• A letter to 36

    Dear 36,

    I don’t really know what to say to you.

    As I look back through memories and pictures and words I’ve already written I’m trying to find kind things to say that aren’t seen through a filter of just trying to see the good in a situation.

    About 7 weeks after I turned 36 I got to hug my mom for what I knew in my bones would be the last time.

    Soon after that I made a decision out of necessity for my incredibly burned out self that I needed to quit the job I’d been at for a little over 6 years.

    About 5 weeks after I started that new job; my mom died.

    Now, I can say something about you 36; you set me up to make some choices before I needed to make them.

    You pushed me to make some hard decisions I didn’t want to make.

    You allowed me to make space before I knew I needed it.

    In my letter to 35 I wrote these words

    “thirty-five feels like the end of the chapter that leads into an entirely different part of the story”.

    And 36 has indeed been an entirely different part of the story.

    But to me 36 feels like one of those montages of a movie where life is just happening and you aren’t quite sure what to do.

    And then then main character opens the door and gets blinded by the sun and the fact that it’s spring again after what felt like too long of a winter.

    36 has felt like winter.

    I don’t know if I can say I’m grateful for it.

    I’m grateful for the people in my life who have showed up for me in the most beautiful, kind and loving ways and to those humans there is no way I’ll ever be able to repay you for the love and support you’ve given me.

    I’m grateful for the bright spurts of joy; like trips with friends, performing on the Lincoln stage for the first time, family shot Friday and the hilariously wonderful humans I work with.

    But I can very easily say that I’m ready for a new year of life.

    I’m ready for winter to be over.

    I’m ready to open the door and be blinded a little bit by the sunshine.

    I’m ready for you 37.

    Please, be kind.

    With love,


  • Nice is different than good

    Nice is different than good

    I’ve realized that lately I’ve gotten really bothered when people give a situation more credit than it is meant to have.

    I’m a words person (obviously) and I believe in the power of assigning meaning to something that doesn’t merit that meaning.

    Like chaos. I used to have an assistant in my classroom years ago who would say every moment of every day was chaotic. I finally stopped them and reminded them they needed to change their meaning of chaos or a simple transition gone slightly awry was going to wreck them.

    I also realize I have a high capacity for stress (which I understand is not always a beneficial thing) but it’s also helped me realize that frustrating does not equal hard or rough.

    I think in the last few years I’ve worked at trying to describe things in such a way that I can understand them.

    Giving a blanket statement to something and assigning it a word that has no descriptors isn’t helpful.

    (As an example one of my PET PEEVES in working with children is the use of the word “nice”. It means nothing to a a child. Telling a three year old to “be nice” tells them nothing what you want their actions to do.)

    When I started pondering these words this morning I had a Sondheim lyric in my head “Nice is different than good”.

    A frustrating situation is different than a hard situation.

    A stress-filled situation is different than a stressful situation.

    Choosing to start to understand what in the situation is actually hindering us instead of just giving a blanket statement and walking away.

    It’s work that feels hard.

    (And work that feels hard is different than work that feels bad).

    I’ve come to a realization that will not be brand new information to anyone that knows me well: but I’ve allowed my capacities for stress and hard work and chaos get so big they very rarely phase me.

    And when they do it’s probably already too late.

    So, right now, I’m trying to pull my bubble back.

    I’m trying to redefine what all those words look like and I’m trying to reframe how I see them for myself.

    It’s lot of work and it will involve boundary setting and it will be hard and also good.

    (See what I did there?)

    So if you needed a reminder that you are allowed to change sometime at almost 37 that you’ve operated in most of your life you are absolutely 100% allowed too.

    Deep breathes to your toes 💛

    With love,


  • The shame of falling apart

    I don’t remember when I told him this but at some point I told my pastor, that my room was a direct reflection of my mental health. And it’s something he remembers and every now and then will ask me how my room is- asking me how I’m doing in a different way.

    My room has been in disarray since August.

    August was when I came back from first surprising my parents in Kingsburg (I left with a sense of foreboding that it would be the last time I saw my mom alive) and then had been in Hawaii for a friend’s wedding for about a week.

    I was emotionally drained and on the edge of absolute physical shutdown. It was during that week in Hawaii that I realized I had to quit my job, I needed to make the leap, move on and try to breathe again.

    I needed to try to find myself in what felt like the chaos I created.

    I’ve talked about this before, but I started to breathe again.

    I emptied my closet out to go through it, I was beginning to piece by piece put myself back together.

    Then my mom died and the chaos stayed.

    The effort it feels like it’s going to take to put it all back together still sometimes feels absolutely overwhelming.

    I feel as if I had a perfect storm of grief, burnout, teaching in a pandemic, anxiety and so many other things. And I have to remember something in all of it:

    It’s going to take more than a few months to heal.

    Today in church, I was reminded by someone that I was important and that I needed to take care of myself.


    And right now, all that’s trying to run through my head are the ways I’m horrible at taking care of myself. All the ways I’ve been a bad, absent friend. The giant pile of clothes in the corner of my room, the fact my calendar still says January. The ways I’m incapable of doing enough. How I’m unable to do what people need me to do because I am fearful of crashing again.

    But, if I sit I can also see tangible ways that I am taking care of myself and I have to remember that.

    The pile of clean clothes means that I am doing laundry.

    The plate on my bedside table means I have eaten today.

    My cleaned off desk that now houses my vanity and makeup means that I am taking time to sit and do my makeup and I had to buy more moisturizer today because even if I don’t wear makeup, everyday I sit in my chair and put moisturizer on.

    I had to scrounge for shampoo because I ran out, so I’m showering.
    I had to refill my water bottle because even though I usually suck at it, I am drinking water today.

    And the tears currently running down my face remind me that I’m still allowing myself to feel.

    I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t take care of myself. I’m well aware that I’ve not been doing well.
    I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t feel like I’m showing up for the people around me.

    But with all that I have to remember the ways, even in the midst of the bad days where I don’t feel like I’ll ever feel whole again, that I’m still moving forward, I’m still creating habits that take care of myself even in little ways like putting moisturizer on my face or listening to podcasts while I get ready..

    I have to remember that it wasn’t just my mom dying. It was also the end of a time of life living in high stress. It was living and teaching kids in a pandemic. It was friendships ending.

    It was a lot.

    So, if right now, if keeping my bed and my desk clear and my floor mostly clear is all I can do, so be it. If for this season my white board calendar stays on January and I just use my google calendar, so be it. If I mostly eat bagged salads and bagels and frozen things from Trader Joe’s, so be it.

    Taking the shame out of the things I don’t feel capable of and putting the focus on doing what I can to be human, to live and to move forward in my day.

    This is hard to even say but I think I am actually proud of myself. I’m proud that I show up. I am proud that I’ve realized I actually have to eat in the day.

    I’m proud that I’ve found new ways to self care.

    I’m proud that I let myself cry,

    Because I am important and I need to take care of myself.

  • I don’t actually know how I feel about this

    I’ve been battling with technology for about 40 minutes. I’m currently in possession of two computers-one won’t work and the other I can’t find the charger too and then my ipad was refusing to open a new document and I just kind of wanted to give up and go about my day, with some banana bread making, Guinness float drinking and watching “A discovery of witches” season 3.

    But then my Microsoft word opened and I realized I probably actually needed to talk about the thing that I’ve been dancing around talking about for a few weeks.


    I’ve mentioned it here and there. Alluded to it in instagram posts and tried to come to terms with the fact that hope wasn’t going to bite me in the ass.

    This morning I wrote the following words while at church and they hit me a bit and came with the footnotes that I needed to chose to have hope in myself again and hope in life.

    Hope in its noun definition is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”.

    What if hope has been so hard because without realizing it we’ve been so far on the other side of hope that we’ve been hoping for the bad things to happen?

    What if we’re so focused on the fact and the truth of life that bad things will happen that we don’t free up any space in our brain for the fact and truth of life that good and beautiful things will happen.

    Now, please don’t read that as we are somehow a part of the awful things in our life happening. (Well, we are sometimes but that’s a different story). What I’m trying to say is what if we’re putting our hope in the fact that bad things will happen so might as well not hope for the good and because of that we’re choosing to place our hope in the bad.

    I always joke that my brain is so full of children’s worship music and choral music from my whole life that I frequently have a “no room in the inn” sign up.

    I think we do that with experiences that prove to us we shouldn’t hope that the good and the beautiful will come.

    I started my new job on September 7th last year and 4 weeks later I was starting to feel alive again.

    4 weeks and one day later my mom told me she was sick. And five weeks and 3 days after September 7th she was gone.

    I had started to feel hope again. Started to feel like I was able to breath. Started to feel like I could focus on things that brought me back to myself.

    And then it all came crumbling down.

    But, I think that that was a turning point for me.

    I could have truly chosen to believe and file that away as another time where hope failed me. Where the good was coming and the. The other shoe dropped and knocked me unconscious.

    Where hope looked me in the eye and said “pass”.

    I think I’m in a frame of life where I’m desperately trying to change the way I see things about hope. I’m trying to be an active participant in what is looks like to hope for movement and good and things being built and an active participant in showing people that the only person who is fit to walk out their story is themselves. And whatever cards they’ve been handed they can pull something from them if they’re just willing to try to live a life wherein hope is for them too.

    I don’t what your level of choosing to be hopeful these days. For me, some days it’s just choosing to hope I won’t wake up at 345 and will be able to go into the day rested.

    And I know that the world doesn’t feel hopeful right now. I know that the concept of being hopeful for yourself feels trite and small.

    And I know some days it’s a no bones day and hope is not only impossible but unhelpful.

    And I know what it’s like to feel like hope hasn’t been in play for awhile.

    I just want you to know that I’m here trying to figure it out today.

    And if you need to borrow some hope from me; I will willingly share it.

    With love,


  • On being an island

    On being an island

    I just did a thing where I actually didn’t delete the 400 words I had written to write something new but I opened a new document.

    The words I was saying weren’t bad- they just weren’t it.

    The 400 words I had typed out were moreso dancing around something that I was trying not to say because even just the thought of saying the thing that’s in my head is currently making me cringe.

    Today, I feel rested.

    I had a beautiful weekend, that started just sitting and chatting with my best friend at her desk because I wouldn’t see her all weekend and those moments began a weekend where my soul and heart and all the insides of me got rested all the way down to the toes in ways I haven’t been in a while.

    (that’s not the thing that makes me feel cringy)

    And after I sat and wrote the prior 400 words that were filled with a lot of me stating that I sometimes just want to be an island, I realized that while there was truth in that, it wasn’t thing that I needed to say.

    After I wrote the prior 400 words and I realized that they weren’t it; I realized what actually was.

    This weekend I found rest, peace, hope, family and light.

    And today I realized that all of that reminded that I am a leader in the ability to give those things to others. I am meant to do that in a bigger way than I am now.

    And honestly, that terrifies me.

    I know that sounds ridiculous. That I should know that. (As my roommate Benjamin would have said to be in a text if I text him that: ThAt Is BrAnD nEw InFoRmAtIoN)

    That I’ve done it before.

    But this feels bigger. This feels more wobbly and new.

    I am the person who is going to nag you into believing in the fact that you have something to say. That someone needs to hear the things you have to say. That regardless of what you believe or who you believe in that you have hope and light and a story that the world needs.

    That you are on this earth to connect to even just one other person who needs your story.

    That, even if we desperately want to be and even it feels less painful, we are not meant to be islands.

    I am not meant to be an island (honestly I hate that sentence).

    And honestly, there is still a lot of myself that is the most epic cheerleader because being in the background just works for me.

    But I know in my knower that it’s not where I’m supposed to live.

    Have you ever had those moments where you come to a moment in time and you know that one day down the road, it’s going to be a defining moment?

    Well, this Monday afternoon on my couch just turned into one of those for me.

    This weekend I realized that God has been repeatedly telling me not to worry. He’s been reminding me that I have what I need.

    He’s been reminding me that I need to look in a mirror when I remind people that they are more than they think they are.

    I know there is more to me. I can feel it, beneath the surface. I know that I’ve spurred on a belief in myself by setting boundaries, by choosing my personhood and mental and emotional health over those who would say I didn’t do enough to earn their love. I know there is more because I’ve spent a lot of time making space for it.

    I don’t know what is next but damn. Something is.

    That’s it.
    Well, that’s not it, but it is something.
    Here’s to the reminder that we can always find pieces of ourselves when we’ve believed for a long time they are just pieces to give out- not to keep.

    (But I will always, ALWAYS, remind you that you are more than you think you are.)

    With love,

  • From behind a wall

    To actually sit and force myself to write- to just let words flow feels incredibly anxiety-provoking right now. But it also feels like one of those things that if I don’t sit in front of a computer and just let my thoughts out for others to read, I might be stuck on the other side forever.

    I don’t want to get stuck, but I feel almost as if I am stuck in a perpetual wheel that causes me to be unable to just write. To pull out thoughts and share them.

    Most days, I think, I am doing pretty ok. I am living in this new view of life with a lot of things on my brain- some I don’t really talk about (that’s the 20%) and some I don’t want to talk about because it makes me cry. I am a little bit fearful that this is just how life is now. That I am going to be sad forever and that there isn’t really anything to do to fix it. I know that isn’t the case. I know there isn’t anything to fix.

    I know painful things happen and we just must keep walking in the direction that we are meant to walk.

    I’m supposed to be writing a piece for the website I write for about the hope I find in choosing to trust my own balance. In choosing to know that I’ve been through some shit and that I am stronger and more capable to withstand things than I think I am.

    I’m supposed to be writing about the hope I have in the strength I’ve been given.

    You know that word I hate, “resilience”.

     But all I want to do right now is delete the 275 words that came before this sentence.

    This though is my reality.

    Some days, I am truly ok, some days I’m just not and some days are like a little fruit salad of all of it.

    But I don’t want to get stuck with an inability to write down my words.

    I know I’ve shared this here before, but when I was little, I was so terrified to confront people when I had hurt feelings or was scared. And I would write my mom notes and tuck them in the chair she was sitting in and run away.

    I’ve always used writing to communicate my emotions, articulate what is in my brain and conceptualize the thoughts that are tricky for me to decipher.

    I write to untangle.

    And currently, I am still actively untangling grief, untangling the relationship I had with my mom, and untangling some things that I don’t necessarily feel ready to communicate.

    And I’m grappling with the fact that I don’t feel strong enough or capable enough or old enough to be dealing with any of this.

    Normally, at the end of a string of words with a lot of questions, not a ton of answers, and what feels like a lack of hope I’d usually tag a PS to my mom who read every word I wrote, to let her know that I am in fact; ok.

    Because at the end of the day, I am. I’m ok. I’m moving forward, I’m living. I’m just a little less than sometimes.

    So, Mom, I’m ok. I’m moving forward, I’m living, I’m just a little less than right now.

    And that is ok.

    With love,


  • My moment one.

    My moment one.

    Today while sitting in church, I went down a supreme tears rabbit hole. It is something that happens frequently when I allow myself to be still. And I’m not ashamed of my tears or my sadness or grief, it’s just that my modus operandi is to just keep moving forward and to save my moments of tears for when I’m alone and in my own space.

    But grief really doesn’t care.

    A favorite photo of my mom and I

    Last week we talked about our word of the year for 2021. Mine was shift. And shift I did. I quit my job, shifted away from relationships, shifted I deemed important.

    The big one, obviously, was quitting the job I had, had for over six years. I didn’t know why then I was pressed to quit- nothing major had happened, I didn’t leave on bad terms, I just had this feeling that I needed to make this change for myself. I needed to walk away from something incredibly stressful.

    Five weeks later my mom died.

    So, the reason for the shift I didn’t really know until that moment. I knew it was for me, for my mental health and stress levels, but I didn’t realize that the reason I need to walk in a period of stress relief was because the stress was going to hit incredibly hard in ways I hadn’t felt before.

    That leads me to my word for this year. At the beginning of 2021, I read Hannah Brencher’s book “Fighting Forward” and there was a passage that hit me then and today it came back to me. In the book she is discussing her new years words and what that looks like and she quoted a scripture from Jeremiah and this phrase popped out to her, “The city will be rebuilt on her ruins”.

    And I started to think about how heartbroken I am, my family, the people around my mother were when she passed. I started to think about how much it might feel as if the lives of those she left behind are in ruins because of her leaving this earth.

    But then, I started to think about how ruins aren’t always a bad thing.

    Ruins can be the start of something good, something new, something more beautiful than before. Ruins are apart of the restorative process. You just have to sift through all of it and find what is yours to keep.

    All I want in this world is one more phone call, one more time for my mom to nag me about my eyebrows, to ask me if I’m warm enough. One more, “I love you my sweet girl”.

    Instead I’m left sifting through the heartbreak and ruins to see what can become of them.

    To see what parts of my mom I’m carrying to use to rebuild.

    I always get a little nervous when it comes to finding my word of the year. That may sound silly but for someone such as myself who finds deep hope in words, it’s always something that truly ends up meaning something in my life.

    As I sat with what it might mean to rebuild ruins I wrote out words, that popped into my brain and sifted through synonyms. Begin, embrark, start, innovate.

    Until I wrote the word “create” and something settled inside.

    It might seem silly for me, as a writer, to settle on the word create. But as someone who has been standing on ruins for a long time, someone who has spent a great deal creating from a place of pulling myself up over the ruins, I believe it’s time for me to create something out of them.

    I have so much hope in the word create.

    I ended 2021 feeling like I was a bit out of hope. I stood on my porch after midnight holding a glass of champagne (barefoot in 20 degree weather) and it felt a bit like I was look out into an ocean- you know the vast feeling of looking out over the water at night not knowing what is sky and what is ocean. And it felt incredibly overwhelming.

    But today, I wrote the word create and I felt something that felt light. Not new. But me.

    I don’t know what ruins you’re building on from this past year. I don’t know what heartache or grief or anger you’re walking through.

    I don’t know if you need to walk away and rebuild away from the ruins, or if like me you need to find the beauty in the ruins.

    Whichever it is, I want to remind you that you’re already on the other side of something. You’ve made it to a shore (even if it’s a small island amid an ocean).

    We can rebuild whatever we may need too.

    This is my moment one.

    Let’s see what happens.

    with love,


  • Beginning notes on grief

    I have been wanting to write the last three weeks but if I’m being honest the thought of writing has seemed heavy and has seemed like it would make the world around me more real than I was capable of dealing with.

    For those of you only follow me in this corner of the internet I have yet to share this here: three weeks ago my mom died.

    She died in her home, the one I grew up in, surrounded by her husband, us three kids and ¾ of her grandkids- one being away at college and a handful of her nieces and nephews. More family came in that night and over the course of the next week or two that lead up to the memorial we had for her last week.

    I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about my mom or see the words on a screen but I knew that if I didn’t begin to write something it would get progressively harder to do so.

    This morning I opened my journal in church and aggressively wrote out my thoughts on writing before the tears threatened too quickly.  I tend to write around what’s going on in my life. I tend to write to work things out, to untangle them, to remind anyone who might be in the same space as me that they aren’t alone.

    I can easily say that of all the grief I’ve ever dealt with or felt I’ve never met this monster in my life. I’m doing my best to be kind to myself, to take help, to ask for hugs, to cry- but it’s really, really hard. Even right now as I write this I’m blinking back tears.

    My mom commented on everything I wrote. She would make sure to call and tell me she had read things and I usually got a text after I posted a blog that she “loved my ‘she writes on Sundays’”.

    I’m sure I will write more. I will write with tears down my face, I will write through anger and now, I am writing out of exhaustion and the desire to put words on a page.

    Grief is a lot. More than any human can actually fully grasp.

    I miss my mom a lot. It’s still not real that I won’t be able to hug her or call her or have her nag me to go to the doctor.

    But here I am, to the best of my ability, moving,

  • True life: 90s Diet Culture

    I am a child of 90s diet culture.

    Atkins, weight watchers, Tae Bo VHS. I took step aerobics classes and played sports and constantly felt like I was supposed to be losing weight.

    Foods were morally good and evil. I felt shame for eating chips and hid to eat an entire bag of popcorn. At friend’s houses I wouldn’t finish food because no one else was.

    I remember once in 6th grade I competed in a poetry festival, and I got too small of a size because I had no concept of my body.

    7th and 8th grade I was in school musicals and remember the costumer eyeing me up and down- unsure of what they were supposed to do with me.

    (Though, thank god for choir robes).

    Going into high school and playing tennis and short skirts and trying to find prom and formal dresses in plus sizes that weren’t grandma style.

    (I dreamed of the day to shop in the same stores as my friends).

    It just seemed that whatever I did nothing worked and none of the weight stayed off.

    Everything felt worse. The doctor felt terrifying (honestly still) because it felt as if every single one of my problems would have been solved if I lost weight.

    Shopping for clothes was absolutely no fun. Trying piece after piece on because plus size clothing in the late 90s/Early 2000’s was atrocious (on top of women’s sizing being a dumpster fire).

    Looking back on my life from 5th grade to graduating high school, I realized that there are very few moments where I felt strong, powerful, beautiful. The ones that come to mind right away are all from my senior year of high school.

    As I went to college, I realized that something had to change. Maybe I had to change? Maybe I needed to be a different person? Maybe I was just boring as my own self? Maybe I just needed to come out of my shell?

    So, I tried.

    I ended up living with beautiful women, who had all the boys coming at them and quickly fell into step as the fat friend who constantly felt like a third wheel.

    I was just never enough. Not talented enough of a singer, not funny enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough.

    Not enough coupled with a helper personality trait led me to try to earn love and friendship and honestly probably be used for my kindness more than I like to admit.

    And then, I remember stepping on a scale somehow the end of my first semester junior year.

    I hated the number I saw.

    I hated myself a lot.

    When I came back from winter break, I went head on into losing weight.


    I burned every single calorie that went into my mouth and then some. If I could go back and find calorie counts I’m sure what I would find was that on a normal average day I was only allowing myself maybe 1,000 calories. I was tracking everything I ate. I was starving myself. I was working out at least twice a day and if I didn’t work out-I didn’t eat.

    Because I was 19-20 I obviously lost weight.

    I continued over the summer and when my senior year in college started, I was the thinnest I had ever been (and have ever been).

    And I started to take up some space.

    I hated it.

    I had spent the entirety of my life being told to not take up space. To make myself as small as possible. Every time I had taken up space in my big, oversized body throughout my life it had ended in tragedy. It had ended in me being made fun of, or being less than, being not picked, not enough, still being too big.

    Since my senior year in college, which was at this point 14 years ago, I’ve gone up and down in my weight. I’ve lost weight traveling and living internationally. I’ve gained weight through stress and moves and *cough cough* pandemics.

    But now, I’m realizing it’s not about good and bad food. It’s not about fat= not healthy.

    It’s about knowing who you are and what you need to do for your own self.

    (and honestly what I usually need for myself is to actually eat food.)

    It’s still a journey. I’m still not the best at it. But I’m learning. I’m also learning to eat what I want to eat. Like tonight I had a salad in a mixing bowl and two pieces of toast and now I’m eating green olives and drinking a glass of wine.

    I don’t currently have a scale. I’m still a little terrified of going to the doctor. I’m still affected by fat shaming.

    But if something doesn’t fit- it doesn’t fit.

    If I want to eat chips- I’m probably going to eat them.

    If I am not feeling beautiful- I try to realize why.

    If I want to buy the damn two piece or short skirt…I buy it.

    It’s still a journey. I still have food anxiety and have to remember not to call food good and bad.

    But I’m learning.

    That’s it.

    Bottom line:

    I am a child of the 90s diet culture and I am still learning.

  • That’s not love.

    I have a barometer for myself that I think I’ve had for a long time.

    I am someone who comes off as giving a lot of her story away. I read as an open book and will mostly share everything that is going on in my life or that I’m unpacking.

    There’s that 20% though. I tell 80% of my life to 100% of the people around me. But there is that 20% that’s limited to barely even a percentage. I give that 20% to those who I have deemed safe and for the most part that I’ve deemed safe back.

    I’m honestly unsure if this is a 20% moment but I think it’s something that needs to be said.

    I’ve realized probably in the last year (honestly thanks Tiktok), that I have a lot of trauma and unpacking to do from my late 90s early 2000 youth group.

    And a lot of instances and experiences and moments that in no way, shape, or form line up with the character of God that I know.

    To start, I would like to say that I am not an advocate for throwing the baby out with the bath water. I have so many experiences and moments and memories that I am so grateful for.  I learned about worship singing on my church worship team, I laughed pulling pranks on our youth pastor my junior/senior year, I can still smell the tortillas in the park in Mexicali.

    But just because you have beautiful memories with something doesn’t mean there can’t be things that don’t settle.

    I think I should begin with the fact that I never felt like I belonged. This might be less a youth group thing and more a small hometown thing, but I didn’t. I felt like I was too loud, too big, too much. I felt like I was never going to be the first choice and that I just didn’t fit.

    But even though I didn’t grow up going to church I quickly felt the incredible pull that I had to be at church on Sundays. I had to show up. I had to have my bible. I remember getting shamed once for not having it. (Sword drills anyone?)

    I would feel guilty if I didn’t show up at church.

    Then, there was the fear. I remember watching the rapture movies of the early 70s-80s and being told that America wasn’t mentioned in the book of Revelations, that we didn’t know the day or the hour. I remember not sleeping for weeks because I was so afraid. I remember each morning I’d wake up slightly relieved.

    There was the IMMENSE purity culture. Being modest. Saving yourself for marriage. Splitting up the guys and girls to give them separate talks and the girls almost always talking about how we needed to “protect our brothers”.

    Now as an adult realizing that we were essentially being told to take all the responsibility for the boy’s thoughts. And without saying it to not take up space.

    Now, if you know me, you know that I can be aggressively stubborn. I’ve yelled at more than one guy for opening my door or walking on the outside of the street.

    But, when I was in high school, I didn’t feel empowered to yell. And yes, I was in high school- I get it. But I’m realizing more and more that I wasn’t empowered by the mostly male leadership. I didn’t think I should have a voice and when I did- I felt looked down on.

    I’m realizing that the part that was hardest was that it didn’t feel like I was supposed to be empowered. I’m trying to think of all my time at my church in high school (besides youth Sundays or “missionary” Sundays) if I ever saw a woman preach. I’m pretty sure a man always lead worship (with a few exceptions- and I was on the worship team too).

    And that, I feel, was standard for churches in that time frame. I know that wasn’t just my church- but it was in a lot of places.

    Now, a bottom line, the reason I want to say all this and the reason I’ve concluded that I have trauma from it is that none of it- none of the shame, the fear, the purity driven culture, the male lead teams and the not belonging- none of that is the Christ I know today.

    The Jesus I knew in high school was damn small. He was mean. He was terrifying. I could never do enough for him or be enough for him.

    He thrived off fear and forcing people to look and be the same.

    That. Is. Not. Christ.

    I have a quote from Andrew Shearman that I will honestly never forget. He said once that God didn’t create earth to fill hell. And I believe that with my whole heart.

    I believe God is so much fuller of love than anyone can comprehend.

    And God doesn’t keep score.

    He doesn’t have a white board or a checklist.

    God doesn’t care that I like crop tops or that I have authority. (He made me for authority so there’s that)

    Now, I’m not here to get into a theological debate or have you tell me the 100 reasons why your youth group was great. If it was, man, I am so happy for you. But our experiences don’t have to be compared.

    I’m going to leave it at this: I’ve concluded in my now almost late 30s- almost 20 years out of high school youth group- that at the end of the day; if it doesn’t look like love it isn’t Christ. So, I’m going to say thank you to the experiences that aren’t Christ and love for what they brought me too and then I’m going to not kindly ask them to leave.

     That’s all.

    With love,


    (And as a PS. Something I am putting in the Facebook, Instagram captions. If you want to ask me a follow up question, I’d ask you to not put it in the comments but to shoot me a message. Thank you. This is a space where I honor my own story and I’m putting a lot more out there than I might normally.)