The Gender Role Fight: Where Are You Looking For Truth?

It’s 1:07am on a Saturday (Sunday?) and I’m upset. Again.

I write a lot of blog posts when I’m upset; maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t. Whatever.

(However, I am drinking coffee for the first time in 7 days, so I’m actually ecstatic-upset. Is that a real state of emotion?)

Lots of you know I started the Good Women Project recently, and have launched myself into a world where the dirtiest of secrets find their way into my inbox, I am bombarded with links to Men Are From Some Other Planet & Women Should Rule Everything To Make Up For The Last Eighteen Thousand Years articles, and can’t go 24 hours without wrestling through a gender-related identity crisis in my own life.

I interact daily with women who hate men, women who hate women, women who love being women, women who hate being women, men who hate women, men who don’t know if women should be women or if they should be men, men who wish women would be women, women who wish men would be women, and women who wish we were all just humans and the words men and women weren’t in our vocabulary.

Men and women: You all are a trainwreck.

And it is breaking me.

The fight against gender roles has seared a deep brand into the flesh of this generation, and instead of healing, I’m watching it destroy.

The issue overwhelms me. Every part of it. Feminism, sexual orientation, civil rights, gender roles, marriage, glass ceilings, those stupid statistics on men making more money in the same position as their fellow female co-worker.

The ungodly number of research studies, statistics, polls, articles & books written on the topic makes me want to give up entirely. To say, “To hell with this. Everyone just shut up, and just BE.”

Unfortunately, I can’t say that. The topic is a loaded gun, and we’re firing it every single day – aiming with good intentions and hitting all the wrong things.

The long and short of it is that hurt people hurt people. Yeah. Hurt people HURT people.

We must realize how and why we are hurt before we go around firing off missiles in the name of protecting people suffering from the same wounds we are.

I’ve been hurt in this area. Badly. Every one of us has skewed definitions of what it means to be what you are and what you aren’t. We grew up with imperfect parents, in imperfect families, in an imperfect society.

And as always, we are the messed up product of nature & nurture until God himself restores our identity in Him.

Our hurt and dysfunction come from lies, both intentional and unintentional. Lies must be replaced with truth, and if you’re going to go chasing truth, you’d better set some rules for where you go looking for it.

I have chosen to seek truth in the only place I know I can find it and never question it: God.

This can be extraordinarily hard, because of the church’s history and way of handling the subject. Unfortunately, the majority of us have shied away from what God has to say because all we know of it is what Christians in our life have passed along. I ask you to throw it all out and fight to find the truth – the original, untouched by human hands truth.

I know that I am not responsible for fixing the world. I am only responsible for myself, my healing, my heart, my relationships, my career, and my life. This means that before I go around throwing opinions at people, I have to understand that I was born a female (whether I like it or not – thankfully, I do), and that it is my responsibility to become who I was created to be – regardless of how I was raised, what affected me, the churches I grew up in, and what my society tells me to be.

The woman I am and will become is between God and myself. The world that I live in has no claim on it.

I am ashamed to say that for all 23 years of my life, I’ve recoiled every time I’ve heard the phrase, “The Proverbs 31 Woman.” I have a bitter, bitter taste left in my mouth from my own history. But, if I am going to submit my truth to the truth of God, then I need to do that wholeheartedly.

So, I sat down this evening to study Proverbs 31 inside and out. And to seek what God says of Woman; what the best of the best is called to look like. Who she is. What she is. What she does. How she lives. Why she’s worth fighting to become.

Sometimes, I put things into plain English to help me understand the Bible better.* Here is what I ended up with:

A valuable woman who can find?
She is worth more than diamonds and gold.
Her man brags about her
and because of her, needs nothing else.
She fills his life with good things, not problems,
every day of their life.
She loves hunting for pretty things
And making beautiful things to sell online. (Yep, I said it.)
She’s just like a small business,
earning a living around the world.
She pulls late nights
To make things for her family
and for her friends.
She finds things she is passionate about
and invests in them
paying for them out of her own earnings.
She works hard because she knows what she loves,
her arms are built for what she does.
She knows that what she invests her time in is worth it,
and her light stays on late into the night.
In her hands she grips the tools she needs,
she knows how to use them and how to create.
She throws open her doors to the poor
and gives freely to everyone that needs anything she has.
When life gets hard, she has no fear for her family
for she has made sure all of them are clothed well.
She decorates her home to reflect herself,
and dresses well.
Her man is respected in what he does,
everyone around him admires him.
She creates clothing, art – anything she loves
and sells it off.
She is strong and confident in her reputation,
she can laugh in the face of anything, fearing nothing.
She speaks wisdom and truth,
and can guide others well and easily.
She is aware of everything in her home,
and never suffers from laziness.
Her children stand up and tell others of who she is,
her man also – he sings her praises.
She knows that charm can have no foundation
and that some beauty does not last
but she fears the Lord, and she will be praised for it.
Give her the reward that she has so well earned
and let everything she does bring her praise wherever she goes.

Take this as you will. Read the NIV translation here.

Know that when you seek the truth of God, know that you must go directly to Him.

He knows your passions, your strengths, your talents and your dreams. He is a God of freedom, and will align your life with your heart if you allow Him. When God restores your identity in Him, it will never be a compromise.

And for the record, I see no restriction, no entrapment, no control, no fear, no discrimination, and no glass ceilings in Proverbs 31.

– – –

* Please do not take this as my altering the Bible for my own intentions; please read the original translation. This is merely an exercise I do on my own to help me see what I did not see before. .

Beauty Secretttttttttttts.

Hey girlies. This post is for you. 🙂

I asked a bit ago if you’d like to hear some of my beauty secrets, and the whole world flipped out and assumed that I had lots. I’m flattered.

But, unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of secrets. I only have a few. And I’m about to have none, because in 10 minutes you will have read this and they won’t be secrets anymore.

Also, I’m going to preface this by saying I am not a girl who spends an outrageous amount of money on cosmetics, hair product & skin care.

I lived this lifestyle briefly, and it broke both my bank and my heart. Why? I found out pretty quickly that the more I bought, the more time it took me to get ready in the morning. I also found that it sabotaged my definition of beauty, and how comfortable I was in my own skin. So, long story short, I decided it wasn’t worth dropping a couple hundred a month in order to sleep less in the mornings and be more discontent with myself.

I also want to challenge you, women, to build your beauty routine around your desired lifestyle.

What on EARTH do I mean by that.

Here’s what I mean. I can tell you right now that I look “better” with darker hair, and that for me, this means getting a full color every 8 weeks. This also means I have to use Schwarzkopf Bonacure Repair Rescue Shampoo (but NOT the corresponding conditioner, it’s too heavy – have to pair it with Brocato Vibracolor Conditioner) because it is the ONLY shampoo in the entire world that can keep the dye from fading and pulling my natural red out in a strange way. No really, I even tried Moroccan Oil products and that didn’t work.

Girls, that’s well over a thousand dollars a year on just my hair – in one paragraph. And that doesn’t even include at least four different kinds of product to keep stocked when I use heat (flat irons/curling irons) to “protect my hair.” If that didn’t bite, do some more math. Spend an hour in front of a mirror every morning Monday-Friday, and even if your time is only worth minimum wage, that adds another $1850 to the annual bill. Plus, I would argue that you are worth more than $7 an hour.

I know that I’m a bit unusual, but my lifestyle has GOT to allow me to spend only 10 minutes getting ready, and I can’t be lugging a bag of beauty supplies every time I leave town for the weekend or have to get ready in the morning at a rest stop. I also know that I can’t be spending that kind of money on something that’s a massive inconvenience for me. It doesn’t matter if you already have this lifestyle, or if this is the lifestyle you want to be able to live. Someone told me once to dress for the life I want, and I’ll get it. Shallow? Maybe, but so damn true.

Knowing all of this, I stopped coloring my hair altogether, and I also decided to adjust to whatever the hell it is that my hair does on it’s own every day. And to just leave it alone. I use Aveeno shampoo & conditioner, get out of the shower, half-blow dry my hair and go. That costs me $12 about every 2 or 3 months. Also? Don’t wash your hair every day unless you absolutely have to. Everyone’s hair is different, I know – but I wear my hair long both because I love it that way, and because I can go 4 or 5 months without getting a cut.

If I’m being perfectly honest, sometimes it sucks. I don’t feel put together all the time, some days my hair just flat out drives me absolutely insane. I miss the amazingness that is $40 shampoo. But, then I remember that I can roll out of bed and be showered, dressed, and make-upped in 15 minutes – and that my close friends still think I’m beautiful. It’s a difficult mental shift to decide to care only what they think, but it’s one well worth it. Also, once you make it a month in, your skin starts breathing again and you find out it’s better than you thought it was, and your hair becomes more healthy and helps fight the battle for you!

Alright. Secret time.


Exfoliating: I used to use Origin’s Modern Friction Dermabrasion. It’s $37 for a small tube, and is the best you’ll find, but you have to pair it with a ph balancer & lotion to not dry out your skin. Solution? Sea salt & olive oil. You can buy natural sea salt at the grocery store for less than $5, and the same with olive oil. Every couple days, pour some salt in your hand, mix it with olive oil, and scrub your face with it. Rinse, pat dry, and you’ll freak out. The olive oil is a natural moisturizer, and you just bought about 6 months worth of skin care for $10.

Toner: Lemons. Lemons are amazing. If your skin is breaking out, or really dry, it’s probably because your ph balance is off. Lemons naturally balance out your ph levels. Slice a piece of lemon and rub your face with it. It’ll burn like hell the first couple times you do it, but hey, beauty is pain, right? And they’re a lot cheaper than tiny bottles of Ph Balancing Toner.

Lotion: You know those bottles you pay like twenty bucks extra for because it has “real avocado oil” or “with all natural sesame seed oil extracts” about 25 ingredients down? Freaking just go by that AMAZING stuff and use it on it’s own! Go to your local health food store and get either Avocado Oil or Sesame Seed Oil and use that as your lotion. It’s incredible. It’s gentle enough to use on your face if you need (you barely need any) and within 3 days of using it, you’ll have people asking if you’ve been out in the sun and trying to figure out why you look so ALIVE. Oh, and it’s also dirt cheap.

Face lift: Oh women you are about to adore me for this. Beat the hell out of some egg whites, and put them on your face! Yes! It’s amazing for your skin and it’s a 10 minute face lift. It strengthens, brightens and tightens your skin. For pretty much free.


Okay, this is where I spend money. I justify it with the previous paragraphs, and with the fact that I don’t wear much makeup anyways. Most days it’s just mascara & chapstick, but when I do…

Foundation: Foundation kills, please don’t suffocate your face. Get MAC Studio Moisture Tint. It’s $30 and lasts awhile – it covers/balances/protects/moisturizes without caking. It’s great.

Mascara: MAC Opulash. Bad Gal sucks compared to Opulash, believe it or not. And MAC’s Haute & Sexy is a nightmare. Just get Opulash.

Eyeliner: If you wear eyeliner a lot, go get MAC’s Fluidline. You have to buy their brush for it too because it’s potted gel, but holy crap it’s incredible. And you can put it on as thick or thin as you want. It’s also awesome for facepaint if you ever have ridiculous Halloween costumes like I do. You can spend money on it because it lasts FOREVER. I’ve been using it for six months & I’m not even halfway out.

Eye shadow: I don’t really wear a lot of this, and I’ll admit I’m not a pro. I really like MAC’s four-palettes. I haven’t had much luck with any department store brands because they don’t last me throughout the day, or they smear. Suggestions? Let’s hear ’em.

Blush/Bronzer: Easiest makeup category. I like Victoria’s Secrets, but I’ve been using MAC’s Powder Blush for awhile now and love it. Surprise, surprise.

Concealer: Okay if you listen to nothing else, just please go do this for me. If you ever use concealer, go buy MAC’s Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer. It’s $16 and has also lasted me a year, and I’m not out yet. You can skip out on dropping the $$ on the mascara & eyeliner, but not this.

Note:Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual sale ROCKS for makeup. I pick up most of my lip gloss, fun eyeliner (like white sparkly stuff!), eye shadows, etc here. I can get all of those items for $2-5 dollars, so I don’t feel bad experimenting.

Make-up Application Note: BIG SECRET. Color is color, you guys! Don’t limit your application of a product to it’s intended use. If your bronzer is too pink that day, mix it with your gold eye shadow and brush it on your cheeks. If you want softer eyeliner, mix it with your foundation on your hand, and apply THAT. Want some intense eyeshadow but don’t want to buy it? Use your lipstick color and mix it with some foundation and anything else you’ve got. If you’re gonna paint your face, have fun, and see everything as paint and your face as canvas.

Disclaimer: This is just based on experience, and my own personal research. Feel free to disagree with me. And pleeeeeeease do not take offense if you are able to spend some extra time in front of the mirror to get hot and gorgeous, or if you spoil yourself with great haircuts and colors. Trust me, I know how amazing it is – and you deserve it.I have periods of my life where I fall back into this, and it’s 100% fine. I’m a firm believer in spoiling yourself when it’s needed, and if this is your way of doing it, be sexy and be blessed. These are just thoughts/suggestions based on where I am in my life!


Good Woman’s Guide to the 21st Century:

Hey everyone!

Today I am directing all of our readers over to Max Dubinsky‘s blog: MakeItMad.

Last summer, Max wrote A Gentleman’s Guide to the 21st Century. For me, it was a massive slap in the face. I had forgotten that men like this were around. I knew that I’d started to settle & I’d already started working on that, but this reminded me that it was an all or nothing deal.

I was raised with high expectations for men, and in high school was blessed to be around extraordinarily good guys. No, seriously. I lived in a bubble that most of you will never experience. A bubble where all of my guy friends held the door open for us girls, took the lead at the dance parties we threw for every single one of our birthdays (and kept their hands in the right places), dropped all profanity when we were in the room, and never tried to ‘get with us’ unless they had a damn good date planned. I successfully made it through high school without ever having even kissed a guy.

Fast forward three or four years and I had been completely and entirely convinced that these guys were gone. I couldn’t tell you how many guys I’d kissed. I’d have to ask you the definition of kissed if you asked that question. Did it mean making out, or did it include the intoxicated kisses around the room too? I remember sitting on the edge of my bed at one point and piecing this thought together: “I know what I’m worth. The man that deserves me does not exist. So, I’ll just take what I want from him, and I won’t feel guilty. I can’t get what I need so I’ll just take what I want. What feels good. For ME.”

For the next year I acted on that thought. I had moments of sanity and of clarity, nights I “half cheated” because he was “real cheating,” weeks I tried to do better, weeks I did much more damage than normal, and days I broke and knew this wasn’t what it was supposed to look like.

Those years? Those years are over. They’re done. Forever. For the last year, I’ve been in intense heart rehab. I’ve been surrounded by incredible women whose first question for me when I come to them a mess is, “Lauren. How’s your heart?”

My breaking point was realizing that the two greatest lies I’ve ever believed are these:

That God is not good, and that no men are good.

If you believe just one of those two lies, it’s enough to ruin you.

I decided to believe again that God is good. And that I will spend the rest of my life with a man that I WANT. That I’ve always wanted. Not a man that I’m settling for, because I’ve learned that there’s “nothing better.”

So. All this being said, I am honored to write a Good Women’s Guide to the 21st Century with Max. Please take a moment and go read it.

He’s helped me become better, and I’d like to think I’m helping him do the same. This is what it’s supposed to look like. And I love it.


Hearts That Bleed, & Blind Faith : Today I Drowned In Love.

Today, I drowned in love. Five years ago, I drowned for lack of it.

Five years ago, in my desperation for Love, I anchored my mind with the determined decision that I would never, ever leave God, and never, ever forsake him. Because He promised me that. And if He was going to promise me that, dammit, I would promise it back. I didn’t love Him, not yet. But I was going to learn if it killed me.

How I came to this solution, out of all things, I have asked myself over and over. How I fell at God’s feet instead of at the devil’s? Well. Over the last five years I’ve found the answer:

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I knew, five years ago, that I didn’t understand his love. That I didn’t feel his love. That I didn’t see it, I didn’t understand it, I didn’t trust it.

But in the moment my heart snapped in the dark, when something prompted me to crawl out of bed and kneel, with my face in my pillow, hands gripping my sheets, sobbing and lungs struggling for breath, at 17 years old, I also knew that he would be Everything to me.

I knew that this God that I didn’t know would be my Everything. And I wanted to know Him.

When love steals our hearts, this is how it feels. This is what we know but cannot explain. We just know.

Paul says it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves – but that it is a gift from God.

Five years ago, I was given the gift of blind faith. I cannot and will not boast in it. It was given to me, and it is the greatest gift I have ever or will ever be given. I pray that I will be thankful for it until the day I see God face to face, and then for the rest of eternity.

Five years ago, my heart quite literally broke, as he removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh.

Do you know what is beautiful about hearts of flesh? They bleed.

Today, I drowned in a love that five years ago I did not know could exist. Because five years ago, I didn’t know how much God loved me. I didn’t know what God’s love looked like. I didn’t know that it was unconditional, and that I was treasured in the way that my heart burns and aches to be treasured. I was bitter. I was hurt. Scared. Withdrawn. I didn’t trust. I could count on one hand how many ‘friends’ I had. And even then, they never saw my heart.

I had no idea how to love. I wanted him to teach me. I wanted to bleed.

Excuse me while I go find a baby pool filled with humility to sit in while I tell you how I got here. How God brought me here.

When I was given a heart that bled, I knew that I was being asked to do one of the hardest things a human can ever do. And I swore on my life that I would do it no matter what the cost or how hard it was or how much work I had to put into it:

To believe of God what He says He is, above all else.

To throw all else out, and to go ONLY to God to find who He is. To listen to what He says, above all others. To seek God on his terms, not mine, and not others. To believe that I am who HE SAYS I AM, above what all others say, and above what I believe.

This is not a feeling, not an emotion, not something that is “something we should probably do.” This is a decision that we consciously make, and stand by and fight for and die for. Would you die to find this God? To understand his Love? To love Him?

Too often our understanding of God is defined by our father, by what we see in the Church, by what is reflected in our Christian friends. Oh children. Our fathers, our churches, and our friends are broken, broken people. They, and we, are what is saved, not what is Saving. And when you desperately need Saving, you go to the Savior first. First. FIRST. It is an insult to God – a slap in the face to the very Being who created you out of Grace – when you put their name tags on Him, and say, “This is who You are, because this is what I’ve seen.”

When we choose to live in blind faith, we must put blinders on to everything but faith.

Yes, that is extreme. And yes there is so much value in wise counsel, in the church, in books, in friends. But when these things tell you of a God who is anything other than what God has told you, you put your blinders on. To everything but Him.

And I will stand by that statement until the day I die. Because God has said: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

And. I. Believe. God.

If God has not yet told you who He is, you do not yet know.

If God has not yet told you how much he loves & adores you, you do not yet know.

When God is the one who tells you who He is, you will never forget it. And when He embraces you in a love that you cannot describe, you will be hard-pressed to doubt Him again.

This is what it means to be crazy in love with the God of the Universe. To live by faith, not by sight.

To drown in love.


Ice: A Short Story.

Closer, just one step closer. Must. See. It. Children are the ones who don’t know when to stop, I’ll be fine. I won’t fall. Lungs like a vacuum, breath stops. Ice burns into every inch of me. My mind just as frozen as the water that I’m now submerged in, and I grab at the camera body that is driving itself into the dip below my hip bone, wanting to save what I know is already ruined. I rise, the splash as surreal and silent to everyone else as it was to myself. Does cold water freeze vocal chords instantaneously? Inexplicably calm. In less than two seconds I’ve accepted defeat. I deserve this. Maybe it is a spirit of acceptance that silences us, not the cold. Fascinated with my inability to speak out and scream for help, the silent voice in my mind asked a thousand questions a second. Sometimes, I wonder if that’s just what emotion is. Questions, statements, exclamations; all at once, too fast to understand and just fast enough to feel. I watch those I was with move in slow motion on the snow covered ice, realizing I’ve dragged their filming equipment down with me. How many thouands of dollars did I just destroy? I laugh at them, to myself, that they would have entrusted me with their most valuable possessions; things I can barely even make use of. Fools. My mind begins to darken and I know that I will sink because I’ll freeze, and that I’ll freeze because I refuse to scream; not because I can’t swim.

40 minutes passes before they’ve found a woman who can find me at the bottom of the lake and save me. Ten times longer than one can survive without breathing. I am dead. They know this. I know this. Utterly lifeless, and unsure of my consciousness stemming from a heart still beating or from a perspective outside of myself. Something snaps and for a brief second I see a connection between soul and whatever this is that I am experiencing. She touches me, and the water is completely clear. I see everything. The world. Everything. I follow her underwater, with every intent of surfacing through the same skylight in the ice that she does. I watch it seal itself in a way that physics don’t allow as soon as she slips through, and my entire body knows that no, her way out is not mine. I flip, easily, now breathing in the water like it is my oxygen. Second nature. Like a seal trapped beneath the ice, metal doors appear in every direction and begin sliding shut, from ice to floor, boxing me in. I race to escape. I could call for this woman again, I know this. But I find myself accepting defeat again. So easily. Condemnation and self-hatred is absent; this is merely a passive agreement of apathy. The last door slams shut against the base of the lake, echoing to my core. Panic and peace woven together in a way we don’t experience above water. She appears yet again, to save me. Who is this woman? She slides a ring I cannot see on my finger, and slips invisible jewelry on my neck. I breathe. Again. Peace. Again. She lifts a door effortlessly and pulls me to the top. She does not speak to me in my native tongue, she speaks to me in Grace. And somehow, I understand this language. She offers to go back under, suffering pain upon pain to retrieve my camera. Even though we both know the water has made it useless. She understands my grief. Placing a worthless camera back into my hand moments later, Grace takes another form: action. And gives me not what I need but what I want. And stays by my side.


+ west. a bigger god. +



sometimes i wonder if the sky determines how i view god. out west, i am in love with a bigger god. in the midwest, i fight to see him through the clouds, and am constantly limited in what i believe of love.

to me, this is reason enough to move.

to be in love again, with a bigger god.

ps. ten points to anyone who can guess which photo(s) is/are of me. .

+ that’s when love gets so dirty. +

how did i become
a daughter you don’t have
a daughter you didn’t have
and a daughter you won’t get?

i know.
cause everyone wants an enemy
everyone wants a pretty memory
and everyone wants the best for themselves.

how did you manage
to make the imaginary thicker than reality
and how did righteousness
find it’s way into love

that’s when
that’s when love gets so dirty


+ only one stone. +

I have so much to do before sleeping
I am sitting in a puddle
of little girl little love little do you remember
when you were too scared to move
the monsters in your mind
could almost beat out daddy by your side
tracing circles on the sheets and
invisible claws underneath
i’m so full of little girl little love oh so full
of nightmares and memories of hair bows and shadowed screams
bitter baby find the traces
of truer fantasies patterned with ties and laces
oh how your form softened
before you knew what they wanted
how your eyes sharpened and greyed
while he chiseled away her lossless faith
oh i’m so full
so very full

gripped, crystalized and
glassy eyes staring wide
she wouldn’t know for years
her breath was frozen
and every element caught beneath the glass
trace slower, slower
the path tied up the forest in her heart
treading softer than she could
crushing crushing crushing
caught between every birthing cry
the path goes on forever
by speaking
by silence
killing two hearts with


+ Words, words, words. +

I’m still getting caught in my mind. Too many things catch my eye and force themselves inward. I crave heat. Lines and corners close me down until I pick up eyeliner in a no-commitment attempt to find change. So scared, so safe; be ashamed. I can hear the bass. And I can hear silence. Distracted by skin, I live through women who have no reputations and borrowed bank accounts. Faux hawks, full sleeves, I almost had you. I trace the edges of serifs in my minds eye and am too scared to dig them into my skin. I can’t remember the last time I could breathe. I tried last week with a cigarette but the winter air slapped me across the cheek for thinking I could do such a thing here. I stain white things on accident and innocent things on purpose. You were my outlet. I make plans to rip open necklines in hopes of using my collarbones as reminders that the sun will come. I choose heavy boots to prove to my thin legs that I’m walking; walking is moving; moving is progressing; progressing is finding what I had, right? I’m fine, really. I just can’t live without extremes.

there’s something scratching at my heart
it’s bleeding to get out
i keep my hands behind my back
so that
it’s not my fault when it gets loose
i need you here to hold me down
i can sever all these roots
will you
silence all this lace that’s slowly
tearing at my face
i’m unsure of the violent nature
it’s showing signs of taking
i need a witness to my faith
i’m only changing shape
in the beginning stage of breaking


Grief, Lightning Storms, & A Broken Spirit.

I hugged my knees and stared up as far as I could. I watched the lightning flash across the Arizona sky and the outline of palm trees trace themselves against faint mountains in the distance.

My throat constricted as I tried to get out the words, “Daddy. Where are you. Where.”

It was around midnight, and this had become my habit over the last two weeks. I fought through the day with all the hope in the world, and as soon as everyone else was asleep, my chest began aching with an intensity I was learning to expect. I escaped outside every night to sit alone in the cul-de-sac and watch the lightning storms. And cry.

The skies were strange here. Ohio lightning meant storms, and bad ones. Phoenix lightning meant God was in the sky, playing games. Reminding me that he was here, and that he was the same God, with the same stars, that had been present with me in every state I’d lived in.

Two hours of crying, every night, for weeks. Two hours of lightning storms. Two hours of learning that God was my father, and finding that I loved him – not just needed him. Two hours of asking why. Two hours of replaying in my mind years of things I will never repeat to anyone. Two hours of learning that I was held in a hand that adored me and had plans I wasn’t expecting. Two hours of grief. Two hours of asking for nothing but God. Two hours of letting go of everything I’d ever known. I broke, every single night. Again, and again, and again.

I miss those lightning storms. I have never experienced so much love in so much pain.

Part of me misses having a heart ripped open and emotions entirely out of my control. Part of me misses having nothing to my name. When you’ve lost everything, and are at the complete mercy of God, there is a strange safety you feel that you will find nowhere else.

When your greatest fear arrives, you learn that your spirit breaks; your heart breaks – and your body survives. But blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:3, I love your promise.

And when the kingdom of heaven belongs to you, perfect love begins to cast out fear.

Those lightning storms taught me to call God, “Abba Father.” They taught me that he was Daddy. Not just God. They taught me that grief is a gift. They taught me how to leave everything behind and what it meant to actually believe that God is good. Dark chocolate good. The one thing you always wanted good. Finally home good. They showed me that the guy up there operating the fireworks in the sky had nothing to do with religion, or the life I had left behind. He had to do with a love I’d never known – and a love and intimacy and place of belonging that I wanted for the rest of my life.

Those lightning storms taught me that I now fear nothing. Nothing.

I’m realizing that I write a lot about pain, grief, hurt. These are things we are programmed to shy away from, and to avoid at all costs. We all have our methods. We tell ourselves other people have it worse, that it’s “just a feeling,” or that we just can’t deal with it right now. We rationalize our pain away and tell ourselves that tomorrow is more important than yesterday.

No. Today is all you’ve got.

If you are human, you are deathly sick. If you are in excruciating pain, you are blessed: Because you are being made aware of it. Pain is not our greatest enemy, comfort is. Get yourself to the operating room. Get outside and yell at God. Even if you are 100% convinced that you are yelling at the sky because you know he doesn’t exist, get yourself to that operating room. Cry until your energy is sapped. The surgeon adores you, and he WILL show up.

Let me tell you something. Every time your heart breaks, you will lose little bits of it, like porcelain chips that are too small to glue back to the pieces of the plate. But if you let him, God will step in and be your glue – and the more your heart breaks, the more of it becomes God’s heart.

One of my precious friends asked me last night what the point of living was. This is it.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26