Sunday, December 26, 2010

Just Like Mary

"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (Luke 1:30)

I feel a special connection with Mary.

She was young and given a blind command to take the humble position of a vessel for world changing.

"I am waiting in a silent prayer. I am frightened by the load I bear."

I can understand how she felt.

"In a world as cold as stone, must I walk this path alone? Be with me now."

While my experience is vastly different than a young woman given the task of raising the Son of God, I have been given a task that requires my life and unknown sacrifices along the way. I too feel like an unworthy, frightened girl who isn't quite sure what to do. The fear and sheer weight of moving forward at lightening speed into a future that people frowned upon are not strange realities to me either.

"Do you wonder, as you watch my face, if a wiser one should have had my place? But I offer all I am, for the mercy of Your plan. Help me be strong."

The task before me incorporates twenty-two years of experiences, both positive and negative that vary from a lot of people's my age. The trials have been many, and often I found myself asking "Why, God? Why me?" But the answer would remain the same. I made you different--I am preparing you for things that are so much more than you could ever plan.

As painful as it is, I regret very little about my past, because every shattered piece of glass on the floor was one more experience I can now relate to.

The task is overwhelming for two young women (my amazing business partner and I) as we set out to change the world by shining the light of hope in the Bay Area. It is a daunting thing to reach our hands out into the darkness and offer a lifeline to drowning teens around us.

It is easy to feel unprepared, inexperienced and thoroughly not ready for such a huge weight upon us. But God isn't giving us the option to say no. He called us to a monumental task, and we have no choice but to go forward. I keep asking why I have been chosen to be a part of this great plan. Why not someone older, stronger, more outgoing and virtuous than me? Wouldn't they be better for such a job?

But regardless of my doubts, I keep researching, dreaming, and taking steps forward. I am not perfect, nor the ideal example of humility, but for some reason, God saw fit to place me in this role.

I was chosen for such a time as this.

Our time is now. His time is now. Change is coming, and though I so often question if I'm the right girl for such a job, He hasn't taken back the call. That is not the change. The change lies within my heart, as I seek God's comfort and strength and set out on a journey into the treacherous unknown. It will be difficult. It won't be safe. But that's the part that keeps us seeking and searching for wisdom and truth. That's where the success is found--in being wholeheartedly willing to be the vessel, and dedicated to following the call, even when it is desperately beyond our human understanding.

Lyrics from "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" by Amy Grant

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waiting Out the Pain

I woke up this morning to a shooting pain that I can do nothing about. Every couple of months this happens as an accompaniment to my chronic illness. Again I found myself whining to God, Why does this happen to me? Why now? I am already too stressed this week, I don't need THIS! I can't do this!


Eventually I grew tired of whining and started asking better questions. Okay, fine. Why is this pain here now? What purpose does it hold in my life right now? What do you want to teach me through this?

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

"For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

God is a patient parent, but He does not reward whining. He is attentive to His children's cries, but He instructs us to that fateful word: trust. He wants our complete and ultimate trust that He, the giver of all good things, has enough power to give us strength and victory.

In the meantime, my lesson is to accept that life is full of setbacks, challenges and disappointments, but if I take His hand and believe deliverance is on the other side, the wait through the pain is more than worth it.

This week is my test. Who will I put my faith in? Myself? Medicine? Or the God who wants so much more for me than what I've settled for?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Deafening Silence

Meredith Andrews has a song called "Can Anybody Hear Me?" and some days I just put that song on replay and cry.

Do you know what it's like to never be heard?

I do.

I also know what it's like to be heard, and it's an amazing feeling. But for the most part, silence surrounds me.

Maybe you've been there. You're quiet, socially anxious and fearful of people's judgments. It's a valid concern--the world is full of harsh critics eager to rip your faith and innocent hope away. However, there are a lot of gentle, caring people in the world too. The sad thing about this all is that we who are quiet usually have a hardened view of reality/society and assume that everyone is out to hurt us, so we put up the walls, lock ourselves away and throw away the key--all in the name of protection.

While it is momentary protection, the walls eventually grow stronger with time and soon they are solid brick. At that point, it's really hard to break them down. Has anyone had to get out the jackhammer to get through your barriers? Yeah, I know that feeling too. =)

"I know You're here with me, I just need the faith to see. Nothing can separate me from Your love"

On the opposite spectrum of walls is open pastures. These aren't necessarily good either, because we can easily let in people who can, and probably will, hurt us. So where's the balance?

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" - Proverbs 4:23

Guarding your heart is not putting up 10 foot walls, or letting people walk right in. It is healthy boundaries, recognizing the signals you're giving others, thinking with your brain and not your heart, and keeping in constant communication with God. Our first mistake happens when we do a two-minute devotional each day and leave it at that. I'm starting to recognize the wisdom in continual prayer and reflection--sizing myself up by God's standards and how His Word says I need to live my life.

He may feel far away, but He's still there. Calmly waiting for you to come to Him and ask for help. You may pray but hear nothing. This doesn't mean He's not listening, instead He's probably trying to get you to listen closer, to trust in Him. To believe that when He says you are a precious creation--His treasure to be exact--He is telling the truth.

It may sound silent, but try something that our culture doesn't value: Just Listen.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lost: Depression & Suicide Prevention - what would you do to save a life?

"Why am I even alive anymore? I don't understand. I'm tired. I'm frustrated. Nothing matters anymore. I'm sick and tired of being the living dead." 10-16-07

Two years ago I lost my reason to live. I was so depressed I could barely make it through the day, and even then it was all a daze. It took over a year of treatment and therapy to even see the sunshine again. For this reason, I've committed my life to making a difference. My life verse sums it up: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice" (Proverbs 31:8-9)

"I'm falling...drowning...locked in an emotionless closet. I can't let it out and I can't keep it in. I can't deal with the worry and stress and it's tearing my heart out." 3-7-06

The Adolescent Mental Health Initiative estimates that at least 1 in 8 teens struggle with depression. Because depression often leads to suicidal thoughts, it is understandable that 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of death. Furthermore, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15-24 and the 5th for ages 5-14 year olds. Regardless of age, in the U.S. someone dies by suicide every 16 minutes, but an attempt is made every minute (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).

The reasons behind depression and suicidal feelings are complicated and vary for each person. But the fact is, it hurts. We feel extremely guilty, hopeless, worthless, anxious, isolated, lonely and very very alone. We feel these mostly because of past circumstances or chemical imbalances, but also partly because most people don't understand or show they care.

While none of us have the power to actually save someone's life, we do have the ability to help people find hope again. First, you can do some simple things: talk, listen, hug, and love those who are hurting. You can get down to their level, understand, encourage and pour into their lives. You can watch for suicide warning signs: making a plan, giving away possessions, changes in behavior, slipping grades, increased self-medicating, etc. and listen when you hear or see them. Coming alongside someone who's hurting--helping them reach out to professionals and get on the path to healing is the most important thing you could ever do.

Resources: (To Write Love On Her Arms) (Youth Suicide Prevention Program)
1-800-SUICIDE (National Suicide Prevention Hotline)

Remember, you are not alone. <3

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Walls Are Coming Down

"Oh, no, my walls are going to break, so close it's more than I can take. I'm so tired of turning and running away when love just isn't safe." - Britt Nicole "Safe"

You're been hurt. People may have abused, ridiculed, bullied, manipulated, or trapped you. You probably feel like it's not safe to love and you have every right to feel that way.

The stats are currently that 1 in 3 girls will be abused by age 18 and the chances of abuse during a lifetime is 1 in 2. For young men the stats are about 1 in 6 being abused before 18 years old.

These are gloomy statistics and there seems so little we can do. I can attest to this fact because as a survivor of childhood abuse, I am a part of that statistic and nearly every doom-ful statement about abuse victims, self-injury, suicide, depression and all the rest.

Every memory has eaten away at my heart, burning away the joy and hope--replacing them with bitterness, anger and hatred. I'd give anything to be whole again.

Do you know what it's like to never be heard?

Do you know what it's like to literally feel the pain as your body wastes away and your soul dies?

That's what every abuse victim feels.

The world is hopeless and black and there is no light. Happiness is acidic and nothing is worth it.

We lose ourselves, our passions, our hopes and dreams. We cry all the time or can't cry at all. We assume that it's our fault we're being/been hurt and expect it to happen again. We're stuck in a horrible pattern of abusive relationships that we can't seem to escape. Why? Because it's easier to stay where you're comfortable--stick with the norm, and that is usually with guys or girls who take advantage of us.

Lost and alone, life as it should be ceases to exist.

Chances are you've been there or know someone close to you who has. Empty promises, endless battles and countless tears later, you're left with shards of glass slipping through your fingers representing the leftovers from your life.

Thankfully through it all, I am more than a statistic. There was a time when I was defined by the pain, but my soul has been resurrected with new life. I am not over the hurt, but I am recovering. I am healing and accepting God's healing love every day.

"Those damaged goods you see in your reflection, love sees them differently, love sees perfection... You're not the worthless they made you feel, there is a love they can never steal away." - Matthew West "Broken Girl"

It's hard to trust after everything has been ripped from you. It's a challenge to let God take control of your life once all the control has been taken from you. But, please hear me when I say there is hope. It can seem so dark, but there is a light in the distance.

I have watched so many people take the first step from darkness to hope, and it is a beautiful thing. It starts with a very simple thing: breaking your silence. If you are a victim of any kind of abuse, I encourage you to speak up. Tell your story. It's an amazing thing, but every time you tell your story, the abuse loses some of it's power. The more you talk, the less it hurts. It's your story to share, and it will make a difference.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God" - Isaiah 43

The world may seem really dark right now. Trust could be a foreign word. But I promise you this, if you take the first small step of faith, you will begin the journey to freedom and wholeness. You don't have to believe it will happen, just know that it won't be like this forever.

The Power of Testimony

Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to share my life story with a small group of young adults. All eyes were on me as I opened my heart about the painful experiences I'd been through and how God is putting my broken pieces back together.

I held back tears and became vulnerable while the silence filled the room. It was difficult, even though I've shared my testimony on several occasions because I feared that I would be judged and would lose the group's approval.

No such thing happened, of course. In fact, last weekend at a retreat, one of the girls shared that some of the things I had said had stayed with her for two weeks. As she cried, I cried and felt the warmth of value surround me. See, I have a fear of not being heard, not being noticed and not being valued for who I truly am. Hearing that my story impacts people is the greatest gift anyone could ever give me because it means my pain is worth it. I am making a difference because of where I have been. I am not defined by my past, but it is a part of me, shaping me, making me stronger.

"You're either in a storm, going into one or coming out of one. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to's about learning to dance in the rain."

Keep persevering. Your day's just begun.

Friday, April 9, 2010

To Write Love On Her Arms

TWLOHA is an amazing organization dedicated to raising awareness about depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. They have the support of many bands, stores and individuals all over the world, which means they are doing a fantastic job!

One of their slogans is "Love Is The Movement" and they strive to encourage people to show love to everyone because you never know when a caring world could be saving a life. On the same note, a hurtful world could be ending one, so it's a reminder to watch our words.

For more info, visit their website:

Recently, a book telling the story of how they came to be was published. Please check it out:

It can be purchased through the TWLOHA online store.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dancing In The Rain: more than a dream

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of ideas for how Dancing In the Rain Foundation can actually become an organization that offers a teen community and crisis center. It's not just a faint dream, but real solid steps.

They start March 5 & 6 as I speak at BASS (Bay Area Sunday School Convention). I will be leading four workshops on different teen issues: abuse, eating disorders, depression/suicide, and girls ministry. As I prepare for these sessions I am blown away by the grace God has granted me each step of the way. I shouldn't have the time to plan these workshops, yet I have found plenty of time to research, study and pray into them. I shouldn't have the experience or ability to talk on any of these topics, but by His unending mercy and healing I not only have the experiences, but also the healing to speak freely about it. And it blows me away!

Sometimes I look at where God has put me in life right now and I cry just at the knowledge that I have come so far...and yet still have so far to go...but overall, He has never left my side--never left me alone, and never told me to do it by myself.

I face two very difficult weeks ahead of me, but I know I will get through it--thriving--because God walks with me. More like carries me through times like this, but still! =)

Be blessed and free!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Livin' the Love

I've been thinking about love a lot lately.

God's love. True love. Sisterly love.

We use the term so off-hand that we can't even be sure what we mean by it anymore! I love my classes, I love my co-workers and I love chocolate. Hmm...those are so not the same kind of love!!!

But mostly, I've been thinking about God's perfect love. How He is sooo crazy about us, He turned His back on His only Son so that we could be united with Him. The fact that He keeps pursuing us--wooing us--for a relationship is reason enough to be overwhelmed by a love we can never return in equal magnitude.

The worship song "How He Loves" says it so well... "He is jealous for me...if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking... Oh, how He love us so, oh how He loves us, how He loves us so!"

Being involved in youth ministry has given me a chance to see how deep my love can go. And let me tell you, there are times when it is short-lived! As I look at these amazing, hurting, confused and talented teens, I'm reminded that we are to love them as Christ loves us--unconditionally, with no exceptions or expectations. It's very hard, but as I look into their faces I see dreams and futures that they might not be able to see. Our job is to help them realize those dreams and live them out.

That I can do!

Friday, January 1, 2010