Tag Archives: love


To Love is To Listen Well (My First Attempt to Write About Thailand And so Much More)

To love is to listen well. It’s a phrase I’ve been thinking on for several months. It’s a seed that has slowly grown in the soil of my mind into a flowering garden in my spirit.

To love is to listen well.

I’ve seen a lot of pain this year—personally, yes—but also in the church.

Mark Driscoll. Bill Gothard. Leadership Journal and the sex predator article. Scandal after scandal rocked Christendom this year as controversy after controversy awakened the fact that spiritual abuse and sexual abuse happen more frequently than we’d like to think.

Tensions ran high in Ferguson, MO, as African Americans pleaded with a country to hear their cries of injustice and intolerance. Minority voices broke out again and again to plead with the church to hear their stories, to help them achieve justice.

Women cried out that #YesAllWomen are affected by rape culture, sexism, and misogyny—even in hallowed places like the church. They told story after story of sexual harassment and abuse, filling the Internet with words of startling clarity as to how far our society still needs to come in the fight for equality.

This is only a snapshot of everything that went on this year. I work in publishing (in online marketing) and I’m in the thick of watching trending stories in the church and the world.

There is so much pain. For much of this year, I read story after story. I had no words, no meaningful voice to contribute to the conversation. I was overwhelmed by sorrow, anger, and despair that our world, our church, our families could ever change. What do I do, God? I asked. What do I do?

Again and again, the phrase kept rising in my mind.

To love is to listen well.


Then I traveled to Thailand and encountered profound darkness. An unhealthy cultural cycle that thrives on abuse, sexual exploitation, and broken families. My heart cried out within me. What do I do, God? I asked again and again. What do I do?

And the answer came again: To love is to listen well.

So I listened.

Literally. All I did in Thailand was listen. I didn’t talk much, because it was all so overwhelmingly, amazingly hard and beautiful. I listened to the Spirit of God speaking to my soul as I prayed and prayed and prayed for strength to get through the trip. I listened to the founders of ministries, and I listened to former prostitutes tell their stories. I listened to my team members talking about media and nonprofits, and I listened to children laughing in broken English. I listened in coffee shops cold with AC and in the sweltering humidity of Southeast Asia. I listened in a five star restaurant, and I listened in a poverty-stricken village. I listened in run-down jeeps, vans, airplanes, motorbikes, hotels, and red-light districts.

I heard stories of violence, rape, coercion, and abuse that made my stomach turn. Yet I also heard stories of redemption and hope that caused me to ache with the beauty of this complex world.

I listened, and my heart changed.

So I’m convinced that if we all just listened, our world would change for the better. If we sat down with others we don’t understand or are afraid of, looked them in the eye, and listened, hearts would change. If we walked alongside the broken, the battered, the wounded and really listened to their pain, healing would come.

Because to listen is to see with the heart.

To really listen helps us empathize with what others are feeling, thinking, and seeing. To really listen helps us leave our own self-absorbed concerns and step inside someone else’s story.

To love is to listen well.


I invite you to really listen as I share about my trip to Thailand. I invite you to listen as I pour out what I saw, felt, and heard. I invite you to listen to my own heart as I continue down my own journey of brokenness, grief, healing. Because everything I saw in Thailand is intricately linked to my own healing journey. And it’s linked to yours as well.

So please—I ask you to sit down, read this blog, and listen over the coming months.

Because one thing I learned irrevocably on this trip: I love to listen because I am a Storyteller, and my deepest desire for this blog is share stories with you of beauty and light, hope and healing.

Yes, to love is to listen well. But then it’s to share what you’ve learned with the world so other hearts will change and heal, too.


8 Things I’m Learning about Healing from Past Pain and Tragedy

I’m baaaack!! (Okay, at least for today.) So, this summer has been…really beautiful and really intense and just…wow. I’ve been healing a lot in some deep ways. I can’t wait to write more about it. But for now, I’ve written 8 things I’ve been learning about healing this summer…

1. It’s okay to stop doing something that’s hindering healing, even if people expect you to do it. People-pleasing is overrated.

This summer, I took a break from blogging because I was only feeling obligated to do it. There was no real passion or joy left. I felt guilty about that, but when I stopped pretending and just, well—stopped I felt so much relief. As soon as I gave myself some space, I was able to really focus in on some important things—like writing a book! (I’m 300 pages into Book Two and nearing the end! Eeek!!) And yes, over the summer my joy has come back. I even started missing blogging a little. Thus, this post.

2. Challenge yourself, push yourself, grow yourself! That’s part of healing, too.

In June, I participated in a challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days. When I first thought about doing it, I thought there was NO WAY I could write 30 poems in 30 days. There was no way I could get myself to be so creative when the spring had been dead and dry. Well, I did!! I began thinking in poetry constantly, and it forced me vamp up the creativity. Which then translated into writing my books, which spilled into real life, which helped me get out of my weird slump I’d been in all year… Just goes to show that sometimes, you’ve got to stretch yourself.

3. Slowing down and resting is really, really important.

This summer, I got sick for over a month, which ruined nearly all my summer plans. While it makes me sad that I didn’t get to go on some of my planned adventures, the illness forced me to slow down. I couldn’t even concentrate, my head hurt so badly some days. So I did nothing. I read (when my head didn’t hurt). I wrote (when my head didn’t hurt). I watched movies. And I rested. Processed. Healed both emotionally, physically, spiritually. God really spoke to me during my month plus of illness, and partly it’s because I had ample time to listen.

4. Sometimes, you’ve just got to feel all and feels.

At the beginning of the year, I was trying really hard not to feel anything. My heart was numb. Well, the dam broke this summer, and I was feeling things so intensely for a while that I thought I might be going crazy. Every day was up or down. I’d be so angry one day and then so full of joy the next. (This is reflected in the poetry I wrote in June). But through all that, I was able to process some very buried emotions that needed to come out. I detoxed from past wounds that had poisoned me for years. My heart cleared and cleansed, and I settled down, and I found peace. But it only came by being completely emotionally honest…which is always scary, because it feels so out of control.

5. You never realize you’re healing until you look back and see how far you’ve come.

Needless to say, when I started the summer, I was in a really bad place.  I didn’t think I could ever heal. But gradually, a change has come. I can feel it in the beat of the rain and the whispers of the wind. Something changed this summer. I softened. My hardened heart softened. Healing takes time. And it’s easy to look at myself and see all my faults and how imperfect I still am. But then I think back to a year ago or three years ago (heck, ten years ago when all this pain started!), and I realize that I have grown. It’s been up and down and backwards and forwards and sideways…but yes, the growth is there.

6. Forgiveness is vital to the survival of any pain or tragedy.

This summer, I chose forgiveness and love over bitterness and cynicism and hatred. I forgave the church, I forgave Christians, I forgave former friends who betrayed me, I forgave the people who broke my heart—I FORGAVE. It’s been a hard, hard battle in my heart. But now that I’ve made the choice, I feel so much lighter. Forgiveness helps you release the past, it drops away from you like a stifling cloak so you can move and breath and dance once more. And let me tell you, forgiveness is a process, and it will probably never stop. But now that I know it’s truly important, I’m willing to choose it again and again, over and over, for the rest of my life.

7. Love never fails.

I’ve realized that love is worth it—even if others never love you back in the same way, even if you’re hurt in the process, even if the world thinks you’re strange to love. Love, love, love. Can I just say that again and again? It’s not violence that frees us. It’s not war or vengeance or hatred. It’s not being more clever or cruel or calculating than the people around you. It’s love. I want to be a loving person. I want to give, even if the world takes and never says thank you.

8. There is always beauty, even in the darkness.

This world is really dark. It seems like so much unrest and war and hatred is spilling over all over the place. But there’s so much beauty, too. It comes in the smallest ways—when the sunset strikes clouds blossoming with red, when you share laughter with friends over a silly inside joke, when you take a small step towards reaching out in love to another…It’s all beautiful. Let’s fight for that beauty in the way we live our lives.

So this is what I’ve been learning about healing. What are you learning?


A Celebration of Heroic Love

It’s the week of Valentine’s Day. Barf.
(Okay, not really. But I’ve never been a fan of how people obsess over this overly-commercialized holiday.)

For the past few years around V-Day, I’ve been posting pieces about singleness and how amazing it is. Stick-it-to-all-those-sillies-who-make-such-a-big-deal-out-of-this-stupid-day type posts. Because I’m fine with being single. Okay? Okay??? Geez. (In fact, I’ve never been one to mope over being single–although I’ve definitely had my down days–but I’ve always tried to fully embrace the present and be content wherever life may have me.)

But I’m not going to write a celebratory post on singleness this time. Although if you want to read my posts on singleness, please do so here and here and here. Because they are really good posts. I’m quite proud of them, actually. ;)

Instead, I wanted to celebrate love. And not in the way you may think…


“A genuine falling in love . . . is a capitulation to the beautiful. Falling in love here does not refer to superficial infatuations or egocentric lust but rather to a selfless commitment made to a fascinating beloved. While this is seen in ideal and holy marriages, it is especially clear in the case of saints who are head over heels in love with the supreme Beloved, whose name is God. Saints see and are smitten. The heroic response is the only response. They know from experience that anything less than everything is simply not enough.” [Fr. Dubay]

Our culture worships the idea of love and romance and all the things it entails. And yet, I think it often focuses on the wrong things. We are obsessed with the idea of obsession and infatuation. To many, getting lost in another is love. You lose yourself in this black hole of another, and you forget all your other friends, and you don’t care about anyone else, and you are consumed…

Then, of course, there’s the sexual aspect of relationships. I don’t think I need to say a ton about how our culture obsesses over sex. The only thing anyone seems to care about anymore is if the other person is “hot” and will be good in bed.

And yet, healthy, good love is not losing oneself in another. Neither is it just sleeping around with the hottest person(s) you can find. Healthy love is when two people can come alongside each other while still maintaining their separate identities, respecting one another and striving to push each other onward in each of their callings.

Love is not about obsession. It’s about selfless clear-headedness in evaluating if certain actions will harm another or disrespect another.

Love is not about lust. It’s about controlling oneself so that one’s desires don’t make another into an object simply to use for one’s sexual gratification.


It’s seeing another person as a human being wrought in the image of God. It’s striving in words and deeds to help another person be all they can be–and not drag them down to be something they are not.

Love is standing in the gap for another when they need it the most. Love is holding someone as they cry and not being afraid of negative emotions. Love is celebrating in one’s triumphs even when they are not (or are better) than your own.

Love is messy. Love is hard. Love is heroic.

Love can be found in so many different kinds of relationships.

It’s found in parents who provide for their children, and in siblings who call each other every week to catch up on life, and in friendships where one can be real and vulnerable, and in strangers who pass each other on the street with a kind word…

Love can be found in every human interaction. In how you treat the store cashier and how you give to the needy and how you don’t shout at that annoying child and how you rescue a stray animal off the side of the road.

It’s everywhere, people. Everywhere. Not just in romantic relationship. Love should just be part of our existence in every interaction because every human we encounter deserves to be treated with love.

That’s what it’s like to get swept up in the Beloved. That’s what I think the quote I quoted above is about. If you get caught up in God, and you embrace Him as the ultimate Beloved, then it changes everything. When you embrace that love, you can live in love. It pours out of you. Every small little thing shouts of a Great and Infinite Love that is beyond anything we could’ve ever imagined.

It’s far deeper than a simple romantic attachment between two people.

You smell it in the wind and see it in a rainbow and hear it in a bird’s song.
You feel it in a brother’s protection and see it in a child’s smile and taste it in a mother’s cooking.

I love my God, and I love my world because I love my God.
I see the beauty of love everywhere.
I see that it’s a powerful force that can heal and transform each and every one of us.

So I guess all I’m trying to say is…

Don’t limit your celebration of love.
Don’t get so caught up in whether you have someone or not.
Don’t get so caught up in chocolates and cards and dinner dates.

Don’t miss out on Love.

The heroic love that puts people first no matter if you’re in a romantic relationship with them or not. The self-sacrificing love that is just there for people even when you’re not getting anything out of it in return.

That’s Love.

That’s what I’m celebrating this week.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
[1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV]

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
[John 13:34 NIV]


Out of Love, He Stooped Low


For the past month, I’ve been starting to learn how to train and ride horses using a “natural” method. This is not the method where you break the horse and make it submit to your will as the human. Where you break its spirit and will in order to be the master that is fearfully but unquestioningly obeyed.

That is the old method.

This newer method is where you study horses and learn how to interact with horses on the horse’s level. You learn how to come alongside them, teach them trust, teach them you’re safe, and that you’re a leader. And THEN you can ride them. Then you can ask them to follow you out of trust, respect, and love.

It’s actually a much safer method of training horses. If they love and respect you as their leader, if they know you can be trusted, then they will look to YOU when danger strikes. They won’t just bolt. Horses look to their “Horse Leader” in times of crisis. If the leader bolts, they bolt.

If you’re the leader, then they will trust you enough to think twice before bolting. They will stay with you.

It’s all about mutual trust and respect.

Which may seem silly to some. I mean, you have to kind of learn the horses’ ways and, in a sense, be a horse. You do silly games with them to help build trust, and you learn to just be with them, and learn what all their signs say about what they’re feeling and their moods, and just…you kind of try to understand them on their level.

It’s silly. It makes you feel silly sometimes.

But it’s about love and trust and respect.

To come alongside an animal and show them – on their terms and in a way they’ll understand – that you are safe, worthy of trust, and worthy to be followed and obeyed and trusted.

You do it out of love for the horse. You do it out of love and the earnest desire to have a relationship built from understanding.


And it got me to thinking.

Horse training has been this profound realization to me of how the God of Christianity interacts with us. I mean, this is what the doctrine of the Incarnation is all about.

The God of the universe. Let me repeat that…The God of the universe came down to humanity’s level.

Can we just let that sink in for a second?

God came down and became a human.

That’s pretty much like us stooping down to “become” a horse. That’s pretty much like us saying, “Okay, in order to understand you, I’m going to use my super powers and become a horse. Just to show you how much I want to love you horses. Just to show you how worthy I am of your trust and respect as a leader.”

It’s THAT silly and preposterous and ludicrous.

It makes you cringe just a little, if you’re honest. (I mean, even if you had the power, would you ever, ever do it?)

It makes you want to laugh a little.

But God didn’t laugh.

He loved us.

And so He did it.

He stooped low in love, and He came down to our level, and He lived on earth for 33 years. And He learned how we walk, how we talk, how we use these strange things called bodies. He tripped and stumbled and cut His knees on this earth growing up. He wiped His brows in sweat and learned how the society at the time worked, and He paid His taxes and lived like us.

He just…He walked among us. Quietly, humbly, unobtrusively…for 30 years.

30 years!

He wasn’t throwing around His God-card, He wasn’t expecting people to follow His every whim, He wasn’t forcing people to respect or love or treat Him any different than they treated others. He wasn’t breaking people’s wills into submitting to His authority and leadership. He wasn’t manipulating kings and princes into bowing at His feet.

He became one of us.

He stooped low and served us.

A lowly son of man born of lowly people in a lowly stable.


And in doing so, He understood us.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. [Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV]

Jesus came so that He could come alongside us, show us the right way to live, and earn the respect and love of those He would ask to follow Him. He didn’t just force Himself on us. He came alongside us to show us that He is so worthy of love, of respect, of leadership. He came to understand us on deeper levels than we understand ourselves.

He gets our pains and tears and weaknesses more then we get them.

He gives us grace in our brokenness because He knows what it’s like.

He really does know how rough being a human is in this broken, sinful, dark world.

And that’s why He died. He died so that we could take our place alongside Him once more. He came to redeem the lowly state of humanity into something it was always supposed to be: The pinnacle of creation. Beautiful. Deep. Glorifying to God.

Humanity is beautiful. Humans are beautiful. We’re lifted from the dust despite our sin and disobedience, and we’re redeemed.

We are sons of the most high God. Fellow heirs with Christ. (Just read Hebrews, why don’t you? This is one of the most beautiful books in the New Testament about the theology of Jesus and how He’s redeemed humanity.)

He asks us to follow Him, and I truly believe He’s earned the right. He is a leader worthy of my all. He is a leader worthy of my trust.

For out of love, He stooped low.


On Love & Control in Relationships

One thing I have been thinking about a lot this past summer is love, relationships, and control.

I did a series in July on past relationships with guys, and how painful it’s been for me. How manipulated, controlled, and violated I felt many times as I desperately tried to gain a boy’s love. I didn’t know what love was, and so I let guys walk all over me. I’d change everything for a guy if I thought that’d make him stay. I was attracted to abuse, and I mistook it for love. I have never, ever once felt that a guy loved me. He only wanted to control me.

This month, Boze Herrington took over my blog and wrote about being in an oppressive cult environment where everything was becoming increasingly controlled. Where the concept of the love of God became twisted to control a whole group of people. Where God’s love was withdrawn when people did not follow the leader’s every command.

I think it’s really hit me this summer.

Love is not about control.

It’s not about making someone look, act, think, or feel exactly like you do.

It’s not about making someone cater to your every whim or fancy.

It’s not about manipulation or force –even when it’s masked as something “spiritual.”

Love is about seeing the person as a person, about encouraging them to be all they can be, and about helping them face their brokenness with courage.

Love is about walking alongside another and giving them all the resources they need to blossom into who God has made them to be.

An artist.

A scholar.

A writer.

An engineer.

A doctor.

A mother.

A husband.

It can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Yet unlove comes when we force people to conform to our version of what we think they should be. It’s when we say, “Everyone must be a missionary and preach on corners. That is the holiest way to follow God.” Or, “Everyone better be really outgoing. God hates quiet people.” Or, “I don’t like that you drink sometimes, you’re sinning.” Or, “If you really loved me, you’d sleep with me.” Or any other thing someone can say to control your behavior.

This is so unlike God it makes me angry just thinking about it.

God loves each and every person–each and every broken, flawed individual in this world. He calls to each one lovingly, tenderly: “Come back to me. I love you, no matter how messed up you might feel. No matter how broken. No matter how confused. I can handle your darkness, your questions, your pain. Come to me.”

And yet, here’s the tricky part. Because God loves, He does call us out of brokenness. He calls us to wholeness, to holiness. He does tell us thing we should and shouldn’t do. And this can be a hard, hard battle. But God loves us too much to let us stay in the mire of our darkness. He calls us higher, He calls us to freedom. And He walks alongside us no matter how many times we stumble.

It’s a choice. The choice to embrace love, the choice to heal, the choice to find freedom in God…

The beautiful thing about God is that He never, ever forced us to love Him. He gave us a choice. That’s the beauty of true Christianity. A God who gave humans the chance to choose to love. To have free will. To respond to His love.

And yes, God’s love can draw us toward Him. God’s Spirit can speak and direct us. But God never forces us. He brings circumstances into our lives that direct us. Yet we can choose to follow Him or not.

How hard is this for God? The all-powerful God of the universe lets us have free will. He lets us choose to love Him. He lets us choose to reject Him. He beckons to us all, He died to save us, but He will never make us love Him.

Love is not love if it’s forced.

I’ve been in love. I’ve loved deeply. And my love has been rejected. I know what it’s like to reel from the pain of rejection. But let’s be honest–if the person I loved had been forced to love me back, wouldn’t it have been empty? If I could’ve made him love me, wouldn’t it have been cheap love? False love?

Real love is a choice.

And God wants us to choose. To choose Him.

It’s a dance. He asks, and we must respond. His Spirit leads, but we must follow. It’s give-and-take. And it’s the most beautiful dance we could could ever embark on.

But it’s not about control.


When Humanity Hates, God is Love

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
[1 John 4:8]

I’ve been reading this chapter over and over the past week or so. I don’t want to be controlled by hate–even when people have done evil things to people I love, or even when I don’t agree with someone.

Hate is from Satan. He controls the world through hate. He delights in making us hate each other and view each other as the enemy, when in fact HE is the Enemy that is constantly at work turning us against each other. As a follower of Jesus, no human being should be hated–no matter what they’ve done to you or how much you disagree with them.

Jesus proclaimed a different way. That we are to love everyone, even those we adamantly disagree with. Even those who’ve done us wrong. We must pray for our enemies. We must reach out to those who are different than us. We must speak out for those who have no voice.

He said the world would know us by our love.


I really don’t know what this all means. I’ve had people I know do some horrible things. I have scars on my heart that are still healing. The world is full of hatred. Even the mass shooting that happened at the Washington Navy Yard yesterday is just another reminder that hatred often reigns supreme.

The guest blogger on my blog this month? The friend he talks about in his story, Rebecca, was one of my best friends. And she was destroyed through this oppressive spiritual group (as you’ll see in Part III of his story). I grieve her death every. single. day. I’m constantly fighting sadness and anger (and yes, hatred) over the hatred and control and manipulation that led to her death.

Humanity’s natural tendency is to hate. To hate and to seethe and to be on the warpath against everything and everyone who has failed, wounded, or betrayed them.

And I’m not saying that anger isn’t appropriate. Sometimes, we have to be angry. Sometimes, we do have to have justice in a situation and fight against oppression.

Yet when anger turns to hatred and hardness of heart, then something is wrong. When we turn another person (or groups of people) into a demon. When we see the world through cynical, bitter eyes that cannot see good. When we viciously wish the worst on others in an attempt to make ourselves feel better…

People commit atrocities everyday in an endless cycle of trying to “get back” at others for hurting them. At trying to seek revenge. To make someone, anyone, pay.

Hate corrupts. It turns loving people into vicious monsters. It can turn a gracious heart into a bitter, angry, cynical heart. A heart that cannot believe in good. A heart that shuts humanity out. A heart that could kill or truly hurt others (even innocent others) in an attempt to find rest.

I just don’t want to live in hate. I want to respond in love no matter what has happened.

This is hard.

The God of Love is hard to follow.

[Note: Love does not mean you give someone a free pass to continue abuse, manipulation, or evil. There are people doing atrocious things in this world, and I will always pray for justice. But I will also pray for their souls, I will pray that they will be redeemed. That they, too, can know Christ's love. In doing so, I release my own soul from damaging burdens of bitterness, anger, and being controlled by hatred. Yet I also will fully trust that God does indeed bring justice. He doesn't give a free pass to those who don't repent or continue in evil.]


Singleness and the Church – Guest Post on Convergent Books

I’m a guest blogger over at Convergent Books today! Today, I’m talking about the honorable state of singleness and the great history of singleness in the church. One of my favorite topics in the world. (No joke. It really is.)

Read it! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s an excerpt to pique interest…


Singleness and the Church

At church one time I was talking with some older ladies. Our conversation went something like this:

“So, are you married?”


“Oh.” You could  hear the disappointment in their voices. As if there was nothing more to talk about now that they knew I wasn’t a mother or wife like them.

This has happened many times in a variety of settings. Married Christian woman act disappointed and dismissive once they find out I’m single. No matter what I talk about—be it my love of hiking, my work to protect girls from human trafficking, my endeavors in writing—it’s all met with an odd silence. With a disapproving show of disinterest.

Because I’m single, I am nothing. Or maybe, in their world, I’m broken and in need of fixing.

Read the rest here.



Forgotten Grace (A Poem)

Tonight, I’d like to share a poem I wrote in college.

A lot of my college years were spent messing up. I was not a perfect little Christian by any means (although I seriously tried to pretend I was). I struggled with depression, despair, abusive tendencies, bad relationships, and so many other things.

There were times I hated myself. I wanted so badly to be like everyone else–all these people who seemed to have it all together, who were perfect, who’d never experienced brokenness. And I was always so afraid that God would leave me. I didn’t truly think He loved me.

Yet it was during college that I learned what grace meant. That even when we screw up, even when we fall flat on our face, God loves. He reaches out His hand, picks us up, and helps us learn from our mistakes. But He doesn’t condemn us. He grows and deepens us through the trials and mess-ups that frequent our lives. Many times, He is so kind, He is so gentle when dealing with us.

It’s easy to focus on our mistakes. It’s easy to think, If only I’d done this, or, If only I’d said that. But in all reality, we’re all on a journey towards growth. We’re all on a journey towards healing. We so often forget that God sees us in the midst of our mess, and He loves us. He loves us toward wholeness and healing. Christ died for us so that He could lead us to the throne room of grace, so that our sins would be covered in His blood.

And that’s why I wrote this poem. Because I didn’t want to forget grace. I still have a hard time with the concept of grace, even though I’ve come so far.

(Note: WordPress is being silly and stripping out any html coding I have for spaces, so I apologize for the weird asterisks to separate stanzas).


Forgotten Grace

Caught up in a tumult of fierce self-degradation,

amidst the howling torment of a venomous Satan–

For one brief moment I looked away from the cross,

finding righteousness, peace, and joy to be at loss.

So I bowed my head low sobbing tears of condemnation,

and hated myself beyond all normal comprehension.

In an effort to perfect myself for He whom I adore,

each effort was in vain and caused more failings to abhor.


Until I noticed One kneeling by me as I cried

With nail-ridden hands and piercings in His side

And oh, what a look of love etched upon on His face!

“Ah, you see, my child,” said He. “You have forgotten grace.”


With such a gentle word ringing softly through my ears,

He took my hand, stood me up, and soothed away my fears:

And washing my feet thoroughly with a pail of living water,

The High Priest walked beside me into the presence of the Father.


Related Posts:

How Brennan Manning Changed My Life – Part I: Pretending to be Good

How Brennan Manning Changed My Life – Part II: Grace Is Enough


Boys, The Good & The Bad – Part IV: Beyond College

Here is Part IV of my four part series on “Boys, The Good & The Bad.” You can read Part I and Part II  and Part III here. This series is a look back on my life and my interactions with boys. My purpose for this series is to show both the pain and the encouragement that males can bring to females. It’s to explore the ugliness and beauty of relationships with the opposite gender. It’s a complicated issue, but so many us of struggle with our identity when it comes to the opposite gender. We have a profound impact on each others’ lives, for good or for ill.



I graduate from college. I move into an apartment. The girls I live with are staunchly single (at least at the time), and we have amazing nights of deep discussions and making fun of chick flicks. We laugh and we cry and we muse about life and love.

It’s a pretty boyless year, actually. I have a few younger guys that come over every now and then. They’re like younger brothers. But they’re consistent, they’re healing in their own ways. They don’t know anything about the pain I’ve endured, but they keep coming over, and we play games and make pizza.

And it’s what I need. Just some younger brothers to love.


January 2012. I leave the church I’m attending and go to a much, much smaller church. Instinctively, I know I’ll be leaving Chicago soon. I feel it in my bones.

It’s a great church.

I meet a guy there who drives me home from the Bible study I start going to. He actually listens to what I have to say, he’s interested in it. He doesn’t shush me or condemn me for thinking. I kind of have a crush on him. We talk on car drives to and from church. Those talks are healing. He treats me like a person, he likes what I have to say about church and Christians and God.

It’s refreshing. I begin to see that a man doesn’t have to be pounding his Bible and acting all smart and holy to truly be following God. This guy is in business; he has a gentle strength about him. He’s safe.

It’s healing.

But even though I have a crush on him, it wasn’t meant to be anything but a friendship.

I’m learning to let go of control. To trust that God sometimes brings people into our lives NOT to date, but to learn from, to speak into one’s life, to care for each other.

Even if I like someone, it doesn’t mean I’ll be with them. It doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have to over-spiritualize everything. I can just be.

Men and women can be healing in each others lives in beautiful and profound ways.

And it doesn’t always mean dating, or marriage, or anything.

It means loving. Loving someone as a person made in God’s image, and encouraging each other in our dreams.


One Sunday, in my new church, which is more charismatic, one of the guys up front points to me and says, “You’re hurting. I see your pain. When you were a little girl, you fell off the tire swing, and you scraped your knees, and you bled everywhere, and there was no one to pick you up.”

I break down into tears right there in the front of the church. Because it’s so true. I fell off the tire swing long ago, and I scraped my knees, and I bled and bled with no one to help me. There was no one to help me. I’ve felt so alone for so long in my pain.

But I feel hope as some church members pray for me.


I get a job in Colorado. It’s a job in publishing. My dream! I apply, interview, and get the job in a week. I move in three weeks. Everything is about to change. A new dream is beginning, one I had no idea God would truly grant me.

For a month or so before I move, my roommate and I are taking self-defense from a Christian guy who trains in martial arts. *John teaches us every day.

I’m a little wary of him, as I am all guys I don’t know at this point, but the more he instructs me, the more I can’t help contain my passion.

I love martial arts. I love learning these kinds of things. I get so excited and passionate. I love kicking and punching the bags he brings. I love learning to things like “The Flying Elbow.” It’s all so exciting. (Have I mentioned I’ve always loved Asian culture ever since I can remember?)

John likes to see this passion come out. He encourages me.

“You are a warrior, Teryn,” he tells me. “You are my warrior sister in Christ.”

Suddenly, I don’t feel bad about about how passionate and strong I am.

“Do you fit in with church women well?” he asks.

“No,” I wrinkle my nose. “I always feel like I should’ve been a boy. I like adventure and great stories and fighting and exploration. I’ve never liked sitting around talking about kids or weddings.”

“Don’t feel ashamed for who you are,” he says. “You are a warrior. Women need other women who are warriors, too. They can learn from you, too.”

It’s the first time I realize that I can be a woman and be strong and be a warrior. I can like adventure and fantasy and great stories and action. I can have that fighting spirit I’ve always had and always felt bad about having because other women (and men) didn’t understand it.

I’m a warrior.

And a woman.

It’s okay.


On the last night of being in Chicago, John sits me down.

“Teryn, I’ve seen so much passion and fire in you since we started training,” he says. “But you hide it. You hide your passion from people, don’t you?”

I want to burst into tears. It’s true. I’ve learned to hide so much from people.

“Don’t hide,” he says. “Don’t be ashamed. Be a warrior. You’re going to do great things for God. I see God is going to use you. Just don’t hide anymore.”

Those are the words I need to hear as I embark on a new journey to Colorado.

I’ll never see this man again. But for that brief month and a half, God used him to speak something truly deep and profound in my life.


I move to Colorado in a blur. As soon as I move, I have hope that with this new change, a new me will begin. That somehow I can leave the pain in the past and just forget it all.

This isn’t the case, of course.

The pain follows.

I realize how painful Chicago was, how those five years were just brutal. Yet God was working through it all trying to refine me.

But I’m so glad I’m gone. I’ve always loved the mountains. Colorado was calling me, and God let me go to Colorado to heal. To get away. To start over.

I find amazing roommates who are supporting and loving. They don’t simply look away when I tell them a little of what has gone on. They are genuine people. They won’t just leave me when it gets tough.

I don’t have many guy friends. I just don’t feel as if guy friends are essential to my life right now. It’s a time for me and God, where I learn to rely on Him as my strength, my comfort, my love. I’ve finally embraced singleness. I don’t feel wrong for being single. I felt for so long that in order to be a good, godly woman, I had to be married and with a man. But I never had peace with any of the guys I liked, and I now know it’s because they weren’t right. Yet I tried to force myself to think they were right.

I realize how often I depended on guys for my healing and my identity.

Yet I realize that God wanted to have that central place in my life. I see that so much of the hurt I’ve experienced was intensified because of placing my identity in guys, not God. I begin to accept God’s crazy, amazing love for me.

I begin to wonder if I might be single for a long time. If not for life, at least for a long time.

And it’s freeing. And it’s wonderful. I’m okay with being who I am–single and whole! Free to be myself, to dream big, to accept my life, and to follow God with passion.

I hike and I explore God’s creation.  I write Book One of my story and finish the 2nd draft. I learn so much from my job (and I really do love it). I meet new people in Colorado who are amazing.

And it is all healing.


I start praying for human trafficking and getting involved in a ministry here that combats human trafficking in Colorado. I pray every Wednesday. The leader of the prayer group is a guy named *Andrew. He’s much older, like a big brother or father type figure. We pray every week, but I’m really standoiffish to him.

One day he asks me, “I want to get to know you. I don’t just want to use you for a ministry opportunity.”

He doesn’t like me, he says. He just can tell I’ve been hurt a lot—especially by guys, and he wants to earn my trust.

“What can I do to earn your trust?”

I get really defensive. “You can’t do anything,” I say. “Just be patient.”

He nods and is respectful even when I’m slightly rude.

“I just want you to know there are good guys out there who aren’t wanting anything from you other than to be a friend.”

“Well, thanks.”

I leave a little flustered. I want to run away, to abandon our prayer evenings because suddenly it just seems too scary. I know I’m getting comfortable having no guys in my life. It just seems safer. Easier to just keep them at a very. Long. Distance.

But gradually, as the months pass, I realize this man doesn’t have ulterior motives. He isn’t trying to force me into anything. He’s just nice and friendly and wants to talk with me because he respects me. My walls come down a little, and I respond less hesitantly to him.

He’s part of my healing.

Months later, he tells me. “I just wanted to show you that trust is earned. A man should never demand your trust or your emotions or your space or anything. He earns it through treating you correctly.”

I get the point.

It’s a point I wish I’d learned so much earlier.

I feel healthier than I have in a long, long time.


My Kindred Spirit is allegedly murdered.


She’d been dating this awesome, Christian guy for two years now. Every time she talked about him, she gushed as to how amazing and godly and on fire for Jesus he was. (I only meet him three times, and although I don’t quite see it, I still believe her because she thinks so). They lived in a Christian community that seemed so awesome.

(In fact, I was a little jealous of her, in a way. It seemed as if she’d never, ever had the relational pain I’d had to endure the last few years. She was just in this safe bubble where everyone loved each other.)

Yet she was changing. Over the last few years, I’d seen this gradual change in her. I visited her in December of 2011, and I remember for the first time really seeing such a stark change in her. There wasn’t joy in her eyes. There was a sort of wary, distrustful look. She didn’t shine like she used to. She seemed a shadow of herself. She laughed, the laugh was empty—even a little mean.

She told me, “When we were back in high school, I think was just pretending to be introverted and to think about things and love nature all all that. I don’t really like those things. I am who I really am now.”

I didn’t like who she was now. She was becoming shallower, emptier.

I didn’t say that.

But I did say, “You’re not okay with yourself.”

“No, I’m not,” she said. She seems very alone, desperate, sad.

“You can be yourself with me,” I said. “Don’t be ashamed.”

And slowly, the bristling wall came down, and she softened, and she shone just a little bit. I could tell she felt safe again.

I brought her back to those high school years when people were kind to each other and didn’t just use each other and everything was brimming with potential.


Oh, how wrong we all were.

The safe bubble was actually a cage in disguise.

Her husband had become a cult leader.

He was systematically destroying her and her personality. He made her feel horrible about herself. He didn’t want her to write or think or read good books. He hated artists and thinkers. He wanted everyone to hang with each other all the time (which is hell for introverts). He didn’t want anything but his own interpretation of the Bible. He called himself an Apostle of the Apostles. He was going to lead them all to Africa where they’d be in the End Times together.

People who disagreed with him were labeled “rebellious” and weren’t following God. He had thrown people out of the community in the past few months, and the little group was closing in on itself in unwelcoming, unhealthy ways.


I didn’t know all this, of course. None of us knew. To everyone on the outside, they were this great, Christian community. A little…well, getting a lot more clique-ish. But nothing horrible, right?

Until my friend was murdered after she moved with her new husband into the guys’ house. After she was allegedly sexually abused by some of the guys, after her husband blamed everything and all their marriage problems on her…

She tried to get help. Maybe she tried to run. She might’ve even committed suicide. We’re not sure what happened.

Because she didn’t tell any of us. She was probably so ashamed at that point that her life was unraveling, and she didn’t know what in the world was going on.

So she tried to handle it all herself.

But her death exposed the truth.


And we are left to pick up the pieces.

It is not an easy time. In fact, it’s one of the hardest times I’ve ever been through (I still grieve her death every day).

There are days I feel suicidal, as if life just needs to end. I can’t go on. Not when the world is full of so much pain.

There are days I scream at God. Why could You let this happen? I already had enough men issues to begin with. How will I ever recover from this? How could something like this happen?

There are days I really think things like, Men are pretty much the worst things on the entire planet. As if somehow all Men are responsible for my friend’s death.

Yet I know I can’t let bitterness and anger control me.

I know I must let love win over hate.

It’s a battle, but slowly, I learn to grieve healthily.

Because Men are not the issue here. One man was, yes (or multiple men). But not all of them. I begin to think over all the amazing men I’ve known in my life, and I know that I can’t lump Men into a single category.

I learn to replace bitterness with hope, despair with joy, darkness with light.

(I’ve been learning to do this the past few years, actually. It’s as if everything leading up to this death was preparation for this moment).

The moment when I choose not to cave into darkness and never recover.

The moment when I choose to shine light and love no matter what has happened in life.

The moment I choose to place my trust in the God who loves me (and who loves my friend) no matter how painful life can be sometimes.


I cry and cry, I think and think.

Suddenly, all the things I’ve been struggling over the last few years make sense.

You see, we were Kindred Spirits in the good ways and also the bad.

I’d liked manipulative, controlling guys who sapped me of my self worth. I’d thrown my identity into men because I thought it was godly and biblical to do so. I’d sacrificed myself to make sure the men could follow their dreams, while killing all of my own out of “love.”

I’d been attracted to abuse, and I’d been abused, and somehow…

Somehow through all the pain, I’d risen above it and dealt with it and wrestled with God and grown and become strong.

A warrior.

A woman.

My friend never had that opportunity. The whole thing was so brilliantly and subtly done that none of us knew what was happening until it was too late.

But suddenly, I saw.

I had to be a voice.

A voice for spiritual oppression.

A voice for spiritual and emotional abuse.

A voice for girls who just want to be loved, but get these guys who just use them.

A voice against violation and oppression when it’s masked as godliness.


I had a dream about *Becca about three weeks after she died.

In this dream, she was dressed in white, and we were sitting under a tree. She was herself again. The warm, brilliant, loving, radiant girl I’d known. She was herself, but she was also so much deeper, as if her pain had somehow sharpened and wizened her into a lovely, wise, immortal being.

In that dream, Becca tells me, “God is going to use our pain. People will find hope and healing because of us.”

She talks about us and our. As if somehow, we are linked and we always will be. As if she will, in a sense live in me, and her pain and tragedy is also part of my own pain and tragedy.

Kindred Spirits in the good and the bad.

I would be our voice.

And people would look to us because of our pain.

I woke up after that dream, and I knew. I knew that was no ordinary dream.

The calling of my life began.

The call to write and to speak out against injustice and to help others embrace their identity and God’s love.

The call to break oppression in the church.

The call to help women (and men) heal and learn to love each other, not just use each other.

The call to bring light and love into a dark and despairing world.

So that is why I write.

And it’s why I write to this day. Why I haven’t given up hope even in all the grief over losing one of the deepest friendships I have ever (and will ever) know.


Throughout all this, you know what I’ve learned?

First off, men are bad.

Second off, men are good.

My life has been a strange mixture of men, both the good and the bad.

Men have a profound impact on women—in both harmful and beautiful ways.

But you know what?

Women need men.

We need them so badly.

We need them to show us love, to show us trust, to show us encouragement.

(And they need us).

No, I don’t hate men. My bitterness and anger towards them has been healed over the last year or so. I grieve there are so many who are hurtful. But I rejoice that I’ve known so many that are good and are trying so hard to love and to be men of God.

I honor and admire and respect these men. The men who are trying, despite hard odds against them, to be honorable, decent, loving, respectful. To treat women with love even if they get nothing out of it in return. To treat women as humans.

I thank God for them.

And I ask every man reading these posts to be that kind of man.

You are needed, men.


I’ve also learned that Jesus, the very Son of God and the exact representation of God’s likeness, came to be the perfect Man. He came to show us that there is a better way. That men don’t have to hate women and demean them and trample them. Jesus spoke life and love into every woman He encountered. He listened to their pains, He didn’t just judge them for their past. He loved. He called them out of their sins and brokenness, but He didn’t simply label them by their past, either.

He grasped them by the hand, and He pulled them up off the ground, and He said, “Sin no more.” He gave them hope, dignity, and dreams. He gave them Living Water that is never, ever quenched.

He let them listen to His teachings and sit at His feet as a Rabbi. He let them follow him from village to village and support His ministry. (This was unheard of in that day). He let them do things no women were supposed to do because they were inferior.

He loved women.

He was the truest and best God-Man that ever was. (Okay, the only one.) :)

And He showed His heart for all people as He walked this earth.

He called for us to live from the heart, to see others with compassion, to help each other along this dark and painful road.

He called us to love the Lord with everything in us. Because only when we know His love–that’s when we’ll love others, too.

He called us out of anger and bitterness and cynicism to hope and life and healing.

And He does the same today.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I will follow this Man.

He is my identity.

I will love Him until my dying breath and forever after.


I waited patiently for the Lord;

He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the Lord

Psalm 40:1-3

*Names changed for privacy.

(This concludes my series. Hope you enjoyed it!)


The Girl, The Heart, & The Tower (A Poem)

I’m sharing one final poem to help wrap up my series on “Boys, The Good & The Bad.”

In college, I began writing longer poems that were more narrative in nature. I have several written at various time for various reasons. It was a way to express myself in a free-running manner while still telling a story of some sort.

This is one I wrote towards the end of my senior year at college (read Part III of my series). This was a painful year, a year I began to shut down emotionally, really deal with some intense stuff, etc. So I wrote this poem as I tried to process my own heartbreak, my own story of healing and renewal.

I didn’t finish this poem until this summer, though. So it’s a poem that has spanned several years.

It’s a story. A fairy tale. A tale of healing and redemption.


(I also apologize for some of the formatting in this. WordPress is silly, and so it looked better in Word. Oh well).


The Girl, The Heart, & The Tower

Once Upon A Time,

there was girl who did not know what love was.

To her, love was what was portrayed in magazines and movies:

You gave your whole heart, your worth, your happiness

to a person.

One person.

And life was supposed to be lived happily ever after.

Then she grew a little.

And she fell in love with a boy.

Oh, how she loved him!

She took her heart completely out of her chest

and gave it all to this boy.

Her whole heart, her worth, her happiness

to that one person.

Because that is what love is, right?

But the boy she fell in love with did not return her affections.

He took her heart,

—her heart that was now completely out of her chest,

throbbing with hope and eagerness to love and be loved—

and he abused it.

He took her heart and crushed it,

pressing and beating and pounding it into a bruised mess.

And then he threw it on the ground,

and he left.

He walked away,

leaving her heart on the sidewalk,

alone and helpless,

still bleeding from all those wounds.

The girl had never known that so much pain could exist.

She looked with shock at her heart lying there

on the pavement.

And she knew that life would never, ever be the same.

The aching hole in her chest began to throb and throb.

Desperately, she tried to put her heart back into her chest,

but she couldn’t do it!

Try as she might, it was too heavy now with sorrow

and she couldn’t even lift it.

And it was so tender now.

It hurt so badly because of the bruises, the wounds,

It was a mess of emotions and feelings

Lying on the pavement helplessly.

The girl didn’t know what to do.

So she started to cry.

She just sat on the pavement by her heart,

and she cried often when no one was around.

She felt so alone and helpless.

After a while, though, she knew she must get up and try and fix it.

She was tired of lying there like victim.

But she still couldn’t repair it on her own.

It was too big of a task.

“Will someone please help me repair this heart?” she asked.

“I can’t do it on my own!”


Other boys came.

They would handle her heart,

and they would throw it again on the sidewalk.

And the mess grew larger and larger.

Some took one look at her and ran.

Others stayed for a while,

admiring her from a distance,

but once they realized she was asking them to truly help,

to come alongside her and repair the mess of a heart

with deep emotions alongside it,

they quickly ran, too, out of fear.

“Just fix it!” she began to cry more and more.

Desperation began to sink in.

“Someone, please help me fix this!

Please be a man and protect my heart,

and help me overcome this.

And don’t be afraid of my sorrow.

If someone would just come and stay and not leave,

then I would recover.”

No one would help.

No one would come.

And still her heart lay there,

unprotected and vulnerable to everything in its path.


So finally,

she began to realize that no one would come.

There would be no knight in shining armor.

Because fairy tales are for books,

and real life has no redemption in it.

Boys would be boys,

they would handle hearts carelessly

and play with emotions

and not care at all if her heart was injured more in the process.

“Fine,” she said.

“I don’t need them.”

And that deep desire for protection and safety

from a man died in her.

“I can do this on my own,” she said.

“I always seem to make the same mistakes.

Guys can’t be trusted,

and I can’t be trusted.

Therefore, I give up that hope.

Hope and trust are for silly romantics who have not yet tasted pain. ”

So she began building the Tower.

She collected bricks and stones,

raising up a fortress of bitterness.

The mortar that held everything together was fear:

Fear of vulnerability,

fear of pain and hurt,

fear of relationships,

fear of mistakes and failures,

fear of  being left again and again.

She began constructing a tower around her and her heart:

It was a tower of dreams

that had nothing to do with men.

Her ideals shifted to that of independence

and aloneness and careers.

She did not need a man.

She did not need people.

Her heart was safe in her Tower—

and she breathed a sigh of relief.

For at least her heart would not be trampled upon

or thrown on the ground anymore.

Still, in her quiet moments,

she felt very sad.

And for some reason she could not decide why.

The girl would sometimes open up the window to her Tower,

and peer out and interact a little.

But fear always drove her back in,

slamming the windows shut.


And in the Tower she began to suffocate.

Fear was all around her now.

Darkness entrenched her.

The Tower blocked out

the sun,

the breezes,

the birds,

the rain.

She couldn’t feel,

or see

or smell

or taste Life.

Real Life had ceased.

Her heart was in a vacuum of senselessness.

And in panic, she realized she had shut herself off

to feeling, to love.

Self-protection had led to alienation.

She had shut out everyone.

She was truly alone.

It was dead inside that Tower.

But she was trapped inside now.

And all she could do was shake in fear.

And cry.


But then, He came.

At first, there was only a faint sound of His steps,

coming nearer and nearer.

The girl looked out of the Tower

and saw His approach from far away.

She had seen His likeness before,

in pictures, in stained glass windows, on wooden crosses.

But in reality, He was so different than any of those images.

He approached with the determination of a general at war,

riding on a white horse,

a sword glimmering at his side,

and His eyes were like the lightning.

And she cowered in her Tower,

for the very sight of Him in all His realness

struck fear and trembling into her very bones.

“He cannot see me like this!” she thought.

“I am ugly, worthless, ashamed.

This is all my doing.

I’m trapped, and I deserve to be left here

in my own sins.”

The first words He said were,

“Do not fear,”

gently, just like He were talking to small child.

He surveyed her Tower,

and instead of dark judgment in His eyes,

or disgust,

there was compassion instead.

“Do you wish to be free?” He asked.

She nodded and could not speak.

So He began to walk around her Tower.

And as He walked in slow circles

with steady steps,

He began to speak.

“You are loved,” gently.

“I am loved?” she asked with quavering doubt.

“Yes, you are loved,” He said.

“I am loved,” she repeated.

And all at once, His words began to sink in.

“I am loved!” she said louder.

“I am loved!” again with exceeding joy.

And He began walking around, destroying her Tower.

One by one,

the bricks of fear and bitterness and anger began to fall away.

It took much longer than she thought it would.

Each brick falling away was painful,

because the girl was not used to the sun and the beauty anymore.

And she stumbled upright and looked at Him in awe,

blinking in wonder.

Her heart still lay on the ground.

He reached towards her heart,

and He picked it up in His great hands.

The heart was enveloped in His strong fingers.

His hands covered it completely and deeply.

He held it tenderly.

He rubbed it and massaged it

so that it began to truly live once more.

It began to beat again.

The beatings of the heart were painful at first.

The girl writhed a little.

It hurt—it hurt to feel things again.

Sorrow, joy, love, care…

“It’s too much,” she said.

“I don’t want a heart anymore.

Pain will come again.”

“To love is to see pain,” He said.

“But to live is to love. Real Life is made of love.

Will you sit in death forever?”

Her eyes welled with tears.

Because she knew it was worth it.

To have an alive heart was worth it.

And He placed her heart back in her chest,

and she felt the embrace of His hands holding her heart safely,

a protection and a love enveloping her heart like never before.

She knew that now,

her heart was hers and His.

It was safely where it should be.

He kissed her on the forehead.

And He showed her the vast, open world before her,

spread out in green rolls of earth,

the horizon melting into the distance,

great mountains soaring overhead like marching sentinels.

And He said,

“Go Live.”

And so she did.

She ran through the fields.

She climbed the misty mountains.

She drank from the rippling streams.

The wind blew through her hair,

and it carried her away on its currents.

She was free at last.

And she lived Real Life.

Spring 2011, Summer 2013