120 Days.

120 days have come and gone since that hopeless afternoon.
An afternoon that was filled with so much uncertainty. So much pain. So much brokenness.

I sat in my backyard ready to finish my story.
No more pages would be written.
No revisions.
No plot twists.

But here I sit, four months later and I’ve never felt better.
I’m still healing.
I’m still growing.
And sometimes it hurts.
But I am still here to feel that pain.
Still here to feel that joy.

In a week, it will be six months since I said goodbye to my mom.
Six months since my life drastically changed.

There have been plenty of lows.
But so many more redeeming moments.

Soon I will be closing my 25th year of life and ushering in 26.
I’m so ready to leave 25 behind.

So here’s to you 25.
You kicked my butt in more ways than one.
You tried to leave me broken multiple times and I tried to make sure you weren’t completed.
May 26 be kinder to me than you were.

This story is far from being finished.
If you find yourself written in the pages, know that I could never thank you enough.

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Being Mama Peach.

Mama Peach.
That’s one of many titles I wear around Refuge, but it is most certainly my favorite one.
There is nothing I love more than my little peach farm that I refer to as my baby peaches.

This group of eight or so students have found themselves attached to my hip.
I’m the one that they’ve connected with.
Mind you, more than just my peaches call me Mama Peach, and there are plenty of other students that I have connected with, but this smaller group is so special to me.

It’s no easy task, title or not, being a spiritual role model to students.
It’s definitely one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
And trust me, I don’t.

Many of them are broken kids looking for love and acceptance.
They come from broken homes.
They have broken pasts.
They desperately want redemption and renewal.
They want someone that won’t join the list of people that have given up on them.

I never want to be just another person that’s given up on them.

Is it hard sometimes?
Oh absolutely.
Most of the time actually.
But they make it so worth it.

Their brokenness matters.
Their pain matters.
It matters because they matter.

If I never utter another word to them, I want them to know how much they are loved.
That they are more than these moments.
That their mistakes don’t define them.

They are world changers.
They are the music makers.
They are the dreamers of dreams.

And I am infinitely blessed that God chose someone like me to dream dreams with them.

Being Mama Peach isn’t easy.
But it’s the best nickname I’ve ever been given.

CSM Recap.

Last Wednesday, I had the honor to share my story with the incredible kids at Sallisaw First A/G.
This was the first time that I had spoken to a group that I wasn’t as familiar with. I knew a handful of students through 20 Camp, but for the most part this was a completely new audience. Even for the ones that I did know, most of them had never heard my story before.
Two years ago if someone would have asked me to share my story, their question alone would have sent me into a frenzy of panic and anxiety. But a lot has changed in these past two years.

I wasn’t nervous.
I was actually almost giddy on the inside.
I knew that the words God had given me to share that night in conjunction with my story were meant for someone.

The night kicked off and I was in a side room off the stage until it was my turn to speak.
The sermon that night included video clips following my character as she dealt with her haunting.
The final clip showed her overcoming her haunting, proclaiming that she didn’t deserve the pain she had been putting herself through and victoriously walking out of the room she had been trapped in.

These kids were genuinely excited that I had overcome in this video.
I was equally excited to be sharing how I overcame.

I asked them a very simple question, the same question I asked our students at Refuge: What will you do with your pain?

I think that’s a valid question for all of us. What will we do with our pain?
Will we let it keep us from pursuing the greatness we’ve been called for?
Or will we use it as a springboard to reach those great places?

I’m choosing to use it as a springboard.

I don’t take this calling lightly. I have a heavy story to share and hear equally heavy stories in response.
I had the honor of talking with a student after service on Wednesday about things going on in her life. I had never met her before that night. She opened up to me about things that she had never told anyone before.
What a beautiful gift to have received.

Life wasn’t meant to be walked alone.
Our struggles certainly weren’t made for that either.

Whatever it is that you find yourself going through, know that you don’t go through it alone.
Know that these moments are just as important as any other in your life.
They are important because you are important.
They matter because you matter.

Life won’t always be so heavy.
But you have to be here to see that.

No one should suffer in silence.
Silent suffering is why we have lost so many precious souls.
Let’s not lose anymore.

If you feel too much, reach out.
You were made to know and be known. To love and be loved.

I see you.
I know you.
I love you.
You aren’t alone.

He sees you.
He knows you.
He loves you.
He is with you.

If you’re feeling too much, take my hand.
I’ll walk this road with you.

CSM Preview.

This Wednesday I have the privilege of sharing my story with the wonderful kids down at Sallisaw First A/G.
To say that I’m excited would be an understatement.
To say that I’m nervous would also be an understatement.

While sharing my story has gotten easier, it comes with great responsibility, and it’s one I don’t take lightly.
These are real issues.
Heavy issues.
Life altering issues.
And knowing that when I share what I’ve been through, I’ll be speaking directly to students that are actively there.

While I know that there will be heavy conversations that stem from my words, I couldn’t be more grateful that they will be happening.
People don’t know how to talk about these things because people don’t like to talk about them.
This has to change.
Silence won’t bring freedom.
People need other people and they need to know that there are safe places to have these conversations.

Depression is real.
Self harm is real.
Suicide is real.

These are things that are affecting this generation.
These are things this generation thinks that they have to face alone.

Hear me when I say this: You don’t have to face this alone.
You are not alone in your struggles.
They matter.
You matter.
I pray that you remember that.

That’s my ultimate goal with Wednesday.
That even long after I return home, that these conversations will continue to take place and students will begin to experience freedom from these things.

So if you think about it this week, please be in prayer not only for me, but for the students and the leaders at CSM.
These words aren’t always easy to share and I know for some, they won’t be easy to hear.

God is doing big things through this generation and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

Closing in on Two Years.

I guess it’s no coincidence that people always say, “Time flies when you’re having fun”.
Next week will mark two years since my life took a drastic change for the better when I walked through those doors into a giant purple theater.
And while I won’t get to spend that Wednesday night with the people that changed my life the most, I will be spending it with very special people that I met as a result of that night.
But more on that in a later post.

It’s funny to think about all the changes I’ve gone through and experiences I’ve had in these two years, good and bad.
I’ve made life long friends.
I’ve had incredible travel opportunities with an incredible organization.
I’ve checked things off my bucket list.
Heck, I made a bucket list.
But I’ve also had my fair share of not so good.
Stepping down temporarily as an intern.
Two major relapses.
Losing my mom.
A suicide attempt.

But I know that I wouldn’t have made it through those days if it weren’t for me walking through those doors the first time.

Every student, every intern, every person that I have come to love within the walls of that church have changed me forever.

They have become such a vital part of this story. And they’ve done so willingly. They’ve seen the ugliness of self harm and attempted suicide, and they stayed.
Even when I didn’t want them to, they stayed anyways.

Leaving the church I was raised in for twenty years of my life wasn’t easy.
Opening up to people that I didn’t know that well, or have near the history with, about my past with self harm definitely wasn’t easy.

And while not every part of this journey the past two years has been pretty or easy, they have made me who I am.
They have filled up many pages in my story.
They have helped me find my voice for my story.
They have helped me share my story.

This Wednesday will be two years since God radically began changing my life.
It will also mark nine years since this cycle of depression and self harm first became a part of my life.
And this Wednesday I get to share that story with the lovely students at Catalyst Student Ministries in Sallisaw.

My story hasn’t always been an easy one to write or share with you all, but it is far from over and has the best cast of supporting characters imaginable.

To every person that has had an impact on me in these two years, thank you.
Thank you for your love and your support.
Thank you for loving me at my lowest.
Thank you for constantly encouraging me.
I am forever changed by you.
And you will forever be a part of my story.