The Hope Buckets

I struggle with wanting to be real and wanting to be healed. And, I realize the two go hand in hand. Yet, I shy away at times with being raw and revealing a tattered version of myself because in those moments of transparency and vulnerability – I am broken.

Today I was a contributing writer at Strong and Courageous Women Magazine. Below is a snippet of the “The Hope Buckets” – I hope you enjoy.

I struggle with wanting to be real and wanting to be healed. And, I realize the two go hand in hand. Yet, I shy away at times with being raw and revealing a tattered version of myself because in those moments of transparency and vulnerability – I am broken. I am not whole, and I am most definitely not healed. We do not stay there though, it is a moment in time revealing the road leading up to a certain point, not the end of the road.

The enemy wants us to see the road as a dead end. He wants us to give up and remain broken. The goal is for us to not trust, to question the intentions of those around us and to halt any progress we may be making. Those are the days we stay in bed, the days we listen to the lies and mimic an unhealthy and sometimes jealous self-talk. We tell ourselves we are not good enough, that God may have forgiven me but no one else has. Everyone is keeping tabs on my mistakes. I will never be good enough and I will always be judged.

Read more at Strong and Courageous Women Magazine.

Clean Slate.

I used to wish I could expunge my past like you can a criminal record. I could erase every mistake, every humiliation and every thing negative about my life. A clean slate.

I used to wish I could expunge my past like you can a criminal record. I could erase every mistake, every humiliation and every thing negative about my life. A clean slate.

At my previous job I did expungements. And I loved it. It felt like each record being erased was a gift of a fresh start, new hope and freedom. We all deserve freedom from an unpleasant and embarrassing past.

But erasing your past doesn’t erase what really happened and it definitely doesn’t erase those people who refuse to let your past go, does it?

The ones who keep a record of every fault and failure. The ones who keep a tab on your life to somehow boost theirs. Aiding in diminishing their internal hurt temporarily while increasing yours.

Oh how I know these people exist! They will always exist. But their power doesn’t have to. You weaken that power every time you remind yourself of these things:

FIRST: Those mistakes broke you down and built you back up stronger, better and wiser my friend!

If you’re like me the broken part led you to God – who forgave you the second you asked. Erasing all record of sins, iniquities & transgressions. And, restored a clean and new heart. Psalms 51:1( all of it!)

SECOND: If you had never failed you would be sooo boring and blah. No one wants that. 😂 Failures bring life, stories, lessons and experience turns into a beautiful gift of insight. And, humility. We need that.

THIRD: You’re not them. You’re healing yourself instead of hurting others. That’s brave! That’s bad-ass.

FOURTH: You’re learning and living in forgiveness. Both for yourself and others. And, learning to accept God’s.

FIFTH: You are NOT here to please man. You’re here to please God.

And, SIXTH: What other people think of us is none of our business. Their judgment matters none. There is only one Judge and he loves you completely.

Your record is clean and clear with me. Always ♥️

You deserve to heal.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes and works all things for the good of those who love him. You see, God was with her that awful day 23 years ago. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes pleading for him to take her life for the life she took, and for his forgiveness, he had answered her prayer.

The truthful story of a young girls’ abortion and how God’s grace restored her faith.

Abortion is not a topic people like to talk about aside from an easily forwarded meme or a hashtag. Many tweet their support or opposition much like the trending #youknowme , #shoutyourabortion #abortionishealthcare and #abortionismurder , #lovethemboth and #unplanned. Your friends are most likely divided as well and some like myself may have been torn on how they felt and throughout the years changed their minds. I’m sharing her story because we need to talk about the things no one talks about. We need to include the unknown, the uninformed and what really happens behind closed doors, inside broken homes and what can lead to, occurs during and follows an abortion.

She’s sitting there in a paper gown staring down at her feet praying harder than she’s ever prayed before, asking God to please not let her be pregnant. Pleading her case with him that she can’t be pregnant. She is too young, she is unprepared, her home-life is broken, she’s financially unstable, alone and scared. She only had sex one time, this can’t be happening. There is no possible way she can raise a child on her own when she is a child herself. As the door opens and her eyes meet the doctors eyes, she knows the result before he opens his mouth; she’s pregnant.

The nurse comes in, she is gentle, supportive and kind. The nurse consoles her, hands her a tissue and tells her she is going to be okay. Though unplanned this is not unmanageable, she has options: Abortion, Adoption, Abortion, Being a mother, or Abortion. She’s not very far along, approximately 4-6 weeks, there is no heartbeat yet, just a clump of cells – abortion is an option. And, she can have one tomorrow. She isn’t given tools for coping with the news of her pregnancy, she isn’t given time to discuss options, research options, and she isn’t offered support in becoming a mother.

This girl; she is more common than you realize. She is your sister, your mother, your wife or girlfriend. She is the lady beside you at church that cries every Sunday. She is your grandmother, your teacher, your coach, your therapist, your doctor; or maybe she is you. And, she is just as loved by God as you are. We don’t know her backstory, we don’t know what led her to a choice we may not choose or understand, and very few understand the torment that consumes her life after she realizes what she’s done.

The girl I knew was only sixteen when she found out she was pregnant. She had only had sex the one time. She was a good teenager for the most part, went to church every Sunday, stayed away from drugs and trouble. She had an unhealthy home-life which was littered with abandonment and loss, so she found “love” in relationships. She thought he would love her if she gave herself to him, but she’d find out eventually she was wrong.

When she found out she was pregnant, she was terrified. It was as if she was gifted an impossibility. She was handed something that she could never really have, and none of what she wanted even mattered, because her hand was forced. Her boyfriend wanted her to have the abortion, her father would have done worse, so her desires never entered her mind or heart. Her fear cancelled out any clarity or possibility of love, her shame cancelled out the desire for help, care or concern, and their control erased her options of breaking the unhealthy cycle of the life she was born into.

The day after she found out she was pregnant, with the help of a kind nurse and request of her boyfriend, she had an abortion. Just like that, quickly and easily accessible. A child, without parental consent or knowledge, any proper counseling, had an abortion. She was simply carrying a child who was viewed by others as a problem that their solution could solve. Her boyfriend wanted rid of any responsibility and eventually would leave her as well, once the “problem” was solved.

It would be six years later that she would find herself in a similar paper gown, this time with her husband and the hope of being pregnant. The doctor came in confirming the good news, and performed an ultrasound. This was the first time she had viewed a baby on an ultrasound. She saw a fluttering and asked what that was, and he told her it was the baby’s heart beating. She asked how far along she was and he said about 6 or 7 weeks. And, she cried. Not tears of the love to come, the joy of being pregnant but tears of regret, failure and disappointment. She suffered a loss in that moment realizing the supportive nurse from before wasn’t as honest and helpful as she had thought. And, she felt undeserving of this child too.

She revisited that day six years ago; which consisted of mere moments scattered like chaos. She remembered the emptiness. She looked back down at her feet just as she did at sixteen and remembered leaving that clinic feeling like a worthless woman. She remembered the steps from the exam room to the front door of the doctors office being heavy and long, that the hallway stretched like looking through a funny mirror and one step closer felt like 300 steps back.

She remembers that the exam room table chilled her body. That the air held a smutty dampness that was thick enough to choke you yet invisible; deceiving you into trying. That it held an ominous feeling of emptiness and an overabundance of death. She remembers the tears running like she wanted to. Running and hiding behind anything and anyone to save her. But, she had no one.  And, no one would understand or feel sorry for her.

The cramping and immense pain that started as mild discomfort gradually became the type of pain only a monster deserved to endure. It was a hell she deserved. The silence that accompanied the pain was broken by the sound of a machine being switched on. A low hum of suctioning, sounding strangely familiar to the sound she had just heard today of her baby’s heartbeat; except that this machine had silenced it.

She’s unable to recall arriving or leaving the doctor’s office that day. No idea of how she got home, how she cared for herself following the procedure or any other detail of that day. All she remembers is that outside
of that room she was an empty shell of existence and was never the same again. There wasn’t just the painful awareness and absence of what had been growing in her belly the past few weeks, but also the realization that every ounce of her soul was extracted and held captive in the same container that held her baby.

She had often wondered if the women who came before and followed after were as uniformed, frightened and tearful as she was on that day. Were they alone and there because they felt like they had no other choice? Did they feel as though God didn’t love them and that he would never forgive them? Do the tears ever revisit them, weighted with the same shame and despair as hers? Did their lives get lost without healing, did they slip into addiction, self harm, sexual or physical abuse, or did they possibly attempt suicide like she had.

She recalls being disgusted with herself the days and weeks following her abortion, even her own reflection was too much to bear. Even though the nurse told her it wasn’t a baby, she felt like it was and she felt as though she suffered a loss. A loss that others would say she had no right to suffer or grieve, thus going without any healing. And, today six years later she realized she was right, that the clump of cells was a baby, it had at the very least a heart forming and depending on how far along she really was, possibly beating.

After the abortion, she was tormented every minute by the memory of what she did, how she wasn’t strong enough to keep her baby. She knew she had let her baby, herself and God down. She wasn’t worthy of the breath she breathed, she was worthless, tainted and unlovable. She was desperate to escape her hell and trade it in for whatever hell God had planned for her. Surely she deserved it. She wrote her goodbyes, swallowed handfuls of pills and with an odd sense of calm and peace, she closed her eyes praying that they never open again.

But just as she had prayed weeks ago that she not be pregnant, God too left this prayer unanswered, or so she thought. He did not take her that night twenty-three years ago, instead he opened her eyes once again to a life she was meant to live. A life that carried consequences, pain, and anger – but ultimately filled with love, compassion, growth and understanding. She was given another chance to break the unhealthy cycle she was in, to toss away the crutch of false security and stability she leaned on, and to stand firm on her own foundation of faith, restoration and love.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes (Isaiah 61:3, NIV) and works all things for the good of those who love and follow him (Romans 8:28, NIV). On that awful day 23 years ago, God was with her. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her, because she had never stopped believing in or loving him. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes praying for him to forgive her and take her life, he actually had. It wouldn’t be until six years later that she would realize that.

Failure can serve a beautiful purpose if we let it and that is why you often hear that God uses broken people to share his grace and glory. Today, I am that broken person. This girl from so many years ago, was me. And, this is my story, my truth and my testimony.

When the doctor laid my daughter on my chest six years later, and her cries were comforted by my heartbeat, I knew. It was then that I realized God have given me a new life, he had forgiven me and he showed me an endless amount of the loving grace he is. My cries were comforted by her heartbeat as well, and I named her Gracie. She saved my life in ways only God knows as that was his plan all along. She gave me purpose until I could find my own, she taught me unconditional love as I was learning to love myself and she reminded me that each child is a gift from God, perfectly planned in his image.

It took twenty-three years to heal from this and I still grieve both the act and the loss. If my sharing this either deters you or helps you understand you deserve to grieve, to heal and to be loved, then I will boast of the things that show my weakness, (1 Cor. 11:30 NIV). If you think you’re too far gone, or God’s too far away, simply say his name and know he is already there, (Isaiah 30:18, NIV).

Ditch the Shame.

I dare you to be honest with someone who hurt you, who let you down or disappointed you. I dare you to be vulnerable, to be strong and to be brave.You are strong enough. You are smart enough.



So many people are stuck in this “show” life. They are always “on”, they always have it figured out and they are always “fine.” They are the quiet, strong type, but to me, strong is not quiet. Strong is loud. Strong is honest. Strength is raw and original. We are failing by setting the example or standard that silence is a sign of strength.

We need to get to a point where people quit hiding, where they quit trying to appear perfect and are okay wearing their heart on their sleeves, and their minds on their lips – to be vulnerable and invest in the people they want a return investment from.

Why should you always be the one to call, to text, to check in, why should you invest in someone who does not see the same value in you? We want that deep down non-judgmental connection, a real and honest friend, and that takes vulnerability and openness. Unfortunately, not many people are willing to be or do that. I think most people mean well but they waiver in making it a conscious decision and choice.

The saddest part is that we see you, as you are, not as you pretend to be. Your hiding translates as distrust, dishonesty, misrepresentation and a low level of value and worth to us as your friend. You’re inability and unwillingness to reach out, to lay yourself bare, freeing yourself of judgment and any worry of shame is not only holding you back, it’s impeding every one of your relationships.

No one wants to be friends with someone who pretends to have it all figured out. We all know that no one has it all figured out, so who are you trying to fool anyway?

Real. Honest. Open. That’s we want. We want your good days and bad days, not your false cover up stories and forced smiles. We want your tough days full of struggle and barely surviving, not your self proclaimed smooth sailing over calm waters.

Tell me the moment that built you. The exact moment you had nothing left to hide, where you had no choice but to ditch the shame that had suffocated you up to that point. Tell me the exact second you looked up from your lowest point, and felt the most unloved and unworthy, and let me love you anyway. Let someone love you because of that defining moment. That’s brave. That’s beautiful. That’s you.

We want to talk about your gains and losses, your failures, your heart break and how you fell flat on your face. Not how tough you are about hiding your failures, or how you have no fears and don’t need any help.

Life is rough. On those particularly rough days, life makes no sense. It is meant to be that way in order to mold us, develop us, process us and force us to grow. We need that. We can’t hide behind fear forever. The smile behind the tears will fade and lessen at some point. How can we expect to move mountains when our shoulders are formed by false strength?

It takes strength to say phrases like: “I’m not okay. I’m scared. I’m sad. I don’t have it figured out. I hurt. You hurt me. I’m disappointed in myself, or in you.” Be Strong.

It takes courage to say, “I messed up, I’m sorry. I don’t know how I feel or what I want.” It’s hard to say “I need you.” Be Brave.

I would much rather hear “you know what, I have had a horrible day and I’m gonna go home and take a bubble bath, or I’m gonna call my best friend or I’m gonna enjoy a glass of wine and try again tomorrow.” I’d rather hear that than “I’m fine” and knowing that you’re going to go home and cry alone and not process or release any of what’s bothering you in any type of a healthy environment.

We as human beings need interaction we need to be heard and to feel validated and vindicated and appreciated. We need love, it’s what feeds our souls. Why would you purposely want to deprive yourself of what we all need as individuals to grow and be happy?

Being positive doesn’t mean pretending everything is great. It means acknowledging that it isn’t, appreciating the lesson and knowing circumstances will improve. Don’t believe that sharing failure is a sign of weakness, because those afraid to fail are among the weakest. If your idea of acceptance is gained by pretending your life is perfect, you’ll have an endless battle with yourself. Only fools can look in the mirror and argue with the secrets staring back at them.

With all this said, I dare you. I dare you to have courage. I dare you to dust off and pull out that skeleton in your closet and share it. I dare you to admit a mistake, to share your past and tell someone you’re not perfect. I dare you to not fear shame, because once you release it to someone who accepts it, shame can no longer exist. I dare you to call someone and say, I need help, I’m not okay and I need to talk. I dare you to be honest with someone who hurt you, who let you down or disappointed you. I dare you to be vulnerable, to be strong and to be brave.

You are strong enough. You are smart enough. You are deserving and so greatly loved enough. I dare you to love yourself enough to be loved as a whole, all the tiny imperfect pieces that created you.