Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: being true to how God made you

An Expanded Place

This past not quite a year and a half has been tough to get through. It’s been a long season of walking through some hard things, facing painful things from my past, having the blinders removed around certain family narratives and unhealthy dynamics, and letting myself experience the painful emotions that I’ve denied and stuffed down and ignored throughout most of my life.

Throughout this journey I’ve come to realize that I have C-PTSD, and how that has impacted my physical health, as well as my emotional and spiritual health. Together with my husband, I’ve walked through anger, intense hurt, grief, feelings of perplexity and confusion, anxiety, and at least one bout of severe depression. But through it all, I’ve also experienced healing and growth. I’ve learned how to silence the mean voices in my head, ignore the lies and replace them with truth, reject the labels that have been placed on me throughout my life and shed the identities and expectations others have tried to force on me.

Last fall, my husband and I were given an opportunity to move to the Ozarks of Arkansas, a place we’d talked about off an on over the years in a “wouldn’t it be nice to live there some day” kind of way. It seemed like it was being orchestrated by God, and it still appears that way. We’re renting a home on a large acreage in the middle of the woods on top of a small mountain near a lake, miles and miles from civilization. Our house has woods on one side and large expanses of fields and grass on the other three, with a vast view of the sky where we often see eagles circling overhead. Whenever I step outside, I take a deep, cleansing breath and think of all the times King David praised God in the Psalms saying, “You’ve brought me to an expanded place.”

I believe God brought us here to give us the room we needed in order to heal, to rest, to grow into who He meant for us both to be, free from the forces and influences that have always hindered us and held us back and kept us (or at least me – I don’t speak for my husband) in an unhealthy place of striving to be pleasing and acceptable to people instead of to Him.

As I write this, I’m in a much better place. Lately I’ve been feeling calm and settled in a way I can’t remember ever feeling before. I’m crying far less often and laughing and smiling much more easily. I’m having an easier time knowing my own mind and making decisions and speaking up about what I prefer instead of staying quiet and going along to get along. I’ve reached clarity about some decisions I’ve been going back and forth on for years, unsure of what I actually wanted and afraid I wasn’t allowed to want it, finally confronting that fear and naming my desire. And with that clarity has come a deep sense of peace, even as I acknowledge that my decision might not have the outcomes I hope for and could very possibly lead to a lot of pain.

But I feel assured that, even if that turns out to be the case, God will be with us, walking us through it and holding us together, not letting us break but making us both stronger and using it all for our good.

Part of this newfound sense of peace and wholeness – really, all of it, probably – is due to coming to a single, important decision: do I believe in God’s goodness or not? I realized that I haven’t always, but decided that, ultimately, I do. And that if He is truly good, with no darkness in Him at all, then He is completely trustworthy, even when whatever I’m going through is the opposite of good. That He is good, and powerful, and faithful, and no matter what happens I can absolutely trust him to turn it around and purpose it for good. Even when it hurts like hell. Even when my heart is breaking.

The other thing is that I’ve learned –am learning, really, but getting better at it – that I don’t have to hustle and strive to achieve the life that I want for myself and my family. I’m always having to learn this lesson, and I’ve said no to hustle before, but it’s always so easy to get swept up in my goals and trying to accomplish my own plans and lose sight of what I really want, which is a life that’s free of hustling and striving in which I can simply work steadily at my own pace doing work that fulfills me and uses my giftings to accomplish His purpose.

I mean, just last month I was complaining about feeling overwhelmed because I forgot that I’m in a marathon and was running like I’m in a race.

But I was gently reminded that it’s okay to slow down. I don’t need to hustle. The Lord is my provider, and I have everything I need. He’s not going to let me miss out on any good thing He has for me.

And I’m also discovering that the more time and effort I put into seeking Him, the more I’m finding myself and the life He has for me.

I don’t know how long we’re going to be calling this place home. I don’t know what our future holds. And for the first time ever, I’m okay with that uncertainty, because I know and trust the One who holds our future. I’m living out this simple, quiet life one day at a time, seeking my assignment for each day, offering my work to Him, releasing my hopes and plans and leaving the outcomes up to Him as He orders both our steps. I’m more fully present in the here and now than I’ve ever been before, enjoying this season of life while anticipating with joy and hope where He’s going to lead us and for once being at total peace with having no clue where that will be.

But wherever He leads us, I know it will be beautiful.

“You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.” – Psalm 16:11, VOICE

What’s True About You

If we were having coffee together and I could encourage you face to face, I would lean forward and look you in the eye and tell you these truths:

You have nothing to prove.

You don’t have to earn your place.

You don’t have to be perfect or have it all together.

You are worthy right now, right here, just as you are, no matter how big your mess.

You are not required to hustle.

You are allowed to rest.

You are allowed to dream.

You don’t have to be all the things to all the people.

You don’t have to listen to the mean boss in your head.

You are allowed to be your truest self and to be true to that person.

You might now know who that person is. You might have been striving to be what other people think or say you are or should be for so long that you have no idea who you actually are. You may need to give yourself space and time to figure that out. But here’s a starting place: If you are in Christ, then you are…



A royal daughter.





Cared for.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

You are God’s masterpiece, created on purpose for a purpose, intentionally made and molded to carry out work that was specially prepared for you when you were just an idea–and even then, you were already loved.

You are His, and He wants you to know that you can lay down your burdens and give it all to Him. You can depend on Him.

You are highly capable.

You are more than conqueror.

You are not a victim, but a victor.

You are a warrior.

You are the light of the world.

Giving Thanks, and Taking a Hiatus


This year hasn’t turned out quite like I’d hoped. Okay, it actually hasn’t turned out anything like I’d hoped. But as typically happens when you stop trying to force your will and submit to God’s leading in your life, it turned out like I think it was supposed to.

I had a good feeling around this time last year that 2016 would be a year of big change. Of course, I thought that meant mostly external changes. Changes to our circumstances. Changes for the better.

That really hasn’t happened (although it seems some big changes of that variety might be on the horizon). What I got instead was internal change. I think my husband and I both went through a lot of growing and having our faith stretched this year. I went through some painful but incredibly necessary healing from my past. My husband went through some scary health-related trials. And although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that, outwardly, nothing about our lives has changed, I’m also daring to hope that this was a year of preparation so that we’ll better equipped to handle the kind of change I’m hoping for.

And through all the highs and lows there has been so much to be thankful for. So many blessings–some big and obvious, some a little more hidden. And while I’m of course thankful for the obvious things, like my husband and family and pets and a roof over our heads and a steady income to help keep it there, I want to list a some highlights of what God has done for me this year, for which I’m deeply grateful.

My husband is healthy!

As I mentioned, he had some health scares this year. It was quite a roller coaster ride, but the end result is that everything was treatable and manageable and, overall, he has a clean bill of health. With his medical history, this is seriously something to be grateful for. What’s more, throughout it all we could see God at work, comforting and encouraging us in very relevant and specific ways and getting Mr. B in touch with just the right medical experts who knew exactly what was happening and what needed to be done in the midst of a lot of confusion and cluelessness.

My oldest, fondest dream came true.

A few weeks ago, I became a traditionally published novelist. After a long, long road that included a lengthy detour through self-publishing, I realized a dream I’ve had since I was a teenager of holding a book in my hand that I wrote and that an actual publishing company believed was good enough to publish. I’m not knocking self-publishing, and I’m proud of my self-published books. I put a lot of work into them and I think I turned out some good products. But becoming a self-published novelist wasn’t what I longed for throughout the last three decades of my life. I had almost given up on that dream when God almost literally dropped a three-book publishing deal into my lap last year, which goes to show that if you have a God-breathed dream that seems to have died, just because you’ve given up on it doesn’t mean that God has. He can make it happen. He is faithful, just as he was faithful to answer the prayers of a young girl who dreamed more than anything of being a published novelist some day.

My past no longer hurts.

I didn’t exactly have an easy time of it growing up. Abuse, bullying, constant rejection, a tumultuous relationship with my dad . . . I carried around a lot of pain. I’d believed that they were all scarred over and toughened up, but God showed me how they were simply scabbed over wounds and how easily they could be opened up again. But then he bound up my wounds and truly healed them once and for all. Even more, I realized that I believed all of the lies that were spoken over me throughout my life, and adopted all of the labels that the enemy used hurting people to place on me. The Lord helped me to reject those labels and lies and replace them with His truth and the words that He himself has spoken over me. There’s still some work to do here, but this year I shed so much of the garbage that the enemy tried to attach to my soul and became much more fully my true self, the woman God purposefully created me to be. And it feels really good to be her.

So when I list it all out like that, this has actually been a year of pretty big change after all. It’s definitely been a year of blessing. And as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in the U.S. I’m also going to be thankful for small blessings like roast turkey and dressing and pie and cookies and the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

And of course, after Thanksgiving comes Advent. This will be my second year observing Advent (I come from a non-liturgical evangelical background that never really acknowledged it), and as part of my effort to be mindful and focus on what really matters as I prepare my heart and mind for Christmas and the coming year, I’m giving myself permission to slack off on blogging for the next few weeks. I’ll be re-posting some “best of” posts from the archives, and I’ll be back after Christmas to talk about my hopes and plans for the new year, but don’t expect a lot of fresh new content between now and then.

What are you thankful for this year? And if you’re here in the U.S. (or are an ex-pat who’s observing it far from home), Happy Thanksgiving!




Breaking the Mould


I’ve never fit too well into any one mould. I’m a walking jumble of contradictions. I’m intelligent, but also spacey and forgetful. I love people and new experiences, but I’m also a homebody who craves and cherishes time to myself. I’m a Christ-follower who lives and walks in the light but who has also always been drawn to stories about the dark. I’m very much a Thinker, but I’m also both a Doer and Experiencer.

Those are just a few of the contradictions that often make me feel like I don’t really fit. And it’s not just me–all throughout my upbringing teachers, parents and authority figures did their level best to trim off my weird angles and force me into whatever mould they thought I should fit into, believing that they were doing me a favor. Eventually, I took over for them, trying my best to shed my contradictory traits and cram myself into a number of different moulds, one after the other. I battered and bruised myself in the process, but I kept trying because I so desperately wanted to fit.

And then, eventually, I figured out that I wasn’t made to fit a certain mould. And do you know what? Neither were you.

None of us were.

God didn’t make us by pouring us into pre-made moulds. He didn’t shape us with a cookie cutter. We’re not products of an assembly line, with personalities and temperaments stamped into us from a template.

We’re custom jobs, each and every one of us. We’re works of artistry and craftsmanship, lovingly designed to a unique set of specifications, created for a specific purpose, hand-crafted down to the most intricate detail.

Some people might look at my jumble of contradictions and call me a mess (maybe even a hot mess). But some people also say that about a Jackson Pollock painting, or a Picasso. God looks at me, at His handiwork, and calls me His masterpiece, perfectly made to fulfill the purpose He has had in mind for me since before any of us even existed.

He says that about you, too.

Stop trying to fit a mould, sweet sister. Just be who you were made to be. Lean into Jesus, and let Him heal all those cuts and bruises that were inflicted from trying to conform to a shape you were never meant to fill.

In love,



PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams


Pin this post!

Pin this post!

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

And I’m back!

I suppose that title should really read “Summer Break” since “vacation” connotes actually going places and doing interesting things instead of just hanging around the house being as unplugged and lazy as I could get away with for nearly two weeks.

I didn’t plan to be “gone” for quite so long, but my first attempt at a break two weeks ago was thwarted when my freelance writing assignments came in a week earlier than anticipated. So I had to postpone my break to get those taken care of, which I can’t say I did entirely without grumbling, because y’all, I was powerfully tired. But I sucked it up and got ’em done, and was rewarded with an even longer break than I’d originally anticipated being able to take.

And boy howdy, did I need that.

Anyway, today it’s time to get back to the grind, so I’m trying to ease my way  back into work/writing mode with this here blog post. I’ve got another freelance assignment due this week, which I hope to be able to get done this afternoon so I can spend the rest of this week finally, actually finishing my novel instead of talking about it ad infinitum.

Which is to say that not a lot of noveling got done over the break as originally planned. After hustling to get those articles written I needed an extended break from writing, too. So other than a little bit of journaling, and spending a couple of hours untangling the knot of my book’s messy climax, and assembling interview questions for this week’s assignment, I gave myself permission not to write.

Turns out I really needed that, too.

So how did I spend the last almost-two-weeks?

What a lot of my break actually looked like

What a lot of my break actually looked like

Other than spending the first weekend mostly camped out on the couch re-watching the Lizzy Bennet Diaries on my tiny phone screen, it wasn’t entirely lazy and unproductive. I spent most of the days indulging in the things that make my soul happy. This included a lot of reading, a lot of crafting, and a lot of sitting around just dreaming and thinking. It also included a lot of afternoon naps with my husband and dog, and some deep conversations with my husband, and snuggling up beside him to watch some movies. Yesterday it also included forgetting my dietary restrictions and indulging in premium hot dogs (on Hawaiian bread buns–those are SO worth the higher price tag) and chocolate-chip-oatmeal-cookie bars with chocolate & peanut butter ice cream. I’m feeling the effects today but it was worth it.

One of my craft projects - click the picture to get to the pin

One of my craft projects – click the picture to get to the pin

Oh! We also finally made it to the library and renewed our library cards (somehow we’d gotten deleted from the system entirely and had to get new cards. No wonder my website login no longer worked! On the plus side, any fines we owed got deleted along with our accounts). I was able to install the library’s e-book and audio book app on my phone so now a whole new world of book-imbibing possibilities is open to me, which makes me ridiculously happy. I came home and jumped online and added just about every book ever mentioned on What Should I Read Next to my wait list.

I also checked out a ginormous copy of Outlander, so now I’ve started down that long and winding rabbit hole. I didn’t realize there were so many of those books, but now I suppose I’ll have to read them all (and then watch the series). Good thing I have a library card.

I also spent a lot of time praying and planning my areas of focus for the rest of the year, but that belongs in another blog post.

All in all, it was restful and satisfying, and it broke the pattern of rush and hustle that was beginning to creep back into my life. Going forward, I’m going to do my best to be more intentional with my time and energy, and make time in my day for these things that energize me and bring me joy. But again, that’s fodder for another blog post.

What about you, friend? Did you get to take a break recently (even if only a long holiday weekend)? Got any vacation plans coming up? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!