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what needs to be said

what needs to be said

Is it super ridiculous of me to ask for a ‘barf bag’ when my friend offers her support for an upcoming speaking event? I know it is tacky. Crude, even. I know it is weak and self-absorbed. Believe me, I know. I think my biggest fear these days is the very real possibility that I will get in the way of someone hearing the right message, whatever that may be for them. It makes me sick to my stomach. For real. Sick-sick. The only comfort I have is the knowledge that God uses wreckage to make masterpieces. He gathers shards and makes mosaics. He uses flawed people to talk to other flawed people and manages to get His message across, despite all of our crazy flaws. Or because of…? I don’t get it, and I certainly haven’t even scratched the surface of getting Him, but I asked Him to use me. So here I am, sick to my stomach again and hoping I don’t mess up.

journey pic

If I was someone else, looking at myself with kinder eyes, I would tell me to breathe. I would tell me to speak from my heart. I would tell me to tell my story, the brutal truth of it, the pretty parts and the ugly parts. If I were looking at me, I’d probably laugh at the wild, panicky look in my eyes. Yes, I am that friend. I’d laugh! I’d totally laugh at me if I weren’t me. But I am me, and I’m not laughing. I’m asking for kinder eyes, and for mercy, and for courage for this Sunday. I have a very small segment in the four Sunday services at my church during which I will have a chat with a Pastor I’ve known off and on over the years since I was a teenager. Who better to sit down with and unzip my protective outer coat of bravado and share my guts?

Today we met to work through some ideas on what needs to be said. We discussed what we think is best shared in that setting, considering time constraints and weighty subject matter. Can we do it justice in 8 minutes? No. We know that. But you know what I love about this particular church? They are willing to start the conversation. They are willing to unzip the protective outer coat and get real and get revealed. It’s a bunch of authentic, flawed people, just like me, trying to make sense out of the journey. I love that they asked me to be a part of this moment. That they would honor my journey and allow me to help with this series is so huge. Probably not to them, but to me it is a moment I never imagined. I wish I could call Mason right now and tell him! Even though it scares me… so many people, so much at stake… I will show up. I’ll share a little bit about my son and the day that ripped my life apart. I will talk about the aMasongrace project and the students who are changing the world with me just by showing up and showing love and braving the days together.

I say it all the time and I believe it with my whole heart: “We can do all things” (Phil 4:13). “We can do hard things” (GDM, Momastery). “We can drink the coffee, then do the things” (Funny Facebook meme someone should definitely take credit for creating). So, I can do this. I think classier people call it ‘butterflies in the stomach,’ or something equally delicate. Not me. I call it “I need a moment in my car to pull myself together because I am supremely unqualified for this and have NO IDEA what needs to be said!”

I know what I say when I talk to students and I know what I share when I meet with parents. God does the work, even in secular settings. However, I’ve only spoken to three church youth groups. In one, a beautiful, popular, perfectly normal football player stood up and told me, in front of the entire group, “I’ve tried to kill myself three times. I will never do it again because you just showed me what it would do to my mom.” Shock and awe filled the room. “Not him.” “Not that kid.” YES! THAT KID! In the other youth group, I felt like I didn’t connect with the students at all. There was minimal interaction and you seriously could have heard a pin drop. I thought they were bored. I fumbled with the scriptures the youth pastor asked me to insert. I just got that weird, unreadable vibe and was happy when it was over, totally blaming myself for failing them. Shows what I know. There was a line of at least 20 kids, some with their leaders, some with their friends, some alone, waiting to speak to me as soon as I set the microphone down. The youth pastor called me later and said, “Does that usually happen? Do you get that kind of response all the time?”

I am always blown away at how the message is received because it is different every time. It kind of reinforces the idea that we just need to be brave enough to start the conversation, doesn’t it? We need to put the topic on the table as a savory dish and let people take as much or as little as they want. What I’ve seen is when you least expect it, someone sits down at the table and takes a heaping helping and it’s the one person you would never have guessed would need it. The Masons. That Footballer. The 1-in-5. (You know the statistic, right? One in five teen suicides show no warning signs. This means no signs, no evidence, no clues.) I am thinking about the courage it takes to start this kind of conversation and the absolute bold love it takes to start this conversation in the church. I’m thinking of the lead pastor who will do some heavy lifting this Sunday, and I’m amazed at the heart he has for people. He is going to challenge some old beliefs and confront some antiquated attitudes. He is going to speak truth into the hearts of people he may never meet in person. He is going to change the trajectory of someone’s whole life. I don’t even know if he knows that… I’d be hyperventilating into a barf paper bag if I were him. I am thankful for the pastors who get up on the big stage, week after week, and start these kinds of conversations.

As I sit here envisioning what Sunday will look like, I know one thing for sure: I don’t know what needs to be said. I probably won’t even remember it. It might even be different in each service. I really don’t know. But what I have seen time and time again is that God will use my messy story to encourage someone else. He will prepare hearts. He will open minds. He will pave the way for the message to be heard, in whatever form. God will use the story of the son I lost to save the son you have.

mersern (15)

On June 8, 2013, I spoke at my son’s memorial service. I told people God would use this tragedy for good. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know when, and I certainly didn’t imagine being a part of it. But this Sunday, I will tell a piece of my story and God will use the broken shards to build a beautiful mosaic, right in front of my eyes. Not because of me, because let’s just be honest here. I’ll be sweating through my shirt, my lips will stick to my teeth, I’ll probably be nervously smiling like a maniac and at completely inappropriate times. And I’ll probably cry in front of thousands of strangers. (That’s always fun.) But listen, God will make all things work for good. That’s what He does. He is going to blow right past all of my weakness and insecurity. He knew this day was coming when I first held Mason in my arms, all 9 pounds and 14 ounces of him. He knew this moment was heading my way when I held Mason’s hand and kissed his face for the last time at the mortuary. God will calm the butterflies, He’ll hide my flaws, and He will give me the words. Not for me. Not just for me. He’s going to do it because He knows what needs to be said.

Will you come? Will you sit where I can see you so if I get nervous and my head starts getting in the way of my heart, I can look for you? Barf bag, optional.

The Crossing
7950 W Windmill Lane
Las Vegas, NV 89113
8:30am, 10am, 11:30am, and 6pm

It’s Just Me…fb holly faces 2015

The blog, It’s Just Me, is written by Holly Chamberlain who makes her living as a sales manager but who makes her life by working with teenagers, teachers, and parents to redefine the criteria for self-harm and suicide. She is the Founder of the aMasongrace project and shares these core messages with students to help build resilience, offer hope, and improve self-esteem: Moments Pass, Please Stay, & You Matter. To subscribe to the blog, please visit the website and enter your email address, Follow the aMasongrace project on Twitter and Instagram @aMgYouMatter. To invite the aMasongrace project to speak at a youth group or school, please contact Holly via

  • Colleen
    Posted at 04:11h, 05 January Reply

    I just love you! I love to read your blogs. You are an aMazing writer my friend. You’ve reached people and saved them!!! You touch the hearts of so many!

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:38h, 23 January Reply

      Thanks friend! It is amazing to hear the impact of telling my story. The traffic to the website was huge and the number of videos views was awe-inspiring. Further proof that we NEED to make this a part of our daily conversations.

  • Juli Curtin
    Posted at 13:34h, 05 January Reply

    Such beauty & honesty! ? Speak from your heart. It’s what you do best! I wish I could be there to hear you, but I’m sure you’ll come through this just as it was intended & when it’s all said and done, you’ll say “wow, I didn’t need that barf bag after all!” Sending you virtual barf bags (just in case ?)

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:36h, 23 January Reply

      You sent me a virtual barf bag and your sis actually sent me a real one!!! Funny girls. xoxox Juli

  • Debbie
    Posted at 16:07h, 05 January Reply

    I don’t think you are tacky, crude or self absorbed AT ALL! We are always so hard on ourselves, I know that all too well. Let me share with you how I see Holly Chamberlain. She is one of my heroes…she is a warrior…she is REAL…she is as beautiful inside as she is outside…she is a master with words and she can move me with them so easily…she is compassionate and full of grace…she walks the walk…she cares deeply to make a difference in this world and she is doing it…she gets scared and still does what she knows she needs to do…she is courageous and brave…she inspires me…she has saved lives…she is Mason’s aMasing mom and I love her very much! I would love to be in the congregation to hear you and to support you with the biggest smile on my face and most likely tears flowing down my cheeks. You got this, Holly! I believe in you.

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:36h, 23 January Reply

      Thanks Debbie! What an encourager you are. I appreciate this so much. Oh how I wish I saw myself that way. Today, I will remind myself of these things and walk a little taller.

  • Daisy Rain Martin
    Posted at 20:49h, 05 January Reply

    “God will use the story of the son I lost to save the son you have.”

    I love you. I’m feeling compelled to overnight you a barf bag with daisies on it just to lend some sort of tangible support. In any case, you know that I am there with you in spirit, and I will be thinking of you and Mase the whole time.

    I love you.
    Daisy Rain

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:35h, 23 January Reply

      Thanks, Daisycakes. I ended up not needing the barf bag. I think the Monster energy drink helped me power though the tough parts. hahaha Is that ridic or what?

  • Catherine Martinez
    Posted at 14:21h, 06 January Reply

    Oh Holly,

    I am going to try and come. I have three sons and I follow you and what you do. And I love you for it. I know in my heart my God his hands all over you and what you will say on Sunday. Be at peace. All friends of Daisy Rain Martin are friends of mine.
    Cat Martinez

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:34h, 23 January Reply

      Thanks Cat! Hope you made it. Give your sons an extra squeeze today. xo

  • Roxane Kingham
    Posted at 13:51h, 10 January Reply

    Can’t wait to hear you speak again. ❤️

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:33h, 23 January Reply

      Thank you, Roxane! I appreciate that! I still get nervous every time.

  • Shana Stott
    Posted at 22:18h, 10 January Reply

    You are such an amazing writer!!! Love you and love that you have taken a positive approach to your unthinkable tragedy! You are saving lives and helping people every single day!! You are amazing and I know Mason is so proud of his mama!!!❤️

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:32h, 23 January Reply

      Thanks Shana! It was great to see you at The Crossing! xoxo

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