Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It's Not Mine, Anyway

Whenever my body doesn't do what it's supposed to do, whenever something's wrong, it hurts in deeper places. My heart aches and among the things I say and do, I blame myself. As though I could somehow control the inner workings of an earthly vessel I can't begin to understand. As though it were my fault things aren't working right. And I hate myself.

I know I'm not the only one, living in a body that isn't "normal." I know others walk this road too. Others know the prying questions that underneath their semantics all ring the same, What's wrong with you? If we were honest, we'd all admit something's wrong. Just some things are easier to perceive than others.

I so easily forget, when I list what's wrong with me, that this shell in which I live, it isn't mine. It's just a rental, a temporary dwelling my soul calls home. And one day, I'll hear the One on the throne say, "Behold, I am making all things new." And that will apply to me too. Lord, I can't wait to get that new body. I can't wait for Him to take all the former things and make them new.

But for now, this is the shell for which I care. And though I may be disappointed in it, what do I gain through my anger and hatred? What will I change by cutting down the image in the mirror? What will I accomplish through my disdain other than more pain? And though this shell isn't mine forever, I know I need to care for her.

I pray for strong arms, to carry others when they are weak. I pray for kind lips that know when to speak. I pray for open hands, to give and to receive. I pray for beautiful feet that bring good news and follow willingly after the Lord. I pray for clear eyes, to see not merely earthly vessels, but the souls they contain. I pray for open ears that know how to distinguish the voice of my Lord from the voices of the world.

I pray that I know how to use this vessel for all that God has ordained. It's not mine, anyway.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Queen's Broken Song

These days are heavy, and I've felt the weight of stories that have been told. I am inspired by the brave who have spoken out out, and they have helped me to craft something new. It's a little bit of poetry, a little bit of spoken word. If you want to read along while you listen, the text is below.

If you have been a victim, I want you to know, when you are ready, you can tell your story. It doesn't have to be today, or all at once, but I want you to know that there is a community that will listen and support you. You are not alone, you have a voice.

A Queen's Broken Song

I wrote this for the girls,
Even the ones I don’t know. 
Because I do know this:
It’s really hard to grow
And move past the pain
And speak truth to yourself
When all you feel is cheap
Like something thrown on a shelf.
"Be seen and not heard,
You don't have a voice,"
They've said all my life,
Like I don't have a choice.
As though I had no power,
Or purpose or goal
But in the quite moments
I was readying my soul.
To say it loud, join in with me now,
I’m a queen, I know I am.
A queen that’s worth more
Than just gem stones and glam.
A queen that’s respected
Who is given honor and love,
Not just by society or man
But God almighty above.
See He says I’m worth more
More than diamonds or gold,
Beautifully and wonderfully made,
Whether I’m young or I’m old. 
I am a queen, called by name
Given power and life
Given talents and gifts
Whether I’m single or a wife.
By this I’m defined,
Not by words or by deeds,
Or man's love and esteem
But by a Savior who bleeds.
Who calls me by name
And makes me His daughter
Because He paid my price
Like a lamb to the slaughter.
And now I’m redeemed,
Set free by the King
A woman of worth
With a song I must sing.
And a life I must live,
And a story I'll tell
'Cause I've only got one
And so I'll tell it well.
How people have tried 
Oh so hard to use me.
To take and to touch
And to make me to be
Something I know I'm not,
Whether by word or by power.
But something they forgot
In that darkest of hour,
Is that God walked with me,
More than a mile,
He's been there the whole time,
And He's seen what is vile.
He's felt my pain,
And my torment, it's true
That what was done to me
Was done to Him too.
Together we hurt,
Together we cried,
Together we lived,
Because One of us died.
Together we rise,
Together we stand,
I know that I'm safe
In the palm of His hand.
And I know that He loves me,
Which is why I can tell you,
Because of His grace,
That He loves you too.
And He wants you to change,
To become like His Son,
To leave your old life,
Because that battle is done.
The cross is what stands,
A reminder for sure,
That what is blemished 
Can in fact be made pure. 
He calls prodigals home,
Sets weary feet to dance,
And not just the good,
He gives each one a chance.
And that's my story,
A queen's broken song,
Made whole by the One
Who has loved her so long.
Made pure by the grace
He freely bestows
And now I can say,
I'm like a flower that grows.
More and more beautiful
Each day I become,
Not by effort or work
But because of the Son.
Because of His truth,
That transforms my heart
Because of His kingdom,
Of which I'm a part.
I wrote this for the girls,
And for the boys too,
For the men and women,
Because we all need You.
You change our lives,
You help us to grow,
And You love us more
Than we'll ever know.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Road to Here

You know when you have some things on your mind for a while, and somehow they keep showing up in everything? Like different aspects of life, and God, and relationships. And how sometimes these different things intersect and shift your way of thinking?

Once I hit my 30s, I started thinking about age a lot. I still don't feel like an adult most times, but I can definitely tell I'm not in my 20s any more. I'm different, I've changed. It's kind of scary because this is uncharted territory, and I just keep getting dragged in deeper and deeper.

But something a friend had recently shared stood out to me. It was a quote that said, "Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." And isn't that a bittersweet way of looking at something we often see as negative? One little quote adjusted the perspective that I've had the last few years, that aging is somehow a bad thing. But really it's a gift to live life, every bit that we are given.

I've also been thinking about how I got here, to this point in life. A confusing, beautiful point that I tried for so long to get to, but gave up part way through. I love that God doesn't give up on us when we grow tired of waiting on His plan. I love that He doesn't stop writing our story just because we try to take over and craft a few chapters on our own. When we lose sight of the destination, He brings us back.

I feel like all these thoughts have collided to remind me that the road to this point was long, and I am not who I once was, but it is a good thing. I'm not 18, but in the nearly 14 years since, I have experienced a journey that has grown and shaped me into the person I am today. I am far from perfect, but I am more secure in my identity in Christ than perhaps ever before. I would not trade that for all the youthfulness in the world. Aging is a gift, whether we choose to see it that way or not.

I am thankful for the road, it has brought me to so many places and people. It has helped to shape me and make me who I am. I am thankful that the road reminds me that life is about progress, not perfection. And in the times when I want to settle down and remain, the road reminds me that the movement of time and trials bring me closer to the end.

The end. It often sounds sad, like a great story has come to its lasting and final conclusion. But this end is really the beginning of a greater story, one that will make this one, this long road, seem but a distant memory.

See, the other thing I've been thinking about lately is that heaven is the ultimate goal. Which sounds simple, but can be so hard to remember here, where goals are things we set and spend our lives working for. Like jobs or money or relationships or possessions or fame. But the ultimate goal isn't something we create from our hard work or investments. It's already there, waiting for us to simply choose it. By choosing Jesus, we choose to step into the ultimate goal of heaven, where there will be no more roads or trials or tears. Just a place to remain with God, forever.

I look to heaven when things feel out of control, when the burdens and the road become too great to bear, when I feel tired and at a loss, when I want to give up. I remember that heaven is waiting, and it is better than all the good things I have ever experienced here. Heaven is the destination at the end of the road.

When I get there, I probably won't even remember the road. It will probably be like the long trip to a beloved friend's house, and how when you arrive, you instantly forget all that it took to get there. Because you're finally together, and you can't think about anything but the joy you experience at seeing that friend's face. And you rejoice, for the destination was worth all that it took to get there. Yes, I think all I'll remember was that it was worth it to get there.

Friday, January 5, 2018

All Truth Is...

I think the more you get to know Jesus, the more you see Him. The more you can hear His whisper in the strangest of places, where man thought He had been left out, where it never entered into their minds that He could be.

I once had a communications teacher who said, "All truth is God's truth." I didn't get it at the time, not really. I thought it was a nice way of saying that as long as I was writing the truth, I could write about anything at all. I thought it gave me freedom to tell any story I wanted. And maybe that's still the case, but now it means something a bit more.

"All truth is God's truth" means that in the truth He speaks, and we can find Him there. That at unexpected times, people talk about Him without even knowing it. That He is present in places we want to forget.

I once had a co-worker who said people need more love. What I heard was "people need more Jesus," as if those were the words that had actually been spoken. The world is craving Jesus, they're calling for Him blindly, without even realizing it.

I once watched a commercial about the golden rule and cried because all I could see was Jesus. Nothing about it was religious or overtly Christian, but I wept because each scene showed who I knew Jesus to be: attentive, caring, just, loving. It wasn't intended to display Him, and yet it did.

Every time I see someone go out of their way to help another person, I see Jesus. Acts of service display His heart for the world. Giving a piece of what we have reflects in some small way the immeasurable gift He gave.

All truth is God's truth, and in truth He will be found. May we never discredit the places and times where we see Him. In those moments He speaks, calling us to know His ways just a little bit more.
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