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Bad Apples

That escalated quickly.”

Did it really though? I’m not sure quickly is the right word for this sentence. Perhaps finally is a better way to describe the events of the last week.

I say finally because hate, anger, fear, and violence are not new. The struggle for minorities but especially black Americans is not new. It’s never gone away and has been brewing in our nation for years, occasionally rearing it’s head before the outrage quietly subsides again.

We shouldn’t be surprised this happened. We should be embarrassed.

We should be embarrassed we allowed our fellow man to be treated this poorly. We should be ashamed of how we have labeled every officer as racist. We should be outraged that conversation in cooler hands are being ignored. We should be heart broken that people with bad intentions are taking attention off fixing a problem through their riots and looting.

This isn’t a cut-and-dry matter. There are more honest, loving, frustrated, good protesters marching for equal treatment for everyone then there are destructive looters.

There are more honest, kind, helpful, brave, good police officers then there are bad, racist, hateful ones.

Bad Apples

My grandma used to always say “one bed apple ruins the bunch” and I don’t think I have ever agreed with that statement more than I have in the last week. Instead of blacks against cops and citizens against government, we should be fighting this battle as love versus hate. All sides need to come together to a dress and weed out the hateful members of their groups.

We are letting the bad apples from all sides cloud the space for conversation and change. The bad apples are polarizing our sides and creating division. The bad apples are working together to stop our progress and hurt all sides.

The Bad Apples Need to Go.

Anti-racist people need to call out those who are causing destruction in violence during what should be peaceful protests. Nothing can be positively changed coming from a place of violence.

Bad cops need to go. Their brothers in blue need to stop protecting them with their code of silence. That’s where the real change starts.

You know how much I love Uncle Sol and all the great advice he left us in the book of Proverbs. So, Like so many other times, I turned to him this week and I found great advice in chapter 6 verses 16 through 19″

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devices wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers”

His words, not mine, but exactly what we should be focusing on now. Speaking the truth and doing it peacefully. Calling out those doing evil and addressing these problems with love. Not getting sucked into destruction and arguments or covering up to protect those we love who may be doing things we hate.

No one should protect anyone who is spreading discord among the people.

Do Better.

I’m praying for black America and for blue America. I’m praying for the good apples to resist the bad and keep the bunch good. We’re better than this America. We have to be.

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Domestic Violence during CoronaVirus: a letter to the victims – SheProclaims.com

To the Women and Children being abused, 

I hope today is a good day for you. As good as the days can get right now. Your fear and worry are working overtime right now, understandably so. I hope fear and worry are all you have to endure today. 

I’ve been where you are, sort of. In the care of someone you are dreadfully afraid of. Trying to live in a home where you do not feel safe. You read every situation deeply, like a detective looking for a clue, gauging the situation while trying to make the world around him as pleasing as possible. Not pleasing for you, of course. It will probably be more difficult for you, but at least he will not be mad. Then you can drift through the day on pins and needles hoping the peace will last a little bit longer this time. 

I got so good at predicting and preventing problems. I went out of my way to make sure things were clean, nearly sterile, to avoid complaints. I set aside any of my own preferences and learned how to smile, shrug, and cheerfully go with the flow. It didn’t really matter, I felt so empty and dead inside. It always felt like I was watching a movie about my life, not actually living it. I know you know that feeling all too well. 

The irony of “stay safe, stay home” is not lost on you. It is not lost on me either. You’ve been on my mind since all of this began. Home is the least safe place for you, especially now, and you are stuck there for the time being. My heart has been hurting for you. The normal safe places of school, work, friends houses, the park, and church are closed right now. You are now stuck in a home with the one person you should not be near. The person who causes you heartache, pain, fear, and damage you aren’t even aware of yet. Damage you won’t find inside you for decades, if ever. There is nothing safe about staying at home for you. 

Is it your fault? Not in the least. Nothing you do ever deserves the reactions you are receiving. Nothing. Deep down, someone else’s fierce anger and self-hatred is overtaking them. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. They see your goodness and hate themselves for lacking that quality. It is a them problem which unfortunately becomes a you problem out of misdirection. They cannot see how to fix themselves, so instead they take it out on you. A good person, in a bad situation. 

People will say you should leave. You’d like to, wouldn’t you? That’s the dream. Getting away from that person, never going back, and moving on to a better life. It’s so much harder than just saying “leave”. It costs money to leave. You need time to plan. You need a minute alone to make a phone call to ask for a ride. You need a place to go. I know there are million resources out there, I’m so grateful for them all, but I also know how hard it is for you to get access. 

If you’re on the bank account, you are monitored too closely to stash anything away. You have no time to plan because you are living in uncertainty between rages. You can’t Google for help or make a phone call, it’s all monitored. Even if it wasn’t, if you are out of sight for too long red flags will fly, the anger will spill forth, and your day will end up much worse than if you hadn’t even tried. Besides, there’s also a chance few people will believe your story. They will think you are overreacting or struggle to correlate the person they know with the one you are telling them about. Right now, you don’t have the energy to convince people. You barely have the energy to get through the day. 

So that’s what you are doing now. Using your energy to get through the day. You’re doing your best to fly under the radar, keep the peace, and stay as safe as possible at home. I cannot imagine. While people are protesting their access to garden centers and hair salons, you are trapped in a prison of fear. Riding out a pandemic with someone much scarier than the virus. 

Please know I see you. Others see you. You matter and you do not deserve the situation you are in. Your options are really limited right now, I know. My heart is completely breaking for you with every passing day of isolation you get through. I am praying for you. I am here to listen if it is safe for you. When you can leave, I will be your number one supporter. The day will come even though it seems so far away right now. 

Your goodness will shine through. Hold tight to it in the dark moments. Remember who you are and fight to get back to that person as soon as this is over. The world knows you are hurting, we know you need us, we know you will need us. We will be ready and waiting for you as soon as you can get out. 

Until then, we love you. We’re sorry. We’re praying for you. 

A survivor. 

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Domestic violence is a serious issue in our world under normal circumstances. Along with all of the “new normals” we now face, a major increase in abuse is happening and growing throughout the world. A 20% increase is expected over the coming months worldwide – including in your community. 

If you need help and can access it safely please reach out to a friend, community group, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can quietly and discreetly CHAT with them at https://www.thehotline.org/help/

Research in your community where you can donate time, money, supplies, or resources to help victims of abuse now or when they can finally leave. Purchases from the She Proclaims Shop also help support these charities – you can learn more at www.sheproclaims.com/shop

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Online Church isn’t the same. But its still good. – SheProclaims.com

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them”

~ Matthew 18:20 (NLV)

Online Church isn’t the same. But its still good. In fact, its better than good – its great. At least we live in a time where this is an option to help us all be connected. It isn’t safe for us to gather so many people together. We need to stop the spread of illness. This Coronavirus is scary and serious.

CDC guidelines, State mandates, and other words my eyes quickly skimmed led me to a sentence I never thought I’d read in an email from my church. Church services in our building are canceling until May 17. We’ll have online service options with a few leaders and a devotional during the week. Facebook, email, and our website will update you. 

I know we’re not the only church dealing with this. You are probably feeling as numb as I am. No, I don’t make it to church every week but the idea of it being gone for two months feels like someone punching me in the stomach. I cried. I cried and I prayed again for help and comfort for us all right now. Then Matthew 18:20 came to mind. 

I love the whole verse, especially now, but today my heart was drawn specifically to the word “where”.

I always viewed this verse to mean as long as people are physically together in some place that place can be a place of worship. It can be Holy. The woods, the beach, the lake, the mountains, my kitchen, your living room, someone’s yard, a table at a pub, or a crowded arena can all be places for God if our intentions are set on Him. The “where” wasn’t limited just to the church building as long as we were all together some place.

This is different though. Our “where” now requires us to not be physically together in any format. So now what? Does the internet count as “a place”?

The most common definition for “where” in the dictionary is “in or to what place or position.” It speaks about a specific location. That’s how I’ve always looked at it and why I felt so unsettled at first. However, if you keep reading there is another definition I think applies to where we all are right now:

where (adverb): the place or situation in which.

The place or situation in which. The situation in which. If that doesn’t apply to how we’re all experiencing life and worship right now, I don’t know what does. If we slide that version into the verse, instead of just leaning on the word “where” so heavily, this verse becomes the cornerstone of this new “social distancing” worship style we need to embrace.

For the situation in which two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them

~ Matthew 18:20

No matter where we are, if we are connecting with each other during this situation, He is with us. Our worships will be different than in the past, but the core practice of people who love God learning about him and loving each other are there. The building and proximity to our church family does not make a church. The people and their willingness to find God and each other in creative ways no matter the circumstances does. 

Online church isn’t the same. But its still good. Its our time to look at things a little differently and learn new things about ourselves and those around us. Online church isn’t the same but it will still be good. It will still be church.

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God Delights When Truth Reigns – find yours here!

“God delights when truth reigns in our inmost being.” – Psalm 51:6

Recognizing this truth in your life is freeing. I have been struggling with this for a long time, but now in my 40th year (still only 39 though!) I am starting to understand. .
Discover what makes your heart happy and do it. Do you feel you alone, not enough, or unfulfilled? I do. But its fading thanks to one simple realization:
Live a life you love.

Everyone is not your friend

You want to be accepted and loved – I get it. I do too, but sometimes, its just not possible and we need to accept that. We are not for everyone.
That’s ok.
Not everyone is for us.
That’s ok too.

There are over 7.53 billion on this planet, we would all need way bigger porches if all these people were all our people. Thank you God for not asking me to host that Thanksgiving meal – thinking of the menu is giving me hives.

Why do we try to make everyone “our people” even if it means changing who we are? It doesn’t make sense. Its a lie. Living a lie will never fill your heart. You will never find peace or happiness. God delights when truth reigns over our decisions.

You do you.

I know not all people like my writing – that’s ok. I mean, they’re crazy because I’m awesome, but its their loss, not mine. They roll their eyes, whisper remarks, and straight up talk crap – it happens. It used to cut me deep, still does sometimes, until I stopped worrying about them and focused on loving me.
Seek the things and dreams that make you happy.
Discern the voices that matter, discard those that don’t.
Reveal your heart and happiness to the world.
Diminish other’s control over your life by focusing on what feels true and honest to you.

Live your life loved and authentically for you. God delights when truth reigns in your life. No one else has the right to decide who you are.

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Bible Verses for Depression: My top 5 favorites – SheProclaims.com

I want to share some of my favorite Bible verses for depression with you today. Living with and working through depression is hard no matter who you are. I know from first hand experience. You can see and acknowledge good things going on all around you but you cannot feel them. You are numb to the warmth and peace the good parts bring, which is both frustrating and infuriating at the same time. It certainly doesn’t help you to feel “better” (whatever that term means). 

Living as a Chistian mom with depression comes with its own unique challenges. Our religion is cemented in the faith that someone good (God/Jesus/Holy Spirit) loves us and is taking care of us, even when life doesn’t appear that way. Short of the Bibles containing the words that remind us, though, we have nothing concrete to cling to in order to feel that love and keep our faith. Christiantiy is a religion of feelings – love, trust, faith, gratefulness,mercy, forgiveness – but what happens when we can’t feel all our feelings? 

Bible verses for Depression

These Bible verses for depression help me through my darkest times. Are they perfect? No. Do I feel better as soon as I read them over once? Not even close. But they do give me something to focus on that is constant and unchanging. The are promises made thousands of years ago and to billions of people. Surely, they apply to you and me too. 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. 

Normally, when someone’s well-meaning but overly simple advice to “look on the bright side” is given to me, it makes me want to puke. I get that its well meaning, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes, there is no bright side to a situation. Sometimes the only bright side is that the struggle will end, but there’s no guarantee it will be a good ending.

Thankfully, Paul isn’t telling us to look for the bright side. He just wants us to think about anything from any time to keep our minds and actions pure. That is doable. Today may be hard, but at some point in life, there was a good day or place. Think about it quietly for a few minutes. Write about it. Draw it. Tell a friend about it. Look at pictures of it. You will not be removed from your difficult situation, but you can get a little break from it. Little breaks and reminders life is good are invaluable gifts. 

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard me cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to go through difficult times. David reminds us that there is no time limit on how short or long a cold season in life will last in this verse. We just need to remember we must be patient and talk to God. When it is time, He will take us from the most disgusting, deep, dark, and difficult places and get us back on our feet. We are not being left in the pit forever. 

The world is full of normal people like you and I overcoming huge obstacles and very deep pits in their lives. They are not Prophets from the Bible, they are real people existing in our real world who have lived Psalm 40 completely. Google some for inspiration (you know how much I love Google). They were all pulled from the pits and placed back on solid ground. They were not alone. It happens. All the time. It will happen for you when the time is right. Just be patient. 

If that’s not enough or a little hard, read a little farther into Psalm 40:11-17 for an honest prayer you can say or remember in your pit.

Matthew 11:28 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is my go-to, easy to remember Bible verse for depression for those late nights when the gears in my mind are turning at record speed and sleep evades me at every turn. My brain likes to replay my day at bedtime, but not as a highlight reel of everything good that happened. Somehow, those things never make the cut and instead I end up watching the world’s longest blooper reel looping through my mind. It’s like the worst Blockbuster store ever, playing the same awful movie on replay until every bit of the movie lodges into memory forever. 

It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts and let them take over, I know because I’ve done that more times that I care to admit, but it’s also in those times when Matthew’s words comfort me. I am tired, I am worried, I want rest – so I start talking. My prayers are not pretty, they’re somewhat informal, like we’re best friends almost, but I think that’s ok. As I talk to God, my worries fade and the next thing I know – I have found my rest and it is morning.

Deuteronomy 31:8 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This has been one of my all time favorite verses for many situations; but these words feel like a verse about depression to help keep us going. I feel alone a lot, like no one understands how I feel (myself included). It is a scary place to feel so lost and unsure, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I am not alone. 

The author hints life can be scary or hard, but we should not be afraid or discouraged. Easier said than done? Absolutely. However, keeping this around to read or repeat to myself in the hardest times has been a life saver for me. I recommend keeping this nearby in your purse or on your phone. Something you can peek at when you’re feeling down easily.

Isaiah 41:10 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

Teaching my kids how to ride two-wheel bikes without training wheels was no simple task. The looks of terror on their faces communicated they thought they were not ready, struggling with the concept, and certain great bodily harm was in their future. I knew they were big enough, strong enough, and ready for this big step. They just needed hear I would stay by them, to feel my hand on their backs, and see me running next to them at first; until they got the hang of it. I am proud to say they both ride bikes brilliantly today. 

I think that’s exactly what this Bible verse for depression says for us all. We may not feel we are capable or ready to face whatever is pulling us down, but we are not alone. God will stay by us, with his hand on our backs even if we can’t feel it, and run beside us. Or walk if we’re talking about me, because as God or anyone I know will tell you – I don’t do running. The point is, He will meet you where you are, stay by you, and give you the strength you need to move on. The only thing you need to do is show up and believe in his loving words. 

Fill your war chest

There are a million other Bible verses for depression worth reading but these are my absolute favorites. My “war chest” of verses for the really big battle days. Reading these verses about depression reminds me these feelings are not new or only known to me. People have struggled with similar feelings since we left Eden. Feeling less alone makes it so much easier to keep going. 

Do you have any favorite Bible verses for depression or books that help you through? Feel free to share them! I would love to check them out and build up the war chest!

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Trust in the Lord – Proverbs for difficult times in life – SheProclaims.com

PROVERBS: The O.G.

Trust in the Lord like you do Google

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I love Google. I have no idea how people navigated work, raising children, and adult life before Google was invented. Hats off to those who did, thank you Jesus that I didn’t have to. I rely on Google as far more than just an internet search – its like a trusted friend I can turn to for help any time of the day without judgement. 

Actual things I have “Googled”:

“Why is my sewing machine thread bunching up?” Answer: it was a tension issue and Google walked me through step-by-step how to fix with like a patient teacher. 

“How can I get the cat to eat her vitamin?” Answer: like a true Doctor Dolittle, Google gave me a list of ways to try – we found hiding it in her normal food works great. 

“Do cats have belly buttons?” Answer: they do. Shoutout to Google for making me look intelligent to my 8 year old. I even showed her a picture from Google since our cat wasn’t in a cooperative mood that day.

“How can I make a million dollars?” Answer: Google told me all about jobs, college, owning my own business, and investing. Obviously, there’s no easy way, but Google clearly believes in me and knows I can do it if I put my mind to it. Thanks Google.

I love Google so much for its ability to help me out with random questions, worries, needs, and information no matter the time of the day or not. 

Those are also the same reasons I love the book of Proverbs more than any other. I’m not sure we’re supposed to play favorites with books of the Bible, they’re all great and have their purpose, but Proverbs? Proverbs is my jam. Proverbs is the OG (Original Google). While Google can help me get through many tasks I face in life, Proverbs gets me through the living parts. The love, sadness, scared, worried, lonely, happy, how to be a good person parts. Proverbs reminds me to trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord for help

Actual things I have “Proverbed” (that’s a word now, I just made it):

“How I can live a good life?” Answer: Proverbs 22

“How can I have a good marriage?” Answer: Proverbs 5 (I feel this one goes both ways).

“Why should I keep going to work?” Answer: Proverbs 6.

“Why should I forgive people who are total jerks to me?” Answer: Proverbs 10.

“How am I supposed to get through this?” Answer: Proverbs 17.

You can read the verses for yourself if you’re looking for info on those things. The beauty of Proverbs is that is has the best advice and we all take away what we need from it. Proverbs is a book of lessons, not instructions, left to us by Solomon on how to trust in the Lord. I think of Solomon as my really cool, patient, wise uncle who has the best advice for me. I love Uncle Sol. He tells it like he sees is, even if I don’t like what he has to say, I know that he is giving me the best advice from the very bottom of his heart. God put that knowledge in Uncle Sol and gave Uncle Sol to all of us so we would have someone to turn to. I like to visit with him. Uncle Sol’s place is a total judgement-free zone. 

I have been feeling Proverbs 3:5 quit a bit in the last few years. On one hand, I feel like it can be a really easy way to explain away everything bad that’s happening to us. Kind of a “this too shall pass” sort of response to anything that makes us uncomfortable, but that’s not how I see it. 

We know life isn’t going to be easy, we were literally told things were going to get hard waaaaay back after the whole “serpent and the fruit” incident. We were told to our faces that things would be hard. Straight up. No misunderstanding it. I appreciate that level of honest candor. I think that’s when candor was invented, which also makes it very cool. It also makes it hard sometimes to trust in the Lord when life seems extra hard.

However, to me, it reminds us that even if everything around us is awful and feels like its crashing down we need to know that God really is doing everything out of total love for us. Like a parent. We might not understand, there are plenty of times we will not understand, but we have to know that He loves us even when it feels like he doesn’t. 

My kids do not understand why I enforce bedtimes, screen limits, or make them brush their teeth. They fight me on those things, along with close to a bazillion others, because they just don’t understand why some things are good or necessary for them. They think I’m mean, which I am ok with since I know they don’t understand, but I promise you I do all of these things from the purest, most love-filled part of my heart. 

Uncle Sol points this out in Proverbs. At first, I rolled my eyes and thought that I’d finally gotten the old man! Finally, I was able to stump him and had proven myself to be an exception to thousands years of his advice. I had examples in my life where situations were clearly done without an ounce of love for me. Nothing but spite or indifference could have allowed these to happen. I wrote down a few with every intention of telling people about the handful of times Proverbs had been wrong for me.

Times I thought Uncle Sol was wrong:

When people I loved walked away and left me feeling alone. 

When we were faced with a horrific school situation and forced to pull our kids from the school we’d fought to get into. 

When I lost my job, apartment, and had to file for bankruptcy all within the same month. 

When I had to watch someone I loved deeply suffer and die. 

I stared at the list for awhile and thought back to those times. I thought back to how hurt I’d been, how alone I’d felt, and how sad I was. I remembered feeling I could not get through any single one of those events, let alone all of them, in the course of one life. I also know there are many, many more that I could share. Life isn’t easy. 

I started looking back and comparing where I was to where I am now with each of these events. I was so glad to be so far away from those places of despair, I was proud to see how I had managed to overcome all of these and rebuild wonderful things in my life. That’s when Uncle Sol’s words started creeping back into my mind – trust God and don’t rely on your own understanding. Then I wrote out the rest of these stories. 

Times I thought Uncle Sol was wrong but it turns out he wasn’t:

When people I loved walked away and left me feeling alone. I learned to trust in the Lord and make family with the people around me who do love me. I learned how not to treat other people. I learned how to forgive and move forward without bitterness in my heart. I value my kind of loyal people so much more.

When we were faced with a horrific school situation and forced to pull our kids from the school we’d fought to get into. My kids are actually both in insanely better places now. Places I never would have considered if I hadn’t been forced to. My heart was broken leaving the “good” school, but I am overjoyed to say we put our trust in the Lord and ended up at the “better” school. I never would have thought it. Better friends, better teachers, better experiences, better parents…everything is better for us. I value the people in my children’s lives so much more.

When I lost my job, apartment, and had to file for bankruptcy all within the same month. I got to move back to my hometown. It was a move I had wanted to make but had convinced myself was out of my reach. Funny how necessity changes things. I got to spend tons of time with my two year old, that’s worth everything. I got to spend lots of time with my boyfriend (now husband), and I got to start over. Every debt and struggle was left behind with a bad marriage – I had a clean slate to build back up. It was all scary but the push I needed. My trust in the Lord kept me going. I value all I have so much more.

When I had to watch someone I loved deeply suffer and die. I took the time to put someone else first. Her needs were more important than mine. I had conversations that I wish I’d had years before. I said things I’m so grateful I did and put my trust in the Lord. I hated that she suffered but I am so thankful for the warning it gave me. I tell people how important they are to me now. I want them to know while they’re here to appreciate it and before it’s too late. I value time so much more.

There are a lot of other situations in my life and the world that I still can’t see the value of: why do kids get cancer? Why does suicide happen? Why are there wars? Why are there mass shootings? Why do people suffer with Alzheimer’s? Why is addiction a thing? How come ice cream makes me fat (but happy) and celery is stupid? 

Uncle Sol is right. I don’t need to know the answers always. I don’t need to understand. It might take days, years, or a lifetime but eventually the good from every situation will be presented to me. Yes, as you know I am struggling but I will come through this better than before. He didn’t give us an authoritative instruction book of rules. He gave us loving advice like a parent to child, teacher to student, or wise old uncle to trusting niece. We don’t need to understand, we just need to trust and be loved. Even when it’s scary.

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When a stranger’s suicide hurts deeply

I didn’t know you personally, but I knew who you were. I’d seen you walking the high school halls with your beaming smile and dimples in the past. You were so beautiful to me. So cool. The kind of girl I hoped I’d be in my own senior year, still four years away.

I didn’t know you personally but as it turns out, you were very special and important to many people in my life. Its clear that your friendly smile touched more than just an awkward freshman girl who never spoke to you.

I didn’t know you but I feel your story so deep. To my core. I understand. Wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, guide….while walking through a dark fog. One that consumed you. One that overcame you.

I cheered for you (and voted for you!) when you ran for office. I love seeing strong, intelligent women making strides in the world. I love the passion and hope thaty comes weeken people fight for change they believe in whole heartedly. I admire the difference you wanted to make.

I loved seeing you speak out for mental health. You were brave. You made it ok for people like me to get help and speak out. You started hard coversations to end the stigmas and help others come out of the darkness.

Now, as I scroll my Facebook I see your face, still covered with your warm smile and dimples, over and over. Pictures of your beautiful children. Memories being shared by people I love left here hurting.

Walking into chuch, the audible reaction to your passing left tears stinging my eyes. Those who loved you surrounded by love. Enveloped in arms of friendship and family. Every one in disbelief.

I am so sorry the sadness was so deep.

I am so sorry you saw no other way.

I am so sorry that life wasn’t as kind to you as it should have been.

I am so sorry that so many are hurting for you now.

I am so sorry I never said hello in the hallway.

I wish you felt how far your ripples reached. How many hearts you touched, both known and unknown to you. I wish you knew me. The conversations you led, the people you inspired, the struggles you shared that made us feel less alone.

You helped make it ok for people like me to speak up. Sometimes, we all need a little extra help and love. You gave others the courage to ask for it and, more importantly, showed others how to compassionately give it. Even through your loss, many others have been saved by your courage.

The world is a better place because you were in it, just a little bit darker now that you’re gone. Those of us still fighting the battle mourn you, you were like us, but we will fight on through the darkness. For you, for us, and for those we love or don’t even know – we will carry on the mission. You weren’t alone. Neither are we.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

–John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING OR HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS – PLEASE REACH OUT TO A LOVED ONE, FRIEND, OR THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:

800-273-8255

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Are you there, God? Because I’m mad…

I have to admit, God and I spent a good part of this last year fighting. Well, I was fighting and He was sitting back patiently waiting for me to calm the heck down and let Him carry on with His plan. Thankfully, He let me go on and humored me while I freaked out, yelled, questioned, demanded, and finally trusted His plan.

Some people will say that I had no right to question or yell at God, but I don’t think that’s true. I think He’s ok with it. I think He would rather have an angry and honest me than a me who doesn’t totally believe. Even if it means I need to question things from time to time. At least I’m giving Him my all.

This year I was tested pretty seriously in both my personal and professional life. People I had trusted fully let me down. Plans I had been working on for years crumbled. Every scrap of self-consciousness was placed center stage for me to stare at. I was low. And it didn’t make any sense why He let it happen.

I pray. I go to church. I volunteer. I’m a Sunday school teacher, Deacon, greeter, communion server, coffee maker, meal maker, and all around super friendly, involved church person. I read my Bible close to daily, share God’s love with our kids, and do my best to be generous in our community.

So, when God let all these awful things fall down on top of me? My God, who I bust my chops for 24/7 let this go down? Well, I was livid.

One particularly hard day, last fall, I found myself sitting alone in my minivan at sunrise, at the beach, sobbing hysterically in my quiet space.

Things weren’t getting better. I was getting madder. Things felt like they were getting worse. Once again, I was doing things “right”, trying to fix my life, and God was letting it all happen. I was infuriated.

As Anne Lamott said, “God can handle honesty, and prayer begins in honest conversation.” I was ready to be completely raw with my honest feelings in my prayer that morning. Excuse the language (He and I have discussed that also), but the prayer went something like this – at the top of my lungs, through tears, beating on my steering wheel:

Alright God, what do you want from me? What more do you want me to do? I come to you, do your work, and do all the “right” things and you still let life shit all over me? I can’t keep doing this. You dump on me and leave me to sort it out without any help! You don’t even bother to tell me if I’m on the right path or not. I don’t even know if you’re here! Or if you care! If any of this matters! But if you’re there – we need to work something out. You need to give me a damn clue or a sign that I going in the right direction. My way isn’t working but I appear to be the only one showing up with a plan! You want to call the shots? Fine. We’ll do it your way. But you better check in. I want signs. Owls. I want owls and birds along the way. Big, cool, special birds – everyday ones like sparrows won’t cut it. Amen.

It was far from the most eloquent prayer I’ve ever said, but I promise you it’s one of the top most sincere and from the heart prayers I’ve ever said. Swear words and irrational bird demands included. He knew I was finally being real and seeking HIS way, not the way I thought people should see me doing His way.

That’s the wonderful thing about God. He doesn’t want us coming to Him with our fake selves. He knows who we are and what we need even better than we do. He wants our honest, authentic, raw, fully open hearts coming to Him.

I’m sure He looked at me raging in my minivan with a smile while I was making demands and shouting a to-do list prayer as if He needed my help to get my life “right”. And I’m so grateful he was patient enough to wait for the real me to show up and ask Him to take over.

God knows our weaknesses and loves us despite them. He created them in us, they are perfect. He wants us to come to him, with fire in our bellies, spirits of fire, and throw it at his feet. That’s when we get the good stuff. The love, forgiveness, and the help we need to get through our hardest times.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

I left the beach without a booming voice telling me what to do next or a flock of owls tap dancing the way I needed to go next. I wish the exchange had a huge earth shattering moment right then, but it didn’t.

I drove home with puffy eyes. I did my daily yoga practice. I read. Cleaned the house, watched some Netflix, then slid into loving mom and wife mode when my family arrived home. I stopped telling God what I needed or how He should do it. I merely stayed present and looked for Him through the evening.

I climbed into bed that night feeling foolish for my outburst that morning and more lost than ever. I was more exhausted than ever too. The weight of using to do it all on my own was too much and I was ready to calmly admit it. I didn’t want to thru to be the boss anymore. I kat can’t too do things His way. My way keeps ending up in a painful place, it’s clearly the wrong direction for me.

I drifted to sleep that night asking Him to run the show and call the shots. I apologized for the language, but I admitted that I really could use some little reassurance some time. Just the occasional check-in that I’m doing ok.

When I woke from a dream around midnight a few nights later, one I do not recall but left me feeling in absolute peace, I smiled to myself with a feeling of relief that He was hearing me. Then, I heard him. A loud owl hooting in the night. The first I’ve ever heard in the 5 years we’ve lived in this house.

God is with you. Give him your honest self. He can take it and He’ll still love you for it.