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October 2013

A Benediction from Apartment No. 2072

Dear Apartment No. 2072

Last weekend I moved out of my apartment. Emotion overwhelmed me as I packed up my first dreamhome. As I packed, I wrote what will be "the original Denver Dreamhome" a love letter and a benediction.

Dear Apartment No. 2072,

Some girls chart the chapters of their lives with jobs or guys or haircuts; I do it with the places I've lived. You, No. 2072, are inextricably linked to every memory I have from the four years of tremendous growth we spent together, and in the end, you were the one that built me back up from a lonely twenty-three year old working desperately to build a life in a new city. I arrived scarred and feeble and I left happy, healed, and whole. We both know it wasn't easy.*

When we met, I was as burned out as a taper candle once standing tall, and now only left with the wax dripping down the side of the candlestick to which it is affixed. A candle that once lit a room but now only flickered, gasping for oxygen, fuel, and heat. You were more charming than the other shoe boxes I'd seen on my tour of way too expensive hovels, but your white lacquer Hollywood regency mantle and location close to my office didn't soothe my weary bones and battered emotions.*

Pool and Cabanas

It was your resort-style living complete with poolside cabanas that lured me in, but our history together and the sense of home you provided is what held me here. You were the first miracle in a series of miracles God performed in my life as He rebuilt me anew. You were my rehab, my refuge from the war, and my sanctuary from the storm when failure hit over and over like the high tide hits the beaches of California polishing its shores.

Now failure is busting you wide open so that you can learn what true success means: being a whole person, someone with balance and compassion. Hitting bottom hurts like hell. But I promise you that some of the best things in your life will come out of it. You'll learn to say "I don't know what I'm doing with my life." You'll develop a taste for the happiness you can have just from living a life, from mundane, everyday pleasures.
Jane Kaczmarek, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self

It was here that Paper & Glam rose from the dead. It was here where I bought my first couch and led my first small group. It was here that I read every word of God on every page He wrote in one year. It was here that I found myself, my hope, and a love for life as it is actually unfolding.

It was here that I felt the overwhelming love and the sense belonging I wanted so fiercely to believe was real, and as reliable as the rising sun. 

I experienced this vast, expansive, infinite, indestructible love that was mine all along. I've discovered that this love is as wide as the sky and as small as the cracks in my heart no knew about. And I know, deep in my bones that love wins. - Rob Bell, Love Wins

It was here that I brought Sunday home on Christmas Eve, and taught her to dance in the kitchen with me while I wash dishes.

Sunday's First Night at Home

Every day for four years I've opened your front door and exhaled relief as your walls embraced me and inhaled the smell of espresso and the Jonathan Adler Barbie Dreamhome candle burning in the corner of the living room like a lighthouse beckoning me home. 

Apartment No. 2072, I pray that whoever resides here next feels the presence of God as I have felt Him every morning. I pray your next resident can sense the complete heart change that took place here and undergoes one of their own.  

As I turn off your lights one last time, and stare at the empty teal and pink walls that held me tight, know that you were loved, deeply you were loved. I walk out with what is at the heart of being twenty-something: my own history, my own memories, my own path to a career and community, and ultimately, a life I can call my own.

Thank you Apartment No. 2072, because of you I know grace in way I only prayed was possible and I will spend the rest of my life grateful for our time together.

In homage, I made my first YouTube video, a home tour of my first apartment. If you'd like to walk through it with me here, I'd be honored. Disclaimer: This is my first video, so the filming is a little rough in a couple spots and I say kind of, kinda a lot. I also made this montage showing the transformation of my apartment from the day I signed my lease through the day I started packing to move out. 

*Adapted from A Letter to My Crappy One-Bedroom by Jill Kargman in It's A Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties

The 20 Something Years: On Marriage & Halloween


It's officially that ghoulishly glam time of year and the halls are decked with scaries and glammies. Until today, it didn't feel like I've had any deep, contemplative thoughts to share. Lately, it's been more about staying present, enjoying the now. It's been a long road of growing pains to arrive here, living comfortablely but not complacently, whole but hopeful. 

It feels like everyone in my life is growing up and getting married. Then there's me over here wearing the entire MAC Comestics counter out at night, "feeling 22," in pursuit of the perfect costume for Saturday night's Halloween roller derby ball.


When did marriage become synonymous with growing up? Marriage is something I pray for, but when that day comes it means taking up the ultimate responsibility of the life of another and the giving up of ourselves, in favor of a greater whole, and the character and community marriage cultivates. 

Our culture makes individual freedom, autonomy, and fulfillment the very highest values, and thoughtful people know deep down that any love relationship at all means the loss of all three. 
- Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

The only life I'm accountable for in this season is this little girl's, Sunday, who turned one year old on Saturday.


Yet, I can't help but feel the pressure to grow up and get married. It feels like married is varsity and single is JV. Isn't a commitment to learning to love God and live well, while holding down a "real job" enough? Whether married or single, our mission is to love God and become ourselves, while loving each other. 

Whoever did want Him,
who believed He was who He claimed,
and would do what He said,
He made to be their true selves. 
{John 1:12, The Message} 

Singleness is not a layover between childhood and adulthood, our mission is the same regardless of which box we check. It's not a ring that moves us from youth to full-fledged adult status, it's the answering of two questions: Who am I? And why am I here?

If we don't take the time to answer these questions, misplaced time and energy results from a weak sense of self. Do we focus on answering these questions with God's guidance? Or are we too busy rushing to find a partner like a game of musical chairs, wanting desperately to find a seat and one to call our own before the music stops?

The picture of marriage is not of two needy people, unsure of their own value and purpose, finding their significance and meaning in one another's arms. [Christian marriage] assumes that each spouse has already settled the big questions of life - why they were made by God and who they are in Christ. - Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

The twenty something years...I wish I'd been given a field guide the day I graduated college. I wish I'd known that these years would be this amalgam of waiting, hustling, growing, and becoming. I wish I'd known it was normal to have no idea what you want to do with your life or where you want to live it. I wish I'd known the answer to those questions is only the beginning of the journey, offering guidance and guard rails, but not necessarily redemption or renewal.

These are good days. These are quiet days. These are days when so much of life is still in front of me, but a quarter is finished, never to be relived except in scrapbook pages and late night conversations.

Before this year, I didn't know how to experience God in the stillness and the silence. I knew how to see God when things were either really great or absolutely terrible. I'm learning that God isn't just in the fire and the storm. God is in the quiet seasons in our lives and the stillness of our days, even when He is silent. 

The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the I am about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came God's gentle whisper. {1 Kings 19:11-12, NIV}

For years, life was busy and there was fire in my eyes, then it was one natural life disaster after another, and after that came the internal war that raged inside me and a period of mourning for a life I left behind. Now there is this stillness, and a gentle whisper. It feels like I've been standing on the mountain in the presence of the Lord waiting for Him to pass by for years only to find He's been here, just not in the way I thought He'd appear, but quietly watching, nodding, and promising.

We couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard. God's glory. God's voice. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rise of the morning star in your hearts. {2 Peter 1:19-20, The Message}

One day God will change our stories, and that change will come with new challenges and anxieties, but for now we trust the process, "laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason."

Do not rush this process, because hurry keeps your heart earthbound. Tune your heart to receive these messages of abundant blessings, lay your requests before Me, then wait in joyful expectation. 
- Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Remember watching Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda spend the late nineties discussing the early thirty years over brunch on Sex in the City? They were way ahead of their time. On Sex and the City, we saw four women walk through life together hand in hand, reminding us that learning and loving together is what life is all about. We laughed when Carrie ran over to Miranda's in the middle of the night when Miranda thought she had a ghost, and we sat hoping we were that friend to our own Mirandas.

We watched Carrie get ready for nights out in the thirty-something apartment she made her own. We watched her write her weekly column, staring longingly out the window pondering life's questions: Are relationships the new religion? and What is it about God and fashion that go so well together?

Carrie Bradshaw's Apartment

I'll miss living in this tiny shoebox apartment (albeit a very glamorous shoebox apartment), and walking into a perfectly silent home after a long day of meetings, hearing pattering puppy paws. 

Denver Dreamhome FloorplanI'll remember nights spent running from bathroom, to closet, to bedroom getting ready for workdays, playdays, and nights out on the town. One day I'll miss these silent early mornings spent writing with candles and coffee. One day I'll miss the egocentric ease of singleness, and days when a cliff bar and a glass of red wine was a balanced dinner. 


I'm grateful for the space and time to find myself, and to find out what I want and how it fits into God's plan for my life, especially because I was completely wrong many times when I "just knew" I got it right. 

If you're in this twenty something trifecta of work, play, and inbetweenness - and even if you're not, all of life is work, love, and ambiguity - focus on these things:

  1. Live this life you've been given with so much love that not a moment is wasted
  2. Take intelligent risks
  3. Take the time to get to know yourself and why you're here
  4. Do not emotionally or physically overtend yourself to men, women, or even a worthy cause
  5. Keep the first things first
  6. Stay in the present with hope for the future