Welcome to Midnight.

What a year it’s been y’all. 2016 has been an interesting but equally incredible year. There have been countless tears shed but also countless laughs. I’ve hit rock bottom but I’ve also found redemption. I have learned that the people God has placed in my life are the most beautiful and genuine people in the world.

Like most years, 2016 started out on such a positive note. I walked into the new year with some new friends and the possibilities were endless. Doing life and ministry with the people you love is such an incredible thing. But life quickly took a turn in the opposite direction when I could no longer ignore my depression or anxiety and they both began to get the best of me and almost cost me the very people I love.

And when I was certain that I had lost those people for good, to my surprise they stuck around. They got in the trenches and walked through hell and back with me. It was a hard road. But somehow, we made it.

I rediscovered my heart this year and the song that lives inside it. I have laughed and cried and everything in between. I have lost some people but have gained so much more than I lost.

I’ve learned that there is always beauty to be found in life and it’s usually in people. And I’m so thankful for the people I get to do life with.

In 2016 I will leave behind the mistakes that I made and realize that I’ve been made new in the eyes of the Father. In 2017 I will walk in the freedom that I have and in the hope that this will be an incredible year.

What will you leave behind in 2016 and what do you hope to find in this new year?

The ball will drop in a few hours and with it comes endless possibilities. There will be fireworks and confetti. What will you celebrate? What will you let go of? What will you welcome in?

Heavy and light. It’s a fine line. But one cannot exist without the other.

Welcome to midnight my friends. May you find the beauty that already lives inside you. May you fill the empty pages of this coming year with love and laughter. May you realize that those things have always been there.

Much love to you.

Reclaiming Hope Series: Choosing to Stay

Reclaiming Hope Series: Choosing to Stay

I think in life when we walk through something really difficult, there are several different choices that we can make. We can choose to own it or let it own us. We can choose to run away or we can choose to stay.

And when our first and natural instinct is to run, choosing to stay can prove to be difficult. But it’s in that moment that we choose to stay that we find the most healing and redemption.

For me, my first reaction is to run. I will try with everything in me to push people so far away from me that there’s no possibility that they would ever come back. And then to my surprise, they continue to love me through the really difficult moments and you would think that would make everything better. But it doesn’t. At least, not at first.

Once I start pushing you away, it can be really hard for me to stop. You can sit there and tell me countless times that you aren’t going anywhere and that you’re in my corner, but I still push. It’s not because I don’t want you there. It’s because I’ve convinced myself that you don’t really want to be there so I continue to give you reasons to leave. But there you stay.

And it’s in the middle of those moments where I’m pushing people away that I’ve already given up. And this situation was no different. I stood there with as much of a smile on my face as I could muster through the tears and promised that I would be back. I hugged necks and said that it was only temporary. But in that very moment, I didn’t know if I would be or not.

In that moment I thought that I had broken things with friends past the point of repairing and wondered to myself what even was the point of trying to fix things with them.

I was ready to run. Ready to give the sugar coated answers that I would be back soon, all while knowing that I really didn’t know. Some answer was better than no answer because it bought me some time.

And then it hit me. Or rather God hit me in one of those “shoulda had a V8″ moments. I had a choice to make. I had to choose which way I was going to go: continuing on this path of self destruction that I’d found myself on or the path of a victorious comeback. I couldn’t have both.

So I made a choice.

My choice is to stay. To fight for my story. To own my story, even the really difficult parts of it. To rebuild what was broken. To walk in my calling. To live my faith by loving relentlessly.

Choosing all of this is hard. Rebuilding things is hard. But struggle produces growth. And I’m lucky that I don’t have to do any of that alone.

It doesn’t matter how many times we fall. What matters is that we choose to stand back up again. And I’m choosing to stand and choosing to stay.

I know the calling that God has placed on my heart. I also know that I’m so incredibly stubborn and try to insist that I can do it all on my own. I’m thankful for a Father that is much more stubborn and friends that keep me in check.

Living a life of transparency is difficult. But it’s so beautiful.

Won’t you join me?

WSPD15

Every 13 minutes in the US, a life is lost to suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24.
Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide, with almost 2/3 of people never seeking proper treatment.

These statistics scream the biggest lie that’s ever been told. The lie that depression and suicide are things that we can’t talk about. That we should continue to suffer in silence because there’s no possible way anyone could understand what we’re going through.

Today I hope to change that. I hope that by starting honest conversations, that others will have the courage to follow suit. I believe in a world where suicide is no longer an option.

This is a world that should have been available for my friend Christine and her son Marc, but sadly were not.

I met Christine through Project Semicolon and have been working with her and her church for the past couple of months writing a bible study curriculum for them. She too believes in a world where suicide is no longer an option for those who struggle with depression and addiction. Tragically, her son’s life was cut short by his own hands this past weekend and now more than ever, she is determined to fight for those like her son who struggle with depression and addiction to find the courage and the help they so desperately need and deserve.

But what about when you lose your way and you don’t know where to turn to?

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the almost ten years that I’ve struggled with depression it’s that it can sometimes be really easy to lose your way. To forget the things that you know are true about you and believe the lies that your depression and the enemy feed you.

To be spun around so many times that you forget which way is up. But it’s in those moments that the core of who I am is dependent on remembering why my story is so valuable and so irreplaceable.

No matter how heavy life may feel, there is something out there that is more powerful and more constant than our struggles could ever be. Hope.

Your struggles matter because you are a walking, breathing, living story of hope.

As for me?

My story is one that has been continuously changing over the last ten years. Depression has become a word that I am ever so familiar with. It explains why I’ve felt the way I have, but it in no way defines me. Self-harm is something that I thought would consume my life forever. But 953 days ago, I made the decision to live a life of recovery because I’m worth the fight. Suicide
is something that twice has tried to be my final chapter. And I thank God every day for the people that he placed in my life for each of those moments.

I am a story that could’ve ended but didn’t. I am a story of recovery and redemption. Our stories may be different, but they all deserve the new beginning that hope promises.

The reason that I fight for people to continue their stories is because I know all too well what it’s like to not have anyone that will stand in the gap for me. And it’s also because I believe that through my story, through my brokenness, that people can find hope in their own stories. That they can find the redemption that we all long to have.

There are still days when darkness wins – days when I allow every lie that the enemy feeds me to become my supreme truth.

There are days where my past rears its ugly head and I question every positive step I’ve taken in the past three years. These are the days when I am so thankful to have the arms of friends to hold me up and the love of Jesus shining through them to guide me back.

The beauty and the peace that I’ve found from letting people into my story has been the best thing I’ve ever done in my journey of recovery. Having people in my life that genuinely love me and loving them in return has done more for me than I think they or myself will ever know.

If there is still breath in the lungs that God gave you, your story is far from being over. And because of that, you owe it to yourself to continue to fight for your story.

There will be days where that seems impossible to do. But you aren’t alone. But you have people that will fight with you and for you on the days that you can’t fight for yourself.

We were never meant to do life alone. We were created for community. You never know who is
watching you and wondering how you manage to stay hopeful despite the battles you face.

Whether your battle comes in the form of depression like mine has or something entirely different, I’m going to ask that you realize the importance and the value of your story. That you would continue it. That you would realize that you are surrounded by people who love you and a Savior waiting to give you the redemption that you so desperately want.

I pray that whatever you are struggling with today that you find the freedom that is found in transparency, but more importantly, that you find the freedom that is found in Jesus. That you would lay these down at his feet because you were never meant to carry these things.

You are more than these moments. You are not your struggle. I am not my depression. I am not the scars left behind from years of self-harm. I am not my two suicide attempts. I am the daughter of the King. I am a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things. I am a story that is far from being finished. And my ultimate prayers is that you would begin to believe those words for yourself.

You are beautiful. You are set apart. You are worth it. You are loved. Your story is still being written.

Six Words: Revised

Those of you that have followed this blog for any length of time, may recall a blog that I wrote last summer called Six Words about my last suicide attempt and the subsequent conversation that I would later have with Murr in the days following. That attempt was one year ago today and it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was so close to ending my life. Looking back on this past year and the incredible people that have become such a big part of my life, I am constantly amazed at God’s faithfulness.

So today I wanted to revise my blog from last year and share the six words that are now my daily reminder.

He’s not finished with me yet.

Those six words sit in my chest in the same way my heart does; beating rhythmically. Slow and steady at times. Pounding at others. But essential to my very being.

I remember everything about that night. Every detail and every tear that I cried.
I didn’t want to do it. God knows I didn’t want to do it.
But it had become impossible for me to see anything else.
So God made sure that others knew, whether I wanted them to or not.

I am not alone in this.

Those words were spoken over me last summer and it took so long for me to take ownership of them.
It was easy to hear people speak them to me, but something else entirely to own them.

Most of the time I wouldn’t open up to someone unless they asked me first.
Now the moment I feel uneasy or feel those thoughts and struggles coming back to me, I pick up the phone and text those closest to me.
The ones that I know can handle these moments and are willing to handle those moments with me.
The ones that have willingly come alongside me and made my journey a part of theirs.
The ones that have seen the really ugly and really broken parts of me and have held me and helped put me back together.

Those are the people that have become family to me. And my chosen family is one that I will eternally cherish.

My story is far from finished.

Last summer I could barely even speak those words, let alone own them.

But every broken piece, every scar, and every tear that I have cried have not only been picked up by my Creator, but picked up by myself.
I have allowed myself to grieve over the losses I have experienced.
I have allowed myself to become transparent and vulnerable.
I have allowed myself to feel these things and to pick them back up and willingly hand them over to my Father.

This is a story that at one point I didn’t know if there would be future chapters written for. A story that I thought I so desperately wanted to end last summer. But this is also a story that I learned to fight for and it’s a story that I am still fighting for.

To every person that has helped write this story on the days that I couldn’t, I don’t think you will ever know how much you mean to me and how much it has meant to me that you have taken the time to be such an important part of my life.

This story is still being written, but the words have gotten lighter. There are still days that they are heavy. But there is a beautiful balance between heavy and light. And those are the days I’m most thankful for.

Grace Wins.

When you think back on moments of your life that were difficult to navigate, you rarely think fondly of them. You tend to remember how messy they were and how you vowed to never go through something like that ever again. Little things, like songs, can instantly take you back to that moment and leave you scratching your head. And the doubt begins to creep back in. You instantly remember every mistake you have made and the bad memories that led you there.

But there’s good news. The story doesn’t stop there. And here’s why:

Grace wins.

His grace has already overcome those things from your past and the things yet to come. It’s in our weakness that His strength is made known.

He’s got this covered friends!

Now, please don’t misunderstand me and think that this means you won’t ever struggle again, because you will. The good news is in the fact that you will never struggle alone again.

That’s the beauty of grace.

It doesn’t remove the struggle. But it does remove the aloneness of the struggle.

Your story, like you, is so incredibly beautiful. And it is far from being finished.

Rest in the fact that you are never alone in this. That this has already been covered.

You are worth the fight.

Guest Post: Getting Lost.

Today you guys are in for a special treat.

On top of having my first ever guest post, this one is coming from someone near and dear to my heart.
This girl means the world to me and I am so proud of the woman she is becoming.

It’s hard when you lose yourself. It’s even harder finding yourself again.
I’m so thankful for God’s grace. And I know Jess is too.

If you want to keep up with her, you can check out her blog over at capnjessss.wordpress.com

Getting Lost.

Have you ever lost yourself? I don’t mean when your mom lets go of your hand in Walmart and you wandered off kind of lost. I mean when you listen to a song, or are reading a book, or playing an instrument. I’m talking about the kind of getting lost where you find yourself, or a part of you, that you never knew was there. In those moments you realize just how precious life is. Those moments in life are something to cherish. You can find yourself in those moments, find out things about you that you never knew you had.

But also, those moments that you cherish the most, scare you the most. I know the first time that I lost myself in music or a book I was terrified because, losing myself in a song was a wake up call of me. It had shown me where I was, were I had been, and where I could be in life. I had seen where I use to be: happy, funny, full of life. I saw where I was: falling into depression, unhappy with myself, and slowing getting out of God’s reach. But then I could see where I was going: getting happy again, funny, full of life, and ready to take the world on with a new attitude. The song that pulled me out of my darkest time in my life was “Through All Of It” by Colton Dixon. I’m grateful to be going back to were I was. Its been a journey but Ive come a long way. Next time you have a bad day, lose yourself in a song, a book, or the sound of the rain.

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.