Making room to grow

I was given this plant by a beautiful friend when she left the country.
Not because she wanted to but because she had to.
And she left the remains of this wonder to bless me.

And although I love plants because they’re living organisms that remind me of the beauty of life. 
Sometimes they die and I hate it when they fail because it reminds me of my inability to keep everything I love alive. 

You see, 
plants like humans…thrive under the ‘right’ conditions.
And this plant at times has called for me to take extra care of it…to give it a little extra water, to place it closer to the sun rays and even to trim it. 

Well, lately it’s been doing fine but I’ve been noticing even in its state of survival it’s roots are beginning to grow outside of its original pot and it is asking for room. 

It’s time for it to be replanted.
For me to give it a bigger home for it to spread its roots.
And I’ve been resisting it.

I suppose its because its truly mimicking my life right now.
I could come up with a thousand reasons why not to do it, but one of the most common phrases I’ve repeated is
-‘It’s doing fine where it is’.

And it’s true,  it is surviving but what I’ve been given some thought to lately is
-it’s not thriving. 


That the possibility of its health improving if I’d make room for its deep roots has me thinking lately.  

Isn’t this true in life?
If only we wouldn’t resist the changes our lives need for what is to come…

These past few years I’ve been really considering how life is a series of trusting…a chain of events that have been testing my willingness to wholeheartedly trust God.

As our kids have been growing up and traveling along the paths God is directing them I’m learning more and more about this.

We see this in parenting so vividly.
Every stage of raising kids calls us to a greater level of trust and challenges where we place our trust. 

When our children are infants and toddlers there’s a natural dependence on us that occurs.
And it’s a good feeling to be wanted and to be able to meet a child’s needs of love, nurturing and even to be able to provide physically, spiritually and emotionally what they need.

Yet the reality of all of this is truly overwhelming, as it feels way more than we physically have within to give.
It’s here in this season we learn to lean greater into God and those He’s surrounded us with to help us in this endeavor…and here we grow into a greater trust in God. 

And yet it’s also here that many of us grasp for other things to help us control the ever-changing circumstances swirling around us hoping to keep our heads above water.
We quickly learn this tactic of surviving is misleading…
because although initailly we might be duped into believing we’ve got it all under control, we really have nothing within our control we just merely think we do!

It’s here that an event often occurs where we are faced to really trust God.

One where we are faced with if we trust God- despite the outcome?

Will we remain faithful if it turns out the way we want it or even when life turns itself into an even greater tragedy?

You see these events come into the lives of all humanity….the most faithful of humans and even those of us who are just trying our best. 
There’s no differing considered in heartache and suffering.

And as these little humans grow up and become adults we as parents continue growing in our journey of trusting.

Trusting for their good, their safety, their success, their faithfulness….this list is exhaustive of our desires for our sons and daughters. 

And yet there’s so much more than this at stake in these moments of time…

You see I truly believe God has greater concern for our children than just their comfort and safety.
Yet these are two of the most common pleadings we as parents spend a lot of time repeating to God. 
Think about how much of our striving is for this for our kids!

And yet this is probably some of the least of God’s concerns…really…

Sure it’s okay to pray for their safety even now we have two of our kids trekking this very minute across the country preparing to do the hard work of church planting and a son who will be spending the next couple of months in the desert training for our country’s safety and you can bet we’ve prayed for safety for them.
But it’s been within these prayers God has been challenging me to go deeper…to scrape at things even deeper. 

Because God has greater plans for our kids than just their safety or ease…
He has an adventure for them that He’s leading them into.
Out into their own journey of faith and trust. 
Our kids need their own crossing of the Jordan River to know God!

And this means a whole new way of us learning to trust God too. 

This past year not only have I been learning to walk this earth without the comfort of my parent’s support and guidance but my husband and I have released our last son, our final arrow. 
And although there’s a whole lot of grief and loss one experiences with these changes I’ve been discovering something even greater and deeper here…

You see God cares greatly for our broken hearts but He has something else hidden in this season too for us to uncover.

I found it in the pages of Job’s story…I had to look for it a bit deeper than ever before…
as sometimes one can get stuck in all that Job lost…his family, livelihood and all the common things we ‘fill’ our lives with and yet it’s beyond his pain and loss we find a treasure…a mystery of sorts.

It’s as if God was calling our short attention span to wait and to read to the ending of his story. Calling us to not give up where his life seems so sad and hopeless but to continue on. He beckons us to not get tempted into believing Job’s life was over when he lost all he had because there was something greater to come…something even bigger God was doing…

It’s in these few words hope rises…

‘The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.’ Job 42.12

Did you see it?
The ‘latter’ part of his life was blessed more than the first. 

In the beginning of his story we hear of how full his life was.
How he was a righteous man, blameless before God…how he had 7 sons and 3 daughters…his possessions and servants are listed with enormity and his life appeared more full than one could imagine and yet this is the season of life this faithful follower of God was stripped of all that was near and dear to him.

And throughout the story of Job we read of his faithfulness even in his dire grief. His steadfastness to God even when those closest to him persuaded him to give into self pity and doubt but Job remained faithful and this is where we find this verse above tucked away.

And then following this reminder for us to uncover we see how Job’s life began to be full again, he even was given the exact number of children he’d lost.
I don’t write this foolishly to say everything we lose we will be given more or even given back the exact same things.

But what I do see in the pages of Job’s story something of greater value.
This discovery began whispering a new desire deep within….
not for what I would be given but what God was doing in the secret places of my brokenness.

My heart’s desire these days is not to go searching for something to ‘fill’ this emptiness but to ‘grow’ something He’s planting deep within me.

For here in Job’s story I am reminded that God doesn’t just want us to surrender our fears or even our losses He wants to restore us with a greater hope and trust in Him. 

God has MORE for us beyond the loss.
MORE hope…
MORE for us and MORE for our kids too. 

So rather than clutching onto the control that gives us a false sense of security
-may we stretch our arms out to our loving God who is MORE than able to carry us and our children. 

This is where our lives find the ‘fullness’ God has for them when we allow Him to grow what’s within…
‘Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!’ Ps. 126.5

When we freely receive all the changes life is bringing into our homes and receive them our lives become full and they heal…because transition is hard.
Making room for change and trusting God is hard because sometimes things get harder rather than easier. 

And sometimes it means resting in the hard until we heal but just as my plant needs more room to spread its roots and grow.
my heart needs more room for this too.

And because of the lesson this plant is teaching me these days I’m learning its time for both of us to no longer survive but to thrive within these days!

Life changes

Goodbyes are so hard.|
Sure even when we give them a tagline like
‘see you later…somehow even though outwardly we feel like we’re changing the game truth is there’s still loss.

I can remember the trip back home was always harder than the trip there.
Because saying good bye always involved leaving someone I loved behind.

Thirty some odd years later Of traveling back home and this was the first Christmas my parents weren’t there to fix up our room and get their home ready for the holidays.

It’s such a strange feeling…being here without them.
Something you really have no words for until you find yourself living inside it.

I used to mindlessly hover over this season of life not giving it much thought thinking i’d somehow be ready when the time came.

And then before I could catch my breath I was there…funny, but you’re never really ready for times like this.

The hope of heaven is real and it helps the ache but it doesn’t remove the loss…

And change is a big part of it.
I don’t like change.
I tend to be a person who likes my rhythms to remain the same…
because change is unpleasant worrisome and even painful.

Even when something good is about to change, it can be unsettling to navigate through its way.

So I try to avoid it even when it has my best in mind.

No matter how I feel about change though it’s chased me down the past few years and I’m still trying to catch my breath.

I’ve walked through some hard & holy moments that I couldn’t have ever seen coming…I’ve courageously stepped through the changes that were handed to me…and through it all I’ve chosen to peel back a little bit more of my soul because even though I’d rather avoid it
<<<change has a way of writing itself into our story.

You see,
even though I might strive to avoid it…change is imminent.
Everything in life changes…
seasons change…people change and even our relationships change.

So, what should we do?

This is where life shifts…we have to choose if we’re going to let fear keep us from moving ahead or whether we’ll choose to become a whole lot more brave and stare down the self-doubt that’s keeping us up at night.

And to be completely truthful-
some days I’m up for the battle but then there’s the days when I let fear talk me out of it.

I often wonder if I was brought into this world with deep emotions planted in the crevices of my heart…for as long as I can remember I’ve felt deeply…loved with everything I’ve had and ached inside every nerve I could feel.
And its been really hard because I’ve not always known if what I felt was real or it was merely the remnant of some shattered memories taking over.

But its in the midst of these days that I do some deep soul talk and remind myself that change is coming whether I like it or not.
Life may look different these days and I may even be a bit different too.

Because life has a way of changing us and we need to choose whether we will be about the change or let the change be about us.

When something’s missing

At one time it was one of my son’s desires to grow up and become a puzzle maker…he first dreamed of this profession when he was younger and spent hours working puzzles beside an older gentleman who lived in the nursing home where his great- grandmother also lived.

Throughout the years they grew a bond, he and the puzzle maker.
They never really spoke much but the puzzles always did.

This man had a way of working puzzles and my youngest son did too.

The puzzle maker had a fascinating way of separating the puzzle pieces by colors and was very methodical in his process.
I later learned that he served years in the military.
This came at no surprise as his puzzle skills reflected his precision.

I remember the day my father in law told my son that the puzzle maker had died.
They both had tears in their eyes for a friend they’d lost and for my son, the camaraderie he’d miss.

Although he had lost his puzzle mentor he continued spending hours putting them together.
We had a puzzle out on our table most of the time, they even lined the inside of his closet ….collecting them along the way.
Each puzzle told a story of a different season.

The harder the puzzle the more intriguing it was.

And yet no one gets quite used to the struggle of putting them together to discover-a missing piece.

My son was given this Star Wars puzzle only two days ago for Christmas and I could tell he wanted to do it alone.

It’s funny how times change.

We just finished one together when this one arrived. 

During the holidays our family likes to gather around a table with pieces spread and spend hours putting them together… there’s something therapeutic about fitting pieces  and filling empty spaces.

But things change…

Our kids do too, they transition from learning from you, to sitting beside you to finally working independently and I am discovering the beauty that lays in all of these stages of life.

As he was determined to finish this puzzle within the first 24 hours of receiving it, we were surprised when he realized there was a missing piece.

It’s awful to finish a project to only discover you can’t complete it and so I expected his usual reaction as this has happened a few times before. 

Yet his response is what surprised me even more…years ago he’d hunt and hunt for a missing piece growing with frustration until he could find it, but not this time.

As he realized it wasn’t to be found with his first sweep of the house he calmly responded that he’d look in the morning.

And that was that…

It’s funny how my heart seemed more at unrest with the missing piece than his. 

I longed to have it finished…it was speaking a story of its own.

There was something about that missing piece that reflected my current life that has been feeling a little unfinished lately.

The missing piece seemed much like the plethora of vacancies in my life this year…kids who’d married and moved away, our youngest leaving for college and the hole that was missing from the death of my sweet Dad.
….all which had a way of occupying an emptiness within.

So the sight of this barren space with him calmly resting in its vacancy made me wonder why I was feeling compelled to fill it up rather than resting in it’s healing…

It’s why I like full cups rather than dry ones.
And why I prefer a full home with messy beds to one that has fresh sheets lining all its spaces.

Not only did the hollow space cause me to reflect on my own discomfort with the missing piece. It also led me to repeatedly pull out cushions, lift up chairs and couches hunting for it.
His response demonstrated just how much he’d grown while he’s been away at his first semester of college.

The past five years or so I’ve been asked many times why restoration takes so long… and have even been questioned if it should.

It’s funny how we struggle to let things age, allow processes to take place, but we do.

And just like anything worth waiting for 

—Healing takes time too…

Perhaps it’s why people give up before the healing is complete…we want to get away from the aching within and the hard processes just seem to never come to an end.

I know that’s the way I often feel…

I long for a break from the process.

I even look for a manageable escape.

And wonder if all of it is really worth it.

But as we stared at the puzzle this morning with my heart longing to find what was making things feel incomplete and him in his contentment to instead discover the beauty of the picture

-I was awakened to look past the missing piece and see the bigger picture.

We may find the piece, for I’m not done looking for it…I know it has to be somewhere in the walls of our home and leaving something undone, just isn’t settling right now for me.

But that’s how life is…

There’s times everything doesn’t work out, not all of it fits perfectly together, because sometimes life leaves us without the answers we’re looking for and leaves us with missing pieces….and we need to learn a new way of adjusting to life in the midst of some brokenness.

Because sometimes missing pieces never get found or if they do they look a little rougher around the edges than we hope for.

And there’s often times when heading into a new year brings a similar hope of finding some of our missing pieces but the truth is
-sometimes it’s just the perfect space our brokenness is needing to heal…

There’s often times when heading into a new year brings the hope of finding some of those missing pieces but truth is sometimes it’s just another season of healing our brokenness is needing….

The art of soul keeping this Christmas

We often find ourselves battling the exterior and neglecting what’s inside.
I did this for years.

I thought if only I could somehow clean the outside of my soul I would find the inner peace I was so desperatley longing for.

For so long my struggles seemed to mimic so many others I was brushing up against…all who were also lost on a journey, who were yearning like me to find wholeness, only looking in all the wrong places.

I remember the day it began…

As the hollowness eroded within the secret places of my soul, I was told a story of a friend’s sister who was struggling with her body and what she was doing to battle it.

In that moment I felt like it must have been the answer to stop the bleeding within.
That it might just relieve the heart beat inside my wound, so I gave it a try.

We know when something within is not right, yet we believe the lies that echo louder than the truth we long to be told.

I’m not sure why it is…I suppose the messages we’re told when we’re young really are powerful….

For I lived from the ugly lies…

I was never enough.

Every inch I strived to perfect, I came up less than perfect.

I was miserably failing.
Yet there was a whisper within that was trying to be heard, because…
I knew it wasn’t all there could be.

But I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to.

I was ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated and all too desperate.

Several distinct and impactful events slowly came into my life that began a journey that has led me find healing and wholeness.

Strangely none of which could have occurred if I had not been in that place in my life…you see as hard as it is to type these words its inside our struggles we search for healing and for God.

These storms in our lives lead us to collect the pieces of our pasts and try to fit them together within our souls.

And this is where we find that truth is what is missing all along.

Truth becomes our saving grace we hold close when the storms seem to rise within our chests and threaten our peace.

And this is really the most meaningful ‘peace’ of truth I can pass onto you when you’re inside your own kind of hard & holy moment.

Because friend,
our tender hearts are all too broken and vulnerable sometimes they just long to be heard…

They want to be tended to.

They yearn to be healed.

They desperately want to know they matter.

So,
we tell ourselves lies that are easier to believe…

And we live inside these places of insecurity and fear.

Because truth is,
we don’t really know ourselves…
or who it is we want to become so we feed our souls on what everyone else is satisfying themselves on and tell ourselves that’s all there really is…

I exchanged how God designed me for a seemingly better version of someone else…
I replicated their life in hope I’d find my own…

I told myself lies.
I did this to convince myself my soul would eventually find peace, but it didn’t.

Instead I became a hallowed out skeleton of myself with my soul left somewhere far behind me…

This is when I found myself in the presence of that one thing left for me to do that I told you about earlier…

It was this fraction of time where the trajectory of my story shifted.

Where my story of living again began… 

This is where I began to find my voice instead of the lies I told myself.

Perhaps you my friend are in a similar spot…
and if you are,
know that it’s going to be okay.

That what you’ve been believing may have been all wrong but it is what led you to where you are and now you know something of greater value than before.

For now you really know how much your soul is worth.

For you know the power your voice of truth has over your soul.

For you know how strong you really are because that fight you’ve been warring within, you’re now winning in it.

Our soul is satisfied best in the possession of God the giver of our soul.

May we consider what these next few days hold for our lives rather than what they are missing.

May we be reminded that Jesus’ coming was not in vain but it was for the sake of our souls. 

This Christmas don’t miss that He chose to give us the most intimate gift He could give us…He generously gave us the presence of His son, Jesus.

The very ONE who not only lives for us, but who lives WITH us!

And that your soul is the one spot He chose out of everywhere He could live to embody and live within.

And this we know…
even though our souls may become broken and bruised…

He is the only ONE who can put it back together better than it was before…

Merry Christmas my dear readers and friends! 

 

 

Immanuel: We don’t walk alone…

Beauty is found in all sorts of backdrops…some captured in the rarest of surroundings. When I was younger due to some hard circumstances I couldn’t see it.
But healing has a way of restoring beauty and allowing us to see beyond the damage of it all…

When life seems like it’s falling apart its hard to clearly see the value of things.

As I recently sat across from my counselor and walked through the first childhood memory I hold, I was reminded of something very beautiful I’d never discovered because the wound that has occupied that space obstructed the gift inside of it.

I’ve always known wounds eventually find healing but it seemed some of the ones I have, never fully found theirs.
It wasn’t until I recently realized that although some horrible things happened to me, I survived them.
Yes, they’ve taken a great deal from me but they didn’t get all of me!

I survived and am even thriving despite their injury.

Sure there is a remnant that still exists and that I am sometimes daily battling but truth is that is what makes me whole…

When we moved to Dallas 8 years ago, I was pretty worn out and beaten down in life. I had recently dealt with a couple of bouts of the shingles and even went through some PTSD from watching a stranger die that I couldn’t adequately save and was finding myself struggling with some anxiety issues more and more.
I was tired and the last thing I wanted to do was restore anything.

But God….knew what I needed and what He needed of me.

So upon moving here, not only were we tasked with restoring a church and given a house in need of it but there was some restoring within my own soul that needed tended to.

So when I was recently researching what the name of our street means {because writers like to do quirky things like that} I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn it means…’someone crippled by a broken bone…’

I read those words over and over to understand them better and yet the thing that kept standing out to me is how we can become crippled by a bone that has been broken and hasn’t found healing.

That was me!
I didn’t have a broken bone, but I did have a shattered heart that I was trying to limp through life with.

Brokenness can be crippling when we don’t aid it to healing.

And our hearts are a peculiar organ… they not only house the central pumping of our blood which finds its way to all our organs, but our heart also houses our emotions.

I’ve watched some very strong men undergo open heart surgery and come through the healing of their organ quite different. I remember a doctor warning my Mother how my Dad may come through his open heart surgery a little more emotional and he did. 
Funny but it changed him forever…after his surgery he seemed more sensitive and compassionate.

Isn’t it strange that even an organ such as the heart is so complex and functional yet when it goes through the physical trauma of surgery it comes through it a little bruised and wounded itself?

We often recognize the effect physical trauma has on our bodies but ignore the way it affects us emotionally.

Traumatic events suffered as children have a unique way of following us into our adult years…

That’s where I spent many years of my life…not realizing the anxiety and ‘stress’ I was experiencing actually resulted from years of childhood pain.
In fact it wasn’t until several years ago that I realized the connection between the two…

Since then I’ve spent the days in between tending to the healing of my heart…making room and squeezing it in my life.

For much of my life there was too much clutter in my heart for me to be who God created me to be.

Seeking healing allows us to clear away the messes and make room for new beginnings.

But making room in our heart to heal doesn’t just happen.

I’ve had to be intentional about it.
I’ve had to be honest about it too.

Because honestly it’s not something I want to talk about.
I don’t like to admit that conflict makes me cringe and all I want to do is fix it or run from it.

I don’t like admitting that the trauma of that one day has caused me to kick and scream when I’m held down.
That I’ve looked over my shoulder for years in the dark because I was petrified someone would sneak up and attack me. 
Forget the shame I told myself because of what I thought for years I let happen…I was four….

I hate admitting I can’t control the immense feelings that well up in the secret places of my soul when I feel overwhelmed or threatened. 

I don’t like to tell about how this affected my trust in God and how I tried to control so much of my life. 

I can’t describe the guilt I slung upon my back as our sons were growing up worrying about how much of my brokenness I was passing on to them so I spent many years raising them from the burdensome place of fear and ‘not-enough’.

I don’t like how out of control I can feel in the middle of trying to remember to breathe and counting my breaths. 

And even though there’s still triggers that come and threaten my peace and tighten my chest…the healing is happening.

I’ve found when I get brave and admit these things even in the most sacred and holy places, that there’s a whole crowd of others out there struggling through their own kind of hard. 

And so today I knew I had to push through what I don’t like to find ample words and write them down, because there’s you who are reading this whose nerves are wavering between aching and finding hope and you need me to be honest….to tell my story so that you might find the words to speak yours along side of mine. 

You like me…
need to know you’re not alone in the anxiety, in the pain and in the healing.

You need to know…if you keep walking on that broken bone it’s going to cripple you.

Because God knows you need healing.
He knows who you are out there…
and He wants you to know
-He sees you walking around in the dark and He’s there with you. 

He needed me to speak these words for reasons unknown to me…
Because there’s something to be said about what is real and authentic…

And that is exactly why He chose to send His son to us—
to be WITH us!
He came because He didn’t want us to go through life alone…He came to pull us out of our houses and out of our shame and into the warmth of His light and His presence.

And so many may miss Him because beauty is found in the rarest of surroundings…even in the cruelest of places, even in a damp and wet manger…because God knew we needed someone who would forsake His throne to be here with us, so we would no longer be alone. 

The most surprising thing about painful seasons is they don’t kill you…

As I’ve been dealing with an anxious heart lately I’ve been learning to get curious…

You see anxiety on the surface is always a symptom of something much deeper.

And a discovery into that deep space can get messy and a bit uncomfortable but always results in a deeper knowledge of one’s heart.

Because holding your breath and feeling your heart race only lasts so long before you need to find another way of surviving.

And panic and anxiety have a way of telling us we need to control our surroundings in order to get some relief. But the truth is-relief comes when we loosen our grip on what we’re trying to control and release it to God.

As we’re in the midst of the holiday season there’s surely a great deal of us who need some relief from the tightening of our chests.

But sometimes it feels easier to hold our breath and push through it. To be our own version of expectations and deadlines.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

What makes us believe we have something BIG to prove when we’re really just crying out inside?

I remember years ago wondering though if the season we were in was going to suck the life out of me.

We often refer to the Job years because of all the piled up hard that was whirling around us. I even decided to write it all day knowing that one day when things seemed a bit easier I wouldn’t believe all we went through. It’s written down in one of my books on my shelf.

And when those seasons seem to crawl into our lives we can feel like we don’t know if we’ll end up in a psychiatric ward or a casket….

But years later I can assure you I ended up in neither of those places. Instead I’m in a new season of life with those memories years behind me and much richer from them.

They’re actually what has made me stronger and more compassionate these days.

I remember older people telling me there’s something holy about the hard days. They were right! You just got to get through them and they’ll

Wrinkles and lines tell stories

I like things that are old.

I’ve been this way for years. 

I like hunting for them and I love finding them. 
There’s something about the stories they hold that grows my affection for them. 
Their stories don’t need to involve fame, fortune or any note worthy achievements…their cracks and scars are more than enough to endear me to them. 

It’s a remembrance of how God makes all things new, rather than merely wanting to make a new version of us. 

I love this about Him!

You see the newness of the things we frivolously collect quickly wears off…for everyone knows a brand new vehicle loses its value the minute it’s driven home, while something old ages in its worth. 

So those lines you’ve been noticing impressing themselves upon your face, are not something you need to be ashamed of
– for they tell the brave story you’ve been living. 

It reminds me of when I was recently walking through the mall and a man at a kiosk was selling some promising potion of the dead sea and he almost convinced me otherwise. 

I had already nicely told him ‘no thank you’ to his offer of some free cream he was passing out offering to change my life in the contents of a small packet when he called after me for his attention.

He said, ‘ma’am I don’t mean to be rude, but I see you like to take good care of yourself…but…’ then he scrunched his nose real tightly and with disgust said but ‘your face…’. 
You can imagine my shock…
I mean yes I’ve noticed I’m aging- we all do,
but I’ve been giving it some extra care rather than just the nightly washing so I thought it was looking rather good. 

Knowing the condition of my heart was a bit too tender as I’d just said goodbye to my family and had been missing my Dad this first Christmas without him.
I honestly didn’t know if I was strong enough to hear the rest of his sentence, so I quickly said ‘no thank you’ and kept on walking.

I wanted to tell him more but my heart was aching and I knew when something pierces that deeply, there’s so much more at stake than merely his recognition of the lines forming upon my face….

As I walked away I got curious about his statement…

You see, truth is, sometimes I don’t know what to say, because sometimes it happens and it’s so subtle-
when stuff happens, when words get spoken over me 
so quickly I don’t know what to do but walk away.

I knew receiving his words meant I would somehow erase the brave truth I was believing and yet there was a sliver of truth in what he said…the lines had been finding their way ever so more recently and the hard of life was being written upon my forehead and cheeks more deeply.
So, I decided it was best to respond kindly and process his words inside my own thoughts.

In the steps away I found myself tempted to turn around and blurt out all of the stories of how those lines found themselves on me.  

You see those lines didn’t just etch themselves there one day without a whole lot of living and surviving taking place…

If I could have formed the words without totally freaking a mere stranger out I would have told him where the lines came from…
but doing that would have been thoughtless and somewhat cruel.

Yet again if i could have i would have as kindly as i could have, said…

‘dear sir,
let me introduce myself.
for you may only see scars and lines scratched into my face
but i’m far more than these wrinkles speak…
i am a daughter who recently buried both of her parents,
parents who loved me even through their own rugged brokenness…
i am a mother to four sons and four other darlings who are up in heaven…yet inside those blessings there’s a few lines from the process of growing young boys into men and letting go of babies before they were mine. the letting go of dreams before they were made. the staying up of all hours of the night, rocking and cuddling sick babies.the teaching and training that takes all you have and more.a heart busted up by their love and the love i hold for each one of them. the remaining in and committed to when everything in me was telling me to quit. the hard & holy moments of loving them through their growing pangs in life.learning there is no perfect parent or perfect family that exists, that we are all are in complete need of the grace of God…
i am also the mother to three beautiful daughter in loves who’ve taught me the blessing of what it means to have your heart stretched even more…i am a survivor who is not willing to allow the scars i’ve acquired over years of pain to define me but rather describe me….
i am a fifty year old woman who has longed to find love in all the wrong places but wildly found it in the arms of God and the ones He’s so graciously given me…
i am healing and finding wholeness because of His love and learning to live fearless as He walks with me through this life…
i am a sister nine times over to siblings that have loved me to infinity and  beyond…i am the wife to the man of my dreams who first taught me what authentic love felt like as he’s sweetly and respectively loved me, even through my own brokenness and pain. love that has stayed beside when i’ve pushed him away. love that outlasted the wounds that need healing. love that first told me that divorce was not an option.a love that taught me it could last forever and never be lost…i am a mother who fell down more times than one could count and is wrapped in the biggest wad of forgiveness and grace…
i am a friend who has loved and failed all at the same time…i am both a lover and a fighter…i am a woman who craves healing and is always healing from something…i deeply love and deeply grieve…i am learning to release more than i hang on these days…i am one who has fought her own battle of depression, anxiety and spent years trying to be someone i thought everyone wanted me to be…i have walked beside so much pain and grief too much to list in this one place…i am living proof that God heals and restores...
So Sir, 
you are correct in sighting wrinkles and scars upon my face
– for there are many here because these etchings are lines connecting my story,
telling the journey i’ve walked and the one i’m walking in now…
i don’t blame you i know you’re just selling what the rest of the world tells us we need…
a special eraser,
one which gets rid of any hindrance or remnant of our hardship and suffering…
but the honest truth is
these lines tell my story,
they speak of courage and they tell of
when I chose to
show up and stay in.

And if we all look closely enough we will find-
we all have them…
because we all have a battle we’re fighting…
struggling in our own way.
And sir perhaps i will try your sweet little sample of cream because i know these lines and scars never will go entirely away but perhaps slapping a little cream on one’s face never hurt anyone.so thank you dear sir for reminding me this is one brave life i’m living. because life calls us to show up and to live wholly inside every.single.hour we live.’

If only i had seen that this sweet man
reaching out to me was 
a reminder of the beautiful story that has been
written across my face….
a story fully written by God,
because He truly does make all things new
-even the likes of us.