It Takes a Village

Ever since I was a child, I have loved writing as a form of expression. I remember winning a writing contest in elementary school for a book I wrote about my family. Going back years and years and years, I have enjoyed writing about life.

Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong but these days I am trying to balance sharing my story while also protecting those who share it with me. There is no denying though, I saw the value and power in story even as a young girl. 
A little while ago, I got a message from a woman who had been introduced to my blog. She saw some similarities in our stories, and messaged me about it. Already a mother, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant in an extremely tumultuous and dark time in her life. She confessed that she had made an appointment to terminate her pregnancy.
I remember opening that message and feeling a whole host of emotions. Touched, that she would reach out to me. Burdened, to know what to say and how to respond. Overwhelmed, uncertain on how to make her feel safe and not judged. 
I didn’t know what to do, really, other than pray.
I have written out this story so many times, and I’m going to be honest with you – I cannot do it justice. I wish I could. I wish I could adequately describe how God orchestrated so many events in my life leading up to receiving this email. I wish I could share with you the people He put in my path, the choices I’ve made, the things I’ve experienced that helped me in this moment. I won’t, because it would take too long and truthfully the details aren’t the important part.
What I’ve taken away from this experience is this:
– there is power in sharing your story
– there is power in reaching out for help
It doesn’t matter whether you share your story through a blog like I do, or if you share it with just one other person. What I have learned is that God can and does use some of the darkest moments of my life for good. 
Reaching out for help is not easy. Most of us live with the idea that needing other people is a sign of weakness. We have a hard time knocking over walls, trusting others with our hearts and forgiving when people hurt us. 
So if you’ve reached out and felt rejected, I get it. There have been people, friends, organizations and even churches who have cast me aside when I needed them most. And even though I am now in a place where I remind myself often that I am dealing with imperfect people, it can be hard to bounce back from that. But I can look at myself and realize that I have disappointed people too. I have let others down, and rejected people needing help, even if I didn’t do it intentionally.

To live openly, to trust fully, to try to be vulnerable when other people handle you imperfectly is hard. It’s painful and usually disappointing.

It’s also brave.

For this woman to reach out to me, a stranger, and let me know she was in a dark place was brave. It allowed me to not just see how a deeply painful part of my life can help others, it allowed me to reach deep inside myself where God works continually to shape who I am becoming.

I am brought to tears virtually every time I think about this story. This woman has been connected to counselors and a church – not just through me, but through people God has put in my life and events that have taken place. Her baby is due this spring, and she sent me this message recently. With her permission, I’m sharing it here.  

I want to send you a picture of a little girl, my little girl, she wouldn’t be here without your influence, you made the calls and prayed, she’s still got a beating heart because of you.

When I read that message, I couldn’t help but look back and see how God had orchestrated so many things in MY life to help HER make a choice she felt unable to make. Because she was brave and reached out for help…because she was vulnerable and trusted me with her story….because God is such a great, great God who sees so far beyond what we are able to see, this woman’s life will be forever changed.

Is she in a perfect place now? I doubt it. None of us are. But she is beginning to feel like she has others who love her and support her and want the best for her and her family. She has a glimmer of hope.

Please don’t be afraid to share your story, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I am forever repeating to myself this mantra: “We belong to each other” (You know I can’t go a day without a nod to Glennon)

What an amazing God we serve.

Y’all. We DO belong to each other. Our stories, our hurts, our triumphs, our fears – there is so much power in all of it. We can’t do this whole life thing alone. We aren’t meant to. You’ve heard the saying, it takes a village to raise a child…I think it takes a village to get through life. Don’t be afraid of getting messy with someone else’s messy life. And if you haven’t found your village yet, please keep going. Keep looking. It’s worth it. 

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31 Days of Brave: Showing Up

Nourish is working on a women’s conference for next year – most of you know that already. When Shaunna and I began daydreaming about what the conference would look like, what kind of speakers we wanted to invite to join us, what kind of topics we wanted to discuss – we just felt like She’s Brave encompassed all of that.

We use ‘brave’ a lot in our interactions with the Nourish community.

Have you ever sat with someone as they shared something deeply painful or shameful or guilt ridden or secretive?

I have. And at times, I’ve been the one doing the sharing.

There is a quiet, still, kind of holiness in those moments. A build of tension, where fear is almost palpable as this person begins to speak their truth. This moment is when a lot of people shut down or shut others out. We become scared of facing truths with someone….unsure of what to say, how to react. Will our facial expressions give us away when they tell us what they’re about to tell us?

There is no doubt this fear is exactly what intercepts an authentic, real relationship between two individuals. If we let ourselves be known, will we be rejected?

Within Nourish, we challenge ourselves and our groups to explore this more. What does true acceptance look like? What does it look like to let someone speak their truth and be met with love? What does it look like to sit around a table with 7 or 8 women who are different in personality, age, background, lifestyles and feel accepted?

We’ve had some precious, scary, hard, redemptive moments around our tables.

It isn’t a perfect formula. At times we’ve stumbled, made mistakes, messed up. At times the message of acceptance gets muddied or lost. In the spirit of honesty, I myself have had moments that I have handled incorrectly despite my best intentions.

We are learning to love regardless. To say sorry, to hold a hand out and pull someone else up. To forgive and to understand.

And that’s when the brave comes in. It takes some courage to be a part of this community. You have to commit to a dinner group where you may not really know someone. Then you have to show up and hang out with women who are different from you. And if you really want to get the most out of Nourish, eventually you’ll have to share a little bit of who you are. And once you do that, we hope you’ll keep coming back. And to keep coming back to a group of women who are getting to know YOU takes courage.

But we hope it also brings comfort and relief: to know and be known – to love and be loved even when it isn’t easy.

My heart has been so touched, my soul so encouraged by the women who show up every month, yearning to be brave and fighting through the fear of letting someone else know who they are.


So proud of my girls who show up each month, ready to be brave. 

Interested in attending She’s Brave 2016? Buy tickets HERE.


A New Normal and 31 Days Of…

We are finding our new normal around here – as normal as can be found in our current circumstances. Harper Adeline Hahn joined our family on September 18th, the littlest peanut of my brood at 7lbs 10oz and 20 inches long.

She’s been a really great baby so far (knock on wood, fingers and toes crossed and all that jazz) She’s up at night with normal newborn needs but never participates in MOTNP (Middle of the Night Parties) which is lovely. She sleeps most of the day and cries when she’s hungry or needs a diaper change or if she’s ticked off at being disturbed.

Her brothers love her, even Declan who still gives me looks of betrayal from time to time when I’m holding her but he’s coming around. I caught him singing “Harper, I love you. Harper, I love you” last night at bedtime. Sweetest ever.

It still is surreal to have a baby girl in the house. Sometimes I find myself calling her sweet boy or buddy just because I am SO used to boys! Ha!

It’s amazing how in love you can fall with someone you just laid eyes on. I think my favorite part of motherhood is when these tiny, helpless, wrinkly creatures join your family one day as if they’ve always been there and your heart just feels like exploding all the time from the exhaustion and amazement and joy of it all. Motherhood is hard, like a holy kind of hard, but it is the best part of my life and my children are the best thing about me.

It is impossible to look at Harper and not wonder what her sister, Lilia, might have looked like had she been able to join our family. And of course there are so many conflicting emotions there – because without Lilia, there would be no Declan and no Harper. It is a strange place to be, both missing and mourning a child you never met but feeling so grateful for the ones that came after. It is a beautiful and reassuring thing to know we will meet her one day. Harper was born 3 years and one week after I laid on the table in the ultrasound room and they couldn’t find Lilia’s heartbeat – and I love that there is a little redemption that has come in the month of September. 
I can’t wait to see how Harper grows and changes, to see little pieces of her personality shine through and to watch her interact with her brothers. I think we’ll keep her.
Love you sweet Harper!

I’ve also decided to join in on the 31 Days of Writing Challenge and will be {hopefully} posting every day in October about bravery – specifically pertaining to the She’s Brave Conference that’s coming up in 2016. I want to dive more into this topic and why we use it so much with our Nourish community. I hope you’ll follow along!

What’s up with She’s Brave?

14 years, 7 months and 5 days ago I became an unwed mother.

It’s been a winding road since then, full of self discovery, mistakes, heartache and pain but there has been plenty of sunshine, happiness, joy and celebration as well.

And yet, I spent so many years feeling like an outsider, an oddball, less than…

About 6 years ago I felt God nudging me to reach out to women because most of them felt the same way. Perhaps for different reasons, but what I came to know was that there are a lot of women struggling in silence. Avoiding sharing their true selves because of guilt or shame or feeling like they were the ‘only one’ who felt the way they do.

Addiction.
Eating Disorders.
Depression.
Abortion.
Anxiety.
Rape.
Molestation.
Exhaustion.
Infidelity.
Broken marriages.
Single parenthood.
Infertility.
Single-hood.
Loneliness.
Fear.
Hopelessness.
Overwhelmed.
Heartache.

Have I named something you, personally, have struggled with? I personally have been affected in some way by addiction, infidelity, single parenthood, a broken marriage, feelings of hopelessness and being overwhelmed, heartache and exhaustion to name a few.

Is that embarrassing to put out there? A little. But I know that there are many of you who are dealing with the exact same issues I am because you’ve told me. And there are others who are struggling with things I’m not, but I also know you’re not alone.

Something that has become very clear to me is that women who are united for Christ are a dangerous force. The enemy knows this, and he desires so much to drive a wedge in between the meaningful relationships that we can have with one another. Not only does he try to attack our families and marriages, he wants nothing more than to drive a wedge in between our friendships by making us feel as though we can’t share ourselves with other people. When we feel like no one else could possibly understand WHO we are, we begin to isolate ourselves from the very people who could help lift us up and help to heal our pain.

It began as a nagging thought in the back of my mind as I noticed the women’s conferences going on around me. There are some amazing ones that address finding your purpose and how to be a great mother. There are conferences about how to be successful professionally and conferences about being a Christian.

What we felt was lacking – or at least not as easy to find – was a conference that said HEY. HEY YOU. YOU AND I ARE ACTUALLY THE SAME!

 I’m depressed and I feel hopeless or I can’t take my children for one more second today and I feel guilty. I’m sick of being single and I’m so lonely. I had an abortion and I feel shame. I’ve been betrayed in my marriage and I feel heartbroken. I was abused and I feel so much fear.

It started as a daydream, a fleeting thought, a hope, a yearning to provide a safe place for women to talk about the hard stuff without dwelling on it – a place to be vulnerable and hear other women share their painful stories and walk away feeling hopeful because suddenly they realize they aren’t alone.

When Shaunna and I started Nourish – we hoped on a small scale our monthly dinner groups would become a safe place for women to discuss tough stuff alongside celebrating the joy to be found in day to day life. And that has happened in so many ways. But we also daydreamed about a culmination of all those dinner parties happening in the form of a conference. For women involved in Nourish and women who aren’t – to come together in one place and look around the room and feel brave.

The She’s Brave Conference is the very heart of what Nourish is about. It is about being vulnerable and showing up to a place with a lot of other people you probably don’t know. It’s about looking around the room and saying to one another “You’re not alone and you matter”. It’s about safety in numbers as we begin to peel away the layers of armor we have put on to protect our hearts.

It’s about finding the joy that can come with releasing the shame and the guilt you feel. It’s about acknowledging that none of us are alone and that together we can become an amazing, beautiful, powerful force for good. It’s about standing up to the mean girls stereotype and refusing to buy into it. It’s about forgiving the friends you’ve had that have hurt you and betrayed you and finding hope in community again.

It is, at the very heart, about encouraging each other.

Tickets are on sale now! Early Bird ticket purchasers will get a discount, but those are limited availability so don’t wait!

We know it’s expensive. We know it’s an investment. We promise we aren’t making a dime off this conference. Truth be told, Shaunna and I will end up footing the bill for some of it ourselves. That’s how passionately we feel about what we are doing.

We hope you’ll join us. You’ll hear from some amazing women including a Q&A and meet and greet with Momastery’s Glennon Doyle Melton, and from author and blogger Sarah Mae.  You’ll hear from other talented local speakers that are women just like you and me. We truly want this to be a conference that sets you free.

For more specific info about what is included in your ticket price, please visit us on our website. You don’t have to be a current Nourish attendee to come but email us at nourishclt@gmail.com if you’d like to get involved with one of our monthly dinner parties.

Come, be brave, be filled up, and rest in the knowledge that you are seen, known and loved…just as you are.

Why Does Nourish Work?

Last year when I wrote this post about my desire for a community of women that was authentic, so many of you responded with your own desire for the same thing.

So, a friend and I listened. I sifted through all the comments and private messages and we prayed and thought and decided how we wanted to proceed.

We presented a CRAZY idea.

We wanted women to get together and…have dinner.

That’s it. Just dinner. Ok, maybe drinks and something chocolate too if you insist. But mostly? Dinner.

No forced discussions, no book studies, no bible verses to read and memorize. It wasn’t going to be a group for young women or old women. Not a group for moms or singles. Wouldn’t matter if you believed in God or not. The only way we intended to organize groups was by location.

It was risky, so we were told. No common denominator? No big goal? No mission? How could that possibly work? Why would women jump into a group with strangers and open up?

And to be honest with you, we didn’t have all the answers. At all. We stammered and stuttered and confessed we weren’t exactly sure but we DID know this is what we were being led to do. God was in control of this.

June is our 5th month meeting together as a community and growth has been amazing.

Obviously, we are where God wants us to be because it’s kind of as baffling to us as it is to you that this concept is working. But in addition to the whole God thing, here’s what I’ve discovered as I sit around the dinner table with other women.

We are all fragile in our own ways. There isn’t a woman I’ve come across in this process who isn’t insecure in some way, broken in some way, afraid in some way and dying inside to share her true self without fear of rejection. This is buried so deep in who we are as women, and it is screaming to come out.

When we presented this idea publicly, we tried to make it pretty clear exactly what it was about. And because of that, women have come to this group ready and willing to be open about who they are. They know they don’t have to hide behind discussions or books because there isn’t any of that. We are all here because we all want to be real. Shaunna and I worried that because we were planning monthly dinners, it might take months and months for bonds and friendships to form. But that fear has melted away as these things have happened in many cases by the FIRST meeting.

Because so many women have come ready to share of themselves and be vulnerable, a quick bond is formed. I don’t even know how to explain it other than – when one person starts and shares, another person feels like they can share, and then a domino effect occurs and suddenly everyone has been very open and vulnerable and no one dares mess with that. Somehow, so far, everyone seems to understand that this is a little golden pocket of community – a really special and sacred place and please, please do not destroy it.

As women, we’ve all been victim to someone backstabbing, lying, gossiping or competing with us. We’ve done it, and we’ve had it done to us.

I’m so BEYOND proud of this community because we strive to break free of those stereotypes and live in a way that is brave and free.

And when I say brave, I mean it. I have listened to women cry and discuss pain. Broken marriages, body image issues, blended family struggles, depression, suicidal thoughts, abuse…I am amazed at how brave you all are. And don’t worry, it’s not all hard stuff. At our last dinner, I laughed so hard my face actually hurt from smiling so much. And yeah, there were bras hanging from light fixtures (no, no one was drunk). We have FUN together but we do hard stuff.

Are we perfect at this? Of course not. Will there be hurt feelings at some point? Most definitely. We are women and we are emotional beings. It’s how we were created. But 5 months in, this community is growing in leaps and bounds and in the words of my co-founder Shaunna, “I don’t know how I haven’t known these women my whole life”

Me. Neither.

To all of you Nourish women: you make me laugh, you make me cry, my heart is bursting at the seams
wanting each and every one of you to experience true sisterhood. We can’t say it enough – thank you for trusting us. For jumping into an idea that a lot of people thought was crazy and going along for the ride. Thank you for being willing to set aside the temptation to be competitive, to gossip, to backbite, to judge. Thank you for looking at each woman in your group as an equal and taking a leap of faith in trusting each other. 

WE LOVE YOU FOR IT! Big things in store for you, Nourish. Big things. You can get involved by emailing us at NourishCLT@gmail.com