Leggings & Superheroes – hills not to die on moms

images (8)

When I was younger. Much younger. Like I had a crush on Richard Marx younger, I shaved my head. Not my whole head cause that wouldn’t be cool. But only half of my head because apparently that was way cooler. I decided one day that I would feel better about myself if not only I had bleached blonde hair but I also willing took half of my hair away. Now don’t go thinking I went all crazy. I was conservative enough to only shave underneath all the bleach blonde Drew Barrymore hair. Yes, in my eyes I was fitting in. I was edgy. If I even knew what edgy was. Because when you grow up in Catholic schools it can be considered edgy if you hike your plaid skirt above the knees some days.

So when my second oldest decided that she wanted half of her gorgeous hair shaved off or when my youngest decided that he wanted The Flash symbol into the side of his head I said okay. But I didn’t say okay because I had done it before. Lord knows if I said okay to everything I did when I was younger I would basically be running a juvenile detention center. And since I don’t really look good in orange I do have some boundaries. Yet I have learned after being a mom for 17 years I choose to not die on every hill.

When I was a very young and new mom my girls dressed alike and always matched. They also always had brand new clothes. The staff at baby GAP knew me by name. I had retail issues. I admit it. I equated dressing perfectly with good parenting. I honestly thought when seeing other moms that this is what we did. We played dress up with our kids, went to story time, provided crafts for every moment, and made sure they only ate organic cookies. Well many years and children later I figured out that if I can just get them to brush their teeth a few times a week and actually change their underwear I am hitting it out of the park. I decided that I was not going to argue with a seven year old why she could not wear the same sweatpants every day. It was more important for me to connect than me to correct fashion choices. I decided that I was not going to live under the rule of Gymboree but by the peace in my home.

As my children have gotten older I have begun to hear that if I let my teenage daughters wear leggings then I am letting her look like a streetwalker. Um. Seriously? I am just wondering how we got from comfy leggings to streetwalker in the matter of one clothing change. This too is not a hill I am going to die on. My girls have extremely long legs and they are growing at rapid speed. Jeans are expensive. Jeans are uncomfortable for them. And let’s just face it leggings are so comfy. Yes they cover themselves and no I do not let them walk the streets. I have some standards. But I have chosen to not die on the hill of leggings.

I choose to die on the hill of character, and honesty, and strength, and family, and loyalty, and health, and laughter, and kindness, and empathy, and courage, and faith. I choose to die on hills that matter not hills that others think determine our worth.

I choose to decide to be a mom who cares about what is going on in my children’s hearts and souls. I choose to discover the reasoning behind their fashion and hair choices. I choose to be a mom of superheros and leggings.

 

Waking up separate- #FreedomFridays

imagesN2YWJNVH

I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to surround ourselves with those who speak truth and share their stories. Kaelyn Benham is joining us again this week to share a part of her redemptive story. I am so honored and blessed to call her friend. She not only lives in freedom but loves in it too.

It started like any other Monday. Waking groggy around 5:30 to my baby wanting to eat; it’s as if she knows when he leaves. To teach a spin class at a local gym, Scott leaves the house around 4:45 on those mornings. At about 7:15 he gets back home. At this point, the morning is in full swing with teeth brushing battles, breakfast table antics, or some sort of other ruckus that ensues when trying to get 3 children out of the house at a certain time. So, like every other week, it happened this way, only this day was not just any other Monday in my heart or in his.

This was the day that 8 years ago we said, “I do.”

We didn’t start this special day together. We woke up separate. So this morning when he walked in the door I was already guarded. I had distanced myself already. Without realizing it at the time, I had already started the story in my head. The story creates distance. I had expectations that weren’t being met. Scott walks in with Starbucks and flowers in hand and I have “cynicism” in my heart already. I had allowed the enemy entry and he convinced me the day could not be salvaged.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the enemy, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8

Based on the morning antics with the kiddos, I wanted him to bring breakfast. I wished he hadn’t spent money on flowers. I was upset he spent extra time to get them and came home a bit later than usual. He brought me a drink from Starbucks, but it was wrong. All of this adding to the power of the story I was building up in my mind. The one the enemy was telling me as if it were true. Convincing me that all these things really mattered and were worth the distance I was creating. Darkness was saying, in my voice and with my thoughts, “you are not important” and “today is just going to be like any other day” and “there is nothing special about your anniversary.” In my mind it was equal to, there is nothing special about you.

The enemy, the one that comes to destroy and separate, was also reminding me of promises we had made years ago. We were going to be together on birthdays and anniversaries. That was Scott’s idea and now the enemy was reminding me of those words and pinning Scott as a liar. All of a sudden more came in my mind. We didn’t start the morning together and we won’t end the day together either. He was leaving that night for a work trip.

These things floated around in my mind and tangled themselves on each other creating a knot so twisted I feared they couldn’t be untangled. A knot can ravel itself so quickly, and so tightly before you even recognize it.

I could feel the anger swelling. I was aware of the cold shoulder I was offering. I had a choice. I could keep going this way towards heart separation. Or I could fight. Decide against the unfortunate comfort of anger. Or choose the uncomfortable untangling back to the truth. I realized what was happening.

I chose to fight.

I started to fight.

Thankfully, I trust the heart of my husband. I know he is not a liar. I started to tell myself TRUTH. Our intention was always to be together on birthdays and anniversaries. We had already had the hard conversation and agreed he needed to leave that evening. We BOTH decided that was best. Him being gone that morning was an oversight for both of us. An oversight our hearts BOTH felt. Not just my heart was craving the connection. The enemy wants to take this day and ruin it. He hates our marriage. He hates that we love each other so much. He hates that our marriage and our family is a priority. Of course he was after us. The more I thought about it; we had let him take over slowly the past couple of weeks.

One unplanned “yes” after another.

One last minute errand.

Yes to one more invitation.

Yes to afterhours meetings and emails.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

On our anniversary, God was showing us how we had left ourselves vulnerable. Unguarded to the thief.  Open for destruction. He was showing us clearly the distance each “yes” to others had created in our hearts. Each “one more email” and each “impulsive errand” was leaving our family, our marriage, and our hearts unprotected.

We start to do the uncomfortable untangling back to the truth. We took steps back towards each other with admissions of where we chose “other.” We came back to the “practice field” together. We are a team, preparing again for the battle.

In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

We remember we must protect our time. No one else will do that for us. We continue the practice of “stewardship of self” as Dr. David Benner says, in order to keep our family, our marriage and each heart protected.

These are the hard things to practice in a world that believes different. Expects different. That protecting our time is a practice in protecting our hearts. But now, in Truth, having one more battle under our belt we rise together. We rise stronger. Ready for another year.

If you have a story of freedom to share I would love to have you here. Every Friday I will be posting a story about personal freedoms and the fight it took to get there! Just email me at shelim9@gmail.com and I will share your truth…..sheli

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

imagesI06C8MA7

 

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 love/ hate fall- when you aren’t the mom jumping up and down when your kids go back to school.

images3WF0CFTQI have a love/ hate relationship with fall. Unlike some people I love that the leaves change color, long sweaters and scarves, curried squash soup, sleeping with the windows open, apple picking, everything pumpkin (except PSL , that’s just gross) and snuggling up under a blanket with a soul feeding book.

But there is a huge part of fall that I loathe. School. (Don’t read this wrong, I LOVE our school and am so proud to be a part of such a diverse community. I digress, that is a whole other post). I am not what you would call a planner. I hate being busy. I have friends who say they thrive on being busy. I am not sure we are meant to be busy. I know for myself being busy means that I am saying no to other things. It means that I am running everyone to every sport practice, music lesson, and church. And with five kids with five different schedules this causes me to rethink adding Xanax to my yogurt in the morning. I think I would be a hermit if I could. OK. Maybe not that bad but I really don’t like to leave the house. If I have to drive more than three places in a day I get a little panicky.( stop laughing)

I know at the beginning of the year sweet mamas were posting picture of jumping in the air elated that their people were back in school all day. Me, not so much.

I was sad. And if we are going to be honest, scared.

You see fall is the appetizer for winter. And winter that I adore brings the D word.

In years past I would just let the anxiety of fall consume me and find myself overwhelmed and drowning in failure and expectations I let others put on me. I wasn’t able to keep up with the kids schedules. I didn’t know how to function with my husband gone six days/nights a week. So I drowned. The darkness would come and I would act surprised that it was there again. But If I look back I let it in. I am not saying that I asked for depression I am saying that I opened the door and did nothing to divert it another direction.

So this fall…..I am KICKING IT”S ASS!

I have put things in place that are healing for me. Things that are non-negotiable.

  • She Reads Truth. This community of women have been my safe place to pray, grow and heal. I was connected to them when I returned from Uganda by a woman I now call friend. I asked someone to help me find Jesus again and she pointed me to this daily devotional that has been such a haven of healing for me.
  • Exercise. I cannot stress this enough. If you know of anyone dealing with anxiety, depression, stress please encourage them to get exercise. I personally love walking, jogging, and kettle bell. It kicks my behind and raises my serotonin level. It has done wonders with my health and heart these past two years.
  • Food. This will always be a struggle for me. My past of eating disorders to the other extreme of shoving everything and anything in my mouth. It is a daily recommitment to treat my body with respect and not a garbage can. I will never be a size 4 and that is more than ok. But I want to know that I am doing everything I can to keep my heart and mind healthy.
  • Caffeine. I said goodbye to this friend. It was hard. I literally puked the third day off of it. I know, pathetic. But my doctor at the time asked me to try and stop. He said that it was pointless to take anti- anxiety meds and drink coffee like it was water. It was doing nothing but raising my heart rate and making it harder to think and complete thoughts.It’s been two years since I have had a regular cup of sweet nectar.
  • Sleep. I am a stickler on this one. If I am not getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night it is a recipe for disaster. I know it sounds like a lot but your body and mind need it. I need rest and to reset. It becomes a slippery slope if I stay up too late for too many nights in a row. This girl needs her beauty sleep.
  • Margin. I need to set margins or boundaries around extra things. I need to say no to even good things. Just because it is with my friends or a church activity or a concert I am dying to see I many times in the fall have to say no. I need to realize that at this point in my life I am raising five athletic children who thrive when on the field or court. I will not be a taxi driver forever but at this point I am. I can get angry every day and complain (which I do) or I can take this opportunity to have great conversations with the kids. About losing. About health. About school. About being an example. About deodorant. About commitment. About teamwork. About showering. About encouraging others. So I will continue to say no to some just so I can pour into those under my roof.
  • Date nights. Or days. Or afternoons. We have friends we kind of laid out our crap for us and told us we needed to get it together. We kind of love them. They did not tell us holier than thou advice. They took us where we were at and just offered up what worked for them. So we learned that we need to date. Every week. Not once a month. Not when you have a sitter. Not when you get dressed up (although we do that sometimes). Just date. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. ( just the two of you)  Go to the farmers market. Get dressed up and actually talk about each other.
  •  

So fall I will learn to fully love you. I will. I will take better care of myself so we can be friends again.

What do you do to fight anxiety and depression?

My Unsexy Missional Life- a reflection and review of Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

interrupted_banner_728x90
I wish I could say I had something profound to say. Something to say that would make you want to change your life. But today, at this moment, all I want to do is lay flat on my face before Jesus. I want to cling to his feet and beg Him to tell me that none of this is true. That the unthinkable suffering and death that we have seen in these last weeks is not true. I want to scream at God and tell Him to take it all away. To make Himself known on this earth. I want Him to stand before me and tell me that we will wake up from this hellish nightmare that continues to flash before us on every media avenue. I know it sounds arrogant and demanding. But there are some days I just need my Father God to hold me and take all the anxiety away.
But I know He is. He is here. He is in you. He is in me. He is the prayer that we plead. He is in the tears that wet our pillows at night.
I have been feeling helpless. II imagine that I am not alone in this feeling. Helpless in the struggle. I can read. I can watch videos or TV. (I didn’t, I can’t. Call me a coward, but I call it guarding my mind. I don’t need to see Satan to know he exists.)

But what can I do?
But what can we do?
We can do the next right thing. I know it seems obsolete. Like it will make no difference at all. But it does. I am not saying that to change the world, to take away its evil you need to join the Peace Corps or move to Africa ( my hippie self wanted to do both, and I still do) . But in the small and large decisions that we make every day we can be a part of the healing.
This summer I have been privileged enough to be asked to read and review a book that literally wrecked me. I have been ready for a change and especially these past few weeks I have been aching for it.

 

If you are plagued with tension or discontent or a nagging sense that there must be more- that there has to be a faith somewhere that rings true and hopeful and gracious, a faith other that this mean, ugly, partisan, judgmental, self- indulgent version of Christianity, which has to be total bunk-then get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. God has blessed you with this inner conflict. He isn’t leaving you in complacency and boredom to check boxes and do church. He has enlisted you in the cause of your generation and is calling you forward. You lucky think. You will not be left and lost, wondering what all the fuss is about. Wishing things would never change. – Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted.

 

Jen Hatmaker’s newest book Interrupted, revised & expanded, she suggests that to be the church, a world changer, a mission minded person you just have to do the next right thing. And sometimes the next right thing isn’t what you are thinking it is.
What does it look like?
This is it. We can follow our Jesus to every dark, scary, broken place He just insists on going, determined to heal and restore people, because He is a good Savior and we can trust Him. (Interrupted,xx1)
It doesn’t mean the next right thing that feels good. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make you more popular. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make those around you pleased.
It means quieting your soul and asking your creator what it is that HE wants you to do in that moment.
For years after I first visited Liberia, Africa with Samaritans Purse I assumed the next right thing to do was to move there. I came home and immediately started pestering praying that my husband would take a job with Samaritans Purse as a teacher. We would move our entire family overseas and I could raise my kids with red dirt on their feet. I knew that God would agree with my plan, He had to, it was His kind of work. But the next right thing, was my right thing. and God was nowhere in my motives, or at least my timing of it all. The next right thing was to wait.
We waited and I ended up traveling back to Africa two more times for two different reasons. Both were amazing trips and I felt like that is where I was supposed to be at that time.

And here we are, years later and a huge shift has occurred in my life and thinking. God has clearly revealed to me that my mission, my next right thing, is the seven people under my roof I claim to love. ( yes, I included myself, because self care is vital to healing).

 

There is no t- shirt for my mission that I have been called to at this time. It’s not sexy to say that I am in the trenches with a sick child we cannot find the diagnosis for, a child who self- harms, and a marriage that needs to be more than two roommates existing. No one is going to organize a fundraiser or create an Etsy page to pay all the medical and therapy bills. There is no “home from the therapists” gathering as we come home. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It’s lonely. And usually that is just my heart.
Me getting on a plane to Africa and serving in a third world country was easy for me. Leaving my family to fly across the world was safe for me at that time. It was safer for me to serve, than it was to face what was about to happen at home.
I needed to really look  and be honest with what was going on around me. To stop working with the big and sexy missions at this point in my life. The missions that get the attention, the blogs, and the t-shirts and start serving the ones under my roof. To pay attention to the disconnect. To acknowledge the silence in between commercials. To admit that I would rather be with my friends than try and connect with my husband.
The moment I realized that I only have two summers with my oldest home and that doesn’t sound like enough ice creams in my heart, I knew that this is where I am called to serve. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t going to get any media attention. But that is the thing. To be the church. To be the church that is missional and different we need to just do the next right thing. And the next right thing for me is to love the people under my roof well.
What is your next right thing? How can you be a part of a missional church?
I am giving away two copies of this life changing book! In order to be entered into the drawing leave a comment below telling me what your next right thing or tell me that you have shared this post. I am telling you if you read no other book this fall this one has to be it!

 

interrupted_page-130

Dear Moms, Do you know what beautiful is?

woman_mirror_stock

Dear Moms, Do you know what beautiful is?

Earlier this week I wrote a post to my daughters about what beautiful is.

This got me to thinking. Do WE  actually know what beautiful is?

Someone had asked me recently to do a photo session with the hubs. I would love to say that I was excited and elated to have our pictures taken by an amazing photographer. But the first thing that went through my mind was give me a month until I can lose a few more pounds….and then I’ll be ready.

How many of our beautiful moments are wasted on waiting? On being ready….

And if we are waiting than what are we teaching our daughters? What are we teaching ourselves?

I will be beautiful when I find the man to love me.

I will be beautiful when I can walk down the aisle in a gorgeous white gown.

I will be beautiful when I lose all of this baby weight.

I will be beautiful when I am a size 8 again. ( who am I kidding I’d like a size 10 these days)

I will be beautiful when I cover the grey in my hair.

I will be beautiful when I can wear a bathing suit.

I will be beautiful when I spend hundreds of dollars to drink shakes.

I will be beautiful when I stop trying so hard.

I will be beautiful when I can fit into last summer’s clothes.

I will be beautiful when I have a chest like hers.

I will be beautiful when my hips don’t stick out so far.

I will be beautiful when my arms don’t sag.

I will be beautiful when he notices me.

I will be beautiful when I have the job I worked for.

I will be beautiful when my husband pays attention to me.

I will be beautiful when my stomach is hard.

I will be beautiful when I have all my makeup on.

I will be beautiful when someone notices me.

I will be beautiful when I am loved.

I will be beautiful when I my life looks like yours.

I will be beautiful when I am as thin as I was in college.

I will be beautiful when someone wants me.

 I will be beautiful when I see my reflection and not be repulsed.

I will be beautiful when others tell me I am.

So we wait. You wait. I wait. We waste our lives waiting. Waiting to beautiful.

All the while trying to raise daughters to know that they are beautiful.

They are beautiful now.

YOU are beautiful now.

YOU are beautiful now because you have stood up for a friend. YOU are beautiful now because you fought for your marriage. YOU are beautiful now because you walked away from toxic relationships. YOU are beautiful now because you forgave. YOU are beautiful now because you received grace. YOU are beautiful now because you fed those around your table. YOU are beautiful now because you chose the harder road. YOU are beautiful now because you so said no. YOU are beautiful now because you survived. YOU are beautiful now because you were a voice for those who could not speak. YOU are beautiful now because you chose children over chores. YOU are beautiful now because you gave when no else would. YOU are beautiful now because you stayed when others walked away. YOU are beautiful now because you live in truth. YOU are beautiful now because you are using your gifts. YOU are beautiful now because you put down your phone and paid attention to what you were missing. YOU are beautiful now because you are stronger today than yesterday.

It’s time to stop waiting my friends. Waiting to take the pictures.

Today. In this moment. YOU are beautiful.

 

Dear girls, I am sorry I should have told you what beautiful is.

74724-school2b018

Dear girls,
I am sorry. I am sorry for not telling you. For not telling you that today you are beautiful. I am sorry for not reminding you that when the jeans don’t fit. You are beautiful. When you are sitting alone at the lunch table. You are beautiful. When you are the only one with freckles. You are beautiful. When you want to play football instead of loom bracelets. You are beautiful. When your hair texture is different than your friends. You are beautiful. When your clothes from last school year don’t fit this August. You are beautiful. When you are missing your two front teeth. You are beautiful. When you are too shy to make eye contact. You are beautiful. When you are wearing the wrong brand shoes. You are beautiful. When you are more interested in the plays on the court than the gossip on the phone. You are beautiful. When the pimples on your face seem to have overtaken the night before Homecoming. You are beautiful. When you bring home a stellar report card. You are beautiful. When you hear the insults the entire year of seventh grade. You are beautiful. When you wake up one morning and realize you have boobs. You are beautiful. When you cry yourself to sleep at night, when I drop you off at camp. You are beautiful .When the invitation for prom never comes. You are beautiful. When you would rather spend time with your family than the popular girls sleepover. You are beautiful. When you get pulled out of class for another evaluation. You are beautiful. When you are taller than everyone on the bus. You are beautiful. When you are afraid to give the speech in front of your peers. You are beautiful. When your skin is darker than all the other girls. You are beautiful. When your teeth are covered with wires that you think will never come off. You are beautiful. When you feel like you will never be enough. You are beautiful.
I should have done a better job of telling you. Of reminding you. Of teaching you. I should have stopped waiting. Waiting for my own self to be beautiful. To believe that I was. I should have been a better example of what beautiful is.
So here I am saying what beautiful is.
Beautiful is me taller than even the tallest boy in middle school. Beautiful is when the curves in my body did not match the clothes on the rack. Beautiful is me being stood up at senior prom for a girl I thought was my friend. Beautiful is the freckles all over my face that remind me I am more at peace by the water. Beautiful is when my belly made room for the life growing inside of me. Beautiful is the extra weight I continue to carry around my middle, reminding me of every life that has grown there. Beautiful is the short hair that made me feel sassy. Beautiful is the long hair that your father prefers. Beautiful is the grey hair that reminds me that I am wiser than the year before. Beautiful is the lines on the side of my face from the nights of crying when I was fighting for our family. Beautiful is me choosing to stay home at this point in our lives. Beautiful is me walking out the door every day to a job knowing that my hardest job is still at home. Beautiful is the jeans that are a little snug because having ice cream with you was more important than what anyone else believes. Beautiful is me realizing that I was beautiful before anyone ever told me.
Beautiful is me realizing you need to know that wherever you are. Whoever you are, is beautiful.
My dream. My wish is that you would not wait until you were almost forty like me to know that you were beautiful all along.
Love, Mom

Are you a marriage warrior? A story of a marriage that shouldn’t have lasted.

photo

I feel like every day I hear of another marriage ending. When I was in Uganda two years ago my best friend called to tell me that someone that I had put on a pedestal for so long had left her kids and marriage. I was overwhelmed. I remember falling to my knees in heaping mess. I needed her to stay on the pedestal I had her on. I needed her to be a constant. I needed her example of gentle selfless love to be true. But it wasn’t. It was ugly. It was going to get even uglier and I was stuck on the other side of the world. Feeling helpless and sad. And if I told the truth, I saw the end coming for a long time. But did nothing. I stood by and said “it’s none of my business”.

Those of us that have been married for a while we all know that divorce doesn’t just happen. We don’t just wake up one day and decide to “uncouple” or walk away on a Tuesday. Well maybe some do, but I know this is not true of myself or those around me.

Sixteen years ago I walked down the aisle as a scared little girl. We were young, stupid, selfish, scared and had no idea what we were headed into. We started off with a three month old as cute as a button but that sure was not enough to keep the regret from smothering us. I was naïve enough to think that marriage would be a lot like registering for your wedding gifts. Sure there would be a few disagreements as to how many servings of silverware you needed, but eventually all was ended with a kiss and a great list from Crate and Barrel.

Our marriage from the beginning was lacking. In support. In truth. We had lost all of our friends at the time. They were in med school or grad school hundreds of miles away and here we were trying to just make it through the day. And the only truth I was seeing was the daytime shows that filled my day. Those around me were trying their best to “give us space”. We didn’t need space. We needed help. So everything we were just manifested in socially acceptable behaviors.

I was jealous that he got to go to work. He was resentful that he was no longer the soccer star. I was angry that we had to move so far away from my family. He was confused as to why family was even important to me. I was frustrated that I had lost who I was. He was pushing to reclaim what he had lost. I was bitter that he got to go back to grad school. He was exhausted working and going to school. I was lonely and filled my world with friends and causes that gave me value. He was lonely and the silence had become deafening. We were both trying to make ourselves feel better, look better, be better but in the process were lost as to who we were really supposed to be.

Eleven years ago and we found our way into a church that would turn our “it’s all about my happiness” world upside. There we met people who called out truth in us. Who got in our face, sometimes with grace and sometimes with reality to call out the ugliness. We had people who prayed fervently for our marriage. That our pride, anger, resentment, and fear would be washed away. We had people that showed up on our doorstep without being asked. We had people who were not watching from the outside but entering in and pealing back the layers. We had people who when we fell, just picked us up. We had people that told us that divorce was not an option. We had people that we were not called to be happy, we were called to be holy. We had people that were not afraid to get messy with our filth but just looked for the next mess to dig through.

To those of you that are “our people” you know who you are. We are. I am. He is. Eternally grateful. I am crying as I am writing this. I see your faces and can’t imagine our lives without you. Some have been with us for years and a few just in this past year.
Thank you. Thank you for not just talking about us behind our backs or putting us on a prayer chain but for entering in and telling the truth. Thank you to those that didn’t just stand by and watch it happen. Thank you for never claiming “well it’s none of my business” as your excuse. Thank you to those that knew it was your business. That when someone around you is hurting you don’t politely stay quiet. You got loud. You showed up. You listened. You cried with us. You encouraged us. You laughed with us. You called out the good in us. You let us see that it wasn’t about us, it was all about God. You were gentle with us. You were grace filled. You told us your stories of pain and defeat. You showed us that authenticity is healing. And healing will make us whole.

Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for believing that God could wreck us only to piece us back together.

Thank you for not being done with us. For knowing that we still need help. For calling us out when you see old patterns emerge. For wanting us to be better. For knowing that we can be. Thank you.

So on this anniversary of 16 years I wish I could hug each of you. Each of you for being marriage warriors. Truth tellers. Grace givers. God seekers.

Thank you….all my love…..Sheli

The Clothes I Wear Say Who I Am #SheSharesTruth

The clothes I wear say who I am.

When I was younger I imagined that early on I wore clothes that said
Adventurous spirit
Tree climber with skinned knees
Roller-skater who was afraid to fall
Dare devil that loved the challenge
Imaginative storyteller
Creative with space
Quiet thinker

I’m not sure of the exact age, but I can speculate, when I started noticing these clothes disappear.
They would get shoved under my pillow. Or in the corner. Maybe they got left under the picnic table that fateful summer.

Whatever happened, I seem to find new shirts to wear. Ones that spoke for me.

Quiet spirit
Confused
Sad storyteller
Fearful thinker
Afraid
Imaginative girl who never knew the difference between the stories she told and what was real.

When the knees stopped being skinned and my pigtails were gone, I started letting others put clothes on me.
Or take them off.
And at the end all I was left with was clothes that said

Empty

As a teenager I wore empty like it owned me.

It did. It owned me.

Empty love. Empty food. Empty exercise. Empty puking. Empty drugs. Empty attention. Empty feelings. Empty touch. Empty alcohol. Empty lying. Empty school. Empty fear. Empty friends. Empty security. Empty soul. Empty faith.

Empty.

I continued to wake up every day for years and decide that this was what I was going to wear. I deserved to wear it. There were days or moments when I wanted to find another shirt to wear. To borrow someone else’s shirt. To see if what they were wearing would fit me. I was convinced that I could feel better in what they carried on their backs then the years of weighted clothes I carried on my shoulders.

Years later I knew it was safe to start taking the shirts of lies off. I had begun to surround myself with souls who breathed life into me. Who called out truth. Who saw the truth and leaned in even closer.

When I began to explore the thought that there was a God who wanted to slowly come to me with palms open I was timidly skeptical. Was I willing to take the layers of clothes I had worn off? Was I willing to throw them away? Was I willing to lay them ALL at his feet? Was I brave enough to let others see the scars that I had been covering for years?

I was.

I am.

Naked.

Exposed for the world to see.
For Christ to wash me.
For my husband to understand me.
For my friends to receive me.
For the mirror to reveal me.
Who I was years ago. Who I am today.

Enough.

The shirt He asks me to wear.

He asks you to wear everyday
says
Enough.

You are not what happened to you. You are not who cheated on you. You are not your child’s illness. You are not your pain. You are not your divorce. You are not your weight. You are not the food you eat. You are not the alcohol that devours you. You are not your addiction. You are not your husband’s rage. You are not the fear that drowns you. You are not the loss you ache for. You are not the girl who didn’t know better. You are not the countless times you gave yourself away. You are not the porn that calls you back to feast. You are not the secrets that hold you captive. You are not your job that engrosses you. You are not your child’s behaviors. You are not the girl you used to be.

You.Are.Enough.

You are brave enough.
You are courageous enough.
You are enough.

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Ruth 2:10

It’s time. It’s time to take off the layers of lies you’ve been wearing. It’s time to stop letting others put filth on you. It’s time to be brave enough to wear the truth Christ has been holding in his arms for you.
The truth that says

Enough.

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, Ruth 4:14

#SheSharesTruth
#SheReadsTruth

Bumper Sticker Christian – She Shares Truth

Image
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