on courage.

2013 has been a tough year.

Though I’ll own that entirely, I’ll explain it here in small parts. If you want to grab coffee, I’ll share details of the bigger picture that I’ve begun to realize. It’s almost comical- to think that I claim to understand “the bigger picture” after only having a month to process life on the other side of the many curve balls. But to realize I’ve gained, learned and grown from my experiences? I’ll take that. And, I’d like to document where the first month has brought me. Because I’m sure there will be copious amounts of realizations coming, and I’d like to cherish the baby steps.

Allow me to back track altogether.

I grew up awkwardly shy. Yes, I had my core group of girl friends and places that I felt comfortable and safe- I didn’t struggle with shyness there. However, put me in the slightest situation of unknown and I would quickly clam up. As soon as I would feel uncomfortable, I’d skirt conversations, avoid eye contact, etc.

I remember hearing my mom talk about how shy she and dad were growing up- and it was hard for me to believe. For as long as I have known her, she’s been teaching women bravely, courageously. My dad, though more quiet in nature, has always had quick witted remarks and wise words. I regularly saw warm smiles, firm hand shakes and big hugs to friends and strangers alike. And yet, they would tell me tales of a different time. Like when they were so shy they didn’t even invite their extended families to their wedding.

“I was a wallflower,” Mom would say. And I would look at her incredulously- because I saw her courage, and her poise.

I’ve continued to struggle with confidence my entire life. If you would have told me that I would move across the country, away from family, and start my own business- I would have probably nervously laughed and asked you to take it back. I wouldn’t have wanted to think about what that independent life would look like. I had always dreamt about meeting Mr. Right in college, getting married, working “a year or so” and then having a family. Because it would mean companionship and comfort (and yes, I realize that those of you who are on that path are laughing at that equation being a breeze). 

But, I did. I moved to Florida right after college, promising to move back home after gaining “two years of experience” (spoiler alert- it’s been longer than two years).  The longer I lived here, the longer I wanted to stay. I worked in the corporate world, realized it wasn’t for me, and started Ashton Events. I’ve depended heavily on others with each turn in the road- navigating through hurdles very carefully and cautiously. Not to say I didn’t get hurt, but it was routinely someone else’s final shove that got me to take any leap. I was stretched, but it was often still within my limits. And in small doses.

So then this year happens. Life looked a lot different. It was heartache, and lots of sickness, lots of questions, and moving, then surgery, and traveling for appointments, then- Ashton Events full time. Which I probably should have shouted from the roof tops (because I’m doing my dream job!), but I was so terrified it would fail that I just wanted to test the waters first. Regardless, many of the items I’ve clung to my entire life (my relationship status, my health, my family, my financial security) were repeatedly plucked from my hands. I saw huge, heart scarring gaps left by the idols I found my identity in. Each one was taken away- and the Lord just continued to shape me. Push me. Mold me. To take what I see as “worth” and completely shatter it.

However, when I look back at the past year, I realized I gained something along the way. I saw me for me, stripped of my idols and holding nothing that “I have done.” I saw the frivolity in selfish ambition and the emptiness it yields. I saw the joys of the weird, quirky passions He has given me- and the privilege I have to use them for His glory. And I know that that is enough. I learned to love being Laura Helm, and not be so shy about who He made me to be. I feel more confident in owning my weaknesses, improving on them, and offering my strengths. I am excited to offer others my absolute best and pour into the lives of those around me.

I know that life is a journey. I’ve talked about this frequently with others this year. It has peaks and valleys. 2012 was practically a year long peak. 2013- more the opposite. But I’ve learned that it’s not about surviving the valleys or anticipating the peaks. We’re not guaranteed any peaks! It’s about moving through life with the courage that He is everything you need. That’s the awesome thing- He is infinite. He can fill any void, to a point that it not only saturates you, but spills onto those around you. A hole that you thought endless, suddenly transforms into a fountain of His love pouring onto others.

I remember hearing my mom give her testimony- about how the Lord changed her. He gave her Moses-like faith to conquer things she would never have dreamt of doing. I’d like to think that I am taking steps to learning the same.

  1. Lauren:

    Oh Laura this is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart. I always did and always will have faith that you can overcome any obstacles you’re faced with. I am SO proud of you, and so thankful to call you my friend. I love you!

    • Laura:

      Lauren- I wouldn’t be here without you! You have continued you to sit in my corner, and be one of those people who have pushed me both creatively & professionally. I am so blessed by your friendship!!

  2. Emily Grace:

    So beautifully said! You’re amazing, your faith is strong, and your courage is inspiring. Keep your head held high, and keep pressing on. You’re going to do big things.

    • Laura:

      Emily- I cannot wait to see all of the pictures from your big day! I’m so proud of you for keeping your priorities straight (or at least in check!) throughout your planning process. I know He has HUGE things in store for you.

  3. Kristi:

    My sister is the best and has constantly reminded me of what it looks like to be humbled, never take anything we think we know or want for granted or “assume” we know what’s best for our lives. I am SO proud of you and the journey you’ve walked getting AE to full time (yay!!). Excited to see all that is to come in Laure Helm’s life.

    • Laura:

      YAY for sisterhood. :) Love you dearly. Thank you for being there for me this entire year (and so many years prior). Your marriage is a testimony to His much bigger and better plan- and His faithfulness to provide. I cannot wait to see what He has in store for you two!!

  4. Jessica Berg:

    Laura–Thank you for having the courage and vulnerability to share your reflections and lived experience! I learn from you and draw inspiration and strength of my own. Just know that in your amazing ventures with your business, creativity and the grace and care you bring you absolutely make a meaningful mark on me. You are wonderful and make those around you better. And I know I only get a glimpse. -Jess

    • Laura:

      Jess! You are the sweetest- and such a great encourager. Your kindness and thoughtfulness have been such a blessing to me this year. I am so blessed to get to work with you! I cannot wait for your rad wedding- and to get to celebrate with you & Chris!

  5. Jenea:

    Oh my. I’m just so dang proud, and I have nothing to do with this beautiful lady you’ve become except being related to you. So well and honestly and lovingly put. The wisdom God has given you in your youth is beautiful. It’s not beautiful to live through, but the result is. It was great talking to you about this last month. Those valleys are rough, but it’s in the valleys that the true blessings occur – perseverance, trust, weakness where His strength can shine, joy that is deeper than mere happiness. Joy to you, my sweet cousin. Keep on rockin at being you. It’s a good thing to be.

    • Laura:

      I will cherish those few days of family time we had at the wedding- and continue to love living “close to you” via the interwebs. Having so many incredible marriages in our family is not a gift I take lightly- and you & Marc are a great example. Thank you for your sweet words!

  6. Papadave:

    I am blessed to have you as a daughter! Privileged to have your mom share a wonder life raising 3 amazing (mostly) kids. It just keeps getting better with two perfect daughters-in-law. Looking forward to what God has in store for you next.

  7. Natty:

    I’m speechless. I don’t know if I could have opened up like you have. In a lot of ways I’m a shy person, it doesn’t seem like it with all my extra activities. I really enjoyed getting to know you a little better. one day maybe we can meet for coffee and discuss life instead of wedding.

  8. Rachel (Wesseling) Jackson:

    Wow Laura. Your words are so encouraging to my heart! Thanks for being so brave to share your journey! I love your courage! Your courage inspires me to “practice couraging” too! (As Brene Brown would say!) ;-) I’m going through a time of exploration and learning who I am and transition right now. Your story is just what I needed to hear! xo -Rachel