Let me be B.

“Owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.” – Brené Brown

We spend a good part of our lives trying to hide the not so good parts of our stories. We hold in our struggles and sins,  our hurts and brokenness, and our fears and failures.  We do this because we worry about what people might think of us if they knew the truth about who we are. But when we do this we are only hurting ourselves and missing out on opportunities to speak into the lives of the people around us.

Being brave is really hard, but I have learned that it’s also incredibly freeing. The more I open up, the more freedom I pass on to others to do the same.  As I’ve let down some of my walls and shared words that I’ve been afraid to speak, I have been met with acceptance and understanding, and many of my relationships have become the strongest they’ve ever been.

Our stories matter. They’re what makes you, you and what makes me, me. We shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed of our pasts or our current situations. We should only be thankful for the testimonies that are being lived out and the opportunity we have to be restored.

I want to be the most real with you now, and I might show you a Brooke you’ve never seen. I don’t fully know what that’s going to look like, but I do know what I want it all to mean.  I hope to show you grace I’ve found in some different places and hand you the freedom to do the same. I hope to show you that letting go is so much easier than playing game after game. I hope you can take something from this that brings you closer to who you should be. And really I just want to thank you for reading and for letting me be B.

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Rove Spring Day

Today was Rove Spring Day. Rove is this budding new thing that Bethany and I simply marvel over with open hands and open hearts to God. God has given us a vision for Rove. He’s asked us to take this tiny seed and plant it in the hearts of the women in our lives, the women in our communities, the woman at the grocery store, the woman at the gym, the woman who is lost, the woman who is hurting, the woman who is searching, and any woman that asks to come.

We asked women to come sit with us today. Come sit with us and be challenged. Come sit with us and let your heart be stirred and your faith be renewed. As we planned this day we didn’t give much explanation to what was going to take place, sorry ladies! “Just come,” we said because honestly we didn’t know what was going to happen, but we knew God was going to show up today. And he did.

Today we were asked to trust God in the unknowns. It was in the message given by our first speaker, Tiffany Nardoni, in the plans Bethany and I laid out, and in the uncertainty each woman felt as she stepped into my front door. The unknown is scary, and it keeps us from doing the things we are called by God to do.

Our second speaker, Chel Garrison posed us with two questions.

What is the one thing you would do if

there were no obstacles in your way? And

What in your life is keeping you from doing that thing right now?

These were scary questions. But Bethany and I didn’t witness fear as we looked in the faces of the women present today. We saw beauty. We saw the most beautifully vulnerable and strong women sharing their testimonies and owning their stories. After everyone left we were still in awe, and we thanked God for shining such a brilliant light on all of life’s uncertainties.

Being B

Being myself has never felt natural. I’ve always let the people around me have a greater influence on who I am rather than just being the person God’s called me to be.

It was easier to fall into the places that people needed me. I can do this, I can do that, I’ll be whoever you want me to be.

But that’s not working anymore. I don’t fit inside those places anymore.

And I don’t want to.

I don’t want to miss out on the things God has for me because I’m too busy being someone else for someone else!

So I don’t know what this is really going to look like, and maybe you won’t like what you read! But I do know I want this to be a real life look at what it’s like Being B.

I want you to read my funny kid stories and get inspired to live life more free. I want you to learn to keep setting fitness goals your own way, not worrying about your weight or speed. I want you to hear the songs I write and the ones I just love to sing. I want to show you what I paint at night, and what I’d say if no one was listening. I want to share my DIY fails and hopefully some successes. I want to teach you to embrace your own style and not conform to how someone else dresses.

That’s all I want. A little of you and a little of me. I still want to serve others and meet needs. But I’m going to get out of my way this time and find the joy in just Being B.

She Right

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“Brooke, this is a good argument for your research project, but I fear you’re too emotionally invested in this book to set aside your feelings and write based on your research.”

This was a comment made in an email I received from my English professor critiquing my proposal for my semester research project. And as much as I want to fight her and keep my book…She Right.

I am too emotionally invested in this particular book right now for a research methods course that commands you prove everything you argue, follow the writing formula, and then cite your sources in MLA format. Darn-it. My professor is right, I need to know the rules of the writing handbook before I can gain credibility as a writer. There is a place for structure and rules. There is a place for citations and a page full of references. So I’ll try and detach some of  my heart from my words for her for my next few papers, but only because I’m emotionally invested in earning an English degree.  I’ll change my book, and follow the rules of keeping my emotions at bay but only for situations like this.

Because being emotionally invested in things is GOOD. It means we’re ALL IN!

I want to show my children the importance of embracing every success and every failure. Investing in your emotions means you have heart and soul and fire and passion and you feel all the things good and bad in order to learn, grow, and change into the person God’s designed you to be. I never want to lose my fight for others or myself.

This year I’ve tried to focus on investing in others while still making time to invest in myself. It’s been hard and holy emotional. I’ve been trimming the excess busy things that take up my time and made some extra room to have harder conversations, take longer pauses to process situations, and to make deeper connections with the people I love. What I love about being emotionally invested in things is that there is no magic formula you have to prove, the reasons don’t have to make sense, and the facts don’t all have to line up. You just have to go love the heck out of people and maybe change their lives.

 

How you doin?

A week ago I did an Instagram study to find out how many people answer honestly when someone asks how they’re really doing. It came out to about 30% of people responding honestly, and 70% of people not being honest. I proceeded to ask, “if you aren’t honest, why?” And “if you are honest, how has that helped or hurt you?” I was very interested in these answers and learned I needed to make some changes both on the asking and the answering side in my own life.

Most answers as to why people were not answering honestly were because they didn’t feel that the question was asked sincerely and because they were afraid to seem broken or vulnerable, especially when they felt others were dealing with worse feelings or situations.

So this made me think…do I mean it when I ask someone how they’re really doing? And am I prepared if they give me a real answer? Because if I’m not asking and genuinely wanting to know, why am I asking? And if they’re telling me they’re not ok, how am I going to handle that?  How is my response going to impact them?

We can’t all be Joey Tribbiani and get by with…

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I don’t want to go into this heavy, but it’s a real thing that needs to be given some weight. We should be sincerely checking on our friends, and I think we can do better at this. If we are asking how someone is doing just to be polite, then maybe we should find another mannerly greeting, and save the “how are you really’s” for serious conversations. People become accustomed to answering, “good,” “fine,” and “ok,” and then they can feel obligated to be ok even when they’re not.

It’s ok to not be ok.

It’s ok to not be ok and tell your friends the truth when they ask.

And here’s how I know. The people that said they answered honestly when asked how they were doing, they are here to tell about it.  Their honesty, good or bad, didn’t knock them out of the game. They worked through their season of not being ok. They talked about it, and it wasn’t easy, but it was just a moment.  It was light momentary affliction.  And in that moment they saw the importance of opening up, laying it out, and letting someone else bear some of that weight with them.

So the next time you ask, “How are you doing?” make sure you’re prepared to really hear your people out and to lean into them.  And the next time someone asks how you’re doing, tell them and give them the freedom to do the same!

Making Excuses

Do you ever say yes to plans and then immediately feel sick knowing you’re committed to going? Yes, this thing sounds so fun, just what I’ve been looking, waiting, and wishing for, but now I’m having a mild panic attack. I do this all the time. I overthink all the ways that I could be awkward, unqualified, or unpolished, and begin to form excuses for why I just shouldn’t go at all.

This past week was a week of excuses. I was invited to a blogger meet up with some incredibly beautiful and creative women from Champaign. I’ve never been to anything like this and was crazy excited to meet women just as passionate about blogging and life as me. But soon I could feel the excuses starting to build:

I have nothing to wear.

They have thousands of followers on Instagram.

I need a hair appointment.

I have homework.

Maybe I should vacuum the whole house.

And hey laundry, I see you.

All of the ridiculous excuses were flowing now and I was talking myself out of going.

But I went, and I’m so thankful I did! These women were just like me with chaotic schedules, kids at their ankles, stresses at work, and insecurities of their own. They understood. I understood. And we shared and laughed and connected.

Making excuses is really easy and it’s even easier to give into them and give up on the things that can change your heart, change your situation, or maybe even change your life. So let’s make less excuses and take more steps towards the things that move us and scare us. We should let our hearts get stirred up. Let’s let them race because we’re challenging our normal rhythm. Because it’s in those places that we find truth, we find strength, we find trust, and we find love. It’s in those places that I found a cup of tea, blog ideas, cupcakes, and a table of women that are just like me.

Starving

Sometimes I can’t sleep at midnight and I find poems and quotes that ignite writing ideas and projects to help me love people better.  This is my initial take on an excerpt from Ann Voskamp’s book, “The Broken Way.”   But then I dug in and asked some questions on Instagram, and had somewhat of a change of heart. I got answers I expected to get, and some I didn’t.  Some answers made me sad, and some filled me up.  I’m starting to put those pieces together and I still don’t have a real title for this little project, so, for now, I’m just going to call it, “Questions & Answers.”  Below are my thoughts right after reading Ann’s post, but I know now that I have so much more to consider.

How are you…for real…like really?

How’s your plate?

We are starving.

Our plates are full, yet we are starving.

We all have heaping plates. Our plates are piled high with standards, overflowing with agendas, and teeming with fear and lies. Yet here we sit at the table with our bellies already full of mistakes and messes that are eating away at us and we’re too afraid to purge them. So we starve.

The act of purging our messy lives and letting our vulnerabilities flow out is yuck, and we certainly don’t want anyone watching while we do it. It’s the bringing back up of all the junk and nastiness that’s been sitting inside us that we haven’t been able to get rid of. No one is pretty when they throw up. So we just try to hold it all in.

But when we don’t empty our bellies we can’t touch our plates. They just continue to pile while we sit hungry.

When we don’t pour out our hearts even just a little-broken piece at a time, we can’t feast at the communion table and we miss the meal of freedom. We miss the freedom that is found in being seen, heard, and understood by another brave soul because we think it’s so much easier to hold in our struggles and hurts and sins.

But is it really…like really?

No, it’s really not. 

We are actually starving ourselves of bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2, Romans 15:7, Hebrews 10:24). We have each other for a reason.  We were given mouths to speak truth, grace, and healing on behalf of others.  We were given hands to hold up faces, place on shoulders, and to pull others out of darkness.  So we cannot be afraid to share our broken places.  We cannot be afraid to bring up the bad to make room for the good. We cannot be afraid to be vulnerable because we are all starving.  Not one of us can feed ourselves so we must lead each other to the only one who can fill us up.