How to get refueled.

I’m a hustler by nature. I’m one of the lucky ones, thankful I am able to say, “I love what I do.”

No matter if you love the work you do, we all need to shut down sometimes. We need a chance to get away or even just plan a well-deserved stay-cation. For Lane and I, we love to take a weekend and get out of the city. Atlanta is beautiful but there’s something that happens when you leave the city for a little while– some kind of restoration and joy I cannot fully explain.

Last month, we got the chance to visit our favorite spot in Athens, Georgia for a much-needed recharge weekend. The Graduate Hotel. I discovered this boutique hotel back in March when Lane and I were in Athens for a concert. Too tired to drive the nearly 2-hour trip back into the city, I stumbled upon the Graduate in a Google search and then I immediately planned our next trip back.

To know me is to know I am a sucker for boutique hotels. I like places with character and style and I wish I could say we have more of these options by us. This particular collection of hotels are planted around the country in university towns and they’re perfect for a study nerd like me. I am so excited they’re building one in New Haven, CT in 2019!

But back to last month…

We packed our bags, bought some concert tickets, made a few dinner reservations and drove off to the Graduate for some much-needed rest and time away from the city.

Refueling tips I scribbled down for the ones who need a break:

Read… for pleasure.

Lane and I are pretty big on this. You can find us, on any given trip, reading some good fiction. I hear from a lot of people that they have a hard time reading fiction. I feel you on that but I made the leap back towards fiction last year and I do not regret the switch. Most nonfiction books are geared with the mission of making you a better ___________________. There’s something about a good fiction book I can get lost in, without any agenda, that now feeds my soul.

Fiction I am currently digging:

Find you a coffee shop.

Maybe you can’t get away for the weekend but you have an afternoon to spare. The world is bustling with cool coffee shops. Bring a notebook. Order a latte. Write with your phone on airplane mode.

That was my biggest draw to the Graduate- I absolutely fell in love with their coffee shop. It’s what I like to imagine my brain probably looks like. Lane and I spent Saturday morning camped out with our Bibles, newspapers, and journals.

You’d be surprised how quickly your brain moves from the terror of a blank journal page to all sorts of scribbles of inspirations. I think we all need time to power down and dream a little.

Turn off the phone.

Or at least put it on airplane mode so you can take some pictures. It’s all too easy to slip into the habit of being alone together– especially when you’re married. Lane and I have to work hard to be with one another, not just sit next to one another while scrolling through our phones.

The art of presence is hard but worth it. Start by silencing your phone for an hour or leave the phone in the car while you head to the restaurant.

Go your own way.

Before Lane and I got hitched, I remember everyone telling me it was going to be all about the marriage now. The TV and movie culture always make it seem as though your freedom is going down the drain. I can proudly say it now, “You can still do things solo even when you’re married.”

You don’t have to spend every waking moment together. The marriage is important, YES, but so is refueling your tank however you see fit so you can better contribute to the relationship. On that Saturday night, Lane headed for a concert and I stayed back, deciding to return to the hotel after dinner to watch my reality TV shows, drink a glass of wine, and enjoy the comfort of a big bed.

The art of presence is hard but worth it. Start by silencing your phone for an hour or leave the phone in the car while you head to the restaurant.

Spending time apart only makes it sweeter when you guys get back together at the end of the day.

Big night in.

You don’t have to hit the town or get dressed up to have a perfect evening. In fact, my favorite nights revolve around cozying up in bed or playing a game of Spades or Catan with friends.

Again (because it is worth repeating), challenge yourself to put your phones in another room so you can really be with the people you love. It’s so easy to become distracted with smartphones and time is the most precious resource we’re bound to waste.

You need a break.

Okay… so this last one isn’t a pro-tip. It’s a simple reminder I often need to hear myself: you need a break every once in a while. The world won’t fall apart when you put that autoresponder up. It will all still be here when you get back. Make steps and enforce boundaries to shut off every once in a while and refuel your body, mind, and soul. I used to think self-care was selfish but now I see it’s a priority and the only way I can guarantee that I give the rest of my responsibilities everything I have.

I wrote this piece after visiting the Graduate Athens. I can’t say enough good things about this business and I’m thankful to share about it here.

I want to hear from you! What are your favorite tips + tricks for resting and refueling yourself? Let’s dialogue in the comments below!


Breadcrumbs left in Baltimore: a note on writing about hard things.

Dear Hannah, 

After years of denying that I am a creative person, I’ve started to slowly but surely realize that I want to be a writer. Words have always played a big part of my life and have been instrumental in helping me explain my darkness and my feelings. Words are what brought me to God and its words that have helped me encourage others in their mess. I’ve spent my whole life working towards being a lawyer but the idea of the corporate life and procedural regulations is killing me. I want to sit with people, and talk to them and write words that will encourage them. And I feel a constant knocking on my heart to do this. It’s what inspires me to get out of bed and stay up at night. 

So now, I’m taking my first few baby steps to hone my craft and find my voice! But of course, there is a lot of fear in my way. Fear that I desperately want to fight through. I want to connect and make a difference by being real and authentic, but the thought of writing out my story with depression and suicide, or my struggles, makes me feel like vomiting. Once it’s out there, it’s not mine, it’s the internet’s and I’m scared of what will happen. 

So I guess my question is how do you decide how vulnerable you want to get with your readers? How did you make that first step when you first spoke about the woods? 


Sweet A,

There is a diner in the Baltimore airport I visit whenever I have a layover on my way from Atlanta to Hartford. It’s called the Silver Diner. You should go if you ever find yourself connecting flights in Baltimore. Since 2015, this has been my ritual. I secretly rejoice whenever my itinerary holds a stop in Baltimore.

To know my story is to know there was a time when I vowed to never go back to Baltimore. I didn’t want to remember all the trauma. I wanted to forget that point in my life. After crawling out of the depression in 2015 and piecing myself back together, I remember booking a flight home to Connecticut to see my mom. I remember my whole body tensing up when I looked down at the ticket that morning and realized I was heading back to Baltimore. Of all the places, that was where I would switch planes.

I thought to myself, “I am never going back to Baltimore. Why am I going there now? How come we can’t stop somewhere else?” I don’t know what I was so afraid of. I think there’s a fear that comes with revisiting a place that once broke your heart. It’s like you might morph back into that past version of yourself if you set foot on the soil once again.

We touched down in Baltimore for a two-hour layover. I got off the plane and I was met with the entrance of the Silver Diner. I wheeled my suitcase into the diner, found a booth in the corner, ordered a bison breakfast (that’s my go-to) and a coffee. I pulled out my computer, determined to claim back when the darkness tried to steal from me. I wrote, for the first time, about the hell hole I’d lived in that past year. It took me 8 months but I was finally ready to write about it.


I share this story because that moment is when a lot changed for me. I was no longer silent about my depression. I was no longer covering up this huge part of my story. I was releasing what happened to me, giving it to whoever wanted it on the internet. I remember my palms sweating as a I pressed “publish.” That was the point in my story where I became a light to others in this march towards mental health. Something shifted in my walk that day in the middle of the Silver Diner, the booth tucked in the back corner.

At some point in your own story, it will be time to be a light. The shift will happen. You will no longer be afraid of the words that come tumbling out of you because you will know the words cannot hurt you. You will reach a point where your story isn’t an open wound, it’s a healing balm ready for others. 


It’s sort of like the story of Hansel and Gretel. You remember that one? The two children, Hansel and Gretel, walk deep into the woods. Hansel takes a piece of bread and tears it up into small bits. They leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help them find their way back home.

Your story is a breadcrumb trail for anyone deep in the woods. Each little piece is a navigator, a chance for someone to find it and say, “they made their way out of the woods. I shall, too.” 

The dark parts of your story don’t disqualify you. We all have them. We all have timelines we can’t make sense of, things we think God cannot possibly use for good. The key is forging a redemption story where you used to see ashes.


I got an email the other day from a young woman named Chloe. In her email, Chloe told me how thankful she was that I had depression. It’s an odd thing to thank someone for but she said if I had not gone through the depression then she was not so sure she could walk out of it. Sometimes you go before the others, A. Sometimes you follow. Sometimes you lead. But you never need to doubt that your pain serves a purpose. It all is purposeful.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t confusing. There will be days this side of heaven where you look around and think, “Why? Why did that painful, awful thing have to happen to me?” And then someone like Chloe will come along. She will read your blogs or pick up your book. She will find herself in your voice and she will uncover some hidden strength to keep walking. She will feed off your breadcrumbs on the days you feel like your words don’t make noise. She will remind you of the pain and how that pain is somehow worth it.


Here’s the thing: you don’t have to share it all. This isn’t a race or a competition. You can share one small thing that has made a difference to you. You can inch your way into vulnerability.

When I teach my writing classes, I always tell people to start ankle deep with their vulnerability. It’s like making your way into a cold pool. You could jump all the way in but I definitely prefer to start ankle deep, then calf deep, then knee deep, then thigh deep. Share your words with a trusted friend. Get some good feedback.

I never share things I am not ready to talk about. I believe in keeping some things secret and sacred. There are parts of my journey through mental health that people will never know about. In a world where we share everything, it’s beautiful to keep something sacred for yourself. 


So what are your breadcrumbs? What parts of your story could help someone else breath again? Tell me about the landmarks. The high peaks and the low valleys. Tell me about the places where you stopped to rest. The moments where you pitched the tent. Tell me about the heavy and the light. 

Look for the breadcrumbs in your story, babe. Look for those hope-filled pieces that resemble stars in a black sky. You don’t need to paint every gruesome detail. Just tell me where your hope lies. Tell me why you decided to hold on. Tell me when you felt out of breath and how you recovered.

In a world pitted with grief and confusion, we need some more anthems. We need more strong voices. We need hope over anger and love over hate. Tell me your “how I held on” story. Give me a reason to keep crawling through the woods and back into the light.

tying you closer than most,


Building a routine that matters.

I am in a daily battle with depression.

I’m really careful with the language I use when I talk about depression. I never say “I struggle with depression” or “I suffer from depression.” Words hold power and I don’t ever want to give off the impression that I am in a fight that I cannot win. I say things like “I handle depression” or “I battle with depression.”

You must be prepared to go into a battle. You don’t show up without ammo, a strategy, and an army behind you. This is how I battle that daily depression: with strategy, purpose, and an army behind. 

The biggest weapon I have when it comes to fighting depression: a routine. 

Routines add a rhythm to the day. Routines are something stable to look forward to. Routines ensure that you are pushing towards something— a goal, an aspiration, a better version of yourself. For someone who faces depression and the possibility of being derailed by emotions throughout a day, establishing a solid, unshakeable routine has been a game changer for me.

First things first, track your current routine.

Before setting out to revamp your entire life in one day, take a few days to track what your current routine looks like. A routine is anything you’re doing on a near-daily basis. Yes, this means negative things you’re doing: sleeping too much, waking up late, watching Netflix, spending time on your phone. Even the things you wish you could change right now are a part of a routine that is happening daily for you. Good or bad habits— there likely are things you’re doing that you wish you could a) stop or b) do more often.

Map your ideal day.

What would your perfect routine look like? Would you be up early? Would you have time to read for pleasure? Map out your most ideal days and place stars next to everything that is not already a part of your daily routine. It’s important to know what you’re going after, what you’re striving for.

Vital parts of your best daily routine might look like:

Drinking water
Waking up before the sun
Unplugging at 9pm
Going for an evening walk
Making a smoothie

You wouldn’t think you’d need to schedule all these things out but it’s very hard to make a pattern or build a habit when you don’t put these sorts of things on the calendar. Routines don’t show up without hard work.

Set a goal and then make the goal attainable. 

Let’s say the goal is to build up to a workout regimen that happens 5 days a week for 45 minutes each time. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to hurl yourself into that kind of routine if you’re not used to working out so consistently. So set this big goal as your 6-month goal. Tell yourself, “I would like to be working out 5 days a week within the next 6 months.”

Take that big goal and chop it up in 6 smaller monthly goals. Potential ideas:

  • Workout 2 days this week
  • Workout 10 days this month
  • Take a walk for 20 minutes each day

If a goal is attainable you will experience the taste of victory. Once you get a taste of that victory you’re going to want more of it.

Why am I failing with every goal I set?

I went through a phase where I was failing every goal I set for myself. It led to a lot of defeat and negative self-talk. I kept thinking, “I am never going to be happy with myself. I am always going to be stuck in this place.”

I think the reason I was failing at my goals is that I was going too fast with them. I was setting really big goals without any form of habits to back them up. My recent goal was to kick grains out of my diet completely. A friend commented the other week that I’ve been killing the goal, executing it so effortlessly.

It looks like zero effort but the truth was I’d set a series of smaller goals before tackling this big goal. I learned how to cook grain free. I stocked up my pantry with the essentials. I tackled 2 Whole30s. By the time I was ready to kick grains out for good, I’d already set a bunch of smaller goals to get me to that starting line. I’d trained. I was ready.

Every day, every week, every month.

There are going to be things you do every day, every week, and every month. For instance: I dedicate one day out of the month to go through my finances, make my donations, and do my budget sheets. I mark off two hours every Sunday to plan my week out. These are things that don’t happen every day but they deserve space in the calendar. Truthfully, they won’t happen at all unless I make that space in my calendar.

Here’s an example of what I commit to doing every day:

Read my bible + pray
Workout (6 days a week)
Take medication
Drink water
Encourage someone
Say “I love you” to Lane

Apart from saying “I love you” and encouraging someone, I really have to schedule the rest of the stuff out. It has to have a place in my day or else I will put it off, forget about it, or find better to do.

And here’s the truth: there are days when I don’t “feel” like it. I want to skip the workout. I want to sleep in. I want to just scroll through my phone instead of making a meal for myself. But I am learning to do it anyway. When I don’t feel like it. When I would rather be doing something else. When I want to complain. I have yet to say the words, “Bummer, that workout was awful” or “Man, I am so mad I made a healthy meal for myself.” Is it always perfect? Nope. But I am working towards a better version of myself and so I must be willing to say “no” to the things that want to keep me stagnant.

How do you build a routine when your work schedule fluctuates? 

This is why I think mapping your week out before it begins is essential. Just because you do something at 10am one day and 1pm another day does not mean it isn’t part of the routine. On days where I am traveling, it might not be 9pm until I get into the gym but I make a daily promise to myself: I will get my workout in. I will read my bible. I will take my medicine. I rarely give myself excuses or free passes. I know these essential parts of my day make for the happiest, strongest, and kindest version of me.

If you have a schedule that fluctuates, plan your week out whenever you get that work schedule. See the week in front of you. Mapping my week out on a Sunday is an immovable commitment I make to myself and it guarantees that I never walk into a week blindsided by what is to come or how I am going to get it all done.

Do you think it’s better to go 100% in on day 1 or gradually build up to a big routine change?

I have a few thoughts on this. I am a pretty big “go 100%” advocate BUT I think you can only afford to do it well ONE AREA AT A TIME. When I went for the 5am hours, I committed wholeheartedly and daily. Yes, I still failed. But I didn’t give myself the wiggle room of 2 out of 5 days of 1 day a week. I exerted my best energy into waking up that early.

I absolutely would have failed if I tried to tackle 5am hours, 5 days in the gym, and clean eating all in one month. It would have been a recipe for failure.

Pick one thing you want to go hard in the paint with and then give yourself grace in the other areas. Set smaller goals in the other areas. Willpower is a limited resource so don’t be surprised if it runs out on you.

But what if I fail?

Here’s the thing: you will fail. You won’t eat all the kale. You will go for the donut instead. You’ll get to the gym and only have the energy to sit. You will miss a workout routine. You will forget your sneakers. You will mess up the recipe. You will sleep in. You are going to fail and the world is not going to fall apart. You will mess it all up and that’s perfectly okay… building a routine isn’t about being perfect 100% of the time. It’s about building towards something better. It’s about going after what truly matters most to you. Figure that stuff out. Set the small goals. Rejoice over the small victories. Start over new each day.

Building a routine takes time and patience. Celebrate the good, often + always. You’ve got this.

hey you,

I would love to hear from you. What’s one thing you want to go 100% in on this month that will make your days, weeks, and months better for the future? Let’s chat about how to make this a reality!

Come matter here.

“Come matter here. I know that story. I lived that story. For years, I was consumed by what it would mean to “matter” in this world. To people. To someone special. To God.

I think we’ve all felt that. We want to know that our lives matter, that this isn’t some crazy accident we all got stuck inside of. I started to chase after whatever the world told me mattered. Success. Acclaim. Love. Happiness. I became obsessed with this idea of “getting there,” wherever “there” was. I was in a constant state of waiting to arrive somewhere better.

I didn’t know yet that all the good things—like faith, love, trust—don’t happen overnight. You can’t pick them up from the drive-thru or snag them in an instant download. It’s easier to run after the next thing the world tells you matters. It’s easier to never do the hard work of planting your roots or letting people in as you grab your suitcase and run hard toward “the next thing.”

But when you get tired of running, there’s a better story waiting to begin. I promise, it’s better. Yet there’s a catch: you’ll just have to stick around long enough. You’ll have to dig in and do the work—the work that happens in the here and now.”

Come Matter Here, Pg. 16.

This big box of books showed up my doorstep last week. I’m absolutely speechless. I hoped this day would come but I honestly didn’t know for a while. It felt like such a wrestle to get to this place after three years of trying.

As you may know, Come Matter Here is my second book. The two books could not be more different. My first book– If You Find This Letter— was a straight memoir. Come Matter Here is more centered around themes, around different topics that matter in our daily lives.

I wrote Come Matter Here after walking through and out of a severe depression that stole any form of normalcy in my life for 4 months. I didn’t know if I would even work or write again. I wrote the book because for so long I was enamored by what it would mean to “matter.” I wanted my actions to matter. I wanted my words to matter. Plain and simple: I wanted people to look at me and say, “She matters.”

I can tell you this (because I’ve been there before), a TED talk won’t make you feel like you matter. A book deal won’t fill the hole. A shiny new relationship will lose its luster after a little while. I strived for all of these things. I pushed for all of these things. And I was surprised to find myself still wanting more.

I’d love for you to pre-order this book. It would mean the world to me. I realize I am asking this big thing and I, myself, rarely used to go out of my way to pre-order a book. Now I do pre-order books from my favorite authors because every pre-order sends a message to the bookseller that a) this book matters and b) you should stock it. Plus you get the book on your doorstep the day it comes out!

Whether it’s your local Barnes & Noble, Target, or Amazon- I would so appreciate your pre-order. You can submit your receipt here and get the following instantly when you pre-order:

  • The first two chapters of Come Matter Here
  • My digital bible study “First Be a Follower”
  • 3 downloadable + printable prints

If you order 3+ books, please send your receipt to us at info@hannahbrencher. I will handwrite and mail you a letter- or send it off to the person of your choice! 

This book goes out into the world on May 29. I can hardly believe it but I am so grateful to God for this great opportunity to see a huge chunk of my heart (200+ pages of it) show up in bookstores around the country. If you’ve got a dream to write a book one day, don’t give up on yourself. Don’t deem the process too hard or the vision too big. What sits between you thinking you’ll write the book and actually writing the book is one thing: the words. Sit down. Write honestly. See what’s inside of you waiting to come out. I promise it will be worth it.

tying you closer than most,


The Better Guide // April Edition.

the better guide (4).png

Welcome to Issue 4 of the Better Guide! 

This is my monthly guide– a most-random resource list of all things food, drink, faith, fitness, and fun. I publish this guide at the end of every month (consider it a wrap-up of the last 30 or so days) and I am making a single promise to you in creating and curating the resource list: I promise to seek the better. I promise to gather resources, apps, news, and test them out first. I’ll be the guinea pig, ready to report back my findings. I promise not to report things that are fake, way too much money, or will ultimately do nothing for your life but distract you. Life is precious and I ain’t toying with your hours nor could I ever, in good conscience, recommend a $600 gym bag to you. I promise to be fair, real, transparent, and ultimately focused on the better. Better health. Better work. Better relationships. All the better. 

Better Reads.

  • I read this book in approximately 28 hours. I picked it up last week in the bookstore on the way to Mexico, wanting a beach read that would be a little outside of my usual tastes. This book did not disappoint. I still can’t believe I picked it up but I am so glad I did!
  • If you need your Gone Girl fix for the month then look no further. This book satisfied my cravings. Mind you, I don’t think this book was written to keep you guessing so don’t expect to play detective. The plot unfolds pretty naturally and it’s still definitely a page-turner.
  • My girl Karen Stott releases her first book TOMORROW! I’ve known and loved Karen for the last 5 years. She’s a mover & a shaker and this book is the perfect addition to your bookshelf if you’re ready to live more intentionally.
  • It’s no secret how much I love Hayley Morgan. She’s got a new Weekend Eve newsletter that I really think you need to subscribe to.

Better Travel.

  • On the chance that you’re looking for a spot to vacation or a dreamy honeymoon, I just got back from this resort and I have nothing but the BEST things to say. The service was stellar, the food was amazing, and I wanted to stay forever.
  • Until you’ve unpacked and repacked your suitcase before a flight, you don’t realize how necessary these things are.

Better Tech.

  • Last month I came hungry for a review on these and I am pumped to say: I bought them and I am LOVING THEM. I don’t invest in tech all that often but I am already so glad I took the plunge, splurged a little, and got something that is making my walks, workouts, and day-to-day life easier.
  • I get lots of questions about where my graphics come from. I don’t always use a designer. In fact, a lot of the graphics I make on my own right here.

Better Home.

If I still had a wedding registry then I would put the following things on my list:

Better Eats.

  • Shhh… don’t tell Lane but I am totally going to make these brownies in the next week. I wonder if he will notice the extra ingredients hiding in the batter…
  • Another recipe I’m trying out this month. Already salivating.

Have a suggestion for the May Better Guide? Get at us. 

Just do one thing.

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Its been one of those weeks for you. You know the kind.

The to-do list is long. You’re looking at each item– a thousand small tasks sitting with each one– and thinking to yourself, “How? How am I going to do all this?”

Breathe. Take that moment. Do one more thing.

Anxiety wants to tell you that you can’t possibly get it done. You can’t make an impact. You can’t make a difference. Anxiety wants you to sit down and spin your wheels with all sorts of thoughts you were never meant to hold in your tiny hands, “Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? Can I really make this happen?”

You. You’re the right person for the job. This list of things for you to do isn’t accidental. You’re more equipped than you think. You’re more capable than you imagine.

I know these things about you because I daily speak these truths over my own life. I call my husband and I find myself drowning in self-pity as I whine into the phone, “I can’t do it. There’s too much. I feel incapable.”

It’s a pity party. A short dedication, a party ballad, to all the ways I think I cannot possibly make it happen this week. I’m good at hosting these parties. They do not last long since my husband never wants to attend these parties of mine. I can sit and eat my pity cake solo or I can grow up and go forward.

But then I sit down. I do the first thing. I do something that seems completely manageable. It leads to something else. Soon enough, the tension eases up. I realize, “I’ve got this. I can do this. I am equipped for this.”

You’ve got this. What you have to make sure you do is actually show up for it. Show up and then keep showing up. Fear wants to draw a map for you but it won’t ever lead to a good and proper destination. It will always leave you lost. Aimless. Striving.

Babe, this life isn’t about striving. I’m young but I can say that with the fullest confidence. If you’re striving at this moment then I know more about you than you think: I know you’re exhausted. I know you are trying to perform. I know you are pushing things out there into the world just hoping they will stick.

It will burn you out. Because you were made for brighter things than constantly trying to measure up to a standard that isn’t real.

You’re not drowning. You’re not too far gone either. Just take that spare breath- it’s always there waiting for you. Make a list. Pick one thing to tackle.

Just do one thing.

The Better Guide // March Edition.

Welcome to Issue 3 of the Better Guide! 

This is my monthly guide– a most-random resource list of all things food, drink, faith, fitness, and fun. I publish this guide at the end of every month (consider it a wrap-up of the last 30 or so days) and I am making a single promise to you in creating and curating the resource list: I promise to seek the better. I promise to gather resources, apps, news, and test them out first. I’ll be the guinea pig, ready to report back my findings. I promise not to report things that are fake, way too much money, or will ultimately do nothing for your life but distract you. Life is precious and I ain’t toying with your hours nor could I ever, in good conscience, recommend a $600 gym bag to you. I promise to be fair, real, transparent, and ultimately focused on the better. Better health. Better work. Better relationships. All the better. 

Thank you for your patience (I know I am 4 days late to publishing this guide)! I’ve been under the weather and fighting off the pollen here in Atlanta but I’m happy to be back on my feet and feeling better.

Better Reads.

  • This book has been around for the last year and a half but I am just picking it up. And y’all- every chapter preaches to me. If you’ve ever felt left out or uninvited, rejected or looked over, then I would recommend this read. It will be a healing balm to your soul.
  • I am about 100 pages into this book and currently LOVING it. It’s worth the rage (everyone seems to be talking about it)! I am looking forward to a weekend in Savannah reading this book and getting to finish it off.
  • My girlfriend just sent me this link to Refinery29’s 2018 book list and there are just so many good reads listed here. I am definitely going to be referring to this list throughout the year whenever I want to read a book that is profound, impactful, and fierce!

Better Brain.

  • This January and February, I wrote my first Bible study. It’s been a longtime goal of mine. I wanted to create something free for my readership and this is the result: a 15-session study on following Jesus in a follower-obsessed culture. I hope you enjoy!
  • This is a really good read. I am someone who uses and advocates for medication for those who need it but I think we all can take something away from getting a little exercise into our day-to-day routines!

Better Listens.

  • Okay, maybe it seems as if I am on the Caroline Leaf train but the woman knows her stuff. If you’re wanting a podcast to learn more about the brain and just what social media is doing to it… check out this one and then follow up with this one. You’ll learn so much in just 20 minutes.
  • Our pastor Ben gave this message last Sunday on shame and Y’ALL… it preaches. Dig in and move forward!

Better Travel.

  • I don’t read many blogs but I am heavily invested in a few of them. One belonging to this girl. She recently paired up with Target to create a luggage line for families and I’m a few pennies away from buying two of the suitcases. Finally, luggage that is stylish but not too expensive!

Better Tech.

  • I’ve been scheduling out my social media lately. I still use social media to engage with others but I can attest to feeling like I’ve gotten a chunk of my life back by using this tool. I’m still able to lift & encourage others without feeling like I always have to be posting on the fly. I went ahead and invested in a year subscription and so far it has been the best office subscription of 2018!
  • Has anyone tried these? I would love your opinion! I’m thinking of investing in these for my workouts and would love to know what you think.

Better Eats.

  • I’m loving this easy hack article about how to make a cheese plate on a budget. This article is a game-changer for the party hosts reading!
  • All the yum! We still love to cook Whole30 style meals even when we aren’t doing some crazy food diet!
  • This is my go-to. I find myself craving it on a weekly basis.
  • If you love cooking hardboiled eggs + have an Instant Pot then this recipe will blow your mind! Easy-to-peel eggs! Finally!

Have a suggestion for the April Better Guide? Get at us. 

Slow to know your role: a note on comparison.


We dressed up, shared an $11 appetizer that was really just a dolled-up version of pork rinds, and walked down the busy street, hand-in-hand, to the theatre together.

It was date night and I’d been waiting all month to see the show RENT. I’ve never seen the musical before but it’s on the musical bucket list I keep in my brain. Some people want to skydive or make it to the Grand Canyon before they die. I simply want to see Hamilton, the Book of Mormon, and Les Miserables.

At intermission, I touched Lane’s arm and said, “We are in the company of some serious RENT fans.” It was obvious five minutes into the show. These people were hardcore. They knew when to stand. They knew when to clap. This was an audience that had definitely seen the show once before if not 5 or 6 times. They knew when to laugh. They knew when to rally.

I listened to conversations of the people around me during intermission. They bantered about how they really preferred this actor in this role or that actor, the one they saw in the New York production, playing that character.

These people knew the play. They knew what to expect. They knew the words by heart.


As we watched the second act I had a strange thought. I kept thinking about how these people sitting to the right and left of me would absolutely know it if all of a sudden someone did not play their role. If someone sang a different song altogether or chose to never enter the stage on cue. People would notice something was off, someone was not playing the role they were called to play.

(Sidenote: This is what it is like to go a musical, show, or movie with me. I can barely stay present to whatever is happening on the stage in front of me because I am too stuck in my heading having an existential crisis about life that will eventually morph into an essay I publish on my blog. Yes. Here we are.)

Admittedly, I felt a little lost the whole first act. I felt like I was floundering to understand the plotline while everyone around me was already revving up for the next song. But in act 2, things began to click. I began to see the plot and feelings emerge. I even knew the words to two of the songs. I was pumped to join the chorus of voices singing low to the right and left of me. Together, we all hummed.


Lately, I’ve been digging into the issue of comparison when God and I get together in the mornings. I ask some questions. I dig for answers. I take notes. I am curious about what comparison does to our souls.

I’m naive to think comparing ourselves to others is a relatively new concept. I think it has always been there, the issue is just hyper-intensified because of social media.

Ten years ago, you didn’t know what everyone else in the world was doing on any given Wednesday morning. You compared yourself to people in the neighborhood or people in your classroom. Now we’ve got this chance to compare ourselves to millions of others. It’s a little terrifying to think about for too long.

I read a story about Peter the other morning. If you don’t know anything about Peter of the Bible then let me just give you the nutshell synopsis: Peter is a gutsy fisherman who Jesus places a lot of stock in. Jesus, upon meeting Peter, basically says to him, “Hey, I want to give you a different name because I don’t think the name you currently have is bold enough for you. I am going to call you ‘Cephas,’ which means ‘rock,’ because I want you to be the rock I build my future church on.”

No pressure.

But Peter is pretty confident. Annoyingly confident. His confidence gets him into trouble a lot and I think that is because Peter tends to rely on his own strength above everything else. Our own strength only gets us so far. He ends up doing the one thing he told Jesus he would never do– denying him right before he is crucified– and one would imagine Peter was heaped with shame, guilt, and grief because of that denial.

But here’s the better story: Jesus uses him anyway. Because that’s the kind of guy Jesus is. He meets up with Peter after he has died (we can dig into that one another time) and re-commissions him. He doesn’t take the mission away from Peter because of faltering. He forgives him and then basically says, “It’s time to get back to work, Peter.”

I can just hear God saying that so gently to me, “It’s time to get back to work. It’s time to get back to work.”

I was blown away the other day when I noticed what happens directly after Peter is re-commissioned. His slate is wiped clean by literal dead-but-not-really Jesus and Peter, likely not 5 minutes later, asks Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” I see Peter pointing his envious little finger at another man Jesus was investing in.

I want to shake Peter. Really, dude?! You just got this clear go-ahead from Jesus and you are worried about someone else?! What is this?!

It’s proof to me that we all struggle with comparison sometimes, even these figures of the Bible who we wrongly think were untouchable struggled with the heart stuff. Clearly, this comparison meant something to God to be included in the text.

Even when life is good, even when we’ve gotten the clearest message from God that we are okay and we are on the right path, we still look for excuses to size ourselves up to other people and their callings.


I’ve learned that comparing yourself to other people just sucks the joy out of your own path. To live in constant comparison mode is to live imprisoned to a false target. It has nothing to do with those other people. Your aim was never to arrive at someone else’s destination so why bother focusing on it?

People notice when you are not playing your part. They know when the script is off.

We all miss out when you don’t show up to play the role custom-made for you. But there is magic– untouchable magic– that emerges when you step out into the world dedicated to being yourself. People can tell when you’re walking on the right road. They see it.

I want to believe the more we live out what we know we are called to steward, the more we give other people the courage to do the same. We stop living such a small existence, hyper-focused on things we have no control over.

We start to grow. We start to see each other. We start to be real characters in the story, not two-dimensional people governed by fear. We evolve and we step into what we were made to do. That sweet rhythm that might not show up until act 2.

And there, in the middle of act 2, things to start to click and people start humming anthems all around you. This strike of confidence hits you in the heart. You whisper under the breath, “Yes, I know the words to this song.”


The Better Guide // February Edition.

Welcome to Issue 2 of the Better Guide! 

This is my monthly guide– a most-random resource list of all things food, drink, faith, fitness, and fun. I publish this guide at the end of every month (consider it a wrap-up of the last 30 or so days) and I am making a single promise to you in creating and curating the resource list: I promise to seek the better. I promise to gather resources, apps, news, and test them out first. I’ll be the guinea pig, ready to report back my findings. I promise not to report things that are fake, way too much money, or will ultimately do nothing for your life but distract you. Life is precious and I ain’t toying with your hours nor could I ever, in good conscience, recommend a $600 gym bag to you. I promise to be fair, real, transparent, and ultimately focused on the better. Better health. Better work. Better relationships. All the better. 

Better Reads.

  • I’m wrapping this book up today and I have to tell you- I’m obsessed. He gets right to the point and he doesn’t dance around it. I needed this book in more ways than I could say. A beautiful read for anyone who wants to know God better and see what he’s all about.
  • “He and I, on the other hand, were doing our arithmetic separately, in each of our messy minds. And while I will never understand how someone could hold the full weight of me in his arms and choose to let go, I understand that his final calculus was different from mine.”

Better Study.

  • This January and February, I wrote my first Bible study. It’s been a longtime goal of mine. I wanted to create something free for my readership and this is the result: a 15-session study on following Jesus in a follower-obsessed culture. I hope you enjoy!

Better Looks + Listens.

  • If you are a fan of true crime shows + podcasts, I would recommend you check out Up & Vanished. It swept the nation in 2017. Lane and I became hooked on this podcast and even attended the live finale in Atlanta. The creator of Up & Vanished recently came out with a new podcast. It’s a few weeks in but I am really loving the premise and how much I am learning about my city from it.
  • I’m known to spend my workouts listening to Levi Lusko. This recent sermon on the power of mornings + evenings has been a game changer for me.
  • Set up your Netflix for optimal viewing with this list. At first glance, I’ve seen very few of these movies so I’ve got some watching to do.

Better Home.

The Better Home options today come from one of my favorite spots to shop on the Internet- Huckberry. I basically don’t have to go anywhere to shop for Lane when the holidays hit. All of his favorite brands are in one place. It’s like a pop-up shop of creative makers on the Internet.

I’ve got some friends over at Huckberry and they kindly hooked all first-time shoppers and readers of the Better Guide up! Use the code “betterguide” during the month of March for 20% off your first buy. Holla for deals, y’all!

  • To know me is to know I love good, black coffee. I’m pretty jazzed about this manual coffeemaker. It makes all my coffee dreams come true! It combines the ability to brew a full pot of pour-over, French press, or cold brew in a sleek design. We getting fancy with our brew, huh?
  • I freaked a little bit when I found this on Huckberry because I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE. If you know nothing about Kintsugi then let’s get educated first. This is an age-old method for repairing broken things and I honestly want to break a few dishes just so I can use this repair kit.
  • Need a gift idea for the guy or girl in your life who loves to workout? Or just want to invest in yourself? We love Ursa Major and this Exercise Freak bundle will cover you after any sweat session.

Better Subscriptions.

  • I’ve been a faithful subscriber to the Book of the Month Club for the last year. But it wasn’t until the other day, when my friend Dawn came over to borrow some books for her beach trip, that I realized the impact this subscription has in my reading life. I only recommended BOTM choices to her. That’s how good I find their reads. If you are a reader, this subscription is for you. A newly released hardcover delivered to your door each month? Yes, please!
  • This is quickly becoming one of my favorite newsletters in my inbox. It is for all us wild ones who prefer to spend Friday night getting crazy on the couch… with a book… and a glass of wine… after a bubble bath. You’ll love their playful suggestions and it’s a really fun way to usher in the weekend!

Better Tech.

  • I’m just starting to use this app but I love the premise behind it. It’s all about knowing the quality of the brands you’re shopping– how they treat their employees, what working conditions are like, how they treat animals. It feels like a good first step for someone like me who wants to be aware of the back story behind the brands I am shopping. Check it out!
  • I’m not in college anymore but I know a bunch of you are. I definitely needed this app when I was in college.
  • “Have you ever used the browser extension called Honey? It automatically runs coupon codes through at checkout and applies the best one. It saves me a little here and there (and especially saves me the time of having to search for coupon codes!), and it’s FREE to put on your browser. Doesn’t get much better, in my opinion.” – Abbey

Better Work.

  • I love goal setting and can attest to how setting them changed my life and business. I recently came across this and I’m intrigued. I am planning to try it out for the month of March. I’ll report back!
  • I get asked all the time where I get my organizational things from. Look no further, this company is my #1.

Have a suggestion for the March Better Guide? Get at us. 

A goodbye letter to Jack Pearson.

Photo Credit: NBC Photo Gallery
Photo Cred: NBC Photo Gallery

Dear Jack,

I thought we’d have more time together. Really, I thought the network would drag your storyline out for at least 3 more seasons before it came to this.

I was sitting at my dining room table the other morning, scrolling through my newsfeed while innocently eating my scrambled eggs, when I came across a clip of you seemingly surrounded by flames. It was then that I knew- you were leaving us. This Is Us would inevitably become This Was Us. I don’t feel ready.

Admittedly, I sobbed. Into my eggs, at nine in the morning, I lost it and it’s a little bit embarrassing because nothing really even happened in the clip. You were just being you, acting like the man I’ve grown to love more and more with each passing episode.

Jack, my mother has watched General Hospital for the last 30 years and I never really understood how she could be so invested in fictional characters. How she could pause the world for an hour every evening to hang out with “friends.” I didn’t get it until you showed up on my TV screen, with your mustache and slicked back hair. I think it was Pilgrim Rick… that was the point where I knew I would love you forever, that I would drop anything on a Tuesday night just to spend some time with you.

In all seriousness, I think you set a standard for us that I don’t think we ever expected. In our culture, it’s pretty typical to binge watch a lot of television yet rarely walk away changed, your mind reeling for days over something someone said or did. You’ve got a team of writers behind your words, Jack, but let me tell you: they gave you heart. They gave you spirit. They made you into someone who made us all think, “Now there’s a man who isn’t perfect but he sure knows how to show up for his people.” You had flaws, like all of us, but you never became them.

Dedication, Jack. That’s the spirit of who you are and who you’ve always been to me. You make us all want to be better friends, better spouses, better employees, better parents. You gave us an example of love that is both selfless and fierce, sacrificial and relentless. In a world that feels a little dark and crazy these days, you reminded us of the most basic tenets of a good life: investment in the family you’ve got. Hard work. A tenacious spirit. Speech that is kind. Love that serves without expectations. And great hair.

Because of you, I can look at my own flaws and confidently say, “They’re here. I see them. But I am not a bad person or a waste of space because of them. I’ll keep showing up. Messy and ready for whatever curveball life will throw at me next, I’ll keep showing up.”

You took risks every episode in the name of family- something we don’t stick up for enough in 2018. Like I said earlier, we weren’t expecting someone like you to come along. Like most unexpected people who show up in life, you don’t fully see realize the space they take up in your heart until you realize you’re going to lose them one day.

This is us, Jack. This is all of us.

Maybe it’s for the best that we say goodbye now. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars trying to figure you out in therapy sessions that are supposed to be about my own issues.  It’s getting a little ridiculous that I can’t seem to process my own junk and yet the floodgates open up when my therapist says two words: Jack Pearson.

Because of you, I’ve learned I’m not as emotionally stable as I thought. I walk into a Tuesday night feeling like I might be killing it at life (or at least doing a decent job) and I walk out with no makeup left on my face, a throbbing headache from all the inhumane sobs released from my body in the span of an hour. I find myself grieving for something I didn’t know I even needed to grieve for: past family dogs, old relationships, lost shoes, failed diets. It all comes flooding back to me when you say words like, “You are my purpose, Kevin.”

I threw out my Crockpot. I’m comparing you to my husband too much. I found out it’s not as easy as I thought to walk into a hospital and take home a baby that is not mine. I’m thinking about making a dent in the homebuilding industry (in your honor, of course). I am a woman on a solo mission to find her own “Big Three.”

I honestly don’t know what we’ll do without you, Jack. But I promise to face my junk. I promise to face it and make you proud, Jack. I promise to always buy batteries. When Sunday comes, I’ll be there and I’ll be wearing my Steelers jersey just for you.

I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.


Me & the rest of us.