I love the beach but I’ve never been a big fan of the ocean.  It’s the home of many amazing creatures and while I thoroughly enjoy watching them and find ocean life quite interesting, I prefer to enjoy it through books, photos and a little distance :)

I love the smell of the ocean.
I love the cool breeze flowing through my hair.
I love the colors and the beauty of the sun rising and setting over the water.
I love the feel of my toes digging into the sand.
I love the warmth beating down on my skin, little beads of sweat glimmering.
I love the families gathered throwing a football or frisbee.
I love the giggles of small children building sandcastles and running along the waters edge.
I love watching people and wondering about their lives, their stories.
I love seeing couples, hands joined together as they walk barefoot along the shore.
I love the look of storm clouds as they draw near.
I love the smiles.
I love the sense of peace.

I love how strangers gather from all over the country or even the world and for a moment, life stops…

There are no strangers.
Everyone is there for the same thing…a get away, a time of joy, rest, relaxation.
It’s an opportunity for folks to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy new friends.
People from all over get to know one another.
It’s a chance to breathe.

For a moment.

My sweet friend, Suzie Eller, author or The Unburdened Heart and The Mended Heart (which happens to be the current online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries), offered a blog prompt this week that I knew would spark my desire to pour out my thoughts.  Her prompt for this week was:  Anchored.

I’ve never been a fan of all things nautical.  You know, the navy and white stripes, dabs of red tossed in.  Images of seashells, fish, lighthouses, ships, life preservers and anchors…they haven’t been something of importance to me.  Having lived a mere five hours from the beach my entire life, I’ve been to the ocean more than a handful of times but the nautical trend just never appealed to me.  Every beach house seemed over decorated with nautical lamps, wallpaper boarders, shower curtains, soap dispensers, light fixtures, bath rugs, bedding, dresser knobs and more.  You name it, they had it.

Last year on December 17th, a dear friend gave me a journal she had crafted especially for me.  She knows my love for writing and she knows how quickly I fill up my journals.  It was the perfect gift.  It was even more special because she decorated it with love and wrote a sweet note for me on the inside.  On the outside, was an anchor and a verse…


This journal was just a plain and simple composition book that was turned into something beautiful, just for me.  She thought of me as she clipped images and words to cover the front and back.  She prayed for me as she thought of the perfect verse to place on the cover.  She had hope for me when I was struggling to find hope for myself.  She gave me hope in the shape of an anchor with these words from Hebrews…

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19

Up to that point, the anchor never really meant anything to me.  When I first saw the journal, I loved it because of who it was from and the meaning behind it but it took a little time for me to grow to love the anchor.  Honestly, I think I just couldn’t understand yet, but God was teaching me.  Thankfully, He hasn’t stopped teaching me.

I had just finished up another journal so the day I received this one, I began filling it with my personal stories, words straight from my tattered and worn heart, letters formed from moments of desperation, pain, heartache, confusion, sadness, and a fading hope and zest for life.

I didn’t feel anchored. 

I felt like a shipwrecked girl lost, battered and bruised, beyond repair, praying for a way out.

As I’ve shared before, the months that would follow my days of filling that particular journal, were at best, difficult.  I faced many days of contemplating life, its meaning, purpose, hopelessness.  The depression I had lived with nearly all my life was at its lowest…but I wasn’t afraid.  Maybe that was not necessarily a good thing.  You see, I wasn’t afraid to die.  I was ready.  I spent so much time with God in those months.  I cried out to Him, prayed, read Scripture after Scripture.  I soaked in it.  I breathed it.  I embraced it.  And all that time, I longed to be free.  I ached for my ship to sail.  I begged for God to let me come home.  And one particular night in February, I tried to make that happen.

It didn’t.  And since then, life has been one lesson after another.  I am learning to live.  I am learning to face each day with hope and joy, in spite of my circumstance or my desire to find freedom from life and be with God.

There are verses that were dear to me in those months.  I continue to cling to them.

Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two.  I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me.”

David wrote, “I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.”  Psalm 118:17

While I spent months preparing to die, God was preparing me to live.  He was teaching me.  He was drawing me closer to Him.  I truly believe I had to experience those months of darkness, difficulty, pain, sorrow, grief, hopelessness, and loneliness in order to understand just how much I needed Him.  I knew I wanted Him, but I wanted Him as an escape, as an end to a life of suffering.  I wanted out.

He was preparing me for something more.  He’s still preparing me.

It’s only been in the past few weeks that I could truly appreciate how much that anchor would mean to me.  Now, I can’t stop myself from looking at anchors, trying to find things with an anchor on it.  In fact, the anchor anklet I purchased last week is also in the image above with the journal.  I’ve developed a new love for all things nautical because for me, they symbolize the stormy seas of life and even through the storm, the anchor holds.

You see, I had let go.  I had given up on life.  I had given up on allowing God to use me even though I knew my purpose.  I’ve known for years now that I’m supposed to write.  I’ve known most of my life that God was going to one day use me to help others who had been hurt, who felt alone, who needed a safe place to cry.  But I was willing to give up, perhaps out of fear or desperation or something else.  I still have days where I find myself unsure of whether I want to face the day.  I may always.  But I know there is purpose, His purpose.  I know part of that purpose is like Paul said, “…for your progress and joy in the faith.”


When I had let go on life, God refused to let go of me.  An anchor holds.  An anchor keeps a ship in its place.  Until the anchor is detached, the ship is secure.

God is my anchor. 
He is my security. 
He is holding me.

When you have no understanding of the trials you face, when you question purpose and plans, when you find yourself doubting if God really cares or if He could love someone as broken as you, know these truths…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

The things that have taught me the most, I have learned through the most difficult moments.  The times that have brought me the closest to God, have been the times when there was nothing else.  Through the pain and suffering, through nightmares, memories, flashbacks, excruciating pains deep in my chest, loss, abandonment, neglect, depression, hopelessness and more, I have learned that God is the One I need most in my life.  With Him, I am confident that everything will work out.  He is the One who holds me up.  He is the One who keeps me going.  He is the One that hasn’t let go of me.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul said, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

And I believe that is the greatest thing I could have learned…that I am confident.  I’m not confident in myself but I am absolutely confident in Him, in the One who holds me, keeps me on shore, calms the storm, parted the sea.  I can face each day because…

He is my anchor. 
He is my refuge.
He is my strength.
He is my hope.
He is my comfort.
He is my peace.
He is my joy.

In Him, I am anchored.

It’s a daily choice.
It’s a daily battle.
It’s difficult.
I don’t know if it ever really gets easier. 

What I do know is that through all the ugliness I have seen in my life, God has softened my heart, given me compassion and understanding, a desire to help, support, and comfort others.  He’s given me the need to write and filled my heart and mind with words aching to be bound between covers.

Again, it’s a choice.  If you’re facing a storm and you can’t find your anchor, perhaps He is the one holding onto you.  I hope you will embrace and trust Him.  I hope you, too, can see that He is your anchor in the storm.

I purposely titled this…


Most of the time, I like to add … to my titles.  My reason for using the period with this title is because…

With Him, I have all I need.
With Him, there is hope.
With Him, I am who I need to be.
With Him, there is purpose.
With Him, all things are possible.
With Him, there is a plan, a perfect plan.
With Him, everything falls into place, even when I cannot see or understand.

In Him, I am anchored – and that is all I need.  Period.

And as a special treat, here’s a beautiful “Anchor” song for you…I hope you’ll listen to it and feel His embrace as He is holding you.

Hillsong – “Anchor”



The Reality of TV…


I’m sure by now, most everyone has heard about the newest reality TV tragedy…19 Kids & Counting.

If, by chance, there’s still someone out there who hasn’t heard, I’m going to assume they aren’t here reading my little blog either…because they’re much more likely to stumble across numerous Duggar stories than they are to stumble across my tiny portion of the internet.

So, the latest is that eldest Duggar child, Josh, admittedly made a “mistake.”

First off, I will in no way support Josh or his actions, whether he was 14 or not.  Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse for most of my childhood and having dealt with my own fair share of family drama, I’m going to say, I have a right to use my voice in this.

Josh made a choice.  Was it a mistake?  No.  It was a choice.  His choice.  Was it the choice of the girls he molested?  From what I’ve read, he was older than all of his victims therefore, he was responsible for his actions.  They are not at fault.  Period.

The fact that the Duggars call this a “mistake” really grieves me.  A mistake it buying Colgate toothpaste when you meant to buy Crest.  A mistake is choosing the wrong size pants.  A mistake is driving past your road and having to turn around.  A mistake is an accident, doing something you did not mean to do.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mistake as:

to understand (something or someone) incorrectly
to make a wrong judgment about (something)
to identify (someone or something) incorrectly

At 14, sheltered or not, boys know the difference between their bodies and a girls body.  By 14, they are maturing, changing, and growing.  By that point, especially in such a conservative family where premarital anything is discouraged, I’m going to guess, Josh knew that sexual conduct was inappropriate, wrong, evil, or whatever you want to call it.

The choices Josh made were choices.  They were not just mistakes…they were choices that impact the lives of those he molested in every single way imaginable.  I know because I’ve been there.  I know because I’m still there.  It’s not something that ever really goes away, no matter how much counseling or support one may have.  There may be healing, but it becomes a part of you.  Josh’s choices were not mistakes.  They were choices.  He could have chosen not to act on the feelings he had.

Are his choices unforgivable?  No.  That’s between his victims and God.  That’s not for me to judge or say whether he’s been forgiven or not.  If his victims choose to forgive, then good for them.  Forgiveness has the ability to free them from some of the burdens caused by him.  It has nothing to do with Josh, but freeing themselves from the chains of His choices, giving them room to heal.

Enough about Josh.  What he did was wrong, no matter how old he was.  And he knew it was wrong.  He admits that.  Period.

Let’s talk about the victims.
Let’s talk about the media.

The media is spilling this story all over the place.  Frankly, there’s not one family that’s ever walked on this big planet that didn’t have some kind of saga, scandal, or secret.  Not one.

If anyone ever thought the Duggar’s were the one family that escaped that, then that’s their own fault for thinking they were without issues.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone!

Believe it or not, the Christian life is not perfect.  I know many Christians who “appear” to have the perfect life.  I was one of the girls who envied (yes, I’m a Christian who has been envious of others!) others because they seemed to have the perfect life.  The thing is, when you start to get to know people, you realize we’re all just a bunch of messed up, broken people in need of a Savior and a whole lot of grace.

What burns me up is how the media is broadcasting this story as this huge tragedy and scandal, how cruel Josh was to victimize his sisters and other little girls, what a disgusting person he is, blah, blah, blah.

While I agree to an extent, the media is victimizing these girls all over again.

They’re not just destroying Josh, putting him in front of a firing squad and pulling the trigger, they are traumatizing his victims all over again.  No matter what happened, which none of us really know and that’s only for his victims to share if and when they want to, they deserve to live without all of this.  What we’ve done by putting this family in the light based on this scandal, this trauma, is destroyed them.  We scarred them for life…as if they weren’t already scarred enough.

By bringing this to light, we haven’t stood up for victims rights.  We’ve crushed them.  We’ve said shame on you and your family.  We’ve condemned the whole family.  We’ve demanded their “show be cancelled.”  TLC agreed to take Josh off the show but we still scream…”screw the family,” “take all of those whacks off the air“.  What we’re doing is victimizing the entire family based on one or two or three (parent’s, not the victims) people’s choices.

The family handled the situation years ago.  Whether we agree with the rumors of how they handled the situation or not, they dealt with it.  Perhaps these girls had gone through counseling.  Perhaps they had found at least some peace and healing.  I even hope they have been able to forgive.

My point is that what we as a society have done to them is not punish Josh for his crime.  We have punished his victims for his crime.  We have traumatized them all over again.  We have poured salt into their wounds.  We have crippled, maybe even destroyed their future.  We have impacted their entire family and the families of those connected.  We have slandered their name, dragged it through the mud.

All because of one boys stupid, inexcusable (as Josh even stated) actions.

What he did was wrong.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  The media bashing this family, all the nasty comments on either side…all that’s doing is destroying these people.  We are no better than the crime we’re complaining about.

Think about it.  Does this affect Josh’s life?  Yes, it already has as he had to resign from his job and has been let go from TLC.  Is that all?  No.  Now the whole family is under fire.  Now the victims are exposed…maybe not by name but their lives, their pain, their suffering…are out there, exposed to the whole world and not by their choice.  We have rob them of that choice.  They have been violated all over again.

Next time you want to spread a story to attack someone who’s hurt another, think about the victims.  They need support and prayer now, more than ever.  I don’t care what you think about Josh, what he did, whether you defend him because he was only 14 or whether you want to see him burn.  His judgement and the punishment for his actions are not up to me or anyone else on this planet.  He has to live with the choices he’s made.  So do his victims.

The reality of this is that no one is perfect…no one.  Just because a family may appear perfect, doesn’t mean they are and if anyone ever tries to say their are, call BS because they’re not.  No one, Christian, Muslim, Athiest, or whatever religion or belief or human out there can claim to be perfect, having made no wrong choices ever.  And we’ve all suffered because of our choices and actions.

The issue here is that there are victims who have already suffered enough and all we are doing by dragging this family’s drama out for all to see is making them suffer more.

Now that we’ve already done that, where are the people standing up for victims rights?  This would be a great time and opportunity to talk about how devastating childhood sexual abuse is, how it destroys lives, how it robs its victims of peace, security, trust, hope, and often much more.

Instead of focusing on how disgusting this boy’s actions were and how we like or don’t like Christians, homeschoolers, skirt wearers or whatever piddly things we can think of to throw daggers at the Duggars, why don’t we take this opportunity to speak out about how light needs to be shined on the victims, to give them hope, not to destroy them or traumatize them all over.

The reality is…

Just because it’s a reality show doesn’t mean it’s real.  We don’t see behind the scenes, behind closed doors, etc.  Not one family can claim the reality of perfection.  Period.

The reality is…

Sexual abuse sucks.  Period.

Peace out…


Estate Sale…


Back in January, my 95 year old neighbor passed away. 

It was bittersweet. 

She was ready. 

My family was not.

This weekend, there is an estate sale at her home which got me thinking.  People have flocked in from all over town to sift through Mrs. Helen’s belongings, only they don’t belong to Mrs. Helen anymore.  All of the things she treasured, enjoyed, collected in her time here on earth…

They’re just things.

She is gone and those things are left behind.  The crowds of people who have elbowed their way through her home didn’t know Mrs. Helen.

They may never have seen her smile or heard her many words of wisdom (and correction!).
They didn’t watch as she knelt down and hand picked acorns out of her yard (and mine!). 
They didn’t see her smile as she kindly acknowledge the annoying dog next door (yes, mine, lol). 
They wouldn’t know how she always wore a jacket when she was outside working in her yard…even when it was hot to everyone else. 
They don’t know she spent the last days of her life in a hospital after cancer invaded her body or how two years before that, she had fallen, broken her hip, recovered, came home and still worked tirelessly in her yard (at 94!). 
They never tasted the yummy deserts she baked and brought up to my house.
They didn’t walk into her kitchen and see the photo of their children proudly displayed on her refrigerator.
They didn’t notice the Bible and notebook spread out on her kitchen table each morning.
They didn’t have the joy of welcoming her into their living room, cherishing the next few moments of conversation  between two women separated by nearly six decades.

What those people are getting…

They’re just things.

They really mean nothing.  Sure, they brought Mrs. Helen joy while she was here and I hope they bring others joy as well.

In the brief three years my family got to know Mrs. Helen, we gained so much more than things.  We didn’t spend a lot of time with her but every minute with her was like an hour of history, wisdom, and blessings.  She was 95.  You can’t live that long and not have a lifetime of treasures tucked away in your mind.  I’m not talking about the treasures these people are fighting over like it’s a Black Friday sale.  They missed out on the real treasures.

Stories of…

Raising two sons.
Losing one of them too soon.
Fond memories.
Annoyances (that would probably be my loud children messing up her yard, lol.  Sorry, Mrs. Helen)

Mrs. Helen is leaving behind treasures.  Today and tomorrow, many people are glancing through her treasures and maybe even taking a few with them.

Me, I’m holding onto them tightly.  I’m treasuring the moments we had with her next door.

The smiles on my five year old daughters face when we’d pull into the driveway and she would bolt out of the car, run down to Mrs. Helen and give her a big hug.

The determination in my boys as they were challenged by Mrs. Helen to see who could pick up the most acorns out of the yard.

Watching her, admiring her strength.

These are moments planted in my mind that I will treasure.

The things she left behind are not what makes Mrs. Helen’s life a treasure, but who she was.

Today, Mrs. Helen is reminding me that who I am matters more than the things I leave behind.

Who you are matters more than the things you leave behind.

The imprint you leave on another person’s life is priceless.

Mrs. Helen gave me a second chance.  My grandparents raised me.  When they passed away, I was 19 and 21.  I was beginning my own life and  was too busy to treasure those moments with them.  I’ve spent my time without them, regretting that I didn’t soak in every ounce of wisdom they could have poured into me.  Mrs. Helen gave me a chance to get to know their generation again.

Thank you, Mrs. Helen, for your wisdom and your acceptance of the loudest neighbors on the street.  We love you and miss you.

Mrs. Helen, your estate here on earth may be up for sale but the eternal estate you’re living in now is priceless, just as the treasures are that you gave to me.


Nothing is Wasted…


In the past couple months, I’ve shared some very personal struggles.  The responses have been overwhelming.  Many have expressed thankfulness and encouragement and I am very appreciative of all the kind words.  Some have shared their own struggles, told stories of how alone they have felt, how my voice gives them hope and strength.

That is what matters!

That is why I shared.

We aren’t meant to walk through life alone.

God is using this darkness for something good.

Nothing is wasted.

Over the past couple months since I have been home and trying to adjust to actually living life, rather than waiting to die, one song has replayed over and over in my head.

Shane and Shane – “Though You Slay Me

John Piper says, “It’s not meaningless!

Your pain, your suffering…they are not meaningless.  God is using them or will use them for something good.  You may not be able to see it but somehow, someway, He is using it.  He will use all the hard parts for something good…if you will allow Him too.  And sometimes, even when we fight Him, He still takes hold of those things and uses them for our good and the good of others.

Nothing is wasted.


Making the best…


Making the best out of what may feel like the worst…

What is your worst?

Maybe it’s…

a night of drunkenness, confusion, and bad choices
a lifetime of neglect or abandonment
a failed marriage
suicidal thoughts or attempts
witnessing or being involved in domestic violence
rape or sexual abuse

Maybe it’s…

financial struggles or bankruptcy
a job loss
the loss of a loved one
feeling inadequate as a spouse, parent or child
an eating disorder

Maybe it’s something else.  Whatever your worst is, please know this truth…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Did you hear that, friend?  You may not believe it right now but will you please read it again and plant that little piece of truth deep in your heart.  I pray that one day, you will believe it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

God has not given up on you…even in your worst…especially in your worst!  He is working all things for good.  Even your worst.  That’s a truth to hold tightly.

Your worst doesn’t seem very good, does it?  I know mine doesn’t.

My worst was a childhood filled with physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment by the very people who were supposed to love, nurture and protect me.  Trust was foreign to me.  Love was engulfed with lies.  Innocence was stolen, striped away.  Years went by and with every day that passed, my shame and guilt grew.  I bore the weight of acts that were never mine to carry.  I retreated into my own little world, building walls all around me.  Those walls kept people out, protected my very fragile heart, and left me incredibly lonely and scared in what I saw as a dangerous world.

Along the way, people came into my life and showed me that life didn’t have to be as scary as I once saw it.  Little by little, I began to see that I could extend a slight be of trust…though never fully…never even close to fully.  But a little was a lot at that point.

Later, my worst led to other worsts including multiple suicide attempts (read here), many years of depression and many thoughts of dying, self-injury (cutting), eating disorders, alcoholism, smoking, promiscuity, and more.  I realize at some point, I had a choice in my actions and trust me, I have paid some pretty big consequences for those choices, but I also believe, had my innocence not been crushed as a little girl, many of those worsts would not have followed.

Today, I am a wife and mother of three amazing kids.  I have been part of a wonderful church family for nearly 16 years.  I am surrounded by some incredibly loving, caring, supportive people.  I am blessed far beyond anything I ever expected.

And you know what?

Life is still hard.


Out of the worst, has come the best.

My worst, though it still leaves me with extremely painful, terrifying, and crippling moments, has also highlighted my bests.  Because of the life I have lived, my heart aches to reach out to others who are hurting, who are broken, who feel damaged and worthless, to pour the love into them that I, at many times, so desperately wanted.  Compassion is something I know well.  My ability to understand pain and to withstand pain is enormous.  I have experienced many things that allow me to be able to relate to so many others in their struggles.

We all have a worst.  Our best just might come from our worst.

In my worst, one of the things I missed the most was my voice.  Innocence was stolen from me and along with it, so was my voice.  For years, I just lived through the abuse, silently.  I couldn’t tell a soul.  I had no one to tell and even if I had told, I feared what would happen.

One night, at the age of 11 years old, I prayed for God to give me the courage to tell…

And He did.

That next day was the first time I told about the sexual abuse I had been living through for years.

Telling did not magically make things better.  Honestly, in many ways, it made things worse.  A lot worse.  Life became more difficult.  That was the first time I believed it was my fault and I began to carry the weight of all the shame and guilt.

I wrote a lot.  It was my outlet, my survival.  I have always loved to write.  I haven’t always written when I should and many of the scary things have never been put into words…even on paper, but I have, over the years, written a lot.  That’s probably why I love this blog so much.  As I’ve said before, for me, writing is like the air I breathe.  It’s a lifeline.

Even though my voice was stolen, I still had words…I could write them.  Someday, I pray He will give me the courage to speak them in front of others.  Through my worst, God has shown me some of my best.  He’s used something so horrible, so dirty, so broken, and turned it into words that have reached deep into the hearts of others.

I teach Bible studies in my church.  I am so unequipped for that but God has been with me every step of the way.  He has used these classes to grow me, teach me, and draw me closer to Him, while also blessing me with the privilege and honor of getting to know some amazing people who saw something in me and took a chance on taking my classes.  I hear many thank you’s, but honestly, I feel like the one receiving all the blessings.

God has given me a voice.  What was once stolen from me, He has made new.  He has given me a platform and a voice and each day, He gives me the courage to step out and use it.  He’s given me a heart of compassion to help others through their own struggles, to reach out to them in their time of need.  I fail often.  I will continue to mess up but my intentions are good.  He gives me grace.  Each and every day, He takes the ugliness of a life gone wrong and shows me the many ways He is making it right.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5

He is taking my worst and making something beautiful out of it.

Friend, He wants to do the same for you!





Paper Scrubs and Perspective…


Paper scrubs. 

You know what I’m talking about, right?  They come in a lovely, muted shade of blue.  They’re large and easy to slip on over clothes.  Many hospitals have them for their staff and patients.

After my suicide attempt last month (read that story here and here), I had the pleasure of donning a couple sets of these paper scrubs.  The first set was in the first ER I visited that morning.  I wore them until I was released and allowed to put on the clothes I had arrived in.

From there, we traveled to another ER where I would later be admitted into the hospitals mental unit.  In that ER, I was so graciously given another pair of blue paper scrubs, only this time, they were ginormous (is that really a word?).  I stepped out of the bathroom and kindly asked the nurse if I could have a smaller pair because these were huge.  She seemed agitated.  Who wouldn’t be in that situation…Overworked.  Underpaid.  A stressful environment.  And a patient who doesn’t value her own life making what, at that point, probably seemed a silly request.  Needless to say, she was not sympathetic to my request.  Those giant blue scrubs were mine.

All of my belongings were taken, including the hat that was hiding my less than clean (glued to my head from 2 day old natural oil and hat head) hair.  I sat in that ER, not in a room, but in the middle of a hallway, wearing my nifty (note sarcasm) blue scrubs and my greasy hair.  I was there with two dear friends who helped me laugh it off and make the most of a pretty scary day.  They didn’t care how I looked.  They loved me anyway.  (Thanks ladies!)

So, those blue scrubs were quite embarrassing.  Nothing screams out of the ordinary than to be the only patient in the ER with paper scrubs on.  They might as well have stamped a big label on the back that said…

“Attempted Suicide = Another Fail!” 

That’s how it felt.  I thought everyone that saw me could see what I’d done and I added that to my mental list of failures.  I was there.  I was alive.  I was just as broken as before.  And now, I was on my way to the mental hospital with awesome paper scrubs, greasy hair, and no dignity.

If that doesn’t encourage the depressed, then what will?!

After a five hour wait in that ER, I was finally taken to the mental hospital building down the street.  I was escorted by two people who spoke very little.  The only thing shy of feeling like a prisoner was the fact that I wasn’t in handcuff’s.  They loaded me into what I like to call a creeper van.  You know the ones you see on TV when the news is reporting a BOLO for a kidnapping.  It’s always an old, creepy 15-passenger van.  Well, this was one of them.

I climb up into the van in my giant scrubs and off we went.

Down the street, we pulled in at the mental hospital.  This was a separate building from the main hospital.  I could make some sarcastic jokes here too but I don’t want to go overboard with that so I’ll leave it be for now.

My sweet friends were able to follow us to that building.  What a blessing they could ride in their own car and not in the creeper van!  So I was escorted by my two quiet guards and dropped off in the waiting area where two ladies met us.  They went through all the rules about what I could and couldn’t have there.  Unfortunately, my awesome App State hoodie, black sweats and tennis shoes didn’t make the cut.  So, off my stuff went along with my friends and I walked through the heavy, no way out of here once you enter, doors in my blue paper scrubs, bright yellow hospital no-skid socks, and my jacket that actually past the approval list (thanks Old Navy for my fleece jacket…it passed!)

Once behind bars, I mean those big locked doors, there was no getting out and things got real.  I was alone.  Sure, there were folks there…but it was late and all the patients were in bed.  I had my vitals checked by one nurse and then was sent to a room with another nurse.  In that room, any dignity I might have managed to tuck in my paper scrubs pocket went out the window when I had to remove them to have all the markings on my body viewed and documented in my chart.  Because I have been a cutter for years, there were many scars marked on the chart.  More shame.  More embarrassment.

At that point, the nurse grabbed a hospital gown.  You know the ones…wrap around, tie in the back, you’re lucky if they don’t show all your glory…yep, that’s the ones!

And in that moment, everything changed.

Perspective changes everything.

Those blue paper scrubs…had been embarrassing.  Humiliating.  They had screamed to all, I thought…

Bad choices.

But in that moment, when the gown became the next option, those blue scrubs were like an outfit right off Rodeo Drive.  No money would have been enough to show the value in them.  After a quick glance at the hospital gown and a moment frozen in fear, I managed to spill out a very desperate and wimpy, “Can I just keep the scrubs?!”

I’m certain she saw the look of terror and heard the sheer desperation in my voice and she kindly agreed that would be okay.  Thank you, God!

Those paper scrubs had just become my saving grace.

Why?  Why had things changed so drastically and so quickly?

Well, let me explain a little something about perspective…

You see, before my clothes were taken, they were my clothes.  They were things I had picked out.  They were comfortable.  They were mine.  When they were taken away and I was given something I had not chosen, I was no longer comfortable.  I was bitter.  I was angry.  They had taken away what belonged to me and there was value in my things.  I saw no value in the paper scrubs they were giving me because in my anger, I felt it was punishment.  I felt like I was being punished by having my own things taken away and substituted with their hideous paper scrubs.

When I went into the mental hospital, I no longer had anything except those blue paper scrubs and my jacket (which had no hood and no strings, mind you, or it too, would have failed the permitted list).  Those scrubs had become all I had.  They were mine.  They weren’t the most comfortable (remember, they were huge…we’re talking I was walking on the legs of them with the waist pulled up to my chest huge.  The shirt hung almost to my knees) but they covered me.  And that was extremely important to me.

I didn’t realize until yesterday why they became so important, why my perspective changed so quickly.

Having experienced what feels like a lifetime of sexual abuse, modesty is not just important, but necessary for me to feel safe.  I can’t sleep without blankets wrapped around me.  I’m not comfortable unless I’m covered.  The idea of wearing that hospital gown was the idea of being exposed.  It sent me back to my childhood and memories of being exposed, fear, terror.  Something as simple as a gown can be such a huge trigger.  In that moment, standing there with that nurse, I imagine she not only saw my terror but she probably couldn’t help but see that helpless little girl begging for protection.  Those blue scrubs became my protection.

Perspective changes everything.

When I had things, the blue scrubs were an embarrassment, something else to be ashamed of.

When I had nothing and was at risk of losing the blue scrubs, they meant the world to me.

That night, I was stripped of everything…

Except the blue paper scrubs.

If I had known a month ago, just how meaningful those paper scrubs would be to me now, I would have kept them.  I would have held onto them as a reminder of the grace and mercy God poured onto me that night as I stood there like a frightened little girl begging to keep the scrubs that no longer screamed of shame and imprisonment but of safety, protection, and comfort.

And later, after I was escorted to my room, once again I was reminded…

Perspective changes everything.

I’m a writer.  It’s my therapy.  It’s like the air I breathe.  Words are my lifeline. 

Remember, I had been stripped of everything shy of the blue paper scrubs and my coat.  I sat on my bed and tears poured from my eyes.  (This in itself is huge.  Before that week, it had been nearly a year since I had cried and even then, they weren’t tears for myself, but for another horrible situation.)  I sat there, talking to God, begging for Him to get me out of that hell, crying out to Him in frustration and anger, believing I didn’t belong there.  Yes, I cried out in anger at God!  I’m pretty sure He can handle it, in fact, I am pretty sure that’s exactly what He wanted me to do.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.  Psalm 18:6

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  Psalm 34:17

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:30

God knew I was desperate, scared, lonely, and angry.  He could handle it…and He did.

He gave me the courage to get up and go ask for a pen and paper.  Now, remember, things are pretty different in the mental hospital because everything that you once had privilege to is now considered a dangerous weapon that you could use to harm yourself.  The nurse kindly handed over a tablet of paper and the guts of pen.  Most folks know I am a huge pen snob (if you ever want to give me a gift, I love all colors and super smooth, lol).  She handed me this tiny three inch stick of ink.  You know what the inside of a pen looks like, right?  Imagine yourself writing with just the inside…not the nice, comfy, hard plastic shell…nope.  At that point, that pen and paper were the most amazing gifts I could have received.  It would do just fine…and it did.

God provided for my needs in that moment.

I went back to my room and wrote for most of the night.  I poured out my heart.  Looking back on those words, they seem silly now but in that moment, they were real.  They were words of hurt, pain, fear, loss, rejection, punishment, imprisonment, shame, embarrassment, regret, anger, and so much more.  Those words were everything and the fact that I was able to write them down and I have them now to look back on…that means everything.

I had nothing…but paper scrubs, a pad and the guts of a pen.

In that moment, I had everything I needed.

And later, when I desperately needed to try to sleep, I thought of Memphis.  He’s this adorable, (worn out and grungy well loved looking) stuffed hound dog that I sleep with every night.  He’s brown and has long floppy ears.  I snuggle him as tight as I can and while I sleep, the two of us are inseparable.  I’ve had him for about 15 years and have slept with him almost every night (shy of the brief period of time when my three children fought over him).  In the hospital, I didn’t have Memphis.  That was one more reminder of all that had been taken from me.  What I did have, was a solid white less than soft, bath towel.  Not to discount Memphis in anyway, but in that moment, that towel became the comfort and safety I so desperately needed in order to allow myself a few minutes of sleep.  I balled up the towel to about the size of Memphis, wrapped my arms around it and cried myself to sleep, still wearing my blue paper scrubs, my coat and resting my head next to my paper and guts of a pen.

I was safe.

I was cared for.

I wasn’t alone.

God had been with me. 

He had provided for me in every way I needed.  He had filled my heart and mind with His word.

I will not die but live and proclaim what the Lord has done.  Psalm 118:17

Which I repeated over and over that night.  I wrote it out on my paper.  He reminded me of the words of a song I had listened to many times in the days leading up to my suicide attempt.  (For King & Country, Shoulders)

“…My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders…”

He gave me those blue paper scrubs. 
He gave me a pad of paper and the guts of a pen. 
He gave me a plain white towel.

And He gave me a new perspective.  He gave me His eyes to see the gifts these things were.  When I felt everything had been taken away from me, He met me right where I needed Him to.  He opened my eyes…not to what I was missing, but to the gifts He had placed before me when I needed them most.

My words can’t express the emotions and gratefulness I feel from gifts I received that night.  My words will never be enough to say just how amazing it was to feel His presence that night.  It was my darkest moment and yet the most precious moments of realizing just what an amazing and good God was with me that night.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”  John 6:12

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thank you God, for saving me.  Thank you for providing in my darkest, most desperate moments…nothing is wasted.

I pray my story reminds you…you are never alone.  He is there, even when you think He isn’t or even when you turn away from Him.  He loves you and is waiting for you to come to Him.

Perspective really does change everything.