Monthly Archives: January 2015

I don’t run from the darkness, I just lean in… by Jen Kurz

Jen's story

Sometimes when you read someone’s story, the honor you feel that they let you in this far, moves you. This is how I felt reading Jen share her story here. She boldy opens up pages that many of us would skip over to protect ourselves. But she doesn’t. She allows us in because she knows we have some of those kinds of pages in our stories. I love her boldness, courage and her call to not fight but rather lean into the Light. So good! Enjoy- Willow

Five years ago this fall, my little girl was 3 and my boy was 6. I was a stay at home Mom. I was living the life I thought I had always dreamed of. There was really nothing in my life that was “wrong”, “unwanted”, or “negative”, yet there was something not quite right. I was very good at running from my feelings and putting on a mask. I was voted “Most Friendly” in high school, darn it. I was bubbly Jen. I was the life of the party. I always put on the happy face. I did what I thought the world and my family expected of me. My natural bent is to wear my heart on my sleeve. But growing up I was taught that it was not safe to share my feelings. Crying was not ok. Be strong. Don’t ask for help. Keep your problems to yourself. Run, run, run away……that’s what I did. I kept running away from my authentic self.

I had struggled with post-partum depression with both of my kids, but this was different. This was darker and deeper. There was a dark cloud following me, and I couldn’t run away from it. The waves of depression were crashing over me, and I was fighting it. I knew I couldn’t fight it anymore, so I called my Dad. I told my Dad, “I can’t do this anymore.” Without me even explaining, he knew what I was talking about. I was so very thankful that he could relate to what I was going through. He too had struggled with the same thing in his life.

I had waited too long. I was finally willing to face the darkness in my soul, but the darkness had all but taken over. That’s what it felt like anyway. I saw a nurse practitioner. She told me I was clinically depressed. I cried. I didn’t want to take medication. She felt I had no choice. I started the medication. My depression actually worsened. It was like giving it a voice allowed me to finally feel what had been going on in my body for such a long time. I couldn’t run from it anymore. I was curled up in bed and staring at the wall. I couldn’t eat. The medication wasn’t working. We tried a new medication. That one didn’t work. By this time, I was losing a lot of weight. I was seeing my nurse practitioner, a counselor, a psychiatrist, and a dietician. At one point, my husband had to take time off from work to be with me because the psychiatrist did not feel I should be left alone. She wanted to hospitalize me, because I was suicidal. I begged to be able to stay home. So, my wonderful husband stayed home to take care of me. It was all I could do to get dressed and eat. I couldn’t take care of my family. I needed help to do that. It was the most humbling time in my life.

Having this humbling experience was probably one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Romans 8:28 says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.” It may sound corny and rosey, but I have always found that God brings good out of really tough things in my life. After failing out of nursing school, God taught me hard work and persistence. I still became an RN. At the age of 24, I went through a divorce. Had I not gone through that divorce, I would not have been as thankful for the husband I have now been with for almost 13 years. This husband was used by God to teach me about true grace. Then, there has been the depression. God has brought much good out of that as well.

I grew up in Bellingham, Washington. Many summers, my family and I headed to California to do some camping, Disneyland trips, and playing in the waves. By far, my favorite times were spent boogie boarding and bodysurfing. I would stay all day. My parents would have to pull me out of the water to eat lunch. I had no idea that I was learning important life lessons. Especially after storms, waves can be extremely rough and there can be lots of rip currents. When you find yourself in one of these rip currents or when wave-upon-wave is crashing over you, your natural reaction is to fight. This is not how you are to handle the waves. If you find yourself being caught by a wave you are supposed to relax and not fight it. The crashing waves will eventually let you go. You will float to the surface, and on that surface, there is light.

This is one of the many valuable life lessons that depression has taught me. In darkness, there is always light. There is always hope. There is always a way out. For me, it was my friendship with Jesus that grew richer and more meaningful. It was my family and friends that accepted me, even when I was at my lowest. I exercised. I read. I did yoga. It was a long healing process. Honestly, I still struggle. Sometimes, I struggle with anxiety as well. Sometimes I try to fill that God shaped hole that only He can fill with other things like wine, watching television, or eating too much.

The most wonderful lesson in all of this, I think, is that I have become my authentic and true self. I am willing to share my messy life with safe people. I think sharing our authentic and true selves with others can be a gift to them. If they are able to relate, they feel like they are not so alone in this sometimes very challenging and difficult world. God has used my depression to strengthen both family and friend relationships. He has even used me to help others that are struggling with the same thing.

Life is still far from perfect, and is still very messy. I went back to work last fall, and this has been a very difficult transition for me. Most of the time, I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water. I feel like I’m barely getting by. Yet, I’ve learned another very important lesson. Sometimes, just showing up is the most important part of life. Two of my favorite authors currently are Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton. They both talk a lot about the importance of just showing up. In the beginning of her book, Daring Greatly, Brown quotes a Theodore Roosevelt speech. There a few things in that speech that resonate with me:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.…. If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….”

There are many days where I still struggle and the dark cloud is chasing me. I have learned that I don’t need to run from it anymore. I let the darkness teach me a lesson. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light and that in him, there is no darkness at all.” So, I don’t run from the darkness, I just lean into Jesus who is the Light. I have learned to not run or fight the pain of life. It’s still messy. I am sometimes marred, sweaty, and bleeding. I mess up all the time, yet the most important part is that I’m showing up again and again. I just show up in all my imperfection, knowing that God loves me and that I’m covered by His grace and His light.

Enough: the Recap

We had such an amazing day for women! We gathered together young and old, vibrant and weary, hopeful and discouraged, strong and weak. We spent the day colliding with the Jesus who ran into the centurion in Matthew 8. Culture and religious people had told this centurion he wasn’t enough, but he came to Jesus despite feeling unworthy. Jesus was astonished by this kind of faith! As women, we were inspired and challenged to Hope in God beyond believing in our inadequacy. What a beautiful day with amazing stories already being told! Here are some pictures!


Please join us for our next one coming up in March, called Power to Remain!

Enough: A Day for women


The more and more I think about women I know and run into, the more and more I get excited for what God is going to this next Collide. I feel so strongly that God wants to heal women’s self belief. It is almost an epidemic that women across the board struggle with feelings of inadequacy, spiritual feelings of unworthiness, physical body expectations that plague them, career and family roles that taunt them and relationships that have disappointed and told them it is all their fault because they in and of themselves are not enough. I am sooooooo excited to see what God will do as we spend an entire day engaging Jesus in the midst of not feeling ‘enough’. We have art and readings and drama and lunch and worship and prayer and reflection and so many things planned! And check out this crazy cool lineup of speakers and teachers:



If you are in the area, you should most definitely set aside intentional time to experience this event. And invite other women you care about and love to experience it with you! Register here. 

Please be praying, people, for God to heal the brokenness that hinders and holds back, that squelches dreams and crushes esteem. Please pray that God will be found sufficient in all our insufficiency. Please pray that women would know they are loved, deeply by their Creator, their Father, their Savior. I treasure your prayers.- Willow

The me and you that is enough

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It’s been awhile since I have written here. I have been asked why and I had no answer as it was not on purpose. As I think about it perhaps I needed some filling before I could pour out. Perhaps I needed to listen before I could speak. Perhaps I needed to be before I do. Perhaps I was entering into what God invited me into…

I found myself in a counseling office recently surprised by something super high school that triggered something much deeper within me. I was almost mad at myself for having such a deep emotional response to something so seemingly stupid. I turned 40 this year. And at the age of 40, I think I would hope that when people act dumb, I won’t. I think I expect more from myself and when people hurt me with their ignorance or their games or their pursuits, I want to be that person that can just let it roll right off my back, like I don’t even care…

But I do.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe I care too much. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I hope for too much. Maybe I love people and want that love in return in places I shouldn’t. So when I feel like a pawn in a game of chess or disposable like just another thing to move one from, it hurts. But I don’t want it too. I want to be tough. I want to be apathetic. I want to move on and let people who hurt me be the pawns because then my strong response protects me. But I have never been able to muster up being that person. Because being that person robs me of the love I am called to.

So I sat in this office looking at his clock and his file cabinet and his candy jar and this counselor strikes something deep within in me. It goes a long, long, way back. It goes so far back that I find I don’t want to travel that many miles. And I don’t want to share it here because it cuts so deep and it’s too much. And I realize that this current experience was a trigger and this trigger was God’s invitation to a healing He wants to do within me. See, it isn’t as simple as we experience something hurtful and we feel lousy or get upset. What my counselor suggested was that we experience something that activates or triggers our own self belief that is already there and has been for a long time.

Awesome. So my self belief needs healing. And I could wallow or I could enter into what God has for me.

I said “Yes.” 

Sometimes, I think all we can do is say yes to what God has for us in the midst of pain and hurt. Yes, God I need Your healing and I want it. I wait on it. I am hungry for it.

I so lean into the Lord for His healing of my own self belief to be made more whole. I often live with this incessant voice that screams at me “You are not enough!” I don’t seem to be put together enough, magnetic enough, smart enough, graceful enough, educated enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, interesting enough, rich enough, sacrificial enough, spiritual enough, giving enough. I know I am not alone. I know that because I sit with you. We have coffee. We  go to parties together. We converse. We complain. We laugh. We tell story. We share meals. We work together. And we, often find ourselves living with this constant voice that wakes us out of our slumber into insomnia using it’s power to keep us up in the night playing out all that we haven’t done, all that we need to do, all that we are failing at. This voice it keeps us from our dreams. It tells us it isn’t possible, we don’t have what it takes. This darn voice tells us to run away when maybe we should come close. It is mean and it whispers and it screams and it hounds us. This voice is the very voice that has shaped our self belief for who knows how many years telling us we are not enough.

My heart and passion is that we would be a people who would say yes to God’s invitation toward healing and allow the painful triggers in our lives to awaken us to what it is about ourselves we have believed for far too long. Its time to hand those beliefs over and let God’s beliefs about us be bigger.

God loves you and that should be bigger than their absence.

God says you are wonderfully made and that should be bigger than the size of your jeans.

God rejoices over you in singing says scripture and that should be bigger than their words of disappointment.

God says you’re the apple of his eye according to the Psalmist and that should be bigger than not making the cut.

God will never leave you nor forsake you and that should be bigger than their abandonment.

I could keep going but I wont because you have dishes to do and bills to pay and coffee to drink and Downton Abbey to watch. But as you do those things, say YES with me to God’s invitation toward the you that is “enough”.

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