Monday, July 29, 2013

I Need an Instruction Booklet

In talking with a dear friend about some of our similar experiences, she exclaimed that it sure would be nice if life had an instruction booklet! I wholeheartedly agreed, and then it occurred to me...we do have instruction booklets. Wait, hear me out.

Yes, of course we have the Bible, but let's be honest, it doesn't exactly offer clean-cut instructions for all situations. In fact, it doesn't even address many of our situations. However, if we're willing to open up and share our stories, we'll find that the people around us often have words of wisdom and experience that would be helpful.

Let's be clear - we can help, we can share our experiences, but what worked for us won't necessarily work for others. The only way to find an answer for yourself is to pray through it. But the experiences of others can be helpful. For instance, I can't tell you what will finally make you stop cutting, but I can share with you all the things I've ever tried to ease the urges. Maybe, in that list, you'll find something helpful.

Now, for a wonderful example, check out this site, featuring the story of my dear friend, Lika. There is so much here for you to draw inspiration from - changing faiths, family opposition, identity crises, etc. Although his story is a difficult one for him to share, since he still lacks familial support, he knows that his story is one that God is calling him to tell, because others can benefit from it, even if it's just because they'll know they're not alone.

Go leave Lika some comments, leave me some comments, and/or click here to email me a We'd both love to hear from you!

Friday, July 26, 2013


Today, my friend was found dead. Though this is an undeniably difficult time for all of his family and friends, we know that he's in heaven, waiting for us. If you're struggling with pain or loss, I encourage you to listen to this song, and really hear the lyrics. This is my message to you, as well as God's.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Darkness Presses In

Tonight, I fight my depression, as my friend, Chad Rogers, remains missing. You'll probably be as shocked as I am to know that I have not yet slipped into depression. People keep asking how I am, and I keep telling them that I'm really doing okay, that I have faith that Chad will be found, alive, that I just need a hug now and then.

How do I remain hopeful and even joyful in this time? 2 Corinthians 4:7-9: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show us that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." That treasure is the knowledge of salvation/the Gospel, and the jars of clay are those of us who have that knowledge. Chad is such a jar of clay. So, while he and his wife and parents and all of us who love him are currently afflicted, we are not crushed.

So long as there is a God, so long as there is salvation, there is hope. God knows and loves Chad, so we can trust that, wherever Chad is, God is taking care of him. Chad is saved, and so, while there are potential painful endings to this search, there are no truly tragic ones in the long term, because all of us who love both Chad and the Lord will be reunited with Chad, in this life (I desperately pray) and in the next life.

Now that I've tried, so clumsily, to say all of this, let me just add what one of Chad's many friends posted on Twitter today, so much more eloquently than I ever could:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I confess to being a bit distracted tonight. One of my old friends went running last night and never came home. So, take a moment to pray that he is safely returned to his wife and baby, please.

Now that we've all said our prayers, there is nothing more we can do for him, so I'm going to focus on you. See, I know that my buddy was saved, healthy, and if, God forbid, he doesn't come home, I know where he's going. I don't know that about all of you, though, so, here goes.

If you believe none of what follows, at least believe that I love you, because I do. I've been given a passion and burden for each and every one of you.

When I initially started this blog, I decided to be careful not to mention faith too much, because I didn't want to scare people away. Tonight, in the face of enormous life decisions, a missing friend, two relatives with health issues, and a greater awareness of the pain of this world than ever before, I say be offended if you want. Send me angry emails or leave me angry comments. But I will not allow myself to wonder if my followers knew where I stood anymore.

Here's the truth that I know so many of you need to know:

You are beautiful. (Psalm 139:14)
You are loved. (1 John 3:1)
You are not beyond repair. (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3)
You can be forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
This life is only temporary - make sure you're ready for the next one. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

If you'd like to talk about any of these things, chat with your pastor, youth pastor, or click here to send me an email. I'd love to hear from you.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Perfectly Broken

There's a new title! My purpose is not changing, just the title and, hopefully, you'll see a stronger outpouring of my passion here.

Last week, I served as a camp counselor for a high school camp. I was very excited for the week, but, let's be honest, I was mostly excited because I would get a week of being away from home and around people I love. Things had been getting rougher at home, with more panic attacks and urges to injure myself, so I desperately wanted to be anywhere but there.

Saturday, I headed home, since camp training started on Sunday. By the time I got home, I realized that I'd forgiven myself. Still, a part of me wondered if God had actually forgiven me. So, when camp began, I was feeling forgiven, but skeptical, and far from important or worth anything.

Then, I gave my testimony on Monday morning. It was the first time I'd spoken publicly about attempting suicide. It was hard. And honestly, I walked away from that experience feeling better for saying it, but also feeling as though it was stupid to have done it, that nobody would be impacted. I also lead a workshop that focused on being "perfectly broken," emphasizing that God uses our broken places to minister to others. Still, I was not sure that I was actually being used, that my broken places were useful.

As the week went on, more and more campers came to me with their stories of brokenness, of self-injuring, of starving themselves, of feeling ugly, of attempting suicide, of being raped, of horrors I can't even begin to imagine. I prayed with them, hugged them, cried with them, shared the source of my hope, gave them Bibles, encouraged them to find help in their home communities, and did my best to offer them hope. When I had no words, words came anyway. Fellow counselors began commenting that I seemed different, more hopeful and happier, than I had last year. Forgiveness finally made sense to me. I finally realized that I was forgiven. For real.

It breaks my heart to know that so many of our youth are going through things similar to what I've been through and then some. It breaks my heart to know that most of them feel as though they have nowhere to turn and that there is no hope. However, this week has also lead me to find a new depth of passion for high school and college students, in particular, and for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, self injury, eating disorders, suicide, rape, etc. So please, if you have nowhere else to turn right now, email me or leave a comment below, because I love you and I want to show you why.

I'll leave you with the words one of my campers and I whispered back and forth from inside an intense hug once we discovered that we'd both attempted suicide in March: "I love you, and I am so glad you are here. You were meant to be here."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Friday Breakdown

So, I wrote this super awesome post on Friday, but then failed to post it, sorry! So, when it says "today," it means this past Friday.

Today is rough. Today, I'm more triggered than I've been in a long time. Today, therapy went 20 minutes late just to move me from a 10 to a 6 on the "How likely are you to hurt yourself?" scale. My therapist called three times during the day just to make sure I was still okay. I spent an hour and fifteen minutes on the phone with my sponsor (former drug addict helping counsel me through my self-injury addiction) to move myself back down to a 3. I didn't eat all day. I simply couldn't function.

In the midst of all this, I heard the song "Even If" by Kutless. The chorus goes like this:

Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God, You are good
Forever Faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come

It occurred to me that, no matter what I'm feeling, God was still God; He's still in charge; He still cares. Nothing I feel or do or experience can change who God is and who I am to Him. He still loves me. Sometimes, we have to trust in what we KNOW rather than what we FEEL.

I'm not good at this yet. I still need to call my sponsor and hear him tell me that God loves me and has good planned for me. But I'm getting there. And it's an amazing thing to experience. Give it a shot. If you don't know this faith thing, please, send me an email at

PS - I'm counseling at a high school church camp this week, so forgive me if I'm slow to respond or don't post as much as I should. Love y'all!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

This One Thing

On Sunday, I went to church, and I was, to be frank, not in the mood to be there. However, I've discovered that those are the mornings I need church the most. On this particular day, worship started with the song "One Thing Remains" by Jesus Culture. It goes like this:

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing… Remains [repeat]

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me [3x]

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death, In life, I’m confident and
covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
separate my heart from Your great love...

I'll confess that I was distracted by those lyrics for most of the rest of the service. No matter what happens. No matter what is done to me or what choices I make, God will not give up on me; God will not stop loving me. The same is true for you, if you put your hope and faith in him.

Most of us who struggle with depression, self-injury, eating disorders, anxiety, and suicide are really only seeking love. The problem is, we're seeking it from people here on earth. And while I fully believe that everyone deserves to be loved by someone here, I also know that earthly love often ends in heartache. The great news is that, if you believe, you do have one constant in your life: God's love.

Let me know what you think, what questions you have, or what helps you cope with this life. Leave your thoughts in the comments or click here to email me at

Monday, July 1, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Hi. My name is Nina, and I love babies. Whew! Feels good to get that off my chest.

But seriously. I do love babies. They're excited about the world. They're constantly learning and growing and changing. And, best of all, they don't expect you to hold a conversation. Babies are also a reminder to me that life goes on, and that I can be new, too.

Tonight, God used a baby to remind me of a powerful truth. I was sitting at our house church, holding one of the many babies. She grabbed at my bracelet, and I looked down to see her beautiful, soft, unblemished arm laying along my forearm, which is riddled with scars. I tried to pull my arm away, self conscious about her and other church members seeing the scars, but she grabbed my finger. 

I realized, then, that she doesn't care about my scars, she only cares that I hold and love and play with her. It was a poignant reminder not only that the past is the past, but that the scars that define me are not my own. My defining scars belong to a man who was nailed to a cross some 2000 years ago. He took my sins, my shame, my shortcomings, and endured my deserved punishment so that I could experience grace, forgiveness, love, and eternal life. Pretty amazing.

Don't get me wrong, the existence of this blog is proof that my scars are an important part of me. They are an important part of my faith. They are the reason I have a ministry at all. But they are not the essence of who I am. As a reminder, I am, and you are or can be, "forgiven, beloved, hidden in Christ, made in the image of the Giver of Life, righteous and holy, reborn and remade, accepted and worthy, this is our new name" (Jason Gray, "I Am New"). 

Feel free to leave comments or click here to email me at I'd love to talk more with you about faith, self injury, suicide, relationships, whatever you're dealing with. Love y'all!