my why.

This month in Angelic Magazine I wrote a vulnerable piece about being a child of divorce. It was birthed out of a moment at my dad’s wedding, post-vows and post-reception. Just me, God, and my broken story.

I knew it would hurt some people to read it. I fought with myself over a desire to water down the hurt, and truly, I’m not sure which side won. I also fought with the words that kept wanting to whisper, “I’m sorry.” For being broken, for being hurt, for being unhappy that two people had chosen lives apart from one another.

And from those words, and conversations with others, I’ve wrestled with my why.

Why do I write here?

Why do I scrawl words in my journal? 

Does my story matter?

And the thing I’ve been learning is this: if I apologize for my words, I may as well apologize for my story. And then I may as well apologize for me.

For being me.


The sometimes broken, always being redeemed, me.

The one who is hurt by her parents’ divorce.

The one who is hurt because he walked away.

The one who still takes pills because she refuses to let depression win. 


I strive for perfection in my words but what matters more is sharing my voice. I do not want to apologize for my voice anymore. I do not want to wait until the broken pieces are glued back together so that no one else cuts themselves on the edges.

Because here is the thing: we cannot heal on our own. I can only cling to hope when I acknowledge my brokenness and my need to be rescued out of it. And hope is the thing that binds us all together, the rope that leads us to Jesus and His redemption.

Healing is messy. We’re going to get hurt. We are going to get offended. We’re going to get it wrong.

But I can’t heal unless I invite others into the mess. You can’t heal unless you invite others into your mess. And the way I make sense of the mess is to scrawl words across a page, when I realize my words are not meant to be hidden, to be watered down, to be tucked behind an apology. Because my story is your story and unless we start sharing our stories, we’ll remain in our corners:

broken and bleeding alone.


So this is my promise to stop apologizing. I promise to keep writing words on pages. And I promise to keep inviting you to the table,

to break bread and break open

to carry our burdens and broken pieces


Holding Broken Pieces


I had been looking at it all wrong.

Holding these broken pieces in my hand, I’d let them define the story. I’d let them become who I was. I’d let them label me unworthy, failure, incompetent.

When all along they’d been broken pieces in need of a Redeemer.

I’d whisper a prayer of forgiveness and still, shame would be nearby and I’d feel the fingers pointed towards me. Never getting it right. Always returning.

Until the morning – with Christmas lights nearby, cold coffee in a mug beside me, the previous late night still effecting this blurred mind –

I read,

“Why are we afraid of broken things?”

I think of the broken pieces I seem to always hold in my hands. The ways in which I fail, and don’t measure up, and the impossible and often confusing stories that are right in front of me.

I hold the mug of coffee closer and I stare at her words again, and I realize in that moment –

I’d been looking at the broken pieces so long I’d failed to see what they really were.

Because broken pieces are really just an opportunity. An opportunity to see that in our weakness, He is made perfect.

When I’d come to Him in desperate need of His grace, I’d stopped short at describing what I held in my hands. I’d stopped short when describing my brokenness – and failed to ask Him to enter into the brokenness and redeem it. To show up. To make something new. To let me see how He is working all things for His glory.

Broken pieces do not mean broken people. Maybe that’s the Truth I am in need of today.

Broken pieces are in need of Holy Hands to stitch them back into something beautiful. Broken pieces are meant for a Redeemer who was broken in order to make us whole.

And in amidst the cold coffee and the twinkling lights –

I offer Him my broken pieces and ask Him to make them something beautiful.

The Soul Feels Its Worth

Tears threaten to fall and I lean forward, head in my palms, feeling the tear make its way down the side of my cheek. Say what you want, but that first tear? Always a dangerous sign that more are to follow.


I can feel it welling up in me, and I bite my lip. (Why would pain cause pain to cease? I’m not sure where this rationale comes from.)

I want to weep.


I pray the words, not sure why, but begging God to give me these two hours until I can weep fully. Until I can stop wrestling to contain the tears.

I flip through the pages of my well-worn Bible until I find the words the preacher says from up above:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of darkness, on them a great light has shone.

img_7581I hear his words from where my head rests again, in my palms.

“Sometimes God breaks you in order to heal you,” he says, like salt to a wound. Moments later: “His silence is sometimes His greatest gift.”

Tears still brim along my lashes and I force myself to sit up again. The Israelites, waiting, wandering in darkness. His silence.

And then there is light.

They walked through the darkness to get to the light. And her words ring true today as they so often do: sometimes we need to walk through what we don’t want in order to get what we need. 


Because He’s always before us, lighting our way, knowing our deepest needs before we even speak a word. He is seeing us, knowing when we rise and when we sit. He knows when we begin and when we end. He is the knower of our thoughts, our wants, our heartaches, our tears.

He is for me. I scrawl it across the purple notebook, for my eyes to wander back to for salve to heart wounds – He is for me. He is with me. Even in silence, even in darkness – for darkness is not dark to Him – there is not a place where we can go that His love isn’t present.

And I hear it, when my heart is tuned to it –


I hear that He is for me in the crunch of leaves as my boots glide through, and in the gradient turquoise that reaches for the horizon. I hear Him tell me He is for me as I stir the spaghetti sauce mixed with tears. And I hear it in bright joy-ed faces and whispered I love you’s across a screen.


He is for me.

He is for me.

Always appearing – 

until finally,

the soul feels its worth.


Blank Pages

It is always the blank page that is terrifying to me. The beginning. When there’s emptiness, needing to be filled, where does one start? How does one know what is to come, where the words will take you, what they will say?

It starts with one letter, one word, until there’s a paragraph. And then you find that there’s a page. Sometimes the words come quietly, softly, until they’ve filled the emptiness with something whole. Other days – the words come slowly, painfully – and it is more of a laboured journey than a discovery of something beautiful.

I’ve been staring at blank pages a lot lately. Each day that there is a deadline scrawled across my agenda. Afraid to start. Putting it off until time is ticking by and I am desperate to place words on page.

Why do I do that? Why do I fear the emptiness and the unknown?

There is something stark about the blank pages in life. Blank pages haven’t just been on my screen; life has felt a lot empty these days. A lot of unknowns. A lot of sitting in the waiting room of life.

Sometimes I feel like that little cursor, blinking, staring blindly up at me. Sometimes life feels much like these blank pages. I am waiting. Afraid to put words on paper – yet everything in this soul of mine is desperate to fill pages with words and see stories unfold.

It’s the beginning that causes me to sit still, to worry, to wonder.

She asks us in the quietness of the classroom – wearied minds, tired eyes, students entering the end that seems so far away – how have we been looking at this world? What concepts, what perceptions have been shaping how we view what’s before us? 

I bow my head as she reads Scripture and it washes over this broken soul. A broken soul so in need of a Saviour, a Saviour to shape and change these ways in which I view this world.

Hope instead of despair.

Faith instead of discouragement.

Joy instead of cynicism.

I pull out the chalks that night, sketching something across rough paper. The next morning I lay in bed far too long dreaming and hugging blankets closer. When I shower, I stop to feel each drop hitting my body. What am I missing in these moments? I ask myself – rushing, tackling The List, never quite reaching the level of Perfection I clearly outline in the sand?


Dying trees peer up through the window as I ready for the day, snow melting it’s way down the ravine behind our building and I stare up at the whitened sky above. Oh to be alive, I think. I reach hands overhead and stretch each muscle. Am I really living when I look at blank pages and fear the beginning? Am I really living when I am in the waiting room and refuse to leave? Refuse to find joy in the season of sitting, of waiting, of unknown?

Doesn’t God promise to be here, too?

Doesn’t He promise He’s here in the waiting, in the humble beginnings, in each letter, in each word – in each step forward even when we don’t know where we are going?

Soul weary, my prayer: oh Lord, make me a lover of humble beginnings. Of unknowns. Change this broken heart to rejoice in the waiting – in these seasons of blind faith, knowing that it is in the darkness you are always passing by, in the trembling – You are always passing by



Pills of Grace

Little yellow pills of grace, I call them. I tell her about them as we walk along James Street, heels hurting our feet, fall wind blowing our hair around us.

I tell her the story of the nurse’s hand, of the time I resisted swallowing those pills, of the way that I thank Jesus His hand isn’t absent from any doctor’s written prescription.

Somehow in this Body of Believers we forget that our brokenness won’t always be made Whole this side of heaven.

I think honouring Jesus can be found in tears and in staying under the covers because the world is too heavy today. I also think Jesus is honoured when I swallow my pills, climb out of bed, and laugh because I feel joy again.

My story might not be your story. You story might be that your cross is to carry the heaviness of depression and offer it to Jesus each day you make yourself climb out of that bed. And I would never tell you that you’re wrong, sweet friend because when our heart’s desire is to Honour our Maker, how can I fault you in the way that you do that? Your story is your story, and I promise to listen and meet you as you share that with me.


And I hope you’ll offer me that same space. Won’t you meet me there, too?

Because my story is that Jesus’ hand of redemption sometimes finds itself holding bright yellow pills. Bright pills that seek to fix this brain of mine that was birthed into a broken world that won’t be fully healed this side of heaven. Somehow, though, there’s healing in this brokenness. Somehow I am given eyes to see Life again. Somehow, I get out of bed with hope blazing at these fingertips and feet that can walk towards that Light again.


Jesus works in mysterious ways. He brings Healing in the least likely of places.

And for me –

Healing is found each morning I open that pill bottle and swallow my pride and accept His grace. Grace that He’s found even in this. Grace that His arms have me –

that I am not my depression,

but a Child of the King.


The Other Side of Fear

I moved to Toronto a few weeks ago. It was hardly a move across the world, or a move worthy of a tractor trailer (well, don’t ask my dad that question) – but it was a move nonetheless. It required summoning up some deep breaths, a lot of prayer, and a lot of sleepless nights. But I’m here. And I live in this little apartment on the third floor in the big city, and I have a roommate who makes me laugh and keeps me up too late, and a balcony that looks out on some woods.

Life is sweeter than I imagined it to be on the other side of that move.

I imagined a lot of tears, and a lot of regret, and a lot of missing. A lot of the aching, something’s absent in my life kind of pain.

And I feel inclined to write this here – that sometimes, on the other side of fear is exactly what your heart hopes for.

There are days when my car shakes a little too much, and my bank account is quite empty, and I cry on a beach because everything hits me all at once. Lfe really is never perfect. But on the days when my car shakes a bit too much? I get to where I need to go. And on the days when I close my eyes for a minute before checking my bank account? I have food in my fridge. And on the days when I sit on a beach because life seems a bit too much? There are birds that fly overhead, wind that makes my hair fly wild around my face, and a whispered prayer that God brought me to the water I love so much.


Change is hard for me, and maybe it is for you too? Sometimes I fall into the pit of depression I wrestle with, and that’s a reality I’ll always face. But when change is written in your story, and God somehow promises to use all things for His glory, can you and I find Him in it all? Will I look for Him? He promises to be found when we look for Him with all our hearts. Do I open my heart wide enough to search for Him even when things don’t look the way I hoped they would? Or even, when they do?


There’s this city outside my door, and it’s a city I get to plant my feet in. I get to walk the harbour at night with him and dream about where the boats are off to. I get to wonder about the people who walk through the cafe each day, and talk to the mamas at the playground as I watch the little guy who’s stolen my heart. Did anyone ever tell you that the place you are in needs you today? That that city outside your door, the one you packed up to move to, the place that had doors held wide open for you to enter, it needs you? It needs your smile and your hands and your feet? 


I’m telling you, it needs you. Don’t forget it. You are needed right where your feet are. But are you willing to land? Are you willing to let them rest there, find their way there, find their home there?

Because on the other side of that fear –

There might just be something beautiful.


The Remembering

On a night when I feel less than remembered, when I feel despair and the familiar pangs of depression, the memories of him I’d left behind –

He asks me – reminds me –

“Think of all the ways that I have remembered you.”

I get out of the rowded room, the loud voices blending together into a sound that churns my stomach. I slip out into the darkness, finding a chair and sitting down. I want to cry. Is it the echoing of God’s question that brims my eyes with tears? Is it my shame at losing sight of the truth that He always remembers?

The cicadas and crickets sing songs to me. A dog barks in the distance. Lights of San Salvador flicker below me in the valley.

Today we wandered places where lives were taken. Murdered. Massacred. Horrors, I am sure, so many did not think they would live through. Did they expect to lose their lives that day at Romero’s funeral? Or when one government challenged another? Did they think, in that moment, that God had forgotten them? Or that He had remembered them?

Did they echo the question I echo so often,

God – do you remember me?


We walked through a church unlike any other I had seen before. Long and high, the building arched across with stained glass stretching along the walls and roof. Slits of glass letting in a rainbow of colours. It was a sea of yellows and blues and greens and reds and purples – dancing shadows across the building. We were told the colours symbolize God’s love – His remembering. God’s love, dancing in colours across the floor, the floor where blood was shed and bullet holes still remain in the door.


Did those colours in that moment remind them that they were Remembered? Or did their questions alongside the bullets echo in the sanctuary?

I have not watched someone die, nor heard the sound of gunshots fill the air. I have only suffered my own loss and heartache that pales in comparison.

And yet, even with stories so different, I wonder if our questions are similar.

“Do you remember?”

I flip through the stained Bible, with odds and ends tucked in pages, ink long since faded through the thin pages. I find the story again. The story of Hannah. I meet her in these pages so often that I can sometimes picture her kneeling, sometimes feel her tears because they are so like my own. A woman who wept bitterly to the Lord for a son – a woman who, years after years, made each trip to the temple, filled that place with her tears, and laid her heart bare to the One who created her.

I see her cry for a son. But what is far louder – is her cry for God to remember her.

To see her. To know her. To speak to her. To grasp her open hands.

God does remember her. He gives her the son she cries out to Him for. But shortly after, she returns the boy to the temple to serve – and I wonder if it’s because the cry of her soul was not just for a son.

Her heart’s cry was for God to remember her. That was the point.


I run my fingers over the words again and again – “And God remembered her.” I am nearly convinced: is the question of wanting God to remember us the big question beneath everything else? In loss? In disappointment? In fear? Brokenness? Our hearts cry out to Him – God, where are you? Do you remember me?


And so I go back to His question, to look for ways in which He has remembered me with love. I list them off:

Quiet time. Cool nights. Luggage that made it. Song of cicadas. Sweet rice and crunchy chicken. Dew drops on leaves. Conor of stained glass dancing on face. Smell of a hundred fires drifting up the hills. The taste of bananas fresh from the branch. Twenty cent washrooms in sight of a full bladder.

And I am reminded:

He remembers. Over and over again, He remembers. He sees. He loves.


God only gives good gifts. I am so quick to forget.

I pray even in their last breaths, their moments, that they felt remembered. They saw Him in the chaos, in the fall of colour as sun slipped through. That they saw Him remembering in the way He protected, the way He saved, in smiles and in tears and last breaths.


I keep finding myself back here, asking. And He just keeps on remembering. Maybe it will be a question I will whisper all through my life. And in the tears and in the smiles, I’ll keep listing the good gifts,

the Love,

The remembering.IMG_6308

It Doesn’t Win.

When I turn to face her, she is already gone.

She stands before me, hands on the counter in front of her, body arched towards the sink. Her eyes are up, her face forward, reflecting back at her in the mirror. The dark grey hair frames her face, and as my eyes find her own I realize she has left me and I wonder how to find her.

Her face is contorted, watching the image in the mirror. The reflection back – is it a stranger to her? I wonder

I am mesmerized by her face. I study the laugh lines, the sun spots, but mostly I study the pain. There aren’t any walls up in this moment. It’s just she and the image in the mirror. I see the despair, the vague look of one who is simply lost. Is it a moment of clarity? Or is it a moment of pain, of emotions bubbling to the surface in which she can’t quite decipher?

I reach forward, speaking her name and turning on the tap below her. She comes back. She reaches forward, the hands letting the water rush over the skin, and although the moment passes and is written into history I cannot shake the image of her face.

I try to explain it in our meeting. I think of it that night as I lay in bed. Her face. So lost.

It’s an image I won’t ever forget. The face of a disease that steals memories, that steals words and moments and a lifetime of stories.IMG_5835

But that face?

It sometimes still smiles.

When her love walks in the room, it lights up.

As Irish tunes float from the old piano breaking the silence, her wrinkles reveal years of laughter and joy.

That face might bear the image of a disease but it also tells me another story, of a life lived well and long. Those images are fleeting – but they are there. And I grasp onto them, determined that this disease cannot always win. It cannot steal it all.

And so we play the music, and we wait for the smiles, and we remind ourselves, that in the end – in this moment –


it doesn’t win.

Rain & Snow.


I walked out of the door and into the soft drizzle. A melodic, spring-like rain in the middle of December. It should have been snow.


Making everything new in its wild, beautiful way – but instead, it was rain. And it fell on my face and it mixed with my tears and I hated the way that in that moment, the world around me reflected the world inside of me.

I heard one thing on that drive home, as my hands mirrored the wiper blades and pushed away the unwanted tears. ‘Don’t be afraid of the darkness,’ the Rain said to me. ‘Don’t be afraid of the tears and afraid of the rain. Just walk into them. Let them do what they were meant to do.’

I let the tears run free.

I walked slowly in the rain to my door.

And sadness, when it’s felt, and it isn’t tiptoed around and avoided – somehow becomes a lot less scary.

Somehow it becomes a little more gray than black,

a tattered heard that not’s destroyed but in need of a mending.

And even though it’s rain in the middle of December, and there’s no snow to make things beautiful and whole again – somehow the rain does its job, the one it was always meant to do.

The One Who Weeps


The sunglasses weren’t big enough like I had hoped they would be.

They didn’t hide the tears; they simply masked them. They weren’t helpful in getting rid of the red, puffy eyes, or silencing the curse words I muttered under my breath. They weren’t the shield I desperately needed that day.

And as I slid into the classroom, earlier than usual, my student asked me why I had arrived so much sooner than she. “I was wandering,” I answered, although in my jumble of words I’m not sure if those were the ones that came out. “I didn’t know what else to do.”

And it’s true. And in so many ways, I still don’t.

That night, I sunk into the bath water, hoping to wash away the tears and the day. It too, was not enough. I held onto my book, seeking to get lost in words and yet in a painful irony the words only seemed to mirror my day.

I had been walking around in a haze that day. For days before, and days after, the haze followed. It was a familiar, painful, aching sorrow. The kind that you know nothing in this world will fix. Not the words, “it’s for the best,” not the hug from a friend, not the chocolate you dig out from the back of a freezer.

And I’m sad, but I’m also angry, angry at the words I’ve let slip, angry at the resentment I’ve clung to, but also angry at my tears. Angry that I’m sad. Because I think, somehow, in this twisted world, we’ve equated sadness to the absence of joy. As if being sad isn’t healing. As if sadness is holding onto the past. As if we shouldn’t buy the box of Kleenex because the tears shouldn’t be there in the first place.

And so as I’ve wandered through the events scribbled into my day planner, I’ve compared and I’ve been sorry for the tears and the sadness. I’ve stared down at my boots, step, by step, and whispered into my heart that I’m sorry I’m sad, and I’m sorry I’m broken, and I’m sorry I’m grieving.

But this is the thing that Jesus keeps reminding me in this hazy season: He wept.

He is the God who wept.

And I can’t help but think, that as I withdraw in moments and find solace in my sadness, that He too did the same.

That as I try to hide my tears, shame dripping amongst them as I slip on my sunglasses for the umpteenth time, or slide into the solitude of my car, that He tells me He catches them all in a bottle. They don’t fall haphazardly on the ground, or dissolve into the redness of my cheeks. He catches them all. He tells me there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh – a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

We talk a lot about the laughing. There is an entire section in Chapters of the positive mindset, breathing words and false hopes that if you set your mind to the realm of positivity your life will be more fulfilled. We talk a lot about dancing, too. We pull ourselves out into a world that gives us distraction upon distraction upon distraction: alcohol and food and video games and lives filled with hundreds of phone contacts and Facebook friends. But we don’t do a lot of talking about the mourning. We do a lot of the tough love, the “keep your chin up, grow thicker skin and push through.”

But I just keep coming back to those words of my Jesus, that He was the one who wept. And He is the one who catches my tears.

So instead of my shame defining who I am –

today it is Jesus,

he one who wept. The one who laughs and cries,

the one who tells me that I am blessed as I mourn because He is the God who comforts, who holds, who catches, who redeems.