Before you leave home- a letter to my daughter

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Before you leave…..

Sweet one you graduate in 19 months from high school. Although that means you are home for another year and half. It means you are only home for another year and half and this mama’s heart just needs to let you know some things.

I’ve had a check list of things I’ve wanted you to know before you left. Now while this list seem trivial to some I believe that they are important life skills to know.

-Mow a lawn because you will not make enough money to have someone mow your lawn when you leave this house. Also we never made enough money to have someone mow our lawn as educators. Plus it’s very therapeutic.

-Cook more than noodles. Well because you need to eat more than just carbs for the rest of your life. There is nothing like making someone’s belly happy with a great meal that you created with your own two hands.

-Clean the house. Again defer to the amount of money you will most likely make. And I really believe that if God allows to live in a home that you should count that as a blessing and treat it as such. I know I am not the best housekeeper but when my in-laws come I know how to clean it.

– Fail. I know this seems harsh but I don’t want you to do this for the first time when you are not with me. I want to be able to walk you through this. Life is not fair. And many times you are not going to understand why. I don’t. But when you fail, and you will, I want to be able to talk you through it and watch you try again and again.

-Tell the truth. To be honest this one is hard for me. I have struggled with this one my whole life. To be honest with who you are. What your past was. And who you are now. I want you to live a truthful life. A life that screams the reality of who you are and not who others need you to be.

-Clean the toilet. I am not trying to make you a Cinderella but for the love know how to clean up your own messes. And I am not ashamed that I have given this as one of your chores.

– Wash your clothes. You will shrink clothes. But I want you to learn it here and not on the first week you are married and your sweet husband now needs to fit into Barbie sized clothing because I never taught you the correct way to actually do laundry.

– Ask for help. Please. Do not try to get through life alone. Your dad and I should be in your top three people to ask for help. Know that we always will. We always will help and ask questions later. I don’t know what I would have done without my village. You will need a village of help and love.

– Forgive. It took me many years to figure this out. I hope the day you graduate, if not sooner you have learned to forgive. Forgive the friend that doesn’t act the way you think they should. Forgive your sibling that keeps “borrowing” your clothes. Forgive your parents. We did the best we could. If you hang on to the unforgiveness it is only hurting you. It is chaining you to expectations that will never be met. Grace sweet one. Pour out grace.

-Respect your elders. I see the opposite of this so much it hurts me. When kids and adults have no respect for those that are older or in authority. Those that teach you, go before you, are around you are there to protect and love you. Look closely and you can see little glimpses of who you are going to be. How you treat others is a direct window into what is inside your heart.

– Laugh at yourself and have friends that laugh with you. Have friends who think you are funny. I know you don’t think I am “Sarah Braverman” but my friends do and that is just fine with me. Laughing cleans out the hardness that likes to make its way into our hearts. Deep belly laughs frees the spirit to sour.

-Get a job, with a boss- I started working when I was 15. Because my parents said if I wanted extra things I needed to earn it. I also thought it would be cool to fry up burgers. (not so much) But I want you to earn your own money. I want you to answer to someone other than your parents. I want you to manage your own schedule and money. I think there is so much value in actually working outside of the home and not relying on gifts of money that you receive.

-Know Jesus. Really know Him. Look for Him everywhere. He is here. He is walking right beside you every day. And on days when it is so dark and so much evil clouds your vision He is fighting the battle to keep your heart. I want you to own your faith. To claim it as your own. Ask questions. Seek answers. I want you to stand firm in your own faith not ours. He needs to work redemption out for you and I need to let you experience it.

Sweet one, as I am writing this list I realize I could go on and on at the things I hope you have learned. I realize though all the things you have taught me. You have taught me to fight for those I love. You have taught me that I love you when I just show up. You have taught me that all you ever wanted was my time. You taught me that you are grateful that your dad and I fought to stay together even though I wanted out so many times. You have taught me that all God wanted for me was to return. You have taught me there is healing when I admit my wrongs. You have taught me that late night giggles are best if not interrupted. You have taught me that I made the best decision by never walking into that clinic seventeen years ago. You taught me that second chances are moments we need to be awake for. You have taught me that each day I have a chance to do better. You have taught me that family is more than blood.

Even if you have only learned one thing. Know this. You have been loved so deeply and fiercely wanted from the day I learned of your beating heart.

Now go change the world sweet baby girl…..

love you to the moon and back.

mom

A broken Gomer-I chose pleasure over protection . #shereadstruth

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For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,

who give me my bread and my water,

my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Hosea 2:5

 

Write a number.

What?

Write a number.

Write the number.

Write the number of men.

Write the number that you know.

The true number.

I can’t.

No.

Give me the number. On this paper write the number.

She knelt at my feet.

Years of guilt and shame poured down my cheek.

I wanted to vomit. I wanted to run. I wanted to look at her and say no.

Instead I wrote the number.

  And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals

when she burned offerings to them

and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,

and went after her lovers

and forgot me, declares the Lord. Hosea 2:13

 

The number of lives that I destroyed. The number of innocent moments I had taken from another woman’s wedding night. The number of times I denied that God’s plan was better for my life. The number of times I choose pleasure over protection. The number of times I craved acceptance over wholeness. The number of times I willingly and unwillingly gave a piece of who I was to another.

And here I was twenty years later finally pushing towards freedom.

Satan holds me. Held me. To the number.

Tried for years to tattoo it to my vision. To remind me that who I was is who I am.

I was done. I am done letting sins twisted in sheets control me.

  For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. Hosea 2:17

The chains of lies that held me then still controlled me now. Believing that I was used up, I was of no use. I had had my fair share of lovers. And to never be touched again would be too soon.

The shame that I let clothe me felt too heavy to carry alone. I was ready.

To find freedom. To see freedom. To crawl towards it.

And the first step was truth. To be honest with myself. To be honest with my husband. And to find someone to tell my truth to. Someone safe that would guide me, walk with me, pray for me, and lead me to the One who would ultimately bind up the wounds I had left gaping for years.

 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. Hosea 2:19

Where you are. Whoever you are. Whatever you’ve done or didn’t do. He is there waiting. Crying seeing you carry your chains around. Lay them down. He is waiting. Calling you home.

Its time.

Time to return.

He is gentle and safe.

He is justice and mercy.

He faithful and true.

With arms open

Calling you to freedom.

#shesharestruth

I’ve looked suicide in the face. And other secrets of the good church girl.

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This post was originally posted September 2013.

I have been asked recently to tell part of my story again If for the only reason for one person to know they are not alone. You see when we start live in truth others don’t feel so isolated. When we live in truth we stop placing people on pedestals and expect them to remain there. It’s exhausting to live there. To know within your soul that you will never be the image other need you to be. When we live in truth we get messy and real. Let’s be messy women. Truth telling women.

*I understand that this topic and subject are very sensitive. Everyone’s story is different with many different outcomes. I completely respect differing opinions and value your story. I just ask that you respect my story for what it is as well.-sheli

Today is Suicide Prevention Day. Which if you think about it may seem a bit bent. Why would we want to have a day that recognizes suicide? Others might argue that we should not draw more attention to it. I actually feel the complete opposite. I believe that we should draw attention to it. I believe that we need to quit saying that people we love died of “unknown causes” because we ourselves cannot look in the mirror and say the word suicide. I believe we do need to talk about it. We need to quit being silent about it, looking the other way, keeping it in the whispers. Because do you know what that does? It gives it more power. It gives the darkness more control over our lives. Over their lives. Over all of us.

I wish I could say I have no experience with suicide. That no one I loved and adored took their own life. But this is just not true. I remember at a very young age watching as my parents grieved the death of close friends. And the aftermath that ensued for years. I have lost those I have worked with, worshipped with, been in school with and even called family.

But the hard reality of it is that suicide itself has looked me in the face.

I have battled depression since I was a teenager. Using any chemical I could get into my body to make it go away. The demons have at times seem to have a tighter grip on me than not. When I became a mother I was sure that it would all go away. Yet as I soon discovered that postpartum depression and even psychosis is an ugliness that invaded my soul and mind. There were many times that I dreamt of running away. Far away and starting over. I begged God to take me in the middle of the night because I could no longer take the darkness that had assaulted my mind. I was hopeless. I wish I could say that when I became a Christian I never had to deal with this. Yet it was even more when I became a Christian. I knew that the spiritual battle for my soul was real. I feel like it still is. It is and always will be a battle. This is not a war we are fighting here on earth; it is in the spiritual realms.

This is what I know from my situation. Talk to each other. Be real with each other. Get in each other’s business .If you know of a friend or even an acquaintance that is withdrawing. Go to them. Now. Don’t worry about invading their space or being politically correct. Go now. Be the voice for them. So many times we don’t know what to say. We don’t want to ask for help. We don’t know how to ask for help. We think that no one will understand. We think that we will be called a freak. We don’t want to bring shame to our family. We think that no one will ever forgive us. We think that this will make it easier on everyone else. So this is my plea to you. Be invasive. Open the door and walk in. Get them help. We will many times deny it. We think it’s not that bad. We are scared. We don’t want to get locked up. We think it will ruin us for life. We are embarrassed. We think no one will believe that we are really sick. Do it anyways. I beg of you. Open the door.

I have been on the journey of healing for years. Months at times I can carry the darkness and no one can see it. I learn to hide well. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned that I am nothing without clinging to Jesus’ feet every day. I have learned that medication and therapy are a must-have for my well-being. I have learned that exercise and calm need to be a part of my every day. I have learned that my family and friends will get me help, hold my hand, and give me grace. I know that they and we have all messed up. It is messy and painful but they are not giving up on me.

I know the pain of loss and I know the pain of darkness. I pray that wherever you are on the journey, that you know you are not alone.

The dance

You and I.

In the back in forth.

The dance that we do. I leading. You following.

You watching while I continue to dance.

Pushing you

until I make you dance.

Years

we go back and forth.

You in your silence screaming. I in my fear yelling louder to be heard.

You and I here. There. 

Here is where we stopped seeing. We stopped seeing the fear.

The fear that pushed the voices louder. The fear that hushed the silence louder.

Years we go back and forth.

The dance.

The dance where no one leads.

The dance where we listen and follow music that silence plays.

Where the children fill the space that our fears are crawling through.

Years we go back and forth.

Until we don’t.

Until the music stops.

Until we say no more.

No more of the back and forth.

No more of the dance.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14



 

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

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.

the best me.

Image I secretly love watching people post all of the amazing things that they are going to do each year. I do the same thing. I start out determined that no carb will ever touch my lips again. That this will be the year that I will run a marathon. That this will be my best year. I place these outrageous expectations and goals on myself without seriously thinking how long it took me to get this far. I forget how many times I needed to fall flat on my face before I realized that I was worth the fight. The fight of being a better version of myself.

And if I were being honest.  I believed that the better version was always thinner with great skin. I believed that the better me would never have to deal with anxiety and depression again. The better me would do crafts with her kids. The better me would be published and accomplished by now. The better me would have enough money to not have to worry month to month. The better me would not lose her temper and want to run away. The better me is strong and can hold it all together. The better me would have the energy and the capacity to homeschool her children. The better me would be comfortable in her own skin. The better me would be able to balance life with a perfect looking home. The better me would be an amazing wife full of patience and encouragement.

The better version of me though is the forgiven me. The forgiven me doesn’t care what size jeans I wear or what you wear. The forgiven me knows that anxiety is crippling but is where I feel the most protected by my Savior. The forgiven me knows that I will constantly struggle with sticking my finger down my throat and that this reality is ugly. The forgiven me knows that there is a better way to health and is fighting daily for it. The forgiven me craves scripture but at times forgets to even say hello to God some days. The forgiven me knows what it is like to confess my sins to a friend and they just be held closer. The forgiven me knows that to admit that every day I wake up scared that I won’t be a good person much less a good mom is humiliating. In reality I know the forgiven me is flat on my face broken at the feet of Jesus. The forgiven me feels loneliest in a room full of people but understands that it is just  another issue that is just being kneaded out of me. The forgiven me knows that being a wife is something that I wrestle with every day. The forgiven me knows that I wrestle because of the choices that I made in my past. And the shame I carry haunts me.

And the forgiven me. The best me, knows that this is all being worked out. Worked out not for my best. But for His best. So whatever I need to wrestle with, or fight for, or cry myself to sleep for is sufficient. It’s for the best. He will make all things new this year.

when Christmas sucked.

When all I could do was breathe. And breathing even hurt.

Last Christmas sucked. Just sucked. From the outside I am sure I gave the impression that everything was amazing. I had just returned home from Uganda with our newest son and we were one happy, send out Christmas cards to pretend we were, happy family. We lied. I lied. It was me. I lied to save myself. To save myself from all of you knowing that we were falling apart. And by we, I mean me. I was falling apart. I couldn’t breathe. It hurt too much. I cancelled Christmas. I literally cancelled going home for the holiday. I could not imagine being in a room full of people that wanted to love me. When I could not even stand the thought of a person hugging me much less wanting to talk to me. I could barely get dressed. I felt like if I brushed my hair and my teeth it was a productive day. People wanted to visit. It was torture. Torture to pretend that life inside our house wasn’t falling apart. Torture to pretend that I wasn’t broken. A broken mess of a mom not even trying to be a wife. I could not tolerate who I was or who I was pretending to be. It felt like my skin was crawling and I wanted to run away. But I was too afraid to even leave my own home. I became obsessed that something horrible was going to happen to me and my kids. And I thought that if I just removed myself from the equation that everyone would be better.

That is just the tip of the Christmas package of pain last year. Under many more months and layers of therapy we uncovered deep fears and anxiety that suffocated who I was for months.

So sweet one….I get it. I get that Christmas may be excruciating for you. That you just want to wake up and it all be gone. The expectations that others place on you or worse yet, those that you put on yourself will never be met. And it’s ok. It’s ok to be in pain. It’s ok to be lonely. It’s ok to say out loud that it sucks. That is hurts. That you can’t find the joy. That it hurts to breathe.

Just know that you are not alone. I get it. And I am sure if we were all more honest and didn’t send out “everything is sunshine and my life looks like Pinterest” Christmas cards, we could all start to breathe. We could all start to heal. And give each other grace that where you are this Christmas is enough.