Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Working Mom's Diary: My First 8 Weeks

If you've followed my blog a long time then you know that I created this space 9 years ago when my oldest was born.

I was a stay at home mom struggling to feel connected with other young moms and hoping to make a little extra cash on the side.

Blogging for money was good to me.

I definitely didn't make thousands of dollars, and sometimes it was pretty tedious work (you can only write SO many blogs that promote wedding favors). But, it did help us buy groceries during a time when my oldest daughter's dad and I were more broke than we'd ever care to admit.

And not only did this space help me put food on my table for a short time, but it helped me walk through some pretty dark days of early motherhood.

Days when I struggled-very quietly-with postpartum depression.

This space gave me an outlet.

It let me stretch my wings.

It has always allowed me to say things out loud that I sometimes don't have the courage to let cross my lips.

And in this space I have-for the most part-always found forgiveness, understanding, and other voices willing to chime in with their "Me too!" or "Amen!".

For me it's a sacred space.

A space where I am never afraid to tell the truth.

So, here's the God's honest truth:

I've been juggling this mama of two role for almost eight weeks, and I can already tell you that this season of my life will undoubtedly be the hardest.

After my divorce, I never pictured myself as the mother of more than one child.

My oldest daughter was my whole world-she still is.

But, fast forward to almost three years post divorce and I was saying yes to a boy who I never saw coming and I wanted nothing more than to give him a child of his own.

So, we took the leap!

We kissed our mornings of sleeping in and our quiet family dinners goodbye.

And just like that my heart that was so completely devoted to my oldest made room for another, and now I am totally smitten by the two most beautiful girls in the whole world.

It is truly amazing how your heart grows to make room for another, and how you can love two little people with everything you are-especially when you never thought you could.

And while my love for them fuels my fire and makes signing up for round two of months without any sleep or personal space worth it, it doesn't change the fact that this mom gig is really super hard.

Thankfully, I feel like my postpartum hasn't reared it's ugly head this time in the form of dark depression and I'm grateful that the "baby blues" have seemed to be more mild.

I know that I can thank my husband for that.

I am blessed with a loving and supportive partner and that has made a huge difference for me.

And while I don't feel incredibly sad or lonely this time, my postpartum has manifested itself in the form of anxiety.

Anxiety that some days completely overwhelms me.

Anxiety that makes me question every decision I make as a mother to my newborn.

It's like I've completely forgotten how to do this.

Anxiety over the fact that they've changed ALL the rules since I had my first infant 9 years ago, and the Internet is far more popular now that it was back then.

Anxiety that leaves me second guessing my ability to go out in public with my baby, and then leaves me feeling awkward and inadequate when I do.

Anxiety that makes me feel torn between caring for a high needs newborn who barely sleeps...ever...and an older daughter who is feeling a little lost in the shuffle.

Anxiety that made it hard for me to comprehend how I was going to do all of this and go back to my high-stress, extremely demanding job two weeks ago.

A task I was not at all prepared for, and to be honest, I'm still not.

I didn't have to do this with my oldest daughter.

With her, I had the privilege of staying home (even if in the moment it certainly didn't feel like a privilege).

And while there are many things I regret about my oldest daughter's early years, there was no mom guilt about leaving my child with someone else or feeling so incredibly selfish for choosing to chase after my goals.

There was no need to juggle drop offs and pick ups with late meetings and being on call 24/7.

I never had to give up whole weekends just to listen to people complain for 4-5 hours at a time while I wondered what my daughters were doing.

It was just different.

Back then it was just the two of us. We didn't really need a feeding or sleep schedule. We just did our thing.

Now don't get me wrong: I think being a stay at home mom is one of the hardest, and most rewarding jobs in the whole world. I truly admire mothers who choose to do it, especially with multiple littles.

But for me, choosing to be a mother and return back to work just feels harder.

It feels so much more daunting than all the days I spent home alone with my oldest daughter.

And if I dwell on it too long or too hard, the anxiety overwhelms me to the point of tears.

I mean how did my mother do it? My grandmother?

How did all the working moms before me summon the courage to face the inevitable and to do it with grace?

And how did they do it when faced with the doubt and negative comments from those who don't understand?

You know, the ones who make you feel like your choosing your career over your children.

The ones who preach that motherhood is the most important job-like you've somehow forgotten.

The ones who take one look at your bottles full of formula and your child's fully up to date vaccination record, and write you off as if you have no idea what your doing, because you don't "do your research" or you're "putting your need for convenience over your child's needs".

The ones who leave unrequested articles from a medical journal on your desk that basically state that your child's recent bout with a 7 day fever is a mental disorder brought on by the fact that you must be a terrible mother who is doing more harm than good.

I wish I was kidding.

How do you drown those voices out?

How do you trust your instincts?

How do you prove that you are capable of both: loving you children fully and completely all while having a rewarding career that fulfills a side of you that motherhood cannot?

I think the answer is simply this: you just do it.

It's no secret that the expectations and demands of being a millennial parent far exceed those that our parents dealt with twenty to thirty years ago.

Not only are we expected to entertain our children every minute of every day, but we are also expected to do it while making them perfect bento box lunches and meals that are gluten, dairy, and sugar free...thanks, Pinterest.

We are expected to work 40+ hours a weeks and some how make it to every class party that happens at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday.

And if we don't? We are "mom shamed" or made to feel like an outcast by the "good moms" in our child's classrooms who special ordered their cupcakes from the best gourmet bakery and spend hours assembling the pieces for this year's Valentine's Day craft: cupids made from straws so they don't end up in the ocean.

And don't even get me started on parenting in the social media age!

Every time I open my Facebook there is someone trying to start drama by sharing "informative" articles on why vaccines are killing our children and baby whales, and the dangerous side effects of screen time based on how it impacted a test colony of raccoons.

Don't worry, I DO "keep scrolling" and I NEVER comment on those types of post, because I-unlike some-can keep my opinion to myself.

Shocking. I know. 

But, I do see them and the negativity they cause.

And while I may not agree, they do make me somehow feel inferior to what our generation has deemed the "better" moms.

Our parents didn't have to parent while everyone on Facebook not so quietly looked on waiting in stealth mode to jump all over a parenting "mistake" they noticed in one of your pictures.

Yep. Being a parent was already hard enough before the Internet and social media, and now some days all of that just makes it seem almost freaking impossible.

But, regardless, I must persevere.

I must do my best to drown out the commentary.

Not only because I disagree, but because my postpartum anxiety will run me over and take me hostage if I don't.

I am learning to accept that "mom guilt" is just part of it.

It never goes away-it's always there.


And it takes courage to taste and feel that guilt while choosing not to allow it to define you.

Even on the days when you have no idea what you are doing or how you will get it all done.

Because the truth is: I have overcome far worse.

And all I can do is take this day by day.

Hour by hour.

Minute by minute.

There is no rushing the process, because all of this has to run its course.

But, the silver lining is this: there is light at the end of this tunnel and wisdom to be gained on the road ahead.

And while my postpartum days with my oldest daughter are slightly fuzzy now, I do know this: that walking that journey has prepared me for this journey-even if it does look a little different.

Because at the core of it, I'm still a shade of the girl I was at twenty-three, and just like her, I'm just trying to do my best and minimize my kids future therapy bills.

I may not be perfect.

I may not have chosen the "ideal" road.

But, that's ok.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, I'm going to take a deep breath, swallow my fear, and remind myself that I can do anything.

My track record for bad days that have killed me so far are zero.

So, hang in there, working mamas.

We may not have it all together, but we do a damn good job of faking it.

And our kids still love us exactly the same.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Avalanche

"It only takes one voice at the right pitch,
to start an avalanche." 
~Dianna Hardy

On Thursday social media erupted over the Kavanaugh hearings.

Thousands of people watched and listened, and then positioned themselves firmly on either side of the issue.

For many Ford's testimony was the boiling point in a large cauldron that has been brewing since the 2016 election.

And all the while, I have been sitting by quietly.

Listening, absorbing, and having dinner table conversations with my husband about all of it.

While the Kavanaugh hearings are the prime target these days, it seems like I cannot turn on the TV-even the sports channels-right now without listening to yet another story or continuation of a story about sexual harassment or abuse.

Woman after woman coming forward to speak HER truth.

The "Me Too" movement has taken our country by storm, and left all of us a little rattled and choosing sides of the fence.

Some of us speculate that they are lying, and many question if it is merely a publicity stunt.

A quick shot at fame.

A woman scorned seeking only to drag someone down during a defining moment.

Some of us wonder what took them so long.

Why are they choosing right now to be the moment they come forward?

We write their stories off as insignificant because it took them longer than 48 hours to gain the courage to say something, because our entitled culture feels that we have some kind of right to determine how and when a story that is not our own is told.

But, on the other hand, some of us feel deep compassion for these women.

We feel compassion, because we can relate.

We hear the phrase, "one in four", and we cringe.

We hear their words and their stories, and it's like we're looking in a mirror watching their mouths move and swearing it was our own.

Some of us would never be so brave.

We sit on the beds where we've hidden our shoebox full of our darkest secrets and we quietly cheer on these brave ones who have chosen to get their box out for the world to see. We tell ourselves that their story will make enough of a difference. The world doesn't need ours too.

And no one wants to hear our story less than the Church.

But, we watch as CNN leaks over into our sanctuaries and takes a front seat in our pews.

We sit quietly by while pastor after pastor, and church leader after church leader resigns under the pressure of various sexual and abuse allegations.

We watch as our David's fall to their Bathsheba's, and we gasp in contempt and confusion.

How is this happening?!

Where in the world did we go wrong?

Surely. There must be a mistake. A misunderstanding.

I was raised Southern Baptist and I attended a private school that was housed inside of an Independent Baptist Church. 

I am what the political agenda likes to call: A conservative. 

In fact, I've been fed the conservative, Christian view since before I could talk.

And as a "good" girl with a "good" background, I know that one of the cornerstones of my conservative, Christian view has always been that women-like children-are to be seen and not heard. 

Trust me, I know my place. 

And for years, I was the girl sitting on the side of her bed trying her damnedest to hide her shoebox.

But, as many of you know, all of that changed with one post.

And suddenly the quiet, conservative, Christian girl had let her voice be heard, because she was tired of sitting by and letting the men do all the talking for her.

And while that post focused mostly on my side of a very raw story, it does talk about the different paths that lead to that defining moment for me.

The moment that I found strength and power in telling the MY story.

But, in all honesty, MY story does not end there.

There is a much deeper reason why the "Me Too" movement is so personal to me.

Because there is a piece of the story I have only shared with a handful of people.

People whom I trust deeply and love fiercely.

People who have always stood behind me and helped me clean up every single mess.

But, as I listen to the stories of others and I watch as doubt tries to take down bravery, I feel this urgent need to tell you all something:

Me too.

In the summer of 2013, I was drugged and raped by someone close to me.

Someone whom I would of trusted with my life.

Someone in whom I had confided.

Someone who made me feel safe.

He wasn't a love interest.

In my mind, there was never any hint at any type of relationship other than friendship.

But, he thought otherwise.

In a weak moment, he took advantage of me and of my trust.

I will never forget how I felt the next morning: the embarrassment, the confusion, or the way my fuzzy mind tried to painstakingly put together all the pieces of exactly what had happened.

I totally blamed myself for months.

I felt guilty and dirty.

My upbringing had ingrained in me that this was somehow MY fault and I believed those voices.

I shoved the experience in a shoebox and hid it under my bed.

I moved on.

I started telling my story-minus that crucial piece.

I stood on my soapbox and shook my fist.

I championed for women and healthy co-parenting.

All while trying to ignore something that probably would have made such a difference for so many.

If only I had the courage.

If only I could have said it without being afraid of my voice shaking.

And yet, here we are 5 years later.

After 5 years, I have made my peace with each part and player of my story-my whole story.

Except for one: the Church. 

As I sit here almost 17 years later from the first moment that the Church failed me, I realize that I never saw 2018 coming.

I never saw Willow Creek on the horizon.

I didn't know who Urban Meyer was, and I'm pretty sure that Brent Kavanaugh wasn't even considering that he might be a Supreme Court nominee.

And I definitely never thought that at some point the Church would have to answer for all the years it has shoved girls like me under the rug while using WWJD and the Proverbs 31 Woman to keep us in check.

For years our voices were confined to Sunday School classrooms and women's Bible studies, because as a conservative, Christian woman you did not speak up, and you most certainly did not speak out.

If it was something you felt passionate enough to share with your husband or your father, then you would hope and pray that he would share it for you. 

And if you did happen to speak up, you became a Hester. You were shamed into wearing your own "scarlet letter" that served as a reminder to everyone around you that the sins of others were some how "your fault".

You weren't submissive.

You dressed "immodestly".

You were "asking" for it.

You didn't understand "your place" in the church or in your own home.

And so you would repent, and bow your heads.

And just like that we would recant our stories, because we didn't want to disappoint Jesus or our families.

We wanted our churches to accept us-we wanted to feel whole.

And at some point along the way while we were idolizing the Proverbs 31 Woman, we lost site of the other major female players.

The ones I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last 5 years.

The ones who lead armies, disobeyed kings, and hid spies.

The ones who went to wells alone and who washed Jesus' feet with their best perfume because that's all they had.

The ones who Jesus chose first to reveal Himself too on the third day.

The ones who did not need someone to do the talking for them-because Love sought them out and took hold of them personally.

Love cupped their faces and said, "I care about YOU and YOUR story! Not the version your husband or your father wants to tell. Just you. I don't need anyone's permission to love you, because I made you and the rest is history."

Love chose them regardless of their background, their life choices, or their sin.

And when we take the time to read those stories and open those shoeboxes, we realize that while the Church has gravely failed those of us with scarlet letters-the people who have failed us the most are ourselves.

Because, we chose to buy into the lies.

We chose to be silenced.

We chose to let others tells us exactly how our faith was supposed to look without seeking it out for ourselves.

But, no more.

Because, here's the truth: we, as women, were never designed to be silent, and we were not created to put our faith in humans who were destined from the Garden to let us down.

Yes. The Church has many, many responsibilities, but, at some point we have to quit depending on four walls and a steeple to keep us safe and to give us the permission we have been brainwashed into thinking we need.

It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks, because it's YOUR story.

And if you have a story, consider this your permission to tell it.

Because as long as I live I will always abide by this truth: that God did not give you your story so you could keep it to yourself.

Someone out there needs to hear your truth, and it's time that we start holding more than the boys club and our politicians accountable.

It's time that we start holding the Church accountable.

What if, Church, instead of questioning or doubting their truth, we start allowing these women to get up on our stages with their dusty shoeboxes, so that their stories can change lives and hearts?!

Can you even imagine how that would begin to heal the wounds that were left deep inside of some many?

Can you imagine how many women would find their way back to Jesus if they knew they didn't need anyone's permission to lay their baggage at His feet?

I can.

The horizon is full of them.

So how about we stop judging?

How about we stop thinking that we have the right to determine how someone else tells their story?

How about we take the hand of the sister next to us, and quietly whisper the words many of them are dying to hear: me too.

Because it's time that we start helping each other carry the burden, instead of adding to it.

It's time that we take out those shoeboxes and break our silence.

It's time. It's been time.

This movement is long overdue.

I know. I know. It seems crazy and irrational.

Who would've thought that a secular movement would be what it would take to start an avalanche?

I'm sure Josh McDowell didn't.

My 17 year old self definitely did not see this coming, and my 27 year old self thought she would never see the day.

And yet, here it is.

And for them and for their wounds-I'm finally glad that it did. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Legacy

“Not long after I'm will become abundantly clear that I left my heart behind.” 
― John Waire

This morning our world grew darker as Heaven grew a whole lot brighter.

This morning she traded in her earthly body which was riddled with excruciating pain for a body fit for the tremendous joy and love she carried for her Savior all the days of her life. 

While the world around us may try to comprehend our loss, they never truly will.

Because for all the things they think she was to our family-she was truly one million times more.

And as I sit here and try to summarize a life as great as her life, I find that it is an impossible feat-even for one like me who never seems to be lacking enough words.

But, as I consider her, I find there are three important things about her that I want you to know.


I want you to know that she was our number one fan.

Whether it was cheering on her boys during one of their football games or watching her great-grand kids play any sport under the sun: she was there.

I'm pretty sure-according to her-my cousins, Ryan and Channing, were woefully overlooked by the NFL; that Lexi and Eli are already being scouted for basketball scholarships by the best schools in the nation; and that Mya should of received her phone call from the New York City Ballet like yesterday. 

There isn't a home volleyball game in my entire middle school and high school career that she missed, and those Camden Christian School boys basketball games-especially the years my uncle coached-were some of her favorites. 

There isn't a bleacher or a sideline in this town that has not felt her presence or heard her cheers. 

And while she loved to watch us compete, she wasn't just our number one fan in sports she was-more importantly-our number one fan in life. 

I don't think there was anyone more proud of Cassie for finishing school with two little kids in tow, or of my Uncle D for tackling night school.

And when Marlee FINALLY got accepted to her surgical tech program, I don't think anyone cheered louder than Gran. 

Or when my cousin, Taylor, and my sister, Randi, made the choice to stay at home and raise their families-in spite of her worry-I don't think anyone encouraged them more.

It didn't matter WHAT we did-her voice was always the loudest. 

The person we always knew would be in our corner. 

Even if we failed miserably, she was there: picking us up, dusting us off, and reminding us that the last thing we were allowed to be was a quitter. 

And when we were ready, she was there on the next go around-cheering for every goal, every point, every single college credit, and every single sleepless minute that would amount to our success. 

Our world will never be the same without her voice in it, but we will cherish the moments when we knew that she was the most proud of us, and from this day forward- no matter what we try to conquer-it will be her voice we will hear in the background always cheering us on.


I want you to know that she was our safe haven.

While psychologists and sociologists analyze the break down of the American family, you could find mine having lunch at her house just about every single Sunday afternoon.

To this day, Sunday lunch is my families most prized and protected tradition.

Because on Sundays, we get to be us in our truest and messiest form.

Her band of misfits that she loved so much.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many problems have been solved sitting by her fireplace, gathered around her dining room table, or sitting by the pool on a Sunday afternoon.

And while we may have never solved world hunger, many of the most honest and genuine conversations I have ever had in my entire life happened within her four walls.

If you have ever shared an impromptu Sunday meal with my family at her house, then you know how true this is.

Her door was always open.

She never met a stranger, and because of that she quickly became "Grandma Amy" or "Fro" to so many people.

And whether it was just for Sunday lunch or the few of us kids who chose to stay there a little longer, I think we can all agree that we never felt more safe or more loved than when we were with her.

From the moment you set foot in her house, you were already forgiven even if she didn't know the sin.

Because to her, no sin or failure was too great for a little tough love over a glass of sweet tea.

And because of this, I hope I can learn to love and forgive just as she did: unconditionally, whole-heartedly, and without a second thought.


The last thing and probably the most important thing I want you to know, is that she was our foundation.

An only child who gave birth to three children.

Children with Christ loving spouses who gave her ten grandchildren.

Ten grandchildren with spouses that gave her ten great-grand children and counting.

Jill Briscoe says, "Our greatest mission field is the ground between our own two feet."

And no one embodied that more than my grandmother.

Because to her-we were her greatest life work and she never worried that she should be doing "more" for God or "bigger" things for God.

Because to her, we were it.

The thirty-one of us.

And because she made her world all about US, and OUR faiths, and what WE are doing for Jesus, it is my deepest belief that her one little flame has sparked a fire that is becoming a movement.

A movement of pastors and worship leaders.

A movement of writers and prayer warriors.

A movement of healers.

A movement of people who speak the name of Jesus loudly and boldly for everyone to hear.

A movement of people who still deeply believe in the importance of missions and supporting those who risk their lives every single day for the Great Commission.

A movement of people who know this truth: that church is not four walls and pews, but it's what we are doing outside of those walls every single day.

Not just through the thirty-one of us.

But through every single person who ever looked at my Gran and saw Jesus.

Because while she was SO many things to my family, the impact she has had and will have as a result of her unwavering faith will be her greatest legacy.

The most beautiful gem in a crown that I know He has been waiting to bestow upon her.

Because unlike so many of us, my Gran never missed her call.

She heard His voice, felt His pull, and she followed.

And despite all of the hardship and heartache she endured in this life, she never once gave it up.

She never turned back.

She never wavered.

Because she was resolved in this one thing: that her people would love Jesus.

And because of that, loving Jesus is our BEST thing.

While it may not be something we get perfectly right every single time.

It is-without a shadow of a doubt-the most important thing she ever gave us.

And because of her faithfulness, today she got her promotion.

Her promotion to the BEST seat with the BEST view.

And when I consider that, I feel my resolve deepen and my feet become a little more secure on the path.

Because I know that I do not want her seat with the best view to go to waste, or her flame-the one that has already sparked a fire-to ever go out.

Today, she has handed thirty-one of us the baton and ran into the arms of her Jesus.

I don't doubt for a second that we are up to the challenge.

After all, she didn't raise a bunch of quitters.


So, Gran, if you're hearing this, I promise not to quit. I promise to keep fighting the good fight. I feel that great cloud of witnesses, and I know now that you're at the helm.

So, tell Jesus I want my mansion to be right next to yours, because I know that while our earthly hearts miss you so-our souls know that this heartache will only be for a little while.

Just a glimmer in this grand scheme that will make up each of our lives.

So, tell Grandpa I love him, and be sure to give Eden a hug for me.

And, I don't care what you say.

From now on,  I love YOU more. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Truth About Grief

"Some things in life cannot be fixed. 
They can only be carried."
~Megan Devine

There are days when I feel like we are on the uphill side of this.

Days when things feel "normal".

Days when I can see glimpses of our life before grief.

Then there are all the other days.

Days when I feel like for every five steps we take forward-we also somehow manage to take a hundred steps back.

Days when the only thing getting us out of bed in the morning is grace.

I'd be lying if I told you that my type A personality didn't want to plan this out.

To put grief in nice, organized little boxes.

To define how we are going to feel and when we are going to feel it.

I want to take each step of the grieving process and somehow rush us through.

Not because I don't care.

But, because there is nothing worse than watching someone you love go through something that you can't fix or take away.

Sometimes I feel like if we can just get through all the steps-sooner rather than later-then maybe we can salvage what's left of the old parts of ourselves.

The people we were before the grief completely broke and changed us.

Because that's the thing about grief-it changes you.

It takes the core of who you are, and carves you into something different.

Something you never thought existed within you.

And when I look in the mirror, I stare at this thing I've become.

I touch her skin.

I run my fingers along the stress acne on her chin, the deeper lines around her eyes, and the furrowed crease in her forehead.

I see the heaviness in her shoulders, and darkness in her eyes.

And when I look at her I realize the hard truth of it is this: there is no "going back".

There is only "before" and there is only "after".

No moment when we will wake up and things will be exactly the way they once were.

Grief has become a thread we have woven into our tapestry whether we like the color of it or not.

There is no "getting over" it.

There is no magical ten-step plan that will make it go away.

It has bound itself to us, and we have bound ourselves to it.

We must resign ourselves to accept it, and the fact that it will always be there-melded to our shadows.

A reminder of our "before" while we move forward into our "after".

These are the things they don't teach you in marriage counseling.

This conversation doesn't come up in the midst of managing your money and learning to fight fair.

And in many ways, no one can ever prepare you for grief and the toll it will take.

No one. 

So, we do the only thing we can do.

We hobble together our broken pieces, and hide our monsters in our least conspicuous places.

We wring our hands and we take deep breaths.

And we sojourn on.


Always forward. 

Because the truth about grief is this: I know as little about it now as I did 12 months ago.

And the days when I think I understand it are the days when it throws me another curve ball.

And it's usually something I never saw coming.

So, we re-adjust.

We make more room.

We learn to live with a little more ache, and a touch more limp in our gait.

And all the while, we slowly, but surely make our way.


Always forward. 

And the only thing that propels me-that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other-is this truth: that someday forward won't always seem so hard.

Maybe not tomorrow or the day after.

Maybe not six months from now.

But, I know someday forward won't be the most painful thing we do every single day.

And eventually our limp won't be quite so noticeable, and we will learn to love the people we've become.

People who have been refined by the fire.

People who went to battle with grief, and who came out on the other side stronger, wiser, and more compassionate for those who will someday walk a journey just like ours.

But, for now we will just focus on forward.

On one step.

One moment.

One day at a time.

And I will hold onto the good days, and wash my face after the bad ones.

I will cling to the promise that His mercies are new every single morning.

I will take more deep breaths and keep being faithful in this valley.

And I will fix my eyes on the horizon, because that's where I see it best.


I know it's coming.

It just hasn't gotten here yet.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Things I Don't Say Out Loud

"I can say with great certainty and absolute honesty
that I did not know what love was until I knew what love was not."
~P.T. Berkey

We all have that one person we don't really talk about.

For me that person is you.

It will always be you. 

It's been 4 years.


When I choose to go there, I remember every single moment of every single second of that day.

That day is full of images and feelings my mind and my heart just cannot shake.

Trust me. I've tried. 

If I could sit down across the table from you, the first thing I would do is stare straight into your eyes.

Eyes that used to bring me to my knees.

Eyes that could convince me to do anything you wanted.

Eyes that were always so sincere even when they lied. 

I would wonder if there was ever a soul in their depths even though I would already know the answer.

I would wonder if-even for one single moment of the past four years- tears had formed in their corners at the thought of me.

I would wonder if you ever felt guilt.

The kind of guilt that lingers and waits patiently for you in the dark.

Do you-even for a split second-think about all the lies you've told?

Lies carefully crafted to make you sleep better at night.

How is that working for you?

From the outside, it seems to be working well.

I mean, thank God you're not me.

The shade of victim you're wearing is so becoming on you.


I wish I had the guts to pull it off.

But, I know every story needs a villain.

Someone or something for "true love" to conquer.

Because without it the ending would never be "happy".

I have resigned myself to being the villain for you.

It suites me better anyways.

And honestly, I never got the chance to play the other part.

I was too busy picking up all the pieces and hobbling together a life for myself that I had almost forgotten all about you.


You know, I read somewhere that strength is being able to forgive someone who is not sorry.

And if I was being honest, I would tell you that I have spent every single day of the last 4 years and 6 months trying to forgive you.

Really, truly forgive you.

I used to tell myself that I had, but honestly all I had done is bury it deep inside somewhere, and I never allowed myself to think about it or acknowledge it.

Because we all have chapters in our story that we don't want to read out loud.

For me, you are that chapter.

Because that chapter brings me to tears.

Tears for what could have been.

Tears for what never was.

Tears for the lies.

Tears for the girl who believed them.

You know I thought by now I would be able to sit across the table from you and wish you the best.

That if I really loved you a part of me would want you to be happy.

To embrace all the beauty that life has for you.

I thought that I would get to a place where I could extend you the grace that has been so graciously extended to me.

But, as I type this 4 1/2 years later I can say with absolute certainty that I'm not there yet.

And I don't know if I ever will be.

I know I should.

I know it's the "right" thing to do.

I know I have so many things for which to be thankful.

I know that this life 1,602 days later looks a hell of a lot better than I thought it would on the day you tried to destroy me.

I know all of these things.

And when I push all of this down deep and I don't think about it, I can almost convince myself that I have accepted those truths.

But, then the long nights come.

Or a memory, or a song, or a place reaches out and slaps me straight across the face.

And you know what?

It still knocks the wind out of me.

It leaves me breathless and angry.

I know it's me who still chooses to give you that power.

The power to dictate how I feel about things that you don't even care about from thousands of miles away.

Things you've tucked away and pretend never happened.

Things that once made up the plot line of a fairytale that suddenly turned into a nightmare.

A glorious charade.

Because that's all it was, right?

A charade.

A storyline that stroked your ego.

You loved pretending to be the hero.

The person sweeping in to "save" me.

It gave you purpose.

Until that purpose no longer served you.

And the princess you were "saving" was left with nothing more than a broken heart and a new life that was built on empty promises you never intended to keep.

But, you're right.


I'm the villain.

The homewrecker.

The girl in this town with a reputation I will never quite be able to shake.

All of it.

Every single moment was all my fault.

I brought this on myself.

When they build a statue to your piety and perfection will you be sure to let me know?

I'll want to send a card.

A card to express my condolences. 

My condolences for the for the life you've chosen to live.

A life full of lies and moments that you will never, ever get back.

A life without merit or even a vapor of anything noteworthy or honorable.

Because while you were choosing that life, I was choosing to rebuild mine.

Stone by stone.

Broken piece by broken piece.

While you were hiding in the shadows, I chose to step into the Light.

I was tired of the dark.

While you chose to run, I chose to face them.

Every single one.

Eye to eye.

Fist to fist.

While you chose easy, I chose hard.

And God was it hard.

So freaking hard.

While you chose false "faith", I chose the real thing.

Because honestly, grace was the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.

While you chose fake, I chose real.

And it came in the form of the truest, purest love I have ever known.

So, yeah.

You have my condolences.

Because I would rather live a life that is hard and worth talking about.

Than whatever it is that your doing.

Because talking about your story.

Stories about boys just like you.

Who broke girls just like me.

And how girls just like me lived to tell about it.

Those stories-they change lives.

And those types of stories can only be told by those of us who are not afraid to tell them.

So, while you wallow in fear with all of your lies.

I'll be over here.

On top of my mountain.

Thankful that I have always been brave enough to own my truth.

And you know, if I ever got the chance to sit down across the table from you, I'm pretty sure I would tell you that.

All of it.

Every single word. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


This beauty.

Born of love. 

Forged by fire. 

My greatest accomplishment to date. 

I watch her sleep and wonder about the mountains she will one day move. 

The peaks she will conquer.

The valleys she will forage. 

I think about all the ways I am preparing her for these things. 

The hard things.

The brave things.

The things that make your heart sing, and the things that make your heart grieve.  

I think about all of the hard things I am already asking her to do. 

Things she never wanted. 

Things I never planned for her the first time I held her. 

I think about all the grace she gives me day in and day out for these things. 

Grace I don’t deserve.

Because life is a series of trial and error.

There will be times when it seems perfect, and all is right in the world. 

And yet there will be other times when it will derail on you faster than you can catch your breath. 

It’s a constant ebb and flow. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

And it’s not about who you are when you're smack dab in the middle of it. 

It’s about who you are when you come out on the other side. 

If she doesn’t learn anything else from me, I hope she learns this. 

But, for now I will cuddle down beside her and watch her sleep.

I will wonder what fills her dreams, and I will dream about the plans He has for her. 

Plans He wrote for her long before I even knew her. 

Her path has been determined. 

All of her days have already been ordained. 

This beauty of mine. 

And, like me, He created her from a long line of strength, courage, and perseverance. 

A great lineage of women whose faith runs deep, and whose minds are as sharp as their tongues.

Warrior princesses who have lived through dark wars and hard fought battles.

Women who wear their scars proudly. 

She is of us. 

And it's because of this that I know despite everything she will be okay. 

This funny, ornery, gorgeous girl with a heart that contains more beauty than I could ever understand.

She was built for all the things He has for her-great things, brave things, things I cannot even fathom. 

Thankfully, I find solace in the knowledge that He will see her through just as He has done for each of us, and that the great army behind her won't let her falter and will be there to light her way.

This beauty. 

My beauty.

Born of love.

Forged by fire. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lessons From the Wilderness: Trust the Wait

"Trust the wait.
Embrace the uncertainty.
Enjoy the beauty of becoming. 
When nothing is certain, anything is possible."

Over the last few weeks I've been reading an amazing book called, "Wait and See: Finding Peace in God's Pauses and Plans" by Wendy Pope. 

I stumbled upon this book when it showed up in my "Recommendations for You" section on Amazon, and I bought it solely based on the title. 

As many of you know, I am currently in a very long, very dry season of waiting. 

I'm still not 100% certain what brought me here, but I do know WHY I am here. 

I am here because there are things He needs to teach me in the wilderness. 

Things that I will need for the journey that is to come. 

I know my calling.

I know my purpose. 

But, I also know that His timing is everything. 

This book has totally transformed my mind set regarding my current waiting season. It has taught me to lean in harder towards God instead of pushing Him away. 

It has reminded me of all of the people who came before me who also walked through very hard, very real seasons of waiting. 
  • Noah WAITED. Scholars guesstimate that it took Noah almost 75 years to build the ark. (Genesis 6)
  • Abraham WAITED for the child he was promised. (Genesis 18)
  • Joseph WAITED. He spent years in captivity before the Lord final rose him up to second in command over all of Egypt. (Genesis 37-41)
  • Joshua WAITED in the desert with the Israelites for the Promise Land. (Joshua 1-5)
  • Hannah WAITED and prayed longingly for a child. (1 Samuel 1)
  • Samuel WAITED for God to show him the first King of Israel. (1 Samuel 9)
  • Ruth WAITED at the instruction of her mother in law at the feet of Boaz. (Ruth 3)
  • Esther WAITED for the Lord’s timing to approach the King to save her people. (Esther 5)
  • David WAITED for years to become the chosen King of Israel. (2 Samuel)
  • John the Baptist WAITED and prepared the way for Jesus public ministry (Matthew 3)
  • Jesus WAITED 40 years to start his public ministry.
  • Paul had MANY seasons of WAITING…some of them spent in prison. (Acts 16)
I have spent so much time studying these Biblical heroes and their seasons of waiting. I draw strength and encouragement from them, as well as, strength and encouragement from people I know in my everyday life who have walked through seasons of waiting: my pastors who held church in their living room for years waiting for God to grow their ministry; my aunt who recently walked through a successful chemo journey but spent months waiting for God to heal her; an amazing mili-spouse and bloggy friend who just spent a year waiting for her beloved to return from Kuwait; and so many more.

It's a relief to know that seasons of waiting are not unique. They are a critical tool that God uses to show and guide us toward the plan He has for us.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the things God has been teaching me in my season of waiting. Some of these lessons have been painful and others have been a relief, but regardless, I know each one is taking me in the direction of where He is leading me.


1. Waiting HEALS us. 

One of my favorite quotes in Wendy's book is this, "God has to do a work in us before He can do a work through us."

When my season started, I believed it was due to the untimely, sudden death of my mother-in-law. I believed it was God's way of making us-especially me-slow down and reassess what was truly important in life.

In many ways, I still believe that was part of it, but as I trudge faithfully along (see also: being dragged while kicking and screaming), I am finding out that this season of waiting had a much deeper meaning.

Over the past few months, I have found my mind wandering back to a much darker time in my life.

Ashley circa. 2013.

For YEARS I have squeaked by without really thinking about that time in my life.

Sure I talk about it...often.

I use it as a reference point. A tool to help those just like me.

But, I haven't really THOUGHT about it a.k.a. DEALT with it.

I like to tuck that year deep within my heart, and pretend like I am fine.

Just fine. 

I like to masquerade around like I am stronger because of it, and completely healed from it.

But, the truth is: I'm not. 

I think in the beginning, I wanted to put on a brave face SO badly that instead of working through all the processes of grief, hurt, and betrayal, I rushed headlong into my new normal.

Shortly after everything happened, I began to minimize my pain, because people were begging me to just "stop talking about it".

And so I did-at least in the context of how it applied to me and my very broken life.

I washed my face, put on my makeup, and faced the next four years in a way many people would describe as "brave" or "empowering".

I have used my story to help many, many people.

But, the truth is: we can't hide from God.

He sees even the most broken places within us.

The ugly, dark places that we keep hidden or that only come out on Wednesday night after everyone in your house has gone to bed and your 3 glasses of wine deep.

It took me a while, but eventually I realized that God wanted me to walk through this season of waiting, because He knew I still had a lot of healing to do.

He knew that there was no way I could truly help or understand others if there were things I had not totally worked through in my own heart.

The last few weeks have been especially painful, but I am finding that I am starting to say things out loud to myself that I never truly acknowledged or was in denial about 4 years ago.

God is digging the darkness up and out.

Much like a dentist extracting a painful tooth, He knows that it's going to hurt, but in the end I will feel so much better because we have walked through this together.

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4 NLT)

It may require relieving painful memories, acknowledging lies that we told ourselves to make ourselves feel better, and/or reaching out to those that we have wronged and who have wronged us, but in the end we emerge totally renewed, fully developed, perfect, complete, and ready to take on what He has in store for us.


2. Waiting PREPARES us.

David didn't storm the castle and force Saul to give him his crown. Noah didn't order his big boat from Amazon. Esther didn't throw a tantrum to make the King give in to her way. John the Baptist didn't get jealous and choose to focus on his own agenda. Paul didn't give up because he was sitting on the floor of a jail cell.

Instead, all of these people used their season of waiting to press harder into God.

I often describe my season of waiting as a "leaning in".

I visualize myself sitting on God's lap and leaning back, hard against His chest. I can hear his heartbeat, and feel His breath keeping rhythm with mine. I quiet my mind and my heart, and wait expectantly for Him to reveal the next step.

While He hasn't opened the next door quite yet, I know that what He really wants from me in this season is to draw closer to Him.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Romans 8:28 NLT)

There are definitely days when I don't see or understand how God is using this season for "my good". 

There are days when my very type-A, plan-loving personality wants to rush ahead and make all of this "hurry up already"! 

I have seen the vision. I know where all of this is going, so why can't it just be now? 

And it's in those moments when I feel myself trying to take back control that He reminds me that nothing good ever comes from doing things of my own accord. 

His timing is perfect. His plan is perfect. His ways are perfect. 

Even on the days when it doesn't feel like it. 

So, instead of focusing on how I can get somewhere faster, I need to focus on what He's trying to teach me in this place and how He is going to use this season ultimately for His glory. 


3. Waiting SHIFTS our perspective

It's so easy in seasons of waiting to become sickeningly self-focused. 

Our selfish, human nature loves a pity party and "Why Me?" becomes the #1 hit that me, myself, and I find ourselves jamming out to on the dance floor. 

My little family can attest to the ways that I have allowed my season of waiting to steal my joy and turn my focus inward instead of outward.

Recently, God decided to shine a harsh, blaring light on this reality for me.

He wanted me to understand that while I'm so focused on the what's to come-my very real here and now is suffering from my selfishness.

It's no secret that I am a blessed girl.

I have this amazing boy who loves me in a way I do not deserve.

A little girl who swears I hung the moon.

A cute little house, a nice car (despite the self-inflicted dent), and a job that pays well.

My bills get paid every month, my family always has more than enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and way too many things to entertain them, and I always have a box of wine in my fridge.

I have so many things to be thankful for-so many things that fill my life with joy and purpose.

But, sometimes I get so focused on the blinking cursor at end of paragraph. 

I am waiting impatiently for what is to come instead of re-reading the paragraph I just typed.

Yes, God has BIG plans, but He doesn't want us to forget the things He's called us to in the meantime.

Our families. Our boring desk jobs. Our monthly children's church commitment. Our small groups.

"What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure." (Phil. 2:12-13 MSG)

The things I mentioned before may seem small compared to arenas filled with people and entire bookshelves full of our next best seller, but the truth is that they are just as-if not more-important.


I wish I could end this post by saying that my season of waiting is over, and I have a meeting with a publisher next week, but the truth is my season of waiting is far from over. 

I still have a lot of healing to do and more mornings to spend in the lap of my Savior. 

But, I know without a shadow of a doubt what is to come-I'm just waiting on Him to show me the next step, the next door, the next chapter. 

If you are in a season of waiting, let me just encourage you in this: God is not far from you. He is right there with you. 

He sees. He knows. He is listening. 

You didn't misunderstand Him and He always keeps His promises. 

It may not come the way you think it should or in the way you had planned, but I know that His ways are always SO much better.

So, hold on, brave heart. 

It's coming. 
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