What is your after? Every time you leave a room, a conversation, a gathering, you leave behind an after.

It’s like an after-taste or an after-thought. Your after is determined by a before — and the before of your after is determined by how you live.

We don’t need another person denying her story in favor of living another’s.

We don’t need to focus on how we do or do not measure up. We don’t need another story to go untold because of doubts or swirling thoughts that someone else’s is bigger, better, funnier, more interesting, or sure to make a greater impact.

Sound familiar? I’ve got to believe I’m not the only one that hears those lies inside.

But I’m gonna have to stop us both right there, because I’ve heard enough of the Not Enoughs and I’m dusting the dirt off, climbing on the bike, and focusing on the Alreadys.


The story of your life is yours alone and if you don’t live it, no one else will.

Every day you choose to leave an after of love or open up your mouth to tell the truth of what’s going on, you share a chapter with us.

Your one wild and beautiful life is the story of your days and we need it something fierce.

But we need you to fiercely love it, too.

Turn your eyes from the stares or the stats and choose to pick yourself back up.

You’ve got a story to live.

But first you’ve got to pick: what will be your after?

When it's all said and done, I want to be known for loving much and loving well.

When it’s all said and done, I want to be known for loving much and loving well. I want to intentionally pursue and care for those around me, to ask the hard questions and then stop and listen. I want to pay attention to the little details, celebrate the small gifts and joys, and be a shoulder to lean against or cry on during the hard moments.

I want to focus on the present while living in anticipation of the future. I want to love so deep that it’s the only ocean I drown in. I want my ‘after’ to be love.

This morning I registered for my final semester of college. Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes. I’m a sap and I know it, but I won’t apologize for it anymore because my love for this place and these people runs deep in my veins. Try as I might, I can’t love any less than 100%. I’m in — all or nothing.

And I’m all in.

These people hold my heart, this place has taught me again to dream, and He has used both these people and this place to heal what I never even knew needed healing.

I learned to love again here.

And it’s an early Monday morning, one step closer to graduation, and I’m fully aware that life will go on and it will be grand. Times will change, relationships will stretch or grow or fade, and this campus will be just fine without me. It’s life and I’ve accepted it… most days.

But in the midst of preparing for change and as I take each necessary step to be a big girl and follow where He leads, I’m constantly aware that I’m leaving a mark.

You are too, right where you are. It isn’t a matter of whether you’re leaving a mark, it’s a question of what kind of mark you’re leaving.

I’ll graduate in a black gown, holding a piece of paper that will say I know how to do a lot of things well. But not a single blot of ink on that paper will matter if I haven’t loved well.

Every morning you look at the calendar and glance at the clock, only to see time is still ticking its hand and life is continuing on. You have to make the choice. Live your story — not someone else’s. Choose to love, not to judge. Make a mark you’re proud of making.

When the gowns are folded, the doors are shut, the conversation ends — when we walk away to our own Next Thing, may our ‘after’ be one of love.


Every story matters.


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A portion of this post was originally posted HERE.