Jesus. Critics. & Mondays

Mondays for me are quite unlike Mondays for the rest of the world.

I have most Mondays off work, so I treat them like Saturdays. This Monday I’m spending trying to accomplish everything that I’ve forsaken in the mad rush I’ve dashed through this past week.

This past week I’ve dealt with a lot of difficult situations. Working in retail can drive a person insane sometimes. Other times it turns into something worthwhile and meaningful.

I met Theresa this past week. She had a pile of dresses to try on in the fitting room and she wanted my advice on how everything fit. She thanked me graciously upon deciding to purchase a chic maroon V-neck Dolan dress. These dresses are phenomenal I’m coming to realize. Every woman falls in love with them once she tries one on. And somehow, it’s more meaningful when the customer is an extraordinary person who makes the effort to make friends with you.

Regardless of how annoyed I get at all of the entitleds, I’m realizing that it comes with the territory. They’re not all angelic or demonic. They’re just people. With similar struggles I deal with and situations that may spiral out of their control, similar to mine.

We all deal with adversity differently. Call it what you want: suffering, pain, tribulation.

I’ve only skimmed the surface at twenty-something, but I’m realizing that when people storm through our store, castigating us with their cruel words, demanding and ordering us to style their wardrobes for them, they too have suffering and pain and insecurity and pride clinging to their hearts.

Compassion always seemed so understandable when I was younger. It made sense. Of course you need to give that person without money some water or a few dollars to buy some food. Yes, you should go up and talk with the girl that is all alone in the room. Of course.

But showing compassion to rude people isn’t only one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it feels almost completely impossible. Not only do they feign as though they wield power over me through their heartless words and actions, but I let them. They order me around and point out my flaws and cut to my weakness. And I let it eat at my heart. At my joy. At my confidence.

But nothing can separate me from the confidence I have in Christ Jesus. That is where I’m struggling today. I know that critical words and rude actions have no power over me in Christ, but lately I’ve been living as though those people dictate my life. And my joy.

People are lousy gods. But even more – when we allow ourselves to be dictated by others’ approval, we sink into discontentment. Because we can never measure up to them. We can never completely win the approval of anyone. No matter how hard we strive for perfection. There will always be something about us that falls short.

If anything, I want to remind you today that yes, you are going to have critics in your life. And trials. There are going to be waves in this world that will beat you back and tear down your determination to move forward. But you’ve got to move forward. I’ve got to, too.

Jesus came so we didn’t have to strive…He came so we could be set free from trying to live up to God’s standards. He already knows that we fall short. But when we come to Him, He comes and changes us. Offers us His perfect character. Right now I’m realizing I need to stop striving so much and forgetting who I am. I belong to Jesus. It doesn’t matter if my life makes no sense. If I’m struggling financially and relationally. It doesn’t matter if people tear me apart. Don’t trust me. Don’t believe in me. There are always going to be people like that.

Today, I hope you remember that if you know Christ, that you don’t have to strive for perfection. Measuring up to our own high standards or others’ high standards is so burdensome. It’s like dragging a weight around each day. I’ve felt it. But right here, I’m giving it over to Jesus. Because He promises to carry burdens we can’t carry. And He fulfills God’s righteous requirement. He came to give us abundant life. Not an easy one. But a dependent one.

Maybe the path you’re walking is really dark today.. Please know that Jesus came to save you. He’s right there with you. And He won’t ever let go of you. It doesn’t matter the pressure. Give it to Him. He will carry it and you and won’t ever let go of you.



Broken Hearts & God’s Love

I didn’t think I would be writing this post tonight.

The one about my unbelief. The path of doubt I’ve chosen. The one where God’s mercy reached in, showering over me as I don’t deserve it.

But God knows better than I do. Tonight, I’m giving Him the words.

Tonight I want to talk about heartache. And loving someone when they don’t love you back. How painfully humiliating it is. How it chains you to doubt, restrains you from moving forward and steals your joy in Christ. Or at least it has stolen mine the past few days and I didn’t even realize it until tonight.

Relationships in your twenties are tenuous.

I wish someone would have told me that a few years back, or at least, provided me with some kind of armor so that the heartache wouldn’t penetrate my soul. But love has this way about it, where it rushes in unexpectedly. Then dashes out after it’s had enough. Love can’t be controlled like I thought it could when I read romance novels in high school. I really believed those stories were real. I believed in the hero sweeping in, rescuing the heroine. I believed in true love. No broken hearts. It didn’t involve fear of inadequacy. Or scenes where the heroine had to compete with dozens of other beautiful women for the prince’s attention. She was all he adored. Her insecurity didn’t assert itself in vicious sarcasm. The certainty of long term commitment was present in each of those stories. Along with contentment and hope.  In all my teenage idealism, I held on to the hope that it would someday happen to me.

But no one could have prepared me for this season of valleys. I want to say that I’m fine now. My heart’s moved on and healed. But still, the doubts I wrestle with daily continue to taunt the secure hope I have in Christ.

You see, I’ve been struggling with the whys. Why this pain. Why here and now. But God has been showing me that when we go through seasons like this, it shows us more of His character. Specifically the nature of His love.

In the abstract, I always thought love was this feeling. This emotion of joy and chemistry and excitement you get that makes another person irresistible to you. Over the years, God has been showing me what it really means to love, though.

Love means sacrifice. It means being hurt and choosing to forgive. It sometimes means caring for another person more than they cared for you. It means tearing up when they experience joy and new seasons without you. It means being broken. Sobbing when you thought you were finished healing. But healing is a process. As is love. And knowing Jesus.

When Jesus came to die, He chose the cross when we were still in our sin. He chose to take on our sin, to be the propitiation for them so that we could know Him and spend eternity with Him. But it began with Him recognizing that many would reject Him.

I am overcome by the fact that His grace continues today as He works in our lives, as He sanctifies and justifies many. Because the ones He sanctifies and justifies were once His enemies. Completely turned their backs on Him. Did not reciprocate His love.

It’s the story of Israel, who although God chose to love them, abandoned God for perceived “better prospects” of kings, idols and their own will. It’s the story of Jonah and Peter – how while they were yet sinners, Christ died for them. (Romans 5:8).

It’s my story, too. Wrapping my mind around this is flooring, because I’ve been so reticent to accept this lesson. To learn and grow from it. But it’s so beautiful. Sometimes God brings us through seasons of heartache in order to show us how He loves us when we forsake Him. When we sin against Him and break His heart. When we were still His enemies, and He pursued us still.

Love is worth it and it’s found at the cross. It’s found in the promised King who will come again to save us. I hope you know that Your heartache helps you experience God in a deeper way. That through your pain you can see that through forgiveness and love, regardless of the unrepentance of the person who wronged you, you can know joy. You can experience mercy. And true love that never fails.


Superficial Resolve?

New Years’ resolutions baffle me. Not just because they are often outrageous. Impetuous. And Insincere.

According to a study at the University of Scranton, only 8% of Americans achieve their New Years resolutions. Forbes

Without consistent, daily determination to follow through with a goal, how is an impetuous resolve at 12:01 am as the ball drops amidst a cacophony of voices welcoming in the new year going to make any lasting impact on my lifestyle?

Yes, maybe for a few weeks I will more consistently post on my blog. OK. Thanks New Years. Are we congratulating ourselves in the new year just because its a new year, new us? Or because somehow the energy we glean from it we think will compel us to transform into a new creation?

We grasp at concepts that provide identity and purpose, no matter how transient or unfulfilling: The New Year Me will be: More Fit, More Well Read, More Successful, More Admired, More Disciplined, etc. Essentially, we grasp at the unattainable. We want transformation with no commitment. New life is attractive to us and so we grasp at the wrong things in the wrong places, or sometimes for the right things with the wrong motives.

Let your resolve be something that doesn’t come from one specific day offering you superficial transformation at no cost. Change requires sacrifice and discipline. It requires each day waking up, determining to love and forgive. Not just on New Years or Christmas or Easter, but each day. New life is found in Christ and His redeeming work is something persistent and steady and changing, and never static. It doesn’t offer empty promises. New life is a daily progression of acknowledging the flaws in yourself and working each day to rise above and conquer them by the power of His grace and holiness.

Just as every day, I want to love more, I want to know Christ more, I want to share His love more with the world. But that’s not something I want to limit to the first few days or weeks of 2017. I want to write more and use my gifts for His glory. I want to be a leader. I want to sing. But these again are not resolutions I’m making for a new year. They’re projects. For the new creation that I already am and continue to become.





Being a woman isn’t always the easiest.

I can’t explain to you how many times I’ve cried over the past year when a job interview fell through, or a relationship faced obstacles out of my control. I’ve learned valuable lessons. About pain. And suffering. About how all our desires were meant to be satisfied by Christ alone.

Yet, there was a nagging question running through my thoughts, confronting me lately. Maybe it was the Enemy. Or maybe just my vivid imagination. But on Christmas I couldn’t shove away the despair and frustrations pounding in my heart.

Why couldn’t I recall a place that Jesus talked about relationships? Or about the desires of our hearts? Why couldn’t I remember my Savior’s words, reminding me of who I am despite all the ways I’ve failed others? And the ways they’ve failed me? Does He see my desires and hopes? Is hope something people made up just to make themselves feel better?

I refuse to believe that.

But the awesome thing about Jesus is that He calls me while I’m still thirsty. And trying to find fulfillment in a man or a career. Seeking after attention and approval like it’s my job description. He sees where I’m still searching, still seeking, desperate, empty and frustrated. Thirsty.

Like he did with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

Jesus tells her that He has come as her Messiah, the One who will satisfy and save her. He offers water that won’t run out. He accepts her, draws her in, and in the whole conversation she comes to realize that He knows. About her five husbands and the man she’s living with. About the rejection she’s faced from her peers. About her loneliness and thirst for something or someone who will finally meet her desires. Nothing about her past is hidden from Him. Unlike all of the men she’d been with, Jesus fully knew her and loved her unconditionally, with a love that would satisfy and fulfill.

I love how in this season of thirst and brokenness and desperation, Jesus found her.

The part that struck me too, was the purpose that now flooded her life. She goes out into her town and tells the people: (John 4:39): “He told me all that I ever did.” Through this one woman’s testimony, many came to Christ as a result. He gives us a new purpose, a life of hope that we couldn’t have seen coming.



My conscience twisted as the music played. I shoved at the tears as I realized the depths I had reached. The thoughts that had been spilling in didn’t seem to belong to me. Yet they did. When I heard the words and read them, I knew. 

I knew He saw and He felt it too. I knew He heard. I was living in darkness. When people talk about valleys and shadows and deserts I wonder if they had felt what I had felt. This desperate longing to be full. A gnawing ache that nothing could quench. It was a thirst. A need. And my heart cried for it. 

You couldn’t tell by looking at my life. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I wear heels and dresses and makeup to disguise it. It’s so smart, right? But the bitterness in my soul laughs.i won’t admit it. I’ll pull a smile and tell a joke but really I’ll want to tell you I need something. Please tell me. Tell me that I need Him. Tell me it’s not too late, that salvation is near. I might laugh and maybe scorn you, but later I’ll be crying out, gnashing my teeth bitterly. And you were there the whole time. You knew what I needed. 

You owe me hope. You owe me your joy. It’s real I know it is. Please tell me. 

Counting As Loss

I never knew I could deceive myself so well.

That I could take such a good look at myself in the mirror and forget to even deal with the condition of my soul. Maybe this sounds deep for a Saturday morning, but after last night, I feel compelled to write this. As though maybe the thoughts that are all disjointed can coalesce into something meaningful. That maybe then, I’ll be able to say, yes, that’s what I’m thinking, that’s what I need to change, that’s where I’m struggling and goodness I’ve never looked at myself so clearly as last night.

I spent the evening with a good friend that I’ve made in the NOVA area this past year. I have learned so much from her. I’ve learned that brokenness displays beauty more vibrantly than any mascara ever could. I learned that pain leads us to empathy and love and when it breaks you down, it leads you closer to Him. And that when we talk about how God is working in our lives and how He’s changing us and how He loves us, these aren’t just words that we reiterate in church, but they’re actions.

And this friend has been living them out in a powerful way.

The truth is that I don’t want to admit what I struggle with most of the time. I like keeping up a front so that nobody worries about me and that everybody’s happy. I know it sounds manipulative and pathetic, maybe. It mostly stems from my insecurity. I want people to love me and I’m terrified of being exposed for who I truly am. I think we all are, maybe, but last night I realized how much weight I put on what people think. How obsessed I’ve become with trying to look and be perfect when I’m so broken.

You see, I’ve followed Jesus for years, but this past year I’ve struggled with so much. I’ve struggled with believing that He loves me. I’ve struggled with believing that despite what His word says, He just wants my life to be filled with pain. I’ve been blessed more than I can imagine or deserve,  but for some reason I kept looking at the painful moments and pointing them out to Him and pleading for Him to take it away. Asking Him why. And when He wouldn’t answer, I was devastated.

But last night, my friend reminded me of God’s love for me. That He is for me. That even though this is such a deep, dark season, He is the one who has the last word over my life.

I’ve battled with this because I’ve heard so often the same clichés. Their script is so familiar and sometimes too painful. But I realized so clearly last night that I’ve chosen to doubt God. I’ve chosen to give up. The Enemy’s lies sounded more believable than my Father’s promises. Because I couldn’t feel them. Or experience them.

And this has led me to a verse in Philippians that has been threading through my thoughts this morning. Phil 3:7-8:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss [a]in view of the surpassing value of [b]knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [

Because everything Paul had couldn’t measure up to the great worth of knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he didn’t hold back telling the Philippians that all his credentials, everything he could boast in, all of that was a loss to him. These verses penetrated my heart because I realize just how often I count my intelligence, my looks and all of these superficial things as more important than Jesus. A lot of times, I just see Jesus as a part of my life, but to be able to say that all of these outward things are a loss compared to Christ? It exposed the shallowness of my faith.

This is a season of endings. It’s a season of being broken. But it’s also a season of seeing clearly that anything we think gives us meaning and identity and purpose apart from God holds no value.

Compared to knowing Him and following after Him and obeying His will even when it breaks off from my own will (which is so painful), all of the things I’ve chased after in this world are a loss.

Our appearances, our careers, how well liked we are, our grades, our status, the attention we can get from our peers or from someone in the workplace, our possessions, anything we boast in in this world and in our flesh – God calls us to something deeper. He gives us so much value and worth. He is our treasure and reward. In Him, all of those things can’t even begin to measure up.

This is a season of redemption. I want to be able to say that these things are loss to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I hope that when you come to a season of brokenness you can see it as an opportunity, too. And count it all as loss to knowing Him.



I woke up with a caffeine headache. A pressing need to clean everything in my house. Figure out the meaning of my life. And try not to worry about my boy and driving troubles.

Shouldn’t take that long, right?

Sometimes it’s so wonderful to be an idealist.

You see the best in everything. Your heart pounds as the golds, blues and rose colored clouds sweep across the sky, mixed in with the shimmer of sunlight as it dips below the horizon. Eyes dazzling on a walk through a small town, with its enchanting brick sidewalks, pumpkin patches and bursts of autumn leaves mix together a kaleidoscope of fall.

An idealist sees the worst in herself, too. And feels it deeply.

I’ve been working through lately how I take in this world and how easy it is to feel overcome by everything that happens to me. But the truth is that God is in control. Those aren’t words that I recite to sound religious, they’re words I believe and want to live out.

It’s astonishing how much of an impact my date had on me yesterday. Not in a good way. But still, I couldn’t help but being deeply impacted by what happened.

You see, I went on a date with a boy I don’t like.

Before you stop right there and turn off your internet browser, or worse, switch back to MSN (you know you love those news updates about Trump and Hillary), please bear with me.

I went to a party last weekend. One where I dressed up as Hermione, showed up early, where screaming took the place of chatting (over the music blaring from the speakers), and met a boy.

You have to understand, I don’t play with hearts. I don’t see love as a game. I don’t ever want to just date a guy because I’m desperate for attention. Want affection. Am overcome with loneliness. None of those are valid reasons. They never should be for any single girl. But when you’re single, dating rules aren’t black and white. Sometimes they’re gray.

And a cute guy asks you out, and he has a really exciting great job and you know you’ll get a free meal out of it and so, what do you do but say yes?

The sixteen year old me would not have understood this. Maybe not even the twenty four year old me.

I want to tell you that it went well. That I gave him a chance and he surprised me. Swept me off my feet with his dreamy eyes and his cavalier demeanor. I want to tell you I fell for his laugh, his contagious smile, his chocolate brown eyes.

But that would be a lie.

You see, love can’t be forced.

I know, you want a good love story, but not all stories include them. Romance can’t be lit easily like a fire. It’s just about as simple as deciding whether to save another person’s life at the risk of your own. It’s frustrating and perplexing and painful. You debate if you should do it just to make that other person happy. Your thoughts wage a war against your emotions. And sometimes logic wins. But logic doesn’t equate to compatibility. Or harmony.

What throws me even now is that while I talk about this being so difficult for me, there’s a boy who lives a couple miles away who at this second believes it to be so simple, so easy. He’s already falling for me and to him, love is just like another box to check.

I mean, what if we really ended up together, I put my misgivings behind me and jumped?

I wonder if I would forfeit a part of myself. I wonder if I would lose myself in the past or in wondering what love could really have been like. Could I fake love? Apparently I can if I’ve led him to believe there could be something between us.

I wish there was a rule book on dating. Because then my heart wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in.

I’ve come to this conclusion before, but I need to restate it again to convince myself and maybe you, too, reader. Guys are amazing. Incredible. They make you stop breathing just by looking at you. I don’t know how that exactly works. But they can also be incredibly cruel. I never knew that love could be so painful, until I fell for someone. And then tried to walk it back. Which didn’t work. And so I’ve prayed. And prayed. For release. For my emotions to move on. To just not care when I see him again. And to forgive.

I think getting over someone is like a long distance run, and that you build up your endurance to singleness and rejection the longer you have to bear with it. But it doesn’t make it any less painful or challenging or arduous.




And When I Run

Broken Cisterns. Worthless idols. Forgetful Israelites. Faithful God. These concepts stood out to me the most on my way through Jeremiah 2.

I’ve started making my way through this Old Testament book recently. I began wary, I have to admit.

Sometimes the OT reads like a different language to me. It talks about idol worship and cities and towns that I’m not familiar with. It’s very severe when it comes to talking about Israel’s sin. It penetrates my heart much as it must have seared the consciences of the Israelites back then as it reprimands them for their half-hearted devotion to the Lord.

It uses references I can’t relate to. And it talks about a group of people that I frequently get annoyed with as I read about them consistently forsaking their God even after all the awesome things He’s done for them.

And yet, God is still speaking to us through His word despite the things we don’t think we can understand or relate with. In this specific chapter, God tells Jeremiah to speak to the people. So, Jeremiah tells them things that the Lord wants to say.

He first tells them that they once followed hard after God in full devotion to Him. He describes their holiness and God’s salvation from their enemies. Quickly, though, he begins to expose their present spiritual state. With a lot of bluntness that I’m sure even back then gnawed at them. Because on the outside I’m sure they looked fine. They still, as it says in this chapter, talked to God and prayed for his salvation. They thought they hadn’t sinned. That everything between them and God was great. And that they could still keep worshipping their idols.

And following their hearts. Despite how deceitful they are.

In Jeremiah 2:5-6, he says, “This is what the Lord says; ‘What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?'”

God poses this question to the Israelites and I believe to us:

What fault did you find in Me that you ran from Me? My ways. My spring of life.

The Lord explains that the Israelites left the Lord, the spring of living water, and built their own broken wells.

What floors me when I read this is that God led the Israelites through an uninhabited desert. With no GPS. Or Google Maps. And they saw first hand him parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptian army. Then, he provided food for them in the desert. He protected them too many times to count from enemies that were way more equipped and skilled than them. Then we come to this chapter and something seems awfully wrong.

And it forces me to ask the question, what led them to this point?

The crazy part is that where the Israelites have failed, I have also failed. Where the Israelites blame God for their problems, I’ve questioned His motives, too. But as I read through these words, I hear the brokenness in His voice as He says to the Israelites through Jeremiah’s voice -“Why did you run from me? The One who loves you and saved you and is still providing for you? Why are you going to all of those places to be satisfied? Why are you still building wells when my spring of water is right at your feet?”

Just like the Israelites, I’m reminded today of God’s faithfulness. That He sees our sinfulness and brokenness and shame and offers us new life at his spring of water. He rebukes us, but that rebuke comes from His heart for us. He sees that the places we go make us worthless just like our idols. It hurts Him when we sin, because He sees us suffering. He wants us to run back to Him and has so much to offer us.





Shari Part One 1/2


His voice again.

She fisted her hands. I have to fight this, she thought desperately as she pushed away the feelings.

It didn’t matter that he had perfect brown eyes. Or that in his arms she forgot to breathe. Or that she’d memorized almost everything about him.

It didn’t matter that every time someone brought him up, her stomach pitched like being on Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens. She knew that he’d moved on to another girl. Who was of course perfectly gorgeous and docile.

Feet glued to the floor, she prayed a prayer of surrender.

Not my will, Lord.

How could she hold this against him still? How could she still care for him even after all of this time?

He took her arm. “Hey Shari, aren’t you going to sit with me?”

“For real?” Shari gaped at him. “What about Anna?”

She’d promised herself that she would avoid this church service, because she knew he’d be there. But today, she hadn’t been thinking.

“She goes to a different church.”

Of course. “Well, great. Look, I have to go….find a seat.”

“And I have no idea why you can’t just sit with me.”

“I’m saving a seat for Erin.”

“You don’t talk with Erin anymore.”

“I thought I could do this, but.”  Shaking her head, Shari spun and slipped out the door into the crisp fall breeze that picked up her auburn hair and tossed it in front of her face.

Talking with him stung. Especially  when he was kind and genuinely acted like he cared. She would forget. She would move on. It didn’t matter how many times she’d pray for him, or pray about the situation, she would push through. This didn’t have to be the end of her.

“He never cared about me, Lord. I was just another pretty, hot girl to him. I never mean anything to any guy ever. It’s my appearance that draws them, but my personality has them making U-turns. Why my knees still get weak when I’m with him, I don’t know. I hope some day I will. Please take it all away.”






Story Intro and Musings ;)

Every year when my birthday comes around, my emotions spiral like spaghetti, all tossed and thrown together and tangled. All of the goals I want to accomplish dangle just out of my reach.

I’ve been twenty six for three months. Most of my twenty-sixness I’ve spent languishing over a computer screen, applying to jobs, jaunting around my new city (DC’s sunrises never cease to take my breath away along with my words. Maybe it’s the color. Or the newness. Or the pristiness that contrasts so prolifically with my life.)

Anyway, all of this to say, the best way I can describe my life is through a story. I can’t really tell you what’s happening to me until I type it out and see the words fill the pages or my computer screen and reread them until I finally grasp what I’ve been struggling with all these months.

All of this to say, I wanted to share: The context is different, but still…. 😉

Sharilyn grimaced as she watched Jesse and a petite blonde angle their way near her group of friends waiting in line at Lochness Monster. Even in a crowd, Sharilyn knew she couldn’t hide.

“Lord,” the prayer came as she felt the bitterness rise in her heart.

Her hand was laced in his. Of course. Sharilyn swallowed her sarcasm and waved.

“Shari? How’s it going? I didn’t think I’d run into you today!” Jesse waltzed over. Perfect dark hair and chocolate eyes dazzling as always. He may be the most arrogant boy she’d ever known, and yet his gregarious personality was what had drawn her to him at first.

He raised his hand for a high five and Shari met it. Each movement, each breath, each look, Shari catalogued. Oh why did she even bother?

“I’m Sharilyn,” she threw out her hand to the model clinging to Jesse’s arm like a life jacket in the Atlantic Ocean, “I don’t think we’ve met.”


“Nice to meet you.” Shari tried to keep her eyes from looking at Jesse’s face. She’d begged God to help her forgive and forget. She had no idea she’d feel so deflated and scrambling for words to say, to make the moment less awkward.

“So what are you doing with your life, Shari?” She sucked in a breath. DId he have to act like he cared? Did he have to be so confident and self-assured? She wanted to scream. Please, God, I don’t want to be nice to him.

“I just started working at a non-profit in DC.”

“That’s great, Shari!”

“What about you? How are things going with you?”

Shari studied his guarded expression, she was sure that was the best poker face she’d ever seen. Or maybe that was just how he operated normally, disguising his true self from everyone. Especially her.

“Training to join the Air Force.”

She grinned, “Good luck.”

“I don’t need it.”

“I know that…” Shari groped for words. What on earth?

But Anna had already drawn him away to another ride and they dissolved into the crowd. Shari gaped after them, gripped the straps of her gym bag and jaunted toward the bathroom.

“Shari?” Kellie called for her but she already felt stifled, she had to let out all of her emotions and thoughts somehow. She couldn’t stand in line and hold it all in. “I’ll meet you all in Ireland!” She gave a quick wave and slipped into the closest bathroom stall.

And slipped to the floor.

“I thought I could do this, Lord, but each time I see him – ” A few minutes later, mascara stained cheeks, red eyes and an ice cream cone later, and Shari had left the park and was careening back down the highway.


A text from her friend Lora lit up her screen. “Want to hang out and have a chill evening with a few of us from church?”


“It’ll just be easy going, maybe a movie and pizza!”

Shari pulled up to their friend’s apartment in Arlington. She let herself in the front door and plopped on the couch. “Lora, I’m here!” She called, then rubbed the ears of their Shih Tzu.

Lora threw open the back door to their back porch and a few more kids from church filled up the kitchen and living room area. Shari felt her chest constrict. Jesse was in the midst of them.

Lora finished setting the table and passed out plates.

Jesse walked over and started piling food on his plate. “Shari, I heard you and Kellie went hiking this weekend.”

“Yeah.” Shari heaped the stir fry on her plate and scooped out some hummus, breaking off the pita bread slowly. “You should try this pita bread, Lora makes the best.”

“She said you two went hiking at Great Falls. Erin,” he nodded to a cute brunette girl they’d both met this summer, “Kellie and Shari are going running this weekend at Scotts Run. Are you going along?”

Shari gaped, propping her hand on her hip. “Does she tell you everything?”

Erin walked over, her lips in a thin line that Shari knew easily drew into a scowl whenever prompted. She hadn’t included Erin in a lot of her outings lately, and couldn’t believe Jesse, first was texting Kellie at the same time he was talking with her, and next that he told Erin about her plans.

And then Anna walked in. And Shari dropped her plate on the floor.

“We’re all going bowling later,” Jesse ploughed right through, as though he didn’t know the emotions pulsing through her, as though she was the only girl in the room he cared about. It was so dumb. She had to get away from his spell. “You should come, Shari.”

“Lovelies! I’ve brought the most delicious apple pie you’ve ever tasted in your lives!” Maura waltzed in in a Grecian white halter dress and looped her arm through Jesse’s. Anna stood in the corner with Kellie and Erin, casting a stink eye at Maura.

Shari almost couldn’t take it.

“What did I miss?” Markus, Bill and Stephen, along with a few other guys from their church group shuffled through the door and Shari felt like laughing. She caught Lora’s eye and cornered her.

“This is one of the chillest evenings I’ve had in awhile.”

Lora almost spit out her bite of chicken and veggies. “Well I was texting Steve and Mark, and they all wanted to invite a few people…and they all ended up here. Is everything ok, Shar?” Lora’s eyes narrowed in on her friend.

“Couldn’t be better!” Lora soon got swept away talking with Samuel, a new attractive guy that all the girls in church were ambushing. Shari tossed her eyes, scooped up some apple pie and plopped down on the back porch, where nobody could see her. She hoped.

More soon 😉