Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An Open Letter to All Doctors Everywhere

Dear Doctors,

I've been in many of your offices in the last few years. My darn autoimmune disease ensured that.

Your specialties are many, as are your locations. I can't even fathom how many miles I've traveled between two continents and multiple US states to find answers about my mysterious symptoms.

You've diagnosed me, often correctly, more often, incorrectly. I've waded through your new patient forms, your HIPAA forms, your "I swear I didn't just come from a pork farm" forms (thank you, Dutch doctors, for that one...) and finance forms (no, I don't require a new CareCredit account, thank you very much).

I've paid your fees, after my insurance covered some them and more often did not. I swear that I've kept some of you in business and many of your kids in college.

Did I mention my dad and sister-in-law share your profession?

While I'm not a doctor myself, I am, at this point, a highly experienced patient and I've got some advice. Not to poke fun or criticize, but to hopefully help you improve your practices, while also inspiring you to think about how we can work together to improve the healthcare system at large.

1. Hire a great receptionist.

I put this tip in the #1 spot for a reason. Your receptionist is the first point of impact your patients have with your practice. She (or he) literally sets the tone for your patient's entire experience. Get a gruff, grumpy, exhausted receptionist and your patients will cringe when they make their appointments. Get a perky, chipper, morning-person type in the same seat and your patients might not look forward to coming to see you (sorry, docs, we come see you when we're sick and we'd rather be healthy, no offense...) and the experience of coming to your office may not seem such a chore.

2. Use technology to your advantage.

Get a website, for crying out loud. It's 2015. Patients want to be able to find you online. You get to tell us all about your practice, your eduction and your overall philosophy. Saving loads of time when we get to your office. I won't see doctors who don't care enough about the work they're doing to put up a basic website. Bonus points if you're in private practice and you take the time to collect patient testimonials. Shows you're listening and that you care.

Have a website? Write some content. Have it edited by a "not-doctor." Spouse, consultant, doesn't matter much, as long as your editor can take all your "doctor-speak" and translate it into something the average 6th-grader can understand. Write about whatever your patients care about. Family practice? Write about how to keep kids healthy during flu season. Podiatrist? Write about how to choose the best shoes for your feet. These posts don't need to be long and once you have them, they can stay on your site. You come across as the expert you are - and let your patients get to know you before they set foot in your office.

Choose the best EHR (electronic health records) system you can realistically afford. It's hard for patients to keep all our health information organized, doubly so for those of us with chronic diseases. Decent systems (and by decent, I really just do mean "average," no need to break the bank - back away from that sales rep!!!) make it easier for both of us to keep track of our health and allow us to have easy access to our information when we need it. Bonus points for patient portals. Make it easy for us to access our own information and we won't need to come in to see you for records and small details.

3. Coordinate with a local health coach.

Don't buy expensive brochures with basic health info, or accept the junk the pharma/ag/associations send out about basic health info. Connect with a member of your community who can provide all the information about healthy habits. Ask that person to provide your patients with a special discount. Better yet, offer use of one of your exam rooms to that coach one afternoon a week, charge patients a set fee and pay the coach an agreed upon hourly rate. Offer to host coaching videos on your website. Get creative. This is a huge benefit for patients and will allow you to become their newest favorite doctor if you do it.

4. Set boundaries.

Don't give out your personal cell phone number. Just don't. It looks all cool and trendy, and I get the appeal for those of you with concierge practices, but honestly, it opens the door to burnout. Answering services are fine. Nobody feels great about seeing doctors all strung out on lack of sleep and hopped up on triple venti 80-shot coffee drinks. Nobody.

5. Write goals.

Why are you doing what you're doing? What are your professional goals? Grow your practice 20% in a year? Write a book? Join the board of a non-profit? Write them down, review them and get after them. Pursuing success in your practice, wherever that might be, not only helps you become a better human being, but helps you become a better doctor as well. When you focus on goals, it teaches you skills that allow you to recognize your patients' goals and help them focus as well. Win-win.

6. Lean in or get out.

Let's just get really real. Really. For real. IF YOU HATE THE MEDICAL PROFESSION, seek professional counseling for six months. Make a choice, at the end of that time, to either lean into the profession (becoming the best doc you can be) or get out. Your training and skills are no longer needed or beneficial if you hate what you do.

Why should you take my advice?

1. Your livelihood depends on it.

Patients are getting smarter. We now realize that we have more choices regarding who we choose to treat us than ever before. Advocacy groups are popping up all over the place that rank doctors based on all the points I make above. Get out in front of that crowd and lead it. Or risk going out of business.

2. You're a decent human being.

I hope. If not, see point #5 above.

3. On some level, you care about healing.

You all are amazing. You have so much capacity and capability to lead people to health and wellness. I know folks might make you feel like you're around just to cease symptoms, or maybe at best make small difference in quality of life, but your profession of choice is so much more than that! You change lives every day. Use those powers for good and you can change lives.

Now. Get out there and do some healing work!

Praying for you.

One Experienced Patient

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#CCGOESTOSEMINARY: The First Month(ish)

It's officially fall in Princeton and we've made it to "reading week" at seminary this week, marking the end of the first half of my first semester of my Master of Divinity program. 7 weeks down, 83 to go 'til graduation. Related side note: massive party at our place in mid-May 2018.  You're invited.

We're supposed to be catching up on our assignments and studying for midterms. I'm doing some of that, but I find myself also reflecting back on the first half of the semester.

I've learned more in seven weeks than I could ever share in one blog post. Seriously ... this experience has been amazing in so many indescribable ways. The teachers are incredible, my colleagues (aka, "students") are amazing and the relationships among all are inspiring. I'm just hands-down grateful to be there and still stand in amazement that God opened the doors necessary for me to be there. For real.

While I can't possibly sum up all that I've learned, I have some general thoughts on the whole deal, and some specific lessons I've learned from each of my classes. I'll share them all below, along with a few unexpected blessings and my goals for the rest of the semester.

Regarding the overall experience of going to seminary...
- It's hard. Duh. It's grad school ... wasn't ever going to be easy, right? I'm not sure what I expected, but I wasn't prepared for all the ways grad school as a mid-30's mother-of-2 ministry leader was going to be hard. Keeping all schedules balanced, maintaining some semblance of household happiness while also keeping up with ministry and schoolwork is mind-blowing, staggeringly hard work. Add in the commute that keeps me in the car for about 7 hours each week and the whole deal is basically impossible. It's only by the grace of God that it's working at all.
- It's refining. I've felt my feet in the fire this semester, for all the reasons I mentioned in previous sentences. Through all the hard, though, God is stripping away all the junk that cluttered my life pre-seminary. Commitments and obligations that shouldn't have been mine have fallen out of my life. Relationships that weren't working well have ended. This felt really hard at first, but I realized that I now actually have more time for the relationships that matter to me most, and God is blessing me with the deepening of friendships that have been surface-level for longer than necessary. He's again pointing me back to the lessons I learned a year ago in Lysa TerKeurst's book The Best Yes. Because I literally have no time for anything "extra," I've been forced to critically evaluate what's essential.
- It's liberating. Paradox, right? Hard and refining, yet liberating? As I continue getting deeper into my studies, and seeing what the Bible really has to say (and picking up bits of Hebrew and Greek along the way), I feel so free to ask the hard questions. The kind that annoy "safe" Christians in many "safe" churches. If I have a hard question that I wouldn't dare ask of most pastors, I can now do so freely and, in almost all cases, get pointed right back to Scripture to find out for myself. I no longer feel bound to commentaries or the opinions of "professional" theologians. Nor do I feel embarrassed for having questions about my faith or the Bible - I now know that questions are a starting place for answers. I no longer have any problem seeking, knocking and continuing to question until I find that which I seek. God is big enough to handle all my questions and He's always faithful to provide answers.

What I've learned so far from each class...
Early-Medieval Church History: This class has been the biggest surprise, hands down. I'm not particularly great with names or dates, so obviously, history classes have always been thorns in my side. I literally cringed when I saw the history requirements on our program schedule. But, I have to say I am LOVING it. So much of what we do as a modern church started in the decades immediately following Christ's death and resurrection, it's so cool to see where our traditions started, and also to see that some things we believe in the non-denominatioal tradition to be "Biblical" are actually "traditional." Pointing again to the importance of doing thorough Bible study. It's also amazing to get to know historical figures through their own words. Augustine, for example. We hold him up as one of the most articulate theologians of all time, and yet, he was just a guy going about his business of being a pastor and started writing theology on the side. ON THE SIDE. What?!?!? And his writings have been read by millions across the centuries. He was faithful to the calling God placed on his life and God used his efforts in mighty ways. You never know what "side thing" might have historical implications.

Systematic Theology: Seminary is apparently where crazy theology comes to get worked out - and it seems like all the thoughts come up and through my systematic class. I've heard more crazy theology in this class (Jesus as transgender, there is no such thing as spiritual warfare, double predestination, and the list goes on and on) than I ever knew existed. Stuff that's way way out there in both liberal and conservative directions. What I've learned most from this class is how to speak truth with some degree of love and a way to disagree without being disagreeable. I've also learned how important it is to really know the Bible and what I believe, so I can clearly articulate truth in situations where wrong teaching comes up. Conversely, this class has also humbled me further into the realization that no one knows it all, when it comes to the nature of God, revelation, Scripture, nature of Christ, and all the other definitions we invent to describe the indescribable. There are people who devote their entire lives to full-time Bible study, pastoral leadership and academia and still end up without all the answers, which means it's completely ridiculous for anyone anywhere to claim to have "all the answers" and "know all the stuff."

Intro to Old Testament: Another major surprise - this class has been AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! So many non-denominatioal Christians in my present and recent circles shy away from the Old Testament at almost all costs, or pull it out when needed, but only to illustrate a point in the New Testament. I guess I fell into that trap without really knowing it, although I have always loved the book of Psalms and really enjoyed the "Major Lessons from the Minor Prophets" sermon series from my mom's church. The professors in this class team teach and are amazing - and they pointed out early in the semester that the Old Testament was what Jesus knew as Scripture and referred to throughout His teachings. All the knowledge in this class is gold and, over Christmas break, I'm going to distill some of the messages from the class in a separate blog post series (see goals list below).

Intro to Speech: If I could summarize this class in a word, it would be "meh." If History and OT were pleasant surprises, this one was a surprise in another direction. We read depressing poems, the discussions wander, it's at 8:30 in the morning and I honestly learned more in a 2-hour speaker review session at a conference this summer than I've learned in the entire class so far. I find myself really having to work hard at getting motivated to do my assignments, which is a shame, because I really do enjoy the art of speech communication. We have the same professor for the two semesters of the year-long course, so I'll have to keep reminding myself of Paul's example in Philippians 3:13-14 and PRESS ON.

Liturgical Shape of Christian Life: I wasn't sure what to expect from this class, and honestly took it mostly because it fit into my schedule in a way that kept me off campus on Wednesdays (one less day to commute - yay!). It's been somewhat interesting to look at liturgical practices, but I didn't read the description closely enough during registration. If I had, I would've realized that it's basically an introduction to Systematic and there's a lot of overlap between the two classes. So, the most important thing I've learned from this one is that I need to prepare more carefully for next semester!

Beyond the classes and lessons, this semester has brought with it some very beautiful and unexpected blessings...
- The kids have done so well. We were really worried about Big Girl. She hasn't done school or daycare and tends to prefer staying at home, with her people and her toys. We prepared ourselves for the worst and have been so surprised at how well she's done! She was a little nervous the first week or two, but just settled right in after that. To the point now that she asks for school if we happen to have a day off school. Similarly, we were worried that Big Guy would have a hard time with aftercare, but nope! He enjoys the extra time with his friends two days a week and calls it his "school playdates."
- Our community has blessed our socks off. Our good friend "Mr. Marty" brings Colin home twice a week, so I don't have to spend that extra time in the car, we have friends who offer to babysit and the kids are involved in classes that keep them engaged and busy enough not to notice how much time I really need to spend in my books or working on papers.
- We've been blessed with a new addition to our household. Our friend Crystal, who I met through seminary, needed a place to stay for a while and moved in with us last week. She's become an amazing part of the family in this short time and we're so grateful for her presence in our lives!

My goals for the rest of the semester:
1. Prepare for the Christmas break post series on lessons from the Old Testament. I really can't wait to share some of the great info I've been learning and I feel like knowing that series is coming will help motivate me to keep up with the reading and note-taking!
2. Continue my time management strategies and resist the urge to over-schedule the holidays. This is going to be a hard one for me!
3. Get to chapel more often. I honestly thought I'd go all the time and I love going, but it's amazing how easy it is to fall into the trap of busyness that prevents chapel attendance. I'm making it a goal for the back half of the semester to attend every Thursday and Friday.

Friday, September 25, 2015

#NotFineFriday: Help for the Hard

I just finished my 4th week at seminary. And it was hard. And costly. Emotionally, financially, physically.

For starters, I'm supposed to be here at this very moment:

A good friend of mine and I scheduled a trip to Napa before the semester started. I thought I'd skip class, we'd fly West and drink wine all weekend. What could go wrong?

Surprise, surprise, my professors were not aware of my plans and scheduled speaking assignments, test, quizzes, papers and initiator questions due in the two days I was scheduled to be gone.


Trip didn't happen.

The day before the first test of my rote memorization skills in a very (very very) long time, my 3-year-old decided to have all the freak-outs. She's been doing great all semester. No real issues with going to school for the first time, no big problems with schedule changes. Until this week.

My classes this week too seemed super depressing. All the content and discussion centered around the concept of "oppression." Women are oppressed, minorities are oppressed, indigenous peoples were and are oppressed, the Isrealites were oppressed in Egypt. Even white men are oppressed because they have a history of perpetuating oppression and now have to live with the guilt. (side note: I know that oppression is real. I know that it's happening and has happened. Not denying it's existence, just naming it as one of the factors this week that resulted in my need for help ... keep reading...)

Add in family health problems, marital spats, parenting challenges.

This post could go on. But I'm going to cut it off here so as not to you know, oppress you with my baggage.

Finally, I got to a point that I just couldn't handle all the "tough."

So what did I do?

First, I turned to the Bible for encouragement from verses like this one, from my friend Marie:

And I prayed. But, after a few days, I knew that the reading and praying weren't enough. I needed more.

So I turned to a counselor at school.

Because receiving Godly counsel in times of trouble is such a blessing.

The world (and sometimes our brothers and sisters in the Church) tell us that seeking counseling is something we should hide in shame. That we should sneak into and out of. That we should maybe tell those closest to us, but shouldn't share in public.

I don't accept that.

As Christians, we need to talk about counseling.

The proven benefits, from a secular medical perspective, are many:
- Talking with a therapist can help alleviate depression, phobias and addiction
- Counseling can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic diseases like autoimmune conditions, heart disease and diabetes
- Therapy can help resolve painful early life experiences, as well as assisting with healing adult relationships

At my counseling session this week, I was able to work through some of the overall stress I was feeling and developed a few strategies for how to cope with the multiple demands of ministry, publishing, parenting, marriage and seminarian work that will all be part of my life for the next three years.

As I left, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders and, as I walked across campus, I realized that counseling truly is a "good and perfect gift." One that I plan to receive as often as I need it and encourage others to receive as well.

If you have a similar story, I'd love it if you'd share a bit in the comments - or post your own link to the #NotFineFriday link-up! If we're going to remove the social stigma about mental health in our community, we need to get this conversation started and that can start with us :)

#NotFineFriday September

Welcome to the September leg of the #NotFineFriday Blog Tour! Our fourth month of this project, where we bring glory to God by sharing our weaknesses. My writer friends and I know that it's only by sharing our struggles, alongside the message of how God redeems these circumstances, that we can fully walk in the power of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

You have a couple of options to join our conversation: 
  1. To be blessed by the posts, click the image links below. Feel free to add your comments to the posts and let the authors know you stopped by from #NotFineFriday!
  2. If you'd like to add your voice to our ongoing conversation, we'd love for you to add your own link below. Email me if you need some technical help. 
  3. If you don't have a blog of your own, I'd be more than happy to feature your story as a guest post. Email me if this option interests you. 
We're so thankful to have you here and pray our posts (and this tour!) bless you as they've blessed us in June, July and August

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


As of last night, I am officially a seminarian.

My orientation at PTS wrapped up with an opening convocation and classes started this morning. It's a little hard to write about this journey, to be honest. The words just don't seem to want to come.

How can I describe how it feels to sit at the feet of both the Cross and amazing human professors .... all at the same time?

What words can I use to accurately capture the deep and meaningful conversations I've already had with my peers .... before classes have even begun?

I call myself a writer. And yet, I have no words.

The irony isn't lost on me, but it does humble me.

Since I can't seem to find the phrases to describe the experience, I'll just touch briefly on how it feels.

It feels...
... incredible to know that I get to spend the next three years intentionally getting to know God on a deeper level.
... inspiring to realize I won't be alone in this process. I'll have 200+ new friends on this journey with me.
... intense to comprehend the sheer amount of work it's going to take to get to take the graduation walk in May 2018. (side note: massive party that day. You're invited. For realz.)

I'm going to do my best to journal-write about-share this experience with you, my dear friend. I know getting to go to seminary is a tremendous privilege and my heart aches for those of you whose hearts burn with the desire to go, but haven't yet received confirmation that God has this path for you. I was there in that place too, not so long ago and I know how it feels to sit and wait. So I will do what I can to pay this experience forward - by writing from time to time (even when the perfect words won't come), by posting my book lists and by sharing resources on Facebook and Instagram.

And the sharing starts. NOW :)

We started our studies this summer with just a bit of reading:

ESV Study Bible (the assignment was to read the Old Testament - but I went ahead and finished the whole Bible in a #Biblein90 challenge group - I was also supposed to read in the HCSB version, but I read that in my first #Biblein90 challenge last Fall, so decided to mix it up and read the ESV this summer)
A Knock At Midnight
The Pastor as Minor Poet
Pray Without Ceasing
Faith Seeking Understanding
Her Story 

It was a little tough to fit all the reading in - mostly because I majorly procrastinated and waited until the end of May to really get started! I finished though - the week before Orientation!

My goal going forward is to pick a "if you only have time to read one book, read this one" book each semester, but for summer reading, I have two picks because they compliment each other so nicely:

The Pastor as Minor Poet, written by PTS President Dr. M. Craig Barnes, "calls pastors to search for a deeper understanding of what they see - both in the text of Scripture and in the text of their parishioners' lives," according to the description on the back cover. But, I feel like this book is an amazing read for anyone currently in (or considering) active ministry ... and aren't we all? The book offers both deep spiritual insight into how we, as the body of Christ, can be more effective ministers to the people God puts in our lives, as well as practical advice on how to develop the minor poetry that allows us to present the "good news," the Gospel, in a way that others can easily understand as relevant to their lives. 

My three favorite quotes: 

"God has good self-esteem and can handle as much anger as we can dish out, as the psalmists apparently believed, but it's clear that nothing infuriates God more than being left out of the conversation." (p. 39, "Poetry for the Angry")

"God alone is whole and complete, lacking in nothing. So it only makes sense that those who have devoted their lives to talking about God would have at least a 'small matter' that is missing, imperfect, or habitually humbling. The purpose of this unwanted - but divine - gift is to nurture even more gravitas in the pastor's soul. Such gravity is strangely attractive to a society that has tried too long to lack nothing." (p. 52, "Gravitas")

"The contagious excitement of preachers, the thing that keeps them awake Saturday night with all of the anticipation of a child on the night before Christmas, is that they cannot wait for the gift of getting to proclaim what they have discovered. This is why the Gospel is called good news." (p. 115, "The Second Voice")

This book's subtitle is "Revitalizing Pastoral Care" and is also intended for pastors, current and future. And I'm sure it's a remarkable book for folks going into that line of work, but again, I found the insights touching and extremely relevant for anyone seeking a deeper prayer relationship with God. I just loved it and found myself reading and re-reading several chapters - something I rarely do. 

My favorite quotes: 

"Just as Scripture is the means by which God speaks to the church, so prayer is the means by which we respond. Through Scripture God draws near to us. Through prayer, we draw near to God." (p. 28, "Listening to God")

"Intercession focuses on God. Intercession does not worry about saying the right thing or about being eloquent or wise. It merely brings a request to God. It is not a conversation with the other about God but a conversation with God in the other's hearing. Intercession knows that 'prayer is not prayer if addressed to anyone but God.' It does not try to affect it's human listeners. The prayer itself is not an attempt to help, edify or instruct the other. Still less is it an opportunity for camouflaged preaching. It is a request for grace, not a tool of manipulation." (p. 122, "Prayers of Intercession")

"While God alone can save us from sin and death, we are called to be companions to one another in this life. Though our suffering cannot redeem others, as Christ's suffering does, we can accompany one another in love, offering the comfort that we ourselves have received. As members of Christ's body, we walk alongside one another, gladly bearing other's burdens and sharing our own. As mutual caregivers, we offer each other the word of forgiveness, witness one another's lament, intercede in prayer for each other, and offer our thanksgivings together for the blessings of this life." (p. 191, "Conclusion) 

By the way, narrowing down my "favorites" list for this one was hard. Seriously hard. I don't think I've marked, highlighted and overall destroyed a book like I did this one. Obviously, I highly recommend it. 

That was Summer, now onto Fall.

Here's the lineup: 

A More Profound Alleluia (not pictured, could only access the Kindle edition!) 
Plus a whole bunch more "e-reserve" articles that are literally too numerous to list - so you all will have to settle for the books for now! 

I won't post another big recap with my Fall reviews until after Christmas - when Finals are over and the holidays are behind us, but I will post my usual highlights and underlines, along with hashtags for each book over on Instagram. I'd love to connect with you over there too! 

I hope my book lists and reviews inspire you to take on some reading of your own - my prayer is that God will use these pics, quotes and imperfect reviews to light a spark of interest in your soul. A desire to get to know your Creator more intimately - through study of His eternal Word and the thoughts of the mere mortals who take it upon themselves to devote their lives to pursuing Him.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#NotFineFriday Blog Tour: August 2015

Welcome to the August leg of the #NotFineFriday Blog Tour! Our third month of this project, where we bring glory to God by sharing our weaknesses. My writer friends and I know that it's only by sharing our struggles, alongside the message of how God redeems these circumstances, that we can fully walk in the power of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Click through the links, be encouraged and type out a comment or prayer for these sweet writers who are sharing deep feelings and struggles - in Jesus' name and for His glory!

If these links aren't enough, check out all the wonderful posts in June and July.

Praying you're blessed by the words God's given us to share with you!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#NotFineFriday July : Insecurity

I am so incredibly thankful to be back this month, with another #NotFineFriday blog tour. Last month was amazing and it's been incredible to watch God continue to move as women take off their "church perfect" masks and share their stories of how God is redeeming them in the midst of their struggles. None of us are "fine" and that's more than ok.

You see, we've got God working in us and through us. He sees our hurts, He sees our struggles. And He uses them all for His glory. But, the thing is, we've got to be willing to share them, to walk in openness and authenticity, in order for Him to work through them and touch our lives and the lives of those we influence.

God set my #NotFineFriday story in North Carolina this past week. I traveled down for this year's SheSpeaks conference - designed by it's organizers to equip and encourage Christian writing and speaking women to fully embrace the calls God has on their lives. The 800 conference attendees worshipped together, sat at the feet of some amazing Bible teachers (here's looking at you, Whitney Capps, Lysa TerKeurst and Liz Curtis Higgs....), picked up incredible tips from industry experts and had chances to present book ideas to leading Christian publishers.

I went down primarily to pursue a formal book deal. My ministry partner Marie and I have been really seeing God move through the wellness ministry we're building with his help. Our Facebook challenge groups are rockin' it, doctors are getting excited about what we're doing, and church groups are starting health ministries. We've felt the need to spread the message more widely, and I have a journalism degree, so it seemed like the right time to take the next step toward publishing a book.

Getting down to NC was chaotic. I've never been so spiritually attacked as I was in the weeks leading up to SheSpeaks - lingering health concerns began to rear their heads, family relationships soured, I was disorganized, distracted and downhearted. I thought about throwing in the towel and just staying home.

When I got there, I expected to feel relieved, but honestly, I felt so out of place. Everyone seemed to be so put together. With huge platforms - or well-established connections to all the speakers - or have years of experience - or be completely different from me in personality. Many of the attendees I met at first were so ... quiet. Reserved. Serene. Put together. Maybe a little introverted in all the best ways - you know, with the "I know what I'm doing, so I'll just sit here and observe with quiet dignity" looks on their faces.

I'm not any of that really. I come from a corporate marketing background. I have a massively extroverted personality. I'm incredibly insecure. Our many moves in the last years cause me to freeze when meeting new people - because I've started over so many times, I've been rejected a lot. Which is totally natural - it's impossible for everyone I meet to become my new best friend and I know that. It's just that all my rejection moments, that are typically spread out for most people, are bunched close together for me, because I've lived them in so many different places in a short span of time.

If not for this blog tour series, I'd never be admitting any of this to you. For real. It's so hard to write. 

I spent the first few hours of my time in North Carolina, surrounded by dear dear sisters in Christ, in a total emotional funk. Even though sweet friends immediately wrapped me up into the arms of their beautiful ministry group, allowing me to sit at their tables and with them on the front row of any speaker session they were also attending, I just couldn't shake the emotions bumping around in my head.

And then we headed into our first worship session. As the leaders began to sing and the band started strumming away on their instruments, conference organizers added the boxes in the picture below one-by-one to the stage.

As each box piled up, I read the words and felt the weight of my insecurity deep in my soul. So many of these boxes applied to me, right in that place, right in that moment.

And then, as we neared the crescendo of the song, the wall came down and Jesus shone through. 

The rest of the conference was full of breakdowns. SheSpeaks pretty much wrecked my life, actually, in all the best ways possible. That's a story for another post and I'm sure I'll tell it soon. In a nut shell, I'm not pursuing a publishing contract for my book, even though that opportunity presented itself. God gave me a bigger dream for both myself and my ministry.

Piece by piece and box by box, God brought down some walls that I'd spent years building around my heart and soul. Walls of sin, walls of bondage, walls of pride .... all mostly built on insecurity.

As I move forward now with life after SheSpeaks, I know I'm not the same. I feel stronger, bolder and more confident that God's going to use the wreckage of the wall He's brought down to build something stronger, more beautiful, more reflective of His glory.

If you're struggling with insecurity, just know that I'm praying this just for you right now:

Father God, I come before you humbled and in awe of who You are and how You work in our lives. You are so faithful and generous to bestow so many wonderful gifts upon us God. Please help us each to understand and appreciate our unique gifts and make it crystal clear to each one of us how you'd like us to best honor You with the way we use our time, talents and treasures. May we proclaim with boldness that You are the giver of all good things. In Your precious and Holy name I pray, Amen.