because we cannot be where faith comes to die…

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I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. James 2:18 MSG

In my mind, I see it like this….

A well networked faith system at the roots, growing up through the thick nourishing soil of Jesus, and blossoming into a full leafy tree of works.

Close your eyes.

Do you see it?

Do you see the tiny fibers stretching far beyond and beneath their comfort zone? Wiggling and pushing as they gather up the splendor of what Jesus-soil has to offer. The Holy soak then delivered into the trunk of the tree. Steadily and stealthily pushing onward yet pressed hard under the soil of righteous obedience. Rising…but glouriously enveloped in Jesus.

Its’ only in obedience that the beauty of what is underneath can meet fruition. As it rises, a magnetic – yet gentle – force pulls it far beyond it’s greatest expectations. The tiny fiber of a root turns into a marvelous tree stretching high into the sky. Now extended high above it’s critics reach.

Can you see it my friend?

This is you.

This is me.

That is what we have the capacity to be.

Oaks of righteousness…planted for the display of his splendor.

But the best of faith rooted intentions often experience a fleshy death at the hand of anxiety.  Fear is where faith comes to die. If faith is confident expectation that God will do what He said He would do, fear is confident hopelessness that God never wanted to do anything good in the first place.

That while you may be able to pray brave prayers from the safety of your bedcovers, God never created you nor will He provide you with what is necessary to go from thought to action.

Fear feels like your feet hitting the floor and almost immediately…peace sucking vengeance seeking demons of the past and the present tie your shoes together and block the way. Instead of moving up into Jesus, our roots start to reach further down into the furrows of our humanity – gathering nothing but information from our past shame and sin. And there we sit…for hours…days…weeks…years sometimes…stagnant.

…having a form of godliness, but denying it’s power…2 Timothy 3:5

Sweet friend this cannot be.

In these times like these we cannot let it be.

The moments of sheltering strength deep beneath the blankets of “someone else will do it” are over. The world doesn’t need a ground full of root systems growing towards the center of depraved humanity. It needs trees that will stand up and stretch out high towards the one true God. Our world needs Christians that aren’t afraid to say the reason I can stand and sustain is because of Jesus. Christians that aren’t afraid to give Him the praise…the honor…and the glory in loud and extravagant ways.

Faith…Jesus…Works…they grow together. They need to be together. They belong together. They are His presence realized in a shallow body of nothing but dirty broken cells and messes.

This is beauty from ashes.

This is redemption.

This is salvation.

This is the love our world craves and so desperately needs.

Swell this earth thick with your favor.

With detached arms…

 

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A sort of detached look on her face. Broken. No one glances beyond the scars.  Perhaps the scars protect her, but I’m pretty sure they protect me. As if what she has been through is too much.

Shards of glass fill her eyes. If someone gets too close, she has the power to push them away with a mere glance or a stare.

“That will teach them,” she thinks. “That will keep him form hurting me again.”

And I sit with her for a while, because too long is more than I can bear.

I sit with her and wonder what it is like to be loved with detached arms. To be handled with “care”. To be raised by a system that has your “best interest” in mind, but never really understood what that was in the first place.

Best interest. 

Best interest of who?

The placing agency? The protective services? The attorneys? The counselors? The parents?

All enter her life to supposedly make it a better place…so why doesn’t this place feel better?

Why does she sit in a stark barren room with nothing on the walls and emptiness in her heart? Why does she sit alone? Is this really best interest? Is this really the better her heart has longed for?

Because this feels cold and dark and incredibly alone.

And if her tiny heart could tell you one thing, this is what I think it would say…

Don’t love me with detached arms, like some sort of mechanical operated system that is in charge of keeping all my ducks in a row. Sometimes my ducks don’t want to line up. Sometimes my impracticality needs to hang out and run free. I desperately need to know that this is okay. 

That what has happened to me isn’t too disgusting or nasty to go unnoticed by your eyes. That you will not let me fall by the waste side.  That you will not throw me away or pretend you don’t notice.

Don’t hold me with broken hands that detach at the wrist and never give way to the heart. Hold me with real hands. Real hands connected to real love.

Love that says I get it.  Love that says you don’t have to hide it away for me. Love that won’t leave me in the dark.

Hands that hold. Real hands. In all my life I have never felt these kinds of hands.

They say they exist. I just really don’t know. And I’m even more terrified that if I find them…someone will snatch them away. Certainly I a not deserving of these types of hands.

So I’ll sit here with my glass eyes glazed a thousand times over so that you can’t see me. And maybe you have real hands. Real hands that aren’t leaving or hurting. And if you do, I’ll think about letting you in.

the connection conduit built for freedom…

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So there’s this way of doing therapy with sexually abused children that is so fantastic. It’s called TFCBT. I love it so much because it works. It contains very specific components which are super helpful and research driven…but if you set all that aside, there is this thing I see as the most important. Therapy, whatever kind of therapy it is, offers a conduit for connection…

Why do the kids therapists see love to come back? It’s not because we doing anything magical…it’s because they know there is an open door…

Not only an open door to the things people are comfortable talking about, but an open door to the very most horrific moment in their entire life. We give them the permission they need, and a tool belt filled with skills, so they can walk through that awful moment over and over again, and realize that they are in fact – okay.

Sometimes people ask me, does it make it worse? Does talking about it make it worse? And I get why they ask. Because I too thought it would make it worse. I chose to tuck that awful moment away in the dark recesses of my brain for years out of fear that if anyone saw it – surely they would reject me the same way I rejected that part of myself. But that’s exactly why it NEEDS to be talked about. There is power in visiting one’s most painful place with someone by your side that says I see it, and you my dear are not ugly. In fact you are beautiful..1,000 times over beautiful.

And I wonder if that’s how it works in our relationship with Jesus? We have these deep dark places that we try to conceal from Him. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we cover our broken shame filled spots with fig leaves and hide. We smother the darks spots over and over again afraid that if we open them up, it will make it worse. But sweet sister, Jesus didn’t come to rescue our happy places. He came for the broken, bruised, and abandoned feeling mess of a girl that feels she could never possibly be loved by the King of Kings. And He says: Here I am. Here is the open door. I’ll walk through this with you. And in the process you will know that you have always been okay.

He gives us the tools in His Word and the path through His unending faithfulness and forgiveness. With Him we have not failed. We can come to Him over and over again because He never gets frustrated or tired no matter how long the process takes. He the conduit of our connection to the God who formed us in our mothers womb and knows each and every fiber of our being. We are perfected, adopted, love giving, life living children born of and saved by Grace. We don’t have to do more, be more, have more, or live better to receive what He has already given to us. The price was paid in advance.

So that icky, awful, terrible feeling thing? I know it’s scary to uncover and you worry about disturbing the dust bunnies that live in that old musty closet. Talking about it can feel almost threatening…but God has given you an open door. And He has far more tools than I or any human on this earth could ever offer. He is willing and able to walk through it with you. He already knows it’s there, so let it loose because you deserve so much more than to bear this burden alone.

it’s not like popping a zit…

healingIt’s weird the statements that stick out to you. The ones you will remember all your life. Sometimes they are something profound and super spiritual or intellectual. Other times they are the simple statements that no one ever really thought would make an impact.

“It’s not like popping a zit, Stephanie…”

Said to me in therapy as I was processing tremendous pain. I was so angry that after I had talked about and processed it…that it didn’t go away. That after the majority of the bacterial pussy mess had finally oozed out, there was still work to be done.

So I thought to myself…well maybe there is more? Maybe there are parts I haven’t processed, and once I get those out – then I will be okay. I laid in bed at night, trying to remember if there was more…or if something else had happened that I had blocked out. When I realized there wasn’t…well maybe I was severely mentally ill. Perhaps I was just that sick and twisted that I couldn’t let it go. And so I researched mental illness after mental illness, diagnosing myself with every conceivable disorder. And then I thought, what if it’s something between me and God? What if I don’t have enough faith? What if I haven’t read the Bible enough? I poured myself into scripture hour after hour, day after day, to the point I was ignoring my family.

Yet it lingered…

Sermon after sermon…book after book…told me that God wanted freedom for me. To me, that meant I would never hurt again. That I would never think about what happened again – and if I did – it would be a gigantic rose garden transformed from ashes to beauty where nothing painful could possibly remain. Yet year after year, prayer after prayer, study after study, therapy session after therapy session – things changed – but something seemingly icky remained. I couldn’t shake the ickyness, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me…why?

But then one day…several years later, I realized something. Until I stopped trying to push that last lingering bit of shame/depression/anxiety/hurt/pain – a conglomerated leftover gloppy residual mess – away, I would fight a losing battle.

Could it be that this stuff was actually there with function and purpose? That I wasn’t being continually robbed of freedom, or so dysfunctional I couldn’t accept it…no…this stuff might actually be part of the freedom plan God designed in the first place.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”Isaiah 61:1

No where in Isaiah 61:1 does it say that we won’t experience a broken heart. No where does it say that freedom and release means the darkness ceases to exist. No where does it say that my mind, or yours, will be wiped completely void of every bit of pain we ever experienced. And could it be that this pain, the icky feeling that sometimes jumps into our throat and feels incredibly uncomfortable, allows us to share in the pain of others to a level that helps them know they are not alone? Perhaps part of the freedom Christ has given involves this tiny bit of leftover that allows us to sit with someone else who has experienced the same. What if it is a vital, crucial, essential part of our freedom gift?

This morning I got up with a big zit on my nose, disgusting I know, but I looked right at it and there were those words…Stephanie, it’s not like popping a zit…

Sweet friend who has done the work. The therapy. The Bible study. The coping skills. The essential pieces to healing…and yet you still feel just a little bit dysfunctional and messy…you are. And you are where you are for a reason. You are an amazing human rescued by an incredible Savior. Continually blessed to feel all of the emotions you feel for whatever reason and purpose God allows you to feel them. It’s not at all like popping a zit…and that my friend, is a really okay and beautiful thing.

because this so what OCD can look like, and it’s not what you think…

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that we have spent the past year or so really trying to nail down what has been going on with my daughter Lauren. She has struggled with anxiety, depression, sensory issues, and the most pressing issue at hand – OCD. And it’s funny, because people see Lauren out and about or in pictures and always tell me, “well she looks so normal.” And I’m like, yes I know. That’s the thing about mental health – it’s often an invisible struggle – thus the feelings of isolation mental illness can create.  For the most part, Lauren functions. But as of late, the meltdowns contained to at home happened more and more in public – or just kept her from going out of the house in the first place – and so we had to make some changes regarding interventions.

The good news is, she is doing so much better. Like a 180 degree turn for the better. Thank you Jesus. He knew we were at our breaking point. The other good news? I have learned so much in the past year that I could not have come across any other way.

Being a therapist with a significant amount of education and mental health experience under my belt, I had no idea what OCD really looked like – especially in a child. I knew the textbook definition. I know CBT and ERP are the preferred treatment modalities and I even knew some things that were helpful for people I had worked with. But at the core, I saw it just as stereotypical as everyone else.

OCD equals hand washing, lock checking, Jack Nicholson, and crazy organized sock drawers.

And when I share my daughters diagnosis that is what people think. They say things like, I organize like crazy too! Or yes I totally get it – I wash my hands all the time also. And maybe they do get it. But for the most part I think we have a vastly skewed idea of what OCD really is. And don’t get me wrong – there is a reason this is the stereotype. It is what OCD looks like for some people, but I think for a whole lot of others it looks more like this.

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My daughters room is clearly not organized. It has never been organized. She hasn’t ever had a clean room for more than 5 minutes in her life and the only reason it was clean for even 5 minutes is because I spent hours working on it while I mandated that she play outside. At this point in her journey she cannot even be in her room with me while I clean it because she gets so upset, agitated, and overwhelmed that something might have to be thrown away or that she might not be able to find the things I move. People say, why don’t you have her help you clean it? But they don’t get OCD. She cannot help me clean it because it leads to massive screaming meltdowns over tiny pieces of paper that she cannot find the proper place for, which will then lead to her needing to take a hot bath and several minutes of deep breathing to de-escalate her. That my friend, is OCD.

It looks like not being able to walk across the carpet at times because she cannot stand the way it feels on her feet. After she walks across she can’t stop thinking about the way it felt and may have to wash her feet to relieve herself from the sensation. It means crawling on our knees and elbows when we get out of the car after school  because the hands and feet can’t touch anything and immediately need to washed to escape the feeling that something is on them. Sometimes there are tears for hours after that because even after washing them she cannot escape the pain that feels like something is on them. That is OCD.

She knows these things aren’t rational. She knows she is upset over what others see as “nothing” but she doesn’t know how to make it stop.  Sometimes she curls up in a ball next to me and begs to make it stop but then gets angry at what I suggest because she has already obsessed over the fact that the coping skills anyone teaches her will never work. That is OCD.

Please keep in mind, these situations are when OCD is at it’s worst. Life isn’t always like this. But it is sometimes, and the sometimes really stink. Right now she is in a really good, like really good place. We have made some big changes and God is a BIG God. But I know certain things will likely be a struggle for her throughout her life, just like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. And that’s okay, because God does what He does for a reason even when we really don’t understand. None the less, this passion burns in my heart for people to understand the invisible struggle that so many people face on a daily basis.

OCD sucks. It really does. And I know it’s controversial when I put my family’s stuff out there. Sometimes people think it’s good and sometimes people wonder why I share…but this is why I do. Because people need to know that they are not alone. Because these things can only stay shame bound as long as we continue to hide them in a dark box. People need to know that a child from a “good” home (whatever that is) with two parents who shower their kid with loving kindness and have read all the parenting books in the world can still have a child that struggles with ANYTHING. That mental illness does not have a bias, but can happen to anyone at anytime. And sometimes despite peoples best efforts they can’t just “stop it” or “get over it”. So we love people with it and we love people through it, just like people love us with and through our own junk. We own it and cope with it the best we can on a day to day, and sometimes minute to minute basis. And we choose love. To love just as people are, right where they are…because that is what Christ calls us to do.

what makes effectiveness effective?

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Hell hath no fury like the storm it stirs up when I feel ineffective. You could chase me with a raging dinosaur and I would be less afraid than if you chased me with thesaurus filled with synonyms for the word ineffective. I absolutely hate the feeling to the point that I will drive myself crazy until I have “fixed” the problem. Basically, I need some sort of outcome.

I searched the word ineffectiveness in my Bible app and came across this…”For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

What stood out most was the gigantic list of things God calls us to possess if we wish to be effective. It’s a big list! But never once does it mention outcomes.

Could it be that we can be effective without an outcome? That we can possess perserverance, knowledge, love, and self-control and consider ourselves successful even if the story ends far from where we thought it might. And the best news about all of this is we don’t even have to achieve these qualities to a level of perfection. We just need to pursue them.

I’m starting to realize that an outcome driven view of effectiveness can be dangerous. Regardless of our actions and the qualities we posses, we have little control over results. Relentlessly seeking outcomes is exhausting and we may burn out long before God was finished. Why? It seems God never meant for us to be the author of the outcome in the first place.

God’s purpose with us is growth. To work through us as we seek Him and share His awesomeness with others.  Sometimes He will do big work while we are present and we will get to see the miraculous ending. But far more often we have a supporting role and may never see the finished product.

So do we really need the outcome? I won’t lie…it’s nice to have. We get a feeling boost of security, worth, value, and purpose when we get to see hard work come to fruition. But even if we don’t, it certainly doesn’t mean our work is meaningless. What makes the things we do meaningful is the heart that it was done with. If we act in love, kindness, and faithfulness and pursue these things will all of our hearts – that is outcome enough. We don’t have to make up for our past or earn the value of our present based off of productivity. Our past sins are erased by the blood of the lamb and we couldn’t possibly earn our present. Everything we have is because of grace.

Maybe if we released ourselves from seeking the outcome we could love and connect with others even deeper in the present. And isn’t that the true gift?

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/375980268873722642/

Do I trust You…

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Photo Credit: Valerie Wieners
Order this print for yourself at:  http://valeriewienersart.com/shop/far-more-than-you-can-imagine-art-print

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

It was almost like a rainbow. A cloud rainbow. The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Warm colors reflecting off the clouds, it captivated me. And then the question popped into my head…do you trust Me?

Do I trust You God? I say I do. I want to. I need to. But do I trust You?

When times are easy, I think I do. Or at least I don’t proclaim that I don’t. I may see the calm as something I created – rather than realizing it was You. I may struggle with pride and think, ya, I did that. But in good times, I at least say I trust You. But the bad is different. Way different. So do I trust You?

I want to. I think. Or do I? Because if I really wanted to, I could shift my focus and consume myself with Your Word. I could be still in Your presence rather than exhaust myself trying to find answers on my own. I could accept said answers may never be found, and even if they are, that Your grace defies logic anyways. I’ve yet to see a research study that fully accounts for Your miraculous blessings. Yet I’ve seen You intervene in some really tough situations, over and over again. So do I trust You?

I think I could more if I would stop projecting what I think You have planned or how I think You might disappoint me in the future. If I would just breath in the thick rest infused peace molecules that You place in front of my 5 senses right now. If I would let trust be a moment to moment dance rather than forcing it to the end point of a marathon I have not yet run. If I would accept what You give me as enough and something as simple and complex as a sunrise as evidence that You are indeed bigger and You very much care. I think I could trust You more…

I think I will because Your Word says that if I do, You will not fail. That if I do, I can feel more alive and less controlled by flesh and anxiety. If I do, that I might even glow and be renewed with life. And I have a whole lot of life and light yet to give – and I certainly don’t want to snuff out early. And if I do, I can even enjoy the present difficulty for what it is, without rushing off to try and fix things. Because they will be fixed in Your time and Your way. And that way is way more cool and colorful than mine.

So do I trust You? It’s a moment to moment choice…but in these next few minutes…I think I will.

 

The double H hopeless/helpless combo…

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Hopeless and Helpless. Two words that breed fear and insecurity. Who wants to keep going when it seems like nothing will ever get better? It’s the language of pessimism and when we get right down to it – the language of lies.

Where in the Bible does it say God will fail you over and over again? Where does it say there is no purpose for this and you might as well just cash in your chips? Where does it say life sucks and then you die? Nowhere that I can find…but hopelessness and helplessness…well they will speak that over you everyday.

And so you are discouraged. You wanted answers and improvement a long time ago. Maybe there have been some answers and some improvements…but the double H combo will never tell you that. It will tell you no matter how hard you fight – things will either get worse, or at best, stay the same.

You may not like today. You may not like tomorrow. You may wish over and over again that things were different. But you have a choice. Will you leave your feet planted firmly in the hopeless/helpless shit pile riddled with vacuum sucking happiness devourers, or get out?

Isaiah 30:49 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Hopelessness and helplessness don’t have much room in the presence of that.

Where you are rooted – you grow. Where you stand – you plant. Where you dwell – you live. Double H combo crap pile – or the truth. We choose one or the other – every single day.

The H combo says you can’t, but God knows you can. You were made for this. As painful and weird as it may be, it’s your cup of tea. Take it sip by sip, and practice joy while drinking it. You got this sister. Hard things are His speciality, and He won’t fail you now. Lean hard on and in, loosen your grip on the double H, and let Him set you free. He’s got this.

Photo Credit: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/spiritual-inspiration-2701592/photo-4888788119

healing the trauma of ineffectiveness…


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We went on a mission trip to Mexico. I was maybe 13 and eager to be a part of the selected few who were on the drama team. Weeks prior to the trip we carefully crafted what we hoped would be an accurate representation of the love of Jesus. Something that would transcend language barriers. At the very end my job was to pose with my hand reaching out towards the audience, palm up, hand open.

When we arrived in Mexico we were housed in the sanctuary of a very small church. I got dressed the next morning and put on my watch like I would any other day. It was glittery and gold and we headed out towards a small grouping of cardboard houses. There was a sermon and some singing and we were to close things up with the drama.

I went through the motions like I had done several times before, but that day was different. There was a small child sitting directly in front of me. When I stretched out my hand at the end, his mud riddled fingers reached out to touch my watch. It was as if this was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. His dirt smeared face and hungry eyes connected with mine, and that’s when I felt it. The trauma of ineffectiveness. The insignificance of my humanity. The vast gap between myself and those who desperately need. A gap I had never understood before this very moment. I would never be the same.

Fast-forward to the present. I have chosen difficult work. Work with trauma survivors, work with mentally ill, work with the walking wounded, work with countless individuals who are just trying to get through the painful circumstances presented to them that are beyond their control.

As I sat down this morning to do some research about self care for those who do trauma work I came across something fascinating. The idea of trauma mastery: seeking to recreate situations in our work and relationships where we once felt powerless and transform them into a new situation where we feel powerful and in charge. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, unless you don’t recognize you are doing it…and you do it with such gusto and fervor that you burn yourself out.

So I thought to myself, yes, I have endured trauma. Just yesterday I wrote a post about how I was raped. But this trauma (with a great deal of work) has largely been resolved. What I was completely unaware of was a new idea that popped into my head. I am desperately seeking to resolve the trauma of ineffectiveness.

I look back on my life and over and over again – I see ineffectiveness. The times I have tried to help, tried to fix, tried to mend – and I have done good work. Yet, I still see myself as helpless and ineffective.

I wonder how many other people feel that way? How many of us try over and over again to rub the healing salve of our helping profession on our wounds of ineffectiveness. Feelings that likely began far before we chose a helping profession.

And we rub and we rub and we rub…but the salve never satiates.

Why? Probably because 1. we are rubbing the wrong wound 2. we are rubbing it with the wrong thing.

I have never gone back and offered myself healing and compassion for that little girl who wanted to help so desperately, but felt horrendously guilty for not having been more sensitive. I beat her up. I tell her you should have known better. I acknowledged that she did something good, but never reminded her that she could only know what she knows when she knows it. That sometimes she will do things that impact others in a way she never anticipated or wanted, and that this is okay. That these are the moments God uses to teach us and ultimately to grow us. I never did those things. Instead I beat her up for being so stupid.

And I rubbed her with the wrong healing oil. There is no amount of perfection or acts of service in the present that can heal how shameful she felt in the past. The only thing that can heal her is choosing to love her and see her the way Jesus sees her: a servant doing the best she can with lots and lots left to learn.

When we feel ineffective, and our accomplishments never seem like enough, maybe we need to take a moment to pause and take a look deep inside of ourselves.

When is the first time you remember feeling ineffective? What did you tell yourself? What have you continued to tell yourself? What old wound or trauma are you trying to heal by all your hard work and actions? What would God say about this situation? How would He show you love, grace, and compassion? How could you and should you show compassion and even forgiveness towards yourself?

I have replayed that situation in my mind hundreds of times. What would I have done differently? Should I have given him the watch? What would he have done with it if I had? Would someone take it from him? Would he have kept it? Would he have sold it to get food for his family? I will never know. And I can’t go back. But I can remind 13 year old me that she did the best she could with what she knew at the time. I can remind my 34 year old self that even though I have learned a lot since being 13, I still have a long way to go. That it’s okay to rest every now and then. And that when I rest I don’t have to feel guilty. I can enjoy it. That I am as effective as God intends for me to be, right here-right now. And so are you.

And may we all remember that even when we mess up, Jesus is enough. The reason He came is to do these things:

“He has sent me to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of tears of grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness.” Isaiah 61:3a

He’s going to accomplish what He set out to do on this earth whether we do things right-wrong-or in that in between space of good/not good enough. He’s got this. He knows we are human and planned for our inadequacies. Our job is to do the best we can, when we can, with what we can. And that my friend is never ever ineffective.

the colors are just right…


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As I crossed over the river bed, the colors were right. The blazing orangey red of the dirt contrasted perfectly against the happy green of wild spring/summer vegetation. My mind was instantaneously transported back to early June of 1997. 19 years ago when the colors were also just right. Beautiful.

I have recounted the hours in my head more times than I care to count. The day I was raped. The hot afternoon in that small SUV against the backdrop of orange and green. Somehow I escaped into them, pretending what was happening didn’t really exist. Just the orange and green. That’s all.

Isn’t it funny how our life can be completely shaken, and yet the thing we remember the most is the beauty of God’s creation all around us. It’s a defense mechanism, I know. To dissociate from something incredibly painful and instead connect with something soothing around you. This whole escaping reality tendency has caused me some problems and eventually I had to get real about what happened that day – and cope. But in a way I’m glad it went the way it did. Because today, seeing all the colors just right reminded me that He never changes. He never fails.

When it happened, He was there. In the years days, months, and years following, He was there. He is still here. The colors tell me I made beauty then and I’m still making it now.

And for you sister, circumstances suck sometimes. And they are amazing sometimes. And often we have very little control over what comes our way. But what we do have control over is what we choose to notice. God’s profound consistency in moments of devastation. His beauty from the ashes. His love never failing. He always makes the colors just right. And His sameness encourages us that life may change, but His greatness will always remain.