Grace and potatoes


In the last month or so, I’ve been having a quiet mental breakdown.

I say “quiet” because it’s not like I’m falling apart. I’m waking up and exercising and getting my work done. I painted a wall in my living room the other day. I’m meal planning and taking Foxy on walks and meeting friends for drinks and boarding airplanes and generally just taking care of business.

But every night, I climb into bed and stare at the brick wall across the room, the one that sold me on the house – because hello, charm. But in these nighttime moments, it’s felt like a metaphor for something going on in my soul, something that I struggle to name but have been feeling on a daily basis.

I’m up against it.

I’ve just really been up against it these days, you guys – that desperate feeling that sneaks up for no real reason and with no real warning and tells me that the hard things are never going to get better, and that the things I desire aren’t worth hoping for. I wonder if my days have any purpose. All it takes is one quick trip down the rabbit hole that is Instagram to look at dozens of other people’s worlds that appear more lovely than mine, for a dozen different reasons that really aren’t worth listing, and I’m hit with that same old question: does my life matter at all?

I don’t mean to be dramatic. This isn’t a cry for help or a plea for people to validate me (that would make me embarrassed). But I just wonder if I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way – futile and insignificant, like I should do more or have more or be more.


Recently, I stood with my friend Becca over her garden in Minnesota, and she confessed that this year she and her husband had neglected the potatoes that they planted, not doing any of the things that they “should” have done to guarantee a good crop. But even so, their garden has produced dozens of pounds of beautiful, perfect potatoes.

“I look at my garden and I see grace,” she said. “We didn’t do anything to deserve potatoes. But we got them anyway.”

And then she picked some fresh strawberries and gave them to me to eat.


I’m in the weeds these days. Some are there by my own negligence, some despite my best efforts – either way, they’re messing with my perfect little plot. Because when the things you hope for just aren’t happening and the things you despise just won’t go away, at some point you just want to throw up your hands.

But could it be that there is something good growing underneath?

I think that’s what grace is: the generosity of good things, whether or not we’ve earned them, whether or not we choose to acknowledge that they might be developing.



  1. Perry on September 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    You’re not the only one who feels this way. I think there’s about 8 people who don’t feel this way.

    I’ve begun to feel that this earthly life is a lesson in contentment and gratefulness. It’s a lesson I’ll never really learn, and thus I’ll spend my years here worrying and fretting, but I do know that eternity is where my hope lies.

    That’s all I have for you, Annie, my friend. You are not alone.

  2. Dani in Morocco on September 8, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Annie, re-read that paragraph 10 times about – being up against it and the rabbit hole of Instagram and does my life have any purpose? – and believe it or not that sums up how I feel so much of the time. Thank you for putting that into words for me. But especially thank you for the story of the potatoes. That. That has lifted my heart today, because is a picture of my life and Gods grace as he takes all my should haves and screw ups and he somehow brings about fruit. Tonight as I stare at my “brick wall” I am going to remember potatoes and praise The Lord. Thank you for that.

  3. Angie N (@angnik26) on September 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Annie, even when you’re “up against it” you still have a way of putting words together that is impactful and resonates so strongly with so many people.

    Thank you for sharing. In the midst of constantly comparing our own lives to those of perfect strangers on the internet, I think it requires the utmost of grace to admit life isn’t perfect. We all struggle and I’d rather read this post a hundred times than see a picture of someone’s ideal vacation, beautiful home or happy baby.

  4. Stephie on September 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    SO hear you on the Instagram thing:) And, exposed brick walls are the best. And, and, I thought of you this morning when I had a fried egg on toast for breakfast.

  5. Erin on September 8, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    You’re amazing. Don’t fall into the black hole of negativity, I’m so, so guilty of it and it comes so easily. I feel it too.

  6. Paul on September 8, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Annie – I’m compelled to respond?! Just this weekend I thought to myself, “How in the span of 48 hrs can one feel as lost and hopeless as I did Saturday morning, and as excited and satisfied as I did by Sunday night??” I think it is part of our imperfect human nature to go through these fluctuations of confidence and doubt – and it is always nice to be reminded that everyone (even people you’d never guess or would never admit) has this same instability. Ps. Catch-up brunch someday soon??

  7. shanna mallon on September 8, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    YES. And you have been grace to me.

  8. Greta on September 8, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Oh man. I love those potatoes. And love your stitching together of despair, and hope, and choosing to be thankful for grace. This reads like a Psalm.

    Love you friend.

  9. Andy on September 8, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    How strange that even beautiful words and metaphors are only able to comfort us for the moment. The sweeping tide of “being down” erases so many of our thoughts. But one metaphor I keep to is that the slow erosion of those waves shapes us into who God intends. Almost everything good in me I attribute to struggle – that it’s worn down even the sharpest edges of my personality and made me like Jesus. And that’s good.

    There IS something good growing underneath. But I imagine you only have the vague feeling of it. Maybe not even a feeling but a hope. And that’s faith – believing in things unseen. Somehow, even amidst our discomfort, God is happy with that.

    It’s a long walk home, Annie! And it’s not over yet. Keep taking your steps the best you can – even if they’re slow and short. There are others out here like you.

  10. Michael on September 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    I’m in the weeds, too…have been on and off for the last 39 years. Medication can help when the weeds seem overwhelming…I’m told that I’ll probably be on it for the rest of my days. But I subvert it, sabotage myself, because I WANT to be in the weeds. I want to prove everybody wrong who believes in me. Sometimes I succeed with brutal efficiency. And yet there are people in my life…everyday in my life…who have no clue I’m in the weeds. Odd, really. So…here we are…a lot of us. You wanna build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman…

  11. Michael on September 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Maybe a weedman, except you’re in Colorado, so that may have a whole other connotation. Love to you, dear sister.

  12. Leigh Kramer on September 8, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Oh, girl. I’m right there with you, surveying the weeds and hoping something good is growing beneath the muck. Wish we could meet for coffee and talk it out.

  13. Joey on September 9, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Andy, I really like that metaphor. Thanks for sharing it!

  14. Laura on September 9, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    I relate. Well written.

  15. Jessica on September 12, 2014 at 4:49 AM

    Yes. Yes to what you said. Yes to Angie N’s reply to you. Yes to Michael and Andy. Good grief. Yes to all of your friends.
    Your blog could seriously be cut, copied and pasted into my diary (that I don’t keep because I don’t have a way with words).
    Two thoughts after telling you how much I appreciate your transparency and wisdom:
    1. You need to listen to this series called In the Meantime.
    2. Deleting all social media was one of thee best decisions I have made. Ok maybe not best, but wisest. I don’t miss it at all and it’s given me so much freedom and contentment.
    P.S. I NEVER comment on blogs but I just love your heart and soul. Thank you for sharing it with this pretty much total stranger. :)

  16. Jessica on September 17, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    We must be on the same wavelength — I have been feeling a lot of this too lately. I just posted today on my own blog about how the *wait* is what makes the story… You can read it here if you’d like. Have loved your blog and stories for a very long time! Always refreshingly honest and inspiring.

  17. Miranda on September 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is. 1 John 3:2

    Your writing brought this Word to mind. And thank God there’s more to us and what He’s making us than can be seen on the surface. Here’s to faith like potatoes!

  18. Kari on September 28, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    I also agree with Jessica that this could have come from my diary, had I one. The passing of many years complicates finding the feeling of hope that you have. But thank you for sharing hope that I don’t really struggle alone and if others can find hope, perhaps I also.

  19. Sarah Kate on September 29, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Don’t judge me by my Instagram. I feel the same way except my breakdowns aren’t nearly as silent. I kind of envy your way. I don’t seem to be satisfied until I’ve made a spectacle of myself.

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