self worth

I wrote a novel and thought it was time to tell you

I wrote a novel. Three years ago I started writing it. Two years ago I finished. Today I decided to tell you. 

I've been meaning to tell you for awhile. But I was waiting... waiting for something bigger, for something more exciting. I wanted to tell you I had a huge publishing deal in New York City, a fancy literary agent, and a good shot at making it on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

My goal was to be twenty-years-old and utterly established. I had dreams and goals and a 5-step plan. I told God I would never self-publish. I told God I would only release my book if I made it to the top. Shooting for excellence, you know? I decided anything aside from the best would be simply considered as mediocrity. 

It took me two years to realize otherwise. The past few years I have been relentlessly querying literary agents in New York City. I would find the most popular young adult authors in the bookstore, then trace their literary agent's name and publisher who was listed on the back cover. I'd go home and query them, silently begging them to validate me as a writer and human being. I thought if someone well-known accepted my writing, then I must be worth something, too.

I was rejected over 50 times. Rejection letter after rejection letter landed in my inbox. Each one was kind, offering encouragement to try again at another time, or informing me that my story just didn't fit what they were looking for.

In the beginning, I used the rejection as fuel to send more letters, to tighten my writing, to take the time to pray about the right agent—who would surely send my novel to the top of the publisher's list.

But no matter what I did, I continued to be rejected.

Was I a bad writer? Should I not pursue writing fiction? Should I stick to journalism, or hand-lettering, or maybe move on to working at McDonald's?  

I thought I was only worth something as a writer if I was on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

God was slowly, kindly, tenderly teaching me something else. It took me two years to learn that the validity of my writing and the definition of my worth are not tied to a fancy literary agent or a publishing house in New York. 

So now, after years of telling God otherwise, I have decided to self-publish my novel. 

I had to get to the point where publishing it myself didn't feel like settling. It doesn't feel like settling anymore. It feels like the most exciting prospect of my life. 

My book used to be about becoming known. I can sincerely tell you it's not about that anymore. I'd like to start small, taking the hours and days and months and years I have spent on this story, and quietly offering it out into the world. 

Maybe it'll just be my mom and my sister and my best friend who read it. But that's okay. Because the lessons I have learned these past three years—that my worth and my writing are not determined by what anyone says or thinks—well, those lessons mean far more to me than getting on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

I haven't given up hope on that, though. But it's certainly not the driving force for why I write. It used to be. Not anymore.

Soon my novel will be released into the world. I'm petrified and elated and grateful that God has been so kind to me, quietly molding me into someone who recognizes her worth. 

I don't have a hard release date for the book yet. This is all very new to me, but I'll make sure to keep you informed as I continue in this process. This is what I can tell you for now: my book is titled Come Find Me, Sage Parker, and is a contemporary young adult novel. 

I cannot wait to share my words with you. I've been waiting three years. I'll try my best to wait a little longer. 

When shame visits you at three in the morning

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 7.22.54 PM Shame woke me up at three in the morning. My eyes flew open and I felt as though I hadn't yet slept. Suddenly I was wide awake and acutely aware of the shame wrapped like a blanket around me.

It was late and I felt like the smallest human on earth. I made my way into the fetal position, my white bedspread crumpled beside me, a tangible example of how crumpled I felt within.

"I don't understand," I whispered to Jesus. "I have dealt with my insecurities. I have come to terms that I am enough as I am. Why do I feel so small? So worthless?"

My shame thrives at three in the morning, when the wind is banging my blinds against the wall, when the darkness is at its peak. Like a boa constrictor, she snakes around me, squeezing. Soon I am poured out and exhausted.

Shame tells me I am not enough. Shame tells me my words will not be read. Shame tells me my work, my hands, my life will not produce anything meaningful. But Shame is a good, smooth liar. At three in the morning it's easy to believe her.

I closed my eyes and took a deep, clear breath, all the while silently begging Jesus to unravel me from the tangled mess I had found myself in. I asked myself the following: what is my feeling, and what is my truth? There's a difference, I know, between feelings and truth. My feelings don't dictate what is true. It's just harder to remember that when I'm in the midst of feeling things strongly.

My feeling: I am not enough.

My truth: I am. I am. I am.

My feeling: My words will not be read. Instead they will stay where they are, sitting in the bottom drawer of my white book shelf. I will be on the tireless pursuit of attempting to put my words out into the world for the rest of my life.

My truth: My words are already being read.

My feeling: What I produce is not meaningful.

My truth: My life is meaningful and sacred and significant, and because my work stems from my life, my work is important too (even when it feels like saving the world is the only adequate measure of importance).

Shame does not decide who I am, although that's trickier to declare when your heart is weary and Shame has a good, strong grasp on you.

Shame woke me up at three in the morning and then my alarm woke me up at seven. I looked at my room, now bathed in light instead of the darkness which had accompanied me earlier. I gathered my truths instead of my feelings and held them close against me for the rest of the day.

And I said, "Jesus, teach me what is true, teach me what is true, teach me what is true."

Because even when I don't feel enough, I'll hold on like a mad woman to the truth that I am.

Dear girl who thinks she's not enough

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 9.54.27 AM Dear girl who thinks she’s not enough,

My best friend's sister just had a baby girl, and already I'm praying that her baby girl will grow up feeling confident in her worth and enough-ness. But I'm not that naive. I know when you're a person trying to find your place in this world, your inadequacy shouts far louder than your gifts.

Each day I wake up and try to choose that I am enough, and still there are days where I am crippled by my insecurities. I used to think I could get to the point where I would always feel enough. Now I'm realizing that enough is not a feeling, but a choice.

I could tell you a million times over that your worth is far greater than all the stars gathered up together in the sky.

I could tell you that I'd pour your worth into the sea, only to hear it clang like a tambourine and come crashing back upon me, its tidal wave astronomical in strength, gushing across the plains and hills and valleys, cresting along the barriers of the Earth.

I could tell you that I'd like to take a measuring tape and wrap your worth around the circumference of the globe, only to see it wrap around a thousand times, immeasurable, a never ending ruler of your worth.

We could do these things together; I could show you your strength and dazzling significance, but still, if you haven't chosen to see that you're worth far more than all of these, you'll stay weary and crippled and believing you're not enough. You and I both know that you have a great deal more to offer the world than a weary and crippled girl.

Sometimes I like to dream about what the world would look like if we all chose to believe that how God made us is entirely good enough. And then I go one step further and start to dream about what the world would look like if we not only believed we were enough, but believed that who we are is just plain good.

When I am feeling most afraid and un-enough, I go back to God's words in the beginning where he calls you and me and the flowers and the birds and the trees and the ocean and the thousands of stars and the millions of grains of sand good. And then I think, "If I am good in God's eyes -- eyes that see beauty far more detailed and intricate and stunning than I could ever see -- why am I not good in my own?"

This is who I am:

I am a sinner -- elaborately flawed by my own self. I screw up consistently, so much so that somedays I don't even realize how much I have sinned.

But I am saved and forgiven and enough. I am worthy and valuable and significant -- not because of anything I did, but because Jesus has deemed me his.

You are all of this, too.

All of the people of the world could affirm your worth and value and enough-ness, and yet if you don't choose to believe it for yourself, you'll never believe it. 

Dear girl who thinks she's not enough -- you are.

But enough is a choice and not a feeling. It's a daily, sometimes minutely in my case, decision to retrain your thoughts: I am enough as I am. I am enough as I am. I am enough as I am. 

You have so much to offer the world: beauty and art and rare gifts that can only come from your hands, your voice, your beautiful brain. But ultimately you have to choose to believe that.

I hope you do. And I hope you know this: the world is a much, much lovelier place with you in it.

this is how I see you


Dear Mom, You're beautiful.

You're the most beautiful person in the world, if you want my opinion.

If I were to write these words large and proud right across your bathroom mirror so you could see them in the morning, or stroke them on a banner and wave it tall and high all stretched out from each corner of the sky, or whisper them quiet in your ear every moment of every day, it still wouldn't be nearly enough. 



You've taught me that when you love someone, you tell them who they are to you. So today I'm telling you - you're beautiful, Mom. And more than that, you're funny and kind and tender and spirited. You're all the best things that there are in a person, really.

But you're absolutely beautiful.

You emit grace with every breath that releases from your lips. Slow, patient, untiring. Grace for me, grace for others, gracefulness in all you do. Because of the immense and extraordinary love you have for me, you've shown me how I should go out and love others.

And yes, I know we've had our days (cough, years), like when you were home schooling me in eighth grade, and I yelled at you almost every day that you were COMPLETELY RUINING MY ENTIRE LIFE. Remember that? Yeah, I'm sure you do.


IMG_1595But we got past that, didn't we? We got past the days of Liv and I fighting over our Ken doll, past the days of us refusing to eat your tuna melts, past the days of not getting my favourite part in my favourite play. We've had good days and bad days and each day we made it through. Together.

You welcomed me into this world, and then you held me close after I fell down all those stairs, and you kissed my fingers when I burned my hand, and you prayed over me more times than I can count, and you cried with me when those girls were cruel, and you waved goodbye when I left to go to Africa, and then, in that airport, you welcomed me right back home.


When you told me Jesus loves me, I believed you, because you love me.

When you told me that I am beautiful, I believed you, because you're beautiful.

And when you told me if I said one more mean word you were going to wash my mouth out with soap, I believed you, because you're honest and you stick to what you say.

When I was little, I wanted to be just like you when I grew up. And the truth is, at twenty, still little in so many ways, I still do. I want to be like you.

So, this is how I see you, Mom.

I see you strong and brave and humble. I see you empathetic and adventurous and kind. I see you classy and smart and creative.  

I see you beautiful. I see you so beautiful - altogether beautiful, beautiful in every way. 

mom and dad.png

Let me ask something of you. Tomorrow when you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, when you're tempted to see you as you've always seen yourself, will you think about this? Will you think about how I see you instead?

Maybe I can't write these words across your bathroom mirror, or hang them on a banner high, but I can scratch them down here for you to come back to.

I see you beautiful. Here, now, always.

I love you forever,

Love me


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I believe that you are altogether beautiful, too. For you, this print is on sale for 25% off for the next week, using the code "altogetherbeautiful" at the checkout of the Choose Brave Shop,