I am most simply a soul navigating a world of other souls in desperate need of love…. I hope this blog is a place for souls to gather hear my story and find inspiration, courage and abundant love.

Category: My story

The hard thing

Last Thursday evening my grandmother, mom, and I drove into Wilmington to pick my uncle up from the airport. It was late, around 10:30pm and  the topic of birth came up. My mom was telling us about how she made the doctors wait for my biological father to get to the hospital before they broke her water. She went on to say I was born shortly after he arrived and then Grandma chimed in:

“He was so so happy to have a little girl.”

Hearing those words knocked the breath out of me. I have never known my dad, he was out of my life before I was a few months old.

And honestly, it never remotely occurred to me that he would ever want me.

That he would be happy — let alone so happy to have had me.

I still cannot wrap my mind around this thought; it is so foreign to me. This man, Michael Radovich, actually wanted me? That he maybe even loved me? Those thoughts were never a reality for me. From when I first figured out that my biological father (i cannot seem to type the word ‘dad’) left, the rhetoric in my head became: “I am not wanted.” “I am unloved.” “I was not good enough for him to stay.”
And those thoughts were only worsened through years of abuse, my mom leaving, and trying to find my worth in boys who were only interested in my body.  Those thoughts bounced around in my head at every turn, every failure,  and anytime I realized I wasn’t good at something.

“I am not wanted” “I am unloved” “I was not good enough for him to stay”
It was almost a mantra, a terrible, awful mantra but I thought it was the truth. And this so called truth dug its talons into my heart and tore at my life-source.

It was the reason I struggled with faith. Because I couldn’t —still can’t fully wrap my mind around God wanting to be my father? I didn’t understand the image of a father, because I always though a father leaves. Even now 8 years after I started this faith journey I struggle with the idea of God the Father. It is daily work for me to embrace it.

So when my Grandmother implied that my father did want me, it rocked me.
And I still don’t know what it means.
In some ways it makes it worse, if he did want me why the hell would he go? Why was I not good enough to make him stay?

And that’s where I am… I can’t wrap this up in a pretty bow. I can’t tell you I’m over it, or that I’ve figured it all out.
I can tell you its made things messier, and I’m sifting through the pieces that fell when my world was rocked.
I’m in the middle of the muck, and you know what? I’m not afraid of being here. I am setting fire to the weeds and then I’m gonna dig through the ashes. I will find the treasures I need and continue on this journey, unafraid of the mess.

{This post has been birthed through my participation in the Story 101 Ecourse. A writing course that is so much more than an e-course. It’s a community, a tribe of women boldly living their truths and discovering their voice guided by our story midwife Elora}

A defining moment


“If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” -Sir Isaac Newton

One night of camp this week I walked next to Mike Bell, a new friend and incredible follower of Christ, and he asked me the question I’d been asked endless times the past four years.

“So what do you want to do after college?”

“I don’t know” I responded immediately, like I have the endless times I’d been asked. But then I paused and added, “Actually that’s not true. I want to write, I want to be an author, I want to tell stories.” I was surprised by my response. Seldom have I voiced that truth — especially to people I barely knew. It was a truth I tended to save for close friends and even then I still whispered it.

Because “I don’t know” is easier to commit to. Because people will respond “Oh thats okay, no one knows. You have time to figure it out.”When you’re young its easier to be non-committal than it is to name your dreams. Especially when those dreams aren’t a guaranteed nine-to-five job, that will put food on the table.

Before this conversation I’s only spoken my dreams to close friends who know my passion before I even confess it. Those who I knew would support me without question.

And here I was spilling my heart to someone I barely knew, but it re-lit a spark inside. I continued to speak about my desire to write a few times in the week in front of groups of people who didn’t know me well. {But I knew they loved Jesus and I think thats why I felt safe.} Every time I spoke this week it felt different, I could physically feel my passion stirring inside. My voice was louder, my body felt free and my spirit soared.

When one of the speakers talked about doing everything you do for the glory of God and said in a string of words “Be a writer,” my heart slammed in my chest, and Mike turned around to nod at me and I felt myself grin.

I told our students to chase their dreams and live their passions. I spoke about it in our leadership group and the support that was immediately given nearly moved me to tears. One of them asked if I’d be interested in editing his blog post (YES!) another asked if I’d started a blog yet because I needed to. {Had that covered) He also told me about NavPress commissioning authors which I’m looking into this morning.

Most of all I heard, more than once,that I lit up when I talked about writing — that my passion was obvious. I was told over and over to do it, to write and chase my dreams. I could feel the physical change in my body as I talked about writing each time, even though I was so exhausted from the week I suddenly felt energized when I talked about it. I felt lighter and free. That conversation with Mike became a defining moment for my week, for my year — and I have a sneaking suspicion a defining moment for my life.


I don’t know what you want from me.

[Trigger warning: abuse]

I looked into his eye’s. I don’t remember the question asked of me, but I said “Yes.”

He slapped me, and asked again.


Another slap.

Through tears, “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

I don’t know what you want from me.

I was maybe 5 years old? I can’t even tell you for sure.

I search and can’t even remember the question my mom’s boyfriend was asking.

But that moment, those words, have lingered in my heart for a long time.


My mom who left over and over but says to me “I need to hear you say you love me”

I don’t know what you want from me.

The boys who told me I was pretty, but never spoke to me again when they found out I wouldn’t have sex with them.

I don’t know what you want from me.

The churches that claim love and acceptance, but would pick me {or people I love} apart in seconds and tell me just how awful I am. {or they were}

I don’t know what you want from me.

The people who told me to chase my dreams, but only if they fit a certain mold and would bring in enough money for a white picket fence and 2.5 kids.

I don’t know what you want from me.

The hearts I broke, the people I let down, the projects I’ve screwed up, the mistakes I’ve made…

I don’t know what you want from me.

I’m broken and imperfect and a big freaking mess. I’m emotional and want to please every one I care about. I feel hurts — the hurts i’ve suffered and the hurts i’ve caused — to my very core. I cry, a lot, sometimes for reasons I don’t even know. I’m almost more afraid of success than I am of failure. I worry constantly. I miss people so much, even when it’s people that have hurt me. I feel it all, deeply — my skin {and heart} feels rubbed raw. It stings as salty tears make tracks down my cheeks. I’m too much and not enough all at the same time depending on who you ask.

I think I’m done wondering what everyone wants from me.

Though I’ll probably be playing those words in my head for a long time,

because it’s hard to shake the past and the bruises that linger beneath the skin.

But I am learning to love this mess of person that I am and that’s the best I can do.

Its what I want from me.

A memory about Keith

A memory: March 2009

I’m in his office trembling. I’m supposed to be sharing my story with a group of 80+ people. Maybe 5 of which know it already, know the extent of the pain I have suffered. He tells me that being really open, telling memories, including lots of details is what people really enjoy in stories. I nod and know I have written my story the best I know how. He squeezes my hand and tells me I’ll be great.

It’s a few minutes before I’m supposed to go onto the stage and share. I am nauseous with fear. He and a few others are praying over me, and when he opens his mouth to speak I feel warmth spreading over me and my nerves are suddenly gone. I open my eyes in surprise and across the circle he is looking at me. He gives me an encouraging smile and I feel confident.

I share my story, the abuse I suffered as a child, but how my heart has been softened. That I had found in my heart the capacity to forgive my abuser That if not for the faith I found, I would be impossibly lost. As I finish, dissolving into tears I walk off stage into the arm’s of my youth pastor, Matt. Keith walks on stage and tears are in his eyes, his voice shakes as he proclaims my strength and courage. He tells me my story will change the world, and I believe him. He’s the first person to say something like this that I truly believe. He asks the band to play How He Loves, and I sing along loudly as tears pour down my cheeks. I never knew how this song would hold so much weight.

That night I’m on the way home and receive a text from Keith. “Please count Debbie and I as parents to you. We love you Shelby, I’d be honored to call you a daughter.” I could feel a shift in my heart, God was putting another piece back together.

Keith and Debbie

When Keith died last year, I and many others were shaken to the core. He had impacted so many lives. Today my heart aches for the sorrow I feel, but even more for the unimaginable grief I know his sons and other family have experienced. I was lucky to know him for four years, and count those years as treasure. He shaped many lives with his love and passion. He raised three awesome sons who I feel lucky to know. I adore his family, and still feel blessed they count me as one of their own. We all miss him greatly, but find comfort in knowing he’s in heaven.