"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace"

I read that prayer from St. Francis some time in the infancy and newness of my relationship with the Lord, and that opening line, "...make me an instrument" stuck with me immediately. I remember typing it out on some colorful sheet of paper and sticking it in my high school locker alongside pictures of Orlando Bloom and my class schedule. I was obsessed with the loveliness of the idea I could not fathom even one bit - of being an instrument, capable of sowing love, pardon, light, and joy. I prayed it earnestly again and again each time I saw it, without knowing why or what it meant. It hummed in me like an echo during those years of after-school sports and college-applications and homecoming dances. And I thought it was the most beautiful desire I had ever heard - someone longing to be an instrument of peace. I found my heart wanting it also, without realizing it, by praying it without understanding what it was I was even asking. That prayer started turning my innocent, ignorant, empty words into ones with power and meaning - my weak repetition of someone else's hopes began transforming me. Funny, how prayer might be the only medium through which something like that is possible.

I was in church last sunday and we started singing "Come Thou Fount", which is a beautiful hymn, but one I hear so often that I find myself dull to it most days. But not this sunday. Suddenly, that old hum of St. Francis' words started to fill me up. Out of my mouth, I heard myself singing the line, "tune my heart to sing thy praise," and I found that I couldn't go on. I couldn't stop thinking about the powerful implication of what I had just said.

Tune my heart. I am the instrument.

Me. This girl who always says the wrong things or feels the wrong things or falls upstairs or breaks things or gets lost on the highway or snorts when she laughs. Me, whose life certainly must be the strangest cacophony of sound imaginable - I am an instrument, tuned by a perfect God.

And if my heart can already by tuned, I am already the instrument. In my present moment. Not in the circumstances I dream and wish and long myself into, with all the power of my imagination - I am an instrument being utilized and tuned in my present reality. I have been situated to play exactly this note, at exactly this moment. And I don't have to do anything to make myself a member of this kingdom orchestra. By the very nature of my creator, I am already the instrument.


It's funny - that after all these years of praying to become an instrument, usable by God, with a strange longing I could not place - I have been praying what has been true of me all along. And in those words, I have been and will continue to be tuned until I am singing with perfect beauty and rhythm and pitch.

and so how can I refuse Him praise? How can I fail to shout with joy every day of my existence? Because when I am silent from fear or feelings of sadness and doubt, I am denying the essence of my creation - as someone made for sound and usefulness and beauty.

I am an instrument, tuned by the Lord.

That is such a glorious thing.

I hope I never get over it.


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17

How can I not be thankful when I know who you are, Lord? When I think of your constancy, the kind I cannot return? Or of your extravagant love, of which I am undeserving? And when I think that I am lacking nothing because of you - not any good thing - how can I do anything but rejoice with the deepest love I possess, and praise you all the days of my life? Because of you, not even the Heavens have been denied to my name.
what a thing to be thankful for.

instructions for a solo-DP

the solo-DP: aka, a solo dance-party, aka blasting music in your room and dancing like an idiot all by yourself. It's one of my favorite things in the world. Sometimes you just need to dance it out, you know? Here's a little tutorial.

1) have a crazy week. as in, submit your first application to a grad school (which leaves you on the verge of a panic attack because it makes you feel so old and unprepared for the "real world"), spend nearly 48 hours writing essays (literally. just write for a whole weekend straight and then see what happens to your mental sanity), finish two novels for class, fit in all your regular commitments around that, etc.

2) finish all of your crazy-week work (nothing like the feeling of release as your teacher grabs that paper out of your hands, all fresh and stapled and DONEzo)


song suggestions:

1) Passion Pit - Little Secrets (my classic go-to "freak out in celebration" song since the end of first year)

2) Flo Rida Ft. Katy Perry - Good Feeling (Last Friday) (because you need a fun mash-up)

3) Ke$ha - Blow (no DP is complete if K-dollar sign -ha is missing. I don't think I could show my face in public ever again if anyone knew my play count on this song)

4) Pitbull - Give me Everything (I luv Pitbull. No shame)

5) Kelly Clarkson - Mr. Know it All (because every good solo-DP involves screaming Kelly Clarkson at the top of your lungs as if you are actually Kelly Clarkson)

should be writing papers. wrote this instead. whoops.


My brother and I once found
a small baby bird
beneath a tree in the yard.

It had fallen too early,
broken the little parts
of its body, and we didn't
know what to do except
put it inside a box,

sit at the base
of the tree and watch
our hurt little treasure
speak in wounded
bird cries, shake with fear.

I don't think we knew,
for many moments
at least, that it would never
fly again, or that its mother
had been off looking
for worms, or that we would
watch her come back
and make flying sweeps
to search for him,
or that she would cry
in the tones of grief -
something we could, even then
understand the meaning of.

When my brother got bored
I sat there at the tree base
with the wounded thing,
and I loved it with a strength
bigger than my age,
loved every part of its brokenness
and I think I believed,
truly, and with depth,
that I loved it so much that it would
rise up from the box
and fly.

I still believe,
with a deepness,
that love,
at its greatest moments,

everything about this song. perfect.

can't wait until her new CD is released on Jan 24th!

Puffy Vest Syndrome

I have this issue.

So you see, physical touch is pretty high up there on my love languages/ways I show that I care.

And as the winter months have been slowly but surely making their presence known, I've also been noticing that the puffy vest is making more of an appearance. And each time I see someone wearing one, all I want to do is run at them full speed, open my arms wide, and give them the biggest most snuggly bear hug possible.

...which might be weird.

but REALLY, people - have you ever hugged someone wearing a puffy vest? It's incredible. I dare you to try it next to you see a person in one...complete stranger? Go for it. It will be worth it.

So with the knowledge that puffy vests instantly transform you into the most cuddle-worthy person ever, I've been on the hunt for one.
and oh they are just so mmmcuteandadorableandsnugglyfantastic!! anyone have any suggestions for where to buy a colorful one??
happy winter-hugging season! :)

dear boys, when you wear a puffy vest, you get 80 extra adorbs points.

this one is for babies. BONUS CUTENESS!

Happy Veterans Day!

this brought tears to my eyes.
so. sweet.


sometimes I think about my talents. I think, "Emily, what cool things are you good at?" and usually the answer is "hmm, does smiling a lot count?". but really. I bet if you thought about it long and hard, you could come up with an extensive list of sweet talents you possess. I just came up with a list of random things I'm practically professional at. Not to make you jealous, but I'm looking at it and thinking "wow. pretty impressive..." Watch out, self-esteem!

Emily's list of talents and skillz:
1) touching the tip of my nose with my tongue (only 2% of the population can do it. it is possible that I just made that percentage up. but it was an educated guess)
2) making educated guesses (trust me.)
2) ending words with the letter "z"
3) typo-extraordinaire

4) squealing (in a tone audible to only dogs. I've gotten so good that even I can barely hear it anymore)

5) breaking guitar strings (twice in the middle of YL club within the past month. just because I'm such a rock star)

6) rapping that Luda part in Baby.

7) drinking out of straws (no one drinks out of straws as much as I do. I think that counts as a talent)

8) having scars that all originated from Razor scooter accidents (the sidewalk neighborhood was a battlefield)

9) disliking most types of cake (I think that makes me unique. and if I went on a game-show called "Who Wants this Cake?" which tempted contestants with cake and the point was to see which contestant had the most willpower to not eat any, I'd probably win. which would then classify it as a talent)
10) humming while brushing my teeth (it's like, that's HARD, right?)
11) knowing how to dance the foxtrot really well (...but nothing else. Thanks, Cotillion!)
12) being the person who tweets Justin Bieber the most in all of Twitter (HAHA JUST KIDDING! who would tweet Justin Bieber? definitely not me. never ever. I'd never try to tweet justin bieber all the time wishing that he would just FREAKING TWEET ME BACK and make my life complete and make me the happiest person in the whole wide universe....yeah, never.)
13) ability to communicate with animals (I didn't say they understand me)
14) winning at Apples to Apples (I never lose)
15) being hysterical (hence why I win at apples to apples)
16) being humble (hence why I'm awesome)

what strange talents do you have?

burning like a million stars

"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.."
-Psyche (Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, C.S. Lewis)

The Lord is so good. Sometimes I'm just overwhelmed thinking about who He is - how beautiful everything He makes is, how beautiful His promises are, how unshakable His love is. I can't wait until the day when I get to go to Heaven and squeal and jump and run with all my might into His presence (sidenote: my housemates and I had a pretty great conversation about this actually, involving us reenacting a dramatic rom-com-like moment of throwing our hands out and screaming as highly pitched as possible at our first sight of Jesus. It was kind of funny. I bet God chuckled).

I've been learning to pray something simple but transformational. And I like to pray it in the small moments, like when I'm walking to class, or eating lunch, or about to make a phone call. I pray, "Lord, grant me the increasing desire to be near to you." Because as I've prayed that in the small moments, I find that in the larger ones, when I am hurting or frustrated or unable to care about people or anxious, there is this longing that overpowers my circumstance. It is the longing to be with our loving, Almighty Father.

And nearness to Him means nearness to what is true. It means the certainty of love. It means the comfort that I am taken care of. It means freedom from oppression. It means the ability to interact with compassion. It means strength to walk forward. It means joy in abundance.

And I desire all of those things...more and more of them, too. Don't you?

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

(best. episode. ever.)

poem to the earthquake

our August-earthquake has been fodder for creative thought. This is the fourth poem I've written that concerns itself with it.


The Memory of the Earthquake

It is not just my mind shuddering.
It is the earth also,
shaking in the night
at the memory of the thing
that moved it and changed it
only hours before.

It is an echo moving and remembering

and pulsing through my shins
as the floorboards shimmy themselves
against the house foundation.

The Washington Monument
suffered a crack along the west-side,
and several smaller ones along
the corners and bases. So it is also
sitting, and if the aftershock
reaches that far, it is remembering, too

how quickly the dizziness came to that site.

In 200,000 dollars it will be sound,
ready to move on with its life.

This night I am unsound,
having woken up to the settling down,
and cannot comprehend
the vastness of all this -
the world is always opening up
and making things new,
isn't it?

In the morning I will wake
to find picture frames shifted
slightly out of place, maybe even
a few things fallen off the mantle.

It will be brand-new-ground,
slanted, having surrendered position
where I walk, where I try to listen to the memory
of the quake, fragile,
like everything around.