Choosing Joy.

Sometimes my bones ache at 2am.

My nightmares jolting me awake.

Nightmares that seem too real for my heart to handle.

Rejection, chasing, falling, loneliness.

I can feel my soul screaming at my flesh.

“Let me out, let me out. Please let me out of this broken body. This prison.”

My hands start shaking, and my stomach starts turning.

Losing my breath, tears start to stream down my tired face.

Why do I feel so empty when I have so many hallelujah’s around me?

Why can’t my brain seem to process the things my heart wants to feel?

Your word is no longer saturating the way it used to.

God, I want to feel.

I want to feel joy run through these veins like warm blood, because of who you are.

Something to remind me I’m alive and I’m here. I’m present.

Walking in obedience has turned into drudging through mud.

My muscles are tired from grasping on to salvation.

My blistered hands can’t do this much longer.

I know my body is a temple, but my flesh tells me otherwise.

God you saved my life, but the desires to draw tally marks is still strong.

I want to break things, smash them.

I want some outward representation of my inward state.

My body desires human touch, some comfort.

But you took that away.

The reflection I see in the mirror is anything but holy.

It is selfish, greedy, and sinful. Covered in the filth of this world.

My body craves an eternal high I know only you can give me.

I’m an addict in need of treatment.

Please, Jesus admit me.

Through breathless sobs, I whisper, “Father”.

I stare at my wall covered in the light from the street lamp outside my window.

Closing my eyes, I breathe deeply and remember.

,but he is worthy.

When loving is hard

“I’m gonna pray for you sister, because you just don’t get it”.

That’s what the man said to me after I handed him all of the cash I had left. The man who was siting on a park bench, homeless, with five little boys all under the age of seven settled next to him eating out of nearly empty cereal bags. The man who was preaching to me a false gospel.

He sat in front of me for a solid ten minutes telling me how narrow the gates of heaven are. He sat in front of me condemning nearly every human that passed by him. He sat in front of me and told me that some of my family members were going to hell. He looked me in the eye, and told me that if I spoke up in church God should smite me.

Hearing so much hate come out of that man’s mouth broke my heart and made me furious. After he told me he would “pray for me” I felt my face get hot and tears roll down my cheeks.

My heart broke for his kids who are being taught that they have to work for God’s love, but most of all I had empathy for him. As much as he was screaming at me and filling my mind with lies, the entire time I was only thinking ‘I love you’.

When his rant came to an end all I said was “Can I pray for you”.
To which he replied, “I’ll let you this time, but the next time you pray for someone you need to do it in secret and go into a closet because God doesn’t want you praying out here”.

For those of you who know me well I am not usually a person who reacts with tears and a desire to pray for someone who is blatantly disrespecting me. I shared my deepest love with him and he stomped all over it. By the grace of God I was able to firmly stand on solid ground in the situation and respond to him with a sincere prayer from my heart for his family.

As much as Satan wanted to turn the situation into one where I doubted my identity, Jesus graciously turned it into one where I got to learn more of his love for his children. That man is loved just as much as I am by God. Jesus died for him, just as much as he did for me. That man is precious is in the eyes of God, therefore he is precious to me.

God is within her she will not fail; God will help her at break of day // Psalm 46: 5

During my time in San Diego Jesus has revealed many things to me, one being that I cannot do everything on my own. I’m so weak in comparison to my heavenly father who spoke the world into creation. Praise him that his mercies are new everyday and he welcomes back his stubborn children each time with open arms ready to embrace them.

After spending 10 days here living in community with fellow believers my heart is so elated to think about how much my Jesus is going to do in the next five weeks. San Diego is a beautiful city but it is just made out of dust, it’s a creation of the creator. Seeing how broken this place is but knowing my God has so much room to work, that is what makes San Diego so precious and exciting.

Stay Beautiful,
Shelby

My Love: Up is down and down is up.

‘I’m running down the hill at full speed, widening my stride, inhaling the summer evening, and feeling invincible.

I look down and see legs that can carry me miles and miles, legs that have allowed me to go on numerous adventures, and more to come.

I breathe deeply and feel my chest rise slowly as my lungs release air, lungs that have allowed me to laugh obnoxiously and sing poorly.

I listen to the words echoing through my headphones, taking in each beat of the song and slowly syncing my pace to the rhythm of the music.

I look up and I see a beautiful masterpiece in front of me. I see downtown and soft evening light through the lenses that have been granted to me for this life.

I can feel, I can feel the goosebumps traveling up my arm as the breeze hits my face and gives me a sweet brush across the cheek.

It’s my moment of serenity. This world is beautiful, and everything makes sense. The sky is blue, I can see it’s blue.’

This has been my only moment of peace in the past couple of months the other 90% of the time I’m questioning everything. As a 20 year-old you begin to realize how many opinions there are in this huge world ranging from drinking diet soda to abortion to modesty and a slew of other subjects. It’s an understatement to say things go from 0-100 fairly quickly.

Amongst all of this I’ve found myself slowly backing into a dark corner. It’s like a thousand car horns are going off at the same time and all I can do is crouch over into a fetal position with my hands over my ears so I can attempt to categorize ignorance and wisdom; good and bad; light and dark.

Two complete opposites cannot be one, that’s what I’ve been taught my entire life. One simply cannot wear a tank top and shorts when it’s 20 degrees outside, yet I see people roaming the streets in summer clothes during the dead of winter. How can this be? My brain wasn’t made to handle these blurred lines. Life has always been black and white.You wear flip fops in the summer and boots in the winter.

If one wears flip-flops in the winter does that make it okay for other people to judge them or condemn them, even if they did go against what society says is the norm?

What if that person doesn’t own any other shoes? What if they have really sweaty feet all the time and can’t stand to wear boots? What if all they’ve ever known since the day they were born is ‘during the winter you wear flip-flops’? What if their brain is wired differently than yours? Better yet, what if they were created uniquely and not in your image, the image that YOU think is ‘right’?

Does that make it okay to hate someone, and publicly shame them? Does it make it okay for you to comment on their life? Does that make them a mistake? Does that make them any less of a human?

In response to all of my questions the only answer that has been popping into my head isn’t a flat out answer, but rather a story that steadies my heartbeat.

Taken from my journal:

‘5/17/14 Athens, Greece

That night I saw a woman at dinner who was homeless and hungry. I didn’t notice her until I realized people at the end of the table were packing up food to give to her. I thought that was very sweet, until she started crying. My heart broke for her. She thought she wasn’t going to get the food. I myself began feeling emotional. Seeing her cry made something move inside of me. I then went around the table and embraced her. I began to feel tears fall from my eyes.

That was probably the best hug I had ever given. Yes, the woman did smell, but she needed love. When I got done hugging her she was still crying and I told her she was going to get the food, but she only spoke Greek. Then my friend came over and proceeded to hand her the food. The only words she knew were thank you, but that was all we needed to hear. That was [Jesus].’

Despite lines being blurred in my head one concrete thing I’ve learned from 20 years of life on this earth is loving your neighbor shouldn’t be an act of righteousness reserved for those who you deem fit for your kindness, but rather an act of human decency offered to all.

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Bare-Skinned.

Athens, Greece

There are three distinct times in my life where I remember specifically being low to the  ground.

The first time was when I was 17.  I was contemplating suicide, curled up in a ball on my floor with cuts on my arms, hot tears streaming down from my face, and desperately asking the creator of the universe to take the pain away. Begging for him to take back time, to rewind the events in my life that had occurred that year.

The second time was my fall semester of my sophomore year in college. I had been pushed over my limit school wise, and felt out of control. I was on my knees clutching my stomach naked in front of my shower at 2am, without anyone to turn to. Verbally admitting that I couldn’t do it anymore, I wasn’t strong enough to handle my classes on my own. I couldn’t control my depression, that I previously believed I had a strong hold on.

The third time was last week. I went on a run, with thoughts of inadequacy circulating through my brain. Thoughts of frustration and anger. No matter how hard I sprinted I couldn’t run fast enough. I slowly walked upstairs to my apartment, shut the door to my bedroom, collapsed to the ground and cried silently.

I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, this girl cries a lot”, and you’re right. To me crying isn’t a weakness, it’s a release of my frustrations and things I can’t control. It’s a white flag signaling that I surrender. My tears are an outward expression representing that I cannot handle all of the stressors in life, my anger, my depression, and my anxiety. My tears express what words can’t.

Why are these three times so significant to me? Because they are times when I truly, truly cried out like a child to my eternal father.

Looking back on these times it was no coincidence that I was on my knees without consciously making the decision. I was at my lowest mentally and physically, so often when we feel small we make ourselves small and refer back to our childlike states we once knew.

People often equate kneeling in church as a sign of reverence to God, but it is also a non-verbal sign of relinquishment. I was humbly coming to my father’s feet, crying out “Abba, father” please help me, please. In those moments I was a daughter timidly admitting defeat and he was a father gently whispering in my ear, “little girl, arise”, taking my shaking hands ever so gently and breathing life into my breathless lungs.

Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

In those moments I had never felt so close to the Lord and truly at peace. I could genuinely feel the grace that had been offered to me by verbally admitting my weakness and my inability to handle my situation. By relinquishing my grip on my burdens God came in and gently swept my heavy load into his hands. Hands that are gentle, kind, and soft.

With all of the above being said, did I automatically have all of my problems solved? No way! I did however receive the gentle reminder that I am the daughter of the creator of the universe who has no limits as to what can be handled, and faced my problems with confidence.

God used words to create the universe, words are powerful, OUR WORDS OUR POWERFUL. Verbally releasing your hardship and crying out to the Lord has so much power in it.

Friends I leave you with this, do not ever be afraid to admit you cannot handle something, it isn’t a sign of weakness. Having the wisdom to discern when something becomes too much and being able to admit your inadequacy takes a humble heart. Don’t be afraid to call out to the very being that created you and knows your deepest fears/desires, God wants to hear you call his name.

p.s. This post was inspired by Hillsong United’s new track Touch The Sky, you should give it a listen and really let the words resonate, I know they did for me.

Walk in love,

Shelby

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Fayetteville, AR

My sweet friend Hannah wrote her thoughts about this weekend’s trip and the fun we had.

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This weekend I found myself in Fayetteville, AR nesting in Anna’s apartment and the crooks and crannies of the Ozark Forest. An unplanned trip, Shelby and I piled into my car and talked dreams, worries, and all-the-in-betweens. We were welcomed by the outstretched arms of the open road and, before we knew it, the mountains.

There is an undeniably remarkable quality that the mountains possess: how can something so worn be so strong? As the effortless sculptures of God’s hands surrounded us, I was reminded how being overwhelmed should feel. Cupped by the gentle and strong palms of the mountains, my running heart was reminded that this was the time to be quiet, the time to be still.

Since my first kiss with the mountains – the heavenly encounter of one of God’s most beautiful creations and God’s beloved, me (you, us) – I have always felt filled with awe. The mountains…

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Why it’s okay to not be okay

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The days between Christmas and January 1st are usually a time of rest for me. They are also the days where I reflect on my year and think about my goals for the new year quickly approaching.

For me every year is the same. I usually have a goal to stop drinking soda, and to stop procrastinating. This year my goals were different. As I began ticking off the things in my head of what I wanted to accomplish in 2015 I realized that they weren’t goals. Not in the least bit. The list that I had made in my head was a self-evaluation of things I don’t like about myself.

That’s not what the new year is about. 2015 is not a time for you to make a list of your imperfections and “get rid of them”. 2015 isn’t about improving yourself.

Society has set this idea in our heads that each time a new year comes around we need to set a dramatic goal to accomplish, or change in a major way. Whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritual, someone is going to come around and ask you “what’s your New Year’s Resolution?” and you are going to feel inclined to respond with one.

Now none of these things are bad, it’s healthy to want to make changes and strive for things. What I’m saying is for you to think about where your heart is when you set these goals. Is your desire to make a change coming from a healthy place? Or is it coming from a place of self-hate and not feeling good enough?

I know that my mental list of goals came from a place of feeling insecure with my body and myself.

1. Losing weight:Heck yes this came from an unhealthy place. I absolutely hate my body and the way it looks. I’ve gained 20 pounds since high school, and it’s hard to accept the changes in my looks. Every time I look in the mirror I cringe.
2. Being more intentional:For most of my sophomore year in college I’ve felt alone and secluded from friends that I’ve once had, and I’ve felt worthless. The love that I’ve once had for people and organizations has been replaced by bitterness. I’ve probably spent more time in my bed than not to be honest. My solution to this, I need to put myself back out there. Friends will make me feel more secure about myself. Unfortunately feeling insecure about my identity comes from a much deeper place.
3. Get off my anti-depressant:I’ve suffered from depression for nearly 4 years now, and I can’t explain to you the amount of frustration I feel knowing that my mood is controlled by a pill. It seems childish, but I love being in control of things. Naturally I made it my goal to ween off of the pills, but unfortunately it’s not realistic.

These 3 simple goals say one major thing about me, I’m not okay.

I’m not someone who has their life together or has a solid plan for the future. I’m imperfect and messy. I’ve made mistakes and I will continue to make them. No “New Year’s Resolution” will make that go away. It never will. Every time I look at myself I will always find imperfections or something I don’t like and that’s okay. It’s OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. When we can accept our inability to keep it together we can finally acknowledge God who is perfect in every way and look to him for guidance, there’s no need to bandage your insecurities with unrealistic standards that you can’t meet. Trust me, I’v tried that route.

My prayer for this new year is this:
“Father, I am not okay. I despise my body. I cringe at my anger and bitterness. I can’t do this on my own. I’m frustrated. Please help me to love this body you have created and see myself as you do. Please give me the strength to find my comfort and identity in you. God, please give me peace about my future and let my heart rest in the fact that you have a plan.Please let my heart feel the peace that my head knows you provide.”

I hope as you enter this new year instead of looking at things to change, you look at things you love about yourself. I pray that where you find insecurities in yourself you lift them up to God and find healing in him.

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals, and a Happy New Year!!!
xx-Shelby

Six Feet Under

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Fourth grade. That’s the first time I experienced death, at least that I can remember. One of my best friends had died a day after my birthday. He had been in a coma since mid December and died suddenly on the 21st of January. It was the first time I had ever experienced loss, but my mind still couldn’t fully comprehend what had happened. All I can remember is crying and laying in bed for a day, and going to his funeral in the following days wondering why he had to go so soon.

I still haven’t forgotten about him, I think about him a lot, actually.

That’s a beautiful thing about a person’s life, even after they’re gone you can still feel them.

Fast forward fifteen years and now death has become a even more relevant topic for me. I’ve seen classmates from high school pass, pets (let’s be real dogs are humans with fur),beloved figures from my childhood, and family members.

I know it sounds morbid and creepy, but I don’t believe thinking about death is a bad thing, after all this life isn’t permanent by any means.

Often when I find myself thinking about losing someone close to me I can’t even comprehend it, because I can’t imagine life without them. Getting a phone call or text from them. Warm hugs. Their presence at every holiday gathering. It makes you want to curl up into a ball and wallow in pain.

Alas looking at the greatest death of them all, Jesus’ death, I realize that our lives are not lived in vain and our deaths are not a dreadful end to our souls.

Jesus spent his short years on this earth bringing people to faith and loving people immensely, his journey here was necessary despite how fleeting this life is. He died the ULTIMATE death, so we could have a chance to enjoy love for eternity.

That simple revelation that has been sitting in front of my nose for 19+ years has brought me to the conclusion.

Yes. Our lives our short, but do not live them in vain. Make a difference, whether it’s raising a beautiful family, being kind to strangers, working faithfully at your job, working in ministry,etc. JUST DO SOMETHING. Do something so that once you’ve passed this life your loved ones here can have sweet memories of you to carry in their hearts, your friends can hold on to the joy you brought into their lives, and the people you impacted can remember how you served them selflessly.

Just think about walking into the gates of heaven and seeing everyone that has passed greet you with hugs and huge smiles and God saying “Welcome home!!!”, because that’s where you’ll be, HOME.

For those of you who have suffered a painful loss I pray that you find comfort and peace in the joy of your loved ones meeting their heavenly father. There is pain in loss, after all it is only human to miss someone when they are no longer here, and it would be completely un-realistic to disregard that feeling.

Despite the pain of losing my friend Michael, I know he is probably in heaven right now laughing his head off and dancing. That boy really, really loved to dance.

Know Your Worth

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Crazy. Happy. Emotional. Energetic. Chaotic.

That’s me. Crazy. Happy. Emotional. Energetic.

Scars, deep scars. Each one of us has them. Some more than others, but in the end we’ve all been hurt deeply by words someone has said to us.

People don’t realize the influence words have. Humans think that they are seemingly meaningless, they go in one ear and out the other. Sadly words resonate thoughts, whether they are good or bad.

A prime example of how strong words are is found in Genesis, and demonstrated by none other than God himself. God literally SPOKE the world into creation!

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.(Genesis 1:3)

NOW STORY TIME:

When you get married you become one flesh, and I don’t want that on me.

The quote above was spoken by someone that I dated and still think the world of. At this time they were referring to how they viewed tattoos.

This past year this simple sentence has left me feeling insecure and questioning my value. It has hurt me so much that some days I wear certain clothes to cover up my tattoos so I don’t feel ashamed, or wonder if I will ever find someone who could love me.

Thankfully through friends asking me about my past and sweet revelations of Jesus I know that the above statement is false.

What I’ve learned:
1.) When Jesus died for me on the cross he didn’t say,

“Shelby, you know I love you and your messiness. You are no longer held back from me by sin, now come and joi- wait, I’m sorry, is that a tattoo on your arm? Nope sorry, this relationship is revoked. You can no longer be with me.”

HECK NO, HE DIDN’T SAY THAT!!! It was more along the lines of…

“You are my daughter. I pursued you when you least deserved it, I loved you at darkest, and I’m not letting go of you despite the ugliness of your sin. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and I’m going to love ALL OF YOU not matter what.”

2.) My tattoos are not meaningless they are held close to my heart and represent my testimony, struggles, pain, and beauty found in chaos. I need to hold on to that truth and walk with confidence. If people disagree that doesn’t make me any less of a person or lower my value.

3.) People will always have an opinion about what you do, wear, say, etc. it’s a part of life. Just keep your head up and own it.

With those three things learned I leave my readers with this
(whether you are religious or not):

1.) Never let a person define how you feel. You cannot control them or their ideologies. You are loved no matter what.

2.) Be kind to others, words can hurt.

3.) Remember everyone has a story, and that story is what makes them beautiful.

4.) Never try to change anyone. People like being loved for who they are, not who they were, or who you want them to be.

Hugs, and love…and more hugs.
-Shelby

Not the Victim

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Facing the truth

Facing the truth

Hi guys, Shelby here. Long time no bloggy blog or talky talk.

In the past few months I’ve been feeling numb to creativeness, today The Lord graciously blessed me with the words that I’ve been searching for on this particular subject.

Most of my close friends are well aware that I like to portray myself as a feminist (to a certain extent, I mean if Ryan Gosling asked me to make him a sandwich I would gladly oblige). In the midst of my feministic ways I have found myself playing the victim, which is quite contradicting. Before you begin to jump to conclusions let me explain.

These past few years of my life have been an emotional whirl wind, unfortunately I’m beginning to learn that life is always going to be like that. We just eventually learn from our mistakes and begin to cope with situations better.

One season that I have learned from in my life is relationships, particularly with guys. I know, I know same story different day, but alas I am not here to bash dudes; I’m actually here to change the tune of this old blaming song!

Naturally when a girl gets in a relationship she begins to seek attention from a guy in the form of compliments, as does her counterpart. That’s how humans are, we are beings who desire love and seek to get high on it daily.

Fast forward into the relationship, where you have an insecure girl who begins to hang on every word he says, and a boy who is UNAWARE of how much influence his words have.

Unaware is the key word, that I myself have been oblivious to for years.

Half of the time when your significant other is saying something, they don’t understand how much weight their words hold in your heart. They don’t know that you’re insecure about your weight. They don’t know that sometimes you just want to be called beautiful at the end of the day. Instead they say something silly like, “Yeah you’re bigger than you used to be” or “Okay, night” in response to innocent questions or texts that carry the weight of your confidence.

Usually when this conversation begins to ensue break-ups happen….and we all know how that goes.

“Ughhhh he’s such a jerk”
“He called me fat and doesn’t love me.”

^^^Neither of those lines properly reflect the true situation.

As women we need to take a step back from the broken glass around us and remember who shattered it.

For me, my insecurity and seeking quick approval lead me to view innocent comments negatively and blame a guy for problems that I needed to deal with on the inside.

I pray that as women we can humble ourselves enough to view a situation in a way that we don’t see ourselves as victims of insults and degrading men, but rather as daughters of a king who wants you to love yourself and every inch of your body before you enter into a relationship with a man who is just as flawed as you are.

It may take some time, or even reading past texts to realize that the monster you have built up in your head with scars and tears is actually a broken human who isn’t perfect and is still learning to love, just like you friend.

Stay beautiful
-Shelby

P.S. I’m sorry

An Open Letter

Dear Mom,

Today is a special day that we honor you for how much you do for us. Honestly it’s hard for me to tell you how wonderful you are for only a day. I actually find Mother’s Day quite ridiculous. I don’t think Mom’s only deserve to be cherished and posted about on social media sites only once a year, especially you.

I want to hug you and tell you how great you are everyday, despite my ability to be sassy with you. You have done so much for me and I look up to you more than anyone.

You don’t know this, but every person that has met you says the same thing about you to me.

“You have no idea how much your Mom loves you” (I PROMISE THIS IS TRUE)

When people tell me this I just look at them and think, “What do you know?” This lady freaking nags me to pick-up my room, stresses out when I don’t pick-up my dishes immediately and is always asking me a million questions about things that don’t matter.

This is also the same lady who gets me Starbucks every Saturday morning before I wake-up, makes me french toast when I ask her, sends me cookies at midnight, drives out to Austin at 6 A.M. to help move me out of my dorm, and fought for me when I was sick.

You don’t think I noticed, but when I was diagnosed with my depression not once did you ever question my sanity. You said okay and decided that we were going to get through it.

When I was released from the hospital you selflessly took me shopping to get all new decorations for my room because it was too hard for me to walk back into a place where I had a lot of bad memories and everything looked the same. You let me yell at you because you didn’t cook my ramen the way I liked it and made me something different. At times you even let me blame you for my depression and took it. You even came home in time to help me when you knew something wasn’t right.

For some reason that season in my life really stands out to me because you loved me so well during it. No one else would have done what you did for me. No one would have looked at me when I had scratches on my arm and said I love you, but you did. You protected me.

Mom, I don’t think you truly understand how much you mean to me. You taught me to have faith, you taught me how to accept others, you taught me to be selfless, and you taught me how to love well.

You are my hero Susan Fry, and despite the things I have said to you or my actions, your love means the world to me.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as you’re living my Mommy you’ll be”

(To my readers, I hope if anything, this letter has taught you that love is unconditional and it has the power to heal)Image