She doesn't even have to try.
She just wakes up and loves Jesus.
And he has made her who she is.

Katie and I want to be like 3 people: Jesus, Brooke McMinn, and Tammy Taylor (from FNL).
We figure that if we can be like those 3 people, we can conquer anything (while having fabulous hair).
But the other day, I was having coffee with a friend and while we talked about life and what she maybe should do with hers I said "I think you should be like Katie Clift. I think you should be bold and brave and bright, like Katie."

I spent the weekend having an adventure with Katie and knew that I wanted to write about her here. 
At first, I just wanted to write about our hike this weekend and how bad ass we felt when we climbed to the top of the waterfall and had the world to ourselves for a few glorious moments.
But then, as I browsed Facebook for the perfect waterfall photo, I kept noticing how many of life's BIG moments I had shared with Katie.


And y'all, there aren't pictures of the spirit adventures we've held each other's hand through.
There aren't pictures of the tears or broken hearts or the late night phone calls.
Katie has LIVED with me and she has helped me to truly live.
I am so lucky.

I don't have to prove any of this to you, but here are some pictures of our adventures, friendship, and love. 

And from our hike this weekend:

PS: Katie is currently single (a quite mysterious phenomenon), so boys...think long and hard about if you've got what it takes to do life with this girl. You are probably not as awesome as she is.

Friday, May 1, 2015


I’m just filling up with beauty- because I want to be beautiful. -Glennon Doyle Melton (original article here)

Things I try to do to create, appreciate, & share beauty:

Long walks at twilight

Share uplifting song lyrics

Have lots of coffee & long conversations with friends

Give things away

Sing loudly

Open up windows

Close my eyes & turn my face towards the sun

Paint words & pictures & colors

Cook for my friends

Send letters to people I love

Do chores without being asked

Smile at strangers

Support YL

Take photos


Sit in the yard with my toes in the grass

Read in the rocking chair on the porch

Snap pictures of the sunrise on my way to work

Play with Matthews hair while he drives

Concentrate on people's faces when they are doing something they love. Or something they don't love.

Buy local products

Give encouragement consistently

Play music throughout the whole house

Talk about Jesus

Go hiking in the Smokies

Attend craft shows

Hold hands

Make good eye contact

Ask questions about my loved ones hearts

Say I LOVE YOU all the time

Take deep breaths

Thank God every time something catches my eye

Notice the little things


Worship on my knees

Practice grace

Practice forgiveness

Pay for dinner with an old friend

Tip big

Listen well

Live intentionally

Keep my mouth shut when I'd rather gossip about co-workers

Play with the cat

Entertain little ones


Attend church

Light candles

Prepare fancy recipes

Leave notes in Matthew's suitcase when he goes on trips, for my mom when she isn't awake before I leave for work, and for co-workers when they are having a rough day.

Initiate get togethers

Plant flowers


Soak up the rain

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