Our Stories Reflect The Power of The Gospel

 

In my Sophomore year of college I was introduced to Anne Lamott. Basically, she is a fabulous writer who writes raw words and loves Jesus. She’s also basically nothing like me.

But I couldn’t help be drawn to the way she unapologetically exposed herself. The way she wrote all the words about her life and never failed to tell her own sin and her own struggles, and all her hopes for the future.Continue reading “Our Stories Reflect The Power of The Gospel”

When My Soul is Weary

Yesterday was one of those once in a lifetime sort of days. Mostly, the type of day you hope you never have to live through.

And my soul is tired…

Yesterday, I read 3 pages of allegations and all I could do was stare at all that black ink and wonder, how did it get to this? how did it ever get this far? and how was I ever so blinded by hope? 

It is the hardest lesson I have learned: that you can’t change someone else.

Intervention can’t change them. The law can’t change them. God can absolutely change them, but he only walks into hearts that want him…he only changes souls that ask…

I once heard a counselor say that it was her job to listen to the story and then pour God’s truth over it. I have never forgotten that comment. It’s beautiful.

And so…this is me, attempting to pour all the truth.

Truth? God was in the car yesterday as we made the early morning drive and he was in the touch of my husbands fingers against mine. He was beside me as I clenched my anxious jaw on that wooden bench, and as I fought the migraine. He was in the moments of peace and sadness and he was in the weight of all the consequences presented. He was present in the community of friends and loved ones praying steadfast over us.

He was present in every moment leading up to this single instance and he will be present in every moment following.

Listen to me…God is not surprised by your life or your sin or by mine. And he is certainly not caught off guard when you are sinned against. He is not seeking counsel elsewhere because he has no clue how to intervene. He is not hesitating to act. He did not set the earth into motion and then step back – a silent observer to the chaos. Throughout scripture we see a vivid and powerfully consistent God in his response to evil. He calls us to mercy and to fight for justice for those who cannot fight for themselves.

He offers us free will. WE choose. WE sin. WE invite brokenness. WE fail to repent. WE break the nations.

The Gospel is modeled to us in sweeping gestures of love-fueled grace across the course of history. There is God, Father, Son, Spirit, living in perfect community, relentlessly pursuing. He was present in creation; in the mercy of sacrifice for a thousand years. He pressed himself into humanity and walked among us and ate at our tables and smiled at the outcasts and wept over death. God used the two most powerful elements in existence to RESCUE: Love and Story. THIS is the Gospel – a love story of the purest and most eternal kind.

He offers us free will, just as his will is free, and HE choose us. HE paid for our sin. HE bore our broken. HE redeemed us. HE longs to reconcile the nations.

And so…here I sit, my soul overwhelmed, and yearning for all the highest ground there ever was.

Today, I remind myself of the certainty of Christ’s promise to never leave or forsake me, to choose me, to call me his.

No matter the brokenness of this planet we walk on, God is still good and faithful and present.

It is impossible for him to fail us.

It is impossible for me to be forgotten.

What You’re NOT Responsible For

You are not responsible for the way people treat you.

You are not responsible for what other people say about you, or any lies they might tell about you.

You are NOT responsible for your abuse.

You are not responsible for the things that were done to you in dark and quiet places, or for the scars you carry or for the heaviness that lays over your heart like damp, heavy blanket.

Listen to me. There are plenty of things in this life that you are responsible for…but there are also plenty that aren’t yours to shoulder.

You ARE responsible for your response. For your actions. For the words that escape from your lips. For your thoughts…

And that’s all.

Own what is yours to own.

And let the rest go.

I Will Thrive Anyway

One of the most devastating side effects of abuse is self doubt. Honestly, I struggle to put into words the heartache that physical and emotional and verbal abuse have on a child’s sense of self…and how we carry a longing to know who we are and to be known into adulthood. Continue reading “I Will Thrive Anyway”

When You’re a Christian Who Struggles With Depression

In 2008 I had just finished up my first senior semester with a 3.6 GPA. I had worked my butt off to get those grades. 6 classes. 4 senior level. 2 Theology classes. 4 English classes.

It literally took everything in me to finish strong . And by the end of the semester, with Christmas just days away, I found myself depressed beyond what words could even describe. It didn’t matter that I loved God or what I told myself…I could not get better.

I was living in daily abuse and lies. I simply could not cope.

Honestly, I knew that I had to make a choice: visit my doctor or die. I wouldn’t have made it through another two weeks…and the small pill she prescribed me changed everything.

I think of depression so differently now than ever before.

To Depress – to lower in force, vigor, or activity; to weaken; to make dull; to press down; to lower in amount or value.

Now, bear with me for a moment…when you take a verb and change it into a noun it is called “a nominalization”.

When you take the action of “depress” and apply it to a subject so repeatedly that the subject takes on the behavior of the action we say, “She has depression.” The verb becomes a noun. The action of the verb becomes a thing.

See it?

Now here’s the thing…depression is so multifaceted that there can be any number of causes. Those causes can be either SELF-inflicted or ENVIRONMENTAL.

An example of “self-inflicted” depression might be lack of proper nutrition, lack of exercise…etc. These are actions YOU have some control over.

But there are also ENVIRONMENTAL causes, actions or events you have zero control over.

This might be death, disease, a traumatic event, lack of proper care as a child…etc.

No one is surprised when a rape victim struggles with depression. No one is surprised when a solider struggles with PTSD. No one is surprised when an overwhelming life event causes anxiety or fear.

There is such a thing as being able to control your depression. But there is also such a thing as not being able to control your depression.

In a lot of ways, depression is a natural response to sin and brokenness.

We were never intended to live in a world with rape or slavery or brutality or childhood abuse or manipulation. God didn’t create the world that way…he created this world perfect and sin destroys perfection.

Is it any surprise that our bodies might have a physiological response to sin?

Is it?

Our bodies respond physiologically to sin every single day simply by the mere FACT that we AGE. Why are Christians so surprised when the very cells of our bodies respond and cry out against brokenness?

C. S. Lewis said, “You are not a body. You are a soul. You have a body.”

We are not mere mortals. We are souls designed to live in perfect community with our Heavenly Father. Sin breaks that communion in ways deeper than we usually care to reflect on.

Here me, and hear my heart. If you are a Christian who struggles with depression I GET IT. In a lot of ways, I have had to take hard inspection of myself to see the places in which my depression has been environmental or has been as a result of my own actions…or lack of action. I am not gonna lie…it’s hard to do this. But it is so worth it. It is also fully possible for depression to be lengthy and lifelong depending on its causes and roots, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still glorify God in and through it.

We are not victims even if we have been victimized. That is not our identity. Our worth is in the simple and beautiful fact that we are created. That’s it. Value of personhood is not earned or gained. It is thrust upon you by your creator. Value…is…intrinsic.

Ask yourself these three questions to test your motivation behind your actions.

1. Is this good for my soul?

2. Is this good for my relationship with Jesus Christ?

3. Is this good for my most intimate relationship?

It is OK if you struggle. It is OK if your body struggles to regain healthy function after trauma. There is no shame. God knows and he sees and he is not surprised by your body responding in a way that he designed. He’s not. Depression does not scare or intimidate God. He is a whole lot bigger than that. And he waits with wide open arms to receive you and receive your pain…

…and he has beautiful things ahead for you.

All That Matters Most

After awhile

you start to see

that beauty

isn’t always obvious

and that fast-paced

is no real way to make do.

.

And after awhile

you begin to notice

the ripple of a rain drop

over the sound

of admiration.

.

And you start to see,

Oh, you start to see,

how glass-frail breath is

and how air in your lungs

is really the most

valuable thing

in existence.

.

After awhile,

you start to treasure

the way your lover

holds your hand

when life deals death,

because pain is frequent

and too weighty

to be carried alone.

.

And you start to

finally understand

that real love

is more than two words

and a cake:

it is more like

two lifetimes

given selflessly

over and over

and over and over

until you leave

a legacy.

.

And you stop

caring so much,

about the noise

of opinions –

because actually, an opinion

without kindness

is just hate.

.

And after awhile,

you start to value,

the way your children

laugh with their eyes,

love with their heart,

find God with their souls,

over any other

dreams for them

you might have had.

.

But mostly, you learn,

that life is always shorter

than you hope, and

that the only things

you’ll ever really leave behind

are memories.

This Is What Healing Looks Like and What It Means.

 

Have you ever heard someone tell their story without a hint of shame?

In my senior year at Northwest University, we had a guest speaker; a man who had lived a wild life of parties and dark sexual pleasures. There he stood, with so much humility and joy and theatrical storytelling it was almost like he was telling someone else’s story. But he wasn’t. He lived every second of the heartache, the brokenness, the shame. And yet here he was: healed and thriving and generous and vulnerable.Continue reading “This Is What Healing Looks Like and What It Means.”

Practical Tips For Addressing Everyday Anxiety in Children

My son Bear used to throw terrible fits in public. One time, he screamed to high heaven while pulling every article of clothing in sight as I attempted to leave a department store. I was mortified!

And then in the parking lot…he bit me.

Lord Jesus, save us all…for reals, I almost transformed into the Hulk.

I cried all the way home and then took so many deep breaths I gave myself hiccups.

I sent Bear straight to bed and he slept for THREE HOURS. He had been exhausted.

 

A New Perspective

After that day, I started realizing that the majority of Bear’s “fits” were actually just him reacting to stress.

He was overwhelmed. He was experiencing ANXIETY.

Ah! A word most of us know all too well.

 

Our Little Ones Have So Much Thrown at Them 

Listen. Our kids have far too much thrown at them each day. They are surrounded by toys and all those toys make noise and are painted 117 colors. They have sports and preschool and extracurricular activities and expectations galore. Even their shampoo has more ingredients than a salad bar, and at every. single. moment. we offer them stimulation.

Enough!

I am realizing that I don’t have to “parent like everyone else”. And you know what? I’m loving the freedom in that.

 

Simplify 

Get rid of HALF your toys. This might sound totally insane, but I promise you won’t miss not picking them up anymore. Let’s be crazy together. Donate them!

Strive to stay home 4 nights a weeks. More is GREAT. Less isn’t.

Eliminate three small stressors in YOUR life. For me this means, not matching socks, turning off all the noise, and getting outside. (I know…I live on the wild side.)

 

Live the Life YOU Want

You don’t have to do life like everyone else. Your kids have their own unique struggles and triggers and stressors and STRENGTHS, and so do you. And parents, we are the PERFECT people to help our kids, because we love them most and know them best.

Living With ALL The Intention

Listen. You don’t have to be famous to be successful. You don’t.

Living a Well-Lived life might not be easy but it is SIMPLE. Really…you only need TWO things: Willingness & Intention.

Willingness – Cheerfully consenting or ready.

Intention – an act of determining mentally upon some action or result.

Take some time to brew yourself a cup of coffee and sit with a blank sheet of paper and write down all the hopes and dreams and visions for your life. Just write. If you should live to be 100, what do you want to look back on and be proud of? WHO do you want to be? WHAT do you want to do?

Me? I want a PHENOMENAL marriage. I want a home full of joy and peace. I want to be healthy in body, mind, and soul. I want my children to grow to love others and love God and I want them to find joy in life. I want to help impoverished people locally and globally in practical and sustainable ways.

What do you want from this one, beautiful life you get? What do you need to surrender? to change?

It takes absolute bravery to step into a life you love, especially if you come from brokenness or a place of abuse. It might actually be the hardest and most scary thing you’ve ever done. You might shake. Hear me when I say, that it’s ok to step forward unsteady. If we waited for fear to leave before we chose to act, we’d be stuck in the muck of indifference indefinitely.

Be brave, dear one! Step into the sun. Pull that foot out of the muck. Turn your eyes toward Jesus and look FULLY.

I promise you will be changed.

 

Learning What Matters in Mothering

After awhile of all this mothering, you start to see that all the small moments are the times that matter most. That all those times you smiled with fondness at them, soaked up a tear with a kiss…all the times you laughed when you’d much rather have shouted, all the times you chose to dance instead of tidy the kitchen, and all the times you let them sink their little hands into the hot, soap water next to yours, THOSE are the times that matter the MOST.

Chores are an inevitable part of life. Laundry must be folded, dishes must be washed, meals prepared…and on and on the list goes.

There will always be more to do.  A L W A Y S.

And honestly, chores are really important. I’ve never been a fan of “good moms have messy houses”.

Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family have all witnessed my complete inability to manage the wave of chaos my children can create. And it’s ok! Seasons come and go. And I know that right now I’m in a very messy, and unpredictable season of life with three kids five and under. I work really hard to maintain my home, but right now, I am barely keeping my head afloat. B A R E L Y !

For me, creating a tidy, uncluttered home full of good food and joy is so important to me. It is what I strive for. But you know what? It’s also just OK that my home doesn’t look the same with three kids as it did with one. Phew!

And in those moments of frustration and will-you-please-stop-hitting-your-brother and can-I-just-go-pee-by-myself and oh my gosh, don’t eat that!…I am learning to find joy in all our crazy.

For us, this usually looks like a cup of coffee and a snack and several pages of ISPY (since it’s winter) while the sink overflows with dishes. Or maybe a 15 minute break to watch funny animal videos on YouTube – do not underestimate the power of some belly laughs to completely change your day around.

Go and do your chores. Fold that laundry! Declutter!

But also remember to PAUSE and DELIGHT in the childhood you are privileged to witness each day.

 

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