Browsing Tag

Written by: Heather

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Suffering

I See You

September 20, 2016

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“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” -Tim Keller

***

The argument wasn’t even that big. I was upset that Jeff was on the phone with a friend while I was in the car with him. We had taken a day trip to Atlanta just the two of us, and I seen the four hour drive as a gift of time to be together and reconnect.

As we began to hash through our thoughts as to why we were arguing and what made me so upset, I found myself suddenly bursting into tears. “I just want you to see me.” I cried. Words began vomiting their way out of my mouth through broken sobs as I began to explain that my deepest fear was never being really seen for who I am and always living a life based on the assumptions of what everyone else thought of me to be.

***

The wilderness, it breaks us. It’s supposed to. It’s supposed to be the place where God strips away all the crap that’s holding us back to make way for a new path…a better way living.

We are meant to lose ourselves in the scarcity of it all, the surrendering and embracing of this new us we are becoming. Yet somewhere in the middle, well, we end up a little bit…lost.

It’s confusing trying to grieve our old lives while discovering this new one. To say goodbye to a life that, no matter how bad it was, was the life we knew. Can I still laugh at the same jokes? Wear the same clothes? What about my friends? Can I keep those?

The wild never lets you leave without changing you. It’s why you were meant to be there in the first place.

***

We’ve been friends a while, you know. Some of you I’ve hugged and cried with. Some of you I’ve known only in the cyber world and some of you are faceless people who live in the late night prayers I pray for your hearts. Our differences may be great, but we all hold one thing in common. We want to be seen.

We want to know that in the middle of this wild place there is someone out there who is looking out for us. A fellow traveller who is willing to hold our hand as we figure out this crazy thing called life and faith and identity. It can be so lonely at times that we wonder if anyone out there can really see and understand what’s going on inside us.

I haven’t lived your life. Nor you mine. But tonight, tonight I want you and I both to go to sleep knowing that although our paths are very different, we can still walk them together. And that even in the loneliest of moments someone sees us. So I’m here to let you know… I see you…

You the girl who quietly cries herself to sleep each night.

The girl who can only find comfort in the cut of a razor blade on her skin.

The girl whose body has wasted away from months of not eating or purging.

The girl who feels soiled and filthy because, in a moment of weakness, you gave yourself away to a man who you shouldn’t have.

I see you. 

You the girl who smiles on the outside but is screaming on the inside.

The girl who has all the friends in the world yet still feels alone.

The girl who looks in the mirror and cannot recognize the person looking back.

The girl who doubts herself and especially God.

I see you. 

You, the girl who’s suffered unspeakable acts at the hands of another.

To the broken, wounded, lost, angry, hopeless, addicted, faithless, weary, and worn girl…

I see you…..and so does He.

There are a lot of us out there, walking this holy calling into the wild. And though my light might not be a bright one, I’ll hold it high, and you do the same. And together, well hopefully we can help light a path that leads us all onto the life that awaits us on the other side.

Faith, Spiritual Life, Suffering

If I’m Honest

September 7, 2016

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“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” -Brene Brown

As any good traveller knows, the best trips are the ones you’re most prepared for. We make lists, plan outfits, check the weather- making sure that once we leave we’ll have everything we need to make the trip a success. Every once and a while though there is that one thing, that one critical item we forget to pack, and suddenly our whole excursion feels ruined. I mean, how can I go eight days without my flat iron?? The thought of it just feels tragic.

As a traveller of The Wilderness for some time now, I’ve picked up a few things that I’ve found to be essentials along the journey. Things, that although it may not get me out of this place any quicker, are a source of life and growth and even joy in the middle of such a desolate season in life. So let me unpack my bag for you a bit, ok?

***

I wish I could say I was an honest person. Now don’t me wrong, I can dish out a healthy serving of brutal honesty and stubborn opinion like it’s no joke. Telling other people how I feel and think of them comes as easy to me flight to a bird. Some might say I love sharing my opinion on things a little too much (Sorry, Chels). The irony, as in most things, is that when it comes to sharing how I feel about myself and my life, I am all kinds of quiet.

I told my counselor one time how I hate to express need. The thought of telling someone I need help or their company or love feels icky to me. It feels weak. I want  to be the girl who has her junk together. The girl that doesn’t go to others for help, others come to her for help. Let them see the good feelings, not the bad ones. In his gentle yet convicting way he has with me, he told me, “Heather, there isn’t such a thing as good feelings and bad feelings. They are all just feelings. Feelings that are meant to be felt and meant to be shared.”

Somewhere along the way we’ve been told that in seasons of wilderness living that we have to embrace it with joy. If you’re not happy when life sucks, something is wrong with you. If you can’t smile while the world is beating you up you have no faith in God and you should go read your whole Bible right now and get your perspective straight. Christians aren’t sad, mad, or doubtful. We are brave and joyful and always have hope. Well excuse my language ladies, but I’m calling bullshit on this.

When Lazarus was dead, did Jesus -who knew He was seconds from raising him from the dead FYI- walk around saying “Cheer up people, This isn’t so bad.” No, he wept. He grieved a friend who died because he knew grief is important. Did Paul tell us that when a friend is weeping we should pat their back and say, “C’mon buckaroo, stop crying. Things are gonna be better.” No, Paul told us to weep with the weeper.

The most important thing I’ve picked up while living in the wild is that honesty, in whatever form it looks like, is always life giving. It is the oasis in the desert, the rain storm in the drought.

I get it, we want people to feel we are brave. We want to feel like nothing life throws at us will knock us down, but the mere act of keeping up that facade that everyone knows is impossible to meet, that is what will kill us.

***

Over my years in the wild I’ve begun to practice this art of honesty. Telling my safe people the battles waging war in my heart. Realizing that crying is brave and sharing why I’m crying is even braver.

As I’ve developed this habit of honesty I’ve begun to see something happen around me. I’ve made friends in the desert. Other travelers who, like me, are lost and scared and unsure. More and more we find each other and before we know it, we are all traveling together. Some of us are leading the way, others are being carried on our backs, but we’re together and it’s the togetherness that is sustaining us as we go.

If I’m honest, I’m still scared of this honesty thing. I’m still scared to admit that I feel like I might be stuck here forever in this forsaken desert. But because I’m honest, I now know I’m not facing those fears alone.

Faith, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Just Keep Walking

August 24, 2016

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One thing I love about Tennessee are the waterfalls. Tucked away in deep valleys and amongst thick forests are some of the most breathtaking waterfalls I’ve ever seen.They spill out over the mountains that hold them, a sign of their power and wonder. It doesn’t matter how many times I see one, they always take my breath away.

Most of these waterfalls can be found by taking the carefully marked and laid out trail, following the signs, and staying safely on the path. But my favorite, well, it’s a bit more dangerous than that.

You start by hiking down a trail to a riverbank. That trail, though muddy and a bit steep at times, is pretty safe and easy to maneuver through. Once you get to the rivers edge, however, the trail stops. Instincts take over, and much like the steady rush of the rivers waters, everyone begins to move upstream. climbing over rocks, wading back and forth across the stream, we have no idea how far we’ve gone and how far we have yet to go.

As you walk you can see people beginning to quit. They set up their picnic, throw down their blankets and resolve that they have gone far enough- the waterfall not being worth the work. But the brave, the determined rest of us, we keep moving on.

There’s a point on this hike that I always anticipate most. I’m walking along, and then I hear it. Faint at first, but still there. It’s the swish and woosh of the falls, and although I can’t see it, I know I’m close. Somehow, my heart always begins to race, excited over the thought that I’m almost there. That the end, the reward, is just around the corner.

You have to walk another half mile or so before the falls comes into view. Another half mile of more river wading, more slippery rock traversing, more guessing which way is the best way to move forward. It’s agonizing at times, knowing your so close, but having no idea just how close you actually are. You turn a corner, and like magic, there it is. So big a beautiful, loud and strong. Suddenly, you forget all the work it took for you to get there because you are in awe of the beauty and magnitude of the what you are seeing. In an instant, the journey becomes totally worth it.

***

Seasons of wilderness are hard. So often God puts us there with no map and no timeline on what to do. We begin to feel like we are just wandering around, hoping to stumble upon something that is going to tell us where to go and praying that just a few steps away is the freedom and answers we are hoping to find.

A pastor at church this Sunday said something that has been sitting on my heart very heavily the last few days. He said:

We must persist so that we can experience joy.

I know what you’re feeling today. You want to quit. You want to tell God He’s mean and nasty and if He really loved you He’d show you were to go or He’d get you out of this wild place he has you in. Your legs are tired and taking one more step seems like an impossibility. I get it.

But you have to keep walking.

Sisters, persisting when the answers are unclear or the path is uncertain is not a sign of weakness or stupidity- it’s quite courageous. It’s a brave thing to trust and move even when our doubt is strong and our faith is weak. It says we want more. It says we don’t want to settle for good- we want the best. It says we’re a fighter who’s not going down easily.

Sometimes the wild feels endless and those nice flat spots along the way appear to be a great place to stop and stay. But they aren’t. There is so much more that awaits you if you just keep walking.

Maybe you only have the energy to take one little step today. That’s ok. Just keep walking. Keep walking, keep moving, keep pressing and persisting and before long, you’ll see that waterfall and know that the journey, no matter how long or hard was worth every single step.

 

 

Family, Spiritual Life

Lead Me To The Desert

August 3, 2016

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“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”  -Hosea 2:14

I never thought the desert was pretty. Growing up in Arizona, I’m not sure I knew the color green existed in nature until I was somewhere in middle school. Even now, as an adult, every time I fly into Phoenix for a visit I look out the window and all I see is a landscape that looks like someone took a brown crayon and just scribbled everywhere. It’s hot, rocky, full of cacti (which I have fallen into several times in my life) and did I mention brown?

To me, the desert was a place where things went to die, not come alive…..or so I thought.

> > >

Three years ago my world was shattered. Coming to the realization that I had been sexually abused by an old boyfriend sent my life into a whirlwind. Everything I felt I had known of myself from those past thirteen years felt like a lie. I felt like I was a lie. The world I was living in, so rich with color and joy and life… all of the sudden…. felt bland and desolate.

> > >

“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.” – Antonio Machado

I had had “desert seasons” before. Moments in life where God felt far and life felt like trudging through hot sandy terrain. But this one was different. Those other wilderness ventures felt like I was just there on a visit. Like God was asking me to just take a quick pit stop, get a little sunburnt and then it was back to the cool comforts of every day life. But this time, this time felt like He wanted me to stay a while, and the thought of that scared the hell out of me.

I didn’t know how to exist in this new place God had put me. How does one live life in a place where they don’t feel alive? How can you move ahead when the road in front of you feels so unfamiliar? I was lost and looking for an oasis, a place to breathe, and all I saw was sand.

For two years I wallowed. I was mad at God for making me be in this place. For sticking me the desert and leaving me to die. Sure, there were moments where I was given a drink of water and the hope of that “better and familiar place” but it quickly passed. As days turned to weeks and then months, I slowly moved from annoyed to pissed. I had no idea who I was, who my friends were, where my life was going and if I was ever going to feel true joy again. My home was now in the desert and my spirit was dying.

> > >

Did you know that cacti are actually the smartest plants around? Because of the climate in which they live, they are the most adaptive to surviving any type of weather. In seasons of rain, they swell and store up moisture holding in as much as they can so, in seasons of great drought, they can draw from that stored well and survive. The spikes, though painful and not always pretty are actually how they pull moisture from the air to get nutrients and fend off those that wish to attack and destroy it. The great plant of the desert is the greatest survivor. And I wanted to be just like it.

So often God asks us to come to the wilderness with Him. To the place where there is no path and the chances of survival seem slim. He brings us here not to punish us or to crush our spirits- He does it to make us come alive. Because in the desert, we have nothing but Him. He is the manna we feast on and the dew we drink. In the desert is where he shows us how strong we really are, and better yet, how strong He really is. It’s the place of no distraction except the quiet, gentle whispers of Him saying, “I love you. You can do this. I’m right here.” The desert is where I fell in love with Jesus and learned to feel alive right where I was at.

Joseph, in Genesis, was given a vision of his life at age seventeen. It took thirteen years of betrayal, slavery, jail, hatred and belittling before that vision came to pass. When that day finally arrived, Joseph didn’t raise his fist in anger at God. He didn’t say, “Screw you, why did you leave me in this place for so long?” No, instead, Joseph said that all these things had to come to pass so that he could fulfill the plan God had for him. He learned, much like myself, that the desert can be the place God uses to lead you to your dreams.

I know the wilderness can feel scary. It can seem like God has chosen to forget you and leave you for dead. But as someone who has lived here a little while longer than you, believe me when I say that is the furthest from the truth. If you let it, if you surrender yourselves to this place and the process, this desert wilderness can be the greatest gift you’ve ever been given. It can become the time you truly come alive.

Don’t be afraid my sister if you feel a bit lost. If you find yourself wandering in this strange new land uncertain of where to go and what to do next. Just take a deep breath and listen as he begins to woo you back to His heart and sets you free. And if you ever get lonely, just remember, I’m right there with you.

Faith, Identity, Spiritual Life

Little Voice

July 13, 2016

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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.

 

Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Someone’s Somewhere

June 15, 2016

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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.

Body Image, Faith, Identity, Relationships, Sex

Dirty Little Secrets- Don’t Touch

May 25, 2016

**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

Body Image, Identity, Spiritual Life

Dirty Little Secrets: My Miss-Stache

May 4, 2016

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I was ten the first time I tried to shave my face. I had FINALLY been allowed to shave my legs after many months of pleading and a very convincing letter writing campaign to my mom and dad. I’m not kidding, in another life, I could have been a very successful politician.

After experiencing the joys of silky smooth legs I became addicted to removing any form of hair from my body that I could. Legs, check. Armpits, check. Arms, check. I wanted babies butt smooth skin and dangit, I was gonna get it.

One very foolish night while my parents were out and my irresponsible older brother was brooding in his bedroom, I took to ridding myself of the last remains of hair from my body. I grabbed my lady razor and my brother’s shaving cream and took to my face like crazy woman.

Blood.

Tears.

More blood.

More tears.

Shaving my face was a bad idea.

The trauma from that night kept me from removing hair from my face for a long time, but vanity, that little she-devil, got the best of me and I found myself once again staring down the mirror picking out every little dark scraggly hair that landed on my face.

I began using Nair, wax, and then landed on bleaching my upper lip. Every few weeks you could find me sitting on my couch, a nice little white mustache, working hard to not make it known that those Italian/German roots run real deep. Funny the things we girls do to create a sense of feeling beautiful. Am I right?

A friend recently turned me on to a new trend of face shaving, but this one didn’t involve shaving cream or a bic razor. Praise the Lord. This method was definitely less toxic than all that bleach on my face and a whole heck of a lot easier. I’ve been using it for about three months now and I am IN LOVE. Like, me and this little razor are in a serious relationship. All the heart eye emojis.

Listen, wanting to feel beautiful is not wrong. We all have that thing about our looks that drives us nuts. You might have that demon pimple that shows up every month right in the middle of your face. Maybe it’s a funny shaped toe or the fact that you have one boob bigger than the other (raising my hand on this one) or no boobs at all (also raising my hand on this one). However annoying the physical quirks might be, the amazing thing is that they are YOUR quirks. They are the markings of a creative God who has intentionally crafted within us a unique beauty that is ours and ours alone.

Maybe I’ll never look like Beyonce or TSwift, but you know what? They’ll never look like me either. They’ll never have my scar above my right eye reminding me of an accident that should have taken my life but God saw fit to save me. They won’t have the stretch marks on my stomach that remind me of the two precious lives I was gifted to carry inside of me.  And they’ll never have those horrific black hairs above my lip as an homage to a family legacy rich in culture and a love for Jesus. Nope, those are just for me.

Maybe one day I’ll stop shaving my face and rock my miss-stache. Embrace my weird fully and live out in the open as the hairy woman I was meant to be. But today, I will hold my razor high, and with each stroke to my face thank the good Lord that He loved me enough to make me special…rogue hairs and all.

Redemption, Spiritual Life

Gotta Secret, Gonna Keep It

April 29, 2016

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When I was seven I accidentally pooped in my neighbors pool and tried to blame it on their dog.

In eighth grade I used to pretend I had my period because I was too afraid to admit to the other girls in my class that I hadn’t gotten it yet.

One time in college I snuck into an abandon construction zone so I could make out with my boyfriend and not get caught by our strict Bible college.

I once sent a hate letter to a guys pastor telling him what a liar and bad youth intern he was because I was mad that said guy stole money from me when we were dating. (I totally had a woman scorned moment)

I chipped part of my front tooth from trying to open a nail polish bottle with my mouth.

Secrets. We all have em. As much as I’d like to think of myself as a pretty open book, I still know that there are many things I choose to keep locked away. God forbid if anyone knew because then I would totally be uncovered for the awkward, vindictive, hot mess of a woman that I am. So I keep those nuggets tucked inside, believing that they are best served when never shared.

Secrets have taught me one simple truth in life: The more you have, the less alive you feel. 

Recently I’ve begun to taste life on the other side. A place where secrets go to die and I can fully be me. Where I feel all the feels and breath a bit more deeply than I did before. Let me tell you, this place is awesome. There’s no more hiding, no more shame- just love and hope and grace…and fun.

For the next two months we’re asking you to journey with us to the other side. To live in the land of telling our secrets and experiencing the grace that comes from it. We’ll be sharing some of ours- the embarrassing and the scary- and we’ll be asking you to join us in sharing some secrets of your own. Everybody has a dirty little secret somewhere. I’m just tired of keeping mine.

Community, Faith

Courage, Dear Heart

April 27, 2016

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“Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it. By doing just acts, we come to be just. By doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled, and by doing brave acts, we come to be brave.” — Aristotle

I never would have thought of myself as someone who is brave. More accurately, someone who possesses great courage. Sure I’ve done cliff diving or ridden that questionable roller coaster- but that was always accompanied with a heavy dose of fear and the prevailing thought of “What the he– am I doing?” So yeah, big fat wuss over here.

Did you know that the word courage is actually a heart word? Quick school lesson: (just stick with me here people) but the word courage comes from the Latin word which means heart. In its whole, courage actually means: to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

And isn’t that what we’re trying to do here? Tell our stories: the hopes, fears and everything in between? To gather our courage and become women who aren’t afraid to be real? Women who know that life is better together out in the open and not in the hidden spaces? So I guess you could say we all  have a lot more courage than we think we do.

When I left the blog last year I had no intention of coming back. My time was done and I had made peace with handing your precious hearts over to a new group of women who I knew would treasure you as much as I did. Something I learned last year was that love and care  sometimes can look a lot like letting go.

Over the past several weeks, Allison and I have been having a lot of hard conversations. Better yet, a lot of courageous conversations. We talked about heart and vision and unity and passion and calling. I asked hard questions and Allison gave hard answers. And together, we made a really hard, yet really courageous decision. Allison is leaving AGLM and I am stepping back in.

After serving as leader of this blog it became clear to Allison just how much she loves ministering to young women like yourselves. However, she also realized that the kind of girl and way she wants to reach that girl doesn’t quite fit the vision of AGLM. So, she is taking the bold move to step away from AGLM to better focus on the place in ministry where her heart’s passion truly lies. She’s writing a book, blogging on her own site and counseling/mentoring  women in her community. She’s bravely stepping into serving in the place her heart feels led, and you know what? We couldn’t be more thrilled.

Taking the reins of this blog back over wasn’t exciting for me, let’s be honest. I worked dang hard last year to let it go. To surrender it. What was going to happen if I came back? Would the passion still be there? Would I even have the energy to do it again? Would you guys still want to hear from me or had this thirty-something year old become irrelevant?

I can’t say I have the answers to these questions, but I can say that I’m anxious to find them out and the only way I can do that is by fearlessly jumping back in. So I jumped.

If courage is the telling of who we are with our whole hearts, I wonder what stories you and I have yet to share? Fears that live only in the silent tears we use to cry ourselves to sleep. Hopes and dreams that are only spoken in the hidden pages of journals and desperate prayers.

I wonder what would happen, if together, we all grabbed onto that courage and hand in hand faced the untouched parts of our stories with unguarded grace and guts. I don’t know the answer to that question either, but I’m ready to find out.

** If you’d like to continue to follow Allison on her journey, you can find her on her Instagram or her Blog.**