Lessons from the Sidewalk {An Open Letter to ALL Women}


Dear You, 

I see you there. Yep, you. I want to whisper here that we need you. Just as you are!

We need what you have to offer, the stories you have lived and the life you still want to live.  We need you! Not who you think we want to see, but you! 

Whether you punch the clock and climb the corporate ladder or climb out of mini-van taking a forgotten lunch to school for the umpteenth time.  We need you.

We need you, the one who chooses motherhood to be worn on her hips and in her belly or in arms outstretched for the child of your heart, but not of your womb. We need those who choose never to mother but find countless other ways to leave a footprint, a legacy. 

We need your age, and the wisdom and new ideas that come from life lived.  We need your youth, and the vitality and freshness of never before taken steps. We need the truth that comes from your experience and the wonder that comes from experiencing anything for the very first time. 

We need you, the quiet who leaves footprints of calm all over this world that spins on the axis of crazy.  And, you?  The one who can spot injustice and is tireless in stamping it out? The one who can raise a mighty voice for the voiceless?  We need your spirit and tenacity.

We need you, the one who would really rather cheer from the sidelines than lace up your sneakers to join in the race.

We need you the healthy and the vibrant who can live life fully and completely.  And, we need you who has endured struggles and pain and a body that betrays you every single day.  We need your courage and your strength to keep on hoping.

I can hear you all in my ear right now.  Telling me how you don’t quite measure up.  How your waist is so much thicker, your hair so unruly and your eyes are set too close together to be really beautiful.  You’re whispering to me about how you aren’t an earth-shaker, a culture changer.

“I’m just a  (fill in the blank)” you quietly say with eyes that don’t quite meet mine.  

Just a mother, just a student, just a cashier, just a receptionist, just an old woman, just a twenty-something… just bedridden, just empty, just broken, just ugly… 


And if you say it fast enough you can hear the hiss of the lie that is those four letters. 

You are EXACTLY as we need you to be.  So please don’t change.  We are so desperate for your story, for the way your life makes ours so much better.

We want to gather around you and lay our hands on your raw and wounded places.  We want to touch those parts of you that you would rather we didn’t know about.

We want to lift you up and honour your beauty and the star-quality sparkle that you bring to this world.  

We want to dance with you in celebration when your dreams, whatever they may be, come true!

You were designed for this world!  Every step, every freckle, every graying hair on your head, every heartache, every triumph was known about you before you were even born.  

Despite your mistakes, despite your screw-ups and mess-ups, God chose YOU to be His child!

So live!  BE!  Don’t apologize for who you are!  Don’t buy into the lie of “JUST.”  

“The stars don’t ask permission to shine.  They do what they were designed to do, no questions, no regrets, no doubts.  Shouldn’t we…?”  – Kim Adam (my soul-sister) 


  1. What lovely, heart-affirming words you’ve laid down here! And I have to admit that there was a little voice inside my head trying to deny your message even as I read it. But to get to the end and see my own words echoed back to me…that shut the nasty little voice up. Canada is just too far away, sister.

    • Kim,

      Those words are pinned right above my desk in my office. That sweet little picture you created at Allume two years ago is a constant reminder of how loved I am by my Creator and how He has a plan and a purpose for me! I’m learning, albeit slowly, to embrace who I am and to know that He uses what I have to offer for His glory!

  2. Tonya, my sister-friend, thank you for this. Thank you for including women like me who don’t have and who may never have kids. It means so much to me that you would take the time to remind me that God made me and has good plans for my life, plans that I need to join Him in!

    • Marie,

      There is such freedom in that surrender isn’t there? When we begin to see ourselves as God sees us? It helps us to open our eyes to the work He is doing all around us and it frees us to be part of His plan! Love you, sweet friend!

  3. Love this! I find myself saying ‘I’m just…’ all the time.

  4. Oh Tonya you got the tears flowing today !! All I can say is thank you and I LOVE YOU !!!

  5. Kindred… my friend, my sweet sister… again – just so much yes and amen! And this line… “JUST, JUST, JUST… And if you say it fast enough you can hear the hiss of the lie that is those four letters.” May we all catch ourselves and hear the hiss… may it stop us in our tracks… mid-sentence, and remind us that is our “Just” is a lie… the truth is that we are highly-valued and more than enough! Love you, T!

    • I caught myself just today responding to the lie of JUST and I thought of you and this beautiful comment and how we all so desperately need to be reminded daily of how loved we are by Christ! I love you sister!

  6. I don’t know if you can see it in the background on one of my last instagrams with my daughter but you can see the card you gave me. It’s on my bookshelf on my desk. You’re such a huge encourager and I love how you champion those around you and love people. I know you’re going to do that in your counseling work but you also do it in so many other ways in the way you show up for people. I just adore you, you know this. Sometimes when the world sucks and I want to quit the internet I go back to those kinds of things, the cards and the words spoken and I remember I was made for this. The mothering and the ordinary and the weakness and the funny jokes and the words, yes those too, sometimes. And it helps to have people who call that out in eachother. I love the way you do this, friend. LOVE. So thankful for you and when the time comes, when we get around to actually seeing each other again, maybe I’ll be the one leaping over tables to hug you.

    • I want a table leaping hug more than you know sweet friend. I actually went back to your IG feed and found the picture and saw the card and I so clearly remember writing those words to you! I remember how I called you my “dream mid-wife” because you called out the gift I had to offer and helped me see how God can use it for his purpose. I love you wildly and deeply Alia and I am standing back and watching God move in your life and how he is using you. Alia, you leave a wake of His grace and His mercy wherever you go – if I can see it I know the Almighty can. Well done! Good and faithful servant!

  7. Hi there!

    Thanks a lot for penning down this beautiful peace of poetic genious which every woman on earth needs to hear. I have written a novel titled “A li’l more than just a housewife”. Have sent the proposal to some publishers but haven’t got success so far. That has dissappointed me lately but your write-up has encouraged me to pursue it with the same zest I had before I started writing it. I was questioning myself whether to consider oneself more than “Just a…” is too much to ask for. Well, your blog answers the question, No! We, women, deserve to be a little more than what the world or our problems wants us to be.


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