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.

I didn’t come to Jesus from your Facebook posts.

redeemed

I have a hard time with Facebook occasionally. Don’t get me wrong I love to post selfies of a new haircut, Instagram my kids being kids, or take an occasional test to see what Downton Abbey character I would be (Anna). But my problem lies in the public bashing of sins. I thank my lucky stars that Facebook was not around before I accepted Jesus. Or that my kids even now do not have Facebook accounts. Because I don’t know if I ever would have been drawn to Christianity. If I would have seen Christians dropping sponsorships of children, telling me I was going to hell, and calling out my sin in a public forum….I would have walked away. I would have run away.

I didn’t come to Jesus because of what you said. I came to Jesus because of what He did.
Not too long ago I got into an argument heated disagreement over my views. At the time I was so emotionally charged by the conversation and topic that I couldn’t back up my views with scripture.

When I come to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. 1Cor 2:1

But then again, I didn’t want that to be thrown in this persons face. I didn’t want them going away from the conversation feeling like once again the Bible being thrown at them. As one who didn’t start following Jesus until my mid-twenties, verses thrown at me just built the wall higher between me and Him. I just wanted to plead into the phone that I don’t know the exact verses of why I believe what I do. But this is what I am absolutely sure of.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1Cor 2:2

Jesus is my redemption. Jesus is my everything. Jesus pours grace over me daily. Jesus loves me like no one ever will. Jesus fights for me every moment of the day. Jesus pulls the chains and brings me freedom. Jesus protected me countless times in my life. Jesus thinks that I am worthy enough to save. Jesus changed my life…..and can change yours.

I believe that scripture is powerful and is our guide and lifeline to God. I believe that it is the air inside of me. However I believe that if you don’t believe that you are worthy, or even have a relationship with Christ, scripture that others preach at you is just words. Nothing more. It is like reading a rule book for a class that you have never taken. It means nothing.

This past summer was my twentieth class reunion. I wanted to go so badly. But being the mom to two teenage girls the Taylor Swift concert won over that option. I know most are not eager to return to the place that caused them so much trouble and pain, but I really wanted a chance. I wanted a chance for those in high school to see me now.

I came to you in my weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with demonstration of the Spirits power, 1 Cor 2:3-4

To see the girl who was sloppy drunk more times than not walk through that door as a new creation. To see the girl that clung to her boyfriends like they were her savior to see that she laid down her life for a God that loved her like no other. To see the girl who struggled with eating disorders and addictions continually breaking the chains and run towards redemption.

So that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 2Cor 2:5

I didn’t come to Jesus because of what you said on Facebook. I came to Jesus because of what He did. What He does. Who He is. Who He always will be.

#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.

feetwashing

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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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.

The emptiness that screams….

There is this void inside of me. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all have this.

I think I’ve always known mine was there. An emptiness that screams. Like me. Need me. Invite me. Laugh at me. Hold me. Notice me. Love me. Listen to me. Hear me. Believe in me. Trust me. Walk with me. Dance with me. Pick me. Don’t leave me. Want me. Fight for me.

When I returned from Uganda a year ago I came home with a chasm of emptiness. I am sure all that were there noticed it when I walked through the gates at O’Hare. Although I am sure it was masked by the fact that I was looking just so ravishing after traveling 26 hours straight with a child that was bighting me .

After being in Uganda for over eleven weeks and only released from the country because a certain large organization was called in, you could say I came home with some “issues”. One of the biggest issues was my overwhelming sense that I didn’t belong. I didn’t know how to fit back into my own family. I had left that role for so many months that my family didn’t even know where I belonged. And I had this devastating ache that I would not be able to ever reconnect with my friends. That we would never see things in the same light again.

It wasn’t until recently that I could voice exactly what that need was, I wanted to be heard. Really heard. But I couldn’t. I wanted others to understand the depth of what I had been through. I wanted them to see international adoption in the same revealing way that I now am understanding it. I wanted someone to tell me that they understood the deep pain that suffocated me. I wanted someone to realize that I missed out on three months of all of their lives and felt like I never caught up. I wanted someone to see that I was struggling to know what my role was in the home. The older kids had to be in charge so many times that they had a difficult time letting me be mom again. And here I was scared to be mom because I carried so much guilt around for being gone. I wanted someone to know that I needed to reconnect. And I didn’t know how.

In retrospect I know this wasn’t fair. To them. To me.

I wanted others to fill a deep longing. A deep pain. A deep fear that only Christ himself could heal.

This morning it was apparent I still have parts of the emptiness that are still exposed. I was feeling so alone and disconnected from others. I was drawn into the lie again that they will fill the emptiness that only He can fill.

So in the emptiness I will cling. In the emptiness I will heal.

In the emptiness He will make me whole again.

more elmo less emailing.-things I am learning from just being present.

Last night while riding in the car with my oldest she asked how she could be praying for me. Now before you go all “my kid never asked me that before! I can’t even get a full sentence out of my teenager!” You need to know that the youth pastor just minutes before had given all the kids an assignment that night to ask their parents the same question. And if they were too nervous or weren’t on the same spiritual walk as their parental unit that they could ask God to bless their household.

It wasn’t long after she asked that I knew what had been on my heart for a while now.

“To be present. With you. With all of you.”

I have a close friend who has five little bambinos. She has told me on numerous occasions that she does not volunteer for any projects outside of her home at this time in her life. And without even questioning it I completely agree with her. This sweet one has her hands full and then some. I have never viewed her as selfish or self -centered. She is basically the opposite. She pours her heart and soul into what is before her. That happens to be five precious blessings at her feet. In fact I would never think of asking her to head up a project or expect her to ever be on a team for anything.

A few days ago though the thought came to my head as I was dropping off my fifth child at school for 2.5 hours. I have five kids! No it’s not a surprise to me. I know how many kids I have. And although they are not all little they are still a lot of work. At times I think that having teenagers and toddlers at the same time is the ultimate parental test. Although the needs are different they still need me, the needs just come in hormonal waves. When I had one child I went to play dates, story times, watched Elmo, read book after book after book, and took naps. I did not volunteer to be any more than who I was. Yet now with five I seem to think that I can do all of that and take on any and every project that comes my way. While the projects may be good. I am learning again it is not good for my soul.And its not good for my families soul.

I have come face to face with the reality that I have limitations. I need breathing room. I need quiet time. I need to exercise. I need to lay my face on the floor before my God. I need to talk to my husband. And this is hard to do with the phone ringing, email sending, text answering life I have been trying to keep up with. I do not thrive on this. Others might. I don’t.

I need to do laundry. I need to clean the house. I need to prepare meals. Grocery shop. Make and go to doctor’s appointments. Sporting events. Concerts ( and yes that included the infamous recorder concert, don’t be jealous). Sporting awards. Mowing the lawn. Shoveling the snow. And try to catch the stupid dog that ran away again. Somewhere in there bring all the kids to school and remember to pick them back up again.

I need to be present. I crave it. To be all there. If I am not there and I am everywhere else I start to fall apart. I start to get anxious. I start to catch my breath. I start to get really ugly with myself and with others. I start to lose sleep. I start to forget things. I start to think that these other things are more important that the five little (some not so little) at my feet. So why is it ok for me to give grace to others who have multiple children and forget to look in the mirror and breathe grace in for myself?

It’s not. So I am choosing grace. Just grace.

Infomercials and other things I believe.

My nine year old likes to announce to us the latest infomercial that he has seen. He gives us all the reasons why we should invest “three easy payments” for the newest gadget. As his skeptical older sisters like to point out to him that just because it’s on TV or even the internet does not mean that it is real. His sweet tender heart cannot fathom that. That someone would try and sell us or tell us something that wasn’t real. He wants to believe.

I too within the last year have wanted to believe that everything that others were telling me or selling me was real. My husband likes to point out that my naivety about the world around me is one reason that he loves me. That I truly believe that people were good, and true, and that a plate of cookies on their doorstep would make anyone be my friend. I just wanted to believe.

But when it comes to my relationship with God is where I stop believing. At least that is what you would think if you heard my prayers or saw my anxiety level at times. That I really don’t believe. I want to believe but my actions and conversations at times play out differently. I am human. With a human heart. And my human heart although born solely to worship my Savior is swayed to believe others.

Believing that I am still the girl with a scandalous past. That it will always define me. I believe the voice that tells me I am always on the brink of another panic attack. I believe the voice that tell me to make idols out of people around me. And when they disappoint me I am easily frustrated. I am drawn to believe that I will never be pretty enough to keep my husband around. I listen to the voice that tells me that I am not smart enough to write the book that needs to be written. I fall asleep to the voice that tells me that the darkness will win and people are better off if it does. I believe the scale when it says that I am not and never will be the size I was in college. That I cannot be healthy and strong. I believe people when they tell me I am not who they need me to be. I believe the magazines and blogs I read that tell me that my kids need to be in better schools and that it is all my fault that I can’t give that to them.

Last Sunday in church though as I sat there listening to a song during communion I heard truth. I heard the voice of God so clearly whisper to me “ live in freedom”. I sat there with tears streaming down my face in awe of how perfect God is to me. He knew that my past had been on my heart for the entire service. That I sat through a sermon on Lust thinking that this was a sin that I did not struggle with so really it was a ”free pass Sunday” . I could just pray for those around me who struggled with it. Instead images of my past kept coming back to me and I found myself heaving tears. I couldn’t catch my breath. The vivid the images of myself in past situations from over 15 years ago still haunt me. As I sat there I knew that I still carried it. Carry it. Everyday it still defines me. I am still listening to it. Listening to the past that wants to clutch me there and never understand forgiveness. To experience freedom. And to hear truth.

Truth is….God. He alone can heal me. He alone is my comforter. He alone will protect me. His will alone will be done. He is my freedom. He is my love. He is my beauty. He is my father. He is my all in all. He is the beginning and the end. He has control. He is the only voice I need to hear. He is my truth.

faithful.

Today was the National Day of Prayer. I didn’t stand by the flag pole or go to any ceremony of special significance. I instead went to be with some of those that have been instrumental in these past few years. Women who prayed fervently for me when I didn’t know what to pray. Women who prayed for our sweet youngest before we even saw his face. Women who get all the “adoption issues” and laugh when there is nothing left to do. On this day of prayer though I am reminded while scooping out buttered noodles for all of our little ones to eat, that our God is so faithful. Nothing like buttered noodles and a house full of little children from all over the world to bring the National Day of Prayer to another level.

I was reminded so clearly this past Sunday about how far He has brought me. It was four months ago that I was dreading going to a large gathering at church. I didn’t want to go; I was afraid to go. The people. The questions. The answers I couldn’t give. The eye contact . I would have rather just hidden in the ladies’ room all night and hand out towels than have an adult conversation. I dreaded anyone asking about adoption. Uganda. My life. My heart. All of it made me want to wear a sign on my forehead that said “now an introvert” or “too damaged; stay away”. But I went and made it through and begged God to start healing me.

And then He healed.

Last Sunday as we gathered for our church’s corporate prayer and worship services I stood with arms open wide ready to receive what that Spirit has in store for me. I was no longer crying the whole way there trying to conjure up a story as to why I couldn’t speak with anyone. I still didn’t talk to as many people. And I am ok with that. I know what healing feels like. I don’t know the exact moment it happened. It took weeks, months, and long nights. I do know what it is like to not be afraid to wake up in the morning. I do know what it is like to have God so intimately speak to me and show Himself to me that I only I could see it. I do know that it is like to lay everything down at His feet. I do know what it is like to speak the darkness out loud and it lose its power over me. I do know what it is like to bathe myself in Scripture day after day just to be able to breathe. I do know what it is like to ask for help. I do know what it is like to feel the hand of Jesus lift me from the pit. I do know what it is like to have people I have never met in person before reach out to me and just encourage at just the right time.

I do believe in a healing God. I believe that HE heals. I do also believe that we need to participate in the healing. That we need to be honest with ourselves and others; that we need to die to ourselves every day. I believe that part of healing is realizing that I needed to take better care of myself. I had been separated from my kids for so long and then came back in a depression that I no longer wanted to miss out on life. Part of that is knowing that God gave me this body and mind and I need to take care of it. It honors God when we take care of what He has given us. I do know that He heals. I have felt it. I have seen it. I am a product of it.


 

This song has been my anthem.