"So what brings you here?" 

I'm sitting in a well lit room in a comfy chair with a stranger. A stranger I'm paying to be my friend. To listen. To give counsel. I'm wearing my waterproof mascara and my most comfy work pants (you know, the ones that have the elastic waistband). I was prepared on the outside and yet, I hadn't been prepared for that question. I had thought the first meeting would be a bs get to know you session. 

Somewhere deep down in me I hear my soul whisper, "you're tired.". 

"I'm tired!" I blurt out.

My paid friend nods at me and warmly smiles to go on. 

I'm convinced this is why therapists make any sort of money, they know when to encourage more out of you instead of filling the space with their own words. 

"More?! Crap, she wants more"... I think to myself while fidgeting with my turquoise ring.

"I'm tired.... Of feeling like this. Of being like this. Of dealing with the same shit every year and losing and hurting every time. I realized once another one of my "resolved" issues circled around for the millionth time with the same strength it had the last time, that I'm going to be dealing with the same crap over and over again in my life, just in a different way, with new scenarios. So knowing that, I guess I'm just tired of hurting so much every time it circles around, especially when I don't know why exactly it hurts or why I let it hurt. I feel like I shouldn't hurt anymore or I should have some control over my issues, but they are all so deep inside of me and I need help pulling them out, unravelling them, and calling them for what they are. A lot of them for the first time. So I guess my hope is maybe, if I know some of what they are and why they have control over me, they will lose some power and won't leave me lying on the bathroom floor crying every time."

She closes her eyes and nods as if she fully understands.

I sigh. I'm so tired. Why can't I get my crap together? I think of some of my friends and how I feel like they cope so well with change, marriage, contentment, and just life in general.  I'm tired of feeling like something is wrong with me,...especially when I know somewhere deep inside of me, that nothing is.  

I didn't know it then, but now 2 years later from this initial introduction to my paid best friend I know I was right. Nothing is wrong with me. 



God the Mother

God the Mother.jpg

Something really scary happened recently: my friend Bre had a baby. As in, a ten-toed, two-eyed being popped out of her and lives and breathes and we call him Theo. It’s the craziest shit ever. 

All my life, I have been the first to go through just about everything, from full-time job and marriage, to buying a house and moving states. Which for years has made me the advice column with my friends on all the "what to do's" and "what not to do's". So when my Bre told me about our Theo, I was fully aware that I owed her big time. 

I feel a little behind on this whole baby fever thing. All I know, is that if it's anything like puppy fever then I wholeheartedly can attest to that shit being real because I need to be semi-sedated when I see puppies in the park. Needless to say, everything about experiencing a desire and readiness with pregnancy, labor, and having offspring feels very foreign and scary to me. I really wanted to be there for my friend in her journey into motherhood,  just like I'm sure my single friends really wanted to be there for me when I was planning a wedding at 18 and they were still in high school. But it's just hard. Because we are in totally different stages of life and desire. Even though I knew Bre was stepping into a season of life that I hoped to have in my future, I got pretty tripped up by the fact that everything was exponentially more scary because I wasn't there yet and for the first time I couldn't give her all the "what to do's" and "what not to do's".

When I met Bre at the hospital and got a glimpse of what labor was going to be like, my eyes got real big, I started to pit out, and then I seriously questioned if any human being could be worth this. 

I watched my sweet, calm, content friend moan in pain, which led to me feeling dizzy and taking a lot of deep breaths. Once I realized that her mother-in-law may or may not be watching me just as closely as Bre….I had to leave....and call my mom and apologize asap. 

Then Theo was here and in Bre's arms and I witnessed the craziest most beautiful thing: LOVE. Bre had an adoration and love for this baby who had done absolutely nothing to deserve her love. He actually had done the exact opposite and caused her immense pain... For awhile.

I was confused and shocked. I didn't anticipate the intense connection or the outpouring of love to break out of Bre with Theo. But it did. 

From what I gather, this whole labor/pain thing is a curse. A curse on Eve and her daughters for believing Satan's lie that what God provides is not enough. I cry with Eve every time I believe it. But what I experienced with my friend is that God in His immense goodness made it also a mystery. A paradox. That woman would desire a child knowing the pain ahead, share her body for 9 months, be ripped open, AND THEN LOVE the undeserving baby regardless. Regardless of the damage done to her body. Regardless of who he becomes or what choices he makes.

I can't believe this love. This love that God allows a woman to experience. It makes me wonder if what God has made a curse He has also made our immense blessing. That we would realize through it, the immense desire He has for us, regardless of the pain He knew we were going to cause Him. That He was willing to share this life with us and be torn apart AND THEN LOVE us undeserving sons and daughters no matter whether we choose Him as our Father or not.

That's the freaking gospel. I know we always say God the Father but I think I just experienced God the Mother and believed all over again. 


My body is freaking amazing.

I said that out loud when I typed it.


Have you ever said that? Do you believe that? 

Yah, it’s rough...I know. Because I don’t either. I mean, I think it might be true and I can scientifically believe that all of these pounds of flesh, organs, hairs, muscles, and blood - beat, grow, inhale, blink, and move to keep me alive and that THAT is freaking amazing. But when I look at myself in the mirror…

Not so amazing. Kind of scary actually. Like, why is my face so hairy? Is that boob exponentially bigger than the other? Do my arms always shake like that when I wave? Why do I have to gain all my weight right there?

The story of my body starts with a lot of insecurities (as does everybody's I’m sure). I remember being in the 7th grade and watching girls a little older than me walk around in their cute, little two pieces at Loon Lake. Everything about them was tan, toned and perceivably perfect. They were surrounded by friends and I was mortified that I was at the lake with my family in a one piece. Nothing was tan or toned about my body. It was one of the first times that I would believe a lie that I still fight today not to believe which sounds something like: they are happier because they look like that. I sat in a sweatshirt in the blazing sun on a beach chair the whole day and watched my family have fun in the lake because I was paralyzed to actually live in the body I had been given. What once was just a body became so much more. It felt like everything was riding on my body now. How I felt. The friends I had. How people felt about me. My happiness. My security.

I was all of the sudden mortified by my white, skinny legs. Any sort of good humored jokes that were directed at my appearance were daggers to my heart. The itty bitty rolls I had then, that were  maybe as thick as my index finger now, felt like disastrous traitors that I wished I could just cut off.  

When I think about my daughter - you know, the daughter I don’t have. I want her to believe that her body is freaking amazing. That her heart pumps blood throughout her body so that she can hold my hand. That her lungs take in oxygen so that she can sing her grandparents a song. That her muscles grow so that she can run into her daddy’s arms.  

I want her to esteem the beauty of people’s character over their perfect butts and great outfits. Because the world has got it COMPLETELY BACKWARDS even though we know that we love the insides of people more than their outsides.

I want her to be motivated to be active not so that she will be thin, but because she wants to take care of what God has given her with the awareness that being active will make her healthy, capable, and strong in her lifetime.

I want her to learn quickly how to diffuse the lie that the happiest people are the ones that society has deemed as beautiful- But instead to realize that the happiest people are the ones that are the most secure with who they are-insides and outsides. It’s a security that comes from not looking at what and who God made everyone else to be, but instead to focus on looking at herself and learning about what and who God has made her to be. A security so drenched in His love for her that she feels it when she loves others and when we love her.

When it comes to desire, I want her to be watchful for the people who adore her for her insides- (what makes her unique) and to not give any time to the people who desire her for her outsides- (what makes her attractive). And that she in turn would esteem and appreciate others for their inside character and uniqueness instead of their outsides.

When my daughter sees me lacing up my shoes, grabbing my yoga mat, or  putting on my swim cap I want her to know that her mommy isn’t being active to look good. To be the hot mom. To be thin. To have the nice butt. She’s being active so that she feels good. That’s the paradox God has created in all of this. By putting in hard work and putting our body through something kind of/sort of miserable we come out feeling capable, refreshed, strong, and sane. I doubt it every time, but it’s true.

I want my daughter to realize that her body isn’t her. It’s just the address of her soul (someone wise said this but I can’t remember who). It’s only a matter of time before it starts falling apart no matter how good she takes care of it and that’s okay. The only thing that will last and what we love most about her, is her insides-her soul. So she needs to take more time to nurture, grow, care, and workout her insides more than her outsides.

All of these mentalities on our bodies, beauty, and being active are the same things I want for me and you. I don’t want how I feel about my body to be defined by what society has designated as beautiful. I don’t want to value a person’s outsides more than their insides. 

I’ll catch myself saying things like, "she has pretty eyes" or "he is nice and tall" as if those are the reasons that I should like them the most. But instead I want to be saying more things like, "she has such a positive spirit" or "he always makes me feel so welcomed". Those are the characteristics I want to remember people by and value them for, because that's how I want to be remembered and valued for too. So maybe in teaching my future daughter, I can teach myself.




“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. How I act out everything I believe hinges on these two commandments. -Amber C. Haines, Wild in the Hollow

I heard a story recently of a group of God-loving individuals who were wronged by one of the members of their group. The deed that had been done against the group directly affected everyone and was morally wrong from both a world and Christian viewpoint. I heard how the leader of the group felt justified in shaming the individual for all to know and how one by one the members of the group felt justified in breaking off all ties with the guilty individual not only from the group, but from their friendship with the member.

Oh how quick we are to pick up our stones.

I was reminded when hearing this story of the adulteress woman. How the Pharisees dragged her out in front of everyone when she was caught red-handed and threw her before Jesus, asking him what he thought her sentence should be. The law of old was to stone her for such an act, so the Pharisees felt justified in shaming her and picked up their stones to kill her.

Justified: 1. Having a good or legitimate reason. 2. Declared righteous in the sight of God

Righteous: 1. Morally right. 2. Very good.

Self Righteous: Characterized by a certainty that one is totally correct or morally superior.

Judge: To form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought. 2. To regard someone as either good or bad.

Justifiable sin is truly the best kind of sin. Because what THEY are doing is wrong. Obviously. So I pick up my stone and judge. Because I have a legitimate reason to pick up my stone (justified). Because what they are doing is not morally right (not righteous). Because I am morally superior (self righteous).   Because I have put careful thought into what THEY are doing and it is wrong (judge)!

There is always a THEY with this justifiable sin. We just love feeling like we are better than the other “not classy” people over there. We conjure up a list of why we are better: Slept with only one person. Go to church every Sunday. Never had an addiction. Have an upstanding job. Don’t wear trashy, provocative clothes. Feed my kids all organic food. Attracted to the right sex. Have nicer stuff. Are not overweight.  

The irony in all of this, is that I went from judging the supposed “not classy” people, to judging the supposed “classy” people. Because I was no longer judging the “not classy” people anymore, my justifiable sin was then feeling like I was better than all the supposed “classy people” who still were judging others with the Word of God in their hands. Basically I just took the stone and tossed it from my left hand to my right hand.

I can come up with a slew of faces that I feel are morally incorrect. That I should be justified in considering myself to be better than or even to condemn. I’m sure you can too.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone...” -Jesus

So I sit on Jesus’ lap and yell, “But Jesus, they are totally out of line! They have hurt me so bad! What they are doing/have done is totally wrong by the world’s standards and YOUR word! They are totally misrepresenting You! They are not a good people! I should have the right to throw the stone!”

And then He grabs my hand, and I feel the holes. The holes that remind me that my sin pierced Him to a cross. When I look deep in those holes I remember that  in judging others I am the one totally out of line. How else do I know what out of line is other than having crossed that line constantly? That I have hurt others so bad. That I have done things undeniably wrong. That I misrepresent Him all the time.  

You know when you are similar to someone else and instead of that uniting you it annoys the crap out of you? Like you both are dominant personalities, so you rub each other the wrong way. Or you both are intense planners, but you never seem to have the same plan. Or you both really love to cook, but struggle to cook in the same kitchen because your process is different. I think that’s how this whole judging others thing goes to. It’s like, we see the wickedness, emptiness, desires, wrong motives, lack of love, laziness...etc. And we know exactly how that fruit tastes because we have that same nasty in us. We get it. And yet instead of sympathizing or having compassion we choose to pick up our stones.

I know for a fact I will always struggle to love the self righteous Christian, because I am the self righteous Christian. I’ll always struggle to love and not pick up a stone instead.

All the sudden, I’m not the Pharisee anymore, I’m the woman on the ground. Breathing in dust, sweat, and tears. Mortified I am caught. Mortified at where my desires have led me. Adulterous to a Savior so worthy of my love. Worthy of condemnation.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jesus whispers in my ear. I look around and all that was righteous and justified in putting me to death has cleared out. The stone wasn’t theirs to hold. The only stone my Jesus is in the business of is the one He pushed away from his tomb and in doing so redefining death and life for me.

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”



Hella Good

When my Nana passed away unexpectedly, I felt like I should be okay with it. Her life had become so small, so full of pain. I felt as if I should be relieved that she didn’t have to live that way anymore. As if loss can be justified to make it hurt less.

The loss of someone feels so unreal. I just can’t wrap my head, my heart, my logic around this reality that one day someone is here leaving voicemails on your phone, mailing you cards, giving you hugs, and then the next...they aren’t.

At the time I felt like this is where my faith card should come into play. Ya know? The moment where total shit hits the fan, yet somehow faith buffers the hurt, steps in and allows me to see silver linings or have peace or something. I wanted to be able to withdraw some of the faith I had saved up throughout the years and rub it like a salve on all the questions and hurt that the loss of my Nana brought to the surface.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing to withdraw. Turns out faith doesn't look much like a bank.

Everyone was saying, “she’s in a better place” and my response in my head was, “Is she? Like really. Is she in a better place? Or is this something we are just saying to make ourselves feel better?”.

I had never had to truly believe this part of the text. Never had to believe in the “place” Jesus said he is preparing for me. I had never been so smacked with the reality that this life, this body is just for a moment and that I’m supposed to believe in an eternity that I know few things about.

When I was maybe 9 or 10, my Nana heard I was singing for the first time on the big stage at church. So she took me to JCPenney and bought me a whole new outfit to wear, complete with cute little loafers and a butterfly headband that had small, metal wings that fluttered around from little springs. She was so proud of me. The last time I saw her she pulled out a bunch of worship music sheets she had saved from her church and had me sit on the couch with her, hold her hand, and sing. 

My nana is my butterfly. So much of her life was misery and pain. Was being held captive by her past and her incapability to forgive. But now she’s free. The pain she experienced here mentally and physically is GONE. She doesn’t have to be in mental bondage by the horrendous things that were done to her. She doesn’t have to be convinced that no one wants her. Because the lies and pain that held her captive in a cocoon for so long don’t hold her anymore. She is a new creation.

She is existing in the reality that was always true for her, yet she couldn’t see. She is forever fully wanted. Fully known. Fully loved. And I’m realizing that her not being here with me, not being here to tell me that I shouldn't use products with bleach or my children will be born with no hair, her not being here to hold my hand when we walk through the crowd at Justin’s graduation, and her not sending me cards with her cutesy handwriting all over the insides…doesn’t suck for her. It just sucks for me.

And no matter how much I might miss her. I would NEVER ask God to bring her back. Because I know being with Him has got to be just too good. It has to be. And I barely get it. This whole heaven eternity thing. But what I know of this God. God Father. God King. God Creator. God Saviour. God Spirit. Is He is GOOD. Good in the purest, truest, most beautiful sense of the word. And I want Nana to experience all that goodness.

Eternity with God in this “place” that he is preparing for me is hard to believe. He told me so little about it. He spoke in riddles. He rarely gives me the black and white answer. It feels like all He has left me is this aroma. This beautifully, sweet and pleasing aroma that makes my mouth water and my soul hungry. I want it. I’m starving. I’ve got to have it. I’m following it. This aroma is the testament of something wonderful to come. Something that smells a lot like freedom, like no more fear, pain, or suffering. Like no more crying, no more living a life of sin, no more living a life with Him and yet somehow really detached. Like being fully loved. Like being fully held for forever. So I guess I’m trusting the chef in all this. I’m smelling and I’m believing that what He has in store is gonna be hella good. Because He is hella good.