Oh, Deer Me.

IMG_7820It’s no secret that I love to DIY. It’s also no secret that DIY stands for do it yourself which is kind of something to work on, probably. Nonetheless, I have seen these deers with glitter antlers on a few etsy shops and the price was just too steep for me. Now, here is the thing…with some crafts…if you have the money…by all means, buy it. Example A:IMG_7758Little deers, I have found that in my all white space/apartment with hints of metallic here and there. I have wall spaces that need gallery walls but I like some textures on my gallery walls…a large plaster elephant head I found online, a mirror, burlap, or maybe even a deer. So if you are like me and want to do it yourself, this is how. I did not want a real looking deer. I am not trying to be a hunter with glitter over here in Chicago, mk?IMG_7746Supplies: the deer (mine is pretty small as you will see when I finally get it on the wall), modge podge and a paint brush, white spray paint (I chose matte), clear acrylic spray to seal the glitter in so your deer doesn’t shed, glitter (listen, find Martha Stewart glitter…I searched high and low and I know I have some packed away but I could not find it…If you can’t find it, go for the finest glitter possible…In my case, I did not want his antlers to be all gold or all silver so I did this:IMG_7752I did things a little backwards. But I bought a poster board because I knew I would be doing this outside and wanted to protect the grass. I thought…wow, what a vibrant color. It will look just great on that lil blog o’ mine. And then this happened:IMG_7762After I painted and glittered the antlers, poor deer had a pink nose and glitter in places he didn’t want it. So.IMG_7774So I spray painted that sucker. This is of course, POST painting the modge podge and adding glitter and letting the clear protective coat dry. I ran a  bunch of errands and hoped it would not rain. I swear this is not how I normally do projects but I was rushed because of the move. Fortunately, it did not rain. And this little fella will find a place on my wall which I will take a picture of when I am not living on an air mattress.IMG_7818I’m writing this on faux wood floors that I don’t care are faux because they are so pretty. My aunt donated a television to me and I have not had a television for two years! It is craziness. I ended up getting Apple TV because it was that or a blue ray player so I could get online and watch my netflix (have to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Frank Underwood. Ha. But seriously…) Since I have no blue ray dvds, Apple TV made sense and I’ll just get a cheap regular DVD player later on because, yo, first I need to get the TV off the floor. Also I have no Blue Ray DVDs and don’t really plan on getting any. The cable and internet guy was here for three hours today but now I am happily watching Crazy, Stupid, Love and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone just had this conversation.

Emma: So what’s your move?

Ryan: You can’t handle the move.

Emma: Tell me the move!

Ryan: You’re not ready for the move!

Emma: Tell me the move!

Ryan: I work Dirty Dancing into the conversation!

If you have not seen this movie, I really recommend it and not only because that entire conversation is had with Ryan Gosling’s shirt off. And I won’t ruin the big finale. Anyway, now you know how to DIY when it comes to making a deer to your liking and also a bonus movie recommendation. I think I am done for the day.

XO,

 
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You are not alone.

I am writing this for two reasons after the response of this and this. First, for the beautifully brave women who reached out to me in all the ways the internet offers. I read your stories and I replied (still have a few more to go) (and also please feel free to keep writing to me) and my heart broke over what happened to you and your bravery. Oh, your bravery. Sometimes hitting send is the most courageous thing to do. I learned this from hitting publish. I kept thinking, I wish there was a way for these women, who are not ready to share their stories yet, to realize how many of us exist. I wish I could do something more to make them feel a little less alone, so they don’t think they were weak, so they understand it was so much bigger than them, to link us together and maintain privacy at the same time. This is one of the first ways I can do that.

The second purpose of this post is for the people who supported and encouraged my storytelling, who asked: what can I/we do? I want to give you a peek into the window of how prevalent this all is, how many weaving ways a real life story can go…without stats. Instead it will be have to be words, words culled after reading hundreds of messages.

So, with a deep breath, I write, with reverence, a complete lack of judgement, and a lump in my throat:n160801669_30454651_7936

You are not alone if you continue to blame yourself or if you once blamed yourself. You are not alone if you are still angry and you are not alone if you are only just beginning to become angry. You are not alone if you distrust men or yourself, if your body has become something different to you. Maybe it has become something to protect, maybe it has become the only commodity you think you have. In both instances, you are not alone.

You are not alone if you thought the person who hurt you hung the moon and the stars in the sky. You are not alone if, even as you endured pain by his hands or his words, you loved him and could not imagine your life without him. You are not alone if that person who hurt you went to church, took care of his grandmother, kissed your mama on her cheek, said please and thank you and yes sir and no m’am, chewed with his mouth closed, and remembered your birthday. You are not alone if he made you laugh. And you are a not a traitor to yourself for laughing. You are not alone if, in a group of people, you would find yourself surrounded, standing by his side while people listened to him tell a story, all while you looked up at him. And while you looked up at him, you are not alone if you thought: I hate you or I love you or maybe even both at the same time.

You are not alone if you are a cartographer, drawing maps, recognizing moments and routes where you could have escaped. You are not alone if you were reeled back in by words of love or other manipulation or if you chose to stay. You are not alone if you dated this person for a long time or if you became engaged or even if you married him, knowing what he could do. You are not alone if you were able to escape the marriage or the relationship. You are not alone if you are still married to him.SONY DSC

You are not alone if you did not tell anyone or if you have yet to tell anyone (but for a stranger on the internet). You are not alone if you are afraid, even if it is over, to say the words aloud or to write them down and make them real. You are not alone if your body still shivers as if he could still grab a hold of you, even if he can’t. You are not alone if you go still and stiff, like a deer in the woods, when someone raises his or her voice. You are not alone if you suffer from panic attacks or from nightmares.

You are not alone if the person who hurt you is a family member or family friend. You are not alone if you tried to tell someone in your family and your family is in shambles because of the truth you were brave enough to speak into the world. You are not alone if your own family did not believe. You are not alone if your family is divided (and it is not your fault). Sadly, you are not alone if you never could tell anyone about what the family member did for the very real fear of what I just mentioned.

You are not alone if you feel like it wasn’t that bad. You are not alone if you find yourself thinking or speaking or writing: Well, he never put his hands on me. Well, it was only very cruel words. Well, I just always said or did things to upset him.

You are not alone if you had sex with him and then decided not to again but he did not listen. You are not alone if his form of control was to knowingly put you at risk to pregnancy and STDs, though he promised he would not when you asked him to use protection, when you begged him to please wear a condom. You are not alone if every time was consensual but for one. You are not alone if he hurt you sexually but you were in a relationship or married. You are not alone if you did not consent to sexual acts, even if penetration was not involved.

You are not alone if you did not know the person who did this to you. You are not alone if you knew him, or thought you did, better than you knew yourself.

You are not alone if you are still angry at the girl who stayed, if she is still a mystery you cannot figure out. You are not alone if you are a strong women who doesn’t take nonsense from anyone, but you took it from him. You are not alone if have always been more quiet. You are not alone if you did not realize what happened to you until you read this post or this one.n160801669_30454581_8445

You are not alone if you never went to therapy, if you have been in therapy for years, or something in between. There is no expiration date on the hurt so you are not alone if it is years and years later and you feel as if you should be more healed. You are not alone if you say: I will never forgive what happened to me. 

You are not alone if you are now in a good relationship. Your past may play a part but your partner is patient and kind and you are making something real and true together. You are not alone if you still distrust men or yourself. You are not alone if you struggle to trust God or believe that He is good. You are not alone if you can help others but you cannot help yourself.

You are not alone if you have decided to share your story, bit by bit, but still aren’t ready to write about it publicly.

I am your warrior and I will not forget about you. While many of these things are not a part of my story, some of them are. And some of them, but not all of them, may be true for you. No one message included something I never read before. It seemed crazy to me, as if everyone had at least one close match, and yet they didn’t know it. With great respect to privacy, I need you to know that you are not alone. That, much as I think statistics are easy cop outs, your story and the way it played out–while yours, while unique–does not make you an alien. In fact, there are sisters you don’t even recognize who can relate. You pass them on the internet, on the street. You know them and yet you don’t.

I wrote about the silence, how it brings about a slow death, how we must learn a language to speak these stories into life (and learn a language to listen) and so I hope in some small way, you feel a little less alone. Maybe it means you won’t blame yourself as much. Maybe it means there is hope in and of itself. As someone who has experienced a hopeless situation, I cannot discount the power of hope. And I do believe there is hope.IMG_1287

You are not alone because men and women who have never experienced a story like yours or mine, shared my post or messaged me. They begged people to read it, to educate themselves. They told me again and again: I am sorry he hurt your and it is not okay. They told me they learned something. They wanted to learn more. They wanted to do more. And so maybe becoming a warrior begets warriors. Know that there are people you may not even know spreading this message far and wide, that there are people who will and do listen, who want to help, who stand arm-in-arm with me and say: it is not okay. These are women and men and they are everywhere too.

I cannot go back and fix anything for you now. That’s what breaks my heart and the heart of anyone who may listen to your story. I cannot time travel. I cannot even help the girl in the prom dress turn around and walk away before she is in too deep. But I can tell you how sorry I am (such a paltry word) and I can tell you it is not okay. And I can go on being a warrior for you. Yes, you. You matter so much to me.

I will continue to believe in rehabilitation and redemption even as I fight and fight hard for the belief that if we taught and mentored men differently, there would be no need for rehabilitation. Because stories like yours and mine would dwindle and disappear. That is the hope, a perfect world we, frankly, do not live in and yet, do not tell me we cannot be doing more to teach young men how to handle their own hurts and damages without hurting or damaging women. If you tell me that, I will call you a liar and prove you wrong a thousand times over.

Something is changing in the air around me. Something is rising inside me and around me and as your warrior, I will keep you updated as to what exactly that is. I’m praying on it and I am educating myself and where it will lead, I do not know. I only know that I am sorry he hurt you and it is not okay and now I am your warrior. Until I know more, I am praying for you, not that you would be better (what does that mean?) but that you would find comfort in the One who is the exact opposite of the person who hurt you. He will meet you where you are. He will love you. He is safety and peace. He can redeem anything, binding it up. He takes the ugliness and make it beautiful in its time. youarenotalone

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New Apartment + News.

imageI’m officially moved in with at least the essentials. Am I right? This week and weekend have been all about replying and listening to all of you who wrote to me in light of my story (follow up here) and also preparing for my move. There are too many of us and so I have spent time dreaming and praying on what to do because I feel strongly that I am meant to do something. I am your warrior. I can’t sit at the other end of the computer screen and  read your words and not be that for you. What does that mean for my blog? Well. This blog has always been about the parts of my life I am willing to share. And now you all (keep writing me if you need to. I am here. I will be your warrior.) are a part of my life so tomorrow there is a post for you, something to help make you feel a little less alone, something for others to see just how heartbreakingly common stories like ours are so they will want to do something too, or at least have tools to listen. Oh and the next day will probably be about a DIY deer (yuuuup!). Even after my shower I still have glitter in my hair. I’m still the same silly, sarcastic girl who loves to write but add warrior to that bio and oh yeah, official resident of the city of Chicago. Woohoo. To tide you over here are just some pieces of life moving in. My camera is packed away so these were taken with my phone (blogger fail). Also I wasn’t going to tell you this but who really cares? I’m writing this on my phone.imageimage

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As if I haven’t confessed enough this week.

I confess that I think I wrote the most important piece of my writing career to date here. And its follow up here.

I confess that this week has been rewarding and heartbreaking and faith-growing all at once as I finally told my story. Rewarding because I think I helped people because they keep on messaging and I will keep messaging them back because if they feel like I am the only one for them to tell, then I will listen. I will listen until I hear every story that needs telling. I will be their warrior. I will tell them what happened is not okay. It’s been faith growing because I took this step of faith and God met me and it has been crazy. And things I thought I had figured out are being healed as we speak.

I confess that going through my photos labeled Senior Year of HS and Freshman Year at College was so strange. I needed them for the post. And I needed them for me. I had to remember that girl, the girl before the door, or the couch or anything else. She was so young. I mean, just baby faced. She is not a number or a statistic. She lived it.Picture 040 Picture 045 Picture 039

I confess that yesterday at the end of the day Kelly Clarkson’s What doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger came on the radio and I turned that jam UP.

I confess that this week I have gone to bed so early and have been so exhausted.

I confess that moving out this weekend will be great but also a lot of work. #duh

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Linking up with Leslie.
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About Yesterday.

IMG_0990There were certain words I did not use in yesterday’s post: abuse, domestic violence, victim, perpetrator. I can honestly say that it was not a conscious choice and yet it is one I believe in nonetheless…because I have seen how people tip their head, a tell of unbelief, whenever I’ve used the word abuse. No one will repeat it back to me. Those words are intense words with even more intense implications. In my experience, using them makes it easy for someone to say or think: she must be exaggerating. 

So it was not a conscious decision to leave those words out of my post. But it was a conscious decision, when I finally decided to share what happened, to simply tell my story. You can tell me I am exaggerating if I use the word abuse because that is your prerogative.

But you can’t tell me that the moment on the couch never happened. You can’t tell me my thigh wasn’t pinched beneath tables time and time again, hard enough to leave bruises. You can’t tell me my head did not crack open against the door when shoved and shaken against it.

Those are things no one can take away. They are facts, truths, part of this story and a much larger one.

I’m tired of statistics and buzzwords because they don’t do enough. Put a face to a story, to these radically different complicated stories. Do you know how many women have stories like mine? They are not all alike and they are not all shaped like cookie cutters (believe me, I received so many messages in so many forms.)

We are not numbers. It’s easy to dismiss a number, to see a stat on a piece of paper and think: Oh, that is awful. And then go about your day.

Look at our faces. Look us in the eye.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is my face…literally the day after Prom so it’s fitting since this is the day after that post. Look how young I am. Practically a baby.

I heard from so many women, too many women in the past 24 hours with too many awful stories so yesterday I spoke for me and today I am speaking for them because they are afraid, they are broken, they still deal with the consequences of some man’s actions every single day (to varying degrees, of course. I believe in redemption…I think I made that clear yesterday. God has done a powerful work in me but He is still working and I am still healing.)

I loved him.

This person? The one on the other side of the story? I’m sure he has his version too. I’m sure he doesn’t remember a lot of it because most of it was done in the white hot moments of anger. And I’m sure he doesn’t remember the couch because I never called him out. I never said: what you did was not okay. a8a8scdIt’s frightening to realize how much you will accept and explain away when you love someone, even if it is a messy, twisted, love (it’s not just men I struggle to trust; it’s myself too now). I would never have said these things aloud while we were together, not because I was ashamed of them but because I loved him (excluding the couch…there was so much shame there but I could not name the feeling because I loved him and somehow I thought, though high on pain killers and a mouth full of gauze from wisdom teeth removal I should have stopped it.) The shame came after the fog of first love lifted.

I was a baby, fresh faced, and in love. So it wasn’t until we broke up that I told a friend about my head cracking against the door, just off handedly, the way you do once a relationship is over and all the bad is coming back to you as the good sinks away. I said it the same way some other girl might complain: And you know what, he farted all the time! So glad that’s over. And jeez, he chewed with his mouth open!

This friend told me, when it came to the door, quite plainly: that is not okay. She became angry on my behalf, a warrior. At first, it baffled me, this righteous indignation. But I loved him for a long time and it was like coming out of a fog. Though our friendship has ebbed and flowed, she has never stopped being that for me–a warrior. And over time and over years, I shared more with her and each time with more vehemence she declared how exactly not okay those things were until I believed her, until I could see the girl in the prom dress, the girl with the bruised thigh, the girl with the cracked head, the girl on the couch, objectively. There are a handful of others like her. But she was the first–my first warrior.

If you know me in real life, I think you would be shocked to know some of my closest sisters, the closest, could never even say these simple words: I’m sorry he hurt you. Most of them were my Christian friends. To this day, they have never said: that is not okay. They have never taken a stand for me and I have to be okay with that. Because we are Christians and forgiveness and grace and no judgement and–

But what about the girl on the couch?

What do we do for her, Christians?

So now I am publicly proclaiming myself a warrior on behalf of all the women who commented and emailed and texted and Facebook messaged me. I will say: what he did is not okay. I so desperately hope this is not the first time you are hearing this but I will say it again: it is not okay. I will also say:  what happened to you was awful but God is still good. He is the very opposite of that man. Where you lived in constant state of unsafety, He is safety. He is a mender. He takes the ashes of what we have left over and he creates the most vivid pictures. He is a God who can redeem anything. And I know that seems impossible now. And that’s okay. You are not alone, darling girl. I am here with you; I am one of you who lived to tell about it. And now that I finally fought my fear and told, I am going to keep telling until people listen…not for me but until I have no words left and there are no stories left to tell.

I also need to clear something up. I wasn’t a wimp. That is to say, I didn’t date loser guys. I knew what I wanted out of life. I was outspoken. I was assertive. I was well read. If you said to me, before I dated him: someday you will lay on a couch…I would have laughed in your face. I watched less than smart girls all day long (and probably judged them). What happened to me, can happen to any woman. It took me a long time to realize that, to forgive myself. I am still not at the point where I trust myself.

My parents? They are good parents. I tell them everything. I told them everything. I have no filter in general and still they had no idea what was happening, not because I hid this from them but because I thought I had nothing to hide. Because I loved him. I covered for him without knowing it. Yesterday someone commented and noted that when we love someone we sometimes think we have to take the good and the bad, sometimes even the unspeakable.

But I am speaking now.d8e6scd

If it happened to you (and I know so many of you are reading this can say that it did…): I am so sorry he hurt you. I am praying for you. I will be your warrior. I will say the things that others are afraid to say.

Starting with this:

The Church and the body of believers are not doing enough to protect young Christian women and women in general. Here’s a news flash and excuse my bluntness: young christian men need to talk about other things besides how often they masturbated  during discipleship and mentoring time. Yes, sin is sin. But when a young man masturbates, my head isn’t slammed into a door. I’m not laying on a couch, on painkillers, while he does what he wants with my body. When a young man masturbates, I don’t have to go to therapy and live with the consequences of finding other men untrustworthy, of feeling unsafe too often, of going stiff and still the moment someone raises their voice a single decibel.

As another commentator noted, damaged people damage others. Hurt people hurt others. So put the damn (yes, I swore) football down during discipleship time. Get these young men to talk about their feelings and their damage and their hurts because I will not pay for them anymore. And I don’t want my sisters to pay for them either.

So I’m saying it: men who mentor other men, pastors, men in the church, you are not doing enough to protect your sisters, your daughters, young women, older women. You would be shocked at the emails and texts and Facebook messages I received in less than 24 hours. There are too many of us. There are too many women with stories like mine which means there are too many men as antagonists in these stories.

And if you are a father, I don’t think you understand how easily your daughter could grow up to have a story like the one I shared yesterdayBut he read his bible. But he went to church. But we prayed together. But we fought for purity. He is the last one you would consider, an upright guy with his stuff together, a leader, someone dependable, funny, charismatic. Girls fall in love with that guy. Not the guy who rings the doorbell on the first date and punches them in the face. We aren’t idiots. It’s that those guys we fall in love with become someone else entirely.

Evil, the kind of lies a man has to believe in order to treat a woman this way, can take root in any type of soil. Christians are not immune.

This won’t be the last time I write about this because sisters, I am now your warrior. (Although we are going to take a break from such serious topics. Emotionally, I need one.) I was so scared to hit publish yesterday and I still am afraid to step out and be known for this. I don’t use the word victim because that is not who I choose to be and that is not who God made me to be. I will be damned (oops, swore again) if I let some guy take away my freedom in Christ.  And here we are, back to the power of words again. As a writer, I find this fitting. Words possess more power than we can imagine. So do stories. So I am done keeping quiet on this, even though the words may come haltingly, even though I am scared. I am convinced, you have convinced me, my words and my story are necessary.

P.S. Women, keep writing to me in any way, shape, or form you choose. I am here. I will listen. And I promise to write you back. I’m also not here to say that what happened to me or you is the flu and eventually you are over it. It’s not something you get over. For me, God, therapy, and time (in that order) brought me the place at the end of yesterday’s post once I zoomed out. Someday, and there is no timeline or deadline, you will be able to zoom out too.
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Dear Nina in a Prom Dress.

My train passes the park where we gallivanted and took our prom photos. Sometimes I notice it. More than often, I don’t. Today I did.Picture 078 Dear Nina in the Prom Dress,

I wish I could grab you by the hand and stop you, not because tonight will change your life, or because you will do anything drastic, or because you’ll give him more than a goodnight kiss after the festivities, but because you still believe that monsters are in the newspaper or in someone else’s town. Not that long ago, you thought they lived under the bed or in dark closets. You don’t yet know monsters–the kind that can really hurt you, with words and hands and a familiar roughness–live inside skin, just like the kind you wear beneath your prom dress. People like that surely don’t make you laugh or leave butterflies in your stomach.But Nina, I wish I could stop you from falling in love with him, believing that the lightness beneath his skin will over take the dark. You haven’t seen all the dark yet; you have not plumbed its depths. You won’t see it tonight either. But this may be a turning point. I wish I could call you back.Picture 065 But these wishes are like dandelion puffs I blow in the wind, promises unkept, words that when I really consider it, I cannot mean (though I want to). I cannot call you back and I should not. Because some type of powerful story is being written even then and even now. Even if it takes years to believe that others will mark your story as true and even longer to tell all of it.

A year after prom, when your head cracks open, slammed so hard against a door, I cannot do anything about that either. Or worse, what you waited so long to tell a soul: knocked out from your wisdom teeth, lying on the couch, waking to find your clothes in disarray, with a mouth packed full of cotton and a mind muddled with painkillers, though he already started you could not say no wait stop as he continued. He didn’t even give the pretext of a kiss because what did a kiss matter in that moment when he had your body to use? You could only think: I could be a blow up doll right now…I’m not even a person, let alone the girl he loves and thank God (literally) that he didn’t complete the act.

But a part of me has to wish because oh baby, no one should have to cry like that or think like that or lie like that, in the summers when bruises from pinches show.

And I know you loved him. Some people will never understand that. But you did. Even after he left you on that couch and walked out the front door, you loved him and did not think to tell anyone.

Wishes aren’t the same as regrets and God is writing some type of powerful story in you. But like a big sister or a mother, I look at you, so fresh faced and young (though you would never want me to say so at that time) so innocent (another word you wouldn’t want me to use). You think you are so strong, Nina. So tough. And you are. But even that strength of self will fail against pure muscle and raw anger and the love all mixed together, binding you like some horrible kind of magic.

Picture 071
Get out, I want to scream. Just a few short months from the night you hang up your prom dress you will hear that little whisper inside yourself: Get out. Get out. But for the first time in your whole life, you will ignore it because love is a dangerous and powerful thing. And because he is a Christian. Even now, I believe that he is. Why would you hear that whisper if he is a Christian? Your gut, your hardly-ever-wrong gut, must be wrong this time. The thing is, Nina, even Christian men can be dangerous. But I still don’t hear the churches talking about this even though I am hearing more and more the hushed stories of other young women, girlfriends, wives with stories not so different from yours and it is a Christian man on the other side.

Upon those first whispers in your gut, you didn’t know how bad it would or could become. So how can I blame you for not running in the other direction? There was only a feeling, maybe a fleeting warning sign, but nothing so serious. No one knew, most especially not you, what was inside his head and heart, what a boy or maybe a man is capable of doing to a girl or maybe a woman he claims to love. You didn’t know. No one did. And I do believe he loved you.

So you see, it is complicated.

I don’t believe in regrets because our God is bigger than pure muscle and raw anger and that twisted kind of love. Our God writes stories with so many chapters and so many pages that may not make sense in the middle or in the beginning (and baby girl, in your prom dress, you are certainly at the beginning). Our God works all things for good for those who love Him.Picture 051

I do know that silence is medicine for a slow death in situations like this. So I try not to be silent, even though it is hard. I tried to tell those closest to me and they didn’t or couldn’t hear it (with a few exceptions…sadly, the ones who listen are typically the ones who have gone through something similar.) Silence and secrets like these can kill souls, eating away at a person bit by bit. No matter how complicated or difficult, we need to learn a language to tell such stories and we must learn that language in order to listen to these stories.

Still, no one on this entire earth knows the full story or how bad it was or how complicated. Not yet anyway.

People who knew both of you…well some will never believe. And even with those closest, you can’t bear to explain how bad it truly was (not even here). Would they believe you? Some don’t ask for details because the they would have to know and acknowledge it. Those will be the hardest people for you to understand and they will be those closest to you–some family and even your very best friends. Their silence will feel like they are condoning his actions or as if they don’t believe you. For them to simply say: I’m sorry he hurt you would change everything. But who can say what wordlessness truly means? Maybe they are afraid too. And soon, though not yet in that prom dress, you will know what it feels like to be afraid.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And though you are falling in love with him, you love Him more. So as if I am holding a video camera, I zoom out from you in the prom dress smiling up into his face. I zoom out further and watch you cling to Him years later when the breakup happens, when your heart is shattered, even as you realize He, God, rescued you from something much more horrible than anything you endured by the human hands of the someone, the him, you loved but lived in fear of. He saved you from a lifetime of that. Farther and farther out I go.  Farther still. And you only think of him when you happen to glance up at the exact right moment when you see the park where those prom photos were taken. Or maybe when it comes to relationships with other men but you are hopeful this will ease just as the pain has. Do not worry. You get out. You are healing all the time. You are free.

But for now, you are in a beautiful prom dress. Be strong, brave girl.

Love,
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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, Turn & Face the Strange.

To describe the last few months as a whirlwind is not an exaggeration. In fact, whatever word is more intense than whirlwind might be apt. Since the end of April, I: decided to move from SF back to the Chicagoland area, packed, began the interview process for a job in Chicago on Skype, moved (with much help from my mom), dealt with moving disasters (I’m still dealing with them), moved into my dad’s house in the burbs (which he and my stepmom graciously allowed), interviewed downtown for the job a few more times, my things arrived (another whole mess), got job, started commuting (with help from dad and stepmom driving me to the train), started new position, became pretty sick, and signed a lease for an apartment in downtown Chicago on this past Sunday.IMG_7723

preview of the new place

When I put it like that, I become a little sick to my stomach. I can’t take any credit for the fact that I have not gone crazy. It’s all God. I stress. I function in a state of anxiety. But God. I see a pattern of God engineering situations that leave no time for stress or anxiety both times I moved across the country. I can barely catch my breath and I’m so tired that staying up at night worrying over things or waxing nostalgic about all the change is impossible because I’m zonked. I need rest to prepare for the whirlwind of just the next day and so far God has met me. I find myself talking (silently) to him on the train quite often: just today, God. I’ve only got to think about today. Help me with today…to get through and to obey you. Keep my mind here…on the next 12 hours. And we’ll talk about the rest after that. God, just help me put one foot in front of the other for the next 12 hours, metaphorically and literally. (The literally came into play when I was coming back from being sick but still felt awful.)

This is not how I expected things to go. Of course, I wanted to move back. Of course, I wanted a job (and am so thankful for one. The same goes for an apartment.) But I never, ever expected all of these things to happen between April 30 and July 20th. I imagined more time enjoying the little sister I missed so much while in SF and long talks with my mom over the phone (we are still long distance but during change you/I need her more than ever). Instead, I didn’t have buffer time to go on great adventures with my sis; I’ve had to tell Ava I’m too tired to play. Talking to my mom has been hard if not impossible even though I need to talk to my mom, man, when my life is crazy. Catch 22.

Still, I trust God’s plan and even I can see that this is for the best, despite my imaginings and what I thought I needed; I mean, I will make the argument that my imaginings were good things, things I still need to do but I’m not in charge of the way these last three months have rolled over me like a tidal wave. I can’t even use the word overwhelmed because I am not allowing my mind to go there. At least not yet. Maybe never. I still have to move into my apartment next weekend. I can’t think about all the many changes that I’ve lived through in such a short amount of time or what I have left to do (to start my life in Chicago and also just to move the basics into the apartment) because I would go crazy. It’s a bit like when I moved to SF…if I considered all I had to do while starting a new job in a new city, I would have curled up in a ball and cried.

I don’t curl up into balls (although I have my moments).

I will admit I have shed a few tears of anxiousness and stress.

But as my four year old little sister says, “You’ve just got to keep moving forward.” (Seriously, she says this.)

Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. I know this isn’t the end of the world, believe me. It’s all good stuff. I’ve been through much more difficult things in my life. A part of me thinks: oh boo hoo, everything is falling into place for you. But then I think of Frozen, when Anna and Elsa are little and Elsa has to build the hills of snow quicker and quicker until she can’t anymore. Even the fun things, the happy things, can turn difficult if they are squeezed together into about fifty days. So much change. So much to process. No time to do it. (Also Frozen is on my mind because a certain four year old just had a Frozen birthday celebration.)

So I say my prayers on the train and I just keep moving forward and I trust there will come a moment where I can take a deep breath and let out a long sigh and not have to think about the next urgenturgenturgenturgent thing on my list.

P.S. I promise I will tell you about my apartment soon and not just my emotional turmoil. And I hope this does not seem like I am complaining! I’m just trying to absorb all the changes.
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Oops, I did it again/ Two more giveaways.

If you’re thinking: wow, there sure have been a lot of giveaway here lately, you are not wrong. Somehow, this happened in July and hopefully that is all right with you guys. If not, I am very sorry for giving things away. But it ended up working out because unexpectedly, I was sick and then unexpectedly I found an apartment (more on that tomorrow) and am moving much sooner than expected. I keep waiting for things to slow down but they aren’t. I will get my bearings soon.

So here we go. First, the cash giveaway. $235. It speaks for itself, right?

sparkles + lattes | dream big + buy the shoes{the farmer’s wife} | baby ridley bump | saraphrasing life | flowers in my hair | top free mmorpg

eat drink + be mary | rhapsody + chaos | sugar, spice + everything life | lot 48 | treasure tromp

rad maverix | behind the camera + dreaming | KALIWOOD | September FARM | courtney stitches

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Secondly, we’ve got the Influence Group Giveaway. I am so jealous of whoever wins this because someday when I get my bearings and have some extra cash (the idea that those two things may happen at the same time is kind of impossible but what am I going to do about it?) This is the ultimate community/learning environment for bloggers. Some of my fave Jesus loving bloggers are a members and talk about how incredible it is, how they are challenged to dream big and do big, and support one another. I have checked it out and like I said, the lifetime membership sounds like the way to go because of the benefits it comes with.

Oh, and the lifetime membership includes the following: 10 free classes to take anytime Open Forums Weekly Free Resources Discipleship Groups Pursuit Groups One Free Monthly Class Extra Surprises!! So this is seriously the way to go, lifetime members receive their money’s worth times 1,000 in my opinion! You get so much and the investment is well spent! The giveaway will run for one week, and all entries will be verified so play fair! We will email the winner on how to receive your membership upon the closing of the giveaway! 


You guys are the best.
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Sick but confessions.

Written on a train. Still pretty sick but alas. Here we go.

I confess that I listen to a playlist on spotify called summer hits of the 90s while I work and it makes me so happy. How could I forget some of these classics: Eagle eye Cherry’s Save Tonight or Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis? Nine Days’ Story of a Girl???? OMC’s How Bizarre? How could I forget the joy upon the doo doo oh of Mariah’s Always Be My Baby?No Scrubs? NO SCRUBS?? This is the story of a girl….

Speaking of music, I confess that I love bbmak and believe they are highly underrated. spotify just got them and spotify knew I searched for them many moons ago and did me a solid by emailing me the good news.

I confess that while I went without a tv for two years the first show I watched and became invested in is Ladies of London and I have no regrets. Should I? If you said yes, you obviously have not watched it which is a tragedy. I purposely avoided it because I can’t watch the Housewives shows anymore without having anxiety (seriously) and I used to be the biggest fan of them. I did not want to get sucked in by another Bravo franchise but bravo, Bravo.

I confess that I am THE WORST at directions. If you know me in real life, don’t even pretend to hide your snicker. You know supposedly if you are an avalanche you don’t know which way to climb out? I want you to imagine living like this because that is what it like every single day with a brain like mine that refuses to learn directions or how to read a map correctly.

Linking up with Lovely Leslie

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Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 8.05.10 AMI also confess that today is the last day for the anthro raffle!

anthrogiveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

PS You’ll always be my baby doo doo oh doo doo doo oh

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Explanations are in order.

IMG_6360taken at the beginning of summer…how are we two thirds through?

You may have wondered where I wandered off to or perhaps you did not miss me at all (I hope you missed me just wee a bit).

I’ve been sick. I wish I could say there was a much more exotic reason than illness but it was as ordinary as that. And while I usually do have some writing I can pull out of a hat for you/or have something scheduled because I do hate to bail on a commitment of any kind (and that’s one of the many things this blog is–a commitment to you and to myself)…since a hacking cough and high fever kept me from my big girl job, you can imagine that I did not have the energy to even open my computer and type out something for you all until this very moment or even pull something from the archives. By blogging standard’s I must have been feeling quite poorly, no?

Honestly, facing a screen at all while feverish made my already hot eyes water. After the first night of no sleep due to a hacking cough that seemed pointless (After all, shouldn’t there be a point to a cough? To drag something our or loosen something up?), I learned to hold any cough, any rumbling in my throat, as to not set off hours and hours of gasping.

Apparently it’s going around. But I missed you and wanted to pop my head in this morning. Be sure to enter the raffle from Anthro!

Love,

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