A Girl Like Me http://agirlikeme.com Wed, 27 Jul 2016 12:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Lou, Smell the Flowershttp://agirlikeme.com/lou-smell-the-flowers/ http://agirlikeme.com/lou-smell-the-flowers/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 12:00:31 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2596 flowers

When I opened the door, the refrigerated air and the intense smell of flowers filled up my lungs. I immediately became obsessed with this tiny warehouse. As I stepped out of the bright sunlight and into this cement room full of buckets, I saw Lou. We had just talked on the phone for an hour while he taught me about growing dahlia tubers and how to harvest flowers to make them last. When I went to shake his hand, I could feel the years of making arrangements and working in the soil in his grip. There was passion in his eyes but his wrinkled skin gave it away-the sun had beaten him up. Growing flowers is no joke. He said he would buy any product I could grow as long as it was quality and to call him again with any questions. I was curious about this little warehouse so full of life. I asked an annoying amount of questions and only some were about the wedding I was helping prepare flowers for. On my way out, I took one more deep breath of the rose-lily-peony-lavender-eucalyptus goodness and asked him if he ever got tired of that smell and I’ll never forget his response.

 

“I wish I could still smell these flowers.”

 

Over the years, he had just gotten used to the smell. His senses were completely dulled. Man, to be surrounded by such beauty every single day and not be able to fully enjoy it anymore? Not gonna lie, it broke my heart in a little way.

And it made me think.

How many times do I complain about dumb crap instead of enjoying the blessing that is so plain to see?

How many times do I wish time away just to get to the next thing?

How many times do I drive the country roads to work and not realize the changing of the seasons in the color of the wildflowers?

How many times do I hear “I love you” from my husband and take it for granted?

How many times do I forget to be completely amazed at the ability to talk to God in prayer?

How many times do I panic about the future when I know the reality of heaven?

So many times.

 

I wish I could still smell these flowers.

 

So this changes things. Desiring the perspective of being aware of what’s around me has been changing my life. From decluttering my house to decluttering my schedule (these things are still in the beginning stages), I’ve been ever so slightly able to see more clearly.

These few uncomfortable things may change your life like they’re changing mine:

Eye contact. More than what’s usual or expected. With my husband and with the woman who is at the bus stop I drive by every morning. I want to say “I see you and I care” with my eyes.

Silence. I force myself to turn off the podcasts and not call people to leave ridiculous 4-minute voicemails (sorry, Heather). Sometimes it’s almost painful to turn talk radio off and listen to the hum of the road or the drone of the air conditioner at home. When is the last time you truly sat still and stopped your brain from running 100 miles an hour?

Get out! I have been sitting with my baby chickens (this is a whole other post… I’m obsessed with them) every night in the backyard in the quiet as a practice of slowing down. They wander around pecking the dirt and flying at each other and staring at me with their scruffy adolescent feathers and beady eyes like alien babies. And before I know it, I have sweat dripping off my face and bug bites on my legs. But man, something about the fresh air is like plugging my batteries in for a good charge.

 

I wish I could still smell these flowers, said old man Lou.

 

I want to smell the flowers every day.

 

Fight to smell the flowers.

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Don’t Go Therehttp://agirlikeme.com/dont-go-there/ http://agirlikeme.com/dont-go-there/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 12:00:20 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2591 talk-to-the-hand-1

“I want you to make a collage.”

After a couple months of counseling, I had my first assignment. I was given a big piece of paper and told to draw a circle. Inside the circle I would put pictures that represent things I know to be true of myself. On the outside, things I think other people believe to be true of me.

I thought the assignment was pretty easy. I went home and mindlessly cut words and images from magazines and organized them on the paper. I didn’t think too deeply about what each piece meant as I glued it down. I just described myself the best I could in a visual representation of the me I put on display and allow people to see, and the me I keep carefully hidden.

A week later I brought it back. I unrolled it. We talked about it. She asked questions. I answered. And the past month has mostly looked like that.

This week, however, she asked a question I wasn’t ready to answer.

“Is there anything on here that you want to talk about?”

And that’s where I shut down. I could handle direct questions. “Tell me about the quote inside the circle…What does the smiling girl outside the circle represent?…Why did you put the wedding picture inside the circle instead of outside?” I was ok with that. I’m a pretty open book when people show that they are curious about my life – asking deep, intentional questions because they’re genuinely interested in my struggles, my victories, my day-to-day and the condition of my heart. But I won’t volunteer insight into my life if I’m not absolutely certain it’s wanted or welcomed, if I don’t feel 100% safe.

Of course, there’s no reason I shouldn’t feel safe with my counselor. I trust her and actually love going to my appointments, talking to her for an hour and knowing that she’s listening. But I think that’s where the road block lies for me. “If I tell her about _____, will she be interested and truly care? Or will she just be listening to me because that’s her job?” To willingly invite her to the deepest parts of my heart, without being prompted, feels terrifyingly vulnerable…and I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet with her.

Or, for that matter, to even go there at all.

You may have noticed by now that pursuing and fighting for vulnerability has become a theme for us at AGLM. It’s something we each have learned to value and truly crave. Personally, it has a lot to do with my choice to seek counseling in the first place. I want to dive in and dig deep. I want to visit every dark, dusty, neglected corner of my heart. I want to face my demons, attack my struggles head on, connect all of the dots and understand the things that have shaped me into who I am.

Or at least in theory, I do. Once I actually start to go there, to that really tender place where my deepest wounds and most personal secrets are kept, it becomes a different story.

And that’s exactly where that question went.

So I pumped the breaks. Hard. Harder than I expected, actually. I tried to find a nonchalant way to change the subject. I smiled too much and laughed nervously, because that’s what I do when talking about something that makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and uncomfortable. I’ve always been that way. It’s my automatic defense against breaking. When something strikes a chord and tears feel imminent (and in that moment, they did), I instantly fight them with a happy face. It’s like I somehow think that if I can outwardly appear to be fine, I can trick my emotions into thinking it’s true.

I will not cry. I will not fall apart.

Because if I do, if I let one tear fall, the whole dam will break. And to crumble in a mess of emotions because something about my life is hard or hurts…that, to me, is the most raw, vulnerable state I can be in, and I am not ready to go there. Not alone, and certainly not in front of someone else.

It seems verbal vulnerability is much easier for me than letting my guard all the way down and getting my feelings involved…to say “I feel hurt/sad/angry/disappointed/etc” is one thing, but to provide evidence of that is too much for me. That’s where my boundary lies. That’s where the resistance kicks in.
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So as I sat there on that couch, knowing she was waiting for a response, I decided the only thing I could do was be honest. Not about the pictures glued on that paper. But about the conflict I was feeling. About the part of me that really wants to go there, to that place, to see what more there is to learn from a simple collage…but also the other part of me – the stronger part – that was suddenly struck by a fear that paralyzed me and said, “This is too much…you think you’re ready, but you’re not…vulnerability is just not safe today.”

And she said, “Ok.” She didn’t push. My walls and defenses fell. And I felt safe again.

But it scares me to know that I have to go back there. That moment revealed that there’s a level of hurt I didn’t fully know existed. I didn’t realize I’ve been ignoring it…avoiding it. But now that I do, it’s just another dark, dusty corner of my heart that I know I need to visit. Maybe not all at once. But a little bit at a time I will start to let myself feel whatever lives there.

Maybe I will cry tears that need to be cried. Maybe I will find forgiveness that has been begging to be found. Maybe I will heal in a way I didn’t know I needed to heal. And maybe – just maybe – I will find a way to feel ready to invite someone to go there with me.

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Little Voicehttp://agirlikeme.com/little-voice/ http://agirlikeme.com/little-voice/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 14:00:22 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2581 voice

 

The moment just before I wake up is my favorite part of every day. In this simple and quiet moment the world feels still, as if I’ve somehow found the key to push pause on my life, and for a second I can breathe. Like really breathe. I’m obsessed with this moment simply because I know that as soon as I allow myself to really wake up, she’ll be right there waiting for me.

Who is she? She’s the voice inside my head.

No, she’s not some literal voice, but she is very real and VERY persuasive. She’s the unwelcome visitor into my world who always has an opinion and is never EVER nice. The worst thing about her though? She never goes away and she never shuts up.

Look how fat you look today, Heather. 

You really think those two things look good together? 

You yelled at the kids AGAIN. Seriously, don’t you have any patience?

I wonder if Jeff is bored with you. 

I wonder if he still thinks you’re pretty

Looking at your phone AGAIN? You’re such a bad mom. 

You haven’t read your bible in like a month. What kind of Christian are you?

No one has texted you to hang out this week, probably because you’re a bad friend. 

Why can’t you look like that girl? 

You know, if you just ate less you’d probably have an easier time getting that body you want. 

Don’t let them see how sad you are, if you do, they won’t be your friend anymore. 

You want to have sex? You’re a girl, you shouldn’t want that. Only guys want that. 

I wonder how much a nose job costs.

I can’t believe you don’t have a job. Seriously, you’re going to make this family broke. 

Here you go again, screwing up the kids. 

Just quit this day and go to bed. Maybe you won’t be such a screw up tomorrow. 

This voice, well she’s a bitch. And the sad thing is, I believe what she says most of the time. I remind myself that no one knows me better than me so if I’m saying these things about myself then they have to be true.  In a world where everywhere I turn someone or something is telling me I need to be more than what I am, it doesn’t help that the one screaming the loudest is my own self. And no matter how hard I try, that little voice, she never leaves me.

For a long time I beat myself up for believing the little voice inside my head. I kept saying that if I read my Bible more or prayed more or thought of myself less then she’d go away and I’d be better. And where those things all helped for sure, they never fully silenced her completely. Truth is, they never will.

CS Lewis once said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I’m always going to feel like I’m never enough and too much at the same time. I’ll never pray enough or read my Bible enough or go to enough Church services to fill the ache inside me that makes that little voice so loud and so powerful. Because at the end of the day, the only cure is Jesus and to be reunited with him fully.

As depressing and hopeless as this all sounds, it’s granted me a freedom I never knew I could have. I’m broken. Nothing this side of heaven can fix that. There will never be a level of holiness or happiness or positive self talk that will satisfy. When I embrace that, the little voice and the lies she tells, I can welcome in a grace and mercy that renews my spirit and gives me great hope. What hope is that?

The hope that I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be broken. 

When I make myself and what I can do the way to silence the voice inside, I unknowingly put myself on the throne instead of God. I’m saying that I can do it myself, and if I try hard enough, I can make me better. But that’s not how it works dear friends.

In embracing and accepting the little voice that lives inside, we are making room for Jesus. We are admitting that life is hard and trying to navigate it feels impossible. Brokenness means grace. Brokenness means mercy. Brokenness means an awareness of just how much I need the love of God and just how grateful I am that he cares for the mess of a person I am. And brokenness…it also gives me a place to see Jesus take the ugly things and craft it into a tapestry of loveliness. Because that little voice, she can only be silenced when we acknowledge that she is just another extension of our our mess and a representation of just how desperately we need Jesus.

This morning, I woke up and the voice came calling. But today, today I’m hopeful. Because when her words gets louder and feel overwhelming, I can whisper a prayer of thanks that I don’t have to face her alone. And just like that, my world starts to feel a little bit quieter.

 

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Our “Hot” Listhttp://agirlikeme.com/our-hot-list/ http://agirlikeme.com/our-hot-list/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 15:00:56 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2576 29222ffd5e6cf8b2bec26310088899a2

Summer is here and it is NASTY. Not sure where you guys live, but in Nashville, it’s gross. Humidity and heat…..gah… it feels like your sweat is sweating. But despite the fact that it feels like we are living in hell’s oven, summer somehow gives off this feeling of opportunity. Like if there was ever a time to take that trip or try that new outfit or binge watch that tv show, summer is that time.

In case summer isn;t your jam and you find yourself in a midseason slump, we have provided a list for you of some of our favorite things that helping us beat the heat and make the most of this time. So here’s our current AGLM “Hot” list:

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown: YOU GUYS…this book is earth shattering good. If you’ve read any of our posts over the last few months, there is some reference or hint to Brene and her wisdom from this book. All three of us have read it, and it’s totally changed how we love each other, ourselves, and those around us. Total must read for sure.

The Bachelorette: Yes, we know it’s bad tv. Yes we know it’s not uplifting. Yes, we know the guys are ridiculous and that these kind of relationships never work out. But ladies…..WE. CANNOT. STOP. WATCHING. It’s like a car wreck; you know it’s awful but something makes it impossible for you to look away. We have our favorites (Sweet James) and our least favorites (ahem…Robby) and we can not wait to see which one Jo-Jo ends up with.

– Scarves: Listen, scarves are not just for farmers to keep the sun off their necks, they are SUPER in right now and SUPER cute. It’s a great way to accessorize an outift without working too hard. Here is a tutorial on different ways to wear a bandana or scarf and rock it hard this summer/fall.

– Zucchini bread: For people who hate veggies and LOVE sweats, this tasty snack is the perfect combo. Here’s a recipe that declares itself the BEST zucchini bread recipe out there. We dare you to try it.

-Bralettes: For us gals with NO boobs, bralettes can feel a bit tricky. But, find the right one, and they can take your summer wardrobe to a whole new level. A lot of people might think they look trashy, but done right, they can add that nice feminine touch to your ensemble. Here’s an article on different ways to style your bralette. Happy shopping.

– Tinted Moisturizer: In the summer, wearing a ton of makeup feels gross, especially when you are sweating outside. A great way to get coverage without all the fuss is a tinted moisturizer. Perfect for giving you that dewy look but not too heavy that you look like a monster movie when you sweat. Here are two of our faves that we are currently wearing here and here

Switchfoot’s Where The Light Shines Through: Possibly one of their best records yet, Where The Light Shines Through feels like it’s the anthem of AGLM. Although we haven’t heard the whole record yet, (it comes out THIS Friday) every song released so far has spoken to our hearts in a really profound and personal way. Take a listen and let us know your thoughts!

Well there you have it. Let us know in the comments what are some of your go to things right now. Peace and pool hangs! -AGLM Team

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The Truth About Your Dream Jobhttp://agirlikeme.com/the-truth-about-your-dream-job/ http://agirlikeme.com/the-truth-about-your-dream-job/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 12:00:54 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2569 unnamedIn college, I was assigned to write a business plan for my “dream job”.

Yeah, no pressure.

At that point, if I could finish my homework before 2am and wash my hair a couple times a week, I felt like success.

 

The assignment came with few restrictions besides making the financials work and being realistic. My classmates and I were living on a farm together so the different business plans ranged from growing the ingredients for beer and starting a local brewery to moving to Ecuador to start a dairy farm to help build communities.

 

My plan was simple. Or so I thought. My dream included growing food and flowers to serve an onsite event venue for banquets, weddings, and gatherings of any sort. Sounds cool, huh? Well, starting something like that takes a huge amount of money, so the job search began. I worked on a few farms and loved the atmosphere but was curious about that hospitality factor of having people come to a farm for events.

 

But let’s face it. Job hunting = BORING. Waiting is BORING. I’m SO BAD at waiting. Like, I would rather dig a hole to the center of the earth with an ice cream scooper than wait in my cozy little house for the answer to a question I’m asking God. Should I start my own business? How long should I be on the road? Is that God’s voice or my obnoxious hormones speaking? When should we think about babies? (Mom, I know you’re reading this. Don’t get excited. Seriously.) Oh gosh, can I farm when I’m pregnant?

 

And ah-ha! A few months ago, I started working at Homestead Manor. The front of the property is a Civil-War era home converted into a restaurant and a massive event barn where weddings, meetings, and receptions of all kinds fill the space every weekend. Down the path you’ll find the farm that serves the restaurant with fresh veggies and wild berries. I am a farmer there and between the few of us on the crew, we grow two acres intensely and organically. The property is a dream and the land is stunning.

 

So the place isn’t “mine”, but it’s literally exactly that business plan that I wrote a few years ago.

But surprise surprise, somehow my dream job is not “satisfying”. It’s not enough. I still get frustrated and sometimes I want to quit. Tennessee summer heat is like trying to survive a frying pan. I sweat all day and the other day, one of the guys said he could feel his brain cooking. We don’t get everything done and we are assigned tasks we don’t want. Trust me, it would be great to make more dollars per hour. The kitchen wastes some of the food we grow and sometimes the chefs are overwhelmed.

 

I don’t say this to discourage you from following your dream, but rather the opposite. Girl, if you feel an itch in your heart to go somewhere or do something, put on those old running shoes that have taken you this far already, and go for it. Sprint so hard you feel like you’re going to fly. If a fire strikes in front of you but you feel God still tugging your heart, put your hair in a high pony and pray it doesn’t burst into flames on your way through it.

And when you stop to take a breath and a break and maybe find yourself somewhere closer to where you wanted to be, maybe you’re already there. Expect some hallelujahs and so much imperfection. Expect tears and happy dances and to do lists. Expect to need rest but don’t expect satisfaction in the dream itself. It’s just the glory of God inside of whatever you’re dreaming of and His presence in the little moments that will really last a lifetime.

 

There is this insatiable quest inside each of us – for the more beautiful view, for the deeper love, for the wilder adventures, for the quickened heartbeat. This exists because we were made by God to be with Him. He is infinity in every way. He created these views that take your breath away. He created your heart that races with excitement and nothing on earth here and now really can satisfy the longing until heaven. So girl, chase that dream. And if you don’t have clarity on what it is yet, find the hints of heaven that are already around you. And when you love something, love it with all you’ve got.

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Decisions, Decisionshttp://agirlikeme.com/decisions-decisions/ http://agirlikeme.com/decisions-decisions/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 12:00:05 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2566 Decisions

I hate decision making.

Seriously, ask me where I want to go for dinner and the answer will almost always be “I don’t care.” And once we get wherever we eventually decide on, I need 10 minutes to look at the menu, and I still change my mind a dozen times before I finally order.

Give me the task of choosing a movie to watch, an ice cream flavor, what shoes go best with your outfit or what to name your goldfish and I will agonize over it.

And multiple choice on tests…don’t get me started. Even Buzzfeed quizzes give me anxiety.

…Have I mentioned I HATE making decisions?

I guess it all comes down to this fear that I’m going to make the wrong choice. I’m so afraid that whatever I choose, I’ll end up regretting it later. Yes, even the smallest, most seemingly-insignificant things. Somehow I still get hung up on which one is the “right” choice.

So as you can probably imagine, I reeeally don’t do well with big life decisions.

I think sometimes on the outside it looks easy.

Drop out of college to travel the country with a ministry? Sure! Move over 600 miles away from my family without a clue where I’m going to live or work? Psh, no big deal.

In reality, if anyone got ahold of my journals from around those times, you’d see that the journey leading up to those decisions was one big terrifying, complicated, confusing headache.

I recently had two job offers. At the same time. And I, of course, panicked.

Both were great places that I would be so happy to work for – great environments, great people, just all-around great opportunities! But that was not quite the answer to prayer I was looking for.

I need clear-cut direction. At least I think I do, anyway. I want to see one door open and the other one shut so that I know without a doubt which one I’m supposed to walk through. Better yet, I want big flashing arrows, neon signs, a yellow brick road and an “X” to mark the spot.

Two open doors with perfect little welcome mats doesn’t help my decision making.

I wrestled with it for a while. I prayed so hard about which was the right job, but I felt like God was giving me the silent treatment. I went back and forth all day with the pros and cons of each, but kept coming up with the same answer – I couldn’t go wrong with either option.

But that was just it. I was so focused on which one was right that I couldn’t see that neither one was wrong. God had given me a choice, not to test me and see if I’d choose the right path, but to show me that sometimes there’s more than one right answer…and His will will be done either way, no matter which I choose.

I think maybe the deeper root of my fear is that I’m worried I’ll mess up God’s master plan for my life. Part of me seems to believe that I somehow have the power to ruin everything with just one wrong move.

But the truth is, if we’re loving, following and serving Christ, and if the options before us allow us to live within that calling, I don’t really think there can be a wrong choice. We just have to pick a path. Because no matter what we choose, God is in control.

And if somehow we do make the wrong choices, we serve a God who chooses redemption and who decides daily to craft beauty from our mistakes…and His decisions are never wrong.

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Someone’s Somewherehttp://agirlikeme.com/someones-somewhere/ http://agirlikeme.com/someones-somewhere/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 19:41:33 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2559 6359238970132928841166286349_best-friends-quotes-hands

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always struggled with the whole friendship thing. Never having the same friends from season to season, friendship for me has always felt like either a flood or a drought: more friends than I care to handle or so few that I wonder if anyone likes me at all.

In the last two years, heck, the last six months, God has really opened my eyes to what I desire in a friend and how I want to be as a friend. But I’m finding the more that understanding grows, the farther off having these kind of friends start to feel.

See, I don’t want nine million friends. Shoot, I don’t even feel like I want nine friends. What I do want are Somewheres.

Somewheres, a term coined by author Sarah Bessey, are your people. The ones you can say anything to. The one you can tell that dirty joke you just heard, the not so humble brag about yourself, and the horrible ugly thoughts that nestle deep inside your heart. Somewheres are the ones you can call at two in the morning and will let you ugly cry on the phone with them and not feel like they have to say anything because just being there is enough. Somewheres, in my opinion, are friendship in it’s rawest and most beautiful form and yet also the hardest type to cultivate.

Friendship like this just doesn’t happen over night and it never comes handed to us on a silver platter. It takes work. Lots of work. It’s give and take. Sacrifice and vulnerability. It’s daring to let someone see you and being gentle and kind enough when they let you see them. It’s forgiveness lived out. It’s rarely perfect, always messy, and one of the most life-giving things you’ll ever experience. It’s the gospel made flesh.

In journeying towards these kinds of friendships, my own insecurity and self-doubt begins to creep in and I start to wonder if anyone thinks, or better yet, wants me to be their Somewhere. Simply put, I wonder if anyone wants me to be their friend as badly as I want to be theirs.

In the last two years as God has been breaking and mending me in the best of ways, I’ve seen a lot of friendships that I held dear fade away. Some by the natural course of life and distance, and others because one or the both of us felt we were not the friend the other needed at this point in our life. Whichever way they’ve left, I always wonder if they miss me like I miss them and if I meant as much to them as they did to me.

Then comes the task of trying to make new friends. Seriously, I’d rather have a root canal than work at new friendships. I generally don’t make great first impressions, and can sometimes come across as a little “too much” when in a group of people. I can be an over-sharer, which leads me to constantly feeling like I said too much or talked more about myself than I should, or didn’t seem like I really wanted to hear about the other person. And that’s where my problem lies: I want to be someone’s Somewhere so badly that I’m constantly insecure about whether people feel I am worthy of such a title.

There have been women, even now, that I desperately want to be friends with. Some I’m already friends with but would love to go deeper and some who I’ve only scratched the surface with. Amazing women who share my same heart and passions. I’ve cried tears over wanting to be their friend, prayed prayers, and pep talked myself multiple times into taking that step to reach out and ask them to be my friend. But that’s as far as it goes. Because at the end of the day, I’m afraid.

I’m afraid I’ll be rejected. I’m afraid that because they haven’t reached out to me first that that means they really don’t want to be my friend so there’s no point in trying. I’m afraid that since I’ve been wounded by other close friends, that if I let them in, they’ll eventually do the same to me. All these fears pile on top of me, paralyzing me, and putting me right back in the place I never wanted to be in the first place. Alone.

I could sit all day wondering why I don’t get called to hang out. I could stew and complain how I feel like no one is pursuing me as a friend, but in the end, maybe they’re just as scared as I am. Maybe, like me, they want to be a Somewhere but are trying to find the courage to get there. Because like I said, this business of being seen is a messy one. It’s risky. But the reward is priceless.

Today I’m praying the prayer that Brene Brown mentions in her book Daring Greatly: “Lord, give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.” Who knows, maybe my next Somewhere is just around the corner. All I have to do is step out and try.

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Scaredy Cathttp://agirlikeme.com/scaredy-cat/ http://agirlikeme.com/scaredy-cat/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 12:30:38 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2544 woods

I can’t speak Spanish and I can’t dance, so you’d never know I’m Colombian, but it’s true.

 

My grandma, “Lulu” who loves all things tropical, tells us stories of how the weather in Colombia was—balmy and breezy and plants live year-round. My grandpa was a neurosurgeon and helped people he knew could never pay him. My dad grew up playing soccer and sneaking into the neighbors cherry tree with his brothers to eat the ripe fruit.

So life there sounds beautiful except for the hard parts. Like the time when they came home and thieves had emptied their house of everything valuable. Or when the neighbor kids were kidnaped for ransom. Or when my dad was jumped on the street walking home from school. My dad learned to watch his back because he lived in a place where if you weren’t careful, you’d be taken advantage of or stolen from.

When Brendon, my husband, visited my family’s house before we started dating, my dad told him, “This place is like Alcatraz, man. I see everything.” Laugh all you want, but it wasn’t a joke. (Insert crying smiling emoji face here)

He probably wouldn’t be too happy with me if I disclosed his multiple security systems, but lets just say when a “Secret Admirer” left an anonymous note in our mailbox with a rose one afternoon when I was in high school, my dad and I watched the security camera footage to find out who it was. HAHAHA POOR GUY!

 

So I feel very safe in my parents house. I grew up being taken care of and my mom always nurtured my intuition of knowing if a person or place was unsafe. She would point out potential dangerous situations and she taught me to be alert and walk like a boss through dark parking lots at night (and maybe carrying pepper spray). 😉 Having parents that are aware is a GIFT. They taught me well and have always reminded me that God will surround me in whatever situation. He is a fierce guardian and He is my strength.

 

But that lie creeps in. You’re. Not. Safe.

 

When I’m home alone or by myself, the questions come… Are the doors locked? Is the alarm on? Are there people outside rustling around? What was that noise? Am I going to be okay? How will I defend myself if someone gets in? Am I safe at home alone? Can anyone tell I’m afraid? Should I sleep with a knife by my bed?

These are all questions I’ve asked myself and I know I’m not alone. Being “fearless” is kind of trendy (that’s a T Swift song, right?) but let’s be real. Fear is a bitch. (excuse my language) But seriously.

I’m afraid of losing control. I’m afraid of being taken away from the people I love. I’m afraid that I’ll be found out… that I’m not that strong.

 

I know that because I’m writing about fear it seems like I should have some insight or inspirational advice, but I don’t. I’ve been thinking about why I’m afraid sometimes for THREE DAYS. And turns out, I haven’t really settled it, but I do know one thing:

 

When I’m scared, I pray.

 

So maybe that’s it. I still don’t fully understand why some places and situations make me nervous, but I do know what to do to calm my racing heart down. Praying helps me acknowledge that God is all around me and I remember that He says that He will guard me. Fear doesn’t define me, but the little moments of asking Him to be close when I am afraid is lifechanging. I will keep wrestling with this until I see my heart more clearly because I know that God can grow me out of this fear little by little.

If you’re afraid of losing someone or something, of being uncertain, of being alone at night, you’re definitely not alone, girlfriend. Even when it’s confusing,

What are you afraid of? What have you learned that has calmed your fears?

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Dirty Little Secret: I’ll Do It Tomorrowhttp://agirlikeme.com/dirty-little-secret-ill-do-it-tomorrow/ http://agirlikeme.com/dirty-little-secret-ill-do-it-tomorrow/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 13:00:23 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2541 IMG_2103

I am a major procrastinator.

I’m the queen of “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

I always pack for trips the day before I leave…and end up staying awake half the night to get it all done.

In high school, homework was not done and papers were not written until the night before.

In college, it was more like the morning of.

I once waited to get an oil change until I was 1,000 miles overdue.

I’m the girl who will pass a dozen gas stations, but wait until my tank is empty and my gas light comes on to actually stop and fuel up.

I often put off getting groceries until I have practically no food and have no choice but to finally stop at the Kroger I drive past every. single. day.

I’ve been living in Nashville for almost a year now and I still haven’t gotten a Tennessee drivers license or license plate.

 

If I’m honest…I can be a little lazy. (…orrrr maybe a lot lazy…) When something needs to be done, I can think of a billion other things I would rather do at the moment that don’t involve me thinking, speaking or moving. (And by a billion I mean Netflix.)

And the funniest part? I’ve even procrastinated writing a blog post about procrastination.

I sat down to start writing this a week ago, feeling really great about myself for being ahead of the game and not waiting until the last minute. But before typing a single word, I of course had to get a snack. Then I downloaded some new music to listen to while I worked. I checked all the social medias…ya know, get it out of the way so that would be one less thing I’d be tempted to do once I started writing. I went upstairs to get something, forgot what I’d gone up for, and came back down to my computer.

Focus, Chelsea, focus.

I got hungry again. I made pizza. I unloaded the dishwasher. I called my mom. I danced around the kitchen, loudly singing songs from various musicals, while waiting for water to boil so I could make tea. I took a bathroom break (though what exactly I needed a “break” from, I’m not sure). I checked social media again (I had to have missed something at this point). I remembered what I wanted upstairs, so before I could forget again, I went back up…to get nail polish so I could paint my nails. I thought about watching the two episodes I have left to finish 30 Rock, but quickly decided against it because, well, I didn’t need to get myself distracted… (HA!).

By the time that was all said and done, I had to leave for work…and that document I had opened on my computer two hours ago was still blank.

But now, here I sit, the day I’m supposed to send my post to Heather and Nina for editing, and I’m completely focused. Typing away. Zero distractions.

I don’t know what it is about the last minute that triggers an unbreakable focus that I can’t seem to find any sooner. I don’t like it. It only causes stress and usually lack of sleep. Let’s just say you start taking your time a little more seriously when you pull an (almost) all-nighter to write a paper, then sleep through your alarm and don’t make it to class to turn it in. Not a good feeling. Trust me. So I’m working on the self-discipline to prioritize better and do things in a more timely manner. Maybe I’ll get a planner or something…maybe if I “schedule” time to do specific things I’ll actually stick to it…maybe I’ll buy one on my way home from work today…

Eh, who am I kidding, I’ll do it tomorrow. 😉

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Dirty Little Secrets- Don’t Touchhttp://agirlikeme.com/dirty-little-secrets-dont-touch/ http://agirlikeme.com/dirty-little-secrets-dont-touch/#comments Wed, 25 May 2016 13:00:30 +0000 http://agirlikeme.com/?p=2534

**DISCLAIMER: The content talked about in this post is of a mature and sexual nature. If you are uncomfortable with this type of material,  a young reader, or my grandma, please consider not reading. Thanks.**

Her name was Mindy. She lived up the street from me and we were in the same fourth grade class together. Her mom was a single parent so Mindy was home alone a lot. Often when I’d go over to play with her we’d be left alone in the house, no one to supervise what kind of trouble we might have been getting into.

Sometimes secrets come to you in obvious ways. Other times, they sneak in the back door. 

It was a typical afternoon at Mindy’s house. We had been playing with some Barbies when she told me she had something to show me.

In her room she had a daybed but not the pull out trundle bed that typically lived underneath. We’d often crawl in there and imagine we were hiding away on some kind of mysterious adventure. You know, kid stuff. However, this day, it became a place where secrets were born.

She began to tell me me she wanted to show me something that feels really good. What followed is a bit foggy still in my memory simply because, at the time, I didn’t have a name for what she showed me. Now I know it to be masturbation. I was nine.

For the next decade I would occasionally engage in masturbation,  knowing somewhere in my heart that it was wrong, feeling confused as to why it felt good, and still not understanding exactly what I was doing. It was a tornado of fear, shame, embarrassment and pleasure.

These kind of things weren’t talked about in the circles I operated in. My youth group would have never thrown around the word masturbation, and if they did, it was behind closed doors in hushed conversations. As I grew, I learned the word and what it meant, but only that it was a foul and horrific act that only the grossest of men ever struggled with. Women don’t lust and we most certainly NEVER ever touched ourselves.

I’m really not sure when all the pieces finally started to fit together and I had my big “ah-ha” moment that what I had been doing all those years was masturbation. Maybe I had known all along but was finally able to actually admit it. I don’t know. I just remember feeling like crap and thinking I had become one of those disgusting people my youth group leaders talked about.

I wish I could tell you the moment that the “ah-ha” came, my desire to masturbate left. But it didn’t. It took time. Lots of false starts and set backs. It was in the tiny everyday choices to desire something better for myself, and changing my thoughts to actually believe I was worth that something better, that finally made me stop altogether. But it was a long road.

The shame, well that one took a bit longer to go away. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s really left me yet. There are still moments I still feel like that scared little girl, hiding under that bed, wondering what just happened to my innocence. I get afraid that people (aka my friends and family) will find out and hate me and think I’m gross. I still struggle to believe that God has even forgiven me for it.

Maybe you’re in the thick of sexual sin right now. Maybe, like me, you’re caught between shame and freedom; longing for one but stuck in the other. Hear me when I say this: YOU ARE NOT TOO BROKEN OR IMPURE OR VILE TO GAIN FREEDOM. These places?  This is where grace is born. These battles? Well, they are the catalysts for growth and joy, and yes, even life.

I’ve been struggling to find a way to end this post well. How to wrap this messy topic up in a bow that will make it all nice and pretty and wonderful. But I got nothing. Because life isn’t like a tv show and things don’t just magically work out in forty five minutes.

So, instead, I am choosing pray a prayer for you. May it meet us both where we need it.

I pray that you will know that you ARE loved and are WORTHY of love.

I pray you know that even in your sin you are treasured and valued.

I pray that you would see that in these dark places, light is shining through, you just have to look for it.

I pray you would seek out the light.

I pray that you would see that there is an army of women, me included, who have walked the path before you and are ready to link arms and go to war for the freedom of your heart.

I pray you’d be brave.

I pray you’d find the courage to tell your secrets and let yourself be known.

I pray that those you tell would receive you with grace and love.

I pray you’d choose more for yourself than immediate and fleeting pleasure.

I pray that you would feel God’s grace, love and mercy, even in the middle of your sin.

I pray for you to give yourself grace. That you’d believe that it’s more about the journey rather than the destination. That you’d know freedom doesn’t come overnight, but that it will come.

And lastly, I pray that you and I would know that these secrets, well they may speak into our past, but they don’t dictate our future.

Lived loved sweet friend. Embracing hope with you. -H

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