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My name is Brooklyn. I struggle sticking with plans. I get bored easily. I don’t like feeling like my options are limited. I’m a seven type personality with a seven wing (if you speak Enneagram).

But sometimes life gives us surprises, like a diagnosis or a disease, that pushes us to limited places. Maybe you’ve been there?

My limitations started with being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. It wasn’t just the diagnosis that caused me to wonder about which habits needed to change, it was also the massive amounts of anxiety and depression I was experiencing at the same time. I can’t remember many days in my life when I wasn’t genuinely happy, healthy, ready for whatever the world offered. It was new for me to feel despair and extra exhausting to imagine what I needed to do to turn things around.

Writing about this is important to me because it’s a part of my story. I started a facebook group for support last year and I had no idea how many people were struggling to heal.

Here’s something that I know for sure. There isn’t just one way to heal. There isn’t just one fix. There are a lot of baby steps, all of them different lengths and taken with different cadence. So to say that things can feel overwhelming can be quite the understatement.

As a pastor, I know there is a spiritual side to our healing. But we can’t ignore the other sides, the sides that when in balance help us immensely on the spiritual side (the side where we believe again, feel hope rise in our bones, and trust that things will be ok, not just for us but for others too).

I thought it might help someone to know a few things that have helped me turn my stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Maybe you’re not sure what’s happening yet or you’ve just been diagnoised? Now you’ve lost most of your evenings to google searches and plunges into NetFlix to numb the chaos and the questions?

If you’d like to have a deeper conversation you can find people who want to have them in the Facebook group or by simply messaging me here. You don’t have to be terrifed when you look at your life. I believe our illnesses can reveal our wholeness. At the lowest place I was able to see the disruption of disease as an opportunity to love myself more fully. My disease isn’t curable, it will be with me for the rest of my life, but I choose to make the most of it, learn from it, and even love what it can teach me.

To the one reading this with tears in their eyes because you have felt so alone or maybe even ashamed, I say you are worthy of LOVE. I pray for your heart and your healing today.


  • Love yourself in the present moment. (Just as you are.)
    • Let yourself be sad, give yourself permission to grieve.
    • Write your feelings. Dump them on a page without editing one word.
    • Switch up the scenery. Find fresh air.
    • Wonder about the pain. Ask it what it can teach you.
    • Medidate or pray. Ask for help.
    • Give yourself the maxmium sleep opportunity at night. Go to bed earlier if you tend to wake at night.
  • Choose an eating plan that fits your goals. (Be forgiving of your progress.)
    • Find an eating plan that can help your body reduce inflammation naturally.
    • Eat things that give you natural energy.
    • Really try to stay away from things that perpetuate adrenal and cortisol fatique (like caffeine) Tea can be your friend!
  • Read helpful things. (And read them again when you forget what to do.)
  • Hold onto people. (Even when you don’t want to.)
    • Find a place to chat with others who are going what you’re going through.
    • Tell a few safe people about the details of your journey.
    • Don’t be afraid to tell people when you have a flare up or make a mistake.
  • Learn about nature. (Then experience it.)
    • Replace toxic things with natural things.
    • Instead of caving inside, venture outside.
    • Find a way to learn about your disease and ways to teach your body to heal.
    • Sit in on a wellness class or join a webinar.

Like I said, there isn’t a cure for me.  These are simply thoughts for the journey.

I haven’t ruled out the miraculous. But I have been taking care- doing the work- finding ways to heal- and wondering if sharing them with others will be a part of that healing too. Love to you.

The post The Auto-Immune Paleo Journey appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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It was my turn to preach this Mother’s Day.

I was having a hard time deciding what to preach. As a result, I called my friends in preacher panic. Preach panic is sort of like writer’s block, but worse because you have to say waht you’ve written (or not writtten) out loud in front of people. Things seem to be better when I call my friends for help.

In a matter of seconds, April had emailed a message she had already written. Part of this message included a study on the Hebrew word that describes God as compassion. The word is RACHAM (rahk’am), translated “womb-like”. The word grabbed my attention and caused me think of Rachel, who died unexpectedly one week before Mother’s Day.

Rachel Held Evans (lovingly known as RHE) was a Christian author, a poet with a pen, who helped me through many of my fears and questions. She was also a wife, mother, and friend.

In the days that followed her death, I thought about the words that helped me remeber that I wasn’t alone. I wondered about this phrase “womb-like” that seems to be synonymous with her maiden name, held.

This is my feeble attempt to write a message around the phrase “womb-like”. I hope it will invite others to remember that they are held too.

I didn’t know Rachel like her family and closest friends did. I am sure there will never be a day when she isn’t on their minds. Maybe it will be a comfort to know that the time Rachel spent writing words wasn’t wasted on us, her readers.  It’s with my deepest condolences, scincerity, and gratitidue that I try to thank her again.

We are held.




The post WE ARE HELD: A MESSAGE IN MEMORY OF RHE appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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The paradise book spot doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry if this has also been your lifelong daydream and you weren’t expecting this plot to twist today. I get it. I’ll sit with you while the thought sinks in.

I’ve searched most of my reading life for a book spot that delivers. What are the qualities?

  • Remote
  • Breezy
  • Oceanview, Mountainview, Sunset or Sunrise view
  • Minimal Destractions
  • With tea, chilled spritzer, coffee
  • Comfortable
  • Covered with option to be uncovered
  • Low energy
  • Next to a pool or a very self-sufficient dog
  • Wordless music playing at a soothing decible level

Am I sounding picky yet? For years, I based the quality of our vacations on the opportunity for my husband and I to read. I’d try to read on a lounge chair in the sun. We’d wind up growing tired, falling asleep, getting burned. Or, we’d pack a great read for the flight to wherever. Our new seat mate would borrow 45 minutes of the 2 hour flight in jovial conversation. I’d find the coziest hammock in Costa Rica, nestle in, three pages in, and an actual monkey would steal my book (and my banana).

Then we had children. Kids don’t disappear with a book spot appears.

Nothing is remote or low energy unless they are somewhere else. And we happen to like them enough to keep them with us most of the time. We’ve been really lucky to visit places that fit the paradise spot book bill. And a few times I’ve read an entire book in one precious sitting. But it’s few enough times that I can remember it happening only once.

Even if the perfect spot exists. It’s not with you every day. It’s not possible often enough. It’s not accessible to the typical human with a typical budget.

A different paradise exists but it’s not the one I’ve been dreaming.

The paradise book spot is the place where I’m reading.

That’s it. The place where I’m reading.

It usually looks like

  • me hiding in my car before I head into the house for the evening
  • eeking out one page a day while sitting on the toilet
  • listening to an audio book during exercise
  • headphones on the flight, ignoring everyone, and finally getting a whole chapter read before I zonk in exhaustion
  • watching a movie instead because it seems to hurt less

But reading changes me. So I need to keep doing it, regardless of the environment.

And I imagine in changes you too. It takes us to places and invites us into conversations.

I can’t imagine life without it. So, maybe the paradise book spot isn’t something we can slide into as much as we’d like. But there are ways you can read, if you make it a priority. And when you do–you’ll find like I have—paradise is the joy getting to know another mind and to get to play around in someone else’s thoughts.

Communication paradise is real and it’s found in the folds of pages or in the audio recordings of books.

What are you reading lately?

Here’s my latest list.

FEB-MAR-APRIL BOOKS (Click the title for more info about each.)


(I read this one on a trip. Finished it in 24 hours. It’s been such a long time since something has capitvated my heart and thoughts so deeply.)

BOOK: THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander


(I’m still not finished with this treasure. It’s deep and needs a slower pace. Thanks to Irene Cho for the gift from her office.)



AUDIO BOOK: INSPIRED by Rachel Held Evans

(I’ve read this book but wanted to hear Rachel read it this time. It was such a shock to hear of her death. I can’t imagine a world without her voice in it.)


(An incredible story about two friends – pilgrims on the journey of the El Camino)


The post PARADISE BOOK SPOT appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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Brokenhearted. Brain fogged. Exhausted. Anxious.

Mid 2014 I found myself in a place I had never been before. I was suffering from severe depression.

I had swerved into unknown territory. It was scary and I was embarrassed. How did this happen? I kept working, writing, traveling, trying to be present at home with my family. But there wasn’t room for much else. Seasons like these can last for months and sometimes even years. I wondered when my mind would be free. I wondered when I could daydream again. I wondered if I’d ever get a glimpse of my old self. At the same time, I didn’t want to be my old self anymore. Some things had changed. A different version of me was developing but that too was scary. Would people even recognize me? The questions continued. The days passed.

It’s 2019 and I feel free.

One of my friends recently told me, “Brooklyn, you’re glowing.” And for the first time in a very long time, I believed it.

It’s not a shift that happens overnight and there’s a lot of back and forth involved. If I knew the way out, I would tell you. I would tell everyone. What I do know is that in the back and forth there are conversations you have with yourself about what brings you life. Listening to those answers is one of the ways we gently shake off fear and take the brave steps toward healing and wholeheartedness.

One of my answers was a return to reading. It was something that got sorted in the decisions about what I had time for in that season. It wasn’t a conscious decision but something that slowly happened over the days, weeks, and months that became my life.

I love to read. Finding an early night to read a book about something you’ve never thought about before can change the morning after (and every morning after that). Books have so much power to induce empathy, encourage learning, embolden us with new language or perspective.

Books were my friends that comforted me as a child, unlocked my imagination as a teenager, and broadened my worldview as an adult.

In January I noticed that I was becoming more efficient again, able to manage more, and seeing little pockets of time to develop habits of reading and listening to books again. There is a lot of time between connecting flights, while getting ready, during a long commute, or even in the car with others! Mya, my 9 year old, and I have had some really interesting conversations lately thanks to audiobooks.

These days you’ll rarely see me without headphones. They are my on call device for when the day shifts and I have a few hours to listen to a book. One of my comeback books was the auto-biography of Michelle O’Bama, Becoming. At first, the listen time (over 16 hours) seemed daunting. But after having her read her own story to me over all of those hours left me missing the moments where we “hung out” for a few minutes everyday. Indirectly, she mentored me over the month of January. I’m grateful for her yes.

Here are the books I’ve read January through March so far. You can click on the images to find out more about each.

I share them to encourage you and maybe give you some ideas of things you may want to read.

You should share about what you’re reading with us too! Let’s connect over at goodreads!






THE WIZARD OF OZ BY L. FRANK BAUM (in honor of my late grandmother Twyla Meadows Stalder)




SHAKING THINGS UP -14 YOUNG WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD BY SUSAN HOOD The ensemble of illustrators that came together for this book is epic. Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet




THE LIFE WITH GOD BIBLE (PREVIOUSLY THE RENOVARÉ SPIRITUAL FORMATION BIBLE) Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, Eugene H. Peterson

Maybe you’ve not had a relationship with books since things got busy? Maybe there are a few moments you could steal back. What if you could reclaim them as your own sacred life giving minutes? Block some time for your friends (the kind with faces AND the kind with covers). Let them know you’ll meet them in a few.

The post Meet me in a few? An ongoing relationship with books. appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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My grandma and childhood best friend died before Christmas. Just a few months ago we were still chatting nightly on Facebook messenger. I knew that the cancer she was fighting was real, but it didn’t seem real when we were telling each other stories.

Some of the more recent exchanges were about friendship. She told me about her best friend, someone she called a “soul sister”. I asked her what made her worthy of the title? She responded by quickly typing a few of the more hilarious moments they shared and some of the more difficult experiences too.

“Grandma, how do I know friendship is real? How do I know if I’m being a good friend?” (Questions people still ask at 40.)

“Brookie, don’t worry so much about what people say, pay attention to what they actually do.”

If words could be a clarion call, they became one for me that night.

Friendship is active, visible through what people do.

The qualities visible in friendships can be a foreshadow of the future.

I see it. My grandma wanted me to know it. Friendship is real and it’s effects are more than we often notice. I’m thinking about the wisdom I heard recently around the idea that you’ll become a lot like the five people who are closest to you. Am I choosing with intention? Because what I see is likely a reflection of who I’m going to become.

Are you you choosing friendships that kill your soul or are you choosing friendships that bring you back from the dead? Are you a friend who brings life to others or someone who never looks up long enough from your own life to see the people you would like to love in front of you?

Friendship is an exercise of honesty, connection, and grace.

Friends are the people you become like and the people who like you.

Friends want to be in your life, know about your life, are willing to respond to your life no matter how insignificant or incredible it becomes.

Take a mintue with me to write down your friendship idenity. It matters so much that we’d think about how we add value to others and what kind of future we will have when we decide who we will spend our time with.

  • I’m the kind of friend who will…
  • My friends are the kinds of people who…
  • My future looks (insert adjective)…..because (insert names) are a part of my life shaping it with their influence.
  • I will be there for (insert name or names) by… (insert activity)
  • Gratitude will be the word on my lips when I remember (insert names) in my thoughts or prayers.

I don’t think any of us will ever be the epitome of friendship. But I believe all of us can be an expression of friendship if we really show up for it, let ourselves be seen, and give our whole selves to trying.

The post Show Me Your Friends appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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I can’t believe we are already heading into week four of the HUMAN series at SOMOS!

All of us are humans. We’ve got one wild life and it’s time we took at look at some of the ways we can grow!

We are-

  • studying 9 complex personalities of the Bible
  • exploring the 9 personality types of the enneagram
  • sharing resoruces, songs, art, and ideas for people who want to wake up to who they were created to be

If you’d like to view our notes, message transcripts, live teaching videos, simply subscribe here and we’ll send you a link to a shared folder.
If you haven’t explored your type yet, you can by picking up the book below or borrowing it from your local library. Take a look at the types and wonder about which one sounds most like you. As we journey through the complex personalities of the Bible, you might find yourself relating to some stories more than others, chances are you are similar in the way you’ve learned to process pain. So far we have focused on the lives  Miriam, the sister of Moses (8), John The Apostle (9), the Apostle Paul (1). This week we’ll be studying the life of Martha (2).

Check out the HUMAN message series to explore the ache, the hope, and the opportunity of your human personality.

There's nothing like being real together.

Join our mailing list to get content, coaching, lists of things we adore!

Success! You're on our list! We'll be sending HUMAN resources along right away.

9 Weeks, 9 Stories, 9 Personalities

My curiosity for understanding my personality was stirred up again reading a book called The Road Back To You.

You can watch the series unfold in it’s rawness on YouTube, like and subscribe if you want to see more!

I’ll be sharing the journey with you here on the blog, but we are sharing even more on our  Facebook page.  The page is also an extension of our stories, questions, and community. Feel free to come by anytime!





And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

The post Somos Church – Human Series appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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Church planting wasn’t on my list of things I hoped to do someday.

But it has helped me to become a better human.

It’s helped me get up and get moving because if we’re being real (p.s. there’s no other way to be unless we want to be boring and horrible pretenders) there are days when I want to be in my bed for all of it, or maybe buy an actual cave and live there because it’s easier than being human.

That’s why we’ve been working on a new series for our church called HUMAN.

All of us are humans. And we’re bonkers sometimes and also equally beautiful and wise.

  • If you’d like to get your eyes on what we’ve been working on
  • If you’re a human who is looking for a way to explore personality types within the context of preaching from the Bible
  • If you’re curious and would simply like to see divine madness unfold

Then, let us know and we’ll send what we are making as we are making it. Human resources for the humans!

There's nothing like being real together.

Join our mailing list to get content, coaching, lists of things we adore!

Success! You're on our list! We'll be sending HUMAN resources along right away.

If you haven’t explored your type yet, you can. Take a look at the types and wonder about which one sounds most like you. As we journey through the complex personalities of the Bible, you might find yourself relating to some stories more than others, chances are you are similar in the way you’ve learned to process pain. Last week we focused on Miriam, the sister of Moses, we think she could be an eight and looking at life through her eyes has given me an extra dose of compassion for the eights in my life.

Our launch into church planting it happened to us without solicitation. I feel like we’re launched into our personalities in a similar way.

We didn’t ask for whatever happened to us, but it happened, and it gave us a reason to create some ways to cope with it.

I remember my husband and I talking when the opportunity surfaced to plant a church. It came out of nowhere just as quickly as thoughts do. Like most unexpected things, I wasn’t sure I was ready for this one. Given we only had a few days to decide, I felt the kind of emotion that stems from fear mixed with curiosity and panic. It’s in moments like this that we see what we are made of. We see the intricate and complex highways we have built to protect ourselves. We see some potholes and some places to hide too.

But just as much as unexpected things can throw us into the not-so-incredible versions of ourselves, they can also throw us into the arms of Jesus.

It’s in those arms that we become better humans.

God is with us, Jesus is near, the Holy Spirit never leaves. The unexpected shifts give us a chance to notice what’s happening around us or to be jolted from sleep walking through our lives. For me, it was a chance to see the kind eyes of Jesus telling me that I haven’t been abandoned. It was a chance to put my fears on the altar and ask for help walking through them. I saw myself ready for another chapter of deconstruction, okay with the shadow places, curious about the beauty I would find when I started asking questions about our identity again.

I started dancing more. I started laughing more. I started listening more.

My upbringing, education, and experiences have subtly taught me to react when I see something wrong in me or around me. Make a plan and tackle it has been my way since I can remember. Now, I’m looking inward again and it’s helping the outward expressions to soften or in some cases become more bold.

It’s in a space of gratitude for the ongoing transformation that I’ve been working on the HUMAN message series.

HUMAN message series to explore the ache, the hope, and the opportunity of your human personality.

9 Weeks, 9 Stories, 9 Personalities

My curiosity for understanding my personality was stirred up again reading a book called The Road Back To You.

I have been doing the research and creating notes for my husband Coy to form preaching outlines.

It’s best that Coy systematizes the thoughts. I’m a 7 with a 6 wing. In a healthy place I can move to the positive attributes of a 5. So, for me, the idea of buying a cave and doing research for months sounds really wonderful and cozy.

(Example: Do you know that people can actually buy caves? People can. I know this because a Marco Polo conversation turned into research by another research junkie, which led to wondering how we could pull that off very soon (future dweller), which led to being distracted and not writing this blog post as soon as I wanted!)

Marrying a 1 has changed my life and I appreciate everything that he brings to our house, our family, our church. Pioneers need to have focus, discipline, an ability to stay the course. Coy has all of these things and that’s why he’s the best at taking my notes and turning them the best flow for preaching.

You can watch all of this unfold on YouTube, like and subscribe if you want to see more!

I’ll be sharing the journey with you here on the blog, but we are sharing even more on our  Facebook page.  The page is also an extension of our stories, questions, and community. Feel free to come by anytime!

Let’s return to Eden together, let’s find the goodness we were made of, let’s dance (or not dance) together, let’s lay down and take naps in peace, let’s change the world or change a small part of it, let’s be pro’s at being who God created us to be.

HUMAN EIGHT Live Teaching





And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

The post How To Be A Better Human appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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Even though I share glimpses of my life on social media, the majority of the last two years of my life has been relatively hidden.

In the years prior I was traveling and creating a youth ministry organization as a global leader in the denomination where I was raised and developed. The role was something I didn’t ask for, it was something God tenderly lent to my care, and it seemed to fit me perfectly. I felt I had been given a chance to use all of my special powers at once. I gain energy connecting people with each other and inspiring others to boldly pursue the image of God heartbeat inside themselves for the sake of others. It felt like the perfect landing.

When that role ended. I felt the first 15 years of youth ministry and the consecutive 3 years in global youth ministry sink into an obscurity that I couldn’t describe. What do I do now? Even though I was still actively involved in ministry (hello church planting), even though I’ve published  books and written hundreds of blogs, and been a part of developing leaders as a voice for other organizations, I still felt like my butterfly wings needed an upgrade and I re-entered a self imposed cocoon to reset, recover, find me again.

I’ve learned a lot but there were a few things that stood out:

For every drama, I was the common denominator. I can grow. I can change. I can choose not to cater to people who would like for me to downgrade from love to any opposite thing like jealousy or envy, gossip or rage. Love will be the plan again this year.

Love is intentionally the plan.

There are 8765 hours in a year. In 2018, I spent approximately 832 hours (4 hours a day) online writing, creating, editing, or sharing about our new church, new business, our family, organizations we support and care about. I spent 1000 hours traveling to airports and on airplanes. It might be a stretch but I also spent about 2200 hours sleeping.  For every hour, for every YES I gave to others, for every project, class, call I made, there were still thousands of minutes, hundreds of hours….hidden at home.

Love starts local.

I can be better. A better breather, more present mom, less worried wife, show-up-for-you-friend, extra honest writer, less frantic leader, more consistent athlete, a sort-of-better dog owner. Every minute I spent looking in was so that I can more gracefully and vulnerably look out. Boldness is developed during the growth season. Courage can cure us.

Courage is a cure for procrastination.

The only voice that is permitted to have roots in my heart are the voices that speak in love.

The hidden times are the growth times. It’s in the cumulative conversations, moments of quiet introspection where my foundations are exposed are where I am given a brilliant look at what could be when the season shifts again. From barren to bountiful, I’m not dead, just in waiting.

In the hidden places, God whispers our actual worth.

We need each other.  I don’t need you in a needy clingy you better meet my expectations way, but in a share your life and I’ll share mine way. We helped each other find serious JOY and freedom. There were some what-the-actual-heck is happening on Marco Polo moments that added to my character and transformation-and for every second someone spent sharing their life with me, I am grateful.

Gratitude is the well where relationships get stronger.

And this is where I begin 2019, where I left off in 2018, sometimes hidden, sometimes seen, chosen and growing, grateful for every person I have the chance to love and be loved by along the way.

There are some work goals I’m focusing on besides WRITING SOME NEW THINGS!

Church Planting (Somos Church)

Entrepreneurship (Lemon Lime Living)

Legacy Work (SOUTHWEST MIDDLE SCHOOL, She Grows Conference & For Our Neighbors : High School Exchange)

For Our Neighbors – High School Exchange

All of these things at times have made me feel the blush of embarrassment. Because I’ve not done any of them before! Every thing I do is new, untested, sometimes poorly edited. But I’ve heard it said, …

…if what you’re working on doesn’t embarrass you a little, then you’ve probably waited to long to begin.

If there’s anything I’d like to say outloud on the first day of 2019, it’s GO FOR IT!

She Grows Conference is a great example of the gritty-I have about 70% of the information I need to go for it-lifestyle.

She Grows started in a conversation of gratitude. I saw someone special on the planet through social media and I thanked her for being herself. Gratitude led to a friendship which led to a conversation about how important mentors have been to us. As the conversation progressed so did our ideas about supporting women in conversations and spaces where the definition of mentoring could be recovered and shifted to support every generation.

And then we began. Cue the roller coaster feels.

I’m always ready to encourage others to “go ugly early” but when it’s my turn I hesitate and sometimes look for a cave.

Thankfully, my new friend Laurie, has helped me to stay focused on the little steps that build to bigger ones. Tempted to leap into the future, I’ve learned to listen longer. I’ve learned to make decisions slower. I’ve learned that the effort to connect women in conversations is worth a huge investment of my time.

Here’s a little video that shows our most recent event- She Grows Conference San Diego. I AM SO EXCITED about how we are becoming together and maybe just maybe we’ll be visiting a town near you soon.  Who knows where this year will lead!

In the hidden times, we find the dreams and strength for the the public times.

In the hidden times we find the ability to trust and believe in what’s right in front of us and what will come next.

Prayers and love ya’ll!


The post Love Is The Plan appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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Hi. I’m Brooklyn. I’m a mom of two kids (three if you count our goldendoodle Marley). I’m a writer and a pastor and I love everything there is to love about Christmas.

When The Elf On A Shelf tradition came about I jumped on board. Fun always draws our family closer and it was a lot of fun moving the elf, causing mischief, and even texting the kids as “Christmas Tree” our elf.

What I learned over time is that a pretending to be an elf and keeping up with it’s shenanigans is a lot of work. It’s been seven years and I think it’s time for me to transition our elf’s activities by providing a new job title and some new things for the elf to do. All of our elves (we have three, I know, it’s a sickness) are now advent elves and they aren’t moving about our house yet.

My youngest daughter asked why they elves haven’t been moving yet.

Since I’m making this up as I go, I told her that the elves were having a CEO meeting to help us learn WHY we get gifts and give gifts at Christmas. I told her that they’d start communicating again when Advent started.

Of course, she asked me what Advent was, which is exactly the thing I want her to ask… #winning

So, I’ve created the cutest list of things everyone to do together during Advent.

  • 24 Bible verses to read
  • 24 selfless things to do
  • 24 prayers to say

There are three printable sheets of paper that will appear on a clipboard. I can’t imagine a great elf not having a clipboard. There are only three pages, which means, that I don’t have to change the paper for 8 days! Merry Christmas moms and dads! #yourwelcome

New rules:

The elf can bring stickers, draw smiley faces, or lay a piece of candy on the #sELFless act of the day.

The really extra awesome change I’m making is that the elf doesn’t need to move at night. It moves when the kids move! Basically, my kids will have permission to touch the elf whenever we are doing something #sELFless

I’m sure this could cause all sorts of issues around kids who aren’t allowed to hold their elves. I’ll write some ideas for how to handle that once I figure it out.

I will say, the kids have been dying to play with those elves for years, and now is their chance!

I also created an ADVENT WITH AN ELF guide for you to use as parents, with a simple verse to read and prayer to pray that compliments the #sELFless challenge for the day.

Cheers to trying new things, eh? I’d love to share the ADVENT WITH AN ELF GUIDE and the ADVENT ELF CALENDAR with you. (There’s also a letter from your elf to explain all of the changes on page four of the calendar). Simply fill out the form and I’ll send them directly to your inbox.

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Say hello and we’ll email you the guide and calendar right away.

I hope you enjoy every second with your kids this December. They’ll probably forget that you changed the elf rules every year, but they will never forget how much time you spent teaching them what love really means.



PS: Some of you who are keen and cultured, after you have downloaded the calendar, will notice that I used gnomes as illustrations on the documents. Gnomes are not elves. But I feel that at Christmas time they probably work together to cover the territory. I also like the way Christmas gnomes make everything feel cozy–so I went with them instead. I do not feel that one mythical creature is better than another and it’s not meant to be discriminatory in any way. Let me know if it causes a philosophical problem for your kiddos, we can always edit. Merry Christmas friends!

The post ADVENT WITH AN ELF appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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I feel like I’ve been training for 6th grade since my daughter was born.

I’ve researched, studied, witnessed middle school through the eyes of parents and students in our youth ministries. I’ve been hoarding a stack of ideas, stockpiling what I’ve learned for the inevitable day our first born would walk through the halls of middle school.  I was multi-tasking, getting ready, preparing myself for our own kids journey to adulthood. Secretly I poured my life into books and other peoples middle school kids because I wanted to be ready for mine. Even with all of that preparation, I had an issue.

The issue was that she wasn’t having any issues. I thought she would have more issues.

Kirra is 9 weeks into her first year of 6th grade and she loves it.

She loves her friends, and is even starting to be nice to her 8 year old sister.

So I’m sitting at home now asking myself….

Now what?

I wasn’t ready for her to be ready.

I had no clue she’d surprise us with balance and kindness and sometimes even a servant heart.

I was ready for the bomb.

But she was ready to step into her purpose.

I was ready for the roller coaster.

But she had already been on one.

I was looking for the disruption.

She was redefining what a disruption can be.

I feel like 5th grade was her melt down year. I didn’t know if I’d make it through the summer. She tested us and made us think we were crazy. She lost her mind in ways I didn’t know she could lose it. One of our friends has go-pro footage of a meltdown that will live on in history. So, I was ready for 6th grade. Praying every single day for the strength to endure it.

Which led us to a decision about whether or not to send her to the local Title 1 middle school that we are zoned for. My husband had zero issues sending her. We have always been neighborhood people. We have always wanted our kids to be in community with our community. But I was having reservations and I’d be a liar if I  said that I didn’t try to find a way for her to get into a private school at the last second. I did try! But even in trying I knew that it was wrong for us. I knew that all of the years telling other people’s parents that their kids are more resilient than they think was also applicable to me.

So we enrolled Kirra at Southwest Middle School, a school beloved by many, but not as highly esteemed as many of the newer private, magnet, and charter schools that have sprung up. I wanted to dive in but I wasn’t sure how our daughter would be able to cope …I wasn’t sure if I would be able to cope.

But I was wrong.

I was wrong about the strength of our family (you are always stronger than you think).

I was wrong about 6th grade because I had put a timeline on my daughters life that didn’t fit her DNA.

Every word I have researched and written is good–but I have to embrace that development and readiness happens differently for every kid.

Timelines are helpful points of reference but never the rule.

Since my daughter was 2 years old she has been telling me with her actions that she is STRONG.

She would fight us and others when there was a toy injustice at the YMCA. We laugh now, but it wasn’t funny then. I see it  with different eyes today.

She tends to know what she wants and I’m learning to trust that. What I didn’t see in her life leading up to sixth grade was that the melt downs would work together to help her be the kind of person who could cope someday.

And someday turned into today–during that first week of 6th grade.

  • When she showed up at school and there was no culinary teacher, she quit before the first day of school. (the one elective she was looking forward to most)
  • When she realized that her school didn’t have the funds for quality athletic programs. (She loves volleyball and had looked forward to playing on a team.)
  • When she walked out to the bike rack to find her bike completely crumpled by something or somebody. (We still don’t know how it happened).
  • When she witnessed a kid get knocked out cold and another student getting sent to “juvi”.

I waited for her to break–to need help from a counselor–or extra support from a small group leader. But she didn’t. She came home every day and continues to come home saying how much she values her experience at school, how much she loves it, it’s like having an entirely different kid in my house.

She found beauty in her school full of potential.

She could see things I couldn’t see yet.

I was wrong about 6th grade when I assumed that 6th graders couldn’t see their own development from their ego centric view. Don’t get me wrong, she’s all about her 11 year old self on most days, but there is a switch that exists when given a chance, for kids to choose to see good things and do good things for others.

I know this because it wasn’t even one week into the school year when Kirra had the idea to start a volleyball club for students to learn how to play before try-outs.

This is the part where I get to participate differently than I thought.

I get to walk beside her as she dreams instead of dreaming for her.

I thought it would happen later, but she wanted it to happen now. I used to do this with other people’s kids but hadn’t realized that I would get to do it with my own. Cue the happy cry fest.

This is my life.

I was born to love middle school kids and now I have the privilege of loving the one in my house.

Now I can see it.

I am ready. I know what to do….I can lean into her lead, ask questions, offer advice, show up, be there in the difficult moments, point her to hope, and be available.

After all, I am her mom, and this gives me a different opportunity than I have had with others in the past. This gives me a front row seat and honestly it feels like flying.

  • So we made posters.
  • She found a teacher to sponsor the club (he happens to be the volleyball coach as well).
  • She organized an announcement at school.
Over 30 girls showed up.

I swallowed really important tears while I watched them practice.

There were girls without with complete hearing loss playing (funds are available for them to have ASL translators during club), there were girls learning to speak English for the first time (girls helped each other translate), there were girls in jeans and with no athletic shoes (everyone was helping each other find what they needed), there were girls who are still waiting for forever families and being supported by Florida Baptist Children’s Home (we forget that there are more than babies in the foster care system), and there were girls who looked like volleyball all-stars decked out in kneepads but who had never played a day in their lives…and also my daughter, who I have never seen happier.

I became instantly willing to do anything for this crew…in that moment I couldn’t have felt more at peace with what the world has handed me in terms of experience. I know how to help groups grow and how to find backbone organizations to help. I know how to empower middle schoolers to follow their dreams for justice. This is who I am–and my daughter unknowingly re-introduced me to myself.

It’s been a miracle season and the season hasn’t even started.

When I arrived at the second club practice, I noticed that the girls are serving with four balls, two of which were soccer balls. Cue tears. Again.

I know what I’m supposed to do next.


Say Yes.

Because every parent wants to do something more. Including me.

This can be my more.

Kirra doesn’t need my emotional support at the moment. I’m sure she will, but right now she needs me to connect dots and leverage influence and fast forward her friends futures.

I can do this–but I can’t do it alone.

So, I reached out to the teacher, started going to Title 1 meetings, took notes, dreamed up a plan, started talking to college volleyball players about volunteering their time.

Then the coolest stuff started happening. I found time I didn’t have and met people I didn’t know.

I thought I didn’t have much spare time but it’s amazing how much time you can find when something matters to you.

And this matters to me.

I may not be able to change the world tomorrow but I can change the environment of a bunch of girls who can.

I mentor some college age girls and after sharing what was going on in my life with my middle school daughter, a Southeastern University student talked to her head coach and provided 8 brand new volleyballs and a cart for the school to use. All of this happening because a 6th grader wasn’t afraid to ask a question.

“You can’t play volleyball without volleyballs mom, what are we going to do?.” -Kirra Lindsey

Another friend signed up to help coach the team. We are stepping up the steps. I can see what’s at the top but what I’m focused on right now is each step and who will share the burden of it with us.

Which brings me to a way you can get involved.

Maybe you have a heart for schools who have funds for special needs and low income families but have very limited funds for extra things like athletics and technology?  Maybe you have a dream that diverse schools like the one my daughter attends would be premier schools again–places people want to send their kids and are proud to be alumni of. I have this dream that Southwest Middle School will be a school that every family would want to be a part of–because the students, teachers, staff, and families there are AMAZING and full of potential.

If we are going to be a people who teach our children the value of every person–we are going to have to back it up with our actions. We have to stop segregating ourselves from each other. And I’m speaking to my own issues here. I know it can seem far from us, like a lot of internal surgery or an undoing that needs to happen but it’s not to far from us friends. We can and will do brave things, especially when we let our kids lead the way.

  1. The first thing I knew we needed to do was to get volleyballs for the girls. We have a few thanks to the immediate response of the SEU volleyball team (they are legititmate super humans). They will need more but for now, they are playing.
  2. The second thing was to find a way for the program to be funded. I worked with the volleyball coach / ESL teacher Mr. Gallman to put together a donor program where friends of Southwest Middle School (and friends from everywhere) could be FOR these girls.
Will you be FOR middle school girls with me?

Today we created an opportunity with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Donor’s Choose to create a ripple effect and get donations for volleyballs, athletic shorts, knee pads, volleyball equipment for SWMS matched! Any donation given before October 5th can be matched.

Below is the letter from Mr. Gallman to all of you!

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I just created a request for my classroom at DonorsChoose.org: Serving Up Success for Girls.

Give to my classroom by October 5 and your donation will be doubled thanks to DonorsChoose.org. Just enter the code RIPPLE on the payment page and you’ll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $50).

If you chip in to help my students, you’ll get awesome photos and our heartfelt thanks.

Thanks so much,

P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along!

To view the whole project and donate please click here!

I’m excited to get to know the PTO, the principles vision, the teachers and do my best to support the value of the students of SWMS. I remember Ms. VanCamp, who many years ago, allowed me to share at FCA at SWMS while my girls were little. While she’s no longer a teacher there, I feel the baton pass and I know that every person’s gifts are important and eternally necessary.

I had no idea that this would be the middle school lunchroom where my own kids would find fuel for their futures. What if there is a school close to you that needs your investment, your yes, your heart and gifts?

I had no idea that 6th grade would be so beautiful.

And I would love for you to know how beautiful it is. If you don’t already know a 6th grader you should get to know one. Get a reference and a background check, go through the volunteer process and present your safe/ loving self to the kids who want and need you around. I promise it will change your definition of what smells good… and your ideas about what’s needed to change the world.

(What’s needed is you.)

Let’s be something brave together.

The post I Was Wrong About 6th Grade appeared first on Brooklyn Lindsey.

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