I planted my heels firmly into the ground and, with both my hands and my voice shaking, read a prayer to close my grandfather’s funeral service. With the wind blowing and tears falling and God watching, I held the prayer written weeks in advance in my hands, printed on a folded piece of paper, and gave the words back to the One who always knew the timeline.

By and large, we are a culture that is uncomfortable with grief—our own as well as the grief of others. I get it, grief is messy. But grief and hope are not mutually exclusive. One does not cancel the other out.

In fact, when I think of those who have walked through difficult times with hope instead of pretending all was okay, it bolsters my faith. Because how else can we say that, but Jesus? There’s something strikingly beautiful and outrageously compelling in someone who says, “I’m not okay right now, but I will be, and God is nothing less than faithful.”

Hurt is not something to hurry through and grief is not something you need to get over. You don’t need to sweep sorrow under the rug or rush to find beauty in the broken places.

You can be sad without shame or a timetable.

It’s okay to not be okay right now. It’s okay to acknowledge what was or wasn’t or will never be, to say that yes, seasons come and seasons go and this will not last forever, but for now the storm is still raging.

One day, there’ll be no need for a black dress. One day, every grave will be a garden. One day, we’ll build altars in the ruins as we sing songs of praise to the God who redeems and restores all, the One who even now is making all things new. But for now, let’s just pass the tissues. Let’s learn to say, “I’m not okay right now, but I will be, and God is nothing less than faithful.”

You don’t have to hold it together. There is One who is holding you, who comes close and stays with and will carry you through.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. – Revelation 21:4

permission slip

Book news & a giveaway:

This excerpt, from the full article “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Today” (originally published on May 12, 2021), moved from pixels on a screen to printed pages bound and shipped around the world.

100 Days of Strength in Any Struggle released this spring and I’m honored to have three pieces in the devotional. I shared one of them — When It’s Been a Lot for What Feels Like a Long Time — in February, alongside a giveaway, and was truly overwhelmed by your comments and messages that all said one of two things: congratulations (so kind) or I really need this book (me too, friend).

After the giveaways closed and the four winners were randomly selected, I began preparing this post + another giveaway, intentionally timing it in May as a hello-I-miss-you-see-you-soon to my grandparents. Pap-Pop passed away on May 12, 2020… yes, that’s right… exactly one year prior to when the original post went live. Also yes, that date was randomly assigned to me… hold on, let me go back and cross that out because clearly that can’t be random.

(If you read the original, longer article, you’ll see the story of strange timing stretches back further…. and also stretches ahead, talking about packing for Nana’s funeral. It was shortened for word count in the new devo, but man, it’s like I know He’s a God of the details but sometimes that truth smacks you in the face in the kindest of ways.)

My black dress is packed in a carry-on again. Eleven months have passed and by the time you read this article, my grandmother will be Home finally and forever. Grief and gratitude are holding hands once again, mixed together in a way that simply can’t be separated.

Nana joined him within the year, right at the very end of April, one week after I turned in the article.

And so today, here in between the days they went Home, I wanted to share this again for me and for you and for all of us that, for a thousand reasons, might need to hear the gentle reminder that it really is so very, very okay if we aren’t okay today.

can you even tell this is a mock-up?! taken in April 2023 on the (in)courage trip, this was before the title tweak and the fancy gold foil upgrade :)

While there are a few excerpts from articles that have really resonated over the last several years, the majority of 100 Days of Strength in Any Struggle is brand new — words of encouragement and truth straight from the middle of the struggle, written about the things we’d generally rather avoid and yet eventually find ourselves walking through. Here’s a peek at the table of contents:

When You’re Tired of Being Second Choice
The Greatest Ruining of My Life
A Stranger in My Own Skin
When the Noise of the World Is Overwhelming
How to Pray When Healing Doesn’t Come

It’s an honor to be part of this project, and it’s my joy to send a few more copies to those in their own middle place, whether unexpected or difficult, monotonous or heartbreaking.

I have four more copies so I can give them away several places—here, Facebook, and Instagram x2. There are many who follow on IG and not FB, or who subscribe here but don’t have social media… Hopefully spreading it out means everyone has at least one opportunity to enter! (Or more, if you want to enter everywhere!) :)

it’s almost like the devo cover matches the artwork in my apartment…

TO ENTER HERE: Simply leave a comment below and let me know you’d like to be entered.

That’s it. 💛 Easy as can be.

The fine print: This giveaway closes at 5pm on Thursday, May 9th. I’ll leave a comment announcing the randomly selected winner and will reach out to learn their mailing address to ship a copy their way ASAP.

P.s. If you’d like to enter elsewhere:

I’m giving away one copy on this Instagram post.

I’m giving away one copy on this Facebook post.

Later this week, I’m giving away one copy in the All The Things Instagram account for paid subscribers (if you’re following along there, stay tuned!).

100 days of strength in any struggle