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“Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out, honestly, I wanna see you be brave…”

My precious girl is off to camp this week while my oldest son and my husband are in Ethiopia. This is Selah’s second year attending Pine Cove camp at The Towers and she LOOOOVES it. Some of you might remember that last year, I found this list she had written down about all the things she wanted to do at camp. I still laugh reading that list!  You can read it here-

This year, we’ve been dealing with a good amount of anxiety. One of the funniest things about Selah is that she isn’t scared of things she should be scared of, and she IS scared of things that likely will never happen. She can deal with anxiety even over things she has done multiple times, and sometimes she doesn’t recognize what is happening in her mind and body as anxiety. I’ve been working with her a ton this year on stopping and recognizing what is happening to her physically and emotionally, being able to put a name on it, and making a plan to relax. What happens when she DOESN’T do these things is that she will get nervous, get unfocused and impulsively act on whatever idea pops into her head. I don’t think I need to tell you that those ideas are not always wise (see also multiple self inflicted haircuts).

So this month, I started seeing her display anxiety and I knew part of it was Wes and Josiah leaving and part of it was her going to camp. Even good stress is still stress, but sweet Selah just doesn’t always recognize that, so one afternoon I snuggled with her in my reading chair and asked her to make a list of all the things she was worried about for camp week, and asked her to write down some truth about those fears and a plan for how to fight off that anxiety. The following is part of her list (some of her fears are too personal for blogging), and some of her methods for calming down.


What I am scared of, by Selah Nicole Butler the First

1. What if daddy and Josiah have so much fun and don’t want to come home?

Truth- Daddy and Josiah have more fun at home because we have more fun things like pizza and sports on tv and Watermark and friends. And I am here and Mommy is here so daddy will always come home for mommy.  I should write to daddy sweet words so he doesn’t forget that I live here in AMERICA.


2. I am nervous because what if there’s a rat when daddy is gone and it bites me.

Truth- Mommy will just call a brave man in our community group but I don’t know who that is. I should find out. Mommy will call the xfrigerader (so close) to come and set traps. I can make my own trap with a pipe cleaner and cheese and a net. I need a net. I can use tights. 


3. Scared because a girl at camp last year said I talk too much.

Truth- God made me have all my words and HE LOVES ME SO THERE. Pray that she likes me. Pray that if I have too many words, they should mostly be about God. Some of them can be about horses and Taylor Swift.


4. What if it floods at camp?

Truth- Selah, remember about Noah. If it rains a lot, we can build tree houses. God, can you make it rain a lot?


5. What if an Ethiopian person gets mad at Josiah about talking about Jesus and he hits him with a broom or a rock or throws him into a crocodile pit. 

Truth- Daddy is there and he is strong. Josiah can run really fast. He can swim fast too. Maybe if he hits him with a broom then Josiah will catch the broom and then sweep his kitchen for him so he will want to listen about Jesus. Mr. Tim will protect him too. And Ms. Baker will because she is a teacher so she knows what to do when kids are mean. I wish Ms. Baker was my teacher. If Josiah gets hurt, I will never stop crying. I will be very mad at that man and I will throw a evangle cube at his face. 


6. What if I ride a horse and it gets spooked by a snake and it runs away and I fall off of it and I land on top of the snake and it makes the snake mad and the snake is Voldamart’s snake. 

Truth- I’m just kidding about the Voldamart part. If my horse gets spooked, I will just say whoa nelly and feed it carrots. If the horse doesn’t like carrots, I will feed it mexican food. If I fall off the horse, my counselor will carry me to the hospital and mommy will drive really fast to come visit me and bring me some flowers. I will forgive my horse because it’s a horse and I don’t even know if they have brains. I would be so scared if I saw a snake too, especially if it has jewels on it’s back. It’s like snakes are trying to trick people because they are shiny with diamond on their backs but they are mean. That’s just like STAN (pretty sure she meant satan) because he tricks people that he’s nice but he just wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He even wants to kill horses. 


7. What if my counselor is mean or doesn’t love Jesus or doesn’t like me or is a boy.

Truth- I don’t think my counselor is a boy because that is not aprowprate. I think my counselor will like me because I am nice and I will make her bracelets and I will brush her hair and I will sing to her but I WON’T SING JUSTIN BEIBER DON’T ASK ME. If my counselor is mean I will ask her what’s wrong? and give her a hug because everybody has a bad day. 


8. What if a girl is mean to Mela because she has brown skin? What if Mela cries?

Truth- I will WANT to punch her but I won’t punch her because I will get in BIG trouble and that girl is just sad and she might not have any friends. I will tell Mela how pretty she is because she has really pretty curly hair. I will make Mela a special BFF bracelet and I will make the other girl a bracelet and tell her she can only wear it when she will use kind words. I will hold Mela’s hand if she cries and give her tissue and ice cream. I will cry too because that’s so so mean. I will pray with Mela because she loves Jesus too. But I might not pray with the mean girl until later because I will be so so mad. 


Well, there you have it. Let’s hope none of these things happened at camp this week!

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“The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear and I don’t know the reasons why you brought me here. But just because you love me the way that You do, I’m gonna walk through the valley if you want me to…”

I was thirteen years old, an 8th grader at Pease Middle School, and it was spring. I remember because it was that time of year that the P.E. teacher started letting us run laps outside and we all tried ways of getting out of it. I was in the girls locker room getting dressed when I was hit by a truck of pain. I sat down, sure I was about to pass out. Elizabeth, a girl who always had perfect bangs and doused herself in Exclamation perfume, looked at me and said “I get cramps too!” It was a bonding moment.

The problem was, these weren’t just cramps. These were my insides being ripped apart by a thousand tiny chainsaws. I limped over to the coach and lied and said I had hurt my ankle. (The teacher was a guy, no way I was telling him nothin’ bout no cramps) He eyed me suspiciously but let me sit out. I think he caught on when I forgot which ankle was supposed to be hurt.

And here I am, 23 years later, and I am still sitting out of gym, trying to deal with the pain and not let my teacher know. Now it has a name- Endometriosis. I was officially diagnosed after a laparoscopy when I was 27 years old. Since then, I have had three other surgeries, hormone treatments, countless medications, and a long list of holistic treatments to try to control the progression of the disease.


One thing I have realized in the last year is that part of what happens with chronic conditions is that you don’t feel like you have a disease, you feel diseased. And those are completely different.

On average, it takes a woman 5-10 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis. This is due to many reasons, but one of the main reasons I’ve personally encountered is a lack of education on what endometriosis actually is, and dismissal of women’s reporting of their symptoms. One doctor figuratively patted me on the head when I was 21 and told me that I was way too young to have anything seriously wrong with me, and that all women have cramps.

“All women have cramps”- this is the sentence that smacks the hand over our mouths and tells us to buck up and quit complaining.

In high school, I missed days of school because of pain and bleeding. I remember wanting to try out for a play so badly, but I knew that the pain could happen at any time, and I couldn’t take the chance that it would happen during an audition or rehearsals. I remember classes where I would watch the clock, just waiting and praying for time to move faster so I could just go home. I auditioned for All State Choir my senior year, and almost had to stop in the middle of my audition because I was sure I would pass out from pain. I thought it was normal. I wasn’t TRYING to be stoic or stubborn. I just…thought it was normal.

I was introduced to shame at seventeen, when I visited a gynecologist for the first time and he prescribed birth control pills for the pain I described. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said yes. He said “well, these will help with that situation too!” I was mortified and told him that I was not having sex. He rolled his eyes. I didn’t fill the script. It was the first time I felt embarrassed to be in pain, like I had done something wrong, like it was my fault.

So why do I write about it now? Well, it’s not because I have magically gotten over any embarrassment or shame or the feeling of being diseased. I write about it for a few reasons.

It comes back. This is a chronic condition that is managed, not cured. I had a complete hysterectomy three years ago, and was hoping for a long reprieve. It lasted two years. For the last year, I have been trying to treat the low-level back pain that occasionally flares into serious pain. In the last few months, I have been getting recurrences of abdominal pain as well. I can read the writing on the wall. I visited several back doctors, thinking maybe there was another cause to the pain. One doctor was a nut job who told me to crush up muscle relaxers and eat the powder throughout the day. The other doctor sent me to physical therapy and told me he wanted me to take medication continuously to let my body rest and heal. After a few months, the physical therapist told me that she didn’t think I needed PT and that she didn’t think my problem was muscular or spinal. I consulted the doctor and told him that I was frustrated that he was prescribing this medicine, even when I didn’t need it and that he still couldn’t tell me if anything was wrong with my back. He snapped at me that if I was his patient, I was required to fill all medicines and take them according to his instructions or he wouldn’t see me. He told that eventually, I would have to have surgery on my back. Obviously, I didn’t return to his clinic. After that I just tried some diet changes, added some yoga and stretching, and…managed. But this month has been rough, and I gave in and saw my Obgyn again. It’s interfered with life- planning my days, how much I am able to accomplish, physical stamina…and writing. Endometriosis can mess with your immune system and cause fatigue as well, and I definitely have felt that. There is a weariness that I push through most days, and some days I give into.

I write about it because I still have to convince myself that having endometriosis is not a character flaw. It has forced me to confront my people pleasing habits- I hate feeling misunderstood, and there is a lot of misunderstanding in this disease. It is hard for me to accept that I might go to an ER someday and be seen as a hysterical female, or worse, a suburbanite drug dealer. It is hard for me to accept that I can’t control that. I have been forced to let go of the fact that there will be family, friends, and doctors who dismiss me. It has forced me to confront my theology of suffering.

But the main reason I write about it, the reason I chose to be open about something so personal, is this- it’s because when I finally read stories of women who can’t wear jeans for an entire day because the pressure on their stomach cause nausea, I cried.

I’m not the only one. 

Because I read about women who search for years for answers and help and who are dismissed and patronized.

I’m not the only one.

Because I read about making the hard choices about pain medicine, hormone treatment and surgeries.

I’m not the only one. 

This is precious to me. This is comfort from Him and I am thankful. And I write so that someone will know they are not the only one.


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“When you love you walk on the water, just don’t stumble on the waves, we all want to go there somethin’ awful but to stand there it takes some grace ’cause oh, we are not as strong as we think we are…”

Maybe you’re like me.

Take a deep breath. Let the relief wash over you. It’s over.

Father’s Day.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe Father’s Day is this mixed bag of wanting to love and honor the man you raise children with, and gingerly protecting your heart from the arrows of praise flying around you about other people’s dads. Maybe you too avoid social media, restaurants, and even church on that day, because it’s all just a little too much. Maybe you also think you are ok, only to find that while it may take a bit more prodding to produce pain, the wounds to your heart are still just as present.

Maybe you already know that they just don’t make a card for the way you feel.

It’s funny how we see ourselves, so resilient and strong. We speak of “getting over” relational pain, and “moving on” from past hurts, as though we are simply describing taking antibiotics for an infection. But really, heartbreak is a chronic condition to be managed, not cured. I wonder how many fathers would leave their families if we told them “by leaving your child, you are giving them diabetes. They will always have it, and it will cause significant life changes, and perhaps even death. It will affect them negatively for the rest of their life”, if more fathers would pause before bailing?

My heart wants to scream “YOU DON’T AFFECT ME”, but my heart whispers “You affect me every day”.  Even now, writing this makes me feel small and vulnerable. I used to feel guilt and shame any time I felt any emotion about the absence of my father, as though I was telling God that He wasn’t enough for me. I covered that pain in big theology words like forgiveness, sanctification, and suffering in joy. The problem was, I never allowed myself to suffer. And so my joy was swallowed up too.

Maybe you’re nodding your head.

I’ve said this before, that this is my favorite verse in the Bible- “The Lord is like a Father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are, He remembers that we are only dust.“- Psalm 103:13-14  I love this for so many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that it shatters my idea that I annoy God with my suffering. That He’s up in heaven just tapping his foot and waiting for me to get over it already! That He rolls His eyes when I avert mine from scenes of grown women and their fathers.

Here is what I know. Growing up without a father sucks. Am I better off without his influence, I don’t know, but I know that not having a father is not what He intended for me. I know that I am 36 and I still expect abandonment from others. I know that there are issues and questions I have that I don’t want to go to my friends with, I want to go to a father with. I know that I don’t trust others easily. I know that I mourn that Wes never had to have the nervous talk about marrying me with anyone. I know that my children will continue to ask more and more questions. I know that it doesn’t take much to put me back in that child’s place, watching him walk away. I know that I don’t struggle with jealousy or envy much, except when I watch those women whose eyes light up when they talk about their dads.

Here’s what I know. Jesus IS enough. Enough to handle my happiness AND sorrow. Strong enough to deal with my anger. Tender enough to lift my head. Patient enough to walk with me through my trust issues and faithful enough to remind me of the truth when lies feel safe. Kind enough to not force me to process all my pain at once, and gentle enough to allow me time to slowly peel back the layers of pain. He is enough.

Maybe you’re like me.



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“With the gravity that pulls you to your knees, There has to be a final reckoning, gravity you know you won’t escape by grace or grave you’ll feel the gravity…”

I got married at the ripe old age of nineteen. I couldn’t drink or rent a car. I could barely vote. I went from living at home to living in a dorm to living with a boy. I had never had a full-time job. I didn’t even have a checking account.

I don’t know what kind of crack our parents were smoking when they said we could get married, but it must have been the good stuff.

There ARE advantages to getting married at a young age but there are also disadvantages-  immaturity, arguments over whether or not a certain person will hang a certain Steven Curtis Chapman poster in a certain living room (hypothetically, of course), and loss of life experiences.

Like flying on a plane alone.

I’ve flown many times with family and with friends but I have never needed to take a trip alone. This fact hit me as I was packing for the Storyline Conference this past February, and I realized that I was like a little baby deer, wobbling and stumbling to get my little flying legs. I will go ahead and admit that as I was going to the airport, I was nervous, not about leaving my babies for a few days or missing my love, but about getting on the wrong plane and ending up in Yemen. No offense to Yemen.

Wes was reassuring, he told me multiple times to just walk to the counter and tell them that I need to check luggage. Let me reiterate that Wes said to walk to the counter and tell them I need to check luggage. That is what Wes, the man I trust and have pledged my life to, said. So I got out of the car and baby deer walked into the airport, right up the counter, smiled brightly and said “I just need to check my luggage!” just like a grown up.

“Uh…we just sell pretzels here, ma’am”

Right. Well, carry on good sir! I slunk back to the actual line of people, where I surreptitiously checked luggage tags for any mention of Yemen, and finally got my luggage checked. I made it onto the plane and to my destination. Check “fly alone with no international mishaps” off the list.

But there was more to come. There was the flight home.

Now, it helps if you know a few things about me- I have some *slightly* irrational fears. I am afraid of heights. I am afraid of drowning. I am afraid of sharks. And I now know that I am terrified of turbulence.

On the flight home, I sat in the window seat, next to a young guy who looked like he was on some sort of a business trip. I pulled out my copy of Bob Goff’s book, “Love Does” that I had gotten at the conference, and began to read. About halfway into the flight, the flight attendant came on the speaker and spoke Yemish…or something. In hind site, I think she was saying we were about to hit some turbulence, but since airlines are not really known for their superior technology, it was difficult to understand. A few seconds later, the plane began to rumba in mid-air. I did that anxious I’m trusting Jesus but seriously this needs to stop smile at my seat mate, who must have been used to this, because he barely glanced up and continued to read his super important graphs and charts. Then it got worse- the plane dipped down sharply and this is where I might have crossed a tiny flying etiquette line…

I grabbed his hand.

I mean, it was just sitting there, doing nothing, acting all casual like oh whatever, I am not scared to plummet to my death, I am a super important hand attached to this businessy guy and we’re just flying coach to be ironic or whatever.  Business Man looks at me, looks down at our intertwined hands, looks back at me and says “Uh…you a little scared?”


You are a big fat liar if you tell me that you’ve never imagined what you might say or do if your plane was crashing. In that moment, I had a few thoughts…this is it…I knew I should have bought that Cinnabon at the airport…now my last meal is gonna be these stupid peanuts…what if we crash in the ocean…surely a plane crash would scare off any sharks…why did I watch that documentary on man-eating squid…great, the headline will read mother of three is eaten by the Kracken…I’m not going down without a fight, I swear I will punch that Kracken right in it’s big stupid face…wait, we are flying over Texas, not the ocean…but what if it’s a lake…I mean, I KNOW there’s no sharks in lakes…but maybe there are fresh water Krackens…oh my word Brandy FOCUS…Abba, please don’t let this plane crash…I mean, I love you and I want to see you but also there’s a lot I still want to do…I haven’t even been to the Harry Potter park yet…and I am not ever flying again…unless it’s to GO to the Harry Potter park…

At this point, I decide that if I am to die in a fiery Kracken/shark death, I want to be distracted, so I (with one hand, because the other is still death gripping Business Man’s hand, who at this point is probably really regretting not shelling out the dough for first class) open up my copy of Love Does and continue to read.

And then I get to chapter ten.  I won’t spoil the book for you, but just trust me on this- GO READ THIS BOOK. Seriously, go do it now, I’ll wait….

Chapter Ten brings a flood of tears, not the pretty girly cute baby in a commercial crying, but the ugly this dog will die today because I didn’t listen to Sarah McLachlan crying. So here I am, with one hand on my book and the other holding tightly to my reluctant seat mate, with tears streaming down my face and I AM JUST HAVING ALL THE FEELINGS.  Business Man looks alarmed and asks “Uh. Seriously. Are you ok?”

Me- (choking)-“Yes…I just…I mean…I can’t…and…”

Business Man- (looking around for the flight attendant or perhaps an air marshall)- “Listen, I think I have some Valium or something in my bag, if you can just let go-“

Me- “I don’t need medication!!”

Business Man (muttering)- “Yeah, I think you do”

The flight attendant finally notices that there is a slight problem and comes over to our seats. She tries to reassure me that we are in no danger and that this is just bad turbulence. I cannot explain through my tears that I am not crying out of fear, I am crying because this book is just so beautiful and yeah, maybe crying a little because of the Kracken. I bought two copies of the book, so I finally just handed her my other copy and told her to just read it.

We landed in San Antonio on our layover to Dallas. Business Man inexplicably changed seats. Rude.

I guess some people just don’t understand that Love Does.



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“I’m not talking about your pie in the sky that you good boys and girls get in the by and by, but rather the strength that we could find if you’ve got the guts to try, and this is why a man as holy as He had to die alone on Calvary, cause it was the only way we could ever see the heaven in His eyes…”

Throughout my life, I’ve faced “Friday” times. These are times when either my sin or just living in a sinful world causes me pain and grief, and it reminds me of this Friday. I think back to His friends and family watching Him be nailed to the cross, hearing Him speak words of love over those who hurt Him. I think about Mary, her mama heart about to beat out of her chest as she fought back her desire to hurt those who touched her son. And in my dark days, I think “this is happening because Friday…”

But Sunday happened.  And without Sunday, Friday is just darkness, injustice, malice and greed. Sunday redeems Friday with a mother’s gasp, running feet, and tender greetings. Sunday is when He did what He said He would, and where He made it right.

We live in Friday here but Sunday happened. This changes everything.

To the friend who will wander into church this week, hoping to find a friendly face, hoping that there is something more than just living hours and hours of Fridays….Sunday happened.

To the mom who cried this week because she felt like a failure…Sunday happened.

To the man who was just served divorce papers…Sunday happened.

To the child who thinks they are worth nothing, that no one could ever love or like them, who tries to please others just to get some acknowledgment…Sunday happened.

To the person who stole this week…Sunday happened.

To the woman who thought her child was just a group of cells, and decided that abortion was the answer…Sunday happened.

To the person who attended another wedding last weekend and cried out of loneliness…Sunday happened.

To the woman who avoids church this week because seeing children just reminds her of her infertility…Sunday happened.

To the pastor who has worked hard on his sermon this week, and spent the rest of the week looking at porn…Sunday happened.

To the man who was fired…Sunday happened.

To the man who was told he was no longer in a family because he is gay…Sunday happened.

To the couple who will smile this week and dress in their sunday best, but live lives of quiet desperation and emotional divorce…Sunday happened.

To the man getting high right now…Sunday happened.

To the child moving to a new foster home…Sunday happened.

To the woman lying in a hospital bed after disease has changed her normal…Sunday happened.

To the single mom wondering how she is going to pay those medical bills…Sunday happened.

To the person who is so angry at God right now, who wants to scream at Him…Sunday happened.

To the person who thought about suicide tonight…Sunday happened.


We live in Friday…but Sunday happened. And unbelievably, that day isn’t the end of the story. Because of Sunday, we are invited to live in a relationship with Jesus. Not a religion, not a ritual, not a rulebook. An intimate relationship with Him. We are invited to follow Him, walk with Him, and He promises to change us. Why do I believe in Sunday when I live in Friday? Because He’s changed ME.

And so I live in Friday, and I remember that Sunday happened…and there is coming another day, a day when faith is made sight and I will see His face. All will be made right, and there will be no Friday.

How can I pray for you in your own Friday?



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And everything in time and under heaven finally falls asleep, wrapped in blankets white all creation shivers underneath, and still I notice you when branches crack and in my breath on frosted glass, even now in death, You open doors for life to enter, You are winter…

A little over a month ago, I attended the Storyline conference in San Diego. After I returned, I was invited for coffee with my sweet friend, Kay Wyma. She and another friend and I spend some time discussing the conference and what my impression of it had been. Kay was so encouraging to me in talking about writing, and I left feeling encouraged, loved, spurred on, determined, and ready for whatever road the Lord has for me. I was excited about writing- and I’ll be honest, it’s been a little while since I have felt passionate about writing. She wrote me the kindest email after our coffee, with encouragement and offers of help. That was about five weeks ago.

Five weeks ago, I developed a kidney stone that took about two weeks to fully resolve.

Three weeks ago, I got food poisoning and spent the night and most of the next day throwing up.

Two weeks ago, I got strep throat and the flu.

One week ago, I was diagnosed with pneumonia.


Right after I came back from San Diego, I sat in my friend’s kitchen with my four closest girlfriends and tears came as I described to them how I had been feeling. I confessed to them that I was experiencing some level of “depression.” I put depression in quotes because I have experienced clinical depression before, and that is not what I was feeling- this was more of a low-level melancholy. (I specify this because I want to be sensitive to my friends who are experiencing true clinical depression- that is not something you can always pull yourself out of) I know myself and my tendency to be melancholy enough to know the small things to do to feel better- don’t isolate, make sure I am reading His word, get outside, exercise, make sure I am eating, get enough sleep, find a creative outlet, choose to be thankful. But I told them that part of my struggle was admitting that I AM feeling down, and not just pretending that I am okay. I wasn’t doing those little things because I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was feeling down. I’ve got a bit of Scarlett O’Hara in me that likes to say “I’ll think about that tomorrow”, and my inner Scarlett has been trying to push through.

But you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.

So here I am, telling you that I am struggling. I feel like I returned from this conference and was ready to fly, and then got systemically knocked down by germ laced arrows. With every fever and cough, I felt myself lose a little bit of hope too. Hope that I would ever feel better, hope that I would get back on track, hope that I wouldn’t wake up and feel sad. If you’ve ever experienced anything like depression, you know that one of the worst parts is how it lies to you, and can convince you that nothing will ever change.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning”- Psalm 30:5

I know “this too shall pass.” I know joy will come. The problem has been that I am ignoring that there is weeping.

Would you pray for me?

Pray for this pneumonia to heal quickly and for energy and health to return.

Pray that I will rely on Him in the difficult and easy times.

Pray for my family as they too battle not feeling 100% and deal with mommy being in bed.

Pray that I will remember that He has something to teach me in the sadness, and that I won’t try to rush past it to avoid feeling bad.

Now for some positive and exciting news…I am praying about writing a book. I have been praying about it for a while, but the Storyline conference and my conversation with Kay helped propel me more in that direction. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear from you- if I wrote a book, what would YOU want to read about?

This is me NOT googling Peruvian brain rickets. Because that's not a thing. I checked.

This is me NOT googling Peruvian brain rickets. Because that’s not a thing. I checked.

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“”I’m thirteen now and don’t know how my friends could be so mean, I come home cryin’ and you hold me tight and grab the keys, and we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away, and we talk and window shop until I’ve forgotten all their names…”

Precious girl,

You came home last week, sadness and dejection written on your usually sunny face. You began to tell me about being bullied by a group of girls at school. It’s almost cliché -a group of girls who do everything together, and for some reason, they have targeted you to make fun of. I asked you what they were mocking, and you told me “they said I like dumb baby things and I talk too much and my hair isn’t pretty and I’m just like, whatever.”  Someday you will understand the astonishment you can feel that anyone would dislike your baby and the riptide of protective rage that can sweep you out before you can even blink.

I was neither wildly popular nor relentlessly bullied in school. I did experience some teasing- the boys who stole my charm bracelet when I was six, a girl in the fourth grade who thought I sang too loud in school (she was probably right), and a classic group of “mean girls” in the sixth grade. In high school, there were a few less than friendly encounters and a boy who cruelly played with my emotions (but that’s another post!) but most of the bullying I experienced then came from a teacher.

Baby girl, as your mama, I can’t imagine anyone not liking you. You are sweet and kind and generous and funny and inclusive and there aren’t enough words to describe how amazing I think you are. But you will face those who see you as an easy target for pain and rage. This heart and flesh that has cared for you from the beginning cries out for justice and even revenge at times, but I want you to know these things…
In order to lash out, there has to be something being held in. Find out what that is. 
I wish I had the wisdom as a child and teenager to see past the name calling and cruel laughter to see, really see the girl who later displayed a severe eating disorder.  I wish I had not been so self protective to realize she never ate lunch. I wish I would have invited her to a sleepover. I wish I had seen her as a person, and not a caricature.  I wish I had the courage to gently confront the teacher who drove me to tears on a weekly basis. To remove the armor I faithfully put on to protect myself, and instead asked him how I could pray for him. I wish I had found my worth and identity in my Father who numbered the hairs on my head instead of projecting my bully’s voice onto my picture of Jesus. I wish I had told him how his words would echo around in an insecure and bruised heart for years.
Be brave enough to be bullied.
You can’t control if someone makes fun of your clothes or hair or voice. But have courage my girl, and choose to be bullied for loving others. Stand up for the girl being teased. Invite the boy to your party, the one who never gets invited. Smile and offer to show the new kid around. Run slower than the kid who is always last, and encourage them to keep trying. Choose one kid who gets teased and make it your goal to befriend them every month.  Take the brunt. Look for the misfit.
Embrace the suffering.
At some point you might read this and roll your eyes. These words might even sting. I know that in the moment of being chosen as the one to be hurt, the idea of doing anything but protecting yourself seems, well, crazy. Know that you can crawl into my lap at any time and I will cry with you, and we will likely share some Rocky Road and I’ll tell you about the time a girl told me every day for a year that I only made a certain choir because the teacher felt sorry for me. But when the tears have subsided and your heart is soft, I will encourage you to lean into the pain, not cower away from it. I’ll remind you that Jesus is real and experienced pain and hurt when persecuted by others. He was abandoned by friends and bullied in a way that led to death and yet even in that moment of agony, He offered forgiveness to those holding the swords. Empathy and kindness grow, and suffering is the water that encourage the roots to reach deep.

“We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” Romans 5:3-6




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