A Letter To My 18 Year Old Self – And My Story.

Some of you know pieces of “my story,” others none at all. One day, I’ll have more of it written out – and it is a gift to me that this blog is the slow uncovering of my never-ending wrestling match with it. Thank you for listening, and for loving me through it. It has meant the world to me.

I’ll be honest, I try to not speak of it much here. I was born in the South, homeschooled, and raised in an ultra conservative home under a definition of sheltered that most people aren’t familiar with. The oldest child of 4, we were to be “set apart” – never coming into contact with the sinful world. I lived in a bubble, with restrictions like no television, no movies, no public schooled friends, and no books unless dad read them first. All letters I wrote and received had to be read by a parent before they entered or exited the home, and every church sermon was picked apart at the Sunday dinner table, truth re-stated and lies cast out, until my heart was bloody. I didn’t have friends at church; youth group wasn’t allowed, and I dressed funny, so the other girls in Sunday school class didn’t talk to me. I never went on a date or kissed a boy before I was 18, and I went through my teenage years with no make-up, no nail polish, and no girls nights allowed. My teenage years were instead full of politics, speech and debate, and discussing the perversion that is American society.

To this day, I haven’t seen The Little Mermaid, and if you joke about an actor, TV show, or musician between 1987 and 2003, I will look at you with same expression I give astrophysicists when joking about microquasars. This morning in bed, my husband asked me if I knew what Seinfeld was and I replied happily, “Yes, it’s a cartoon!”

Somewhere between age 16 and 18, I began questioning things. I was introverted, and miserable. There were too many secrets I couldn’t share, too many things I couldn’t do, and too many books I couldn’t read. And I was desperate to have fun, and to stop thinking. Weeks after turning 18, I walked out of my home. I went to the only safe place I knew, and stayed there. 6 months later I moved for the 10th time in my life to Phoenix, Arizona to go to college. Since then, I have moved 22 times, not including the last 7 months of living in a car while I travel the US.

My life has never been the same. I lost my family, my friends, and I have spent every day of the last 6 years learning who I am, who God is, and how the world functions.

Much of it was a clean break, and much of it was a slow, brutal tearing apart.

I sat down last night with a heavy heart to write a letter to my 18 year old self. So many women have asked me to share my story. One day, it will be a book, but for today, it is in the form of a letter I wish someone had written me 6 years ago.

– God is not who you think He is. He is bound by nothing and no one. Don’t be afraid to question what you know of Him. Don’t be afraid to question the rules as laid out for you. God is big enough to handle it, and crossing the lines of religion, denomination, subcultures & belief systems will not break your God, or revoke your salvation.

– God will fight in your defense. Even when you are suffocating and drowning in confusion, when the ground underneath you seems unsteady and faulty, He will always know your heart and will never condemn you for your lack of understanding. He is the God of wisdom and of truth. If you seek it from Him, He may re-write what you know, and that is okay.

– It will be harder than you think. This isn’t teenage rebellion, and it isn’t the miscommunication of the generation gap. You will not wake up one day and have parents again, and your decision to walk out on your own means God will reassign new family members to you. Permanently. It will be painful, especially on holidays and birthdays, but in the end, you will find out that biological family is given to us to represent spiritual family – and you are simply learning it the hard way.

– Your heart is not evil, nor is it deceitful. Do not be afraid of yourself; God created you and set those desires in your heart for good. Submit yourself to Him, and you have nothing to fear. Dig deep into what makes you happiest, what triggers emotional responses, and what you are drawn to. It isn’t you being worldly or sinful, and you will not be punished by God for them. Live life fully, and don’t be afraid to breathe. Your mistakes are already paid for, and fear does nothing to stop death – only to stop life.

– It will get better. Those girls you envy, that are confident and beautiful? Those girls that have friends to laugh with and cry with? Those girls who have good men in their lives and a future they look forward to? Those girls who aren’t plagued by confusion, depression, and loneliness? Those girls who can have fun? In six years that will be you. And those years will go by fast. Take it one day at a time, and don’t try to become someone else. Become what you love, and a miracle will happen: You will become that girl.

– Read, a lot. You have years and years of truth and love to re-write into your heart. You were born broken, just like the rest, but in your own unique way, too. It takes reading about others’ childhoods, brokenness, and fears to see what Jesus can do to a woman’s soul. Acknowledge that you’re just trying to figure things out – and read everything that gets put in front of you that has to do with healing. It will slowly permeate your mind and heart, and truth will soothe the ache.

– The numbness will go away, at the cost of your innocence. You’ll slowly learn how to be human, and you’ll slowly begin to feel normal. I know that in a desperate attempt to be ‘just like everyone else’ you’ll get drunk at the frat house, you’ll kiss boys whose names you don’t know, and you’ll watch pornography. I know you’ll sleep with a guy you don’t even like in a self-loathing attempt to destroy the Holier Than Thou reputation you’ve grown up with your entire life. It will wreck you, instead of heal you – but it will bring you to a new understanding of Grace that God needed you to experience. It will be part of your story.

– Read the four gospels. Every single day. Take a break from theology, and let go of what is right and what is wrong. At the end of the day, your salvation rests on Jesus alone, and he cares only for your heart, not for how much you know. Pay attention to what he talked about most: Compassion, healing, taking care of the widows and orphans, dealing out grace and mercy, overlooking tradition for the sake of love, and making people new. Our first command is to love one another, and you will not be able to do that with judgement and bitterness in the way.

– Be the little girl that you are. God knows you’re scared of growing up, and he knows that right now, you despise men. He sees you as pure and innocent, and when you can’t explain yourself, he already knows your heart. God desperately wants to be your Father, not your life coach, your teacher, your business consultant, or your boss. He just wants to be your Father, and sitting in His lap sobbing, “I don’t know, I don’t know” is okay – just as a little girl falls, gets hurt, and buries her face in her fathers lap to cry and beg him to fix it. God will always defend your innocence; Jesus loves the little children.

– Choose to always believe that God is good. You’ll always believe that God loves you, but you’ll stop believing that He is good. Like dark-chocolate-and-a-big-hug kind of good. Your life is in shambles, and He knows it. You’ll be a mess for awhile, but He has a plan. You’ll hate it, you’ll get sick of it, it won’t make sense, and you’ll cry yourself to sleep a lot – but He will always be good, and you must always believe it. The moment you stop believing it, your heart will break all over again, and you’ll start sabotaging yourself. Dig your heels in and believe that God is good.

– Being a girl is okay. All the things you weren’t allowed to do in high school, go do them! No matter how silly, how impractical, and how pink they are. Buy the colored eyeliner, get a brazilian wax, color your hair, paint your nails black, spend too much money on shampoo, go see outrageous chick flicks, buy that sequined little black dress, buy the scandalous lingerie and enjoy laughing at trash reality TV. Not everything has to be practical, and you don’t have to think in black and white. Find yourself somewhere in there, and learn to enjoy being a woman.

– Your parents’ definition of sin may not be God’s definition of sin. Sin is missing the mark, choosing to live a life apart from God’s way, and letting self-centeredness grip your heart. Just as one culture believes a woman without a headcovering is sin while another believes that voting Democrat is a sin, neither of these hold any weight over anyone’s salvation. Don’t give sin power where it doesn’t deserve to have any. Choose instead to see people how Jesus saw them: all in universal need of His love to fill their empty hearts.


– It isn’t your job to find a man to love you. One day, after you’ve made way too many mistakes and gotten your heart broken, you’ll decide to revert to what you believed when you were a little girl: You’ll get married, and it will be amazing. I don’t mean this in a naive, Cinderella sort of way – I mean that the man you’re going to marry is already born, and when he meets you, you won’t have to fight to get his love or attention. God made it that way, and it’s okay to believe it stubbornly like a little girl. And it is true what they say: When you know, you will know.

– It’s your life. I know you don’t believe me, but really, it is. You were created to live a life no one else can live. If you live a life dictated by someone else, then you were not necessary. And God does not create unnecessary things. There will be things only you feel, things only you experience, and at the end of the day, you need to be the one who loves what she is doing with her life. People will be unhappy with you, and family and friends will disagree with you. God has a story for everyone’s life, and you will not live that story if you’re letting others write it.

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My Los Angeles-Induced Identity Crisis

I’ve spent the last two years of my life re-building my identity, so after 10 minutes on the phone with one of my mentors/close friends yesterday, I was a little confused and almost offended when she told me I was in the middle of an identity crisis. A word of advice? Look up definitions before you get offended.

What is Identity?

1. The individual characteristics by which a person is recognized.

2. The condition of being oneself and not another.

3. The state of remaining the same, as under varying aspects or conditions.

So there you have it. Your identity must know WHO it is, that it is YOU and not another, and must remain itself in any situation.

Adapt: Make something suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly.

I, by nature, am an adapter. To some extent, all of us are born with the ability to adapt. In nature, it’s necessary for survival – and in our social environments, it’s necessary for peace. If we’re in a healthy environment, adaptation isn’t that harmful. But some of us have childhoods that force us to take on the nature of an extreme adapter in order to avoid conflict. And all of us are living in a world that wants to force us to adapt to it, and ultimately, to re-define our identity.

When we don’t know our God-given identity in the first place, identity changes go unnoticed, or just seem reasonable.

And when YOU don’t know who God made YOU to look like, to be, and to act, you’ll chase alternate identities for the sake of being at peace & avoiding conflict with the world around you.

Identity Crisis: Confusion of goals and priorities. Personal internal conflict that involves confusion about one’s role & a sense of loss of continuity to one’s personality.

The last four days I’ve been in Los Angeles. Prior to that, I’ve been traveling the country in a car, living out of a duffle bag for 4 months, wearing the same pair of shoes every single day, and barely doing my hair and makeup. I’ve been staying with simple people, learning to live on a non-existant budget, and I’ve gone shopping twice in 6 months.

Recently, my life has been flooded with girls and women who don’t know who they are anymore, who have been destroyed by our sex-saturated culture, whose boyfriends are addicted to porn, and who are stuck in jobs, relationships, and emotional messes that they hate.

96 hours in LA, and my heart ACHED. The city you live in and the television you watch are selling you sex, money & a lifestyle you won’t ever get. I’m used to that. But here in LA, it’s on steroids. Even billboards for bail bonds are dripping in sex and half dressed women with bodies I’ll never have. I didn’t realize what I’d become numb to until I saw it in its extreme.

Every billboard seemed to scream at me, “You will never be sexy enough, you will never attractive enough, you will never have enough money – I will sell you this lifestyle if it’s the last thing I do.” It’s convincing, but what Hollywood doesn’t know is that I’m driving home to my inbox full of women who have been destroyed by the lifestyle that those billboards and reality TV shows have been selling.

And I cannot bear it’s weight.

I’m not buying into it, but my heart is pulled to the very thing that threatens its life.

So I called Christen almost in tears, and asked her to help me sort out my heart.

“It’s conviction. You see the lie, and your heart is sensitive to it. You’ve always been sensitive to this. Pay attention to it. Don’t ever cope with conviction. Don’t ever quiet it. Don’t ever tell yourself to learn to deal with it because the entire city is, or your friends are. Don’t judge those who have bought into it, but don’t adapt to them either.”

What is coping? What is acting on conviction? How do you stay and keep your heart from hurting?

“Everywhere you go, you MUST acknowledge what is there. And then you ask yourself, ‘Who is Lauren, and who is she here?’ ”

Identity crisis. The Lauren that LA is trying to sell me is one who should have miraculously found a way to hit the gym every day while traveling across the country, and who should have put more money for clothes into her budget. The Lauren that LA is trying to sell me is one that makes her work to death for the money. It tells me that no matter what my identity is in Christ, all men will always choose a sexy woman’s body over my heart. The world tells me that my character and love and intelligence and sweetness and heart will never match up to the larger than life woman who drips sex 24/7, a hundred feet above traffic.

Traffic composed of men and women who have traded their God-given identities for the sake of avoiding conflict with the world around them.

Traffic composed of women so distracted by who they aren’t, that they don’t know who they are.

Traffic composed of girls who wake up hating their skin, their faces, their hair, their stomach, and their legs – and go to bed every night thinking about it.

I know, because I’ve been there. And these last 5 months have been some of the only months of my life that I haven’t found disappointment in the mirror every single morning. But it came back this week. And to cope, I want new makeup, better fitting jeans, some heels that show off my legs, and have had no problem skipping meals.

96 hours of competition, and it’s more than my heart can bear. Partially because I cannot win on those terms, but primarily because it’s too painful for my heart to let go of who God has told me I am. I can feel something grasping and grabbing wildly for my heart. And I don’t want to give it over.

I want to do something we women never do, and brag on myself: I LOVE WHO GOD MADE ME.

I LOVE my identity. The one God gave me.

I love that I always want to stand up for the defenseless.
I love that I see beautiful things in everything.
I love that I have flaws, because it makes me love the man who loves me in spite of them EVEN MORE.
I love that I get more excited over reading the book of Luke than any pop culture magazine.
I love that I want to hug everyone.
I love that I am beautiful to God.
I love that I see my friends as family.
I love that my heart rips open when I see girls in pain.
I love that all my mistakes are paid for by Grace.
I love that some days I know exactly what I’m doing & other days I haven’t a clue.

I love that I am sensitive & affected by Los Angeles.
I love so many things about myself.

I adore the Name that God has given me.

And when the world asks me to adapt – to change, modify, or take on other versions of myself in order to avoid conflict or to be accepted, I will now always ask myself:

Who is Lauren? And who does SHE want to be HERE?

Isaiah 43:1-7 might be the greatest part of the Bible when it comes to your identity: “Do not fear, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned. For I am the Lord your God – your Savior; I give all of creation for your ransom.”

The word for “name” is not talking about your first, middle & last name. It’s the word for your core. Your heart. Your soul. The deepest part of you that makes you unique. What makes up you. He has called you by THAT. And when you, the you that God created you as, walk through life – you will be untouchable. Because he has handed over the entire world for the sake of ransoming and redeeming the real you, for Himself. And he will fight for that you.

Put Isaiah 43:1-7 in your bathroom. And make a list of everything you love about yourself. Put into words who God says you are.
Please. The real you is too valuable to lose.

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Friends With Benefits for Relevant Magazine & Identity for DeeperStory

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Creating A Life That Allows For The Daily Good

Note: I am traveling the country with Max Dubinsky. You can read his blog here, and you can follow my photos documenting the trip at seethecities.tumblr.com. If I’ve met you on the trip: hello, and welcome to the blog. Thank you for what you have taught me and how you have loved me.

– – –

It’s been hard to write lately.

I am seeing so much.

I am being called out daily on how poorly I’ve been living my life. On my priorities. On what I’ve both chosen to ignore and have accidentally not seen.

Studying what it means to be created by God, created in Jesus to do “good works,” which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Finding I’ve sacrificed my daily “living well” for a one-day “live the best.”

Observing others’ lives silently, from city to city, confronted with the sharp contrast between those living for others and those living for themselves.

They speak differently, they listen to you differently. They ask different questions.

I found Jesus today in a couple of young men and women who never mentioned any ultimate life plans – who barely talked to me about jobs and college and family and church and money.

They just woke up in the morning, like every other morning — quietly braced to help victims of crime learn to speak the language so they can hold a minimum wage job, and help single mothers correct the mistakes the government made in assigning their food stamps so their children can eat.

I sat on the floor of a nearly empty building, sorting through stained children’s clothing – because stained is better than none on the streets.

I caught myself half-praying for the little boy who would end up wearing size 5T jeans with holes in the knees, half asking myself when was the last time I did anything this real. This simple. This wholly good.

Good works.

Submerged in the fight against legalism in the middle upper-class white suburban church, I have come down hard against “good works.”

Because it is by grace we have been saved. And I have had my fill of being broken and watching brokenness caused by a never-satisfied list of requirements for a faux-salvation.

No one is asking you to do good works – to be perfection – to be good enough for God.

Because Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” (John 6:29)

To believe is enough for you. For Him.

But it’s true. We do take it and leave it at this. We accept and struggle and wrestle through this salvation, and fight hard to keep Jesus at the center of our life. In our church, our family, our school work, our career choices, the $30 we give to sponsor a child every month.

But now, this isn’t enough. It’s not enough for me. Because that isn’t daily Jesus. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I haven’t been living the way Jesus has asked me to live. I’ve merely dropped Jesus into my life, and asked him to stay there.

I’ve taken him nowhere with me. I’ve done very little simple, wholly good.

What are you doing with your life? How are you living?

Are you doing what God created you to do? He created you for something.

For something simple, but so powerful it will change humanity.

And slowly but surely change the way the world sees Christians. Followers of Jesus.

Daily love. Daily giving. Daily other-focus. Daily community. Daily God. Daily broken you.

Daily anything that says to another human being, “I was created to do this: to love you.”

That is what we were created for.

That is what comes first, not second. What we build the rest of our life around, not what we fit into the gaps.

Doing good isn’t not-doing-bad. It’s doing good.

– – –

Are you following me on Twitter? Do it here: @laurenlankford

Be a fan on Facebook. It’s the best way to keep up. Do that here.

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Redefining Trust: Who Has Your Heart?

I’ve noticed lately that our society is somewhat obsessed with talking about trust.

Every horoscope, every personality test, every 50-trillion-questions-about-yourself-survey tries to define you by your predisposition to either trust or not to trust.

Unfortunately for me, I’m evenly split on every personality test I’ve ever taken. I’m loud, I’m quiet. I’ll spill my life in a flood of everything you didn’t want to know about me, and I’ll sit in the corner dreading having to speak more than 10 words. I can go two weeks without cleaning anything, and I can be an emotional and mental web of chaos because there are three pens too many on my desk.

There was a personality test I had to take in high school, the DISC test. My result? 25/25/25/25. Very funny, God. Oh well, I guess you can consider my DISC to be well-rounded. (The guy who made us take this test didn’t find that joke very humorous, by the way. He told me with a very concerned expression on his face that I was a highly unusual person. No shit.)

“Do you trust people?” Come on. What kind of question is that.

I’ve realized that I’m one of those people who spills easily, but won’t expect anyone to mop it up.

I will give everything, and count on nothing.

I’ll show you the inside, outside, and wrong side of my heart, but won’t commit you to it’s care.

This is where everyone has looked at me and said, “you’re the most trusting person I know.” And I have to say back, “Yeah? Alright. If you say so.”

But this has never sat right with me. I still feel like I trust everyone, yet no one, and I want to know why.

I love dictionaries. So today, I asked the dictionary what trust (and entrust) is:

Trust: Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person or thing. Confident expectation of something; hope. The obligation or responsibility imposed on a person in whom confidence or authority is placed.

Entrust: To charge or invest with something of value. To commit something to the care to, for use or performance.

Reliance on strength. Hey women, whose strength are you relying on?

Confident expectation. Hey men, who are you confident in?

To commit to the care of. Hey you, who have you committed your heart to the care of?

Trust, I am learning, is not character trait. It’s not a checkbox on your personality test. And it’s not a passive state of being.

Trust is an active decision. An active risk.

Maybe this is why putting trust on a survey doesn’t work. Because when you rely on something, when you entrust someone else with your own heart, there are two parties involved. Trust is something that cannot be defined on your own terms. When you choose to trust, you choose to be at the mercy of the strength, integrity, and surety of the other.

I am fighting with myself just writing this. But I want to be a trusting person. I want to trust everyone. Why do I want that?

I’m going to say it’s because I am part of a generation that has been raised to consume, consume, consume. We accept everything, believe everything, listen to everything, watch everything, and welcome everything.

Our greatest fear is that we might offend someone.

Both of these things, the overwhelming desire to soak up everything and to welcome the entire world into your heart, give us a knee jerk reaction to the idea of protecting your core and being slow to trust.

We accept everything, forgetting to passionately believe only a few things. We grab for everything, forgetting to cling desperately to only a few things.

I am learning that refusing to build and protect my core just might be the death of me.

When you spill your guts and bleed your heart, it can be like opening a safe. And when that safe is open, anyone can reach in and grab what they want.

I challenge you to be selective in who gets the keys to your safe. I challenge you to be slow to entrust people with your heart. I challenge you to wait for the people who have integrity, strength, and surety that you can count on. That you can commit your heart to.

I don’t want to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve. I don’t want to stop sharing all my secrets with every girl who needs or wants to hear. I don’t want to stop loving and loving deeply by way of my mistakes, my weaknesses, and hurts. I don’t want to stop talking about the hard things.

The good news, though, is that we don’t have to.

Because I have learned that God can take the safe your heart is in and turn it from steel to glass. So that everyone can see you, and your love, and your story. So that your heart is visible to everyone, and still displays honesty, vulnerability, humanity, and your need for God.

And we are called to do that. We are called to be a light, to sit on a hill.

But when it comes to trusting? Really, honestly entrusting your heart to the strength, integrity & surety of someone?

That you guard. For that, you are at peace with having higher standards for who gets the key. For being selective, to clinging to what is right and best.

For that, we are called to guard our hearts, for it is the wellspring of life.

Translated to common English: “Protect your heart, because the condition of your heart will determine the rest of your entire life.”.

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.

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* 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. .

Good Woman’s Guide to the 21st Century: MakeItMAD.com

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.

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Introducing The Good Women Project!

Hey guys! On February 1st, I launched a new project: The Good Women Project. Please take a moment to watch this little intro video I just filmed to let you know a tiny bit about it. You can explore the website at www.goodwomenproject.com and follow us on Twitter at @GoodWomenProj.

Please shoot me an email at goodwomenproject[at]gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to contribute to the project.

The most recent post on The Good Women Project is titled, “Calla’s Story: Emotional & Sexual Abuse.” Check it out.

Love you all dearly.

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Love > Money.

I just walked by my co-worker’s computer, whose screen was filled with an image of Mark Zuckerberg, with “How To Be A Millionaire By 25” stamped across it.

We are conditioned to believe that money will make us happy. Particularly if it’s above the million dollar mark. I’ve never seen an article titled, “How To Be A Ten Thousandaire,” even though for a lot of us, this would solve our immediate financial problems and provide a flight to our most coveted vacation destination.

I don’t need to tell you that money won’t make you happy. It will probably make you happier, but ultimately, it won’t achieve “The Happy.”

So, I have taken it upon myself to write a better article; one that doesn’t include telling you how to code yourself into millions of dollars while losing friends and becoming nearsighted along the way. Here goes.

Realize that you cannot fix your own problems; you need others. Old hurts, daddy issues, image issues, personality flaws, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, selfishness, an inferiority complex, pride, distrust, there are so many. I have dealt with all that I just listed. Acknowledge them. Admit them out loud. And actively work on tackling the messed up parts of your heart and mind, with others. Get counseling. Get prayer. Confide in people who will work on rebuilding you. Childhood scars everyone, did you know that? We’re born broken. We’re born dysfunctional. We’re born with the inherent need to lean on one another in order to find Love, and in doing so, rebuild our hearts.

Learn to give. I didn’t give things naturally the first 20 years of my life. I didn’t grow up being generous. 90% of the arguments I landed myself in during the first 15 years of my life stemmed from my sister taking things of mine. I’ve worked hard for everything I own, and it takes a heart-shift to realize that everything in our homes, bank accounts, pockets, and purses are not ours but God’s. By the time you’re 25, give regularly and give on a whim. What do I mean by this? Both are important.It’s important that you plan to give (IE. $35 a month to sponsor a child) regularly, and it’s important that you learn to give in the moment (IE. Buying coffee for the person behind you, giving a dollar to a kid crying in the department store). When you learn to give, it will change your understanding of permanence, materialism, and the value of people over things.

Love your body. No really, I mean it. Love how you were created. This is a hard thing for me to talk about, for two reasons. I am blessed to be put into the ‘pretty’ category by most people. And at 5’7″ and 120lbs, I don’t have anything to complain about. But here is where we discover just how deep our insecurities are, women (and men). When I was 13 years old, I asked my mother if I was pretty. She hesitated, and replied, “Well, there are different kinds of pretty.” Translated: No. So, since age 13, I believed that I just wasn’t pretty, and that was fact. Growing up, I was skin and bones. My parents, relatives, and lots of my friends made fun at me for being so skinny. I was painfully self-conscious, and refused to wear shorts up through high school. Yes, through high school. My uncle used to call me “Skinny Minnie,” and I cried over it. I hated swimsuits. Because I was so thin. Go ahead, hate me, women.Emotional scarring is all the same. I accepted that I was not pretty at a very early age, and that being lanky was a curse. (Lanky Lankford – don’t think I didn’t hear that one. Ouch.) Then, one day, a couple of years ago, I just decided to not deal with it anymore. I gave up on hating how thin I was, hating certain aspects of my body, and hating that I’d never be the tanned, blonde girl with a flashy personality. I accepted that I was created this way and there was nothing I could do about it. And guess what, I still can’t do the tanned, blonde girl look. I can’t be the dark eyed, exotic beauty. And I can’t be the stunning red head with freckles perfectly placed across my cheeks. All three of these girls I would rather be. But take a look at this picture of little me. Yes, pale skinned, victorian-era girl with haphazard curls in my face? I can be her. Because I was made to be her. And I’ve fallen in love with how I am.

Pursue joy actively. This is a decision you make, not something you stumble upon, or reach once you achieve x, y & z. Decide to pursue joy, ask God for it, put yourself in places where you receive joy from others, and take time alone to restore your heart. When we are whole-hearted, we live in joy.

Write a mission for your life.
I’m not talking about a career path, goals, hopes, dreams, etc. I’m talking about what kind of person you want to be known as. Who you are is infinitely more important than what you accomplish. A few years ago, I was handed an index card and told to write down what I wanted to be remembered of me. I wrote, “that she showed grace and compassion, regardless of what was deserved.” That line has remained in my wallet, and molded and shaped who I am over the last few years. It keeps me in line. When my emotions get the best of me and I relapse into a bitter, “but this is what I deserve,” – I remember that compassion and grace are worth the sacrifice.

Love your handicap. If someone sat you down and asked you which moments in your life were the most painful, would you tell them? There’s a reason that “rock bottom” is a phrase we all know. I wrote a post on pain and grief a few months ago, as well as on loss. Ladies and gentlemen, your handicap is where God has chosen to give you unique value, unique faith, and unique access to his heart. You will find more love and more close friendships in your handicap than you will anywhere else. Your loss, your betrayal, your shame, your divorce, your parents, your depression, your disease, your heartbreak, your addiction, your rape, your mistake, your abuse, your dysfunction – this is where we see God and where he will use you for the rest of your life. I would argue that he created you for this. It is a blessing. In the words of darling Jeni, “it is not a design flaw, it is my gift.” Stop sweeping it under the rug, and hoping that the ache will go away. Face it, talk about it, share it, and seek healing in it. God will use it, I promise you.

Find your point of perspective. I wrote a post called “” awhile ago that deals with finding joy. Let me keep this short and sweet, though: Perspective is everything. It is so easy to become wrapped up in the details; we forget that 95% of what we do today won’t matter a year later. Start making decisions based on what is permanent. “So http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifwe fix our eyes not on the seen, but on the unseen, for it is the seen that is temporary but the unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 2:18

Memorize these phrases: “I’m sorry”, “I don’t know”, & “What do you need?” These phrases are probably the three most life-changing additions to my weekly vocabulary. Learning to apologize simply, admitting that you don’t know the answer, and asking what someone else needs are will get you far in life. It keeps you living in humility and breaks the cycle of self-centeredness.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for Part 2.

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