I have never really had a squad. I don’t have a girl gang that I’ve run with through thick and thin since forever. In most seasons of my life, I’ve had a handful of very close, very dear friends who are deeply precious to me. I was never teased harshly, bullied, or picked on. People have mostly been polite and friendly to me. I’ve just never had that ride or die tribe of girls.
I know I’m not the life of the party. I can actually be pretty awkward in group settings. My sister once described an awkward group experience saying that she left after she “Beaned around the room” (as in Mr. Bean). I laugh until I cry every time I think about it because I can relate so much. Maybe you know exactly what she means. Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about.
I’ve struggled with my social status and how I’m not “in”. I’ve worried that I’m boring or not enough. I’ve asked myself if I’m too much or too out there. Maybe I’m rude, over eager, or stand-offish. I’m not sure, but I know it’s hurt my heart as I’ve wondered. From high school to summer camp to grown up life, I’ve always played politely just outside the squad.
The end of 2019 wasn’t what I expected. My time away from social media and work was supposed to be a time of purpose and presence. Vision and planning. Breathing and receiving. I wanted to enjoy the season with my family, and find clarity for 2020. I expected to slip into a meditative and peaceful state. For God to breathe life and confidence into me. I expected revival through stillness. I wanted comfort and peace after a year that was not comfortable or peaceful.
2019 actually thrust me into discomfort over and over. In good ways. And painful. For one, I created a product. A beautiful, meaningful piece of my heart - The Selah Journal. In producing it, I tumbled deep into Google for help, I compared samples and quotes, and waded through jargon and industries I didn’t understand. I felt inadequate and clueless. At a low point, I even found myself weeping into the phone to an account manger in Utah after a problem with the order. There I was, pulling my three kids in a wagon through the neighborhood and crying into the phone, saying something like...”I just wanted to make something that matters and everything is going wrong. I feel like I’m being attacked. Do you believe in God?” Like an out of body experience. I was unraveling and couldn’t stop. I was crying and babbling while simultaneously thinking, “I am really doing this. Losing it. I’m the crazy crying lady unloading on the nice 20 something account manager.” So, yeah. Making the journal was uncomfortable. Hard. Embarrassing. Vulnerable. And awful.
But also? I did it. With a lot of help. Grace. Gumption. And grit. I answered that call. And through the discomfort I grew stronger. And something beautiful burst through. The Selah Journal is a real thing. Made from my heart and my tears and my hopes and prayers. You can hold it in your hands. And it’s so lovely. I’m astounded really that it was born from my dream. It’s a pure treasure to me. And my secret confession is that I haven’t written in mine yet. I think I have a fear that my experience writing in it won’t be as powerful as the experience of making it. And I want to keep it shiny and perfect. I’m beginning to realize, though, that it will be even more precious when I pour my heart into a second time.
Back to the start of this year. Life just by the book. Daddy off to work. Toddlers in half day preschool. Baby home with mama. Mama working a side hustle. Wearing the baby and building a business. After school activities. Festivals and parties. Outings and events. Front row at church. Matching little girls. Isn’t it just the dream?
January 1st and a good hard look at the real truth of it all. And really? I was swirling in a blur of overwhelm. All the good things piled together to make a heap of overtired, overworked, over scheduled, and over extended.
My kids were exhausted. I was empty. My life felt rushed and frantic and hard. Loud. From the outside, it looked like everyone else’s life. Normal. But? Did that make it ok? Is hustle a badge of honor? Am I chained to the dream of doing it all that’s suffocating a generation of women? Normal. But not good.
Or can I choose something wild? Opt out? Choose abnormal.
I wanted quiet. Less. And also more.
2019 was my year to explore a new way. Still. Intimate. Simple. Good.
I pulled my family in close. And changed it all. With the purpose of quieting our lives. For stillness. For Depth. For less. But more.
Three years ago. A quiet night. Babies asleep. Jordan asleep. I was just days away from hosting my very first Selah group. Terrified. Unqualified. But doing it. I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t let go of my anxiety. What am I doing? What can I do for these women? I’m not ready. I’m not capable. Not qualified. Not enough.
And God answered me. And wasn’t talking to Him. But he answered: I am qualified. I am capable. I am ready. And I choose you. Pray for them.
So I prayed. For each woman. By name. That night. Every day. All day. Mostly, I did not know them. But they had come. Something had led to this group at this time. And I prayed long prayers of love and light over them.
There was one name God handed me over and over. I fought back. Trying to give equal prayer time to each woman. But God put her on my heart specifically. Chaney. It felt strange, and I only just admitted to her this call to prayer before we met. But I did it. I prayed.
And when I met her, I knew. God had prepared my heart. Nudged to me notice her. To see and hear and know her. We were meant to walk alongside each other. In this season. Specifically. We were meant to stir one another up.
We were fast friends from the start, and today she's my cheerleader, my trusted mentor, and my best gal for emojis and good laughs. She has shared her gifts with Selah behind the scenes for years (nearly all the photography here is her work).
She is my very dear friend, and it's my honor and privilege to share her story with you here. Her words will hurt your heart, open your mind, and heal your spirit.
Here is her story...
Trigger Warning: this story includes Chaney’s personal account of miscarriage & grief thereafter
The tide changed. It just happened. While I waded in the deep waters of new motherhood, the tide was shifting all the time. The waves were softening. Receding. Retreating. But I didn’t notice.
I started with changing diapers and rocking teeny tiny babies. Nursing them to sleep and swaddling them tight. 2am feedings and sleep regressions and teething. First fevers and worried nights. Belly laughs and tummy time and baby wearing. High and fast waves. Keeping my head up. Treading water. Learning to swim. Energized, though, by the miracle of it all.
And then? Suddenly I was potty training toddlers. Teaching ABCs. Begging gentle hands and share with your friends. Toddler beds and pull-ups and temper tantrums. The water around me pulling and tugging. Knocking me off balance. But revealing new treasures that were covered by deeper waters.
And then? I looked up and it was time to work on reading. Swimming all the way across the pool. We picked a big girl bike and took off the training wheels. I teach kindness and inclusion. Responsibility and independence. Consequences. The waves are gentler here but steady and unceasing. Constant. Exhausting. But calm when I let be it. I can stand here in the shallows. I’m used to the tug and pull of the current around me, but the water can be ever unpredictable still. I’m confident, but wary.
The tide changed while I was in the midst. And now I see it. It’s all different. I know the little years are far from over. My children are only 1 and 3 and 4. I will still have temper tantrums and diapers and belly laughs in my life for a while. ABCs and life lessons. My early years work is not over. But there is calm now anyway. No new babies. No big changes. A season closing. The tide going out.