Wednesday, December 31, 2014

6 Things I Learned in 2014

I don't think I have proper words to talk about 2014. I really don't. It's been a whirlwind of a year to say the least, with more pits and trip-ups than I would wish upon anybody.

But I'm not going to write about that today. I'm going to write about what I've learned.

1. While having high expectations is not a bad thing, there is no better way to ruin your view of reality. There is so much about life and the world that is amazing and beautiful, but our tendency to dream about things and blow them up in our minds will only lead to disappointment. I will be the last to tell you not to dream. To dream is a step on the road to do fantastic things, but we must be cautious about spending to much time dreaming and fantasizing and not enough appreciating the moment when those things we dream about finally come to us.

2. People leave and it isn't the end of your world when they do. People are organic creatures, constantly growing and moving wherever the wind blows them. This just means that there will come a day when those who you have given your heart to will drift away or pack up and walk out without so much as a goodbye. Darlings, you must not take this heart. I know better than anyone what it is to love and to lose. It's a part of life. The point is that we never take them for granted as long as they are ours.

3. You mustn't lower your standards for anybody. To know who you are and what you deserve is a gift to be cherished. You are stardust and light and you deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and honor. If someone walks all over you, leave them. There is value in second chances, but there is far more value in standing up for yourself.

4. People operate in different ways and none of them are wrong. You may draw love in a way that is vastly different from that of your best friend and that is okay. Neither of you is correct. Try to understand each other's perspectives and things will go much smoother for you in the end.

5. It is good and healthy to let things go. Yes, mourn the loss of your boyfriend or the missed opportunity or the absence of your deceased loved one. But there comes a time when you are no longer mourning and instead wallowing in self-pity. To feel, to cry, to take care of yourself during a time of loss, all are necessary to grow. But to move forward is just as important and you will thank yourself for it in the end.

6. No matter how low you fall or how deep you hurt, there will always be someone who loves you. And trust me, there will be many times when you do not see this to be true. Your heart will be break and you will be blinded by the shards but you must always remember that even when you are lonely, you are not alone.

This year, there was pain. There was stress and there was heartache and there was frustration. But there was also so much victory. The sick were healed and the broken were mended and the silent began to sing again. My Guiding Light never did fail me as I trust He never will. And while I am over the moon to be moving on and leaving 2014 behind me, I take my next steps with lessons under my belt that I would never have learned otherwise.

So here's to you and here's to your victory and here's to all the ones to come. I am so extraordinarily proud of you for making it this far.

And I am so ready to see what beautiful things 2015 will hold.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Another Day, Another Chapter

So, my darlings, I have come upon another life update. But instead of writing to you about it, I want to tell you about it.

*Cue the collective, "ooooooooh"*

Watch this video and be informed.

For those of you who may not have caught that, I am moving to Germany in a month.


That scream was both out of ecstasy and out of anxiety. There is so much to doooooo. I am trying my absolute hardest not to become overwhelmed.

"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."

That's the verse I keep falling back to. I may not got this. But Jesus definitely got this.

This next month is going to be a lot of packing and a lot of planning and a lot of coffee dates. But not a lot of stress. I am speaking that out now. Any and all prayers will be welcomed though. I can always use those.

I'm going to start doing more video diaries which will regularly be linked here. I will keep blogging as well, I'd just like to show you my life as well as tell you about it. My word, how the Designer loves surprises. I am certain that this one is going to be great.

Here's to another chapter.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Keep Moving Forward

I've learned a lot of things this year. I've learned to be careful who you vent to and that it's okay to make yourself a priority. But there is one phrase in particular that has stuck with me.

Keep moving forward.

Believe it or not, this is much easier said than done. It means to learn from your mistakes, to let things go, to move on from relationships that are keeping you anchored. Sometimes people fail you, plans fall through, and the life you thought you wanted isn't all it's cracked up to be. But we need to learn to get over it and move on.

My plan to move to London this year didn't end up panning out the way I had hoped it would. It wasn't the best that Jesus had for me in this season and I'm still coming to grips with that. I'd put all of my chips into this idea of going away. When it fell through, I kind of felt like a failure.

I've also lost a lot of people this year and it completely sucks. Even as I write this I have a splitting headache and I have to stop typing every now and again when my vision blurs because my eyes want so desperately to keep crying. It's natural to mourn such things. We were built for relationship, so naturally we are going to be crushed when we lose them. But far be it from us to rely so heavily on people that we allow them to hold us back.

Many mistakes have been made in these past months, but I don't regret any of them. I don't plan on forgetting them either. The only thing that I can do is learn from them and move on. Life is beautiful and I refuse to let a few stupid mistakes keep me from running at it with everything I have.

Like I said, this is incredibly difficult to do and I'm still figuring it out myself. But if there's one thing I know, it's that the thing which lies just around the bend is worth the strength that it will take to get there. You just need to keep moving forward.

Just keep moving forward // Just keep breathing in // Just keep fighting the good fight, it's the only fight you know // And one day . . . you're bound to win

--Sean Lea

Thursday, September 11, 2014

On Feminism

For months I have been planning a post like this one. I've gathered all the facts and tried to figure the nicest and most eloquent ways to say things. But then again, when am I ever one to settle for that which is politically correct?

My name is Charity Grace Segovia and I am a feminist.

I recognize that the above sentence is enough to make many people hate me. I also recognize that I don't care.

Let me begin by clearing a few things up.

Misogyny - the belief that men are greater than women.

Misandry - the belief that women are greater than men.

Feminism - the belief that men and women are equal.

My being a feminist does not mean that I hate men. It does not mean that I view them all as mindless slaves to their primeval, carnal desires. It does not mean that I think women should just take over the world already. My being a feminist means that I think it's about damn time that we all started treating each other like we're worth the same.

Laura sent me this video today and it was a lot of what prompted the rant that will follow.

*mini-disclaimer* He swears quite a lot and uses some phrases that may be offensive. It doesn't bother me at all but I will talk about most of the same things that he does for those of you who would rather not watch it because of that.

As much as I love it, I can't help but be frustrated with how much traction I'm sure it will gain because it was made by a man.

But anyway. Cue the rant.

I went to an Escape the Fate concert on Tuesday. I don't even listen to that genre of music really - I was there to support a friend whose band was opening for them. I went with my friends Monica and Haley. I had so much fun. But it was the first time over the course of the past six-or-so months that I went somewhere in public and didn't feel like I was going to be sexually harassed in some way.

That's a problem.

Not to say that every time I step into the world I have an issue. I am one of the fortunate few who has not come close to being raped. I thank Jesus for that. But the fact that I have begun to expect some idiot to whistle at me or make a stupid, slurred comment really bothers me.

The fact that I wouldn't dare go anywhere after dark without a male friend at my side really bothers me.

The fact that I am used to this really bothers me.

I went to Village Inn with some friends a few months ago. We all drove separately. I walked up to go inside on my own with - unbeknownst to me - a male friend walking a few yards behind me so it didn't look like we were walking in together. I noticed two men sitting around outside, clearly watching me walk in, and so I put my eyes down to avoid making conversation with them. One of them said hey and as I try to assume the best of people I smiled and nodded as I reached to open the door. The two of them then started asking me questions - if I was alone and things like that. I wasn't entirely sure of what to say but (praise the Lord) my male companion came up behind me, nodded at them, and took me inside.

I didn't think anything of the encounter until the door had closed behind us and he asked me if I was okay. I shrugged like it wasn't that big of a deal. Nothing actually happened to me, after all. He, on the other hand - a normally cheerful and friendly fellow - was clearly livid that someone would dare talk to me like that.

The fact that he was more pissed off than I was really bothers me.

See, I (and women in general) have gotten used to living this way. We have become accustomed to being catcalled and spoken about like we are objects. We hold our keys between our knuckles when walking through parking lots and never go jogging at night by ourselves. We take self-defense classes and mind how much skin we show and make up excuses when guys ask us to fool around with them because we know that just "no" is not enough of a reason for them to leave us alone.

We also shame each other for sleeping around, compete with each other in the arena of "pretty", and define our worth by how many men think that we've won in that respect. We wear special nail polish to make sure our drinks haven't been drugged and we go to the bathroom in pairs and apologize for taking up space.

Have you ever noticed that? Women apologize for taking up space. Go into any coffee shop or dentist waiting room and look around. Men will have their feet firmly planted and their arms stretched out, bearing their chests. Women will have their legs crossed and refuse even to use the armrests so as not to "get in the way". Maybe I'm crazy, but I think there's something seriously wrong with that.

Then there's equal pay and rape culture and gender roles. How women do two-thirds of the worlds work and receive ten percent of the world's income. How, in cases of rape, the question is still asked, "What was the victim wearing?" How, for whatever reason, kitchen jokes are still being made. Seriously, let a woman be a CEO, let a man be a homemaker, don't effing shame people for doing what they want to do because it isn't traditionally "feminine" or "masculine".

My word, I am just so tired of this. I'm tired of living in a world where men buy condoms before college and women buy rape whistles. I'm tired of living in a world where I have had to coach myself not to turn when someone whistles at me because I am a woman and not a dog. I'm tired of living in a world where women are portrayed as weak and hysterical and men are portrayed as brainless machines who will stop at nothing to get sex.

Ladies and gentleman, we are all so much more than that. We are all so creative and so beautiful, so intelligent and so capable of changing the world. I'm convinced that we have all the answers to do so, we just get so caught up in seeing each other as a shade of lesser or crueler that we haven't been able to work together to paint this broken universe with all the light and color that we have inside of us. If we could just take a second to breathe and understand that while we are different we are still equal, things would really start to shift.

To men - thank you so much to those of you willing to treat women like they matter. Thank you for protecting us, not because we can't protect ourselves but because we shouldn't have to. Thank you to those of you who respect us, who take no for an answer, who encourage us to chase our dreams in a world that tells us that we can't. You are the light of God. He designed you with the greatest of intention, to be the strongest leaders and the most tender fathers. I ask you only to continue to do what you know is right, to be respectful and to be kind and to never treat a woman like a decoration or a slave. Your power and love is awe-inspiring. Do not waste it.

To women - I am sorry for anyone (male or female) who has made you feel inadequate. You are so beautiful and so brave. I am sorry to those of you who have received the worst of the misogynistic views and been taken advantage of or refused a job or an education. Please never give up on the seemingly unattainable desires of your heart because you are of the so-called "weaker sex." I only ask that you have grace for men. Not all men are horrible and want to hurt you. Trust me, I have met far more upstanding gentlemen than disrespectful pigs. They have only been conditioned to view you as less. Most of them see you as you are and adore you. The Designer has crafted you with all of your charm and your fire for a purpose. Find it. And then never let anyone take it away from you.

Beloved friends, my prayer is that we all can learn to move past prejudice and shallow mindsets and just love each other. This is the second greatest commandment. Oh fellow revolutionaries, I call you to arms.

Let us change this world together, for we certainly cannot do it any other way.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't Call Me Pretty

I know you're probably expecting some explanation. "I'm not pretty, I'm beautiful" or something like that. But no. I really mean it. I'm tired of being called pretty.

It's been coming up a lot more recently. Like, so much so that it's almost unsettling. Over the past few months it has become incredibly rare that I get a compliment not tied to the way I look.

"Charity, you're so attractive."

"I wish I had your smile."

"Your eyes are just perfect."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being ungrateful or making an attempt at humility or self-deprecation. I really do appreciate the sweet words. But it's started to bother me to a weird degree and this post is about why.

First of all, pretty implies a lot of things. At least in my experience with media and peers, pretty means you aren't held to the same standard of morality as so many others. If you can flash a winning smile you can get out of the speeding ticket with a warning or get the cup of coffee at a discounted price (if not for nothing at all). Pretty gets away with poor choices. Pretty gets things for free. Pretty just doesn't have to work as hard.

This is where the pretty-does-not-equal-smart stereotype comes from. Pretty learns from very early on that in life, stuff will just be handed to her. Oftentimes this means that she just doesn't strive to improve herself or sharpen her mind because she doesn't need to. Other times she may be absolutely brilliant but it gets overlooked because she has clear skin and shiny hair. Tell me honestly, how many times have you looked at a physically attractive person and unintentionally assumed that they were not too bright?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Then there's the whole thing about looking in a mirror and having nothing but disgust for yourself in spite of what everyone says. Pretty is better according to, well, everyone. And so we shave and bleach and starve and paint and think that maybe we can someday be that. Pretty has completely consumed our society. It's eating us alive and while there have been attempts, no one really knows how to stop it.

"Don't worry, you're prettier than her."

I've been told this a handful of times before by men (and women) just trying to boost my self-image. But contrary to popular belief, it is not a compliment. It's a competition that none of us signed up for. It leads to arrogance and tearing each other down. It is so unhealthy.

But the thing that irks me the most about this is that there is so much more to me than pretty. When a person sees me or talks to me and out of all the things in the world that they could say, choose to compliment the random selection of genes that make up my outer shell, I can't help but wonder what it is that I'm doing wrong. I'm smart, I'm talented, I'm outgoing. Why does everyone only see the pretty?

So call me brilliant. Tell me I have a phenomenal singing voice or writing ability far beyond my years. Call me brave and tell me that my sense of adventure is inspiring to you. Even more than all of that, tell me that my love of my Designer makes you want to chase Him even more.

But don't call me pretty. That is not what I want my legacy to be.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Let Them Talk

Hi there. I've missed you. Let's start this off by clearing a few things up, shall we?

--I am not secretly dating two different men.

--My best friend who lives overseas is not "crazy into me".

--Likewise, I am not "crazy into him".

--Another friend who lives here and I are not in denial about our feelings for each other.

And my favorite one to debunk,

--I am not pregnant.

But you've been acting so moody lately. Don't worry, I won't judge you.

Yeah, I'm really not. I think I would know.

Are you sure?

Pretty damn. I haven't slept with anyone. Seriously. Give it a rest.

This really needs to stop. Like now.

*turns on kindergarten teacher voice*

Okay, children, gather 'round. Today we're going to talk about rumors.

*children all gasp*

*thunder sounds outside*

*cue dramatic chord*

In all seriousness though, this is kind of getting annoying. I did a pretty good job avoiding rumors and drama in high school and my naïveté convinced me that once I graduated I would leave any chance for drama in the dust. Hah.

Where is everyone coming up with this stuff? Even I am at a loss for words about a lot of it. Some of them I can sort of understand. But others are just nuts. Am I pregnant? Really, guys?

Quite honestly at this point, I don't care where the rumors started. Mostly because I don't have the energy to don my super sleuth hat and track down the sources right now. Because I haven't eaten or slept much. Because I've been busy stressing about the *insert expletive of your choice here* rumors.

Why do we as a race feel the need to be so immature? Are we really benefited at all by telling far-fetched stories about each other? And why do we believe everything we hear?

Charity Segovia is pregnant? But she's never had a boyfriend or even her first kiss! How did she manage that? Oh well. I guess I'd better tell all of my closest friends about it.

I think that one probably started out as a joke because I like to metaphorically adopt my friends because I really want kids. One way or another, it doesn't matter much. Like I said, I don't really care where they started. I care about the fact that they did.

I had a conversation with Jesus about this recently in the hopes of finding some peace amidst it all.

What are you going to do about the rumors, Charity?

Daddy, I really don't know if there's anything I can do. I have to do something though!

Do you?

Yes! People are talking!

And when have people's words or opinions ever bothered you before? You know the truth. I do to. That's all that matters.

*sigh of exasperation*

He's right. He always is right about things. I really haven't ever cared what people think. Why should I start now?

So I say let them talk. People will say and believe what they want and I can't stop them. The ones who really know me will believe the truth. The ones who want to will bring it up with me directly. And as for everyone else, well, I'm sorry that you are so bored with your life that you find the need to embellish mine. I play my tiny violin for you.

Have a good day. And please try not to ruin anyone else's by spreading rumors.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Friends are important. Loyal friends are important. But I'm willing to argue that friends who are unafraid to confront you when they think you are being an idiot are the most important.

See, confrontation is something that people shy away from oh-so often. Political correctness and fear of offending people have made this a norm. No one wants to make anyone else feel uncomfortable, no one wants to hurt anyone else's feelings. This all leads to silence and rooms stuffed wall-to-wall with elephants and friendships that aren't much deeper than a kiddy pool.

Bite me if this offends you, but you can't call yourself a real friend unless you are willing to call others out on their bull crap.

Friends are here to help each other stretch and grow, to help each other become the greatest and purest versions of themselves. Sometimes this is rough. But always it is worth it.

And cue the intervention.

These past few weeks have not been the best in the world. I was pretty deeply backstabbed by someone who I trusted with a lot of my life. This led to anger and bitterness on my part, making friends with slightly questionable people in addition to those who serve as my big brothers and sisters who were growing more and more concerned with my apparent dancing carelessly on the edge of the deep end, jokingly threatening to do a cannonball.

Apparently, you cannot joke about doing stupid things in the presence of people who actually care about you without getting sat down on a Saturday night with a bowl of pasta in your hand and concerned looks in everyone's eyes. I had been invited to the apartment a few days ago under the assumption that I would just be fifth-wheelin' for two of my favorite couples:

Dan and Hayley

and Robby and Laura.

Hah. Nope.

So I walk into the apartment and almost nobody is talking (which, let me tell you, is incredibly out of character for these people). Hayley asks me if I want food and I take a bowl and take a seat and laughingly ask if this is an intervention.

"Well . . ."

"Oh my gosh it is an intervention! You guys . . ."

"Just a small 'i' intervention . . ."

I let out a dramatic sigh, with legitimately no idea where this is going. I couldn't have guessed even if I tried.

They went on to talk about how I haven't been acting like myself recently, how I've been harboring anger and living life flippantly. The whole, "We know you haven't actually made any bad decisions but we just want to make sure you don't," thing came up a bit. Every other sentence had something to do with how much they love me.

On one hand it was decently overwhelming. On the other it was a slap in the face. And on the other hand of this three-handed monstrosity, it was ridiculously relieving to know that not everyone is just going to bail. These people actually intend to stick around.

Laura turned to me at one point in her incredibly Laura-esque way and talked about how much they
really do.

"I know you don't believe me because you've had so many people just come and leave but we're not going anywhere. You could go do a ton of drugs or get pregnant and we would still stick around. You matter to us and you have so much power and so much life and we just want you to understand that."

The rest of our time consisted of me reassuring everyone that I don't plan on going psycho, and everyone stating that they knew, they just wanted to be safe.

At the time, I wasn't entirely sure how I was taking the whole thing. Truth is, I don't always believe that the people in my life want to and will stay in it. Mostly because so many have made that claim and failed to follow through. I have these crazy rejection issues and abandonment issues and I don't really trust anyone.

But they make me want to. And anyone who knows me at all can vouch for what a big deal that is.

See, my tendency when I get hurt is to pull away and put up walls in an attempt to guard myself from it ever happening again. But I'm beginning to understand that I don't have to run away. Why would I if I can just run to the ones who have always had my back?

It's a learning process. I need to coach my brain to be okay with trusting people. But with people like the ones that I have, I don't think it will be all that difficult.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Second Part

When I was a child I was crazy outgoing. I would talk to anyone and everyone about any topic imaginable. I was loud, I was dramatic, I was passionate, I talked a lot. And I wasn't bothered by it. I was myself, I was confident, I was happy.

But somewhere along the line, people started telling me that the way I was was not okay. Being dramatic was bad, being loud was unacceptable, talking as much as I did was impolite. At first I didn't care. But then I gradually began to shove those louder and more dramatic and more crazy bits of myself way, way down and cover them up with a layer of feigned "perfect." I couldn't cover it up completely - I was still extroverted and passionate - but I was no longer unafraid to show my colors. I was no longer unashamed to be who I actually was.

This burying of my identity went on for years. Every time it started to come up to the surface and peek out, I'd recieve the same response.

"You never stop talking."

"You are such a drama queen."

"You are so weird."

Responses like this would prompt me to pull back and shove down again, all in the hopes of making people happy. This went on through junior high and high school and didn't come to my attention till about a month ago when for whatever reason, I started gradually letting it out.

I was at a coffee shop a couple weeks ago with some of my closest companions, listening to a charming, blue-eyed music man strum familiar chords on his guitar. I made some grand gesture with my arms or said something ridiculous, I don't remember which, and upon realizing what I had just done, I shrunk back and folded my hands in my lap as I mentally slapped the goofy smile off my face.

"Why do you do that?"

Laura is the big sister I have always wanted. I call her Blackbird and she calls me Compass and she has an uncanny ability to see into my very soul when I least want people to.

"Do what?" I asked her, truly uncertain as to what she was inquiring about.

"Shrink back like that whenever you do something crazy. There's nothing wrong with being crazy, it's you."

Laura is most certainly an authority on this subject. Over the two-ish years that I have known her, I have watched her grow into this bold, bright, outgoing, utterly insane human being who couldn't care less what the world thinks. She dances in restaurants and wears bright colors and does whatever the heck she wants without even blinking. She is the walking epitome of self-confidence, completely different from who she was just before I met her. She grew into her true self in recent years. Like a butterfly.

I sit back and ponder the answer to her question. "I . . . don't really know."

The thing was, up till she asked, I had no idea that I shied away from boldness like that. I didn't know that I was ashamed of my crazy, that I silently chided myself whenever I did something dramatic or dumb. I truly believed that I knew who I was and I was confident and only in that moment did I realize that there was another whole side of myself that I had unknowingly shielded from the world's eyes.

We all migrated to Old Chicago at that point and the same thing happened again. I did something crazy, I withdrew, Laura confronted me about it. Every now and again she does this thing. She sighs dramatically and turns her body towards me and raises her voice and talks about how freaking awesome I am, not sparing a single swear word. It's actually really cool.

So that night we tried to delve into why it is that I do what I do. We didn't come to any conclusions at the table, but we did get up and dance to the Elvis song that was playing at one point.

That night, driving home, I thought long and hard about everything that had gone on and I began to understand about how being told that my personality was a little too much had affected me. Deeply. Before long it was all clear as crystal, and since then I've tried my best to not have an issue with me.

See, the thing is, I am a drama queen. I have access to a lot more volume than I realize most of the time. I talk way more than the average person and I have a lisp caused by the overbite that nobody notices until I mention it. Occasionally I speak in a little kid voice or make a big deal out of nothing. I snort when I laugh and trip when I walk and this is the point that I am trying to get at:

Charity Segovia is a decently insane writer-girl with wild hair and bright eyes and she sings all the time and she almost perpetually has something written on her arm and I couldn't care less if you like her or not because whether or not I feel like it all the time, I love her.

I love her.


I love her overactive imagination and the fact that she can't dance. I love that she tries really hard to be an optimist and sucks at it sometimes. I love that she loves Aaron Tveit more than should be humanly possible. I love that she thinks she's a pirate and loves glitter way too much. I love that she adores musical theatre and makes awesome movies and covers songs with her friend Monica. I love that the only things she knows how to cook are macaroni and cheese and sandwiches and kick-ass lemon bars and that she writes love songs for random people she meets in coffee shops and will never see again.

We were charged with the command to love our neighbors as ourselves but we spend so much time focusing on the "love your neighbor" part that we completely forget about the second part.

As yourself.

How can we possibly love other people if we can't even love ourselves?

Believe me, I know better than anyone just how hard it is to love yourself. But there is a level of freedom that comes with doing so that is completely unreachable by any other means.

Yeah, maybe Charity's a klutz. Maybe she's loyal to a fault and has dance parties with herself in her kitchen.

But she is also a writer with talent beyond her years. She's not afraid of confrontation and believes in the power of prayer. She thinks the sky is the most beautiful thing ever and is decently obsessed with colored jeans. She loves the feeling of being on a stage and she cannot listen to Fleetwood Mac in the car without her windows down. She has a killer singing voice and loves people fiercely and I wouldn't trade her quirks for anything.

Being yourself in a world that may not like it very much most certainly can be scary. But it is also beautiful. And I am beyond stoked to begin doing so.

(And for anyone wondering . . . that would be Laura)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Announcement

I don't really make a lot of these. In general, my life doesn't undergo that many exciting changes or events. But every now and again something extraordinary happens. That's why I'm writing today.

A lot of you who will read this have probably already been told the news in person or over the phone, but clearly I couldn't do that with all of you so this is my means of delivering my news to the masses. I've been mulling over how to tell you all this for a while, and I've decided to just come out and say it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am moving to the UK in the fall.


I went on my first mission trip to Cambodia the summer before my junior year of high school and absolutely fell in love with missions. By the time I got home, I knew that was what I would be doing with my life. I graduated high school last year and wanted to immediately dive into the field but God told me no, not yet. So I waited for months, watching all of my friends go on fantastic trips and adventures. Being patient was the hardest thing in the world. It took everything in me not to just pack up and go.

But then, earlier this year, I found Greater Europe Mission and all of the waiting made sense. I applied for an internship and the next thing I knew I was accepted and prepping to leave for an 11-month mission.

I'll be partnering with an organization called Streetspace Ministries, building relationships with people and being Papa's servant. I am incredibly stoked.

I ask you now to pray for me. Pray for this short season of preparation as I am about to step into unknown territory. Pray for my own heart and the hearts of those I will encounter while I am gone, that Papa will prepare us for each other. Pray that I will learn and grow in miraculous ways over this time, and that the growth will not cease when I come back. Pray for the necessary funds to come in and that I won't stress about them. But most of all, pray that I will be Papa's hands and feet, touching people and corners of the world and filling them with Spiritfire.

Thank you, all of you, for supporting me all of these years and now as I move forward. It's good to know you all have my back in prayer and in love and in life in general.

To this next step I raise my glass.

Here we go.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Life is too short to dance with ugly men.

This is one of many wonderful pieces of advice that I have gathered from my Abuela over my almost-nineteen years of life. I've received dozens of little tidbits of wisdom from her (most of which sound absolutely ridiculous out of context) but this one is undoubtedly my favorite.

Let me tell you why.

Both Abuela and I are firm believers in the idea that the world would be much happier if people spent more time dancing. Dancing alone in the kitchen, dancing in the rain, dancing with each other, just dancing. But never, ever with ugly men.

Now when I say "ugly men," I don't mean men who are physically unattractive (though I am certain that that is at least in part what Abuela meant). I mean people who are ugly on the inside, those who are manipulative and dishonest and cruel. I truly believe that every human being at their core is good. We were made in the image of God, after all. An "ugly man" is any person who does not live up to the goodness that he has within him and walks in a life of disrespect to others.

Women, so often, settle. On less that what they deserve, on people who use them, both in romantic relationships and in friendships. We desire so greatly to be loved by someone that anyone who shows us any sort of affection automatically wins our hearts. We fling ourselves at men freely and without withholding, and all this does is wreck us.

Men do this too though. They desire approval and respect, only to be constantly talked down to by those that they only want to make happy.

Human beings are wonderful, beautiful, brilliant creatures, so precious to our Father. But we don't get that. And that is why we so often find ourselves dancing with ugly men.

I am unable to count the number of people with whom I have interacted who have been hurt in one way or another by an "ugly man." Too many have been led on, strung along, used, abused, beaten down, rejected, broken, tossed aside, and treated like they're not the precious gold I know they're made of. The actions of parents, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, have ruined them and led them to believe that they are undesirable and unworthy of love.

Ladies and gentlemen, listen to me. The only Man that matters is the one who paid infinity for you. He thinks that you are worth the most priceless thing in the universe and He freely gave it so that you may see:

You are brilliant.

You are powerful.

You are talented.

You are breathtaking in every sense of the word, and He is the ultimate authority on that subject.

This goes for everyone. Men, women, boys girls, whoever you are, wherever you are from, I need you to hear me on this. You are worth so much more than the one who treated you like you were nothing led you to believe. Please understand how wonderful you are.

I ask you now - all of you - to stop dancing with "ugly men." Stop pouring into relationships that are draining you, stop feeding into lies and self loathing, stop doing life with people who put you down, talk negatively about and to you, and treat you like less than infinity. You deserve respect if only because you are a human being.

But don't you dare stop dancing. Dance with the dreamers and the edifiers, the ones who see your beauty and love to describe it to you. Build a support system of dance partners who rejoice in your successes and stroke your hair when you weep. By all means, do not settle. You shouldn't have to.

Life is too short to spend it with those who do not see how amazing you are.

But life is too beautiful not to dance through with people who do.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Talk About Fear

Okay. I've written a ton here about courage and what it is to be brave and the word fearless and blah blah blah. But never have I directly addressed the topic of fear. This is one of those things that I am really ridiculously passionate about, so forgive me if I rant a bit.

Fear is the opposite of love. Hate is not, hate is just the deepest absence of love that there is. In fear one becomes closed, in love one expands. In fear one hides, in love one is exposed. In fear one becomes lonely, in love one is lost, hence there is no question of loneliness at all. Love is perfect though, and therefore stronger than fear. Love wins every time. Unless. Unless we choose to let fear take over.

See, fear is one of those things that only can shove its way into our lives if we let it. At all times we have the option to be brave, to be strong, to not let fear win. So why do we? Honestly, I think it's because we were taught to. Since we were children we were told that it is normal and even good to be afraid of heights and the dark and strangers with candy and windowless white vans. But there is a very big difference between being afraid and being aware.

To be aware is to be smart, to be on your toes, and to keep your eyes open.

To be afraid is to not trust God to take care of you.

This will probably annoy some people. But I can't be any more clear than this. Fear says, "I am in danger and I need to protect myself." It completely throws away the idea of a divine Creator whose every word echoes with the phrase, "I love you." How dare we be so concerned with ourselves and our own well-being that we forget how much more He is.

I think fear is all in our heads. It's made-up. It is looking into the future and seeing a negative outcome which may never even happen to us at all. It's pessimistic and it is not something that I will not allow access to my life.

This is another one of those things that requires that I retrain my brain to think a certain way. For eighteen years I was told that fear is "normal". And maybe it is. But it's not good. And I cannot, will not allow it a place in my heart or my mind.

I am not afraid to sit with strangers in a park downtown after dark.

I am not afraid to walk down a dark alley wearing short-shorts.

I am not afraid that I will contract cancer or be unable to have children or die in a plane crash.

Look at the One to whom I belong and give me one good reason why I should be.

I've seen a man's leg grow, hundreds of dollars show up in people's bank accounts out of the blue, forest fires stop in their tracks and flame out for no "logical" reason. Well, I abide by a different set of logic, and fear is not a part of it.

Joshua 1:9, Beloved.

Be free of the cage of fear.

It has no right to you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Those of you who have been with me for a while know about how I have dabbled in music a bit. I sing and I songwrite. I'm currently teaching myself guitar. I've played with the idea of chasing music as more than a little hobby before, but I've never actually really thought about it. Until now.

One of my best friends, Monica, and I have decided to take the leap. We created a musical duo called Burgundy&July.


This is a huge endeavor for us. I for sure have never pursued something like this before. But now here we are with a YouTube channel and everything.

This is our introductory video:

And this is our first cover:

We also have an Instagram account: burgundyandjuly.

So check us out! Follow us! Like, subscribe, favorite! And let us know how we can improve.

Thank you so so so so much!

And have a beautiful Wednesday.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Cha-Cha

I've heard it said that an optimist is someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's more like a cha-cha.

And just like that, a week that logically should have been absolutely horrible for me, wasn't. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

I got a cold last Sunday and still have yet to recover, my best friend moved halfway around the world on Thursday, I got sick in my stomach yesterday, nothing is working out for me. But at the same time, it's been good. Unexplainably good, actually. All signs would point to this being one of the most horrible weeks of my life. But if I'm being honest, it may have been one of the best.

Being an optimist is one of those daily choices we have to make, like choosing joy or choosing to believe what is good about ourselves. This one I think is the hardest. Sometimes you need to make up a silver lining to keep from becoming cynical. But when you do manage to push through and make the best out of the worst, you'll notice that your life doesn't suck quite so bad after all.

This week I watched The Court Jester for the first time. I got to spend time with many of my close friends. The average temperature reached over sixty most days. And I got to take a much needed walk with Papa.

"Talk to Me. What's on your mind?"

"Well, I'm still sick. And Dallas is gone now."


"But . . . things are still somehow really good. I get to talk to You, I get to be healthy eventually, I get to see him again someday. And while those victories may be far off . . . I still know that they're coming."

If ever I've had a week that was a cha-cha, this one was it. I'm exhausted, mentally, emotionally, physically, and occasionally I do doubt whether or not this season of lacking good health will ever end. But if there is anything I have learned, it's that I can't let fear win, I can let doubt rob me of optimism, I can't let one, two, three steps back blind me to the fact that there is a finish line and it is glorious. I keep moving forward and I cling to His promise.

It's times like these when hope is the anchor for my ever-wandering soul. Stronger than fear, shining bright through darkness, hope is what keeps joy and optimism alive. I hold on to hope like I hold on to Him, and suddenly, everything seems one heck of a lot brighter.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We are not merely dreamers, but doers.

I've spent a good long while preparing myself for it. I've known it was coming for months. But I still think it'll take a while to adjust to the difference in speed of the city now.

My best friend moved to China today.

Ah, yes, my noble adventure buddy and the first mate of my pirate ship embarked on a grand expedition and I shall not see him again for at least a year. It's weird. I still don't think I've fully processed it yet.

I remember when he told me that he was planning on leaving. I'd known for months, years even, that it was his plan to one day leave the States behind and discover what life could be like in another corner of the world. But I was still somehow caught off guard when he told me he was beginning to solidify plans to teach English overseas. China of all places. And a whole year? I'd always known his insatiable wanderlust would catch up with him one day but nothing could have really readied me for the announcement he made on my couch one snowy afternoon.

Now, I am all to accustomed to this pattern. Dozens of acquaintances and friends and close friends have shipped out to see the world and find themselves, to taste adventure and chase down thrills. But many of them have never come back. I become close with people very quickly and find it hard to let them go due to rejection issues, abandonment issues, and fear of the unknown. But I couldn't be so selfish as to ask them to stay. I couldn't be so selfish as to ask him to stay, not with what a great opportunity it is for him.

So I spent the past few weeks preparing for the inevitable. I wrote a series of letters for him to open when he encounters particular circumstances. I prayed a lot. I worked with him to set up a last day to hang out together. I prayed a lot. I spent Sunday afternoon with him watching (500) Days of Summer and talking about adventure. I prayed a whole-freaking-lot. In in the midst of all my prayer and preparation, something occurred to me.

I'm afraid.

But I'm not just afraid that he will leave and never return to me or that our relationship will make a permanent, negative shift over this coming year. I'm afraid that he'll get hurt because I was unable to protect him. It sounds stupid right? I'm not his guardian. I should not feel responsible to make sure he's taken care of. But I'm a firstborn. I am ridiculously over-protective of everyone who matters to me. If he's on the other side of the world, he's out of my hands.

God and I dialogued about this yesterday afternoon.

"Charity, what are you so afraid of?"

"I'm afraid he'll get hurt, Daddy. I can't be there for him."

"You know it's not your job to make sure He's okay, right? It's Mine."

"I know that . . ."

"You are not his protector. I am. I will take care of him. I promise you that. He's Mine. He's always been Mine. Let Me handle this."

Something about His voice just makes every care of mine melt.

So, last night, just like every other Wednesday night, I went over to his house to watch an old movie with some of his roommates and a handful of our other dear companions. I sat up in his room with him as he stressed and packed and unpacked every last essential into a suitcase and then into a camping backpack. It wasn't long until the room became crowded with masses of people who adore him and wanted to see him one last time. Come a few minutes before midnight, this Cinderella decided it was time to depart so I pulled him out of the room, presented him with the bundle of letters, and prayed for him before I left for home.

I barely managed to leave his street before I realized that I had forgotten something horribly important and called him on his cell.

"Hey, I didn't get a picture with you! Can I swing by in the morning?"

"It'd have to be pretty early . . . like 4:45 . . ."

"Okay sounds great!"

"Holy crap . . ."

"See you in the morning!"

I hung up the phone as I realized that I would not be sleeping much at all. But I didn't care. He's my best friend. He's my priority. I'll sleep when I'm dead.

I crashed around 1:30, my alarm went off at 4:00, I tried to make myself look decently presentable. And yes, for everyone wondering, I did leave my house at 4:30 this morning to take a selfie with my best friend. Deal.

We ended up taking six. Lighting issues, him being goofy when I was smiling for real and the reverse, you know, just your typical selfie problems. We talked a bit while he put a few last items into his carry-on, he gave me some CDs and a book he was leaving behind, and his mom - being super adorable as is her default - gave me a little packet of tissues just in case I needed them. He straightened his tie and laced up his shoes and the three of us carried all his stuff out to the driveway to load into the Subaru in the dark of 5am. I hugged him goodbye in the freezing cold and he lept into the passenger seat of the car.

I turned to walk back to mine and, as I pulled my gloves back on I looked up at the endless sheet of black velvet freckled with sparkles and took a breath. I only live twelve minutes east of his house, but his view of the night sky is always so much more beautiful than mine. And what should I see spiraling across the sea of ebony?

A shooting star. The brightest, most beautiful one I have ever been so blessed to witness.

I looked back as he leaned out of the car, waved, and shouted his goodbye. I turned around again and kept my eyes glued to that now empty space that had just been filled with so much glory as I crossed the street and climbed into my Cortez. Key in the ignition, radio off, I left his headlights in my rearview mirror, knowing I wouldn't see them again for a long time.

I understood right away that it wasn't a wishing star. It was a promise. A promise that Daddy will take care of him. A promise that we're both going to be just fine. A promise that I get to see him again, and that is more than enough to carry me through this season until I do.

Here I am now, hours later, with a splitting headache and a happy heart and I am so darn proud of him.
 The world does not lack dreamers. We have them in abundance. Limitless is the number of people who imagine beauty in the future, but few are those who take action. A dream is merely a fantasy until you don your running shoes and chase it down, and today, that is exactly what he did.

For so long he dreamed of travel. For so long he longed for adventure, but he didn't stop there. He's chasing that dream halfway around the world, and I think there's a lot we can learn from him.
"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life."
You go rock China, Kid.

I'll see you soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Year

Yesterday was a bit of a milestone for me. Okay, more than a bit. It was undoubtedly my favorite of all my milestones so far. Yesterday was my one year.

One year since I conquered depression. It's crazy having made it this far.

I remember so vividly lying in my bed, unable to move because I was so sick. My face hurt because I'd been crying so much, I hadn't had anything to eat or drink in over 24 hours, and I was sore in my stomach from how much I'd thrown up. I curled up in the fetal position and sang worship songs under my breath for hours, not because I wanted to - believe me, I had no desire to worship - but because I was making one last ditch effort to try to do what Papa asked of me.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard a familiar set of footsteps walk downstairs, down the hall, to my bedroom in the basement. The door was pushed open and the light from the hallway spilled into my room revealing the silhouette of the man who had been shoving his way into my life over the past week in spite of all my attempts to cut him out of it. That man worked hand-in-hand with my Designer to pull me out of the grave I had been digging myself for seventeen years. The light from the hallway was more than a metaphor.

To this day I can't tell you how I let things get as bad as they did. It all happened so suddenly it seemed, beginning on a Monday and being conquered on a Thursday. By all the rules of logic, I should not be here right now. I could be long gone, people could be writing extensive Facebook posts about how they miss me and how I had "such an impact." But. But, Papa had a different plan, and I praise Him everyday for it.

So yesterday I jumped into my car and drove north for an hour and a half, singing Queen's greatest hits with my CD player and turning the volume up when I hit Denver rush hour traffic only 10 exits away from where I needed to be. I met up with that same man - the one who had been present a year ago - in a teeny-tiny Thai restaurant on Colfax and Logan where he bought me a celebratory dinner and we got to talk to the adorable restaurant owner who moved to the States from Bangkok seven years ago. Then we drove home and listened to Prince of Spain and talked about friendships and stress relievers and society's standards for beauty and roadtripping to Chicago. I dropped him off at home and showered and went to bed exhausted but very happy, with my heart and my stomach both very full.

I look at the two different nights separated by 364 sunrises and I realize that almost nothing is the same as it was. A year ago I was angry and depressed and self-loathing, falling asleep every night to the sound of my own sobbing and wondering how much longer I was willing to do that. Now I'm alive and optimistic and free, taking every day as a stride and stoked to see what's around the bend. I'm eating now, I'm writing more, I actually talk to people about my problems. Everything has changed. And I am so glad that it has.

If there's one thing I've learned over this past year, it's that I can't do life without Him. I wasn't built to do life any other way than with my writer's hand enveloped in His scarred one. That's why everything falls apart when I try to. My heart becomes overwhelmed when I think about the lengths He went to to retrieve this one black sheep who was trying so hard to run away, straight into the wolf's mouth. He never stopped trying to talk to me, He never stopped chasing me, He never stopped loving me. And I don't understand that.

I don't think I ever will. But I'm okay with that. If He was small enough for us to understand, He wouldn't be big enough for us to worship. I owe Him everything. And that's why in all of my confused, emotionally and physically scarred mess, I devote my life to chasing Him. I find myself in the most beautiful places when I do that.

I raise my glass to the One who will never let me go.

Happy one year, Papa. This next one is for you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm afraid to tell you I don't like you, so I'll just lead you on.

Why do we do this?

Seriously. Why?

Allow me to take a stab at figuring it out.

*Clears throat*

Something I've noticed over my eighteen-and-a-half years of existence is that romantic love has a way of screwing things up. I'm not trying to be cynical or pessimistic, I'm just making an observation. Eros ruins friendships and breaks hearts and creates fear and frustration in the minds of its victims. It is, so often, a destroyer.

But it isn't supposed to be that way. It's supposed to make us come alive and redefine beauty in our minds. It's supposed to be a life-giver. But it's not. And that's because we're doing it wrong.

There's a guy - call him Joe. And he's romantically interested in a girl - call her Christine. But Christine doesn't reciprocate Joe's feelings for her. Now, she has a few options here. The best one is to be honest with him, to tell him that she doesn't feel the same way, but to do it in a gentle and respectful manner. This would bring clarity and spare Joe's feelings and probably even save the friendship. Life is a heck of a lot easier when we're honest with each other.

But more than likely she will not say anything, leading him to believe that he has a chance with her even though he doesn't. There are a dozen reasons why she would do this, all of which stem from selfish ambition or fear. To save her own reputation as a "nice" person, to avoid confrontation, the list goes on. But none of these reasons are really valid. Let me tell you why.

What Christine does to Joe by avoiding the awkward "I'm just not that into you" conversation is, to be blunt, blatantly disrespectful and under no circumstances is it okay. I honestly couldn't care less what her reasoning is behind doing this to him. He's a human being and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and love.

Obviously, this is all hypothetical. But in reality, it's not. Too many of my friends have suffered like Joe. I have suffered like Joe, and I don't think it's fair. No one should ever, ever waver on the brink that separates hope from pain. Being led on makes one think that there is a chance at being with the person that he or she so admires. It causes guys and girls to waste their time, their energy, their love on someone who doesn't want any of it and will just toss it out the window when they aren't looking.

People are worth an infinite amount. God made this abundantly clear when He made a sacrifice of infinite value for our sake. Can we all just agree to start treating each other as such? As priceless? As deserving of honesty? Not a lot peeves me more than such disregard for emotion.

I'll start this movement if I have to. Right now, I vow never to intentionally lead anyone on, to be transparent with my emotions, and to treat people with respect. I ask you all to hold me to this. I can't promise that what I say or do will not be read into. I'm naturally friendly and outgoing, and I understand how that could be interpreted as flirtation. But to the best of my ability I want to be clear about my intentions with people. They deserve that.

I ask you to do the same. Make a similar vow, or at the very least just try to be careful with people's hearts. They can withstand a lot. But they are so delicate. And it is our job to protect each other the best ways that we know how. Let's start here. Let's start now.

Are you in?

Monday, February 3, 2014

For Good

I don't want to have to write this. I didn't ever want to have to write anything even remotely like this. But I promised you honesty. So here it is in all its raw, emotional glory.

My relationship with my closest friend ended officially last night.


We met in fourth grade and became best friends in seventh. Come the later years of high school we were basically inseparable, spending every other day with each other, doing life, overcoming pain, growing in our relationships with each other and with our Designer. We were going to be in each other's weddings and raise our kids alongside of each other. We were going to change the world together, and up until recently I couldn't picture any part of my future without her being there.

Then, over the Summer, she left to participate in a six-month long internship at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City while I stayed here in the Springs. Before she left, we talked about how she would be cutting ties with practically everyone but her family. This meant we would go half a year without communicating at all. I remember so vividly where we were when we had this conversation. We sat in her little blue car in the parking lot of The Shops at Briargate.

"If I come back and we're still best friends then great, we can pick up right where we left off . . ."

She trailed off, not needing to finish her thought. I knew what the other potential outcome was and neither of us was willing to say it straight up.

So she left and I stayed, thoroughly convinced that a nine-year long relationship could certainly withstand six months of separation. But a lot happened over that six months. God took us on these journeys, so deep and intense and different from each other's. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that even when she returned that things would never be the same again. But in all my stupid optimism and naivete, I convinced myself to believe that things didn't have to change, that she would be the exception to the rule that everyone in my life is just going to walk away, that we really could pick up right where we left off.

Fast forward to December when she came home. I picked her up from her house so she could join my family for dinner one night and we tried our best over the few hours we had together to catch up on everything that God had been doing. But something was different and I couldn't for the life of me pinpoint what it was. I didn't want to pinpoint what it was. I didn't want things to be different, I didn't want to be wrong, I didn't want to lose her. So I tried so damn hard to believe that everything was exactly as it had always been.

But it wasn't, and we both knew it. She moved back to Kansas City last month to start building her new life. I didn't get the chance to say goodbye. I felt so naive, so stupid, for not being able to do anything to save what we had. I felt like it was my fault. What was so wrong with me that people just couldn't bare to stick around? But instead of dealing with my problems and sorting through my thoughts, I buried them under the idea that the relationship was still salvageable, we both just needed to figure out where we stood.

*End backstory, skip to yesterday*

Then last night, after returning home from the Superbowl party at Dallas's house where I finally taken time with my two adopted big sisters, Laura and Mandie, to figure out my thoughts and renounce lies and come to conclusions about relationships, I checked my email. And there, at the top of my inbox was a message from her. I knew in my heart what she was going to say but I opened it up still clinging to whatever optimism I had left.

In reading the email, I realized that we had come to the same conclusion - that the journeys God was taking us on were so separate, that they just weren't lining up the way they had through junior high and high school. While we will surely see each other again - attend each other's weddings, meet each other's kids - our time as best friends is over.

I saw it coming. Months ago and miles away I saw it coming. I just didn't want to believe that it was. And even the predictability of the whole thing doesn't make it any easier. Walking away may very well be the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

But it's okay. I'm okay, though I may not feel very okay at the moment. I know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, and I know that I am going to be just fine.

I'm horribly torn. One half of me - the immature, childish, weak, fleshly part of me - is angry at myself for not trying hard enough to save the relationship. This side feels rejected and hurt and wants more than anything to run away and never let myself love someone ever again.

But there's another side of me - the side that is the real me - that is winning.

Logically, I should be heartbroken. I should be reverting to all of my abandonment and rejection and trust issues. I should be swearing that I'll never let anyone touch my heart ever again. I should be ruined for relationship.

But I'm not, and I know why.

Papa has been teaching me about the importance of people in my life. I'm so relationally wired that even when I'm crushed I feel the need to be with other people to sort through the broken pieces of my mixed-up soul. That's because I'm supposed to be with people. Even the ones who walk away. I'm learning that letting go, that walking away, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I love her. Even now that our relationship is over, I still love her. She's moved me in ways that no one else ever has and I've given parts of my heart to her that I can never get back or give away again. But that's okay. Maybe I was stupid for thinking that we really were going to go through with any of our crazy future schemes, maybe I was just hopeful. But either way, I know that we were not placed in each other's lives by accident.

God clothed Himself with her and used her to save me during a time when I didn't want to be saved. She taught me patience, forgiveness, and above all, how to love unconditionally no matter the circumstance. I won't lie, it kills me to have to write about this today. To have to look back at all of our memories together and know that there won't be any more. But I do take some comfort in the fact that our time together was not for nothing. It was undoubtedly for good.

For right now, I honestly don't know how long it'll take for me to allow myself to love someone like that again, to trust with that kind of abandon and dive into that kind of intimacy. But if there's one thing that I do know, it's that I am in fact capable of doing so once. No one will ever be able to take the place in my life that forever belongs to her, but my name means love. And I know I can do it again.

So, Mel, if you're reading this, please know how deeply you have touched me and how proud I am of you. You are going to rock the world with your passion and your grace. You certainly rocked mine. Never be afraid to follow Him into the dark. You'll be amazed at all the beauty you can find there.

All the love and prayers that I could possibly have to offer you,

Your Elphaba,


Saturday, January 25, 2014


As a writer, I am a firm believer in the power of words - both the written and the spoken word. From the written word comes knowledge and story, a means of gathering intelligence and of finding solace from the cold harshness that reality often presents to us. But spoken word bears even more strength. And that is what I write about today.

The Designer created light and love and breath and earth and time and space in a countable number of syllables. He fashioned the universe in which we dwell by speaking and he created us in His image. Just as there is power in His words, there is power in ours as well.

A study was conducted on the effects of words on the crystalline structure of water (which you can briefly read about here and find more information on here). The results were astounding. Water which was named negative or hurtful things took on a gnarled, unattractive structure, while water that was called beautiful names became symmetrical and nearly perfect. The words that were spoken on the different samples of water had a literal effect on the appearance and makeup of the water. Mind you, human beings are comprised of over 70% water.

If words can affect minuscule amounts of liquid like that, then how much more can they do so to us?

People vastly underestimate the power of their words. But what we say to each other and speak over each other - whether to each other's faces or behind each other's backs - can either build us up or absolutely ruin us. I know. I've lived it.

The reason I became depressed in my past and believed lies about myself and ultimately even hated myself was because of one interaction with a few kids who told me I was ugly and stupid. It was one time in a park when I was ten. I didn't even really believe what they said. But it didn't matter. They planted those seeds of destruction that absolutely wrecked me for eight years and still do even today. This is why words matter to me so much.

There aren't a lot of things in the world that I hate. I loath sex trafficking and any sort of racism, sexism, or demeaning of any class of society. But I hate when people talk crap about each other more than almost anything. On the list of things that are not okay with me, that one is tied with genocide. Call this an overreaction if you will. Surly genocide is worse, right? It destroys people.

But speaking negative things over people not only destroys them, it enables them to destroy themselves.

I've since forgiven those kids at the park and pray for them regularly. I wouldn't be able to heal and move on if I wasn't willing to do that. But I am now so much more sensitive to words and have been realizing recently how often I encounter negative ones.

-I walk into the kitchen to wash dishes at night where I find my little brother doing his homework. I don't even make it to the sink before he turns and declares, "You're ugly!" as though the statement is nothing.

-I hear from my parents on a regular basis how I am doing nothing with my life since I'm not going to college or pursuing my writing more. They, along with my sister (who calls me a nerd every time I make a semi-intelligent statement), consistently make jokes about how I will never move out of my parents' house and how I will die alone.

This is what I am around every single day. This is where I live. Naturally, I would seek out affirmation and encouragement from my friends but even they - jokingly or not - find it necessary to verbally cut me down.

"You talk too much. Seriously. It's like your mouth never closes. Just shut up already."

"You're so arrogant. How do you have friends?"

"Drink more water, Bitch."

This is considered "constructive criticism" and "playful banter." No one really means it when they call me a dumbass or a whore or a self-centered, soul-sucking leech. It's "just what friends do." Well if that's true, I'd be better off without any friends.

I'm not exaggerating. I wish I was. But these are legitimate phrases and scenarios that I have encountered just over the past few months. I have an impeccable memory. I could tell you who said these things and where we were when they did. But I didn't write this post to tear anyone down. I'm using my own life as an example. I'm trying to make a point.

I wake up every day and make the conscious decision to believe Papa when He says that I am smart and beautiful and more than good enough. But then I step into the world and this is what hits me. These are statements coming from my family and my friends - the people in my life who are supposed to encourage me and help me combat lies. It's a battle that I face all the time, one I face alone. I should not have to go to war to believe stuff about myself that is true. But I do, every day, and the war is mostly against those I've chosen to be my allies.

Well, I've had it. I spend so much time fighting for and protecting and encouraging other people that I leave myself on the back burner and forget that I need the same attention. But if I truly want to heal, to move forward on my journey toward building genuine self-confidence, then I need to do this. I need to fight for me for once.

I know what this means. It requires that I stick up for myself, don't take people"s crap, and walk away from relationships that are unhealthy. This may mean starting over and completely rebuilding my support system. But if it means that I'll finally begin to view myself as something good, then it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.

My point: Words matter. They really do. That sticks and stones nonsense is crap. People are valuable. It's time we started treating them as such.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


"Charity, one of these days you're going to realize that you're important. Important things need to be taken care of."

I can't get his words out of my head.

I am a creature of habit. I have this issue of falling back into the same repetitive, exhausting, unhealthy pattern. I load my schedule. I sleep less, eat less. I book coffee dates and work and write and book more coffee dates. I run at 95 miles-an-hour until something breaks or snaps and I come to a screeching halt. I get sick or my car has trouble or I get dizzy and can't see straight. Even then sometimes I barely slow down enough to change a tire or grab a power nap before I start running again. If I'm being honest, I don't know why I do this.

". . . one of these days you're going to realize that you're important. Important things need to be taken care of."

I sat on his kitchen floor when he said it to me. Right after work, right before a meeting, I barely had an hour to grab a glass of water before I had to start moving again. I'd been dizzy and blurry-eyed for at least twenty-four hours, hunched over the toilet in the bathroom the night before because I felt like I was on the verge of throwing up all the food I hadn't eaten that day. I was running on four hours of sleep and a vanilla latte and what I guessed was my third wind, but I'd been too stressed to count how many I'd hit by that point.

So there I was, stretched thinner than anyone ever should be, describing my schedule for the rest of the weekend, trying to figure out where I'd fit in sleep and contemplating how much I actually needed to scrape by when I looked up. He had that look on his face. That one look that says, "I'm not judging you. But I do have an opinion and I know you won't listen to it so I'll just keep my mouth shut." I asked for it anyway. He shook his head, that look still clinging to his face.

"What are you thinking?"

"Charity, one of these days you're going to realize that you're important. Important things need to be taken care of."

I don't remember what I said after that, if I even spoke at all. I do remember leaving and blazing through the rest of the weekend in spite of the sore throat I caught the next day. But his words never left my head.

". . . you're important. Important things need to be taken care of."

He's right. I know he's right. It's rare that he isn't. But for whatever reason, I find his statement - however true - to be difficult to swallow. If I'm being honest, I don't buy it.

It's completely counter to everything that I believed for the first seventeen years of my life. I'm important. Okay. Though I know it's true, I still don't necessarily believe it. Does that make sense?

People don't just say stuff like that. Not to me anyway. And when they do I find it to be remarkably shallow, as though they feel obligated to affirm my worth in some way. But there was such a depth of sincerity in his words, something that was real. Though I can't for the life of me figure out what it was.

". . . Important things need to be taken care of."

Maybe I'm stubborn. Maybe I'm still clinging to lies that I believed. Maybe all the negative things that were said to me and spoken over me over the course of my life were just too many to be debunked by a few letters and words of encouragement. But they were certainly enough to get me thinking.

I am important. I need to take care of myself.

I can start by getting a good night's sleep.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Story

So, I'm doing this whole Integrity Project thing and making this vow to be completely honest in 2014 . . . and something just occurred to me. I've been blogging since the summer before high school, for about 4-and-a-half years now, and I feel like you don't really know me at all. I've done all those little blogger challenges and posts so that you can get to know "a little more about the one you follow" but all of the information you've received has been remarkably surface-level; it's shallow. I talk a lot about the passionate, over-dramatic writer girl who loves the Lord and wants to run away, but do you even know how I got here? How I became who it is that I am? Of course not. Because I never even thought to tell you.

Readers, I cannot truly be honest with you about my life, about everything, until I tell you who I am. Who I really am, and how I became her, rather than telling you about who I want to be perceived as. So, for those of you with a bit of time on your hands and nothing better to do, this is it.

This is my story.

I was born in southern California in the middle of July, and I like to think that's where my ridiculously hot-blooded personality comes from. I was the first child born to parents who were both the youngest of six, raised Catholic in the 1970s, who found Jesus in their early adult lives. I've done a ton of study on birth order and how it affects personality type, and I certainly followed the pattern. The parents of a firstborn are stoked to have a child. They get them involved in all types of activities and pour all their energy out into making sure that this one kid is the greatest thing to ever walk the face of the planet.

I naturally grew up thinking that this is what life was going to be like. I became a perfectionist, working so hard to be the smartest, most adorable, most talented child in the entirety of the universe. And I'm not kidding when I tell you that I was thoroughly convinced that I was exactly that. Honestly, I can't really remember many scenarios during my childhood in California when anyone told me that I was anything but good. Surely, I was disciplined and talked down to by a few kids that I knew, but for the most part I was praised and affirmed. I didn't receive any words that countered my view of myself. In my eyes, I was perfect.

I didn't know any better. I was home schooled. My sister was 20 months younger than me and my brother was born six years after she was. The small number of my friends who were girls were all younger than me by at least a year, so the only people who were better than me at anything were "grown-ups" and my friends who were boys - all older, taller, and stronger than me. I legitimately thought that I was the best at everything. I was involved in a ton of different activities. I wrote, I drew, I performed on stage, I danced. I was creative, smart, and always ahead of the game. No one could touch me, and I was going to rule the world.

When I was nine, my dad got a new job and we moved to Colorado. I started attending public school and for the first time, I encountered people my age and even younger than me who were better performers, stronger writers, smarter students. I was no longer the best. At first this didn't phase me. I figured I just needed to work harder. I already believed I was perfect. I just needed to prove it to myself.

Then when I was in fourth or fifth grade, I took my sister to a park near our house where we met three kids about my age, a girl and two boys who we'd never seen before. The three of them took it upon themselves to verbally abuse my sister and I, calling us ugly and stupid. I get it now - they were bullies. But that was the first time I can really remember someone telling me that I was anything other than good. I didn't care when they picked on me, what did they know anyway? But when they started picking on my sister I decided to bring her home.

That one interaction shattered my world. My little, naive world that I was the queen of fell to pieces when these kids who didn't even know me criticized me so relentlessly. If these strangers could see my flaws so easily, then obviously they must have been there. Were my imperfections really that obvious to those around me? Had everyone else just been lying to me about how good I was? I know that logic doesn't make much sense, but I was a kid - not even eleven years old. And so, if I wasn't perfect, I switched to the only other logical possibility for who I could be - not good enough.

This idea plagued me. It was such a change of viewpoint, I didn't know what to do with myself. But I figured my reputation was still salvageable. I knew I wasn't perfect, but nobody else really did yet. I could very easily try to convince everyone that I still was. And so, during my transition into middle school I began formulating a facade. I feigned self-confidence to the point of an overwhelming arrogance and challenged anyone and everyone who dared talk about me as though I was anything less than the best. I became over-competitive and even more of a perfectionist. I lied about how I saw myself.

And I lied about it so much that I bought those very lies.

The lying and the mask were really just coping mechanisms that I used as a means of dealing with my own raging insecurity, but by eighth grade, I wasn't even using them as that anymore. I was no longer a liar. I was the lie itself.

My dad lost the job that had uprooted us when I was twelve, and naturally there was unrest in my family. I took it upon myself to be the strong one, the one who was certain that God would pull through like He'd always promised, but inside, I was a mess. I often wondered if He could even hear me.

After junior high, I dropped a lot of the "fun" classes in things I was really interested in - guitar, dance, art. I claimed that I quit because I had so many talents and passions that I didn't have the time or money to pursue them all. The reality was that in all of those environments I had encountered people whose talent so surpassed mine and people who criticized me. I couldn't tolerate either. If I wasn't the best, I wasn't involved. End of story.

High school came (a part-time school program which would allow me to graduate with my diploma and my associate of arts), and with it, expectations. I had become so good at faking my way through life that everyone really believed that my life was a breeze. My academic intelligence came to me naturally and my talent was never rehearsed. I had a ten year plan for my life and backup plans through the letter E. I could be insanely busy and still play it off as though I was totally fine and willing to take on more. So everyone began to expect this of me. Family, friends, teachers, youth leaders, all of them thought that I was insanely confident and had it all together. I was naturally smart, so when I brought home a C first semester in Biology class, my parents got on my case about it.

So I tried harder. I so desperately wanted to make people happy, so greatly desired to please everyone that I pushed myself to every limit I had, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Wanting to keep my grades up, my schedule full, and my relationships strong, I started eating and sleeping less. I would stay up cramming to get my overload of homework done, and then I would skip breakfast so that I could get a few hours of rest in. Often, I would skip lunch at school so that I could work to finish whatever had been assigned so that I wouldn't have to skip out on extra-curricular activities. This caused my blood pressure to drop and I almost passed out in the middle of a math class, which should have been a wake up call for me. It wasn't.

I transferred to my high school's full-time program and switched campuses at the beginning of my sophomore year and I encountered even more people who were smarter and prettier and more talented than I was. My parents got frustrated when I got a B in English at the end of my first semester and so I pushed myself even harder with my grades. I ate and slept less, the dizziness and headaches persisted, I brushed them aside as though they were nothing. I became more involved in theatre and volunteer work. I developed an obsessive desire to run away from this life that was suffocating me. My arrogance grew.

It was also around this time that I decided not to get married. Living the lie that I was, I convinced myself (and everybody else) that I was making this decision so that I could devote my life to mission work and not have the distraction of a family. But deep inside, even then I knew that I didn't feel deserving of a man. I didn't think anyone could ever willingly choose to spend his life with me. I had lost so many friends at that point, and husbandry is so much greater of a commitment than friendship. I knew that thirty years down the road, when I got asked why I didn't get married, I wanted to say it was because I didn't want to, rather than have to explain that no one wanted me.

The summer after my sophomore year, I went on my first mission trip to Cambodia. This was probably the only really good thing about my high school experience. For once, I wasn't doing anything to benefit myself, though this ended up benefiting me more than anything else. I fell in love with missions.

Come junior year, my schedule was jam-packed. I was taking seven classes a day and working at Chick-fil-A part-time, all the while heading up my school's community service club and rehearsing as a major role in a play with a theatre company I had discovered. I also attended church and balanced a social life. I had spread myself thinner than I was capable of being spread.

I began having mental breakdowns, the first which came two weeks after school started. My occasional habit of skipping a meal for time's sake had developed into an eating disorder and I didn't even know it*. I became so sick and dizzy and weak that my parents started taking me to doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. A pediatrician, a chiropractor, a nutritionist, and finally a cardiologist who told me that I had Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (which, mind you, is not nearly as severe as it sounds. It was a fancy way of saying I was drastically dehydrated).

My heart was broken so many times by friends who just up and walked away and guys who didn't share my romantic feelings for them. I got two concussions. God told me that He didn't want me to go to college and I flipped about it. If I didn't go to college, how could I possibly ever make something of myself? I thought I was only good if I was smart, talented, beautiful, successful. My worth came from what I did, rather than who I was.

Then when I had just about reached the end of my rope, Papa dropped Ekklesia in my lap. Dallas had been encouraging me to attend for months and I figured I had nothing to lose. What I encountered there blew my mind. Here were people who really loved Jesus and really cared about me, people who were living church the way I'd always thought it should look like. Because of this group, I began to heal. I realized that my physical problems were tied to emotional trauma and I was able to start letting things go.

When my senior year began, I came to realize how my arrogance was a mask that I wore. Papa stripped that away and revealed to me all the lies I was believing about myself. But  had built my identity on the idea that I was arrogant. When He stripped off my facade, I realized that I had no idea who I was anymore. I had been living a lie.

Come February, I spiraled into depression. Exposure to all of my insecurity left me vulnerable to it. I had to deal with my problems now that I wasn't shoving them down and covering them up with the version of me that I thought I was. I'd been on the verge of depression for years, but it didn't fully take over until I realized that I hated myself.

The depression showed up out of nowhere, and with it, thoughts of suicide. I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't like acknowledging that I needed people to help me through my life. But Something (obviously the Spirit) prompted me to tell my best friends, Melissa and Dallas on a Monday night. They stayed up with me and encouraged me over social media that night and I went to bed feeling better. But the next morning it came back and wouldn't go away. Dallas was relentless, ridiculously insistent on talking to me, to the point where it almost annoyed me. Melissa continued to be her wise, encouraging self.

That Thursday morning, I got sick. I threw up six times, every hour on the hour until there was nothing left in my system and then I drank some water and threw up twice more. Dallas told me he was coming over that night after he got off work. I remember laying in my bed. I hadn't eaten or had anything to drink in over twenty-four hours. I was shaking, hurting, to exhausted even to cry. I wanted out so badly right then, I didn't care what it took to get that. I didn't even know if I would make it the few hours before Dallas arrived without just quitting.

And then I heard His voice, soft yet firm.


I had no such desire. I had no energy, no voice. "I don't want to."

"Charity. Sing."

He'd been trying to get through to me that whole week, I just didn't want to hear it. I was so darn tired of all those repetitive phrases He was using to comfort me. I was done listening to Him.

But for whatever reason, sick, tired, with nothing left to lose, I did. I sang, as much as I was able to anyway. I sang any random worship song that came to my head and before I knew it, Dallas was there.

He sat on the edge of my bed and let me cry and vent about what I was feeling. He prayed with me and helped me break off all those freaking lies that had clung to me for years. I rejected the idea that I wasn't good enough and when I did, I was healed. I was free.

I was able to eat that night. Papa had me quit my job at Chick-fil-A without a safety net and I did, completely certain that He would take care of me. I went on a youth retreat not long after that and Papa completely rebuilt my identity - my true identity. I realized my spiritual gifts and began to use them. I graduated high school. I got a new job as a housecleaner for a company owned by the mother of two of my friends. I replaced all the lies with the truth that I am beautiful, powerful, capable, talented, intelligent, ready to take on the world. But most importantly, I realized that though I may not be perfect in the traditional sense, I am perfect in His eyes.

He saved me. He really did. I realize now that if Dallas and Melissa hadn't been as persistent as they were in February, I would have ended my life then. Even when I wanted nothing to do with Him, He went out of His way to put the two of them into my life and give them His words of life to speak over me so that I could be rescued. I love Him.

Which brings us to where we are now. I still sometimes wrestle with self-confidence, but now I can combat it with the truth. I still forget to eat sometimes but I have been blessed with many friends who I can trust to always get on my case about it. And though I have absolutely no idea where my life is headed, I know it's in His hands. Goodbye, ten-year plan.

Hello, freedom.


*It wasn't like I stopped eating entirely because I thought I was fat. I literally forgot to eat or refused to when I became stressed. My default setting was stress at the time, so this happened to me often.
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