Bumper Sticker Christian – She Shares Truth

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I have always wondered if anyone came to Christ from a bumper sticker? If they were riding along on their way to Trader Joe’s and had a ”come to Jesus” moment while at a stop sign. While sitting at red light, all of a sudden seeing a fish sticker or “choosy moms chose Jesus”   made one make a highway conversion to Christianity. If anything bumper stickers make me more uncomfortable as a Christian than inspired. While I understand and am sure some have the purest of intentions with sticker evangelism, I am wondering if we are as bold outside of our vehicles. If Jesus called us to go and make disciples I am not sure that hiding safe in our cars with a latte  all the while “being bold” on our bumpers is what He envisioned.

 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,f baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,g20 and teachingh them to obey everything I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19 -20a

I am the first to admit that I have no problem telling my story of redemption through the stories I tell or the words I write. But get me on the other side of my computer screen and I hover back into my introvert self.  To look someone in the eye and tell them how broken I have been and the only complete healing I have found is in the blood of Christ poured over me, makes my break out in hives.

 I wonder too if we are as bold inside the car as we are outside of it. That if we have it on our souls to reach across the seat and hold the hand of our teenager silent with secrets. If we can look our spouse in the eye and confess that we are as scared as he is. If we can ignore the traffic around us long enough to tell our sons that Jesus changed our lives. I wonder if we let our lives tell the story of redemption without ever crawling into the darkest crevices of pain around us, if we are really making disciples or just living our own story?

I not only want my life to scream brokenness and redemption but I want my words to point to the only One who saved me. For there to be no doubt for those around me to know who I belong to and how I came to believe it.  I ache for the courage to tell the truth and not rely on a sticker to tell my story. To tell His story.

. And surely I am with youi always, to the very end of the age.”j Matthew 28:20b

#SheReadsTruth

stories in a plaid skirt

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I am a storyteller.

Since I was in third grade and got called into the office for being a  liar “storyteller” , I knew what I could do well. The Catholic school teachers had no time or patience for those with imagination. Or in my case survival. They had no room in between Mass and penmanship to focus on the little girl in her plaid skirt telling stories again. Consequences needed to be given. Punishment in the form of penance was the only reasonable result of an over active mind. Hail Mary’s were a sure cure for such a thing.

 I continued. Continued to tell stories. Whether true or not, stories were my protection. My voice. If you would listen close enough you could hear me. Hear me trying to tell you. Tell you I needed to be heard. I needed you to know that I needed….

So here I am years later realizing that I have continued to tell stories to myself. Stories that I believed were true.

My clothes are getting a little tight lately…..

The story: I am out of control. I will always struggle with my weight. I need to starve myself. I need to binge. I need to purge. I will never be attractive. I will never be enough.

The truth: I have been digging into some trauma in my life. Weight is my protection. Food is how I have protected myself. I am getting healthier from the inside out and the weight will come off again. My husband still loves me. Jeans come in bigger sizes.

My marriage is harder than ever…..

The story: It will never be saved. I just don’t know how to be a wife. He married a girl with U-haul of baggage. He deserves someone better than me.

The truth: We all have issues. We are working through them. We are getting help. We are facing our crap. God has us together for a reason. He is not leaving. I am not leaving. We will walk through any fire together. For the love….He prays over me while I sleep….

I need to say yes to you and to anyone that asks….

The story: This is how to make everyone happy. I don’t like people mad at me. I want to be the one to make you smile. I have the creativity and will power to accomplish this. I want to feel loved. I want to feel needed.

The truth: When I say yes I am saying no to the people in my home. I was not called to be a martyr I was called to be a wife and a mom. I am dishonoring my family by being so busy. It is not healthy to be busy. It is so much better for all of us if I say no. I have kids at such difficult stages and I need to lean into them.

My kids don’t want me around…..

The story: I have failed as a mom. I am too busy with other projects. I have lost my chance to connect. I will do better with the younger ones.

The truth: I have pulled away. I have not been present for a while now. I have a difficult time connecting emotionally. I am getting help. I am taking that next step. One moment at a time. Guilt is a useless feeling it does nothing to change a behavior.

The stories that I have told myself, the stories that have carried me are being let go. One by one they are being asked to leave. Being released. Filtered. With gratitude being sent away.

Stories have protected me.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor 3:17

 It’s time for the truth. Truth is safe for me now. Truth is where I need to remain.

Remain and heal.

the clock said 2am- My Messy Beautiful

Fears-are-stories

2am.

The clock said 2 am.

Sitting up in bed

watching the minutes go by.

Begging the clock to go faster. If just for this night I needed it go faster.

My hands clutching onto the side of my hair.

In the dark

systematically pulling each side of my head

tears flooding my cheeks

pleading with the voices to stop. Penetrating my mind with-“you are a horrible mom” , “ she needs to go away”, “ it’s better here with me” “ you are going insane you will never be the same,”” just be done, they will be better off”.
I still close my eyes and taste the sweat from my brow. I can still touch the panic that is embedded in my skin. Years later and the darkness still scares me.

I knew that postpartum depression was a risk factor with this pregnancy. I had wrestled with it after my second child was born. But not to this extent. This was six months later .It had been six months since I had pushed this screaming child into the world. Why was I feeling like the world was suppressing in around me? Clutching to hold on to reality. To not let the night consume me.

That was seven years ago. Through the powerful hand of God, amazing doctors and friends who were not afraid to go to the darkest place with me I am in a healthy place. Depression and psychosis is real. And it is scary. I could not just pray it away. Don’t get me wrong. I do pray. I did pray. I prayed that God would take it all away. I pleaded for my life. At his feet I cried that I would not harm myself or my children. But I also prayed for wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.(james 1:5) Yes I do believe that Christ alone has the power to heal. I also believe that He gives us the wisdom to seek and ask for help when we cannot function. I had three other children at home young, gorgeous children who were defenseless. Defenseless against this evil that had assaulted my mind. Taken over and made me into someone, something that they did not recognize. God has the power to heal. And He also has the power and strength to carry you through the darkness, holding you up until you can walk again.


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
http://momastery.com/carry-on-warrior

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Like tar around my bones.

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I remember thinking
this is it.

These are my last sane moments.

The darkness wrapped like tar around my bones.

I couldn’t breathe much less complete a sane thought.

I would check my phone seeing if anyone had called me.
Coming to save me from the darkness that loomed.

That somehow believing that if someone knew
they would save me.

I was imagining that the next month my children would have to visit me somewhere.
Some where they were keeping me safe.

Lock and key was how they would have to find me.
Sedated.

Visiting hours would determine our relationship.

Or I could just run.
Run where no one needed anything.
Where I didn’t have to be someone.

I didn’t run.
I stayed.
I screamed.
I wrestled.
I fought.

And when I couldn’t lift my head to fight anymore.
I begged God to fight for me. I begged him to come to me.

That morning.
The sun trying to push its way through the closed winter shades.
The price of my soul was up for grabs and I was sure that I had lost the battle.
I begged God to struggle for me.
To tell me I was worth the fight.

Over 16 months ago.
This is the verse that was shown to me that day.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

In the darkest

In the loneliest

In the emptiest

In the silence

In the madness

In the hopelessness

He gently whispers
I. am. healing.

Just hold on.
the Lord your God will be with you…..Joshua 1:9b

Sweet one, I know. I know today is hard. I know yesterday and tomorrow will be hard too. But I need you to close your eyes with me now and picture this. Your God, your strong powerful warrior God is surrounded by the battle that wages for your soul. He stands there larger than the darkness. He stands and armies fall with one word. They drop to the ground by the thousands, crying out for mercy.

And you sweet one. You have not been touched. The battle leaves not a mark on you. Because your God. Your powerful warrior God is fighting. Has fought. Will continue to fight for you.

Do not be afraid sweet one; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Just hold on.

#shereadstruth
#shesharestruth

Charcoal stained lips.

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Second floor of the dorm, they had just completed it that spring.

I  lay on the bathroom floor.

Cold tile against my ribs. Hair matted, crusted with last night’s red pasta sauce. Head propped on the toilet.

Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. Psalm 38:3

 Not sure if my roommate could hear me crying.

This time. This time I had taken too many. Too many little blue pills that promised to make me feel better and look thinner. She had tried to hide them in her room behind her Biology book.

 I lay there and could taste the tears, salty, wondering who would find me first.

Maybe she hears me.

Maybe she hears my emptiness.

I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. Psalm 38;8

 I can’t move.

 My heart is going too fast.

Help.

Someone see me.

My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light is gone from my eyes. Psalm 38:10

The ambulance came that night. As morning pushed her way in.

 My brother knelt over me crying. I could hear them say someone had found me like this.

This way. The way where the price of being thin had now caught the attention of the entire campus. The sirens rang my addiction for the seminary students to judge.

 Tubes shoved down.

Raw throat, black charcoal spewed over the grey tattered t-shirt of the boy who broke my heart that winter.

Friends that would never come. Never come to see the girl with the charcoal lips. They had given up watching me pile bowls of cereal on my cafeteria tray. Cereal they knew they would hear coming back up within the hour.

They stopped asking me to go out to dinner with them. Wasting money on food . Wasted on a girl who cared more about the size of her jeans, than the relationships she left walking through the bathroom door.

My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds, my neighbors stay far away. Psalm 38:11

They had tried to save me. Tried to send me nutritional printouts through campus mail. Tried to distract me with activities and conversations.

I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. Psalm 38:14

But where the mind wants to go, there the addiction stays.

Trapped in the image of emaciation is where control was found. Where no one would see the pain that I forced out multiple times a day. Toilets, trash cans, napkins, pillow cases, showers, ditches. When grief would surface, the quicker it could be driven out, the more I could breathe. The more I could have control again.

Yet this morning.

When night was leaving me there on the tiled floor.

When the secret was made public.

Here is where He found me.

Here is where I began to see the emptiness. Emptiness  in the sin that had bled me of actual feelings. Another addiction that clouded any connection others tried to grasp from me.

Oh Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. Psalm 38:21-22

Here on the tiled floor is where He met me. That is where He is meeting you.

#shereadstruth

Sheets twisted in sin.

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When I was in college they let me be a  R.A. I know. Stop laughing. Ok. Now I am laughing. Because just re-reading that they let me be an R.A. means someone thought I would be a good example of someone to count on seems laughable to me now. Yeah. “Me” in college was not any of those things. I was more of what you call a Birkenstock-wearing, Indigo Girl-loving, music-enthralled total opposite of an R.A. kind of girl. But somewhere in there someone thought that I had potential. Someone saw redemption in me.

As part of our training, the director of Residential Life and all of his staff invited us to participate in a particular exercise where we all sat in a circle and they asked us to remove our shoes. Or sandals. I sat there thinking, ok, here is the part when we walk over the coals or something adventurous like that.

Instead, they knelt before us and washed our feet.

I sat there and watched as a man I admired and respected for speaking truth and going against the grain held my foot in his hands.

I cried that entire evening.  I wondered how he could even want to touch my feet.

Dirty with years of walking the direction that I wanted to go.

Years of being tangled in sheets of those I never knew their names.

Years of standing by the well waiting for Jesus to say my name.

To call out truth in me. And there he was.

The most beautiful act of love.

Washing my feet twisted in the guilt of sin. “ If you, oh Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” Psalm 130: 3-4. Knowing full well that I reminded him more of Gomer than of a leader.

This is what I know to be true. A sin is a sin. Pride is a sin. Anger is a sin. Promiscuity is a sin. Gossip is a sin. Overspending is a sin. Yelling at your spouse is a sin.

I did not come to Jesus because everyone posted on Facebook or tweeted that the choices I made  were sinful. I came to Jesus because someone knelt down and washed my feet.

This Lenten season I plead to you, the women of the well are all around you.

We are continually untwisting ourselves from the guilt that sin strangled us with .

We are aching for redemption. We are aching for our feet to be washed.

Wash more feet this Lent, sweet girl.

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Psalm 130:7-8
http://shereadstruth.com/


prego at summer camp….and what my mother taught me.

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you are worth the fight.

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Let’s be honest. Sometimes January is hard. Some call it the “after Christmas blues”. I call it ” I want to have sand between my toes blues”. I am done with schedules and making lunches that don’t involve swimming somewhere in the day.  Don’t get me wrong I love the snow. I am a Michigan girl threw and threw and I love big sweaters, cute boots, gingerbread lattes, homemade bread, stews and building snowmen with my kids.

But January also brings with it a grayness of that blankets me. There are days when it feels just too heavy to breathe.

Last January, was the lowest that I have ever been. From December to March I daily battled fear and anxiety that left me feeling like I was screaming underwater and no one heard me crying for help. I tried to paint a picture to those that were not in my daily life that we were all holding it together. Because that is what we do. When we feel like our world may come crashing in on us. We hold it up. We need others to believe that things are going great. Because if we actually took the pictures of reality we would have to face it. And facing it seems just too raw. Either way I was held captive inside my own mind by one who only brought darkness and lies. I couldn’t bear for that truth to be known.

So I did what I needed to do. I went to counseling. Every week I sat on a couch and poured my fears out into those walls. I sat there as my therapist reassured me what was true and what were the lies that kept beating into my very being. Because at that point I could not discern the difference.

I let people in. And by let people in I mean that I was very selective. Very. Only a handful of those I love know the truth of what the battle looked like in my soul.

But the in between. The in between moments were just for me and Jesus. I learned how much I needed my Savior. His word was the only thing I could read. I came to understand the depth of His love for me. I was such a mess and I needed Him to be gentle with me.I clung with everything in me to Exodus 14:14.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. He does. He needed to. I would lay in bed closing my eyes picturing him building a wall of protection around me fighting the battle that was determined to take my soul. And he fought. He guarded. He won. He won long before I was thought of but the spirit inside of me needed to believe.

This year. This year I know and am aware of what my triggers are. The things that draw me under quickly.

Lack of sleep– this girl needs it. Like at least eight hours a night. I have a friend who goes on like four or five. Yeah, not over here. Lack of sleep gets my thoughts all jumbled up and my judgment less than par.

Food– I feel better when I eat better. So if I am all about the junk food then I am not caring about myself well. Even though I do crave the most delicious Pistachio ice cream from Grahams something fierce.

Exercise– I actually have just realized this more in the last year than before. I love exercise. I love feeling stronger and more in control of my body. It also raises my serotonin level and self-esteem.

Connection– When I am feeling depressed I become an introvert. Not like a Zen introvert. More like a “you just piss me off” introvert. Not saying that a day or two of regrouping is a sign that I am in trouble. It saying that if I am ignoring phone calls and texts for days you might want to show up on my doorstep. I might be angry but I need to know I’m not in this alone.

Jesus– most of all I need him. I need to soak in his grace. I need to know I am still being fought for.

So sweet one, if this is you. If this is where you are at or where you have been you are not alone. Keep fighting. Keep choosing love, as my sweet friend begs me. Choose to believe that you are more than the lies that tear you apart. You are worth fighting for.

this year, this year let’s tell the truth.

cropped-train.jpgSweet girl , I see you. Roaming aimlessly through the grocery store, legs heavy, wondering if anyone else can see. I can see that it took every fragment of energy you could assemble just to get dressed today. Trying not to make eye contact with the cart coming towards you. Inside screaming “please don’t talk to me, please just don’t”. I see you. I see you in the store wandering through aisles touching random clothing. Touching something that won’t drink anymore energy out of you. I see you. I see you driving through the Starbucks waiting for a stranger to smile at you with no expectations. A short conversation about the weather is all your soul needs to know it is still sane. I see you. I see you picking up your kids from school ringing your hands together, trying to suppress the anxiety that the other moms give you. I see you. Measuring yourself against them without ever exchanging a word. I see you sitting at dinner shoving food down your throat praying that it will all come back up. I see you in church. Sitting, pleading that the darkness that you feel is pursuing you isn’t evident to all. I see you feeling more alone in church than by yourself. I see you. I see you crying when your child asks what is for dinner and you don’t have the strength to think past cereal. I see you when someone asks you to make a decision and you claim that you just can’t. I see you when you the night seems to engulf you and you beg God for the sun to rise earlier that day. I see you when you hear your husband walk out the door to work and everything in you wants him to recognize that you should not be alone. I see you.

You are not alone sweet one. You feel alone. I know you do. You seem to think you are the only one.  Except that there are others out there who want to scream “Me too!”. They want to come alongside you. Hold your hand. And whisper so gently, I see you.

 

After suffering from post-partum depression after each of my children.  I have decided that I no longer want to let the darkness control my life. I will be a voice for those that depression and anxiety hold captive.

I wanted you to know that this is a safe place to say….me too.

curling irons and refugees

When I was in middle school I curled my brother’s bangs with a curling iron. I told him that it would look cool. Not so cool. Not so cool to curl your brothers hair. Ever. He says it was that point that it was very clear my future would not be in cosmetology. But I just wanted him to be his best. Apparently I thought that meant some funky hair and aqua net. But that is how we love.

We don’t always love the right way but we love the only way we know.

I don’t live near any of my siblings. I have Michigan envy they all get to be within an hour of each other. Holidays are hardest when I can’t be with them. Grateful this Christmas we can all be together. We love each other well. In all the mess we are learning to love each other better.

So todays challenge was all about loving your sibling well. For me that meant sending letters of love to each of them. I communicate best that way. And I didn’t want another day to go by without them knowing how much I adore them.

My kids….well let’s just say they have had better days at loving each other. I have seen them love better. But it’s ok. That is what grace is. Another chance. Another day.

Day 20: Stand in the gap for the vulnerable!!!! This challenge is the beat of my heart. And now you are asking what do you mean? Who are the vulnerable? The vulnerable are those that need someone to speak for them, teach them, lead them, and love them where they are at. I wanted to focus on a couple of my favorite organizations. I am sure that you have ideas as well. I can’t wait to hear what this looked like for you.

World Relief– Can you imagine? Can you imagine being in a whole new country and not knowing anyone? Or the language? Or the social norms? Or even how to get from one place to the next? Friends we need to be the church. We need to invite refugees into our homes this year. We need to not just give but give of ourselves. I asked one of my dear friends who works for World Relief some tangible needs that could be met this Christmas. Here is what she had to say…..

Here is also a link to all the ways people can support or give to World Relief. If people are interested, they can donate financially to support adults and children in ESL class or to help refugee reach self-sufficiency. Or, there is a link for donating household items (or a car if people have those lying around!)

http://worldreliefdupage.org/give-wrda-for-christmas/

I have helped with World Relief for years. I love it. Absolutely love it. I love having friends from all over the world. Who love, and live so differently than we do. But that is the best part of it. We laugh and learn to do life together….and it’s better that way.

Kids Hope– I have the privilege of being a mentor through Kids Hope. It is an amazing opportunity to spend an hour a week with a child who just needs a voice. They just need someone to come alongside them and meet them where they are at. To extend grace and direction in a life that seems so out of control. It really will change you. Talking to our leader of Kids Hope at our church today she mentioned that of course they always need volunteers or mentors. Those that is willing to just give up one hour a week to meet with their mentee. We also need other churches to come alongside schools and partner with them. It is usually one church per school and they provide them mentors for that school. So call your church, ask them if they are involved and if not….ask why. We need to be the church my friends.

Tomorrow our family will be coming alongside with other families in the community and loving on a few refugee families. We cannot wait to give them Christmas this year. To know that they have enriched our lives, our communities and our schools, it’s the least we can do.

So friends…..how can you stand in the gap for the vulnerable tomorrow?

#25daysoflove…..go love BIG!

p.s. after tomorrow….#25daysof love goes to Michigan….and my siblings are getting in on it! It’s going to be awesome!!!!