brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart

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Learning to Love -40°

I was out walking with my dog the other night. For those of you not keeping track, I recently adopted an eleven-month old standard poodle named Teddy. Anyway, we were out walking one night. It was terribly cold. As we walked, I buried my head as far into my scarf as my slight claustrophobia would allow, pulled my hat down to just above my eyebrows, and trudged on. Teddy had decided that tonight would be a perfect night to take his sweet time, and lay down in random snowbanks, trying to find one that was going to give him the comforts of home while he was on a walk to “do his business.”


While Teddy’s sense of urgency was lacking, mine was not. I had my eye on the prized- a warm, welcoming home, where sweatpants and hoodies were the preferred attire, and no one would judge you for wearing clashing colors. I was driven, motivated, and determined to make it out of the -30° wind chill in one piece. Teddy, however, had other plans.


I watched him poking around, smelling smells, and knowing that this was most likely one of few experiences with cold and snow, seeing how he was only born last January. And while my goal was to get home and miss what was happening around me, Teddy’s main concern was being able to experience this new world. My goal was to bury my head, skip what was in front of me, and Teddy wanted to jump and pounce and prance through the new, powdery snow.


This pretty much describes what all of 2016 has been like. After losing my job last November, and fighting to find a full time position where I was going to be given room to grow and excel, I struggled with mental health issues, the feeling of having little-to-no purpose, and losing identity. My goal was to keep my head buried, share with no one, and not to let anyone in for fear that my weaknesses would show.


Instead, I buried myself in other peoples’ problems, the election, family drama, or anything else I could find to hide behind instead of facing the issues that I needed to in order to be healthy. With the new year coming, I’ve vowed to make a change in how I attack my life.


So many people I’ve known have chose the route of blocking out the world around them, and dealing with their brokenness alone. This isolates us, turns us inward, and sends us into a ridiculous tailspin of self reflection, that usually causes more harm than good. What we needed the most during these times are to be reminded of our worth by people who know it when we don’t, and people who value us when we feel like our value has been depleted.


As the year comes to a close (a long, difficult, sad, scary year), my hope for you is that you be like Teddy. Be willing to be adventurous, lay down in the snowbank, and live every day like your experiencing it for the first time (even if, as Minnesotans, we get really exhausted of days below 0°).


This is my new beginning, and I’m inviting anyone who wants to join me to do so. This year, I resolve to be open, welcoming, and accepting of people’s love because eventually I will need it, and when you need love in return, I’ll be there to give you what I have to offer. And I expect you to accept it.



An Open Letter to Jon Acuff and #StartEXP Participants

Dear STARTers,

Where do I even begin? First of all, Jon Acuff, thank you for the courage you’ve shown over the past few months, taking on this experiment and getting us involved in something great! So many great relationships have been born. So many inside jokes, so many hashtags… It’s  been a whirlwind three months of constant phone charging, and fear punching.  Jon, because of what you started, I went to Nashville for the first time (and saw some naked statues). Jon, because of your powerful words of encouragement, I wrote a Time Magazine article that described what I pictured my life being like in a way I never thought before. Jon, because of your dream, I made 200 new friends. And though we are very different, there’s an incredible amount of magic going on in that #StartSingles group that no one can really explain. Jon, thank you for involving your 2,000+ new friends on this journey you began. It’s been a joy to see it transform, grow, and morph it something no one expected.

Now, for all you #STARTers. I’ve never seen a more tenacious, determined, faithful, dedicated, loyal, supportive group of people in my entire life. And I don’t mean just the ones who post the most, or ninja-like the most, or were a part of FrankenSTART. I mean everyone. To see how each person contributed was truly amazing. I’ll be 100% honest, at the beginning of the second round, I went on a trip out of the country, and I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things when I returned. I lost touch of the main group and spent most of my time in the #StartSingles group, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t pop my head in every now and again to see what kinds of great things were being brewed up in there.  Thank you for being a constant shining light.

But now what? Yesterday, the #StartEXP as we once knew it came to an end. I see there’s a new group called “Dreamers and Builders,” and bravo for taking the initiative to keep the community alive. But… I want you to start thinking about life in terms of chapters, or seasons. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is Jon’s exit from the Dave Ramsey group. We don’t know the reason, and Jon doesn’t owe us one, but it’s obvious that his season there was over. Just like the season for the #StartEXP is now over, and has transformed.

But here’s what I want to challenge you with.

I don’t think Jon’s intent was for us to become dependent on him or this community for a feeling of purpose or contribution. I think community is really important, but I’ve noticed how some of us react when something changes- like yesterday, or like when Jon announced his resignation. People seem to get easily flustered. But you know what, guys? Jon is not the source of your power. Jon was simply someone who gave you the keys to unlock what you already had! If Jon completely disappeared from this, you would still go on being brilliant, and creative, and powerful.

I’m not saying the season for change starts now, but I want you think about what happens next. In Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, he talks about how in order for things to change and become new, some things need to end. This is very similar to the idea of death and resurrection. Eventually, death will come to everything we know as #StartEXP, and it’ll be in our hands to move forward embracing the resurrection of something new and exciting. For Christians, I believe that is where we’ll see the Holy Spirit’s action start up again. When we allow death to bring in resurrection, we are offering an opportunity for new birth. If you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit, think about it in this way- a gardener must prune back roses in a bush that might be beautiful, but not necessarily buds that help the entire plant reach is fullest, brightest, and most beautiful potential.

Change is usually difficult. And some of us are not ready for that change to happen to the #StartEXP yet. But I can tell you that change is coming, and eventually we’ll have to embrace the pain of death so that we can allow our brilliance, our creativity, and our mind power bring to life something new and exciting.

Jon is just a guy who had an idea. All of us had our own ideas also, or we wouldn’t have replied to the tweet/post/every other social media medium out there that Jon uses. Jon is not the one supporting you. Even your fellow #STARTers aren’t supporting you. You are using your own mind, your own ideas, your own ideation to create and discover. Don’t let go of that. Don’t forget about the magic you had before you met Jon.

I have the utmost respect for all of you, and I’m excited to see what awesome things you continue to do.


Brigitte K. Leininger


P.S. #allthethings


If Jesus Didn’t Think Peter was an Idiot, You’re Probably in the Clear, too.

I’m writing to you from the midst of this journey, so don’t be surprised if I come back with a rebuttal or “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I was right!” in a couple of weeks. Right now, my life is in a season of change. Everything in my life can be boiled down to seasons: Seasons of good, seasons of bad. Seasons of life, seasons of death. Seasons of growth, seasons of transformation, or seasons that are completely stagnant.
Many of my more recent seasons have been seasons of waiting. I’ve basically been living an Advent life for the last six years- constantly waiting and preparing for what happens next, and I think I’ve finally reached the time when the “what comes next” is actually coming next! It’s not coming without a price, though. With any and every season change comes the inevitable death of the season before it. When we change from Winter to Spring, the cold and the snow die with the come of the warm and the sun. When the Autumn comes, with it comes a death of the life that the Summer brought us in new life through the creation that has bloomed. The death is necessary because it brings to us a birth of something new (which might be confusing because Winter actually kills things, but the winter is born- a time for snow, holidays…. you get it, right?). Change is almost always painful because we are being forced to let go of something that we’ve become so familiar with, but change brings joy because we’re able to look at a birth of possibilities as we move into the future.

I’ll be honest with you- I’m ready for the change that I know is coming, even though I don’t know what it is. In the last 12 months, I’ve finished and turned in a Master’s thesis, graduated from grad school, have looked endlessly for jobs, moved into a three-bedroom house by myself, ended a very special and close friendship, sparked almost a hundred new friendships, traveled overseas, experienced the death of a grandpa, had another grandpa go through open heart surgery, experienced a number of personal trials within my family, traveled all over the country, and spent a week in Germany. This year has been non-stop emotional instability. It’s been exhausting, at at times, seemingly impossible.

My current situation could be the end of this time that feels like it has little-to-no foundation. It could be the beginning of something huge. And on the other hand, it could be all for nothing. I’m in the middle of a very turbulent hiring process for a job I never thought I’d get right out of grad school. I’m so excited for it, but every other day, there is a new development that changes how the process is playing out. I’ve waited and waited…. and waited some more. Last night, I came to the conclusion that God is doing one of two things: Telling me to move on or press on. It’s amazing how the message for those two VERY different messages can be so similar. And what do I do now? How do I know which message God is trying to send me? At what point do I need to trust myself to make a decision that’s worthy of the faithfulness God has shown me? As much as people like to preach “Let go, and let God,” the material and tangible decision is ultimately left in our hands. As much as my Type-A, control freak loves having that control, the faithful servant who wants to chase God’s will is terrified.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hang out with some senior high students which was so much fun. I invited them to ask me any questions they wanted to ask me about anything. So, after we got the superhero questions out of the way (my favorite being: Batman: Hero, or Superhero?), one of the boys began asking me questions about the bible. He asked me pretty basic “What’s your favorite ________?” questions, which were fun to answer because who really takes the time to think about that stuff, especially in Seminary when you’re having information shoved down your throat faster than you can swallow? But the one that caught me off guard the most was, “Who’s you’re favorite disciple or apostle?” This was a question I’d honestly never thought about. My go-to would have been “Mary Magdalene, obviously,” for the ‘girl factor,’ but I actually sat and thought about it. And I eventually decided on choosing Peter.

Good ol’ Peter. He get’s a bad rap, you know? He’s our overzealous, outspoken, try-to-hard, knucklehead. I, for the record, think he’s incredibly charming. He’s the most like me of anyone in the Bible. When I think of my current season of change and wanting to allow God to guide me through it, and the internal battle between Type-A and Faithful Servant, Peter’s attempt at water-walking is where I land in an attempt to illustrate it.
Matthew 14:22-33 is where I find my humanity buried in the mess of laws, grace, stories, allegories, and poetry of the Bible. Peter, being the hot-shot he is, begs Jesus to call him out onto the water with him, to which Jesus kindly obliges. Peter thinks he’s got it, and I can only imagine this scene- Peter’s walking on the water, thinking, “Oh, for crying out loud… I’m walking on water! …….. OH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I’M WALKING ON WATER!!” When he takes his focus off of Jesus who is there to help him with this feat he’s decided to jump into- when he decides to depend on his own strength, it’s over for him. Yet, Jesus doesn’t call him out and tell him to go back because there’s no hope. Jesus doesn’t tell him to get back into the boat where he can play it safe. Jesus simply confronts Peter’s  lack of faith, reaches out his hand, and continues to accompany Peter on his watery journey.

Peter’s “season change” was his transition of faith in what Jesus could do with and for him. But it didn’t come without becoming overwhelmed. It didn’t come without struggle. It didn’t come without what could have been a very literal death. And Jesus had two options: He could have stood there and said, “You fool…. I didn’t tell you to get out of the boat. Go back or die…. *mumble* idiot *mumble*” Or he could have taken option B- He stood there, accepting Peter’s zealous decision to hop on out of the boat and he he started to sink, reach his hand out and not let him be overwhelmed by the waves. Changing seasons come with hard decisions. Hard decisions are sometimes followed with remorse. When we start to regret or be remorseful about the decisions we make during times of change, we lose focus on the hand that Jesus is extending to us. When we focus on anything other than the hope of something bigger, we get swallowed up in the waves so much easier. It takes strength to get out of the boat, but it takes perseverance to keep going.

Earlier, I said that the two messages I could be getting from God right now are , “Move on!” or “Press on!” And when it comes down to it, whatever we do, we’re pressing on through whatever season we’re in at the moment. Ultimately, giving up is never going to be an option, because giving up means you’ve let the waves overcome you. Giving up means you’ve forgotten about the hand that’s reaching out to you saying, “Why don’t you trust me?” You don’t need to give up. You need to see his hand keeping you from the waves and urging you to press on.

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Emergency Grocery Store Run Results in Existential Crisis: The Salmon Edition

Tonight started like any other Tuesday night. I got home from work shortly after 4 to catch the last part of Ellen. Then I flipped on the news (insert “SHOCKER” here). After I cleaned up last night’s dinner dishes (left over due to the fact that the Bachelorette was on and that consumed most all of my evening), I decided to start thinking about dinner. I knew I had a salmon fillet left over from grandma’s generous unloading of frozen meats she bought from some Schwan’s rival, and I decided to make a lovely salmon fillet with a lemon-dijon sauce, and a side of broccoli and tortolini. A little fancier than a usual Tuesday night meal, but it was the first thing I thought of, and I stuck to it.

I made my dijon sauce, and started the water boiling for my pasta. When I reached into my freezer, I remembered that the salmon had been in there for quite some time and I started to worry that it wouldn’t be good anymore. I was right. The salmon fillet was severely freezer-burned and had all the markings of “bad fish.”
[As a side-note, I should also tell you the following:
When I got home, I knew I didn’t have plans tonight so I washed my face, and took all my makeup off. At this time, I was reminded that I needed a new toothbrush.]
Continuing on…

I had already made my lemon-dijon sauce, crushed my breadcrumbs, and started my water boiling, so there was no turning back. I decided to halt everything and make an emergency salmon run. I turned off my oven which was fully preheated, I turned off the stove, I grabbed my keys and out the door I ran. I was not even halfway down the first flight of stairs (there are six) when I realized that I wasn’t wearing any makeup. I almost turned around but knew that I just wanted to go and get back so I could continue making dinner. To be sure it “wasn’t that bad,” I pulled up the camera on my phone to take a look at my face to see if I was even close to publicly presentable. I wasn’t. But as they say in the ‘biz,’ “the show must go on,” so I forged down the rest of the stairs, and made my way to Rainbow.

Now is the time when I take a brief moment to be completely honest with you about something I’m sure you don’t care about only because you don’t need to and you’ve probably never thought about it. Ready? I NEVER leave the house without some kind of make-up on my face. Sometimes it’s to actually cover something up. Sometimes it acts as more of a security blanket. And before you start going and blaming my mother saying things like, “Why did she teach her that?” or “Why didn’t she instill more self-confidence in her?” please note that this has absolutely nothing to do with my mom. Actually, my mom has frequently tried to tell me that makeup doesn’t matter. She, herself, doesn’t even wear much. This obsession I have is no one’s fault but my own.

When I got to Rainbow (for you out-of-staters, Rainbow is a grocery store), I knew something was off. The moment I saw someone, I looked down at the ground- and my eyes never left it (except to look at which salmon, toothbrushes, and tupperware containers I was purchasing). I stared at the ground during the entire 7-10 minutes I was in the store. I went through the self-checkout because I didn’t want to have to look anyone in the eyes. Every time I walked by someone I was reminded that I wasn’t in my usually “pretty” state. I wasn’t wearing makeup. I was in a state that is only ever embraced when I’m alone in my apartment. Shame had completely consumed me.

As a woman, I’ve been conditioned to believe that “beautiful” looks a certain way. As someone with terrible self-talk and self-esteem, I’ve conditioned myself to believe that I am not it. As much as this is a problem, I don’t think it’s completely my fault, nor do I believe that it’s completely the world’s fault. Sure, media tells me that “beautiful” comes in pretty much one form- long, beautiful hair, big, beautiful eyes, thin, tan, nice boobs, and a nice ass (for all you ass guys out there). I don’t fit this mold—– AT ALL. For those of you who know me personally, you know that this is true. Yes, some of you will tell me that I am beautiful, however, the key to understanding where I’m coming from is that I don’t fit the beautiful mold. There’s a difference.

I’ve told a guy friend of mine, on at least two occasions, that “guys like him are the reason girls like me are single.” I usually drop this bomb when we discuss how “hot” Carly Rae Jepsen or Kellie Pickler are (I’m only using him as an example because I guarantee you he doesn’t read this). I really don’t mean anything by this when I say it, but then I reflect, and I realize how much I actually believe it. “Girls like me” don’t fit into his or most men’s cookie-cutter mold that the world has come to know as beautiful. And as smart as I am, or funny, or [insert endearing quality here] as I may be, I’ll never be, and other girls who don’t fit into the mold will never feel like we are a complete person because we know that men are looking for something more. Essentially, we’ll never be the complete package.

Now, I’m sure you’re trying to tie this back to the whole “leaving the house without make-up” thing, so let me help. The second I stepped out of my apartment, fresh-faced, and flawed, I felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders. I knew that, as a woman, I was supposed to be something in particular, and by stepping out without make-up on, I was failing to measure up to that standard of excellence. I couldn’t tell if I should be ashamed of myself, or ashamed that the world had conditioned me to feel like this. At that point, it didn’t matter. My reality was that I DID feel like that, and for 7-10 minutes, walking through Rainbow, I felt inferior to everyone around me, and I felt that I had little-to-no worth.

It makes me sad that my 12 year old sister will grow up in a world like this. It’s funny, because she’s starting to dabble in makeup, and worry about fashion while I’m constantly telling her it doesn’t matter, and she’s so beautiful. As much energy as I put into telling her that, I put just as much energy into telling myself that she won’t believe it because I don’t believe it for myself. The world (and I hope you understand that by “world,” I mean “American society”) has put these standards on us as women AND MEN (trust me guys, I know you’re dealing with it too, and women are not totally innocent in that), to live up to expectations that no one can reach. Not even celebrities. Do we need to talk about the significance of airbrushing and retouching photos? THIS is the world we live in- not only are the “realistic” levels of expectations too much for us to handle, we have a whole separate set of unrealistic expectations to live up to.

If you know anything about Brene Brown, you’ll realize that this post goes against everything she teaches and talks about. Brene Brown researches shame and vulnerability and encourages people to live into that vulnerability, and embrace who they are. I love her work and her writing and I will encourage any and everyone to read her books, but tonight was a clear indication that some of her teaching is total and complete idealism. What she talks about is not the reality that you and I live every day. We feel pressure to look right, to have enough money, drive the right car, go on the right vacations, be members of the right church, or country club. It’s hard for me to embrace myself because I’m living in a world that’s constantly trying to take who I am away from me. And guess what? You might not know it, but the world is doing it to you, too.

So, how do we get over it? I have no idea. The problem is systemic, and systemic problems are the hardest to fix. You can love yourself all you want, and embrace who you are as much as possible, but we are all fighting the exact same battle… and we’re fighting it against ourselves and each other. I can promise you that I will probably never leave the house without make-up again because I can’t. It causes me to feel actual pain in dealing with the shame that I experience. Your battle might be something different. I don’t know what it is for you, but the battle is there and the key to fighting it is understanding what it is.

I will never be as beautiful as the FSN Girls (don’t even get me started), I’ll never be as charismatic as Jennifer Lawrence, and I’ll never look like Megan Fox. Don’t be fooled– celebrity women aren’t the only ones my struggle is with. I went to High School with a bunch of girls I STILL wish I could be. But there comes a time when the need to face reality overcomes the need to live up to expectations. If that means that I’m single for a really long time because I’m not pretty enough to date (a guy in high school told me this one time), then so be it. Luckily, life goes on whether you’re a little ugly or not. Life goes one whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20. Life goes on whether you make $30,000 a year, or $300,000 year. The beautiful part in this is that life does, in fact, go on.

Your battle is your battle, and I’m sorry you have to fight it. I’m especially sorry if you’re fighting it alone. If at all possible, find comfort that though we might all be fighting separate battles, we are fighting them together.

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A Letter to My 12-Year-Old Sister About Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About

Dear Little Sister,

You just finished 6th grade! Congratulations, you’re officially half-way through your childhood– wait, WHAT? This letter couldn’t be coming at a better time for you! Being well into my adult-hood (although I try to stay young, and you help me do that– especially since we wear the same size clothes), I believe I can offer you a little insight about what you’ve already experienced and what you have around the corner. Ready? Here we go!

1. Mom and Dad

Mom and dad are really great. They each have certain things about them that make them really AWESOME people. You might not feel that way right now because they’re always telling you to clean your room or practice piano, but they really are doing it because they love you and they want to see you succeed. I know that sounds corny, but you have to trust me- I’m your older sister.  It might seem like sometimes they’re just giving you work to do they don’t want to do. Guess what? They are, and they can. They’ve earned that right. It might suck, but that’s part of earning your kid stripes.

Mom and dad really are awesome people, and they’re really, really smart. They’re not going to make you do something that’s going to hurt you, but they’re trying to teach you things about what it means to grow up. Trust them. They know what they’re doing.

2. School

STUDY. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I know it seems pointless sometimes and a lot of times, teachers just give you busy work. But here’s the deal- YOU HAVE TO DO IT IF YOU WANT TO GET ANYWHERE. Not only will doing your homework teach you the material you’re learning, but it’ll also teach you about discipline, time management, and prioritization. None of this means anything to you right now, but I promise it will.

Being able to bounce back is a really good skill, but don’t use it a lot. In 7th grade advanced math, at mid-quarter I had 14 late or missing assignments and I still pulled out a B in that class. What did that teach me? Nothing, except the realization that I could finagle my way out of almost any situation and still be above average. While this is respectable, it’s not admirable. Strive to be admirable. Show us what you can do because you can, not because you have to.

One last thing- do everything you can to be amazing. Study hard. Be involved. You know why? Not only will this just continue to prove to everyone that you are, in fact, AWESOME, but you’ll also start applying for college someday (the money talk is next… get ready), and the more free college you can get because you’re awesome, the better. Make schools WANT you to come to their school. Make them WANT your awesomeness. Because, girl, you are.

3. Money

Money sucks. And it’s only going to get worse. Here are my rules– pay attention.

– SAVE. SAVE. SAVE. Save your money. You’ll thank me and yourself later.

– Students loans are terrible, but they’re a reality. This is why you need to do awesome in school– the less student loan debt you have, the better. Trust me- my student loan debt is the reason you won’t be an aunt or sister-in-law for a very, VERY long time.

– Be responsible. Don’t be impulsive. Your good credit (once you have some) is next to Godliness. Be careful.

– Money is not the end of the world or the defining quality of a good life. If you’re responsible with your money, you’re paying your bills, and you don’t have much money left but you’re happy, that’s all that matters. Money will not make you happy. As long as you’re living the life you want, and you’re happy with who you are and what you’re doing, that’s what matters.

4. Friends

Some friends stay forever. Some friends stay for a week. Friends will hurt you. Friends will love you. All of the experiences you have with your friends will become a part of who you are, and you, in turn, will be a part of who your friends are. I have three best friends (and they might not even know who they are), but I have a small group of really close friends, too. Each of my friends has turned me into the person I am, and the person I’m continuing to grow to be. You’re young, you have a lot of growing left to do.

If a friend hurts you, make sure you forgive them. But you also need to remember that you’re worth being treated like gold. If you’re friends don’t respect your, or use you, or hurt you constantly, make sure you know that you deserve better than that, and that  maybe it’s ok to walk away from that relationship. This way, you can invest more in the friends who love you and care about you and will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. But make sure you’re the best friend you can be to your friends, too. Respect and love in friendships is a two-way street.

5. Boys/Love

This is last because it’s the least important. I know you’re not experiencing it much now, but you’ll start (sooner than I’d like). First of all, boys are dumb. They’ll never understand what is going on in your head, so don’t expect them to. Second, boys aren’t worth it. Guys are almost worth it. Men are sometimes worth it. You have TOO MUCH to focus on right now (and through high school) to get caught up in “boy” drama. Wait until you meet a man… then come to me and I’ll let you know if it’s time and if he’s good enough for you.

No boy/guy/man is worth your tears. If they’re not nice to you, get out right away. Make sure that if whatever feelings you have for him aren’t mutual that you either tell him that, or get out. Your broken heart or his broken heart isn’t worth the dragging out of something that isn’t there– TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.

Don’t let mom, dad, grandma, or any of our aunts or uncles make you feel bad about your relationships or lack thereof. Eventually, you’ll be smart enough to make your own decisions without knowing that your family is judging your every word or move. Your relationships are YOUR relationships– not anyone else’s… except I expect to be overly involved. I can. I’m your big sister.

Little Sister, you are so incredible, and you don’t even know it yet. You’re not even your whole person yet! That’s what’s so exciting about being 12. You have so much time to make mistakes and correct them, and to make masterpieces and enjoy them.

In closing, here are the things I love about you, because sometimes it’s nice to hear things like that:

1. Your loving heart

2. Your willingness to try new things

3. Your excitement to learn about new things

4. Your beautiful artistic abilty

5. Your musical ability

6. Your creative spirit

7. Your unconditional love for people (sometimes to a fault)

8. Your beautiful smile

9. The fact that you are a bed hog

10. I love that you laugh at my jokes

Dream big. Be awesome.


Your Big Sister


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It’s OK to Hope for a KitchenAid Mixer

This past Christmas, I did something I probably shouldn’t have: I asked for a 5-quart KitchenAid mixer (with accessories) in the iconic Empire Red color. It might not be every little girl’s fantasy to someday own a KitchenAid mixer, but I feel like once you  hit a certain age, it’s OK to start wanting some of those “adult” things (and actually be excited about them). Here’s the problem- Everyone I know who has one of these wonderful contraptions is married. The KitchenAid mixer is traditionally known to be a wonderful wedding gift from a wealthy family member who is just close enough to want to spend that kind of money on you, but not close enough to want to help with the wedding (like a rich uncle).

kitchen aid mixer


It’s no secret that I’m in my mid late 20’s and as single as I’ve ever been. That’s why I had a difficult time adding my KitchenAid mixer to my wish list. In my mind, the Empire Red KitchenAid mixer is a “coming of age” item. To me, it means you’ve arrived- you’re officially the domestic queen that your grandma has always hoped you be. I even thought that actually receiving, purchasing, or owning this kind of item would mean I’ve given up all hope in my future and become settled with being single for the rest of my life (it’s a symbolism thing…).  This whole life of limbo I’m living in really got me thinking about one HUGE question: How do we realistically plan for the future without having a clue what the future might even look like?

This question has been in the back of my mind since I started grad school. When I started seminary, I was toying with the idea of becoming ordained and everything that entailed. At that point, I was single and fine with being sent wherever they were going to want to send me, and I knew that would be a strength I had going into my interviews. After that idea went out the window, I considered moving to New York (you might remember that post from September). I remember people being so concerned with the idea of moving to somewhere new by myself, but my excuse was that I had nothing holding me down here.

Skipping ahead, I’m now 27 and I’m trying to figure out what the latest versions of my 1, 5, and 10 year plans are. When you’re recently graduated with a lot of components in your life that keep changing, your own idea of the future ends up morphing and it can be difficult to keep up. When you’re from the heartland, people are getting married young, and beginning their lives together, meaning they can make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan together. Now, don’t get me wrong- this is not a “poor me, I’m single,” story. This is simply a discovery of what life for 20/30-somethings who are ready to make a game plan looks like when they make that game plan without knowing who they’ve got on their roster.

As cynical as I may be becoming, I still believe in the power of hope and faith for the future. Though your present may either be really great, or really not-so-great, you still have a future waiting for you. The beauty is that your future is just as unknown to you as it is to people who spend their whole lives planning for theirs. So dream. Dream big. What do you want your future to look like? Think about it in terms of painting a picture. The thing that I think a lot of us take for granted in planning without knowing is that our canvas is blank and waiting to be painted on. People who are planning with and around others in their life already have brushstrokes they need to work into their artwork. I’m not saying that people who are married, dating, have kids or family responsibilities, or anything tying them down can’t dream, and more often than not, the art that they’re having to incorporate into their painting is beautiful. I just know that, although I’m a terrible visual artist, I have a huge sense of hope and imagination when I’m staring at a blank canvas.

Another thing that I think we forget, especially when we get deep into “planning mode,” is that plans rarely work out the way we envision them. If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I’d be doing now, I can say with 150% certainty that THIS would not be it. I pictured myself married, maybe with a child, living in a house, and successful in whatever career I may have landed in. Grad school was never on my radar, and I wanted to get done and start life as soon as possible. I’m 27, single, childless, and a recent graduate who feels clueless more than anything. My future, your future, his future, her future… our futures are not static. It’s not a situation of, “Let it be said, let it be done.” Our lives are fluid and we have to make changes and recalibrate when things happen all the time. Some people believe that God has a very precise plan for them (I don’t know if I’m one of those people or not), and if that is the case, then guess what? We still don’t know the plan, and we have to prayerfully accept the dance God has invited us into, and let him lead.

I think there’s a huge leadership lesson in this for us. Leaders are people who can not only anticipate their own needs and the needs of those around them, but they are also people who can adapt to changes, including ones they weren’t expecting. Leaders are also people who are self-aware, know who they are, and what they can offer. I think there’s a big difference in knowing what you can offer and knowing what you want to offer. When we make plans for the future, we’re already limiting ourselves to what we think we’ll want to offer instead of letting opportunities present themselves. When you don’t have your piece of art completed before you begin, life gives you new colors, shapes, and brushstrokes to make it a masterpiece you didn’t know you were capable of.

In closing, I want to swing this back around to my lustful desire for a KitchenAid mixer. I’m not married. I’m not dating anyone. I’m not really even close. But I also know I’m not getting any younger, and that owning a KitchenAid mixer shouldn’t be contingent on weather or not I’m getting married. What’s important is that I’m allowing my canvas to be painted one brushstroke at a time, and when I’m ready for my Empire Red brushstroke that represents my KitchenAid mixer to finally find its home amongst the other colors that make up who I am, I think it’s going to be an excellent addition to the magnificent piece of art my life is turning out to be. And when I’m ready to merge my masterpiece with another person’s, it’s going to be more lovely and intricate that I could have ever imagined.  So go on, dream big, and get yourself a KitchenAid mixer.


Who I am.

Who I am.

I’m posing this as a statement and not a question. Although I’d say I’m pretty confident in knowing who I am,  I wouldn’t say I’m confident in knowing what I’m doing with myself. Today, I thought I’d do myself a favor and recognize who I am and what I have to offer myself and the world.

I think it’s important for us all to celebrate who we are as individual souls and personalities. Celebrate the things that make you unique.  Today I’m treating myself to a gentle reminder that I am a person deserving of love.

I am Brigitte Kathleen Leininger.

I am 27 years old.

I am a brown-haired, blue-eyed child of God.

I am a woman.

I am a daughter.

I am a step-daughter.

I am a granddaughter.

I am a step-granddaughter.

I am a great-granddaughter.

I am a sister.

I am a niece.

I am a cousin.

I am a friend.

I am a bestie.

I am a classmate.

I am a theologian.

I am well-rounded.

I am a work colleague.

I am a writer.

I am a leader.

I am a trumpet player.

I am terrified of rodents and arachnids.

I am a singer.

I am an artist.

I am spiritual.

I am an ENFJ.

I am religious.

I am well-traveled.

I am a story-teller.

I am open-minded.

I am an extrovert.

I am a sports fan.

I am a Seminary graduate.

I am compassionate.

I am passionate.

I am an adventure seeker.

I am emotional.

I love autumn.

I am well-read.

I am a conservative dresser.

I am a social media enthusiast.

I am a Democrat.

I am an excellent driver.

I am in love with the people of Kenya.

I am an advocate for justice and equality.

I am a lover, fighter, and dreamer.

I am a visionary.

I am an ELCA Lutheran.

I am a less than excellent athlete (but I try).

I love large bodies of water.

I am a baker (but not so much a chef).

I am patient with everyone but myself.

I am a confidant.

I am slow to trust others.

I am quick to love others.

I am partial to blue skies.

I am a voice.

I am a migraine sufferer.

I am relational.

I am sarcastic.

I am a jokester.

I am warm.

I am astute.

I am persistent.

I am a survivor.

I am afraid of vulnerability.

I am a momma’s girl.

I am multifaceted.

I am a dog person.

I am free-spirited.

I am not afraid of a challenge.

I am not a Pepsi person.

I hold true to my convictions.

I enjoy shopping.

I am a New Yorker at heart.

I am critical.

I am a vodka-tonic enthusiast.

I am enthusiastic.

I am earnest.

I am excitable.

I am thoughtful.

I am joyful.

I am wonderfully made.

I am beautiful.

I am me.

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