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Category Archives: Broken, Yet Beautiful

Life goes on. So will I.

I remember back in the early 90’s a family sitcom called “Life Goes On.” The show chronicled the life of a family dealing with the challenges of raising and supporting a family member with Down’s syndrome. A sister who had to learn to accept her brother, while trying to be accepted by her peers. Navigating a relationship resulting in grief, until we find in the end they all grow up. They all navigate and move through life with all its up and downs, and that life really does go on, just like the theme song for the show promised.

But, sometimes in the midst of it all, you are forced to put life on hold for a while.

In order to be reminded that life does go on, but so will you.

Life was actually going pretty good. I had finally let go of some junk. Had a routine down that kept me balanced. I was happier. Had more joy. And I could count on only one hand the number of times I had cried at work this year. I didn’t dread the commute. The day. No longer cried on my way home. I felt like I was in a balanced place.

In fact, the moment that all would turn for me, I had been doing what I had been doing daily-laughing. I was finally, after more than a year, feeling like myself again.

Until I wasn’t.

And in a matter of hours, I began to shift back into that irritable, cry at the drop of a hat, negative thought having woman of old.

And life had to stop. Or, well it really didn’t. It went on. Without me.

I was the one forced to stop.

I couldn’t do anything. The girl so used to going, couldn’t go. I couldn’t even pray in the same way. Moved to my seated position in my closet to laying down. All to keep the world from spinning.

I felt alone. I felt like I had no idea who I was. Fear that life was going on, just as it should.

And it did. Life went on. Continued to spin on its axis, just like my head.

Life went on…and so did I?

For a moment I was lonely, until laying in my closet floor, surrounded by the prayers I had placed on the wall, I saw this:

You are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. Psalm 23:4

God was there on that floor with me.

While I may have been a little fearful of my prognosis. Of what others would think (or even not think) of it, I was reminded over and over in my doubts:

Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” Isaiah 35:4

And though I couldn’t see it at first, he was giving me power once again. Reminding me that life goes on, and so will I?

Giving me words to write (well, transcribe) when writing became too hard. Giving me time for much needed rest. Giving me fresh new ideas I hadn’t thought possible before. You know, back when I thought my life was balanced. I could see that I rarely gave myself time to even think of my purpose, and all the ways my talents could be used for His glory.

Until I was forced to step away from life for a bit.

To learn that I will go on. That just like last time, I’ll get through this with His strength. I’ll feel like the “me” He desires me to be me once again.

Obladi oblada life goes on, brahhh Lala how the life goes on

And so will I.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, Mercy

 

The growing season

For over a year now, I have grown a deep affection for plants. The reasons and circumstances for this are a story in itself, and a subject for a later time…however, I used to absolutely hate them!

I could not keep anything alive. When my son and I did manage to plant anything, it either became food for the abundance of deer living in our parts, or just never bloomed.

Now, I have them everywhere. I am even known to stop and marvel at them on a walk.

My husband picks them up during trips to the grocery store.

My son has his own garden, that I enjoy watching grow on our patio or the windowsill. And I even like to watch them burst forth through concrete.

Those happen to be my favorite. Because it takes a heck of a lot of strength to grow in concrete, y’all!

What isn’t exactly my favorite is a plant’s “growing” season. It’s sometimes long. Sometimes dark. Mostly frustrating.

This is the season in which nothing is budding on those plants. You water and water but never see a bloom. The leaves are extra droopy. Sometimes the plant isn’t even very pretty to look at. And when you start to compare it to all those other plants? Those that grow and bloom without any fuss? Well, you start to want to give up on this one. It’s a dud. Not worthy of blooming. Just meant to rot away in its pot.

We are much like these plants. We have a “growing” season, too. And they aren’t all the same, but they don’t look or feel much different than that of a plant.

Maybe your growing season right now is in full bloom. You’ve been watered. Been looked after. Encouraged. The crop you are yielding is on full display for everyone to see.

Or…maybe right now you are planted in dry, parched land. Still trying to break through the hard surface. You are in a season of drought. Everything around you feels barren. Your leaves are droopy. Barely hanging on, and there are no buds ready to bloom in sight.

Maybe you are sitting by that big, pretty plant wondering what is taking you so long? When is your season coming?

Feeling like you are covered by a thick slab of concrete.

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rain in the fall and the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. James 5:7

God will come to complete the harvest. It may not look like it now while everything around you is dry. Maybe the endless rains he has sent; those trials that leave you drowning in sorrow, feel like they are never going to end.

Be patient. At the end of this growing season, you won’t have to look around you at everything else in bloom. Comparing.

No. When you look, you will see that “winter is past. The rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing of birds has come; and the cooing of turtle doves fills the air. The fig trees (that’s you, darling) are forming young fruit, and the grapevines are blossoming” (Song of Songs 2:11-13).

Rise up darling! You, beautiful one, are breaking through the concrete. In full bloom.

You, beautiful one, will grow in this season.

 
 

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“Feeding” a different beast

This past summer I spent the entirety of my time off in a period of self-care and healing. Working on and loving who God had created me to be. Part of that was understanding just how much I was loved. Through that process, I spent a lot of time in His Word, writing down a number of verses that spoke to my identity in Christ.

Thirty-one verses from God to remind me how awesome I was. That I could flip back to on those days when I didn’t feel so awesome.

But had I? Had I used them?

For about 2 weeks now there has been this on-going battle in my home over social media, whether or not to let the middle have Instagram to be exact. In the same 2 week span I’ve listened to parents who have struggled with setting limits with their own children over media usage, watched kids seek attention in negative ways, and even discussed the ways in which social media makes them “look good.”

Then yesterday in my own journal I wrote this:

I’ve been very distracted lately, Lord. It’s been hard to find my center. I’ve been distracted by people. By work. By media. By the news. And when I sit alone in this chair, I can’t filter it all out, and I get discouraged by what I have seen and heard all day. It’s hard to feel like I am succeeding in Your Wisdom when I am distracted by all that looks anything but kind, but instead looks ugly and dark. 

No, I hadn’t flipped back to those pages. I had scrolled through Pinterest looking for all the right words to make myself feel better when I felt ripped apart by mean ones. Vented on Facebook about crappy people, and the need to be more kind, but had I sought truth from His Word? Had I looked to Him to remind myself whose I was? No. I was distracted by my feed. And when I wasn’t distracted by those voices and trying to feed my soul with feel good videos, I was distracted by all the stories of evil lurking in the world. Discouraged all over again.

I can’t make media go away. It’s here to stay. It’s getting into the hands of kids at younger and younger ages.

But I can choose not to be distracted. Not to reach for it to validate what I may be feeling in the moment. Instead of reaching for His truth or calling out to Him.

I can set the example at least in my own home with my daughter. And, yes…maybe even for others. Because whether they want to admit it or not. They are watching. And what message do I want to send? That love comes from Him? Or how many likes, hits, streaks (whatever), retweets I get on a given post?

That every time I have an issue or have something to say it needs to be shared? Without consequence? That is why I write. To remember. But not everything is Facebook worthy. Not everything needs to be said out loud. Or should be posted for the world to see.

I want girls to know their worth cannot be measured by the number of likes they get on a picture. That life is also unfiltered, unaltered, completely messy, and not usually a highlight reel. That bodies come in all sizes. Even “pint-sized…,” like me. And most of us, yeh, we don’t “wake up like this.” I want boys to know that they are more than a rating scale. That God thinks they are a perfect ten. Even the ones that don’t fit in anywhere right now. That it is OK, more than OK to be nice. To be a gentleman. To stand up for a woman (or a boy) being treated badly. That’s the kind of man I would want in my corner!

That is what I will be sharing from now on.

Unfiltered. Some days with no makeup on. Some days in my pjs. Maybe days my face will be tear-soaked. There will be highlights and lowlights. It will not be perfect. It will be flawed. Guaranteed.

But fearfully and wonderfully made. Molded and made new. Loved by God in all its mess.

Just like you.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, On Purpose

 

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It’s all going to be OK

Faith and feelings. Or “suck it up, don’t talk about it, just pray about it.”

I’m a straight shooter. I’m honest. I keep it real. I share my struggles. And, I value the art of vulnerability in our lives. Even among the faith community. However, there is often this idea that we can’t be vulnerable, be a mixed ball of feelings and still have an abundance of faith.

Here’s the thing. I am a Bible carrying, post-it note writing, war room crying, prayer warrior. I have faith. I also have a ton of feelings. Many I suck up. Many I just don’t.

Here’s why: We are responsible for what we damage when we are here. And too many are damaging hearts and relationships simply hiding their true feelings. Not being honest with self and each other to save face, and look good in a highlight reel.

Too afraid to admit they are a mess. When God already knows our messiness. We can’t hide it from him. We can walk around wearing a mask of macho and cool in our daily lives, but we can’t hide our broken hearts from him. We can come to church cleaned up and pretty on the outside, but we can’t hide what’s on the inside.

“Pretending away reality never makes things better. It just causes you to implode on the inside while smiling on the outside. That’s no way to live.” Lysa Terkkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

So can we just admit to each other that we are not OK? That what we really want is someone who can be vulnerable enough to admit it, so we can finally say…”Oh my goodness. Me too!!!” And, tell each other that’s it’s OK to not be OK?

That it’s OK to miss someone. Because missing someone means we have also loved someone. We have a hole in our heart that aches because that person inhabited a place in it, and we now grieve for that emptiness. And it’s OK if your grief was short, and if your grief takes longer. It’s OK if you are missing someone who is still fully alive. It’s OK.

It’s OK to have big emotions. Like anger. Like sadness. Like frustration. Like loneliness. God made us with those emotions. He also knows every single one of them. He felt anger when he saw the evil he had created among the world, enough to wipe them out in the days of Noah. He surely felt sadness when he sent His son to die. He feels frustration when His purpose does not come to fruition because earthly desire takes over and wrong choices are made. He feels all that, too. We are made in His image. He gave us all these emotions so we would understand the one he wants us to use the most-love.

It’s OK if you didn’t cope so well with those big emotions today, and reacted in not so glorious ways. It’s OK if you yelled at your kids. It’s OK if you cried in your bed under the covers. It’s OK if you walked into Starbucks sobbing because they handed you the wrong coffee, desperate for one thing to just be right in your day (hand raised here). That’s all OK. Show yourself the same grace God shows you and start over tomorrow.

And know this: It’s OK if you are so not OK that you need a little extra help.

In a world where it’s better to look like you “got it going on,” with a plastered on smile, letting a big fat “fine” roll off your tongue, while inside you are dying, sad, lonely, and wrestling with emotions and thoughts that even scare you…look, we can’t afford to not reach out and get some extra help. Our minds, our hearts, and our souls are too valuable.

It’s OK if you need to call a therapist. It’s OK if you need some extra help from a pill. It’s OK if you need to admit, I don’t “got this,” and I need some help. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a man. It doesn’t make you less “Christian.” It let’s others know you value yourself to keep waging this battle that is taking over your mind, and that you are going to be OK.

It’s all going to be OK.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Take me as I am

Those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37

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When I was a teen, I hated country music. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. It was not the era of Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban. Instead their was Joe Diffie, Dwight Yoakam, and Wynonna. And the songs were really all about what country music jokes were made of.

However, when my parents moved closer to my grandparents, and my brother and I spent many a summer afternoon walking to their house, the twang of the songs grew on me.

And I grew to love the no nonsense words of Miss Shania.

She taught me that any man of mine had to be proud of me. That certain things should not impress me much. I could color my hair. Do what I dare. And after a long day I needed someone to rub my feet, and give me something to eat.

Then there was ole Faith…who taught me this: All I really need is honesty, From someone with a strong heart, and gentle hand. To take me as I am. 

So, I had a standard.

However, as faulty humans. We don’t always live up to that, do we?

We expect a little too much from each other.

We expect that prior to any relationship we need to have all our junk together first. We rarely take anyone just as they are. Or, we take them. Then try to mold them into what we want them to be.

This is exactly how Charlotte Elliot came to know Christ. Who is she, you ask? She is the writer of the hymn “Just As I Am.”

Bound by depression in her 30’s, her minister paid her a visit and spoke to her about God. She dismissed him. Dead set on needing to “have her junk together” before she could accept this God in her life.

Her mentor and minister’s words: “Come just as you are,” were just the words she needed. She became a Christ follower that day.

It was 14 years later when she would write “Just As I Am.”

These words from that hymn are enough to make me thankful that He accepts me in all my messiness, in all my chaos, with all my junk.

“Just as I am, tho’ tossed about, With many a conflict, Many a doubt, Fightings within, and fears without, O lamb of God I come! I come!”

There are days I am crippled by worry and anxiety. If I didn’t have a God who accepted me in my tangled doubts and fears, I would not make it through.

I am thankful He sees past my twisted thoughts to the person I am outside my head. That He sees past my wretched faults, and accepts me just as I am.

He is and always will be someone with a strong heart, a gentle hand, to take me as I am.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, Grace

 

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If He sees beauty here…so will I

If creation sings your praises, so will I. -Hillsong UNITED

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I decided during my quiet time this week to do something a little different. Instead of my usual front porch sitting, I took my show on the road. I loaded up my Bible, my journal, and my pen, and headed to the lake in my local neighborhood in which I am blessed to live.

And, I just sat. Taking in all the beauty that surrounded me during that time. The big huge boulder that supported and anchored my back as I sat in the grass along the bank. The fireflies that danced and skimmed the waters surface. The water that rippled with the blowing winds, and the sun’s rays. The stray bird that flew through the air.

As I sat there, I realized that I needed to make sure that I spent more time doing this. Just sitting. Appreciating the beauty that surrounded me daily.

And, then I thought of something else.

What if I applied this to the body I was in? Saw beauty in it, and all that it has to offer? Walked into a room, not feeling uncomfortable, naked, and exposed? But, feeling like I belonged…because my Heavenly Father always sees beauty there?

This need to feel comfortable in my own skin. To see beauty where God sees it. To accept my quirks as gifts from Him, comes from the transformation I have witnessed in the last several weeks in my daughter.

My preteen, who still adorns her head with silly headbands, and professes she doesn’t care what others think, has now gained a certain slouch of shame when she witnesses the all to common changes that she is seeing in her body.  And, I know. I know she has witnessed this from me. Even heard many words of shame as I critique my body, my supposed personality flaws, my errors. Yes, modesty is key. Integrity. Righteousness. These are something for which we should strive. However, perfection doesn’t exist, and our personalities are usually given to us for a reason. Furthermore, being a woman should never be something of which we are ashamed.

Then there is my son. Neurologically different because of his autism. A condition that makes him look no different, but yet keeps his belly in knots with anxiety. In addition, he is also a bit socially awkward…sometimes saying and doing the wrong thing, at the absolute wrong time. Who now has a sister who will wrestle with her self-esteem. He will hear her negative self-talk. See her be uncomfortable in her skin, and begin to believe it may be alright to talk to women this way. To allow women to feel this way.

And what comes next, is the doubt she begins to feel when she hears someone tell her mom, “You sure are sassy!” She hears she needs to tone her spunk, her “go get em” attitude down a bit.

When she hears me lament about some part of my physical makeup that I don’t like. My tooth that’s crooked. My too curly hair I only started to make peace with, that is just like hers. She will in turn start to wonder if she is flawed as well.

When he becomes more aware of his differences (because as he gets older, they do become more apparent), will he continue to shrug off the kids that call him “nerd,” or “weird?” Will he be bothered by the fact that he truly is uncomfortable, because he doesn’t know how to interact in the space he is in? And, if I can’t see beauty in me. If she can’t see beauty in the skin she is in, he will in turn learn this is the norm.

Her spirit is diminished more and more, and the belief that she is truly fearfully and wonderfully made becomes overshadowed by the critiques and expectations of the world.

She forgets to see God’s beauty in the space she is in. In the body she occupies. In the personality He has given her.

He feels different because he is wired differently. Thinks differently. Is sometimes awkward. Often comes off as rude. Wonders why God made him this way, and forgets that He too…was made in His image. Autism, and all.

We are all messy, unique, quirky, weird, sassy, beautiful, funny, and glorious. In the space we are in. But, somewhere along the way, we will hear a different message.

I hear…she hears…he hears…we hear…You don’t measure up. You don’t fit in. You need to change.

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

 If He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made….so will I.

Because the tree just stands majestic. It may drop its leaves in silence when the time is right, but in due time, it buds again.

The flower isn’t told not to bloom. That its colors are too bold. Its fragrance too sweet. Its petals and design too quirky.

The bird isn’t told to sing a new song. That the one it chirps is too loud, not their style, or doesn’t sound quite right. It belts out its tune anyway.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. Psalm 139:13-14

That girl. That boy. This woman. You. Will walk into a room and feel comfortable in the space we are in. Not slouching. Standing tall and majestic. Not feeling awkward, or weird, or different. But, like an exotic flower that blooms boldly. Like a bird, singing a song, that may not be someone else’s style. It may be out of tune, and too loud.

But, if creation can sing praise for what God has made…then, so will I.

So will I.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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How are you….really?

How are you….really?

The age old question…”How are you, today?”

Then…the usual response: A painted on smile. A handy-dandy, “Good. Great. How are you?”  Usually all uttered in passing without any secondary regard for what could potentially be bubbling underneath the surface.

Many years ago my work “girlfriends” and I used to joke about a colleague of ours. It had to do with this same age old question. That simple, “How are you?” Our joke was that we didn’t ask him, because well…he would usually share his life story with us that day.

I started to think of that joke recently in light of our often, probably not so true responses. In light of all the suffering taking place around us. In the world. More than likely in our homes. In our hearts.

What if more people told us how they were, really? What if more people actually stopped to listen?

Are we happy plastic people, under shiny plastic steeples? With walls around our weakness, and smiles to hide our pain? But if the invitations open to every heart that has been broken, maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade. -Casting Crowns

I don’t know about you, but my heart is heavy each time I watch the news. Read the paper. Open my phone, and read about another life drastically changed because of brokenness. I don’t know about you, but there are days I feel broken myself. A complete mess. And I am tired of staring at stained glass, trying to be honest, wondering if I am the only one who is a hot, stankin’ mess!

Simply because someone didn’t feel like hearing my story after they asked the obligatory “How are you?”

Paul sums up an important call to all those who follow Christ in Galatians 6:2: “Share each other’s burden, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” He was specific about the “law of Christ,” because the Galatians had been deceived. After Paul had ministered to those in Galatia, the teachers of the “law,” saw it fit to teach them something different, something that led them to believe that the teachings of Jesus were false, that “pretty living and acting” was the way to heaven.

No. That isn’t it at all. It’s “real” love. What hurting people need and want. What Paul wanted the Galatians to remember is it is exactly what Jesus commanded them to do, and it had nothing to do with “acting” like they had it all together. It was the “whole law summed up in this one command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14

So, can I tell you how I “really” am? Can I share with a neighbor for a while?

But would it set me free, if I dared to let you see. The truth behind the person you imagine me to be? Would your arms be open? Or would you walk away? Would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay? 

The same Jesus who stopped for the one to ask “Who touched me?” The same Jesus who stopped the disciples scurrying to let the children come to him. The same Jesus that stopped in the middle of the crowd for the one man who was calling his name. Who stopped EVERY time for the ONE. Never in a hurry. Never in a rush. Never worried that the one was a little too broken, bruised, damaged, or messy.

I want that kind of real.

And, I want to be that kind of real.

To the broken, bruised, damaged, and messy. Like I am. Like we all are.

Need someone real today? Need someone to listen to your story?

I got time for your real. I got time for your mess.

No stained-glasses here.

Just a broken, bruised, mess. Ready for the one who can give an honest answer to the age old question…”How are you….really?”

 

 
 

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