Friday, June 29, 2012

you are not small

Linking with these 2 communities:


                               and

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Break the Tape: Choose to Get Out of Bed

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place.  
Meet Eileen.  Oh, I'm sure you've seen her around.  She's the one who can write just 3 words and somehow, it will touch your heart so deeply that you didn't even realize you went that deep.  I've had the honor of meeting her in person and someday, I'm going to crash her house (because I love her and because she lives near the beach!)
I've come to refer to my 20s as my "stupid years".   Now, I am not making any generalizations about twenty-somethings.  As a woman who is pushing 40, some of the smartest people I know today happen to fall into this twenty-something category. I marvel over both the wise words they say and write and the good directional choices they are making in their life at such an early age.

However, when I was in my 20s, there was one lie that would replay in my head after each not-so-good choice I would make.

You made your bed...now you have to lie in it.

It's very cliche and yet I silently repeated it to myself over and over.  My 20s were a time in my life when I moved from one mistake to the next. This tape proved to be an incredibly effective way of keeping me from making more positive choices in my life.

During the time when I said those words to myself, I might as well have been hitting myself with a baseball bat.  I didn't admit it then, but this is what I was really telling myself:  If I beat myself up sufficiently for my choices, if I am miserable enough, then somehow I can make things right. I deserve this.  I have to be punished.

Here's a quote I love from Seth Godin "If you think you have no choice but to do what you do now, you've already made a serious error."

I've come to understand, that at the root of my "poor me I deserve to be miserable" attitude was one overriding emotion: Fear

Even though I was far from being comfortable during this season in my life, my misery was familiar.  The idea of making a different choice terrified me.

However, the only way to experience the freedom I was really searching for in my life, was to make the choice to walk through that fear.

And you know what?  It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I was uncomfortable and  I was "out of control"...or rather my perceived control.

You want to know something else?  It turned out to be the most incredible journey I have ever taken in my life.  I grew in ways I never thought I could.

When I made the choice to step out into the scary, God met me there.  He took my hand and we walked through it together.

What is one scary choice you need to make today?
Grab hold of His hand today and trust Him despite your fear.


About Eileen:
Eileen Knowles is a small town Arizona girl who studied English at The University of Arizona a long, long time ago. She now lives in small town North Carolina with her husband, Roger, their eight-year old son, and one quirky dog named Bisbee.

When she is not working part-time loving on animals at the local animal hospital, she thoroughly enjoys drinking coffee, running, playing Scrabble, leading Women's Bible Study at her church, and writing about how cool it is to journey through life with Jesus holding her hand.

Eileen is passionate about leaving a legacy for her son and encouraging others along the way who might need a dose of hope poured into their weary lives. You can find her taking The Scenic Route atwww.eileenknowles.com.

Facebook: The Scenic Route

Twitter: twitter.com/cupojoegirl


Linking with Emily for Imperfect ProseJennifer for God Bumps, and Shanda for On My Heart.

Monday, June 25, 2012

are you God's favorite? and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
a new perspective -- looking up under a blue spruce
I sit there stewing.
And replaying.
And trying to focus on worship instead of reliving that first publisher meeting. 

But I cannot let it go. 

But then, God interrupts my internal dialogue.

Babbie Mason, the worship leader at Speak Up, stars talking about the day that she figured out that she was God’s favorite.

My head snaps up.

She reads John 17:23 out loud because I’m sure she knows there are some of us out there that need more than just a little convincing. 

Are you like me?  Would you need convincing?
“I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
And in that moment, I have clarity.

I realize that all my life, I have tried to be the favorite.  But I’ve been seeking the wrong audience.  I’ve been chasing after the world’s applause.  I’ve been aspiring for the world’s attention.  I’ve wanted to be the world’s favorite.

I’ve tried to be God’s favorite, too.  I’ve tried to earn His applause by striving and building and learning.  I’ve jumped into the waters of baptism and shuffled through the Refiner’s fire. 

But it’s a funny thing, this striving.  I’ve been striving for something that existed before I was born.  His love for me was present before my presence on this world ever came to fruition.

I am His favorite because I am, not be cause I am _________________________.

Tell me, Do you see the difference?

Right there in John 17, Jesus tells me that God loves me just as much as He loves Jesus, His Son.  I think Jesus ranks up there as favorite, don’t you?

It seems nearly impossible.  Could I ever love a child more than I love my own?  I don’t know.  That would require some thinking, I suppose.

But God doesn’t have to think about it.  He doesn’t have to weigh my merits.  He doesn’t have to see if I’ve done enough or said enough or repented enough.

He doesn’t have to think about it – He simply loves.
are your eyes on the star?
Unconditionally.
Fully.
As much as He gives to His Son, He gives to us.

It feels like finding riches, this feeling of being favorite.  My highest aspiration achieved, and yet I am not tired.  I am not weary.  I am not concerned about measuring up.

Because no matter what I do, this love remains unchanged.  I cannot gain it.  I cannot lose it.

It just is.

I wonder, Do you think of yourself as God’s favorite?

Tell me, Do you think about how He loves you best?


SDG Community Builder:  1)  Here at SDG we have small groups!  If you would like more info about this, please click here.  If you would like to join a small group, please leave me a note in the comments or email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  2) If you are new, please write "I'm New!" as your caption so we may come and give you a bit of extra linky love and extend a warm SDG welcome.  3)  Register.  For the incredibly awesome retreat that we are planning for October.   

Friday, June 22, 2012

when God takes you seriously

Be careful what you pray for.  God hears.  God responds.

I've noticed that as my insecurities well up inside my head as I venture out into this very unknown publishing world, I have been flooded with unwanted thoughts coursing through my mind.

Critical thoughts.  Wow, look at those shoes.
Judgmental thoughts.  How could she...
Prideful thoughts.  Well, my ______ is so much more __________.

It's twisted.  It's awful.  I hate it.  And so, I've dismissed them, repented for them, and prayed against them.  And I started praying FOR humility. A complete and radical sense of humility where pride cannot thrive.

And God answered.

First publisher meeting and *wow* she had a lot to say about how I should change things.  To be honest, she said a lot of good things, too, but I don't hear those as well.  I just think:

How could I have missed that typo?
Why did I chose such a silly picture?
Do I really write in Christianese?


I don't like to be wrong.  I let criticism, no matter how helpful, turn to lies.


Clearly, you should not waste your money on Logos Bible software.  You are in the wrong business, my friend.
Here you came in, trying to be all confident.  Just look at you now.
You messed up.  Why do you always make mistakes?


Lies!  And so, I sit here on the couch in the lobby, revamping my one sheet and fighting to hear truth.  I text my husband and tell him.  I put an upbeat note on Facebook (she does want to see the revised one-sheet, so she is interested in the proposed idea).  But what I want to do is bury my head in the sand and cry.

And cry and cry and cry.  Because there is still a very alive part of me that still believes if I make one mistake, I have failed.  Clearly, I still strive for perfection.  Clearly, I hold my abilities and desires with a closed fist.  I want to get it right and I want to get it right the very first time.

There is so much room for humility.

But I cannot curl up in a ball in Cindy's minivan.  Not just because I don't have the keys, but because in 25 minutes, I have to take my revised (very plain and black and white) one sheet to the next publisher.

I have to be brave.  Brave, but cloaked with humility.

But no matter if I fall on my face (again), there is so much freedom found in the pursuit of humility.  There is refreshment seeing people with God's eyes.  There is peace in not comparing myself or judging others.  There is rest in closing my eyes and imagining myself gathering flowers and making a bouquet for Jesus (the image I got today during worship).

And so, I will continue to pray for the hard things.  Because God is faithful to respond.  He is faithful to respond.
"We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5 
Update:  2nd publisher meeting went FANTASTIC!  She requested the manuscript and is really excited about the topic!

never surrender

We haven't been defeated yet, babe.
We've face all kinds of flames and arrows,
but God has given us His weapons to wield.
And we will never surrender,
except to Him.

Happy 12th Anniversary, Husband.



       
Sharing also with Michelle for Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday (even though I heard it on Friday).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Speak Up Play by Play: Thursday

This might be me tomorrow during my publisher appointments!
If I don't write as it comes, it probably won't all make it on here and I don't want to forget what God does while I'm here in this great state of Michigan (where it actually rains!).

Thursday
I just arrived at the Speak Up Conference and have a few hours to sit in the conference center before dinner.  The plane ride was full of amazing time with God and I am continually in awe of how He works circumstances to continually speak to my heart.  A few weeks ago, a marketing person contacted me about reviewing Anything by Jennie Allen (a fellow Austinite).  Since I've been singularly obsessed and consumed focusing on this book proposal, I haven't had a moment to read it, so I packed it for the plane.  I'll write a formal review later, but I wanted to highlight how God totally touched my nervous heart this morning.

So, the tagline to my potential book (which I'm sharing with publishers tomorrow) is "Pursuing purity, armed with God's grace."  (To those of you who may be new to this space, I'm writing a book with my husband about our journey through his porn addiction).  As much as I liked this tagline, I still wasn't feeling that it stated the entire scope of the message I want so much to convey.  Much of my book is about fighting for our husbands, but at the core is the foundational belief of surrendering control to God (hence the working title, Giving Up without Giving In).  Then, this morning on the plane, I read this from Anything:
"The gospel of grace fights every piece of pride in us.  When God gives us grace, he is also taking something from us.  He takes our control."  (p. 27)
I'm still processing this, but I'm taking this to mean that when we are armed with God's grace, the resulting fruit is a state of surrender.  His very presence has the power to affect us so greatly that the only things we see are through His eyes.  He is our filter and we have a clarity that is not marred by our own twisted perspectives.  For example, when I seek to control my husband out of fear that he will engage in porn, I find myself in a state of anxiety.  When I am anxious, I am much more likely to fall into other bad habits, such as comparing myself to others, being judgmental, and feeding my pride.  In this state, I see his potential to sin, his potential to hurt me.  I become defensive, thus fighting AGAINST him instead of FOR him.  If I continue to view him this way, I lose sight of the entirety of his person and there is no way I can treat him with grace.  Frankly, I end up treating him as a child, which does absolutely no good for our relationship.  But, if I am armed with God's grace, I see my husband as God sees him and I am able to see myself with clarity, too -- we are both sinners whose have great potential to flourish under God's redemption.  

With grace, I don't have to defend myself.  God is my shield.
With grace, I don't have to build walls around my heart.  God is my fortress.
With grace, I don't have to use the weapons of this world.  God has given me His Word, the Sword of the Spirit.

Am I making sense?  I've been up since 3:45 AM, so it's very possible that the spirit of my words is still  locked up in my heart.  Will you add to this conversation?  How do you see the gift of grace coupled with the surrender of control?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Break the Tape: No More Shoulding

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place.  
Meet Jennifer.  You've seen her beautiful face 'round these parts before AND she's one of the SDG retreat speakers (just saying that perhaps you might want to come meet her in person).  I've gotten to Skype with this gal and she is warm and genuine and funny.  I love her heart and her personality and that she's a fellow kindred crazy marathoner!!  And she tells it like it is...beautifully.
Try this little experiment with me. Take a minute, close your eyes and think of one thought or statement you had in the last 24 hours that began with this:
I should...
Did it sound like one of these:
I should lose some weight. I shouldn't eat that brownie. I should read this book. Try this work out. Eat this super food. Pray more. Pray harder. Be better. Stronger. More resilient. More faithful.
There are some good truths here. Prayer is never a bad idea. Loving ourselves enough to steward our bodies is sound stewardship. Learning to try new things, stretching our minds and hearts and boundaries can only bring wisdom and broaden our scope. This is to be encouraged.

But I can't help feeling, when I Should myself, that I am wrongly convicting myself of crimes, sentencing myself to guilt I do not need to carry. Should slams down on me every time I say or think it, the gavel of judgment from an imperfect jury of one; myself. It sounds of tasks neglected, ideas wasted, time squandered. Should says I am not enough and can only be enough by my own efforts. And that, my friends, is a straight up lie.

If we are new in Christ, and by golly I am, then I am enough. I am loved, right now, in my imperfection. The imperfect me weighs myself against the externals I see in others. Those who are skinnier, funnier, better writers, better mommies, better believers, better wives. The imperfect me forgets that in public everyone puts on the mask of the pulled-together. The imperfect me forgets that for every person I consider better than me, there are those elevating me. And we all think to ourselves, "if they only knew what a mess I am." That's where the shoulds do their worst.

Should attacks us at the pool, as we watch the lithe mommies, and we pull the towel over our midsection thinking, "I should lose weight." Should pounces at church, when the perfect looking family marches by in a perfectly groomed and matched line of angelic goodness, while we pray our kid gets his finger out of his nose. "I should do a better job with manners and hygiene," we tell ourselves. Should rears its head, for me as a writer, when I read the lyric prose of some of my favorite bloggers and think, "I really should quit this writer nonsense. I'm really not that good."

Should is a lie. It is shame and judgement and pain. It is bondage. And I'm done with that nonsense. If I can change should to need, and the statement is still true, and I have tenable, sustainable reasons, then I will pursue the idea. Maybe I could stand to lose some weight. Maybe my kids could take more pride in their personal grooming. Maybe I could seek some writing feedback. But if I just want to appear better than someone, proving my value, I'm forgetting my true worth. My true worth, really, has nothing to do with me, but with the One who made me.

And I need only rely on that.



About Jennifer:
Jennifer Luitwieler is the author of Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo, released September 2011 with Civitas Press. She writes on crafts, sports and all manner of nonsense atjenniferluitwieler.com. A Pittsburgh transplant to Tulsa, OK, she homeschools 3 great kids and tolerates a confluence of soccer gear from her very cute husband. Find her on twitter at http://twitter.com/jenluit  and on http://facebook.com/jenluitwieler But watch out, because she likes to talk. You might not get rid of her.


Linking with Emily for Imperfect ProseJennifer for God Bumps, and Shanda for On My Heart.

Monday, June 18, 2012

and this is why my brain doesn't work and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.

What do you think?  Do I scream Babylonian Princess?  Somehow, God thought it would be a great idea if I led the Celebration time for VBS.  This entails writing scripts, being up in front of 200 kids, plus all the tribe leaders and assistance and parents who sneak in early at the end of the day, and energy. A lot of energy, friends.  Oh, and wardrobe changes! Who knew I had almost enough outfits that I could pull together to look somewhat like a person from Babylon.  Actually, I've never even seen a person from Babylon, so I just kinda went with the heavy gold jewelry and scarves for saris.  

All this to say, it was SO MUCH FUN but my brain is T.O.A.S.T.  And yes, my trip to Speak Up in Grand Rapids, Michigan is right around the corner, and no, I'm not quite done with my proposal or sample chapters.  Elevator pitch?  Haven't even begun.

But God is faithful.  One of the things I had to do as Celebration leader was teach the kids the Bible point and verses for each day.  The whole theme of VBS this year was Babylon: Daniel's Courage in Captivity and so all the verses related to --

When things change...God is with you.
When you need help...God is with you.
When you you're afraid...God is with you.
When you're lonely...God is with you.
When you're thankful...God is with you.

All but number 4, I have repeated to myself daily as I relate to this conference and book proposal.  God is bigger than all of it -- bigger than my plans or my schedule or my vision of how this is all going to go.  When I think about number 4 -- when you are lonely, God is with you -- all I can do is think about the huge amount of support that y'all showed me last week as I shared some of the heart-wrenching process that God has taken Craig and I through as we write this book.  

All I can say is thank you.  Thank you for loving the way you do.  Thank you for spilling out the encouragement as you did.  Thank you for your commitments to pray for us.  Thank you for being the Body of Christ.  His Hands, His Feet, His Heart.

You are amazing.

SDG Community Builder:  1)  Here at SDG we have small groups!  If you would like more info about this, please click here.  If you would like to join a small group, please leave me a note in the comments or email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  2) If you are new, please write "I'm New!" as your caption so we may come and give you a bit of extra linky love and extend a warm SDG welcome.  3)  Register.  For the incredibly awesome retreat that we are planning for October.   

Friday, June 15, 2012

it doesn't get any better than this...

No words really do it justice.
Children on fire for God.
The Word spoken every day.
Hands raised in praise.

It doesn't get any better than this.
Vacation Bible School.



       

And because VBS is Holy Ground, linking up for the first time with Kim.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Break the Tape: Leaking Life

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place.  
Meet Summer.  I'm just getting to know her, but this girl has a way with words.  She is many things, but what strikes me is her hunger for more of God, which is probably why she writes on a blog called "A Thirst for God."  She lives only 10 blocks from a lighthouse, but I'm seeing lots of light emanating even from here.
It all started when I brought Psalm 139 to bed with a hot steaming mug of chamomile tea, mulling it over in my mouth, breathing in its earthy fragrance and then licking the honey resting at the bottom.  I rested on verse 14, and at first the words seem embarrassingly forthright, prideful even: “fearfull-y and wonderful-ly made.”  It feels hard to say, a passage that I would pass over quickly, like I was reading about breasts in the Song of Solomon. Inappropriate.  Overly intimate.  I kept chewing over these words, knowing there was a truth I was dodging.  Finally, I fell asleep.

All through the night “fearfully and wonderfully made” wound its way through my dreams, and then appeared with the first light of morning.  Repetition had stripped the verse of the false veneer of pride.  The first jumps of delight appeared and I turned this key over and over in my hand, as if a foreign object I’d searched for as Mary for the secret garden key. 

I was around her age, ten, when I lost it.

That first school day in Ohio’s rich farm country, twenty hours from my grammar school in Maine, I wore a white shirt with suspendered blue plaid pants, was called a clown and teased every time I opened my Eastern mouth.  I stuffed any hope of an easy move into the bottom of the toy chest along with the suspendered outfit.  I never wore it again.  Jr. high girls can be cruel and those four years my brain ate a new channel of self-despising all other thoughts filtered into.  At home I was loved, but at school I was pursued as a scapegoat of pre-teen inferiority.  I proved an easy target.

Hunchback bent, I lived deformed, leaning toward those as unhealed as me expecting them to turn, a lighthouse signaling glory.  False hope glimmered and was gone as each passed in front.  I forgot to stand straight to receive living water from the One.  Forgot to listen to the One: the Voice always speaking, inviting, affirming, challenging. 

I walked leaking life.  
  
The One eternally holding Living water says:“My people have committed two sins; they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”  (Jeremiah 2:13 )

Cannot hold water, those I was asking to stamp “Gift” on my forehead.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.  You have swallowed death, even this death of unholy judgment.  You know who I am: Your child, Your daughter, Your beloved, Your friend, Your sister. 

I sit with that.  The God of the Universe calls me His child, accepted just as I am, loved here and now, before I get cleaned off.  A sponge, I swell, soaking up life-giving words:   

If He gives me grace, I can too.

Later I go to the fitness center and after working out, find a quiet room while my children play with others.  I open the scripture back up.  The key is already in the verse! ”I praise You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  It is another thanksgiving that I need to break open the core of my being. 
Lately I’ve started accepting the imperfect gifts of each day, thanking God, lifting each “failed” interaction up, asking Him to bless and fill them with Himself…to redeem.  So why can’t I do that with myself?
Yes, I am imperfect.  I will always be imperfect but my continued anger at myself and the story that has created me is not making matters easier.  Can I accept God’s gift of me?  Can I lift myself back up (my tiny loaves) and pray that He will bless and multiply? 

Sunday evening, heavy summer sun invites us west to the Lake Michigan shore.  As soon as we hit the sand, the kids dressed all in red swimsuits, scatter and I tip my face to the sun, turning my ear to listen.

Summer, “thank me,”  I hear.

Instead of sitting on our blanket, I begin to play too.  I push rocks stuck deep at the water’s edge  that look like they might have been a wicca circle occasionally  glancing up to see my pony-tailed husband laugh helping five-year old Madeline balance on the boogy board in the waves. 

God, help me too to learn balance…freedom… and to love me, because not loving me is creating a dam of my life, truncating my ability to open my arms wide, fearless.

As I push the large rocks around the wet sand, forming a cross, the voice of God comes clear.  I listen: who’s authority will you accept as true?  The junior high girls from your past or the God of the Universe? 
The question seems a bit ludicrous.  “I thank You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” comes straight from scripture and who am I to question the God of the Universe’s authority? 

He is the Light of the World, so why would I study someone else’s carnival mirror? 

I stand on the flat rock at the center of the cross beam and lift my arms up to the sky.  Who am I NOT to thank You for the gift that You have given…to refuse any gift from You?  Bless the Lord O my soul and all that is within me and so I lift up my fullness and my emptiness, my imperfections and my gifts. 
The Roman Catholic priest, Romano Guardini, writes in his essay, “The Acceptance of Oneself,” words that invite me to open the gift:

The act of self-acceptance is the root of all things. I must agree to be the person who I am. Agree to the qualifications which I have. Agree to live within my limits. … The clarity and the courageousness of this acceptance is the foundation of all existence.

The beach has emptied for dinner time and I stand, balancing on this rock cross, arms up.  You loved me even while I was a sinner.  And if You could, open heart, pierced hands accept me, than who am I not to accept the gift? 

And if I am a gift, so is the precious little one that just toddled up in her bathing suit covered with red cherries, splashing through the puddle beside the cross.  I look into her brown face with the four new serrated white teeth and tell her that she too is a gift of God.  She keeps coming back for more through the rest of the evening, eyes wide drinking love. 

This is why this knowledge is the opposite of pride.  Being a gift does not mean the least of these is not.  Being filled with this thanksgiving makes me want to go out into the highways and byways and put faces in my hands and speak truth into dry hearts.  “You” teenager with the hungry, aching eyes, “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” “You” gangly man-child whose mind never grew into his body and whose arms twist in constant motion, “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” 

I want to whisper it into the heart of everyone I see and on the way home I tell the cashier at the grocery store with the lovely lips and the dreary store coat, “I hope you know you are lovely.”  She smiles and the light goes on in those almond-shaped eyes just for a moment.


Want to read more of Summer?  Of course you do!  Click here to visit her blog, A Thirst for God.

Monday, June 11, 2012

the harsh reality and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
Love this from Tracy on Pinterest!
I've been saying, even as recently as last week, that I would be really fine if my book never gets published.

And it's really true.  I've seen so many good things come out of the process of writing it that I would be content with just that.  But there is another reason I don't want it to be published --

I'm terrified.  On so many levels, I am terrified.

So, today, I am writing a little about a current part of the journey.  It's pretty raw and unedited, but it's good for me to practice being vulnerable in this space.  I hope you don't mind.  Here it goes:

I was writing along in my first chapter -- the chapter where I talk about first discovering the illicit images on the computer years ago.  I remember the deep feelings of insecurity that immediately cropped up.  Even today, I can remember her hair and the perfect body.  And I remember thinking --

I can never measure up.


I cannot be this image on the screen.  I cannot be perfectly toned in every area.  I cannot erase my cellulite.  I cannot dye my eyes or lengthen my legs.  I don't even think my hair will grow that long.

I cannot compete with perfection.  Scratch that.  I cannot compete with manufactured perfection.  If this is what it takes, it is an impossible, unobtainable goal.


I remember the words that Craig said to me in the weeks following that first discovery.

I've had this problem way before I met you.
I don't compare.
It's not the same.
It has nothing to do with you.


And I believed him.  I separated the addictive behaviors from what happened between us.  I drew a line, put up a wall, created that clear distinction.

Because I couldn't survive any other way.

But back to writing the chapter, I begin to have these questions.  Questions that I am sure I had from the beginning, but that I couldn't articulate in that state of raw and open-woundedness.  I scratch them out on my notepad so that when we have our writing time that night, he can answer them in the chapter that he is going to explain the roots.

What need does pornography fill that a wife (or sex with a wife) does not?
Do you compare us?
Does a good sex life lead to a decrease in your porn life?
How can their be two separate entities in your brain?


He reads the questions and he looks at me.  I don't know the answers to these questions, he says.

You have to know the answers to these questions, I say.

But, I don't just need the answers for the book.

I need them for me.


I'm sorry, he says.  And I can tell in his eyes that he is sorry.  And if he had the answers right then, he would speak them.  But he just doesn't know yet.

But, God! I cry, secretly.  Because now all those initial fears of not being enough come roaring back.  And the noise is so loud in my ears that I just cannot stand it.  It rushes at me like a wave and I am drowning again just like that very first day.

We women.  We just need to know that we are enough, that we can satisfy.  We need this at the very core of our being because it seems that everything in the world tells us that we cannot possibly until we do this or have this or become this...

Later that night, I look at myself in the mirror.  I think about how far I have come -- losing 50 pounds, having two babies, running marathons, contorting my body into yoga poses.

It's not terrible, I think.  But still not enough.

I'm in a dark place and I don't know how to get out of it.  I cannot wait for the answers to come to Craig. I cannot survive in these sea of darkness for indefinite amount of time.

I close my eyes and try to sleep.

The next morning, I have new clarity.  It's the first thing on my mind after I get the kids up for their last day of school, but even in the chaos, I hear Him clearly.

You are more.  You are the perfectly shaped puzzle piece that I created for your husband.  It's not just the shape of your body, my daughter.  It's the shape of your heart.  It's in the shape of your soul, of your spirit, of your words.  You are the perfect fit and to compare yourself to some manufactured image...you don't do Me justice.  You are more.


I type this out with tears, friends.  Tears for myself, tears for any of you who judged yourself by the contours of your body alone.  Tears that I have ingested this message that it matters if I look as good as ___________.  But I'm tasting freedom.  Freedom because I know that even though I make mistakes, even though I react out of hurt or anger or frustration, even though I am not perfect, I know that I was chosen for my husband.  I know that I love him and that I love him well.  I know that I fight for him unlike any other.  I know that.  And because I was crafted by One who loves me deeply, I am more than enough for him.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Saying Yes


(This is an updated repost for a guest post, but it shares the beginnings of Soli Deo Gloira, if you didn't catch it the first time around.  And really, you should just follow me over there because Brooke is really cool.)
I wish I could remember the exact words.

I was sitting downstairs on my couch.  It was getting late and I think I had my Bible next to me, my computer on my lap.  I had been blogging.  Or reading.  Whatever I was doing, at the same time, I was wrestling with God about one of my part-time jobs.

You see, in the few days leading up to this, I had drawn this tree.  On each branch, I had labeled something that I was actively involved in doing.  I had been feeling overwhelmed and needed to heed God’s call to prune.  But what to give up?  As my eyes had passed over each branch, I knew that there were some branches that no longer had life in them.  They were simply dead weight for me.  Burdensome.  I knew that if I continued to keep them, I would remain in this drowning, gasping-for-air state of life, but I also knew I would be cutting myself off from income as well. 

There is a reason why Jesus says this:

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  Matthew 6: 24

Could I surrender the security of having extra cash to the One who is called Provider?...


Please click here to read the rest of the story...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Break the Tape: These Shirts We Wear

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place. 
Meet Duane.  When he told me he wanted to do a guest post for this series, he started with "you may not know who I am..." to which I responded, "oh, I know you.  You are the one who told me one day that it was too bad I didn't let dudes link up for Soli Deo Gloria."  It was the beginning of a fun banter back and forth, but what I have really loved is getting to know his heart.  He's deep.  He's authentic.  He lives for Jesus.  (And he's camera-shy, but I'm sure you couldn't tell by his profile picture.)  I can't wait for you to read on...
In some states, if caught driving under the influence of alcohol, a person is required to wear a blazing orange vest and pick up trash in ditches.  On their vest, the words are printed:

I AM A DRUNK DRIVER
Cars pass, people stare.  One night’s bad decisions are worn as clothes for the world to see.  I’m reading this in the newspaper, wrinkles appearing on my forehead, because I think it’s a bit harsh.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think driving drunk needs consequences; serious ones even.  But to have your past mistakes pasted across your back for the sheer purpose of embarrassment, it’s just…
“It’s the same thing you do,” heaven bends low and whispers. God’s guiding hands settle on my shoulders.
I close my eyes.
It’s morning now, this very morning, and I’m playing the day over again in my mind, like a film projected on my eyelids. 
I see myself.  The way I stumbled out of bed, forgetting to tell God good-morning.  Rubbing sleep from my eyes, I step into my jeans.  I’m late for work now and I don’t want to wake my wife with the light so I reach blindly into the drawer, grabbing a t-shirt.  Slipping it over my head as I walk to the bathroom, I flip on the overhead light to brush my teeth and convince snarled hair to lay low. 
Earlier this morning, I never saw it.  But now, in my mind, I notice the words stamped on my wrinkled t-shirt.  They read:
I AM UNNOTICED
I AM FORGOTTEN
I AM UNLOVED
I wear these shirts.  Daily.  In my hurry to rush toward my normal day in my normal life,  I forget that “I am His beloved.” 
Imagine this.  Your alarm rings.  And God smiles. Why? One of His favorite people are waking to the day He created, to the Grace He has given through the night.  And then this.  You rush away, never even nodding in the direction of God or even smiling back. 
It’s sad, really.
Because the truth is you are noticed.  He created you uniquely to be “you” and every hair on your head is counted.  You aren’t forgotten.  In fact, God created a home just for you and someday, He’d like to be your neighbor.  You are loved.  It has been said a scroll, stretched side to side in the heavens, could not contain enough words to describe the love He has for His children.
The shirts. They look tattered now, lying there in the laundry.

I'm sure you are itching to connect with Duane now.  You can find him here: