Kneeling in the presence of a toddler.


The last time I wrote to you, I told you about the first time I attempted an airport pick-up for new refugees. I told you about how the the family didn’t show up, but how much it lifted and broke me when they did show up the next day.

This time, I want to tell you a story about the second time I did an airport pick-up. It’s a story of how I relished every second of it because I knew it would most likely be my last. Weeks in hindsight, I can assure you: it was my last

:: :: ::

It was a Wednesday evening, and we prepared nearly all day for a Congolese family of 8 who had travelled through Tanzania to come to us. We went through the arrival routine— purchased culturally appropriate food, checked the apartment to make sure it’s clean, safe, and decent, etc. and yada yada. And then, we sat at the airport to wait. Part of me wished I had brought a book to read, but the other part of me enjoyed the sitting and people-watching. We had planned for a 30 minute wait— but remember, the greatest lesson to learn in this line of work is plans. Change. Often. We realized that the flight was running over an hour behind, so we set up camp beside the Starbucks and watched through the glass window at the gate as people from all different places, skin tones, luggage colors, and accents walked by us.

These moments of waiting were precious. You see, this was only days after the travel ban had been put in place. It was honestly of God’s grace that we even had this opportunity. Every day I’d ask my supervisor when arrivals were going to be finished, and she’d just say, “Just one more. Just one more.” These moments were precious because they were coming to a quick close, and I didn’t know where I’d be lost in it. Although I kept checking my watch, my mind wandered back to the same thought: what an honor it is to be here. What an honor it is to welcome them.

Finally, we saw them. Because again: you don’t sit in the heart of the heart of the Bible-reading and country-music-playing South and miss a foreign African family of 8 very easily.

“Eden, they’re here,” I said and jumped up. I ran to the opening at the gate, just before the “Do Not Enter” signs. I started waving frantically at them, and they nearly walked right past us. Thank God for our Swahili translator though— otherwise they would have no way to hear us say hello and welcome. And I think I said it to each member of the family at least twice. They had no clue what I was saying, I think my heart was just glad to voice those words. I grinned from ear to ear, as I shook their hand in sweet, sweet Congolese fashion.

We walked to the baggage claim, and grabbed just the three bags they had for the entire family of 8. As they sat, I realized how tired they looked. Their faces sat still and their eyes blinked slowly. I thought back to my summer traveling across the country, and then the ocean. My oh my, were those days wonderful and exhausting all in one. I just wanted to hug them, and tuck them into a bed. Honestly, it’d probably be the first one they’ve slept in for some time.

As we stood to make our way to the van, and then to their new home, I grabbed a little one to carry. “Hi, baby,” I smiled at her. Honestly, she smelled. She smelled of a long travel, too-few bathroom stops, and of countries much less clean than the high standard of the States. I didn’t care though. I walked and baby-talked to her in a language she doesn’t know yet. I watched her tired eyes blink, and I could tell that she felt awkward in the large puffer coat she wore. She watched the faces that walked past us, and I thought for a minute that I could count her eyelashes. “No, I cannot. But God can. He did,” I thought, blinking away tears. In my heart, I begged for every face I pass to look at the face of the baby I held and to have compassion.

As we walked to the van— a baby in my arms, her 5 brothers and sisters trailing behind, her parents carrying bags, my Ethiopian supervisor, and our recently resettled refugee translator— my heart filled with pride. So much pride for this family’s journey, and for the opportunity coming ahead of them too. I dared anyone who walked past to give a look or to say a word, because I was ready to defend this family and their story I had yet to hear.

And just as planned, we took them home, showed them how to use their dishwasher, lock the door, open the curtains, and all the other little things you and I take for granted. We gave them the first little bit of pocket money from their funding, and promised them someone would come by tomorrow to visit. We left, and just as I always do when we leave client homes, I wondered when I’d see them again and hoped this wasn’t a hello / goodbye.

:: :: ::

As it turns out, I’m the one who came to visit them later. I brought another resettled refugee, teenage client with me to watch the kids while I brought the parents to sign the lease at their apartment office. Something about my teenage friend is different, and I’m so eager for the day when she and I can converse. But for today, we talked about her favorite color, food, and animals in her small and broken English. It was enough. 

Once we arrived to the large family’s home, my friend stayed with the 6 little ones while the parents and I made our way to the apartment office. Honestly, you never realize how much passion you can put into such a simple thing like signing an apartment lease until you are the mediator between refugee clients and the apartment office–

I never thought I’d have to call a Swahili interpreter three times before realizing my iPhone speaker wouldn’t work for the first time in forever.

I never thought we’d get him on a speaker phone in an office, so the entire building would hear our signing process.

I also never thought the fat office cat would step right on the phone cord in the middle of the call, and disconnect the interpreter. Again, we called him back. And after 45 or so minutes, he asked how much longer it would take. I chuckled and said we were almost done, hoping that I was right.

Afterwards, I showed the parents the mailbox and drove them back to the apartment where they told me they needed baby soap. So I ran to Kroger. Bought a bottle of Johnson’s. And came back just to pick up my friend, and leave.

On our way back to my friend’s apartment on the other side of town, I gave her a chocolate bar I picked up with the baby shampoo. Her face lit up, and in her little English she said, “Oh, very good! I like chocolate!”

I tell you. You don’t go through things that like for a person you don’t love, or at least like little bit.

:: :: ::

Three weeks later, and things have slowed down significantly at the office. I’m sent on an assignment for another case worker that leads me back to that apartment with the family of 8. Eager to see them, I load up in the large World Relief van and turn the key. Heading to the other side of town, I walk to that door I stood at just a few weeks ago and knock.

The dad answers, and I’m grinning from ear to ear. I reach out my hand, and he invites me inside as the kids like to stare at me– like they usually do. I step in as the whole family is still scrambling to get ready. “We must hurry, hurry,” I tell them waving my arms— again, as usual. Half of this job is motivation, honestly.

While I wait just inside the doorway, I play with the kids who are ready. They keep grinning at me, and I do too as I watch them. I watched as one rolled his socks up to his knees over his pants legs, and then chuckled when his dad responded in their language and (I assume) told him to put his socks under his pants. I helped a big sister dress the baby I held that night we left the airport, as she attempted to put the pants on backwards. You think getting kids ready is difficult— imagine doing it in a place where you’re still learning how to live.

At some point, I knelt down to shake the hands of the little ones. The toddler wearing floral shoes, a denim skirt, and a boy polo, came over to me grinning from ear to ear. She just stood in front of me smiling, and I thought back to that night at the airport. Oh, how good it was to see her rested and closer to being restored.

She moved closer to me, and we were eye to eye. Her arms wrapped around my neck and I giggled as she hugged me. As she moved away, she reached her hand to the necklace that sat on my neck. Her fingers grabbed the gold, world-map donned on a chain that I almost forgot I was wearing. She gazed at it, and touched it. She pulled at it, as most toddlers would, and I wrapped my hands around hers so that she wouldn’t pull it off my neck.

As we sat like this for a few minutes— her playing with the gold, shiny world map on my neck, and me just watching her— I wondered what she was thinking. My thoughts ran poetically, as they usually do in these precious, precious moments when reality feels so vulnerable and unexplainable–

How wonderful to kneel in the presence of a toddler, and hand in hand gaze at a world map. What an act of grace that even as our stories began in different places and have taken different paths, we could still both meet in this living room in Hermitage, Tennessee on an ordinary day in February– even as innumerable others would say she belonged on the other side of the world. What a moment to live in.

Even as my legs began to feel the weight of kneeling for so long, I didn’t stand. It was a moment of victory and love that I don’t quite understand. And I knew that’s what this line of work is about: kneeling in the presence of the weak, and speaking the truth to them that these moments are no accident. I wanted to show her–

“My friend, you are from here and I am from here. We look different, we talk different, we have a different story. But we are the same. We are both made and loved by a God who cares about us so much. You’re not here by accident, little one. You are a gift and a treasure. This world is not so big and far away as we make it out to be— after all, look, you’re here.”

I watched her blink and fiddle with that map for just a few moments. And then, just like that, it was time to go and make it to Nolensville Pike for our appointment that we were already late for. We loaded up in the van– the entire family of 8 and me– and the youngest baby screamed the entire drive there. But I didn’t mind, because just sharing this presence with this family was worth it.

Oh, what an honor it is to welcome them. What an honor.


Bullet Points: studying in unusual places, wearing quirky layers, and chasing waterfalls in November.



  • Finals are coming up, and if you’re looking for a quiet place to study, hear me out and get here.. Go early in the morning and the only company you’ll have are the mall walkers. Or, believe me when I say that retail dies after 7 PM, and choose any week night. Either way, finding a quiet table is nothing and there are tons of nooks and crannies to find quiet places. And you can get your coffee fix at the a Starbucks just at the top of the escalator that opens before everything else in the morning, as well as the Nordstrom E-Bar open during mall hours. Although I wouldn’t recommend it for doing work that requires a lot of table space, it’s perfect for reading a book, or working on your laptop.


  • Don’t pack away that denim vest yet! Whoever said it’s only good for warm season obviously didn’t say that in 2016. Instead, I bet you could find a fun sleeve to put under it. For me? My flannel fits perfectly under it. And nothing says “Even tough girls like fall and value looking good” like a flannel under a denim vest.


  • One of my dearest friends gave me a sweet gift for no reason, and it’s been a few weeks, but I’m still holding it close. And now, I can cozy up and drink tea— and believe it or not, lavender tastes as good as it smells— while meditating on a beautiful print of Psalm 37:8. Whispering thanks for thoughtful gifts and kind people, and hoping that I can be like them too.


  • Don’t miss out on November– get out and hike! This place is just over an hour outside of Nashville, and the hike to the water falls and back is just about 2 hours. It’s surrounded by more popular parks, so this one is truly a hidden treasure. Granted, it’s smaller. But, it’s perfect to head out before lunch, picnic once you get there, take the hike, and then make it back to the city in time for dinner. Not to mention, the falls are gorgeous.


  • Did you know that decorative throw pillows can range anywhere from $10 to $140— and that’s the Target price. Y’all, that’s a ton of money to spend on pillows that won’t even touch your head. Yikes. I propose a little crafting, instead: find some on the .99 or half-off sale at Goodwill, sew your favorite fabric around the old pillow, and BOOM. You’ve got cute pillows for at least 1/4 of what you would have paid for them, and something so unique that every Target shopper ever will wonder where it came from. Thanks, mom, for this idea.
  • I can’t deny it: this song makes my life feel like a soundtrack. It’s ruined me so that every time I see the sun shining through the autumn colored leaves, I just want to break out and sing: “Stand back and look a little harder– so many colors fill the skyyy, so many good things to coooome. If only they always caught my eye, it’s like an explosiiion.” The video is quirky, but the best things usually are, so.
  • My dad always says that if you don’t like the weather in Tennessee today, hang around until tomorrow— and November’s indecision is all fun and games until it starts fighting between hot and cold, and irritating your hands. Ladies, this stuff is changing my life. It’s super cheap and simple to use, and keeps your fingers feeling good in a way that lotion can’t once it washes off. 
  • Backyard camping is still in style, and this what you need: 40 degree weather, over 30 cozy blankets, a 12 person tent, 10 of your favorite friends to cozy up to, and a blazing fire to sit around and laugh, talk, and share life with without an agenda. I promise, folks, these intentional moments of rest are worth everything.

:: :: ::

These are the things I’ve stumbled upon, and things that I think are worth sharing with you. People are creative and special things happen when people run with their bold ideas, and this series is a result of admiring the richness of culture. What’s inspiring your world right now?

When holding the cold coffee gets tiresome.

He tells me I need rest. And I usually try to disprove Him.

As I’m hustling to clock in at work, visit my middle school friends, and show up to class on time in just one morning, I’ll lift my stale coffee in the air and say, “Do you see? I’m okay.” And I’ll keep going on to the next place without allowing a single thought of stopping be made known to anyone.

It hits me at some point though. Sometime when I’m sitting in traffic or attempting to write 8, 476, 500 in Spanish, I’ll want to stop. I’ll glance down at the coffee sitting in the bottom of the cup and realize: I don’t want it anymore.

When I moved my stuff into room 314 of Polston Hall just over a month ago, I had dreams in my head of what I wanted this year to look like. I wanted blankets under shaded trees, new pictures pinned to twine, artfully crafted coffee in cozy nooks, textbooks filled with notes and ink, a bedroom rug that stayed cleaned– I wanted those things. I wanted days full of enough time to seek new people, new places, and new ways to see God. Tying it all together with a perfect bow and sturdy knot, was a desire to live in days that breathed grace and wisdom.

Call me bold, but that’s what I asked for.

I clutched the pew in front of my as I ignored the piano and said in my heart, “Take the victories and take the defeats. Take them. Take them before I can even get a hold on them. Take them, and I’ll take Your peace. I just want to live and love and know you better today. You are my purpose. Please, make Your peace the song of my year.”

:: :: ::

At some point in September, I ached for a chance to read. To paint. To wash my dishes. To watch Serendipity. To drink my coffee slowly as the twinkle lights beside me shed a glow on my jersey sheets and me. At some point in September, I ached for a chance to simply rest.

There it is. There’s my confession that the dynamic duo, composed of my faithful coffee mug and me, truly are weaker than we pretend.

I heard my roommate talk about a “Sabbath Hour” an old friend of hers would take daily. She described this time as a chance to wind down after classes by spending an hour doing little things that would revamp her. I hadn’t thought about rest that way before. Rest is napping, right? Sure, I hear very clearly when He reminds me, slow down, slow down, slow down, but could that really mean every day?

Despite my doubts, I told myself I’d try it. No planning, no thinking about, no overreacting. I just wanted to spend a pocket of time doing quiet good for myself every day.

It started off as scrolling through my newsfeed. It grew into reading more Scripture. And every day it grows into new things. Things like reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Getting rid of clothes in my closet that either don’t fit or don’t look good. Leaving pop-tarts on my shirt. I’ve even found time for a nap. Whatever comes to my resting mind, I do it during my time of daily rest. Sometimes I’ll spend an 45 minutes doing these small things, and other days it’s a goal to make it to 20. Can I be real with you? It isn’t as scary as it sounds.

:: :: ::

I thought I was giving up my alone-time today. As I looked at my calendar, noting my classes and the time my best friend would visit in between, I wondered how I could find a minute to sit still today. And honestly, I thought shooting a text and canceling those plans. But that familiar voice of Grace reminded me that we do things around here and show up for others. And, because I like the sound of His voice, I trusted Him. So at 3:30, I slid on my Mary Janes and walked down three flights of steps to meet my friend.

For an hour and a half, we shared our stories of inspiration from the week. I showed her the pages and pages of notes I took on a webinar dedicated to writing, and I told her about the little things I had thought about since those notes were written. We laughed off campus happenings, talked about weddings, and at some point our conversation shifted. She told me about a woman she bought a short story from just earlier that day. As she described her newest blogging project, which highlights fruits of the Spirit as noticed in strangers, she said something that resonated with me. Something along the lines of,

“I just see how things work out. I don’t want to force these stories, and it’s just amazing how things worked out today and gave me a story.”

We dreamt of doughnuts, sitting in airports, and walks beneath Autumn leaves, and can I tell you? I forgot about the work that sat on the desk just behind me. The hardback, mosaic planner on the floor beside me sat mute. We didn’t even notice when the flame from the wax-warmer fell silent. Never once did I consider that I should be doing something other than sharing space on my paisley printed comforter with a friend who fills my head with dreams and my heart with inspiration for a beautiful, grace-filled life.

When she left, I felt ready to face the night and speak those numbers in Spanish. My heart chuckled and I thought to myself, “That was rest. That was worthwhile, rejuvenating rest.” And I realized that sometimes seeing Grace in your own life is seeing it in the life of someone else, and asking for a life brim-full of grace and wisdom means longing for rest. Every single day.

Because at the end of this day, I know: rest is not a time of boredom but a type to wake up and keep going– and sometimes that means allowing your best friend from high school show up and simply be there with you.