My LifeSex & SinglenessWomen & Pornography

Highlights of 2016 and a Giveaway

Can I just tell you that this year went nothing as expected.  Nothing.

Not. Even. Close.

This might be a little more personal than your typical “Top posts of 2016” but this blog is nothing if not intensely personal.  If personal bothers you and you just want a chance at free stuff, that’s at the bottom.

Last year, at this time, I was getting ready to head up to New York City with friends for my first New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple.  I was in a long-distance relationship, making plans to go visit him this past summer.

Here’s how I figured 2016 was going to go:

I was going to publish my book, speak at a conference in April, get engaged, and get ready to move to the West coast while planning for a wedding in September 2017.  (We had not discussed this date- I’m just ever an INTJ female.  I have timelines for my timelines.)  I was going to happily begin to transition into a ‘normal’ life.

That’s how this year was supposed to go.

That is not how this year went.

Instead, 2016 brought with it an onslaught of growth and change.  The first thing I had to do, though, was let go of my dreams. Since I didn’t feel like letting go, they were taken away.

In March, the relationship I thought was headed for marriage ended in a way more emotionally traumatic than I ever imagined possible.  It was brutal, and I was left blindsided, picking up the pieces.  I was physically ill from it and was so close to giving up everything- the blog, the book, any hopes of marriage.  Heartbreak hurts and no matter how careful you are, there is still grief when love is lost.

In those weeks I realized how much I was not ok with being single.  Since day 1 of starting Beggar’s Daughter, I felt “If I do this, no man will ever want a woman like me.”  That fear (or shame) always held me back in a sense.

The man I was with had been fully supportive of Beggar’s Daughter.  He had asked permission before reading through the posts because he wanted to respect me and give me the chance to have the conversation with him myself.  He constantly encouraged my writing and celebrated as I hit milestones while writing my book.  One of the last things he said, choking back tears, as my world was crumbling around me was, “You finish that book, you hear me?  Don’t stop on account of me.”

Looking back, it almost feels like a scene from a movie where someone is breathing their last and begging onlookers to promise them they’ll finish the job.

Because he was there, I was brave enough to own my story in a way I never had before.  I thought I was going to get it all.  But he was gone, and it was too late to turn back.  It was like I had finally mustered up the courage to climb over the edge and then the rope snapped.  Free-falling.

You know what they say:

God will either catch you or He’ll give you wings to fly.  (That’s not in the Bible, by the way.)

Really, 2016 as I know it now, started in April.

I finished my memoir, Beggar's Daughter‘s and then spoke at the Set Free Summit.  There, I had the opportunity to challenge a room of nearly 800 pastors and ministry leaders not to forget the women in their midst.

And the floodgates opened.

I spoke several more times in 2016 including at the CESE Summit in September.  While there, I interviewed with Noah Church from Your Brain on Porn.  It was the most disarming interview I have ever done.

Shortly after that Summit, I traveled to Canada to meet with the men of Strength to Fight.  While there, I got to share my story at a small church and meet with a group of women for tea and coffee on a Sunday afternoon.

Discussing the depths of grace over tea and coffee is now my new favorite normal.

This is what should go on in the tea parties we have at churches.  We have to start talking about real issues that real women face instead of assuming they all have their stuff together.

This year started off with me not wanting to share my story much at all to me sharing my story… a lot.

Interviews/Presentations in 2016

“The Double Wound: Hope for Women Facing Pornography Addiction” with the Brushfires Foundation

“Girls Watch Porn, too: An Essential Conversation” with Jonathon Van Maren

60 Minute Seminars: Female Pornography Addiction with Summit Church, Orlando

Top Read Posts in 2016

  1. The Pictures Never Go Away: What I Wish I Had Understood About Sexting
  2. 3 Things Parents Can Do to Help Keep Your Kids from Sexting
  3. Cries in the Dark: Calls for Help from Women Who Struggle with Porn
  4. Sexting: What to Do if a Man Asks You for Pictures
  5. Should I Masturbate Before Marriage?

Those last two are from years ago- see a theme?

As you can see, this year, the hot topic is sexting.

Near the end of this year, I shared an article on sexting that received thousands of views and was reposted on a couple different sites.  The reality of this issue struck me again.  Somewhere out there is a 17 year old girl just like I was.  If I can keep her from making the same mistakes, I want to help her.  For 2017, I’m really taking the focus of developing resources geared toward young women- high school and college age.

Pornography will always be constantly evolving.  It’s like the mythical Hydra- chop off one head, two more grow back. VR headsets were huge this year at Christmas, so brace yourselves for the onslaught of virtual porn.  That will be the next new thing- an immersive porn experience and we still haven’t wrapped our brains around the Porn 2.0 Phenomenon.

All of the experts and articles in the world will never be able to stop the runaway train that is pornography.  Even if it were illegal, people would still make it and find it (case in point: child porn is illegal and disgustingly prolific).  What we can do, though, is pull people off the train and get people out of its path.

If young women are met back at the beginning, back where it all starts.  If the shame and stigma is torn down.  If they are encouraged to embrace the totality of who they are as women, including being sexual beings, and if they are taught healthy sexuality and to pursue genuine love, then I firmly believe that not only will it cut the chains of porn addition, but it will also help prevent their exploitation, among a litany of other possible struggles.

My biggest concern right now is that pornography is grooming the next generation of victims and they will victimize themselves.

Plans for 2017

There is a lot on the plate for this coming year, then.  There are already several tour dates, including:

The There{4} Teen Gathering in Texas in February.

Chains Be Broken, an event with Dr. Bill Struthers taking place in April.

Also in April, Sexual Sanity for Women, an event with Ellen Dykas, author of the workbook I always recommend to small groups.

You can see more events and find more details on the speaker page.

My biggest prayer for 2017 is more hope.  More hope for freedom.  More hope for victory.  More hope for lives restored.  

Which brings me to this….

the Hope for Freedom Giveaway.

This year, I wrote Beggar’s Daughter.  Next year, I am planning a re-release journal version of “Love Done Right” (the e-book I published back in 2012) as well as a full-length reading version of the same.  I also have two other books in the works that are not specific to Beggar’s Daughter content.  Barring any unforeseen events, the first two should be finished during the first half of the year and the second two during the second half.

Two people will win a free copy of all five as they are released..

plus a surprise bonus book from the list of books on my reading list this year.

Check it out, enter, and share it with a friend It’s my way of saying ‘Thank you.’ Let’s share the message of hope in 2017.

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