photo-28she said, “do you hear that? it sounds so sinister to me! what an accuser!!”

 i hadn’t noticed.

she pointed out that i have been moving toward - stepping into - my purpose. that I had heard affirmation, words of life directed at my identity, at my desire to bring healing, felt that spark of “yes! this is it! what i’m made for!” and, within two days, the very same places were attacked, twisted.

my value, beauty, worth all called into question by an enemy of my soul’s life.

bending almost certainly innocent words into strangleholds.

i had told her, with a sigh, a few weeks ago, “i wish everyone had a jolie*…” someone who speaks life-giving truth into hearts that need it. someone who can walk alongside, witness the heart of another, engage spiritually with them, and – in a way – love them, be jesus to them. her response was, “maybe they need an ailey.” wait – that’s my name.** like, i could actually be that type of a presence with people?! heart-racing excitement and terror came with that thought. that maybe, just maybe, i could offer the same Life that i have found.

obviously, you might be thinking.

but i'm thinking: i’ve tried that before. been vulnerable, opened my heart, spoken truth… and been held at arm’s length, rejected by crumbling brick walls they think will protect. and i’ve believed that the reason for that was my inadequacy. my inability to stand in the face of rejection, in the face of spiritual pressure. i’ve seen myself cave, give in to the warfare. let it take me.

not this time. not now that i know.

because, far from scaring me into inaction, when i realize the dark forces at play, it ignites something in me. i find a fight in me i didn’t know i had. i discover this part of my heart that refuses to allow the ultimate liar-thief-destroyer to have his way in the hearts of people i love, people i see.  myself.

so when my 3-year-old tells me i used to be pretty, and the enemy turns it into an attack on my worth, a foothold for lies about motherhood-failure and beauty-lack and all the other inadequacy-talk… i will stand. on my own two beautifully purposed feet. and breathe in oxygenating presence, and breathe out healing truth. truth of my worth and yours, our beauty, our love and lovability, our purpose.

like c.s. lewis' lucy with her dagger and cordial, tending the wounded... as a healer-warrioress i will join the battle. Stand with me?




*names changed to protect, well… me. This is an anonymous blog, ok? (baby steps.)

**no. it’s not. It’s a pseudonym.

fog laughter in the dark

vital abandon

voice being drawn out

aware of her windy reality.

(found poetry in my art journal)


A faint orange glows through the fog and gives me hope.

My life chaotic at best; at worst, a failure.

I dream big dreams of light cast into dark. Of artist-birthed life making its way into a hurting world. Of hearts healed. Of beauty and spirit-wind wrapped holy together, bringing truth that frees instead of binds.

And then I live.

Isolated, unfree myself. Wrapped wholly with the whims of beloveds and their bedlam. Unseen, unheard because I do not speak. I long to bring life, bravery. I live fearful, greedy for solitude, shamebound.

They say the area of your struggle is inseparably woven with your calling.

If I was having coffee with you and these words poured out of you, I would be so drawn to offer grace, rest. To make sure you knew you don’t have to meet anybody’s expectations (yours included). That, yes, you have this amazing calling to offer light and life and beauty and freedom and healing. But the failing is the lie.

All the trying, beating up the beauty because it’s not quite beautiful enough.

The fighting with life instead of living it.

And most of all, I’d want you to know he’s right there.

In the afternoons with a three-year-old anarchist whose heart you desperately want to guard in ways yours never was.

In the hundreds of minutes you feed and lullaby your baby, hoping for a soul that knows it’s worth rescuing.

In the confusion of intimacy.

In the tension between beauty-longings and real-life mess.

Even when you haven’t given him the time you “should”. There is no condemning coming from his heart, so if you’re sensing damnation-emotion, you gotta fight, albeit an unseen enemy.  One that pretends he’s not there so you think it’s your own voice, or even that of the life-way-truth. It’s not. He may even sound like people you love. He likes to put flesh-and-blood to his lies like that. But no matter what, it’s not true.

You are enough.

Your heart is worth fighting for, just like those little boys’.

And those women you dream freedom for.

He bled to rescue your heart, so you simply can’t give it back over to the liar. To the hater of your aliveness.

it might look like the easy way out – to wallow, to believe in your worthlessness. Because then it doesn’t matter so much that your days don’t look like your dreams. But think of the alive-in-your-purpose days. Isn’t even that handful worth the fight?

Well, isn’t it?

And I am surprised to hear my own heart answering yes. Oh, yes. 

photo credit: Ben Coplin of The Crossing Church  

we still don't know what happened.

two teenagers realized they were lost in the Cleveland National Forest sunday, and made the 911 call that probably saved their lives. their phone died right after calling to describe as best they could where they believed they had lost their way. because they called, people immediately began to search for Nicholas and Kyndall.

days, a thousand prayers, and dozens of searchers - many of them volunteers - later, they were found.

Nicholas was found wednesday, a mile from his car, exactly as he'd described in his emergency call. it took another day to find Kyndall a little ways away on a ridge, disoriented and dehydrated, both of them. but both of them alive. rescued.

i only knew about this because a very new online friend posted on her instagram feed that they would be praying that night at her church for these two teenagers to be found. i joined their prayers, though not in person, and continued to expect the worst.

then, tonight, i walked into starbucks to see the huge title of the OC register scream at me "weak, but alive". relief flooded, and in that moment, more than one of my prayers was answered.

they were safe.

that was one.

the other one had been spoken on the drive to starbucks. i have been feeling so disconnected, lost, and was just longing for God to speak into me. jesus, speak.


ever since i watched my first episode of parenthood last week, my heart has been longing, asking a question without ever verbalizing it. both episodes i've seen of that show now have ended with a scene where Max and his heart are fought for.

Max, maybe eight years old, has just been diagnosed with asperger's, and they're all reeling. in the first episode, when they realize he unexpectedly wants to join his team to play baseball that day, his entire extended family drops everything and rushes to get ready for the game. they had just sat down to a lovely backyard lunch, but they leave all that, calling out "you get his uniform?" "i'm snack mom this week! help!" and they are all delighted to fight for this young boy.

the second episode ends with Max's dad putting on a pirate costume to enter his world, try to understand him, to reach his heart. as they run around the yard with red handkerchief-heads and tennis racket-swords, my tears fell for the second time in two episodes. over a dumb television show. but i knew where the emotion was rooted.

i want to feel fought for. i want to believe that i am worth fighting for. worth whatever it takes to rescue this heart of mine. 

there have been moments i believed this, little glimpses into the father-heart of God, into his love, his delight for me. and yes, i have been rescued. but i need to be rescued every day. from the lies, the self-deception, the accusing voices. i need to know: are you on my side? will you fight for me, rescue me? am i even worth it?

and tonight? he answered yes.

in the stories of the many rescuers that went out to fight for the lives of these kids. the ones that got lost themselves in the process, the ones that were injured. one even had to be hospitalized; he was lucky to be alive, the sheriff's department said. people prayed, people searched, people risked their lives to fight for these two teenagers.

and my God fights for me. he doesn't let me stay in my same old ways of self-loathing, believing defeated-enemy lies. he risked GAVE his life because my alive-heart is worth it to him.

and so is yours.