She’s in There Somewhere {Allumination, Part 2}

She’s in There Somewhere {Allumination, Part 2}

I am so thrilled that Bonnie Gray is reigniting her Thursday Faith Jams. Each week, she explores an aspect of faith by offering a specific writing prompt. Bloggers link up their posts, or readers comment on Bonnie’s blog, and then they visit each other’s sites for different takes on the prompt. This week’s is:

Be yourself.

I arrived at Allume at my highest non-pregnancy weight.

Many women knew my appearance only from my tiny avatar, a photo taken and posted several spoonfuls of Nutella ago.

I knew how I would counsel anyone else stepping into that faith-filled space under the same conditions, so I tried to take my own advice.

This would be the first in-person meeting with several women, but I had spent nearly a year in an online/Google+ chat/snail mail, international community with them…sharing deepest joys and deepest fears, dreams and heartaches. I experienced them seeing the “real” me.

The one not defined by numbers on a scale, or trendy styles that wouldn’t flatter.

My deepest prayer for the weekend was that I could be the person God created me to be. That I could simply be me–not overwhelmed by insecurity, comparison, or who I thought people expected me to be. Just me, open to whatever or whoever He had me there for.


Several things had buried and obscured my real self:

History. Experiences when who I was wasn’t enough. Or who I was expected to be defined my worth.

Lies. Legalistic influences that I am ashamed to admit infiltrated my understanding and behavior.

Routine. Getting so stuck in the pattern of being mommy that anything else in me was unrecognizable.

Exhaustion. Being so worn down by trials that hope of change and living abundantly seemed impossible.

I went into Allume trying to shake off things like these, not quite sure what being myself would look like. I went in desperate for the revival that God had planned.

And He showed me a few things about myself.

*Give me a few soul sisters who really see me, and I have some belly laughs in me yet. Maybe even a decent sense of humor.

Photo by Melissa Aldrich

*I am ecumenical. Yes, I am. In some circles from which I have come, that is like a dirty word. But, there you go. I revel in celebrating the good things we Christians share and in standing in awe at the masterpieces that God created in each one of us.

*I am a little bit charismatic–in worship, that is. Once I build more confidence, I may a lotta bit charismatic. If ecumenical didn’t prompt some unsubscribes, then this one might: Catholic, ecumenical, and charismatic? What? Oh, yes. Tune in to the upcoming Allume worship post for more on that.

*God created me for contemplating the deep stuff. When I ask you how you are, I actually want to know how you are. “Fine” and “good” do not suffice. If you are struggling, I want to know. Folks, I write about sexual abuse. For better or worse, He wants me thinking about these weighty things…and seeing Him in them…and showing you where I see Him. So you can be encouraged, grab onto hope, and reach for healing.

*Along with the deep thinking comes deep feeling. Because of this, I strive against being easily hurt. Conversely, I rejoice bigger and in smaller things than most. I do not easily forget feeling loved and valued.

*Sometimes, I am simply quiet. I am always thinking, but not always needing to speak. The more safe I feel with you, the more I open up.

*I take my time…again with the thinking. I am cautious, by nature and nurture. I like to deliberate. This makes me not so great thinking on my feet, but I will be much more sure of what I say when I say it.

*And sometimes I over-think and compensate by throwing caution to the wind and doing something spontaneous that has no particular lasting value or eternal significance.

*I was made for community. While I need solitude to recharge, I was not made simply for myself. I thrive in good, soul-deep community. This is the refrain that will echo in each Allume post. Because it wove throughout the whole weekend, and it left me changed.  I am me-at-my-best with people like this:

Photo by Melissa Aldrich


So, how are you?

When do you feel most uniquely you?


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  1. Double love this post! I raise my hands to you ;-)! You are beautiful inside and out!

  2. Oh, Mandy- this made me smile…I so appreciate that you are deep and write about deep stuff. Who cares about all of the externals when we have Jesus at our core? I so hope maybe to go to a blogging event someday- but I am scared too…I guess that is insecurity speaking. ;) Hope to get to know you better since we are together at 5MFF and also excited about Bonnie being back. I am thrilled to be at her Faith Jam and right after you in the link. Sending an online hug for now. Maybe an in person one someday!
    Dawn Paoletta (@breathoffaith) recently posted..The Beauty and Bravery of Being Yourself (Faith Barista Jam)My Profile

    • Dawn, oh how your words touched my heart. Thank you! If Logan Wolfram continues to lead Allume, then girl, that’s a great way to break into the world of blogging conferences. It was so welcoming and Spirit-filled. You’d do great! I would love to get to know you better, and I’m so grateful for having 5MFF in common to help with that.
      Mandy recently posted..She’s in There Somewhere {Allumination, Part 2}My Profile

  3. I’m so glad I read this today. I love it and find it so inspiring!
    Tereasa Mansfield recently posted..31 Days to a Less Stressed Mom {Day8}My Profile

  4. And I love her…. <3
    Lorretta recently posted..the three-sixteen love lifeMy Profile

  5. Mandy,
    AMAZING to me that we have developed such profound intimacies….
    Beautifully written, just like you, friend.
    Chelle recently posted..Be Flawed…My Profile

  6. I, too, have found that place (a different one than yours) where people speak soul to soul. When I came home again I was homesick for the people there, because they let me know that this person I despair of every day is designed and called to be me. Realizing who we are in community is such a gift. I love all the different ways we discover it.
    Mere Dreamer recently posted..Who am I?My Profile

  7. A decent sense of humor? OH how about a almost make your roommates wee wee in their pants sense of humor??? Ha!! LOVE THIS POST!! Love you, girl.
    Christine Wright recently posted..Allume Wrap UpMy Profile

  8. Love to you, dear friend. Your friendship is a gift, and I’m so thankful for beautiful YOU…just as you are. (((BIG hugs))) :)

  9. What a question to ponder? I feel deeply~and unfortunately that is most uniquely me. But I don’t like it because it leaves me sensitive and hurt a lot of times. I like myself better when I can be energized by a group of people although I almost have to be pushed into these situations. To reveal who I really am through my posts, to share with others my pain~it amazes me that I can do that. I’m a one-on-one person but I desperately need people. If you’ve figured me out, please let me know who I am.
    And, I like your Catholic, charismatic, evangelical person. It was through the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church that I came to know the Lord’s love for me and was able to know Jesus personally. Now, maybe, I have put you off (ha, ha).

    • Wow, Janis! I love what you’ve shared here. I don’t often hear that someone has come to know Jesus personally through the Catholic Church. Love that! You know, I have spent a lot of time wrestling over my “sensitivity.” I’ve come to see it as a continuum, asking God to show me my strengths with it as well as where I need to grow. And I have had to grow SO much in my self worth/worth in Christ in order not to absorb some of those hurts. When it gets me down, I try to adjust on that continuum until I am back in my strengths:) I hear you: I DESPERATELY need people, but I am best one-on-one, and then I need to decompress by myself. So, there you go. I may be biased, but I think you sound amazing!
      Mandy recently posted..The Session I Couldn’t Miss (Allumination, Part 3}My Profile

  10. I love you Girl! I remember Allume 1 Mandy – and I’m SO happy about belly laughs, ecumenical, charismatic you! XOXOXO
    Tobi recently posted..You Are My SistersMy Profile

  11. Love it, Mandy! I read your other Allumination post and am so glad you had fun. Maybe next year we can spend some time together!
    Susan Stilwell recently posted..Saving you a seat at the tableMy Profile

  12. It’s amazing to see you out and shining your real self in those photos and in this post, Mandy! I nodded yes, yes, yes reading this — no wonder we are faith friends! And I agree with Dawn. I’m so glad you write with your soul — all that other stuff, there’s enough of that stuff everywhere — we want and love *YOU*! I love hearing your voice big, small, thoughtful, deep, full of life, every time I come visit with you. Courageous and real!
    Bonnie Gray | Faith Barista recently posted..Four Movements To Be at Rest And Be Yourself (Lisa Leonard Jewelry Giveaway)My Profile

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