Surrender. What a beautifully tricky little world.

Anyone who follows Zack and I on social media knows that in August, we packed up and left Florida to return to my home state of Texas and in October, my hometown of Tyler. Why we felt the call on our lives to leave our little slice of paradise and traipse back to a town that broke my young heart over and over and over again has yet to be determined; and I would be lying if I said that it hasn’t been one. tough. mamma jamma. of a ride. BUT, we stand in uncompromising faith that there is a reason, that it’s even bigger than we can imagine and that in His timing, in His way, He will reveal it.

Most will probably read that and think, “Why on EARTH would you make a decision like that without a foolproof plan?!” And believe me, even with as spontaneous as I tend to be, I get it. And the answer is simple: Because we were called to. It’s often said that “Faith is taking the first step without seeing the whole staircase” and that’s exactly what this journey has been – One illuminated lily pad after the other with a destination too shrouded in fog to recognize where it’s leading yet, but too far from shore to ignore that we’ve made it somewhere: Right into the thick of His plan and where we need Him most.

I strive to live a life of daily surrender to my Heavenly Father, not only because He tells us in Scripture that doing so will demonstrate our love for and trust in Him; but because I know that no matter how daunting a situation may seem, He, as all-knowing Creator of not only the universe, but my own heart, knows what’s best for me better than I do. So far, He’s running a pretty solid success rate of 100%. And for a while, surrender was easy to reach out into with one hand while securely gripping my comfort zone with the other.

But what happens when you pause to look at your life and you don’t even recognize it any more?

I spent most of my young adulthood just wanting to blend in. For two decades, I courageously (although I didn’t realize it at the time) wore my surname, chin held high, through taunting and ridicule that led to me wanting nothing more than to run to the shadows to disappear. By 21, divorced and alone, I was tired. And it was time to escape.

Dallas offered a population of two million instead of 80,000 and I found myself satisfied with the anonymity in which I could hide. I joined up with new groups of friends, did absolutely everything in the world that I shouldn’t have, and yet still felt pretty good about myself because it didn’t matter how bad or how often I screwed up…I could just run away again and pretend that it never happened. What I didn’t realize was that every time I ran away, I was running farther and farther from who Father created me to be because who He created me to be didn’t fit in with the world. But I was never supposed to.

In 2014, I finally gave up and turned it all back over to Him. Since then, I’ve slowly but surely become OK with standing out. OK with not being “normal”. I’m OK with the people who like me and I’m OK with the people who don’t. I’m OK with the people who think I’m the biggest moron on the planet and I’m OK with those who have told me they would travel for miles just to hug me. I’ve re-examined my purpose in life more times than I can count and I’ve changed the direction for this blog at LEAST half a dozen times…But I’m OK with that too, because I would rather the world watch me mess up and try again than to hide behind a false mask that I have it all together. Because I don’t. Not even kind of.

And then there’s writing. I love it – It’s my favorite hobby, catharsis and sense of achievement all rolled into one. As I’ve grown older and realized that it’s what I want to do for a living, I’ve embraced it even more, especially in taking on my biggest project yet – Penning my book, Love You More Than Life: A Memoir. But ever since Zack and I got married last summer, I’ve found myself shying more and more away from having the public presence that I used to. I just don’t like it any more. If I had my way, I would move to Pagosa Springs, hike up the side of the tallest mountain and spend my days on my back porch staring at the San Juans with Zack, Biscuit at our feet and Mom next door, unaffected by the difficulties of the outside world.

Yet every time that daydream really starts to take root, the flip side of me remembers Matthew 5:14-16 and the very reason for my testimony in the first place:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

I want to be a true game changer. A peacemaker. Someone who makes a constant daily impact in the small community that I have any effect on whatsoever and someone who lives out that love is the cure for everything. Not to my own glory – Let’s be clear. I am who I am because of He who is within me. But I can’t very well do that if I’ve gone into permanent bubble mode.

So here we are. A blog. A sort of unspoken agreement to stay in and engage social media at on at least a weekly basis. While simultaneously digging up my past and piecing together moments that I never wanted to think about again in order to write a memoir from the hometown that I ran away from 13 years ago.

My biggest piece of advice: Don’t ever tell Father God what you’re NOT going to do 😉

i surrender all farrel debaltzo she is chayilI doodle in my Bible from time to time and this was one of the first little sketches that I ever scribbled out. I had this picture in my mind of what real freedom would look like for me far before I ever came close to attaining it; and after almost four years, I’ve nowhere near “arrived”, but I can honestly say that I am more truly free than ever before in my life. Because while I realize that I don’t HAVE to do any of this, the sweet irony of surrender is that the more we commit to walking as Christ did and the more we submit to letting Father God accomplish His plans through our lives, the more outrageously unshackled we become.

Has it been difficult? Very. Has it been uncomfortable? At times, unbearably. Has it been worth it? Undeniably. And every beautifully broken and mended piece has been the result of allowing Him to peel back the layers of my little onion heart and mold me back into the daughter that I was originally meant to be. For His glory. For His purpose. Not my own.

I’ll take His 100% success rate over my goose egg any day.