Flag Duty and Other Responsibilities

Usually, around the sixth grade, kids start honing in on their talents. They have had a few years of dance lessons or been a part of soccer teams. Graduated from the recorder to the oboe or created at least one piece of artwork their parents deem to be revolutionary and have been upgraded to real sketch pencils.

I was not that kid.

Sixth grade rolled around and the only team sport I had ever been a part of was Bible drill. Yes- that is a real thing.

I sang along to Michael W Smith’s Go West Young Man cassette tape on my Karaoke machine at home and wrote my own family newspaper, but I was convinced those things were far less “real” than the extra-curricular activities the other kids my age were a part of.

But then one day I found a team and a talent. It all started when my sixth grade teacher at Daniel Elementary School, Mrs. Isaacs, nominated me to be in the prestigious flag corp.

Nope. Not the kind of flag corp where you dress up in cute spandex leotards and prance around with a all your dance-class-knowledge waving a flag. I was completely unqualified for that. No, she nominated me for something much better. Mrs. Isaacs nominated me to be on the team that put up the American flag each morning before school started on the towering flag pole that greeted people as they drove in to the school driveway. FLAG CORP.

I was elated.

As with all jobs in my life (And I have had taxes withheld since I was 16 years-old, so there have been many.) I took flag corp duty with every ounce of seriousness and dedication I had in my wiry-90-pound-twelve-year-old body. Some might say I was hell-bent on being the best flag corp-er that ever walked the halls of that intermediate school.

Backtrack: If you’ve been around my life stories for any length of time, you know I come from a military family. Collectively, my extended family and I are that family who will give you the God-forsaken-stink-eye if you even THINK about cracking jokes during Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be an American at the end of the State Fair laser light show. We will glare at you, mouths slightly aghast, if your hand is not over your heart and body facing the flag during the singing of the National Anthem and we will insist on your deportation if you don’t start Memorial Day off at a freaking MEMORIAL DAY service. Your humanity will be seriously questioned by family if you don’t get a wee bit misty-eyed when the old men come along at the end of the 4th of July parade wearing their WWII Veterans hats. Mmmmmmkay? We’re that family.

Now you can imagine the seriousness of the sheer American-patriotic duty coursing through my blood as I showed up at school one hour early to properly, perfectly adhere the flag to the flag poll.

I vigorously studied the flag code book and could beat most Eagle Scouts in my comprehension of it. Under my watch, that flag would NEVER touch the ground. It would always be briskly raised and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. It would be folded properly and perfectly. Every. Single. Time. No cutting corners. And in our hearts, everyone on my flag duty team would be asked to truly understand the importance and significance of the raising and lowering of our nations most beloved insignia. I may have been slightly made fun of for my due diligence in honoring the American flag. But whatever.

I felt a huge responsibility, honor and duty.


Today, for the first time in a really long time, I feel that same weight of responsibility, honor and duty as I set out to properly invest the $52,995 given to me by my friends, family and fans for the purpose of creating my debut book and a independent EP.

It is not lost on me, not for one second, what a truly amazing gift it is to be the receiver of such an enormous amount of funding. Ryan and I are excited and joyful, but we are also moving into the next few weeks of budget meetings knowing that we carry a tremendous responsibility to wisely steward the money we have been gifted for these projects.

I feel like that wirey-90-pound-twelve-year-old little girl who would very solemnly and seriously show up to an empty school while the lights were still dim and the hallways smelled of chlorine washed floors, in order to take the American flag out and raise it in such a way that it honored the people who gifted it to me in the first place.

With great gifts comes great responsibility.

So to those 464  people, and the bigger picture of families, friends and finances you each represent, thank you for a great gift. Please know that with every ounce of seriousness, dedication and responsibility I possess- I will honor your gifts and use them to craft words that remind people of the beauty, life, joy, HOPE, redemption and love that God has put on display for the whole world to see.


A Few Spring Tour Pictures!

[gallery columns="4" ids="2944,2937,2938,2946,2936,2947,2942,2939,2940,2941,2943,2945,2948,2949,2951,2950"] I have had the best time on the road the past two months. It's been beyond exhausting- as traveling the country with a nearly 4-year-old energizer bunny is bound to be- but worth every bit of exhaustion to be able to do what I love with my sweet AnnieBoo by my side. I couldn't do it without the most amazing team. My manager Andy is the world's best manager. He keeps me organized, sane and working :) My best friend Aubrey who has been out with me and taken such amazing care of Annie- as well as stayed up late nights with me talking, laughing and crying. And the two best musicians/friends a girl could ask for: Jordan Bledsoe And Tyler Huston. Not only do they play music really well- they have a heart for people- they engage Annie- and they don't mind traveling all ghetto-fabulous in a mini van across the country. They are troopers and have given me life each and every night. A wonderful run of shows with wonderful people. What more could I ask for?!?!

Smart things my friends have said this week.


(As I am trying to eat, talk to friends, and watch a football game... and trying to feed Annie when she doesn't want to eat) "You know it's ok to just give her pieces of food when she wanders over to you?"

Well NO Krista that never occurred to me... but it's stinking genius! Thank God for mom friends who tell you that you can just put a piece of ham in your kids mouth every ten minutes and by the end of two hours she will have technically eaten dinner. Having an older mom friend is like having a cheat sheet during finals. Brilliant. Thank you for always making me feel human Krista.


(As we are having coffee and discussing the possibility of her daughter going to a private school. The kind of private school that she would have better chances of getting into if she rented an apartment- on top of the home she owns- in the same district that the school is located in.)  I just don't want to do that. To force this thing to happen. What if she gets in and the school totally screws her up and I look back and think, "She's only there because I forced it." I don't ever want to look back at my life and see that I have forced anything to happen simply because I could. I want to look back at my life and see that things happened because God made a way.

It's comments like this that make me grateful to have deep, beautiful people all around me. And the crazy thing is... she didn't even mean to be deep or beautiful or profound... it was just a part of the ramble.  And yet it made me re-think everything. Thank you for being so wise Jody.


(As a group of friends gathered for tamales and a break from our snow-bound cabins at her kitchen table, we did what we always do at Steve and Jackie's house: talked about the things that really matter. We do that by asking questions that everyone at the table answers. I loved Jackie's question).  If you had a warning label on you, what would it say? Like mine, Jackie said, "Would be: Warning I'm crazy. But if you can put up with the crazy, I will make you stop and think."

We went around the table and spouted off our warnings. One friend said, "Warning: I probably don't care." She's 16. You gotta give her time. Another said, "Warning: I am full of useless sports trivia and I love sports, so be prepared." Another said, "When someone really tries to be my friend I turn into a complete *&@*@! (bleep) out of no where and I don't really know why." Of course now my ultimate goal is to dig in deep with her... but that was my goal way before she said that. Cause I kind of like her. Now it's just even more challenging and fun. Ryan said, "Warning: I don't let people in."  Oh, really?  I said, "Warning I attract bad luck and broken things, but I give lots of hugs." As each person talked, we were able to affirm each other; laugh; listen intently; and see a little bit of ourselves in everyone at the table. I have come to realize there is a difference between just hanging out with people and truly being in relationship with people. Jackie and Steve have taught me what it looks like to be in real relationship with people. To have conversations that matter. For that, my life has been forever changed. Thank you for loving me well and teaching me how to be real Jackie.

Not Without Hope:

(As I sat with a dear, beloved friend of mine this week who miscarried for the third time this year. *She wishes to remain anonymous, so if you know who she is and you leave a comment, please protect her identity.* We cried and cried and cried and said good-bye to her unborn baby who had lived in her belly for seven weeks. The baby she had already seen a picture of. Seven inches long and a little heart beating 126 times per minute. Right there in her bathroom, the life ended. And in the most crude, cruel, gesture of life I have ever seen with my own eyes, my friend had to sit there until she could work up the courage to flush the toilet. To say good-bye to another life she dreamed of mothering. To wait for the bleeding to stop. And I swear, I thought my heart would never stop bleeding for her. I have dreamed about it every night this week; woken up in a tsunami of pain and sadness. I have shed a million tears. But there in her bathroom, with her eyes locked deeply into mine, my sweet friend softly, courageously, and gracefully said...)

You know, Jen, God is still good.

So to my friend- Not Without Hope- thank you for showing me the most beautiful picture of faith I have ever seen in my whole entire life. Your strength in the midst of suffering, your faith in God's goodness when you yourself were robbed of another tiny life, your hope when you had every right to give up and give in... it has changed something deep within me. Thank you for showing me the face of Jesus so clearly, that I can't stop thinking of Him.

A Beautiful Texas Hill Country Wedding

I spent Thursday and Friday with my good friends, Becca and Sean, at their beautiful Hill Country Wedding! Everything from the flowers to the mason jars, the vintage linens to the old antique benches, made this an absolutely unique and magical little wedding. These are a few of my favorite shots! And if you are wondering what the tree is all about... well, my creative friend Krista drew this to represent the new "family tree" that Sean and Becca are coming together to make. Each guest was invited to leave an imprint of their thumb along with their name to symbolize being a part of the weekend when the new family put down its roots. It was an awesome twist on a traditional guest book!

The venue was Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs, Texas. The flowers and bouquets were all from Central Market- an amazing Texas grocery store! And besides those two major costs- almost everything else came from friends and family (she even did her own invitations!) From the 400 homemade cake balls to the hot cocoa station- Becca made this wedding unique, totally "her" and under budget!!! Friends and family pitched in to collect  (from around their homes) mason jars, vintage linens, and even pieces of pottery used for decorations. It was a perfect night and is proof that with a bit of creativity and help from some friends and family... anyone can have their dream wedding!  You created a masterpiece sweet girl!

Bear and Becca... you are two of the sweetest people we know and the greatest of friends. We love you. It was an honor to be a part of your special day!