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Calling the broken, the struggling, and the hurting…

My friend, Tam

I met her three days after we moved to TN.

My friend, Angie, invited our family to drop by this Monday evening “thing” they were apart of called Meaty Monday — where everyone brings meat for the grill and a side dish. My introverted inner self is not one to jump at the opportunity to go spend all evening with people I don’t know.

However, we were new to this area and knew the only way to plug in was to dive in head first — even when it was way outside comfort zones.

So we showed up to this Monday “thing” and there was Tam Hodge. Cute, spunky, funny, and friendly.

We chatted a bit. I found out that she and her family lived in our neighborhood, that they homeschooled, and that they had moved here a few years ago.

She texted me a follow-up text a few days later. We started texting. And from the get-go I told her that I don’t do fluffy friendships.

Don’t get me wrong. Those who know me well, know that I love to laugh, I love to have a great time with friends, and I can be goofy.

However, you can be sure that spending any length of time with me will also include hard questions, going deep, and authenticity. Because I don’t do surface-y friendships.

She didn’t seem fazed by my honest confessions of what I was looking for in friendship. In fact, she seemed genuinely open to that sort of friendship.

My friend, Tam

So I kept walking forward. We kept texting. We started getting together regularly. And a beautiful friendship emerged.

Tam has been God’s gift to me in our move to TN. She’s listened. She’s cared. She’s let me be brutally honest as I’ve processed. And she’s loved me — messes and imperfections and all.

As I’ve gotten to know her more, I’ve realized that there is so much more to her than first meets the eye. She’s beautiful. She’s warm. She’s hilarious. And she deeply cares for people.

My friend, Tam

But more than that, she’s a woman who has experienced some of the greatest suffering of anyone I know — including repeated abuse from multiple abusers, intense rejection by those closest to her, and incredible physical pain.

Of anyone I know, she could have reason to go through life feeling like a victim — hurting, reserved, sad. But those words are the exact opposite of my friend, Tam. She radiates joy and hope!

Instead of being a victim of her circumstances, she’s chosen to be a VICTOR. And every single day, her life inspires me.And Now I Choose

I am crazy proud of her bravery and courage and hard work to write her story. Her book, And Now I Choose, releases today and I highly recommend it for anyone who has experienced the pain of abuse, abortion, divorce, rejection, and feeling broken and not good enough.

Tam’s story will give you hope. It will inspire you to overcome the odds. It will encourage you to choose joy. It will motivate you that you, too, can become a victor not a victim.

Go get a copy of her book, And Now I Choose. It’s available in ebook or paperback form on Amazon here. And you also might consider buying an extra copy for a friend who could use the encouragement of someone who walked through great trauma and tragedy and found healing and hope.

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  • Stevi says:

    Wow I could really use this book! Too bad my budget has not even a cm of wiggle room =( I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I can get it soon! Thanks for sharing

    • Email me your mailing address. I’d love to send you a copy. crystal @

      {And the same goes for anyone else who really needs to read this book but who can’t financially afford it. I’d love to buy a copy for you. Just email me your mailing address.}

      • Amanda Burkholder says:

        How incredibly sweet of you to make that offer. You’re a good friend. Warms my heart to see caring amongst strangers.

      • Stevi says:

        Thank you so much! Emailing you now <3

      • Tam Hodge says:

        You are such a beautiful person, through and through. Your generous heart inspires me daily.

      • Cheryl says:

        I don’t know if this offer still stands but I would love a copy of this book. I currently am financially and emotionally broke. I live in a city where I have no friends, and no family other then my children. I’m homebound due to disability and my husband just cheated on me with a younger woman. I really need to not be the victim anymore. I could really use this book. TIA

  • Tam Hodge says:

    I just sent you a mushy text.

    Your words, your intentionality, your friendship…priceless to me. I love you a million love you’s, my friend.

    • I love you, friend! You are a gift.

      And happy, happy birthday!

    • Shawna M says:

      Tam, started reading your book last night and two hours passed without me even noticing (for someone like me who can’t sit still for 5 minutes that is a bid deal). I have lived your life, some things the same, some just different, but I am a wounded soul nonetheless ( I joke that with my past I should have turned out a drug addicted prostitute). From the outside I have succeeded, I have two awesome kids, a husband, extensive education and a career….but I keep love at arms length. I have huge love and compassion for others, but remain unable to accept love for myself (I have known God all my life, but have no ability to accept his love for myself). Your book has given me something I don’t often have or even entertain…hope. I wish so much that I had someone like you in my life, someone in the flesh to show me that my walls can be torn down. For 39 years I have become increasingly comfortable with my arms length life, not even daring to dream of how it could be different. I don’t know that your book will change the life I’ve been entrenched in for so long, but I will pray that it will. And if not for me, I will be sharing it with others. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there! You are awesome and I looked forward to meeting you in heaven someday!

      • Tam Hodge says:

        Shawna – first, it was so very brave for you to share what you shared here. That takes a lot of courage!

        When I read your comment it felt like I was reading my own voice so many years ago. Yes, there is hope. And, yes, I believe you will, indeed, lessen your arms-length life and embrace the hope that is yours! Know that I am praying for you, Shawna! I’m praying that you will dare to believe!

      • Lora says:

        Shawna – I so can relate to everything that you said. I always feel unworthy of anyone’s love especially God’s and my own. I have been so alone for a long time and don’t know where or how to start.

        I will keep you in my thoughts. Hugs 🙂

  • Janet T says:

    What a wonderful blessing you both have to share friendship. True friends are a treasure. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Steph says:

    This comes at a good time…newly divorced and struggling to keep afloat while raising my two young sons, I could use a read like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tanya Horton says:

    I live in Mt Juliet, TN. I read where Tam lives in Franklin. Do you know of any local retailers that carry her book?

  • Just ordered the Kindle version. Bet I know what I’ll be doing tonight!!

    • I hope you are truly blessed by it!

      • Dawn says:

        Just finished it.
        Maybe one day I will be brave enough to tell my story. Please tell her that she has helped me immensely.
        I left a review on Amazon as well. I hope many women read this book; I’m sure many struggle with so many of the same devastating experiences.
        I hope God richly blesses Tam for her obedience and her openness.

        • Shannon Friedman says:

          I pray that you will one day feel free enough and brave enough! You never know who is supposed to hear it.
          I have an abusive background and have also chosen to be honest about it and open about it. I actually believe I am supposed to talk about it. It can be scary sometimes, never know how others will respond, but I continue to remind myself that God hasn’t called me to worry about that part. But to tell it. Hope this encourages you. The right time will be there, when you see it feel it-trust.

          • Dawn says:

            Thank you! What a sweet encouraging thing to say. I have shared the tiniest bit on my blog about my growing up years, but not a whole lot.
            Kind of the whole, I know my dad’s family will be very angry with me if I share what really went on, even though my dad passed away in 1986.
            Ugh, it is just SOOO hard to stop feeling responsible for other people’s feelings, even when it would make the difference in our own healing!!

            But thank you, because you are right of course. The day will come when all will be shared. And when God says it is time, I will do it.
            I hope you have a wonderful day!!

          • Tam Hodge says:

            This is a good word! Blessings to you!!

        • Tam Hodge says:

          Dawn, I am praising God right now! So grateful that it helped you!

          Please know that I am praying for you now…

  • Jessica says:

    Hope to read this soon! The encouragement and stories of others (though you never wish for anyone to endure what you have) is always a inspiration because we are not alone! For some of us life is just harder but we are a million times stronger from it and our hearts can give so much more love to others thanks to it.

  • Melanie Johnson says:

    Could so use a book like this right now. My budget can’t move an inch. This has been a bad year for my children and I.

  • tamara says:

    I would love to be able to read this book. I am a single mom and I have been rejected by some of my family. And one family member cause my relationship with my baby’s daddy to crumble where he broke up with me just before she turned 1. I think this book would be very uplifting to read.

  • Tammi Tuke says:

    I also could really benefit from reading this book but don’t have the funds to purchase it.

  • Kim says:

    Newly divorced mom who is now in a good place, thanks to some wonderful friends who helped me get there. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be right now. Sometimes, you just need someone ear to listen to you.

  • America says:

    This book seems like something I truly need to read. Single mom still trying to figure our life after divorce.

  • Robin says:

    I must say every day I am finding such inspiration from your writings. Had some tough news to swallow today and need to make some possible drastic changes for it. Hope I can read this book someday. Just nice reminder that every challege can be faced and you can be a better person on the other side of struggles.

  • Annie says:

    I am so amazed by your generosity in buying this book for people. Thanks for being so caring and setting such a great example for us in loving others.

  • Nicky Lopez says:

    I loved the no fluffy friendship statement. But I wonder how does one even begin to weed out fluffy friends. Deep relationships are always hard for me because I’ve had bad experiences trying to be myself.

  • Jennifer says:

    Crystal – Tears in my eyes as I read the words written by the people who need this book (and who you are so generously giving the book to). I will be buying a few copies for people I know could really use it. You are an inspiration!

  • Jaccie Lamb says:

    I Would love to read this book, can relate to a lot of her struggles. I myself have wanted to write a book kinda like this. Can’t afford it right now but when I can I will definitely buy. Really need the encouragement:)

    • I’d love to send you a copy! Email me your mailing address: crystal @ {Hugs!}

    • Tam Hodge says:

      I hope it encourages you!!!

      Also, sometimes just writing it all out in pieces, every now and then, can be so therapeutic. It doesn’t have to be a book, tho it can be. I’d encourage you to start writing…


      • Jaccie Lamb says:

        Thank you..can’t wait to read it:) I actually have started trying to write . I will write a few things down then get distracted and won’t try again for awhile. I find it hard to put what I remember from my past down in words on paper. I can sit and tell someone every detail but the minute I start writing.. Its like I get writer’s block,then I get discouraged and walk away from it! Have a lot of people tell me there’s no way I can remember so clearly from that long ago. Idk why I can but I’ve always heard children will rember the bad more than they will the good! Thanks again..excited to receive this book:)

  • Brandy Fisk says:

    I just put it in my shopping cart. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who reads the book could share it afterwards or buy two if they are able to share. Thanks for being so generous by sending out copies to those who could really use them 🙂

  • Nurain says:

    I pray all the best and success for your friend – Tam. I’m from Malaysia and I love reading your blog. I just recently become Stay-At-Home-Mom and your blog has inspired me a lot. Keep writing Crystal 🙂

  • Dawn says:

    If we bought the kindle version, is there a way we can share it with someone who needs it but can’t afford?

  • This sounds like a great book. I had a rough childhood, poverty, abuse, an alcoholic dad (now 16 years recovering, praise the Lord), and then went straight into an abusive relationship my senior year in high school. The Lord by His grace saved me from that relationship and I have a wonderful husband now. But there are so many struggles from the past. Yes, there is always a choice. We always have a choice and thanks to your friend for sharing her testimony with others.

  • Shelley says:

    I also am hurting, struggling terribly and have broken moments but for different reasons. Wondering if this book would be helpful with my circumstances or would someone have a different recommendation? Became a single mom a year ago with 3 children. My ex husband savagely murdered my wonderful, loving step father in our home a year ago. Trying to keep my children afloat mentally and physically. I’m at a loss with so many things. However I also need to say we have been blessed in so many ways.. I have a couple of amazing Friends, church provided food, support and helped with a monetary gift to help my daughter with first semester college books so she could still start her first semester of college which took her an hour out of town which was healthier for her given the circumstances. Anyway didn’t intend to get that much into it. Is this the right kind of read for me?

    • I believe that this book would truly encourage you and would love to send you a copy. Email me your mailing address: crystal @

      I am SO sorry you have gone through this tragic situation. {Hugs!}

    • Tam Hodge says:

      Oh, Shelley…I am so sorry about this tragedy in your life. Praying for you and your family and that healing will continue in your lives.

      I think this book will bring you encouragement, and I am so grateful to Crystal for offering to send you one.

      Prayers and hugs!

  • LINDA says:

    brought tears to my eyes…my daughter is also going thru this same difficult time…the father of her 4 children assaulted and abused her for years and she didn’t have the strength to leave him. It was only after he assaulted me…a 61 year old lady that she said enough and had the courage to throw him out. I spent two days in the hospital after the assault. If it took me getting beat then it was worth it to open her eyes. I would like also to get a copy of your wonderful book for me and my daughter to read. But with us also the funds are very tight. If you can forward a copy to us I will make sure we will “pay it forward” when we are done reading it. God bless you!

    • I’d be honored to send you/your daughter a copy. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this! {Hugs!} Email me your mailing address: crystal @

    • Tam Hodge says:

      “If it took me getting beat then it was worth it to open her eyes” THIS. This is a mother’s love. Wow, brought tears to my eyes.

      Praying for you and your daughter and praying that this book brings you both encouragement and hope!

  • Chelsea Revis says:

    I WILL definitely be getting this book when I can afford it!! Mrs. Tammy is an amazing role model! So thankful she has decided to share her story to help others like her!

  • Sylvia says:

    I was a mother of three, I want to see light at the end of the Tunnel. I am broken… I lost my five year old four months ago. Broken relationship since then. No money etc. I know I need this book. Thanks you for giving people hope.

  • Lora says:


    I have posted twice but didn’t see it here. So I am giving a brief blurb about what I wrote.

    I can relate a lot to Tammy’s experiences. I struggle with making friends, especially more so, now that I am legally blind. I don’t get out much anymore. I recently ended an 8 year relationship with my ex because of many factors. The main reason was beause of the lack of value and emotional abuse. Another factor was because of my 10 year old son and his behavior problems. I was given the choice to have my son move out or to leave with him. I made the obvious choice and moved out with my son. Just because my son is struggling, it doesn’t mean that I am going to give up on him. I just hope that I can salvage our relationship.

    I would rather be single and alone than be in a relationship and alone.

    My best friend passed away a few years ago ~ and I have struggled with finding new friendships.

    Thank you for sharing your story with me. You continue to be an inspiration to me. I love reading your blog. I am hoping one day that I will be able to borrow “And Now I Choose” and read about Tam’s experiences and learn from them along with the knowledge that I am not alone.

  • Karla says:

    I’m so very excited to open this book. I’ll be putting it on my Christmas “list.” However, I noticed it can’t be found on Goodreads. I like to go to their website and keep a running list of books I want to read. I recently heard how huge Goodreads is, so I thought you might want to look into that? I’ve never run across a book I couldn’t find on there. I just want to help other readers discover this book. Again, I”m so intrigued as I too have experienced many things and am in the middle of another.

  • Leslie says:

    Wow. Just moved my sister and her 2 children here to Franklin (hey neighbors!) to be close to us after a trying few years. Tam’s story could be her story. Just ordered the book and can’t wait to share it with her!

  • ruth says:

    Crystal I have a question about surface-y friendships. I find that sometimes when I try to go below the surface that the friend or acquaintance can’t handle it. I’ve tried sugar-coating-total-honesty to blunt-total-honesty and every level of empathy/sympathy/emotion in between; many times the women in my life are not able to handle the truth about themselves or their situation they are complaining about…even when they ask my advice. I’ve even had friends tell me to be completely honest with them and ask me “what do you see that I’m doing wrong about…” such-and-such topic. So I am honest with them; they say thank you to me, nod their head like they understand and might even agree, offer a little gentle feedback. Then, well over half do not contact me again. What do you do in situations when you really can’t go below the surface because the friend/acquaintance cannot handle it? (even when they say ‘be honest.’) Because my usual response is to try to copy the Holy Spirit and accept and meet the person where they are at (surface level) rather than force them to own up to something they clearly are not ready to face (below the surface). Today they may not be able to handle the truth but that doesn’t mean they will always be stuck in that place. Like everyone else they are maturing in their walk with the Lord. What are your thoughts on this? I’m not talking about abuse level stuff; just everyday conversations with friends or acquaintances who when I put the transparent level reality in their face they begin to slip back into denial mode, change the subject, cool off on my friendship or defend their position which is sometimes pretty codependent or dysfunctional.

    • I have found that there are different levels of friendships. Some people will never be at a deep level because they just aren’t in a place where that is what they want or can handle. I don’t ever force deep relationships, but I am honest with other people in where I’m at when I feel like they are possibly interested in a deeper level friendship.

      I think being warm, gracious, genuine, and authentic go a long way. As does being a really good listener, asking good questions, and truly communicating that you care about a person. You’re not trying to change them, you just care about their heart and want them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

  • Cate R. says:

    I have been thinking about this post off-and-on for the past couple days. I don’t know exactly what I want to say… I hope to read Tam’s book at some point. I guess I just want to say I’m glad to see a glimpse of her story. I had an abortion, was very promiscuous, was a drug addict (not just recreational drug user), was sexually abused as a young child by a family member, and wasn’t born in, but did grow up in southern California, and now live in the south. I became a Christian as an adult. It would be neat to meet her IRL because it’s not common at all to meet people with such a background. One thing is that I wonder if her abusers are still alive. That is one big struggle in my desire to share my story and go public… these people are alive and well and it would absolutely not go well if I were to write a book for example. Anyway, I have lots on my plate with 3 kids 6 and under but just some thoughts.

  • Carrie says:

    I’ve checked my local library and we do not have the book. I am going to buy as soon as I have extra money. After I read this book I will donate to the library as there are so many women who could use the inspiration from your friend.

  • Cheryl says:

    Sounds like my sister, she’s a single mom, but she seems so….broken.

  • jennifer says:

    i’m so happy for both of you. reading your story was a blessing to me. God allowed both your paths to not only meet, but join, and have given you both a great friend in each other. I can relate to both of you, I am extremely introverted, and have also been in very abusive relationships, both family and romantic relationships. I am so glad both of you have made a friendship that is beneficial to both of you. It’s wonderful when God brings us that gift of a true friend. Be thankful for each other.

  • kim says:

    what a wonderful story about how your friendship started. I will have to see if this book is at my library- I cannot afford amazon right now lol

  • Julie says:

    Just ordered from Amazon. Looking forward to it- and thank you for your courage, Tam.

  • Nicole says:

    I love that this post came up for me, on Christmas Day, less than an hour after I had to give my son to my ex husband and his girlfriend for their holiday and I sit here alone, praying to God for comfort and peace. Will be buying this book when I am able. Thank you for always sharing these gems of joy and hope with us, Crystal! Merry Christmas to you and your family. 🙂

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