Monday, April 28, 2014

I Am Not Afraid of You Anymore | On Forgiveness

This post is written in response to a scarred part of my life. I share it freely for the purpose of encouragement and restoration. If you've experience sexual abuse and would like to chat, you can send me a message through Facebook or leave a comment below. 

I use to shutter at the sight of your name. Something inside of my spirit would wilt, cower, turn away whenever I encountered anything or anyone that reminded me of you.

I would lay awake at night, wondering if I was safe. If my mother and brother and sister were safe. Reading that sentence back now it  seems silly really. But back then, you were my worst nightmare.

But not for the reason you might think. 

I wasn't afraid of you because I thought you were a monster, though most would say otherwise. And it wasn’t because I thought you were dangerous or lethal, though some might argue you were.

I was afraid of you because of what you weren’t. You weren’t who you said you were. You weren’t the safe place you were supposed to be. I was afraid because your failure damaged that sacred place in me.

I was afraid of you because you were the hand behind the gaping wound I have in one of the deepest parts of my soul. My being. I would never be the same because of you. 

Or so I thought. For a long time. As a child I thought I’d never recover.  As a child, thinking juvenile thoughts with naive limitations, I thought I’d never be the same again. I was damaged. And it was you that damaged me. 

But God. 

He is bigger. 

He is bigger than you and me and them. 

He shattered the glass ceiling on healing. He very gently took down the brick walls I had built around redemption. He taught me strength and courage through the vulnerability and humility of my mother. He loved me, like a Father should, through the hands and wisdom and heart of my father. And He showed me the magnetic and supernatural of forgiveness through my husband

Forgiveness. A power unmatched by any court or weapon or earthly force. And yet, it is accessible by all. Even me.

I've been called to forgive much because I've been forgiven of much. Thank you Jesus for that unwavering truth. 

You see, forgiveness breaks chains, both physically and emotionally. Forgiveness shatters anger and resentment.

So I am not afraid of you anymore, because I choose to live free. 

I am not afraid of you anymore because I forgive you. 

For the sake of my redemption and yours as well. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Our Love Story | Part 5

When I use to ask my married girlfriends how they knew their husbands were "the one," they'd always reply, You just know. It's weird, but you do

Liars, I'd think. There's no way. But there is. 

I think I knew early on that Ty might be it, but the timing and apparent mountains that separated our lives seemed so big. So vast. To know it was him all along seemed like shooting an arrow at a target deep into the black hole.

But that day, in that booth, I knew. It was him. It'd always been him. The one I said, "NEVER EVER EVER" to was the one who swooned and waited and captivated my heart. 

It wasn't fuzzy. It wasn't fairy dust. It wasn't a lightning bolt or a giant neon arrow blinking at me.

And while our love is pleasurable and enjoyable and beautiful, that feeling is not what holds up our marriage. If it was, we might have failed a long time ago.

It was a choice. A choice to run hard and fast in the direction that God had cleared for me. A choice to look up. A choice to look around and see who was running next to me. And a choice that said, "We run faster and better together than we do apart. And you're a hottie."

A choice to love, through sickness and health and abundance and poverty. 
A choice to fight and break and mend, together. 

We made a choice to love.

He's the best thing that's happened to me. And I'd do the whole thing over again with no hesitation.

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Missed Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4? Click to read. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Love Story | Part 4

He walked out of that recording booth. We wrapped cords and walked to the truck. I don't remember if we walked in silence or if he was making small talk and I wasn't really paying attention. But as he started the engine, I blurted out, Ok, I'll marry you. 

He stopped. He looked. And with the biggest goofiest grin you can think up in your mind, he laughed out, Really?!

And with a grin equally as big and a heart full and about to burst, I replied, Yes, really. 

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Missed Part 1, Part 2, Part 3? Click to read. Don't miss the last post! I' can toss it in your inbox for ya, click here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Love Story | Part 3

Hey, I know you don't want to talk to me, but we don't have to talk. I wrote this worship song and it needs a girl vocal on it. Will you come sing it please? He asked. 

Sure. But no talking. 

I'd just recorded the lead vocals and he walked into our makeshift booth to sing his harmony over it. As he began to sing, my mind froze for a moment in time. I logged away every detail of that moment. 

The black boom stands that held the microphones, bent at just the right angle for his stance. The fuzzy walls we rigged up to keep the outside sounds from hitting the microphones. The picture frame he joking hung one night. This could be a picture of our future baby girl, he said in half jest. 

No. No it was most certainly not going to be. 

I remember him hitting the highest note of the song when I made the decision. Like something straight out of an unconventional fairytale. 

There wasn't an accompanying angelic choir or glitter descending from the heavens, or even a feeling. It was a decision. 

He loves God fiercely. I love God desperately. 
He sings. I sing. 
His heart is for the Church. My heart is for the Church. 
He loves compassion ministry and I love compassion ministry.
He loves me. Adores me even. And I can't shake the feeling that I might love him too. 

Romantic right?

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Missed Part 1 or Part 2? Click to read. Want future posts delivered? Free? With a side of french fries? Just kidding about the french fries part. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Love Story | Part 2

Two months later, due to the 2008 recession, I lost $10,000 in student loans allocated to my Junior year of college. I had no idea what to do. My parents and I crunched numbers all night to see how much we could scrape up, how many jobs I would need to get and hours I needed to work in each to make this next year happen. 

But there was no way. I know thousands lost abundantly more than their college tuition but I was crushed. And confused. And aimless. 

So I came home. Against everything I felt, all the possibilities my life in Michigan had created for me, against the love I thought would last forever, against the friendships I would likely never be able to keep, I came home. 

What now? 

My dad talked me into taking a year at home and starting the degree program our church was hosting. Ok, I said. I guess until I can get my feet beneath me. 

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Missed Part 1? Click to read. Want to get them delivered to your inbox? That's doable.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Love Story | It Started in the Parking Lot

Monday- Friday you'll get a snapshot of our soap-opera gone fairytale love story. It's pretty fun. And dramatic. If you miss one, you can get them delivered to your inbox
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"I love you", he said.

No he didn't. He did not just say that. Did he?

We were in the middle of the church parking lot and the day was turning to dusk. 

"What did you say?" I hollered as I frantically hand rolled down my car window.

"I love you, I want to marry you, and I'll wait however long you need to figure it out." 

We weren't even dating. We weren't even CLOSE to dating.

He smiled and started backing up.

The blushing was uncontrollable. I quickly rolled up my window for fear he would see my quickly reddening cheeks and nose. Oh my nose, what a dead giveaway. 

How on earth could he love me? That's stupid, he doesn't even know me! And marriage? Who does he think he is?

But as I drove the windy road home, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

He's crazy. A lunatic. Two short Summers and a Christmas break were not enough time to know if you loved someone or not. 

Besides I'm going back to school in three months. In Michigan. And I have a boyfriend.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mothered from Afar | Spiritual Mothers and Sisters

Everyone's got a metaphorical bookshelf they pile books on. Sometimes by author and topic and other times because the cover is really pretty. Am I wrong? Remember, I'm not a huge book fan

Some books make it on my bookshelf by accident, while others are purposefully placed there, reachable and dogged eared. Those are the books I am continuously drawn towards again and again because of their density. Their richness. 

Those books contain something way more than the black and white. They're written by authors I've come to know and love and turn to as a type of sage. 

They've become my spiritual mothers and sisters. But before you get all weirded out and think I'm this crazy girl who sits in her darkened house, with no friends, reading by candlelight, let me show you what I mean. 

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The first time I read Bittersweet, I cried reading Shauna's story of loss and struggle. My heart broke for what she was experiencing and I prayed God would redeem what she lost by the thousands. Little did I know, I would need her words for my own story of loss. And the book came more alive the second, and third, and fourth time. (Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist)

Ann opened my eyes to how imperative thankfulness is in the Christian life. Thankfulness bring freedom. I need more freedom. (One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp)

I laughed and snorted my way through Melanie's memoir of pregnancy and motherhood. Even though I was a total newbie at it, she made me feel a little less crazy. (Sparkly Green Earrings, Melanie Shankle)

And Rachel and Sarah are like sisters wrote down everything I've been thinking through on biblical standards of women versus cultural standards. Is there really a "right" way to do it? And how do we know that's exactly what Paul was saying in that passage? Thank Rach and Sarah. I owe you. (A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans, Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey)

Emily's book was like a lamp in a dark place of shame for me. Self-rightousness. I felt like we were the same girl growing up. My life wasn't horrible. I was the good girl. I had all the right answers in Sunday School and was the "prayer warrior" in high school. I glazed over my own need for grace for too long. (Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman)

Gail taught me that creativity isn't as natural and whimsical as I thought. It's beautiful, methodical, and takes work. Intentional, but really fun work. (12 Secrets of High Creative Women, Gail McMeekin)

And Lisa, man that mama kicked this doubting girls butt into gear. "We are not some group of straggling, struggling, fatherless refugees who are overcome by sin and wondering if there is a God. We are the collective body of Christ, destined for triumph, victory, and signs and wonders." Yes ma'am! (Lioness Arising, Lisa Bevere)

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I am so grateful for these women who have mothered me from afar. They'll most likely never know my name or ever see my face. But I know they care, because they write. They write for us to read and see how God has moved and shaken and transformed and showed up in their lives. They write to spur us on in love. In motherly, sisterly love.

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Who are your spiritual mothers and sisters?
Who are you writing for? Who are you painting or singing or working for?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Love is Brave | Instagram's #projectlove

Love is brave, it takes chances and risks in the face of fear. But this picture doesn't tell of my bravery. 

It symbolizes the bravery of the leaders around me who gave this crazy, young(ish), head in the clouds girl a chance at something.

Take chances on the youth around you. It shows you love them. 

I've joined a beautiful community of girls on Instagram who are posting on LOVE IS for 10 consecutive days. Join us or follow along with #projectlove | @thesimplybeloved

Original photo by @amandataylorphoto

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Thousand Gifts | Ann Voskamp and a Book for the Rest of Us

Reading is tough for me. I'm not a quick reader and quite frankly, I get bored. I don't read fantasy or science fiction. Or really any fiction. My bookmarks are still on page 8 of Twilight and 23 of Hunger Games. The first one. 

But non-fiction I can do. Stories, ones lived by real people somewhere at some point in time. That stuff moves me. 

The first time I realized I loved the power of story was in Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerines. I was a freshman in college and Tommee emailed me a free excerpt with a note that read, "This is so you. Read it." 

And I did. Three times that year. That's when I got my first taste of this new(ish) type of raw, unpolished yet refined way of putting one's life onto paper for the world to experience and whisper, "Me too." 

Since then, I've read memoirs, biographies, essays and blogs that hover around this same type of artistry. 

But to call Ann Voskamp an artist of the written word must be the understatement of the year. 

Unlike any author I've read, she has managed to paint and arrange the words of her book, One Thousand Gifts, in a way that makes me cry every. single. time. But this isn't the type of crying that is all sorrowful. These tears, different than every other time, are tears of gratitude, thankfulness, and release. 

Ann has been affectionately called, the C.S. Lewis of today, wearing a skirt. And to that I say "AMEN!" 

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann makes you feel like you are on her front porch, sipping tea and pulling bite sized pieces from her freshly baked bread loaf. She lets you in to the depth of her heart, you know that place? The one every woman has, but rarely opens the gates to. She walks you through her story, piece by piece, not for pity or pride, but because she has seen the weaving hand of God and wants you to see it too. 

She beams, "Eucharisteo." 
"Eucharisteo—it comes right out of the Gospel of Luke: 'And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…' (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, 'He gave thanks' reads 'eucharisteo.' 
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning 'grace.' Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning 'joy.' 
Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy. 
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo; the table of thanksgiving. The holy grail of joy, God set it in the very center of Christianity." 
( - Voskamp, quote via

So who is this book for? The person who feels like life is going to fast and furious. The person who can't seem to find one good thing about today. The person who worry is outranking their joy. The person who needs something to change, now. The person who is craving breakthrough.

This book is for everyone. 

One Thousand Gifts is available wherever books are sold. (Including Amazon and B&N)

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small portion of the items purchased from this post and probably use it as store credit to buy another book. Or maybe a coffee cup. I was not paid for this review. All opinions are entirely my own. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love is Big(ger) Than Geography

Love is big. Bigger than anything. More powerful than anything. Yet, the most difficult emotion to express. Be it physical boundaries or emotional, love takes effort. Sacrifice. It takes some schedule rearranging and active prioritizing. Neither of which I am great at.

But for the next couple months, I will attempt to do both in a small group of women. We live in four different cities, with six kids, four husbands, two timezones and our own insecurities between us, but we are committing to do this life together (Thanking God for Skype the whole way!)


Because we need each other to remind one another that love is, indeed, bigger.

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Cards by Bold Face Type / Book we're going through: Believing God

Friday, April 11, 2014

10 Notable Blogs to Read | Essential Oils, Controversy, and a Homeless Guy


Oh Happy Day is my favorite pinner right now. #blackholeofdistraction #sorry (Oh Happy Day)

Do you blog? Or have you thought Hey that looks like fun! Laura, from Hollywood Housewife, is doing a full on blog series on blogging. And it's really pretty good. (Hollywood Housewife)

I go to this blog just for the pictures. (Blog Milk Blog)


I love Amber's "If We Were on a Coffee Date" post today. We grew up(ish) together and this girl has become such an amazing woman. (Mr. Thomas and Me)

Have you heard of The American Blogger film that's coming out? There's a lot of controversy on it lately. Most of it is b/s but I love Natalie's post on the issue. (Natalie Falls)


Carlos, a brilliantly witty and inspiring blogger, was filming a music video and a homeless guy ended up in the shot. Bummer? No way. It'll make you cry. (Ragamuffin Soul)

Pretty excited Kari Jobe and Brian Johnson wrote this gem of a resurrection song. And just in time for Easter! (Kari Jobe)


I made this this week. (Damn Delicious) 
I want to make these right now. (Smitten Kitchen)
What's your take on Essential Oils? Fad or for reals? (And Kathleen)

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Happy Friday! Eat some cake.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Safest In My Father's Arms

She was more awake today. More alert at the details that surrounded her. Pigeons pecking crumbs in the courtyard. The siren of emergency vehicles whizzing by. The man lifting his cigarette as we stood at the crosswalk. 

Her eyes were wide today. We walked along the boardwalk pier and I could almost see her mind reeling. The blue. The waves. The foam. The bigness. 

We've been to the ocean as a family of three more times than not. Living a dozen miles from the sand and sea has made us regulars in this little place. Venice
 beach is our favorite. 

But today, today it was like she saw it for the first time. 

"You see the water baby girl?" We'd ask, knowing her response wouldn't be verbal. "That's the ocean. The big blue ocean. It's pretty huh?" 

As I stared and clicked away her facial expressions, I got excited about so many other things she has yet to see, taste, smell and touch. A forest. A mountain of snow. A fire made just for smores. A zoo filled with animals she's only been read to about. 

And then my mind did something I'm finding a little too familiar these days. It skipped passed the good parts to the bad parts. As beautiful as this world is, it will crush her someday. Or at least try to. 

It will push her around and call her names. It will tell her she's not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart or adequate enough.

And she will cry. And I will cry. And cry. And cry. 

She will break, probably more than once. 

Just the thought of her chubby ever present smile fading because life happened makes my insides knot up. 

I'll just lock her in her room forever, so nothing bad can ever happen. But thanks to the foresight of Disney's fairytales, we know the will of a girl cannot be contained to the top of a tower.

I've been asking God to give me a promise for Baby Girl Mo's life. A verse or proverb I can pray over her that will foster courage and strength and beauty; more for my sake than hers.

And then I read this this morning:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Which cross-referenced to this:
"If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes [her] steps firm;  though [she] stumble, [she] will not fall, for the LORD upholds [her] with his hand.  I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. " (Psalm 34:22-23)
And then I got giddy. 

She's not ours. I mean she is, but she's not fully. She's His! Our girl belongs to the Creator of the Universe, the same God that commanded and empowered giant armies, the One who raised up strong leaders out of nothing and gave them huge callings!

She is safest in His arms. Not ours. 
She was purposed for His mission. Not ours. 
She is more loved by Him than us. As impossible as that seems. 

But so are we. 

Thank you Jesus! I prayed. 

Thank you that we get to be the one to hold her and wipe her tears and bandage her battle scars. Thank you for trusting her to us so we may see and experience Your grace and love in a more tangible way. 
Thank you for letting us help mold this precious little being. We'll try not to screw it up.

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While motherhood is a very prevalent part of my current season, I try to limit myself to a once a week gush. It's usually Thursdays. Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dream Bigger | Free Wallpaper

I have a tendency to dream big, up to a certain point, never imagining that there may be something past even that. Do you do that too? 

Let's make a pact to dream a little lot bigger. Let's not put fences on what God can or wants to do in our lives. (< Click to tweet) He doesn't color in the lines and neither should we. You in? 

"And it shall be in the last days," God says, "That I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17 NASB)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What's Your Birth Story?

While motherhood is a very prevalent part of my current season, I try to limit myself to a once a week gush. It's usually Thursdays. Thanks for reading. ---

My best friend is pregnant, and so is another best friend, and so is my sister. You'd think being surrounded by all these pregos would give me baby fever again...and it does. But not in a lets-have-another-one way. More like, oh-lets-talk-about-birth-stories way. 

I loved every moment of my labor and delivery with Baby Girl Mo. Even the scary parts (like pushing for 5 hours) seem like a beautiful piece of the mosaic. Every story needs a little suspense and tension and fear to make it good right? 

I could talk about that day for hours upon hours. Every detail. Every nuance. 
The nurses I did like and the ones I, um, didn't prefer. 
The view from my window and the overwhelming smell of antibacterial soaps. 
How our families flooded my delivery room and we played games and laughed while my contractions were shooting off the chart. 
And how I cried when my bestie called during labor.
My mother praying over me while I pushed.
My sisters face when the head began to crown.
Ty's championing voice so close to my face that I could feel the steam from his tears. 
The pushing, the meditating, the concentrating, and yes, even the pain.
And then the scream. The wailing scream of my sweet first born child. 

Yes, I love that day. 

And since then, whenever I see a mom, I'm compelled to ask her about her "day." It seemed a little intrusive the first time the question flew from my lips, but to my surprise, most women love talking about their day! 

So I figured, why not go cyber with the question!

What was you day like?! 
Was it exactly how you planned or did you get a few surprises?
  • If you're a blogger, share the link to your birth story in the link up below.
  • Don't have a blog? That's okay! Write your story in the comments. There's no maximum so type away!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Write for the Sisterhood

I use to write because I had something to say. It wasn't always good or important, nor did every word really make sense. But it was something. With more questions than statements, writing has always been something I do because I have to. I have to.

Journalling was my sole writing outlet, before technology took over the world. I have boxes of old journals I've kept since high school. Every time we move, Ty asks, "Are you sure you need all of these? Seems a little over zealous."


I'm the girl who has more journals than time to actually write in them. It's a collection of sorts. Yea, that's what we'll call it.

Journalling became a habit at a young age when my parents bought me my first big girl Bible and a journal. I think I was 9. I felt so grown up. I remember seeing all the women come in for Bible study with their journals and Bibles in hand. One was never without the other. It was as if they were one big bulky book. 

But the women in that room weren't just Bible study buddies. They were phileo friends. Friends that did life, all of life, together. Even the ugly parts. One's husband wasn't a Christian, and let the world know. The other's husband was from a different country and belief system. The other was locked in her house by her husband so she couldn't go to Bible study. And the last one was my mother, a new divorcee desperate for a sisterhood. All with children. All broken. 

Journalling, to them, became the heartbeat of their gatherings. They'd bring their thoughts from the week into one place, lay them out on the table, and pray over each one. Over the next two decades, those prayers, answered and unanswered, would bind them together with a love so deep, so rich, so full of hope and substance. 

They didn't journal because it was a cute, cool hobby to pass time. They journalled because they had to. 

They had something to say, something to offer one another amidst their own brokeness. Even if it came out in bite sized pieces. 

A sisterhood. 
Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. 
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.  
Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. 
And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:14-17 MSG)
I want that. 

So I keep a journal and fill it with my everyday ramblings, my scattered rabbit trails, my haunting questions and my deepest cries. 

I keep it in hopes that someday, when my very own sisterhood comes together, maybe even here in this blog space, I'll have something to offer. I keep it in hopes that it adds even the tiniest bit of faith to her spirit.

And I'd encourage you to do the same. No matter how dramatic or predictable you feel your life is, you have a story that someone needs to hear. You have learned lessons the hard way and someone needs your wisdom. But they can't hear it unless you tell it. 

So write. Paint. Make music. Tell your story in whatever way brings you the most joy and do it vigorously and freely. Do it for your sisterhood. 

^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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