Finding Wholeness Back Home

I’m reminded of a time I wandered these streets.
I was a very different person back then.
I longed to be seen and valued and to be fully known.

And when I left this town I was hoping to find all of this.

But what I found is…these things should never be our quest.
Instead they’re the beauty we find when our soul’s healing and it’s finding it’s rightful place in this world.

Last week as I walked these same steps as so many times before, I found something surprisingly new and powerful about its path.

I found strength and confidence as I walked its pavement.

We’re always cautioned not to hold on too tightly to our past.
To forgive ourselves….to not live in its footsteps…to let go of the bitterness or pain.

But there’s something scary about letting go of it all.

Yet when you get on the other side of all of this, there’s something beautiful which happens.

You realize what the enemy intended to kill you with, God used to shape your life.

I remember for several years after I moved away, I would return back home and I secretly hoped I wouldn’t find even a hint of my past.
I was ashamed of how I’d lived back then and I didn’t want even a reminder of who I was.
I made choices driven by insecurity and unmet needs… and I hated who I was.

But last week, it felt so freeing to walk those same sidewalks knowing my identity is drenched in Christ.
Knowing I no longer am ‘known’ for who I was because who Jesus is shaping me into today is… a new creation, a new person.

And honestly this is what drives me to reach out to brokenness when I see it…
It’s what leads me to check in on friends and family when God lays them on my heart…

You see, it takes compassion to look into one’s own soul and hand out grace.

Joe picked New England as his finale trip following all of his treatments.
He loves my hometown and loves my family who live there.

And honestly its because of him and God working side by side, that place has found redemption.
You see, for years he always made a point of getting me back home.
He saved paychecks and shifted his desires to make new memories with me there. He knew that place was worth redeeming and he knew it would restore me at the same time.
So year after year he got us back there, whether this meant driving thousands of miles through the night, staying in sketchy hotels or hours upon hours of boys getting stir crazy in the back seat…his pursuit remained the same.

It was always to heal brokenness and re-make memories with family…

And although this trip was quieter and a bit slower this time, it represented so many of the same intentions.

Except this time it was for him as well…

You see, this time Joe was the one we went there to restore.
And even though, rest does some funny things which we aren’t always ready to uncover, there’s something healing in setting aside sacred time to heal.

As we returned to all of our ‘favorite’ places, although they each were just as beautiful as we’d left them…there was something harder about them.

Because this is what happens when we’re still healing…

Just because the hardest of days are behind you, doesn’t mean there aren’t more ahead.
They’re just a new kind of hard.
And as I pressed in harder to God, every time I caught glimpses of the work which is left to do…

I was reminded to not forget…

To not forget the miracle which has already taken place.

To not forget to choose worship over worry.

To not forget how far we’ve come and that healing doesn’t happen over night.

And most of all that it’s okay to not be okay all of the time…

This is why we have places like this to go to…
Because inside these spaces we carve out time to rest and to heal.

So many times we are pleading to God for the healing, wanting this thing to go away.
But what if this THING is what God is shaping us with?

What if it is what God uses to remind us he’s got a plan for our healing…a time to for it all to transpire…because none of this is a surprise for him or something he can’t deal with…

And in the depths of our sweetest of worship, it’s here we find we were never alone, but in it all, he’s been with us every.step. of the way.

And this morning in the darkness of the early morning hours, my eyes fell upon this familiar passage…
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

The word for ‘Almighty’ in this verse can be interpreted as the Hebrew word ‘enough‘.

Isn’t that a beautiful picture of God?

Our God is enough for us….enough healing…enough strength…enough for us to need no-thing else…enough to be content and enough for us to truly embrace rest…

In our days when we search endlessly for more….God is truly enough!

 

When You Still Need Healing

Some things in life just happen then there’s the kind of days we spend hours planning for. We want every detail lived out because dreams have a way of carrying us through hard days.

Our trip to New England has been just this. And as we’ve been walking through these days there was one day we both were looking forward to more than any other. It was the day we planned to drive with the top down in our rented convertible Mustang (because even that was part of the dream) as we drove to Bailey’s Island along the beautiful coast of Maine.

Yet neither of expected the emotions which overtook us there.

As we sat overlooking the giant granite steps leading down into the ocean, our legs dangled over the edge and we bowed our heads as we thanked God for getting us here.

Because this place truly represented so much for the two of us. Not only does it hold years of sweet memories- but most importantly, it was the place Joe fought to get to….through all of the pain and sleepless nights, through his hard months of treatments…this place represented he’d truly made it through Cancer. So it wasn’t surprising when tears began streaming down our cheeks as we praised God for bringing us this far.

You see, some things in life take more out of us than we ever realize. And as we sat on the edge looking over this cliff both of us breathed in the salty air and breathed out a deep sigh of relief.

Joe just that morning had described to me the heaviness he’d been feeling trying to readjust to parts of his body not working and him not feeling like himself. Because sometimes we collect things in the fire which don’t translate in the everyday lives we return to.

We went back to this place because when life feels like it’s been all too much, sitting by the ocean is where I go. For most of my life this has been the place I long to come to. It’s where I grew up and it’s waves always bring back a steady rhythm into my soul. I shared this exact spot with Joe the first time he ever visited Maine and he instantly fell in love with it too. So now whenever we visit we come here. Our kids have stacked up years of memories here and it’s a somewhat sacred place for us.

It’s where we let go of my parents and said our last good byes and it holds so many joy-filled memories for us too.

I truly believe this is why water is so significant to me. Whether it’s the beating of raindrops outside, the soothing waves of the ocean, a rolling stream or even the calmness of a lake…I love it all because somewhere beside water I find a calmness that settles my soul.

And even when sadness invades my life the warmth of a shower has a way of soothing any unrest within…there’s really nothing else like it for me.

So, it was no surprise the kind of healing this day held for us.

The truth is we walked away with the same limp and pains but sometimes it’s finding healing from the inside out which changes us the most. And as we walked away this day our hearts were a little lighter as some of the hard which we’ve just come through fell into the ocean with the waves which were crashing up against the rocks underneath us.

And this is truly what we came here for…

Because sometimes you need to leave some of your pain behind to get to more of the healing.

And although both of us came with different wounds there isn’t a better place we’d rather go to do this kind of healing.

And as our time away is slowly winding down I’m praying we return home different…perhaps a little more rested and a tad bit healed too.

Because we really need it.

I’ll admit life’s been taking all we have and just like I told one of our son’s yesterday about an injury he’s healing from-

‘healing is just as important as getting the wound initially treated.’

Because healing happens most when we intentionally set aside the time to be restored….time to remember and time to rest.

And honestly I think this is what happens when we step away from all that’s piling up at home…. We remember where our stories first began…🖤

Seasons of Change and Re-growth

I used to not even notice so much of what was happening; each breath we took…the many steps we walked…or even the simple beauty surrounding us.

But I do now. 

Because when someone brushes up against death, there’s nothing ordinary about any of these things. 
And there’s honestly nothing ordinary with even life itself. 

During these past seven months, a season full of so many unknowns God has been using things such as these, to remind me life is truly a gift, not to be overlooked. 

As I sit here today, we’re on vacation trying to heal a little from all we’ve been going through. 
We stayed the night in my hometown and its surreal to be here. 
In one way its all too familiar and in another, it’s quite unfamiliar.

Because a person can grow up in a town and one day feel as if they’ve outgrown it.

As I sit here in a coffee shop on Main St. this morning I come here as a quite different person than when I left it over thirty years ago. 
Back then I was a young girl who knew very little about God and even less about myself. 

I had first left this town in search of who I was. 
I always felt like something was missing or better yet someone was missing.

I had no idea who I was because I was so busy striving to be liked and approved of, I lost who I was. 
My head would hang low back then and I’d hide my figure in oversized clothing in hopes to not be found out. 

I truly wish someone had been there with me back then and guided me through all I was experiencing…I wish I had truly known God, but I didn’t. 
I didn’t find him for a couple of years and the journey to him almost killed me.

Because there’s something dark that happens when you’re wandering through life without him…

I wasn’t the kind of person others would have wanted to be. 
I didn’t have it all together or even halfway figured out. 
I wasn’t an athlete others would remember and I wasn’t the girl who would ever make it to the top of the class…these are the things I longed for but always fell short of. 

And yet as I sit here today, I feel as if I don’t need those things anymore. 
Because they’re not what my soul needs.
Instead I’ve found great pleasure in finding God and him finding me. 
And it’s here we sit together every day getting to know one another a little better. 

This trip we are on, the one we’ve dreamed of for months, the one Joe etched out ever detail in his mind is here to do something for our souls…yes to heal us from the past seven months but there’s another thing it’s here to do…it’s here, to remind me of the journey I’ve been on for the last thirty years
-which has stretched my heart and grown me into who I am now. 

It’s been renewing for us to find joy within these long months, even when we had no idea what was awaiting us on the other side. 
Because when we search for joy in the midst of suffering, it always is found.

So even though we’re climbing out of this season we’ve been in there’s something hard about not being the same person you were before this began. 
Not being able to take the steps you easily have taken for years. 
Because there’s something hard about reminding yourself healing takes time. 

So, when Joe told me this morning how he’s still adjusting to his body’s limitations these days it made me think of how sometimes a person changes and grows stronger and  there’s other times when our bodies have to adjust to a new ‘normal’. 

I’ve always had a hard time with learning new rhythms.
Because sometimes it happens this way overnight we lose something we love.
And life challenges us to carry on as before. 
But there’s a season that’s necessary for us to heal. 
A day for breathing in the fresh air and seeing the beauty surrounding us, even in the midst of the hardness of life. 

As we’re driving through the beautiful countryside of New England seeing all of the leaves changing colors, I’m reminded of how beautiful things can come following a season of suffering.

I know this because I’ve been here before.

Strangely though no matter how many times I’ve walked this road I still continue to forget how healing does come.
We all go through these seasons and yet I so often forget how I make it out.
Because I think it’s easier for me to remember being in it, walking through it and I forget how I made it to the other side of it. 

And there’s something very unique about surviving, because once we make it to the other side, we’ll have a big story to tell and re-tell about God.

Here’s my reminder for this season….
Deep struggle always brings a season of re-growth.

 

 

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Strength in the Middle

If you seem to think life gets easier on the other side of the valley, perhaps think again…because there’s a fight that stirs even when we pass through the loneliness of this new territory.

When the crowd’s died down and learning to walk again takes a renewed mantra.

Because even if we’re just trying to make it to the end, there’s so much we often forget in the middle of the valley. 

Friend there’s truly a beginning and there’s an end to every suffering…
But what we do in the middle really matters too.

Because our response to suffering seems to be louder than anything we often say. 

I believe, It’s because healing happens here. 
People meet God here and find healing here too. 

I’ve found it’s all too easy to become paralyzed in the midst of pain.
And we have to resist becoming swallowed up by it…
Because it’s here we create something absolutely beautiful, when we speak in the midst of our pain.
There’s so much to living like this…we carry Christ into our broken world when we live like this. 

And wherever brokenness exists, healing is found. 

It’s here we become proof of who God is….
Because the beauty of brokenness exists inside our healing. 

And this is where peace is found in the middle of the valley…
Even when we feel like our world is crashing down,
God’s working.
Even when we feel like we can’t breathe…or life seems just seems all too overwhelming…
Know there’s peace in the valley, friend…
When we quiet all the noise within…peace is found.

It’s here stories of brokenness are penned and written. 
Not to be read as a eulogy, but shared across tables.  

Because honestly, the rescue we’ve been begging God for, is often brought through someone he sets beside us.

And being vulnerable in these seasons while resisting doing it all alone, is where insecurity and loneliness lose their strength. 

I remember it like it was yesterday.
As I stood at my mirror that Sunday morning, 
I saw my reflection and I wondered how we were going to do this. 

Because these kinds of things aren’t supposed to happen, I didn’t have them written in our story. 
They broke the steadiness I’d spent years asking God for. 

Joe was about to stand in front of our church family like he’s done so many times before, but this day, it was quite different. 

You see, just a few days before he’d discovered something strange growing on the side of his neck. And these are the kinds of things people spend years trying to avoid, the deformed growths we don’t want to be seen. 

Yet as I stared into the mirror that morning, everything inside of me wanted him to walk off the stage and hide.
Yet something stirred strongly within and told me, this time we needed to do this differently. 

I felt like God was cupping my face in that moment to get my attention.
As he kindly but firmly told me…‘this thing that’s about to sweep you away- is to be lived in the midst of people…openly, rawly up close and real.’

As I felt God speaking this over me, I heard him calmly remind me how Joe peacefully left the house that morning. 

And friend, this is exactly what we chose to do. 
I think in the image filtered world we seem to be creating, there’s so much more to this kind of living needed these days.

I know it’s not easy and it doesn’t always seem pretty to look at.
Because when we’re bleeding out all we wan’t to do is find something to stop it from gushing out. 

But the truth is somewhere inside each of is a wound in need of some healing.

And there’s something comforting inside this kind of truth. 

But we can’t begin living this way until we give words to what we’re all going through. 
Sharing our souls in the midst of the hard, isn’t a sign of weakness.
Because we can’t let our world tell us the kind of beauty they’re looking for, define for us what’s real, how to create our stories or even how influence grows a following.  

Because I believe its only what gets lived out totally authentic that captures attention. 
….It’s not popularity that measures the wealth of a soul, but what bleeds out when its tested.

Friend when we unwind and allow our fraility to be seen, others learn they’re really human too. 

You see, that girl that keeps looking at us like we have it all together needs to see us for real.
Because otherwise, we become the girl everyone wants us to be rather than the ONE God  wants us to be. 

And as we’re caught up in all God has for us these days, I’m trying to remember there’s a sacred beauty in walking like this. 
There’s a rhythm to our footsteps these days, even if they’re a little clumsy and unsteady.
Because we can spend the entirety of our days waiting for change to come or we can live inside the days we’re in. 

 And honestly living life like this can seem kind of crazy.

It’s living like this that uncovers secrets and its where all we’ve been hiding gets seen.  
But its also where shame gets left behind and we find the kind of love we’ve been looking a lifetime for. 
And although being human is painfully hard, it’s the most beautiful thing we’re given.
It’s where we live through the deepest part of suffering and experience the most beautiful part of love all at the same time. 

And sometimes, we are the reason someone else is able to survive…It’s not us really, it’s living our live’s completely unveiled that gives another the strength to continue on.

And if you haven’t experienced this kind of living…you really need to. 
Because although living in the midst of suffering is hard, awaiting our healing can be one of the most HOPE-FULL things we do. 

And I suppose I’m not really here to offer you much advice or even tell you how to survive your hard season…
I’m merely here to tell you if your heart is feeling like its busted up in a million little pieces and you’re feeling pain all over your body….

Just know you’re not alone and there’s people who want to listen, who want to walk beside you and who want to walk you to the other side of your healing. 

 

 

 

 

How to ‘Refocus’, Even in the Midst of Something Hard

I’ve expended a lot of energy over the years on trying to get my mind off of something.
I have this crazy way of cyclical thinking…you know the kind of thinking that keep you up all night worrying. 
I’ve tried all sorts of ways to refocus, but I never considered it had anything to do with worship.

Because we often think of worship as that sacred space we carve out on Sunday morning or those moments we’re swept away by the lyrics of a beautiful song. We don’t realize worship is a daily rhythm we’re invited to meet God in every day.

But friend, its in this posture we’ve been able to see our circumstances differently. 

Friends, I need you to know my life wasn’t always this way. 
Before Joe’s diagnosis, I didn’t understand worship like this… I had no idea about this sacred way of living. 

You see, its easy for our hearts to live quite over-crowded with worry, because worry’s always been a symptom of brokenness.

I know because I spent years longing for it to be fixed and when this didn’t happen, I tried to work around it, controlling everything I could. 

God calls us into his presence when we feel overwhelmed.
He calls us in the darkness of the morning and in the sleepless nights. 
He calls us in the presence of many and when we are all alone. 
He calls us when life is good and when it’s hard. 

Because God is like this. 
He wants to make us well and heal our deepest pain. 
He rescues us from the brokenness that lies within and God uses worship to do this. 

You see, we often look for God to usher in our healing in a much different way than he does. 

As Joe and I walked through these past six months worship became a place we both felt like we were being put back together. Every day something happened that made us feel like we were completely unraveling yet as we continuously pressed play on our worship over worry playlist, we felt something different happening.
It was as if our wounds were being gently stitched back together in those moments.

The funny thing was we needed it so badly we weren’t embarrassed to press play even while we were in the treatment rooms of it all, even while Joe was having a procedure done, surrounded by our medical team we invited them into our story, into this secret space of our lives….
Worship was what was calming our soul and healing us. 

And friends, even now as so much healing is left to do, its still a vital part of our daily rhythm …we’re still chasing these sacred moments. 

We know healing can still come, even if our miracle hasn’t come yet. 

And it’s the same for you, friend?
Following that broken relationship, even after the funeral, when you’re still carrying around that age-old abuse-even if the miracle doesn’t show up like you’ve imagined it to…God will still usher in his peace and strength to carry you on. 

I’m truly learning what happens when we’re in the valley, in the space between now and not yet…it’s here God comes to bring us the healing we are needing. Because instead of sitting in the darkness of the valley, worrying about what’s next I’m spending my days reminding myself who’s sitting next to me these days. 
He’s always been there beside me, but nowadays I’m taking notice of his presence more and resting in it.

Friend, this kind of deep soul healing happens when we allow God to do his mighty work within us. 
And this happens when we worship, because it’s truly here God mends our brokenness.

I get asked a lot if our life is back to normal these days and most days I have to keep from choking on my food.
Because honestly nothing’s normal and I don’t know if it ever will be…And somedays this is hard to swallow.

Because who wants to see the one they love not be able to do the simple things they used to? Or suffer through all sorts of pain?

And at the same time perhaps the healing we all think we deserve after seasons like this isn’t the healing we’ve been given.
Instead, maybe the healing we’re needing is different. 

This is where Joe and I are resting our souls these days. 
We’re striving daily to be okay with being more broken now than ever and yet feeling more alive than we’ve ever felt. 

You see, I used to equate how I felt to the circumstances I was experiencing, but these days I’m counting breaths by all the breathtaking ways God’s ingesting life into our days. 
I’m seeing things much differently now.

Because I’m realizing these days how life is truly real and yet rarely what we think it should be. Its full of wonderful and painfully hard things all at the same time…things that are simply beautiful and completely raw all in their own way.

And maybe it’s because life isn’t really about whether we’re feeling, ‘all better’ but more about living it completely wide open where God can easily get into us and heal us from the inside out. 

Last night as I was encircled by a brave group of women, women who are each living  the hard things life allows, I was reminded we’re all in this fight. 
Our battles might look a little different, but we’re all healing from something.

And every day, every single one of us has a choice to make to heal. 
We wake up each morning and have to continue the fight. 
But the difference I’m finding these days is where I’m choosing to fight my battle.
You see, I use to think this war was mine to battle alone, but when I choose to worship friends-
something’s different. 
Because in worship, we stand in the presence of God’s heavenly army, where there’s power in this place. 
Our victory becomes God’s gain.

And if you’re reading this and thinking, worship isn’t something you do…think again, because every day each one of us sets our hearts on something.
We have countless moments everyday to decide where we will let our worship fall-
will we focus our worship on our families, our work, on our dreams or will we let it fall where it was intended to rest?

What we love with our heart, soul and mind will determine what we worship.

So, our daily decision isn’t whether we will worship, but who we will worship.

Come with me and worship…your soul will truly find rest here.

*Worship over Worry with me….listening to Symphony by Switch and Nothing Else by     Cody Carnes right now.

 

 

 

Getting through the Valley

It’s so easy to get lost going through a valley.

Because we often don’t realize how long the valley really is until we’re standing in the middle of it.
We grieve, we grow and we even sometimes trip over the rocky terrain we’re traveling through, because the valley is a place we experience all sorts of trials.
It can be scary and can be one of the hardest places we ever navigate through.
And friend ‘through’ is one of the key words here…we don’t just end our time in the valley, there’s a rigorous hike to be had to get through it.

I know, because I’ve been traveling its terrain a lot lately.

And just because we’re on the other side a hard diagnosis doesn’t mean there’s not a battle left to fight.
As we continue taking one step after another, sometimes taking one step back we realize just how long the road can be.
Because there’s a lot of times we’ve been feeling out of balance, and honestly have just been reminding one another how much healing is left to happen.

Because honestly, when we’re walking through something like this, its easy to forget about the season of healing that comes.
It’s easy to see all the ways the valley has taken from us and forget the broken places we still hold.
But healing is vital and necessary for all of us to recover.
Yet sometimes it can be uncomfortable to create the space to heal, because people expect us to be back to ‘normal’ and the truth is, we do too. And if we aren’t careful, we can run past this stage and miss the healing we’re needing.

And if we don’t heal friends, we risk bleeding all through so many of the steps ahead.
This is what’s been ringing in my ears recently just how deep our need to grow healthy roots really is. And not just healthy lifestyle habits so many of us lean into following a scary season, because although these are important, I’m talking more about our need for soul care inside our healing.

Because here’s the thing…
I’ve tried to mend my hurts on my own, while continuing to push myself forward…I’ve even tried to heal a broken leg on my own one time…I’ve hidden things too deep and too hard to face…all to avoid impending healing I needed… and honestly, it didn’t work.

I know because I’ve tried this dozens of times before.

And right in the middle of this valley, the doctor spoke the words to both Joe and I that cut deep, he said this would take at least a year to heal and even after that he may never heal from some of these wounds…

So, what I keep reminding myself is we don’t have to find our way out of this on our own.

It’s a subtle reminder but an important one, because if life is teaching me anything these days, it’s that we don’t have what it takes to heal our soul.
We can merely, place ourselves in the position to heal, but God is the one who ultimately heals our brokenness.

And the truth is, as I read this week about another minister who took his life because of the pain of brokenness within, my heart sank.
Because I think far too many of us think some souls are beyond the reach of getting lost and dipping into this kind of darkness. We think these places are only for those who we minister to, but this isn’t true.
As I’ve been sitting beside a good friend whose husband was in this kind of darkness for many years.  I know this deep pain really does exist and more than we’d like to admit. And one of the hardest things in a darkness like this, is how hard it is for those left behind.
Because following this kind of tragedy, there’s always a bucket of shrapnel the families are left to rummage through and make sense of.

Because how do you explain this kind of darkness that’s often hidden?

And what do you do with all the wounds that are left to heal?

As I recently spoke to the mother of an infant who died an utterly horrific death, she told me the most striking of truths, she told of how hard this kind of grief is to walk through.
Because while you’re grieving the loss of the one you held so close, you’re also trying to redeem your own soul to live.

Friend, this is why I’m so determined to speak openly about how important healing is through the valley…

Because it’s our healing here that will determine the state of our hearts in our steps going forward. So friend if you’re not in the valley, but there’s some brokenness that’s within your soul,  be ever so kind to yourself and know that you can meet God just as powerfully…here as in the darkness of the valley.

Because although we look for striking and sudden ways to experience God, the truth is he is inside even the wounds from past valleys long ago and he’s wanting to heal them from your inside out.
And his healing can happen every.minute.of every day, when we unfold ourselves before him. 

We become transformed into the likeness of God as we carry ourselves into his presence.
And friend, this is where worship wins inside our souls. 
Worship becomes alive when in the middle of the valley, or through the deepest wounds, we choose to stand in awe of God and allow his beauty to heal the brokenness within our scars. 

Paul David Tripp reminds us…

‘Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are.’

And regardless of what we humans believe, we all are bent to worship-yet, it’s when we bend ourselves down to worship the living God, we get the response of heaven.

Every other kind of counterfeit worship which competes for our devotion, merely leaves us empty…

Friend where we fix our heart, mind and soul today will truly determine who receives our worship.

So, when darkness invades your soul and brokenness and pain lies within, singing within the middle of the valley, refocuses your eyes onto the ONE who can rescue and heal you.

Because there’s not one of us exempt from the pain that surrounds us in this broken world,  and not one of us who doesn’t need heaven fighting for us. 

 

These are the Days…Of Vulnerability and Healing

These are the days ….Of healing, of reentry and learning how to live following a crisis.

And these are the words I penned following the most recent episode of my favorite podcast…’The Next Right Thing’ with Emily P. Freeman.

Emily, the host of this podcast described what she does when she feels ‘stuck’ in her journaling or needs grounding in her daily rhythms. 
She said she simply bullet points what’s happening in her daily life and names them. 

So, I took her suggestion and begin writing my happenings right now and these are the ones I came up with…
Healing, re-entry and learning how to live following a crisis. 

You see, we are better off when we say the hard words that we sometimes cringe in speaking. 
There was a time I wouldn’t say them. 
I’d hide from them and try anything but name them. 
Because I thought if I pretended they weren’t a part of my life I could distance them from being a part of me. 

You see, I was so afraid to let it out that I was struggling and working through things. Because if I did that it might somehow give an opening for another’s opinion and that was just plain debilitating for me to consider. 
Because I feared the pain that comes from critics, especially the one that’s lives inside of me.  

I struggled to be honest in this way, because I believed if I showed all the broken places I held it would somehow make me less valuable, unlovable and unable to fight the battles ahead.   

Perhaps it’s because we get too accustomed to seeing our brokenness, rather than seeing ourselves healed. 
And maybe this is truly why we all need truth tellers in our lives who will love us enough to lead us toward the healing we’re needing. 
Because truth truly matters.

And friend, this was the beginning of how I stumbled upon living vulnerable and I am learning to love myself.  

It was early one Thursday morning, when I sat in front of this screen and decided to do it. I decided it was worth more than hiding, I was done covering up and preserving myself.

It was time to be completely real…

I could feel a sense of letting go as my hands were shaking and the words wouldn’t stop coming out. 

Because this friend, is where art is created. 
It’s when our real lives hit a canvas. 
It would be the first time these stories would get read outside of the pages of my journal. 

And honestly, it was scary.

So, I counted the cost.

But what I found was, I had to do it. 
Because I knew it was time…time for me to heal and time for you to read about my healing. 
Because writing from the middle of grief, from the midst of healing is what connects us to one another and gathers souls. 

I had to believe there was something way better to come.

And what I’ve found is, there’s a better way of ‘living’ than covering up and pretending.

And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s scary, to live life uncovered and real…
but I’ve only just begun. 

Because it’s one brave step at a time, as I’m learning to walk again…and as I’m truly feeling alive these days. 

One thing I’m learning about all of this is… I can’t make everyone happy.
In fact there’s many who will fall away along the way. 
But it’s okay because in the end those who are left beside me are the ones who will travel this road for a lifetime beside me. 

That first week Joe and I tried to accept his Cancer and receive all we were hearing, it was here I began seeing the purpose my vulnerability was going to have. 

I had just begun this new journey of writing when it happened. 
And I had no idea the true purpose it would have until this Cancer arrived.

I remember it so vividly, as I was staring into the mirror in my bathroom that first Sunday Joe’s lump appeared.
By this time it had already doubled or tripled in size over the weekend and I was scared, I knew it wasn’t good.  

My initial reaction was to tell him to hide. 
You see, after each service he usually goes into a room where he greets and prays with people following his sermon. 
But this day I was struck with fear and thought we need to keep this struggle private. 

Because this is what fear does, it isolates you.
It tells you you’ll be better alone. 

But God spoke louder than my fear and he told me this was his story to tell. 
He told me Joe was already prepared to live this thing out loud and it was time for me to be okay with it too. 

So, as this thing crashed into our lives with its ferocity God permeated us with greater capacity. 
I felt his Spirit empowering us along the way. 

And this is how it is.
We walk through when life is steady and still faithfully pouring over his word so we can make it through the valley encouraged by his word.  

I had no idea that first blog that I pressed enter would be shared over thousands and thousands of times. 
But it did. 

And only moments after I pressed ‘publish’ your messages of love and support began pouring in. People telling us of their big prayers being offered for us. 
You shared stories of your own brave battles being fought. 

And honestly we are so grateful for you all of you showing up for us. 

Every word was received and prayed over. 
As we made our way through all of your messages and as I read them to Joe, tears fell and our hearts were filled with deep felt love. 

And as we walk through this thing now,
as we continue to heal, as we begin our road of re-entry and as we learn to live through the healing of PTSD, there’s still stories continuing to come in.
Which is such a gift, because there’s still some deep fear which lingers which calls us daily to trust in God more. 

Friends, our journey is far from over and yours is too.
And this is why I truly believe, in order to stay on this path of vulnerability and healing we need each other. 
Whether we’re out there working in the craziness of the corporate world or designing art for others to view, we all need one another to heal. 

And for Joe and I, we truly need this space here with you, we need you cheering us on because friend this is a huge part of healing. 

Because coming to this place right now, is what God has called us to.
And honestly, it’s not always received well and it’s sometimes it can be terribly hard, but as we lie in bed each night, there’s something beautiful about knowing  there’s a gathering of souls who dearly love us and are praying us through this. 

So, thank you friends for traveling with us and not stopping here, but walking us toward what lies ahead. 

Because there’s a priceless beauty in living our lives unashamedly in front of one another…

And these my friends truly are the days of healing, re-entry and learning how to live again. 🖤