Saturday, May 23, 2015

Through the Looking Glass


The first time I learned I was fat was when I was six. That's right, six. We were in a fitting room, and my mother noticed that I was "getting a belly." Six. With a belly. 

The next memory I have of learning what my body should look like was in middle school. I had gone to India over the summer, and while I was there, I got amoebic dysentery. Nothing helps you drop some weight like a few amoebas. When I came back to dance class that fall, the instructor noticed how much weight I had lost. She suggested I keep doing what I was because I was looking great. I was eleven. Recovering from amoebic dysentery.

Admittedly, I was never on the svelte and lean side. I did have a little bit of a belly, a helping of meat on my thighs, and well, this baby has always had back. If I could remember back to my birth, I hear that the nurses even commented on my round little bottom. Being a bit of a girlish tomboy early on, I never paid much attention. I loved to wear dresses and run around in the dirt. I went fishing and danced. 

One day, I learned that I wasn't built like the other girls. I wasn't as pretty as the other girls. In dance and in sports, I was never encouraged, since I didn't have the ideal body type or the perfect stamina. I found my niche with a small group of friends as we walked through those awkward teenage years together. We compared the size of our thighs, the style of our hair, our womanly developments, and bemoaned our lack of dating prospects. In that time, I learned to hate my body because I had learned I was ugly and undesirable. Nerdy was not the new cool just yet. 

If I were thinner, if my hair feathered perfectly, if I didn't have a unibrow... If, if, if. My weight fluctuated as I went through puberty, went to college, dieted and failed, exercised and gave up, dated and didn't. My body would be my best friend one day and my worst enemy the next. My size often reflected my psyche. I learned to comfort myself with food and alcohol. My waistline grew as I struggled with depression, with anxiety, with the normal trials of a late teen and twenty-something.

My thirty-something self wants to strangle my teenage/twenty-something self. I was not fat (most of the time). I look back and see that I was beautiful (most of the time). Surely I was awkward, but no more so than any other girl coming of age in the late 80s and early 90s. (Fashion industry - what did you do to us?) I wonder now, how can I save my children (and especially my daughter) from these battles? 

As I continue to let the grace and mercy of Jesus wash over me and heal me, I am quicker to remind myself of the truth. Certainly, I need to care for myself. While I still soothe myself with food and beverage from time to time, I am quicker to recognize what I am doing and stop. While I still have days when I see no beauty in me at all, I am quicker to remember that I am created in the image and likeness of God, and God doesn't make ugly things. My imperfections, and there are many, are stories of my life. Those extra pounds came from joyous celebrations, hard struggles, and playing home to two little children. Those scars and stretch marks came from offering myself as a vessel to bring those beautiful new lives into this world. Even the scars from my recent surgery tell a story. The tired eyes tell the story of a woman who is learning how to live every moment and love ever harder. The thinning and greying hair share the stress of motherhood and learning to let go control. Sure, I would love to let go of some of that, but if I don't it is still all part of the beautiful story of my life. 

In hindsight, I know my mother didn't mean any harm. She has struggled with her own image ever since I can remember, and still does. She wanted her daughter to be different. I understand. I have learned from this, though, that my baggage can be inadvertently passed on to my children. I want to lighten that load. This culture will undoubtedly attack them, so I want be as certain as I can that I don't add to it. 



We make a conscious effort to tell our children they are beautiful just as they are. We remind them that God has created them wonderfully. When they are older, I hope we can instill in them a confidence that while their bodies will shift and change with the sands of time, their beauty is something that lies deeper within. I hope they will know themselves as beautiful in the eyes of their greatest Lover and not be obsessed with their dating life or lack thereof. (They won't be dating until they're 30, so we have plenty of time.) I pray that our children will be the people who will affirm what is beautiful in others because they know what is beautiful about themselves...and that it is okay to look different from everyone else. When they gaze through the looking glass, my hope for them is that they see the eternal truth about who they are and not a fleeting glance at the lies told by the vogue of the day. 

The battle isn't over - when it starts at six and lingers for decades, it takes a little time. I am staging a coup on those whispers that try to fix my gaze on the lies about what is lacking. I want my children to remember me as comfortable in my own skin so that they can confidently own theirs. When I can look confidently in the mirror and see beyond the seeming faults staring back at me, I can better shift my focus to what is beautiful about the rest of the world too. The greatest gift I can give my children is to show them, not tell them, how to love better, beginning with our own selves, so to be vessels of grace and mercy for the world. 

Until next time, let's get out there and love 'em like Jesus, my beautiful friends!







Visit the Blessed Is She Sisterhood Link-Up this week to read other women share their thoughts on beauty and body image.




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Friday, May 22, 2015

{SQT} On the Descent of the Holy Spirit and Free Image Downloads



The Easter season has been crawling along to this great crescendo which is the Feast of Pentecost. The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit with tongues as of fire, fire enough to turn the awkward, cowardly, sometimes foolish Peter into an explosive preacher, witness, and leader of the earthly church. Here are seven verses of Scripture that exemplify the power, beauty, and gift the Holy Spirit continues to be to us until the end of time. Plus...they are free printables/downloads (just right-click to save) - enjoy!


{ONE}




{TWO}



{THREE}



{FOUR}



{FIVE}



{SIX}



{SEVEN}



For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum!

Come, Holy Spirit! Help us get out there and love 'em all like Jesus!








PS - Don't forget! There is still time to join the May Sketch-Along. I can't wait to see all your inspired creations!


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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Five Favorites: Get Ready for Pentecost!


The Spirit is coming! The Spirit is coming! Who's ready for Pentecost? Here are five songs to get you in the spirit for the coming of the Spirit. (Go ahead. Groan.)

{ONE}
Holy Spirit, Francesca Battestelli

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord





{TWO}
Burning in My Soul, Matt Maher

Whoa, hear the sound from Heaven
Whoa, a mighty rushing wind
Whoa, we're calling for revival
God let Your fire fall again
It's burning in my soul...




{THREE}
Soul on Fire, Third Day

God, I'm running for Your heart
I'm running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
I wanna be
Till I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire




{FOUR}
Consuming Fire, Third Day

Set this place on fire
Send Your spirit, Saviour
Rescue form the mire
Show your servant favor
Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I'm in the presence of Almighty God



{FIVE}
Spirit of the Living God, Phil Wickham

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me





Hope this helps get you in the mood for the firefall of Pentecost. (Do you have any favorites I missed?)

Come, Holy Spirit, come!! Now, let's get out there and love 'em like Jesus!








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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

7 Valuable Life Lessons: Virtues of an Imperfect Mother


A couple of weeks ago, I went to a different parish than I normally attend. It was one of those weeks where the Hubs and I split Masses due to work and other events, so I was flying solo. While it is nice to be able to focus on the Mass without five trips to the bathroom and a few more to the water fountain, when your mind is used to wandering with a toddler, it finds other places to wander even if the trip back to Jesus is faster flying solo.

This particular week, I noticed at this parish how nicely dressed the families were. Crisp, clean fabrics, flowing dresses, girls with their hair braided and not flying astray...this was in sharp contrast to our family's slightly disheveled children with shirts coming untucked and hair flying in a million directions.

Other times, I wonder what the parents whose children sit through Mass are doing differently. Our brood is an active one, and it can become a little disheartening to see other families sitting calmly through Mass while we take yet one more walk around the gathering area. The old nature vs. nurture questions start cropping up. Is it our parenting that makes them incapable of sitting quietly, or is it just in the their genetic makeup (which is still our doing)? The truth is that it is likely a little of both.

Photo credit: Rubina Mukerjea Roshan
While I can work to change and grow as a parent, it is unlikely that I will change into someone I am not. The same goes for our children. If we spend so much time focusing on what we want to change, we miss out on the beauty there is in the current moment. We are who we are, and there is grace in that.

It is true that through all of this, I want to learn to love better, more selflessly. At the same time, who I am right now is who God has trusted with these children, imperfections and all. Motherhood has been a struggle, no doubt. It is stripping bare all my false selves to reveal the true state of my soul, which is often uglier than I thought. To hit a brick wall over and over has been dizzying, especially for a woman who has been an overachiever for much of her life. In that dizziness, I can start to think there is someone better out there for my children. That is a lie, though, isn't it? There is no better mama for my children than me. There is no better mother for your children than you.

In fact, in my many foibles and failures, God may just be teaching my children and I something about Himself. There is so much grace that is revealed in our weakness. Here are just a few ways in which our faceplants and utter failures are teaching our children (and us) some wonderful lessons on the nature of being human and needing redemption.

{ONE} 
The True Nature of Love

Love is messy and hard. It is rarely all butterflies and rainbows and poetry and chocolate. The sweetness comes after the sweat. Love is work, not just platitudes. Love is a whole slew of "I'm sorry" and "let's try again" and "I forgive you"s. Love is dying to yourself for the good of another, and death is painful. There is beauty and sweetness and peace and fulfillment. It just comes with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears sometimes. 

{TWO} 
The True Face of Joy

Joy isn't about being on Cloud 9 forever and always. In fact, joy and sorrow are most times two sides of the same coin. Joy comes from being able to swim through the tears and the sorrows and the frustration to come out on the other end with a sure knowledge that all shall be well. It is trusting that the victory has been won, so we can rejoice in that when everything else starts falling apart. 

{THREE} 
Grace Abounds in Failure

Failure is not death. Sin does not win. One thing that I am certain my own shortcomings can teach my children is that they should not fear failure. It can be embarrassing for certain, but in that moment God's grace is already hard at work making something good from it. Of course, as St. Paul reminds us, this doesn't mean that we should try to fail or sin. Certainly we aspire to succeed, to put a little extra into the ordinary. However, if things don't work out, if we stumble, there is grace enough to pick us up and keep us going if we let it. We can be schools of grace for one another in our failures at home. 

{FOUR} 
Mercy is Always New

There is always a new dawn after a dark night. We all make mistakes. Just as God's mercy is never-ending, ours can be too. Somehow we find a way to start again, over and over and over and over. We wipe the slate clean for our children as they learn and grow and rebel and yell...sometimes right alongside us. Our errors and failings give us a chance to experience (and extend) that mercy.

{FIVE} 
There is Strength in Humility

It is okay to admit when you are wrong and that you don't always have the answers. It is okay to ask for help. It is good to know and admit your weaknesses. It is in them that Christ is able to give you strength. When we are less than perfect, it is such a rich opportunity to show our children how to be confident in the face of their shortcomings. We teach them that our worth doesn't come from being perfect by any definition. We are worthy because we are created in the image and likeness of God - nothing else. 

{SIX} 
Endurance Wins the Race

Until our dying day, we continue to have the opportunity to get it more right than the day before. Some days we will fall flat on our faces, but we dust ourselves off and keep on trying. What a fantastic lesson for our children to take with them. There is nothing so big that it can make Him turn away from us - nothing. If we keep on trying, if we keep running (or walking, or crawling) to Him, there is no bellyflop, wipeout, nosedive - nada - that will separate us from the love of God. Even if it the tiniest little step, you just have to keep going. 

{SEVEN} 
Life is a Masterpiece if Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture

There is rarely a day that goes by without me beating myself up for something. A harsh word, not putting my phone down, not cleaning, having laundry piled up, wasting time, being ungrateful - something. As a photographer, I realized a few years ago that I needed to keep a photo journal of life moments throughout the day. (In more recent times, that journal is called Instagram.) What I have discovered is that looking back over those snippets of my days, the same days where I am berating myself for not being "more," there is so much grace and beauty and joy and wonder. In the big picture, my failures don't add up to the same majesty as the grace and joy and beauty and love and wonder and all the good things...and there are so many good things. Much like an impressionist painting, if we take too much time to examine things really close up, it will look a mess. If we step back and see how those messes come together - voila! Life is a masterpiece.

So, you see, mama? Being perfect isn't the bees knees. Why chase after a mirage when there is such richness and virtue in our real, imperfect selves? Our kids deserve nothing less than the real moms they've got - and that's the way God designed it! What is God teaching your brood through the messes of your life?

Until next time, let's get out there and love 'em like Jesus!








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Friday, May 15, 2015

{SQT} On Gifts, Rookie Mom Mistakes, The Holy Spirit, Stained Glass, and Dreams



Here's a quick glimpse of life from the past week:




From Ann Voskamp's Facebook page:
"Yeah-- There's never anything to be afraid of... all the hard gifts turn out to be good gifts.
And the good gifts all turn out to be forever gifts -- eternal gifts that nothing or nobody can ever, ever take away from you.
And all the best gifts? All turn out to be forthcoming.... The best gifts are always still up ahead, the best is always still to come."








Pro-Mom tip: Do not keep the chips within the reach of the two year old when shopping.
I am not a pro-mom.

The headline from this week could have read "Rookie School Mom Mistakes Strike Again!" Gia's Spring concert was this past Tuesday. In all the chaos of the last couple of weeks, I had for some reason thought it was still a week or two off. I a) failed to invite my mother to the concert until the day of, and b) didn't have a clean dress for Gia to wear (she only has a couple that fit her right now as it is). Thank goodness for Target clearance and retired mothers who don't have calendars full of packed evenings!





We finally went and saw Cinderella on Mother's Day. I cannot adequately express just how much I loved it, but here is a little recap as to why it is now in my top five favorite movies.



As I'm working on focusing the mission of the blog, I had some thoughts on how we best share Christ through our words and lives. Bottom line: no hiding in the dark!




The May Sketch-Along is now posted, and I would love to have you join me! The theme for May is the Holy Spirit. 



While it is called a "sketch-along," please feel free to use any medium of creativity - paint, photography, digital art...whatever moves your soul. There are so many rich verses of Scripture, prayers, hymns, and quotes to choose from - I know I am having trouble deciding! Here are just a smattering of my favorites:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 (World Youth Day Sydney forevah!)
Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up Thy rest.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us.

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. Ezekiel 36:26
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy. ~ Saint Augustine (This one is a little long, but still one of my favorites!)
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.



I'm not sure if I have written this here before. If I have and you've read it...mea culpa. I was going through some old journal notes, and this struck me as being forever relevant. 

I am a holy work in progress. When I was a baby Christian and surrounded by the solitary message that God loves us (which He absolutely does) so we are all okay (which we are not), I had a very hard time with people who would say that they were unworthy of God's love, or saw themselves as somehow diminished. It wasn't until I understood the sacrifice of the Cross more deeply that I came to understand what they possibly meant. 

When you see yourself against the sacrifice of the Cross, in comparison to the glory of God, we surely fall short. We are broken and wounded and dirty. And yet...He does not leave us there. The sacrifice of the Cross isn't the end of the story. Jesus rose, and He lifts us up with Him if we reach out for His hand. Our brokenness is made beautiful. Our wounds are woven together. Our stains are turned into stained glass.


We have stains, it's true 
But when Your light shines through 
We all look like stained glass windows to You. 
Jon Guerra, Stained Glass



I had my first Edel Gathering dream last night. It must be getting close! Cate reminded me that it is less than 10 weeks away - and that was a couple weeks ago. Of course, in my dream I lost my shoes and my purse, and forgot to bring a dress for the cocktail party ... and some old guy friends from high school crashed the soiree. I wasn't there last year - I'm a little off, aren't I? 



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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Have Courage & Be Kind: Bringing Magic to Life


We tend to be riding on the comet tail of trends in this house, and getting to the movies is no different. On Mother's Day, the ladies of the Casa finally made it to go see Cinderella. Thankfully it was still playing at a theater near us and for amazingly low matinee rates that included free popcorn! I digress.

While the live action format of this classic fairy tale was a little too involved to keep the four year old's attention through the nearly two hour movie, she was captivated at all the magical parts and picked up on the basic themes. Mean stepmother and sisters, magical fairy godmothers, beautiful weddings and princes. The basics were all there for the four year old.

For me, it was amusing to see Rose and Daisy of Downton fame battling it out on the big screen. Rose, grown up and exuding a brilliant innocence that gave proper homage to the pure in spirit, and Daisy, embracing a sillier, baser side of cluelessness and things of the world. Getting to the retelling of a classic story, what I truly loved was the simplicity with which the movie captured some very basic truths and brought them magically to life. Ella's mother's words, of course, permeate the whole story: "have courage and be kind" - words echoing the timeless message of the saints. 

"Be not afraid." 

"Love one another."

This adaptation of Cinderella did a superb job of making these big messages spring to life. Here are a few other lessons I hope Li'l G takes with her through the years to keep on bringing the magic of Cinderella to life. 



I pray that as a mother, I can instill in both my children a deep understanding of who they are - children of God. I hope they take with them the knowledge that they are temples of the Holy Spirit, that they are loved and adored beyond their wildest dreams by the Creator of all.the.things. Life brings with it so many attacks on our identities, our confidence, and our self-worth. I pray that our children can cling to the Word and promises of Christ to know the truth about themselves in the face of bullies, users, and cheats. 
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1


Could we as a culture be more obsessed with external beauty?!? Look younger, use {insert beauty product here}, get thinner, be hotter. The trouble here is that no amount of face cream, mascara, or fad diet will beautify the soul, which is what lights and animates us. Our beauty comes from much more than our external appearances. Was Cinderella beautiful? Of course! I hope that my children will learn that Cinderella's beauty had more to do with her kindness and joy than the locks of golden hair, though. 
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:15


Be it a stag in the forest or a thirsty old woman, it is by helping the least that you open yourself to the blessings in store for you. You may not captivate a secret prince, or uncover a fairy godmother, but I guarantee you will receive so much more than you give. Live boldly with sincerity and kindness, and you will turn heads. Instilling a spirit of holy boldness and generosity is a work in progress, but I hope it is a lesson my children will learn...and one I will embrace with more gusto myself!
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8


True confessions: I'm a complainer. I try not to be, but I am. I eventually come around to appreciating how much I have to be thankful for, but it is usually a "whinding" road that gets me there. What a beautiful example of joyful suffering Cinderella gives us! In this live action portrayal, she brings us this example so adeptly mixed with moments of despair in her true humanity. Sobbing by the smoldering fire, Cinderella feels she cannot fight any longer. How many of us feel that way so often? Still, she finds a way. She remains open to what is around her, to showing kindness, and in that her hope is restored. Her suffering does not close her eyes to the needs of others. In that, she finds her fairy godmother. 
Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5


Was anyone else moved to tears when Cinderella turned around on her exit from the house with Prince Charming and said to her stepmother, "I forgive you." Such a brilliant, short piece of dialogue by those who adapted the fairy tale to this live action version. Throughout the movie, these pieces of understanding in Cinderella's character were woven into the story. When she first encounters the prince in the forest, her description of her situation - "They treat me as well as they are able," reveals an inner wisdom about the actions of others. Hurt people hurt people. Fallen people hurt people. Holding a grudge only eats away at our own soul. What Cinderella teaches us in those two short statements has monumental significance. Assume the best of one another, and forgive each other the foibles of our fallen humanity. It all goes back to that first lesson: we are all broken, and how someone treats you does not define you. How you treat them back does speak volumes about who you are, though. Forgive and seek the best of others. 

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It truly is captivating!

Now, embrace your inner Cinderella (or Prince Charming) and get out there and love 'em like Jesus!







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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5 Favorite Beauty Tips from 5 Beautiful Women


It has been a long while since I have linked up with a Five Favorites, but here I am! With Mother's Day just passing, we sure saw a lot of commercials about what moms want and how beautiful mothers are. I thought about what it is that makes me feel beautiful, especially since I have spent much of my life struggling with body image. I thought about what I want to pass on to my daughter about beauty in contrast to what the world will tell her. Below are the best pieces of advice I have found from some beautiful and powerful women. 

{ONE}
Care for others.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, 
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

This is often attributed to Audrey Hepburn. In reality, it is a poem by Sam Levenson which it seems she loved so much that people mis-attributed it to her. The full poem by Sam Levenson can be found here



{TWO}
Serve God.

Be humble and pure like Mary so as to live in love and peace with one another and make our families and our world something beautiful for God.

This is an excerpt from the end of a letter Mother Teresa wrote to the women attending the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. You can read the full letter here.




{THREE}
Don't hide. Shine what God gave you. 

If a little flower could speak, it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,or the storm bruised its stem, if it knew that such were not the case.” St. Therese of Liseux, Story of a Soul

{FOUR}
Stay open and allow yourself to experience pain.

If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful.
Sophia Loren

{FIVE}
Don't compare. 



Being jealous of a beautiful woman is not going to make you more beautiful.
Zsa Zsa Gabor

There you have it! If you want more of what people are loving this week, visit Mary over at Sometimes Martha, Always Mary, who is hosting for Rachel at Efficient Mama, who is hosting for Jenna from Call Her Happy. Got all that?

Now, go be beautiful and love 'em like Jesus!









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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

{May Sketch-Along} Come, Holy Spirit

It's here! It's here! The first ever Pitter Patter Diaries Sketch-Along is here!

"The purpose of art is nothing less than the upliftment of the human spirit.' 
~ St. John Paul II


My creative journey has taken a long time to develop, ranging from completely inactive because an art teacher told me I really couldn't draw, to wildly creative because I had all the time in the world and tried my hand at every medium. I am settling into a creative voice finally - one that believes art should bring joy to the soul and lift it up to the One who created all the beauty that exists. Some of that includes painting, some writing, some drawing, some graphic design, some photography. See? I still can't settle on a medium!

Regardless of what your creative journey has been or your actual/perceived proficiency in any given medium, please join me in creating art that lifts the soul. With Pentecost just a couple weeks away, the theme for May is the Holy Spirit. You could use a quote. You could use Scripture. You could just make something up if you so choose. Please, just join me in sharing with the world the beauty and power of the Holy Spirit.

Leave me a comment if you think you'd like to "sketch-along," and if you find yourself posting about your creation, leave a link in the comments so I can follow along and be inspired too! At the end of the month, if I have your permission, I will post a wrap-up featuring all of our work with a link to your websites (if you have them). No blog or website is necessary to participate, of course.

Until next time, let's get out there and love 'em like Jesus!







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Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Clean Your Soul: Free the Skeletons From Your Closet


Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. ~ The Office

There was a post recently about how one mother taught her children to stay safe. The big takeaway lesson was that in their family, there were no secrets. There could be surprises (which meant that you kept something quiet for a little while but after that time everyone would know), but no secrets (meaning something you were asked to never reveal). You can read the entire post here. So it should be with the family of Christ.

Reflecting on the darkness of secrets led me to think about some of the women in my life from whom I have learned the most, who I admire most. I realized that a powerful part of what I admire is their courage in coming clean with their dark “secrets” for the good of the world. These women’s stories include past abortions, substance abuse, incarceration, sexual exploits…certainly many things that could make the “straight-laced” churchgoer turn up their nose and run for the hills. (Hey churchgoer - don't do that!)

What is so admirable about these women (and men for that matter), is that they came to a point in their life and spiritual journey where they decided to leave the shame behind and claim the mercy that is theirs. They have come clean, wholly and fully clean, by the grace of God. They reveal the full truth of their lives – with discretion – but they are willing to reveal it all.

Why is this so important? It is simple. We cannot show others what Christ has done for us if we aren’t willing to expose the depths from where he lifted us up. What good is a life in Christ if there is nothing different about us? What good is redemption if there was nothing to be redeemed?


We cannot hide in embarrassment.
We must bring what is hidden in the darkness into the light.
There is nothing Christ does not already know – even the darkness is not dark to Him.

There is no shame in our failures. We all have them.

To make this possible, we have to embrace the truth tellers with open arms. We have to embrace their courage and provide them safe space to work out their stories. We cannot be the ones in the pews raising our noses at them with a sigh of relief that it isn’t our story. Every story belongs to us collectively.

There but for the grace of God go I.

We are all sinners. We are all broken. We are all fallen. It is just a reality of our humanity. It is through our brokenness that the spirit of God breathes life into us. It is through our brokenness that there is room for the spirit to reach through us to someone else who is hurting and in need of healing and hope. Who am I to say no?


I write all this not to point a finger. I write this mostly to myself. I cannot sit in the comfort of my dark closet with a life that may resemble holiness on the outside, when I know too well the skeletons that are collecting dust in here. God makes those dry bones dance, and for the love of all that is holy, I need to step outside the safety of my hiding place and dare to let the light bring life to what I think is dead and dirty. It is only then that God can use that to redeem me and whoever needs to hear my story of redemption.

So...are you ready to spring clean your soul? Be daring and see what happens!

Until next time, let's get out there and love 'em like Jesus!







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