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Through his eyes

In my job with students during the weekday, I get to spend my time supporting them in various activities. I have had the pleasure of learning how to play the saxophone. I have sat through many an assembly. Gone on a number of field trips, and completed a number of art projects. This was no different.

The assignment was 20 things. Each student had to turn to a page in their book and list 20 things that described themselves.

I noticed something. So many were struggling with those 20. Needed help even coming up with one. Looked around the room for a word. Even asked their peers to describe them, wrote what their peers said, or some word they over heard. “Oh yes, that’s me.”

It bothered me enough that I sat in the lunch room the next day and did the same thing. I wanted to make sure I was just as distracted. To see if this was the reason it was so hard. If I could come up with my own list of 20, or if I would need help along the way. If I would get stuck. Need to look around for validation. Seek the faces of the people around me for support.

‘Cause you stood right there, And then you broke apart the lies. You told me I had something beautiful inside. You brought to life the part of me I thought had died. ‘Cause you stood right there until I saw me; I saw me through your eyes  -Brit Nicole, Through Your Eyes

And I realized why it wouldn’t take me long. And, after seeing my list, why mine was so different than the lists of those preteens in that art class. Because words like forgiven and redeemed would not be on their lists. They were seeing themselves through the eyes of the world. Placing value on themselves based on the opinions of those around them.

I knew in the moment I wrote my 20 things who gave me my value: God. I see myself how He sees me.

But I didn’t always feel this way. I am pretty sure my preteen self looked to the world for approval. I didn’t seek God. I know for sure I didn’t have the relationship I have with Him now. My friends were much “cooler.” Or so I thought.

If I only knew what I know now. No one will love you like He will. No one will accept you in your brokenness like He will. No one will forgive you in the way He will. No one will see all your wretchedness, and look at you with tender love the way He will. No one can  see you the way He does. So stop looking at yourself through the lenses of everyone else, and start looking at yourself through His eyes.

https://youtu.be/WJzaQP1GmEc

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2019 in Loving Oneself

 

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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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one word: acceptance

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. 

Surrender. My word for 2016. A word that challenged me to let go. And while I did drop off some baggage in the form of thoughts, practices, and even people; there is something telling me that I still have a ways to go on this journey.

As I reflected on the past year. The chaos. The times I felt attacked. Uncertain. The many days I walked around dazed, all because I was carrying too many of my own burdens, and attempting to lug the baggage of others around, I realized an important truth.

With surrender must come acceptance. Once I let go, I have to be willing to accept that I laid down that burden. Never to be picked up again.

Acceptance of the ups and downs. Knowing that each blessing. Each trial is the divine work of God.

Acceptance of my flaws. Understanding that I am not perfect, but “made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Accepting that others are not perfect either. Realizing these flaws are what makes us vulnerable. What makes us crave the power of a savior.

Accepting that not everyone will get me. Support me. Even like me. Knowing that it doesn’t matter. Since God always loves me. Knows all the traits others don’t “get,” and accepts me as I am-depsite what may bug others.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. John 15:7

Acceptance of differences. Being willing to explore a different opinion. Engage in a conversation with someone who may not have the same views. Realizing our differences, and our ability to see past them is what makes human relationship so sacred. So beautiful.

In doing this, I will also accept that some may not value my differences. May judge my choices. My parenting style. My words. My actions. Learning to shake it off, and instead walk in empathy with others, when others may not show it to me.

I will take defeat. Embrace failure. Accept it as an opportunity to grow, to become humble in my weakness. Relinquish the pride that comes with being successful and right all the time.

Accept the situations I cannot change. The people I can’t change. Recognizing God’s will is more important than my desire to “fix” all that I see is wrong. Relinquishing control to the only one who can change circumstances. Hearts. Minds.

Accepting that life is messy. Ministry is messy. Parenting is messy. And, people….yes, they are, too. Accepting that it’s not my job to “clean-up” this mess. Instead, taking in all its glory. Recognizing the beauty in all that is not neat and tidy.

And, accepting that my home may be a mess. Void of neat and tidy. Knowing that as long as those that inhabit it are happy. Loving each other. Enjoying each other. That it doesn’t matter if the bookcases are dusty. The counters are crumby. Or the carpets are dirty.

Accepting me. All that makes me who I am. My personality. My body. My pet peeves. My past. My wants. Desires. Dreams. Even if others can’t handle it. I will accept the woman He has called me to be.

This year I will accept the mundane. The chaos. The beautiful. The ugly. Those that are different. Those that love me, and those that don’t. The messy, and the neat.

Whatever He throws my way. Whatever His will.

Acceptance.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in One Word 2014, You Make All Things New

 

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Who cares about hair…and other truths about me

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If only I could see you as you see me, and understand the way that I am loved. Would it give a whole new meaning to my purpose, change the way I see the world? -Mandisa, The Truth About Me

Growing up I stood out. Not for any typical reason. I wasn’t taller than my peers. I wasn’t exceptionally pretty. I didn’t stand out for any supernatural reason either. I had no awesome talent or some super athletic ability.

Nope. Nothing like that.

It was my hair. I had extremely, unruly, wiry, curly hair. Like…can’t-get-a-comb-through-it-without-getting-it-stuck-in-the-ends-curly. Puffy. Poofy. Frizzy on rainy days curly. Can’t do anything with curly. Same haircut since kindergarten curly.

And it made me stand out. Made me different. A target.

For envy…because I wanted the long, silky, straight strands of my classmates. The ones that could sit in class and brush each strand without looking like the love child of Diana Ross.

And for bullies…who feared different. Who called me names. All because my hair didn’t look like theirs. Or their dolls. Their sisters. Their girlfriends. Because I didn’t fit the standard of what the world considered pretty. Beautiful. Acceptable. Perfect.

I didn’t fit into a neat tidy box.

Now, many years later…there is another little girl who often stands out. In a world that wants to think that it has changed, but has not all that much.

This girl is my daughter. With the same unruly, can’t get a comb through it hair.

But, she’s a little different.

Unlike me…if she has one hair out of place. If she has one knot. If someone makes a comment about how she is different…she simply does not care.

We could learn a lot from this spunky, sassy, strong-willed, curly-headed, beautiful little girl. We could learn that it is OK to not fit into a neat tidy box. And to simply not care when we don’t.

See, we all want to think that as we got older and grew out of our “awkwardness,” that we also stopped worrying about our bullies. The simple truth is, some of us didn’t. Some of us still carry around the hurts of the bullies that made us feel less than. And, yes…let’s be real. Some of us still have a few bullies. Some of them even live among us in grown-up (even “Christian”) bodies.

But, we don’t have to continue to be their victims. Because, yes. We are different. We are set apart. Molded. Made unique. Made different on purpose. By a creator who loves us. Just.As.We.Are.

So, when the bullies start to attack again and tell you that you are worthless, remember that He says you are worth so much more. A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31: 10

When Satan whispers that you are not beautiful, or don’t fit in, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

When those who call themselves martyrs try to call you by your sin, remind yourself (and them) that you are redeemed! Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people-free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly, free! Ephesians 1:7, MSG

You are loved. You are worthy. You are set apart. You are His. It is OK to be different. To fit in a different box. To stand out in all your sassiness. Spunkiness. Strong-will. And to not care what the bullies or world thinks about it. Even if they decide your brand doesn’t fit into their tidy box.

Embrace the truth about you.

Love it. Own it. It’s how and who He made you to be.

Because He doesn’t care about our hair…and frankly, neither should we.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Loving Oneself

 

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Enough

Enough

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

My name is January. I am an approval addict. I want to be liked. I want to be enough of everything to everyone. I struggle with the dangerous need to please. A need and a desire that saps my energy. That festers in my soul. That listens to the lies of the devil when I become the target of someone’s unkind words, hurtful whispers, or misguided actions. A dangerous need to be liked that causes me to constantly question if I am good enough.

My name is January. I have several other identities. I am broken. A sinner saved and redeemed by the grace of God. I am flawed. I can be a little too “tough.” And, I have a testimony courtesy of all the mistakes I have made, and all the wrong paths I have chosen. Of all the imperfections that have made me who I am.

Even with all this…he thinks I am enough.

But, even with this truth, I have resorted too freely to people-pleasing. I try to please the society that is too quick to label anyone that does not fit the norm. The one that labels “bad” kids, “deadbeat” dads, “unfit” mothers. If you don’t work society calls you “lazy.” If you are not the shining star in class, then you are labeled “stupid” or “unteachable.” If you do not do everything just like those before you, then you are “incompetent.” If you don’t meet the ideal of perfection, you are unworthy.

But, this is not the truth.

You are enough.

In a world that will label you too broken, too damaged, too sassy, too sweet, too goofy, too this, too that. God says otherwise.

He says you are enough.

When you have yelled at your kids one too many times. When you are too tired to help with the homework. When you could not find the right words to say to soothe a hurting child. God says you are just the mom they need.

You are enough.

When the comparison trap rears its ugly head again. When the world tells you that you don’t measure up to its standards. When the devil’s lies scream that you don’t have what it takes. God says “I have called you. I have chosen you. You have just what I need.”

You are enough.

When you leave work feeling completely useless. Thinking you are out of your league, or that you are not making a difference. Doing it all wrong. Know that God has equipped you with the skills you need. The endurance to persevere.

You are enough.

When the guilt and shame of your past sins slowly start creeping back in. Remember, God gave you a fresh start. He gave you grace. He poured out His love to prove you are enough.

When the demands of life just become too much. When your balance is off. When you can’t remember who you are. When you just want to give up. God reminds us He has enough of what we need to get through.

So, you…the one reading this. Right now. The one who has been labeled “bad,” a “deadbeat,” unfit, lazy, unworthy.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

You are altogether flawless. (Song of Solomon 4:7)

Your weaknesses? Your failures? They will be used for good.

Because, you are important.

You are beautiful.

You are smart enough.

You are good enough.

You are strong enough.

You are worthy enough.

You are enough.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Loving Oneself

 

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Every Single Strand

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30

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It is no secret that our home has been a breeding ground for one “learning” experience after another. So, it is no surprise that our home would start to breed other things as well.

Like…lice.

Yes, I know. Yuck. Gross. My thoughts exactly! The mere mention of them makes my skin crawl and my head itch. If that is not enough to make you cringe, then just take a look at the head full of hair in the picture above. Yes, that head. The one with the dark tangled curls. That is where our new problem decided to breed.

And, yet again. God hands me a lesson in the midst of our new problem.

“Mommy, this is why I hate my hair.”

And, I get it. I remember feeling the same way about my own long, curly locks. But, I don’t want my little girl to feel such contempt for her looks, so instead of agreeing, I simply said: “Hayley, your hair is beautiful. It is exactly the way God wanted it to be.”

And, with her best oh-mommy-you-are-so-dumb look of annoyance- “God wanted me to get lice?”

“Well, yes. And you know what? God knows exactly how many strands of hair are on your head. And, believe it or not. He knows exactly how many of these strands also have lice eggs (except, he certainly was not letting me in on this little secret!).

While I certainly did not want to be picking these gross things out of this head full of hair, He wanted me to.

Maybe it was for the simple fact that I couldn’t think of the last time I had actually spent 3 hours just hanging out with my daughter.

Or, maybe it was to make me understand that He not only knows everything about my little girl, and still loves her; He feels the same way about me as well. That the same messages of His love I try so hard to get her to understand, also apply to me as well.

To remind me that while I may use His word to keep the world and its messages of what is beautiful from corrupting the self-esteem of my daughter, I need to heed these words as well. Even if I have been beaten up by a cruel and harsh world.

Like me, my mom always made sure I knew that the many strands of curly hair on my head were beautiful, but it didn’t change the fact that I still looked different from my classmates.

That those strands were a source of ridicule.

That those strands would be the very thing a harsh and cruel world would focus on.

The very strands I began to hate. To loathe. To scorn. Until I moved on to hate and scorn other parts of my body. My upturned nose. My short legs. My strong arms. My crooked teeth.

The very things that God loves about me, and the very things that set me apart from everyone else.

So, He could have made me look like everyone else, but He chose to give me thick, curly, brown hair. Just as He knows the number of strands on my daughter’s head (and the number of lice, too….yuck!), He also knows the number of hairs on my head.

He knows my fears. He knows my doubts.

He knows my strengths. He knows my weaknesses.

You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts when I am far away. Psalm 139:2

And, He also fashioned all my parts. My body. My teeth. My nose. My hair.

Unlike the cruel and harsh world that often does not appreciate the very things that make us unique, God loves every part of me. Of my little girl. Of all of us.

And this is something I won’t allow the world to take from my beautiful daughter.

This is something I can’t allow the world to take away from me.

From the tips of my toes, to the hairs on my short-stranded head-God loves all of me!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Loving Oneself

 

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He Will Protect When I Can’t

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go. Psalm 121:7-8

Protect Hunter

“I don’t want to go to school! I.DON’T.WANT.TO.GO.TO.SCHOOL!

Since school began two weeks ago, this has been the wail of our little boy each morning. In the last two weeks we have mulled over and tried to eliminate any possible triggers. No substitute bus driver this morning. No pesky buttons on his pants. He is fed. He has slept pretty good. His class consists of kids and an aide with whom he is familiar. Everything we can control in his environment we have managed to, so what is the deal?

“I.DON’T.WANT.TO.GO.TO.SCHOOL!”

The wails continue as he stands at the bus stop, jaws clenched, arms crossed, grunts and wails on full display for all the other parents to see. To observe as the small child steps on the bus he seems to hate, stomps his feet, and screams at his parents one last time: 

“I.DON’T.WANT.TO.GO.TO.SCHOOL!”

What’s the deal? In our effort to control our environment and routine to keep our little boy happy, what have we missed? How does the little boy who can’t wait to pull out his folder and have me read about his day each afternoon, turn into this each morning?

The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. Psalm 41:1,2

“Mommy, Hunter said Tommy (names have been changed to protect the not so innocent) hits him and laughs at him at recess. And, Susie said she thinks he is annoying because he cries all the time.”

What’s the deal?

Well, it’s the one I feared would surface at some point. The deal that says-your son is different. He has special needs. He doesn’t operate in the same way. He can’t tolerate changes in the same way.

The deal that I hoped I’d never have to cash in. The moment when my little boy would be considered an outcast.

The moment when the differences meant to enhance the school’s push for “inclusion,” in fact exclude him. 

The moment when his needs and quirks would be considered weird and worthy of eye rolls and taunts from his peers.

The moment when a parent wants to raise a fist, shake a few fingers, and fight-anyone who even dares to mess with their children.

The Lord protects those of child-like faith. Psalm 116:6

Which means that I can put down my drawn fists. Put my pointing fingers away, because He has suited up for this fight.

As much as I want to climb on that bus and ride to school with my little boy. As much as I want to stand beside him on the playground to ensure no one gets past this Mama Bear, I know I can’t protect my little boy every moment of every day.

Instead, I have to let God handle that. I have to allow Him to stand in and protect my little boy from harm when Mama Bear cannot. Remain confident in the promise that Hunter is more precious to Him than two sparrows. Trusting that although I can’t be there for him day after day, week after week, and each and every new year, He will be. Standing in the gap for the mom ready to pounce and point a finger at the Tommys and Susies at any given moment.

None of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you; not a hair of your head will perish. Luke 21:15,18

God has certainly given Hunter exactly what he needs each year to navigate changes, new routines, and yes, even his quirks and differences. Whether it has been the same teacher each year, a bus driver who also happens to be the gym teacher, or the familiarity of a sweet and adoring friend, God ensures that the right people are placed into my son’s life. That they are placed there to protect the very hairs on his curly, brown head. To protect him from the Tommys and Susies. From the eye rolls and taunts.

To stand in the gap of this Mama Bear.

To protect a quirky and different little boy, when she cannot.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Autism and Faith, On Parenting

 

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