How He Takes Our Brokenness

The last two weeks have weighed heavy on me.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. A friend of mine is struggling with depression. Another precious soul is deeply addicted to illegal drugs.

Life feels broken and dim.

And all the pain and brokenness feels like a wet, heavy sweater around my shoulders that I can’t shake off. Like its stuck to me.

I’ve had to remind myself that God is near. He is here. And fully present. He is not surprised by the grief or the brokenness. And he will not shift himself over to a dark corner to protect his own heart. He leans in, close, and loves with utter abandon.

Life is a journey. And so is healing.

I am learning that more and more. How healing isn’t one good cry and a single release of emotion that somehow equals forgetting all the pain…it is an ever-deepening relationship toward fullness.

And the benefit of emotional healing is joy.

So keep going. Don’t give up. Let yourself feel and grieve and bear the burdens of others – this is a hard and beautiful reflection of the way Jesus leans in so close to us when we are breaking apart.

All love involves risk.

And letting God heal you involves risking your pride and your clenched fists and your anger and the way you put back your shoulders and refuse to be vulnerable.

This is how he heals us: he unfolds the hurts, pours love and truth over all of it, and then slowly takes it from us as we release.

And in our open palms, he places joy…

The Meaning of Motherhood: Honest Words to Myself

I’m writing this for me. I’m preaching to the choir. I need this today. Because, I need to remember that motherhood was never intended to be picture perfect or even halfway presentable most of the time.

•••

Motherhood is hard hard draining exhausting work. X 100.

God gives us these little people and we hold them and hug them and those first tears we cry when we see them are just the start of the beautifully messy life unfolding before our eyes.

The spit-up and the diapers fade to fits and coloring on walls and before you know it they’ve lost their first tooth and you’re having conversations about the possibility of actually digging up treasure and they are sounding out words and asking you how babies are made. (All that happened to me this week, by the way.)

Some days I don’t even make it to bed because I fall asleep watching Friends on the couch with a bag of chips half eaten beside me. (My life is so glamorous…)

Today, I really need to remember that mothering is supposed to take a ton of energy. It’s supposed to be hard some days and really terrific other days. And it’s all OK.

And I need to listen to my friends when they tell me to give myself grace. Because productivity doesn’t equal value when it comes to personhood. And a messy home and a GIANT pile of laundry doesn’t mean anything except that we actually live here. Right?

Today, I need to take a deep breath and remind myself that God’s mercies are new EVERY morning. And they were new THIS morning…when I woke up tired and short on motivation. I need to remind myself that it’s OK to be tired and human.

It’s just OK.

And it’s ok for YOU too…

So, today I’m giving myself grace. I’m not gonna be lazy, but I’m also not gonna be so hard on myself. And mostly, I’m going to remind myself that my Heavenly Father sees me and knows me and this family he’s given me…

they are a treasure…

even when I’m exhausted and way too hard on myself.

What Healing Really Means

Do you know what it means to be healed? It means you are free. It means your shame is so far behind you you can barely see it when you look back. It means there is freedom of emotion when you walk beside the Lord step by step through a valley and come out into open, wide plains.

Psalm 34 says, Oh TASTE and SEE that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit…He REDEEMS those who serve him.

Emotional healing is not a singular event. It’s a journey. And it is OK that it’s a journey and it is also OK for your journey to be unique and sacred in the ways that God devises for YOU. We love and serve a God who loves and serves us in individual and personal ways.

And it’s OK when you struggle. It doesn’t mean that you haven’t healed or that God is failing you or that depression is winding itself up to overtake you. It just means there is more to be healed. That’s it. There’s more. And that is OK too.

Oh friend…here’s to you! And here’s to all the bravery it undoubtedly will take to step toward wholeness. May you find all the joy as you walk your healing journey. And be encouraged, dear one – there is much ahead for YOU. There is joy as bright as ten thousand radiant suns…

When People You Love Fall Apart

Winter 2018 has been super heartbreaking in a lot of ways.

Someone I love is addicted to drugs, and watching them lose everything and waste away has been tragic in ways so deep I’m not sure there are words to describe how I feel…anguish??

Someone I love has cancer.

Someone I love is grieving the death of her only two grandchildren.

Someone I love is dealing with an incredibly stressful domestic abuse case.

And God is there in it all.

And God is there beside us through it all.

•••

A few months ago I came home from a long, rough, emotional day. I hugged my husband and then I said something I’ve never said before, “Let’s watch funny YouTube videos!”

Ummm…what??

Two hours before I’d been holding a dear hand and crying with a broken soul.

Laugh?

Yes. Laugh.

And for the next hour we sat and laughed until our cheeks hurt. And you know what? It was just the best.

Because I know who holds the future. And I know that grief isn’t just a steady incline to the mountain peaks…it’s also the rest along the way…the view of the valley. The small victories.

Yes, sometimes grief is the grey cliffs and the rocky terrain. Sometimes you get lost entirely.

But sometimes, after a little while of the darkness, you find that grief offers us glimpses of joy and peace and rest. That’s called mercy: compassionate care for those in distress.

Grief is an ebb and flow.

•••

God is there beside us through it all: the despair and the joy.

Someone I love is being relentlessly pursued by God.

Someone I love is being surrounded by the people of God who stood up to Love Well even when it’s hard and it hurts and you risk your own heart to do it because you might actually lose them and it never occurred to you before.

Someone I love is becoming a Grandparent all over again and God is there in all the sorrow and the mix of the wrestling with joy and grief, but mostly grief.

Someone I love has been given a new, safe home.

God is in the highs and lows. He is in the weight of loss and in the joy of newness. He doesn’t leave. He’s not afraid of brokenness.

And he is certainly not afraid of your brokenness…

9 Reasons Why Emotional Abuse Is Designed to Crush You

1. Because emotional abuse targets your soul and your personhood and your value.

2. Because emotional abuse hides in plain sight: there are no bruises.

3. Because the PURPOSE of emotional abuse is to inflict SHAME. And shame is often the underlying cause of depression, perfectionism, anxiety, fear, lack of self confidence, and even obsessive compulsive disorders and addiction.

4. Because emotional abuse causes you to doubt yourself and question yourself, you often downplay it, and it wrecks you from the inside out.

5. Because it’s all LIES. And the goal of a lie is to cover up the truth.

6. Because words can bring death. And standing there behind all those victims of suicide resides a stack of lies they believed. I believed them too, for the better part of a decade. And I almost lost my life to those lies.

7. Because emotional abuse can come at you so unexpectedly. It’s not like a punch you can see coming. It’s like a patch of black ice.

8. Because emotionally abusive people are deeply manipulative. Like DEEP. As in…so manipulative that nearly every word they speak is some sort of rouse or lie or worse, a half-truth.

9. Because, usually, you love the person who emotionally abuses you.

And this is the toughest one.

But just because you love someone doesn’t make them safe.

Just because someone is nice most of the time and then detrimental when you least expect it, doesn’t make them a “nice person”. It makes them a really good liar.

You are valuable simply because you exist. And that is it. Simply because you are here and you have breath in your lungs and a soul in your body makes you infinitely precious.

Isn’t that beautiful?

It’s OK to Live the Live You Want

It is OK to live the life you want. And it is OK to say “no” to everything else.

It is OK to live a calm life, a life free from trying to live up to someone else’s idea of how your life should look.

Are you striving to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength?

Are you striving to love your neighbor as yourself?

Then go and be free, dear one. Because loving God and loving Others actually matter the most in all the busyness of this loud and opinionated world.

Everything else is debatable…

Why Church Matters- Part 1

Today was Sunday, and like so many other Sundays I spent my morning thinking about and preparing for church.

I have been to church almost every Sunday of my life.

Some of the seats I’ve sat in, I’ve loved. Some, not so much.

I’ve been to Catholic services, to liturgical Baptist Churches on the East Coast, to mega churches, famous churches, tiny churches, churches with professional musicians and churches that literally do not believe in instruments being inside a church. I’ve been to church in the middle of a field in a third world country. I’ve been to churches where I am the only white person, and churches were I didn’t even speak the language. I’ve seen pastors speak with so much pride and I have wondered how anyone could follow them. I have seen humble pastors. And I’ve heard testimonies of changed lives beyond what is comprehensible. I’ve seen healthy churches. And I’ve seen unhealthy churches.

But in all those churches…Between all those walls and stained glass murals. Between the notes of the hymns and the smiles of the faithful, you start to get a feeling for what is real and what is ceremony…

And that is the giant wall that faces so many with glaring condemnation: the false gospel.

Oh! We don’t like to call it that. But for every church striving to be the hands and feet of Jesus, there are five ahead of it so introspective that “missions” haven’t changed in two decades and salvations are mere conjecture.

What on earth are we doing? The point of The Church is to G R O W! The point of church is to live vulnerably in community. The point of church is to change your heart to be more like Jesus while walking through life alongside the Body of Christ.

This is why I love The Church: because Jesus loves The Church. Because the Bible is riddled with story after story of the importance of The Church. I don’t love The Church because it’s “perfect” or because of a type of music or because of a hipster pastor. And I’m well past the notion that church needs to look or feel a certain way.

Church was NEVER meant to fulfill you: God was. Church was NEVER meant to be empty of sin…it was meant to be a Gathering of Souls striving relentlessly toward Holiness, toward furthering the Gospel, toward discipleship.

It takes an immense amount of work to sustain a healthy church. So, if you happen to be part of one…thank your leaders for all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

Why does church matter: honestly, because the Bible says it does.

And because God knows what we need.

Trust him…