x factors

image found at radiotimes.com

it’s elementary, my dear
mathematics

addition
subtraction
multiplication
division

arithmetic

factor times factor
equals
product

content
process
product

is there a correlation?
could the “factors”
(the X factors)
be content
and process…

think on that…

Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God. – Isaiah 50:10

friends, I sometimes
most times
simply want the product
the thing
the job
the peace
the reason
the ability
the longing of my heart
the desire that burns intensely
the question answered
the pain taken away

the end result…
and of course I want that
in my time frame
and for it to look the way
I think it should —

how about you?

    See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back.
        I have chosen you, named you as My own.
    When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm;
        you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
    If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs,
        keep going; you won’t be burned. – Isaiah 43:1-2 (the Voice)

we negate the process
we don’t want to do the work
I don’t like
storms
or raging rivers
or flames
or being burnt

or accidents
or recovery
or bad news
or loss
or grief
or lack of ability

or not being able to see
with my eyes
or hear
with my ear
or taste
with my mouth
or smell
with my nose
or feel…

faith…
(maybe that is the x factor…)??

where does knowledge enter in?
when does the “what” appear?
am I concerned with “how”?

do I just want
IT – the product?

what happens when I get
“it”
and the process has been
bypassed?

what then?

scrambling to figure things out
anger
twisted thinking – why aren’t things fixed or better?
why don’t I know what I am doing?

I am reminded of the
milk/meat
conundrum that
often exists in our lives…

can you imagine
giving meat (or solid food)
to an infant?

there is a reason why
we as babes
are started out on milk…
it’s the process
we aren’t equipped to handle anything else

so maybe, just maybe,
when we get
milk
instead
of
meat

it is because we aren’t ready
we can’t handle it

our teeth aren’t developed enough to chew
our throats are strong enough to swallow
digestive juices
stomachs
intestines
the process of getting rid of waste
…all of these things simply are not ready
to handle the truth

what if
I got what I wanted
when I wanted it
and how I wanted it
to look, act, smell, taste, feel

what then?

would I be ready to handle it?

I can answer that with a resounding
NO

how about you?

on the flip side,
there are things that have happened
that I certainly wasn’t ready to handle…
and yet
they happened.

part of the process

We want clarity; God wants us to come closer.
Come closer to God who’s got it:
Lean on His love, Rely on His strength. – Ann Voskamp

trust it.

that’s hard.
that hurts.
that isn’t easy.

and yet…
God is still God.

I don’t say that to minimize
what we encounter
what we endure
the suffering
the pain
the hurt
the disappointment
the loss
the grief…
but I say that
as hope

that we can see the things in front of us
we can see the road of process
and because
God is still God
we have something else to focus on
somewhere to pull strength
Someone to lean on
and lean into
and Someone who
already sees beyond the process
to the product
to what can be
to what is

if not
then where is hope?
what is hope?
does hope exist?

so often
we want to skip the process
and we sometimes forget the
process

the work
the change
to our thoughts
to our feelings
to our actions
to our hearts…

how is that working for you?

it’s not working for me.

grace…the ultimate x factor

 

 

 

 

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this was never supposed to happen

 

“The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities, the twirling…is for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart and make it still.  The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.” – Lysa Terkeurst

today was never supposed to happen…

you see, today is a new beginning
another step in this adventure
kind of the culmination of the last 4 years…

today I am a counselor.

granted, I received my license and degree a year ago
but today….
today is a big day.

this day was not supposed to happen
graduating with a Master’s Degree was never supposed to happen
being able to take care of my daily needs, by myself, was never supposed to happen

my family was told that I would need round-the-clock care
I couldn’t walk
couldn’t talk
couldn’t read
couldn’t write
couldn’t remember….

that was eleven years ago.

so today…today is kind of a big deal.

I am trying to wrap my head around it.

as I am sitting here this morning,
drinking my coffee
getting ready for my day,
I can’t help but think about
where I was
where I am
and wonder what is ahead for me…

I know the plans I have for you, plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.  – Jeremiah 29:11 (the Voice)

I still have internal work to do
heart work…
but I know today
on this day that really was never supposed to happen
I am blanketed by

grace
love
peace
…hope

protected
safe
and ready.

the blanket of grace…

 

 

 

 

the mess of life and loss

oh the mess…
heartbreaking
glorious
ugly
beautiful
filthy
spotless
foul
sweet
full of shame
full of hope and redemption…

the mess of life…
the mess of loss.

kind of the same description, right?

this has been a difficult week…
to just scratch the surface

life was moving along

new changes
new purpose
beginnings
“endings”

then
it
all
came
to
an
abrupt
halt

with these 2 words

“Mary’s dead”

what?!
oh my goodness!
shit!

all of those.

my Aunt Mary was found
dead in her home

alone

did she suffer?
was she afraid?
did she cry out for help?

these are thoughts I have

coupled with

why didn’t I call her
why didn’t I help her with the severe attachment she had to things
what if I had checked on her
what if I had cared more
what if I stopped on my way home from work
what if
what if
what if

yes.
I know.
I will drive myself crazy with the “what-ifs”
she chose to be fiercely independent
I couldn’t change that

yes.
I know.

Mary lived a life that was focused –
on God, on her church, on her family

she loved God
she served God
she was selfless
she was obedient
she was always a student
she was a teacher to the core
she valued things that others wouldn’t
she loved her family
she gave the most unique gifts…

at Christmas
at Easter
on Father’s Day
on Mother’s Day
on St. Patrick’s Day
on the second Tuesday of the week
🙂

she just simply gave.

even knowing all of those things
the “what-ifs” still linger

the mess of life

and all that encompasses

the mess of loss

and wow…all that means

and those who are left have to sift through
and sort
and name
and rebuild

it’s going to take a minute.

a long minute

I am not sure if Mary had a notion that her days on this earth were coming to an end
but….
she had posted lyrics from “What a Day that Will Be”
on her Facebook page

yes, she was somewhat tech-savvy
(that is on days when she didn’t call me to tell me that she broke her computer)

just a couple of months ago

There’s coming a day
When my Savior’s face I see
When I look beyond the sky
To the one who died for me
He’ll take me by the hand
And lead me to the promised land
What a day, glorious day that will be.

premonition?
we’ll never know

but she is basking in that land
safe
surrounded by love
no pain

and living mess-free.

hope and grace.

 

 

 

 

what’s in your toolbox?

 

yes…yes, I do indeed have a toolbox
with tools! (actual picture above)

the toolbox is metal – a sort of olive-green color
and it’s old.
it was my Uncle Jim’s
he and his sister – Aunt Hazel – raised my dad
so Uncle Jim was the closest thing I had to a grandpa
he died when I was 7

I’m pretty sure he used this as a toolbox –
and maybe he used it to hold many similar tools in it

let’s see…
I have a tape measure
a hammer
various screwdrivers
some jute twine
a wrench
small nails
a box opener
several IKEA tools
pliers
scissors…

all necessary and useful tools

as a counselor, I refer to a toolbox often

professionally, to indicate those interventions that could be used in a session
or the knowledge that I have about treatment
or information that would be useful for a client

in a session, I might refer to a toolbox
as a place to keep “coping skills” – what we do to minimize the negative impact of something on our lives (stress)
so maybe we use our senses as a way to soothe – something to touch, hear, see, taste or smell
or maybe we do something to distract our minds
maybe we read or mediate on something affirming and inspiring
maybe we journal or practice mindfulness (tools for centering and grounding ourselves in the present moment)

a toolbox…
carries
holds
protects
organizes

what if…
(a great counselor segue)
a toolbox is more that a place to
put things that “fix”
things that are used to repair

but also a place where
our skills are kept
our abilities
our approaches to life
our motives
our perspectives
our gifts
our talents…

would the contents of your toolbox be seen differently?
can your “tools” change?

for example….

as a single, Jesus-loving, white woman
I have certain things in my toolbox
that might not be the same as
say
my married, Jesus-loving, mother of 2, best friend
or
the not-yet-married, Jesus-knowing, co-worker
or
the marriage-on-the-rocks, not.sure.where.Jesus.fits, acquaintance
or
the divorced, Jesus who?, individual I just met…

our toolboxes are different
because our lives are different
our experiences are different
therefore our tools are different.

when we know better
we can do better
and be better

and even though we have the tools in our toolbox
we sometimes try to use the wrong one
kind of like the square peg in a round hole analogy

for me,
I have faith and trust (skills) in my toolbox
but when faced with circumstances
I don’t grab those tools…
maybe I grab the sturdy, reliable, comfortable and familiar
self-doubt or anxiety or fear

in my “toolbox”
faith and trust are not always on the top
at the ready
waiting

sometimes
I have to sift and sort through
the doubt and the fear
and the anxiousness
to grab ahold of
those tools that are

tried and true
easy (not simple)
light
that really do fit to the shape of my hand (or my heart)

I think that every time I sort and sift
faith and trust and such skills
don’t get buried quite as deeply in the toolbox

and sometimes
I think that I need an additional
tool for the problem, situation, issue
when I really don’t

so…
what’s in my toolbox?

faith
fear
grace
self-doubt
mercy
discouragement
hurt
love
rejection
trust

it’s all there.
I don’t always choose the right tool
but I know it’s there
I also know that some of those tools
are out-of-place in my toolbox — they serve no purpose
at least no constructive purpose

have you ever tried tighten a screw with a hammer?
or tried to secure a nail with a wrench?

inefficient
dangerous

what if…
we cleaned out our toolboxes?
we removed tools that we have found to be destructive?
what if…
when we grabbed a tool from the box
we knew it would be useful?
maybe we can commit to at least attempting this…

it isn’t simple —
the comfortable, the familiar
the predictable “tools…we make them work.
but, maybe they are even tools at all.

maybe they are not fresh and good…
maybe they are keeping me in chains…
maybe they have become weapons…

the instrument of grace…

 

on not being able to breathe

have you ever been unable to breathe?

have you ever been figuratively
hit in the gut with something
that has literally
knocked the breath out of you
and you can’t breathe?

this something
takes
your
breath
away

just when you were
learning to breathe again…
to inhale and exhale

your breath is knocked out of you

paralyzing
spasm
lungs are unable to inflate
nerves send pain messages to your brain

but.all.you.want.to.do.is.catch.your.breath

panic
anxiety
sets in.

any forward motion that you thought you had achieved
is seemingly erased with one blow to the gut.

what you thought you knew to be true
and right
is no longer that way.

those sharp, quick intakes of breath
seem like much-needed oxygen now

now you have more questions…without answers
your faith seems weak – but is it really?

hesitation
unsettled
not suffocating
but unable to catch a breath –
to completely inflate your lungs
so that live-giving oxygen is
transported to your starving
and atrophying organs
unable to feel completely –
your nervous system firing
S.O.S signals
instead of peace and problem-solving –

panic and anxiety
set in – with all of their relatives
and start to set up camp in
your mind…directly affecting
how you feel and what you do…

so…
what do you do?

perhaps you act – instead of responding
perhaps you don’t act – because you can’t
perhaps you just sit and ponder, even wallow

the ‘what-ifs’
knock on your door…
trying to sell
despair and gloom
and they just seem to be in a never-ending
line that loops around the block —
they are everywhere you look…

what if…
what if…
what if…

but
asking what if
even inviting him into your house
to sit with you and enjoy a cup of coffee
is not a bad thing, always

what if…
this is truly a part of this bigger picture
that no one can see?

what if…
this is truly part
of something greater than you could ever think or imagine?

what if…
the hurt
the questions
the absolute interruption
the unknown future
the unsettled present
what if during that all
you begin to know – to fully comprehend
and realize
that
even if…
not what if…

even if
God is still good

even if…

we don’t
I don’t
want to think of that part of life…

thinking of the “what-ifs”
constantly – like a never-ending loop –
the pattern becomes set
like water flowing down a bank –
with the constant flow, a path is eroded
and the water has but one “choice” of
direction, of where to go

but…
thinking
even if
kind of puts a roadblock in that
carefully gouged and worn direction
and it changes that path, that pattern
and the familiar and comfortable
and the way of least resistance
is challenged – and we are left
feeling as if we’ve been sucker punched.

can I get a “me too”?

I started to write and think and ponder this about one instance
but then I realized I’ve been there –
doubled over with the wind knocked out of me
(who am I kidding, I’m there now)
and I imagine that so many of us
have been there (or are there) too

maybe “even if”
allows us more freedom to

question
to doubt
to wonder
to feel
to think
to act

because maybe
wrapped up in
the “even ifs”
are nuggets of Truth
and the even if creates a new path –
and new way of thinking

maybe if we are able to see
the thing that has
knocked the wind out of us

truly see it
touch it
smell it
taste it
hear it

we can tangibly comprehend
the complexity of it…
and not see through it, but

see past it
to possibilities
to hope

to the “even if” part of this journey.

even if…
God is still good.

His goodness
His character
does not depend on our circumstance
or our feelings
or our thoughts
or even what we do

He remains.

even if God is the One who has come
and knocked the wind out of you

He remains –

remains
faithful
merciful
full of grace
loving
forgiving
patient

He remains.

and maybe, just maybe
we can end up transformed
in our thoughts and realize that
the blow to the gut was not
God knocking the breath out of us —
maybe we realize that He is truly
breathtaking

Life without Him creates a vacant void that causes your lungs to collapse at the very center of who you are. (Amena Brown)

the sucker punch of grace…

 

 

 

 

 

 

how bizarro

maybe this could be a great title of a book…
mine
yours
ours.

ever think that you live in a bizarro world…
things are upside down and backwards
and jumbled?

I do.

let me put this out there…and please don’t judge me.
I
am
not
a
comic
book
fan…
and I probably couldn’t tell you
the difference between
DC and Marvel…
don’t be a hater.

but…
I do very much relate to a bizarro world

“The beautiful is always bizarre.”  – Charles Baudelaire

yesterday I participated in the culmination
of perhaps the most
upside down
jumbled
shaken up
bizarro
happenings of the past 5 years

or even of the past 25 years…

yesterday
a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling
was conferred upon me…

the girl who was not supposed to be walking
or taking care of herself

yesterday
I walked across the stage,
feeling like I was being funneled through a conveyor belt of graduates
I
walked
across
the
stage.

bizarro

yesterday
all of the reading
and the writing
and the researching
and the testing
and the memorizing
and the learning how to be a counselor
became official

bizarro

yesterday
all of the miles driven
over the past 3 1/2 years
all of the short nights
and long days
and lack of sleep
became worth it…

bizarro

yes, I actually finished in December
and was licensed in January…
but it finally all felt official
yesterday.

bizarro

yesterday
my family and friends helped me celebrate…
they have supported and encouraged me
and walked this journey with me
my tribe has been rooting for me this whole time…
and the bizarre thing about this?
my mom.

she died before I was even thinking about pursuing
my master’s degree
she didn’t know about…
the long days and short nights
the balancing of school and work…and squeaking in time to spend with people
the long drives
the reading and writing and memorizing and testing and learning
she didn’t know.

bizarro.

yesterday was bizarro.

how was I feeling yesterday?
I couldn’t answer that question when I was asked…I didn’t know

but today…
today I can look back on the bizarre yesterday and
say that I feel
free and hopeful.

even though I am 5 months past being done
am not currently counseling
have experienced rejection and disappointment
and am not sure what is next…

and I am confused about God’s timing
and even His purpose for me, sometimes…
and have questions with no answer…

I feel hopeful.

bizarro

jumbled
upside down
backwards…

and yet
freedom and hope

bizarro

you see…
who would have ever thought this would happen?
who imagined that the lifeless and broken
form that was hooked up to tubes and cords
to help keep her breathing and alive
would
ever
be
able
to
accomplish this?

bizarro

the beauty
and mystery
of God
that He steps into
our lives

the upside down-ness
the jumbled and broken
the backwards and skewed

and sees what we cannot see
and believes what we cannot even fathom

and makes it right.

bizarro grace.

(Inspired by commencement address at ATS by Rev. Efrem Smith)

making sense

I finished watching a
beautifully tragic series on Netflix…

13 Reasons Why

as a mental health professional
and one who is trained in suicide prevention
this hit particularly close to home

let’s remember that this is a fictional depiction
of Hannah Baker’s life…and ultimate death

there are things that the show gets “right”
from a mental health stance,
but there are also points where it misses the point
– at least from my perspective

truth is, this show is widely popular
and people are talking about it
so, let’s have free and open discussion about

starting and perpetuating rumors
slander
accusation
shaming
bullying
objectification
dehumanization
substance abuse
rejection
humiliation
revenge
vulnerability
rape
sexual assault
abandonment
loneliness
love
violence – both sexual and physical
blame
suicide

as an aside…look at Mark 7:20-23
listed are 13 things in our hearts that lead to corruption (dishonesty, unethical behavior, being amoral and unprincipled)

evil thoughts, immoral sex, theft, murder, adultery, greed (insatiable longing), wicked acts (evil or morally wrong), treachery (betrayal of trust; deceptive action), sensuality (pursuit of physical pleasure), jealousy (envy, being suspicious), slander (false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation), pride (deep pleasure derived from one’s own achievements), and foolishness (lack of good sense of judgement)

these eerily mirror the 13 reasons given in the series..

and let’s also have free and open discussion about

truth
hope
love
resilience
friendship
acceptance
respect
accountability
personal responsibility
depression
anxiety
substance abuse
availability of good mental health services
unbelief
having questions
strength
weakness
listening
empathy
support

and let’s be honest
even brutally honest
with ourselves

if we just sit back and talk about this story
and don’t offer hope
what good does it do?

according 2015 statistics
5491 people aged 15-24 die
by suicide every year
at a rate of 1 suicide every 2 hours – QPR Institute

one
suicide
every
2
hours

for every 1 of those documented deaths
there are 8 attempts
so…40,000 suicides
translates into 1,000,000 attempts annually – QPR Institute

so what can we do?
are we just helpless in this fight?

no.
we.are.not.

we offer hope

we see the obstacles and we look past them to possibility.

we get involved
we build relationships

we ask folks if they have ever thought
or are thinking
about killing themselves

we
ask
them.

we help them get help

we don’t take on this responsibility ourselves…
if we are not trained counselors, we don’t try to be

folks
want
to
be
heard

and so,

we listen…
without judgment
without an answer
without a response
we listen…
to understand.

we listen.

and we process our own
reactions
thoughts
perceptions
ideas
with a trained professional.

how do we make sense of it?
we don’t.
there is no sense to be made.

how do you make sense of
hopelessness
and loneliness
and despair?

you educate yourself
you get trained to
recognize warning signs and clues
you get involved
open dialogue
education

eyes
wide
open

personal responsibility
in how you treat your fellow human being
be careful how we respond to tragedy of any sort

personal disclaimer:  I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.

that statement will not be popular with most folks…

“Sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease and death are inevitable parts of the human experience.” – Christine Suhan

the human experience
did not originally include pain

our current human condition experiences
pain and suffering

let’s walk beside those who are suffering
let’s care about them
let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus…

“You matter to me.”

“I’m glad you’re in my world.” – Beyond the Reasons

“It has to get better.” – Clay Jensen, 13 Reasons Why

let’s be part of that revolution.
and let’s be honest about
the mystery of grace…it really doesn’t make sense

 

for more information: https://www.save.org/13-reasons-why/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-237-8255
Crisis Text Line:  text HELP to 741741

 

 

the power of choice

choice

grace

faith

3 words
3 interpretations
3 perspectives
3 power dynamics…
right?

but what if…
what if they are so intertwined
that we confound
the influence they have on each other…
what if.

can we really say
or even begin to decipher
which came first…
choice, grace, faith

right…
at first glance,
I would say choice

in the garden
Adam
Eve
the slippery snake
choosing to become like a god…
choosing to disobey…
choice

but then…
I could say grace

in the garden
Adam
Eve
the slippery snake
and a way was already made
the cross was already the plan
grace

and then maybe…
I could say faith

in the garden
Adam
Eve
the slippery snake
the need for faith was birthed

so…
which holds more power
choice
grace
or faith?
do they have differing degrees of power
or maybe the intensities are different
and therefore the power seems different?

what has become so very tangible
and evident
and self-incriminating
is the power of choice

and what is so disappointing about that
is that
I
don’t
choose
well.

I don’t.

and then I regret the choice
and loathe myself for making the choice
and beat myself up for it
and even…and I even try to justify it.

and what is even more disappointing…
is that I make that same choice again and again.

can I get a ‘me too’?

I know the outcome
I remember the anguish
and yet…
the power of that choice
seems to take control…

but grace covers that…

yes.  that is absolutely correct.
grace – getting what I don’t deserve –
does win…always.
the power of grace is not weak

and what about faith…

do I lack faith when I
exercise the power of choice?
maybe…

can’t faith…the power of faith
propel me to choose a different way?

absolutely.

choice…grace…faith

an interwoven mystery
a cyclical pattern of influence
a mass of power

perhaps I over think things
perhaps these things aren’t even remotely related
perhaps it’s not at all about the words
or the meanings…

perhaps this
choice/grace/faith
cycle is what following Christ is all about

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. – Philippians 2:12-13 (MSG)

make better choices

Betsy, make better choices.
you know better – so do better.
selfishness doesn’t win

perhaps I give
choice the power and control…

understand the true meaning of grace

getting what you don’t deserve – yes
but what about living because of that
not so that grace can cover it?
Betsy, it already has.

believe that Jesus has your heart on His mind

when you can’t see the way
or feel His presence
or taste that He is indeed good
or catch a whiff of His spirit
or hear His voice…

rely on that belief, that faith
to guide your choice.

He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”  I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (the Voice)

forgive me.
help me.
love me.

“I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.” – Mike Yaconelli

 

 

choosing grace…

you good?

so, are you?
and…what does that mean?

does that mean…

healthy
fine
tip-top
strong
virtuous
having integrity
the opposite of bad…

or can it mean…

how are you?
are things going well?
do you need anything?

a certain adorably handsome 19-month old asks this question
a lot…

you good?

truly…are you?
are things going well?

or are you struggling?
are you feeling empty?

You know those places where we’re feeling empty?  Those formless places in us, our family, our year — Right where our hopes haven’t happened yet — the Spirit of God hovers now.  Right where it’s dark & it’s deep, our Divine Helper hovers close.  Right where it’s formless, it’s not ever, ever, ever hopeless — because we have a Father who hovers near, His love spread over us like wings (Gen.1:1-2).
And right now?  Right over our darkest, emptiest, most hopeless, most unspoken broken place — Grace hovers so close, it touches us, lights us.  Grace loves us when we are at our darkest worst — and wraps us in the best light. – Ann Voskamp

you good?

are you feeling lost
out of control
helpless
hopeless

you good?

are you needing…
answers
direction
help

you good?

and God saw that his creation was beautiful and good…

we
are
good…
and beautiful – God said so!

so what happens
from the moment of the declaration
“you are good”
to wondering if we really are or not?
do we get in the way?

when do we become
fearful
anxious
sad
lonely
struggling
empty
out of control
helpless…?
when does that happen??

do we shift our focus?
do we think muchly?

you good?

well, no, not really
if I am honest.
I am kind of struggling
and frustrated
and I have a lot of questions…

you good?

yeah, I’m going to be good
I know that….
it’s just going to take me a minute

 

The Lord is my Best Friend and my Shepherd.
I always have more than enough.

 
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.

 
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure,
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.

 
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me though it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

 
You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.

 
So why would I fear the future?
For I am being pursued only by your goodness and unfailing love.
Then afterwards – when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you! – Psalm 23, the Passion translation

 

grace that is good…

 

 

ain’t that a shame

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately

about the words people say…
and how they cut like a knife, leaving scars

about the lies I believe…
and how they morph into truth as they are processed in my head

about shame…
and the damage that is left in its wake

 

at the age of 8, she joined weight watchers

ain’t that a shame

she got cut from the 7th grade basketball team

ain’t that a shame

she was almost top of her graduating high school class

ain’t that a shame

she never dated in high school or college

ain’t that a shame

she didn’t have a back-up plan after getting her degree

ain’t that a shame

youth ministry didn’t work out for her

ain’t that a shame

everything she stood for and the very essence of who she was came under scrutiny

ain’t that a shame

she had a bachelor’s degree but was working in food service earning just a bit over minimum wage

ain’t that a shame

she almost died in a car accident

ain’t that a shame

she ran a failing business

ain’t that a shame

she was bankrupt at age 33

ain’t that a shame

she turned 39 and lost her mom not long after

ain’t that a shame

she needed to see a counselor

ain’t that a shame

 

she continues to doubt her choices

ain’t that a shame

 

ain’t that a shame

but what I hear is…
you aren’t good enough
you are too fat
you are not smart enough
you will be alone forever
you didn’t plan well
you obviously didn’t hear God correctly
you are living a lie
you will never be able to earn more than minimum wage
you were careless, maybe even reckless
you are a failure
you should be grieving
you should be able to handle all of this on your own
you have nothing
you are not enough.

“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself.” – Geneen Roth

I know that all of that is faulty thinking…
that those thoughts are not sourced from Truth

shame is an ugly monster.

it tells me that I am those things

not good enough, a failure, careless, too fat, not worthy

“The voices of condemnation, shame, and rejection can come at you, but they don’t have to reside in you. That’s your miracle in the mess.” – Lysa Terkeurst

my miracle in the mess??

yep…I can proudly say that I have that experience
not only physically

I spent 24 days in a coma and had to
remember how to walk, talk, eat, write, read
you name it, I had to remember how it was done

but I can also say that I don’t let those things live inside of me.

to be honest and fair to myself,
I do allow those things to sign short-term leases
I go through moments
where I feel extremely sorry for myself
and it seems easier in those moments to believe the lies
(part of me sees the truth in them)
than to fight it.

I’m just being honest.

shame
has
a
hold
on
me.

it does.
and it is something that I truly have to fight
every
day.

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” – C.G. Jung

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” – Brene Brown

“Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling.” – Brene Brown

“Is shame just a negative emotion and a skewed mind-set, or an actual parasitic force that drains life, takes life, and keeps us from the life God has always intended for us?” – Ann Voskamp

 

isn’t that what I am fighting against?

aren’t we absolutely capable of change?

hasn’t shame feasted long enough on the very core of my being?

can I get a “me too”?

“God can take what Satan meant for shame and use it for His glory. Just when we think we’ve messed up so badly that our lives are nothing but heaps of ashes, God pours His living water over us and mixes the ashes into clay. He then takes this clay and molds it into a vessel of beauty. After He fills us with His overflowing love, He can use us to pour His love into the hurting lives of others.” – Lysa Terkeurst

this journey with shame…
it continues.

but…
shame does not have to punch in the
GPS coordinates
it does not get to tell me where to go
how to think
what I can and cannot do
shame does not have that power over me…

oh yes, my friends, I have certainly relinquished that freedom
to this ugly monster.
I have allowed shame to be the reflection I see in the mirror
or the image I see on the camera screen
shame has dictated
for long enough
how I see myself…

ain’t that a shame

yes…
but that doesn’t mean that I am
a shame.

that does not mean that I am not enough

I’m still working on all of this…
filtering out the lies
and grasping the truth.

I’m still a work in progress…

I just finished my master’s degree
and am a licensed professional counselor
with skills

I believe
truly believe
that none of what I have endured
will go to waste…
I believe that I can “pour into the hurting lives of others”
because of what God has done.

The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
    The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
    “Be free from your imprisonment!”

God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes,
To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow,
    to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness. – Isaiah 61:1, 3 (the Voice)

this.
all.of.this.

that is not shame.

that is honor.
that is life.
that is victory.

Oh Your amazing grace
I’ve seen and tasted it
It’s running through my veins
I can’t escape its grip
In You my soul is safe
You cover everything – We are Messengers, My Victory

no shame in grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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