The Disease of Hatred

I’ve been silent for months, just being “in my life” and enjoying being engaged and getting married and being a newlywed.

My day-to-day home life has been overall very, very positive. I have been overwhelmed with thanksgiving, peace, and love.

Then I log on to Facebook and I am bombarded by hatred.

I glimpse the news, and again, hatred.

And it’s not just one source and one hashtag, you guys.

I see threats of nuclear bombs, and active war zones. I see people being murdered because of their beliefs, or because they just happen to live somewhere that is overrun by hatred. Teenagers being bullied and told to kill themselves. For goodness sake, today I saw a news headline about an autistic child that had a board nailed to the back of his little head, by hateful bullies.

And I just can’t. I cannot.


So of course I am not surprised to see racist people doing racist things, either. It is SICK. I watched a video interview of one of the leaders of one of these hate groups, and my stomach did a flip.


Then I felt it… I felt what I think a lot of people are starting to feel… I felt hatred.

My first thought was “oh God, not me, too, please” and I went into prayer. I asked God to please, please shield my heart from hating others. Yes, even when they are doing the most evil things imaginable. I asked Him to help me remember the verses in His Word about loving my enemies, the verses that are the hardest to swallow as a regular human person, but the words that, if applied, make us look and act like HIM.

I thought of what must have gone through Jesus’ mind when He was mocked and tortured, and what lengths He must have pursued in order to protect His human heart from hatred. He knew we would need to do the same, that we would be faced with unimaginable, heinous evil, and that we, too, would be tempted to join in hatred or lose hope.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. [Ephesians 6:12]

Do you want to know how to tell if you’re tempted to hate? If you feel that consuming, non-productive fire inside, that tells you that you hate a person instead of an evil ideology, you’re hating. You find yourself seething and directing your rage toward a person or group, and you find yourself persuaded to then curse them instead of doing what you know you ought to do, which is pray for the obvious need you see.

What you may also feel tempted to do is join a screaming match, or post a rant on social media, but just take a moment to think about what results your rant or your screams will actually have.

What you could do, that in my opinion would have a more productive impact, is look for ways to support and encourage those who are suffering or persecuted, in more ways than 140 character posts. I’m talking about taking a family to dinner who may be struggling. I’m talking about reaching out to refugees in your city, or hosting dinner for a group of people who are currently oppressed, whose plight breaks your heart.

After prayer, God filled me up with the desire to act in kindness toward others, which was truly the opposite of what I was feeling when I was raging on the social media feed frenzy.

If you think about it, down to the root causes, we all believe a certain way because it is what we were taught and it is what we accepted to be truth. Regardless of how evil or illogical certain beliefs are, we have wars over our disagreements. The gospel of Jesus has a simple (not so simple, though!) solution to the problem of hatred, and it starts with our own hearts getting a firm check.

Ask yourself tonight if you’re struggling with hatred. Don’t push it on anyone else, don’t give anyone else control over your heart, don’t say “they make me hate them” because that’s now how this stuff works. You own your heart, your brain, and your mouth. You own your emotions. You get to decide what triggers you, and you get to take those triggers to the Lord and get His input on every single one of them.

Jesus, why did that affect me unto fear/bitterness?

Jesus, what can I do about injustice and hatred without catching the disease of hatred?

Jesus, how can I remain loving, tender, and hope-filled in this broken and fear-filled world?

Jesus, what are You doing in this situation?

Help me see You moving, so I can pray and join You in action. Help me be part of Your kingdom solution, not just another hard heart in the crowd.

Trolls and My Vain Book Cover Story

Did you know that I put my face on the cover of my first book? There’s a story behind that picture, and I’ll get to that, but first, let’s talk about trolling.

I got some hate mail today.

The sad part is this person doesn’t know me at all. And for that exact reason, I had restricted access to most of my posts on facebook, like I did with a LOT of people. Like I’ve said in the last few blogs, I’m taking big steps to reel back my privacy. My instagram and twitter are now private. My WR blogs are password locked. Facebook is slowly but surely getting cleaned up. Nonetheless, this individual took it very personally when they found their access had been restricted. And then she trolled me.

Truth is, I have a lot of “facebook friends” which really translates anywhere from family members to people I literally met once, eons ago. Facebook gives you a personal profile, which gives curating abilities to each individual user. Coming from a social media management background, I’m very used to deleting comments and even having to restrict users for various reasons, big and small. When facebook originally started, there was no home feed. You didn’t scroll through everybody’s posts like a log or newspaper. You had to type your friend’s name and go to their “page” and write on their wall. Back then, there was a whole lot less trolling.





There are people on facebook who love to troll. Trolls let their true colors shine through, and write things like this to people who restrict them:


Yeah. SALTY. Cue Taylor Swift, man… THIS is called TROLLING. I just wanted to bring AWARENESS of the reality of trolling and tell you that there are people who should not have access to you online. Period. There’s nothing in the Bible about loving your neighbor by tolerating these kinds of hurtful digs. It’s not healthy. If someone is being deliberately offensive and trying to provoke others unto anger, it’s okay to remove them from your network ONLINE and reduce communication.

If this person had reached out to me and said “Hey Helena, I noticed that I can’t see your posts anymore and it upset me. I know we barely know each other, but could you tell me why I’m now restricted?” Then I would have said “Hey so and so, I’m sorry to hear that hurt your feelings. That wasn’t my intention. I have been trying to limit posts on facebook to close family and friends (it’s a long process) and I’ve been putting a lot of people on the restricted list, so please don’t take it personal. Thanks for reaching out to me, and it means a lot that you’d want to keep up with my more personal posts. I’ll take you off of the restricted list, okay? Keep in touch! I hope you’re doing well. <3” And golly, I would have meant 100% of that if I had received a heartfelt message. But no… they got salty about my book cover!!!!!!!!!!!!



I wrote a book last year. My first one. It’s a devotional. My heart was to give people fresh ideas on spending time with God. This is what the cover looked like.


As you can clearly see, my face is in the picture, outlined. It’s pretty dark. You can see my hair is a hot mess and you might be able to tell I had just hiked up a mountain to see the sunset. I was scouring through all the pictures I’ve ever taken in my life to try to find one that would look cool on the cover. I almost bought a picture, but then I thought “no, Helena, you have had cool Jesus moments and sunrises and sunsets, you have got to find one that’s yours, maybe one you’ve written about” and it was between a sunrise picture from Savannah, GA or this sunset one. The problem with the sunrise picture was that it was a lot of sky and a tiny sun and then water, and the title would have been on the top, and the tiny dot and line of color, then the name on the bottom. It didn’t look pop. This one had the texture of the outline and you can see the faint teeny tiny dots of the Atlanta skyline on the horizon.

Let me tell you what this picture means to me and why I chose it. I had just moved to Atlanta (big city) from Gainesville (small town). I was officially living in a rough neighborhood. I hadn’t made very many friends at this point. I had been invited to a game night that night, but I was already halfway to hike Stone Mountain for the first time, and I really needed to spend time with God. I turned my “new friends” down and said I needed to hike with Jesus. So I did. The whole way up the mountain, God encouraged me. I heard His truth about me. I was affirmed in my identity as His daughter.  I wrote this blog about it. This happened 9/23/14.

Almost exactly one year later, I was editing the book and released in on 9/22/15. I re-released it later due to some printing issues, but it felt like a hike anniversary. If that cover picture had not happened, the book would NOT have been published the way it was. I had to know who I was in order to be able to write about different ways to spend time with God. God reminded me of my identity in a hike, and my prayer was that God would remind anyone who cared to read the devo about HIS heart and THEIR identity. I’m a vessel and I’m not anonymous. I’m a daughter of God. I won’t hide that I know He loves me, and I chose a seemingly vain book cover, designed it in the wee hours of the morning, and decided that it was only fitting that one of my breakthrough moments with God could illustrate the contents of the devotional.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the intro of the devo…

“Spending time with God doesn’t have to be an hour-long reading time. It doesn’t have to be silent. It doesn’t have to be anything like it’s ever been. You can go have a hike with Jesus, or prayer walk the dog, or sing your heart out in the car all the way to work. You can ask God questions, or doodle, or make up your own psalms. We’re gonna try some of these things, but I want you to be empowered to try anything. God is pretty creative. He thought the platypus was a good idea, for crying out loud. You don’t have to sit for an hour every day, or feel like a bad Christian when you miss a day. God is awesome and He is crazy about you, and there are never-ending ideas of how to get to know Him more.”

That’s the thing I wanted to say, in 138 pages or so, in my very first book. I put in a lot of time and prayer into it, and the last thing I’d want is for someone to think I was shallow in choosing a cover? It was intentional, but definitely about spending time with God and being affirmed in one’s own identity.

I hope and pray that you’re keeping a healthy check of who is allowed to speak into your life, and that you know that God sees your heart. I challenge you to be careful with the internet, because people can blast you and embarrass you, and attack the very things you work so hard to maintain pure. Like my little brother said to me yesterday, “You know you’re doing something right if there is resistance” and it’s true. I have incredible friends and family, and my God is faithful and kind beyond measure. In the end, He’s the One we each have to face, and I look forward to that glorious day, because by His grace we have clean hands and pure hearts.

Why the Miss Universe Fiasco Hits Home

They say you can’t lose something you never had. That is, unless Steve Harvey reads the card wrong.

I sat here with my eyebrows to the sky, in disbelief, as I watched the video clip of Steve Harvey announcing the wrong 2015 Miss Universe, then attempting to correct himself. It was so sad/awkward/funny that I realized a few things while I was thinking about it. This situation hits home.

We’ve all been in Miss Colombia’s shoes, haven’t we? We thought we had it, and then it got taken away from us. Shame came, and embarrassment. We had to stand there awkwardly and try to be happy for somebody else. It’s the job you didn’t get but so-and-so got, and the guy you had a crush on that actually asked your friend out. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve felt like the first runner up, the next best thing, the salutatorian, the silver medal. Second-best sometimes feels like dead last. And so we cringe as we watch the crown being removed from Miss Colombia’s head. We cringe because we’ve been there.

And Miss Philippines also shows us a familiar situation. How many times have we been hesitant to be happy, because of fear and confusion, or maybe even out of courtesy for others? She’s never gonna get that moment back. She was announced Miss Universe and she hesitated. She smiled but fear was visible. She didn’t get to jump up and down and have the crowd clap just for her. The moment, her moment, was ruined. I sometimes get scared that this will happen to me. What if my most precious moments are somehow ruined? What if I hesitate instead of enjoying them? Let nothing hinder your joy.

There are lots of Steve Harveys in the world, you know. There are people who make mistakes and cause confusion. They’re given platforms and microphones, and they say the wrong stuff. It messes people up. They sometimes preach the opposite of the truth, in loud, confident voices. And people are misled. I pray that if you ever got misled, that the truth would rise up in your heart and your mind and would begin to lead you. Question the statements that rule your life. Are they true? Where did you learn them? Who said them? Does God agree?

Last but not least, we’ve all been Steve Harvey making the big mistake. We’ve said words that we wish we could grab from the air and stop from reaching any ears. We’ve stood loud and proud, and wrong. Painfully wrong. And it stinks to be wrong. Nobody enjoys it. I hope you learn to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. I hope you release yourself as quickly as you would release someone who made a genuine mistake. If you’re the type to beat yourself up, so am I. But friend, we need to stop it. We need to stop because we are setting an example to others when they need to forgive themselves. Grace flows this way too, perfectly.

All in all, I saw an opportunity to experience growth in that disaster. I have so been there, and haven’t we all? I pray for those who are hurting and angry, for healing in their hearts and release of the repeating thoughts in their minds. I pray for grace to abound in the little fiascoes of our lives.


As you all know, the #ATLdevo began back in September of 2014, and ran until about August 2015. Every single day, I made it a discipline to write what I was learning with Jesus, and posted it ONLINE, and not only that, but delivered every morning to the inboxes of 80+ people. NO PRESSURE!


The feedback was incredible. Just incredible. Let me quote some of the emails/texts/messages I’ve gotten throughout this year of writing…

“We, your devo followers, are so thankful you said yes. I know you’re growing from it and it’s a big encouragement.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your obedience in doing this devotional. This devotional continues to raise me out of so many heart-heavy situations.”

“I look forward to these devotions every day! Thank you for your heart! It is making a difference in my life! Thank you for your obedience!”

“Oh my goodness, you don’t know how your messages speak to me. The last couple of ones I find myself crying and asking God for more of Him!”

“Very thankful for your ministry here. It’s been too long since I journaled about the goodness of the Father and too long since I’ve been still and quiet early in the day. Love the prompts as well! Keep serving faithfully as you are!”

“Thank you for your inspiration and interaction with daily verses and uplifting words. Your obedience to God is one of the many gifts He’s given. You are a treasure to those of us receiving them.”

“Thank you for your daily devotionals. Really great stuff and God inspired.”

“I have been going back and reading the Phylla House devos: SO GOOD! I might use them next year for my class :D”

“Thank you Helena, for allowing God to use you in our lives! Today’s devo… it was exactly what I needed.”

“Your devos are amazing and I can hear your voice as I read them! So great! Thank you for blessing me and so many others with them already!!!”

These are quotes in reaction to the devos I wrote in 2014 to 2015. I picked 100 of those devotionals and published them in a book! You can buy that book here!


Why am I charging for this book? Well… I have 80+ people who got it for free, one page at a time, via email and reading the Phylla House blog where the devos were originally hosted. The subscribers actually got more than that, because some of the devotionals didn’t make it into the book. After that, I prayed hard and pulled the devos from the blog, edited them fiercely, and published them in tangible form.

The cool announcement is that I’M DOING IT AGAIN!!! Fresh devos, page by page, delivered to your inbox, free as birds, imperfect  probably, full of late-night/early-morning Love.  You can subscribe to the Phylla House blog and see it unveil one page at a time, as God teaches me over the next year. How does that sound?

And then, God willing, at the end of 2016, I’ll revise the devos and publish them in book form once more, in time for you to gift them to your friends and family, having “already read it” if you know what I mean 😉

I hope you’ll come along with me.

The journey starts again on January 6th, 2016.

Much love,


Emotional Abuse and Neglect

November 13th. It would have been my 7 year wedding anniversary this week, ya know, had it not been for the divorce.

I chopped my hair off, my beautiful long, blond hair and I felt so free! Of course, I asked his opinion many times, and he approved. I wouldn’t have cut my hair had my husband not approved! I thought that the change would make me more noticeable, more attractive. I wanted to be attractive, so he would look at me. I just wanted him to really look at me, instead of the computer screen he was so drawn to. I remember meticulously curling my hair, and walking into the bedroom to show him. He was at his computer, and he turned for half a second and looked back at the screen before he mumbled “looks good” and kept clicking. I felt a wave of shame wash over me. My eyes teared up. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Nothing I did was good enough to beat the screen. All that clicking wasn’t just for the games, but also for pornography. I never knew what he was really looking at.

Attention and conversation. How demanding, right? I wanted to be in relationship with the person I had  married. I felt ignored and unseen. I felt helpless, angry. I didn’t know how to express it. I was 21, and I didn’t want to be a nag.

I had an alcoholic college boyfriend call me a “bitch” once. Yeah, I typed it. It hurt so much to hear that word that I told myself I would never nag again, and that I would especially never argue with a drunk man who wants the bathroom door CLOSED while he’s puking. I thought he needed some air. My bad. Don’t even get me started on alcoholism. I’ve dated 2 alcoholics and I’d like to say that’s 2 too many. Nothing like having to drive his truck home every single time we went out in public, because Chugga Chugga couldn’t stop, and then cleaning up his puke in the bathroom because Chugga Chugga couldn’t handle his liquor. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. You’d think those were easy breakups, but they weren’t. I loved their families, loved their mamas. Good hearted men who loved me dearly. They just loved drinking a little bit more.

I’m sure I didn’t look thrilled day-to-day. I’m sure my tears got super old. Ew. What a drag! I’m sure my attempts to talk through it all were just SO draining to him. SO draining that he would say it felt like “cutting his chest open with a knife” every time I brought THAT up. Super. Guilt. Bottle it up. Never bring it up again.


I found out how crippling and painful it was to marry someone who was addicted. Someone who valued a “THING” over their spouse, and any THING over Jesus. It was painful to watch the person you love the most waste their life and hurt themselves. I didn’t want to have children, and yet I wanted them so I could have someone to look at me and see me. Wow, right?

This is how the divorce started. This.

I daresay many divorces start like this. One person feels unwanted, over and over. They go looking for attention, for affection. Rejection leads to adultery. The opposite of the gospel, really. The very thing two people swear to one another at the altar, to be there for each other. Broken vows left and right, man.

BUT GOD… has shown me fantastic, healthy marriages. Men who are powerful leaders, making Spirit-led decisions, praying over their families, and boasting on how hot their wives are. They are the flower-pickers, the ones who hold the woman when she cries instead of telling her to stop. Men who are not perfect, but their priorities are right. To honor and cherish their spouse, to be home for the family, and to be present, devoted. Oh and these men are praised, let me tell you. Their wives go on and on about how wonderful, handsome, godly they are. Incredible fathers. Fantastic lovers, when the ladies are giving TMI! Oh, what a gift. My favorite person. My great love.

I believe firmly that it takes a change of heart to cause a behavioral change. God has to move in the heart. God has to break the chains of addiction, of fear, of rejection. God has to be sufficient. Idols have to be laid down. And grace has to abound. The ones who love us the most will fail us miserably from time to time, and that’s no surprise. But the ones who truly love cannot, cannot, CANNOT think that emotional abuse and neglect are acceptable behaviors. Women have to stand up against it, as do men.

Ladies, don’t marry the little boy who ignores you.

Men, don’t marry the little girl who turns away your affection.

Wait for people who love you well. Commit, then. And if you’re in a marriage like this, frozen cold like Elsa’s castle, feeling all alone in your frosty attentionless and sexless wonderland, I’m so sorry. Get help. Talk to mentors. Talk to a counselor. Talk to JESUS. Talk. Talk before you cheat. Talk before you leave. People CAN change, but they have to want to. That’s where Holy Spirit can come in and do His job.

I pray a blessing over people who are dating, that they have the discernment to lay down communication and their emotional needs out on the table before marriage. That they understand mutually how important this is. I pray a blessing over marriages that are struggling, that God will open up eyes and ears and hearts to LOVE. That those addictions have to go, in Jesus’ name. That sufficiency will be found in Christ, so that we can love other people well. I pray for the divorces that are about to happen and I intercede, Jesus, for the ones who are hurting SO much. If emotional abuse bruised, they’d be purple and black. Jesus, have mercy on their broken hearts. Be near to them. Bring them renewed hope.

The Fear of What If

I’ve been through it all.

Most of you wouldn’t know how hurt I’ve been and how low my lows were. I will spare you from my resume of pain and suffering, and just say pain has a scale and definition to me. I know and trust in God’s goodness to me, but I am also acutely aware of the brokenness of this world and the freedom that others have to do as they please with no regard to the wellbeing of those they hurt. I made the choice a while back to not let the hurts change me into a hardened person. I asked God to help me remain tender, soft, kind, and sympathetic. I asked Him to fill me with hope and give me a positive outlook. I’d like to think I’m remaining true to this, since I guess I’m practically a carebear. I cry when I’m happy and I try to feel, even when feeling hurts. I stopped beating myself up for “not knowing better” or being too trusting, when really I was just trying to love people well. For all intents and purposes, we shouldn’t be expecting to be betrayed all the time. The word for that is paranoia, and that’s not for me.

Lately, I’ve had a lot of good things going. I got a good job, and I like my city. I have a nice boyfriend, and I’ve been making new friends. There’s a lot of peace and quietness, and you know what happens when there’s a lot of peace and quietness? Well, the enemy hates it. Thoughts tend to run wild. And then that old fear comes along, you know, the one that worries I will lose it all again. It brought up so much anxiety in me, but then I decided to do the opposite of what I normally do. Usually, I will tell myself all the positive things and drown out the dark with sunshine, rainbows, and glitter.

This time it’s different. I decided to take a minute to get really honest with Jesus, and get right down to it. Jesus, if I lose it all again, will You carry me? Will You patch my heart together again? Will You give me just enough strength for the day again? Will You feed me, clothe me, hold me, and love me?

It felt like vows. For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. I gave Jesus my worst case scenario, and He said “Yes” and now I’ve disarmed the enemy. The bomb is deactivated. The nightmare has no sting. If I should lose it all and find myself where I’ve been before, guess who will be with me then as He is now? My Jesus. My feet have found the solid ground again, the unchanging part in the storm.

This gives me more grace for others. That means I’m not so scared of them anymore, because I’ve made my peace with the risk and with my Guarantor. I can love a little harder, and try a little longer. I can breathe a little deeper, because I’ve already wept for the possibility, and I have surrendered all the control to Jesus.


Though I hope and trust that things will be good, that the day will be sunny, and that God will fulfill my heart’s desires here on earth, I have my peace in knowing that He is my portion. He’s my inheritance, and all that is good in the land of the living. Apart from Him, there is no good thing. I am living Psalm 16, my God, it is my heartbeat, my breath.

Father, strengthen my hands to receive Your promises, but train me to cling to You. Sharpen my eyes. Refine my words. Make me hunger  for the things of You, only. Do not let me get distracted by anything that isn’t for Your Kingdom, because I do not want it. I don’t need it. Let me root down and be immovable in Your truth. Make me so brave and powerful in the Spirit, that the things that do not belong cannot coexist with me. Clean house, Papa. I give You full permission, and I know the cost.

Let me laugh at the days to come, with full confidence, not that the outcome will be pleasant or easy or favorable for me, but that YOU will be unchanging through it, and the punchline of my life. I can laugh at that. Oh death, where is your sting?

Greener Grass

Sometimes I get really tired. I get frustrated. I sometimes feel muffled, stifled, and discouraged.

I say one thing, meaning it from the bottom of my heart in the best way possible, and it offends. I lose my appetite to speak again. I lose my appetite to even try to explain myself, because it’s like trying to speak another language. I don’t have that kind of gift, and I don’t wish for it. I refuse to go to great lengths to display my pointless disapproving opinion of others’ equally pointless disapproving opinions. I stop caring. I lose my appetite.


The thought of trying to change the world, to change the system, seems ludicrous when the loudest voices are the most offensive. The thought of vulnerable people feeling welcomed and loved, when there are so many stigmas, so many hoops to jump through? Are you kidding? Not in 2015. Not yet. The thought of healing actually taking place? It would take a revival of bleeding knees, faces on the ground in repentance for their stiff arms, narrowed eyes, and their culture of spiritual bullying and shaming.

It’s impossible with man. Cue in King Jesus to deal with this nonsense.

I get tired of staying willing, to keep stepping into the mess. And just to sit with them, not because I have to but because I’ve been there and I wished for a true friend then. Making new friends. Following up with old ones who never call me. Catching tears with my shirt, with my hands, with my hair. Watching swollen faces blow their noses loudly, trying to release a pressure from the heart, to express a grief nearly unbearable. And this I volunteer to do, on top of my job. And sometimes during my job, because coworkers pull me aside and cry to me about their broken hearts, too. It follows me everywhere, this thing I do. But it gets tiring.

Sometimes I wish I could just get home from work and be able to go to sleep. Straight to sleep. No call appointments, no emails, no texts, no messages, no voicemails, no blogs to edit, no posts to schedule, no ministry resting on me whatsoever. And the odd thing? I can’t even imagine life like that. But on the worst nights? I wish for it. I wish for a greener grass that doesn’t exist, me not following a big purpose, me not caring anymore. I wish for the very thing I hate, the very thing the world has too much of: apathy.

On nights like this, I put it all down. I lay it all down. Warm, fat tears make their grand leaps down, wasting themselves to streak my cheekbones. He sings me a new song, a low hum of peace. It shatters my anger when He sounds so calm. It wears down my frustration, His confidence sovereign. The King acknowledges my exhausted sobs, the ones of surrender. Then He softly calls me out…

You’ve been holding out on me, taking all upon yourself, going in your own strength, speaking from your own vocabulary. I increased the resistance and you took it on yourself. Don’t do that. Get back on track. It’s time for another big push. I’m stretching you again, big time. You know what is coming, don’t you? I need you big and strong. I need you tough and mighty. I need you loud and bold. I need you brave and focused. Shepherd the ones I’m giving you. Their hearts are soft. They’re ready to grow. Take them to lie down by my still waters, and show them my greenest of pastures.

And that… that’s what it’s like when He keeps me. That’s why I’m still here, still writing, still hoping and going. It’s not my power of will, nor my great endurance, no. It’s Him. He takes me when I’m falling apart, and He keeps me.