Thursday, February 20, 2020

It's real. It's really real

I went to a nail salon today. It's not a typical thing for me, but I had a free morning so I thought I'd take the opportunity. I really like this salon. The Vietnamese girl who owns the place is so sweet and always provides great conversation. Today was no different. We chatted about a recent trip to Vietnam she had made and about different news stories that were playing on television as she worked. An older lady came in and sat next to me, starting up a cheerful conversation as well. 

The news aired a story that shook me. In Las Vegas, a kindergartner came home to tell her mom of a new "game" her teacher had played with the class. She said it was "kind of like duck duck goose, but different". The game was called "Hunter Chase the Slave" and the little girl went on to say that you could have a gun or dogs or whips if you catch your slave. I was appalled. In the story, the little girl's mother, a black woman herself, was interviewed and explained her horror at this being played with children at her school. She met with the school principal who immediately took action (the teacher was removed from the classroom pending a full investigation). 

In the salon, we talked about the story. I'll admit I didn't say anything for a moment, as I was trying to hold back tears at the thought of such a horrific thing. My nail tech said, "What was that teacher thinking?" The lady beside me then sighed heavily and said, "Well, here we go again. Another story of a black lady just wanting people to feel sorry for her so she can get something for free or her five minutes of fame". She went on to say "It's crazy that people actually try to get us to believe that racism is still real. This is not slave days anymore. Do they think we're stupid?". I was completely shocked at that point, and stated, "I disagree. Racism is real. I'm looking at it and hearing it right in front of my face in this very moment". 

She was defiant and angry at that. How dare I suggest that she was racist? And so I told her that I was the mom of a beautiful black daughter who had endured racism personally. I explained to her that I knew it was real because we had experienced it. My voice faltered a little as I spoke, and she chuckled that I was "actually convinced this was real". 

Last year, while a 6th grader, our daughter was victimized via social media. Another student, using an account at the school, posted pictures of our daughter with her face "X"'ed out and statements about how ugly she was. They also posted vile and graphic statements, both racial and sexual in nature about her, and finally they ended with a statement about how they wanted her dead. Not everything that was said about her was racial in content, but enough of it was. And it was so hurtful. Thankfully, Ellie did not have social media at the time and thus did not see all of the posts. Some of her friends saw and reported it to their parents and teachers (Thank you students for handling that so beautifully!). 

I won't go into details about the case, but law enforcement had to be involved as a threat was made to her life via a school account. And I'll tell you that the school swept it under the rug and caused a great difficulty for law enforcement to even investigate fully. In the end though, we were sure of who the culprit was, and that student has moved out of state. But the hurt remains. 

In all of this (as in instances in previous years), Ellie remained loving, graceful, compassionate, forgiving, and altogether heroic. I wanted to rip someone's eyes out of their head, if I'm blatantly honest. I was angry. But Ellie simply said, "How bad must someone's life be to want to hurt me like that, mom?". Geez. Talk about putting me in my place! Ellie taught me in that moment a couple of things. 1. We can't fight injustice with just anger. Love must be our weapon. And y'all, that girl is FILLED with love. It oozes from her. 2. My being angry didn't change things; My actions could. Jeff and I worked with law enforcement, and when given the opportunity, we were able to speak to the principal about our disappointment in how things were handled on her part and how she could do it differently in the future. BECAUSE IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. That's a guarantee. 

I've looked for where I'm supposed to speak into these issues. I am convinced that we've walked through this experience and others in previous years for a purpose. We have a voice. And today, that voice was needed to speak TRUTH to a lady in a lofty position of whiteness and arrogance and ignorance that racism is still very real. It hurts and destroys and maligns, and if left unanswered it spreads like a cancer. 

I have come to believe that a big part of what's wrong in this world is that we refuse to acknowledge and believe each other's stories. If that lady today had been willing to just listen to our story, maybe she could have seen something different than her current belief. And don't get me wrong: I've been guilty too of not hearing people out. But y'all, when we take the time to really listen, we hear the heart of a person. And that's where change happens The people in my life who are the least like me are so very dear to me because we've taken the time to hear one another's hearts. That changes things. 

So, who do you need to listen to today? What is it you've been refusing to acknowledge as truth because you haven't experienced it yourself? How can you make a change in the direction of understanding and empathy today? Perhaps if we each take one small step toward each other every day, we can truly come together eventually. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

26 years

26 years ago yesterday, we said "I do". It's been one heck of a ride, and I can't imagine a better roller coaster partner than my man. So... in honor of 26 years, here's 26 reasons I still do....

1. He says "I love you" with words and actions.
2. He always keeps his word.
3. He cleans the kitchen after I cook dinner. Every. Single. Night.
4. He has fun with me, but never fun at my expense.
5. He still opens the doors for me. All of them. Every time.
6. He has laundry folding parties with me.
7. We are still honeymooning. Yep, that's exactly what I mean.
8. He goes along with my wild ideas, particularly with decorating.
9. He hears my dreams and makes them happen.
10. He never lies to make me feel better. He's honest with me always.
11. He knows I'm a strong woman, but still takes care of me as if I needed it.
12. He does the bills and gives me a "report" of where we are financially. It's not because he thinks I'm too dumb to do it. He just knows I hate doing it, but wants to make sure we are on the same page.
13. He calls me "Bird".
14. He's the best human I know. Seriously. The VERY BEST HUMAN EVER.
15. He made me my farm table, then helped me find a house that it would fit in when we moved.
16. He cries with me.
17. He holds my hand.
18. He dates me.
19. He writes me love letters.
20. He is the best dad around, and teaches me how to parent well.
21. He is interested in the things I enjoy.
22. He is my #1 fan in everything.
23. He tells me I don't look like a hooker when I'm wondering if my outfit is ok.
24. He sends me texts throughout the day just to tell me he's thinking about me.
25. He takes care of himself physically so that we can live a long life together.
26. He's all mine, every day of every year. And it just keeps getting better.

Love you, Jeff. Here's to the rest of our years together! I will always choose you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Thoughts on Holy Week...

We are in the midst of Holy Week, the most significant week ever for those of us who profess to follow Jesus. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 28 years now, and I have been in church my entire life, so suffice it to say that I’ve had a lot of Holy Week teaching in my years. But if I’m brutally honest, a lot of it has just skimmed the surface of my heart. Sure, I know all the right things to say. I know that the week signifies when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey just as the prophecies foretold. I know that he cleared the temple when he found money changers cheating people. I know that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. I know Judas Iscariot  made negotiations to betray Jesus. I know about the Last Supper with his disciples and how he washed the feet of those men that night. I know how Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, and it was there that Judas betrayed him with a kiss. I know Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the Pharisees began to make their case against him. I know that he was eventually sentenced to death on the cross- a horrific and torturous death. I know about the nails and the crown of thorns. I know how he breathed his last breath, then was buried in a borrowed tomb, and three days later arose from the dead just as He proclaimed he would. 

Chances are, you’ve heard the story as well. And that’s precisely the problem.

We still think of it as just a story. We treat it as a made-up story with tragedy and a fairy tale ending, and we miss out on the heart of it. 

I’m experiencing Holy Week differently this year. I’m trying to sit with the reality of what happened during this week all those years ago and how it’s still so real and beautiful and transforming today. I’m trying to grasp the GRACE of Holy Week. Too often, we miss this part. We are too busy trading the Cross for Easter baskets full of eggs and candy, and trading the crown of thorns for frilly dresses and bonnets. 

Please don’t hear me say that I’m a hater of Easter traditions. If that’s all you hear from this writing, you’ve missed my point entirely. I’m just saying that I’ve been guilty in the past of focusing on the outward and man-made traditions of Easter that I miss the holiness. I don’t want to be guilty of allowing a bunny or dresses or baskets or honey-baked ham or “Up From the Grave He Arose” be what is worshipped instead of a Savior who gave himself up out of obedience to the Father for the atonement of sin once and for all. 

When I think of Easter, I think of healing. Isaiah 53:5 tells us that “by his stripes we are healed”. It’s true. The work is already done; the healing is ours for the taking. It seems too simple, doesn’t it? I get that. But let me tell you this: I have experienced His healing- physically, spiritually and emotionally. I KNOW it’s real. My life is a living testimony of the healing power of Jesus. And Easter is what made it possible. When Jesus died on that cross, it was because he was being obedient to his father to carry the sin of the world on himself. He who knew no sin bore ours. But if the story ended there, that’s not Easter. You see, Jesus defeated death when three days after he was crucified, he rose again to life. No other god of any religion can say they worship a living God. The same power that resurrected Jesus from the tomb can resurrect a marriage that is dead, a relationship that has lost its life, an addiction that is killing you slowly, a mind that tells you that you’ll never be ok. You have healing, and I have healing, because Jesus is alive. 

But Easter also makes me think of redemption. Sometimes life hands us things we’d rather not hold. Sometimes we find ourselves facing situations that seem daunting, impossible even. And there are days when we feel the air has been sucked out of the room, and we are just struggling to survive. And it’s in those times when the redemptive power of Easter is alive. Just as the resurrected body of Jesus was restored to fullness, we are too. When we surrender to him, all the broken pieces of our hearts and lives are redeemed. We find purpose in our pain, ministry in our messy-ness, testimonies that point to the power of a loving God who restores. We find that our scars tell a story of his power, emphasized in our weakness. 

Friends, Easter is real. And it’s not a bunny or painted eggs or pastel dresses and pictures in front of the freshly planted flower beds. It’s a bloody Savior, broken body on display for a crowd who hurled insults at him. It’s a council of Religious leaders that preferred to kill an innocent man than admit they were wrong about their teachings and religious practices. It’s a mother watching her son die in agony. It’s the Messiah, feeling the weight of humanity’s sin and feeling separated from His Father for the first time ever. It’s darkness, death and destruction.

But it’s also light bursting forth from the tomb when death was defeated forever. It’s victory when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. It’s beauty of obedience even to death. It’s LIFE arising from death. It’s PURPOSE. It’s HOPE. It’s GRACE. It’s HOLINESS

And it’s ours.

May the reality of Easter envelop your heart this week. If you don’t know this Savior Jesus, I’d love to introduce you. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

7 Years...

It's been 7 years, but I can remember it like it was 7 hours ago. I sat at the kitchen table with my son, going over his homeschool assignments for the day As I  looked over his work, I asked him a simple question without ever looking up. He didn't answer me. When I looked up, I didn't see defiance or a sullen teen who simply wasn't answering his mom. I saw defeat, deep sadness, hopelessness. I saw tears running down his face. Something was not right.  And then I heard these words, "Mom, I'm not ok. I need help".

Those words began a journey that saved my son's life. He was in a deep depression, and told us later that he had a suicide plan he intended to carry out. That day, something within him fought for help, and he put aside his pride, fear, and doubt, and let it out. To say I'm thankful for his cry for help seems so small.

What I'm thankful for is a son who is about to turn 23, who smiles and laughs and is pursuing his dream. What I'm thankful for is the opportunity to watch him heal, to watch him learn to love life again, to watch him love others fiercely who have walked or are walking through this kind of pain. I'm immensely thankful for the chance to hear him play the drums, to hug his sweaty neck, to hear his heart about the things he's passionate about. I'm thankful to pick up my phone and see a text from him saying "I love you mom". I'm thankful, alright. My heart is overjoyed that I can celebrate today as an anniversary of the greatness of God who brought healing to my son rather than the anniversary of the day we lost him.

Let that sink in. It isn't lost on me that today could hold such vastly different emotions for us as parents. Today we could be reminiscing on a life that was, and instead we have the joy of celebrating a life that IS.

I'm so proud that my son made a man's decision that day- to fight against the idea that 'real men don't cry' or that it's weak to ask for help. He made a plea that day, and because of it, he's alive today- thriving in his dream of pursuing his music, in love with a beautiful young lady, and surrounded by family and friends who love him like crazy.

Bryan, I'm so glad you made that choice 7 years ago. I'm so thankful to see how far you've come. I'm proud of how you are there to help others walking through depression and suicidal thoughts because you get it. I'm proud to call you mine, and I'm forever grateful to God for allowing me the blessing of being your mom.

If you're reading this and struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts today, please don't wait to ask for help. You're worth it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


When I was a little girl, my brother used to tell me there was someone or something hiding in the closet. It was an effective way to get me to be quiet for sure, and perhaps that’s why he did it. Suffice it to say, I was scared of what may come creeping out of that dark closet. As I grew, I began to understand that there was nothing to be scared of in between the clothes and toys, and that sometimes brothers are just mean to younger sisters (believe me, I’m sure I deserved it!)

As I got older, fear of dark closets was replaced by a fear of bees, wasps and really anything that flew around and buzzed. My neighbor, Charlie, amazed me at his ability (AND DESIRE!) to hold a wasp in his bare hands without ever getting stung. I vividly remember asking him to do it again and again. I thought he was one of the bravest people around for that stunt. Today, I kinda just think he was nuts! 

When I got to college one of my biggest fears was spiders. Ok, I’m still afraid of spiders. My first year of college, I went on a date with a guy I met at school. We were both from Louisville and home on the same weekend, so we made plans to go out. He asked me over to his house to meet his family, then had plans for a movie. I met his folks and they left for the evening, so he and I were hanging out until time for our movie. I was standing in his hallway looking at family pics and trophies from his younger days when I felt something on my shoulder. I thought he had just tapped me, so imagine my shock when I looked to find a GIGANTIC TARANTULA on my shoulder! 

I wet my pants, y’all. Seriously. 

We spent the next hour doing my laundry in his house after I showered and borrowed a pair of his sweatpants. No movie that night.. or any night after that. (My momma didn't raise a fool)

Fear is a funny thing (or not), isn’t it? I have an aunt who is crazy fearful of cats. I know people whose lives are crushed by the fear of being in a crowd. My daughter has a fear of dogs that prevents us from going to houses with dogs unless she is 100% sure they are put up. It’s an understandable fear for her, but it disrupts her ability to be with people sometimes. 

That’s what fear does; it disrupts. 

Two years ago when I prayed about what my word for the year would be, I felt the Lord tell me “fearless”. I embraced it. That year, among other things, I put on a bee suit and worked with a friend who has beehives, actually finding the queen in the midst of hives! I started thinking in terms of “conquering fears”, and it felt good. Really good. 

In December of 2017, I felt the Lord telling me to keep that same word for 2018. It didn’t make any sense to me. I’ve never kept the same word two years in a row, and I couldn’t understand what the Lord was doing. I thought I had done well with embracing fearlessness in 2017. Was the Lord telling me that I hadn’t done well after all? What was up? But whatever the reasoning, I knew He was telling me “Fearless is your word. Trust me”. 

Little did I know what was coming. 

We were in the midst of making some awesome plans for an anniversary trip to Hawaii, and I decided that getting in a shark cage would fit in perfectly with my “fearless” year. So, I found a place, and we made reservations. And I assumed that was that; I’d prove my fearlessness in a cage surrounded by sharks. 

But God had other plans. He began to move in our hearts as we prayed in January “God, are we where you want us to be?”. For 19 years, He’d answered that prayer with “yes. You are in Richmond KY where I want to use you”. And it was good. So very good. But in January of this year, He began to stir in us that there was something else, someplace else. And so we prayed. 

 Little did I know how much a simple text from one of the pastors at Hillvue Heights Church would change my life and challenge all I had learned about what it means to be fearless. This church was asking for Jeff to come to Bowling Green KY to serve on staff. Not only were we talking about a move across the state, but we were talking about Jeff going back to church staff! I was afraid. Our lives were comfortable, and I had loved the past 6 years of Jeff serving in ministry outside of a church staff. What if things weren’t as good and as comfortable? (this cracks me up now. Following Jesus isn’t supposed to be comfortable!!)  What if the church didn’t like me? What if the church expected me to have the same gifts that Jeff has? What if Ellie didn’t make friends? What if I didn’t make any friends? What if we never met anyone else who would play Settlers of Catan?? What if BG didn’t have a good coffee shop? (ok, they don’t have a Purdy’s, but I digress) What if there was no place for me there? What if I lost myself in this move and crashed into depression and resentment that I’d followed Jeff somewhere and was left without anything? 

Fear had crept in. It was crippling me, if I’m honest. We obeyed the call that we KNEW was from the Lord. And we showed up in Bowling Green with a suitcase and some toiletries and nothing more because our house hadn’t sold yet. We walked into the church that first week, and I was terrified. It had been almost 20 years since I’d walked into a church where I didn’t know almost everyone. And the Lord met me there. As the music started, I heard His sweet whisper saying “thank you for obeying. It’s going to be an incredible ride”. When waves of fear crept up, I could literally feel him crushing them back down with a simple “I’m in control; I’ve got this. You can trust me”. 

And I can. 

And so can you. 

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have this down yet. I still feel the fear sneaking in sometimes. In the stillness of the night, as I’m laying in bed, I still feel the lump rise in my throat, and more times that I like to admit, the tears roll down my cheeks, and I just cry into Jeff’s shoulder. But I’m finding more and more that those tears are for homesickness and not fear. And for that I’m so very grateful. 

I don’t know about you. I don’t know what fears you’re wrestling with. Maybe you’ve been called somewhere new. Maybe you’ve been called away from a job you know and love well. Maybe you’re being called back into the workforce after a time away, and it terrifies you to think about that. Maybe you look at your bank account and wonder how it will ever be enough, and you feel the fingertips of fear around your throat, threatening to choke you. Perhaps the doctor has looked at you with sadness and regret at having to tell you the bad news of a diagnosis that you never wanted to hear, and you feel the smothering cloth of fear covering your mouth to suffocate you. Maybe you’re watching with trembling as your children make decisions that could have devastating consequences on their lives, and you feel the grip of fear rise out of the depths of water to pull you under. I don’t know your story. 

But I know my God. And He is able. 

He is able to conquer my fear and yours, my friend. He is able to destroy the walls that fear builds around your heart. He is able to crush the mountain of doubt and terror that stands in front of you and seems impossible to get over or around. He is able to navigate the path out of fearfulness that is hidden by the overgrowth of fear and unbelief. 

He. Is. Able. 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who stumble and fall Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fail. Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident”. (Psalm 27:1-3)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lessons from the lotus flower...

When we were in Hawaii recently, I saw may beautiful things (duh), not the least of which were the gorgeous flowers around the islands. The smells were incredible, so sweet and strong. But one of my favorites was the lotus (I believe some in Hawaii call it the water lily as well). I’ve been thinking about that flower a lot, as I’ve recently done some reading about it. And then last week, a friend sent me some gorgeous photos of lotus flowers she had just taken, and I knew I had to write out some thoughts. 

It’s no secret that life has been a bit “hectic” for us lately (hello, captain obvious!). Three weeks ago, we moved to a new city, new church, new school, new everything. We left behind a life that we absolutely loved. I have done my fair share of grieving these past few weeks. But amid that sadness and homesickness, the Lord is using the lotus flower to teach me some pretty incredible things. 

The lotus flower will only grow in the mud. It lies buried under the water until sunlight comes in the morning, and the plant rises through the mud and the pond water and ultimately blooms into a beautiful pink or white flower. It’s not hindered by the mud and water around and over it; in fact, it THRIVES on those things. When the sun goes down, the flower closes and the stalk sinks back under the water for the night, only to rise again the next day.

Maybe you see where I’m going here. I’ve discovered that I really don’t embrace change as much as I thought I would because it’s terribly uncomfortable and well, if I’m honest, I’d prefer to live in my comfort any day of the year. But beauty doesn’t often come from comfort, does it? In my life, I’ve come to see that the most beautiful things I have are those which came through pain, trials, effort, tears, sweat, fervent prayers, aches, work, waiting… Things like a marriage that has endured the ups and downs of life and is thriving. Things like children born through pain, given through hardship, and loved fiercely through the fires of life. Things like confidence in who I am because I’ve walked through the murky waters of self-doubt and fear. Or the beauty of true JOY because I know what it’s like to walk through sadness and depression and not wanting to be here anymore.  I can celebrate joy of knowing I’m seen and loved wholly as I am because I’ve thrown off the cloak of shame over my life. 

The “mud” in our lives often leads to the most beautiful things we could imagine. And yet, time and time again I would choose not to walk through it. It’s hard to walk through mud, isn’t it? Literally and figuratively, it’s just hard. It requires effort and strength. Sometimes we feel like we just don’t have it within us to get through that mud, don’t we? Well, I’m sorry to burst any bubbles here, but we don’t. On our own, we can’t do it. It’s just not possible in our strength. 

And yet…

My God is so faithful. Just as he raises the lotus flower, he raises me. Just as he made that beautiful flower to flourish in the mud and murkiness of the pond water, he has made me flourish amid the “muddy” and “murky” things in my life. And he has made you that way too. His strength provides the means to rise above what could hinder us in life. His love provides the ability to hold our heads above the water and bloom where we are- even if that happens to be in the middle of a dirty pond. His sacrifice on the cross allows us to see this life with eternal perspective, knowing that what we are enduring is just for a little while- the morning will come, and we will rise to bloom again. 

So, if you’re like me right now and find yourself in a season of uncertainty- if you’re just not quite sure of why God has planted you where you are, and if you’re wondering if he has forgotten to reveal his purpose to you, HOLD ON. The morning is coming, and just like the lotus flower, he will lift us up out of the waters and make us bloom. Our lives will give off the sweet smell of a God who loves us wholly and eternally and perfectly. No storm can rip us from his grip. No trial can imprison us from his will. No chains can hold us down. No doubts can erase his purpose and plan for us. 

In a season of uncertainty, I’m so very grateful to know that I am in my Father’s steady arms. I know this because I am his adopted daughter, one of his very own children. If you don’t know that for yourself, I’d sure love to tell you more about it. God is for you, my friend. He loves you with an everlasting love. You can trust him. 

Go bloom, friends. I’m praying for you today…

Photo Credit: Shannon Wyatt

Thursday, April 26, 2018

28 years...

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the over wrought heart and bids it break.” (William Shakespeare, Macbeth)

 It's been 28 years today
336 months
 1460 weeks
  10,220 days
  245,280 hours

Suffice it to say, it's been a long time since I was raped in the parking lot of my high school. Today's weather is remarkably similar, a slight chill in the air but sunny nonetheless. I'm listening to a bird sing outside my window right now, and I can actually remember hearing the same thing the morning I was raped as I walked out of my house to go to school. Little did I know how that night would end. 

If I sit here long enough, I could likely detail every moment of that day...the test I took in Mr. Weidmar's class, the songs we played in jazz band, the clothes I was wearing that day...all of it. And yes, I can recall every detail of the act of rape itself, even after 28 years. If I allow myself to dwell on those memories, I can get to a really dark place. Just because time has passed, don't think that the hurt isn't still there. It is, and it's raw and gnawing. 

In years past, I've approached this day with more joy, feeling grateful for my healing and so thankful for how the Lord has restored me completely. I've rejoiced that my suffering hasn't felt like it was in vain because I've had the honor of sitting with countless other ladies who have walked this road too, and I get to tell them that healing is possible. I STILL FEEL ALL OF THOSE THINGS. 

But this year has been different for some reason, Maybe it's the "me too" movement. Maybe it's all the media about sexual violence. Maybe it's something altogether different; I really don't know. But what I do know is that I'm sad this year. I'm not depressed and ready to kill myself. I'm not weeping hysterically all the time. I'm not secluding myself in my room and eating chocolate until I fall into a sugar coma. I'm just carrying about my life with a sadness in me. 


I'm learning that it's ok to walk through these kinds of seasons. My sadness doesn't mean I'm not healed. On the contrary! I would argue that my sadness is a sure sign of healing- I'm allowing myself to feel the pain I stuffed down for years as I struggled to make sense of what I'd endured. No more stuffing here. I'm sad, and it's ok to say that. It's ok to feel that sadness. It's ok to cry (gasp!) It's ok to let others see that just because I'm healed and whole and redeemed and no longer a victim, I can still feel great sadness over the loss I endured at the hands of that man. 

Healing isn't removing all the memories or pain. Healing is learning that those memories and pain have no power over you anymore. And today, I can assure you, these memories have no power over me. The Lord has overcome, and He has healed me. 

A friend shared a  song with me recently, and it has become my anthem of healing. It's called "I'm No Victim" by  Kristene DiMarco, and it is beautiful. Here is the bridge:

I am who He says I am
He is who He says He is
I'm defined by all His promises
Shaped by every word He says

I can choose to be defined by the act of rape or the words whispered to me during that act. I can choose to be defined by the choices I made in the aftermath of the rape, the dysfunctional ways I handled the trauma. I can choose to be defined by what some in the world would call me- damaged, defeated, wounded beyond repair, a victim. I can choose to be defined by my own fears and frustrations. I can choose to be defined by only the memories of the pain. And yet... I CHOOSE to be allow the Lord to define me. 
I choose to believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by him (Psalm 139).
I choose to believe that I can live fearlessly because He is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27).
I choose to believe that I am a friend of God (John 15:15).
I choose to believe that I am made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). 
I choose to believe that I am found holy and blameless before the Lord (Ephesians 1:4). 
I choose to believe that I have been made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). 
I choose to believe that the peace of God guards my mind (Philippians 4:7) and that He will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19).

I can't end this without saying this: If you have been raped or assaulted or if you find yourself in a dangerous relationship today, don't stay silent. Speak up and get help. If you need me to point you to some good options for help, I'd be happy to do so. If you're struggling with believing you're worth the effort it takes to heal, let me assure you that YOU ARE. And I'll happily  believe it for you until you're ready to believe it yourself. Don't wait any longer to take the first step to healing. It is possible. You do not have to be defined by what happened to you any longer. I'm living proof. 

To God be the Glory for that truth....